Posted by hiphopmama on April 25, 2009
One of my new favorite NBA commentators is Nancy Lieberman. Why should you care? Well, for one thing because she is a qualified, skilled announcer with just enough quirkiness to succeed as a color commentator without getting under your skin. Oh, and one of my new faves among NBA referees – an already sterling bunch – is Violet Palmer. Like most NBA refs, she is damn good at making those necessary snap decisions, getting them right, calling them with attitude, and then taking no guff from the players who inevitably feel wronged by the call. My favorite NFL coach? Tony Dungy, by a long shot. Have you ever seen such a class guy for a head coach, in any sport? For someone so soft-spoken and humble in demeanor, he sure whips his teams into shape and gets the absolute most out of them.
Where am I going with all this? A couple different directions, I suppose. The first is simply the point that some of the best and brightest in our current crop of people affiliated with men’s professional sports are among groups traditionally considered minorities in that arena. When I was growing up, the idea of a woman doing anything official on a basketball court besides cheering was unthinkable. Female sideline reporters eventually made some headway in all the big sports, but never did you see a woman calling the game, either behind the broadcast desk or in the striped shirt. Today, I have witnessed more than one of each, and performing admirably.
Still, I have not seen many more than one, and I could count on one hand the number I’ve been able to enjoy in all of those professions combined, which leads me to my second point: there are not enough of these so-called “minorities” despite the excellent jobs they do. I don’t have access to any concrete evaluative system for referees or game commentators, but coaches give you lots of data to work with.
When Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith faced each other in the Super Bowl in 2007, many different news outlets covered the historic event of two black head coaches appearing in football’s biggest event. What fewer noted was the continued diminished returns seen even since the institution of the “Rooney rule,” which requires teams to interview at least one black coach for an open position. In a league that is approximately 70% black, having seven African American head coaches among the thirty-two teams is not exactly an amazing accomplishment, especially when the NFL likes to pat itself on the back for its progressive hiring. What’s more, black coaches tend to have to perform better than their white peers in order to get and keep these scarce jobs. African American coaches tend to out-perform their white counterparts in virtually every category. They average more wins overall as well as in their first year of coaching. They make the playoffs more often, and once there they win more frequently. Even with all of this, they still are quicker to get fired, averaging better records in their final season before being let go than white coaches in the same situation.
What does all this add up to? It’s a fairly easy conclusion to make, actually, and it is simply this: that we need to do more to incorporate a wider variety of people in all facets of sports. It’s not solely a matter of some abstract notion of fairness, although that is nothing to dismiss out of hand, either. Instead, it should be viewed in terms of what the sport itself, as well as its players and viewers, have to gain should a wider net be cast in filling these high-pressure, high-rewards positions. All the numbers indicate that, when given a chance, these underrepresented groups at the very least perform up to the standards of the typical pool of professionals. And while the Rooney rule is a nice idea, it results in a mere formality that is one step on the road to overlooking potentially qualified candidates for more members of the old boys’ club. Kudos to the NFL for even instituting something of the sort, as no other major sport has a comparable requirement, but more is needed. And that goes for women as well, even in an arena dominated by the Y chromosome.
Posted in current events, nba, nfl | Tagged: lovie smith, nancy lieberman, racism, tony dungy, violet palmer | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on January 4, 2009
The Eagles pulled off a good win against the Vikings in their Wild Card match-up. It wasn’t a stunning performance by any stretch, but they got the job done and in the end it wasn’t close. Adrian Peterson broke a 40-yarder for the first touchdown, and the Eagles responded with another Akers field goal and an Asante Samuel interception returned for a touchdown. A McNabb interception set the Vikings up for another Peterson touchdown to keep it close going into the half. It was pretty mundane stuff from both teams in the second half until Brian Westbrook took a screen pass 71 yards to pay dirt and broke the game open. After that, it was all but over. The Vikings never showed enough of a spark to put together a bunch of points, and with the Eagles able to hunker down defensively, the screws were tightened, leading to a fumble which sealed the deal.
McNabb had another effective game, throwing for 300 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT, plus a lost fumble. Stellar? No, but more than enough to get the job done today, which has been the story of his season. He has received endless complaints from the fans, but he still put together a good year that ended with him surpassing his career passing yards record with 3916 and with the Eagles securing a playoff spot after a hardscrabble effort in football’s toughest division. He has consistently performed for the team when healthy, but how much can they really expect from him when they don’t give him anyone to throw to? The only year he had a serious threat at wide-out was when they brought in TO, and they made it to the Super Bowl. They lost, because the Patriots are all but unstoppable in the postseason, but McNabb got them there without TO’s help for the end of the season and most of the playoffs. The TO experiment was obviously a bust, but it proved what McNabb could do when given a talented supporting cast. I understand to an extent the consternation over him not knowing the rule about ties in the regular season – hell, even I knew that one, and I could tell you the last time it happened – but I highly doubt he was the only player unaware of that rule and besides, it didn’t affect the outcome of the game in any way. If it had, that would have been the fault of the coaching staff rather than the player.
As an Angeleno, I don’t have a home team to root for in the NFL, and my affinity for McNabb helped me settle on the Eagles as my surrogate team. It’s been an interesting ride since then, but I still back him 100% and would like to see him get some support from both his city and his organization. If Philadelphia decides it’s time to move on, I sincerely hope he gets the chance he deserves at another team. But if they send McNabb packing, they’ll lose me too. Not that they care, but they should, if for no other reason than because I will quit giving them free press time on this blog. Cry me a river, Philly.
Posted in nfl | Tagged: adrian peterson, brian westbrook, donovan mcnabb, eagles, nfl playoffs, terrell owens, vikings | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on January 3, 2009
Ass Meets Class
I didn’t get to watch much of either game, but somehow both the Chargers and the Cardinals have made it through to the next round of the playoffs. That’s right. The Chargers, who struggled to finish the season at .500, and the Cardinals, who earned their spot by winning the second-weakest division in football.
It makes sense that a veteran like Kurt Warner would fare better in the playoffs than the rookie Matt Ryan, although the Cardinals’ (undeserved?) home field advantage certainly helped as well. The Colts, though, have no such excuse. Indy was hurt by some poor penalties in key situations to keep the Chargers’ overtime drive alive, as well as by the fact that they only got 64 yards rushing. This compared to San Diego’s 167 rushing yards, despite losing Tomlinson to a groin injury in the first half. Darren Sproles atoned for his early fumble in the end zone by following it up with two touchdowns and over a hundred yards in a surprisingly key performance. The Colts simply weren’t able to close the door on them, and the Chargers took advantage with a late field goal to force overtime and a lucky coin toss to start the extra period.
It’s disappointing, because I like this new Falcons team (and coach) and I detest Philip Rivers, but I can deal with it since neither the Patriots nor the Cowboys made it to the playoffs at all. (Did I mention? Ha ha to both of those suckers.) If the Eagles can perform the reasonable task of taking out the Vikings tomorrow, the weekend will still be a success, regardless of how the Baltimore-Miami game turns out. Although, for the record, I will say go Pennington. Rub some salt in the wounds of disappointed Jets fans crying in their Wrangler jeans.
Posted in nfl | Tagged: cardinals, chargers, colts, darren sproles, dolphins, eagles, falcons, kurt warner, ladainian tomlinson, matt ryan, nfl playoffs, peyton manning, philip rivers, ravens, vikings | 1 Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on December 27, 2008
Number 21 is tackling Jesus!!
With the NBA season picking up steam, this has essentially become a Lakers blog. Which is cool, but I had initially intended to use it as a forum to talk about all the sports I watched, and I’ve definitely fallen off in that respect. With that in mind, I’d like to recap all the sporting action I’ve been watching, with an eye toward what current results are likely to mean in the near future. Without further ado…
Apparently no one wants to win the title this year, because every time one of the top teams slips up and presents an opening, the rest follow suit with disappointing performances to keep pace with the leaders. Arsenal are goners (not Gooners) at this point, but the remaining Big Three seem to win, lose, or draw together, as if they signed a mutual pact before the season stating that no one would run away with the title before the new year. Liverpool and Chelsea, in particular, have had their fates linked, with each team drawing games and losing points at the same time, and then both turning it around for a big win the following week. Friday’s games saw this happen again, as the top two squads gave dominating performances and secured three points apiece to stay logjammed at the top of the table (Liverpool currently sits one point ahead of Chelsea). It’s hard to figure Man Utd out at this point, since they’ve played two fewer games for the moment, but they’re certainly within striking distance, as are Aston Villa, the surprise upstarts of the season. They staged a miraculous comeback on Boxing Day – perhaps not so miraculous considering Arsenal’s form this year – surging from 2-0 down to tie the game with a stoppage time goal from Zat Knight. The draw kept Arsenal out of the top four for another week, three points adrift of Villa for the final Champions League spot. I had expected much more to be decided by the Christmas slate of games, but it appears we’ll be exactly where we started come January. How the teams approach the transfer market will thus likely have a big effect on the ultimate outcome.
Pep Guardiola is right to point out that there’s a long way to go, but it’s increasingly looking like a foregone conclusion that Barça will win the title this year. Real Madrid is all but out of the race, currently sitting in fifth place and twelve points adrift of the leaders. No team has been as ravaged by injuries as Los Merengues, so an infusion of new blood will be necessary if they plan to make a late run to defend their title, or even to reclaim a top four spot. They’ve already locked up Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Lassana Diarra, but another defender and someone to play on the right wing would be a big help to Juande Ramos as he tries to extend his stay with the team. Valencia has stayed near the top longer than expected, especially considering the injury to David Silva, and Sevilla are the closest to Barcelona in second place. Mind you, they’re still ten points back of the Blaugrana, but they’re in a better spot than anyone else to overtake them. If they can hang onto their players, that is.
Inter continue their league dominance, entering the new year six points ahead of Juventus, their nearest competitors, with AC Milan nine points off the pace. While it pains me to say so, Jose Mourinho has done well with his boys, not allowing malaise to set in for extended periods and fielding good squads suited to the task at hand. Juventus have been picking up steam, though, and are poised to make life tough for Inter down the stretch. While I want to believe that AC Milan are still in it, I doubt they’ll be serious contenders come season’s end. Their aging squad has added another elder statesman in David Beckham, and the return of players like Pirlo and Ambrosini has helped prop the team up recently. Still, Kaka and Ronaldinho have yet to prove they can play effectively together and neither has been exactly scintillating so far. The middle third of the table is remarkably tight as well, with Napoli, Genoa, Lazio, and Catania all within striking distance of a top four spot. If Juve (and hoepfully Milan and Fiorentina) can give Inter a run for their money, it should be an entertaining sprint to the finish line. Anyone but Inter!
And now to the good stuff. The NFL is in its home stretch, with one more round of games to determine the lucky teams who will make the playoffs. While the Giants and Titans are essentially marking time until their second round match-ups, there are a number of battles yet to be played out. The Eagles still have a shot at a playoff spot if they can beat the Cowboys and get a little help from teams like the Bucs, Vikings, and/or Bears. The Dolphins have their fate in their own hands and can clinch the AFC East with a win this week, regardless of what the Patriots do. New England, on the other hand, has to win and then hope for a Miami loss (or tie). Come on, Dolphins. The best game of the week will be between the Chargers and Broncos for sole possession of the AFC West title, although I’ll have a hard time watching because I dislike both quarterbacks so much. Both seem like your prototypical QB jock brought up to believe their shit don’t stink. I hope they both crash and burn, but that the Chargers still win. This has the potential to be one of the more interesting playoffs in a while, with a surprising array of strong teams all with a chance to do some real damage. Just think about it. When was the last time the Colts were a five seed? The Vikings in the three spot? And the Dolphins in the playoffs at all?? Despite their stellar records, none of the top teams looks really unbeatable, so every game should be a slugfest with the potential of an upset. As long as the Patriots don’t make it, I really can’t lose this year.
So that’s that. My sports viewing in a nutshell. Does anyone really give a shit? Nope, just me, but I’ll always take the chance to prove my extensive knowledge and remind people that I know more about sports than they do AND I’m a girl. How about that X chromosome?
Posted in nfl, soccer | Tagged: ac milan, ambrosini, arsenal, aston villa, barcelona, bears, broncos, buccaneers, catania, chargers, chelsea, cowboys, david beckham, david silva, dolphins, eagles, epl, fiorentina, genoa, huntelaar, inter, jose mourinho, juande ramos, juventus, kaka, lassana diarra, lazio, liverpool, manchester united, napoli, new york giants, nfl, nfl playoffs, patriots, pirlo, primera liga, real madrid, ronaldinho, serie a, sevilla, valencia, vikings | 1 Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on December 12, 2008
As if you gave a damn. =) I’m looking forward to a good weekend of sports viewing, and I just had to share it all with you. Because I’m self-centered like that.
El Clasico: Barcelona v Real Madrid
This is numero uno on my schedule this weekend. As impossible as it sounds, I’m kind of indifferent to the outcome of this game, so I can just enjoy the intensity of it all without sweating the result. Barcelona is currently six points clear at the top of the table, while Real Madrid sits in fifth, nine points adrift of the Blaugrana. I expect it to be a hotly contested affair with lots of highlights, but I also expect that it won’t be particularly close in the end, with Barça winning it in their typical eye-popping style. As long as both teams come to play – as I fully expect – and not just to thwart the other team, it should live up to the hype.
Tottenham v Manchester United
Dimitar Berbatov returns to White Hart Lane to take on a surging Spurs side that has remade its season under Harry Redknapp. The newly crowned Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo will be entertaining as always, even if only in his monstrously exaggerated attempts to get fouls calls on the opposing team.
Chelsea v West Ham
Chelsea will hope to regain their form at the formerly formidable Stamford Bridge (I know, I know, excessive) in the London derby against the East End Hammers. Only trailing Liverpool by one point, Chelsea have a chance to overtake them at the top of the table depending on how it all shakes out. Drogba is finally back in action, so Scolari has the (un)enviable problem of deciding how to play his star-studded front line with both Didier and Anelka chomping at the bit. Anelka has been outstanding this year, but he has been less than stellar at the Bridge and Drogba is coming off a spectacular goal against Cluj in Champions League play this week. West Ham are looking to stop a horrendous slide in which they haven’t won a game since September. Good luck turning it around against Chelsea.
Juventus v AC Milan
These two teams will be duking it out for sole possession of second place in Serie A, behind only Inter in the standings. Milan have moved into prime position in the table despite some middling performances, while Juve have been on a bit of a tear. A win would be more of a statement for Milan at this point.
Buccaneers v Falcons
Atlanta is currently one game behind Tampa Bay, who sits one game behind Carolina in the shockingly good NFC South. With the Panthers facing a tough three games to close the season, this game could help propel either of these teams into the playoff mix.
Giants v Cowboys
Yet another crucial game in the always tough NFC East. Go Eli. That’s all I’m gonna say.
Timberwolves v Lakers
This SHOULDN’T be a good game, but with the Lakers you never know. As I just heard Stu Lantz say, this is the most misleading 18-3 (now 19-3) record you will see. Still, the Timberwolves shouldn’t be able to push us too hard. Right? I think I’m trying to convince myself.
Posted in nba, nfl, soccer | Tagged: ac milan, atlanta falcons, barcelona, chelsea, dallas cowboys, epl, juventus, lakers, manchester united, new york giants, primera liga, real madrid, serie a, tampa bay buccaneers, timberwolves, tottenham, west ham | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on November 23, 2008
Talk about bizarre. Aside from Arsenal, who lost horribly to Manchester City 3-0, all the big teams in the EPL finished the weekend in 0-0 draws. ManU drew away at Aston Villa; Liverpool went scoreless at home against Fulham; and Chelsea failed to get on the board at home against Newcastle. So between the big four teams this week, not a single goal was netted.
There has been some talk about the level of competition in the Prem being generally higher this year and, miracle of miracles, that someone outside of the big four might sneak their way into a Champions League spot. Granted, there have been some nice surprises among the “lesser” teams and the bigs have looked distinctly beatable, at least at times. Arsenal in particular look to be on the verge of a bid for the UEFA Cup next year, and ManU have had a hard time getting results against the top teams.
Despite all this, any discussion of supposed parity in European football makes me laugh. I know no one expects teams like West Brom and Wigan to be able to compete with the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool, but the notion that the Grand Canyon-sized gap between the top and the bottom of the league might possibly have closed by an inch or two is pretty comical. Let me get this straight. 75% or more of the top of the table is likely to shake out according to form (AKA dollars), but the possible inclusion of Aston Villa or even – gasp – Hull City is supposed to get me excited? I agree that Hull City’s story is amazing, and I’m definitely pulling for them to upset some people come season’s end, but I don’t really see that going anywhere. All the biggies will just retool, probably siphoning off some of the new up-and-comers’ talent, and we’ll be back to square one next year.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for some more competition in the Premier League. It’s just that, coming from a background of American sports which have at least a semblance of a salary cap, the occasional contention by a dark horse team just doesn’t inspire me. The U.S. hasn’t figured out many curbs to capitalism’s excesses, but sports is one area where we’re light years ahead of Europe. It’s not categorically better or worse, just much more even across the board. From what I can understand from my limited experience, that’s not even really the goal in Europe. You have these huge teams, like Chelsea and Real Madrid and Inter Milan, and they drive much of the action. Smaller teams chafe at them when they steal their talent away with a big paycheck, but I don’t sense much of a blowback from anyone with a serious interest in changing the system. Or to put it more directly, I cannot imagine a scenario in which one of those big teams was relegated.
And that aspect of the European game may be a crucial part of the difference. As the analysts are so fond of noting, on any given week, even the lowliest team in the NFL has a chance to knock off a title contender. Who would have thought at the beginning of this season that Atlanta would be 7-4 while Jacksonville sits at 4-7? Injuries play a huge role in leveling the playing field in the NFL, but a strict salary cap certainly deserves some credit as well. On the flip side, there are no special penalties for having a poor season, besides the general ill will of fans and a decrease in profits. In Europe, however, the consequences are harsh, with relegation to a lower league bestowed upon the lowest three finishers. I can’t fathom how big name teams like the Giants and the Patriots would handle the possibility of relegation in an off year, and I can only imagine they would be equally harried in their efforts to do whatever possible to avoid it.
That doesn’t capture the whole situation, because even in a desperate attempt to stay in the top flight, NFL teams would have to do so within a salary cap. But with a relegation system in place, the wealthier organizations would have a big interest in lobbying the league to loosen up the monetary restrictions.
Okay, that was a long aside on the monied interests in European sports, but there it is. Back to the games. The two I saw were much more entertaining than their goalless scorelines suggest. Chelsea blanketed Newcastle in possession, but the Magpies dug in their heels and held on for dear life, only just making it out by the skin of their teeth and a gracious full time whistle. Lampard saw a couple of good opportunities go wayward and Shay Given made a great save or two, but overall Newcastle showed great grit in keeping Chelsea off the scoreboard. Manchester United were similarly frustrated by a surging Villa team coming off an emotional 2-0 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates last week. Aston Villa posed a little more of a threat going forward than Newcastle did, but they also sat back and dared ManU to get one past them. At one point near the end, forward Gabriel Agbonlahor made a game-saving clearance in the box, indicating just how many Villa players were staying back to defend. I enjoyed this one since I hated ManU and Cristiano Ronaldo in particular. He was full of overblown histrionics in this game, rolling around on the ground and grimacing in pain as if he had lost a limb, only to get up and walk off under his own power all the while complaining to the referee. When he eventually went off with a slight but noticeable limp, I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t all for effect, as most things are with him. Whenever I watch him, he seems to be playing as if for a highlight reel in his head, picturing how this is going to look on YouTube the next morning. Hence all the useless stepovers and backheels that are entirely unnecessary and unhelpful to his team. When he is in form, he is an absolute joy to watch as he does things with the ball at his feet that few others can, and even a hater like myself can appreciate his talent. But that doesn’t detract from what a pissy little pretty boy he is. I’m sure he spends more on primping and pampering than any girl I know, including those meticulously waxed eyebrows and that perfectly gelled hair. Am I far off the mark in seeing him as Ricky Martin in cleats?
As for the others, I can only tell you what I’ve read. For Liverpool, Fernando Torres’ return could not offset the loss of Steven Gerrard to a groin injury, and the defensive minded Fulham team stubbornly denied them all game. Benitez’s decision to rest Xabi Alonso was a little surprising given the absence of Torres, although he was brought on in the second half, but it was too little too late. And then there was Arsenal. I’d prefer not to talk about it, but if I have to, I guess I’ll just say that the depleted line-up and lack of any momentum whatsoever really caught them up. They were without Gallas after the former captain was stripped of the armband, and in addition they were missing Fabregas, Walcott, Adebayor, and Toure. Confusion at the back resulted in the first goal by Stephen Ireland, and Robinho chipped one over Almunia for the second. Finally, in the game’s dying minutes, Daniel Sturridge nailed the penalty after a poor challenge by Djourou in the box. Arsenal now find themselves out of the top four, just behind Aston Villa and only a point ahead of Hull City. Frankly, I’m surprised it has taken this long, but I don’t see things getting better any time soon. It seems everyone at the team is under fire at the moment, so it will take a while for things to settle back down. A good run of play certainly couldn’t hurt that process, though.
Posted in general, nfl, soccer | Tagged: agbonlahor, arsenal, aston villa, chelsea, cristiano ronaldo, epl, frank lampard, fulham, liverpool, manchester city, manchester united, newcastle, shay given | 1 Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on November 18, 2008
Welcome to Perfectville! Population: 1 strand
LOL at Mercury Morris on a hair restoration commercial. “I even went undefeated against hair loss! Take THAT, Tom Brady! These younger guys may live 20, 30 years longer, but they can’t maintain every last hair in the clutch. I pop a bottle of Cristal every time one of them loses a strand!” Classic.
Posted in general, nfl, tv | Tagged: hair restoration, mercury morris | 1 Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on November 17, 2008
After another disappointing loss, their third in four games, the Real Madrid coach was rumored to be on the hot seat for not getting the desired results from his all-star squad (read here about his stay of execution). The loss to Valladolid was indeed painful, in a different way than those losses to a resurgent Juve team, as Real once again looked hapless at the back and frankly uninterested in doing anything about it. It was a listless effort against a spunky team that, no matter how spurred on by their home fans, Real should have beat.
Still, when I heard about Schuster facing possible dismissal if his team lost that game all I could think was, “Only in soccer.” (Or football, or top flight European football – take your pick.) There is lots of talk about the “coaching carousel” in certain U.S. sports, particularly basketball, but it doesn’t even come close to approaching the kind of musical chairs that goes on in the big European leagues. Real Madrid is a case in point. Fabio Capello is brought in for ’06-’07, and he leads the team to a title. It was a grind, and it came down to the last week, but the team got it done. It wasn’t enough, though, and he was fired ostensibly for not playing the kind of football the Real Madrid faithful were used to seeing, adopting a more defensive style that was less flashy than the (notably title-less) Galacticos teams. So next up is Bernd Schuster, who brings back the razzle-dazzle (thanks, Ray Hudson) and leads the team to its second title in two years. So now, early on in the year and after the team’s first league loss, he is potentially on his way out, because these clubs operate on the Janet Jackson principle: what have you done for me lately?
I’ve always been a proponent of giving coaches time to prove their worth, especially if they come in with proven track records to back them. I’m admittedly a noob when it comes to European football, but my experience with the NBA tells me that you have to be patient. It takes time to come in, get a feel for the team culture, assemble the players you want on the roster, institute a new system (if necessary), and change the established mentality, all before you can expect to start winning. It doesn’t always take this long, but when it doesn’t, you can be assured that the system and players were already mostly in place before the new coach swept to power. Larry Brown ended up leading the Pistons to their first title in 14 years, but he did so with a team that Rick Carlisle assembled and brought back from the abyss and into contention. The addition of Rasheed Wallace in Brown’s first year was the thing that probably put them over the top and helped them beat my beloved Lakers. Similarly, when Flip Saunders came in and instituted a more open, offensive style – which was what management wanted from Carlisle all along, in addition to a more personable attitude – he led essentially the same group to the NBA Finals only to see them lose a tight battle to the Spurs. Jon Gruden propelled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a championship in 2002 on the back of Tony Dungy’s grunt work bringing that group together and instituting their renowned defense. Rotating new coaches in and out of already solid teams – as all of these big clubs are – is bound to be a 50-50 endeavor, yielding results as often as “disappointments,” however psychos like Ramon Calderon define those terms.
Thinking about these various coaches leads me to the conclusion that European football coaches are simultaneously more and less valued than coaches in the big sports in the U.S. Coaches in Europe are often superstars to the same extent as their players are, and their every move is scrutinized by the press and rival teams. Phil Jackson is only half jokingly self-dubbed the “Zen Master,” but it doesn’t approach the level of devotion that trails “The Special One” who currently resides in Milan. Despite this, even these larger than life coaches are rather easily disposed of and often for reasons that are entirely foreign to a stateside fan like myself. The Pistons ditched Carlisle partially for his surly demeanor as well as for a difference in opinion over team strategy, but it’s rare for feuds between coaches and team managers to be nearly as direct or as public as they are in Europe. Mourinho chafed under Abramovich’s insistence on Shevchenko’s position with Chelsea and was fired after taking the club to two consecutive league titles, while Capello was unceremoniously disposed of by Madrid for winning the title with less style than the Madridistas demanded. It’s hard for me to imagine an NBA or NFL coach sacked immediately after leading a team to a championship, no matter what justifiable reasons team management or owners might have. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it makes more sense to me that, if you’ve just come off a good performance, you might not want to shake things up. Then again, when you have the ability to just buy and buy and buy more talent, you have no incentive to work on building from what you already have, as happens in U.S. sports with at least a pretense of a salary cap. Instead, you can just ditch whatever doesn’t instantly work and move on to the next quick fix. Unfortunately, it seems like you might get just that – a QUICK fix that doesn’t serve your long-term interests.
But what the hell do I know? I’m just a dumb Yank.
Posted in general, nba, nfl, soccer | Tagged: bernd schuster, buccaneers, chelsea, epl, fabio capello, jon gruden, jose mourinho, larry brown, pistons, primera liga, real madrid, rick carlisle, roman abramovich, shevchenko, tony dungy | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on November 13, 2008
Let’s be clear – this game should never have gone to overtime. The Jets were one first down away from being able to run out the clock with a seven point lead to take over first place in the AFC East. They didn’t convert it, so they had to punt it away and give the Patriots a shot at a game-tying drive with a little over a minute left and no timeouts.
And then they lined up in the godforsaken prevent defense. I cannot even express how much I hate this decision, almost whenever it is made. If you’re in a situation where you’re even considering going into the prevent, that must mean your defense has managed to hold you up till that point. So why do it? Let your defense do what it’s been doing all game. Maybe call off the dogs just a little, but don’t drop four safeties back into coverage, give the quarterback years to find a guy, and leave the middle of the field wide open. Even with no timeouts, the Patriots – and most NFL teams in this situation – were able to methodically move up the field and into good position for a last second shot at the end zone.
And so they did. They almost shot themselves in the foot with a false start penalty, but they once again found an overlarge gap and regained the lost yards, setting themselves up for a shot or two at the tying score. As it turned out, they only needed one. The Jets, who had been bumping Randy Moss at the line the whole drive, inexplicably backed off and let him run free, allowing him to get upfield unimpeded. Cassel picked him out and Moss made a fantastic catch, with the Jets defender falling on Moss’ back foot and forcing it down inbounds. The booth reviewed it, but they play stood, as it should have, leaving one second on the clock and forcing overtime.
Thankfully, the gods smiled on all of us in the free world (AKA not Boston) and awarded the coin toss to New York, who elected to receive. The first two plays from scrimmage were awful, seeming to bode poorly for the Jets. Favre was sacked, leaving New York around their own 10 and facing 3rd & 15. Dustin Keller was the beneficiary of what must have been a blown coverage by the Patriots, as he was disgustingly open in the middle. Favre picked him out, and he withstood a tackle (by Meriweather, I believe) and got the first down. From there, it was a well-managed drive, the Jets efficiently moving the ball to within Jay Feely’s range. They centered the ball, set up the kick, and went home the victors and leaders of the AFC East.
Thankfully things worked themselves out, because I was ready to chuck the remote at my TV watching the Jets absolutely blow their last regular time drive with that shitty excuse for a defense. I’m sure that even for a prevent scheme that was piss poor, but the decision to go to that in the first place was faulty. Sure there’s no Tom Brady, but it’s still the Patriots, with Bill Belichick calling the shots and Randy Moss streaking up the sidelines. You really didn’t expect them to pick you apart? Absolute dickery.
I have no particular love for the Jets, especially since the Whiney Wrangler showed up to save the day, but they’re not the Patriots, and for that I was behind them 100% tonight. I’m glad they didn’t let me down, but I’m also glad I can go back to complete apathy toward them next week. As for the Pats, my hatred never wavers.
Posted in nfl | Tagged: jay feely, jets, matt cassel, patriots, randy moss | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on October 13, 2008
Few things in the sporting world trump my hatred of Boston area teams, but the Cowboys are one of them. To see them lose – and to lose like this, to the Arizona Cardinals, after a great start to the season – is the ultimate for me. Especially on a day when my Eagles picked up a win and the Redskins also lost, making the NFC East picture a tiny bit murkier.
The Cardinals played a good game, and the Cowboys were only able to force overtime after a couple big plays and a couple boneheaded moves by Arizona. First, with the clock running out, a Cardinal defender is unable to make it to his side of the line of scrimmage before the snap because of an injury, so there’s a five yard penalty for offside. Then AZ’s coach, Ken Wisenhunt, waits till the last millisecond to call a timeout to try and ice the Dallas kicker, only to see his team block the kick which ended up not counting. The Cowboys turn around and put the 52-yarder through the uprights and win the coin toss to receive first in OT. Thankfully, the AZ defense held its own and the Cowboys had to punt just outside their own goal line. Then, miracle of all miracles, Sean Morey got to the punter untouched, blocked the kick, and watched as Monty Beisel rolled his way into the end zone with the ball to win the game.
Ecstasy. That’s all I can say. My cats were treated to extra food, which is saying something since my husband is a grinch with the cat food. We are training them to hate the Cowboys as well.
Here are the highlights of the end of the game:
Posted in nfl | Tagged: cardinals, cowboys, monty beisel, sean morey | 1 Comment »