The Sports Oscars

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Published on : March 30, 2017

 

 

Award season has come and gone. And in honor of the recent 89th Academy Awards, ScoreBoredSports would like to present the 1st annual Sports Oscars. Just what America needs, another award show! Press your tux and fill your flask because it’s time to walk the red carpet and hand out some gold statues to the year’s best sports performances. And to all the winners, don’t forget to thank your agent and your mom. Now, let’s get this show on the road. The first category is:

 

Best Supporting Actor

Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors. After Kevin Durant came to town, Dray’s role on the team shifted. He no longer was needed to score the ball but instead had to become the defensive leader and do all the small things that help win games. No better example than back in February, when Green had the most unconventional of Triple Doubles. With only 4 points, he also tallied 12 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals (along with 5 blocks).

 

Makeup

Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals. This was a tough one but Bryce’s under-eye black takes the cake. It’s kind of looks like Harper is the 5th member of Kiss mixed with a little Hawk and Animal from the Legion of Doom (WWF/WWE). I think more pros should follow the face paint lead. It’s a great way to show off some personality and it just washes off when you’re done.

 

Washington Nationals v St Louis Cardinals - Game Two

 

Best Editing

The New England Patriots. These guys always seem to make the perfect roster moves They add players you think are only okay and then they preform insanely well and they cut talent you think is irreplaceable only to see them underperform with their new team. Perfect example: Lions cut ties with LB Kyle Van Noy after him not working out in Detroit. They trade him to New England. Cut to Van Noy flying around being one of the difference makers for the Pats, in the Super Bowl.

 

Best Original Screenplay

Jaromir Jagr of the Florida Panthers. The dude is 45-years-old and writing his own story where only he knows the ending. The man has 763 career goals, that’s good for third all-time behind Howe and Gretzky. Jagr has more points over the age of 40 than even Howe. So he is the best older hockey player we have ever seen. He loves to play and has no plans of stopping. I hope this story has a few more chapters.

 

Costume Design

The University of Michigan Men’s Basketball team. On their way to D.C. for the Big Ten tournament, their plane was forced to abort takeoff and then roughly skid off the runway. The Wolverines barely made it to the game but their luggage with their uniforms were still stuck on the plane. U of M channeled their inner Tim Gunn and had to ‘make it work’ because they rocked their practice jerseys, looked dope and won the game.

 

 

Documentary Feature

This is the only award that both SBS and the real Oscars agree on. We both have O.J.: Made in America as the winner for best doc. It’s superbly well-made and very captivating. You should check it out. And it’s not just for sports or murder fans. It fun for the whole family.

 

Best Score

Lionel Messi of Barcelona. Messi is a wizard with the ball in space but he is just as lethal when it comes to free kicks. This zinger comes from a stretch of 3 games where Messi had a free kick goal in each. That’s just insane. Click HERE to watch the clip and be amazed.

 

Best Actress

Serena Williams. Her huge win at the Australian Open gives her 39 total titles (singles, doubles, mixed doubles) in tennis. If this category is about incredible individual effort, than I can think of no one more accomplished than Serena. She is a joy to watch and has elevated the entire sport of tennis. Not just the women’s game. Serena Williams is a champion.

 

 

Best Director

Joe Maddon, skipper of the Chicago Cubs has to win this one. His arrival seemed liked the real turning point for this franchise. From his first weeks in Wrigley, it seemed liked things were different. Maddon directed the Cubs to their first World Series win in a jabillion years and for that he wins the award.

 

Best Picture

Maybe my Michigan bias is showing but the image is truly stunning and it was a huge moment/game for two teams hunting the NFL playoffs. I really wanted to be cool and just say “presented without comment” but that’s totally a comment. And I’m way better than that.

 

 

That’s going to do it for the first ever sports Oscars. List your favorite player or performance in the comments below. Not bad for our first award show. At least we never called the wrong winner.

 

Glitz.

 

 


SBS’ 500th Post: An Ode to the Number 500 in Sports

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Published on : October 22, 2016

 

 

For ScoreBoredSports 500th post, we honor the number 500 and see its mark on the world of sports. 500 is a mountain to climb for things like wins, goals, yards in a game but many of the greats have those milestone in their rear-view. Let’s dig through sports history books and see where the famous number presents itself.

 

Indy 500

The first thing that comes to mind. I’ll include Daytona and all other major 500 lap Sprint Cup races in this section. Racing wasn’t always on my sports radar but with age, I’ve come to appreciate the talent needed to drive a car over 200 mph for hundreds of laps. My old car can’t even go over 45 mph. NASCAR speed is almost shocking but it’s the control that’s truly impressive.

 

The term “.500”

In reference to a team’s winning percentage. Often in the context of over or under .500. AKA are you a winning or losing team. This metric is used in many pro games. It is the gold standard for coaches where W’s mean keeping a job. Over .500? Things are probably going pretty good.

 

500 yards passing in a game

 

Only 16 NFL QBs have pulled this off. From older names like Norm Van Brocklin to modern gun slingers like Matthew Stafford. As football goes more and more pass heavy, this club will stop being so exclusive. Then we’ll start talking about 600 yards passing in one game.

 

500 home run club

Babe Ruth was the first to hit 500 dingers and 26 others have matched the feat. Albert Pujols is the only active member of the 500 club. He sits at 591. Barry Bonds’ 762 home runs seems like an insane hill to climb for anyone.

 

The game “500”

You know the rules. Your one friend plays dealer and tosses a ball and calls out a point value. The rest of the players fight to catch the ball. You earn points with each catch. Hit 500 and you earn the right to be the dealer. Perfect game for when you didn’t really have the numbers for full teams of something else.

 

500 goals in NHL

 

Only 44 hockey players have this honor. Most of them Canadians. 500 is a huge mark but for reference, the all time leader in goals is Wayne Gretzky and he has 894. Gordie Howe is second on that list with 801. Suddenly, 500 doesn’t seem that wild.

 

500 wins

Coaches in almost every sport have broken this barrier. Often it is a college coach who stays at one program for two decades plus. There are too many to name but most of the greats you can think of are here. Just no NFL guys because of the much shorter schedule in terms of overall games.

 

500 goals in soccer

27 futbol gods have netted 500 or more GOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!! Scoring machines Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the only active players with over 500 goals. Who knows how many more these two will score before it’s all over.

 

 

Happy 500 everyone. To all the athletes with the insane records, we tip our caps to you. And to all the SBS family and all the loyal Bored-Agains, here is to the next 500 posts.

 

Half thousand.

 

 


Guardians of the Galaxy Play Sports

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Published on : September 19, 2016

 

The Guardians of the Galaxy started as a comic book but was not super well known. So the movie felt like it came out of nowhere and then just blew everyone away. I’d dare say it’s the best Marvel movie to date. The film is a mega-blockbuster because it’s super funny, well paced, and features a wicked soundtrack. The movie is just fun when so many superhero tales are so boringly serious.

 

The Guardians are fierce warriors. Some might call them space pirates. But pirate is a dirty word and we know Star Lord and team are good guys. They are not necessarily sports people but when they fight I can’t help but view them like a pro scout. And I see potential. Let’s breakdown the Guardians roster and see which sport would be the best landing place for each hero.

 

Groot

Groot

 

The living tree. Originally acted as muscle for Rocket Raccoon back in their bounty hunter days. Groot is tall, strong and resilient. For those reasons, he would be best suited to play center for an NBA team. Groot can take a lot of damage in the paint and keep going. His limbs can grow and stretch as needed and that will be straight unfair in basketball. Expect Groot to snag every rebound and be able to dunk from super far away, all without jumping.

 

Groot could be the next big foreign (alien?) star to storm the league. Think Yao Ming but taller and with better roots. His limited vocabularly will make press conferences tough but maybe he just needs to find the right team. Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs come to mind. Groot is the new Tim Duncan and speaks even less than Pop.

 

Rocket Raccoon

Rocket Raccoon

 

The genius engineer. Unfortunately, no pro game lets you carry a plasma weapon but Rocket is more than just a triggerman. You may underestimate him by his size and foul mouth but his ability to make split second calculations make his opportunities in sports almost endless. I almost want to say he could play QB in a no-huddle style offense but I think MLB shortstop is a better fit.

 

Rocket has the speed and instincts to read the action and track the ball for some insane catches. His superior brain power will aid him in making the right throws to the right places. And we all know the dude has a cannon. Think Manny Machado but faster and stronger. At the plate, Rocket will be more of an opportunistic hitter like Ichiro than a pure power cleanup guy. But make no mistake, you hang a meatball over the plate and he’ll turn your pitch into a souvenir from someone in the nosebleeds.

 

Drax

drax

 

The destroyer. If he could skate, then hockey would be perfect but I don’t think even Gretzky could teach him to glide. That leaves the obvious, football. Drax is an NFL middle linebacker. He could play any spot along the D line but having him as a free runner from the linebacker level would be devastating.

 

His play style would be similar to a Von Miller or a Clay Mathews. If those guys did steroids, in space and were completely mental. The biggest obstacle for Drax in the NFL would be himself. Pre-snap penalties. Roughing the passer. The fines and suspensions could really pile up if he isn’t careful. But let’s be honest, it’s probably a success if he doesn’t rip anyone’s arm off. The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly interested.

 

Gamora

Gamora

 

The assassin. Gamora is an expert in hand-to-hand combat and has the precision of a neurosurgeon. This mastery of coordination will play perfectly in the world of soccer. The green goddess would make a stellar attacking midfielder in the spirit of Zinedine Zidane. She has the endurance to cover the entire pitch and the speed and athletic prowess to win possession over any opponent.

 

Gamora would be instantly famous for her Messi-like passing ability but it’s her skill in the air that would make her legendary. Simply unguardable on set pieces. A corner or free kick is a guaranteed goal with her roving the field. Like Drax, the only limitation to Gamora’s futbol success is Gamora. If she gets bored with winning, we could see her leave soccer for UFC or something even wilder.

 

Star-Lord AKA Peter Quill

Starlord

 

The unlikely hero. Quill is charming and quick witted but tougher than his attitude suggests. He is the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy so a team sport seem like a good bet. That may be true but he would really shine as a NASCAR driver. He’s already a great pilot and he has the one thing all good drivers need: confidence. Hell, confidence might be his super power.

 

Star-Lord drives with no fear and would be Sprint Cup champ in no time. His racing persona is strange mix of Dale Earnhardt and Ricky Bobby with a little Michael Jordan for good measure. Quill would shatter any and all records. And this is without Rocket’s help under the hood. Plus he’d do it with a smile and a snarky comment.

 

Each member of the Guardians is fast and strong. They all have skills that cross many athletic disciplines but the key is to find the best fit. Do you have a better idea of what sports these superheroes should play? Let us know in the comments.

 

Intergalactic planetary.

 

 


Good vs. Evil: World Football’s Beautiful Struggle

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Published on : August 30, 2016

 

 

For the undecided, uninitiated fan, world football can seem like an overwhelming array of options. The biggest teams on the planet have distinct histories, often colliding with world politics. Did you know that SS Lazio, in Rome, was Mussolini’s team? That Real Madrid was Francisco Franco’s team?

 

The point I’m trying to make here is that good and evil really do exist on the football field. Nowadays, that doesn’t always mean that a dictator is your squad’s key supporter; aspects of the game itself, like style of play, also inform whether a team is playing good football or evil football.

 

To understand this dichotomy, let’s start with defining “good” football. Morally just football is, for lack of a better way to put it, beautiful. Think the Tika-taka of Barcelona, Spain’s national team 2008-12, and, most importantly, the Total Football of Ajax and that Dutch national team of the 70’s under Rinus Michels. In addition to Johan Cruyff and Michels, perhaps the most iconic evangelist of beautiful football was former Argentinian World Cup-winning national coach Cesar Luis Menotti, known as “El Flaco” (“The Skinny One,” or as I like to translate, “The Thin Man”).

 

menotti

 

Menotti was as much coach as political philosopher. The iconic image is of Menotti with a cigarette in hand, expounding on the core values of football and politics, and the intertwined nature of the two: 

“There’s a right-wing football and a left-wing football. Right-wing football wants to suggest that life is struggle. It demands sacrifices. We have to become of steel and win by any method … obey and function, that’s what those with power want from the players.”

The present-day inheritor of the progressive world football mantle is Pep Guardiola, the progenitor of Barcelona’s Tika-Taka revolution and current Manchester City Coach. Considered one of the finest minds in coaching, Guardiola has won the Champions League, the Bundesliga and Spanish championships, and defined a generation of fluid, attacking football. With Lionel Messi, arguably the game’s greatest-ever player, flanked by some of the greatest-ever passers in Xavi and Andres Iniesta, Barcelona under Guardiola played some of the most beautiful and controlled football the globe has ever seen.

 

 

On the other end of the spectrum is fascist football. This distinguishes itself from teams who were or are actually supported by fascists. Fascist football is a style that priorities the win by any means necessary. Often referred to as anti-football, goals come at the highest premium in favor of drilled, staunch defending. The figurehead for anti-football is legendary manager Helenio Herrera, another Argentinian who believed, with a fervor similar to El Flaco, in the primacy of the team. Herrera, however, coached the legendary Inter Milan teams (as well as Barca, later) using a now-outdated Catenaccio (meaning “chain”) formation that featured a sweeper and four defenders, relying on a rapid counter-attack.

 

Here, too, the modern game has a clear inheritor: Jose Mourinho. Jose’s track record might be viewed as the greatest of all time: Championships in four different leagues (a feat matched only by three other managers) and European championships with three different clubs. Yet the means by which Jose has achieved this inviolate brilliance has been, quite literally, an evocation of Herrera’s methodically controlled, anti-football spirit. Mourinho’s by-any-means tactics, oft-uninspiring one-goal wins, and psychological subterfuge aimed at players, staff, fans, and media alike, indicate that, unlike Herrera, Mourinho’s heart beats darkly, pumping venom through the veins of his system.

 

 

Far be it from me to over-analyze the political heart of a soccer coach, but here I go anyway: Jose Mourinho’s family has historical ties to the Fascist Estado Novo regime in Portugal. Mourinho’s political views “are believed to be strongly right wing,” and his mother was taken in by an uncle who was “a sardine cannery boss who grew rich under the far-right regime of dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, [Jose’s mother] grew up in a mansion surrounded by servants and political intrigue.” Is it possible his desire to crush the very essence of human spirit stems from these hinted-at fascist leanings? Okay, perhaps that’s a bit much, but I bet if you asked Eva Carneiro she’d have a thing or two to say about Jose’s leadership style.

 

For those in search of meaning amid the tumult of club football season, just take a look at the pitch and see what’s going on. Are players making runs, crafting multilayered attacks, keeping possession, and trying to do cool stuff? Or are they just slowing the game down and booting it, spring-loading a harried counterattack, parking the bus behind the ball otherwise, and waiting for the other team to make a mistake?

 

Each of these strategies can win games, leagues, and championships. But in the words of El Flaco:

“I want to win the match. But I don’t give in to tactical reasoning as the only way to win, rather I believe that efficacy is not divorced from beauty.”

 

O jogo bonito, as they say.

 

 


What’s the Devil’s Favorite Sport?

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Published on : July 23, 2016

 

 

We already figured out the good side of the this story with Jesus and what he would play, so it seems only right to dive deep into the fiery rings of the inferno and have a conversation with the Prince of Darkness himself. This is the Devil’s time to shine. I feel like we talk about the accuser all the time but never ask him what he really likes. Is he a boxers or briefs kind of guy? Probably whichever lets his tail breathe. Whatever. Time to go to hell. Don’t worry, it’s just for a visit, plus it’s all about sports!

 

Football

The fallen angel loves football. Both the NFL and NCAA versions are rife with scandal and criminal activity. Everything from drugs to rape to murder all with a strong dose of lying to wash it down. And let’s not forget that any solid hit could ruin your brain forever. Oh and you can gamble on it. Where do you think Vegas gets their odds from?

 

UFC

 

A natural fit right? Wrong. The dark lord actually thinks two trained fighters in a ring, octagon or any polygon is too controlled of an experiment. Sure, he’ll watch if his friends are into it. But he’s not going to shell out for a pay-per-view unless others are chipping in. Also, he’s super squeamish about blood. Go figure.

 

Basketball

The ruler of demons is a diehard Knicks fan. Brutal right? He loves Carmelo Anthony. Was pumped about the Joakim Noah addition but puzzled by additions of Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose. How are they all going to share the ball? Spoiler alert, the big guy told me Melo leaves next year and joins LeBron on the Memphis Grizzlies.

 

Soccer

Jesus’ favorite. Not Satans. Too slow and not enough action. Not a fair assessment but you tell him you disagree. The deceiver was quick to note how many futbol pros had sold their souls for skill with the ball. The list is long and includes most of Europe’s top talent. I won’t reveal any names but most of your guesses are probably right.

 

Hockey

satan hockey

 

Too cold. Though, the serpent does like the fighting here. It’s raw, impulsive and generally allowed. Despite the physical nature, it’s the high-speed game play that puts him off. Honestly, I think the defiler’s eyesight is a little rusty and he has a hard time tracking the puck. He is pretty old. I only say this because he said he wished they would bring back that blue dot they used to have on the puck for tv broadcasts.

 

Golf

The evil one is super into golf. He digs the exclusivity, the cool clothes and the gorgeous greens. Oddly enough, he never uses a caddie or a golf cart and always carries his own clubs. He says he does his best thinking on the course. Like back in 1935 while putting for eagle, he came up for the idea of parking tickets.

 

Baseball

Leviathan has always loved baseball. There is hitting, crotch grabbing, spitting, racism, steroids, Pete Rose, plus grown men throwing tantrums at umpires. I asked the king of liars what his favorite team is and he said it was a tie between the kids from Sandlot and the Chicago Cubs. He continued on to say that the Cubbies won’t win the World Series until something about a blood oath and some sort of goat sacrifice. I’m a little foggy on the details. But it’s all in this SUPER creepy book he gave me. Let me know if anyone wants to borrow it.

 

Fantasy

In this Aug. 30, 2010 photograph, Brian Sherman, left, uses his laptop to record moves in his team's fantasy football draft, at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Cincinnati. Some restaurant chains around the country have launched promotional drives to score with dedicated players of the growing pastime. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

 

Lucifer plays fantasy everything. I hear he has a league for fantasy newscasters. It’s apparently wild. He really loves fantasy football. His team has won the championship 3 times over the last 16 years. So I’d say he’s on a hot streak. Word is, the son of the morning is drafting Cam Newton with the first overall pick. Not the worst move I’ve ever heard.

 

CrossFit

Beelzebub is obsessed with crossfit. This is hands down his favorite sport. I know this because he brought it up more than a few times. But, to be fair, he is totally ripped. Shredded. Like John Cena but made of granite. I literally bounced a quarter of his ass into a beer (which I made him drink), that’s how insane his body is. Later, I argued that crossfit isn’t really a true sport. Then he benched pressed me 3,000 times and ran around the building before doing what I assume was 10,000 squats. I escaped out the window.

 

So the Antichrist loves crossfit. No one would have ever guessed The Devil Wears Affliction. I think that teaches a valuable lesson. Go talk to people, ask them what they like. Their answers might just change you forever.

 

Feel the burn.

 

 


The Conflicted Radical’s Guide to Euro 2016 or How I Learned to Just Stop Worrying and Love Les Bleus

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Published on : July 10, 2016

 

 

Just in time for France’s showdown against Portugal in the Euro 2016 Final, a white red who grew up wanting to be black explains why he’ll be cheering for Les Bleus. SBS presents the first installment in what will be a semi-regular series of rants on the always controversial intersection of sports and politics:

Dispatches from Left Field aka The Vanguard is in the Bleachers

7/10/2016

The Conflicted Radical’s Guide to Euro 2016 or How I Learned to Just Stop Worrying and Love Les Bleus

For a left-wing trade unionist brought up on Public Enemy and stories of family members marching against racism, war and corrupt governments both near and far, “watching the game” has never just been “watching the game.” Whether it was my old man screaming out “fascists” at pretty much any opposing team that he didn’t like or the way mom – an itinerant fan at best who still figures prominently in this origin story — would make sure to point out which country used to be colonized by who and therefore where our family’s loyalties should properly lie, sports in our house was always connected to the outside world, and always to politics. You couldn’t even relax during commercials because every time a Coors Light ad would come on my dad would treat all in attendance to another from-the-sofa history lesson about the “motherfuckers who fought to keep out the union.”

 

So how did an angsty young white-boy, reared in an anti-establishment home – the kind of teenager that sulked down to the wood-paneled basement, angry at the world, to listen to militant hip-hop and watch “SportsCenter” — how did that kid become an unabashed flag-waving supporter of the land of wine and cheese?  How did he – I – become a supporter of one of the most barbaric colonial powers in the history of the planet? Well the answer is simple; like the great Sigmund Freud, I blame my mother.

 

 

And speaking of my mom, if anyone could have a historical chip on their shoulder against Les Francais, it could actually be her, the child of an immigrant woman whose Russian and Polish background were enough to get her French government papers declaring her as good as “stateless.” Spoiler alert: moms was actually born in France, but to a refugee single mother in a post-war Paris where those from lands to the East were treated with the same type of scorn that so many Arabs and West Africans suffer regularly there today. Childhood poverty, an immigrant mother who worked a string of low-wage jobs in a country that would never totally accept her – that might be enough to raise a daughter none too happy to sing the French national anthem and pledge allegiance to her birthplace. Good thing there was no French equivalent of Public Enemy at the time.

 

But there are two sides to every croissant… and my mother grew to love life in Paris and the many opportunities it gave her. Not the least of those benefits being a world-class education accessed completely free of charge (even for the child of an immigrant – didja’ hear that America?). So as she came of age in the land of liberté, égalité, and fraternité my mom excelled in her studies, made friends, and ran home from school for bits of bread and chocolate like all the other good little boys and girls. At the same time, years of class room interrogations about her last name and background and her own mother’s continued servitude in the homes of the Parisian One Percent also laid the foundation for my mom to become something of a hybrid enfant terrible. From protesting the French occupation of Algeria to standing toe-to-toe with striking French workers in May of ’68, my mom’s evolving relationship with her country was and still is a complicated one.

 

But when the legendary French Footballer Zinedine Zidane — the one they call “Zizou” — led a super -talented multi-cultural squad to greatness in the World Cup finals in 1998 and then again at the Euros in 2000, mom and the rest of our family stood and cheered. We celebrated the team’s brilliance on the pitch. We celebrated the great chemistry between “Zizou,” the graceful midfield playmaker, and Henry, the dynamic striker. And we celebrated the greatness of working class Frenchmen born to immigrant parents in rough places like Marseille and the banlieues of Paris (Zizou and Henry respectively) who overcame obstacles to become the best in the world. And it definitely wasn’t lost on any of us that those immigrant parents came from former French colonies. Mom didn’t have to point it out that time – we knew Zizou’s family hailed from Berber country in Algeria and Henry’s from the Antilles. That made donning the Coq Sportif all the more righteous and yet subversive at the same time.

 

 

But before we get all bleary-eyed and pour ourselves another Lillet let us remember that for all the promise that Zizou and Henry and company portended for the direction of a new post-colonial multi-cultural France, there have been more than a few troubling reminders that all is not well in Gaule. The violent uprisings in the banlieux in 2005, the rising popularity of Far Right Nationalist Front politicians like Marine Le Pen (“How you say…Le Trump?”), and even the recent controversy around the French Football Federation’s refusal to include embattled star player Kareem Benzema on this year’s side are all signs of a country that has struggled to live up to its revolutionary ideals.

 

The Benzema case, especially, has given pause to legions of French football supporters, this one included. A publically gracious figure who continues to proclaim both his innocence and love of La France – tweeting things like “once a bleu always a bleu” –  he has become a flashpoint for a volatile national conversation on immigration, Islam, and the conduct of celebrity athletes. The accusation that he was involved in the attempted blackmailing of a fellow teammate by a group of French Arabs is certainly disturbing but almost more unsettling is the idea that he hasn’t even been proven guilty and yet a significant part of the French population has already made up their minds based on not much more than his North African heritage. A National Front official related to Marine Le Pen even went so far as to say that if Benzema didn’t like being left off the squad then he could go play for Algeria; never mind that the man was born and raised in France.

 

 

So for a kid who was spoon-fed anti-racism and anti-colonialism since he was wearing environmentally friendly, biodegradable diapers, rooting for Les Bleus, in a weird way, became a kind of catharsis. A way to make peace with complicated histories. A way to celebrate the struggles of immigrants who came to the West to give themselves and their children a second chance at a better life; as cleaning ladies, or as teachers, or as star half-backs wearing a nation’s colors on their chest.

 

This year’s showing in the Euros again leaves the French at the doorstep of history. As they face down another former colonial empire in Portugal in today’s final, I know my family and I will all be rooting for Les Bleus. Not because we think France is perfect or the best, and not because we aren’t totally disgusted by the wave of anti-Muslim sentiment there – because we are. And not because I’ve sold out my political principles based on a “bourgeois notion of nostalgia,” as some of my more hardened comrades tell me while they break my balls for the one-thousandth time. No, when my family shouts “Allez Les Bleus,” it’s because we’re hoping that the beautiful game, played by a beautiful group of immigrants and the sons of immigrants – Like Dimitri Payet, Patrice Evra, Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi, Moussa Sissoko – might just be able to elevate us all to somewhere better than we are right now.

 

Plus mom likes it when I say nice things about France and a wise man once told me that there never stop being perks for kissing up to your mother.

 

 


Euro Cup 2016 Final Preview

Written by :
Published on : July 9, 2016

 

 

This Sunday July 10th, 2016 is the UEFA Euro Cup final. Host nation, France, will square off against Portugal for the title of best in Europe. Below is everything you need to know about both teams as we get ready for an epic showdown. So get your jersey, your red wine, your scarf and your other bottle of red wine because this is a crash course on the Euro Cup finals. But before we get to the head-to-head matchup, let’s take a quick look at how each squad advanced to the finals.

 

France

 

France cruised through the group stages with two wins and a draw. Then they dismantled Iceland 5-2 with goals coming from Giroud (twice), Pogba, Payet and Griezmann. But was set to face Germany in the semi-finals, a team they haven’t beaten in a major tournament since 1958. But the game was being played in Marseille and the French are undefeated playing at home in big tournaments.

 

Les Bleus beat the German team 2-0 off the foot of French superstar, Antoine Griezmann. First, Griezmann scored on a penalty kick in extra time right before the break. This was one of the lone bright spots for France as Germany dominated possession the whole first half. But a handball in the box set up the PK and Antoine did the rest. Not resting on their laurels, France pushed in the second and Griezmann found the back of the net again, directing a rebound for a clever goal that iced the match.

 

Portugal

 

Portugal struggled in the group stage and tied all three of their matches. Many, including futbol-god, Cristiano Ronaldo, didn’t seem to think they had much of a chance moving forward. But a gutsy 1-0 win over Croatia sent the Portuguese to the semis where they would face a solid Polish team, lead by goal scoring machine, Robert Lewandowski.

 

Lewandowski opened the game with a goal in the second minute. The second fastest goal in Euro history. It seemed that the Pols were on the march. But in classic form, Portugal tied it up with a goal from Renato Sanches. In the closing minutes, Ronaldo had a perfect chance to end it but kicked it right to the keeper. Both sides battled to the 90th minute and into extra time. Still tied, the game went to penalties where they won 5-3.

 

How they stack up

ronoldo and greizmann

 

Forwards: Griezmann and Ronaldo both wear number 7 and are both team’s key to winning. One of these guys can single-handedly change the outcome. Griezmann has more goals in Euro Cup so far but I begrudgingly award Advantage Portugal.

 

Defense: France’s backline looked solid all tournament. The likes of Patrice Evra, Bacary Sagna and Laurent Koscielny help keep shape and limit chances. The same cannot always be said by the Portuguese side. Advantage France.


Best Hair: 
Both Giroud and Greizmann rock the hipster shaved sides do with the pride of a bad club DJ but once again Cristiano swoops in with his perfect features to steal the category. Too bad this isn’t “best wines,” cause France owns that. Advantage Portugal. 

 

Midfielders: Portugal has tried a few starting lineups, with most of the shakeups being in the midfield. João Mário has started every game with different combos of Danilo, Andre Gomes, and João Moutinho. While France’s Blaise Matuidi, Dimitri Payet and Paul Pogba continue to build chemistry in their six starts. Advantage France.

 

Goalkeeping: France’s Hugo Lloris vs. Portugal’s Rui Patrício. Lloris has given up 1 fewer goal through six games of Euro Cup and played great against Germany. Patrício has had less defensive help so maybe the stats aren’t telling. He did come up big in the PK’s versus Poland. Let’s call this one a Tie.

 

Prediction

 

France has the deeper team and more talent overall but CR7 makes his own luck. If the French defense can stay strong like they did against Germany then it should be a party at the Eiffel Tower on Sunday. France 3 – Portugal 1.

 

Allez Les Bleus!

 

 


USMNT still has a long way to go

Written by :
Published on : June 23, 2016

 

 

Soccer is slowly becoming more and more popular here in the U.S. I just hope that what we all witnessed in the Copa America Centenario Semi-Final doesn’t turn too many new fans of the USMNT off from the game. Us Americans are pretty accustomed to the U.S. Men’s National Team underperforming on the big stages of international soccer, but the team has been much more interesting in recent years, and as a result more people have gotten into the sport.

 

In fact 8.1 million people here in the United States tuned in to watch our boys play against the #1 ranked team in the world, Argentina. You know, the team that also has the world’s best player, Lionel Messi. I knew before the game that we would have our hands full, but I had a sliver of hope that we could make the game interesting.

 

That hope began to fade quickly and substantially when Argentina’s Ezequiel Lavezzi scored in the 4th minute of play. When Messi scored on a free kick in the 32nd minute, I began to get very discouraged. I knew that there was very little chance of Argentina giving up that lead. But I still watched, hoping that we could put together something resembling competent and controlled soccer and at least lose in a respectable manner. Before the game, a 3-1 loss was something I told myself I wouldn’t be too upset about. That didn’t happen either. When it was all said and done, we lost 4-0. Brutal.

 

 Messi is almost impossible to stop when you’re playing your best. The USMNT didn’t stand a chance.

 

The USMNT advanced to the Copa America Semi-Final for only the second time ever, and that’s something to be proud of. But one thing is very clear after watching our team play against one of the best teams in the world, the USMNT still has far to go before they are to be considered legit world contenders.

 

It was painfully obvious that Argentina was in a league far above the Americans. Argentina plays a beautiful passing game that kept the U.S. chasing the ball for almost the entire 90 minutes. And when the U.S. did get possession, more often than not they made errant passes that quickly turned the ball over. With no shots on goal and very few chances overall, it was at times painful to watch. This is something that I’ve seen for a while now, and if it weren’t for the grit and determination of some of the U.S. players, I’m afraid we would lose like we did on Tuesday much more often.

 

We just don’t pass the ball well and miss people in space constantly. When compared to the best teams in the world, we look like amateurs. I appreciate everything that guys like Michael Bradley have done to help U.S. Soccer progress, but I am also looking forward to the next generation of players and hoping that they can pass the ball better than most of these guys.

 

 John Brooks had his hands full but played great in this tournament. We beed more guys like him.

 

That’s not to say that I wish to see everyone on the team get replaced right now. Clint Dempsey is still a very important member of the team, as evidenced by his four goals in the Copa America. And I wish we could clone John Brooks and have four of him on our back line, because he was a big reason that we made it as far as we did in this tournament. There’s other bright young stars like Bobby Wood, DeAndre Yedlin and the baby face 17 year old, Christian Pulisic, who should all give U.S. soccer fans a ton of hope for the future. But until these young guns fully take over the team, there will be more heartache when we face the great squads.

 

I don’t like every move that Jurgen Klinsmann has made since taking over the national team, but unlike some, I do believe he has progressed soccer in the United States of America. He will be the one who leads the team in to the World Cup in Russia in two years, and we have to get behind him for at least that long. We need to hope that over the next two years, he continues to develop the young, rising stars of the USMNT so that we can show the world, and some of the newer fans stateside, that we are a team worth taking seriously.

 

We’ve made progress, but we still have a long way to go before we can play with the big boys.

 

 


SOCCER RECAP: USA vs Mexico

Written by :
Published on : October 23, 2015

 

 

 

Saturday October 10th, 2015. 6:30 PM PST. The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA.

 

 

 

USA vs Mexico. Mostly a friendly match with a dash of CONCACAF drama. I had not planned on going to the game but my excellent friends wanted to and threw down some cash on great seats right behind the US goal. I couldn’t say no. The four of us parked on one of the few streets in Pasadena not guarded by game day parking enforcement (or whatever that rent-a-cop garbage unit is) and made the free-parking hike toward the stadium.

 

On the way, we joked about who would have more fans? I mean this is America after all, but it’s Southern California AKA Mexico’s ex-girlfriend, so it should be a toss up. Soccer is really growing in the states. The ladies on team USA are the 2015 World Cup Champions, MLS keeps poaching (aging) international superstars, plus there is finally a real groundswell of support (See: American Outlaws below) across the country. Maybe the times are changing?

 

IMG_3833

 

We wind through the broken beer bottles of the tailgate lot and make our way in just as the national anthems blare. We grab $13 Coors Light drafts (yes, they sell beer for non-college games, Alex) and find our section. As we exit the tunnel, we are instantly faced with the full might of the packed Rose Bowl. I was here just the other week for the UCLA game but this isn’t the same. The arena was electric.

 

IMG_3788

 

Over 93,000 screaming fans. We get stopped by security as we try and move down the staircase to our primo seats. They tell us that the area is full even though we have tickets. The only way they let anyone down is if they say they have friends holding them a spot. We learn later, that the unofficial team USA fan club, the American Outlaws, took over the section and made it “general admission”, meaning that the staff won’t help us or anyone else get to their correct seats. Real talk translation: “we have no power over the crowd and are trying our hardest to prevent a riot.”

 

image2

 

We wedge ourselves behind a row off the aisle. Doesn’t matter about having a real seat because the entire stadium stands for the whole game. Mexico scores first and it’s instantly clear who has more fans. My old iPhone 4S does its best trying to record the madness.

 

(click anywhere on the window to start video)

 

But this game would stay close. Team USA answered the bell and the American half of the building broke out into song. I hope The White Stripes get money for this.

 

 

(once again click anywhere on the window to start video)

 

After an intense 90 minutes, we found ourselves tied and heading to extra time. That’s when we met Abraham Lincoln.

 

image1

 

But this wasn’t your grandfather’s Lincoln, this fella had the arms on his jacket missing so you could see his buff biceps. And as everybody knows, Lincoln freed the sleeves.

 

IMG_3795

 

I assumed this was a sign that we would win but Mexico was too good, too athletic, too fast. Since the half, the yanks looked like they were playing catch up. Overtime was a gift. One that wouldn’t last. Mexico put the dagger in with only minutes before the end of OT. Penalty Kicks were not to be.

 

I took the loss gracefully. The same could not be said for many of the US faithful. As we left the packed facility, I was overwhelmed by the clever vendors selling their wares to the exiting fans. Mainly, cans of beer, bootleg t-shirts and bacon-wrapped hotdogs. All at a reasonable markup. We grabbed an exit brew and hoofed it back to the car under the chants of “Mexico-Mexico-Mexico.”

 

I’d say it was a bummer, but I can’t. I saw five goals. Lead changes and equalizers, even overtime. It was incredible. Nothing like I had ever experienced. My closing thought (Jerry Springer!) is that everyone should see one real futbol game before they die. Something like this match. It will change you and make you a soccer fan for life. Trust me, it’s worth it.

 

Oi Oi Oi!!!

 

 

For a less funny recap of the game with GIFS of all the goals go here. Or google it. Lazy.

 

 


Open Letter to Eva Carneiro and Arsenal

Written by :
Published on : August 13, 2015

 

 

Dr. Carneiro, et al —

 

My name is Antoine. I live in America, and, according to my Facebook, I’m the Chief Technology Officer at Unemployed. I also write for this website, at times. Throughout my long and industrious career, my “bread and butter” has been seeing connections where others don’t see them. Of course, this has led me down enough rabbit holes that I have learned to see the limitations, as well. Not everything is tied together with an invisible string.  But when a connection screams to me as loudly as this, I must take to the mountain tops, or at least to the internet. It is so clear to me now.

 

After learning about this first Premier League controversy of 2015-16, I’ve solved a grim dilemma.  Dr. Eva Carneiro should work for Arsenal.

 

Eva Carneiro

 

Dr. Carneiro is a brilliant and accomplished physician with an excellent track record of keeping players healthy and on the pitch. For example, in 2013-14, while she was a first-team doctor during José Mourinho’s return campaign, Chelsea posted the second fewest days lost to injury, at 556. Only Stoke City lost fewer days to injury, with 555 (stats courtesy of physioroom.com).

 

In contrast, Arsenal have long been the poster children for fragility in the Premier League. Some injuries have been tragic, such as Aaron Ramsey’s broken leg; some have been absurd in their repetitiveness (see: Diaby, Abou; Wilshere, Jack; van Persie, Robin; Rosicky, Tomas). The preceding list is so long and easy to recount that it leaves me flabbergasted.

 

The Gunners have been in poor health, and they need a better doctor. I know, sure, they hired former German National Team trainer Shad Forsythe only a year ago. But if Jack Wilshere or Mathieu Debuchy’s entire lower halves have anything to say about it, I remain skeptical. Dr. Carneiro joining Arsenal’s staff as a first-team physio is written in the stars. There’s no need to sell Eva on the new locale — she already works in London! As far the working environment, well, let’s just say Arsène Wenger is clearly not Mourinho. For one, I know for a fact that Wenger doesn’t demand daily bowel movement reports, as I’ve heard rumors that José may or may not require of all his staff.

 

Jose Mourinho

 

More fundamentally, Arsène does not suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is a Cluster-B personality organization that stems from central ego deficits. He won’t harangue you in front of the media for doing your job, and then ostensibly demote you (in spite of the fact that the physio’s job is apparently an impossible balancing act of knowing when your asshole players are faking it, having the full tactical acumen of a coach to know when exactly to ignore a potentially injured player, and then also deciding to not do your job sometimes).

 

Go to the Emirates, Dr. Carneiro. You’ve been treated in a ghastly manner, and surely the Gunners hierarchy could find a place for a mistreated yet excellent staff member.

 

By the way, does anyone reading remember the number of days lost to injury for Arsenal in 2014? 1,716. Yes, that’s well over three times that of Chelsea’s.

 

Good luck to all parties this year!

 

Sincerely,

— Antoine Poutine.

 


Five Thoughts on Arsenal’s Win Over Chelsea

Written by :
Published on : August 2, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arsène Wenger Overcomes José Mourinho for the first time in a hundred and fifty eight years, in a game with no meaning.  

 

 

  • While it was clear that Chelsea was never in fifth gear, they pressed Arsenal for the second half of the game with a greater sense of incision. Replacing Remy with Falcao, and, more crucially, Ramires with Oscar, opened up the field with more creative movement. However, Arsenal’s defense looked stout. Perhaps most importantly, there was a palpable air of confidence about them. The addition of Petr Cech may well prove to be the missing ingredient for an Arsenal team that never seems solid or organized under pressure.

 

  • Chelsea still has a scary “on” switch. Substitutions notwithstanding, Fabregas was the straw that stirred the drink in the second half. When he started finding those deadly passes to runners-on like Hazard, and when Hazard started running hard at defenders, the complexion of the game changed. Playing so forcefully against a well-drilled, organized squad, without a striker of Costa’s caliber, illustrates that Chelsea are still the prohibitive favorites to win the Premier League this year.

 

 

  • Then again, did anyone notice someone missing from Arsenal’s side? Yes, that was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the role of Arsenal’s Best Player, Alexis Sanchez, filling in admirably with an incredible offensive display. Despite that glorious goal, Ox is not a player of Sanchez’s ability. It bodes incredibly well for Arsenal that they may actually boast the depth that’s been proven to be so necessary for challenging for the title. I think of Manchester City and the Dzekos and Milners of their recent heyday, plugging holes and scoring goals (also the title of my favorite erotic film about soccer).

 

  • Olivier Giroud continues to outclass his reputation. The man has everything you’d want out of a striker except speed; his vision and touch are reliable and deft, he’s physically capable of both being a link in a chain as well as a holding fulcrum. He can finish in the air, with both feet, uphill, in the snow. Arsenal detractors can just stay away from this blind spot. It has a hawk’s profile and swooping hair and I love him.

 

 

  • Jose Mourinho will undoubtedly return to his immaculate, hermetically sealed underground chamber this evening with a small tic. He’ll hand his game clothes to his personal assistant, referred to only as “Object,” for incineration. Object will return to the sleeping quarter with an elegant Cat O’ Nine Tails, decorated with golden filigrees and the name “Arsène.” At this point Mou says calmly to Object, “initiate the sequence.” Object begins the Flagellation Ritual Of Defeat to Mourinho’s abject horror and delight. The game’s greatest manager will relish this loss for its meaninglessness. Object begins to clean up and prepare Jose’s Oxygen tent for sleeping.

 


A Note on Manchester United

Written by :
Published on : July 31, 2015

 

Please bear in mind that this has nothing to do with performance or prediction; I have (so far) watched a single half of football played out by this team, this absurd, spoiled brat’s toy chest of a starting eleven called Manchester United. They have nonetheless beautifully encapsulated their aspirational, indefatigable idiocy. Their team is what happens when one removes all restrictions from some Fantasy Football Manager, or Fifa Career Simulator.

How can there be Manchester United Fans? What are they fans of? Leveraged Buyouts? Those up-and-comers at Och-Ziff Capital Management Group? Another question: what happens if the team wins anything this year? Another question: Can you imagine how strange it will feel for nearly every relevant player on the pitch to have hauled in a trophy after only being at the club for like, a day?

These players are all excellent, by the way! I witnessed the fluid talent of Memphis Depay – whose last name I recall manically, nasally repeating in Ian Darke’s brogue during WC14 – pirouette with grace through three Paris Saint-Germain defenders. His backheel was anticipated before a cunning play could even happen, but one sensed the spirit of innovation that might awaken the likes of Mata, or Januzaj, or maybe even Cantona. Perhaps Louis Van Gaal’s legendary testicles will even remain concealed for the whole year. Yet no matter how they perform, United are not united, they are not even a fictional army of one. They’re Blackwater.


memphis

 

Do I care that five years ago, PSG was in the exact same situation, perhaps more ridiculous for their complete and decades-long irrelevance from world football? Do I care that United have essentially copied the formula of their traditional lesser, Manchester City, or Chelsea before them (only instead of having the benefit of an infinitely rich angel investor, they remain nearly four hundred million pounds in debt as a club)? Of course not. Manchester United are stupider, and are stupid now.

 

PSG

 

They were almost incredible to watch, by the way; Mata almost combined intuitively with Memphis, who could almost finish a beautiful lay-off. At one point Rooney almost scored a goal but instead misfired the ball wildly to nobody like his legs were defective Roman candles. It didn’t matter that they were quickly losing, first by one, then by two. I watched a bit of the second half, when they substituted Schweinsteiger for Schneiderlin in some sort of reverse-Vichy move. The latter was appropriately gun-shy. It didn’t matter that Angel Di Maria didn’t even play. It doesn’t matter. None of it.

Manchester United are the Team of Magical Thinking; of debt peonage and aggressive branding. All it took was the mere sum of two hundred twenty million pounds to form another fictional super-squad that might be good. Be proud, sons of Old Trafford, as your hallowed halls ring with that richness of tradition; Sir Alex’s years of psychological mastery are slowly fading into the new era. It is one of auto-generated players unsure of what city they live in, barely recognizing each other, lifting trophies forged in the fires of Mount Meretriciousness. My only request of United fans: tell us poor serfs what it’s like to sit on the Plastic Throne once you get there.

 

 


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