Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Poised Over The Panic Button

I'm not going to do it. I am not going to freak out about the U.S.' 1-0 loss to Morocco last night (on home soil, mind you). I am going to breathe, and remind myself that this game is the equivalent of a preseason game. Great preseason's rarely equal subsequent success. Right, Falcons Fans?

I am concerned, of course, that our team captain may face an extended injury lay off leading into the World Cup, and our only established right fullback committed a gaffe (leading up to the lone goal) that had even a soccer novice, like myself, pulling what few hairs he has left out.

That being said, I trust Bruce. I have to think he is seeing the same things we are...that the team is better attacking with Convey on the field, that we need someone up top with McBride, and that Wolff is about as threatening as The Teletubbies - Bruce has to give Eddie Johnson a full game with McBride here in the next week.

Also, I have to remember that Morocco was one game away from qualifying for this World Cup, in what turned out to be a very strong African cycle. This was not a cupcake...or whatever the analogous pastry is at the Imperial Fez.

A disclaimer here...the US National Team is one of the only teams I refer to as "we". I work to avoid it when referring to professional outfits like the Hawks, Braves, Falcons, etc. The only other exception is any team related to Appalachian State. I feel like I can be an unabashed homer when it comes to my country, or my alma mater. For some reason, using "we" when talking about pro teams almost seems to be approaching restraining order territory.

The other sports item of interest to this blogger was last night's NBA Draft Lottery, where the Hawks were awarded the 5th pick in June's draft. The Raptors, the other team soiled by someone named Babcock, will pick 1st. It appears the Hawks are the only team in the league capable of being abjectly terrible for an extended period of time, and still not be awarded the #1 pick. No worries this time, though, as the draft has no true #1, and is deep enough to get a player at #5 that has as much potential as the #1 selection.

Of course, they always seem to get shuffled to just the right spot to prevent them from drafting a true impact player. Whether being 2nd last year, and almost browbeaten into taking Marvin Williams, or being 21st in 2003 - having to take Boris Diaw - when a 5th pick would have netted Dwayne Wade.

Speaking of Diaw, I really wish the national media would get off the "The Suns got a steal in Diaw" bandwagon. I'm sure it's real hard to find open shots, box out for rebounds, dish out assists, and generally be ignored by opposing defenses when you are playing with Shawn Marion and Steve Nash.

He was useless to the Hawks because he serves his purpose only when surrounded by supreme talent, of which Atlanta had none in his time here. Put Diaw on the Knicks, and he's right back to Anonymous European Guy. I would trade him and draft picks for Joe Johnson again on any day of the week. The Hawks need a superstar, and they acquired a budding one when they picked up Johnson. People seem to forget that the Hawks, in fact, picked up one of only 5 players to average 20 points and 6 assists a game this season. Read the list, it's pretty impressive company. Overall, his numbers were better than Diaw's, but let's not let facts get in the way of an easy media target.

Monday, May 22, 2006


I've probably only caught Fox's hit med-drama House about a half a dozen times, but it has already succeeded in turning me into pseudo-hypochondriac. It's not that I constantly worry about my health, but the show finds the most abstract ways to place its patients on the brink of certain death, and I can't help but try and translate its sensationalism to the real world.

Week after week, these doctors are forced to deal with mysterious, undiagnosed, diseases...all from people living in the general vicinity of the hospital. Just another reason to stay away from Central New Jersey.

I have no problem suspending disbelief when watching. The only thing that really bothers me about the show is Omar Epps' character. Epps, whom they dragged away from playing athletes in various sports movies, plays Dr. Eric Foreman. The show is on Fox. Seems like they could have done a little research and found out that another relatively successful Fox show has/had a major character of the same name. Is that too much to ask? I guess the Fox Network's Random Name Generator must have reached capacity.

Anyway, while feeling less than 100% healthy over the last 18 hours, I've found myself cataloging random occurrances in my life that could potentially lead to being infected with maladies such as an agressive brain fungus or the bubonic plague (both actual diagnoses on the show). Now, a brief listing from the last few days. Please, pray for my health:

- Walked on rubberized track in sandals...sandal thong becomes detached from insole the next day.
- Used Splenda...thought it tasted like sugar
- Drank energy drink after drinking coffee...felt twitchy
- Ate at Taco Bell...later forced to hold in gas
- Pet a stray meowed
- Found bug sitting on thumb...shrieked like a little girl

Of course, this illin' could just be the result of drinking too much and not getting enough sleep this weekend, but I must remain vigilant! That case of scarlet fever could be just one airborne mite away!

While we are on the subject of being less than 100%, I have to apologize to Brian "Spanky" McCann. Frenchy's wing-man has become the latest victim of my Fantasy Baseball curse. After adding him to my team last week, the Braves cherubic catcher promptly went out and got hurt this weekend during a homeplate collision with the Diamondbacks' Eric Byrnes.

I personally take the blame not only for picking him up, but also for saying he was like "Greg Olson, with a better bat"...which preceded him almost replicating Olson's horrific ankle injury, circa 1992. Thankfully, he should be back soon. The guy who hit Olson in '92 was Ken Caminiti. For Eric Byrnes' sake, I'll avoid making any comparisons there. We'll just say he "Erstaded" McCann, and leave it at that.

I just saw this as I was about to post - another reminder how men and animals aren't all that different. Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro, is facing a fight for his life. Does this stop him from spittin' some game at the mares? Hell no!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I'm With You, Deadspin: The Barcenal Post-Mortem

I have to start by giving much love to the guys over at Deadspin. Not only is it one of my favorite websites, but my mentioning on their site (in a classic bit of shameless passive-agressive whoring) that I had a blog about Barcelona-Arsenal drove over a hundred new viewers to my blog. Thanks for checking the page out, fellow Deadspinners. I am now their bitch, whether they like it or not.
The problem now, of course, is that someone other than my friends might be reading, so I may have to update this place a little more frequently. Drat.

Now, on to the game. I have to say, it was entertaining. It had many of the things you look for in a classic - redemption (the maligned Sol Campbell nodding home Arsenal's lone goal with a noggin that would make Barry Bonds jealous), controversy (Jens Lehman's sending off), and an unexpected hero (Barca's Juliano Belletti 5-holing Almunia for the decisive strike).

By the way, any non-soccer fans who think all players are either dwarfish waifs, or tall, lean dudes need to take a look at 3/4's of The Gunners backline yesterday. Eboue, Campbell, and Toure look like they could be swapped for Brooking, Hartwell, and Williams and fool many casual NFL fans (Ashley Cole, the 4th member, would naturally be a charge of covering the Tight End). They were physically, and tactically, massive for Arsenal's valiant effort.

That being said, I think most fans agree that it would have been more entertaining had referee Terje Hauge played advantage on Lehman's sending off. It would have put Barca up 1-0, and allowed us to see these two well-oiled machines going at each other at full strength. Hauge even somewhat regrets the decision. Somewhat.

I can't fault him completely, he had already blown his whistle when Lehman took out Eto'o (I always wanna write E'too), and had no choice to issue the red after that. I certainly can't blame him for Lehman's misguided challenge. After seeing that, I really wonder if Jurgan Klinsmann is rethinking his choice for starting keeper at the World Cup. Only Keeper To Ever Win The Golden Ball, or Only Guy Ever Sent Off In A Champions' League Final? Hmmmm...

The Ultimate Challenge was less than advertised as well. Neither Ronaldinho or Henry found the back of the net. Henry missed (or was stopped by a solid Victor Valdes) three golden chances, and Ronaldinho seemed miscast, and out fo sorts, by not being allowed to direct the attack centrally.
Still, both players had their flashes of brilliance - Henry's exquisite freekick finding Campbell's XXXL cranium for the opening salvo, and Ronaldinho with the pass that played Eto'o through before the Cameroonian was toppled by Lehman's ill-fated lunge. They were certainly factors, but were upstaged by other stories.

What's up with the sour grapes from TH14? I know the officiating was less than stellar, but I can't say it didn't go both ways. When you consider that Hauge took a goal away from Barca with his red card decision, and then bought Eboue's dive to set up Arsenal's lone tally, he essentially presided over a 2 goal swing for the North London side.

After this match, I do get the feeling that Henry will be plying his trade in The Nou Camp next year. Watching them celebrate in front of him, feeling like some of his younger, shakier teammates let him down, and being ignored by Arsene Wenger when pleading for attacking help does not add up to leading the team into Ashburton Grove next fall. Henry, though, still appears to be saying the right things to the Arsenal faithful.

(UPDATE: But What Do I Know?)

If you're looking for another take on the game, the newest member of my blog roll, Braves & Birds, has his review here. He's a Barca fan, by the way.

I know, it's hard to tell.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Hulk Henry vs. The Ultimate Jogador

I'm a little torn in who to pull for in The UEFA Champions' League Final tomorrow. On the one hand, you have Thierry Henry's Arsenal. Henry is one of my favorite players to watch, plays for the team that is rivals with not only Manchester United, but also Chel$ea (the biggest spenders in English soccer), and plays for a team now known for it's attacking flair. (Also the team featured in Nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch", back when they were known as "boring old Arsenal")

On the other hand, you have Ronaldinho's Barcelona. Ronaldinho is also one of my favorite players to watch, plays for the team that is chief rivals with Real Madrid...who make Chelsea and Man Utd. look like skinflints...and plays for a team known for its attacking flair.

See the problem here?

The only time I think I was this torn (and I'm serious here) was when Hulk Hogan wrestled The Ultimate Warrior in WrestleMania VI.
Both wrestlers were fan favorites, and were at the pinnacles of their respective fame. I ended up pulling for The Warrior because he was the new guard. Little did I know, he would not be around nearly as long as Hogan, thanks to reality TV. UW eventually won, but only held onto the title for about a year.

The match kind of failed to live up to its billing, really, and that's my concern with this match-up tomorrow. One reason is because it's almost too good to be true, and another is because I'll be watching - at least through the magic of DVR. It seems like when I do watch matches, they end up being 1-nil or nil-nil, and decided on PK's. When I don't, or can't, watch, they turn out like this.

In case you're wondering, I'm pulling for Arsenal. I'm more of a fan of the EPL, but am warming up to La Liga now that I can watch it on a regular basis on Gol-TV. That's not the only reason, though. Among other things, Arsenal have never won the Champions League, they are moving out of their historic ground, Highbury, this year, and winning this match could also allow them to keep Henry, who is rumored to be heading (as luck would have it) to Barcelona next year. While the idea of Henry and Ronaldinho united in attack is enough to make a soccer nerd's head explode, I just feel TH14 belongs in the red and white of Arsenal.

Really, though, there are two things I'm hoping for. One is that the outcome of this game, which kicks off at 2:30 EDT, is not revealed to me by some spoiler before I get home to my DVR. Last week, the UEFA Cup Final outcome was ruined by, of all things, the sports section on my personalized Google Homepage. Who knew?

My other hope? That these two magicians play like anything close to this tomorrow:

Of course, just not as blurry, and without the bad cable access graphics...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Girl Drink Drunk

As I was walking back to work today, heavily creamed and sugared Dunkin' Donuts Iced Coffee in hand, I began to wonder if I was the coffee equivalent of a "Girl Drink Drunk".

Maybe it's just in the male world, but you can get alot of crap from the guys that either a)only put sugar in their coffee, or b) drink it black. Here I am, not only putting cream and sugar in it, but also icing it down so I don't huwt the woof of my widdew mouf. Did I mention I also had them put French Vanilla flavoring in it? Geez.

For some reason, one of my favourite Kids In The Hall skits sprang to mind (note I used the "u" in favourite, since they're Canadian). For me, the genesis of the phrase "Girl Drink Drunk":

Okay, hopefully you're still reading, and not just watching that. The phrase was probably used before them, but their skit is what I always think of. It's also one of those references I can use to test just how in tune I am with a potential friend...if they've heard of that skit, or Conan O'Brien as Moleculo on SNL, they score major cool points. Okay, nerd points.

In some ways, this coffee thing is alot like when you first start drinking. You go for the wine coolers, and the Zima with jolly ranchers, but are eventually ridiculed into choking down either MGD or The Beast. It hurts then, of course, but I am a big believer in the idea that if I didn't drink that swill, I wouldn't be the beer snob I am today.

Guys usually won't admit it, but we like the girly drinks too. I remember one time when me and 2 buddies ordered Mudslides, and felt wrong for liking them so much. Really, though, what's not to like? Milkshake? Kahlua? Where do I order? It's embarassing, but it happened. I have yet to develop the cajones to order one solo in a normal bar setting.

For the record, though, I do enjoy a good dirty Gin Martini (on the rocks of course, can't get people whispering by using the martini glass), and I can do Scotch if it's a really good Scotch - none of that Red Label crap.

As you can see, this iced coffee had me thinking for some reason. I began to wonder -maybe this isn't the only thing my coffee says about me. Maybe I really like my coffee like I like my women. Do they need to be as close to white as possible, extra sweet, and a little frigid? That can't be good. Maybe I just haven't had the fortunate experience of drinking some straight-up hot, black coffee yet? Maybe the, uh, coffee...yeah, coffee...doesn't like to add Vanilla flavoring to itself. Who knows? I've also heard hot tea can be good, but you have to make sure it knows you're not a cop.

Then I remembered why I hate Sex and the City so much. While I may write this for a laugh, that show would get an overly ponderous 30 minutes out of this premise. Even worse, some woman would probably mull this drivel over afterwards. What a waste of syndication.

Trivia Update: Since it's the inspiration for my title, I have to let you all know that it was a good week, trivia wise. My Wednesday night crew took 2nd place at Mellow Mushroom, while our Thursday night team notched a dominating victory at Willy's. For the first time in my 9-10 years of bar trivia, I was part of a perfect game. It's quite an impressive feat when 8 people can pool their useless knowledge, and lay waste to feeble minded drunks. You know you're jealous.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Meowntin Time

It's one of those things you hate to admit to people...almost like admitting you don't have cable. A ubiquitous modern luxury that I don't have. I don't have central A/C. Don't worry, I'm okay - for now. The true Summertime might be a little sweaty, but it's currently the perfect weather for keeping the windows open and enjoying the sounds of the city at night.

That is, except for the particularly vocal cat that seems to hang out in my complex's backyard after dark. It just ocurred to me that this cat is probably not just loud, but also in heat...which makes sense. When I feel that way, I often like to roam the streets, in the middle of the night, screaming at people.

Certainly an odd feeling when you're trying to get to sleep, and you are just hoping some quadriped of similar size would show up and give this cat what it wants. Then I think about having to listen to the sounds of catsex - or worse, interspecies mating. I realize now that my loud wall-unit air conditioner might actually serve a purpose other than making my bedroom 5 degrees cooler.

You'd figure the cat could pick up a sack of catnip, and find a feral Siamese somewhere on Pounce De Lion to take care of everything.

Forgive me...that was such a bad joke, I had to share it with someone.

Editor's Note: I'm looking into this Google AdSense program, and I have to figure out how to move it around in my bear with me while it sits at the top of my screen. I think it would look much more congruous off to the right, don't you?