Bringing March Madness to Soccer?

Gus Johnson is widely regarded as one of the best announcers in television. And when he’s paired with the incomparable Bill Raftery, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament becomes a little more special.

Thanks to YouTube user pbombz24, we can now know how Johnson and Raftery would sound calling the beautiful game. For instance, if the U.S. needed a last minute goal to advance from the group stage…

I still get chill-bumps watching that goal. The sound of Johnson and Raftery just make it even better. U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!

A final pre-World Cup entry

I know what you’re thinking. You keep wondering why this asshole Michael Street is shoving soccer down your throats like a fat man at a buffet. I apologize. I really do. But I’ve also grown to love this sport, so writing about it keeps me calm as the days and hours tick away until the games begin.

And though some of you out there may yet not understand the significance of football around the globe, it’s not too late to learn. However, I could not come close to explaining it in any way. Thankfully, the folks at Nike Football spared no expense (reportedly this 3 minute long commercial cost $23 million) in showing what just one play in the course of a game can mean for a country.

The way players, fans, and other superstars react from one shot, one pass, one deflection, etc. is truly remarkable. I leave you with the video below. Enjoy.

Speaking of extremely annoying sports sycophants and drama queens: Fox Sports and Brett Favre

Attention sports broadcasters: This is Drew Brees, the other quarterback in last night's NFC Championship Game

Yesterday, I was able to watch both the AFC and NFC championships in their entirety, thanks to a great significant other who took care of all food preparation after 3:00 yesterday and made sure that all our errands were run before the opening kickoff of the Colts – Jets game.  Because one game basically followed the other and there was nothing to interrupt my viewing, I witnessed firsthand the difference between pretty solid sports analysis and grace under pressure–CBS Sports and the quarterbacking of Peyton Manning, Mark Sanchez and Drew Brees–and fawning parasitic babbling and and manipulative melodrama–the pre-game predictions, halftime analysis and color commentary of Fox Sports and the quarterbacking of Brett Favre.

Until yesterday, I thought Brett Favre’s neediness and attention-mongering were confined to contract negotiations but that he left all that behind when he was on the field. And I thought that the High Priests of the Brett Favre Holy Shrine were only on ESPN. As I am about so many things, I was completely wrong.

I really hadn’t watched the Vikings much this season (or Jets or the Green Bay Packers in the past), and I’ve never really paid close attention to Favre as a player other than to note in passing to my brother about 5 or 6 years ago that it looked like he was doing good things for Green Bay. In fact, my mind shuts down when I hear or see his name, and I never read any articles about him. So, yesterday was the first time I got to see him in all his diva-like glory and I was disgusted. He and his team made key mistakes and he himself threw two interceptions, but thanks to his uncanny ability to manipulate the press, he managed to prevent criticism of his play last night.

After the first interception, his behavior turned the corner from mildly annoying to unbearably horrible when he started rolling around the field in agony, pointing at his knee. People from the Vikings organization immediately rushed out to the field and helped Favre while he limped to the sideline as if someone had shot him in the knee, somehow managing to portray both extreme agony and stiff-upper-lip bravery at the same time.

The game clock remained frozen while several sports medicine types fussed over him like grandmothers as he had his ankle (yes, that’s his ankle, not his knee) taped and re-taped. Finally, it was decided that he would live and play resumed. Interestingly, Mr. “Will I Ever Walk Again?” somehow managed to get back on the field when Vikings regained possession of the ball and played the rest of the game.

Honestly, it was more sickening than a Greg Paulus flop or a “I just kicked the goalie in his privates and now I’m going to pretend he injured me for life so I don’t get a penalty” performance from any number of soccer/futbol players from around the world. It was also extremely manipulative because natural concern for someone who appeared to be seriously injured was milked to hide the fact that the Best Quarterback in America had thrown an interception.

The other quarterbacks that played yesterday were also under pressure. For example, Peyton Manning’s team was down to the Jets going into the second half. Did Manning have a bunch of hissy fits and try to be the “star” by throwing passes wildly? Nope. He had taken in the Jets’s defensive moves and worked with the coaches during half time to make adjustments that would throw the Jets off. As Sanchez watched the game slip away, did he writhe in melodramatic fashion near the line os crimmage? No. He kept trying to work with his team to win. The Vikings defense wasn’t exactly kind to Drew Brees, but he doggedly ground out plays to keep them in the game.

What made it 10 times worse for me as a viewer is how Fox Sports covered Favre in all his vainglory. For example, instead of focusing on Vilma, the guy

Too bad I didn't think to turn the sound down on these guys

who intercepted Favre the first time, and hastily putting up his stats and any information about earlier interceptions in the season, Fox trained all its cameras on Favre’s antics on the sidelines. They even dragged out a camera shot of Favre’s wife’s reaction when he was hit, which included putting her hand over her mouth in concern (as if no other wife in the history of football suffered when her husband was hurt).

If this had been Fox’s only transgression, I would have forgiven them for playing into the hands of a master manipulator. However, this was only part of what I can only describe as obsessive Favre coverage. They counted every time he was hit (as if no one ever tackled a quarterback before) and constantly reminded everyone of the “pounding” he was taking throughout the game.

The pre-game show featured Fox “analysts” (I can’t remember which ones offhand, sorry) insisting that the Vikings would win because they were the best team in the NFL and they repeated that again during the half time show. (I find it fascinating that the best team in the NFL didn’t have the best record.) Also during half time, all kinds of criticisms of Payton’s coaching of the Saints were offered up and it was at this time that they made a huge deal out of the hits on Favre and insinuated that New Orleans wouldn’t be able to keep him down and they were unlikely to win.

After suffering through this commentary and endless, sycophantic Favre coverage, I had the brilliant idea to turn the sound down on the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter and watched it with a lot less rancor, especially once my significant other suggested that I stop counting the camera shots of Favre both on and off the field. When the Saints won in overtime, I even managed to forget my ire in my happiness for one of the biggest underdogs in NFL history.  However, that joy was shortlived.

This morning I realized that the sick, symbiotic relationship that I thought existed only between Favre and ESPN/Fox probably extends to all sports media, because even NPR’s coverage of the game was devoted to what Favre thought about the game (“It was more physical than people realized, wah, wah”) and whether or not he would play next year.

Look out for the bus, Adrian!!!!!

Then, I went online and saw that is throwing Peterson under the bus for the loss because of his fumbles, when they’re not blaming the Vikings for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory or using their thesauruses to come up with new ways to describe the ills Brett imagines he suffered at the hands of the Saints defense. And I can’t help but wonder, did these people even watch the game? Because, you see, there was another team that played in the game. That team is called the Saints and they had an offense that scored more points than the Vikings and a defense that helped force the turnovers, including two that were made by someone other than Peterson, one of which probably cost them the game. And that team is actually the team that’s in the Super Bowl. I don’t want to hear endless speculation about Favre’s future and whining about how the Vikings should be in the Super Bowl. I want to enjoy the moment for both the Saints and the Colts. And somehow I don’t think I’m alone.

College Football Top 25 11/22/09

Previous EJSIC college football polls:
Week 9, Week 10, Week 11, Week 12

Here we are following week 11 of the college football season. Here are the AP and USA Today week 12 polls but we here at EJSIC are pretty sure we can do better because, to us, all that matters are the teams, who they’ve played, and who they’ve beaten.

So, here it is. All the information you need to make your own minds up. As always, we’re interested in your thoughts, what you would do differently and maybe a quick justification for why. Presented below are the rankings, team, record, (votes – first place votes). Also included are next week’s opponent, wins against teams currently in the top 25, and notable losses to teams that receive no votes in the poll.

1. Florida 11-0 (146 – 3) Next week: vs. Florida State (6-5)
Wins: @ #19 LSU (8-3)
Notable Losses: None
2. Alabama 11-0 (143 – 1) Next week: Friday @ Auburn (7-4)
Top 25 Wins: vs. #14 VA Tech (8-3), #19 LSU (8-3)
Notable Losses: None
3. TCU 11-0 (138 – 2) Next week: vs. New Mexico (1-10)
Top 25 Wins: @ #20 BYU (9-2), #16 Utah (9-2)
Notable Losses: None
4. Texas 11-0 (134) Next week: Thursday Night @ Texas A&M (6-5)
Top 25 Wins: @ #11 Oklahoma State (9-2)
Notable Losses: None
5. Boise State 11-0 (123) Week 10: Friday vs. Nevada (8-3)
Top 25 Wins: #9 Oregon (9-2)
Notable Losses: None

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Samurai of the Week ~ October… Michelle Beadle

The Sensei's Samurai of the Week

First off, The Sensei knows that the week of October is not a week per se.  But then again, Lady Gaga is not a lady per se and Fox News is not a news channel per se.  The Sensei’s use of the phrase per se in this post is not correct per se.

Anyway… The Sensei has been spending a lot of time on the couch in his apartment eating sherbert and frozen potstickers while not writing his business thesis and become quite attached to low brow ESPN comedy show “Sports Nation”, hosted by the great Colin Cowherd and the beautiful and charming Michelle Beadle.

Colin Cowherd says so many insanely dumb things that the show has a daily segment called “He Said That!?”, at which point a clip of Skip Ba… Colin Cowherd saying something ridiculous earlier in the show is replayed in grainy black and white video while Michelle openly ridicules him for it.

Michelle Beadle

Today, Colin (which The Sensei thinks sounds like a nine year old boy’s name) argued that USC should be ranked ahead of Alabama because USC hasn’t lost by more than a touchdown in seven years while Alabama has lost to Louisiana-Monroe and Utah, and because USC has the best athletes from California while Alabama is stuck with the best athletes from Alabama.  Somehow that statement was not outlandish enough for “He Said That” honors, but it stuck out to The Sensei and to Cowherd’s blond co-host, who laughed out loud.

This week’s Samurai Of The Week goes to Michelle Beadle because she is hot, cool, seemingly not crazy, and laughs at Colin Cowherd on national television every day.

Also, Michelle is even better at eating hot dogs than Erin Andrews is at eating sandwiches, although we all understand that that’s not relevant to her prowess as a female sports reporter in any way whatsoever.  Obviously. 

Big Hit Makes ESPN Top Plays, Runner Scores Anyway

Chris Mason scampers for his score after not being phased by an apparently vicious hit.

Chris Mason scampers for his score after not being phased by an apparently vicious hit.

University of North Texas safety DeWaylon Cook filled the hole, put his shoulder down and blasted Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Chris Mason. The ESPN studio hosts all yelled “JACKED UP!” as the video rolled during the sports network’s popular Top Plays segment and Cook followed the hit with an amazing victory celebration. One thing left out of the highlight roll though was Mason bouncing off the hit and rambling the remaining 20 yards into the end zone in the Ragin Cajuns’ 38-34 Sun Belt Conference victory over the Mean Green.

With tackling being an increasingly lost art in football, it’s no surprise that Cook was pleased with his “achievement”. “Did you see that?” Cook exclaimed following the game. “I lit him UP!”

And Cook’s tone didn’t change when he was informed that his failure to wrap up Mason helped lead to his team’s loss.

“They don’t show wrapping up on SportsCenter, baby!” he explained enthusiastically.

And it turns out, he’s right. Quick research has indicated that in its 30-year history ESPN has never once shown a simple, fundamentally sound tackle in any of its highlight packages for either college or professional football. In fact, the network has never show a simple, fundamentally sound play of any kind in any sport in any of its highlight packages.

This most recent event, however, set off mild outrage out of the handful of viewers who still care about the final scores of the sports they watch. That outrage seems to have baffled ESPN executives.

“I don’t really understand what the fuss is about,” said ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Jim Cohen. “That has become one of our most popular clips in years. Look, it’s not like it comes as any surprise that we really don’t care about who wins. Big hits get eyeballs and eyeballs sell ads. The truth is, most of us don’t even like sports. Have you seen any of the production staff? We got beat up a lot by jocks in high school. And besides,” Cohen continued chuckling, “fundamentally sound is what women’s basketball is for,” which he barely got out before he collapsed in uncontrollable laughter.

Sports conspiracy theory investigator Thomas Suffolk, who became regionally famous for uncovering the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan link, believes he knows what is going on.

“They are intentionally destroying sports,” Suffolk says. ”By focusing on improper play and selfishness in team sports they are destroying the fabric of those sports. Eventually they will all be unplayable.”

When asked about Suffolk’s assertion, Cohen’s answer was quick and simple.

“Ya got us, I admit it, ya got us. It really started with basketball. That one was easy. We found pretty early on that if you only showed certain kinds of plays, nobody would try anything else, so we focused on one-on-one moves, dunks and three-pointers. Now, go find anybody who can make a 15-footer, I dare ya. Baseball was almost as easy,” Cohen continued. “By completely ignoring stolen bases, sacrifice bunts and guys who slap the ball the other way down in the count in favor of home runs for a two-year period, we created an environment where nobody wanted to do anything other than hit the long ball. We hadn’t anticipated sparking the steroid era. That was gravy.”

But football apparently proved a tougher challenge.

“We had trouble finishing off football,” Cohen admitted. “There are so many amazing things that happen over the course of the game anyway that it was hard to single one thing out. Then we stumbled on video of a shoulder tackle that went bad and we had our mark. We started to really focus on big hits and ignore all the ones that didn’t turn out. This last addition, running the video of a big hit that resulted in an OFFENSIVE score was just the final nail in the coffin. BWAH HA HA HA HA.”

With all major sports now completely in shambles, ESPN has moved on to a new challenge, recently signing an agreement with the world’s most popular sports league — the Barklay’s English Premier League of soccer. Cohen would not give a time frame for that league’s demise.

West Virginia shows Oregon up

A great university.

A great university.

Oregon has been a terrible football team for years, BUT the jerseys have been even worse. The jerseys are so bad that ESPN insists on showing them. They’re the only terrible team that has been given any TV time and it has to be because of their uniforms. This media flurry has landed them some decent recruits and for the first time in school history, the crappy Ducks don’t look soft and welcoming.

West Virginia, after losing Rich Rodriguez, is apparently desperate. And not desperate in a good way – like when you try extra hard and do everything twice as much to try to get the results you want. Desperate in a way that leads you down a path of gimmicks.

West Virginia has decided that playing the game in dandelion costumes will be a good solution to their problems. Mother fucking dandelions. Or is it Dandy Lions? I’m so embarrassed, and I go to school there.

It’s like watching the sun play football. Or a little kid’s raincoat play football. Or 11 squashes.

As if the Wild and Wonderful State is a team of super awesome bananas. Or sticks of butter. Or canaries. Or Cheese. Or baby chickens. Or corn. Or lemons.

Those uniforms are awful. The team is awesome. Let’s leave goofy looking uniforms to Oregon and let West Virginia’s greatness speak for itself.

Colt McCoy, "There's an App for that"

AUSTIN – If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past two years, let me catch you up on some current events.  The Media loves Colt McCoy and his “BFF” Jordan Shipley.  He [Colt] can do no wrong, literally.  If there is a baby that needs saving, a princess that needs rescuing, a touchdown that needs throwing, a bass that needs catching, or a bible verse that needs reading within a five hundred mile radius, you can bet your sweet ass Colt “has an app for that.”

Colt is on the verge of winning Bromance of the Year with his teammate, best friend, and first look target on DKR Football field on Saturdays, Jordan Shipley.  The two are inseparable.  In the early 80′s, the two young Texas Football stars’ fathers roomed together at Abilene Christian University, and the two sons figured why not carry on the family tradition.  Both the McCoy and Shipley families have remained close. Maybe TOO close, as some facts will allude to such conclusions.

These days, not a lot has changed.  The two live together (as they have all 4 years of college) , they speak to religious groups together, hunt ‘n fish together, and score touchdowns together.  However, it is noteworthy a lot of college players develop these bonds, so the astute listener would then ask, “Why have they singled out the McCoy-Shipley bromance?”  In fact there are several other players who are notable in their life long friendships in present day college football, so why Colt?  What’s with the media obsession of this particular player?

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