Monday, July 30, 2007

Key Party, NBA GM Style

So the Garnett to Boston deal is official. Now the questions are, can a team with these three stars compliment each other enough to succeed despite the major flaws this team has, like:

1. No quality point guard. I like Rondo, but he's not ready to run this team, especially with three stars demanding the ball constantly. He's just not been in the league long enough, and doesn't even have his own game together yet. It'll take about 2.5 times of KG getting in his face for him to develop a stare longer than the Manchurian Candidate's.

2. No bench. Except for Tony Allen...who plays the exact same position as Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. This is where the Allen trade looks incredibly short-sighted, because the Celtics have traded away so many young players (and rightly so in the KG deal) that they'll have at most a 3-4 year window before they suck even worse than they have been the past couple of years. Who else is going to give them quality minutes to rest people? Scalabrine? Ben Pepper? The Allen trade is exposed even more for the desperation trade it was after this. Also, no bench, as we saw with the Wiz, means no margin for error in case of injury. One of these three guys goes down for any extended period and the C's are probably screwed.

3. Doc Rivers. The guy's mediocre at best. I give KG 6 weeks into Doc running picket fence plays for Scalabrine before he goes insane. KG's already got to be in a fragile mental state after 12 years of McHale. Now he has to deal with Rivers AND Ainge. Here's a mock-up of a possible mid-season headline.

BOSTON MASSACRE: NBA Star Garnett, Doc Rivers Neck, Snaps. 14 Dead after Ainge Signs George Mikan's Corpse to Six Year, $54 Mil. Deal

This whole crazy concoction of Danny Ainge's could actually work, but the margin for error and the short window this team will have makes it a major gamble.

What can, or should, the Wizards do to stay competitive in the East? If they're serious about trading Navarro to Memphis, and assume away on that, it'd be nice if they could get a cheap, young but ready to play big man who can run the floor and provide a defensive presence; whomever they may get need not score a lot.

However, because of their current cap situation, I don't think this can be a straight up deal; there needs to be some money moving from Washington's side to keep them under the cap (remember, they haven't signed JCN yet). This, I'm speculating, is the holdup in the Navarro to Memphis deal: Grunfeld might be trying to pawn off either Brenda or Etan on the Grizz to clear some room to make the trade and make next off-season easier. The only other option is to include a third team on the deal, but it seems as if Memphis is trying to keep their young talent (according to people actually in the know, they've declared Conley, Gay, and Lowry off-limits, and Gasol wouldn't make any sense as they want Navarro to team with Gasol). Warrick would kind of be nice, but they already have a 3-4 'tweener in 'Tawn, and Warrick isn't nearly as good defensively as he was in college. Then again, Caron wasn't supposed to be the solid defensive player that he generally is (except when he watches Gil and 'Tawn too much), so maybe Warrick can develop that part of his game just as he developed into a solid offensive threat this season (12.4 ppg...around what Navarro is supposed to bring to the table).

The other good thing about trading Navarro is that because so many teams have bad GMs who think they're close to a championship run, or who want to make a move solely to make a move (a la Jim Bowden in baseball...except last season) that chances are you'll at least get equal to better value than JCN is worth, even though Ernie's negotiating position is bad with this trade or back to Europe timetable and Navarro's desire to play elsewhere (dumbass). Given the number of teams and GMs that describes, I like Ernie's chances at getting a decent deal, if not a steal, done.

As for the soccer match Lil Bro and I attended last night, I have three words: Racial Tension, baby!

RFK scam

Ollie and I attended our first DC United futbol game last night. A fun time (United won!) and I bet Ollie will blog about the game. But I have to make a public gripe about RFK Stadium. Prepare thyself for self-righteousness.
As an almost life-long Washingtonian, I've enjoyed many concerts and sporting events at RFK. I've never had a problem with the stadium or its staff until last night.
I arrived late to the game and was annoyed with myself for not taking metro when I found a line of cars waiting to park.
I had been sitting in line for about 15 minutes, when a parking attendant tapped on my window. I rolled down the glass and he said, "The lot is full. There's no more spots. But I can move some cones. If you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours, you know." He stood there and waited for me to produce some cash.
I couldn't believe it! I had just paid $12 to get into the lot, $45 for my ticket, and now this guy wanted me to slip him money!
Hell no!
I told him to get lost and watched from my rear view mirror as he went down the row of cars to "help" them park. Occasionally cash changed hands and a vehicle would pull out of line and follow the scammer. As the sounds of the game echoed from the stadium I almost regretted my decision.
Eventually I found parking. (The lot was indeed not all full.)
Now, I am probably going to be accused of sounding like an old man, and I'm sure people "tip" parking attendants and other stadium employees, but I want to see what the reaction the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission, which operates RFK, has to my story. So I sent an e-mail to Tony Robinson, the commission's pr man.
I will post his response -- if any -- on the blog.
And yes, I will soon be doing hidden camera investigations for Channel 7's "I" Team.

Breaking Webb News

The Washington Post finally got on the Alan Webb Bandwagon, albeit a little late, with a good write-up by Jim Hage in THE EXTRA MILE column that occasionally appears. Hage, at one time the dominant force in the DC road-running scene, once dueled this blogger for about a mile in Rock Creek Park after our paths crossed. I was in great shape (for me), but Hage, without saying a word, reminded me that Giants Walk the Earth, accelarating just enough to make me toast.

The trouble with the article is that the day it was printed it was out of date -- Webb had run another race, leaving Loosen Up Sandy Baby a few steps ahead on the web, if not on the track.

The scene shifts to Belgium, suddenly the centre of the sports world, and a very cool place to move!

Alan Webb dropped down to run the 800 meters at a meet in Heusden-Zolder, one week after setting a new American record in the mile (3:46). Before this season, Webb had been a strength runner, running a 10,000 meters in the 27:30's last year. But this year he has focused on speed, bringing his 800 PR down from a decent 1:48 to a very fast1:45.

On Saturday, Webb ran the first 400 in a blistering 49, then dueled with Canada's Gary Reed before finishing in 1:43.85.
1:43 is a whole lotta fast, and a whole 'nother world from 1:45.
Webb becomes the 8th fastest American ever at the 800, which just a few months ago wouldn't have been considered a race he could run at the elite level.

Flocast video [ ]here. Filmed from the stands (WCSN has a more professional video but it requires a fee).
#7 on the all-time American list is current runner Khadevis Robinson, who will also try to earn a medal at August's World Championships in Osaka, Japan.
The American record-holder is the immortal Johnny Gray, who ran 1:42.6 in 1985. Gray's style was bold and gutsy -- crush the first lap, see who would dare to come with him, then hold on for dear life during the final 400 meters.

The world record is 1:41.11 by Wilson Kipketer, a Kenyan wunderkind who was a Danish citizen.

Now the question is what does Webb do in the month before World Champs to sustain and sharpen his training without losing it?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hell Hath No Fury like a Spurned Fan


Seriously, who the fuck cares? There's so much negativity in this world, especially in the News world; I mean, don't they realize there's more important stuff in the world than Barry Bonds breaking Hank Aaron's we knew he was going to do for the past three seasons?

I, and I'm pretty sure most other Americans (and fans in general), watch sports to find some kind of semblance of a distraction from the gravitas of the real world...which is where that belongs. When someone like Barry Bonds cheats and breaks a historic record that was set by a man infinitely more classy, an individual who dealt with a great deal of adversity throughout his career in an era where being black was a much bigger deal, and to many people, a major sin. And that's about all I care about that story...Bonds is going to break the record, I wish every pitcher he's faced this year had thrown at him because he's a gigantic asshole and a cheat. That took me 30 seconds to make my mind up about that, and yet, every time I turn on ESPN I have to see some bullshit update about "Breaking Aaron" or "Chasing Aaron" or whatever the hell they call it, the soulless husk that is Skip Bayless arguing about oh so sanctimoniously, or some poor reporter who thought he'd be on NBC Nightly News by this point in his career giving a thousand yard stare into the camera and trying. so. hard. to act interested about the "story" he's (or she...Rachel Nichols) covering. All it does is make people's blood pressure go higher in a world, where, frankly there's plenty of better reasons for your blood pressure to be high. Though mine did spike after reading this non-researched, uninformed piece of crap column from a normally professional columnist(and nice guy).

The same goes for Michael Vick, who, it seems, makes Ted Nugent look like a hippie for his stance on animal cruelty (by the way, the odds are set at 1:2 that Deion Sanders is the next (ex)athlete to be uncovered as a dogfighting criminal least based off of this Op-Ed piece, which could only be written by someone as oblivious and annoying as...Deion Sanders).

As for Tim Donaghy, well, he's a moron, but the most damning thing about the whole situation is that he was fixing the games he was working and he probably wasn't even the worst official on a lot of them. David Stern should probably just clean house and offer a shitload of money to a bunch of college refs with clean backgrounds, since the officiating was/is so horrendous no one could actually tell when someone was intentionally making bad calls.

At least people are responding to all this stuff like they should; with the unmitigated outrage of someone who's been betrayed.
Or like this.

(I like to think Robert Byrd saw one of his great grandchildren playing Rock'em Sock'em Robots).

It's the reaction people should have. Hey, they cheated on us; we expected them to help provide that escapism that we so desperately crave, and in some cases, need to stay just a little bit saner than we would thinking about all of the life's problems constantly, and instead, they fucked up the world just a little bit more. But hey, we're big people, we can get over it. Let's move on. Life's too short to worry about Tim Donaghy. We should be focusing more on orchestrating a theoretical four team trade for Kevin Garnett using Juan Carlos Navarro as a centerpiece.

Oh, and by the way: Cycling? Everybody but Lance Armstrong cheats at cycling.

State of the Nations

As Loosen Up is the only DC sports blog to offer in-depth, knowledgeable commentary on sumo, I'll pick up where Lil Bro left off.
First, while it may seem that the US season of scandalous sports has spread to Japan, let's review the facts:

America's scandals revolve around a decade or more of cheating left unchecked and ignored in the national pastime, an indictment of a deliberate pattern of brutality against one of the NFL's most exciting, if not most effective, stars, and point-shaving by an NBA ref, possibly influencing the outcomes of games. In Japan, a sumo rikishi begged off of a charity tournament to spend some quality-time back in his home country with his peeps. Hmmm, sounds like Brett Favre trying to get out of training camp. In all, I think it says more about the differences between the two countries than the similarities.

Sumo consists of six 15-day tournaments every year. Everything else is preseason-game, half-speed, no-pads, baby-kissing. So Asashoryu, the most dominant wrestler nowadays, and a Mongolian-born outsider at that, simply missed a PR event.

The accusation of bout-fixing by a seedy sensationalist newspaper citing unnamed sources, seems specious. See excellent commentary provided by the grand dame of sumo, Doreen Simmons: and a summary by fellow blogger Ethan Zuckerman:
The jist of both articles are that these accusations are just another sign that some Japanese jingoists don't like having a Mongolian at the highest rank of sumo. Sumo is old school. Baseball is old school American style, just over 100 years old. Old school Japan-style is 1500 years of tradition, tradition now threatened by an unfortunate decline in interest by young Japanese, drawn to the more modern sports of basketball and soccer. The dearth of homegrown talent has been filled by bringing in foreigners, the huge Americans Konishiki, Akebono, and Musashimaru in the late 80's and 90's, and now an influx of Mongolians, along with a smattering of Eastern Europeans, like Bulgarian Kotooshu, pictured above. Currently, the only two yokuzuna are Mongolian, Asashoryu and rival Hakuho. The traditionalists can't like that, just as many of them chafed at Akebono's (6'8 Hawaiian Chad Rowan) promotion to the highest rank in the 1993.

But the Americans of the early 90's had tremendous competition from Japanese wrestlers, the brother tandem of Wakanohana and Takanohana. Today's Mongol invaders, with their eye of the tiger and tricky, skilled techniques derived from their native "boke" wrestling, face no such opposition. Unless one counts unsubstantiated newspaper reports. Till facts surface, that's where this one lies. No need to get our mawashis in a bunch.

Here's some video.
Each rikishi fights one match per day, for 15 days. Best record at the end wins the tournament.
Here is a spirited Dejima pulling off an upset of our boy Asashoryu:
Rikishi are often classified as either ones who specialize in lifting and throwing and those who mostly push -- while striking with a closed fist is illegal, open-palmed slaps are GAME ON! I always rooted for the slappers myself.
Here's spunky little Ama getting into a slapfest with Toyonoshima: Nice leg throw by Ama!
Here Tochiazuma is too much for our pal Ama:
Asashoryu pulls out a trick against Chiyotaikai. Tee hee!
Asashoryu clobbering some poor sap:

From the archives --
It would be fun to see these new guys try to handle 6'8, 550 lb. Akebono. Here Japanese golden boy Takanohana and his brother Wakanohana try. And fail.

Sumo sadness

First Michael Vick, now this: sumo champion Asashoryu has been accused of faking an injury to skip out on a trip to lift the spirits of earthquake victims.
The brothers and I have been fans of sumo for many years, and while to most people it seems like big fat men in diapers slamming into each other, it does have grace, power and, yes, beauty.
Perhaps as interesting, the sport has its dark side. There are often signs of matches being fixed. The book Freakonomics showed this and more recently on the authors' blog they describe how the Japanese media seems happy to cover match-rigging when it applies to foreign-born sumo wrestlers, but ignores the topic when it comes to natives.
Which brings me back to Asashoryu.
While faking a hurt back is lame, the subtext of the article is that the sumo player did not feel like doing the goodwill tour because as a Mongolian he doesn't feel much goodwill from the fans.
A sad comment on a great sport.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Vegas, Baby, VEGAS!

So I was at work and thought I'd just sort of surf around, since I didn't have much to do. I went onto Facebook, because that's the hip college thing to blow off work with, and I think I saw some poker on one of several televisions around me, so I decided to see how a friend who I used to play a semi-regular game with was doing.

Yes, this is *technically* stalking, but Facebook tends to bring that out in everyone, so I'm not particularly ashamed.

Anyway, turns out he has a blog now, as it seems, does just about everyone with an imagination and some time to kill. And, as it turns out, that poker thing, it, uh, kind of stuck. He made it into the top 750 (out of 6300) at the Main Event of the World Series of Poker. And he has a pretty ridiculous story to go with it.

"After about the seventh level, an interesting character by the name of Montel Williams (yes, the Montel Williams) showed up at my table. He had a decent chip stack and was soon the tournament chip leader by catching pocket kings or pocket aces three times verses other large stack players. The ESPN cameras were all around my table filming the events and they caught me saying, "My grandma watches your show religiously, and I can now tell her that I am absolutely petrified of you at the poker table." Nice... hope some of the coverage gets on there."

And more good stuff like that.

Kung-Fu Fightin'....

Lil Bro was attacked by several ninjas this past weekend....and someone was there to take some pictures.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

3:46.91 American Record

Alan Webb breaks the American record for the mile, running 3:46.91 to eclipse Steve Scott's 25-year-old mark. Webb becomes the 8th fastest miler of all-time. His 3:46.91 is the fastest mile run since 2001. In a post-race interview, Webb stated that this brought him "one step closer" to the 3:43 world record of Hicham El Guerrouj.

5 weeks till World Championships.

No television coverage.
This is a Sandy, Baby exclusive.
Nothing on Nothing on Too busy covering Kobe's whining or Vick's legal trouble.

The race itself is on flocast/track at

Friday, July 20, 2007

Kiss My Cowher!

Minor Thread recently posted a synopsis of the Redskins, saying they are as broken and lame as Michael Vick's legal defense (dogs, what dogs?!?). He even suggested that a new coach, Bill Cowher, be brought in to right this ship.
So, I repeat: Nooooooo!!
This is our year! Gibbs forever! All nonbelievers to the back of the Wagon, all true believers front and center. Super Bowl bound, baby! Kneel before Zod, Minor Thread!

Now, I also believe in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Peace in the Middle East so judge accordingly.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Let's Play Some Nats Mix and Match!

Count me among those who think Dmitri Young should be traded. Not because I don't like him or what he's done for the team, nor because I'm a vegan who's offended by his nickname, but because the Nats have a younger, better player at his position and the Nats, unbeknown to most who want to bring Dmitri back and keep Nick Johnson, are in the NL; they don't have a DH in the lineup, which is the only spot that would make sense for him, unless Jim Bowden chains him up in John Basedow's basement a la White Possum Scream. This way, along with the "South East Diet" of no Skittles, Meat Hook could lose 50 pounds and do a Manny Ramirez impression in left field. Only, as people forget, at a much less Filene's Basement price than the minor league contract he's playing for this season ($500K). It took me a while to actually think up a scenario of Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young playing in the field together. (Note: The Following is Not Realistic Nor Optimal...Which Means Jom Bowden will Probably Try It.) Dmitri Young plays first, Nick Johnson moves to third, Ryan Zimmerman plays short and Cristian Guzman plays 2nd, with Lopez getting traded for some (this is the part that "Stim Bowsten"(c) loves) PROSPECTS!!!!! Ladies and gentleman, this marvelous outside-the-box thinking is brought to you by severe boredom and some July heat, along with the Senate all-nighter two nights ago, which, as Senator Lindsey Graham so eloquently asked me at 6:50 in the morning (4-5 hours without caffeine, at which point the great deal of enthusiasm I had started the previous night with had worn off) while I was sitting in the spiderhole of a workspace that my employer was provided with, "Who'd you piss off to get in there?".

Monday, July 16, 2007


The latest Sporting News reported that Joe Gibbs and offensive coordinator Al Saunders DIDN'T REALIZE THEY HAD MAJOR PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFERENCES ABOUT RUNNING OFFENSES PRIOR TO SAUNDERS BEING HIRED. Joe G., as we all know, is run-first, while Al likes mix it up so the defense doesn't know what to expect. On many levels this represents how low the Skins have fallen:

1. Why didn't the coach research his prospective offensive coordinator? Someone should, I don't know, film NFL games or something.
2. Why didn't it come up in the offensive coordinator interview process? "It" being, you know, how the guy would run the offense.
3. Wasn't the idea that Gibbs' schemes weren't as effective as needed? Weren't we trying to get away from being predictable?

So now we are implementing Saunders' schemes, but playcalling as Gibbs would.

All is not right at Danny's house, and that's why I won't be wasting any more pixels on Skins till they show they've righted the ship. And it may take someone else... Bill Cowher and Rich McKay?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Blogging on Gil's Blog

I don't want to spend the next hour at the computer, so I'm making this hort but sweet. Gilbert Arenas has a new blog post (well, as of 7/13) and I haven't seen it mentioned by anyone yet. He doesn't do the whole permalink thing, so I'll just refer to the link we have to his blog on the top right of this site. It's a nice, bite-sized entry, but deserves, like most things about Agent Zero, to be discussed in more detail. The entire thing is golden, but my favorite excerpt is here:

0-10 Doesn't Cut It, Guys
I’ve been watching the summer league here and there. Dominic McGuire looks very good. Nick Young is coming around, he looks good too. That second game he really came into his own. I like Aaron Miles a little bit, he did a great job running the team. I like Chase, the back-up guard. You know, they just got to get some wins. The last two years, they’re 0-10.

Of course I hooked Nick Young up with the Gil Zeros. I’m trying to make him an adidas guy. I called him right before he left for Las Vegas and told him to play like we used to play back in Cali. Then, when he was playing their second game out there I was watching it on TV and I saw the Wizards security guard, Jackie Miles, he was digging in his ear and I called him and I was like, “Yo, we can see you on TV digging in your ear.” And Nick Young was sitting in front of him and I told Jackie, “Tell Nick that he needs to go ahead and show me something. I didn’t see nothing last game, I need to see something this game.” And that’s when he got like three dunks in a row. I’m like, “Three dunks? OK, here we go!”

Gil is such a charismatic man of the people, he's even friends with the security guard! How cool is that? He's the anti-thesis of the Gheroge Muresan, who once sent out an internal memo saying:

"Gheroge the Giant must not be tuohced! Gheorge the Ginat must not be made eye contact with by puny men, expecially old man who seyz owns Gheorge! No man owns Gheorge the Giant, who r00lez with fists of stone and Billy of Crystal! Gypsie curses on all!" (Apologies to Wizznutzz)

No, Gil is a man of the people, a veritable Juan Peron, only with Awvee Storey as his Evita! Besides, who better to snub him before every game to get him pissed off?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Stuff You Won't See on ESPN: Track Action!

Track is so poorly marketed, presented and covered in America. In Europe and Asia interest is significantly greater because people have been taught how to understand, and hence appreciate, what they are watching. Have a true fan give me a 15-minute primer on sport I'm unfamiliar with and I'll be hooked. That's why I've greatly appreciated Ollie's and soccer-savvy intern Shadow's takes on DC United and the US national team. ESPN just finds it so much easier to package and sell 4 main sports -- football, basketball, baseball and NASCAR -- while virtually ignoring everything else. When an important news story breaks outside of this little orbit of ballsports, with golf and tennis thrown in there for good measure, it's comical to watch all the talking heads and beat reporters try to muster some iota of appreciation. And I think one such moment is coming up.

Alan Webb, local DC-area runner who broke the high school mile record several years ago, running 3:53 against the big boys at the Prefontaine Invitational, has had a rocky professional career thus far. Heralded as the new Golden Boy of track, one who could compete against the two-decade dominance of Ethiopian, Kenyan, Morrocan, Algerian, and European distance runners. America, despite all its sports success, despite having more kids in high school participating in cross country than any other sport, has not medaled in the Olympic mile since Jim Ryun in 1968, nor in a World Championships, held in Olympic off-years, since Jim Spivey in 1987. Webb was going to change all that.

But after dropping out of Michigan after only one year in the program to sign with Nike and train full-time for the mile with his high school coach Scott Raczko, Webb has been mercurial, showing great promise in one race only to make questionable strategic decisions in the next. Now 24, Webb has shown considerable strength, an ability to run the whole race at a fast pace, but dubious last lap speed, the difference between first and 8th.

Two seasons ago he seemed to make a breakthrough, making it through two challenging rounds of preliminaries to earn a spot in the World Champs final. The consensus among us track folks was that Webb couldn't wait around till the last lap or runners with better kicks would fly by him -- he had to try to break the race open much earlier. The result was a brave, impressive failure that showed tremendous guts, reminiscent of Steve Prefontaine. See it here.

After a down season last year, Webb has emerged with new confidence and power.
First he won the US Championships against uber-talented Kenyan emigre Bernard Lagat.
Then, there was this race in Paris where Webb defeated some of the best international competition, including home favorite Baala.

Webb's new personal best of 3:30 for 1500 meters translates into roughly a 3:46 mile. The American mile record is 3:47.69, set by Steve Scott way back in 1982.

Webb runs the mile at a meet in Belgium on July 21st. With the right pacing, he breaks 3:47.
In August, Webb will compete at World Champs, right in the mix of contenders.
Like soccer, Americans have just been out of the picture internationally for the past 15 years or so. Webb leads a troop of young talent, Dathan Ritzenheim, marathoner Ryan Hall, Matt Tegenkamp (who just ran a 8:04(!) two-mile American record) that seems to be able to compete against the best in the world because they believe they can.

See the things ESPN misses out on?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Clean version

Before anyone under 18 or other sensitive souls (say, uh, future-in-laws) read Ollie's post below, let's give the abbreviated, clean version.
U.S. beat Uruguay in soccer.
Done. The rest was foul language.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Viva Los Gringos Futbolistos

Just got back from the old Irish Pub were I had spent the evening for some hot teen soccer. My enthusiasm was still going strong from last Friday's showing against Brasil, BRASIL!!! but really I was looking forward to the hot new hairstylez that have been popularized by the boyz from the barrios of the other U. Well, maybe not. But I did find it interesting that Hugo Chavez's goofy brother Ralf was coaching his brother's neighboring country's top youth team. Explained a lot about the rest of the match.

Ah, the match. The match was a bit appropos of my viewing setting. It was a lot like drunk sex: it took a while to get going, it got pretty messy, and when we got the desired result, it was all worth it. You even had the equivalent of a post-hookup squabble. To beat this simile into the ground like Barbaro (oh snap!), the first goal was a drunken mistake, the second was a 5 bagging an 8, and the last one was like a supreme hatefuck (I am praying to God so hard that my parents don't read this). All in all, a pretty satisfying experience.
I'm not going to the gimmicks this time to assess this win, because it's late and I have work early tomorrow, but I'll spend a little space, and put on my Dr. Tobias Funke analrapist cap and get to analyzing this key match.

Definitely not as strong a showing as the Brazil match, but a bit of an emotional letdown was to be expected after such a tremendous showing, and not too surprisingly the Gringinhos came out a little flat at the start. Fine. Also, Chris Seitz, goalie prodigy, was injured on one of the 8,000 saves he made against Brazil, meaning some dude who looked shakier than Lindsay Lohan in rehab was starting what is probably the most important position on the pitch. As I said to the budding futbol fan my (and MT and Lil Bro's) Dad, the guy played pretty well for being completely overmatched.

The Uruguayans came out with a cheap as Rodman's gameplan to throw our Gringinhos out of sync by playing like a bunch of Medellin thugs (wrong country, I've just been watching a lot of Entourage recently). It worked. They knocked Jozy Altidore out of the match with a cheap foul. Actually, the U'ers were really, really good cheap shot artists. They were much more discrete then the runners up, Mexico, and more effective, knocking out one of the U.S.' best players. It was like Slapshot on grass, all was missing was Michael Bradley doing a mock burlesque show at centerfield.

Freddy Adu, who along with Ryan Zimmerman badly needs a good nickname, played Isiah Thomas for the U.S., even though the U(2!) was doing a collective Bill Laimbeer impression. He made a couple good runs, gave his teammates a number of good setups, and was all in all the best playmaker for the U.S. even if he did overshoot every corner he took. He even seemed to be a good captain, though it's hard to tell from a distance how guys respond to that kind of stuff.

Obviously Bradley was good as well, scoring the winning goal and telling that Uruguayan who charged up after the game to check out that scoreboard. Beck or whatever the surfer dude backup goalie's name was actually did end up stepping up towards the end after gaining some confidence. Despite looking a lot like this guy in the beginning, he ended up playing like my blogsake, Ollie the Short kid from Hoosiers. The defense, especially No. 14 (I am totally mailing this post in right now to get some sleep). Anyway, all ended up going well. You have to like a day in soccer where the U.S. wins and Mexico gets embarassed on a major stage.

Freddy Adu, USA forward: "We played a great game tonight. It was a tough one for us and we had to fight our way back into it...and we did exactly that. A champion team has to find ways to win when the chips are down. No team can win a world championship without winning one of these ugly games." via Sums it up pretty well. Also, match highlights: here.

New Olympic sport

I propose a new Olympic sport for Beijing 2008: paintball.
Wait, before you scoff, do you deny that millions would tune into the gold-medal match between Russia and the U.S.?
Miracle on Ice, bah! We'd have a Miracle on Grassy Field, with tires and steel drums and, uh, other fake war shit.
And maybe, just maybe, if the countries of the world could resolve their anger through trading balls of rainbow-colored paint, we'd have no more Iraqs.
But we'd need a good ref. No Kofi Annan. The Dali Lama wouldn't accept. Tony Blair already has his hands full referring somewhere else.
Ah, got it!
Ref-for-Life Marion Barry!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Here are some WizNuggets to chew on, perhaps with some real meat hidden somewhere in the breaded flotsam.

First, the analysis of the Wiz draft by Real GM:

"Washington Wizards

Round 1: Nick Young (16th)
Round 2: Dominic McGuire (47th)

Nick Young could have easily been a top ten selection in any of the past five NBA Drafts. With little depth at shooting guard, expect to see a deadly starting backcourt of Gilbert Arenas and Nick Young by the All Star break. Washington also gained another incredible athlete to back up Caron Butler at the wing position. The only reason the Wizards do not land an overall grade of an ‘A’ is because they failed to address their drama and deficiencies at the center position.

Talent Selected? 5
Addressed Team Needs? Mostly
Steal or Bust? If McGuire can gain a strong jump shot, this tremendous athlete could be a steal."

Some nice possibilities there. Still puzzled why we are throwing a reported 15 mil/4-year offer at DeShawn with Nick Young and JCN in the mix. Depth is an underrated commodity, but DeShawn is imminently replaceable. I'd be curious to see if that offer goes OFF the table if Nick Young lights up the summer league. With JCN, how smart would it be to hold out for the maximum offer from the Grizzlies, who want to pair him with Pau Gasol, his longtime homeslice? Not that they have players we want, but at least JCN would be going to the Western Conference. Hmmm. Any chance of getting Gasol here? When does his contract expire? JCN and Gasol clearly want to play together.

The second vein of nuggetry are the words of Agent Zero in his blog, where he pointedly tried to reassure Bullets fans that his opting out was not attempt to leave the team. He wants max money and years -- but understands the Wiz need to sign other players, then him with Bird exception. Gil writes that he does not want a situation like the one the Heat got into years back, signing Juwan Howard and preventing themselves from resigning Alonzo Mourning. We all know how that turned out.

The key here is that Abe Pollin needs to ante up. Resigning Gil may involve getting into the luxury tax, and Pollin has proven over the years to be one of the cheaper NBA owners out there. Gotta step up to play with the big boyz, Abe.

Based on summer league play, I'm really glad Chicago passed on Spencer Hawes, who seems to have offensive game... Hopefully our guys can get it going in game 2...

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Viva Los Futboleros

As for futbol, the U-20 World Cup Grout Stage match the US had against Brazil the other night was somewhere between the Miracle on Ice and a solid DC United win. When you think about US beating Brazil, it's pretty awesome; but when you think about the fact that this alos happened in 1989 and that group as a whole didn't end up making much of impact other than Alexei Lalas making more ridiculous claims than when the guy at my college who says he got a fullride to play polo at UVA but turned it down to pay an obscene amount of tuition at my small liberal arts college, Brian McBride (niiiiice), and Eric Wynalda (uhhhhh....), who also makes some really dumb claims abut U.S. soccer. And this Brazil team lost to U-20 soccer superpower South Korea sooooo, let's relish this as our young'uns outplaying a more talented team due to superior chemistry and coaching, and having some tremendous individual performances. Actually this deserves a bit of a breakdown, Dean's List style:

FREDDY ADU---Holy Crap, this guy had a helluva match, despite bitching WAY too much to the refs and other players (though the refs were mediocre and the Brazilians were taking some obvious cheap shots, like running into guys after a it wasn't exactly unwarranted) though he is expected to do some of that as the captain for that match, which I was surprised-pleasantly, in the end-to see. He did a lot of the dirty work in creating both goals, ultimately setting both up, though he arguably committed a foul when he stole the ball on the first goal. But his move to get out of Brazil's (right?) corner past two defenders with good position on him to dribble around two other dudes and take a hard, quality shot whose rebound went straight to Altidore for an easy put in. I mean, he only juggled the ball over his head, past the Brazilian defender who was right on him, passing it to himself. Amazingly, ESPN didn't show a single replay of him doing this, just what happened after one of the sickest moves I've ever seen. If you consider yourself a U.S. soccer fan, or just a soccer fan in general, you have to see this goal, about 6:50 into this quality hihglight reel of the match:

I mean, as far as moves go, that was pure Cristiano Ronaldo, and really fucking sick. He also took some pretty good free kicks, though he over shot a few corners. Totally lived up to his potential in this match, great stuff. GPA: 4.3 A+

CHRIS SEITZ---Also, even though he gave up a goal, he made so many outstanding saves that he was easily as much of an impact player in this match as Adu. The defense for the U.S. wasn't too bad, it's just that they happened to be playing more of an offensive strategy with the wing defenders coming up more as midfielders. More on that later, but this dude was absolutely incredible. You could see he actually did a pretty good job of calming down that defense after some close calls and erasing just about every mistake made in front of him. After that performance, and even though it was a 'junior' Brazilian team, it had offensive talent that would already be starting on just about every other national team in the world, and they put together a LOT of quality attacks, most of which Seitz, a Maryland guy, stopped like Brad Friedel in the '02 World Cup. Dude did his best impression of Petr Cech throughtout this match. The Brazilian goalie had some great saves as well, but had less pressure put on him. The difference was the US finished better and Seitz played out of his mind. I'd definitely take him over the vastly overrated Kasey Keller and a struggling Tom Howard on the regular national team. Here's a quote about him, from the Brazilian coach, via Steven Goff's Soccer Insider blog: "Chris Seitz was huge in critical moments of the game, no doubt." GPA 4.3

THOMAS RONGEN---Solid strategy for this match, which to me looked a bit like the beautiful Argentinian deliberate passing method (I doubt they invented this, but it reminded me of a watered down version of their national team in this past World Cup) incorporated with an aggressive Dutch-esque total football, bringing up interchanging defenders and midfielders. The US U-20 team also has some obviously good chemistry, something the coach usually has something to do with, and they played about as hard as they possibly could, definitely something the coach has a lot to do with. If Bob Bradley doesn't work out, this guy deserves a shot. 4.0

JOZY ALTIDORE---Two goals, was in the right place/created the right situation for me at least a couple other times but couldn't finish. Obviously scoring twice is fantastic, though Adu deserves a lot of the credit for those put-ins. Still, Jozy looks to be part of a trend among young US players of being taller than the average Smurf. I'm really sick of the US bringing that put-it-in-the-mixer mentality to the World Cup when they clearly don't have a height advantage against a lot of European teams. Now it looks like the US is starting to have more and more guys who are taller, and Jozy is a part of that trend. He's only listed at 5'10'' on the US Soccer site, but he looks like he could be 6'1'', 6'2''. As Jay Bilas would say, dude's long. Maybe we can finally win some headers against teams like Germany or the Czech Republic. 3.7

SAL ZIZZO---This guy I have never heard of, like everybody on this list but Adu (who should start going by Fredito or Fredinho if he keeps playing like this), but it looked like Joe Cole was wearing his jersey the first half. Guy had some great on-ball possessiions, sick crossovers, and a quite little back pass once or twice. Looked like he faded some in the second half, but also looked to be playing more of a fundamental, passing role instead of trying to create for himself. Biggest thing he brought to the table though is that his name is S. Zizzo. I think we should change his name to Kingsley, and some red knit caps. Word is he quotes the Life Aquatic before every U-20s match. He is now my favorite soccer player, based almost entirely on his name (even if it is spelled differently, it's the pronunciation that counts, baby!). 3.0

ROBBIE ROGERS---And this is another solid name for a soccer player. He had a solid shot on goal that was the Brazilain goalies best save of the game. I think he did something else too. In the end, it's the alliteration that matters. 3.0

HONORABLE MENTIONS---Michael "Nepotism" Bradley, good job doing at the CDM position, Nathan Sturgis, probably the best defenseman for the US in this match, he was good down in our own box and played a bigger than usual offensive role with that aggressive gameplan.

Wizards yada yada Spanish dude yada yada

Actually, I'm completely for keeping Navarro. I almost swallowed my tongue when I saw the JCN for Jeff Posey rumor going around. I think all this stuff about Cleveland or Miami being interested in him is kind of funny, since they have virtually nothing to offer in return except a gift certificate to Good Guys (Guys Bucks? Good Times Pence?) and some new cake recipes for Abe. Of course, nothing is going to get done until they figure out the DeShawn situation. It's starting to look like he's pricing himself out of any contract he might want again (I still refuse to call a $3 million dollar a year contract to play basketball "reasonable"), seeing as his name hasn't come up in any free agent talks except when mentioned context with the 'Zards. $3 mil a year would be a good deal for Ernie, and probably give them enough space to get JCN. It would probably help if they got rid of Brenda and Basketball's Poet Laureate. They're most likely stuck with what they've got at center in O-PEC and 32 Cent as is, and frankly, I prefer seeing what those two can do as opposed to overpaying the for next Jerome James. I think trading Haywood for a couple of dirt cheap, bust or boom players (like I've suggested before) packaged with an expiring contract, or a guy who might retire (like a Darius Miles, though that's a crapshoot). It's the best they're going to get for him, seeing as him and Predator Lite's sparring sessions have forced E-Grun's hand.

Seeing as JCN is a combo guard, they could also get rid of AD to a team that figures to make the playoffs, since he is pretty money there (his stats for this past season's brief first round appearance are pretty awesome, even though they didn't really have another legit point guard with Agent 0 out.) Seems like JCN might be a cheaper replacement, and he is supposed to a be a good clutch player as well. Not saying it would be ideal to get rid of Daniels, especially since that whole bench is already quite possibly the weakest in Association, but it would clear up more of that ever valuable cap space. They'd be building for the future for that, since they'll have to do some major re-signings and next year looks like it could be the biggest free agent crop ever, though that phrase gets thrown around a lot. One guy they could think about, not to look ahead way too far or anything like that, is Elton Brand, who might not get re-signed by Los Clippos now that it looks like Donald Sterling has stopped his loose and wild owning and gone back to being a cheap, bitter old bastard again. It'd be as close as the team could come to re-doing the 2001 draft and Jordan trading the #1 pick for Elton Brand, like they should have done in one of the weakest drafts ever.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Holy Shooting Guards, Batman!

Just as the Wizards offer close to the mid-level exception for DeShawn Stevenson, the news breaks that FC Barcelona is ready to release Juan Carlos Navarro from the carbonite and into the waiting arms of Ernie Grunfeld. That potentially gives us Gil, DeShawn, Nick Young, Antonio, and JCN in the backcourt logjam. I agree with the folks over there at BULLETSFOREVER; the canny move is to keep JCN if you can keep him, not trade him away for the dream of a starting center. And no, Ollie, they won't be able to trade Navarro, Roger Mason, Wes Unseld and a gift certificate to Jaleo to Minnesota for Garnett. Don't even try it -- you'll just jam up the ESPN Trade Machine trying to stuff the gambas al ajillo into the USB port.

Keep JCN. He is a proven winner who'll give some needed experience and moxie to this fun-lovin' bunch. Give Haywood away for a bag of chips if you need to make a move. Thomas, Songaila, Pecherov, Blatche can rotate at the C. The top NBA teams have guys like Young, Antonio, JCN coming off the bench to keep the scoring hot while the starters sit. Less action for Gil, Caron, and Jamison means they have a better chance of staying healthy down the stretch.

Questions now are:
Does DeShawn take the offer?
What will JCN ask for?
Will Pecherov, Young, Blatche light up summer league?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

In Defense of Futbol

Here is a guest blog from SHADOW, the Sandy, Baby intern who covers the world game:

My friends sent me a link to their DC sports blog. As I clicked the
and began to read, I searched for my favorite sport. FĂștbol. [soccer
it is known in the United States). Much to my dismay, I could not find
anything. I thought to myself, "I know DC United is from DC. I go to
games at RFK. I know they must be considered a DC Team. Even though the

Redskins do not even play football in DC any more they are still
considered a DC Team. What gives?!"

DC United is a Washington DC area sports team. There. I said it. Just
case there was any doubt. Go to a game. You will be a fan too. the
energy there is outstanding. There are songs, chants, rants, and a
spirit that infuses you with the energy of the sport.

The grace of the moves. The deftness of the touch. You can see the big
plays develop as you hope for that lucky strike (not the cigarette but
goal). There is that anxiety that hangs in the air as you wait for your

keeper to make the save or your team to take the shot. You find
yelling out loud. "Shoot it!". It is all about the beautiful game.

No timeouts. No breaks for commercials. No play stoppage while they
review the play and see if it should be overturned. you take the good
with the bad. The controversial calls are as much a part of the game as

anything else. But it is about the game. No pause so that they can tell

you about the latest car models. Even half time...the mighty mites
(youth soccer teams), take to the pitch (field). The pitch is split in
half as two youth games go on. And yes, the fans cheer their play as

As I said before, "what gives?". I hear the comments on TV about how
soccer is not as big in the US, or we just don't care as much. Well, I
care. The other fans care. Don't fool yourselves, there are a lot of
At the recent Champions League final (look it up) which started at 3:45

the place was packed. standing room only and and no one else gets in.
The bar opened at 1 PM and there was already a line by the time I got
there at quarter till.

There is a bit of a catch-22 here. Many of the big games are not
televised so we can not watch them. If they do not show them how can
people follow their teams and get new fans to join them? Do they not
show them simply because of the what they think the audience numbers
would be? Or, it is because you cannot show enough add during the game?

Simply put, the television studios make more money showing a bowling
match because of all the commercials they can put in versus a soccer

If they did not show all the Redskins games on TV or the Nationals
on TV would you care as much? if you could not see them and could not
read about them in the paper and there were no sports extras with
highlights, after a while, would we be saying those sports are just not

as popular as bowling?

MINOR THREAD here again. As a avid fan of both track and field and sumo, I know how frustrating the disrespect of lesser-known sports can be. SHADOW points out that coverage and popularity often have a reciprocal relationship, making ESPN not just an objective lense on American and world sports, but a determiner of what receives attention. Some of my favorite sports moments have involved the US national soccer team, although I have yet to attend a game in person. Ollie, Lil Bro and I do get some soccer street cred cuz our uncle named the Rowdies, though, right?