The 2014 Sporties Awards

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2014 Sporties our annual celebration of the best of Sport and the Sports world.  Let’s dive right in shall we:

Game of the Year – Last year of course featured the absolutely bonkers Auburn / Alabama game in addition to the Brady vs. Manning Bowl in which Brady staged an incredible comeback.  This year the contenders are much fewer and farther in between.  There were a couple of crazy baseball games and a couple of crazy football games.  However, the most exciting game I watched?  No question it was the bonkers World Cup match between the US vs. Portugal game which came down to the absolute wire and featured some of the top players in the world playing out of their minds.

Shocking World Cup Moment of the Year – Brazil gets tuned up by eventual champs Germany.  It was relentless, wave after wave of unstoppable strikers and you began to feel worse and worse for Brazil fans.  Simply awful.

Championship Dominations – One theme of the year was definitely beat downs in the finals: the LA Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Seattle Seahawks all cruised to victory over, in some cases, more ballyhooed opponents.  I will also not neglect to mention the Canadian hockey team and their punishing win over the US in the Olympic Finale.

Series of the Year – The best series of the year took place in hockey, and featured the LA Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks in a war that served as the real Stanley Cup final.

Breakout of the Year – The biggest winners of the World Cup was the Men in Blazers who are single handedly bringing soccer to the masses of America through their insanely brilliant show.  During the biggest sports event in the world, the two men locked themselves in a small room nicknamed “Bob Ley’s panic room” where they proceeded to break down football and culture simultaneously.  When they got home it was a quick shift to NBC Sports where they continued to have the highest rated podcast and a shockingly well rated TV series.  They are stone brilliant and they are now both a must watch, and must listen.

Pod of the Year – After the praise I just gave the Men in Blazers, you would rightfully assume they have won the Pod Award…but this is actually a battle that stretched beyond the sports world!  Three of my must listen pods: the aforementioned Blazers, Hollywood Prospectus and SerialHollywood Prospectus is highly entertaining and funny, and includes the occasional deep dive into the movies of David Fincher or the music of Taylor Swift.  It is fun and light and takes pop culture analysis to a whole new level.  Serial tells the story of a 15 year old murder allegedly committed by a young man named Adnan Syed.  The podcast is hypnotic and brilliantly conceived as we wander through the murky depths of a story where we may not want to hear the outcome.  A truly powerful experience; and a very addictive one as I powered through four pods believing I was only on the first one.  Wait?  Isn’t that only three pods when I actually mentioned four?  Yes, because it is high time someone gave praise to the true return of the Starters.   Last year I was almost out on them, as their 44 minute shows were simply not enough time to properly appreciate them.  Given that their time as “The Basketball Jones” was astounding and creative, it felt a little bit as if they were being contained in a small box that stripped away all their talent.  This year I was on the edge of being out completely when I heard they were cutting down to 22 minute shows.  I was done: I tried, but all their zany antics had been stripped away simply because there was not time.  In some ways it was good because it focused their great and insightful basketball minds.  However…it was putting them in a box.  I was done.

And then I heard the news.  On Fridays, the Starters would be unleashing “the Drop” a return to their old, off the walls ways.  Welcome back boys.  Before the first pod I waited with trepidation and had not looked forward to a pod like that for some time.  When I listened, all my fears vanished.  The boys were back.  In the following weeks, they have truly returned to their off the walls roots where their crazy energy and unstoppable hilarity continues.  What a glorious return.  Another year and you might be the pod of the year: right now it is the Blazers for their consistency.

Sports Books of the Year – I read some great sports books this year, many about football (American and otherwise).  The best: League of Denial by Mark Fairinua and Steve Farinua  / Showtime by Jeff Pearlman / Michael Jordan by Roland Lazenby / The Football Business by David Conn and Against Football by Steve Almond.  Another must read is the William Hill Sports Book winner: Night Games by Anna Krien which takes the microcosm of the misdeeds of the Australian Rules Football league and expands it through the sporting world.  An interesting take on the lengths teams will go to in order to protect their players and the depths players will sink to in order to fit in.  An important achievement and must read book.

Team of the Year – The Kansas City Royals because no other team did what they did, with the expectations that team had coming into the season.  Even in defeat they are worthy.  Runners up: San Antonio Spurs, Team Canada and Seattle Seahawks.

Off Field Moment of the Year – LeBron James returns to Cleveland…as read by Frank Caliendo playing Morgan Freeman.  Runner Up: Wait, is that Vladimir Putin and Sepp Blatter?  What could they possibly be discussing?  Is it possible for all the evil in the modern world ensconced in one luxury box?  Another runner up: remember when Bob Costas got pink eye in Russia?

Sportie Man of the Year – No one and I mean no one, gives Sidney Crosby enough credit.  He deserves to be the Sportie Man of the Year because he guided one of the most dominating hockey teams through a grueling slate to the finals.  It did not look good and certain points but the best players truly shine when it matters most and the way Crosby dominated at both ends of the ice in the final was astounding to watch.  He deserves more recognition for the way he dominates his sport in an especially competitive time: remember when Ovechkin or Crosby was a serious question?  Now it is likely Crosby or Toews.  Crosby though is our Sportie Man of the Year.

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The Premier League Preview

Now that I have an English Premier League team to cheer for (in case you missed my epic journey it ended up being Chelsea) I can be excited for a new season.  Finally a sport is being played that I can follow and enjoy – I have tried baseball but can only get into the playoffs.  Chelsea seems primed for a great run thanks to multiple great signings (Hazard, Oscar…) while others did not do much (Man City – keeping their incredible squad together).  Who will come out on top?

Man U.

Man City will be a year better, and they have an incredible team as it is.  However…they barely beat a beat up and hack filled Man U team that had to rely on 90 year olds Paul Scholes (who came out of retirement for crying out loud!) and Ryan Giggs.  This year they made “the move” – just yesterday in fact.  Man U snagged the biggest of transfer prizes: RVP.  Arsenal finally sold their vaunted striker to one of their great rivals.  Having someone to play off of makes Wayne Rooney even more ridiculously dangerous.  Now he has a shored up midfield, a healthy Tom Cleverly and the best striker in the EPL.  City may still have a ton of striker talent and are a more established team, but RVP gives Rooney a new weapon not unlike the old Ronaldo days. 

My Top Five:

1) Man U

2) Man City

3) Chelsea (I really wanted to put them 2nd…)

4) Newcastle

5) Tottenham

Enjoy the kick off on Sunday!

Catching Up

For the past couple of weeks I was on vacation in Italy / France (yes, I was in Italy during “the match – but more on that later) and missed a lot of huge stories from the world of sports.  In this post I will run through a gauntlet of info and opinions so please bear with me while I tackle old news.  Starting of course with…

Steve Nash to the Lakers – In many ways this is a dream scenario, and in many ways this is my ultimate nightmare.  The Lakers have made a couple of moves in the past few weeks that I am struggling to balance and make sense of: they picked up Steve Nash and one of my local town heroes Rob Sacre in the draft.  Two of my favorite guys on the same team…with my least favorite player in NBA history, Kobe Bryant.  Now the news is the Lakers are making a hard charge at the Dwightmare.  This is a tough one.  I desperately want Nash to get a ring / I desperately do not want Kobe to get one (keep in mind I respect the man immensely but do not want to see him get another ring).  If Dwight “Shawn Kemp-esque family man” Howard joins the mix – a man whom I have no respect for – I do not know what I will do.  My head will explode.

DWill and the new look Nets – The Nets made some moves, the biggest of which involved keeping “superstar” Deron Williams and trading for “max contract albatross” Joe Johnson.  Are they a playoff team now?  Sure.  Did they make a good choice not getting the Dwightmare?  I do not know.  They could be a good team but will not approach elite levels.  Yet, in a very weak East this year they could easily steal a 3 slot if Williams has the season we are all waiting for him to have.

Ray Allen says eff you to the Celtics – The Miami Heat made a huge move to keep up with everyone else in the league and picked up two of the best three point shooters of all time in Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.  Wow.  Allen throws a huge finger at the Celtics and ends up making significantly less money to play for a much better team.  Fantastic.  He wants to win and he just might end up with more titles than Pierce and Garnett.  Lewis will provide instant offense off the bench and makes the Heat much more dangerous than ever.

RVP to Juventus / Man City / Man United… – From what I gathered from the Italian papers (and keep in mind my grip on the language is nonexistent) he is going to Juventus.  At least according to what I assume were witty puns the writers were using.  No need for other teams to stay in the running then I suppose.  City though, seems to want him just to keep him away from United.

Paris St. Germain makes some moves – PSG picked up Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from AC Milan in what can only be called a bizarre move by the Italian Club.  Might just make PSG a Champs League contender.

I wish I could read Italian / French – On the cover of Italian Vanity Fair?  Mario Balotelli.  On the cover of French Vanity Fair?  Zinedine Zidane.  Pure gold and I could not understand any of it.

Spain impressive – Watching “the match” in Rome was nuts.  The streets were packed with flag wearing people and jerseys were everywhere.  The most common name?  Balotelli.  People genuinely love him in Italy and he responded with a fantastic tourney.  Spain was just better, exponentially so.  They controlled the game from the outset.  And then Fernando Torres snagged the Golden Boot.  Amazing, truly amazing.  As the Men in Blazers stated “he has had the best worst season ever”.  Spain cemented their place as one of the greatest teams ever.

Summer Sports Reading – What to do during these sports less months?  Read about sports of course!  Here are some suggestions (broken down by sport):

Basketball – The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons / Loose Balls by Terry Pluto / Unfinished Business by Jack McCallum / Wilt by Wilt Chamberlain.

Hockey – Net Worth by David Cruise and Allison Griffiths / The Game of Our Lives by Peter Gzosnowski / The Game by Ken Dryden

Baseball – The Devil Wears Pinstripes by Jim Caple

Soccer – Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby / Among the Thugs by Bill Buford / 40 Years of Shite

Football – Boys will be Boys by Jeff Pearlman

Enjoy the reads and hopefully we will have some final news on the Dwightmare shortly.

Happy Summer!

 

Two Ways to Improve Sports

Sports and leagues generally fight innovation.  Change rarely happens quickly even when we know it must come.  Take soccer for example: there is clearly technology which could be put in place on the goal line to determine when a shot has crossed it.  They have fought it for years for several completely incomprehensible reasons.

Evolution is needed…desperately in some cases.  Here are two suggestions:

The Next 50 – In 1996 the NBA selected their 50 Greatest Players and while there were some natural controversies on the list (young Shaq – in hindsight a great selection) most people generally agreed with those selected.  The MLB has also picked their Century Team which has led to another endless series of debates. We live in an era of greatness, and in the next few years many greats in all the major sports will deserve to join the list of their greatest peers.  Take basketball as an example where the following could easily bump players keep spots warm (looking at you Patrick Ewing!): Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard (eventually Kevin Love, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose…)  As you can see there are some names who deserve recognition among the greatest of the sport.  Who gets bumped?  Who gets added (I am not touching baseball with a ten foot pole)?  My point: no one needs to be removed from any list.  Why should the impact of people who dominated in the 50’s or 60’s be lessened simply because their era was different than the modern one?  Nothing should be taken away from their contributions to the sport.  We need to continually look forward instead of back, and allow our traditions to remain intact by creating a new greatest list starting from the cutoff of ’96.  Anyone who made the original team is ineligible.  Our society has a hard time with distance from players and their accomplishments and as the years pass we begin to want the here and now to include the greatest of all time at great cost to the legacies of those we should rightfully acknowledge.  Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time (no debate), but now we are willing to include Kobe Bryant’s name in the conversation.  His name should not be in the conversation under any circumstances.  Having “the Next 50” allows us to honor the past while also celebrating the players who have come to greatness since.

Player of the Year vs. MVP – Every single year in almost every sport, another misnamed trophy is handed out to a player who is clearly not the MVP.  Let us define the dodgy term “Most Valuable Player”: in my opinion it means the player whose team would completely collapse without him.  This is a very, very different thing than the best player in the league.  My solution: give them both trophies!  Why not celebrate the league’s undisputed best player (voted on by the media) and the MVP (or the player literally most valuable to their team).  Of course it is possible that these awards can be given to the same player (think Cleveland era LeBron or Justin Verlander this past season in the AL).  However, the most important thing is to recognize the contributions of a player who has literally carried his team to the brink of the playoffs or brought them into the playoffs with ridiculous stats and leadership.  Instead of giving this award to LeBron or Kevin Durant we should give it to someone like Kevin Love who has put up unbelievable stats and has his team contending for the playoffs (in addition to single handedly taking the best team in the league, OKC, to double OT).  The Player of the Year?  LeBron or Durant.  Which award can we get rid of to make space for our new Player of the Year trophy?  The strangely named “Most Improved Player” Award which seems to have virtually no criteria and is often given to a superstar whose scoring average increases slightly.  We already knew they were awesome…but this year they have been excellent!  Let’s do away with the charade of giving the MVP to the best player on the best team and begin to recognize the contributions of guys like Steve Nash who have single handedly carried teams whose best scoring option was the comatose corpse of Vince Carter.

There, I just made sports at least 2 percent better.

You’re welcome.

EPL VI – The Undiscovered Country

In the midst of what may have been the most disgraceful thing I have ever witnessed in a sporting event (the non-shake) I realized I was very, very happy that I had already dropped Liverpool as a potential team I could support. 

Amongst the fallout from a ridiculously awesome EPL weekend, I realized how much of a fan I have become of watching soccer.  Previously I drifted in and out, now I will watch just about any game – and I cannot say the same about basketball, hockey or baseball[1].  I may have picked the best season ever to start following football.  Man City, Man U and Tottenham are preparing for an absolute death match at the top in the coming weeks which will be fantastic to watch. 

One of the moments that stood out from the weekend, amidst all the ugliness (and love?! of Man U – I finally understand The Bachelor and how he can struggle to choose.  Right now U and City are getting roses but the day will come when they cannot) an ugly loss by Chelsea was not lost.  Have I finally come to the segment where I knock out the mighty Blues?  Consider the following:

1)      I cheered for Man U and their comeback against the squad – Actively wanted to see Man U come back, but at the same time this is the example of the best game of the year. 

2)      As the Men in Blazers pointed out, David Luis may be a member of LMFAO – Chelsea has one of the most vaunted d-line’s in the premiership, led of course by reprehensible human being / great soccer player John Terry.  However…the more egregious offense may be committed by Luis who will make ever more people like LMFAO or even think about them when they see him, which, let’s face it, is a loss for common decency[2].

3)      They are so soapy you cannot turn away As the Blues Turn could be a weekly soap as we watch the comings and goings of the squad, their backstabbing and the constant “will John Terry serve prison time” questions.  Being a fan of this club is sort of like riding an endlessly uncomfortable roller coaster – but one where someone threw up immediately on your feet.  And I am not even touching Fernando Torres with a ten foot pole. 

Yet I simply cannot bring myself to totally hate them simply because no matter what is happening at the club or in the press (and being a London squad, they get a lot of press) they fight on.  I like Juan Mata, and Torres (who has quietly carried the club with his timely assists) and yes, even Terry who plays lights our regardless of what is going on in his life.  How can I dump a club that is complete disarray? 

Don’t we all want to save those who seem beyond all help – even if just a little bit? 

Instead I am cutting Sunderland and Fulham – neither the club for me.   You read that right, a double elimination. 

Damn…I think I just gave Chelsea another rose. 

 


[1] I refuse to watch non-Canucks games, abhor the Raptors (whom TSN wants me to love for some reason) and can only watch baseball in October. 

[2] LMFAO are example #1 about why we cannot allow people who make physical assaults of songs to become popular.  They preach the “party rock” lifestyle through their horribly repetitive music which will lead to an entire generation of kids who think it is alright to be partying all day without any fear of repercussions.  Thanks LMFAO. 

Choosing an EPL Team Season Four

Another week has passed, the fourth, in my quest to select an EPL Squad to support[1].  Am I any closer to making a final decision?  Yes. 

Have I made that decision?  No.

There were a few major developments in the Premier League this week and I would know as I now religiously check the official website several times a day.  The game of the week was Everton vs. Man City in a shocking clash of opposites.  Man City of course being owned by a trillionaire sheik[2], while the Men In Blazers are still trying to buy Everton in order to make it America’s team.  Tons of resources have been poured into Man City to make them contenders, and as they currently sit atop the table, all the money seems to have had the desired effect. 

Yet something rubs me a little bit wrong about Man City[3] and yesterday I finally put my finger on it: they are too perfect for me.  How does Man City stack up in regards to my criteria for choosing a team?  They ace every single category.  Even the uniform color suits me perfectly!  My girlfriend agrees the sky blue would go nicely with my eyes, and that I would look good in their kit.  Additionally this is the first season in decades that the team has been relevant[4] and thus it would be a perfect time to join a contending run that could last for a decade or more. 

However…

Do not we also want to love the flaws our team exhibits along with the perfection?  Take my all-time favorite Vancouver Canucks Team – the 1994 Stanley Cup Runners Up Squad.  They entered the playoffs as an afterthought seventh seed but came together brilliantly to make a run through the Western Conference.  The ‘94er’s were a gritty bunch who scrapped their way to a game seven where they came two posts from having a statue raised in front of Rogers Arena.  I love that team more than any other (though don’t tell my other teams…) and it was their flaws – like no scoring depth beyond the ethereal Pavel Bure – that makes me remember them nearly two decades later. 

Man City may be too perfect, as the team exhibits few flaws aside from Mario Balotelli’s increasingly erratic eccentricities.  They are deep and hungry for success and yet it seems like they sometimes feel as if they can cruise by teams on their talent alone.  Everton outplayed them for ninety minutes, digging hard for every ball.  City’s tendency to try and cruise on skill is not the way I want my team to play week in and week out. 

Are they out as a contender? 

They do perfectly fit my criteria so I would be foolish to let them go at this point.  I am giving up on another top flight team though, as Liverpool (just not the team for me) joins Bolton, Arsenal and Wolves looking in from the outside. 

Plus, I would look good in Manchester City Blue…


[1] I went with Season 4 this time because it feels like this thing is taking years.  Many apologies. 

[2] That is right – with a “t”.  Guess you can only have so many luxury sports cars before you need to buy a Premier League Championship. 

[3] From the self-described “World’s Biggest Post Decision Miami Heat  Fan” this is borderline incoherent ridiculousness. 

[4] Again, trillionaire oil sheik’s make a big difference in the Premier League. 

Choosing an EPL Team II: The Empires Strike Back

Choosing an EPL Team II: The Empires Strike Back[1]

 Last week I set out on a quest to choose an EPL Team.  Almost everyone is in contention[2] and I laid out most of the criteria I want to use in determining which squad I will follow, possibly for the rest of my life.  Yet, I realized that I needed to reflect on why I chose my teams in other sports.  In all my critical analysis I forgot the most important aspect and reason for sport fandom: the emotional connection to the team. 

Why I love the Vancouver Canucks – Why would I love any other hockey team when the greatest team ever plays in my hometown? 

Why I love the San Francisco 49ers – Growing up in a hockey crazy town did not leave much opportunity for other sports, primarily football[3].  So why the 49ers when the Seahawks are closer?  In a word: tradition.  The 49ers were always a deep team with a history of playing their hearts out.  As a kid, you always want the good guys to win – not the evil Cowboys.  Additionally my all-time favorite player Steve Young played for the team in my formative years and my best friend’s favorite player was Jerry Rice and we got to watch them play in the ’94 Super Bowl where Young passed for an NFL Record 6 touchdowns.  Year in and year out I have followed the 49ers through their ups and downs (and the Jeff Garcia / Trent Dilfer / Jim Druckenmiller eras.  Loving this team through the down times has made the good times all the better (Note: Also true for the Canucks), especially since they now may win the title this season. 

Why I love the New York Yankees – My grandfather, father, and brother all love the Yanks.  As a family we grew up loving the Yanks; one of the first pictures ever taken of me features me in a Yankees hat.  In 2010 we got to see a game in the “new” Stadium for the first time.  My dad did not want to leave[4] and the atmosphere was incredible.  Completely made me realize I had actually been a secret Yankee fan for my entire life.  Was I brainwashed from birth?  Absolutely.  Do I love every single minute of it?  Absolutely.

Why I love the Miami Heat – As I have extensively written on this topic, I love Miami because of the way the team came together as an epitome of sacrifice and teamwork for the sake of victory…and yes, at this moment I am fighting through the crippling pain of the fact that two of my teams lost after leading their respective finals.  Still hurts so damned much.  Anyways, sorry, what was I talking about?

This weekend, I ended up watching two EPL games (Chelsea over Sunderland – Torres played hard but just could not catch a break / Man U – smacked Bolton around) and a highlight show in which I saw the epic contest between Swansea and Arsenal, as well as Blackburn and Aston Villa. 

Thus, it appears several factors can be amended to my original post – geographic location / tradition / brainwashing / superstars wanting to win through sacrifice[5].  More to consider.  More to consider. 

Am I any closer to choosing an EPL team?  No.  Have I definitively eliminated Bolton as a contender? 

Yes.

 

 

 

 

 


[1] Alternate title ideas: The Return of Man City; Arsenal Part Deux; United Rises.  All more terrible than the last.

[2] Except Bolton. 

[3] Unless you want to cheer for the BC Lions (who I do, in the CFL) who play in the eight team Canadian Football League. 

[4] Had they let him throw a sleeping bag down in the bleachers that is where we would have stayed.

[5] Who are we kidding?  In the EPL they just pay to win…wait a minute this sounds like the Mia…

It Is Time: Choosing an EPL Team

The time has finally come for me to come to “the decision” – choosing an EPL Team to support with all my heart.  After years of dancing around the periphery of the league and trying in vain to follow the scores I need to choose a squad to stick with for the rest of my days. 

Why now?  Why choose an EPL Team while three of my other teams are in the playoffs or deep into their seasons?[1] 

In the past few months I have become increasingly interested in the Premier League thanks to the incredible efforts of the Men in Blazers podcast – probably the funniest ongoing Pod out there – and the die-hard support my buddy Whisper Winnett shows to his beloved Hotspur Tottenham. 

My mission is clear, I need to objectively evaluate the Premier League Teams using a set of criteria and then sort it out March Madness Style[2]

The evaluation criteria:

1)      The team should be competitive[3] – While my new team does not have to be atop the standings, I am not sure I want to risk my newfound faith on a squad facing relegation.  This by no means eliminates mid-table teams or even the current top squads.  When you first begin to follow a team, while losing can endear you to the team for life (’94, Vancouver Canucks) watching them win (1994 San Fran 49ers) can create and cement a deeper bond to carry you through the darkest of times.[4] 

2)      Will I get to see a lot of games? – A major factor: in Canada, we usually only get one EPL “Game of the Week” on Saturday.  If I never get to see my team in this game, how can I possibly root for them? 

3)      Youth must be served – The team should have a good contingent of young talent that will help me stick with them and be assured of excitement for years to come[5].  Great players cycle in and out, but having a couple of up and comers can raise the pitch for a few seasons at least.

4)      “Will I look good in their kit?” – This was submitted by my amazing and beautiful girlfriend and seconded by Whisper Winnett.  Red may not be the best color for me…orange definitely is not[6].

Additionally, Whisper Winnett gave me the following brilliant advice (follow him on twitter!  @madadub for fantastic insights and frequently sustained brilliance):

“For me it was sort of a few factors.  I wanted a team where I started with no huge opposition to them as a club or their players.  I wanted to really get behind them.  Also, someone who was competitive but not the top 2.  Part of cheering an EPL Team is the highs and lows.  But really, biggest factors were players.  Tottenham had a few guys I really liked, like the style so that led me to them.  Then I started to learn more about other guys on the squad.  Of course now the squad has changed over the year but its been fun to see them struggle and succeed and stick with them.  It is good to have a team you can root for that others around you that talk footy don’t support – so you can chirp them.”

I also asked him if I can respect John Terry as a footballer, but not as a human being[7].  He responded “normal with athletes.”  Brilliant advice to take under consideration. 

  A lot to think about, this will definitely be a long process.  Each week I will update with the “standings” of my quest. 

I may end up a Chelsea fan, I think I might be sick. 

 


[1] The San Fran 49er’s; Vancouver Canucks and, ahem, Miami Heat. 

[2] Is there any better style?  I challenge you to show me a better format – take note NCAA Football. 

[3] Goodbye Blackburn and Bolton!

[4] Scott Raab says much the same in his brilliant book The Whore of Akron in which he carries around a ticket from the 1964 Super Bowl, won by his beloved Cleveland Browns.

[5] Major Advantage: Man U and Man City. 

[6] Two strikes Bolton. 

[7] Facing serious racism charges, yet he remains the Kobe Bryant of the EPL.  Even when the rumors of horrible, debauched things threaten to overtake him, he somehow manages to escape.  Perhaps he is a magician.  Now I wonder if he and Kobe ever met, maybe they would kill each other. 

2012 – A Look Ahead

Happy New Year, and allow me welcome you to 2012!

What am I looking forward to in 2012?

A Miami Thrice Title! – No more LeBrondowns or meltdowns in the face of overwhelming pressure; this should be Miami’s year.  LeBron looks focused and dedicated to destroying the NBA, one team at a time.

Choosing an EPL Team – I have casually followed the EPL (and Man U) for years but the brilliant Men in Blazers Pod and my Tottenham buddy, Whisper Winnett are making me push myself to declare allegience to a team.  Any suggestions?  Chelsea?  Man U?  Man City?  Arsenal?  Liverpool?

Reading More Sports Books – A few titles I am looking forward to in the New Year are(*note that almost none of these books are actually being published in 2012): The Dream Team by Jack McCallum; A Season on the Brink by John Feinstein; Veeck as in Wreck by Bill Veeck; Ball Four by Jim Bouton; Unfinished Business by Jack McCallum, The Game of Our Lives by Peter Gzowski and Fever Pitch by Nick Hornsby. 

USC Being Bowl Eligable – Let me be the first to present your 2012 National Champs, the USC Trojans.  Led of course by Heisman Trophy Winner (and #1 pick) Matt Barkley.

An Awesome Super Bowl – This year’s ultimate contest has all the earmarks of a classic, regardless of who gets there.

The Continued Emergence of Greatness – Some of the best players ever in the history of their respective sports are in the twilight, prime or beginning of their careers.  The NBA has a particularly large talent pool (and boom) and the NFL is watching some All-Time Greats go out (Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady).  The NHL hopes and waits that Sidney Crosby can return. 

Another year beckons, and in sports – as always – it threatens amazing things.

The 2011 Sporties!

Welcome to the first annual Sportie Awards!

The Sporties cover the entire world of sports in a variety of catagories.  Get ready to be amazed…

Ready?  Okay, here we go, without further ado, your 2011 Sportie Winners:

Game of the Year – World Series Game 6

Given that some are calling this the best baseball game of the past 50 years, it definitely gets this year’s Sportie.  The twists and turns in this game had your stomach in knots and it was impossible to move for the duration.  Probably the most entertaining baseball game I have ever seen. 

Best Sports Moment – Aaron Rodgers putting on the belt after winning the Superbowl.

Not only did Rodgers completely erase all doubt and blow away the last Favre lovers (given that he is better) he did it with a team of vets and youngsters who played harder than anyone else.  Every now and again the right guy takes one. 

Sports Books of the Year

Net Worth by David Cruise and Allison Griffiths – Imagine a world where the entire system of Government is corrupt and run by a brutal dictator.  This is not about the USSR but rather the illustrious history of the NHL detailed brilliantly in Net Worth.  The best thing the authors do is provide indelible portraits of former (and future) greats / horrible people such as Ted Lindsay, Gordie Howe, Eddie Shore and Eric Lindros.  Their takes are unique, insightful and at times, utterly devestating.  Easily one of the most infuriating sports books ever written. 

Loose Balls by Terry Pluto – The 2nd funniest basketball book ever written (behind Bill Simmons epic tome) is an oral history of the wild ABA years featuring so many hilarious anecdotes that it becomes impossible to put down.  The characters are  outrageously larger than life and rendered brilliantly human.  My favorite story: Marvin “Bad News” Barnes on a morning plane that took off at 8AM and landed at 7:59AM – “I ain’t flying on no time machine.  I ain’t taking no plane that goes back in time.”

Diving into Darkness by Phillip Finch / Blind Descent by James Tabor – What sort of person can reach the pinnacle of sport diving?  What sort of person could push themselves to not only dive as deep as possible but into a cave?  Finch takes on the likes of two men who make an epic cave dive…and the one who must fight to survive.  So vivid are his descriptions that the reader is transported along into the abyss.  Tabor tackles an even more harrowing quest to discover the deepest place on Earth.  He follows the Bird / Magic of the caving world through their harsh journeys fraught with danger.  Both books are claustrophobic reading experiences that challenge as well as entertain. 

Most Devestating Moment – Game 7 Stanley Cup Finals

Not only did we have to suffer defeat, but we also had to deal with all of Surrey rioting and looting Vancouver stores.  Thanks once again for improving our Post-Olympic Image Surrey. 

Pod of the Year – Men in Blazers

I had essentially planned on giving this to Bill Simmons BS Report forever, but the Men in Blazers stole my heart.  Easy to do with an informative and hilarious look into the world of futbal.  How can one not burst out laughing when each week they are treating us “Great Friends of the Pod” to exchanges like the following:

Michael Davies: “If you could have dinner with Gregori Rasputin or John Terry who would it be?”

Roger Bennett: “You’re asking me to choose between a man who is a serial rapist, cult leader, who once raped a nun…and Gregori Rasputin?” 

Michael Davies: “Just so we are clear, Rasputin was actually the nun raper.”

Roger Bennett: “I would take Rasputin since he is dead – the conversation would be better.”

Sportie Man of the Year – Lebron James

Everyone just stopped reading, but hear me out: who else garnered more ink or attention this year than LBJ?  Be it for his epic collapse or his epic play, he was the man.  Period.  We could not get enough of him when he was dominating and we could not get enough when he was disappearing.  Ultimately the choice is clear.