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.
comin at ya, sucka emcees
With the Deeg fully ensconced in the game of American Throw, Catch & Run Ball, and with fatherly duties perhaps keeping me away from my obviously more important duties here at the Deeg, it would be easy to coast a little bit with my contributions. Yet, if last Saturday night's "live" blog and the subsequent opportunities to watch a little more soccer than usual while on a slice of paternity leave, it's that I fucking love this sport. Sure, the NFL is tons of capitalist fun, but good Christ - there is little in the world that compares to watching the uninterrupted action of a game of soccer played at the highest levels of the sport.
So, for those of you who share that love or who like what I write enough to suffer through posts about one of your least favorite sports, I'll be trying to re-settle into a niche here at the Deeg while everyone else is talking about CJ "Blue Jesus" Spiller and the Bills' two lines of monster football players who remind us all (a little bit too much, probably) of what went down in Orchard Park about 20 years ago. (Not that this will keep me from chiming in on the Bills, since it is game day...)
The format for these forays into footy, if you give a shit, will be a breakdown of the handful of games that I got a chance to watch or follow closely over the course of the last week, followed by a sprinkle of quick thoughts about the squads that matter to me, whether it be Liverpool, the Red Bulls, (mostly because I love Michael Bradley) Roma or the US Senior National Teams. With the kiddo and my waning attention span, your guess is as good as mine as to how long I keep at this with any frequency. Finger crossing, as with all things, is encouraged.
Click "Read More" to, you guessed it! -- READ MORE.
If you’re a sports fan, weekends can be a magical/utterly depressing time as you get to enjoy/loathe your teams without the burdens of work (presumably), only to have Monday come around with your outlook on the week unreasonably shaped by how things played out. When the Bills beat the Pats last September, work was great, if very hungover, on Monday morning. Anything seemed possible. On the other hand, when the Sabres drop a back-to-back against the Leafs over a weekend (I’m sure it’s happened at some point, probably several times), Monday feels like garbage. Everything is lost.
Living in New York City helps with this a bit, since I can blend in with the plebeian masses and keep my more hideous sports allegiances hidden for a few days if need be. But, pathetic, emotionally-wrecked mess of a human that I am, I tend to wallow a little.
This weekend was a mixed bag, with the Mets winning a pair, the Bills looking like a hot turd sandwich with a side of miscommunicated routes, and both Liverpool and the Red Bulls leaving two points on the pitch with depressing draws. All of which is to say that I’ve certainly felt worse on a Monday, but, as you'll see after the jump, I still don’t feel at all close to good.
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.
This is not going to be a happy post.
I'm fucking bitter. Right from the outset, dear readers, please understand that there is a LOT pissing me off these days. For the life of me, though, I can't stomach a full post where I take on one, cohesive topic of my rage. I'm exhausted from vacation (go figure), I'm already exhausted from work, and I'm exhausted by the dozen or so little corners of my sports world that make me want to find Jerry Sullivan's NYC doppleganger and strangle him to a long, slow death.
I am not in a good place, in other words.
Yup. That's an own goal. Well done, Charles.
For an unusually contemplative guy, the holidays tend to give me even more time to sit and ponder certain points of interest in my life. With so much time spent caring too much about sport, while finding a scarcity of ways to explain such to my loved ones who could basically give a shit, it's been a weird week or so of sport consumption for the Barrister. Snippets here and there. Highlights on the phone or iPad. Subtle or not-so-subtle twitter check-ins on my lap during a delicious meal. Uneasy looks from the Missus as she no doubt wonders why she was so thoroughly duped into marrying me.
(Ed. note #1 from the Scizz: Leave your theories in the comments!)
If my family didn't think I was utterly pathetic before, they sure do now. (which is why they think I'm working on real jobby job stuff right now, rather than typing up a frivolous blog post...)
You have to be fucking kidding me.
It must be fate, this weird and coincidental tendency of the universe to shit all over the teams I love, particularly at the very moment my interest is piqued and begins to peak (homophones stand up!!).
Yesterday, looking at the dearth of content for the site during the week ahead - what with the shit sandwiches that are our Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills - I thought it best to talk about my beloved Liverpool, trolling Fulham fans be damned. Certainly, the squad looks (or looked, until yesterday) like it could challenge for a top 4 spot, and I think the fanbase should be allowed to briefly revel in the joys of recent victories and the hope of victories to come. It's almost Christmas, after all, and I wanted - at the very least - to see the team storm strong towards a second half of the season which inspires hope, rather than misery and dread.
Which isn't to say that I won't touch on some happy-ish things later in this post. Just I have something to get off my chest first.
With the Scizz striking a positive tone in his latest thoughts on our Buffalo Bills
- thoughts I generally agree with, even if they make me backtrack on some of my more ominous predictions of last week
- and with my vested interest in the Sabres still a few weeks away, I'm going to try to channel my scattered mess of soccer thoughts into a regular routine. I think it's fair to say that there's a growing interest in the sport amongst Buffalo sports fans, due in part to the growing popularity of the US Men's and Women's teams, as well as local favorites WNY Flash (champions!!) and FC Buffalo (future champions!!). And while crotchety members of the Buffalo blog/social media sports scene may begrudge this growing trend, associating it with some sort of annoying hipster vibe even, those hard-nosed, resistant-to-change douchebags probably don't read this blog anyway. (Sidenote: I get the argument that soccer fans are occasionally smug about their fandom. Much in the same way that opponents of the Iraq war came off as smug about our opposition to Bush's blood for oil scheme. Sometimes, when you're right, it feels like you're living in crazy town talking with people who have yet to step out of the cave and into the light. So, yeah, you get smug and reference Plato, envelop yourself in your own superiority, and come off as a dick. What can I say? It's a burden being so awesome and enlightened in your worldview.)
So I bring you now the first installment of my Closing Arguments on the Premiership - the Week 3 Edition.
Liverpool 3, Bolton 1
Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson celebrate breaking through at Anfield
Unless I'm unusually depressed about the result, these posts will always feature the Reds first and foremost. A Red supporter since the days of Michael Owen before his transfers to Real Madrid and Newcastle - I am ever the sucker for prototypical good looks in my sports heroes - my interest has been rejuvenated of late by the King Kenny Revival currently in full swing in Merseyside. As I've discussed in previous posts on the subject
, the summer was full of transfer news for the Reds, and - like many fans - I was very eager to see if the money spent would have a positive impact on the pitch. (Sound familiar, Sabre fans?). After a disappointing first week result, Liverpool took advantage of a weakened Arsenal team last week, and was looking to continue that success against perennial mid-table dwellers, the Bolton Wanderers. With a ridiculous 9 straight wins against Bolton (including many that came during the recent Dark Ages for Liverpool football), few doubted that the stacked Liverpool roster would fail to secure three points at home.The Reds did not disappoint, and they took home their most convincing win of this young season, particularly since the scoring came from players who had yet to find
themselves with goals this season. Jordan Henderson, the young midfielder acquired from Sunderland during the summer, scored the first of the afternoon as he found the net with a beautiful strike from distance. While Luis Suarez was kept off the score sheet for the first time this year, his pass on the leadup to Henderson's goal was the kind of thing that makes you recall why you love the game so much in the first place. Just watch how he gets the ball into the box.... (and my apologies if the EPL shuts this video down at some point; for some reason this league HATES making highlights accessible to fans)
Henderson's strike was, of course, well-taken and impressive in its own right. It was nice to see the kid break through after being so highly touted this summer.
Also finding the net, with both a goal and a great helper on a corner kick, was Charlie Adam, another of Liverpool's summer signings. Reds fans have been without a quality corner kick taker for a few years now, particularly with the left foot, and Adam showed on Saturday why this is considered one of the better parts of his game. His assist on Martin Skrtel's second half header was simply great. Adam's goal, which came only a minute later, was also quite good, though some of it has to be laid upon the failures of Bolton's back four, as Adam had a TON of space as he converted that chance. That said, Liverpool is going to be mighty tough to beat if Adam starts finding his feet over the next few games. Now if only Andy Carroll can get going...shit will get real.
Chelsea 3, Norwich City 1
Fernando Torres: Still Ineffective. Still a Little Bitch
The other big match of Saturday - in that I watched most of it and had a vested interest in because it featured two of my least favorite Premier League players - was Chelsea hosting recently promoted Norwich City. Unlike the Liverpool game, which was not as close as the 3-1 scoreline suggests, Chelsea's two goal win over Norwich was much closer than one might think. After taking a 1-0 lead, Chelsea allowed the game to be tied on a nice volleyed shot over the keeper by Norwich striker Grant Holt. Chelsea ultimately took the lead back on a questionable call (#understatement) following a take down by the Norwich keeper in the box, leading to a red card and subsequent Frank Lampard penalty on the freshly substituted backup keeper. I say questionable because Liverpool's Luis Suarez was taken down in a similar moment in Week 1 against Sunderland, and - while a penalty was similarly awarded then - no red card was issued, meaning no keeper coming on cold to handle the subsequent penalty kick. (Not that Luis's attempt was missed because of the keeper...but, still).
After Lampard scored, the game was essentially over, and was sealed soon after by Spanish player.Juan Mata. See! Spanish players can score for the Blues. Just not ones named Fernando Torres. Because, as has been established, dude is a little bitch. Speaking of bitches, Didier Drogba was taken off the pitch with a very serious concussion - reports are that he was out cold for 30 minutes or more, but is recovering ok. My hatred for Drogs runs very deep, mostly because he often represents the kind of whining and embellishment that gives soccer players a bad reputation. It is taking a lot of willpower to not kick him while he's down about the delicious irony inherent in his injury after years of embellished falls on the pitch. Get better, Drogba, so I can give you a proper verbal lashing without the guilt.
Man City 5, Tottenham 1 - Man Utd 8, Arsenal 2
Emblematic of the Spurs' effort on Sunday
I put these games together because, as a Liverpool fan, these two matches meant A LOT for the Reds' 2011-12 chances of a top four finish. As an initial matter, the winners of these two matches are looking to be the top 2 teams of the EPL this year, and it seems pretty apparent that the two Manc sides are STACKED. Man City benefited from four tallies from Edin Dzeko, who has admitted in interviews that he was scared of being cut from the City roster given the quality of players. And City also benefited from a weak Tottenham squad - maybe thrown off by the riots that delayed the start of their season a couple weeks back? - who is suffering from drama over transfer rumors implicating possible losses of stars Peter Crouch and Luka Modric. Harry Redkapp, the Tottenham skipper, has noted that there is a distinct downturn in player morale given these issues, particularly since ownership has made it very clear that neither player is for sale. Not good times for the Hotspurs (currently in the relegation zone with ZERO points and a -7 goal differential on the year, albeit in only two games).
Was going to post a Wenger crying pic, but even I have limits
After the early match on Sunday, Fox Soccer's featured match of the day came up between Manchester United and Arsenal, last season's #1 and #4, respectively. As Liverpool saw last week, Arsenal just isn't the same this year, and United continued the theme with an ABSOLUTE ASS WHOOPING. Rooney scored his triple, and Arsenal looked a fucking mess. Now barely above the relegation zone themselves, with a -8 goal differential, it looks like it could be a seriously long season for the Gooners. To be fair, of course, Arsenal has just played back-to-back matches against two clubs - LFC and Man Utd - that are both favorites for the top 4, but it doesn't change the fact that they simply look terrible. There's a difference between losing and losing like Arsenal did on Sunday, and even though Wenger is said to be secure in his job, I can only wonder how long this can last without some heads rolling at the Emirates.
Either way, the state-of-things for the Spurs and Gooners is promising for the Reds, as the failures of these teams would seem to open the door a bit to LFC taking one of those top spots for a Champions League birth.
And the rest...
I didn't watch much else of the EPL this weekend, though I did catch some highlights. Wolverhampton are early surprises, though their schedule has not been terrible challenging. Queens Park Rangers, while losing this past weekend, are notable for their win at Everton on August 20th, and their loss to Wigan included three dingers off the post, which should be heartening to those fans who want to see QPR succeed in the Premiership after winning the lower-tiered League Championship last year. Fulham, led by Clint Dempsey and owned by a bat-shit crazy fucker that puts Ralph Wilson to shame, have been disappointing for fans who want the best for Clint or who weirdly support teams with Michael Jackson statues outside their parks
And with that, hope you all enjoyed, since the EPL is on a hiatus for international play over the next couple weeks. I'll be back after Week 4, hopefully with continued good tidings regarding the Reds and continued bad tidings regarding the Gooners and/or Mancs and/or Blues. If you're a fan of these teams, my apologies, though I can't be blamed for your poor choices.Follow me on Twitter.
Or don't. Whatever works.
Pure, unadulterated man-love
What a beautiful morning. After a long week of 12+ hour days preparing for my first trial next week (I am nothing if not a professional "horn tooter"... deal with it), most of which I struggled through with the taste of Pabst Blue Ribbon and shame lingering on my breath from our trip to the Glen last weekend, the footy gods gave me a true gift this monring.
Liverpool takes 3 points from the Emirates for the first time in 11 years.
God, that feels AMAZING to type.
After the "meh" feeling Reds' fans had after last week's 1-1 home opening draw against Sunderland, this feels exceptionally good. I won't waste my brief free moments talking about why it doesn't matter that Arsenal was down a few key players (our fucking captain wasn't playing, bitches, so shut your mouths), or about why it's still slightly troubling that a seemingly superior LFC squad couldn't put anything together in the first half, or about why I'm not all that concerned about why Andy Carroll hasn't made the impact we expected from him by now. Those are troubling topics, best saved for another day when we have more than a two game sample size from which we can glean actual, informed opinions about this team and where it might be going.
For now, I'm going to settle on these facts: Liverpool has four points out of a possible six, and Arsenal only has ONE. Liverpool has scored three goals (albeit one that was an own goal by the Gunners), and Arsenal has ZERO.
This is a whole new season of Premier League Football.
We've been waiting through a long summer to feel the joy and exhiliration of the EPL again, and this morning - the first game I'd been able to watch from start to finish - the world smiled down on me, and all LFC fans, and gave us something to be VERY happy about.
Aresene Wenger: A Weepy & Wet Man on this Happy, Happy Day
Epitome of industry, Dirk Kuyt, with an industrial header up Manchester's ass.
Dirk Kuyt is a terrible striker. He has no skill on the ball, he can't turn quickly, his shot placement is bad, and he's not particularly tall. With the departure of Fernando Douchebag Asswipe Traitor Torres to Chelski this past January, my hopes for Liverpool were seriously in doubt with Kuyt as the squad's main man up front. Suarez & Carroll were noisily brought in, but injury & disqualification sidelined them (and my enthusiasm) for the majority of February. The past 6 weeks of Liverpool's offensive hopes have rested squarely upon the shoulders of The Flying Dutchman. Strangely enough, in a roundabout way, he has delivered. It's unfathomable, but somehow it happened. The slow burn of Kuyt's offensive prowess blew up this weekend at Anfield in the greatest Derby match of them all, Liverpool vs. Manure United.