worst 90 minutes I've ever spent on Netflix. Luckily, I was drunk.
Another weekend in the books, another slate of games where my squads shit the bed and give me more reasons to wonder whether the universe delights in pissing all over my face. Perhaps, written in my DNA somewhere, is some sign that I love Golden Showers, and the universe is simply following instructions... it would certainly explain a lot.
As for the other, more American sports you all come here to read up on, someone will be on here later this week to talk Bills, I'm sure, but in the meantime the hot takes will be soccer-centric. Bear with me, I promise many inappropriate moments to make it worth your while.
I watched a few games early in the week, including portions of a couple of Champions League matches that kind of put me to sleep, and a Liverpool Europa match that kind of made me shit in hats, but we'll start with the New York Fucking Red Bulls.
Exhibit A: Getting Smoked Off Your Own Pitch
With only three games left on the schedule, the Red Bulls hosted the Chicago Fire. The Chicago FIRE. As an aside, if you want to pretend the Deeg is somehow unreasonably inappropriate when it comes to our sports takes, don't forget the plethora of absurd and offensive team names scattered across the world, take the stick out of your ass, and laugh with the rest of us. It's fun.
As for the Fire, there are a dozen or so really dumb jokes or puns I could make, but suffice it to say that I think naming a sports team after a local tragedy is tasteless and crass and par for the course for the early days of the MLS. Just as Kansas City abandoned the dishearteningly lame "Wizards," and NY abandoned the Metro Stars and any reference to the state of New Jersey (smart move, that), it's probably time for Chicago to rebrand with something that doesn't tip it's hat to the deaths of hundreds of Chicagoishians. Because, you know, death is not. cool.
Or, you know, they could keep it since they sure brought the fire on Saturday night, right guys? /ducks
The game was saddeningly typical of Red Bulls efforts of late -- patient but uninspired possession play, with the chances few and far between and, more to the point, unsuccessful. Not that the Fire were much better, though they - via Sherjill McDonald's two goals - made the most of their opportunities, even when seeing very little of the ball.
Yeah, Kenny. I don't understand it either.
I've been reluctant to dive into the fray on Liverpool since the FA Cup Final. That result, as I predicted, basically ruined the campaign for Reds, leaving the club with only a paltry Carling Cup victory upon which to hang its hat. Sure, that was the same Carling Cup that I reveled in a couple months ago. The same Cup that I wanted to believe meant something substantial enough to make up for a poor as fuck league record, especially when combined with the prospect of an FA Cup victory on the horizon. While I would have punched someone squarely in the face for calling me on it at the time, it's pretty obvious that my optimism surrounding the Carling Cup was little else than face-saving by a fan desperate for something to cheer for. Pathetic as it may be, this is how I roll. It's called a coping mechanism, asshole.
In any event, it's all behind us now, and I'm certainly done with taking on a positive outlook through which I might salvage a little bit of pride and optimism. None of this is made any easier, of course, by the absolutely inexplicable events at Anfield that have transpired since that FA Cup loss to Chelsea and since the Reds closed out their season with a wimper against Swansea.
Even considerably attentive soccer fans may have paid little notice to the firing of LFC's manager Kenny Dalglish last week. After the incredible end to the Premier League season (Man City taking the crown by way of two late, desperation goals in stoppage time) and the even more incredible end to the Champions League (Chelea victorious at the "neutral" site in Munich, defeating the de facto home side in penalty kicks after a 120 minute 1-1 draw), King Kenny being let go by Fenway Sports Group is of little moment to most fans of the game. On paper, it was nothing more than a middling club firing its manager who, while achieving some recent success, could not get it done on the pitch from week to week.
Fans of Liverpool, however, know that the firing was much more significant than that. They know that there is a reason we all feel like a not insignifcant part of our collective soul
has been ripped out. Kenny wasn't just a manager, he is an institution. As a player, he appeared in 355 league matches for LFC, scoring 118 goals along the way. This is the same guy who played striker for the club at the time of it's most consistent dominance that the numbers involved sound like they must be wrong - league champions 7 out of his 14 seasons as a player, for starters, as well as multiple Cups along the way. Not to mention his two Manager of the Year honors after he took on the role of Player-Manager in 1986 - a five year reign that saw the Club get three League Championships (finishing second in the other two years) and two FA Cups.
This is a guy who, as a player and manager and, in essence, the best example of the greatness that can be Liverpool football, deserves the utmost respect from LFC fans and, more importantly, LFC ownership. A week removed, with the Club reeling and having apprently lost its bearings, his firing is nothing short of a slap in the face.
To put it in perspective - as Scizz often requests when I'm going on and on about the Beautiful Game - imagine if Gilbert Perreault (you know, a player who was actually good...
*cough* *Lindy sucks* *cough*) was the coach of the Buffalo Sabres, or if Jim Kelly were coaching the Bills. Also, imagine that either of them had, as a player, actually brought a championship or two (or SEVEN!!) to Buffalo, as opposed to just years of hard work and marginal success. And, finally, imagine that they were fired after only one season as coach, with absolutely no plan for a successor in place.
I know, right? FUCKED UP BULLSHIT. We would go goddammned berzerk. Which, as it happens, is exaclty what has happened with Liverpool fans this past week. And if the reports are to be believed - that the Club is reaching out to any and all viable candidates for interviews and that many top talents have already bowed out with a "thanks but no thanks" refusal - this mess is not getting better any time soon.
I'll be the first to admit that, when news of the firing broke last week, I was sitting on the "I don't love it, but can accept this" side of the fence. I love Kenny, and would have loved more than anything to see him at the helm for a continued revival of the club - his infectious smile beaming from the sidelines, celebrating with players and fans whom he clearly adores, bringing the club into an era of dominance to rival those magical years in the 80's. But, I can also accept that the team did not perfom well at crucial moments this year, when three points were needed and expected - a fact I noted in CrapTastiCast 29 last week - and that there was a clear need for some
change to be made if there was going to be a realistic hope of Champions League play in the next few years. After all, as Yachter noted during the cast, Kenny brought a ton of expensive and apparent dead weight to the roster with his summer signings last year, so - even if we all love the guy - you can't say that he's been the model of success in this second stint as manager. That said, as a fan of this Club - a club that we're told is an example of the rich tradition of English football and that has far-reaching influence globally - the situation post-Dalglish is simply untenable. No successor in place? Not even a clear vision of what kind of manager is being sought? So, instead of Dalglish - a manager who, at the very least, can still instill a sense of pride in the "Liverpool Way" and who motivated his squad to two Cup finals - Liverpool's American ownership has left the club in the lurch, lacking in any clear sense of direction, leadership and, sadly, prospects for the future.
As of now, the only leadership at the Club comes in the form of Ian Ayre, who was hand picked by former American owners Gillett and Hicks. Forgive me if references from some of the worst sports owners in recent history don't make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Going up the ladder, the situation doesn't get much better. Sure, FSG brought championships to Boston fans who had been pining for them since 1918, but they're also the same guys who let Theo Epstein go and who have allowed the storied Red Sox franchise to devolve into the tire fire it most certainly is.
(Which begs the question, as an aside -- WHY DOES THE FA ALLOW AMERICANS TO BUY EPL TEAMS?? Maybe they just like watching us fuck it all up as some sort of cathartic exercise in Britain's post-imperialist age. I think I may be on to something there.)
It wouldn't be hard to draw not-so-subtle comparisons between Fenway and Anfield to bolster my fears of the future of LFC, but that's a depressing task for another depressing day when I actually care to research the inner workings of a baseball team I utterly despise. It's probably enough to say that the greater universe of Liverpool fans are, with very good reason, feeling a dreadful sense that the Club is spiraling out of control and that we may yet be in for another half decade of depressing underachievement.
In a week's time, or so we're told, there should be a short list of managerial candidates, and maybe then I'll hop back on here to talk about how good or bad or wretched each of them makes me feel. Until then, I'll just sit with the realization that Liverpool, the supposed bright spot in my sports world, may be sinking to the shitshow status of my Bills and Sabres, and that it may be a while until I start to be optimistic about them again.
Williamsburg's inhabitants, epitomized.
Cause we're eeeeeeeeeeesaaaaaaaaay....
Wednesday evening in the hipster hole known as Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the Deeg gathered in the Yachstman's new apartment to record Ep. 29 of the infamous CrapTastiCast. Good times were had by all.....except Yachter's dog Scout, who was obviously pissed we took her bone away because of the awful sound feedback it causes. (This will be audible several times during the recording)
While in the home of the Beastie Boys, we kept the MCA tribute going with more music from our favorite group and had some wonderful discussions. Segment one is dedicated to Vince Young and the Buffalo Bills, jizz residue, stories of Yachtsman's uselessness as a young adult, and dog & baby stains. Powerful stuff.
Segment two is almost all soccer talk, as the guys converse about Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish, the Scizz cracks terrible jokes and needs other sports analogies to help understand what the hell they are talking about. We also sneak in some quick NBA playoff chatter at the end. Fuck you, Lebron.
Finally, we unveil a new segment featuring a yet unnamed sports trivia game (leave suggestions in the comments) that was inspired by Doug Benson's podcast "Doug Loves Movies". It actually went much better than expected, except for that part where all the listeners will be furiously frustrated with how little we actually know about sports when put under pressure. Download through Libsyn
or iTunes. And as always you can stream away if need be.
I've hesitated to take this one on. Like the match is too big, with too much of my fan self wrapped up into the outcome which, the more I allow myself to dwell on it, seems inevitably tragic.
This has not been a good season of Liverpool football. Rarely do I afford myself the luxury of speaking such obvious truths here at the Deeg (actually, I do it all the time, I'm sure), but it bears mentioning at the outset since I always tend towards hyperbolic love poems when I talk about LFC and its players who I still love too much. Sports boners aside, the season has shown us that the club really does need another striker, that Steven Gerrard might be on his last legs, that there is absolutely no quality depth in the midfield or within the center of the defense, and that half of last summer's signings may have been little more than a complete and utter waste.
On top of that, and this is a real kick in the balls, the team is at real risk of finishing below their Merseyside counterparts at Goodison Park despite having thoroughly trounced Everton in the two league fixtures this year (not to mention the FA Cup semifinal win). Not that I can be bothered to find out, but I'm pretty sure it's been a while since the Blues were atop the Reds in the table at season's end. And even if that doesn't really matter in the end - Everton's place in the table arguably says more about them than it does about Liverpool, after all - any fan of LFC knows that the team's league failures (including a fucking loss to Roy Hodgson's team AT ANFIELD.... fuck me...) this season tell a troubling story of a club that was supposed to be on its way up and was supposed to compete for, at the very least, a Top 4 finish.
None of that is happening anymore, that much is clear.
What is unclear, though, is which Liverpool side will show up this Saturday at Wembley and, perhaps more crucially, whether Liverpool's best play can realistically match up with a Chelsea team that has found its best form following the departure of fired manager Andre Villas-Boas. Last weekend's stellar defeat of Norwich City suggests that Liverpool might have found a recipe for success, while this Tuesday's loss to Fulham, even with many starters being rested, suggests that the Reds are still searching for that deep and pervasive desire for goal. Based on the season-long comparisons between Liverpool's play in Cup matches, where they've succeeded and appeared to be a top side, and League matches, where they've looked ready for relegation some weeks, it's not crazy to assume that Liverpool will find another gear and play their best football against Chelsea.
Though - and here is where I tend towards freaking out - will it be enough to prevail over a team that has reached the Champions League final (beating the world's best player along the way) and who sport some of the better striker talent in the EPL?
I've never been one for making predictions, though the cynic in me is looking towards tomorrow with a palpable sense of dread. To be fair, of course, this is pretty much par for the course when it comes to big games and any team that has the misfortune of counting me as a supporter. Either way, despite the frustrations of this season, both on and off the pitch, if Liverpool do manage to pull out a victory, this season will suddenly be transformed into a successful one - two Cup victories overshadowing the League failures and the allegations of racism and the sacked Director of Football and the lingering doubts (ridiculous ones, I think) about whether Kenny Dalglish is suited for his position as manager. In a sport where - by virtue of the lack of playoff format in the league - so much depends on cumulative success of a club over several months, the story of Liverpool's 2011-12 campaign will be largely decided by tomorrow's outcome, leaving fans in the lurch between excitement and fear over what will be go down in London.
Which leaves me with little else to say as I count the hours between now and tomorrow's kickoff. If the good Liverpool shows up, we could all be in for a match of a lifetime. If the bad one hits the pitch, it could be over before it even starts. In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be gnawing at my fingernails and praying to the footy gods for just a bit more magic before this season's end.
There's little else in my sports life that is more exciting than Cup football. At least until the Sabres break it through the first round of the playoffs and the Bills are playing in late January again. Until then, this more than suffices.
This morning, in the midst of a terrible Liverpool league season that may very well see them finish in the bottom half of the table, the Reds gave me and the rest of the fan base another miracle. Staring down the barrel of a 0-1 deficit following the boneheaded gaffe of Jaime Carragher, and with 3rd string keeper Brad Jones in net, I can't say I had much hope. Sure, the team showed some fight earlier this week with a comeback win with that same backup keeper and a late header, but surely this would be different. Surely the team wouldn't be able to make it back to another Cup final in a season riddled with so much dysfunction, both on and off the pitch.
But then, in the midst of all of this griping and considering going back to bed with my beloved lady on an early Saturday morning... a gift.
It goes without saying that there has been precious little happy thoughts to muse upon here at the Deeg of late. Sure, Scizz and Yachter have firmly pronounced their excitement about NASCAR
, and Apologist is - if he cared to share here - fascinated with the NBA season's progression beyond just the could-be-flash-in-the-pan Jesus loving Asian-American from Palo Alto, but these are not matters of sport life-and-death (to the extent there is such a thing... which there is...). Even Yachter, the Deeg's Crown Prince of Hyperbole and Contrarianism, would admit - as he has already - that watching the Knicks these days is fun, not fanaticism; the joy increased, in aggregate, by the absence of any true possibility of pain.
Of course, it goes without saying that the true, shared foci of our fandom are little more than utter disappointment of late, leaving an understandably jaded tone to much of what we might say here about our Bills or Sabres.
Which is why, at the tail end of a tiring week of work with moments of excessive drinking mixed in, I'm overjoyed to talk a little bit about the Liverpool Football Club and their upcoming shot at taking home the League Cup.