December Soccer Update

Admittedly, I’ve been absent when it comes to the beautiful game on EJSIC since the end of the World Cup in July. Well, I gotcha back on some of the recent issues surrounding the sport starting with Qatar’s 2022 upset, UEFA Champions League, etc.

1. 2022 World Cup

The U.S. deserves the tournament more than a country the size of Connecticut. I will never say otherwise. Qatar’s oil money won out, so I’ll just have to get over it.

And I could fill this blog with the previously hashed out arguments of the extreme heat, grumpy Europeans with no alcohol, security issues, etc. but I’ll spare you all. We lost, I’m over it (mostly), and Qatar has some great ideas / stadium designs so maybe they’ll succeed and peace will transcend throughout the Middle East (too far right?).

The above stadium is my favorite design I’ve seen so far, but you can view them all here. They look great, and I honestly do wish them the best of luck in hosting the tournament. I’m sure a lot of the countries around the world felt the same way the U.S. now does when we were awarded the tournament in the early 90s.

2. FIFA President Sepp Blatter

The FIFA president who oversaw Qatar’s victory has since caused more controversy. While in South Africa officially closing out the 2010 World Cup (because it’s apparently a year-long event), Blatter warned homosexual fans who attend the 2022 event to not do anything sexually that is illegal there. He later apologized.

I guess it means this ref (video below) probably won’t be chosen to officiate the events.

3. UEFA Champions League – Round of 16

One can make a very strong argument that Europe’s most prized club competition features the best played soccer in the world (even better than the World Cup). Legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has commented so numerous times. I tend to agree with the arguments.

The UCL provides teams with better chemistry since they play together for 8 months out of the year rather than the ~8 weeks of an international team in the World Cup. Still, there is something to be said for playing for a nation’s flag. But if you want to watch good soccer, check out the UCL when it picks back up in February.

The following are the Round of 16 match-ups with a rough preview:

AC Milan (Italy) v. Tottenham (Eng) – Milan seems to be improving from their results of the past few seasons, but the Spurs possess the ever-dangerous Gareth Bale

Valencia (Spain) v. Schalke 04 (Germ) – Two under-the-radar teams who are overshadowed by giant clubs in their home country should play an interesting 2 games

AS Roma (Italy) v. Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) – Shakhtar won its group over English juggernaut Arsenal and now look to take down an Italian powerhouse

Arsenal (Eng) v. Barcelona (Spain) – Barcelona are the favorites in the tournament, but Arsenal poses a tough test in the first knockout round

Copenhagen (Denmark) v. Chelsea (Eng) – The defending English champions have struggled lately, but with two months to heal and find their form, Chelsea should be able to defeat Copenhagen

Lyon (France) v. Real Madrid (Spain) – Real is Europe’s most successful club, and they look to recapture past glory against a scrappy but slightly under-manned Lyon

Marseille (France) v. Manchester United (Eng) – United looked dead earlier in the English season, but now find themselves at the top of the standings. Marseille, like Lyon, are too under-manned to be the favorites in this match-up

Internazionale (Italy) v. Bayern (Germ) – In last year’s finale, Inter defeated Bayern 2-0 to capture European glory. Their manager left for Real, but the players remain. Bayern will be looking for revenge

Michael Street’s Musings

I’ve been dying to write an entry here at EJSIC for a few weeks now, but learning how to file frivolous lawsuits law school is extremely time-consuming. Anyway, here are some things floating around in my subconscious.

1. MLB Instant Replay – I’ve been against instant replay for a while now. I defended the “human element” in the summer when Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga lost a perfect game thanks to umpire error (I now feel like an idiot for that). The playoffs have only shown us more problems, unfortunately. The Division Series in each league was dominated by questionable and costly umpire calls.

The LCS has not fared much better. Hell, the Yankees can basically determine when they are hit by a pitch and when they are not. It’s not going away, so it’s time for MLB to do what it does best: correct the problem after it has become a problem.

I still do not believe instant replay needs to be involved with every close play. Umpires have been making calls on bang-bang plays for nearly 150 years. There’s no need to review every single call.

How many umps does it take to screw up a call?

Instead, MLB should implement a rule stating: on every play which involves a significant scoring opportunity, instant replay is a viable option for determining the correct call.

I know what you’re thinking: “What the hell does ‘significant opportunity’ mean?” And that’s a great question. It means: a play in which a run may score (depending on the call), a run does score, or the potential to score runs is set up.

And all of those possibilities make it seem like a lot, but it would also be limited. There should never be an opportunity to replay a stolen base attempt (Buster Posey in the NLDS), a check swing or called / uncalled strike (Michael Young ALDS), or any play that is considered “routine” in the umpire’s job.

This rule leaves the ump’s with some discretion. If they need help, then they should be free to consult the technology.

If I haven’t converted you yet (which is a fair stance), I’ll be discussing this topic in a later (perhaps as long as a month from now) entry. It’s time to move on, though.

2. The NFL’s crackdown on head-hunting – It’s about time, honestly. It’s also important to point out that ESPN’s Mark Schlereth correctly called the NFL hypocritical this week on SportsCenter when he blasted the organization for promoting the violence of the game for years until now.

He’s right, but the NFL’s right, too. The NFL sold this violence for years. And now they want to stop the players from pursuing the most-violent hits. Their stance fits the very definition of a hypocrite. Yet, the NFL is 100% correct on the issue.

Get used to this image about 15 times a game now.

And the reason they’re correct is that they are being proactive, something my beloved baseball knows nothing about. It’s my opinion that a player will die on the field in an NFL game sometime in the future. The game is too violent, at times, for it to not happen.

But when that moment does occur, the NFL will be ready. They’re laying the groundwork for the arguments now. By fining and suspending players for vicious hits, they’ll be able to say one day, “Dear Congressional committee, we did everything in our power to limit the violence of the game. We fined players thousands of dollars for performing the hits we told them not to, and then suspended them without pay.”

That’s exactly what the NFL will be saying in front of a Congressional committee in X years. And, again, they’ll be correct. Then the Congress members and the NFL’s executives will all share a laugh about it at a dinner later that night. But whatever happens behind the scenes, the NFL will protect itself.

3. Marijuana soda, a liquid high – Dixie Elixirs (based in Colorado, the long last sister of the Confederacy) manufactures a soda from medical marijuana that gives the user a high while drinking. And better yet, it comes seven great flavors: lemonade, sweet tea, pink lemonade, strawberry, orange, grape, and root beer.

It doesn’t sound too appeasing to me, but if you want to try some, hit up their website.

4. The Wayne Rooney weirdness – English footballer Wayne Rooney has had a tough time as of late. He stunk it up in South Africa this past summer, he’s played horribly for Manchester United this season, his injured ankle has yet to fully heal, and the British media busted him for soliciting a prostitute (something he’s done before, but vowed to have stopped). Oh yeah, his wife’s prego with their child which factored into the media and public backlash.

How many prostitutes can 350,000 GBP a week buy?

And in the midst of all that, his club, Man U, is battling bankruptcy problems which prompted the 24 year old England star to publicly declare that he would be leaving the club at the expiration of his contract (end of 2012 season). Media members immediately speculated that he could be out of Manchester during the January transfer period with the possible destinations being cross-town rivals Manchester City, London dwellers Chelsea, or Spanish giants Real Madrid.

All of that speculation went to waste when Rooney, out of nowhere, signed a new 5 year deal with United Friday morning. So he’s good and recommitted to the club, according to club officials. With his new deal, I bet he can find a few higher end prostitutes to keep him satisfied while his wife deals with that whole pregnancy thing.