Monday, April 28, 2008

Liverpool-Chelsea Champions League Preview

This isn’t necessarily a blog resurgence, but I wanted to write a preview for the Champions League Semifinal 2nd leg between Liverpool and Chelsea. For those of you who didn’t see the first leg, Liverpool’s John Arne Riise scored an equalizing own goal in the 94th minute, earning Chelsea a draw and coveted away goal, after a mostly uninspired performance. I love Liverpool, so while I will do my best to provide objective analysis, I cannot promise the same for the tone.

(The game is on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2.)

Liverpool’s success during the second half of the season seems to have come as a result of Rafa Benitez’s decision to solidify the starting lineup and the 4-2-3-1 formation, which makes speculation for his lineup choice on Wednesday all the more interesting. While Liverpool completely outclasses Chelsea with this same lineup last week, their precarious position and the pressure to score at least one goal may force him to opt for a more attacking formation.

History certainly favors Chelsea. They have not lost at Stamford Bridge since 2004, which was also the last time they conceded a goal to LFC.

If I had the choice I would opt for a more attacking lineup, but with the same general 4-2-3-1 formation:

Reina

Riise-Škrtel-Carragher-Arbeloa

Alonso-Mascherano

Gerrard-Torres-Benayoun

Crouch

This lineup basically replaces Kuyt and Babel with Benayoun and Crouch. People may question the exclusion of Kuyt given his goal in the first leg and his overall experience. I would go with Benayoun because of his pace, as well as the form he showed in the game against Birmingham this weekend. What it does is give Benitez two options for a substitute. Say Liverpool score an early goal or two. He can then bring on Kuyt who can track back and provide help in the defensive third to protect the lead. And if they are still searching for a goal as the game progresses, then Babel would be the perfect option for a set of fresh legs to run at the Chelsea defense who will be at least somewhat fatigued after playing a full, intense 90 minutes against Man U on Saturday.

Crouch is the riskier choice. I like his aggressiveness and the target he provides up front. He has seemed to work well with Torres in the limited opportunities he’s had, and I would think he could put pressure on the back four. I think it is more likely that Benitez will keep Gerrard in the slot behind Torres and go with a lineup of:

Riise-Škrtel-Carragher-Arbeloa

Alonso-Mascherano

Kuyt-Gerrard-Babel

Torres

He would then bring on Benayoun and possibly Crouch if they still need a late goal.

As for Chelsea, their biggest benefit is the return of the suspended Michael Essien. I’m assuming they will stick with their 4-3-3 formation of:

Cech

Cole-Terry-Carvalho-Ferreira

J. Cole-Lampard-Essien

Malouda-Drogba-Ballack

Essien replacing Makelele should figure to be a tremendous improvement, considering Makelele’s subpar performance last week. Kalou on the other hand was outstanding, and I would look for him to provide a spark coming off the bench.

Keys to the Game/Things to Watch For:

1. 1. John Arne Riise

Let’s go over what everyone should already know. Riise has been shit all season. He scored a completely stupid and unnecessary own goal. With Aurelio’s injury he is almost certain to get the start at left back. What people seem to forget is that he has played in numerous big games and scored some big goals in his career. He was devastated after last week, but said he is ready to move on and looking forward to the second leg. While I’m not optimistic enough to think he will score the winning goal, I do expect him to be solid in defense, as well as get forward and serve some good balls into the box.

2. 2. Refereeing

I need to preface this by saying that Liverpool wouldn’t be here without some controversial calls going their way. With that being said, Drogba is a bitch and his diving is a disgrace. Moreover, Fernando Torres got abused by Chelsea defenders (including the kick in the ribs by John Terry behind the play which should have resulted in a send-off and possibly a fine). It will be interesting to see if Torres can get some of the protection that Drogba seems to have earned.

3. 3. John Terry

Terry is playing with a yellow card (as are Gerrard and Carragher) meaning if he picks up another he will miss the final in Moscow. Liverpool should look to exploit this by attacking him and forcing him to make some tough decisions. My bet is that Terry will be hesitant to make a tough tackle around the goal, which could provide LFC with the advantage they need to score the away goal.

4. 4. Goalkeeping

Cech was the Man of the Match of the first leg in my opinion. He made some top class, unbelievable saves, keeping Chelski in the game and allowing for the late equalizer. Pepe Reina was barely tested, minus the attempt by his own defender. Judging by recent form I would say that Chelsea have the advantage in the net, unless the match goes to penalties, in which case Reina’s record gives Liverpool the edge.

Prediction: Chelsea score first (Ballack), but Torres equalizes in the second half. The game goes to overtime where Ryan Babel scores the winner. Liverpool wins 2-1 and go on to Moscow.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Don't Worry, He's Alive


After years of looking, I finally spotted him. This guy is more slick than Carmen San Diego and blends in better than Waldo. Yes folks I am talking about Dale Davis. After missing my 11pm flight out of hotlanta i was forced to stick around for the night. I quickly checked my surroundings and realized that I was in a Stomp the Yard remix. Literally the only white person in the whole place. At least I wasn't wearing a bright pink polo and jeans so i didn't stand out or anything... oh wait I was. I only have one dance move and its the worm, I'm pretty sure that is no longer "in" either. So I called a hotel about as quickly as possible to board up in the ATL before I got served.

As I am traveling through the airport to the hotel shuttle, all of the workers are getting off work and going home. It is one giant black posse and me. So I call my mom. I get to the shuttle and encounter my first caucasian mates who were at the Notre Dame vs someone bball game that weekend Mcalanreyerarere hit 42 threes. At least I got to chat with some fellow Irish fans for a while. When approaching the hotel the guys at the bell hop thingy tell the bus driver, "Watch out he likes to run in front of the bus." I look up and see a homeless man approaching at about 50 feet away. We start driving toward him and sure enough he ACTUALLY jumped in front of the bus and we almost killed him.

Fast forward on 5 hours of sleep. So I am getting breakfast the next morning in the airport. The only choice is Popeye's... shocking. So its 6am obviously I am getting to get a egg and cheese biscuit. All of the different colored skinned people around me get a chicken strip biscuit. Thats weird, i hate culture and diversity. As I am waiting in line for security and people are getting thrown out left and right for having gats and uzi's, I notice a very tall, very dark figure in front of me. I see his profile and immediately think... KEVIN GARNETT?! but then i realized that KG is actually blacker than night. So I am trying to get a glimpse of this guys boarding pass to figure out his name and it read none other than Dale Davis. Dressed in suede NBA Fusion clothing, he was 1 foot in front of me. I took a picture of him on my phone and couldn't even get his head in it. I immediately texted my friend who actually believed me.

I had to check up on what Dale has been doing since the NBA.

In August 2006, Davis was shocked with a stun gun as Miami Beach police arrested him for assaulting a police officer, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.[2] In December 2006, Davis was acquitted of all charges.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Berman Doesn't Believe in Miracles


Oh, Another Berman video. He doesn't like Al Michaels. He actually calls him a very, very dirty word at the end of the clip. Bad Chris.



Here's the rest of them from the white whale at You Tube. Supposedly, he doesn't have anymore. What will we all do with ourselves?

MA

Monday, February 11, 2008

Frat Bro Love: Roy Jones Jr. Endorses Mike Huckabee. People far and wide left saying, “Whaaa???”

Roy Jones announced his endorsement of Republican Presidential nominee Mike Huckabee last week. The Huckabee camp actually put an announcement up on his internet “media page”. Huckabee said he was “proud to have the support of such a dedicated athlete and champion.”

I’m sure he has no idea who Roy Jones, Jr. is. Seriously, what in the hell is going on? Is it possible that two men have any less in common? Jones Jr. and Huckabee are both members of Tau Kappa Epislon and that seems to be the reason Jones came forward with the endorsement, but it’s absurd nonetheless.

Jones said:

"Governor Huckabee is a man who knows about struggle and how to work hard for what he wants. As a fellow TKE, I know he's a man of honor and integrity."


This is the same Roy Jones Jr. who’s held cockfights on his property, formed a rap group called the ‘Body Head Bangers” in 2004, and admitted letting the pit bulls he breeds fight for “10 minutes, 15 minutes, maybe like the longest I let them go was a half-hour, but I never let them fight to the death 'cause I can't take that.”


At present, the two most famous people endorsing Huckabee are Chuck Norris and Roy Jones, Jr. Think about that for a minute. Then, think about them fighting each other because that’s even funnier.

Oh, and Huckabee used to be an absolute HOUSE. I don’t think anyone knew that.

Haha, goodnight.

MA

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Berman's Softer Side

With all of the ridiculous videos of Berman popping up all over the internet -you know the ones of him dropping f-bombs, creepin' on the ESPN help, and getting angry with screwy telepromters- I figured it was only fair to show Chris' more sensitive side.

In this video, he's just trying to get a couple kids into a bar. Really, he's not that bad. At least, until people start ducking in front of cameras or he's feeling a little horny.



Whoopp.

MA

Talkin About Fights not involving Kimbo Slice



Carlos Quintana (25-1, 19KOs) defeated Paul “The Punisher” Williams (33-1, 24KO’s) in a welterweight match-up a little south of here in Temecula, CA. Quintana was a big underdog going into the fight,-coming in as an 8-1 shot- but his movement and left hand helped him score a unanimous decision to capture the WBO title. Two judges scored the fight 116-112, while one had it at 115-113.

Williams was the most avoided man in the 147lbs Welterweight division coming into this fight after his decision victory Antonio Margarito in July. Before that fight, Margarito was the most feared fighter in the division, but Williams’s height (6’2”) and 82” reach were too much for him to handle.

Williams was supposed to dispose of Quintana easily and then set his eyes on the winner of the Cotto vs. Margarito/Cintron fight that’s scheduled for June/July of this year. Now, its back to the drawing bored for Williams. Quintana, who was destroyed by Cotto in 5 rounds at the end of 2006,is now right back at the top of the Welterweight division with this massive upset. Ultimately, he’d like a rematch with Cotto, but he’ll have to see if the “bigger” names will give him a shot.

I didn’t watch the fight yet (sleeping pattern is fucked up), but I’d be interested to see how Quintana pulled off the upset. Williams’s victory over Margarito 7 months ago was so impressive because he was able to keep Margarito at a distance the entire fight. He used his enormous reach advantage to effectively control the fight. Quintana wasn’t any bigger than Margarito, yet he was able to get inside on Williams and reach him with some big shots. Really surprising result, but that’s boxing for you. Williams was already having trouble making money as no one wanted to fight him out of fear. Now, he’ll have trouble making money because no one has to fight him now that the “0” has vanished from his record.

Next Saturday night, Jermain Taylor and Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik pick up where they left off this fall in their much anticipated rematch. The first fight between the two was unbelievable, with Taylor scoring a knockdown and near knockout in the 2nd round, only to see Pavlik rally back and KO Jermain in the 7th. Pavlik took the middleweight championship for Taylor that night, and now Taylor’s looking for revenge. There are no title implications for this fight and it happens at a catch weight of 170lbs (I believe), but that doesn’t mean the fight won’t be as good as the first one .Taylor was undefeated coming into the last fight and lost his belt. Now, Pavlik’s the undefeated titleholder and the favorite to win the rematch, so Jermain will be looking for some revenge. He’ll only get it if he keeps that fucking left hand of his up. He has trouble doing that, and with the brutal straight right of Pavlik’s, he might be in trouble again.

Highlights of last fight between the two (Pro Pavlik Video):

MA

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Mom's Takin Lil' Eli to Disney World



Usually when players are asked the question, "You just won the Super Bowl, what are you going to do next?"

They respond with "I'm gong to Disney World!!!"

I've always suspected they didn't mean it, where paid to say it, or just felt pressured into conforming to society's demanding expectations.

For the first time, I'm convinced an athlete was generally excited about going to Disney World. In fact, this You Tube Clip was cut short.


The extended version of Eli's quote was this:

"I'm going to Disney World! Thanks for finally taking me mom. I wanna go to Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Magic Kingdom in that order! Than, I gunna watch the fireworks over Cinderella's pretty castle thing. Oh mom, thanks for letting me go finally. Just me and you though. No Dad, Pey, or Coop"

During an interview the day after the Super Bowl, a reporter asked Eli what he'd do if his mom didn't actually take him to Disney World. Eli didn't respond with words. Instead, he pointed down to the shirt he had on at the time. (see below)


I don't know why I enjoy poking fun at good old Eli, but I can't help myself. Really, I'm glad he was able to win and give everyone who doubted him a big middle finger, but for whatever reason, I see him as a big eight year old.

MA

Roy Williams Don't Know Nothing About Nothing


I’ll be brief with this story about UNC basketball coach Roy Williams, but let it be known that I think his lack of pop culture knowledge is arrogant, miserable, and extremely obnoxious.

Exhibit A: He doesn’t know who Dr. Phil is.

A reporter began a question about the rivalry by saying "I don't mean to be Dr. Phil-esque with this, but ..."

When the question ended Williams looked around the room and said, "Who's Dr.Phil?"

Exhibit B: He doesn’t know who ‘Kramer” is.

"When I was at Kansas, they had a contest among the students I was supposed to help judge about who looked the most like this one guy. I turned to (guard) Jacque Vaughn and asked him for some help. He said 'You never heard of Kramer?' and told me who to vote for.

Exhibit C: He knows nothing of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (which I guess I actually applaud).

We were in a group talking one day and somebody mentioned the latest 'Lord of the Rings' movie. Coach was amazed they made a movie about that and we had to tell him it was the third film in the trilogy."

Please, please, and please. Roy, there’s no shame in admitting you know about this stuff.

I remember watching a Coca-Cola commercial Williams was in awhile back and thinking two things:

  1. He should have said, “I’m Roy Williams, and I approve this message.” at the end of the commercial.
  2. This guy is the biggest hilljack I know.

I think my observations were spot on. I’ll let you decide.

Roy needs to focus less on slamming Cokes and more on getting his pop culture game together. Pussy.

MA

How are we supposed to swim without any water?

And you say global warming isn’t real. Try telling that to local Atlanta swim teams who were almost forced out of the water this summer after Georgia governor Sonny Perdue (ridiculous, probably made up name) placed a ban on outdoor watering. Translation: No outdoor swimming pools for neighborhood swim pool associations, swim teams, and yes, even private pool owners.

A drought in Atlanta has forced leaders of the state to come up with, well, unique ways to conserve water. The governor has since backed off the “no watering stance” a bit, but there are still a few interesting strategies for dealing with the drought. Read this absurdity.

“Pool-filling will be allowed and home and business owners will be able to hand-water landscaping and flower gardens for 25 minutes a day, between midnight and 10 a.m., on a three-day-a-week schedule. Watering with sprinklers would still be banned, except for watering newly installed landscapes. “

So they can water three times a week, but can’t use sprinklers? Very Interesting. But wait, it doesn’t stop there. The government has also implemented a schedule based on the old “odds and evens” strategy.

“The three-day schedule for watering is the permanent one: Odd-numbered addresses can water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and even-numbered addresses can water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, only during the allowed hours. The governor said he hasn't decided whether to let fountains run this summer, including the popular tourist destination in Centennial Olympic Park.”

So, as we wait on the “fountains decision” from the governor, local swimmers at least know they’ll be able to take a dip or compete a few times a week. Frank Marsden, of Atlanta Swimming, wrote a passionate letter to local swimmers in the area hoping to prevent the governor’s proposed ban. He decided to make an entirely emotional and over the top argument. Usually, this type of argument isn't effective if dealing with sane and rational human beings. However, the fact that everyone involved is talking about pools, which I must remind everyone are just holes that hold water, suggests that no one involved in the “controversy” possess any sanity or ability to reason. Here’s his argument as to why the pools should remain open.

“Having our pools closed during the summer would be catastrophic. First, it would create a massive health risk. Stagnant pools would be a rampant breeding ground for mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus as well as other dangerous bacteria. Second, it eliminates the centerpiece of thousands of local neighborhood summers, the local pool. It is the place for kids to safely play, exercise, socialize and generally stay out of trouble. In metro Atlanta alone, over 40,000 kids participate in summer league swimming. Could you imagine cancelling Little League baseball? Third, the economic loss resulting from all local pools being closed has been estimated at $300 million.”

"Uhhhhhh, ya......... ok......I guess?"(My response 30 seconds after reading that as I stared blankly at my computer screen and scratched my head)

You’d think he was talking about a possible terrorist attack. Shit, maybe –at least subconsciously- he is. Let’s raise the terror alert level to red, or orange, or green, or whatever color it is the Department of Homeland Security uses to unnecessarily scare the shit out of people.

MA

Leo Dicaprio: Just Tryin' to Ball


“Yo, I just wanna ball. Why these haters trying to interrupt my game?”

I imagine that’s what Leonardo DiCaprio has been mumbling this past week. His next door neighbors are alleging the full-size basketball court Leo had built in the backyard of his Hollywood Hills home has undermined their swimming pool and surrounding land on the property. Why he built a full-size basketball on a hill is still mystifying to me. It seems like the game would become unnecessarily difficult with that setup, but to each his own, I guess.

Anyway, Leo’s a big time Lakers fan and played a young druggie in ‘Basketball Diaries’, so it comes as no surprise that he wants to play a little ball in his free time. Me thinks the neighbors are just angry about the court because of the noise it creates. Have you ever tried to sleep while a next door neighbor’s playing basketball at 3 or 4 in the morning? I have, and it doesn’t work. They probably just felt like filing a noise complaint and being those “old, grouchy neighbors” would come off as a little snooty, so instead they’ve filed a lawsuit and are suing him for at least $250,000. Chump change to wealthy elitists like you and I, but no laughing matter for Leo.

DiCaprio doesn’t believe the lawsuit holds any merit, but said even if it does, the contractors are to blame. Leo, like every good American, is going to place the blame on someone else. Now that I’m thinking about it, I really don’t care one bit about this stupid story. It's just another example of whitey trying to bring a baller down.

I’m done typing. My bed beckons.

MA