Archives for category: sports

Arguably the most recognizable athlete worldwide.  An amazing footballing talent.  Star midfielder and captain for his international team.  Superstar of Manchester United – the reigning title holder of both the EPL and Champions League and the most valuable sports brand in the world.

If I was writing this 6 years ago, everyone would know I was speaking of superstar David Beckham, right before he moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid and is now playing for LA Galaxy.  

An eerily similar script is unfolding before our eyes today, with Cristiano Ronaldo, the new Beckham.  Yes, Ronaldo is flirting with the idea of following in Beck’s footsteps even more by moving to Real Madrid.  If you are interested in this, plenty of sports writers are discussing it, check one of them out.  To be honest, I couldn’t care less.  That’s right, I really don’t care.  

What I do care about regarding this situation is the comments that have been made by FIFA head Sepp Blatter.  Blatter said that Ronaldo should be free to pursue a transfer to Real Madrid rather than be kept to the contract that he signed 18 months ago.  Fine that is all well and good.  However the “Mad Blatter” had to continue talking, and in those remarks, he went on to compare poor Ronaldo’s situation to “modern slavery”.  

Yes, slavery.

When asked about Blatter’s comments regarding slavery Ronaldo, the portugese international said, “I agree with the statements of [Blatter] … What he said is correct.  You know what I said, what I want and what I would like.  Now I have to wait and see what happens.”

Wow. Ronaldo who just signed a 5 year contract a mere 18 months ago feels treated like a slave.  A contract that pays him a mere $238,000 per week.  Yes, I said per week, as in there are 52 of them a year.

To compare this spoiled brat to a slave is an insult to slaves.  Ronaldo makes more money than he and his friends and his family could even think of spending.  He lives like a king in a great country.  He works out and plays a sport he loves 40 weeks of the year, and gets 12 weeks of vacation.  

If he doesn’t like it, he can quit, and go into another line of work (unlike slaves).  Now there isn’t another line of work that can offer him the limelight that his ego craves or a ludacris salary like that… so if he is complaining that the team that is paying him so much has requested that he not play for a rival team, that doesn’t seem like it is asking too much.  

Grow up Cristiano.  What little respect I had for you (off the field) has all officially eroded away.  I hope Man U “puts you out to pasture” by trading you to Real Madrid and you rot in the Spanish sun like so many others have.  

During the off-season for the EPL, news of player signings tend to dominate the headlines and tide the fans over until the games start again.  Sadly, Everton made the news this week for a tragic reason.  Joseph Yobo, one of Everton’s starting defenders, recently confirmed that his brother has been kidnapped in his home  country of Nigeria.

Authorities are assuming that this will be like many other kidnapping cases in the impoverished region, wait for the ransom, pay it, and he will be returned.  It is hard to imagine that there are cultures where this is commonplace and where it is almost an accepted practice.  So sad.

While getting lunch with an old college friend today at Big Al’s Sports Bar I noticed an athletic looking guy walk in.  His haircut was a little strange, but I didn’t give it much more of a thought. Later, our waiter (who was a legit sports fan, so that was fun) came by and asked us if we were UFC fans.  We both said we are familar with it, but not really “fans” and he pointed at the athletic guy with the strange hair and said that he was the winner of the Ultimate Fighter (a reality tv show on Spike).  

A google search later, and sure enough, today I was sitting 10 feet away from Amir Sadollah. Apparently Amir just won the UFC sponsored Ultimate Fighter 4 days ago – and I didn’t see a bruise or cut on him (not that I really looked close).   

I haven’t watched mixed martial arts fighting in a few years, but one of my old roommates liked it and we’d watch matches frequently.  Kind of fun.  He was very kind to the fans that came up to him (took a few pictures and gave out some signed photos).  Seemed like a humble and very likeable guy.  Glad he is representing Richmond and Tucker High School well and hope he continues to.  So the next time I cross SpikeTV while flipping channels, I’ll take a moment to see if Amir is on and root for one of Richmond’s own.

This video cracked me up! I love it when people are willing to break with convention to have fun, and bring smiles to others…


GYMNASTIQUE PEKIN 2008
Uploaded by nqtv

shots-on-goal.pngEverton‘s clash against the juggernaught Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was not televised over here in the states, so I watched the first half via gamecast on ESPN.com. As you can see from the shots on goal, the game seemed quite one-sided (the graphic shows the first half action – yellow dots are Chelsea’s shots, the black dot was Everton’s only first half chance).

During halftime, I did some research and found a helpful site, myp2p.eu that streams live european sporting events! The site’s design is awful, but the function it serves is fantastic! While I was not overly impressed with the quality (it’s not like ABC’s video player), it was at least equal to “youtube” quality. But more importantly, I WAS ABLE TO WATCH THE GAME (well the second half at least).

And what a second half it was… At halftime David Moyes subbed in Victor Anichebe and James McFadden in hopes of creating some sort of attack to keep Chelsea honest and maybe steal a goal. “SuperSub”Anichebe and Scotland’s hero McFadden did a respectable job keeping a little pressure on the rare chances they could create.

At the other end of the pitch, Chelsea continued to pepper USA goalkeeper Tim Howard with shots, but the defense proved up to the task (thanks to impressive performances from Jolean Lescott and Tim Howard). Chelsea finally broke the stalemate in the 70th minute when Didier Drogba headed a corner past Howard. Poor marking, but an excellent goal from one of the EPL’s top strikers.

Thinking they had it won, Chelsea didn’t press the ball quite as much and in the 89th minute, Everton made them pay with this GLORIOUS bicycle kick goal from my favorite Toffee, Tim Cahill.

Goals don’t get much better than that beauty – an equalizer at the death, away at one of the giants … 6 games in a row unbeaten for Everton (5 wins and a draw), my Blues are making me proud!

In case you haven’t heard or seen this yet, check out this amazing end to the Trinity Millsaps game. 15 total laterals!!! The announcer goes a little overboard at the end, but the play itself is pretty amazing. Cal-Stanford‘s got nothin’ on this one…

Liverpool visited Everton this week. Since both teams are in the same city, the match is refered to as a “derby” (pronounced “darby”). This is the longest standing derby in English football and the heat of the match can be intense.

Sadly a good match of football was heavily marred by the ref making decidedly lopsided calls in favor of Liverpool. Hibbert’s foul on Gerrard looked like a shoulder to shoulder hit, right on the line of the box, but I can see the ref calling that a PK and a yellow. Interestingly enough, you can see the ref pull out the yellow card, and then Gerrard talks him into the red (and Everton goes down to 10). Unreal.

Dirk Kuyt’s PK was good and the game is tied. Dirk then should have been escorted off with a red for his “leg-breaking” tackle (both legs cleats up) against Neville, however after a long talk with the ref, the ref is once again talked into only giving Dirk a yellow. Game should be tied up 1-1 and 10 v 10, but sadly, that is not the case.

In injury time, Neville hands a sure goal off the line and is quite justifiably given a red card for that. Dirk (who shouldn’t be on the field anymore) puts away another PK and the reds go up 2-1.

Even down to 9 men, Everton still managed to push the ball up and Lescott was pulled down on a fantastic scoring opportunity right in front of goal (second time in the game he had been man-handled, but this was the worst). Amazingly enough, not only was there no red card, no PK, there wasn’t even a foul called.

While I know I am biased, check out the video highlights yourself and see what you think… (this video was cut and uploaded by a Liverpool fan and pulled from “redsreview” so don’t claim biased editing or anything.

Yes, Michael Vick’s Georgia home is up for sale.  Any takers?

Madeline McCannI’m not sure exactly what happened that made it so the media over here started paying attention to the “kidnapping” of Madeline McCann, but I’m glad it has happened.

Due to my interest in Premier League Soccer (and Everton) I had been well aware of this situation for a long time. The McCann family lives in Liverpool and Madeline is an Everton fan (and looks as sweet as can be in her Everton jersey).

Her family (parents, Madeline, and twin siblings younger than Madeline) was on vacation in Portugal when Madeline was abducted from their hotel room while the parents dined downstairs.

Tick in eyePutting a “parenting mistake” aside (they should not have left the children alone) – this has been an awful tragedy for the family. Madeline has a very unique “tick” in her right eye that had many encouraged that she would be easily identified if they could get lots of pictures out and media attention. So a website (www.findmadeleine.com) was set up immediately and this has been front page news over there for a long time. Many celebrities (David Beckham, Sir Richard Branson, etc) have come out publicly to help raise awareness of the issue and encourage people to donate to the “Find Madeline” fund.

Last photo of MadelineHolding out hope, and wanting to keep attention on the case, Madeline’s parents decided to remain in Portugal until she was found.

Interestingly due to the media craze, Portugal is being portrayed internationally as a dangerous place with an inept police department (can adversely effect tourism) so the government has been exerting political pressure to the police to wrap this up and end it. Due to this pressure and a lack of leads, Madeline’s parents were officially named as suspects (a trace of blood was found in the car they rented).

I find it difficult to believe that her parents were anything more than negligent, but I guess it is possible. I pray that she is still out there though and that someone will find this adorable girl and help reunite this family and let them heal.

The window for transfers (kinda like free agency) in the EPL comes to a close at midnight tonight. Due to the strangeness of this time, it has been dubbed “silly season” because rumors fly, player value can skyrocket, and crazy things can happen (like Fernandes’ abrupt about face on Sunday).

Well, in the 11th hour, Everton just got linked back up with one of Argentina’s best players, Juan Roman Riquelme. This is the second time this rumor has surfaced in the last few months, but if it were to happen, that would be EXCELLENT. Riquelme is easily one of the top 15 players in the game today, and it would be a real coup if the blues were to land him.

Yesterday Everton welcomed back former Everton fan favorite Thomas Graveson on loan from Celtic to help in the midfield. I’m looking forward to seeing this guy play. The fans had specific songs for him and he is described as “fist-pumping” and “mercurial” and has the nickname of “MadDog”.  Even if his form has started to pass him by, he should bring some passion and competitive spirit back to the blues.  Hopefully we get to catch a glimpse of him this weekend in the game against Bolton. Go Blues!

In a saga that has taken way too long, all the terms agreed to, phyicals passed, work permits secured, “i”‘s are dotted and “t”‘s crossed,  Yakubu finally completes his move to Goodison Park.  Maybe we will even get a chance to see him on Saturday?

Wow, I didn’t realize I had 3 soccer (football for the europeans) related posts in a row.  I’ll try to be a little more balanced in the future.  Its just that time of the year and I’m a bit excited about all that is going on, especially in the Premier League (EPL) right now.

In what would undeniably be the biggest move (so far) in soccer this year, Chelsea FC’s billionaire owner, Roman Abromovich wants Brazilian megasuperstar Ronaldinho (his brilliance can be seen in the video below), and he wants him by Friday (when the transfer window shuts). Ronaldinho currently plays his club soccer in Spain for Barcelona where he runs with the likes of Lionel Messi, Theirry Henry, and Deco (another rumored Chelsea target).

Would be amazing if it happened. Scary to think of that attack (Drogba, Ronaldinho, Schevchenko, Lampard, etc… the list could go on and on).

A day after tying Blackburn in a hard fought game, Everton Football Club (my favorite team) have gotten some bad and potentially devastating news. Early in the preseason we lost forward James Vaughan to a dislocated shoulder. Shortly thereafter, we lost our center midfielder/Australian international Tim Cahill to a foot injury. These two injuries effectively decimated our depth in offensive positions. The speculation over the last 2 weeks has been that Everton was going to buy 2 new players to help with this, Middlesbrough striker Yakubu and Benfica’s Manuel Fernandes. Yakubu is a proven striker in the EPL so the Toffees (Everton’s nickname) were understandably excited, however Fernandes was the one we were most excited about.

Fernandes was on load with Everton for a few months last year and he was special. He was a playmaker, seemed to like the team, and really understand what the manager expects from his club. He made things happen on the field, and was a young and upcoming star. The thought of a midfield with Arteta, Cahill, and Fernandes serving up strikers AJ and Yakubu had most Everton fans salivating.

Well today we all came crashing back to earth. After passing his physical and having all matters of the contract agreed upon (but not signed), transfer fees set, even being the personal guest of the Everton owner at the Blackburn game, Fernandes has decided to do an about face, and sign with Valencia (in the Spanish league). This move came out of nowhere and has stunned all involved.

To make matters worse, Yakubu’s transfer bid is also looking tenuous as he cannot secure a work permit now to “work” for another team in the EPL. There is a rule for foreign players that they cannot play for an EPL team unless they have played in 70% of their country’s international games over the last 2 years. Yakubu, a Nigerian star, has fallen out of favor with the coach of the Nigerian national team, so while he has been a star in the EPL for 5 years, due to a technicality and a political matter, that transfer may be crushed as well. Everton is appealing the work permit issue for Yakubu and should have a final answer on Wednesday.

And the transfer window is closing fast (all teams need to be set by August 30), and won’t open again until January I think. I hope David Moyes can figure something out…

Looks like we won’t be seeing Manuel Fernandes doing this again this season.

soccer photoI tried my hand at some action photography this weekend with some mixed results. The shots on flickr aren’t great, and they are undeniably the best of the bunch. My brother’s men’s soccer team (the Lions) was playing in the “state cup for old men” this weekend. Despite the heat, humidity, and only having my trusty little point-and-shoot camera (Canon PowerShot A610), I got a few fun pictures and more importantly I enjoyed it, so all in all, I’d call it a win.

It has been a win for my brother too, they have won all 3 games so far (one more in an hour). I have been at two of the games and the combined score of those wins was 16-3, so they are showing up too…

UPDATE – they won all 4 games and thus the title… good job!  Final combined scores – 27-7.  Pretty solid tournament guys, good job.

I always knew there was something I didn’t trust about Michael Vick. Thanks to Jonathan Lee Riches for shining some light on all the wrongs that Vick has committed against him. To think, had I not read this filing, I never would have know that Vick:

  • Violated this man’s rights under the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th amendments (really, the second amendment? how did he affect your right to bear arms?)
  • Attempting to sue for $63 billion, he actually managed to sue for $63 billion billion (backed by gold and silver by the way)
    • $63,000,000,000,000,000,000 – I know player’s salaries are ludicrous, but come on
    • Assuming my math is correct, that is 1300 times more than the combined Gross Domestic Products of every country in the world in 2006!
  • Vick stole two dogs
    • Damaged RFID chips
    • Fought the dogs
    • Sold them on ebay
  • Bought missles from IRAN (didn’t see that coming, did you)
  • Pledged allegiance to Al-qaeda
  • Subjected him to microwave testing
  • Used drugs in school zones
  • Is “in the business of” illegal steroids
  • Managed to “physically hurt feelings” (I’d pay money to know how this is even possible)
  • Is ordered to stop “dashing my hopes”

Wow. Reading that lawsuit was undeniably the highlight of my day. I am a little sorry that Vick will have to spend real time and money fighting these slanderous and obviously false claims, but it brought a little humor to my day.

Manchester City (an English Premier League club) has a new legendary coach (Sven Goran Eriksson), eight new players coming from all over Europe, and a new owner (Thaksin Shinawatra) footing the bill for all of it. The new owner is a little different from the other owners – he ran a country before he took over the reigns of the football club.

Yup, he was the prime minister of Thailand. Wait, this story gets better. He has been under investigation for corruption by Thailand’s government. Well that “investigation” just resulted in an arrest warrant for him as well …

Spring is wonderful for a sports fan.  College Basketball gives you March Madness, the NHL and NBA playoffs (the only time I care about either sport).  The English Premier League is coming to a close… so many excellent options.  Sadly, during the summer, baseball and golf are the only “games” around (I don’t want to really call either a sport), and I strongly dislike both.

The MLS helps fill the void, but it has yet to get to the level where I can get passionate about it.

The good news is as of this weekend, GAME ON!  The NFL pre-season and most importantly, the English Premier League season have begun.  And for those of you keeping track, my teams, the Redskins and Everton both won yesterday!

In case you haven’t heard, David Beckham had his debut with the LA Galaxy last night in an exhibition game against Chelsea of the EPL. For the first time in a long time, a US soccer story led Sportscenter … pretty cool.

Of more interest to me however was another EPL vs. MLS game last night played under a lot less fanfare – Everton vs. Real Salt Lake. Everton is my favorite EPL team, so I was very curious how they did.

Knowing that Sportscenter wouldn’t cover it, I went straight to ESPN.com. And I found a match report. Yeah, a match report of Real Salt Lake vs. “Chelsea”. Unreal… why report on a game if you can’t even get something as basic as the teams right.

On a side note, looks like Everton didn’t do too hot, so I am glad I didn’t see it.

As many of you know, I am a soccer (football) fan.  I love it.  Alexi Lalas (the former USA defender better known for his red hair and goatee than anything he did on the field) has suggested that the MLS is everybit as good as the EPL.  I hope this is just a PR move to highlight the fact that David Beckham is making his way over here (finally), but it is a truly remarkable statement.  Hopefully the MLS will consider the backlash (and laughter) this will get internationally.

Consider the guantlet laid and hopefully MLS is ready to backup such a statement.  So far this season I haven’t seen anything that resembled the level of play in the EPL, but you better believe a whole lot of people around the world are going to be tuning in over the next few weeks to see if Lalas was an idiot (or a PR genius) as well as just watching what Beckham can do… should be fun.

This year I became a BIG English Premier League (aka “EPL” – the top professional football/soccer league in England). To make it fun, I gave myself 2 weeks to familiarize myself with the clubs, then I had to adopt a club as my own. Just as everyone here hates the Yankees, I decided I just couldn’t choose either Manchester United or Chelsea. In fact, choosing any of the “Big 4″ seemed less interesting to me than choosing a team that would really have to “earn it”. You see, the big 4 (ManU, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool) are always at the top of the EPL, they spend more on their teams than anyone else, and have many of the all stars from around the world on their rosters. Except when they play each other, those 4 are almost always the favored team in every match they enter.

As someone who loves rooting for the underdog, this didn’t seem as much fun for me, so I knew I ruled them out. For various reasons, I weeded out some other clubs, and then chose the one I “liked” the most out of the rest – which lead me to Everton FC.

Everton’s arch rivals are crosstown foes Liverpool and when I say “crosstown”, literally, the stadiums are a few hundred yards apart (or meters since it is in England)!

efc_lfc.jpg
So today was the last day of the season and Everton gave me a fun ride – some ups and downs, some tough injuries, hard loses, and wonderful wins. They finished in 5th place this year. While most of the time people don’t cheer for 5th place, it was a better finish than most predicted, and left Everton with the title of “Best of the Rest” (since the Big 4 predictably finished in the top 4) and earned a spot in the UEFA Champions League.

Good job boys, I look forward to next year.

You heliskiied. You bungee jumped. You ran with the bulls and swam with sharks. When skydiving lost its thrill, you picked up basejumping … but it still wasn’t enough. For you my friend, you need to check out “Speed Gliding” (combining heliskiing with basejumping and kitesurfing).

(Keep watching for the part where the “slope” just drops off into an enourmous cliff – insane!)

My cousin just received the honor of being the athlete of the month for his college. He is a great tennis player, and it is cool to see him grab some honors like this. Congrats Robbie!

There is a debate every year about the 2 post season college basketball tournaments, the NCAA and the NIT. The NCAA selects the best (and all the automatic bids), and then the NIT gets to take it’s pick of the “best of the rest”. A second rate tourney… minimal TV coverage, and rarely any of the really good teams. The best the NIT hopes for is a big name program to have a bad year, bad enough that the NCAA’s won’t want them, and then the NIT can have them (like Syracuse this year).

Anyway, if the NIT ever hopes to be seen as legit, they may want to treat their champions better. The West VirginIa Mountaineers won the title, and were given these wonderful t-shirts to celebrate in. Anyone notice anything funny about the shirts? Way to go N_T.

West Virgina, huh?

The preproduced digital shorts are the only REALLY funny things coming out of SNL these days and this one with Peyton Manning is classic.

The announcer of this Giant Slalom downhill race stepped up to the plate with some TOP NOTCH commentary about this unexpected event. I still can’t decide which impromptu one-liner is my favorite:

  • Oh the gate to the groin play
  • You could hear it and if you’re a man you could feel it
  • Oh Frenchman, Oh Messieurs
  • Wow, the boys took a beating on that one
  • That guy needs a hug

Sidenote – So you can hear the sound the skis make on the snow, they wire the whole slope for sound. In this case that lets you hear some great audio of the skier’s pain. God bless the internets.

Everyone who is checking this out knows that I am a big NFL fan. Sadly my team has been out of the race for a long time, so like most other sporting fans, I temporarily adopted “secondary” teams for the playoffs. Last week, there were “things that I liked” about 4 of the 8 remaining teams: San Diego, Eagles, Colts, and Saints.

Sadly, only the Saints and Colts remain. Since they are in different divisions, there is a 25% chance that BOTH will make it to the Superbowl, and then I will be happy no matter who wins. Conversly, there is an equal chance that both will lose this next round, and then the Superbowl will be Patriots and Bears (in which case I will watch the game rooting only for great commercials). And of course, there is a 50% chance that only one of the teams I am rooting for will make it.

So you see, deducing the “likelihood” that one of the teams I am rooting for is a lot like Punnett squares for genetics. If I was a bio teacher I would explain recessive traits using playoff teams right now… now that is science I could get behind.