This College Baseball Jersey Constructed Of Selfies Will Be The Death Of Us

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It’s safe to say the Internet has turned us into idiots with little to no attention span and individuals bloated with self worth for completing the most menial task. But now, that useless online “productivity” has infiltrated the game of baseball.

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A Lot Can Happen in 3 Years

 

This week my son started pre-school as I am transitioning to a new job (don’t panic, I’ll still be here on this site giving you all you need to know about Soccer), and I’ve had time to reflect on how far he’s come as a soccer fan.

Fittingly the first game of his life was a Manchester derby, albeit a largely uneventful one. There were no overhead bicycle kicks. There were no 98th minute winners. There weren’t even any goals. Before the 1-0 loss to Chelsea on February 3rd, it was the most recent time City had been shut out at home. To put that in perspective, I watched City get shut out with my 7 days old infant son in my arms and the next time they were shut out at home he was asking me questions about the Cold War and reciting Simpsons quotes.

There aren’t really that many Manchester City fans in the USA, so I decided, using my fatherly wisdom (or lack thereof if you know anything about what supporting City is like) to declare him a City fan from birth. Much to my dismay he is already starting to reject this. As we were watching Liverpool dismantle Arsenal several weeks ago, he put down his waffle and said to me “I’m going to join up with the yellow team” (Arsenal were wearing their yellow 3rd jerseys that day). He’s 3, so he has what would otherwise be a disturbing affinity for violence, and once he saw that Arsenal not only has a cannon on their crest, but that they’re nicknamed the “Gunners” he was hooked. Now when my wife tries to get him to say something cute, starting up the City chant “Who’s the best team in the land and all the world? ” he says “Arsenal?”. I’ve already started shaking my head at the boy.

My Facebook profile pic is of me holding him in the air in a manner similar to Carlos Tevez holding up the FA Cup, City’s first trophy in 34 years. Already in his short life, City have won the Premier League, the FA Cup (and lost in a final), the League Cup, and the Community Shield. They’ve beaten Manchester United four times, including two straight at Old Trafford (something that hasn’t happened since 1973). He was with my wife and I at The Banshee in Dorchester Massachusetts to see City win 6-1 at Old Trafford (yes, I had “a baby, in a bar“, but it was Sunday and they don’t serve alcohol until 11 so I pretended it was a restaurant).

Watching the midweek international friendlies this week by myself gave me a chance to reflect on how far my little buddy has come. He’s already come a long way. At The Banshee, he’d actually cry every time City scored because he had no way of predicting when 40 or so people would all of a sudden start screaming. Now he’s actually able to tell me when someone’s scored a goal if i’m not in front of the tv. And he knows that if i’m watching City and they score that I’m coming over to him for a high five (those 6-0 and 7-0 matches earlier this season were good practice).

I’m going to miss him stomping down the stairs after waking up from his afternoon nap to find me on the couch watching a midweek afternoon match. No more chuckling to myself as he pounds water out of his sippy cup as he gets himself acclimated to being awake again, looking back at me and wondering why I’m twisting the hell out of my chin hairs over a Tuesday afternoon game (it’ll take a while to explain to him what the Champions League is and why it’s actually more important than the weekend matches). And while i’m a bit sad at the realization that all of that is over with, he couldn’t care less, because he’s at a pre school with “these tiny trucks and some blocks and stuff and there’s these scissors that you use to cut things and then you can have cheez-its for snack with these girls and there’s a computer that………”.

For The Love Of God, Stop Doing These “Which (Blank) Are You?” Tests

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Every once in a while, quick and fun little Internet diversions appear virtually out of nowhere. Whether, it’s FarmVille, MafiaWars, or the always elusive “Somebody just answered a question about you!”, they become a constant bellowing from nearly everyone. Then, in many cases, poof! They’re gone. Continue reading »

The St. John’s Red Storm Turnaround

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As of four hours ago, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi tweeted an update of tournament bubble teams. On that list was St. John’s, who as of now is part of the last four in.

Why is that significant? A perennial bubble team teetering on the edge of a tournament berth? Well, because about a month ago, St. John’s was 0-5 in the conference and looked like even the NIT would be out of reach.

The Red Storm have completely turned their season around. The perfect example of the 180 was Sunday nights contest with Georgetown. The Johnnies won 82-60 after jumping out to a 15-0 lead to start the game, a month ago St. John’s fell to the same Hoyas 77-60 and scored just 16 points in the first half.

What’s the difference? Swing man Sir’Dominic Pointer put it simply saying, “Role players learned their roles and our scorers are scoring.”

Seems basic, but appropriately, Dom has a Point (get it?). Steve Lavin said before the year that his team would get off to a rough start but find their way in February and become a dangerous team down the stretch. Admittedly, I was skeptical and when 2014 started and St. John’s got off to their abysmal conference start I called for Lav’s head. But, apparently, Steve Lavin knows more about this basketball team than I do (who knew).

On Sunday night, Lavin clarified his reasoning for his early season prediction; Orlando Sanchez and Phil Greene IV both had off-season surgery, D’Angelo Harrison was suspended from the team at the end of last season, and Rysheed Jordan was a freshman who would have to make the transition to college basketball in a crucial role for his team.

Now? Sanchez and Greene provide crucial minutes and points off the bench, D’Angelo is the third leading scorer in the conference and Jordan is living up to every bit of the hype, (the freshman scored the first 7 points of the game against Georgetown and finished with a career high 24 points). That, coupled with the already established scoring prowess of Jakarr Sampson and being the top shot-blocking team in the country (see: Chris Obekpa) have the Johnnies as the hottest team in the Big East with their future in their own hands.

This is how the rest of the schedule pans out for St. John’s, who sit at 17-9 and 7-6 in the conference:

Tonight; Butler; MSG; 9:00- Three weeks ago St. John’s disposed of Butler with a 17 point win on the road; should have no issues tonight.

Saturday; Villinova; Philadelphia, PA; 1:30- This is by far the toughest game left on the schedule. Last time out, St. John’s was able to hang with Nova at home, but fell late. And now they have to travel to take on the top-15 opponent. Can it be done? Yes, but I don’t have a great feeling about this game.

2/25; Xavier; MSG; 7:00- Xavier is another tough one, as they defeated St. John’s by 10 to start conference play, but that team was completely different than the one we’re seeing now. I think if they go 1-1 between Villinova and Xavier they should be in good shape.

3/2; DePaul; MSG; Noon- This should be another fairly easy victory. Last time out DePaul defeated SJU by 2 in Chicago, but without Clevland Melvin, their leading scorer, and at MSG one would think the Johnnies are in good position again.

3/8; Marquette; Milwaukee, Wis; Noon- Up until the Georgetown game, this was probably SJU’s most complete win of the season on 2/1 and while Marquette will almost certainly shoot better than they did in the first contest St. John’s has proven they can beat this team.

Overall, I think it’ll take 20 wins for St. John’s to earn an at-large bid in the tournament. It is feasible to think that they can finish the season with 21, before the Big East tournament. The schedule at this juncture weighs favorably for the Johnnies, but this wouldn’t be the first time St. John’s held their future in the palm of their hand and dropped the ball.

Steve Lavin said Sunday that the Johnnies best basketball was still yet to come. Here’s to hoping he’s right.

Refilling your FA Cup

 

 

 

Greetings loyal reader. You know doubt remember my piece on England’s FA Cup a few weeks back and have been wondering how things have been shaping up. Well you’re in luck, this past weekend saw round 5 of the tournament played and in case you missed it (admit it, you did) I’ve got a wrap up for you.

I am so smart, S, M, R, T. I mean S, M, A, R, T.

I am so smart, S, M, R, T. I mean S, M, A, R, T.

First off the heavyweight matchups, and as a Manchester City fan I’ve elected to talk about them first. City played at home to Chelsea, a team that recently beat them at home in league play. It was City’s first home loss of the season and the first time they’d been shut out at home since my son was exactly one week old (he’s now old enough to ask me things like “Dad, was our house built during the Cold War). Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho (who will be the subject of his own article here later this week, brace yourself) was credited with a “tactical masterpiece” as a result of his team winning the match. In truth the reason Chelsea won was because City had five of their best players injured and had  to start a 33 year old defender in midfield (33 is old in soccer years). And yet even missing five players Chelsea was only able to eek out a 1-0 win on a defender’s rebound put back. Not a tactical masterpiece in this writer’s eyes, but what do I know? Saturday’s FA Cup match saw 3 of the 5 back in action and City won 2-0. I guess you can only be a tactical genius every now and then.

We pay 60 pounds per match, is one trophy too much to ask?

We pay 60 pounds per match, is one trophy too much to ask?

The other heavyweight matchup was Arsenal v Liverpool. These teams played each other in the league last Saturday and Liverpool was up 3-0 inside the first twenty minutes and ultimately won the match 5-1. But the 5-1 thrashing was in Liverpool and this Sunday’s FA Cup match was in London. Different game, different tournament, different result. Arsenal won 2-1, albeit largely due to “England’s best referee” Howard Webb not awarding Liverpool a penalty kick despite having an unobstructed view of the foul from about 15 feet away. Perhaps Mr Webb is uncomfortable with his number one status and is trying to fall a few places down the pecking order. Blowing easy calls like that is a great way to do it.

Best referee in England, bit of a oxymoron eh?

Best referee in England, bit of a oxymoron eh?

I’m not going to even pretend that you’re reading this for my analysis of Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest or even Sunderland v Southampton so I’m going to skip ahead to the next round of games and try to sell you on why you should watch all of the games available in your area. First off, the games are available in your area. They’ll be on FoxSports (recently rebranded as FoxSports1 and FoxSports2, you’ll have double the viewing opportunities), which will be just south of the ESPNs and NBCSports and BigTen Networks and all that jazz on your cable viewing guide. The matches will take place the weekend of March 8th and 9th.

You’ll want to watch City try and exact a bit of revenge on Wigan, the team that beat them in the FA Cup final last May. You can sell yourself on the idea of watching Arsenal v Everton by way of either cheering for Everton, a working class less successful neighbor and archrival of Liverpool, or cheering for Arsenal to get further and further into the tournament so that the heartbreak will ultimately be that much greater when they are eliminated (Arsenal were the dominant team of the turn of the century but haven’t won anything since 2005). You could hope that Sheffield Wednesday win their math tomorrow so that you’ll get to see a “Steel City Derby” (a Derby is a match between two local rivals, Yankees/Mets and Cubs/White Sox would be derbies, Yankees/RedSox would not) and pick whether you like the term Wednesday or United better before you throw your rooting interest behind Sheffield Wednesday or Sheffield United. And in all honesty you’ll probably have almost zero interest in the final match Brighton v Sunderland, I’m at a loss for why anyone would be interested.

Only four of the remaining 8 teams are from the Premier League and two will be playing each other so there’s a lot of reason to believe that a lower league team or two will make the semi final. Once we have the semi finals set I’ll try to cook up some story lines beyond the usual David v Goliath template that’s been used a hundred times. And if any of you out there in reader land really want me to talk about Brighton or Sunderland or whoever, just leave a comment below. I try to give the people what they want.

Everyone's one match away from Wembley

Everyone’s one match away from Wembley

Getting Older Means Learning to Hate Less

 

For most of my natural life I’ve hated the LA Lakers. I grew up in Phoenix and until I was 9 years old the only professional team we had was the Suns and since they were mediocre the only rival we had was our geographical rival, the Lakers. Yes Utah borders Arizona but Phoenix to Salt Lake City by car is ten hours if traffic is cooperating.

In 1988 Phoenix was given the St Louis Cardinals football team. In 1988 I started hating the Dallas Cowboys. Their fans would flood our stadium and pretend it was a home game for them. It drove me nuts and still does (through the miracles of HD I can see in great detail how many Cowboys fans there are at Cardinals home games).

As time went by and I grew into adolescence and my teen years I learned, for various reasons, to hate the UCLA Bruins, the New York Yankees, the Duke Blue Devils, the Oklahoma Sooners, and who could forget, Manchester United.

When I was 19 I would probably have flat out refused to work, even on a voluntary basis, for a Yankee fan. Now that I’m 34 I not only have several friends who are Yankee fans but I am also capable of genuine feelings of sorrow that Derek Jeter didn’t announce his retirement last season so that he could get the public farewell that he deserves. The 19 year old me would’ve said “I hope he invested all his money in Pogs and Pokemon cards and we read about him going bankrupt in 5 years”. I was “that guy”.

Before we go any further let me state for the record that I still hope that none of the teams listed as teams that I hate ever win another game in the next 100 years. But now that I’m older it doesn’t really bother me as much when they inevitably do.

When I was 25 I remember watching Duke in the NCAA tournament and screaming at the TV “that’s a foul, foul, another foul, that’s a **** **** foul!!!!” and my wife replying “honey, you need to calm down”. Nowadays I just say “bleh” and turn the channel for a few minutes. When I was 25 I used to use all of my vocabulary, geographical knowledge, and sociological insight to creatively insult the Oklahoma Sooners and their fans. Now I just say “eh, sooner or later they’ll get put on probation for a slew of violations”. Yankee fans don’t bother me at all, when they win the World Series (as they seem to do every couple of years), I just pop in my 2001 World Series DVD and relive the best World Series ever.

Maybe it’s the fact that I have a wife and a child, I’ve had many different full time jobs, I have a master’s degree, and I’m also just generally more mature. I just can’t hate sports teams as much as I used to.  Or maybe, just maybe, my hatred is evolving into a more Schadenfreud-like state. I love it with an embarrassing amount of glee when bad things happen to the teams I dislike.

This season of English Premier League soccer has been an absolute dream come true. Manchester United are drawing last place teams at home. Manchester United are losing in the first round of the FA Cup. Manchester United are currently in 7th place. Before you say “seventh place doesn’t sound too bad” I can tell you with absolute certainty that for Manchester United fans 7th place might as well be 70th. I’d have to look it up but I don’t think United have been in 7th place this late in the season since I was about 5 years old.

This makes me smile, sorry

This makes me smile, sorry

The NBA has also been remarkably fantastic this year. I’m vaguely aware of the Phoenix Suns winning games, but that’s not that important. What’s important is how terrible the LA Lakers are. Everyone is beating them. Its fantastic. They’re a mess from a financial standpoint and their roster shows no signs of improvement and little hope for the future (give or take a Patrick Ewing style lottery fix).

The Lakers might voluntarily pay this guy till he's 50

The Lakers might voluntarily pay this guy till he’s 50

I don’t know where my hatred has gone and I don’t know exactly what its going to evolve into. I know that I will never cheer for any of my teams on the dislike list. I will continue to use the term BBD for matchups where I don’t like either team (BBD = Bus Breakdown, as in both team’s buses break down and the game has to be cancelled, this year’s Super Bowl was a BBD). The one certainty I have is that it is unlikely I will every scream at the TV again (the exception being a Manchester City v Manchester United Champions League or FA Cup Final).

This clearly isn't me, but you get the idea

This clearly isn’t me, but you get the idea

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