If ever there was a mixed fucking bag of a weekend for me and my sport-watching-and-commenting brethren, it was this one. A tremendous Liverpool win, a Sporting KC win forcing the Red Bulls to do the same in order to get their first taste of hardware, a predictable Bills loss at the Superdome, replete with frustrating football and officiating alike, the Red Bulls getting that win and that shield, and Thomas Vanek.
If you're not into the Sabres and came here for Bills-only takes, my not-apologies, fuck you and wait a minute while I opine.
We expected this for Vanek - a guy who all but said he wasn't interested in sticking around this shit bag franchise anymore - though the swiftness with which the trade came late on a Sunday, months before we really expected it, was jarring. You want to be able to steel yourself up for a moment like this; a moment where a player so dear to you and the entire fan base is allowed to go, for now, to a place where things look discernibly brighter and more optimistic; a moment where a player is allowed to walk away, leaving his fans pining for the "could have beens" from a frustrating six years of Sabres hockey. He was a guy you wanted to be wearing the Blue and Gold when this ship eventually (please?) gets righted, but the impossibility of that scenario - Vanek staying and the rebuild occurring with some degree of speed - was unmistakable. He really couldn't stay if all the shit needing fixing is going to get addressed.
A fact that doesn't make it feel any better to see a talent like him depart the club we support.
Vanek has been the sole reason this team was able to fake it for so long, convincing fans and owner alike that the team could figure it out and become a contender; that the deals for Stafford and Myers and Leino and whoever else you want to point to wouldn't be fatal; that perhaps Buffalo could win in spite of those decisions proven to be mistakes by disappointing play and empty nets missed, by out-of-shape camps and defensive gaffes, and by games missed ad infinitum.
Vanek is a talent that seemed to make anything possible, but nevertheless never did. No titles. No Cup runs under his leadership. No true moments where you could really, reasonably think that he was taking the team somewhere other than consecutive sequences of mediocrity with brief pauses for ultimately inconsequential brilliance.
Perhaps I've spent more than enough words on a guy who has won nothing, but received our love anyway, and who is now simply gone. I'd say good luck, but let's be honest, I want all that luck for the squad he's leaving behind.
Fuck it, let's talk about our Bills.
Barrister running solo this week but gets a special guest for the second segment mostly because he hates the sound of his own voice.
Liverpool's win over Manchester United is the topic of the day. A boy named Phil gets Barrister all excited, as if he needed any motivation.
Music from The Beastie Boys, Daft Punk and Kanye.
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Be honest, none of you expected us to actually have a second episode of this now incredibly-famous-in-a-very-infintesimally-small-niche-market podcast ever, much less the very next week. If only to prove you wrong, or to allow Barrister one small moment of joy before moving to the suburbs, here is Episode 2. We are, from time to time, and at some times more than others, going to have a party. There will be cake.
This week was Liverpool winning 1-0 away at Villa Park. It was good fun. We drank. We revelled. We opined orally.
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A new podcast series two years in the making!
Back from his self-imposed, terrible sports-motivated hiatus, Yachtsman joins the Barrister for some hot sound-based takes. Unlikely to write for the site anytime this decade, El Yachtero's willingness to participate was largely based on the fact that he could do it while hungover and drinking. Fair enough.
Linking up at the 11th Street Bar, the home of Liverpool's NY Supporter's Club, Yachtsman and Barrister talk about LFC's opening win versus Stoke fucking City while quickly pulling down cigarettes on a lovely Saturday morning. Good times were had, adult beverages imbibed at outrageously early hours, and a podcast was made.
Music from Ratatat, Pearl Jam and Daft Punk.
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The impact of a simple tweet:
(the same guy who broke Luis going to LFC in 1st place, and also Coates, fwiw)
Confession: it was a lot easier to just hate Suarez.
Fuck, it was a godsend to see news of him wanting out. I remember last spring, the week after he lashed his teeth into Ivanovich’s bicep
, sitting in my car with Yachtsman on the other line, trying to rationalize every argument and scenario that would make me feel better about the implications of what I had seen.
“This season is lost anyway, I don’t care.”
“Whatever, the FA is garbage. Jermaine Defoe didn’t get suspended for biting a dude! The FA hates Liverpool!”
“He’ll be back, he’ll get better. He has to right?” “I mean, we could sell him.”
It didn't seem possible then that another club would want his baggage – delightful scoring touch aside – for even £20 million. LFC bought him for £26.6, but whatever, he’s worth less now, I reasoned. Sure, he is more prolific now than we dreamed him to be, but we don’t want this, I said.
Oh, spring. The time of year when I have already given up on baseball except on the days when my team's improbable Cy Young candidate is pitching; when the Sabres have, not so improbably, retired for the off-season; when sports are a simple backdrop to thoughts of day drinking in the sun and cutting out of work as often as possible.
For the next three months or so, soccer will really be the only sport I care about, and that's just fine with me. While the Buffalo Bills tempt us into a familiar land of hopes and dreams, I'll be in the corner enjoying a sport that hasn't yet beaten me into submission with annual kicks to the nuts.
/looks at prior Liverpool season results
/kicks self in aforementioned nuts as penance for blatant lie
Of course, paying any attention to this sport flies in the face of certain opinions set forth by certain creepy sports journalists in Tuffalo
, but I think it goes without saying that Mike Harrington is simply out of his element when he tries to talk about anything that doesn't fall within the following categories:
- the availability of Terry Pegula for sarcastic, caustic interviews;
- the quickest way to climb a tree outside an unsuspecting woman's window;
- tying knots;
- the best proportion of Miracle Whip and Fritos to put on a bologna sandwich;
- the fragrance of a minor league baseball locker room;
- buying bulk candy;
- Jerry Sullivan's jock; and
- LOL ROFL Doh! Thanx
So, when it comes to soccer, don't worry about this knuckledragger's opinion. When he hears "The Beautiful Game," his mind instantly shifts to family reunion Twister. He's gross.
On to the #Hot #Sports #Takes!!!
Did that seriously happen?
When I went to bed last night, I still hadn't really grasped it, and today I'm faring no better. Luis Suarez, the Premier League's best goal scorer this season, fucking bit a dude. And to make it worse, this isn't even unusual behavior for him.
He has a history of this. As stupid about my sports as I am, I'm still not capable of processing this; of deciding what it means about the player, about my club, and about what I'm willing to accept as a sports fan.
When Pat Kaleta blows someone into the boards from behind, I can rationalize it because it's within the scope of hockey generally. It doesn't stray that far from the script of the sport. But when a guy bites someone - TWICE - my brain just can't handle it. I want to jump up and down in anger - surely that's what I'd be doing if the situation was reversed and a guy on my team got chomped - but the fan in me won't go there, perhaps unreasonably.
But, put another way - a way that looks for the results end of the sport, rather than the vague concepts of honor and sportsmanship - the fan in me is looking only to reason. Suarez, after all, is a gifted player. He's the biggest reason Liverpool have been competitive this year. He has a captain in Steven Gerrard - the kind of guy who graciously combines great skill and talent with great honor and sportsmanship - who calls him the third best player in the world.
What to value, then? The moral/ethical side of the game, or the results side of the game? Am I being callous if I value goals scored by an apparently bad and deeply troubled person? Am I being naive if I value the character of a man over his ability to achieve the basic purposes of the game itself?
Is he a brilliant player in spite of apparent sociopathic tendencies, or because of them?
After all, he did this terrible, bizarre, despicable thing... and then he scored an amazing equalizer in the dying moments of the match.
He is both terrible and tremendous. He is a mountain of talent and an abyss of apparent soullessness.
Should our response be to praise, to loathe, or to find a combination of the two and search for a deeper understanding of what it is we're seeing when he takes the pitch?
I'm clearly at a loss for how to answer these questions with any sort of certainty, but for the time being some answers are being chosen by others as the club has fined Suarez and announced that he will not be sold this summer, while the rest of the football world calls for his head on a stake.
And, as for Liverpool fans, we are left to debate what this all means for a Club that has valued the kind of honorable football Suarez shirks while also valuing the kind of beautiful football he so often creates.
I'm attempting to remain upbeat by not thinking about our shitty hockey team and shitty local hockey media and how Mike Harrington needs a punch in the gunt and how Jesus Christ what if everything except Lindy was the problem and we're rebuilding with the wrong blueprint and this is all going to turn into a quintessential #becauseitsbuffalo fuckup that my son will have to live with through a lifetime of sport sadness steadily replicating the life I've led to date and the feeling of emptiness in my heart left by a missed field goal and foot in the crease and it'll just be passed on to a kid who doesn't know better and will surely love these teams too because he inexplicably thinks his dad is the tits and makes infallible decisions?
I just can't. Fuck. Dammit. Balls in the mouth.
So instead, I'm revisiting the bloggasuperfranchise that is my Intermittent Footy Roundup. See! It's been a long time! INTERMITTENT!!!! Ha. Words.
The Beautiful Game
When the FA Cup started this season, before the "Proper" rounds of late, there were hundreds of teams competing the preliminary rounds. A long was still to go before the quarterfinals, this weekend's third round proper - the moment where Premier League and League Championship sides enter the fray - was full of what soccer fans: controversy, late goals, upsets and Arsene Wenger walking off the pitch with his arms crossed in hilarious and delicious disappointment.
If you happened to read my rambling post last week
and happened to, impressively, make it to the end of that monstrosity, you would have seen that I made some predictions for the round. And because I'm lazy and still hungover on the #ToiletWine I imbibed during yesterday's CrapTastiCast (expected to drop tomorrow), I suppose that recapping my predictions is as good/bad/pathetic way to talk about how the weekend went.
I... did not do so great.
Jet lag is a crazy bitch.
I've been back in the U.S. for under 48 hours, neither me nor my darling son are yet settled into the time difference yet, he's been crying for 87% of this New Year's Day, I've been beating myself up with the marathon of Being: Liverpool on FSC today with healthy helpings of mimosas and cookies while my lady looks on disapprovingly, the Buffalo Bills have been entertaining us all with a smoke and mirrors show the like we've never seen, and other than my piss-my-pants-in-excitement post cheering the firing of Chan "I refuse to use my suer-talented running back due to unresolved issues with my father and his tendency to call me a dickless failure" Gailey, I haven't contributed to this site in a few weeks which is long for me because I'm, well, obsessive about giving you fresh plates of steaming hot takes as often as possible.
Run-on sentences are my jam when I'm this tired.
I would talk at greater length about those Buffalo Bills but Joe Pinzone asked me to be on his podcast tonight so I wouldn't want to ruin it for the six of you that happen to listen. It goes without saying that, if you were to observe the spectrum of Bills' fan outlooks after Russ Brandon was elevated to President and CEO of Los Billeros, I would be somewhere close to the "dear god please stab me in the dick this team is perpetually shit and nothing is going to change that." Don't worry, sometime in March I'll be overly optimistic about our Bills and will lose my last shreds of credibility for the dozens of people that read this site, I'm sure.
Today, though, it's all about the footy - specifically the English brand of it. Just back from that transatlantic trip to London for the holiday, its unsurprising that I'd confine myself to the English game. After all, one game past the midway point of the Premier League season, things are starting to get pretty interesting, and with the FA Cup's Third Round on tap for this weekend, there's plenty to keep fans of the English game entertained.
And if you're not a fan of the English game, it must be said, you're a fucking moron. This shit is amazing.
After the jump -- Liverpool confound with their frustratingly inconsistent play, Manchester United continues to firm up their foothold on the top of the table while their Sky Blue neighbors flounder, Arsenal bounce back from their 0-2 defeat at home to Swansea, and Harry Redknapp is a blustered ball of frustration and I love it. Oh, and some unfounded FA Cup predictions because why the fuck not?