Thursday, December 31, 2009

He is so money '09 - part two of five

Everyone has them. Well, every male 18-79 has them. Those athletes that have won them a considerable amount of money, and thus become the object of same male 18-79’s affection. Forever, often. They can change sporting franchise, they can change country, they can change their name, doesn’t matter, the besotted male is going to always have a place for them in their heart. You know the guys we’re talking about here. You know the situation too. You had a stack of cash on a team, but the opposition is battering the goodness gracious out of your team and it is looking grim. Suddenly out of nowhere, your guy steps in, and quite literally single handedly saves the day.

Of course it isn’t always disaster recovery.

Sometimes it is just out and out domination. Maybe your guy dropped 48 on someone in the NBA. Maybe they scored twice in the World Cup Final. Maybe they struck out 17 in Yankees Stadium. Add it all up and the answer is always the same, you benefited financially from said performance, and like an elephant, you will never forget.

Let’s meet my guys.

He is so money - part two of five
Vince Young

College Football has really only recently become available for viewing in Ireland. The NFL has always been covered, but it was hard to follow college football until recently, basically from around the late nineties onwards.

My personal love affair with College Football started in earnest in 2005. For whatever reason the station in Ireland that covers college ball focused on USC and Texas that season, showing the majority of both their games. I fell head over heels for the wildly talented Texas QB Vince Young, a completely full blown man crush.Sensationally gifted athlete, and a guy who always seemed to 'get the job done', clutch, very clutch.

For whatever reason, I found watching Young and his Texans more enjoyable than watching USC. Naturally, they would meet in the Rose Bowl as 2005 turned into 2006. In the run up to the big game everybody seemed to forget two teams were playing;

Before the game, the USC Trojans were being discussed on ESPN and other media outlets as possibly the greatest college football team of all time. Riding a 34 game winning streak, including the previous National Championship, USC featured two Heisman Trophy winners in the backfield, including quarterback Matt Leinart (2004 Heisman winner) and running back Reggie Bush (2005 Heisman winner) who was widely discussed as being possibly the best running back in the history of college football.


Having rooted for Texas and Young all season long I wasn't about to stop, and lumped in on both the +6 handicap being offered and decided to take a tilt at Texas straight up too, I got 5/2 in my local which I was pretty happy with.


What followed was one of the most sensational football games I have ever witnessed. Back and forth it went, until Texas made a crucial stop with just two minutes left in the game. Enter Vince;

In the Rose Bowl, Vince Young put on one of the most dominating individual performances in college football history, accounting for 467 yards of total offense (200 rushing, 267 passing) and three rushing touchdowns (including a 9 yard TD scramble with 19 seconds left) to lead the Longhorns to a thrilling 41-38 victory.


The above last sentence really doesn't give the dramatic touchdown its full due. Young quite literally put Texas on his back and pushed them to victory, over what people saw as a vastly superior rival.

The nine yard scramble to push Texas ahead was simply breathtaking, to anyone who saw it live. Look, anything that makes you jump up and down at around 5 am in Dublin has to be pretty breathtaking.



He is so money.



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AL v NL - chopping it up..

One would appear to have incensed a few NL fans in the last few days, if the acerbic, angry emails flooding the old inbox are anything to go by. Fans of MLBs National League are a passionate bunch, and never like to hear that 'their' league is any way inferior to those big bullies in the AL.

Personally I am totally open minded when it comes to NL v AL, I love watching NL baseball too, it has it's own quirks and style that make it totally different and yet just as enjoyable to watch as their AL equivalent. I would even go as far as saying a well pitched, crisp, two hour NL game is often more enjoyable to watch than a four hour slug-fest between, for example, Texas and Oakland.

The stone cold fact of the matter though is that the AL is the superior league to the NL. How can one say that so confidently? It's all in the content, the teams in this case. Sure, the Phillies won the World Series, and I tip my cap to them, however in the last few years the AL has been the vastly superior league to the NL.

Shall we back this up with heaps of flashy statistics? Yes, let's.

Looking at the overall total of win/losses in Interleague play since it began in 1997 the final total would not seem to reflect any wild disparity.

Wins by League:
YEAR AL NL
199797117
1998114110
1999116135
2000136115
2001132120
2002123129
2003115137
2004126125
2005136116
200615498
2007137115
2008149103
Totals1,5361,420


That disparity however is instantly recognisable when you instead take it from 2004 onwards, basically the period where the AL has really come to the fore, and the NL has pretty much become the weaker league.

2004126125
2005136116
200615498
2007137115
2008149103
TotalsAL - 702
NL - 557

So since 2004 in interleague play the AL has gone 702-557, including a season where they went 149-103 and the insane 2006 season where the AL pummelled the NL to the tune of 154-98

Looking deeper into interleague play, since it began in 1997, only five NL teams have a winning percentage of any shape or form, anything over .500. The AL bullies have nine teams that can boast a winning interleague play record. The Yankees and A's are hammering NL teams to the tune of almost .600!

Interleague play is just one measure of the domination the AL has experienced over the weaker NL in the last few years. How about the World Series and the All Star Game?

The AL has won seven of the last 11 World Series, and 11 All Star Games in a row (plus one tie).

Not even close, on either count. You can argue all you want really, but the facts are right there staring right at you. World Series domination, All Star game total domination and interleague domination all add up to the fact that the AL is the vastly superior league.

The only consolation really for fervent NL fans is the cyclical nature of sports. Sure, the AL is totally dominating the NL now, however who knows, maybe from 2015 to 2025 the NL will rule the roost over the AL. You just never know, and that's the inherent beauty of sports.

Just not so much as we speak though.


154-98. Wow.





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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

He is so money '09 - part one of five

Everyone has them. Well, every male 18-79 has them. Those athletes that have won them a considerable amount of money, and thus become the object of same male 18-79’s affection. Forever, often. They can change sporting franchise, they can change country, they can change their name, doesn’t matter, the besotted male is going to always have a place for them in their heart. You know the guys we’re talking about here. You know the situation too. You had a stack of cash on a team, but the opposition is battering the goodness gracious out of your team and it is looking grim. Suddenly out of nowhere, your guy steps in, and quite literally single handedly saves the day.

Of course it isn’t always disaster recovery.

Sometimes it is just out and out domination. Maybe your guy dropped 48 on someone in the NBA. Maybe they scored twice in the World Cup Final. Maybe they struck out 17 in Yankees Stadium. Add it all up and the answer is always the same, you benefited financially from said performance, and like an elephant, you will never forget.

Let’s meet my guys.

He is so money - part one of five
Ronaldo

No, not the pretty-boy, Real Madrid bound fancy pants one, the big, chubby one, who scored billions of goals in the nineties and early current century. ‘Big Ron’ was sheer class in his time. He was an absolute nightmare to defend against, big, strong and with a keen eye for opportunist goals. Its funny how sporting pursuits fans and more so the sporting media get caught up in the ‘here and now’ in terms of athletes. For my money, ‘new’ Ronaldo does not hold a candle to Big Ron, not yet anyway. He hasn’t accomplished anything close to what Big Ron did. It’s like Maradona. Remember him? In the late eighties a pundit decided Maradona was the greatest player in the world, another pundit said quietly ‘Come back to me after he has scored 1,000 goals and won the World Cup a few times’ (as Pele had).

It was hard not to like Big Ron. In the hey day of Italian football on coverage on C4 in the UK, they openly referred to him as ‘Big Ron’ or ‘Ronnie’. For me, the affinity comes down to a couple of joyous sporting occasions.

First off, there was Big Ron almost single handedly dismantling Manchester United in the Champions League, in April 2003. The semi finals beckoned and a youthful, cocky, Manchester, down 3-1 from the first leg in Madrid, fancied their chances to advance in the tournament. A local bookie that I may have frequented at the time had just brought in a new special where if you backed a player to score the first goal in a game, and he got two, they would double your winnings. If he got three, they would triple same. You can probably see where this is going. That night, for whatever reason, I fancied big Ron to hit the back of the net, so I put twenty hard earned euros on the lad. Sure enough, Big Ronnie scored a magnificent hat-trick and the drinks were on me.


Then there was the 2002 World Cup. The 2002 World Cup in Japan has a special place in many an Irish lad’s heart, as that is the last time Ireland took part, and took part well too. Ireland were unlucky to lose in the quarter finals to Spain. The entire country came to a stand-still for the duration of Ireland’s participation. The tournament remained lively even as Ireland left. It might have been the most exciting, dramatic World Cup in recent memory.

Before the tournament bookies were offering a new type of bet, a player from a country to score the most goals in the tournament, and that country to win the tournament also. As is often the case with new bets, the odds were pretty decent at first. One player that snuck under the radar a little was Ronaldo, just back from injury. People were also openly questioning Brazil’s ability to win the tournament, many preferring to talk about the big European countries chances of winning.

The day before the World Cup kicked off I happened to trundle into a local bookie and noticed that the Brazil/Ronaldo combination was a tasty 40/1. I put 20 hard earned euros on it and stuffed the ticket deep into my wallet.

Sure enough Brazil took the tournament by storm on the back of Ronaldo’s predatory instincts, Brazil were World Champions and Ronaldo won the ‘Golden boot’ as the tournament top scorer.

As a side note, the most recent World Cup, the country/top scorer double was available in most bookies, however the odds have been shredded, with the most recent winning combination coming in at a tight, pre-tournament figure of 12/1. The 'New' Ronaldo to be top scorer and Portugal to win the tournament, for example, was a ridiculously tight 9/1 pre-tournament.

You just don't get the value these days!

He is so money.


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70's dreamin'..

These incredibly cool pictures of US President elect Barack Obama, printed in the 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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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

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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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's not you, Toronto, it's me..

You know, people have been shaking their heads for weeks, trying to figure out how the Phillies landed Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays. The Mariners, who were the third part of the three-way deal, seem to have got away from the crime scene in the best shape, having given up basically nothing of consequence and getting Cliff Cy Young Lee in return. The big losers? The Blue Jays of course.

Maybe the good baseball fans of Toronto feel 2.5% better today after the venerable Halladay took out a big ad in a Toronto paper saying, well, goodbye, basically.



Interesting stuff. Many questions jump to mind. What kind of formatting demands putting one's own name, centered, at the top of a letter? And where can I find the "sincerely handwritten" font that he used? Is this something only available in certain packages of Microsoft Office?

So many questions and so little time. Did Roy's family send out Christmas cards with 'Happy Halladays' as the caption below the picture? When Vince Carter saw this ad, did he crumple it up and get injured when he tried to shoot it into the trashcan?

Of course, not everyone can leave with class and dignity. Let's have a look back at some letters to the public in newspapers that didn't generate much goodwill...

Dear Pittsburgh
**** you
Yours, the Pittsburgh Pirates


Dear Memphis Fans,
Um, so Memphis is in Kentucky, right? Yeah, right. So I loved Kentucky and what not. Definitely. Always liked your chicken the best. Um, let's see, Zach Randolph kicks ass at beer pong, so y'all should keep rooting for him and s***. Guy in the suit who's name I can't remember can kiss my ass though. What else... Oh yeah, that other dude's named Gay, and that's some funny s***.
Peace

Allen Iverson


Dear Atlanta
Thanks for the good times. Off to get b*** slapped around the Bronx again for another summer. Be back real soon!
Happy Christmas

Javier Vazquez


And finally, this from the Orlando Daily News.

Dear White Women of Orlando,
I am about to be single but am about to be worth only 820 million dollars. I hope that you will all still be willing to sleep with me. I look forward to hearing from all you.

Tiger Woods


Happy Christmas to all our loyal readers, and a very happy new year. Have fun and be good.



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Monday, December 21, 2009

The NFL and talking to you doctor about erectile dysfunction.

After watching two NFL games back to back on NFL Game Pass (where you see American advertisements) I was left in something of a dreamy, drug induced commercial daze.

In Ireland, the ads are so predictable and dreary, the networks have to resort to the ‘trick’ of increasing the volume on ad breaks, to literally make you sit up and pay attention. In the States, no such issues, the ads are so colourful, chaotic and crazy (not to mention frequent) that you end up dreaming about them after over exposure.

After last nights games I had a sudden urge to go to Subway in my brand new pick-up truck, order a $5 foot-long, play the game Avatar on my brand new Sony wide-screen TV, invest all my money in a really secure long term financial plan and switch my phone to a smarter calling plan. Most of all, I was absolutely dying to talk to my doctor about erectile dysfunction.

The barrage of advertisements, ordering you to make a change or be an idiot, would be enough to give anyone erectile dysfunction.

Meanwhile, has Dan Shaughnessy written his apology to Randy Moss as yet? Shaughnessy wrote an absolute hatchet job on Moss last week in the Globe, after a game where Moss didn’t play up to standard basically. That’s the way it goes these days. Massive, wild, over-reaction to any event in sports. Sweeping, eulogistic articles that call into question the character of people we really do not know that much about. Bob Ryan of the Globe also wrote a less sensationalist but equally damning piece on Moss.

Pretty shocked to see Ryan spew out a pretty baseless and ugly character assassination, Shaughnessy, totally expected behaviour, Ryan, not so much. Hopefully both of those gentlemen are preparing well written and sincere pieces where they apologise to the Patriots receiver, who destroyed the Bills secondary last night.

Not holding my breath, but, hopefully they do the right thing.


Randy Moss


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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The NFL by the numbers. Some interesting stats so far.

If you are reading this on Facebook, click here to read the fully formatted, extra sexafied version (videos/pics etc on this post won't show on facebook).

It's amazing what you can glean from one extended glance down through the numbers on a single page. Behold, some of the more interesting statistical stories so far in the NFL season.

When will Phillip Rivers, the Chargers QB, start to come into conversations alongside Brady, Brees and Manning? His ’09 stats so far? Just 3583 yds, 22 tds. Ho hum. With just 5 more completions on the season, Rivers has thrown for 600 yards more than the Broncos Kyle Orton. I’ll let you figure that (Noodle arm! Noodle arm!) one out for yourselves.


Rivers - figuring it all out

In 78 less pass attempts, Tampa Bay’s rookie Josh Freeman, has thrown one less Touchdown (7) than Carolina’s Jake Delhomme (8).

Rashard Mendenhall of the Steelers has pretty quietly gobbled up 940 yards in only 194 carries. Pretty close to 5 yards a carry (4.8). He’s a rookie. He was also benched for part of the early section of the season.

Top ten round one picks in Fantasy Football in ’10?


For all his guff, Ochocinco is having a pretty solid season, to say the least. 65 rec, 937 yds, 7 tds

Matt Forte is rushing for 3.4 yards a carry. Ouch. Ray Rice, Baltimore’s classy rookie? Just 5.3 yards a carry.

Stephen Jackson of the woefully inept Rams has produced a minor miracle by rushing for 1237 yards, but still has only 4 trips to the end zone to show for his efforts.

Tom Brady will break 4,000 yards this season (3830 so far)

4k


Rocking on out with the Foos



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The Boston factor versues the lazy journalist factor

Thought this paragraph in a piece by ESPNs Howard Bryant, about Randy Moss, was very interesting.

And then, there is the Boston factor. Moss has been in New England just long enough for his monument to begin to show some signs of wear. He doesn't play the hero game management likes to play with its players or the public-relations game with the press. He does not often speak to the media, in victory or defeat, which puts him in vulnerable territory the millisecond his skills show even the slightest erosion, as Jim Rice, Ramirez and every other emotionally distant star -- in Boston or otherwise -- eventually found out. That makes him the player to watch on the Patriots because of his oversized impact on the team's success.


In it, Bryant opens the paragraph with a dramatic statement;
‘’ And then, there is the Boston factor.’’

This clearly implies he is about to drop some sort of dramatic evidence regarding Boston, possibly drag up some sort of article of interest regarding the City and its athletes. In particular the City and its athletes of colour. Instead, the paragraph just meanders along to a completely indecisive conclusion, shipwrecking itself on this complete non-entity of a statement;
‘’… Ramirez and every other emotionally distant star -- in Boston or otherwise -- eventually found out.’’

Wait a second Howard, weren’t you going to drop some serious slant on playing in Boston on us? Your opening statement sure seems to imply that; ‘’ And then, there is the Boston factor.’’?! And yet, nothing. You big tease you! Instead you leave us with ‘’ in Boston or otherwise’’.

So why start the paragraph with the dramatic ‘’ And then, there is the Boston factor.’’ Howard? Is there something you want to say, but for some reason you won’t just come out and say it?

Bryant then finishes up his piece, which tells us absolutely nothing new about the whole Randy Moss situation, with this;

‘’Boston can be rough on a player, especially one it becomes convinced has stopped caring. But Moss has not publicly embarrassed himself or the organization. He alone is not the problem with the Patriots.’’

Boston can be rough on a player? Really? Dustin Pedroia looks like he is having a terrible time. Paul Pierce can hardly wait to get out of the place – oh no, wait, Pierce has become a part of the City since his rookie season in ’99. David Ortiz looks pretty much at home in Boston. Wes Welker doesn’t seem to absolutely hate playing in Boston.

Bryant has twice, in the same piece, taken a very thinly veiled jab at the city of Boston, and both times offered no evidence or anything of substance to back up his ugly, lazy suggestions.

You stay Classy, Howard Bryant.




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Monday, December 14, 2009

ALMOST intercepted!

It has to be one of the most under-rated clichés in sports. Under-rated in that no one really calls it to task, but it happens during every NFL game, every weekend, without fail.

You know the scenario. A quarterback drops back, scans the field, rushes a throw into coverage. A defensive back or safety gets a glove on the ball, which then slams to the turf. The commentator yelps excitedly, ‘Almost intercepted, almost!’


almost...

It doesn’t matter if it actually was close or not. Sometimes the errant throw into coverage can hit off the back off the defensive backs head, or off his backside, as he is turned trying to cover the receiver. In last nights Chargers/Cowboys game the situation arose twice. Once the ball zipped between three defenders and a lone receiver, realistically nobody had a chance to catch it, however the gormless commentator squealed ‘NEARLY intercepted!’

That’s the variation, ‘nearly’ intercepted.

Next time you are watching an NFL game, watch for a play where a pass goes closer to the defensive back than the receiver. We here at Boston Irish will bet you dollars for donuts at least one member of the commentary team excitedly reports that the pass was either ‘almost’ or ‘nearly’ intercepted.

We will be conducting a scientific report on the next few games we watch, tabulating the number of times a commentator clownishly squeals ‘ALMOST intercepted!’ against the number of times the ball was actually catchable, by anyone.

Next time you hear it, have a think to yourself, was there actually any possibility of anyone, receiver or defender, actually catching that ball?

Oh you lazy commentary teams, get a new cliché! That ball was not almost picked off!!




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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Trade Mike Lowell? This both sucks and blows.

Good friend of mine called me today and said ‘what do you make of the (potential) Mike Lowell deal?’. The conversation took about five seconds, or as long as it took me to reply ‘(expletive deleted) hate it’.

We're trading this guy? For real?

For those of you not tapped into the baseball winter meetings and trade rumour mill, Lowell is reportedly going to the Rangers for a young backup catcher. The Sox will be paying most of Lowell’s salary as part of the deal.

This ‘deal’ is an absolute horror show on a number of levels. The Sox are going to dump a quality guy for, effectively, very little, and continue to pay his salary, so you can’t even call it a salary dump. They are losing a brilliant clubhouse presence. They are picking up a catcher when, last I checked, we already have a superb starter and a brilliant back-up at that position. Finally, this leaves a mammoth hole at third base, both offensively and defensively, that right now the Sox are looking at filling with Adrian Beltre.

What, Milton Bradley wasn’t available?

This deal stinks like a soaking wet pair of seven year old sneakers in a kit bag that hasn’t been opened for four months.

Lowell is a steady 20 home run 80 rbi guy with an absolutely superb third base glove. He has played some of the finest third base seen at Fenway in many a year. People are so fast to forget – Lowell finished an incredibly fifth in the MVP voting in as recently as 2007, a year in which he batted a wild .350 in the seasons second half.

2007 World Series MVP

The further you read into this, the more inane a move this looks. We’re giving up the 2007 World Series MVP and paying the majority of his salary, for a young backup catcher, really? Apparently I missed the memo that the Sox are raising a white flag on the ’10 season a little early.

Interesting to see the Globe lay the potential deal out in very stark detail;

‘’ Lowell hit .290 with 17 HRs and 75 RBIs in 119 games 2009. The reported deal would send Lowell to the Rangers for catching prospect Max Ramirez, who hit .217 with 2 HRs and 9 RBIs in 17 games in the majors last season.’’


They left out the part that Boston would still pay the majority of Mike Lowell’s salary, but you still get the basics.

You know, if you watch baseball, if you actually watch the games, and don’t make your decisions based on a stack of statistics, how can you justify this potential trade? Lowell is a ‘glue’ type player, he is one of the guys that holds the Red Sox together. Lose him, and the Red Sox lose a very important piece of the puzzle.

Seriously, Adrian Beltre? Why not just get Kanye West into a baseball uniform, throw him into the clubhouse after a bad loss and see what happens?

So while the Yankees manage to land a superb young franchise type center fielder from Detroit, for a pack of crisps and a half used tube of toothpaste, the Sox are about to jettison a superb defensive, clutch hitting, A+ clubhouse veteran, and even pay his wages in the process!

As Beavis would so often comment sardonically, this both sucks and blows.


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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Do not, under any circumstances, accept a job endorsing Gillette

Also, possibly, do not name your stadium after Gillette, either. The jury is out on that last one, deliberating slowly, let's face it the Patriots have had a pretty decent run up to their recent down-turn, so you can't really say Gillette Stadium is cursed. You can certainly wonder, however, did the name and everything associated with it become cursed after a certain point.

Tiger.
Tiger.
Tiger.

What. Were. You. Thinking.

By the time you are finished reading this sentence another blonde bombshell will have claimed to have had sexual relations with Tiger Woods. Is Roger Federer hiding in a panic room somewhere, chewing nervously on Oreo cookies wishing he had never met the guys from the advertising department in Gillette? First Thierry Henry, then Woods, and we all know Roger is next.


Rachel Uchitel - involved in the Gillette curse somehow

Some would say the tennis star is already on the slippery slope. The Gillette ad campaign featuring the three super studs first aired in 2008. In that time Federer went from averaging double digit titles a year before the campaign, to totaling eight wins in the two years since. Eerie, no?

The famous threesome aren't the only ones to be affected by the Gillette curse. The New England Patriots, David Beckham and Sergio Garcia have all seen a down turn in the respective fields since accepting Gillette into their lives.

The Patriots can not seem to stop themselves from tripping over their own feet lately. Did something specific happen, or is having the name 'Gillette Stadium' emblazoned on their stadium simply an enormous cosmic tractor-beam of ill will since individual Gillette endorsements started going down the tubes? David Beckham? Can it be a coincidence he lost the MLS Cup Final as a direct result of his association with Gillette? Clearly, it can not. How about Sergio Garcia? Since El Nino won the Players Championship and subsequently cosied up to Gillette through the medium of a flashy advertisement, he is 0 for 27 on the PGA Tour.

The evidence is clear and damning. Take on a Gillette endorsement at your own peril, sporting types! We can only hope this curse extends to Derek Jeter, who so far appears to have escaped the clammy paws of fate on this one. We at Boston Irish look forward to the soon to come, explosive news that Jeter is all roided up, really into Depeche Mode and Broadway plays, or just a flat out, real-deal extra terrestrial.

Stay tuned.



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Friday, December 04, 2009

Let's go Liberty - clap, clap - clap, clap, clap...

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Okay I am buying into this New York Liberty taking on a NBA team (according to an Irish bookmakers) tonight in the States. Literally.

My thinking is, any time you can back a Women's NBA team against one of the better up and coming actual NBA teams in a game, you have to pull the trigger, right? Am I right?


Doesn't approximately 6-1 seem a little, well, 'tight' on this one? What would you really give on this, you know, if you were an Irish bookmaker? I suppose you have to answer this question, in a serious game between a women's NBA team and a real NBA team, what hope would the women's team have, seriously? 10-1? 20-1? Being totally emotionless and just putting a figure on it, would 33-1 sound about right?

Still, I am going to take the 13-2 and have a bit of a laugh with the inevitable e-mail to BoyleSports asking them are they really not going to void a NBA game with a women's team versus the Atlanta Hawks.

This will probably end in tears.

All I know is, Shaq is a funny motha...



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Liberty v Cavaliers

Sometimes, sometimes, when it comes to US sports the Irish bookmakers get things comically wrong...

World Cup Draw - Gosh, shocker, England get a ridiculously easy group.

Well goodness gracious me. What a total shocker! Blighty cop themselves an easy World Cup group for next years tournament in South Africa. You know what, why do FIFA bother with the formality of a first round, as they are so obviously trying to bludgeon the big market teams forcibly into the later rounds. Seriously, could England, Germany, Italy and Spain have been given easier paths to the knock-out rounds? Even France, how dubious is that? They get drawn as a second tier team and still end up in a group where they will surely qualify with ease.

Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, Korea Republic, Greece
Group C: England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia
Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana,
Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
Group G: Brazil, Korea DPR, Côte d'Ivoire, Portugal
Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

Basically, when you cut through all the red tape and noise, FIFA has made it pretty easy for France, Germany, Italy, England and Spain to get into the knock-out rounds.

The only good thing is, FIFA can't play the games themselves, and there will be a shock or two in there. Here's hoping it's in group C. Maybe the States can do another 1951 and get something from their game against the Brits.

Meanwhile, Brazil, goodness, what did they do to piss the big wigs at FIFA off? Horrific group. Portugal and the Ivory Coast will both be tricky fixtures.

I guess that's the group of death so eh, group G?


Coming soon, your World Cup cheat-sheet for American readers.

You know you want it.


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Thursday, December 03, 2009

A new breed of hero: Ron Artest

We at Boston Irish really appreciate a good anti hero. The media often comes down so hard on those types, deliriously lampooning or harpooning them, whichever suits at the time. Every now and then one of those previously put-upon anti-heroes explodes out of his or her shell and enters a whole new level, a different stratosphere entirely.

Enter Ron Artest, previously known as the head-case who went into the stands after a fan at an NBA game

"I used to drink Hennessy … at halftime. I (kept it) in my locker. I'd just walk to the liquor store (near the stadium) and get it."


Oh, Ronnie, Ronnie, Ronnie. I suppose we should have guessed as much? Who knew Ron Artest and Kevin Millar, who famously downed a shot or two during the course of the ’04 ALCS, had this much in common? Is this going to lead to a new line of Ron Artest clothing, including t-shirts emblazoned with ‘He's not as think as you dunk he is’ on them? It’s pretty funny how Ronnie thinks the interesting parts of the story are where he kept the liquor and where he bought it. And not, you know, the fact that he was drinking during a game.

We can only look forward to part 2 of the interview: where he recycled the empties.

A new breed of slighty innebriated super hero


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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Waking up with a sporting hangover; where is Boston sports going?

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You know the feeling where you wake up, and for the first few seconds everything is cool, everything is shiny, and then, pow, right to the kisser, you remember the night before?

As a Boston sports fan, you have to wonder, is this something of a cross roads we are at? This isn’t another one of those anguished, soul searching pieces, asking ‘why us?!’ that have been flooding the Internet since Boston stopped winning trophies. It’s a genuine question. Is this a big cross road for Boston sports collectively as we exit the first decade of the new millennium?

Are 2001-2008 going to go down as the glory years? In years to come will Boston sports fans look back on that era as the best sporting years of their lives? Can the Boston teams produce any kind of winning streak in the next few years?

Yes, yes and maybe one of them, basically.

First off, you have to say, ’01 to ’08 was pretty special. The Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics enjoyed a stretch of success that may never be matched by a City ever again.

  • The New England Patriots ’01, ’03 and ‘04
  • The Boston Red Sox ’04 and ’07 titles
  • Boston Celtics ’07-’08 title

Can that ever be recreated? The potentially depressing answer is, not in the short term anyway.

In terms of the Patriots, the parity that exists in the NFL will always be a major hurdle for any team trying to pull of a prolonged run of success. When I first started watching the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers were considered almost unbeatable in certain stages. Look how far they fell in the 90’s and early 00’s, before finally finding some success recently, and slowly growing a decent side again. When I was a young ‘un, almost everyone hated the 49ers. They were simply too good. You rooted for whoever they were playing and hoped for an upset. Sound like anyone we currently know in today’s NFL? It’s so cyclical it’s scary. The Patriots have had an admirable run, however perhaps now it’s coming close to the stage where they have to rebuild, re-tool. Their gut wrenching losses to the Colts (twice), the Giants and last night to the Saints might be the final nails in the coffin.

The only saving grace is the Patriots are run in an extremely professional manager from owner Bob Kraft down, so perhaps this will lessen the rebuilding period, and perhaps they won’t spend years in the NFL wilderness like the 49ers did.



The fact of the matter is, with teams like the Saints, Viking and Colts very much on the upswing, it is very hard to see the Patriots winning the Superbowl in the next few years. And that coming from Mr. Glass Half Full 2009.

The Celtics?


The Celtics are a gritty bunch of veterans who might find it in themselves to make one last title run this year or maybe even next season, however, long term, this team will eventually hit a brick wall. Garnett and Allen are on their last legs, or in Garnett’s case, last knees. Pierce has just a few years of his prime left. Age is one issue. The other is that there are several teams loaded with talent who will clog up the latter stages of the NBA playoffs for years to come. The Celtics are not one of those teams. Imagine the state this squad will be in say just two years from now? Not a pretty picture.

For The Red Sox, the future is infinitely brighter than the other big two Boston teams.

100 mph worth of reasons to be hopeful
Picture credit belongs to katken.

There’s no doubt the World Series is probably the toughest title to win of the big three, however Boston is tooled to make several runs at the title over the next few seasons. They have the financial backing, but most importantly they have an indcredible array of young talent assembled that no other team can match. The closest possibly being Tampa, however they will lose some of their pieces to free agency, whilst Boston can figure out a way to keep them. The Yankees, fresh off their ‘bought’ World Series, can only dream of having this group of twenty something studs; Daniel Bard, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonathon Papelbon, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Michael Bowden, Jon lester, Jed Lowrie, Manny Delcarmen and Clay Buchholz.

That pool of MLB ready talent is already producing results at the highest level. Give those players another season or two and Boston could be on the brink of a 3-5 year stretch of dominance the likes of which MLB teams only dream of. The future is so bright, Theo Epstein has to wear shades.

So that’s it in a nutshell really, hard to see the Celtics or Patriots winning anything in the next few years. However, it is very plausible to see the Red Sox ripping off a streak of World Series titles, with a stable of young studs and the financial backing to add the parts around those players to bring the shiny trophies home.




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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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