Sunday, January 13, 2008

Catching up

What a great win Saturday night by the Patriots over a Jacksonville team that practically played perfect (or at least to the best of their potential). From a revamped running game led by a rejuvenated Laurence Maroney, to Tom Brady spreading the ball around with uncanny ability and accuracy. With the offensive line blocking all comers and the defense making the necessary adjustments at halftime, the Patriots continued absorbing a team's best shot and still walking out with an impressive win.

Yes, Jacksonville had the correct gameplan in hand to be aggressive throwing the ball because there's no doubt they needed 5 or 6 scores to win. However, Tom Brady was just too good, too efficient, too much of the best damned quarterback ever seen in the NFL. Even with Randy Moss reduced to being a highly-paid decoy, the Pats methodically and mercilessly dinked, dunked, and pounded their way down the field again and again. Like Kevin Youkilis at the plate, Brady methodically broke down the defense again and again.

As an added bonus, the world champion Colts were eliminated by a Chargers today. The Chargers had a dinged-up Antonio Gates, no Ladanian Tomlinson after the first quarter, and later lost Philip Rivers (which was a blessing in disguise, believe me!).

Much like the Indians taking out the Yankees in the divisional series this fall, the Patriots have their twin tower sitting at home as they take on another rival. For me, beating the big-mouth Chargers would warm the cockles on my heart since my displeasure towards them is so high. At least I respect the Colts!

So the long wait until next weekend begins...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

More talk

England National Squad - 3 Lions, or a bunch of Lambs?

Since I'm completely mailing it in this week at work, I've decided to follow up my last post with another post. I have been following closely the Euro 2008 qualifying matches this year. So much so that I may be tempted to get a subscription to GolTV for the Euro championships this summer (Hal, finals party?). Anyway, particularly enjoyable was the "group of death" with France, Scotland, and Italy. It was the final match for Scotland, who played Italy at home, that eliminated them from contention this year. Better luck next year, tartan army! It's great to see the smaller international squads make headway against the giants. However, a "giant" that was nothing but disappointing was the English side. England, after losing to Russia in the next-to-last game of their qualifying schedule, had to root for Israel to defeat or draw vs. Russia in order to stay alive. The 3 "lions" survived, only to blow it majorly vs. Croatia at Wembley. The whole English squad, with the exception of two players, Peter Crouch and the much maligned David Beckham, showed a complete lack of interest in the endeavor. They couldn't wait to get back to their club teams. John Terry, Frank Lampard, Stevie Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, were all utterly disappointing in the qualifying stage. Obviously, they cared more about the club honors. I have been on a few chat sites where all the English fans are slamming Becks for coming to LA to play "soccer." I had to lash back after the pathetic display by the English side and the delicious irony of Beckham being one of two players who really cared about Euro qualifying. Well, at least all the English players can focus on domestic and European club competition instead of representing their country. Alexi Lalas can breathe a sigh of relief as, Beckham will not be distracted by Euro competition and can focus on MLS matters. Since the loss to Croatia, England has fired the coach, former Middlesbrough man Steve McLaren, and has hired the high profile Fabio Capello to turn their World Cup fortunes around. Hopefully, the squad produces results for Capello, and brings home the ultimate prize, which has been missing from England for many years. Not good for the country that invented the game.

Going Green

It feels great to follow the Celtics again! Their games have been entertaining beyond my imagination, and they are playing at a level that has not been seen in years. Hal, I have to say, the HSG Bill Simmons said it best when he spoke of the Celtics and their "chemacterility."
"Sure, Danny Ainge revamped the Celtics by acquiring Ray Allen and KG, but the rest of his game plan has been equally important to the team's early success, and it hasn't received nearly enough fanfare. He filled a depleted roster with unselfish, high-character guys like Eddie House, James Posey and Scot Pollard and refused to pursue any moody vets."
Chemistry and character. It's at work in Boston. Not just the Celtics either. It's in almost every sports team in Boston, and it's surprising that GMs of sports clubs all across the nation haven't figured this out sooner...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

footy and other musings

I'm Back

It's been a long hiatus from the blog, but I've decided to reappear. I'm back to show the Boston sports community (hopefully) how enjoyable European football can be. I'd also like to pepper my posts with other musings, related to other sports. The world of sport is an exciting place to follow right now, and I'd like to share my excitement.
Without further ado...

Go Ahead, Hate Away

Clearly, many NFL fans and self-proclaimed broadcasting professionals have been waiting for the opportunity to despise the Patriots. Well, that time is upon us. "Spygate" (stupid name, by the way) and running up the score are plenty of fodder for these people. To all those haters, I say have at it. Hate away. It solidifies my love for the Pats. The hate makes me enjoy interviews with Bellichick that much more. The hate allows me a contact high on Tom Brady's newfound swagger. I will say, to all you disparagers, that your hate is misplaced. Don't hate the Patriots for the spying. Don't hate them for running up scores. Hate them because they kicked your team's collective rear ends. Hate them because they've shattered countless team and individual records this year. Hate them because they are so good. Let's bring this back to Premiership footy for a second. Fans hate Chelsea because they buy good players and won the Premiership and/or the FA Cup for roughly four years and counting. Fans hate Arsenal because of their mighty run this season and because of their undefeated season several years ago. Fans hate ManU because of their dominant run in the Backham years and their championship season last year. In short, regardless of what opposing supporters complain about, they hate these clubs because they come into their grounds and defeat their opponents time and time again. The same is true for people who hate the Patriots. End of story. If the Patriots were caught videotaping and were also 4-12 this season, nobody, I repeat, nobody would care (except, of course, me and the rest of the Patriots fans out there). We wouldn't hear about it at all on ESPN, Fox sports, NBC, ABC, or anywhere else. Jamele Hill on recently said that hate is a good thing, in that it gets fans motivated and excited for the sport. As worrisome as this sounds, I believe Jamele is right about that, except I think hate enrgizes the "hatee's" fans and allows them to adopt an "us vs. them" mentality.

Premiership so far

It's basically shaking down as one might predict in the English Premier League: Arsenal are in front and have but one loss on the season, followed by ManU, then Chelsea, and then Liverpool. Liverpool's rivals, "the people's club," Everton, are in fifth and look strong currently with 4 wins in their last 6 matches. Blackburn Rovers started out strong, but have faded as of late, and are now in the 9th position. Bringing up the rear are, Wigan Athletic, Fulham Cottagers, and Premiership newcomers Derby County. Manchester City, under the guidance of former England boss Sven Goran-Ericsson, started out strong, but have cooled off. However, they should still be in contention for European competition next year. My predictions: Arsenal hold off the rest of the "big 4" to take the Premiership title.

Champions' League

The UEFA Champions' League is running full tilt right now, although the group stages have finished and we await the knockout stages starting in late February. Serie A giants AS Roma are matched up against La Liga giants Real Madrid, in what should be a classic battle. Arsenal look to polish off last year's champions AC Milan. Milan are not in the best of form this year, and have been laboring in Serie A. Another must-see match is Liverpool v. Internazionale. Liverpool started off slowly in the group stage of this year's cup, but have turned it on as of late. Inter, as usual, are owning Serie A, and look to be a formidable opponent.
In the UEFA Cup, Bolton Wanderers take on that other Madrid club, Atletico, and the people's club go to Norwaty to face Brann in the cold. My predictions: an all-England UEFA tournament win this year, with ManU hoisting up the Champions' Cup and Everton taking the UEFA cup. New England Patriots’ Top 2019 NFL Draft Picks Show Evolution on Both Sides of the Ball

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