Category Archives: Sports

Miss Bumbum, Ronaldo, Manaus – Go USA!

Reading Portuguese has some advantages … and disadvantages. Some of both in finding this “news story” about how Brasil’s “Miss Bumbum” (Miss Butt or Ass, if you will. Yes, Brasil has a Miss Ass) has been stalking Cristiano Ronaldo and all the lamentations about how Portugal could go down to defeat against the USA. Turns out the story was derived from the Daily Mail, so maybe I could’ve found it in English, instead. Anyway, let’s hope the bumbum or the bum knee helps the USA win and clinch a spot in the knockout round! Continue reading

Faa…faa, faa, faa, faa, faa, FIFA!

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 9.55.17¡!¡!¡!¡!ATTN¡!¡!¡!¡! fans of soccer, Футбол, futebol, voetbal, football, calcio, fútbol, Fußball, fotbaloví, piłka nożna, 足球, sokker, فٹ بال, and all the rest…the grand tournament we’ve all been waiting for is finally upon us: THE 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP. The United States drew a rather tough grouping this time around: Group G, alongside Germany, Portugal, and Ghana. But it looks like they have a decent team again this year and, who knows, perhaps they’ll muster up some magic.

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 9.53.11The games start this Thursday, 12 June, when Brazil takes on Croatia (16h00 US est). The US begins their bid for the cup on Monday, 16 June  (18h00 US est) against Ghana. Continue reading

Germany vs Greece

Today Germany plays Greece in the European soccer tournament.  I’m sorry I’ll have to miss it (darn work).  I have really become a fan of European soccer and this game should be really interesting.  Mind you, I could not name a single player on either team.  I do not know who the favored team is in this match.  But given the economic/political tensions between these countries, I suspect the crowd and the players will be pretty rowdy.  The match adds nothing to the austerity v. spending debate surrounding the Euro, but from a nationalistic standpoint it should be very interesting.

It also reminded me of this classic Monty Python sketch about another Greece vs. Germany soccer match.

The Boys of Fall

What better way to savor a spectacular Indian Summer than flavor it with outstanding baseball?  The regular season ended in absolutely stunning fashion with four games on the final day of the season having playoff implications and those games themselves going down to the wire.  The playoffs have not disappointed either with all but one series going the full five games, concluding with yesterday’s walk-off win in the 10th in Milwaukee and a pitching duel for the ages in Philadelphia.

I Think It’s Safe to Say Macey Is Not a Cardinals Fan

The story in St. Louis remains the infamous rally-squirrel.  While Ryan Theriot batted in Game 3 a squirrel ran through the Busch Stadium outfield causing a delay.  In Game 4, a squirrel ran across home plate as Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt delivered a pitch to the Cards’ Skip Schumacher.  The pitch was a ball, prompting both Oswalt and manager Charlie Manuel to argue with the plate umpire for a “do-over” claiming the rodent created a distraction interfering with Oswalt’s delivery.  The plea failed and the Cardinals came back to win forcing a Game 5 in Philly.  During the Phillies warm-ups yet another squirrel ran around the outfield before the grounds crew trapped it.  St. Louisians dubbed it the “Rally-Squirrel” and it is now the cause celebre among Cardinal fans; it even has a Twitter account!

Don't believe in rally squirrels? I find your lack of faith disturbing.

Fear the Beer

Meanwhile in Milwaukee, the Brewers stayed true to their modus operandi of the season by dominating at home and choking on the road.  All three of the Brew Crew’s victories came at Miller Park with outfielder Nyjer Morgan getting the game winning hit yesterday in the tenth inning.

Morgan has been a favorite of mine since a well-publicized episode last summer.  Morgan played for the Nationals last year.  In a late-August, meaningless game between two hopeless teams he scored from second to break a scoreless game.  The violent collision at the plate ended the Marlins catcher’s season.  The hit was hard, but that’s what you get when you block the plate.

The next night, with the Marlins up 14-3 in the sixth, Morgan came to bat and got plunked for his baserunning the previous evening.  Morgan took his base without so much as glaring at the pitcher.  He then stole second and third before scoring on a sacrifice fly.  Now, keep in mind his team was down by eleven runs when this took place.  The Marlins took offense to his base-running and his next at bat he got plunked again.  This time, a melee ensued.

Nyjer Morgan a/k/a "Tony Plush"

The media (notably ESPN) exploded on Morgan saying his swiping the two bases with his team down eleven violated the “code” of baseball.  Now, I get it that if your team is up by eleven you do not do that….but down?  I lost a lot of respect for certain baseball people when they chastised Morgan for the play.  Hell, I was hoping my old Loyola classmate who now owns the Cubs would trade for him.  I thought the name of the game was to win, no? Here’s Morgan – his team going nowhere in a meaningless game – taking his “punishment” for the previous evening’s play at the plate and using it to his team’s advantage and they editorialize against him?  Anyway, the guy’s been a favorite of mine ever since and I was glad when he got traded to a winner in the off-season.  Oh, and here’s the delicious denouement:  the Nationals came back and won that game.  In no small part due to Morgan’s aggressiveness.

1982 Rematch

The NLCS is a rematch of the 1982 World Series (the Brewers were in the AL at the time).  What a great series that was – seven games, former Cardinal great Ted Simmons facing his old team along with Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and Rollie Fingers facing off against Ozzie Smith, Keith Hernandez, Willie McGee and Bruce Sutter.  The Cards won it in seven and Darrell Porter was the Series MVP.  Honestly, this guy was the MVP of the 1982 World Series:

Seriously, mom really wants her glasses back.

Here’s hoping we get as good of series this time.  Predicition: Brewers in seven.

I Feel Badly For A-Rod

Just kidding.  What sweet joy it was to watch the Yankees go down in the playoffs – at home, no less.  Please pardon this aside, but I’m about to put out there what will likely go down as the least controversial statement in EMP history: I’m probably the furthest to the right of any of our contributors.  That statement is relevant to this discussion because what I’m about to say does not sound like it comes from someone right-leaning: Hey, Yankees – enough with the “God Bless America” during the Seventh Inning Stretch! Never forgetting does not mean bludgeoning us with 9/11 reminders every time you play baseball.  And why does every network feel compelled to broadcast it? ESPN, TBS, FOX – they all show it!  Remember when every elected official told nervous Americans to “get back to their daily routine” after the attacks? It’s been ten years.  It’s time to start singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” again.

Now that you're done choking yet again, you can go back to dating the Joker. Watch out for Batman though.

As for the baseball, the Yankees Curtis Granderson (a former Tiger) had a great series highlighted by spectacular defense.  He’s the only Yankee I truly enjoy.  Justin Verlander pitched a masterful Game 3 to lead his team past the Bombers and if you have not been watching him up to now enjoy him against the Rangers.  Because I like Detroit’s uniforms – the olde-English “D” is a classic – I’ll be rooting for them in the next round.

Don’t Mess With Texas

I hate the phrase noted above.  What does that mean, really?  And who or what would mess with them?  Well, George W. Bush’s old team is back in the ALCS for the second year in a row and they look pretty tough to beat.  They dismantled the Rays in four games even though Tampa came in on the heels of a scortching September.  Remember when they were the Tampa Bay Devil Rays?  Well, I do.  And earlier this year I learned they dropped “Devil” in deference to protests by local Evangelicals.  It’s time to return Florda to Spain.  Now.

This Rays-Rangers series was kind of boring.  I don’t have much to say about it other than I’m glad its over.  And while I love Tampa’s team, that stadium has to go.  You know what? That team just needs to move.  They have no fan base and didn’t even sell out its home playoff games!  What a travesty.  I repeat: it’s time to return Florda to Spain.  Now.

Okay, that trade sounds good. What does Cheney think?

The Rangers simply out-slugged everyone in the American League this year and I expect more of the same against the Tigers.  Unless Detroit figures out a way to pitch Verlander every game, I suspect Jim Leyland will be smoking a lot of Marlboro Reds in the dugout.  A return trip to the series likely means we’ll see W throwing out the first pitch again.  Say what you will about the man, but history at least will recognize him as the “Greatest-First-Pitch-Thrower-Outer” in Presidential history.  Prediction: Rangers in five.

World Series:  Rangers over Brewers in seven.

Enjoy the games!

Fun Ride Comes to an End

It’s been a pretty hectic week here in the racing world. The rumors finally started playing out this weekend and were officially confirmed on Monday, Red Bull is pulling the plug on its NASCAR effort. Details of the actual demise are still hazy and it’s likely some outside investor will purchase the team (hopefully not to just liquidate), it’s just not clear when this will all happen! I guess all good rides have to come to an end!

How do you respond?

I’m finding it tough to read about Stephen Strasburg‘s recent elbow injury. I find it tough to…

[1] …accept the messianic tone used by so many writers, commentators, and fans when they talk about this kid (e.g., “Strasburg’s Reality Almost Unreal” and “Thrill on the Hill: Strasburg Wows”).

[2] …feel sorry for this kid, even though I want to and can sympathize with the trauma of being injured and having to go through surgery and rehabilitation.

[3] …justify spilling so much ink on this kid, before he joined the Nationals and since, when, despite his 100-mph fastball (or his “terror-inducing curveball”), he’s just another guy who plays baseball.

[4] …and I could go on…

“Baseball’s Arm of the Future, Headed for Surgery”

The most sane and sober account of Stephen Strasburg that I’ve read (and you can hear) since yesterday’s barrage of articles about his injury comes from NPR’s Scott Simon, “Stephen Strasburg, Meet Tommy John.” Am I missing something? Is this kid really so important? Maybe my unease with the coverage of Strasburg is just a product of some untimely catching up on the news?

The Really Big Dance

The weekend we’ve all been waiting for is finally upon us. The World Cup championship game is set for this Sunday, 2:30 PM (EST, on ABC). Paired up are the oranje Dutchmen and the electric Spaniards. Northern Europe versus Southern Europe. Germanic speakers versus Italic speakers (sure, they’re all proto-Indo-European speakers, but…). North Sea-farers versus Mediterranean Sea-farers. You get the drift. However you frame it, this, my friends, is truly the big dance — de grote dans, el gran baile — a sporting title match for the bona fide status of “world champions.” In the U.S. we are accustomed to seeing that slogan plastered all over our league wining baseball, football, and basketball teams. But surely everyone knows that these athletes, although quite capable of competing on the world stage, are just national champions, not world champions. At best, we can claim North American supremacy in the MLB and NBA, but just barely since only the Blue Jays and Raptors remain. The National Hockey League represents our most cosmopolitan professional sports league these days (in terms of the cities included in the hunt for the league trophy). Across the board, the rosters of U.S. professional teams are of course increasingly cosmopolitan, though the National Football League seems to be lagging a bit behind the other leagues. Forget the “big dance” of the Final Four. It’s big, sure, and exciting. But like our professional “world championship” athletic teams, even the bigness we perceive in the Final Four is a product of our national myopia. As a nation we have been slow to open our eyes to, embrace, and have our professional team-sports–because tennis and golf, conversely, are truly international–compete in the games that pit nations in spirited (though not usually violent) engagement and captivate citizens of the world. Games like football (er, I mean, soccer). To be sure, the U.S. had a good run in this year’s World Cup. And I suspect that very good runs for the U.S. are in store for future Cups. Even if they have a ways to go to topple the mightiest footballing clubs like the Netherlands and Spain, which they no doubt do, they appear to have earned some international respect. Is football in the U.S. is serious business now? We’ll see. But it does appear that U.S. footballing is now taken seriously by the world footballing community.

P.S. This Saturday Uruguay battles Germany for third place (2:30 PM EST, on ABC).

C’mon LeBron

Who doesn’t want Sir James? But does Chicago have a viable shot at him? Twould be nice for those of us who haven’t enjoyed Chicago roundball since MJ left the game. It does, however, seem as though LeBron is too enamored by the prospect of playing with the “Brooklyn Nets,” for Jay-Z no less, to go anywhere other than New York (if not to play for the Nets, then the Knicks also seem like a likely home for LJ).

Hey Ho, Let’s Go!

USA plays England this afternoon in the 2010 World Cup. Having had strong outings in the friendlies leading up to the Cup–a 3-0 win over Australia and a 4-2 loss against the Czech Republic–the Red White and Blue boys have some momentum as they take the pitch against Wayne Rooney and England. Of course USA needs an absolutely perfect showing today to best England, who’s one of the favorites to advance well beyond the first round in the tournament.

There are reasons to be more optimistic about this USA team than its predecessors. This club seems more serious and disciplined than past teams, more grounded in footballing on the international stage and less concerned with presenting itself as a counter-U.S.-athletic-culture than earlier clubs, which often appeared to be childishly groping for a self-identity and unaware of the fundamentals of the game. Over the past two decades, I often heard from folks in Europe and Asia, where football is deadly serious business (far more than baseball or football in the U.S.), that American “soccer” was about as serious to FIFA as the CBA or CFL are to the NBA and NFL. Never have I heard this view more incisively or humorously articulated than John Oliver’s first report for The Daily Show from South Africa. Check it out, laugh your ass off, here (anybody know how to embed a Daily Show clip on WordPress?).