Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fantasy versus Reality Part II

I've got a dirty little secret. I love watching Rafa Nadal in Season 16 of 'The Bachelor'. If you haven't been following the show, Nadal is operating under the alias of Ben Flajnik, a winemaker from Sonoma, California. 'Ben' is looking for love after having his heart broken in the last season of the Bachelorette. What amazes me is how Nadal can prance around the world, breaking hearts and sleeping with a bevy of beauties while still taking the time to beat Nole Djokovic in the final at Monaco. Amazing stuff! Clearly a man of many talents.

I know Nadal is naturally right handed and has changed up to play lefty under the tutelage of Uncle Tony. When he takes a date to the movies, does he sit on their left or right side to make the yawn , stretch and cuddle move? What do you think?

Before we get to Part II of my random sports spew, I'd like to address some comments from my last post (BTW - love the feedback, keep it up):

Cut King Kenny some slack. Considering what he inherited, three trips to Wembley this year is a pretty great fucking effort. Winning the cup makes it that much sweeter.

It could have gone better in the league but sometimes that's football. I don't think that you can blame Kenny for everything. Commolli has a fair share of the blame. Not to mention the players on the pitch. Injuries and suspensions didn't help either.

If the blue shite can stick with Moyes for 10 years with nothing to show for it I think the Reds can hold on to Kenny for a little while longer considering he's already won some silverware.

Or maybe you're just upset because the Reds knocked United out of the FA cup? Not to mention getting beat by Crystal Palace in the Carling Cup.

Sour grapes maybe? Be happy that they'll probably win the league (go City!).

My response:

1. If it were anyone other than Kenny you wouldn't cut him that much slack
2. The players rightly share the blame, but many are Kenny's players. He didn't inherit them from the previous regime
3. You can't compare with Moyes, who works with much lower expectations than LFC. Or have Livo's expectations dropped so much that you put yourselves alongside Everton as a middle tier club?
4. Everton's total spend under Moyes' management doesn't compare to what Livo dished out for Carroll, Adam, and Downing in one splurge
5. Winning the Carling Cup is all well and good. But if that's all the silverware you have it's pretty pathetic, considering each season starts with: 'we're challenging for the title this year'
6. There are always sour grapes. I've been feasting on a steady diet for years!

Moving on:

Sad day for Spain: After the miraculous performance by Chelsea to drop Barca out of the European Cup, Bayern Munich stepped up to the plate to knock Real Madrid out of the same competition at the Estadio Santiago BernabĂ©u in front thousands of rabid Madristas. Leading into the semi finals, the general consensus was that the final would be another El Classico. The Sporting Gods begged to differ. After a frenetic first half featuring three goals (including two penalties), Bayern and Real settled into a rhythm with neither team taking the game by the scruff of the neck (methinks the away goals rule played a big part in the tactics in the second half). It was fitting that the leg finished in equal terms and was decided by an old school penalty shoot out thriller. Interesting to see Ronaldo fail in yet another Euro shoot out. His goal scoring rate is almost without peer, and his physical talents as a footballer are remarkable. But it's not the first time he's bottled it on the big stage. Is he football's LeBron James? Great performance by Neuer in goal for Bayern. Some absolutely stunning saves. Munich will be an explosion of passion for the final, and what are the odds that UK tabloids will start running with the England versus Germany WWII theme in the lead up to the final? I'm tipping Bayern to win their fifth Euro Cup and leave Chelski in a Siberia Cold!

Did you watch this game Fergie?: Man U has some obvious deficiencies, none more so than in midfield. There were two players on the pitch yesterday morning who I'd dearly love to see at Old Trafford next season. Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger. It might seem blasphemous to make comparisons with United greats, but Ozil reminds me of Scholes with his passing ability and vision, and Schwein has Roy Keane qualities - a powerful force who will run box to box and has the capacity to make crunching tackles and powerful strikes on goal.

Go the Swannies: The Eels suck. Sydney FC sucks. The Waratahs suck. The Giants are babies. The Sydney Kings suck. Go the Swannies!!!

Tainted Legacy: The Charlotte Bobcats just got trounced by 20 points against a watered down version of the New York Knicks in the last game of the NBA season, leaving them with the worst winning percentage in the history of the NBA. The stats don't lie. This team is truly abysmal. Michael Jordan heads up the Bobcats organisation, and whilst his position as the GOAT cannot be tarnished by his record in management, his leadership of the Washington Wizards, the failed two year return to court, his infamous Hall of Fame acceptance speech, and his stewardship of the Bobcats, are ensuring that whilst his highlight package as number 23 with the Chicago Bulls is a work of art, everything basketball related that has followed is a joke. It's almost Isaiah Thomas like. Funny that two sublime performers who absolutely hated each other on the court are rivals as the worst managers/administrators post retirement.

10K Club: Congratulations to Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who earlier this morning became the tenth batsman to hit his 10,000th run in Test cricket. As to be expected, the entrants into the 10K club is extremely distinguished:

Rank Player                              Runs   Matches Average 100s 50s
1         Sachin Tendulkar            15,470 188         56.91      51     65  
2         Ricky Ponting                 13,266 164         52.85      41     61  
3         Rahul Dravid                  13,094 160         53.22      36     63  
4         Brian Lara                       11,953 131         52.88      34     48  
5         Jacques Kallis                 11,449 142         55.84      40     54  
6         Allan Border                   11,174 156         50.56      27     63  
7         Steve Waugh                   10,927 168         51.06      32     50  
8         Sunil Gavaskar               10,122 125         51.12      34     45  
9         Mahela Jayawardene      10,030 127         50.91      29     40  
10       Shivnarine Chanderpaul 10,000 139         50.00      25     57  

Out of all the names on the list Shiv is probably the one you'd pay least to watch. he doesn't have the same dash, flair, stroke play and physical domination as others players on the list. But he has certainly made the absolute most of his abilities, and when considering the lack of talent surrounding him in the Windies, his achievements are extraordinary. A resolute, dogged and proud competitor, Shiv is a testament that sometimes you can exceed expectations through sheer determination and courage.

Top three @ YouTube:

1. Violent World Peace: Metta World Peace drops the people's elbow on James Harden
2. Shirts and Skins: Genoa Ultras take over the stadium and force players to take off their jerseys during a game in protest at their poor performance. Even though the commentary is in Italian, watch the whole video. I've never seen anything like this in professional football
3. Best save ever: A ball boy runs onto the field and saves a definite goal in Brazil

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fantasy versus reality

You know the feeling when you break up with someone, but after a few weeks apart you think you made a big mistake and start to wish you can take back all those nasty things you said? Then you start to plan how you can bump into your ex at some non-threatening public location, try and make small talk and show that you're better off without them, in the hope that they'll turn around and tell you that they miss you and want to ravage you on the spot. When this doesn't happen you inevitably try and say something stupid like 'have you heard the latest new single from Goatwhore?' or 'a fart is a joke your arse tells*!'. This reminds them that you were, are and will also be a jerk and they were right to dump your sorry arse in the first place.

Well readers, that's how I feel about my relationship with you all. I haven't written anything for three months, and have been in a state of emotional I make the first move...should I just send an I play it cool and hope they contact me??? When all around the sporting world is topsy turvy, and all I need to do is sit down in front of my iMac (R.I.P Steve Jobs) and spew out a few hundred words of garbled sports talk.

So, without further ado, my review of Q1 2012:

1. Linsanity: Talk about the ship that sailed. Some New York writers have already published a book about Jeremy Lin, and here I am with my first mention of the Asian-American Ivy League Grad who single-handedly saved basketball in New York and reclaimed Madison Square Garden as the mecca of hoops. For those who don't know the story...where the f#ck have you been???...just kidding. Lin, a second year point guard who had only played a handful of games and had already bounced around the league, was wilting away at the end of the New York Knicks bench whilst the Knickerbockers were wilting away in the NBA. In a desperate attempt to revive his ailing team, then coach Mike D called Lin's numbers. Lo behold, the Harvard kid could play. Lin sensationally led the Knicks on a seven game win streak, revitalising the franchise and their playoff hopes. He knocked down game winners, dominated Kobe Bryant, made a star of Steve Novak, and probably sold a billion jerseys in Asia. After 35 games he injured his knee and was shut down for the season, with the gaudy stat line of 15 points, 6 assists and 3 boards per game. To quote the great Darth Vadar, 'Impressive...most impressive.' All in all, a great story. Unfortunately that's where it should end. As a phenomenal story to tell that brought some much needed joy to the NBA post lockout. Unfortunately Lin's meteoric rise looks to bring him some silverware along with the billions of dollars in endorsements, with a Most Improved Player award beckoning. Personally I think it would be a travesty if Lin got the award. I'm not suggesting his form wasn't amazing, but the sample size is simply too small, and the fact that he didn't get any meaningful minutes to showcase his abilities as a rookie means that we don't know if he actually improved as a player. We only know that he was given a chance. Kevin Love improved this season. So much so he would have garnered some MVP votes had the Twolves stayed in the playoff hunt. Greg Monroe, despite the Pistons woes, has turned into a legit NBA big man who can score, run plays and rebound in bunches. Andrew Bynum went from perennially injured with potential to devastating and dominant and the league's number two centre. In my opinion, worthy candidates all, and more apt for the MIP than Mr. Lin

2. European Cup: Man U and Man City sh#t themselves in this competition. Arsenal out early. Barca and Real dominate. Bayern believe in destiny, hosting the final in May. And Chelsea's old warriors kept plugging away, despite the general belief they were just making up the numbers. Well f#ck me if Roman's raiders didn't make a fool of everyone in the football world this morning. Yes they snuck out of the first leg with a 1-0 win. But every pundit was sure that Barca's magicians would turn on the style and dismantle the Blues at the Camp Nou. At two nil down, with their inspirational (and slightly annoying) captain John Terry sent off, there isn't a single person on this great Earth who believed that Chelsea stood a chance of coming back. But come back they did. I honestly don't think there has ever been a more dramatic against the odds 'victories' (despite the result being 2-2, it was indeed a victory) in the history of the European Cup competition. I'd love to say that Chelsea, with Terry, Ivanovic, Ramires and Meireles suspended for the final, are absolutely no chance. But I thought that leading into this game and am now feasting on humble pie. Anything is possible in sport, and the God's really do have some fun at times. Tomorrow morning Real Madrid host Bayern down 2-1 from the first leg. My money is on the Bavarians to sneak through (Ribery is a gun!) and to send Munich into a frenzy that hasn't been seen since...I won't go there. 

3. Parramatta Eels: I've official divorced rugby league. I haven't turned my back on the Eels. That would be wrong. I've turn my back on the game. I just can't watch the Blue and Gold's blunder their way each week and feel any joy whatsoever. And if the experience is completely joyless...what's the point. Sandow is over priced, over hyped and over weight. Ben Roberts was a bench warmer last season, and should still be. Nathan Hindmarsh is finally a human being. The Hayne Train is managed by State Rail, running to his own timetable and more frustrating then masturbating with a cheese grater. I heard a rumour about a fall out between Hayne and Luke Burt that is really ugly, which is even more depressing. The forwards aren't scary. The backs are poor. Stephen Kearney is trying to implement a system that works when you have Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk as your playmakers. For God's sake though, we've got Keating and Sandow. The board is a mess. The feeder team is poor. The cap is full. Need I go on? 

4. F1: Five former, and obviously one current, world champion lining up each race. Need I say more? Don't answer that, it's a rhetorical question. Four different winners after four races. A different car dominating at every track. Seven, maybe eight drivers capable of bringing a car home first past the post each round. Just brilliant. Absolutely loving it so far. I'm very hopeful this pattern stays true for the rest of the season. If so, we could be looking at one of the greatest seasons in F1 history!

5. King Kenny: No disrespect to Kenny's history as a Kop great, but as a manager you are officially weak as p#ss. If he didn't have such a strong connection to the club, the fans would be burning effigies outside Anfield each weekend. I know he's brought home the Carling Cup, but with the money they've spent, that's just not good enough. His league form is as woeful as Woy Hodgson. The team is closer to relegation than the top of the table. There is no shape, strategy or direction in the way the team plays each week. It's all well and good to call him a club legend, but Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Steve Bruce and Sparky Hughes are club legends at Man United, and f#ck me if I'd ever want them near the club with a managers clipboard.

6. The Elephant in the Room: Obviously the recent form of Man United. I was supremely confident that the mighty Red Devils were sailing smoothly to yet another premiership. But that's just not the Man U way. Recent wobbles have opened the door to the noisy neighbours, and the f#cker Tevez has the eye of the tiger right now. Monday's derby will be an absolute blockbuster, and is the most important derby in history. A Man U victory will seal the deal, and put City in their place. Mancini will most likely be sacked, Super Mario and Dzeko will get carted, who knows what happens to Tevez, billions of petro dollars will be spent on new arrivals, a new manager will need to pull together another group of talented misfits, and the squad will suffer from the same malaise that has plagued them since the new owners took over. A City victory however will see the pecking order turned on it's head. It will also pull me into such a dark hole that you probably won't hear from me until the Eels win a premiership i.e. never!!! I've already gone through two sets of fingernails! 

7. Scholes: God bless you Scholesy, but seriously Fergie, this is ridiculous. How can a late thirties, asthmatic ginger be out best player. BUY A EFFING WORLD CLASS MIDFIELDER!!!!

8. Fantasy football: I'm currently running first in my EPL Fantasy Football league. Unfortunately I'm reliant on greater performances form key Man City player to keep me on top of the table. Oh the conflicted emotions, checking the scores each weekend and hoping that Silva and Kun have great games to boost my FF scores, but also that they blow out both anterior cruciate ligaments so that Man U  can romp to the title. Woe is me!

Great to be in your life again. Thanks for taking me back. Part II of this sports spew will be in your Inbox's soon!!! 

*I need to reference this line to the fellas at The Basketball Jones. Great podcast guys!