My chosen sports have been fairly dormant, thus leaving the typical Yachtist rage to rest whilst I enjoy summer cocktails on the poop deck. Therefore I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Sunil Gulati and the rest of the crew at the U.S. Men's National Team for hiring Der Golden Bombenschutze, Jeurgen Klinsmann.
Ich Bin Ein Klinsmanner.
I have been a Bradley naysayer since the day he was hired, and a Klinsmann supporter since his name first started being bandied about by higher-ups at USMNT. Klinsmann's hiring represents a drastic and much needed change in direction for the USMNT and American football in general. This team has needed fresh new leadership since Bora Milutinovic left in 95. Instead, it was handed to trusted same-olds Steve Sampson, Bruce Arena, and Bob Bradley. The tremendous strides US Footy took from the late 80s into the mid-90s came to a screeching halt somewhere during the Arena tenure (2003, specifically) and have laid stagnant since. Before I go any further trashing the US Footy system, I'll drop this disclaimer: I am a firm believer that the USMNT can no longer look within for development. We need to bring Continental/International football wholly into the US. MLS has understood this for years, bringing in designated players and hiring international coaches. I don't know exactly what can be done, but bringing in the guy who set the framework for the Deutscheland Fussball Revolution is a pretty awesome start.
Ja! Das is gut!
The hallmark of Klinsmann's brief stays at both Bayern Munich & Germany was the total revolution of the entire program. The German National Team was the most affected by this. Klinsmann brought together the entire coaching fraternity of the Bundesliga, explained the way he wanted Germans to be taught and how they should play (some were more open to the idea than others, however), and worked to instill that at all levels of German football. Additionally, he hired those around him to be successful in areas he wasn't (i.e. gameday coaching - the hiring of Joachim Low, now the current national team coach), improved facilities, and forced the German FA to think more forwardly in terms of exercise science, preparation, and injury rehabilitation.
In the US, Klinsmann won't meet nearly the same amount of pushback as he did in the first months of his German & Bayern tenures. The MLS/NCAA & the USMNT have one of the most cooperative pro/development/national team relationships in all of world football. One of Klinsmann's previous demands is that he be given authoritative control of the program should he take the position, so I imagine he will be the de facto head of US Soccer from youth all the way up through the professional ranks since he finally relented on the 3rd try (Gulati previously tried to hire Klinsmann in secret twice but apparently was rebuffed).
Time to sack up, Lando.
SELECTION, SWEET SELECTION:If you're a fan of the USMNT, the worst part of your game day was the lineup card for the starting 11. The combination of lack of talent (left back) and lack of direction (Bradley) led to some of the dumbest lineups in history. Donovan benched until the 2nd half of a Gold Cup game? Check. Jonathan Boornstein even WEARING a Yank jersey? Check. Klinsmann, on the other hand, clearly has an eye for talent, which should lead to smart lineups on game day.
This bodes pretty well for guys like Stu Holden, Freddy Adu, and Eric Lichaj. I'll be thoroughly convinced if Klinsmann hands the Centre Back reigns to my boy Tim Ream. Watching his passing prowess in New York has convinced me he is the answer to the Onweyu loss, and he would fit well into Klinsmann's philosophy, leading me to my next point...PHILOSOPHY:If you're sick and tired of Bob Bradley's hackneyed version of "Catenaccio", you'll be happy to read this article written by him after the 2010 World Cup thrashing of England by Germany.
Of course, whenever anyone hears the words "Attacking Football", expectations immediately skyrocket to Barca Football, laser passes, and Klose hat tricks. Klinsmann won't have nearly that kind of talent on his hands, but as we take longer strides towards success in the states, instilling an attacking philosophy in the ranks will be deeply beneficial. I for one am excited to see the boys learn how to actually run off the ball (anyone else tired of Landycakes' passes skidding towards the touchline because nobody is there to smash them home?).
I know this guy is pumped!
I'm pumped for this hire. It's a step in the right direction, and perfectly timed as World Cup 2014 Cycle starts now. First game is against Mexico, and although it's a friendly....it's fucking Mexico. Let's see what Der Panzerkapten can do vs El Tri.
*disclaimer: this post was hastily written due to a combination of immense writer's block, excitement over Bob Bradley's firing, and a vicous world-ending hangover. Please excuse my choppy prose and unsubstantiated arguments.
The BarristerGood God, we have been pretty testy here at DGWU Sports lately. Between my rant about USWNT naysayers, our communal efforts at trashing the NFL, and its coverage, and our Bills whenever we get the chance, readers might leave our site thinking that we don't really even like sports at all. Indeed, Yachtsman - who first pulled me into contributing here, in large part because I was pretty impressed with some of the work I saw from him in late winter/early spring
- has been silent for the past month due, by his account, to having not much to say about, well, anything. Sure, a lot of it has to do with the off-season doldrums, combined with some less-than-successful sequences of events for those teams of our that are playing. But, beyond that, I think we're not trying hard enough to enjoy what's good about our teams and our sports these days.Frankly, I'm a little disappointed. Looking back at the last week, and in particular the last couple days, there are reasons to celebrate our sports fandom, even if we all ultimately agree that the Bills are worthless and our sports lives won't matter until the Sabres start playing in October. So, at the risk of alienating those amongst you who might prefer to petulantly hold on to these sullen feelings of summer, some thoughts on the good things.Bob Bradley fired, Jürgen Klinsmann hired
I'll say first that I liked Bob Bradley. Undeniably, he brought American soccer to a higher level after taking over the reigns, and the team has had decent success to corroborate this. But, if you watch The Beautiful Game, particularly any of the top-flight European leagues where they play the game as art, you know that there has ALWAYS been something missing with the national team. And, not that this is Bradley's fault entirely.... systematic and cultural issues play a huge role in limiting how far the American team can go. That said, the downhill, pressing style of American soccer has persisted as the dominant strategy of the national team, despite the fact that the roster arguably includes enough talent to take it to the next level, where the beauty of the game shines through with every touch, every pass and run. Where the game is built upon the creativity of a roster and, maybe, includes some strikers that can actually put the ball in the net.
To that end, Yachtsman and I have long discussed the need to revisit the idea of a European at the helm of the national team, as a means to an end. Bob Bradley, as smart as he is, is limited by his experience within American soccer. While he clearly had the lads behind him and working hard for him, Bradley was never going to be the guy to inspire that next step. Klinsmann, on the other hand, with national team experience in Germany, and a playing career that far exceeds the success attained by any of the players on the USMNT roster, might just be the key to inspiring the team to make the leap.
As a manager/coach, he brought Germany to the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup, and achievement in and of itself that should be tremendously encouraging to American footy fans. What I am immensely
excited about are the reports about how much control he will exercise over the US Soccer program. As noted in this story
, prior discussions with Klinsmann were less than fruitful due, at least in part, to the fact that he wanted wide-ranging power to implement systematic changes to the US Soccer culture and infrastructure. Now that he's on board, it appears that the US Soccer Federation finally understands that the kinds of changes he has proposed are necessary. With this news, it feels like we might finally have something to dream for as we look ahead to WC 2014, and that those dreams aren't completely without reason.Brad Smith to the Bills
Listen, I know that this may be a reach for this "happy happy joy joy" post, but having lived in New York City for the last six years, and having watched more than my fair share of Jets games with local friends from law school, I have always been impressed by Brad Smith. He brings a ton of skills to the table, including the possibility of him sitting in the #2 or #3 QB spot on the depth chart. Because, honestly, as much as I love FitzMagic, the rest of the guys on the roster are really #3 guys at best. I enjoy the idea of throwing another guy in the mix, if only to keep people motivated. And, of course, there's his more typically utilized skills in the return game, wildcat formations and in the slot as a receiver. Simply put, he brings a host of options, all of which increase the Bills' options on every down, while also increasing the possibility of headaches among opposing coaches as they prepare for the Bills every week.
Apart from him as a player, I love this move because I hate the Jets. The fact that the Bills got a really skilled, talented guy from a division rival, that twice this year, I'll have the opportunity to cheer this guy on as he tries to stick it to his old teammates is fantastic.
I won't pretend that I love his price tag, or the questions that necessarily come up about why Ralph is willing to spend money on a guy who may, realistically, only spend a fraction of the game on the field, while refusing to make any other effort to spend on, say a left tackle who doesn't completely suck balls, or a linebacker who isn't either (a) undersized and unable to cover tight ends, or (b) injury-prone in a post-steroids world. But, this is a happy post. So fuck off.
The Mets have won FIVE STRAIGHT
Again, I'm a realistic man, so I am tempering my enthusiasm about the run the Amazins have put together this week. That said, THE METS ARE NEVER LOSING AGAIN. I love this shit. Dillon Gee, getting the win last night against Chien Ming Wang and the Nationals, is the surprise of the season, and Buffalo-favorite RA Dickey is up tomorrow night. After sweeping the Reds this week, a series win against the Nats could put the Mets within comfortable striking distance of the wild card only one week out of the All Star break. And with Johan Santanta on the mound in rehab starts - and pitching a scoreless game in his latest outing - these Mets are in way better position than anyone could have reasonably hoped for when the season started.
What I like the most about the Mets of late is the the fact that, unlike all of us watching, it really doesn't seem like the team is all that surprised about where they are right now. As scrubby the team is, and as lacking a true ace through the first half of the season, this team has a roster full of guys who think they can win. When news came out that the team was NOT going to be trading Jose Reyes this year - despite the fact that he's in a contract year, that he has made it clear he will not negotiate an extension during the season and that he will likely demand absurd money in the salary cap-less world of Major League Baseball - it seemed to me to be the most encouraging sign of where the organization expects this season to go. Argue all you want that this Mets team can't, and won't, make the playoffs... I won't argue back. But, luckily, we're not the ones who get to shape that destiny, and all signs point to there being a whole lot of positive thinking at Citi Field this year. This could get really interesting.
Sabres re-sign the Demon Swede
This is the most dated of the news I'm including in this post (well over a week old by now...), but since the DGWU Crew has yet to weigh in formally on this deal, I feel like its worth getting into.
As an initial matter, I think people who are talking about letting Miller go via trade are insane. Jesus, people, the DUDE IS ONE YEAR OUT OF HIS VEZINA. Wanna know what happened with the last guy who won a Vezina and then had a down year with people calling for him to go in favor the up and coming young netminder? HE JUST WON A FUCKING CUP. I feel stupid even having to type this. Goddammit Buffalo, you are fickle bunch.
Anyway, even though I'm not in the "trade Miller" camp (at least, not yet...I like eating crow as much as the next guy), I am in the "let's get real about how much any goalie should be worked" camp. Miller is a skinny sonofabitch, and it goes without saying that his slight frame could use a little more rest than the Sabres have been giving him during the Patrick Lalime Experiment. Enroth has shown himself to be more than capable, and if he can take on 25+ starts this year, Miller could be rested for a deep Cup run in a way that he hasn't been since 2007. And, with the Sabres re-establishing their alignment with the Rochester Americans, the team has the option of giving Enroth spot starts in Rochester to keep him fresh. (Note: I have no idea if moving Enroth to Roch for refresher spot starts is even possible under his contract, though I think it is...my apologies if these words are coming out of my butthole).
The Sabres are left with only one RFA - Marc-Andre Gragnani - left to be signed, assuming he does, and still have some fat trimming to get to in the coming months (likely in the form of moving Ales "Alice" Kotalik and Shoane "My Name Has Too Many Letters" Morrisonn to the AHL), but I love that we'll FINALLY have two solid goalies to root for, and that one of them happens to be a hobbit. Middle Earth represent.
God, I suck.
So, sports fans, we have much to celebrate these days, and much to look forward to. Sure, the MLS All Stars got sodomized by an offseason form Manchester United squad, and sure the Bills are looking at another season at the bottom of the AFC East, but sports are fun and life isn't all bad. After all, we now get to play Chad "I promised to change my name back if I got shutdown by Revis in the playoffs, but then reneged when I got one catch" Ochochinco twice a year now!! Guaranteed that ESPN will talk about the Bills then, right??
Ugh. My happy thoughts are leaving me. Someone get me a beer.
I have an hour before physical therapy on my back and I need this outlet to get some things off my chest. If the DGWU crew haven't made it clear enough to you yet, let me just reiterate that we are having difficulty getting excited for the upcoming NFL season. The reasons are countless, but I believe I have narrowed it down to three major points.
1) The media coverage in the NFL has become sickening. The Apologist covered this a few days ago, but I have to chime in with how much I despise ESPN. They only hype up the stories that have a positive effect on the network and only report what the NFL force feeds them. Do you remember Ron Mexico
? In fact, when it comes to a story that they feel is "beneath them", they will flat out not even make an attempt to get the info correct. Don't get me started on how they fuck up hockey news. Whether it's reporting that Tampa Bay was playing in the Stanley Cup, pronouncing Derek Roy's name wrong in highlights (several times), or completing ignoring free agency this summer, it is apparent that they just don't give a shit. However, ESPN will still show painfully obvious signs of doing no research whatsoever in other sports if they believe the team doesn't matter. For example, twitter member twoeightnine dropped this gem a few moments ago.
Are you kidding me? Even a wallflower fan could probably tell you how dumb that comment is. Anyone who plays fantasy football, Bills fan or not could have told you how wrong that statement it is. Fucking ridiculous.
2. All other sports are more exciting right now. The NBA playoffs were phenomenal. Not even including Dallas & Dirk's route of the Heat, you still had underdogs like Memphis and Indiana playing crazy good ball, the Miami - Chicago series, and everything that Kevin Durant does. You also had the NHL playoffs, which despite Buffalo bowing out early (more on them later), there was still Washington - NYR, Tamp - Boston, Vancouver - San Jose, and what turned out to be a pretty solid Cup finals (minus the rioting and the fact that I HATE everything Boston
). Hell, even soccer is hitting its stride in the U.S. Between the USMNT's Gold Cup play and the USWNT in the World Cup, I even got excited about soccer. The nationally televised WNY Flash game (yeah, Mendola!) and a Portland vs. Seattle MLS games a few backs were both more entertaining than your average ESPN Monday Night Football plug fest.
Back in April I was legitimately freaked out by the possibility of no season, but as the months passed, I started to care less and less. On top of that, the new Terry Pegula Sabres have me so excited for next season, I just want football to be over so I can focus on hockey. Oh it's true. It's damn true. But, that leads me to the next reason....
3. Ralph Wilson and the Buffalo Bills have broken my spirit. The entire crew here is TIRED of the Buffalo Bills being an embarrassment. Does that make people think we are bad fans? Yeah...well...you know that's just like...uh...your opinion, man.
Trust me. I was on the other side not too long ago. Yachtsman and I have had some battles the last couple of seasons because I felt like he gave up on the team. I have realized it isn't so much about giving up, it's about getting sick of the same old crap and an awful football product being placed on the field year after year. I know the players try, I'm not calling them out so much as I'm aiming at the front office and ownership. This team is exhausting.
I actually like Chan Gailey, and I love the Whaley kid they brought in from Pittsburgh to most likely be Nix's eventual replacement, but it has become astonishingly difficult to get fired up for the up and coming Bills season. Getting let down year after year isn't about the lack of movement in free agency, it's the terrrible moves they make that never pan out. The offensive line has been a joke for 10 years after brilliant moves for players like Dockery, Walker, and the lovely Cornell Green. Ugh. It is so difficult to stomach.
I'm absolutely NOT saying I know what they can do to fix this. I would be a terrible GM. My point it is, there has been little to no positive results from the franchise carousel in the front office. This includes the draft, which you can follow up with if your new to the site, and never read my Epic Fail Draft series
. I'm not going hate on Poz leaving anymore, or what I originally thought was a ridiculous signing of Brad Smith, or any other move they make until I can see how it pans out. But that is the problem. 95% of all personnel moves have been vomit-inducing. Why can't any of these professionals get it right? Yachter has touched on this before, and recently Corey at The Goose's Roost added to the fire
. Until Ralph is gone, this team is a big "Fuck You" to fans. Ralph doesn't give a shit about us. When he is gone, it is either going to be the greatest thing for the franchise (a new passionate owner ala TPegs) or the worst (The L.A. Leonardo's). I know it. You know it. Assholes like Brett Ratner and Jeremy Piven are jerking off over it.
I haven't always felt like this. In 2007, I would have wanted to kick future me in the nuts and dump a beer on him. So let me get it straight: I LOVE THE BUFFALO BILLS. On opening day I will be with the rest of the DGWU crew and other fans cheering on the Bills and going absolutely nuts for every down. I wrote once before about how important Western New York and the sports franchises are to me and everyone else born there
. It is one of my favorite things I have ever written and I mean every word of it. But over the last few years, my expectations and reactions to the results of the games have changed infinitely. I'll break it down for you.
In 2007, I started dating my current girlfriend and I quickly converted her to a Bills and Sabres fan (stills pull for the G-men though). Almost every week we would head out to one of several bars in NYC and watch the games with hordes of fellow Buffalo Bills fans. We would reserve tables, arrive before alcohol was even being served, and be decked out in as much Bills gear as possible. During the games the we would go through kegs worth of beers and pounds and pounds of wings. There was even rituals such as football in the street during halftime and the famed "Tim Dance" after a touchdown. It was the highlight of my week, but here's the thing; every game I was so fired up for a win and I truly believed they could pull out every game. I believed in the franchise and the outcome of the game either made my week or destroyed it. The girlfriend would often dislike this about me, because after a Bills win I was the happiest guy in the world, but after a bad loss (you know the kind) I would be miserable the rest of the night and would count down every hour until the next game so I could possibly get that "winning high" back. Sad, I know.
Over the last few seasons there has been a change. I still love the GAME of football and the Buffalo Bills, but I'm not letting them set me up for an emotional letdown anymore. Two seasons ago my girlfriend mentioned that I wasn't getting quite as upset after bad losses as I use to, and then this past season I can honestly say there was only one game where I was angry and highly disappointed afterwards. That was the Baltimore overtime loss. I still have no clue why that game got to me, but it did. The Yachtsman broke it down for me quite well on the phone after the game after I screamed for 15 minutes. "Why do you care so much when ownership couldn't give flying fuck about you?" Good question. I didn't want to believe that Ralph was a terrible owner. He ran my Bills and the stadium I worshipped was named after him, but it all started making sense.
I started thinking about Antoine Winfield, Pat Williams, and Jason Peters leaving our organizations after earning paydays they would never get from Buffalo. Then that made me remember every Cornell Green, Larry Tripplet, and Matt Bowen. Seriously go back and look at Buffalo's free agent signings over the last five seasons. One word came to mind after I reviewed each one: Pathetic. Even T.O., which was a just a desperate maneuver from Russ Brandon to sell tickets and jerseys.
Sorry if I sound like a pissed off, moody teenager who isn't getting his way, but I've had enough. I'm getting older and I'm convinced that every Bills game from 1997-2008 took at least one month off my life. I'll still be there on September 11th, ready to cheer for the Buffalo Bills and hope for the future, but I'm doing it a lot more cautiously and with much more indifference after a loss. It sucks. I kind of miss the old days when I didn't care that they were 6-10 and there was always hope for the next year, but I just don't have it in me anymore. For instance, me four years ago would be super optimistic about the way Buffalo finished the second half of last season, maybe even talking about the playoffs (cue Jim Mora). I am no where near that now. I haven't given up, but I need to see consistency and a real passion from ownership to save this franchise before I'm going to put in the same effort anymore.
I'll be a Bills fan for life. That is a fact. I will never change allegiances or totally walk away from football. Does everything else I wrote hurt my "fandom"? Maybe. I'm past the point where I care what others think about my level of fan dedication. I'll watch every game through the bitter end, but don't expect me to get too fired up if C.J. Spiller has one break out game or Marcell Dareus has a monster rookie year. The entire franchise has to do a lot more than that to get that mid-2000's love back. But dear God I sure hope they do because there is nothing like cheering on a franchise that is doing everything in it's power to win and make fans Happy. *Cough Cough* Buffalo Sabres *Cough* Terry Pegula *Cough Cough*
I was at this game with my father. I will never forget it. This is what Buffalo Bills fans need. This what they deserve.
Ladies and Gentleman: Your 2011 Buffalo Bills
I'm not working today. I have a job that allows for some time off during the summer months, and despite pleas from the girlfriend to clean the bathroom, do laundry, and several other chores, I have decided to blog a little today about the coming and goings in NFL free agency.
Now don't get it twisted, I completely agree with everything the Apologist said a couple of days ago. The NFL sucks. I LOVE the Buffalo Bills, but the media coverage, whether it be ESPN, SI, CBS, FOX, or the God forsaken NFL network can eat a metaphorical dick. BUT, with free agency crammed into a few days, there is a lot going on and it is pretty exciting. And by exciting, I mean FUCKING AWFUL BECAUSE BUFFALO IS BOUND TO ONLY GET WORSE! Sorry about that, but as the title of this post says; Fuck you Poz. I cannot believe I woke up this morning and that was the first piece of news that I see. Jacksonville? Really? Shit-hole Jacksonville? WTF POZ??? Word is that money wasn't even an issue and he just straight up picked Diarrhea-ville over Buffalo. You are more comfortable in a 4-3? Why, because you can thrive better making tackles 14 yards downfield after RB's streak by you at the line? Cut your hair hippie.
Alright, that rant was ridiculous. I shouldn't care, but I do for some reason. As I write this, the Yachtsman is texting me and ridiculing me for caring this much for such a shitty player, but what can I say? I get attached to certain players and when they spurn my team I have nonsensical reactions. Both the Gal and I own Poz jerseys and those were the last pieces of Bills merchandise I purchased. Whatever.
Wait. $7 million a year??? Oh shit. Please ignore everything you just read. Except Jacksonville being a the worst place on Earth. That part is true.
Moving on. As the day continues, I will chime in with thoughts on the free agency signings and NFL news that occur. Like Tyler Thigpen as a Buffalo Bill. NEW JERSEY PURCHASE!
Throwing interceptions at a Ralph near you!
10:00 am: Hasselbeck to Tennessee is an amazing deal for both. He needed to get out of Seattle and with Jake Locker on board, the Titans needed a veteran to run the ship until he's ready. I think he still has "it" and Locker might be waiting longer than expected. Plus, does anyone else think Locker is the next J.P. Losman? No? Just me? Alright I'll shut up now.
10:21: Wow. Twitter is shitting on Poz. I'm ok with that, but there are way too many dismissive tweets that are playing the race card in reference to why fans love him. Chris Kelsay is a white LB and I don't know a single person who likes him. Stop making yourself feel better about your position in life. You voted for Obama like the rest of us. You're good.
10:35: McNabb to Minnesota for two 6th rounders. Phenomenal. I mean why not make that move? The guy can still play. I have no evidence to back that up, but I once saw him in an airport.
10:42: I am going to watch Iron Man 2 on Netflix right now. I hate football.
11:22 So the movie never happened. Spent the last 40 minutes texting back and forth with the Yachtsman about wrestling. Cena Vs. Mysterio was awesome and Punk's return to "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour made me erect.
1:52 I just watched the food network for over 2 hours. I'm not worthwile.
1:59 Let us see what NFL new has broke. Kolb to Arizona? Hmmm. I like it. Great move for the Cardinals....unless Kolb is the next Rob Johnson. *shutters*
2:00 Apparently the Bills are looking at offensive lineman Willio Colon from Pittsburgh and some guy named Tyson Clabo. I just read that Clabo is a hot commodity. I never heard of him so I'm going to say he isn't exactly a name that strikes fear into the hearts of D-lineman. Then again, I'm pretty sure Erik Pears served me a fat-free macchiato last off-season.
2:01 I was certain Tyson Clabo was black until I just saw his picture. Well look who's racist now!!
2:04 Santonio Holmes for $50 mil. Well Done Jets. Keep the criminal track record going! I'm just going to report now that Rex Ryan has signed Rae Carruth to a $35 mil/5 year deal.
2:05 Oh. And fuck the Jets.
2:15 Poz got more money than Barry Cofield and Eric Weddle is now the highest paid safety in the history of the NFL. Welcome back football. I hate you and you are making me miserable.
2:17 Lunch time and American Restoration. Let's see if italian sausage and Rick Dale can salvage this day.
2:31 The answer to above is yes. And now I'm hearing Jason Babin to Buffalo? YES PLEASE! I hope in some way this means cutting loose the Great White Joke, Chris Kelsay.
Denim shirt - sleeves = Bad Ass
2:47 Ervin Santana just no-hit the Indians. Awesome. Doug Free is now making $8 million a year. Not awesome
2:49 Mason Crosby will be making almost $3 million a year. A kicker. Making $3 million. That just happened. I need to get Steve Christie on the phone and get his thoughts. He's not dead is he?
3:22 Nothing happening right now. Laundry time.
5:55 Just hopped back online to see that Drayton Florence re-signed. I'm a big fan of his. He was easily the best corner on the team and at many times looked downright amazing in coverage. At $15 mil over three years isn't so bad either. I loved when they signed him a couple years and I love it now. Solid move. Now let's get Babin, Colon, and Zach Miller.
6:00 Just saw on Buffalo Rumblings that there is talk with Kevin Burnett
. Good news keeps on coming. My buddy Migs is a huge Chargers fan and I remember him telling me last season how athletic this dude was and that he hasn't even hit his full potential yet. If they land him to play in the middle, I don't mind the rotation of him, Shepherd, and Davis at all.
6:07 Jake Delhomme is going to be released by the Browns, surprising absolutely nobody. He was god awful to watch last season. Before he got benched of course. Or did he get hurt? Whatever, he sucks.
6:08 Catching up on a few other signings and trades:
-Shanahan makes a deal for Jabar Gaffney. Oooo exciting!
-Bruce Gradkowski may be the future QB in Cincinnati. You gotta believe that Cincy is actually wishing they re-signed Fitzy a couple of years ago.
-How the fuck does Matt Leinart get a two year deal worth $5.5 million when no team even wanted him last year. I will never understand how this league works.
-Stephen Nicholas re-upped with Atlanta for 5 years and $17 million, making Poz's contract even more ridiculous. I'm still shocked about that massive contract. I'm actually hoping that the reports that Buffalo offered a similar deal are completely false because that is unreal.
6:16 Plaxico is either returning to the Giants or Steelers. Remember when he shot himself? That was funny. I heard James Harrison does the same thing, but just for fun.
"Kano ain't got shit on me!"
6:23 I just read everything I wrote today. Yikes. If you are still reading, good on ya. And if you think this is bad, wait until you hear my slurring words and Nate Dogg impression during episode 13 of the CrapTastiCast.
6:25 I missed the news that Tom Coughlin extended with the G-Men earlier. Somewhere my girlfriend's father is cursing while pouring another vodka.
6:30 Dear God! Olindo Mare is getting $3 million a year too??? I didn't even know he was still in the NFL.
6:37 Steve Breaston to the Chiefs would be big for that team. With him complimenting Dwayne Bowe, they could both have huge seasons. Fantasy value rising....wait....I have to organize my fantasy league now that the season is starting. Worst part of season is trying get those other nine monsters together for a draft. Shit.
6:45 In case people forgot; Ralph Wilson is an odious taint
7:24 All is quiet. Last thing I saw on NFL.com was Drew Stanton staying with Detroit. In other exciting news, Mike and Frank just bought a sick sidecar for $1000 on American Pickers. Apparently I'm 78 years old.
7:46 I'm reading about hockey. I could not help myself. Solid read on Ryan Miller over at BBG
. Props to the new guy Jason!
7:52 Random predictions for the 2011 season: David Nelson gets 50 catches. Terrance McGee gets injured again and then released, opening the door for Aaron Williams to have a breakout rookie year. Fitzy throws for over 3000 again and gets contract extension. The Tight End corps combine for no more than 30 catches. Chris Kelsay does nothing. I get thrown out of the Meadowlands for the third time in five years.
8:00 I think I'm done here. This was a complete waste of time and nothing thought provoking was said. Thus, I leave you with Randy Moss's dog, who will obviously play a huge role in where he lands in free agency.
( This picture is for those who couldn't wait for football to be back. Careful what you wish for. )
I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. I’m not looking forward to the return of football.
Not the sport. The sport I still adore with all my sporting heart. The first time I see a receiver get speared by a linebacker in the middle of his crossing route, I’m gonna leap out of my chair and let out the wimpiest white boy yell I can muster. And the first time Fred Jackson darts through a tiny hole in his blocking and breaks one for a first down, I can’t wait to find every hand I can for a series of unsuccessful high-fives. (We drink in dimly lit bars and hand-eye coordination is the first thing to go. That and we’re white.)
But… I hate football coverage.
I’m sorry. Hate is too strong a word. I loathe it. It ranks somewhere around internet ads with audio, athlete's foot and Sarah Palin. And unfortunately, we’re hours away from returning to our sports-media’s regularly scheduled over-coverage of rumors, hyperbole and puppet-rhetoric.
For God’s sake, I’ve already seen three reports about whether or not Brett Favre is going to come back. Three. And the new deal has yet to be signed. No one can be excited about this.
Soon ESPN, Sports Illustrated and every sports blog in the country will be studying the NFL’s every move again. Scratch that. They’ll be studying every move that the NFL allows them to see.
The Barrister touched on the fact a couple days ago
, that the current labor situation exposed a simple fact about the NFL’s media coverage. The media gets what the league spoon-feeds them. Information is regularly withheld. Whether it’s the commissioner of the league or the field goal kicker, you’re not likely to get one bit of real information from them in an interview.
( This was definitely a smart career move. Definitely. )
Once in a while, you get someone like James Harrison who is willing to speak from the heart on an issue, like he did for Men’s Journal a couple weeks back
(Sidenote: Calling Goodell a "devil" was hardly his best quote. About working out in Arizona, he said, "There's snakes out there. I grabbed a rattler by his tail and threw him over the fence last month ... Had to ... My son was here visiting, so that bitch had to bounce out. ASAP." Amazing.)
His comments about Goodell were exaggeration at it’s crudest, but at least it was honest. Rarely do you get that sort of candor from someone involved in football not named Harrison, Moss or Owens. Maybe they have egos the size of the stadiums they play in, but maybe that’s what it takes to break through the NFL’s cone of silence.
And I’ll say it, these days, that’s the kind of coverage I do like. Jerry Jones is an asshole, but at least he’s an honest asshole. Back in May, he said, “I didn’t spend $1.2 billion to build a stadium and not have the Cowboys playing football in it this year.” That is the most honest thing to come out of any of the owners, let alone Goodell, during this entire process.
So now it’s back, as we all knew deep down in our hearts it would be. The NFL is returning and bringing with it a deluge of free agent rumors, training camp non-stories and unsubstantiated forecasts. Before long there will be power-rankings and fantasy stats to sort through. All other sports will fade into the background.
Soccer enjoyed a brief moment in the sun this summer. Be honest soccer fans, even you know that if the football off-season would’ve been in full swing, we would’ve gotten half as much coverage of the Men’s Gold Cup and Women’s World Cup as we did.
"I remember her. That's that girl who scored that goal. / Shh. Terry Bradshaw is talking about how ugly Strahan's shirt is."
The MLB is also ready for it’s usual August trip to the ESPN-backburner, even though now is when things actually start to get interesting for baseball fans. Trade rumors are flying right now, but I guarantee you’ll hardly hear a peep later this week because they’ll be buried under a dozen stories of pure uncorroborated projection like “Who’s going to sign Donovan McNabb?” or “Should Roger Goodell fine James Harrison?”. (The answers are ‘doesn’t matter’ and ‘who cares’, if you were wondering.)
But ultimately, I’ve been enjoying this time without football gossip because the return was inevitable. Neither side was ever very far apart, there were simply financial matters that needed to be discussed. Of course, nothing has really been decided on an 18 game regular season, concussions or the NFLPA’s retirement plan, but those issues were never what this lockout was about. And I’m sure the powers that be will be happy to hammer those details out in secret while we’re all busy organizing our fantasy draft wish lists and debating our real team’s depth charts. (Seriously though, if Stevie Johnson isn’t #1 entering this season, Gailey has his metaphorical head up his ass.)
So let the inundation begin, but one last thought before we do. We spent four and a half months not talking about the off-season and the world didn’t end. Maybe we can make it one more without someone saying, “Brett Favre can still help some football team out there.” Maybe. But probably not.
But to the Bills I say welcome back! I can't wait to see what you have for us this year. (God help me.)
And yes, welcome back, Clayton, King, Schefter, etc. You might need a minute to get reacclimated, but I’m sure in a day or two, it’ll feel like you never left.
It's not you, Fitz. It's me. And Chris Mortensen. Fuck him.
Remember Sammy Jankis.
The BarristerI feel like tattooed notes to ourselves may be the only way to guarantee that the certain truths of this NFL Lockout are not lost on us. Because, honestly, our collective lack of focus and grasp of basic facts is getting ridiculous.A couple weeks ago, when the 8th Circuit decided that the injunction against the lockout would not be granted, but allowed the underlying issue of whether the lockout was illegal to remain in federal court
, I opined that it might be a good idea for the owners to take a moment and fully consider whether their strategy was wise, and whether some concessions might be appropriate so that a deal could be done quickly
. After all, the risk of treble damages in the event that the full season does get locked out...well, you get the idea. My point was only that the owners, and those lawyers counseling them, might be smart to find the quickest way to a deal, even if it meant swallowing a little crow along the way.Boy if these shady sons of bitches
didn't just up and decide to do the exact opposite. Thursday night, I got to my buddy's place for some drinks before dinner, and we were watching the ESPN coverage of the NFL's decision to agree on a CBA. The coverage was upbeat - finally, something optimistic to report on, and finally some hope that The Network's cash cow would be ready for another season. Yet, despite my friend's assurance that the players would sign off on deal ASAP (an opinion he based heavily on a conversation down in Cabo this spring with a Jets O-Lineman "who just wants to play"), something wasn't sitting right with me and my gut was telling me that this is far from resolved. Lost in the coverage, at least initially, was really any discussion of what was in the approved CBA, and whether
the players would be ok with the proposed deal. Indeed, a fan watching ESPN that night was probably left with the impression that the players had, in fact, ratified the deal already, since the upbeat coverage glossed over the fact that whatever the owners decided on had been a decision solely of their own. In other words, there was no telling during those early moments of coverage if the proposed CBA was a product of negotiations with the players or, as I suspect may be at least partly true, whether the proposed CBA has a bunch of terms that are in direct conflict with the positions of the now-decertified NFLPA.And then, when DeMaurice Smith had to shoulder his way in between Chris Mortensen and George Smith, just to make it clear that the players hadn't EVEN SEEN THE PROPOSED CBA, it all became all too clear.
Over at Gooses's Roost
today, Corey posted the exact kind of reaction that one would expect from the current state of things in the NFL - in essence, fuck 'em all. Part of me wants to jump on board after all of this, but after Thursday night's "deal," and the subsequent revelation
that the deal was not the true product of negotiations between ownership and the players, and that certain big issues remain completely unresolved, I'll be remaining on my "fuck the owners (and not the players)" wagon.
Thursday's announcement was nothing more than a transparent attempt to swing the pressure towards the players, and to make them the sole remaining party standing in the way of a 2011 NFL Season.
What a brilliant and completely dick move.
In the end, I suspect that the players will fold, because, in the end, that's what labor does in situations like this. Workers need to work more than owners need to pay their salaries, and most of the players in the NFL don't have the savings to hunker down for a protracted fight without paychecks. It's sad, because the "defender of principle" in me wants to see the fight, and wants to see the little guys get their victory (not to mention their health care coverage).
But, in the event I'm wrong, and we get to see this fight march on, let's all try to remember - no matter what bullshit ESPN is feeding us - that it's the owners that brought us here. The players, who - if you have the privilege to ask any of them - really just want to play, are not the ones who chose the lockout, who chose to deny access to financial statements that might assist in negotiating a compromise, or who chose to present a media narrative that a deal is done without actually allowing their adversaries to consider the terms. These are the indicia of bad faith negotiations, and even if we have to tattoo it on our hand, we need to remember.
Matt Ellis = Kevin Martin? No, not the guy who plays basketball, dummy.
If the current Pegula Sabres were compared to 1990's alternative bands, then Matt Ellis might be considered Better Than Ezra or Candlebox. You might remember him/them for a few moments and even enjoy what he/they brought to the scene, but in the long run you forget they were ever there. This is why the Matt Ellis story is a tad different than what I wrote about Cody McCormick last week
. He hasn't earned a long term contract, a full-time roster spot, or in some cases, the respect of the casual fan. I say eff that. Over the past three seasons, this kid has probably worked harder than any other player on the Buffalo roster (sweeping generalization). Yes, he may have incredibly miniscule talent when compared to your average NHL athlete, but when have you not seen Matty Ellis busting his ass 112% and making the most out of every moment he gets in a Sabres uniform.
This is why Matty just got his new deal. Although not long-term and only a two-way deal this upcoming season, it displays the organization's knowledge that he is a hardworking, solid fourth liner that when called upon will do his damndest to get the job done. I'm not sure exactly how the deal works, but my guess is that he will spend most of this season as the captain in Rochester and will be one of the top forward call-ups. As for next season when it is a one-way deal, maybe this is Darcy's way of putting Ellis to the test for one more season and possibly giving him the opportunity to prove he can be a full-time fourth liner. If not, he at least will earn a full year of an NHL salary in 2012-13, whether it is with the Sabres, Rochester, or possibly another NHL franchise (if he gets traded or claimed off of waivers).
This all makes me extremely happy. I LOVE Matt Ellis, and the rest of the DGWU crew often makes fun of me for it. I have a soft spot for hardworking athletes who may not have the skill of others, but have the heart to do whatever it takes. This is why I have always pulled for athletes like Grady Sizemore, Steve Wojciechowski, Dustin Brown, Tayshaun Prince, and Jim Leonhard. These guys push themselves nonstop. Granted, maybe a couple of them are skill players who don't get noticed so it is hard to compare them to Ellis (Dustin Brown), but I think you get my point. It might be because this was always the type of athlete I was. I was a pretty solid track and cross-country runner, but of course those athletes never get much love or the spotlight, so I also played basketball. By the time I was in eighth grade I had the realization that "oh, I'm not very good. I better work my ass off if I ever want to play Varsity". So that is what I did. I hustled for every rebound I could, I sprinted up and down the court, and dove for every loose-ball. Just don't ask me to hit a 10 foot jump shot or drive the lane. I guess I identify with Matt Ellis (although he was probably a stud in high school sports back in Welland, Ontario), and thus why I pull for the guy so much.
If only I had game like Woody....
I still remember the day Matt Ellis signed with the club. October 1st, 2008 I believe. I was dying for the season to begin and would check every Sabres site I could for any news that I missed. Then I saw "Buffalo claims forward Matt Ellis off waivers", to which I responded, "huh?". I had NO CLUE who Matt Ellis was. I checked his NHL profile and saw that he had played most of his career in the AHL, and in the NHL for two teams in two seasons. This claim would make him 3 for 3. Not a strong background. His numbers:GP: 70 Goals: 3 Assists: 5 Points: 8 Average Time On Ice : 7:40 Plus/Minus: +2
Nothing to get excited about, but when news is slow, anything becomes interesting. However as he was given his new opportunity, Ellis scored seven goals and 12 points in 45 games with a +4 and earned a full-time position with the team in 2009-10. He even scored his first playoff goal, but will unfortunately will only be remembered in that series for a video I refuse to put up. You can read about it here as it was covered by the Yachtsman
back in the olden days of this blog.
Following his full-time run, he only earned a two-way deal last season and spent most of the time in Portland. Much of this was due to the emergence of Cody McCormick in the 09-10 playoffs and the following camp. But last year was still enough to get a deal done again for the upcoming season. In fact, I recently learned from Phil of BBG that the Sabres actually do quite well when he is in the lineup
. Therefore I believe that Darcy found another unwanted talent that has proven his worth. Matty Ellis is back!
I wonder how much a half Amerks, half Sabres Ellis Jersey would cost?In honor of the aforementioned Candlebox, I had to drop this youtube gem. Still one of my favorite songs, which is why the Matt Ellis comparison works so well for me.
I love international soccer. I love the passion of it, I love the tournament structures of the men's and women's world cups, and I love seeing a squad of US jerseys take the field and try to do us proud. I love these things despite the fact that my footy fandom is in the minority in the US and that most American sports fans could give a shit if the Stars and Stripes win a weekend friendly, much less a World Cup. Let's be honest - the men's team looks lost on the pitch a great deal of the time. Sure, they've shocked the world a few times in the last decade, but any true fan is always sitting with hope for a miracle when they root on the Yanks in any legit international tourney. (And, honestly, the Gold Cup is not all that legitimate...and even that we managed to blow). The women's team, on the other hand, has been largely dominant. The 1999 World Cup victory in penalties, on American soil, was the pinnacle of that dominance. Indeed, the fact that they hadn't won since then was the true shocker.
For a country full (or really, not full at all) of soccer fans who've been waiting for the sport to take off in this country, the women's team has always carried the most promise, and the most expectation.
And, for those who watched the disasters of the last two Women's World Cups - the first coach initiated, the most recent player initiated - it's fair to say that the women may have been burdened by those expectations. Fair? Unfair? Anyone's guess could be right, but it's gotta weigh on your mind when you take the pitch with the knowledge that your success or failure is being looked to as the barometer for the game's success or failure in your home country.
As a fan, I wanted the team to win, for the sport to continue its growth with a jolt of energy and enthusiasm, and for sponsors to start lining up to support a game that is far more enjoyable than the monotony of a NASCAR race or the tedium of mid-season MLB. So, naturally, I was disappointed on Sunday. But, as an aspiring realist, I'm also acutely aware that the game's success in the US is dependent on so many factors other than the success of the Women's Team in any given tournament, particularly when the Men's Team is consistently getting bounced out of the World Cup's first round of the elimination stage (if that...). So, when the team lost, I feared that the storyline that has been so thoroughly fed to us - that the US Women's team is the best in the world and should never lose, and that their success could mean a huge uptick in interest - would come back to bite the team in the media coverage that followed.
In other words, Cue the Douchebags.
Let me preface this by saying that I think it's totally fair to criticize the manner of the US team's loss. They held two separate one goal leads that should have each iced the game, only to give up absurdly poor equalizers that forced overtime and then the penalty shootout. And then they didn't close in the shootout itself.
But, what I cannot stand, is bullying - and unresearched bullying at that - taking the form of some distorted feminist meme that demands we all treat the US Women's Team the same way we would if they were men: like good for nothing chokers. Because, clearly, they are much more than that to anyone that's been paying attention.
I start with Greg Couch of AOL Fanhouse. Putting aside my gut instinct to just spend a paragraph taking potshots at AOL generally, Mr. Couch's article, entitled "U.S. women's national team deserves serious criticism
," is emblamatic of some of the bullshit reporting coming out of various corners of the internet over the past couple days. In the piece, Mr. Couch essentially argues that any pride in the women's team - any refusal to dwell on the epic fail that was their loss - is somehow an indication that we're condescending the team by failing to call them out for the loss. Indeed, taking his cue from President Obama's tweet ("Couldn’t be prouder of the women of the #USWNT after a hard-fought game"), Mr. Couch feels the need to equate the Prez's sentiment with that of a parent patting the head of a 7 year old from whom "you don’t really expect much and don’t want to hurt feelings."
Or maybe its just that some people choose to voice support in defeat, to not point out the obvious - that a higher ranked team got beat by a lower ranked team after crumbling with the lead - when they are debriefing the biggest story in U.S. women's sports since, well, 1999 probably. That's not insulting to the women on the U.S. team - women who I am sure are well aware that they fucked up. It's patriotic and it's optimistic and it's, frankly, a more accurate interpretation of the hard road that the team had to travel just to get to the final. President Obama and all the rest of us have every right to be proud of this team, regardless of the ultimate result in the final, without being told we're somehow condescending these women we so greatly admire.
Another voice in the chorus of douchebags is T.J. Simers, whose headline describes the World Cup loss as "disgraceful."
He starts the article with these two sentences, setting the tone for the hyperbolic shite that follows: "In all my years watching futbol, I have never seen a side on the pitch gag as much as the U.S. gals. Talk about just dribbling it away."
COME THE FUCK ON.
The Google tells me that, when not incessantly bitching about the current state of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Mr. Simers dabbles here and there with soccer commentary, much of it bitching about David Beckham and the LA Galaxy. Other than that, though, his resume seems utterly devoid of any contact with The Beautiful Game. So forgive me if my initial reaction is to punch him in the face for saying "In all my years of watching futbol
" to open his article. Maybe he's a fan, too, I don't know. But, even if he is, all the more reason to call him out for the unsubstantiated drivel that follows.
In addition to the wolf in sheep's clothing argument about being "fair" to the women's team by calling them out for the chokejob on Sunday, Simers goes to the mat and brings out a series of comparisons so that the casual soccer fan can fully understand the implications of the USWNT's loss in the final. "This was the mighty Soviet hockey team losing in Lake Placid to a bunch of kids and then fearing the next stop might be Siberia. . . As mismatches go, this was Oregon versus USC. The Mavericks against the Lakers."
Ugh. Where to begin.
Well, for starters, Mr. Simers - and to an extent Mr. Couch as well - COMPLETELY gloss over the fact that, while favorites, the U.S. was not so heavily favored to make this a David v. Goliath matchup. When FIFA last did their world rankings in March, Japan ranked 4th. FOURTH. Behind the U.S., Brazil and Germany, each of whom was favored by many columnists and soccer pundits to win the torunament. But, suddenly, moving to Japan in the 4th spot is coming upon an outmatched underdog with no hope of success. Mr. Stimer, Google is a wonderful thing. You can use it to find facts, in addition to that weird fetish porn you're into. #UntrueTJSimersFacts
Sure, the U.S. hadn't lost to Japan in 25 games, and they thoroughly dominated the match in such a way that probably gave the casual fan the impression that the ladies from Japan were simply bad. But, to somehow equate the stellar play of the U.S. team with the alleged poor quality of the Japanese team is simply sloppy reporting. Japan had already beaten Germany, the two-time defending champion and home nation, so any allusion to them being a bad team is stupid. And the reference to history - which includes very dated history of a women's game far less competitive and skilled than it is today, to anyone who has been paying attention - is simply not a fair metric for whether the ultimate result is a disgrace or not.
Listen, I get that this team lost, and lost in a way that can fairly be called "choking." Fine. But, to push aside the success that they had - beating a Brazillian team from behind, and in doing so denying the reigning world player of the year from the elusive World Cup title - is, I think, a really self-satisfying exercise for sports writers who don't much care about soccer and are eager to take any opportunity for cheap shots at the future of the sport in America. After all, for these writers, soccer's success hangs in the balance whenever our national teams take the pitch in a big tournament. The need for real infrastructure and recruitment at all levels of the national game is apparently lost on these guys. All we need is a great moment, and then we're all hooked right? Maybe, but after the magic that was 1999, and the little sustained interest that followed, I tend to think the process is more about baby steps than the need for one big splash to get Americans' attention. Looking at this one game, and concluding that American soccer is going nowhere because the USWNT lost is missing the big picture, and is ignoring the great things to be happy about with respect to the future of the American game.
For the fan that got hooked during either of the past World Cups - last year with the men, or this summer with the women - the key isn't to give them a winner on the international stage, the key is to give them a watchable sport to keep their interest up during the years between these opportunities for international glory. To that end, if a writer really wants to talk about whether the game can maintain American fan interest now that people have cared enough to sit down for a few matches, let's start talking about the infrastructure, about the national pro leagues and make sure that the new fans of the game are actually aware of what else might be out there for them. For guys like TJ Simer, American women's soccer may be on hold until next summer's olympics, but for those that know, by way of example, the WPS will feature a match between the WNY Flash - featuring Brazillian superstar Marta and American Alex Morgan, among others - and the magicJack - featuring American Abby Wambach - Wednesday night in front of a sold out crowd in Rochester and a national TV audience on Fox Soccer Channel. For those that know or care to do a little basic research online, the Beautiful Game is being played every weekend in our own backyards, with some of the most talented and skilled players on the planet, both men and women.
In my eyes, no grand opportunity has been lost, beyond the obvious opportunity win the World Cup itself, with the result on Sunday. Sunday's loss does not spell the end of the U.S. Women's Team's success in international play, nor does it indicate any sort of danger for the future of women's soccer in American generally. Indeed, a 4-seed beating a 1-seed is exactly the kind of parity the sport needs to gain ground on the men's game, both here and abroad. Calling these women chokers, for the sake of some quasi-principled argument, misses the point about why I, and many other soccer fans across this county, are feeling proud of our ladies today. And why I, for one, am excited to keep watching them and giving them the respect they deserve by continuing to be a fan.
Do we have a great episode for you friends! This week is chock full of guests, returns, and absenteeism. You are probably familiar with Andy Boron as one of the dudes that runs Die By The Blade
, which has become the major blogosphere hub for all Sabres news and information on the interwebs. However, what you may not know is that Andy is a really awesome and cool dude that was a pleasure to have on the CrapTastiCast, AND really knows his shit to boot. We were more than excited to pop his podcasting cherry and are definitely encouraging DBTB to join in the podcast ranks.
We also welcomed Joe from Buffalo Wins
(who was grabbing pre-cast beers with us) into the studio for some takes and discussion with Andy. Three Blogs, one podcast. Did we just blow your mind? Probably not but it was still cool to have Joe on board for the night. We also welcomed back our amazingly talented producer Megsie, who had just returned from two weeks of Gallivanting across Europe. Not sure how we got by without her. You may also notice the Scizz's terrifically awkward intro, which was due to the absence of one, the Yachtsman, who has been sent on a covert mission by Sabres Nation to Colorado in order to bring back Mr. Paul Stastny. You think we are joking? Why else would someone give that lunatic a gun?
ACTUAL PHOTO. Hide you kids, hide your wives.
There were some great topics discussed on episode 12. Before Andy joined us we did some quick takes with Joe about domestic beer, roadtrips, NASCAR, Sabres free agency, the relocation of the Bills, and attempt to answer the big question: Is Buffalo a Football or Hockey town? Once Andy joins us, we discuss how Die By The Blade began and it's rise through the blogosphere. He talks about his blog journey and the fact that DBTB was started as place for ex-pats to go for Sabres news, as he was once an ex-pat himself. We also chat about illegal feeds of Sabres games, more free-agency, the fan divide on Timmy Connolly, the Yachtsman/Stastny covert mission, and you may notice quite a bit more Toronto shit-talking than usual. So bring it Leafs fans. We then spend a some of time talking about the "blow-up" over at WECK1230 and their transition to "The Breeze" without friend of the podcast, Nick Mendola and his crew. There is also some solid chatter to close things out about the blogger summit and our collective concerns over press passes for bloggers.
We would like to thank Andy again for coming on the CrapTastiCast and we our privileged that he even links to us at all. And of course thanks to Joe for coming back, Megsie for all the incredible stuff she does, and our sound-man extraordinaire, Mondee for always coming through in the clutch.
Download the podcast by clicking here
or with that nifty little button below. Make sure to subscribe if you haven't already. You can also stream using podhoster under the itunes link or this site's own sexy audio player. Yup. I said sexy. Enjoy the mayhem!
Once again I find myself somewhat at a loss in trying to find inspiration to write. There’s no good reason for this. I shouldn’t have a shortage of things to say.
Today, the USA women came within minutes of raising the World Cup in a fittingly dramatic finish to their wild run. It’s disappointing that they didn’t win, but when you consider the year Japan has had, any solace a win could bring them is the true storybook ending. But I’m far from a soccer fan and in a week or two, I guarantee I won’t remember how to spell Abbe Wambach’s last name. (Another reason why Japan deserves a win more than we do.)
Meanwhile, another man from Northern Ireland won a PGA Tour major this season, as Darren Clarke took the British Open. Phil Mickelson once again led a late charge for the finish that came up in vain, but I didn’t care enough to watch, so how could I care enough to write.
And of course, the sports world is abuzz with the news trickling out that the NFL is close to a labor agreement that will end the lockout. And just in time to sell tickets for meaningless preseason games! Blech.
Obviously I’m excited for the potential return of our boys in the red, white and blue, but I try to delay my interest level in football for as long as possible. As the Yachtsman and I discussed a little while back, the overload of NFL news that is soon to follow when camps open back up is more than I’m ready for.
It’s with all that swirling in my mind that I find myself wondering why the only thing I’m interested in writing about is baseball.
There's no reason to put this here. Course there's also no reason not to.
I mean, how many people come to this site to read about baseball? Then again, how many people come to this site to read about CM Punk and Ron Artest?
But I just can’t help it. We’ve passed my personal benchmark for meaningfulness in a season, the All-Star Game. The game that rounds up all the great players who couldn’t get out of participating and pits them against each other in an exhibition game. Oh and it decides home-field advantage in the World Series. What, what? Bud Selig still hasn’t fixed that yet? What an idiot.
In my defense, being any kind of sports fan in NYC means keeping your finger on baseball’s pulse at all times. As the Barrister has attested to before, this city is a baseball town first and foremost. So you can imagine the frenzy it worked itself into as Jeter approached the 3,000 mark. So with that and the passing of the All-Star break, my mind has locked it’s attention on the diamonds and here are, in no particular order, my most intriguing storylines for the second half of the season…
The Philadelphia Phillies – Will they be champs or chokers?
Clearly, the biggest storyline and heaviest favorite entering the 2011 season were the Philadelphia Phillies with their eye-popping rotation. And while the expectations were set high, they have delivered as well as could be expected. As of today, they have the best record in the league, thanks in large part to their incredible pitching staff. They lead the league in team ERA while giving up the fewest runs and walks. Aces Halladay, Lee and Hamels are 3, 4 and 5 in strikeouts. And even when Roy Oswalt went down with a bulging disc in his back, 2008 3rd round pick Vance Worley has stepped in and gone 5-1 with a 2.15 ERA.
A staff like that can protect a lineup that’s just 10th in the NL in average and hits. (And yet somehow 4th, in walks.) Still, they are the favorites to win it all and rightfully so. But with those expectations comes added pressure. Surely by September and October the spotlight will only get brighter on this group and they won’t be considered underdogs to anybody. It will be interesting to see if they’re up to the challenge.
The AL East Division Race
Ok, so obviously I’m a little biased on this one. Have grown up an Orioles fan, I’ve watched the ebb and flow of this division more than any other. And these days, all bias aside, it is by far the most difficult division in baseball. The Red Sox are clearly a favorite to represent the AL in the World Series and the Yankees and Rays aren’t far behind. And with the right pitcher and Jose Bautista in the lineup, the Blue Jays are a tough squad by most standards. Just not by this division’s standards.
As of today, the Red Sox lead the division, while the Yankees and Rays lead the AL Wild-Card race and the safe money says the same will be true in September. Still, the Tigers and Angels are within striking distance for a wild card spot and in their favor is the fact they don’t have to play the Yanks, Sawx and Rays as often as those teams have to play each other. So it should be exciting to see who of these three dangerous teams will be on the outside looking in when October rolls around.
The Rise of the Pittsburgh Pirates
Seeing as how we at DGWUS are clearly fans of the underdog, I can’t go without mentioning the underdog team of the season. The Pittsburgh Pirates, who hadn’t been above .500 at the All-Star in 19 years, may finally be climbing out of one of the worst holes in recent sports history.
For years, the Pirates have seemed to operate almost in spite of their fans, botching draft after draft and shipping anyone remotely talented they happen to stumble upon. But this year, they enter the second half of the season vying for first place in their division.
Entering the season, the popular choice for NL Central division winner were the Cardinals and Brewers. I thought Cincinnati would be in the mix as well, but nobody expected the Pirates to be where they are. The Pirates’ pitching staff is largely to thank. With Jeff Karstens & Paul Maholm leading the rotation and closer Joel Hanrahan converting all 26 of his save opportunities, the Pirates find themselves at the trade deadline actually thinking about acquiring talent rather than watching it walk out the door.
Needless to say, we here at DGWUS are rooting for the Pirates on their quest for their first trip to the playoffs since 1992.
Free Agents To Be: Albert Pujols & Prince Fielder
To find my next favorite storyline to watch, we don’t even need to leave the division.
Clearly, the two top free agents next off-season will be the two best hitters in the NL Central: Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols. With both men wrapping up the last year on their respective contracts, they’ll be looking to make their presence felt in the second half of the season.
Pujols has already shown what this season means to him. After doctors said he would be out 6-8 weeks with a wrist injury, Albert was back on the field in 2. Pujols got annoyed when a reporter asked if his next contract was on his mind when he first got hurt. The question went unanswered that day, but A-Pu’s quick rehab shows how badly he wants to play.
Fielder meanwhile is easily as intriguing a prospective signing as Pujols. While he’s clearly not as a good a hitter right now, he has the advantage of still only being 27 years old. If he and the Brewers have a strong finish to the season, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for him to expect a 9-figure, 10-year contract.
Adding to the excitement is how tight the division and wild-card races are right now. Granted there’s still a long way to go, but as of today a half a game separates the top three teams in the Central and there’s only 6 games of difference between the top four teams for the wild-card spot.
So with their teams needing everything they’ve got and their future employers keeping a close eye, I expect both of these players to rise to the occasion and finish out their seasons on a high note.
Predictions - An Exercise In Futility
Now I generally shy away from predictions when it comes to sports, but I find it hard to wrap this up without speaking a little about where I think we’re headed. Some teams I expect to stay exactly where they are into and through September, such as Boston, Texas, Philly and San Fran. Other teams I wish would stay on top, but will most likely slide out of contention, like the aforementioned Pirates and the Cleveland Indians.
Ultimately, I think it’ll be Boston, Texas, Detroit and New York in the East, while Philly, Milwaukee, San Fran and St. Louis will square off in the West. While I’d love to see Detroit go on a run and San Fran try to repeat, I believe we’ll see the Boston-Philadelphia match-up most pundits have expected since Day 1. Quite a few people would hate to see that happen (after the Yankees, are there two more disliked teams than the Phillies & Red Sox?), but both teams just have too much pitching to expect any other result at this point. In the end, I expect the Phillies to win it in 6. It’s hard to imagine a team whose 3-man rotation could be a World Series MVP and two Cy Young winners going down to anyone.
And now, George Costanza to bring it all home. George...