Thursday, March 26, 2009



The tournament can finally be enjoyed. Well, almost. What we need next is a Gonzaga over UNC tonight to complete the hate checklist.

That's because new East Bracket Favourite Villanova stomped Duke, beating them by 23 points. TWENTY THREE POINTS. Whoop!

Unsurprisingly perhaps, the East Bracket final will be between two Big East teams after Pitt's three man team overcame Xavier.

Awhile back I noted (or someone else noted and I merely parroted the observation) that the last time the Big East had so many teams in the tournament, the final went down to Villanova against Georgetown.

So my conclusion is that the Villanova is going to advance to the Final Four. That's who I'm going to root for. Very trendy pick.

On a sadder note, my brackets are all entirely fucked with the Missouri shocker over Memphis.. Hey, maybe that kid from Maryland, Greivis Vasquez, was right: Memphis were overrated.

It doesn't matter really. My team are out. My brackets are finished.

UCONN rubbished their third straight opponent overcoming one controversy after another.

The question is, can they handle Missouri's defence? Can they handle a team that is absolutely peaking at the right moment or have they shot their wad overwhelming Memphis?

Well, I'm simply not going to root for Missou. Further, I think they've shot their wad. UCONN are going to advance to the Final Four.


Going to be on a boat to France tonight so unless there is some sort of Wifi on board which I highly doubt, I'm going to miss all the games. Will probably miss all of the Saturday games as well. (hence the reason I've picked my two Final Four projections, the updated ones based on what I hope is reality.

The other two?

Well, I can't help but root for Syracuse to beat Oklahoma. On the scale of do I hate Duke more than I want Syracuse to win? No, I could have stomached, albeit with great distaste, nausea, dry heaving, Duke making it to the Final Four, but only if Syracuse made it as well. Now that Duke are out, I have only UNC to Root Against so what I'm hoping for is a Gonzaga-Syracuse Regional finale.

Will it happen? Maybe. It's probably the least likely of four scenarios; Syracuse v UNC or Oklahoma v UNC or Oklahome v Gonzaga. But root for it. UNC v Syracuse would be a good game but I sense this would inevitably be UNC's game. So root for Gonzaga along with Syracuse.

So, Villanova, UCONN and Syracuse in. No bias here.

That leaves the Louisville Region.

Louisville play Arizona and whilst their little storybook beginning is enchanting, enough is enough. Arizona don't deserve do go any further.

Besides, the only team in any bracket I've got left winning is Louisville so they've GOT to win.

Michigan State against defending champ Kansas? Zzzzzzz. I know I don't care. Let's just say Louisville.

And let's just say a Louisville-Syracuse final although I sense, with history on it's side, UCONN-Villanova is a strong possibility at this point as well.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


They've whittled it down from 65 teams to 16. The Sweet Sixteen. Five of them from The Big East. All number 1 seeds advanced.

For the first time since the NCAA expanded the tournament field in 1985, each of the 12 teams seeded Nos. 1-3 advanced to the Sweet 16. So much for upset cities and crazy bracket picks.

So what was the most impressive win on Sunday? Most people seemed to think going in that 6th seeded Marquette's guard play would overwhelm 3rd seeded Missouri. Kim English scored 15 points off the bench in about 8 seconds during one unbelievable spurt and finished the game with two clutch free throws to win.

To be honest, none of the other games, even what for me, was the game I was most interested, Syracuse against Arizona State, were that thrilling. No extremely tight, see-saw sort of games that kept you edge of your seat.

So rather than recap the obvious in the absence of tight games and upsets, I'm just going to move forward and rank/update my Final Four but before I do that I will note that in the NYT bracket I had 13 of the 16. In the SN bracket, I had 13 as well. What's that mean? Nothing. Plenty of people did as well or better.

1. U CONN: granted, it was only Chattanooga and Texas A&M, but they still beat them both by a combined 82 points. Purdue is up next having topped Northern Iowa and Washington. Should U Conn do the expected, they will face:

2. Memphis: Sloppy against Cal State Northridge but demolished Maryland quite impressively perhaps the most impressive victory of the 2nd round. They face Missouri next which will be the most exciting match ups ahead. Well, there's so many exciting match ups that's hard to state unequivocally but big, deep line ups, fast teams. Memphis' defence is the difference-maker here.

Now logically only one of these teams can make it to the Final Four, but whichever team doesn't will still be better than the remaining teams.

Naturally I've got to admit some anti-Duke and anti-North Carolina biases so perhaps it's not unexpected that I now believe in:

3. Villanova: Is this everyone's new dark horse? Yes, they lose the supposed "home court advantage" as they move from Philly to Boston. But they've beaten UCLA pretty impressively, (which wasn't even the best team) and have got Duke next then potentially face a lackluster Pitt who would be out already were it not for DeJuan Blair. Pitt can't even be guaranteed to get past 4th seeded Xavier let alone would be a Villanova team with momentum.

4. Michigan State: surprise. It's easy to say with hindsight that Michigan State, with their great coach in Izzo and their superlative bracket record, should have been the obvious pick in the Final Four all along, especially given their 2 seed. They have a slim advantage over

5. Louisville: They were one of the best and there have been no serious challenges so far. They do face a formidable test against 12 seed Arizona and considering its difficult to say with certainty that L'ville can win this game, you have to say the argument of their strength is diminished.

6. Syracuse: Again, in the interests of full disclosure, I have them in my Final Four anyway, so picking them here is a no-brainer. Oklahoma, as far as a I can tell, is a one man team with a suspect back court and nothing they've done to date would indicate any different. Thus, the Orangemen can get to the South bracket final against either UNC or Gonzaga. Can they beat UNC? It's a long shot and even though UNC wasn't blistering against LSU, I'm going to go crazy and say the difference to lead Syracuse will be a red-hot Eric Devendorf from the three point line.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Shit Beating Saturday

Well, it's 10 pm in the UK and there's been three Tournament games so far, all three of them beatings. Shit beatings.

One thing I can state categorically after watching the American television feed of these games is that in five some odd years over in England, I've never missed watching commercials for shitty watery beer like Bud Lite every 60 seconds. In fact, commercials altogether. It's shocking how often there's a commercial. And not only commercials, but the same bloody commercials over and over again. It's like being beaten over and over again with a bludgeon of stupidity.

punished, every way imaginable.

First you had Villanova beating the shit out of UCLA by 20, which quite frankly, I hate to say I told you so (because I didn't, I only meekly scribbled 'Nova into the bracket slot here fully believing UCLA are a cleverly disguised team that is actually a collective of crappy individual basketball players.) Destiny, you see. The last time the Big East emptied the contents of their league in its virtual entirety into March Madness, Nova beat Georgetown in that still-impossible-to-believe-to-this-day final. Not that I have them going all the way, but I certainly had them this far.

Maybe next time, Mr Venezuela keeps a lid on his gob?

Then you had shit beatings almost in stereo with Memphis humiliating Maryland, whose star Greivis Vasquez had idiotically taunted Memphis by being quoted as saying "Their conference is pretty much questionable. They don't have tough games." Result? The Twerps spent most of the afternoon struggling to stay within 30 of Memphis. Not that it was any element of genius to sort it out, but after watching Memphis today, I'm feeling happy I've got them down as National Champs. They were an impressive sort of machine.

And then, of little surprise, U-Conn stomped Texas A&M by 26 points.

U-Conn have crushed all oncomers to date - impressive but...impressive enough?

All matches excruciating to watch.

*****beyond Midnight Magic*****

So, given the selection of live matches, I thought I'd take a gander at the UNC-LSU match up given that I've made a point of ignoring both Duke and UNC for the Final Four.

It looked like just before the half, UNC were going to coast in another blowout but LSU came out in the 2nd half like a new team and for awhile, had me convinced they could pull off the upset. But gradually, Ty Lawson took the game over, scoring 21 of his 23 points in the 2nd half; bombs from the three point line, drives to the hoop, an impressive display. Apparently not such a bad toe after all.

Duke, whose annoying supporters cheered on LSU's every positive move throughout the match, won their match up against Texas mostly pretty much by default. The Longhorns had more than enough chances for an exiting upset, shot a miserable 64% from the charity stripe, which is amazing considering they shot 50% from the field, and in the end, lost their nerve. Now it's up to Villanova to do the business on Duke.

In UNC's bracket, the #2 seed Oklahoma were carried by Blake Griffin, much like UNC were carried by Ty Lawson and the result? 33 points and 17 rebounds in a 73-63 victory over Michigan. He's first player since Nick Collison in 2003 to have 30 points and 15 rebounds in a tournament game. Impressive, but the fact the guards didn't have to face a full court press was really the determining factor. Their guard play will break them in this bracket eventually.

BY FAR the most exciting match of the day was Gonzaga's wild last second victory over Western Kentucky. Although they held what seemed like a convincing 4 point lead with with just under a minute remaining, with the ball before a quick turnover cut it to 2 and then before you knew it, the score was tied.

But then Demetri Goodson went the length of the court and made the game-winning layup with 0.9 seconds. I mean sweet jaysus, this one had you squirming, regardless of who you were rooting for and Western Kentucky, lads, well done, valiantly fought, I'd almost had them winning this game smelling an upset but Gonzaga survived in a fashion which I believe somewhat downgrades their chances against UNC. West Kentucky screwed themselves from the free throw line - get this, only five for fourteen. If they'd have even hit 50% from the line...

The other winners, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen: Purdue, but only just.

Obama was perfect on Saturday, 8 for 8.

I wasn't so fortunate. Hell, I had Mississippi State beating Purdue in the SN bracket, but got all the others right. And in the NYT bracket, I missed only this game as well. It's not in shreds like my Midwest brackets are with Wake and West Virginia out, but it's a real piss-taker.

Friday, March 20, 2009


The Midwest bracket took a battering. The 9,11 and 13 seeds all advanced against the 8, 6 and 4 seeds respectively.

1. Easily the shocker of the tournament so far, not only did 13 Cleveland State beat 4 Wake Forest, they beat them definitively, racing to a 17 point lead before eventually finishing them off 84-69. The shocking thing is the ability to shock. Millions picking by considering every possible scenario, can't recall anyone pointing this game out as a potential upset, hell, a potential rout. Well done, Cleveland State!

2. My Midwest bracket was crapped in twice, the second time coming with 11 seed Dayton's rather shocking defeat of 6 seeded West Virginia, a team along with Wake, I foolishly believed in. Hell, I thought West Virginia, on Bob Huggins' vicious coaching could advance into the next round with their eyes closed. Dayton had been 1-13 historically against Huggins. Instead, Chris Wright scored a career-high 27 points and had 10 rebounds in leading the Flyers whose reward is to face the defending National Champions, Kansas.

3. It took 2 overtimes but 9 Sienna overcame 8 Ohio State in the anyone say I told you so match. I remember this being a match up you could basically flip a coin on in your bracket. The snatches I saw of this was of a lethargic Ohio State team solidifying the perception that outside of Michigan schools, the Big Ten is a wasteland. (don't tell that to Wisconsin, of course. Their "reward" is to play #1 Louisville.

4. Top seeded Pitt was nearly upset by 16 seed East Tennessee State. Pitt played with fire up until there was only about 4 minutes left in the game, just avoiding getting burned thanks in large part to DeJuan Blair's 27 points and 16 rebounds. But they advanced and probably millions fewer had their brackets destroyed.

5. I actually had this in my bracket but #12 Wisconsin beating #5 Florida State is technically considered an upset. Florida State had the chance to put the game away with their 12 point lead at the half but Wisconsin's defence was simply too much and eventually the Badgers were able to put the game away with 2 seconds left in overtime on Trevon Hughes' spectacular little circus shot, with the foul, that made it an unsurmountable 3 point lead. Toney Douglas, who led the Seminoles to the ACC finale on his back alone, wasn't enough this time despite his 26 points.

6. Another "upset" that most people probably had was #12 Arizona beating #5 Utah. I mean, considering how many "experts" considered this Utah loss almost a given, despite the perception that Arizona didn't even "belong" in this tournament, you have to wonder about the seeding gurus on this one. When the 12 beats the 5 by 13 points and its not really a surprise, someone on the seeding committee better put their hand up. And I suppose now the watch word is Watch Arizona because with Cleveland State up next, they might be dancing into the Sweet 16 before you know it.

7. #10 USC "upsetting" #7 Boston College? Again, no mystery. After their performance in the PAC 10 tournament, most people likely had this result etched in their minds long ago. I know I did. I know I did and pretty much every bloody sports columnist who made their picks public. Can they overcome Tom Izzo's Michigan State team though? I'm still saying no. The fun stops here.

Notwithstanding the above, Friday's 2nd day went pretty much as planned.

Conference records from round 1:

Big East -- 6-1
Big 12 -- 6-0
Pac-10 -- 5-1
ACC -- 3-4
Big Ten -- 4-3
Atlantic-10 -- 2-1
SEC -- 1-2
Horizon -- 1-1
Mountain West -- 0-2

The ACC is embarassing. This maybe puts UNC's dominance in proper perspective. Wouldn't it be gorgeous if LSU beat UNC and Texas were to beat Duke? Ah yes, of course it would, leaving only Maryland to represent.

Realistically however, I'd say #5 Purdue over #4 Washington is the best bet for an upset on Saturday along with 10 Michigan over 2 Oklahoma and 12 Western Kentucky over 4 Gonzaga.

Best matchup of Saturday? Well without a doubt I'm looking most forward to No. 3 Villanova vs. No. 6 UCLA and No. 2 Memphis vs. No. 10 Maryland. Even though Memphis is my pick for Champion, I'll be rooting, I suspect for the Terps.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Initially, it's a pleasure to point out two nice things about this tournament:

1. The perfect, beautiful and free internet broadcast of ALL the games being played, a refreshing change from having to overcome the greed and incompetence of attempting to watch baseball or football on the internet.

2. Time difference between US and here allows me to come home from work right when the tournament is starting.

Now, down to the results of the first day, in no particular order:

1. Maynard's last-second miss blew my VCU over UCLA upset but until that last second, the chances looked very good.

2. Is Coach Jim Calhoun no longer considered an integral element to U Conn's success after demoliting Chattanooga? UConn recorded the second-largest margin of victory in an opening-round game by a one seed since 1985.

3. Western Kentucky, everyone's favourite
upset pick over the Illini, nearly blew a 17 point lead but eventually won.

4. 14th seeded American held an incredible 10 point halftime lead over #3 Villanova before they were eventually worn down later in the second half by a deeper, better team.

5. Technically, #9 Texas A&M's 13 point victory over #8 BYU is not much of an upset but as I had BYU winning this in both my brackets, I'm not too pleased but their next opponent is U Conn, so pay back is due. This is the 2nd year in a row BYU have lost to Texas A&M so if they face each other next season again, well guess who everyone is going to pick? Wrong - there will be just as many saying now it's BYU's time. Blech, this is the ugliness of Bracketology.

6. Very happy to see #10 Maryland hold off #7 Cal not just because I had them winning in both brackets but because I'm rooting for Maryland and Syracuse both to make it to the final, irrespective of how unlikely that is.

7 Got killed by #8 LSU's victory over #9 Butler - don't think I had LSU on any of my brackets (not the main two anyway) - no regrets though, with the SEC denigrated to chump status towards season's end and Butler being an attractive, trendy pick, well, whodda thunk it?

8. Nothing else earth-shattering to note. The usual in most every other game, eventually anyway (not to mention the Memphis Scare against a 15 seed) so perhaps Friday will be a bigger day.

9. 12 of the 16 higher seeded teams advanced.
The Argument Against Rome:


In recent years, supporters of Middlesbrough, Genoa, Manchester United, Catania, Liverpool, Atalanta, Inter Milan, Lazio, AC Milan, Reggina and Arsenal have been stabbed while playing Roma ...

MAY 1984
After the 1984 European Cup final numerous Liverpool fans were stabbed in a night of violence after Roma lost on penalties. The trouble went largely unreported in the British media in an era when English hooliganism dominated the headlines.

Fourteen Liverpool supporters suffered stab wounds in Rome before and after a Uefa Cup tie.

When Liverpool returned to the Italian capital for a Champions League game, five more visiting fans were hospitalised after being knifed.

MARCH 2006
Three Middlesbrough supporters were stabbed and ten others injured the night before the club secured an aggregate Uefa Cup victory over Roma. Officials at the Riverside Stadium, who were urged by the Italian authorities to provide fans with detailed safety advice, described the policing of the game as a "cesspool of mismanagement".

Seven Manchester United supporters were taken to hospital before the Champions League match against AS Roma at the Olympic Stadium. Three of the seven suffered stab wounds to the "stomach and buttocks", according to local police, while the others were injured after being beaten and kicked.

MARCH 2009
An Arsenal fan was attacked with a knife as a coach carrying supporters, who had travelled independently but had tickets, was attacked by a group of Roma "Ultras" just outside the Olympic Stadium. The coach's windows were smashed and at least one hooligan entered the vehicle, letting off a flare and stabbing a supporter in the knee.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The angst of the day after having done a review and completed your Bracket is detailed precisely here:

You take a look at that bracket you so confidently filled out yesterday -- and suddenly you wonder what you were thinking.

• Picking UNC to NOT win its region? (Most folks -- including the bookies -- have them winning not just the South, but the whole thing.)

• Picking UCLA to upset Villanova? (In Philadelphia?! When they might not even get out of the 1st round vs. VCU?!)

• Picking Duke to lose in the opening weekend? (Yes, picking that same result the past two years has been entirely successful, but this year's team is much better than the past two versions. Oh, and they are playing the opening weekend in North Carolina.

• Picking 5 Big East teams to the Elite Eight, 3 to the Final Four, 2 to the championship game and the Big East winning the title? (There is appreciating how good the Big East was this year, and then there is putting my entire bracket on the line for the league.)

• Picking no 1st-round upsets beyond "non-upset" 12s, 10s and 9s, even though we all know that 11-seeds and even a 13-seed are likely to upend the bracket.

These are just the kind of picks that have me shaking my head the day after they don't happen, muttering "Well OBVIOUSLY, idiot!"

You have two choices: Stick to your picks and hope for the best -- or wuss out and embrace conventional thinking.

I like the former. Each year, it is the ultimate moment of rationalizing what is otherwise an exercise in crazy.

UNC - paper tigers?
In the case of my bracket, UNC is a prime example, I look at them being nearly everyone's favourites and then see I've got them losing to Gonzaga in the Regionals in one and losing to Syracuse in the Regionals in another.

Arizona: conventional wisdom likes them as a darkhorse because they are "athletic", have "nothing to lose" and are facing Utah in the first round. The answer? Hedge the bets and pick one of them in one and the other in the other. Who really knows whether or not Utah are good enough?

AccuScore predicts Pitt over Louisville in the final and the top seeds doing well.

The NYTIMES picks a bracket based upon fouling and comes up with a Final Four of Xavier, Oklahoma, Wake Forest and UConn.

Anyway, I'll come up with a hybrid bracket as follows, which I won't change, I figure fuck it, in the narrow games I'll pick who I'd rather see win:

MIDWESTLouisville (yes, Wake Forest, WVA, but no at the end of the day)
WEST: Memphis (everyone's got flaws but not everybody has a chip on their shoulders.
EAST: Pitt (anybody but Duke in otherwise the weakest group as far as I'm concerned)
SOUTH:Syracuse (yeah, UNC is the darling but like Duke, I simply can't root for them. Syracuse had a good run in the Big East and frankly, this is the team I want to root for. Oklahoma has faded, Gonzaga is another I would say has a shot.

Finals: Pitt over Louisville

my NYT bracket

my sporting news bracket

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Challenger, Gray & Christmas is predicting all the office and plant time spent following the games over the next several weeks could add up to more than $1.2 billion in lost productivity. The estimate is based on the assumption that 22.9 million workers — nearly 20 percent of the work force — will spend an average of 13.5 minutes a day following the games and updating their brackets (or tearing them up)."
- Allison Linn,


Thinks the WBC is boring? Not when American pitchers take a little too seriously, the pause of a Dutch player watching a home run, even in a relatively easy blow out match up that eliminated the Dutch:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I know it's early days but if I were a Nats fan, I'd be excited about Stephen Strasburg, a non-fiction Sid Finch of sorts.

Strasburg has thrown 20.1 innings this season, and he has 45 strikeouts. That means that out of the 61 outs he's registered, 45 are by strikeout. "It's like watching someone play one of those baseball video games for the first time -- it's like the hitters are completely guessing where he's going to throw the ball," said the scout. "They're just swinging in a spot and hoping that's where he throws it, because they can't track it."
The way you're describing him, I say to the scout, you're talking about someone who could be in the big leagues this summer?
The scout laughs. "You could put him in a rotation right now, and he could be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter," says the scout. "Right now, he's better than A.J. Burnett."

So good he even makes it into a Padres blog for the box office chaos he created.


In the WBC Team USA was humiliated by Puerto Rico, 11-1, halted because of the "mercy rule". The loss means that in order to avoid early elimination again they will have to beat the surprising Dutch on Sunday. Puerto Rico is undefeated in the tournament so far. (4 games in a row with a somewhat dodgy Venezuela up next - I expect the Team USA will get the opportunity for a little revenge in the final.

One current Met and one potential Met, Carlos Beltran and Ivan Rodriguez combined to go 6-for-7, including two doubles and a home run.

However, perhaps worrisome for the Mets this season, Javier Vazquez, a Braves off season pich up, pitching masterfully in this game; pitched five innings and gave up just one run, improving to 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA in two starts.


Seriously, who needs March Madness when you've got Patriot Cheerleader Try Outs?


Unfortunately those who followed that miraculous six OT thriller the other night and the 1 OT upset the following night will be disappointed to note that the Orangemen were unable to upset Louisville to win the Big East tournament.

If you are going to root for Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament (and they, along with Maryland will be my unofficial teams I rooting for irrespective of my bloody bracket,) maybe this is all for the best - not that it excludes Syracuse from any further games since this was the final but something tells me winning the Big East would have been a stigma for them going in.

I suppose at this point, the favourite Number One seeds should be Louisville, (along with Pitt and U Conn (despite early outs) and Memphis.

I know, Memphis is a bit of a stretch considering North Carolina, and a small handful of others but fuck it, Carolina couldn't beat Florida State and whilst they may have Duke's number, they aren't a shoo-in as far as I'm concerned.


One of my brackets is going to following the logic of 15 ways to pick the winners.

My second bracket is going to be teams I want to root for and the third, a simple coin flip with perhaps a weighted coin in the top against lowest seeds...

I'm sure you're all waiting with baited breath to find out the results of these masterpieces.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Holy Orange!

Jonny Flynn, Superstar

What a game. What an exhausting game to play and (to a lesser degree,) to watch this historic Big East quarterfinal match between Syracuse and U Conn which took 6 full overtimes to finish before the Orange finally won 127-121 to drag themselves to what is likely an inevitable loss later tonight in the semifinals against West Virginia who upset Pitt.

The game COULD have been decided by Eric Devendorf's massive three pointer that wasn't a three pointer at the buzzer which would have and appeared to propel Syracuse to victory.

Odd story, Syracuse hoops legend Leo Rautins' son Andy playing in this game when 18 years earlier, his father played in the previous longest-ever OT game in a Big East Tournament.

Look for Louisville to beat Villanova, West Virginia to top an exhausted Syracuse.

I know it's early but NCAA Basketball is going to be haaaaard pressed to top this game for the rest of March Madness.


Round 1 is over after the shocking departure of the Dominican Republic at the hands of the Dutch.

Now it's down to Pool 1 and Pool 2:

Pool 1

Sun., Mar. 15
Japan vs. Cuba
Sun., Mar. 15
Mexico vs. Korea
Mon., Mar. 16
Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser
Tue., Mar. 17
Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner
Wed., Mar. 18
Game 4 Loser vs. Game 3 Winner
Thu., Mar. 19
Game 5 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner


Sat., Mar. 14
Netherlands vs. Venezuela
Sat., Mar. 14
United States vs. Puerto Rico
Sun., Mar. 15
Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser
Mon., Mar. 16
Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner
Tue., Mar. 17
Game 4 Loser vs. Game 3 Winner
Wed., Mar. 18
Game 5 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner

Still must be a USA - Japan finale favourite.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nederlandse Honkbal

The biggest news of the WBC so far is the Dutch beating the mighty Dominicans not once but TWICE already and knocking them out of the competition altogether:

Het onvoorstelbare is gebeurd. (indeed, unimaginable) Nadat Nederland zaterdagavond de honkbalwereld al opschudde met een sensationele overwinning op de Dominicaanse Republiek, ging de ploeg van bondscoach Rod Delmonico afgelopen avond op herhaling.


And there I sat, at 4 am, watching Oz narrowly lose to Cuba after some fat 260 pinch-hitting catcher hit a two-run shot in the 8th to give the Cubans and undeserved 5-4 lead and ultimately, victory.

*****"Il favorito non รจ lo United"*****

The Special One contemplates what might well be considered an upset...

In addition to all the other myriad of doings tonight; the "Ugly Americans" playing in WBC, Big East Tournament continues, the biggest match of the eve is undoubtedly Man U v Inter in the Champions League.

Certainly, Liverpool's ridiculously easy drubbing of Real Madrid last night has renewed their status as one of the favourites still standing but you gotta figure the winner of tonight's titanic clash at Old Trafford will produce one of the clear favourites.

Prediction tonight, grudgingly, is that Man U is simply not going to lose. Root hard for Inter, but realise you are likely down for a disappointing evening.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Never one short on quotes, Daily News' Shakespeare of Sports, Bill Conlin, was at it again, raising his game above mere Spring Training level, spot on regarding the disadvantage of Team USA against the top contenders:

As currently constructed and at the time of year it is played - the worst possible time - a triple fortnight when pitchers are being cultivated like hothouse orchids, the WBC is a baseball equivalent of the Daytona 500, which now bills itself as the Great American Race. Imagine NASCAR ordering the drivers to run the race on a half-tank of gas.

And have no fear, unlike Cuba's tournament-weathered pitchers and Japan's pain-oblivious hurlers, no Team USA pitchers will be served beyond pitch counts pinned to the lads' shirts by their anxious clubs.

While it's certainly the truth, neither the Cuban pitchers nor Japan's pain-oblivious hurlers have million dollar price tags attached to their arms. In fact, the two most recent Japanese pitching imports are sitting it out.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I guess this might fall under the You Decide category:

Is Maurice Clarett turning into a boy genius in prison? Apparently, he has a blog he dictates from his cell: The Mind of Maurice Clarett.


After much hemming and hawing, Manny is a Dodger again. Does this solidify their quest to become NL West Champs in 2009? Mebbe the D'bags have something to say about it, we'll see.

People familiar with the deal told it is a two-year, $45 million contract ($25 million in 2009, $20 million in '10) with an opt-out clause that would allow Ramirez to become a free agent after this season, and deferred payments that reduce the value of the deal by about $1 million or $2 million, depending on whether the star outfielder chooses to opt out after the first year. The contract also gives Ramirez a no-trade clause.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Apparently, These Aren't Going To Be Your Same Auld Jets

bring it on...

“I don’t know if this division has ever seen a violent defense,” Scott said of the American Football Conference East. “It’s one thing to be physical and make a tackle. It’s another thing to be violent. To tell you the truth, you have to shut me up. That’s why I never called the plays out there. I was too busy fighting.”

Sacking Eric Mangini, hiring Rex Ryan and now signing linebacker Bart Scott has changed the face of the New York Jets. This will all have an infinitely higher impact than even the signing of Brett Favre.


Looks like the local wank this week is about Team USA being ready "this time".

They've got alot of really good, even some great players but whilst they can talk all they want about talent they may not have the same desire as the guys they're playing and they may not have had as much preparation as some of the other teams who have been focused on this for months. Not that one can blame Team USA but if they go down in humiliating style again this year, there will be major reforms, one suspects.

On the other hand, Davey Johnson is managing Team USA this time around and that makes a huge difference right there. There won't be a better manager out there.

So if they don't win it all this season, what's the excuse? I mean, Team USA isn't the only team with stars adhering to MLB's schedule and joining their team late without alot of time to mix chemically with their team mates. So, I don't think that argument holds water.

I don't think it matters that they're veteran players either. Maybe some collegiate All-Star team practising all winter might be more similar to some of these favourites like Cuba or defending champion Japan in preparation but that's rubbish - stick the best professional players out there, that's what this is all about.

I mean if you look at the World Cup, which is like the WBC on steroids, teams don't stick their youth players out there in lieu of their established, professional stars.

A team like Brazil, for example, probably the footy equivilent to Team USA, is expected to be the best team in the World Cup every time around. And believe me, the pressure on the players for Brazil in the World Cup dwarf any expectation Americans have of Team USA. And most Cups, they either win, are in the finals or come really bloody close.

Will Team USA do that this time around? I suspect they won't be caught as off-guard this time as they were strutting in the 2006 WBC. I suspect they'll view this tournament with the gravitas that it merits and the results will be somewhat different. They may not win, but they're going to be one of the best teams there.

Even if they aren't perhaps on par, fervor-wise with Japan's team:

Preparation for defense of the title began when Hara gathered 33 players at the team's mini-camp in the city of Miyazaki, in southern Japan, early in February. After working out the kinks, the Samurai played exhibition games against the Yomiuri Giants before capacity crowds at the 30,000-seat Sun Marine Stadium in Miyazaki on Feb. 21 and 22, the latter game played in a steady, cold rain.

Granted, there was no admission fee, but fans had to line up for tickets, and several thousand camped out all night to make sure they could get in. It was still dark outside when the last of the freebies were handed out at about 6 a.m. local time both days for the 1 p.m. games.


One of the more interesting stories of the week which wasn't an overblown media event was about sorta stalking Shaq via Twitter which details an incident involving regular Joe twitterers and Shaq at the 5 and Diner. It's a warm story, one which could easily be hyperblown into a movie, I can just see it now, Super Hero Shaq and the Invisible Twitterers wherein Shaq enlists the help of two otherwise anonymous twitterers to simultaneously win the Vegas League championship and thwart a terrorist attack on the Bellagio...


Open Letter to Jay Cutler From Minnesota Vikings fans says it all...


Lastly, for those who have forgotten, the guy who was once traded for 10 maple bats, is gone forever.

People are like, 'I'd kill myself' and stuff," Odom said at the time, dismissing any such notion.

Three weeks after the trade, he abruptly left the team.

Six months after the trade, he was dead.

The medical examiner said Odom's death in Georgia on Nov. 5 at age 26 was an accidental overdose from heroin, methamphetamine, the stimulant benzylpiperazine and alcohol."