Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This week in sports

Thoughts on "The Open" (Why did we call it the British Open when it was played in Scotland?)

Tiger's temper tantrums were never more evident this week as he reacted angrily to shot after shot landing in that Turnberry rough. Yes, its his first missed cut since 2006, even though he seemed to be on top of his game. But his emotional outbursts seem to cross the line of golf etiquette. You wouldn't think twice about it if you saw Kobe or TO react like that though, would you? Simply put, Tiger is a mainstream American athlete, not just a golfer, and that is how American athletes think they are entitled to act.

Tom Watson's missed 8 foot putt on the 72nd hole was a heartbreaking moment. You just felt like the clock would inevitably strike midnight and the impossible dream would again become just impossible. A 59 year old winning a major would have been one of the biggest stories in all of sports. Still, it was quite an achievement. I appreciated the humility and graciousness he showed even when being on the receiving end of a woodshed beatdown during the playoff holes. His countenance never changed and he didn't utter a complaint or any profanity for that matter. Tiger could learn a thing or two from Tom Watson. In fact, its probably the one last thing Tiger can and should learn from the game and this legend of golf. And also perhaps how to win at Turnberry...

As disappointing as it was to see Watson come up short, I could not be happier for Stewart Cink. If you remember, Cink had a 15 foot putt on the 72nd hole to win the US Open in 2001. Not only did he miss it, he also missed the 18 inch gimme comeback putt, depriving himself a spot in the playoff. (Retief Goosen, who had his own 72nd hole 3 putt adventure, eventually won.) Rick Reilly wrote a good article called "The Cinking Feeling" about his unforgettable gaffe. I'm sure that experience had gnawed a Cink for the entirety of the past 8 years. "Cinking" this 15 footer for birdie on this major's 72nd hole to make the playoff must have been such a redeeming moment. And since he's a class act and a US Ryder Cup member/winner, I was happy it was him. (And not that philistine, Lee Westwood). Mickelson, by the way, reports good news - both Amy's and his mom's cancer seem to be treatable.

US Soccer vs Panama in Gold Cup

The Good: Beckerman's golazo was well taken and I like his tenacity. Too bad for him he doesn't have a shot at SA with our crowded midfield. Chad Marshall's play continues to keep him as the 4th CB on the plane to SA. Perkins was sure with the ball and seems likely to be our 3rd stringer. Ching was his usual productive self and Holden's workrate was impressive. (I also liked his fun personality as shown in the meet with David Akers.)

The okay: Pearce seems pretty decent playing against international B teams. Is that good or bad? Heaps was surprisingly back on the field after his horror of a performance vs Haiti. Fortunately, Panama didn't attack up his side at all.

The bad: I know Cooper earned and scored on a very nice PK, but I thought he was extremely underwhelming again on the field. I don't remember any truly dangerous chances that he was involved in and he is running out of time to prove his value to our WC squad. Unless he busts out in the next two games, assuming we win Thursday, or makes a move to Europe, he is out of the picture. Rogers had an ineffective game and seemed determined to just beat his man on the outside for a cross, every single time he had the ball. Too bad he failed most of the time.

Beckham vs AC Milan (or is it LA riot squad)

I think its interesting that right after Landon calls Becks "unprofessional", Becks actually acts that way during this game. Footage clearly show Becks gesturing to those fans and eventually baiting a member of the Galaxy's riot squad to come down, which resulted in that idiot jumping down to the field level and earning a lifetime Home Depot ban. At first, Beckham's loss of self-control in a Galaxy friendly does seem strange, since he's been in many many more high pressure situations that this before. In the past, his temper has flared up against opponents, such as the incident vs Argentina in the 98 WC in which he was red-carded, but not usually with fans, especially fans from his own team. But, I think this time he was actually really embarrassed by the booing and the signs simply because AC Milan was there. Beckham still wants to return to AC Milan after this MLS season and he didn't want Pirlo, Nesta and company to think he was anything other than a god, here in LA.

Big picture, Beckham came to the US at a time when he thought his international career was over and his Real Madrid career was over. By the time he was accepted back into the national team fold, he had already committed himself to the Galaxy. We all know that his first priority is to play for his national team, and in order to compete for a spot, he has to play in a top tier Euro league. Ultimately, he should just admit that he is more committed to England than he is to the Galaxy right now. However, he should also promise up front that he will come back to the Galaxy permanently after next year's WC. From the MLS' perspective, Beckham is too valuable to just let walk away. But he won't be a happy or productive player unless he is allowed to pursue his dream. Galaxy have a fully committed Beckham for 2nd half of this season and the 2nd half of next season. Beckham furthers the Beckham brand at AC Milan early next year and plays in the WC. Seems like the best outcome to me.

Michael Vick's return?

After a 2 year exile, I don't have any problems with Vick returning to the NFL in the fall. I think he has done his time and as long as he follows through with his committments to the Human Society (who cares about peta), he should be reinstated. Chris Carter of ESPN thinks that there aren't 31 QBs better than Vick, but after a 2 year layoff, there's probably 62 QBs who are better. Its not like Vick was a world beater before he left - he was probably around the 15-20th best QBs out there. I think it would be a better fit to start Vick off as a backup or situational QB. Hopefully he still possesses his agility and speed - we haven't seen his type of talent before (Vince Young, you don't hold a candle to this guy and according to Norm Chow, you're probably two grades dumber), but playing QB in the NFL is the hardest position in all of sports. It requires more than just mere athleticism, no matter how supernatural the talent.

Inter vs Chelsea

Jose Mourinho vs his old squad here in LA? How could I miss this game? Will Ferrell (how does he have an old school Chelsea shirt) and Charlize Theron sure didn't. Its nice to see some mainstream personalities embracing the sport. But as for the game, it was complete domination by Lampard and company. They were in midseason form while Inter looked like a completely inferior squad. How did they win a Scudetto with that bunch? It can be argued these days that Serie A is falling more and more behind the EPL and La Liga in quality and star power. But that is for another day. I think I would have regretted not attending had Ibrahimovic had an incredible game. But he seemed uninterested and lazy. His failed bicycle kick may be the only memory we have of him from that night.

Side note: why would Barcelona risk their team chemistry on the field for a look-at-me kind of player like Ibra? Look at Henry's popularity since he left Arsenal - he is just one afterthought on a squad of stars. But he seems to be willing to play his role. Would Ibra do the same? I'm not so sure. I'm also not so sure that he's an upgrade from Eto'o. You know Eto'o is great and he fits with Messi and Henry so well. Why risk bringing on a personality like Zlatan? From Inter's perspective, Eto'o plus lots of cash would be a great deal. In my opinion, Eto'o is as productive of a striker as Ibra.

For Chelsea, they were exciting to watch and should have no problems contending for trophies, even if they don't have any big name signings this summer. If it were up to me, I'd sell Ballack and Sheva. 2 players that can and should take their places were really impressive last night: Deco and Anelka. Deco's play reminded me of his creative brilliance and its confounding that he can't get much time. Perhaps the EPL is too rough for him? Anelka scored 19 goals last year in league play but I still can't get over his distant demeanor. oh well.

My preferred starting XI:
Bosingwa Terry Carvalho Cole
--Lampard- Deco- Cole-----
-------Drogba Anelka-----

Big Ben

I seriously hope this allegations against Roethlisberger are not true. The authorities are not pursuing a criminal case, which seems strange, but all judgement needs to be reserved until more facts come out. Until then, his lyin, gold-diggin psychotic accuser needs to go away. Heh. And Big Ben, learn from AC Green and stop all intimate activity until you are married.

Landon Donovan

Livorno may want you but I hope you don't settle for a Serie A side that's about to get relegated. Hold out for something in Spain, like Valencia or something? I'd guess that he'd be more acclimated to a technical league like Spain instead of the defensive minded Serie A or the rough and tumble EPL. Then again, he's 27 and might not get a lot of looks after this. There's no guarantee that he'll have any takers after the WC next summer.

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