Saturday, June 21, 2008

Netherlands - Russia Quarterfinal Preview

After yet another unbelievable finish yesterday, we now know 2 of the 4 teams that will play in the semifinals. And now we turn to the better half of the draw, home to 2 of the most exciting teams in the world, the defending world cup champions and a young team not afraid to get swole on unsuspecting squads. Today matches The Netherlands against Russia in a game that just may be the best of the entire tournament. Time to take a look GDB style at a possible classic encounter.

How they got here:

Not only have the Dutch gone unbeaten in the toughest group in the tournament, they also looked the best in doing so. They are the best counter-attacking team I have ever seen and are playing with a cohesiveness and unity that has long been foreign to Dutch national teams. Watching them play has been a revelation, because with a combination of unmatched technical prowess and freedom to attack at all times from their coach they have been transformed from an afterthought into an attacking juggernaut. Now they go up against a Russia team that nobody really knows too well, but seems to be growing up at the perfect time. I didn't get to watch them dismantle Sweden 2-0, but all reports said that Russia looked like a team ready to join the elite of European squads.

Possible Starting 11's:

G - Edwin Van Der Sar
D - Khalid Bouhlarouz
D - Andre Ooijer
D - Tom Mathijsen
D - Gio Van Bronckhorst
M - Orlando Engelaar
M - Nigel De Jong
M - Rafael Van Der Vaart
M - Wesley Sneijder
F - Ruud Van Nistelrooy
F - Robin Van Persie

G - Igor Afinkeev
D - Sergei Ifnasevich
D - Aleksander Aniukov
D - Denis Kolodin
M- Konstantin Zurianov
M- Igor Semshov
M- Sergei Semak
M- Diniyar Bilyletdinov
M - Yuri Zhirkov
F - Andre Arshavin
F - Roman Pavluchenko

Tactics Board:

What makes this possibly such an exciting game is that both teams play the same way. We all know that the Netherlands are going to play the game at a rapid tempo thanks to quick passing and excellent movement. Well guess what, Russia are going to try and play just as fast. Their coach, Guus Hiddink, is already on record of saying Russia is not going to back down from the Dutch and will attack right back at them. And it goes without saying that Hiddink will know a thing or two about Holland because it is his nationality and because he has coached the Dutch style for decades. All this boils up to a rapidly-paced game with chances galore for both teams. If the Netherlands gets ahead early in this one, they will once again employ their counterattack to great success. Don't forget that Spain (maybe the only squad with the technical prowess of the Dutch left in the field) already put up a 4 spot on the Russian defense, so things could get ugly quick. But Russia has two really good strikers up front and will get chances against a Holland defense that while having been good so far, will be prone to giving up chances.

3 Interesting questions to ponder:

Can the Netherlands possibly keep up this level of play? The Oranje played so amazingly well in the group stages that it would be heartbreaking for them to desintegrate back into what they appeared to be before the tournament started. Considering their opponent today and the way the game is going to played, I don't see them backing off the gas pedal at all. Furthermore, many of their starters got to rest in the Romania game and should be fresh for this crucial quarterfinal. I see no way the Dutch don't score at least 2 goals today.

What effect does Guus Hiddink have for the Russian team? This is kinda like one of those games where the old coach got fired from one team and now has a chance to get back at them for a different team. Hiddink knows all about Van Basten's coaching style and all of the players for the Dutch so nothing will be new to him. The question is can he somehow make his Russian players as comfortable with the opposition as he will be? This is still a very young team and they have nowhere near the experience that Holland has in games of this magnitude. Either they will carry the momentum from last game or be blown away by the Clockwork Oranje.

Will there be any defense played today? I'm hoping the answer is a definitive no, which will make goalkeeping a huge part of today's game. We've all heard of Edwin Van Der Sar and know what he can do. Most people don't know that Russian keeper Igor Afinkeev has been goalie for the national team since he was 18 and is one of the best young keepers in the world. We just never hear about him because he plays in the Russian League instead of the EPL or La Liga. Today will be a crucible for young Afinkeev because of the opposition. He is going to have to make incredible saves to keep the Russkies in the game, which he is definitely capable of. But if he does not have a good game and makes mistakes, Russia simply has no chance to win.


In a lot of previous tournaments, the Dutch have looked awesome in the early stages of the tournament and then been bounced out prematurely once the knockout stages begin. There was the loss to Italy at home in Euro 2000, an epic loss to the Czech in Euro 2004 and a terrible loss to Portugal in the last world cup. Today they got lucky in that they are playing an upstart team that will cater to the Dutch style and play a game they'll be comfortable in. This will allow the Dutch players to play the free-flowing game that they have been so successful at so far in this tournament. And while i think today Russia will capitalize on some mistakes in the Netherlands defense, that offense is simply too spectacular right now to be held down by a young and unproven Russian defense. I expect a total shootout at the OK Corral today, with the Oranje advancing to the semifinals to take on the winner of Italy and Spain courtesy of a 4-2 victory over the precocious neophytes of Russia.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bruce Weber is a B.A.N.

Here's a direct quote from former Purdue assistant and current Illinois coach Bruce Weber when asked about the Big 10 Basketball race this year.

"The league should be wide open and we can be right in the middle of it. I do know one thing, though. I think Indiana will suck. Don't put that on the Internet."

Oh really Bruce? You honestly thought this wouldn't make it on the internet. There are numerous things wrong with this quote. First of all, a coach shouldn't be making statements like this. I'd expect it from the president of the Illini Anime Club, but not from the coach of the basketball team. This is a classless quote that has no business being said by a man in this position. It just shows what a complete joke Weber is. You would never see Tom Crean or even the Kelvin "Text Me" Sampson stooping to this level.

Speaking of jokes, I think it's hilarious that he talked shit about IU basketball considering how pathetic the Illini were last year. It's no secret that Illinois was the most dissapointing team in the league last year. They tied for second to last in the Big 10 standings. U of I also got swept by IU and lost to the juggernaut known as Tennessee State. It's hard to imagine Illinois being worse than they were last year, but anything's possible. The bottom line is, you don't make statements like this after your team was the Big 10 whipping boys last year. I'd be shocked to see the Illini make the tournament, let alone compete for the Big 10 title.

MLB Power Poll

We're smack dab in the middle of interleague play. It's been lopsided at best so far as 9 teams earned sweeps in the last round. Hopefully the next set will be closer. Today begins the fourth of the six series that take place each year. It's also includes arguably the best batch of matchups of any set. The top 3 in my opinion are: Cubs/White Sox, Angels/Philles, and Red Sox/Cardinals. It wouldn't be a stretch to think that any of these matchups could be possible World Series previews. I'm going to start shortening the analysis in the team portion of the power poll because it not only takes me forever to do, but it is also probably not super interesting to read.

1.) Chicago Cubs (45-28)- The Cubbies narrowly hang on to the top spot, but their grasp is so shaky that it's possible for the next 5 teams on the list to pass them in the next poll. What happened? Well, the surging Tampa Bay Rays handed them a good ol' fashioned ass whoopin'. They got swept for the first time all year. In fact, they haven't been swept since May 2007 against the Marlins. They've got something to prove in the Windy City Series this weekend. They'd also better hope that Carlos Zambrano only misses one start.

2.) Boston Red Sox (46-29)- Boston is officially taking over the world. The Sox won the last world series, the Celtics just captured the NBA title, and if the Pats wouldn't have choked, the city would own all 3 major championships. Ugh. The Red Sox actually had a solid week going 5-2, but I still need to see how Dice-K looks in his debut tonight before I can vault them into the top spot. They were impressive again by taking 2 of 3 against the Phillies this week and they'll need to keep up the great play when they host the Cardinals this weekend. Should be a great series.

3.) Tampa Bay Rays (43-29)- The Rays are on a roll. Get them some butter. They only lost once since the last poll including a huge sweep over the #1 Cubbies. Tampa Bay gets to host their third straight series and this time it's against the biggest slumpers in the league, the Houston Astros (8 game losing streak), so they'd better get another sweep. They're gonna need it if they want to catch Boston who still holds a 1 1/2 game lead in the AL East. They also need to stave off the White-Hot Yankees who just can't lose. This divisional race should be ridiculously entertaining down the stretch.

4.) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (43-30)- The Angels play their third NL East team in a row this week and it's going to be a stiff test against the Phillies. LA didn't fair so hot against the other two losing 2 of 3 agains the Braves and Mets. Considering New York just fired their manager (right in the middle of the series) and Atlanta can't win on the road (Worst Road record in baseball) this is not a good sign. They can't afford to play like that against Philadelphia who will be looking for blood this weekend. Shouldn't the Angels have more than a 3 1/2 game lead over Oakland right now?

5.) Chicago White Sox (41-31)- The White Sox didn't just sweep the Pirates, they made them walk the plank. Chicago scored an interleague sweep record 37 runs during the 3 game set led by the unstoppable Carlos Quentin. Young Knuckleballer officially endorses Quentin as an All-Star starter. Who needs the Windy City Series more? Sure the Cubs have the better record, but the White Sox have the bigger division lead at 4 1/2 games (tied for biggest gap in the majors).

6.) New York Yankees (40-33)- There's not a hotter team in baseball right now. The Yankees make their much awaited debut in the power poll courtesy of a 7 game winning streak (3 games longer than any other team in the game). They swept back-to-back series for the first time since early 2007. It's about time that the team with the highest payroll got the ball rolling. The bad news for the Yanks long-term prospects? Chien Ming Wang is out till at least September. The Good News? Joba Chamberlain looks like a certified stud after a striking out 9 in just over 5 innings yesterday.

7.) Philadelphia Phillies (42-32)- The Phillies are letting key opportunities dissippate. They had the Red Sox right where they wanted them this week and they let it slip away. They lost 2 of 3 there and the same margin occured in their previous two series against the Cardinals and Marlins. They can't afford to let the rest of the NL East stick around, because the other line-ups are just too talented. They hold just a 2 game lead over Florida despite being the highest scoring offense in baseball. Time for pitchers not named Cole Hamels to step up.

8.) St. Louis Cardinals (42-32)- The Cards picked a terrible time to lay an egg. They just got swept at home by the KC Royals!!!! C'mon now, this can't happen when you're chasing the Cubs and getting savagely pursued by the Brewers. Now the Red Birds have to go and play the two scariest offenses in the AL over the next week. They're on the road to take on the Red Sox and Tigers. How much are they missing Albert "Winnie the" Pujols now?

9.) Milwaukee Brewers (39-33)- The hottest team in the NL actually moves down a spot?! Yessir, it's not the Brewers fault that everybody above them is either winning or still holds a solid lead in the standings. They also got usurped by the even more fiery Yankees. The Cheeseheads can rest assured that if they continue this play, they will climb up the Power Poll. They're on a 4 game winning streak right now and much of that recent success can be attributed to Papa Prince Fielder. He's finally starting to swing a mean bat and show that the vegetarian thing hasn't caused his power to become extinct. He homered twice against the Brew Jays this week and one of those was his second career inside the park job of his career. If you haven't seen a clip of this you gotta check it out, it's hilarious.
Picture Bentley trying to run a mile.

10.) Arizona Diamondbacks (39-34)- Once again, the D-backs are here by process of elimination. There's a Michael Strahan Tooth gap between the D-backs and the Brewers though right now, so don't think I put them in the same boat. What's the deal with Brandon Webb. Remember a month ago when he was 9-0? Well he's 2-3 since then and he's looked pretty weak sauce in his last two starts especially against the A's on Wednesday where he gave up 7 runs in less than 4 IP (3rd shortest start of his career). He's also not striking guys out anymore (10 in his last 3 starts combined). Micah Owings has also come back to earth in a big way (0-3 in his last 4 starts). The once undisputed pitching champs in baseball are now looking like lightweights.

Also Receiving Votes: Florida Marlins, Oakland A's, Minnesota Twins

MLB All-Star Predictions

Before I list my all star choices I want to make 2 quick points. First, fans are stupid. AL fans apparently think the only 2 teams that can be voted on are the Yankees and Red Sox (thanks ESPN), and NL fans are so dumb they are trying to put overrated jap Kosuke Fukudome and geriatric dinosaur Ken Griffey Jr. into their lineup. Its about time we stop fan voting, because its making all baseball fans look like total idiots. The second point is that the NL is absolutely loaded with talent while the AL has gotten old really fast. Only a few years ago everyone was saying how the AL was so much better, but one look at these rosters and you can see that the balance of power has definitely shifted to the Senior Circuit. With that said, lets take a look at how the all-star rosters should look, if retards weren't allowed to vote that is.


C - Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins (.335, 2hr, 28 rbi)
1b - Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins (.306, 11 hr, 56 rbi)
2b - Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers (.308, 10 hr, 42rbi, 18sb)
3b - Alex Rodriguez, NY Yankees (.335, 14hr, 41rbi, 8sb)
SS - Michael Young, Texas Rangers (.281, 52r, 6hr, 36rbi)
OF - Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers (.321, 19hr, 74rbi)
OF - Manny Ramirez, Boston Red Sox (.295, 15hr, 49rbi)
OF - Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox (.271, 17hr, 56rbi)
SP - Cliff Lee, Cleveland Indians (10-1, 76k, 2.55 ERA)


C - AJ Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox (.308, 4hr, 26rbi)
1b - David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox (.252, 13hr, 53rbi)
2b - Brian Roberts, Baltimore Orioles (.284, 5hr, 29rbi, 20sb)
3b - Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox (.305, 11hr, 44rbi)
SS - Orlando Cabrera, Chicago White Sox (.274, 6hr, 30rbi, 8sb)
OF - Milton Bradley, Texas Rangers (.330, 15hr, 48rbi)
OF - BJ Upton, Tampa Bay Rays (.291, 5hr, 39rbi, 22sb)
OF - Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians (.266, 17hr, 40rbi, 17sb)
B - JD Drew, Boston Red Sox (.327, 13hr, 43rbi)

SP - Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays (8-6, 86k, 3.09 ERA)
SP - Shawn Marcum, Toronto Blue Jays (5-4, 86k, 2.65 ERA)
SP - Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox (7-4, 89k, 3.87 ERA)
SP - Scott Kazmir, Tampa Bay Rays (6-2, 61k, 1.76 ERA)
SP - Joe Saunders, Anaheim Angels (10-3, 46k, 3.06 ERA)
CL - Francisco Rodriguez, Anaheim Angels (28sv, 2.25 ERA)
CL - Mariano Rivera, NY Yankees (20sv, 0.79 ERA)
CL - Jonathan Papelbon, Boston Red Sox (21sv, 1.95 ERA)


C - Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves (.305, 13hr, 42 rbi
1b - Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres (.293, 20hr, 63rbi)
2b - Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies (.294, 22hr, 62rbi)
3b - Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves (.394, 16hr, 45rbi)
SS - Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins (.294, 15hr, 17sb)
OF - Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (.288, 20hr, 55rbi)
OF - Lance Berkman, Houston Astros (.366, 20hr, 59rbi)
OF - Nate McLouth, Pittsburgh Pirates (.295, 15hr, 51rbi)
SP - Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati Reds (9-2, 105k, 1.64 ERA)


C - Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs (.282, 12hr, 43 rbi)
1b - Derrek Lee, Chicago Cubs (.289, 14hr, 44 rbi)
2b - Dan Uggla, Florida Marlins (.288, 21hr, 52rbi)
3b - David Wright, NY Mets (.278, 12hr, 54 rbi)
SS - Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies (.289, 6hr, 15sb)
OF - Ryan Ludwick, St. Louis Cardinals (.305, 16hr, 55rbi)
OF - Carlos Lee, Houston Astros (.268, 15hr, 53 rbi)
OF - Jason Bay, Pittsburgh Pirates (.287, 14hr, 37rbi)
B - Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (.347, 16hr, 42rbi)

SP - Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants (8-1, 95k, 2.21 ERA)
SP - Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies (7-4, 91k, 3.23 ERA)
SP - Brandon Webb, Arizona Diamondbacks (11-3, 82k, 3.27 ERA)
SP - Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs (8-2, 81k, 2.76 ERA)
SP - Ben Sheets, Milwaukee Brewers (8-1, 77k, 2.84 ERA)
CL - Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies (18sv, 0.90 ERA)
CL - Kerry Wood, Chicago Cubs (18sv, 2.45 ERA)
CL - Matt Capps, Pittsburgh Pirates (16sv, 2.88 ERA)

What is incredible with these rosters is how deep and talented the NL is. There's a good chance their second unit is better than the AL's starters, and some of the starting pitching I had to leave off the NL is just mind-boggling (Santana, Hudson, Zambrano, Oswalt, Haren). It was hard to find 2 good catchers and shortstops in the AL, while certain positions in the NL going 4 or 5 deep with worthy all-stars (1b, SS, 2b).

Quick thoughts on Turkey -vs- Croatia

Its going to be tough to top yesterday's game, and quite honestly Young Swole doesn't have the knowledge of these squads to give a whole preview, but lets hit some quick talking points in regards to the 2nd quarterfinal of Euro 2008.

- Watch Croatia play, and you will see that they are a very technically sound team. They have a great familiarity among the starting 11 which means they are comfortable passing the ball as well as controlling the ball while in possession. This was one of the biggest keys to the German game, and we saw yesterday how the German pressure took Portugal off its game. With that being said, Croatia should be able to have possession for the majority of the game today which will lead to excellent scoring chances.

- Because Croatia move the ball so well, Turkey will have to be smart when challenging them. The Oily Turks have a tendency to get out of position and make ill-advised tackles against their opponents. This leads to a lot of fouls and cards. Combine this with the technical prowess of the Croats and the Turks will have to be very careful on their challenges as well as their defensive positioning.

- Turkey expended so much energy in their comeback over The Czech that its questionable they have anything emotionally for this game. To come back the way they did and the emotional release that comes with it will be hard to duplicate in this game. It will be up to midfielders like Altintop and Turan to ratchet up the tempo and keep Turkey in the game.

- As we saw in the Turkey comeback, their striker Nihat is pure class. He's shown why he scored 20 goals for Villareal with his clinical finishing last game. Think about how easy he made that look, and then think about how more well-known strikers like Thierry Henry and Luca Toni have blown almost every similar chance in their games. Because Turkey has Nihat, they will never be out of the game, they just need to find a way to get him the ball.

My prediction is going to be 2-1 Croatia. I feel they are just going to outclass the Oily ones and get a lot of scoring chances on a defense that was pretty raggedy even before head oil baron Servet was forced to sit out in today's game. We have also seen how much pride Turkey has, and I'm betting they'll score a late goal to try and make things close, but will not have enough left to try and make it three comebacks in a row.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Germany - Portugal Quarterfinal Preview

The group stages are done at Euro 2008 and now it is time for the knockout rounds to begin. We can only hope that these games create the same excitement that the group stages did, and with the matchups that are set, I'd say there's a good possibility for more amazing soccer to be played. Today's game is a matchup between two titans of world soccer, Germany and Portugal. Both sides expect to win the whole tournament, but one is also guaranteed to go home much earlier than expected. Who is going to win this epic matchup? Lets break it down GDB style.

How they got here: Portugal were the winners of Group A, defeating Turkey and the Czech Republic. They lost to Switzerland in their last group game but got a chance to rest all of their major players, which means they should be fresh going into today's game. Their path to success was forged from a dominating midfield and solid defense. They have been a creative squad who have played attractive soccer while at the same time not making any major mistakes on defense. It is safe to say they have the momentum going into this game. Germany on the other hand have stumbled into the knockout round. They only finished second in their group, and have not looked anything like the squad that was termed the favorites to win the tournament. While Podolski has scored 3 goals already, other attacking players like Klose, Gomez and Ballack have been mostly dormant. Their defense has also not been what we would expect from a German side, making uncharacteristic mistakes to inferior competition. They also have major injury concerns with Torsten Frings and Podolski both questionable for today's game.

Possible Starting 11's:
Portugal (4-5-1 Formation)
G - Ricardo
D - Bosingwa
D - Ricardo Carvalho
D - Pepe
D - Paulo Ferreira
M - Joao Moutinho
M - Petit
M - Deco
M - Cristiano Ronaldo
M - Simao
F - Nuno Gomes

Germany (4-4-2 Formation)
G - Jens Lehmann
D - Marcell Jansen
D - Per Mertesacker
D - Cristoph Metzelder
D - Phillip Lahm
M - Torsten Frings
M - Clemens Fritz
M - Lukas Podolski
M - Michael Ballack
F - Miroslav Klose
F - Kevin Kuranyi

(If Frings can't play, he will probably be replaced with Hitzelsperger or Borowski. If Podolski can't play look for Schweinsteiger or Odonkor to fill his place.)

3 Keys for Portugal:

1. Win the midfield. This seems simple enough for a team with so much midfield talent, but today they will go up against the most physical and imposing group they have seen so far. All of Portugal's midfielders players are smallish, and could be knocked off their game by the bigger Germans. Petit is going to be the man who has to keep wraps on Ballack, and if he can slow the German captain down then it will greatly help the Portuguese defenders behind him deal with the German forwards. The other midfielders will have to create the right pace of play for Portugal and create the scoring chances because Nuno Gomes simply does not do enough up front to provide a threat to Germany. It will be imperative for Deco to create chances for Simao and Cristiano Ronaldo if Portugal is to score today.

2. Win the air battle. Germany is known for its heading prowess in the box, and frankly they are due for some goals of this variety. Therefore central defenders Pepe and Carvalho are going to have to be spot-on in their marking and not allow German aerial threats Klose, Ballack and Metzelder to get free in the box. Both central defenders are of a high quality and should do a solid job marking the German attacking players, but it only takes one mistake on a set piece to let all that work go to waste.

3. Be a hero Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite the urging of ESPN commentators everywhere, Ronaldo has yet to be the world's best player at this tournament. He did score an important goal against the Czech, but for long period's of time during each game he has vanished. This is a little shocking because he seems so much more aggressive when playing for Manchester United, yet so far for Portugal he has almost seemed passive in his approach. Its games like today however that cement your status of one of the world's greatest, and Cristiano will have to be the superstar everyone wants him to be for Portugal to advance. He honestly doesn't have to score to be a factor, he just has to be the man that is always a threat to score, which will open up the German defense for the rest of his teammates. Maybe if Cristiano puts up an epic performance i'll drink the Kool-Aid, but to be real with you I'm still waiting to see something more from him.

3 Keys for Germany:

1. Get production from the forwards. Its quite shocking how quiet Miroslav Klose has been so far this tournament. Every major competition i've ever seen he's always looked like the best striker in the world, and yet so far in Euro 2008 he's been about as effective as Eddie Johnson is for America. It doesn't really help that his strike partner Mario Gomez has looked completely unprepared for the occasion. I know he's young, but for someone with so much hype coming in, I expected much more. Today Germany cannot afford another no show from its striking pair. I'm already predicting Gomez to be replaced with the more experienced Kuranyi, and Klose and whoever plays beside him may have to make up for the lost production of Podolski if he somehow doesn't play today.

2. Get mean. I used to always hate German teams because they always seemed like the biggest group of assholes in world soccer. Players like Jens Jeremies and Cristian Ziege were not afraid to get yellow cards and intimidate the hell out of their opponents. Now it seems like Ze Germans have gone a little soft. Players are dying their hair blond, bitching about refs constantly and letting opponents waltz into scoring areas without punishment. One thing is for sure, they better not let Portugal do that or they will get toasted by the superb Portuguese midfielders. This is why its so important to set a physical tone to the game. Take a slide at Cristiano's ankles just to put it in his mind that he's not going to be able to run free all game. Knock Deco around every time he gets the ball so that he cannot freely distribute it around the park. And don't be afraid to throw some goddamn elbows around in the box. This is the evil Mannschaft we're talking about, not some fruitcake Scandinavian team for crying out loud.

3. Don't screw up Lehmann. I swear i cringe every time the German goalkeeper plays the ball, because you never know when you may see the dumbest soccer play in recorded history. He already gaffed once in the Croatia game leading to a goal, and any Arsenal fan can tell you he's about due for another embarrasing screw-up. At this stage of a major tournament against such a talented opponent, any mistake Lehmann will be fatal.


Everybody is burying Germany after such an underwhelming group stage, but the important thing is that they advanced. Now they are only 2 games away from the final and we all know its going to be difficult to knock them out once and for all. For some reason I feel like the Germans, despite their awkward play so far, match up really well with Portugal. The Portuguese love to play a finesse game with free movement and i don't think Germany is going to let them have this. They have so much talent all over the park that it is about time they play an excellent game, and sometimes when your back is to the wall is when teams truly come together to become what we expected them to be all along. Portugal will get some chances simply because their midfield is so full of quality, but I feel they are going to be few and far between. I also think Klose is going to step up for the Germans today and have a huge game. Look for a really tight game at first, with the Germans slowly turning the screws against Portugal. I'm feeling a Klose strike early in the 2nd half to make it 1-0 and then Germany proceeds to turn out the lights on a Portugal side that simply will not be able to match up with the German's physicality. Germany wins 1-0.

The Interrupter!!!

I don't know if you guys have ever seen this Conan character...but he is freaking hysterical. Not to mention he is played by a fellow IU alum (aka bad ass), Brian Stack.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Not So Amazin'

The Mets Organization is an absolute joke. Today they fired Manager Willie Randolph at 3 in the morning. After this move, the Mets management makes the Yankees look like they're run by Albert Einstein instead of Hank Steinbrenner. I never thought I'd say this, but maybe the club was better off with Steve "Bum" Phillips. To fire the man running your team in the middle of the night is a cowardly act that shows why the Mets are going nowhere fast. Why do this now? What do they have to gain?

By making this move, they've pretty much ensured that they won't make the playoffs this year. Sure, they're underachieving big time. Most people thought that with the addition of Johan Santana in the off-season, the Mets would be the front-runners to win the NL Pennant. They've got the second-highest payroll in baseball at just over $137 Million and are one game under .500 on the season. Still, they weren't out of the race (just 6.5 games back in the NL East) and with the talent on the roster, they had a good shot to turn it around. In fact, they had won 3 of their last 4 games including a 3 run victory over the AL Powerhouse Angels last night.

Randolph wasn't exactly Tony LaRussa over his past 100 games, but overall he's had much success since taking over as manager about 3 and a half years ago. He's the second most winningest coach in Mets history with 302 victories. In this day and age though, it's all about what have you done for me lately. In my opinion, he hasn't done the job that he should be doing, but the blame can't all be placed on his shoulders. The pitching has greatly underachieved (led by the dinosaur that is Billy Wagner) and injuries to Pedro Martinez and Ryan Church haven't allowed them to fully gel as a team.

Clearly this move has been in the works for awhile. ESPN has covered the shit out of this story for the past month now, and most people knew that it wasn't a question of if, but when. When it comes down to it though, unless your team is dead in the water (aka the Seattle Mariners), you stick with your coach through the season. That's why if GM Omar Minaya didn't have faith in Randolph, he should have axed him at the beginning of the season. After the Mets epic meltdown caused them to go from playoff shoe-ins in August to Post-season dropouts by late September, it appeared that Randolph was on the way out. However, when they kept him on at the beginning of this season, they made a commitment to stick with him.

Now the team is setting themselves back, and with a veteran club, they can't afford to waste time like this. Right now, this team is the baseball equivalent of the Knicks. I still have to cover them though, so I might as well suck it up.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Dumbest Slob on Earth

OK this is 4 years old, but just read the article and you will understand why i had to post this.

"Fox stole bagel, candy bar from store"

Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. -- University of Arizona forward Isaiah Fox pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge of shoplifting.
Fox must perform 15 hours of community service, pay a $90 fine and take a class in civic responsibility, the Arizona Daily Star reported on its Web site.
Justice of the Peace Jim Green said Fox's charges would be dismissed once Fox completes those requirements.
Green told Fox not to let the incident "color your life any more than it has."
Fox had faced up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine for admittedly stealing $2.58 worth of snack food including a bagel, two packets of cream cheese and a candy bar from a campus convenience store on Oct. 29.

What a retard