Monthly Archives: May 2008

England Squashes U.S. Like Bugs

For hundreds of years, starting with the colonization of Massachusetts, the concept of English domination over America was a prominent world theme. America was Mother England’s whipping boy, subject to all the spoils of royal manifest.

Things seemed to change when President Woodrow Wilson decided to drop a couple of bombs to end World War II. Before too long, the United States owned the most powerful military in the world AND they were about to defeat the English at soccer for the first time. Coincidence? Probably. But while these events may not have anything in common, by the time the Yanks beat the Tommies 1-0 in the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, it was clear that America would no longer stand, willfully or otherwise, in England’s vast economic shadow.

And even though the United States has far surpassed England in areas concerning global industry and commerce, Mother England has won four of the six matches all-time while the U.S. has struggled to adequately compete on the pitch. To that point, it has mostly proved to be good fortune when the U.S. has won a match against the U.K., with the last coming in a 2-0 win in 1993.

This time they played at new Wembley Stadium, the beautiful game’s ritual birthplace. This time, the U.S. still looked like teenagers playing against grown men, and it’s getting hard to watch.

So starting at the top, here are my Top 5 reasons the United States lost to England.

1. LANDON DONOVAN INJURY. The team’s best playmaker sustained a groin injury in his last match with te Los Angeles Galaxy and didn’t play. The U.S. needed his pace and run-making ability and suffered greatly from his absence.

2. POOR ATTACKING. Despite a few decent chances by Eddie Johnson, the U.S. looked inept when they had the ball in the attacking third of the field. Josh Wolff never had a presence and the only quality chances came from subs in the last 30 minutes of the match.

3. BOB BRADLEY. Simply put, he’s had more time with his squad than has England newest manager, Fabio Capello, and should have been better prepared. Now more than a year at the helm, Bradley was unable to keep England from making attack after attack in the 40 minutes surrounding halftime.

4. SUBSTANDARD SET-PIECES. Can the U.S. find a player who can cross the ball to the far post or place a corner kick into the box? Please? DeMarcus Beasley did nothing, most of his services were short. Eddie Lewis came into the match and showed some skill late but it wasn’t enough.

5. NO INSPERACION (That’s Spanish for no insperation). This wasn’t just another “friendly” for the United States National Team — this match was important. Defeating England would have been the most satisfying of results, even a draw would have sufficed. Neither was to be.

In the end, it was a 2-0 loss with goals from John Terry, who actually found the net this time, and Steven Garrard leaving American soccer fans feeling much the same as after the 2006 World Cup — disappointed.

A quote, from Sports Columnist Paul Oberjuerge following that German World Cup, seems as erudite now as it was then.

“If we care to take a lesson from 2006, it is this: We are not Brazil. Not Argentine. Not Germany or Holland or France or England. Not yet, and maybe never.”

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Filed under Soccer

Barton A One-Man Riot

In England, apparently, it isn’t OK to get way too drunk and fight everyone in sight. Who knew?

Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton will be serving six months in jail for his role in a Dec. 27, 2007 assault that left one man with facial injuries and a teenager with broken teeth. Barton’s brother, accused of throwing food at one man, and cousin also pleaded guilty ro lesser offenses stemming from the melee.

From reading his Wikipedia entry, Barton “has a fiery temper and occasionally gets into on-field confrontations.” Funny. He must save his real fire for his off-field confrontations because the guy’s had more scrapes with the law than Pacman Jones. I know. Can you believe it?

His personal bio in a laundry list of assaults and something called “affrays.” That said, he gets into a lot of fist-fights with opposing fans, teammates, passerby; just about anyone he is near or around.

Barton allegedly stubbed out a lit cigar in a youth players’ eye in Dec. 2004, broke a pedestrian’s leg with his car in May 2005, fought with a taxi cab driver in March 2007 and assaulted a former teammate in May 2007.

He was on bail and awaiting trial for the latter two alleged offenses when he decided to fight Liverpool locals last December. In that brawl, at a McDonald’s, Barton was caught on TV tackling and then punching a man more than 15 times in the head before turning his attention to a 16-year-old and punching out his teeth.

Reportedly, he had consumed more than 10 pints and several bottles of lager during a night out on the ‘toon. Barton has since admitted to having a problem with alcohol. Might his first clue have been his decision to fight everyone at a McDonald’s? Maybe. Or maybe the admission was borne from the fear of not being retained by Newcastle following his jail term. Either way, Barton has six months to sit and think it over.

After that, he’ll probably down a pint or five at the pub with his club manager, tell a few crude jokes, pose for some photos with fans and he’ll be on his way. Just don’t call him a drunk. He really hates that.

Which athlete’s crimes are most heinous? Take the poll.

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Lakers’ Bynum Has Surgical Focus

When Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum first hurt his left knee in mid-January, he was supposed to rehab in time to be ready for the playoffs.

Then, in late April, coach Phil Jackson said Bynun’s chances of returning this season were “remote.”

Now Bynum is having arthroscopic surgery Wednesday on his injured knee and his future playing status has yet to be determined. Reportedly, the surgery is exploratory in nature and will likely involve the repair of some “fraying” on the underside of his kneecap.

Sounds painful. Hopefully the procedure is to fix the initial injury and not a new one sustained while spending half the season away from the court, up at the club or at a keg party like… this.

Ah, but kids will be kids. After all, Bynum’s only 20. And like all good 20-year-olds, he’s out having fun and trying to, umm, have even more fun.

But there is nothing funny about this fact: Bynum is the key to the Lakers’ competitive future post-Kobe Bryant. He was producing at a very high level (13 ppg, 10 rpg) pre-injury and had fans thinking championships even before the trade for Pau Gasol. Now there’s no telling whether or not he’ll ever be the same.

Though the odds, and his age, are in Bynum’s favor thanks to medical science, the Lakers should explore trading him this offseason, if only to gauge his value. See what he’s worth, because talented big men with gimpy knee(s) are like Kentucky Derby winners that pull up lame in the Preakness two weeks later. That is, they’re only good for one thing… breeding.

From the look of things, Bynum won’t have any problem with that.

Will Bynum ever be a dominant center in the NBA? Take the poll.

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Filed under Basketball, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA

Pistorius Will Be The First Of Many

Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee, received finite approval on Friday, May 16, to attempt to make his country’s Olympic team. Previously barred from competition by Track and Field’s ruling body, Pistorius appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and won the right to compete in all IAAF events and qualify for the Beijing Games later this year.

The court’s decision may seem somewhat insignificant now; narrowed to allowing one exceptional man to qualify, if he can, for the Olympics. But their ruling is likely to change the future for every physically-limited athlete in the world.

So starting at the very top, here’s my Top 5 list of potential side-effects from the Pistorius ruling.

1. Paralympic Games are more popular than the Olympic Games. Why watch ordinary athletes when you can see someone with no arms and one leg win the 50 Freestyle?

2. Wheelchair rugby, popularized by the film Murderball, is sanctioned on all MMA undercards.

3. Rowing isn’t for Oxford-ites anymore. Not when you have oars for arms.

4. Skiers with skis for legs. Moguls, schmoguls.

5. Skeleton, without a complete skeleton, becomes the new niche sport.

Does Pistorius have an unfair advantage? Take the poll.

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Barkley’s Gambling A No-Wynn Situation

TNT basketball analyst/clown Charles Barkley owes Wynn Casino in Las Vegas $400,000, it has been reported. Filed in a Clarke County (Nev.) court on May 15 was a lawsuit claiming Barkley failed to reimburse the casino for four $100,000 gambling markers spent last October.

Forget that that was SIX MONTHS ago. How was he able to leave the casino? Doesn’t Wynn have security guards, cameras, dogs? Why didn’t someone stop him at the door and say: “Excuse me, Mr. Barkley. Umm. Aren’t you gonna pay?”

Now the Round Mound of Rebound is having his dirty laundry once again aired in front of everyone. The funny part is, he’s got a regular TV gig where the subject is bound to come up. Barkley will probably say it’s a big misunderstanding, pay Wynn back plus interest, and it’ll be water under the bridge.

But something needs to be done. How many times do we have to hear about his gambling problem? Even HE admits he has a problem. The time is now. He’s getting to be just as bad as John Daly, without all the skanky women. The studio guys at TNT should host an intervention, on air, and make Barkley agree to seek counseling.

Ernie Johnson could be the moderator: “Look Charles. We love you and we want to help.”

Kenny Smith could administer the tough-love: “You’re a dumb-ass, Chuck. You NEED help.”

And Avery Johnson could watch the door, just in case Chuckles decides to make a run for it.

 What should Barkley do about his gambling problem? Take the poll.

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Angels Fine Without Lackey

John Lackey made his first start of the season for the Anaheim Angels on Wednesday, May 14. Having spent almost 60 days on the disabled list with a triceps strain, Lackey was ready when he faced the Chicago White Sox in Anaheim.

The 6-foot-6 right-hander pitched seven strong innings in his 2008 debut, allowing one run on six hits. He struck out four but did not factor in the decision as the Angels lost 6-1.

Good to have him back, even in the loss. After all, he went 19-9 with a 3.01 ERA as the Angels won the American League West last season. And don’t forget about his World Serious cred from ’02 when he won two games against the San Francisco Giants, including Game 7.

But the Angels don’t really need him. They could use him — he’s big, strong and has four legit pitches– but they don’t need him.

They have two of the best young pitchers in the game — Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana. These two have been the ones carrying the load, not Lackey. They’re a combined 12-1 with an ERA near 2.50 for the Angels, owners of one of baseball’s best records through the middle of May.

With such talent in abundance, there’s only one this to do…

Trade Lackey now, while his value is still high and he’s still healthy. He’s easily worth a handful of top prospects and a bullpen specialist. Or better yet, trade Jered Weaver. He’s just like his brother — HORRIBLE.

Should the Angels trade John Lackey? Take the poll.

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Filed under Baseball, Los Angeles Angels, MLB

LeBron’s So Good He Wants To Slap His Mama

Not that coming back from an 0-2 deficit against the Boston Celtics wasn’t difficult enough, but LeBron James also seamlessly introduced his mother to America via f-bomb. Nice.

Too bad someone didn’t call him on it at the time. He could have avoided all the negative attention he’s now geeting from the media and elsewhere.

If only had Kevin Garnett said: “Man, that’s your mom! Now apologize before I bust your head, fool.”

But he didn’t and LeBron remains the worst son of all time. He’s been lambasted in the media, received scorn from mothers everywhere and I think PETA wants him cited for cruelty to animals. Maybe not.

He’s still incredible, nonetheless. He’s probably the most physically dominant player the NBA has ever seen. He’ll score 45, drop a dunk on your dome AND tell his mama to sit the f-ck down all in the span of 48 minutes.

He’s going to win more MVPs than Humanitarian of the Year awards, that’s for sure. He’s a one-man wrecking crew on the basketball court and he’s apparently on a mission to win championships. He almost did it last year. He could do it this year, if he really wants to.

Either way, this episode is sure to be remembered fondly, mostly by Cavaliers fans.

CavsFan1: “Remember the year LeBron averaged 30, dunked on K.G. in the playoffs and told his mom to sit the f-ck down?”

CavsFan2: “Yeah. What a great year. Too bad we lost in 7 to the Celtics. Next year, LeBron should slap his mama. We’d go all the way.”

Is LeBron James a bad person? Take the poll.

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Filed under Basketball, NBA