Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Delhi dreaming..

A couple of years ago I went to Delhi, India, with work. It was a fantastic trip, really eye opening. I found this little piece I wrote on part of the trip and thought I would post it, a couple of years on. What has this got to do with sports, you ask, well, there is a funny little section on the India v Pakistan cricket showdown, so there!

Anyway - enjoy!

I can’t take this politeness anymore.
I yearn for a narky barman to shout ‘I said five euros!’ at me while handing me a pint. I can’t take anymore of this ’90 Rupees please Sir, thank you’ (about one euro fifty) when getting my Tiger beer served to me. On a couple of days I have had lunch delivered, and the delivery guy actually bows on his way out of the room, I mean come on. Not a little nod of the head either, a huge sweeping bow. These have to be far and away the politest people in the world. It’s hard not to be in a good mood in the morning, the gauntlet of truly friendly ‘Hello good morning Sir’s’ you have to get through to get to your taxi.

I am going to strike up a conversation with the doorman before this trip is up, he’s beyond cool. He is huge and has those massive bushy whiskers and a big, colourful Sikh turban. I just know he used to be a Sergeant in the British army. You can almost hear him saying ‘Come on lads, look lively, for King and country! We’ll be back in Delhi by Christmas!!’

This hotel is unbelievable. The level of service is simply out of this world.

I’m going to have to meet the person who cleans my room in the morning at some stage, the job they do is unreal, they actually rearranged my toiletries after I dashed off to work one morning leaving them in a mess, assorted drugs scattered around the place, razor in the sink. When I got back the drugs (you know standard stuff, Larium, Aspirin, anti histamines, two pounds of cocaine) were arranged in alphabetical order, the cap was back on the shaving foam.

The food. Lord, the food. I have been monitoring my weight (there is a scales in the bathroom) and I would be surprised if I don’t put on a few pounds, the food is so rich and tasty. There are four different restaurants in the hotel, and room service brings your choice straight to your room in less than twenty minutes.

If that’s not good enough, the snacks in the mini bar are ridiculously cheap and terrifyingly tasty. I basically clean it out on a daily basis. What can I say, heat makes me hungry.

And boy is it hot. It’s around 90-100 degrees every day. Tomorrow I am setting up camp by the enormous big blue pool out back. May even get in a couple of times to try to ease the guilt of these enormous, rich meals by doing a few laps.

All this Western decadence! It really doesn’t take long to be right back in reality, the hotel is smack in the middle of a pretty run down area. Delhi is really hard to figure out. It’s so messy, so unplanned by the looks of it. There is no discernible pattern to it at all. The place where I work, Noida, seems to be fairly commercial, I have taken a few strolls at lunch time to satisfy any thirst for exploration. The shops are basically all garage type shacks with those pull down doors. Each one has a huge rectangular sign above it with a simple description. I might have to check out the ‘Beer shop’ on Monday. I will probably give the ‘Karate shop’ a miss (did they mean to put ‘Karate chop’?!).

I didn’t think there were sidewalks at all but there are, they are kind of sunken right in front of the shops, and they are alive with people, guys making food, beggars, side street barber shops. The latter consist of one guy and a kind of a box with all his scissors and razors sitting on it. Only for the brave I would imagine. I’m just thinking, what if he’s shaving you and a car beeps its horn right beside him or something? The horns. God they just don’t stop. I still can’t believe I haven’t been involved in a 27 Car, Truck and Moped pile up on the sector 18 highway to Noida. Its pure mayhem. I think it is the perfect example of chaos theory, everyone drives so crazy and with such abandon that accidents actually don’t happen as often as you think they should. Yep, that’s got to be it.

So for those of you following at home, India have arrived in Pakistan for their massive showdown. I have seen Red Sox v Yankees. I have seen Sunderland v Newcastle, the Manchester Derby, Ireland v England in all sports. They are all an episode of the Tellytubbies on a Saturday Morning compared to this in terms of intensity. I don’t know how many guys I saw carrying cricket bats with them today, clutching them like they would be able to help India win from here. In a country with whatever, 1 billion people, it is literally all anyone wants to talk about. It actually nearly proved the catalyst towards the first conversation between my driver and I. I’ll get back to that. On a somber note, but just to give some idea of how big this game is over here, the atrocity in Madrid was a very, very poor second to the game on the front page of the newspapers. If it hadn’t been for CNN in the hotel I would hardly have known what happened actually, showing just how far away and just how different a place this is. Same way I imagine we would turn something of a blind eye to something of that magnitude happening here in Delhi.

On a lighter note, I woke up agitated a few nights ago wondering what all the noise was and ready to go in and kick the crap out of my neighbors for playing such loud drums so loud late at night. Then I realized it was outside. My room overlooks the big garden in the back where the pool is and there was a huge function on of some sort. There were drummers playing really cool music, huge tables full of food, and hundreds of people milling around in really colourful clothes. I actually ended up sitting on my balcony for a while watching it.

A religious procession passed the hotel yesterday too, and that was equally noisy and colourful.

Oh, my driver. He had said a total of about twelve words in the days leading up to today, when he tried to break the silence in a two pronged attack. First he brought up the cricket.

‘You like cricket?’ I told him I did and that I was hoping India would beat Pakistan whereupon he just started shouting and beeping his horn (no change there) and looking generally excited. I think that was the equivalent of Will Ferrell in Old School shouting ‘You know it, you know it!’. Anyway, after that little burst of excitement we went back to our usual silent trip through this crazy city, bar for my driver trying to find a decent radio station. At one stage Justin Timberlake came on and he shouted a few nasty sounding things at his dashboard and turned the radio off for good. I wanted to say that I think he made the right choice, I hate him too but he just looked too pissed off. God I don’t even know his name.

So where to from here. Six more days in Delhi. The side of the pool is going to be seeing allot of quality Cormac time tomorrow, then Sunday I might make my way to this ‘Red Fort’ that I have been reading about, little bit of history and all that.

Hope you all have a good weekend. Peace out from the Park Royal Hotel.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

So, how was your Christmas?


Better than Tony Romo's?



Goodness gracious, how dysfunctional are those Cowboys?

'' Romo, who sources say suffered a rib injury in the second half against Philadelphia, collapsed in the shower after the game. ''


Perhaps he collapsed under the weight of his own awesomeness, as suggested by his comments post game where he happily threw his coaching staff under the bus! '

'Scheme is a major part of it that the normal fan or writer doesn't understand," Romo said after the game in Philadelphia. "If you're put in a really good situation, it really allows your team to be successful a lot. That's why I think some games, it's easy to say, 'Well, he didn't play good.' A lot of it is scheme."


Oh and don't you worry, the malignant cancer that is T.O. weighed in too, far be it from him to accept any of the blame;

"I just feel with the weapons on this team, we just need more opportunities. There needs to be some changes in regard to getting some guys involved, putting guys in position to win. It all starts with the guys calling the plays."


What a circus act. Now, on to the real games...



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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas, baby..

Well here it is, that time of year again. Happy Christmas to all 'yall. Happy Christmas and a wonderful new year.

Just remember..



If your not slumped on the sofa at 1:05 am, legs dangling over the edge, in a Patriots jersey and track pants, seven cans of Heineken on the table, two on the floor, singing along gently to the Wizard of Oz, in a half broken voice with a tear in your eye, it just isn't Christmas, baby.



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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dad's Army, Yankee style.

'Dad's Army' was likable British comedy that centered around the antics of a group of British 'Home Guard' Soldiers during the second world war. The Home Guard was made of mainly of men too old to actually go abroad to fight.

Now that we have got that clear, and are on the subject of, well, age, how about we have a little peek at the probably starting lineup of the 2010 New York Yankees.

  • LF Johnny Damon - 37
  • SS Derek Jeter - 36
  • 1B Mark Teixeira - 30
  • 3B Alex Rodriguez - 35
  • DH Hideki Matsui - 36
  • RF Xavier Nady - 32
  • C Jorge Posada - 39
  • 2B Robinson Cano -28
  • CF Melky Cabrera - 26

The most expensive and oldest lineup in Major League Baseball, for years to come! Quick question for any Yankee fan who stumbled across this, when Matsui falls apart, when Posada simply keels over and dies, when Jeter is an even worse defensive players and when Johnny Damon can't beat Vince Wilfork in a foot race, who are you going to replace those guys with? Players from the farm? There is no talent on the farm!! Free agent signings? Your money is all tied up for years in a morbidly obese pitcher and other high priced free agents!!

But seriously, enjoy that decrepit, ancient lineup in the next couple of years, Yankee fans. Enjoy.


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Goal line blitz is pretty enjoyable

Well, I have been playing the online football game known as 'Goal line blitz' for the best part of a year now, and I am hooked. It's extremely enjoyable, and completely free too, added bonus!
What is Goal Line Blitz?
Goal Line Blitz is a web-based American Football MMORPG. We've written a custom football simulation engine to provide you with the ultimate football experience on the web.
I don't know about 'ultimate experiences', but it is definitely good fun.

The player I created has started off as a rookie and is slowly gaining experience and dipping his toe in the water. Basically he plays in games every two human days. He joined his team over half way through a season, so there are only a couple of games left until what I assume will be a rigorous offseason training program!

He will need it, seeing as one of the few mentions of his name so far on the highlight reel is a flippin interception!
2:22 2nd & 10 on OWN 45.5
Macker Eklof pass to Carter Birch up the right side intercepted by Jason Stelly (2 yd return) [tackle: Carter Birch]
You can have a good giggle at the pick here.

There's loads of nifty features, forums, a messaging system and plenty of other interesting little facets to the game, such as;
  • Create a custom player, at any position on the football field, and assign any name you want
  • Train your player from the ground up to be the type of player you want
  • Gain experience from playing games to improve your player's abilities
  • Sign with teams from around the world and negotiate your contract
  • Create custom signature equipment
If you like football, give it a try. It may seem slow to start, but after a couple of days you'll be hooked.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shocker: War is not good for the human mind

So we have further confirmation that apparently going to war is not good for the human mind, or the human condition in general. You probably heard about Junior Seau, the Patriots veteran, veteran, oh so veteran linebacker being tackled on the sideline during Sunday's wipeout of the pathetic Arizona Cardinals. What's that, you haven't heard about it? Let me break it down for you like a fraction.

Kobus shows the Cardinals how to tackle

During yesterday's 47-7 old school tonking of the Arizona Cardinals, 31-year old Todd Kobus allegedly jumped from the stands and tackled Patriots linebacker Junior Seau. Kobus faces assault and battery charges as well as trespassing charges for his ill advised stunt. The 'allegedly' part is legal speak, there's no allegedly about it when thousands upon thousands witness the event live.

And now, the twist to the tale. Mr Kobus is US Military. I kid you not.

What, me? Drunk?!
''Todd Kobus of Attleboro, an Iraq war veteran, was arraigned in Wrentham District Court on charges of assault and battery and trespassing for storming the sideline and crashing into Seau, according to the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office.''

From the Boston Herald

In a further, beautiful irony, the branch of the Military Mr Kobus comes from? Why, Military Intelligence of course!

''The charged-up Patriots [team stats] fan and Iraq war veteran who tackled linebacker Junior Seau during Sunday’s game at Gillette Stadium said he just wanted to give his favorite player “a big hug. “It wasn’t malicious at all,” Todd Kobus told the Herald yesterday. “There was no malicious intent. My intent was to just give him a big hug.”

From the Boston Herald

Of course, Militry Intelligence! Naturally.

A further note on the game, Gillette Stadium security personnel were kept busy Sunday as there were a total of nine arrests during the game, with twenty two people being taken into custody. Police said the combination of alcohol, the weather, and an uneventful game were the main causes for all the arrests. Uneventful? Todd Kobus begs to differ!

POW! Right in the kisser!


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Monday, December 22, 2008

It's a learning process

What we all learned this sporting weekend past

Appealing for more supporters for Sunderland appears to have worked.

  • Number of games played since this blog penned this article on same: 2
  • Number of goals scored by Sunderland in those two games: 8

Sunderland absolutely blew previously high flying Hull City away 4-1 to add to their superb 4-0 demolition of West Brom a week earlier. Suddenly things look shiny and bright at the Stadium of Light. Plenty of tickets for the bandwagon though! Hop on and enjoy the ride.



If they ever find out that Pizza causes some kind of serious health issue, I am totally screwed. Just saying.

Wes Welker is an enjoyable professional athlete to watch. So is Matt Cassell, Ellis Hobbes returning the football and Richard Seymor bearing down on a Quarterback. How unprepared did those Cardinals look last night? Here's praying to whatever maker you believe in that Vegas ignores this and makes them either a first round playoff favourite or at least makes the line close. 'Zona are one and done, mark it down here. Horrifically bad football team from a fundamental perspective.

Scott Boras is (insert expletive here)

God bless you, Tyler Thigpen. Bless your cotton socks. Those 24 fantasy football points Thigpen bludgeoned his way towards against Miami last night could possibly send 'The Tusken Raiders' into the Hurricanes Fantasy baseball league final. Therein it appears they will be taking on Hurricane's supremo Steve Divito's 'NTL is awesome'. Thigpen threw two touchdowns but also threw two picks, not exavtly superb, however his 50+ yards rushing and crazed end zone scramble pushed him up to 24 beautiful points, and the 'Tusken Raiders' towards Nirvana. Meanwhile, someone somewhere had a hunch about Lamont Jordan, and is grinning away wildly like a Cheshire Cat on LSD.

Tyler - my man!

Rumours of the demise of what is, in effect, Ireland's strike force, Robbie Keane and Damien Duff, appear to have been greatly exaggerated. Duff scored a dramatic last minute winner for the rejuvenated Newcastle United on Sunday while later that evening Robbie Keane struck to earn Liverpool a point against Arsenal. This is good news ahead of Ireland's World Cup qualifiers in the new year.

If the denizens of New York ever get hold of Damien Dempsey, they will never let him go.



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The No Fun League

There are those who believe the NFL actually stands for 'No Fun League'. There are incidents that would appear to lend weight to that belief. Take the penalty flag thrown during yesterdays Patriots v Arizona snowball fight in New England. After scoring a touchdown Wes Welker went back in time and imitated the famous Lonnie Paxton snow angel from 2001.





What did the young man get for his troubles? A yellow penalty flag. For the love of God, it's Christmas! Do the NFL referees have nothing better to do than throw flags over this rubbish? The No Fun League, sucking the good out of the festive season!


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Friday, December 19, 2008

70s dreaming

These incredibly cool pictures of US President elect Barack Obama, printed in today's Guardian, got me thinking about the seventies.

''The pictures, taken in 1980 by Lisa Jack, a fellow student at Occidental University, lay forgotten in her basement for years until she hunted them out during the election build-up.''

Seriously, how cool would it have been to have been a twenty year old back then? I am wildly jealous of my father and his brothers and friends. Pretty much everything was cooler in the 70s, from what I can see anyway.

The NBA? Way, way cooler. Instead of over paid babies, and cash printing superstars who are just biding time torturing one fan base before moving to another, more lucrative one, you had cool, smooth dudes like Daryl Dawkins, Tiny Archibald and Bill Walton.

Darryl Dawkins on the week where he broke two NBA backboards "I didn't mean to destroy it. It was the power, the Chocolate Thunder. I could feel it surging through my body, fighting to get out. I had no control over it."

MLB, way, way cooler. You think Oscar Gamble would get away with his hair do on the current Yankee squad?

The NFL looks like it was pretty cool in the 70s too. The Patriots, for one, looked cooler.


Stevie Grogan - when men were men and shoulder pads were tiny


Anyway, the moral as always, 70s good, everything else, bad. Playing us out tonight, the immortal Tim Buckley with the superb 'Buzzin fly'.





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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Where is Pettite going?

As the Yankees continue to try to reinvent themselves they are leaving no stone unturned, including offering free agent, former Yankee stud Andy Pettite a one year 10 million dollar offer. Pettite has as yet to decline or accept the offer, and it appears that there are other teams looking for his services. One team has allegedly offered a stunning three year/36 million dollar offer. What team might that be? Nobody knows.

Who is behind the offer, Scott Boras, trying to drive one of his clients price up? Roman Abramovich gone mad? The Texas Rangers, doing what they do best (overpaying for declining pitching talent)?

The Kansas City Royals?

Come on now..

Andy Pettite - going...somewhere

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Eh, what? Pro Bowl rosters cause some confusion..

Kurt Warner starting over Drew Brees?

Only three Pittsburgh Steelers?

The NFL Pro Bowl rosters have been announced, and there are definitely some question areas held within. On top of that, one entire fanbase died a little inside as the rosters were dropped on the public, ask a Green Bay fan how he or she feels today, and they will tell you they have died a little inside, with Brett Favre making the AFC squad. Will he remember which sideline to go to pre-game?

One roster spot hasn't been announced as yet, however everybody knows Tony Romo will be the NFC Holder. Aint no doubt about it.



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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Walking in a Sunder, Sunder, Sunderland!

Looking for an English Premiership team to root for? Looking for an underdog story? Looking to root for a team to avoid relegation into the depths of English Championship football? Or just bored and fancy a new project?

Come root for Sunderland so! You can tick all the above boxes in one go.

Kenwye Jones - he can be your hero too!

Sunderland, for those of you that don’t know, are one of those Premiership teams that have no hope of winning the title ahead of the ‘Big Four’ (Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea) and instead try to avoid relegation every season. Relegation is a fascinating concept that, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t exist in any sports in the States. Let me break it down for you like a fraction. There are four main divisions, or conferences, in football in England. The Premiership and then the Championship divisions one through three.

If you finish in the bottom three of those, you are ‘relegated’ into the division below! The knock on effect for clubs is horrendous, particularly financially. Being outside the lucrative Premiership is the biggest fear for all of those clubs, like Sunderland, that are constantly on the bubble, year to year.

Relegation can be entertaining, and it gives teams in the lower divisions the hope that they too could some day play in the Premiership. In this day and age however, where money talks, relegation might be an outdated and unfair concept. The rich get richer and the poor get relegated, that’s how the Premiership rolls. There is very little light at the end of the tunnel for anyone but the big four.

As an aside, imagine if there was relegation in US Sports. It is a very good thing there isn’t. The big clubs would get all the attention and the little guys would never have their day. The glaring ‘spotlight’ style of US sports coverage in today’s market would mix with the extra focus on ‘big’ clubs to the point where teams in danger of relegation would simply disappear, almost without notice.

Meanwhile…

Sunderland, who’s manager/coach just quit, are stuck down in and around the relegation area, with close to half the Premiership season completed. They have the always busy, cluttered Christmas Schedule ahead, a portion of the season that can make or break a teams chances of survival. It’s no exaggeration to suggest that Sunderland’s Christmas program could make or break their season. Consider the matches they have lined up;

  • Saturday, 13 December 2008 - Sunderland v West Brom, 15:00
  • Saturday, 20 December 2008 - Hull v Sunderland, 15:00
  • Friday, 26 December 2008 - Sunderland v Blackburn, 15:00
  • Sunday, 28 December 2008 - Everton v Sunderland, 14:00

You could say if they don’t pick up seven points out of that lot (two wins and a draw equals seven points in the Premiership) well then, they don’t deserve to be anywhere but the lower divisions anyway.

On top of that, the next nine games Sunderland plays are all void of one thing, any of the ‘Big Four’ clubs. They don’t face Arsenal, Man U, the ‘Pool or Chelski for another ten games. Basically the future is right here, right now for Sunderland. Turn the season around in the next ten games or go play in a lower division.

Having been to Sunderland, you can’t help but hope the above doesn’t happen. The region needs its football team. It’s a friendly town, but a depressed area, complete with a now extinct shipping industry, a high unemployment rate and a ferociously cruel winter, with icy cold winds whipping in off the sea. The passion of the fans at Sunderland’s games is a thing to see. They desperately want their team to win.

Combine that with the fact that they are really up against it playing in the Premiership, and if you have any affinity for the underdog, Sunderland has to be the team for you.

When you consider the fact that Sunderland don’t play one of the ‘Big Four’ for the next nine games it makes former manager Roy Keane’s sudden departure even more unusual. If he had the testicular fortitude for a ‘scrap’, a fight, he would have had nine games to get Sunderland in fighting shape before they had to face the big guns again.

Reports are starting to drip out from the Stadium of light that all was not well in the camp prior to Keane’s departure. A year ago a young Irish player came out and said Keane was an ogre to work for, and his idea of a team-talk at half time was to throw chairs and tea-cups around and rant like a crazy man. Keane and the rest of the media painted the player as an outspoken, marginalized bench player. Since then, however, two other former players have come forward and said Keane was an absolute tyrant and none of the players enjoyed working for him.

This could mean that the lads you make up the squad may now feel relieved and play free flowing football as they fight their way out of relegation trouble. The way they battled to eventually lose only 1-0 at Old Trafford last weekend would support this theory.

Make no mistake about it, Sunderland are in a dogfight now, for their Premiership future, and for the region as a whole.

Watching Tottenham bang in a couple of easy goals in Monday night’s win over west Ham, I couldn’t help thinking to myself, ‘Why can’t Sunderland score that easily?!’. That’s part of the beauty of rooting for an underdog in the Premiership however. Every goal is pure Gold Dust, celebrated wildly by 40,000 people in a stadium and an entire local populace.

A Sunderland goal - a rare but enjoyable experience!

Bandwagon fans are all the rage right now, so why not become a bandwagon fan with a difference. Root for a great club with a massive, passionate following, a club with a tangible soul, to survive this Premiership season without being relegated. Make it a part of your New Years resolutions!

Howay the lads.

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Big CC and the case of the 140 Million dollars and the ‘all you can eat’ cheeseburgers

And so the Yankees and GM Brian Cashman have got their man, as ESPN reports that the Bronx Bombers have landed CC Sabathia with a whopping contract, nothing like a few hundred million dollars to talk a reluctant man into living in New York. Big CC will be paid about 150 billion dollars a second, and he will need every penny of it to survive in the new Yankee Stadium, where a 2%, pig-swill-like Coors lite will cost $15 while a pretzel will set you back $9. Goodness only knows how much of his pay check his daily cheeseburger intake is going to take up.

Perhaps a large part of CC’s decision to finally give in to the Yankee dollars was those famed Yankee pinstripes. They do say they are slimming.

Naturally, all those angry, ranting Yankee fans who were going off en masse yesterday about how Sabathia was insulting the Yankees by making them wait, saying how he doesn’t deserve to wear the (slimming) pinstripes, naturally they all feel the exact same today, right?



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This could end up as an old school tonking..

In the Irish and British sporting press they like to come up with quirky, unusual words to describe sporting events or sporting news. A personal favourite is the word 'tonking'. This 'word' basically means a slaughter, as in 'Chelsea handed Bolton a real tonking, beating them 5-0'.

Well, the Oakland Raiders could be in for a serious tonking this weekend against New England, if their preparation for the game is anything to go by. According to the 'Thoughts from the Dark Side' Raiders site, Oakland aren't even bothering to prepare for this showdown. The Patriots AFC East rivals have to be delighted with this news.


This news may come as a shock to many, who did not know that the Raiders even held practice.

This strategy does not appear to have worked for the Detroit Lions all season long however this does not seem to deter Oakland. Maybe the Raiders could just not show up at all. The official rule for this would give New England a 2-0 win, or, a win by a safety. How on earth did those NFL office types come up with that? Either way, this tactic could be Oakland's best bet in terms of covering the spread.

Of course some Raiders fans or observers would joke further that, after fifteen weeks off, what's another four day vacation?

For those of you interested, the current line (in Ireland anyway) on this game is New England minus seven. You would have to imagine this is going to end up at minus ten by Sunday. Make a mental note of this story for when you see the game or the score from same. We find out then, is practice even necessary in the NFL?! A shock Oakland win would seem to indicate this!



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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

NHL - the final frontier

Okay, colour me interested.

That's three full NHL games I have watched in this young 2008 season 9and about 5-6 partials). I am now officially interested. Sign me up. I am in. Having avoided it for the best part of thirty years, finally succumbing to the NHL is kind of like getting a new CD. It's fun. It's interesting, you don't know the words of the songs - or the rules of the game, properly yet anyway - but its new and interesting.

Zdeno Chára - he's bigger than you (and he can skate)

The Bruins (come on, was it ever going to be anyone else?!) seem like a fun team to watch. I gather they have the best goalkeeping situation in the NHL, a great defence and a pretty free scoring front line? That sound right?

Now, there's plenty I don't get as yet, however I am looking forward to finding out. Icing, I kind of understand, sort of, but there appears to be times they don't call it? What's that all about? The whole fighting thing, come on, it's pretty lame. Maybe it's taboo to say that, however as a total blow in, bandwagon, newbie type fan, there aren't really any repercussions to saying this; the fighting in the NHL looks pretty pathetic. It kind of looks like two guys who have been jawing all night in a bar finally decided to have a pop at each other however they are too inebriated to actually do anything and basically just grab and jostle each other until one of them keels over.

Something else I don't get, how on earth do those guys maintain their balance?! Skating is not something that comes naturally to your author, in fact certain people in his life would buy tickets to watch him skate, just to laugh as he falls on his big fat white posterior over and over, and repeat. Have to say, it's pretty impressive, does anyone ever even talk about that in NHL circles, or is it just a given?

The Bruins seem like a genuinely fun bunch to watch. Is it embarrassing to be such an up-front bandwagon fan? Not at all. I look forward to abuse from established fans. Isn't it funny how people get possessive about their teams? As a Red Sox fan, I never had a problem with people hopping on the merry Sox bandwagon after 2004, not at all, there's plenty of Boston to go round, I can never understand the snobbery of some old-school fans who rant and rave with great anger and yet also futility as millions of Sox fans signed up. So what? How does that hurt, having people hop joyfully on the bandwagon, or Duck Tour boat, whatever.



This is of course an entirely coincidentally suitable stance to take now that I am admitting to being a bandwagon Bruins fan, of the dirtiest, most bandwagon-ish sort. I can only name about four of the players (Chara and Thomas are my initial favourites) and I don't even posses a jersey as yet. Don't worry, I'm working on that.


Feeling you Jessica, feelin you..nobody understands us bandwagon types!!

Naturally, much of this comes back to gambling. Anybody else have the Bruins at 40/1 to win the Stanley Cup? How about 20/1 to win their conference? Those were the odds on offer less than two weeks ago. The funny thing is, you can still get them at 10/1, they are freely available at that price in many bookies. Pretty appetising considering they appear to be one of the best teams in the NHL right now.

So there we go, lets go Bruins, and all that lark. Hey, if you are an established Bruins fan reading this and getting really angry at yet another bandwagon arrival, look on the bright side. If the Bruins start losing, you know exactly where to look for the cause of the problem. All those damn, blow in, bandwagon fans!


The Bruins bandwagon starts to struggle under the weight of the new fans..


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Monday, December 08, 2008

Happy Hammers take on the Slippery Spurs

Monday night football, of the spherical nature! Tonight’s London derby (or, in lingo Americano, rivalry game) pits Tottenham against West Ham. At first glance this doesn’t look like the kind of matchup to make you clear your scheduled and take the phone off the hook, however it actually has the potential to be reasonably entertaining.

Tottenham are a sparkly new, entertaining side since they made the switch from Ramos to Redknapp. They are playing some neat and tidy soccer-football and scoring goals for fun. West Ham being the home side means the match should stay competitive. There could even be a few kicks to the shin, a couple of hefty challenges, and a few yellow cards bandied about as the two teams battle for local bragging rights/glory.

Having seen both sides play recently, Spurs are definitely playing the better football, are the more complete side and possess the greater firepower. Therefore, Tottenham to win tonight looks pretty tasty at 11/8.

Just saying.

Tom Huddlestone - the biggest soccer player, ever


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JP Losman: Aborted

File under ' So you think you are having a bad day..'


Kinda harsh, no?

Friday, December 05, 2008

What we all learned from the Roy Keane/Sunderland fiasco

Are you, like thousands of Sunderland supporters, looking for meaning in this mess that has come in the wake of Roy Keane walking away from his job at the club? Confused, and looking for some sort of lesson learned? Some greater overall meaning?

If so, you have come to the right place. If Roy Keane walking out on Ireland, I mean, Sunderland (sorry, got my 'Roy Keane walk outs' confused there) taught us all anything, it taught us (click for a larger view);




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Thursday, December 04, 2008

The single most blatant flop in sporting history

In the long and storied history of sporting flopping, diving, simulating and or basically dropping to the floor and writhing around like a dead fish, no one, and I mean no one, has ever come as close as this genius, or, hero, if you will, to the prize of 'Greatest flop ever flopped'.

The title is his, long live the king, this genius who goes by the name of Emerson 'El Piojo' Acuña. My Spanish is a little rusty however I believe 'El Piojo' means 'the U-Boat', referring to Emerson's propensity to 'dive, dive, dive.'

This is almost unbelievable. What truly elevates this to another level is the fact the referee fell for the blatant dive! Enough talking, enjoy!



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Roy Keane quits - again.

It is not easy being a Sunderland supporter.

It took five minutes for the 'joke' emails to start rolling in, here Keane is seen leaving Sunderland with...his wagon?!

My father first came to Ireland in 1973, the year Sunderland won the FA Cup in one of the biggest upsets ever in English football. They beat one of the greatest ever Leeds United sides, a team packed with legendary figures, 1-0. Dad, a notorious underdog backer, was hooked. For whatever reason, the disease was hereditary, and there is pretty much every jersey Sunderland have had since I could afford to start buying them in the late eighties clogging up my wardrobe.

Today reports are coming out of the Stadium of Light, Sunderland's beautiful new-age stadium, that Roy Keane has walked out on his team, leaving them near the bottom of the Premiership and facing Manchester United, in Old Trafford, on Saturday afternoon. Not exactly a super position to be in.

Supporting Sunderland is generally a pretty thankless task. One of those sporting endeavours where you learn to really appreciate the good times, they are so few and far between. A runners up medal in the old 'Milk Cup' (now the Carlin Cup) in 1985. Same again in the FA Cup in '91 against Liverpool. A couple of Championship (the level below the premiership) titles in 2005 and 2007. That's it. That's all she wrote. In my entire life the best Sunderland have ever managed is two seventh places Premiership finishes under the reign of Peter Reid (Wonder what he's up to at the moment?!).

Now Keane, Keano, the legendary Cork man walks away, with things in a total mess. Once again he walks away from a tricky situation. Once again? Yes, once again, Keane notoriously walked out on the Irish soccer team just before the start of the Japan/Korea World Cup of 2002. An incident so famous it has its own wikipedia page.

Back then he left a relatively young Irish team without a veteran leader, a few days before the start of the biggest tournament they would ever play in. He literally said 'fuck you' to an entire nation and went and did his thing.

This time he has spent 80 million (sterling, that's about 145 billion US dollars) of Sunderland's money, with about half of his purchases being at best questionable, and has walked away with the club in the relegation zone of the Premiership and facing one of the top teams in the world on Saturday afternoon.

There is a fantastic line in the wildly hilarious movie 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' where Paul Rudd's sage yet psychopathic surfer character says 'When life give you lemons, say 'Fuck the lemons' and bail!'

Keane, Dude..Fuck the lemons, bail!

That could very well serve as the epitaph on Roy Keane's relatively brief sojourn as Sunderland manager. It could actually serve as the title of his next book too, perhaps, as it seems to reflect his overall ethos on life quite succinctly.

Maybe Kenwye Jones and the ebullient Gabby Cisse can still drag Sunderland out of the relegation mire. Maybe a new manager will come in and rescue Sunderland from the depths of Premiership anonymity. Whatever happens, this incident today is just another sad footnote to the supposedly great career of one Roy Keane. Superb midfielder? No doubt about it. A success at all levels? Pretty much, except Internationally, where he walked out on his greatest and final chance to win a international medal. A leader of men in a manager role? Absolutely not. Keane has basically ducked out of his biggest fight yet, and left Sunderland in a huge hole.

As a supporter of the 'sleeping giant' that is Sunderland, what's left to say bar, thanks for nothing, Roy.

Maybe the new manager will bring the very popular 'Chops', Michael Chopra, back from his loan-deal exile at Cardiff



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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Patriots to play in London (baby) in 2009

Pretty decent news for all Patriots (and Tampa) fans this side of the Atlantic ocean. The NFL has announced that the New England Patriots will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London in October 2009.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the New England Patriots when the National Football League continues its International Series at London’s Wembley Stadium on Sunday, October 25, 2009, the NFL announced today

For anyone who watches the Sky Sports coverage of the NFL, you already had an inkling towards this as the Sky Sports crew pretty much guessed the exact matchup. Perhaps they were working with insider information.



A little bit more information from the Boston Globe here. As always the comments section for same is both entertaining and scary. Some of the comments are inane, some just completely worrying. The comment about the NFL being 'Americas game' and it shouldn't be played abroad as the rest of the World doesn't matter gives just a small reflection as to why a large part of the globe hates the United States. Then again, there are a good few comments from excited European football fans, plus one crazed message from a completely ecstatic Spanish fan who is going to travel from Madrid for the game. Or so he says anyway.


Check out the great pictures DCU Saint receiver Sam Monson took at the most recent Wembley game, the thoroughly entertaining Chargers and Saints clash.

It is odd to browse through the news reports and blogs and to see that there is plenty of minor upset at this announcement. Take for example this blogger, who says;

''But the London game is a permanent part of the NFL schedule, and New England will get its "duty" to be part of it out of the way fairly early.''


Is it that much a problem or a draw-back to have to travel to a country with a beautiful, new stadium and a quite literally rabid fan base to play in a unique game? What difference would it make if you spent the rest of your life doing the exact same thing? I suppose there will always be opposition to 'new' things and 'change' as it were.

Good to see Patriot Logan Mankins is keeping an open mind for the clash;

"I don't really want to go to London, but I guess if we have to, we have to," guard Logan Mankins said Monday.''


The odd part of this is that the Patriots trip to Seattle this coming weekend will be longer than a trip to the UK, where Mankins and his crew would get a chance to see a (sparkling) new venue and play in front of a huge NFL fan base hence broadening his, their horizons a little. Open your minds, closed minded NFL players!! You might end up enjoying yourselves! Good God.

Surely the thinking mans linebacker, Mike Vrabel, would have an interesting view on the 2009 trip? Not so fast!

"I'm worried about Seattle," linebacker Mike Vrabel said. "I don't give a (darn) about London."

Well, spoilt NFL players, there are literally thousands of NFL fans in Ireland, the UK and Europe who are over the moon with this news, so start looking forward to the trip, and you never know, if you open yourselves up to it a little, you might accidentally end up enjoying it!

More links:
The official Patriots site on the game.
Ticket news contained in the Kansas City Star.


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The Top Ten Games in Baseball Ireland history 1996-2006

The Top Ten Games in Baseball Ireland history 1996-2006


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Monday, December 01, 2008

Reading v Coventry - Championship Monday night football

Not that kind of football.
The other kind of football.

Reading play Coventry tonight and seem a little under priced with most bookies. While Reading have been a little on/off lately there's a number of factors in their favour tonight. First off, they are at home against a pretty bad team.

Secondly, Coventry are facing big injury problems tonight. They are without several starting players, with two of their top defenders out for definite.

Scoring goals this season has been a problem for Coventry, not so for Reading, who are averaging an absolutely amazing 2.8 goals a game.

Free scoring Reading, at home, in front of their own fans against a pretty poor Coventry side, you have to fancy Reading -1 (a very tasty 11/8 with Boyle Sports).



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Jax @ Houston tonight

Notes...

Slaton might be the key to Houston taking the Jaguars tonight, this from ESPN;
''The disappointing Jaguars are slight underdogs at Houston because the defense cannot stop Steve Slaton. Slaton has a 39 percent chance of rushing for over 90 yards and he is averaging over 5 ypc.''

Looking at the Texans, decent QB, excellent WRs, a very good RB, Houston will score. Jax's vaunted D never materialised this year however they themselves also have a few weapons they can score points with.

The scoring statistics for both this season to date (per game):
  • Jax scoring: 20.3
  • Jax conceding: 21.8
  • Jax game avg: 21
  • Hou scoring: 22.9
  • Hou conceding: 26.6
  • Hou game avg: 24.7
The over is 48 which is a little bit high actually as there would have to be one more touchdown than usual in games with these two playing, but perhaps the fact they have nothing at all to play for will open the game, the field up and allow for a few more points. This is in effect an NFL scrimmage game.

Both teams have nothing to play for, so Houston's home field advantage becomes bigger too

Check out Houston's home win streak they put together a few weeks ago, these are consecutive weeks, not a typo, although the weakness of the three opponents can't be ignored (bar Miami, I suppose)

  • CIN W 35-6
  • DET W 28-21
  • MIA W 29-28

While the Jaguars are probably the better squad in terms of sheer talent, Houston are no mugs themselves. Neither team have anything to play for, with the Jaguars travelling to Houston with the disappointment of a hugely underachieving season weighing heavily around their necks. Houston might have the only incentive to preform tonight, playing in front of their home town fans.

Gun to head, either Houston or the over




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Just another scene from a club...

Shortcuts from a nightclub in Manhattan..



Headline of the millennium? The British gutter press would be patting themselves smugly on the back if they had come up with this one:
GIANT JERK SHOOTS HIMSELF - BURRESS FUMBLES GUN AND NAILS LEG From the classy NY Post

Girl in nightclub: ''So is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?''
Plax: ''Funny you ask...''

Another headline from the NY Post:
''TOOMER EAGER TO GET BACK ON FIELD WITH BURRESS''
Subheadline might read: ''Not so eager to go clubbing with him''.

Giants injury report:
Out: Burress - Leg.

Old sayings..
''A source said a guard came over in the aftermath, emptied the gun's chamber and then gave it back to Burress.''
What's the old saying, 'Closing the barn door after the horse has bolted?' That can now be updated to 'Unloading Plax's gun and giving it back to him after he has shot himself in the leg.' Rolls off the tongue.

More on the story..
''Sources said Pierce drove Burress to Cornell Medical Center at 2 a.m. and then left immediately. It's not clear where Burress was in the time between the shooting and his arrival at the hospital.''

Answers to the above:
  1. Drinking
  2. Shooting
  3. Drinking and shooting
  4. Trying to walk it off


Finally, has anyone approached Dick Cheney for comment?






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Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

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