Monday, December 11, 2006
Game of the Year?
Yesterday's Arsenal-Chelsea game made a December run in the race for Game of the Year. Any sport. I'm not saying it definitely gets the nod, but I'd have to think a while before matching it. Awesome stuff. The only drawback, if there was one, is that it was a midseason game. Late spring with the title on the line? That would have raised the stakes a bit...but who's complaining?
Michael Essien may have went on to have the possible Miss of the Year when he hit the crossbar from roughly a foot away from goal in second half injury time, but his late goal to even things was a true goosebump moment.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Tommie Harris' hamstring may be much worse than originally feared and the prospect of the ultra-stud defensive tackle missing the remainder of the season is a very real possibilty, prompting the Unknown Column to head directly to the nearest, darkest corner and curling into the fetal position.
This is exactly what the Bears didn't need. The dreaded major injury to a major player.
This is horrible, crushing, disastrous news. Harris has quickly become one of the best defensive players in the league and his absence would leave a gaping void, especially for a defense that has struggled against the run ever since Mike Brown was lost for the season in the secondary.
You really have to feel for Brian Urlacher in all of this. The heart of the Bears defense ran right up the middle like a glorious spine: Harris in the middle of the line, Urlacher at middle linebacker, and Brown in the middle of the secondary. That's probably (undeniably?) the best defensive trio in the NFL. And now? Now it looks like Urlacher will have to go it alone.
Maybe, just maybe, Harris can recover in time for the playoffs, which I suppose isn't that far out of the realm of possibility, or at least that's what I'm telling myself.
I'll be at church praying if you need me...once I get up out of this corner.
We're an Embarrassment
You can add the United States Soccer Federation to the same list that includes such entities as the Chicago Cubs, Arizona Cardinals, and the entire Bush Administration. In other words, the list of all things that are completely incompetent.
After spending six months disgracefully and desperately tailing Jurgen Klinsmann with its tongue firmly planted in his behind, the USSF has been politely told by the German coach thanks, but no thanks. This means that the U.S. national team has yet to hire a coach or hit the field even once since the World Cup. We've done nothing. Nothing. It also means that the entire golbal soccer community is surely laughing at us. Even the Canucks! Oh, sure, the world has been laughing at American soccer for years now, but the fact that the laughter is more audible than ever is really saying something.
It's bad enough to lose. It's so much worse to be an utter embarrassment. And this is what we are.
The sad part is that, apparently, Klinsmann's decision was based not on money but on issues of power. If so, USSF head Sunil Gulati is even more clueless and unlikable than I initially thought.
I mean, who the fuck is Sunil Gulati? Klinsmann was a superstar player who won a World Cup in 1990 and is currently a young coach with a seemingly limitless future who already proved his worth at this past summer's World Cup...and Gulati is going to argue with him about who should have the bigger say on important matters? Really?
We're pathetic. We really are.
Meanwhile, Bob Bradley has been named interim coach. Sure, Bradley was successful here in Chicago with the Fire, but he was also fired by the MetroStars. In other words, our national team has gone from the prospect of Klinsmann to a guy who was fired by an MLS team. This is like being turned down by Phil Jackson and responding by a dude who was shitcanned in the CBA.
This summer we'll play in both the Gold Cup and the Copa America. Busy schedule. How far the embarrassment spills over onto the actual playing field remains to be seen.
I'm guessing plenty.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Has Kenny Williams Lost His Mind?
The Unknown Column has been drawn from his hibernation and he's pissed off. And worried.
Apparently, Kenny Williams has either a) lost his mind, or b) become so arrogant that he's decided to do all he can to give a huge middle finger to the currently ridiculous state of baseball economics. Either way, the trade of Freddy Garcia to the Phillies for Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez is quite possibly the most baffling (unbelievably dumb) move I can remember the Sox making. Actually, no, I'm positive that it is.
I don't get it. I mean, I understand the desire to open a spot in the rotation for Brandon McCarthy - a move that has been long-anticipated - but this reeks of desperation to do so.
Last season Floyd amassed a 7.29 ERA with the Phillies before being permanently shipped to the minors. In 24 career games (17 starts) he has a 6.96 ERA. Um, maybe it's just me, but those numbers kind of suck. In fact, considering the dude was drafted fourth overall in 2001, he's been a magnificent bust.
As for Gonzalez, the Sox just dealt him last year in the Jim Thome-Aaron Rowand deal and are now getting him back. I don't know how excited Sox fans are supposed to be about a guy who was already shipped out of town once.
Of course, Williams has long been a wheeler-dealer sort, so maybe he has a trick or two up his sleeve. But at the moment, it seems the Sox have just given up plenty for little (to nothing) in return. This is the sort of move that severely hampers a fan's ability to muster hope heading into a season.
And the Unknown Column is extremely fuckin' pissed off. There had better be more to this story than meets the eye.
As for Garcia, who is married to the cousin of Ozzie Guillen (a girl Ozzie raised), this should make for some intersting family gatherings.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Gold Cup Coming to Chicago
The semifinals and final of the 2007 Gold Cup are coming to Chicago. Soldier Field, to be exact. This is very cool news. The lakefront in the summertime.
For the non-soccerheads, the Gold Cup is the biannual tournament to decide the best team in CONCACAF, the region we play in. Of course, this debate is endlessly a tossup between us and Mexico, as the rest of the region is pretty much our bitches. And should, as expected, the U.S. meet Mexico in the final, well, Soldier Field will be positively electric. These teams do not like each other and rhe joint will be packed.
And there is sure to be more Mejeecanos that gringos in the stands.
Hopefully, we actually, you know, get some games in soon. It would also help if we, you know, hired a coach. I wonder if Jurgen Klinsmann is laughing at us at this point. I mean, could we look any more desperate and incompetent? At the moment we remain coachless and have yet to step on the field since the loss to Ghana to close out our nightmare World Cup. Which is absolutely criminal as the rest of the world has been playing games regularly, both friendlies and qualifiers. Everyone except us. US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati is the definition of clueless.
This mess is a joke that is no longer funny.
Do you mean to tell me we couldn't have played at least a friendly or two with an interim coach? I thinks we could have. It would have helped and it surely beats sitting around doing nothing.
Anyway, the Gold Cup should be a blast and, by the way, has one of the larger trophies in sports. It's almost big enough for Landon Donovan to hide in during the big games.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
At Least the Uniforms Look Good
So DePaul has been getting some ESPN airtime the last couple days at the Maui Invitational. It's been the first chance I've had to check out the Blue Demons, who are already worrying me. Opening with losses to Bradley and Northwestern is not good. These are programs the Demons have traditionally dominated on the local scene.
Granted, I can understand the Bradley loss. Going down to Peoria is no easy deal these days now that Jim Les has the program headed onward and upward. (You remember last year's Sweet Sixteen run, right?) But losing by 20 points? Ouch.
And losing by ten points to lowly Northwestern...and scoring only 39 points in the process? Now, that's just completely unacceptable. In fact, that makes me a whole lot of uncomfortable with Jerry Wainwright in general. I'm sweating here.
At least the Demons showed a little fight in losing to Kentucky in Hawaii. They really need to beat Purdue tomorrow if I'm going to hold much hope of them accomplishing much in the brutal Big East this season.
Incidentally, the Unknown Column must give two big thumbs up for the Demons' new uniforms (seen above). I love them. They remind me of the Mark Aguirre-Terry Cummings era (or at least what I heard about it.)
Sadly, this list, as great and true as it is, only begins to tell the story. Someone give ESPN a mirror.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Cubs Make Soriano Very Rich
The Cubs have signed Alfonso Soriano to a ridiculously large contract and the Unknown Column says good riddance.
Look, this contract is yet more foolishness by the clueless Jim Hendry as it is way too big and for way too long. Do you really want to be making Soriano's wallet that fat when he's 39? No.
But that's beside the point. Completely.
Yup, at this point, the Cubs are so sad and so desperate that it doesn't even matter. Nothing matters. So just toss the money out there. Fuck it. They have it, so toss it out there and then toss some more. Who gives a fuck? Just do something. Anything. Lose all control.
And that's what the Cubs have done. They've said fuck it and brought in a big name to offer up to Lou Piniella. And this isn't a bad thing. There will always be dim-witted, drunk Cubs fans to buy more tickets, to make more money, to hoarde away selfishly...
So fuck it.
But here's the thing: Soriano is not a leadoff hitter. This entire deal will go bust if the Cubs try to put Soriano in the leadoff position, which presumably they will.
But why? Put him in the middle of the order with Derrick Lee and Aramis Ramirez and - BAM! - you instantly have one of the scariest hearts of the lineup in all of baseball. Think about the damage those three could to. Imagine it. Damn.
Interestingly enough, the Cubs already have a leadoff hitter in Juan Pierre, who is currently a fee agent and expected to leave town anydaw now. But, hey, as long as the Cubs have their wallet open, why not go totally crazy, give Pierre some cash too, and have your leadoff hitter? Makes sense, no? Granted, I think Pierre is a bit overrated. I don't think he's necesarily the top-notch leadoff guy he's often portrayed as. But he's decent. He's solid. He's serviceable. He can do the job, sometimes quite well. And with the big three behind him, Pierre may just be inspired to accomplish much bigger things.
Shit, Pierre is just sitting right there at the moment waiting to be signed. Look at him. Just lok at him. He's right there. It's so easy. It makes so much sense.
If you're the Cubs, you have to go crazy. Go nutty. Lay it all out there.
Of course, as a White Sox fan I couldn't care less, and I'm actually chuckling already at how this latest move will implode eventually (and you know it will), but being a White Sox fan also means I'm infinitely more knowledgable than the average Cubs fan, so I figure I can give a little love and offer a little help here. Sometimes the laughter gets old and I actually feel sorry for he Scrubs.
But then it passes.
Sign Pierre, move Soriano down in the lineup, and then continue the madness and sign a free agent pitcher such as Barry Zito or Jason Schmidt. Just go fuckin' nuts!
Anyway, I'm sure half the Cubs pitching staff will be on the IR by mid-May, making this all pointless. It's all going to end badly for the Cubs just as it always does. But whatever. I'm just trying to help.
As soon as...
...this kid is walking I fully expect the Fire to sign him (or her) to a contract.
Bears 10 Jets 0
It wasn't long ago the Bears were coming off an awful loss to the Dolphins (which actually doesn't look so bad now that the 'Phins are pulling off another second-half resurgence a la 2005) and facing the daunting task of three straight road games against the Giants, Jets and Patriots.
Naturally, many a Bears fan who has seen more bad times than good was just waiting for the loosening wheels to fall off completely.
Well, not just yet. Two straight wins in the Meadowlands has the Bears looking and feeling good heading into Foxboro where they will play their biggest regular season game in quite a while.
The offense struggled yesterday, but in a way, there was a positive to be found. Rex Grossman, while far from lighting it up, pulled off a Kyle Orton and simply managed the game. He forced no passes and didn't turn the ball over. Of course, this is a step in the right direction. In the past, Grossman and his gunslinger mentality likely would have become frustrated, forced this issue, and made some potentially fatal mistakes. Sure, it would be nice if Grossman could have aired it out for 300 yards and a few touchdowns (and it certainly would have helped my fantasy team), but as long as he continues to understand that he doesn't need to do that in order to win, well, his growth process maintains on a healthy course.
Thomas Jones appears to be getting stronger as the season wears on. I guess this is a strange but welcome positive to result from his messy summer which saw him skip voluntary workouts and then miss most of the preseason while injured. He's rested.
As for the defense, what can you say? Another shutout. Admittedly, there is cause for concern as teams have been running rather productively against the Bears of late. This is where the absense of Mike Brown hurts the most. God, is he missed. But, hey, the bend but don't break mentality has never been a bad one.
So the Bears sit at 9-1 and remain on course to earn homefield advantage throught the playoffs in the NFC. This is the goal.
So far, so good.