2.14.2009

David Beckham Back to the Galaxy?

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The MLS and the Galaxy issued a deadline for a deal for the permanent stay of David Beckham to A.C. Milan as Friday. The deadline came and went, and now it appears that the superstar footballer turned celeb might actually come back to Hollywood.

This is where I ask, why?

The only reason the MLS want Beckham is for financial reasons. The one-man marketing ploy that Beckham brings to the MLS is big for revenue and the league, but other than that, his stay at the Galaxy is pointless.

While in Milan, Becks looks nothing like the Beckham of LA, as it appears he's found the fountain of youth. He's got some spring his step, a smile, and surely does not feel pimped by the game, the fans, nor his wife. So it is clear why "Goldenballs" wishes to stay in Italy.

For the Galaxy, Beckham is just a media circus. He is played out of position, and is not the superstar leader on the field like they wished he would be.

He came here to change the game, and he didn't. And luckily for David, he re-found his love for the game alongside Brazilian greats Kaka and Ronaldinho.

MLS, come to your senses and let the man play where he fits and where he wants to be. Everyone wins with him in Milan. (Yes, including the wife).


Photo: Los Angeles Times

2.11.2009

Brett Favre Retires...Again

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Less than a year since his retirement from Green Bay, Brett Favre told the Jets today that his days on the gridiron are over. This one to me however, lacks the emotion and the appeal of his last exit.

His stint went the Jets has not tainted his career, but the mere superhero-persona that surrounded him. He looked human playing the Meadowlands, and never looked like that man-boy that America grew to love in Green Bay. He came into our hearts as the smiling country boy with the gun-slinger arm, and the will to win. Last year he was grizzled and aged, and his play showed it.

Hopefully now Favre is sticking to his guns now, because I don't think we as fans can weather yet another retirement flip-flop, this time at the hands of Rex Ryan and Kellen Clemens.

Brett, at this time in your career, stick to what you do best right now, making Wrangler commercials.


Photo: Fresno Beehive

2.10.2009

Guus Hiddink: Not the Answer for Chelsea

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Chelsea fired Luiz Felipe Scolari on Monday after a string of underachievement for the West Londoners. After barely qualifying passed the group stage in the Champions League, faltering against the other big English clubs, and drawing against dismal teams like Southend in the FA Cup, and Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, change was needed.

Scolari vowed to bring Brazilian grace, and joga bonito to Stamford Bridge, but drastically failed.

So in the time following the sacking of Scolari, Guus Hiddink has been bantered about, given the Russian connection with owner Roman Abramovich.

Much like Scolari, Hiddink has been a national team specialist of late, leading South Korea in the 2002 World Cup, Australia in 2006, and Russia in last year's Euros.

Despite his ability to take undersized, and over matched squads farther than expected like South Korea and Russia, he has never worked with top flight talent. While coaching at the club level with PSV Eindhoven between the last two World Cups, he won in a second tier league.

To succeed with a team like Chelsea, Hiddink will have to adapt to having the likes of world class footballers like Michael Essien and Petr Cech on his team, and he is placed in a similr predicament as Scolari and Avram Grant.

Scolari came in with the experience of coaching the world's best players (Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo), and he still failed. Abramovich cannot depend on Hiddink to right the ship if Scolari could not. He must look to a world class club manager to fill the void at the Bridge, a guy like Frank Rijkaard or Carlo Ancelotti is a must.

Photo: The Daily Mail

Troy Aikman Gets UCLA Degree After 20 Years

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The Hall of Fame quarterback will finally walk amongst the newest graduates of UCLA this June. Aikman, 42, promised his mother than he would get his degree, and 20 years after leaving Westwood for Dallas, he delivered.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Aikman passed two courses with an A grade to complete his bachelors in Sociology, and now will speak to his fellow Bruins at the grad ceremony.

The jury is still out on whether or not the degree will make a difference in his day job, as his partnership on FOX with Joe Buck is absolutely brutal. Hopefully for all of America, passing a class on "aging" will provide some much needed spice to their broadcasts, saving himself from the mute button.

But for the mean time, we'll be stuck with Aikman's colorful pitches for Wing Stop.


Photo: Newsday

2.01.2009

Five Things We Learned This Weekend: Jan 31-Feb 1

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1. Roger Federer's run as the tennis world's best player is officially over.
Anyone who stayed up for Sunday morning's epic match-up between Rafael Nadal(above) and Roger Federer in the Australian Open were treated to a pure classic. We all saw the two superstars duel in London last summer in a match dubbed as the greatest of all-time, this one wasn't too far off.

Nadal won the year's opening Grand Slam through hard fought sets with Federer, never feeling comfortable with the Swiss legend giving Nadal all he could. The opening set was right out of the classic Wimbledon match, as both players were relentless on break points, and the two exchanged long rallies which dazzled the Melbourne crowd.

Federer's gameplan from the begining was to wear down Nadal who was coming off a marathon semi-final match of more than five hours. He ran the Spaniard back and forth across the court, to which Nadal responded with precision backhand returns. Despite the first set going to Nadal 7-5, Federer's plan worked in the second stanza as he breezed to a 6-3 victory, reclaiming momentum and allowing Nadal to regroup for the third.

The third set was a battle from the start, with Nadal matching Federer stroke for stroke, eventually winning 7-6(3). But it was probably the fourth set that sent tennis fanatics home grinning ear to ear.

In one of the most beautiful points you will ever see, Nadal fought off a plethora of returns from Federer which chased Nadal across the court, running wind sprints back and forth only to beat Roger with an off-balance backhand in the corner. Nadal raised his hands into the air as if he won the title on that point, which metaphorically he did.

Going into the deciding fifth set, Nadal was step for step with Federer, and completely dominated the final set to win his first Australian Open. He won 15 of 19 serve points, as Federer was clearly worn down and defeated.

The win was so much more than Nadal's first championship down under, and his first Grand Slam on hardcourt, it was the match that officially ended Federer's run. Federer has lost three straight Grand Slam finals with Nadal, each on different surfaces. He's 27 and past his physical peak, while Nadal is 22 and getting better.

Federer couldn't hide his emotions after the match, breaking down on the court, and passing the torch onto Nadal with each tear.

"The first moment you're disappointed, you're shocked, you're sad, you know, then all of a sudden it overwhelms you. The problem is you can't go in the locker room and just take it easy and take a cold shower. You're stuck out there. It's the worst feeling. ... it's rough."

Federer will surely is finished, and still is very likely to match or best Pete Sampras's record of 14 Grand Slams, a title that Roger could have tied on Sunday. But for all intensive purposes, the Federer era as the dominant force of tennis is over. Fittingly however, Rafael Nadal is the king of the tennis world, the second most humble superstar in the world, behind Federer ofcourse.

"Maybe I'll try later. God, it's killing me," the 27-year-old Swiss star said, sobbing. He returned to congratulate Nadal within minutes, saying: "You deserved it. You played a fantastic final."

"Roger, sorry for today. I really know how you feel right now," Nadal said. "Remember, you're a great champion, you're one of the best in history."


ESPN

2. Super Bowl XVIII's fourth quarter was the best ever, even better than last year.
The quarter had everything a fan could want: a 13-point comeback, a safety, a 64 yard touchdown pass, 112 receiving yards from Larry Fitzgerald, 2 Kurt Warner touchdowns, countless momentum swinging penalties, a fumble, a controversial ending, and oh yeah, a game winning touchdown catch with only 35 seconds left.

Last year's Super Bowl was called the greatest ever, but how can it compare? Other than the undefeated story lines, and a heady catch from David Tyree, last year was nothing to this year's fourth.

Put aside the underlying tones of sophomore coaches who went after the same job, and an Arizona franchise which hadn't won since 1948, this was pure football. This was glitz, this was glamour. All-American style, without the heartless Cowboys and egos of the Patriots, but with dedicated fans and players.

"I think what makes America's Team is that anywhere you go in America, that's your home stadium. It's called Steelers Nation for a reason. [The Cowboys] may be called 'America's Team' because they have reality shows. They like to be in the headlines, things like that, but it felt like we were in Pittsburgh tonight.''

—Ryan Clark, Pittsburgh Steelers, Safety

It was clear in those final five minutes that both teams wanted it so bad. Larry Fitzgerald was silent throughout the first three quarters, but like winners are supposed to do, the Cardinals' best player did what he does best, carrying the team upon his shoulders. He grabbed the team by the back of their neck and showed true heart and grit, rallying the troops to their comeback, scoring twice along the way.
Check Spelling
Ben Roethlisberger had been average all game long, but for those two minutes on that last drive, he was Joe Montana, he was John Elway, he was Tom Brady, and Johnny Unitas wrapped into one. He was a man possessed. He fought off countless blitzes and hit open receivers like Santonio Holmes.




Holmes(above) came up big on the final drive, with two epic catches, putting him into Pittsburgh lore. The last catch will go down as one of the greatest touchdown catches in NFL history, as he kept his toes in bounds to snare in the Super Bowl winning score with just 35 seconds left, a la Plaxico Burress one year ago.

Despite the glory of the Steelers, the despair of the Cardinals was painful to watch as a non-partisan fan. I couldn't help but feel sorry for the NFC Champions. They had come so far, played with so much heart in the fourth quarter, and yet when Kurt Warner "fumbled" the ball with seconds left, they lost.

The questionable call as time ran out to not review the fumble leaves us as sports fans to wonder, what could the Cardinals have done with a chance at Hail Mary? With Larry Fitzgerald on your team, it can't be too difficult right? Sadly we won't have that chance. But nonetheless, the game did not lack excitement. I shouldn't be too greedy and ask for more.


3. Sunday was the year's best day in sports.
There can't possibly be a better day in 2009 for the sporting world. With Nadal trumping Federer, and the Steelers winning the Super Bowl in the last minute, the bar is set high for the remaining 333 days in 2009.

If someone we are treated to a better day, then it will be one hell of a day.


4. Lightning does strike twice for the Lakers.
Andrew Bynum's left knee injury last season left them wondering what could have been. This year, they may be wondering the same thing. Kobe Bryant rolled into Bynum's right knee Saturday night, spraining it and placing the up and coming superstar's status in limbo, along with the Lakers' championship aspirations.

Results of an MRI have yet to be released, only adding to the drama. The loss of Bynum is crucial for the Lakers, as they just got healthy with the return of Farmar last week, and now they lose their hottest player.

Bynum had averaged over 26 points, 13 boards and 5 blocks over his last five contests, and has been turning into the dynamic inside presence that Mitch Kupchak envisioned when he drafted the youngster four years ago.

Although Bynum says his knee feels better this time around than last year's knee injury, the freak injury won't stop Laker fans around the globe from panicking mid-season on the Purple & Gold.


5. Being No. 1 in college basketball is overrated.
Once again, the top ranked team in college hoops, Wake Forest, was defeated this week. Wow, big shocker. When are people going to realize that the rankings in college basketball far defer from their meaning in football.

Every year the elite teams will stumble along the way on the road to lesser opponents, and other than their rankings, the losses make little difference for the losing team. The winning team gets the glory and the props when it comes to the RPI and their seeding in the tournament, but the loser really doesn't lose.

Unlike football, where a loss can absolutely kill your season, college basketball is a different game. So why does the media apply the same logic when it comes to rankings?

The No. 1 ranking doesn't mean "best". Instead it is a statistic marking when you last lost, and acts like the succession line to the throne rather than a measurement of greatness. Until basketball season really starts to count for the elite teams, in March, the rankings are just a joke.


Photo: The Telegraph, Huffington Post

Fernando Torres Strikes Twice, Reds Still Alive

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It took 89 minutes, numerous shots on goal, and a gift of a red card to Frank Lampard, until Fernando Torres kept Liverpool in the Premiership title race with two extremely late goals. His match winner sent 44,174 spectators at Anfield into a frenzy, and moments later he finished off a 2-0 victory over Chelsea.

The second half belonged to the Reds, who kept the ball for more than two-thirds of the half, taking full advantage of Chelsea's 10-man side following Lampard's exit at the hour mark. The sending off put a spark to the heels of Liverpool, and bogged Chelsea down in defense, as they played conservative for the last third of the match.

You always knew a goal was in it for Liverpool, as their attack wore down Chelsea. Fabio Aurelio's cross in the 89th set Torres up for his brilliance, and the Spaniard headed the cross into the back of the net. Petr Cech was a second too late for the header, as was Brazilian defender Alex, enabling the ball to ripple into goal, igniting the Kop into chaos at Anfield.

It was fitting for the match winner to go to Torres, who had not scored in nine months at Anfield. The resurrection of his home form could serve as big boost in the arm of Liverpool who entered the match five points adrift of Manchester United at the top of the table. Their inability to win games in the month of January against Stoke, Everton, and Wigan put the "must win" moniker on the match with Chelsea, to which the month of February serves as a beginning.

They're still two points off of league leaders United who have a game in hand, but the win at least delays the slaying of the Reds, while on the other side of the pitch, Chelsea's title hopes are surely gone. Five points off, with United's game in hand puts Chelsea in a nearly impossible spot considering they still have away matches against Arsenal and Aston Villa remaining.

The heartbreaking loss pours salt into the wounds of Lampard's red card, which for all intensive purposes, was one of the worst straight reds that I've ever seen. It set a dismal tone for Scolari's side, and gave Liverpool all the momentum.

Next up for Chelsea is Hull City, followed by a rest of the month which includes difficult home ties with Juventus and Wigan and that treacherous trip to the Midlands to face Villa. It'll be a long month for the Blues, and if Scolari wants to salvage his job, he'll have to pull something out of his hat.

"Liverpool were better than us all game. We need to look again, to try again, we have many games but we are behind two clubs. It is more difficult than before but we have to fight to the end."

—Luiz Felipe Scolari


Photo: The Telegraph


 

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