Archive for the ‘Sports’ category

Home again, Home again, Jiggidy Jig

January 16, 2008

Well, I’m back from a little hiatus. You might say to yourself, or to your virtual friends on Second Life, “What gives him the nerve to take a break when he has only written a few posts?” I have nothing to say to that.

I have been working on a little piece that I hope to make a continuing thing, but my research isn’t done yet. You may be interested, you may not give a hoot. I’ve decided to rank all of the sports movies that I have seen. Why? It’s more for me than for anyone else. It’s a look into my psyche, a look into my ability to critique, and a chance to sit in front of the t.v. for “research” purposes. My wife doesn’t have a foot to stand on. I’m going to go Bill Simmons style on ya’ll, though, and if that offends some readers, so be it. Bill is one of my favorite sports bloggers, and he started this thing where he ranked sports movies, but in no particular order. One movie could be ranked third, the next, one hundred forty-two. He may have had a list somewhere, but he hasn’t seemed to follow up on it.

So I have compiled my list, and have started writing witty words. But there are so many movies I have to re-tread, and a few that I just missed out on. I mean, what if I start ranking films now, and then, all of the sudden, out of the blue, Air Bud blows me away and I have to reconfigure everything? As Bill Simmons would say, “Not good times”. I’m working on it. I also have a few new, snazzy Japanese frequencies to give you, and a few more interesting stories about my life in Japan. There really is a little bit of everything here. Until next time…

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Enmity

December 12, 2007

I just looked this word up in the dictionary because I’m stupid and don’t know a whole lot. (There. That should shut up the haters) I will give you an example. There is an enmity between me and the Boston Celtics. Not that I would actively try to disrupt the organization by, say, kidnapping one of their players or stealing all of their uniforms or anything. I’m a Pistons fan and was at a very impressionable age when the rivalry between the two teams was astronomical. Some of the greatest characters in the history of the NBA were on those two teams during the 80’s. Laimbeer, Isiah, Bird, McHale, The Chief, DJ, Walton, Salley, Rodman, and my favorite Piston of all time, The Microwave, Vinnie Johnson. (I started that list with only a few names in mind, but these faces kept popping into my mind. I couldn’t leave any of them out.) Elbows smashing into domes,  fights every single game,  verbal wars where, after awhile, even the newspapers looked bruised and battered.

For the first time in my life, I hated something truly and deeply and with a pure emotion that doesn’t find you very often. At times it could be terrible and a little frightening, but it also made me feel alive in a time when nothing else did. Maybe a little sad that being a spectator to a sport was the one thing that kept me real, but I’m sure there are a lot of you out there that could say the same thing.

This post isn’t about my hate for the Celtics specifically. It’s about how my idea of enmity has changed. Is it a mellowing, like a fine wine? Now, I don’t hate any team. I dislike some players and I root against some teams in certain situations, but I am much more interested in the sport itself; in the high-flying dunks or the 30-yard strikes, or the 80-yard romp down the sidelines. Who does it and for what team doesn’t matter any more. I know what you are thinking. Maybe I should try to get into the United Nations or run for President of the local school board. With my open-mindedness I could save the cheerleader, save the world. I think that is a grand idea and I applaud all of you for telepathically sending it to me.

There is a problem with all of this though. Where before I felt alive in the magic that the Celtics and the Pistons produced for me, the magic is gone now. I hated the Celtics, but I absolutely loved the rivalry. I don’t have the desire to watch college football from 1 in the afternoon until 9 at night with no break any more. My question is this: Did the magic leave me, or the sports themselves? How do we get an objective perspective on this? What are some of the forces at play here? Media saturation? A PC society? The dichotomy of good and evil? Without the evil, the good don’t look so hot.

I would love to here your ideas.

ManU and the Keeper of Destiny

October 6, 2007

schmeichellceleb_l.jpgHow many players have left a team where they were beloved and ranked as one of the greatest of all time, only to turn around and sign with the hated enemy? In America, you have a delayed Roger Clemens move to the Yanks. Maybe Dennis Rodman to the Bulls. There’s also Gary Coleman’s guest spot on The Facts of Life. And that’s about all I can think of.

In soccer, it happens more often, partly because rivalries between certain teams have been stewing for a century. In England, there is Tottenham and Arsenal. When Sol Campbell left Tottenham for Arsenal in 2001, the attack was swift and brutal, although often vocalized in song rather than any kind of violence. European soccer is almost like watching a sport musical, where the fans from rival teams “talk” to each other in cheeky songs. It’s almost like the insults and slurs the fans are trying to get across are benign because they are being sung to some Gary Glitter pop.

Some players need to leave a club to find more playing time. Some players just get a little too old and are let go. Sol was in his prime and playing fantastic football. Then he leaves on a free transfer across London. Even now, almost eight years later, he still gets abuse whenever he plays against the Spurs, (he now shows his defensive prowess on the bench for Portsmouth).

In contrast, we have who I consider the greatest keeper of all time. That’s right, the namesake of this wonderful blog, Peter Schmeichel. No history lesson. Either you know who he is, or you can find out. Let’s just say he was real good and did good things for United. Alright, you kept harrassing me, so I will give you one example. I was a young United Fan pup when I first tasted the sweet sweat of victory. It was the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal, 1999. Phil Phucking Neville gets a card in the box, leading to a penalty kick for Dennis Bergkamp. Schmeichel saves the ensuing shot, and starts yelling at his players and clapping his be-gloved hands. That was enough for me.

Schmeichel played for a few more teams after United, Sporting in the Portuguese League, then moving back to England with Aston Villa. His final season, though, saw Peter sign with United’s most rivaled rival: Manchester City. Now ordinarily, this would be blasphemy on par with John Lennon deciding that making screechy noises with Yoko was more enjoyable than harmonies with Paul. But that’s not what happened. Schmeichel’s name echoed throughout Old Trafford. The only person who looked truly angry about the whole deal was Gary Neville, Phil Phucking Neville’s brother and right back for United. But Gary was always a cock.

This is why I love English soccer so much. I love the fact that Sol Campbell gets his bell rung every time he steps onto the turf at White Hart Lane. I love the fact that Peter Schmeichel is recognized for what he did at Manchester United, no matter what transpired after his time was done. It shows just how much the fans care about their team. Maybe, like Arsene Wenger was talking about a few days ago, the soul of English football, namely it’s fans, are being sucked away by corporate business designs. That could be, especially if the very fans that carry the team through the good times and bad can’t even watch their team because ticket prices are so high. But my friends, who have been supporting their teams for much longer than I have, haven’t lost any of their love. I wonder how many of my American friends could do the same with their favorite teams.

Questions

1. Can this kind of loyalty to a club or team happen in the professional leagues in the US?

2. Do you think the EPL is losing it’s soul?

3. If one of your Japanese relatives gives you a plate full of slimy limbs with suckers that are still spasming on the plate, is it o.k. to refuse point blank, or does some of that sea nastiness have to go down your gullet?

These are things I need to know.