Real Life Sports Movie: John Woodruff

If you were scripting an unrealistic Hollywood sports movie, what would the ingredients be?

You’d want a main character who came from humble beginnings. You’d want him or her to work their way up to some climactic event. You’d need a villain.  How about the event is taking place at a particularly momentous time in history, when the planet is gearing up toward its most devastating world-wide war?  And maybe you’d have the tyrant who is the leader of one of the aggressor countries be there at the event, looking on, with the event held in his own capital city, rooting against the hero character. Maybe that enemy leader, who is white, would be a legendary racial supremacist who was trying to prove the supremacy of his race – and maybe our hero would be black.

That’s a pretty wild set-up so far.  We might have lost our credibility with the script readers already.  Let’s press on anyway.

What else would you want? Maybe the key event would arrive, and the game — or match — or, let’s say, footrace begins. 800 meters. Less than two minutes total. Our hero wants to win it. Somehow our hero finds himself trapped and pinned in by the other competitors, back in fourth place, with nowhere to maneuver and time rapidly expiring. His whole life’s work, what he has been building toward, is starting to come apart at the seams, second by difficult second. Suddenly, our hero does something wild and unexpected to break out of the trap he’s in – he stops in his tracks, in the middle of the race… Everyone else zooms ahead and he attempts to catch up again with a mad dash up the outside of the pack.

At this point, the movie’s audience would groan. Could things get any more unrealistic (short of the hero sprouting wings)? First there was the dramatic situation and setting. Then this ridiculous mid-race maneuver? Against the most elite competitors in the world, all at full gallop? For our man to actually win at the end of the movie, well, that would just be too much, right?

Allow me introduce you to John Woodruff.

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The Ten CoManningments

As this weekend’s Broncos game against the Colts approaches, Broncos fans should be mindful of the ten central principles of Broncos fandom, as were given down from on (mile) high.

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1.  Thou shalt have no other quarterbacks before me

Denver Broncos v San Diego ChargersPhoto credit:  New York Post

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An Oakland Raiders holiday poem

NFL: Preseason-Seattle Seahawks at Oakland RaidersPHOTO CREDIT: FoxSports

After Derek Carr’s 22-28, 254 yard, 3TD performance that crushed the 49ers’ playoff hopes and probably heralded the end of the Jim Harbaugh era (if not also the Colin Kaepernick era), here’s a holiday poem in honor of the new toast of Oakland:

NEW CARR SMELL

[Sung to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”]

You know Pryor and Boller and Russell and Palmer,
You know Frye, Flynn, and Campbell, and Collins, and Walter,
But do you recall,
The most potentially maybe possibly promising Raiders QB of all…?

Since Gannon, the Oakland Raiders
Have had a very dismal road.
And if you ever saw them,
You would even say they blow.

All of the other pro teams
Used to laugh and call them names.
They never let poor Oakland
Join in any playoff games.

Then one foggy Draft Day eve,
Reggie McKenzie said,
“Derek with your throws so bright,
Won’t you guide my team tonight?”

Soon all the Raiders loved him,
When they ended Harbaugh’s dynasty,
Derek the bright-throws Raider,
You might avoid mediocrity!

raidersfanPhoto credit: Getty Images

A Raiders fan getting into the holiday spirit…

Real Life Sports Movie: The 2014 Kansas City Royals

Everyone has their favorite comedies.  Mine happens to be an energetic and formulaic (but surprisingly smart) screwball1 comedy from 1989.  Major League, for the unfortunate few who have not seen it, is the story of a ragtag bunch of baseball players who are thrown together by malevolent Cleveland Indians owner Rachel Phelps with the intention that they will lose enough games to make attendance fall low enough that she can justify moving the team to Miami.  For various reasons, and by way of various dynamic personalities, the team improbably begins to win in spite of (and in order to spite) Ms. Phelps.  The flick culminates with a wild win-or-go-home game against the hated Yankees that involves, in no particular order, an infidelity ruse, a voodoo idol, and a sacrificial bucket of chicken.

One of the unspoken reasons that many comedies, including Major League, are so engaging is that they are not bound by realism or probability in the same way that our lives are.  In other words, Major League neither would nor could ever happen in real life.  Except…it very nearly did.

majorleague

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2014 Portland FFL Weekly Recaps

Week 1

Some things get better with age, and some things don’t.  Take this classic, for example:

I’m pretty sure when I first saw the movie, I didn’t spend the entire scene thinking about the following four points:

  1. That net must have been pretty god damn low if Tom Cruise was spiking over it;
  2. The fast cuts in the scene are so bad that they might have been edited by a capuchin monkey;
  3. Playing in those thick long pants must have been mighty uncomfortable;
  4. Goose kind of looks like Peyton Manning in a child molester costume

Chalk this one up in the “did not age well” column.  Hopefully, these Portland FFL recaps, which are now in year five (but are on a website for the first time) do not suffer the same fate.  After all, I now have multimedia and other fun (joique) bells and whistles at my disposal. Continue reading

2014 NFL prognoses

Annnnnnnd… we’re off!  Team-by-team and playoff predictions for the 2014 NFL season:

2014nfl

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons: A solid year from a solid team in a solid division.  Yawn. 8-8

Carolina Panthers: Cam “Isaac” Newton blows some teams away but battles injuries all year, ultimately leading to a disappointing first-round loss. 10-6

New Orleans Saints: Marques Colston officially turns into a metronome as he logs yet another 70 catch, 1,000 yard, 8 TD season to little fanfare.  11-5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A transition year by the bay, with plenty of friskiness showing through. 5-11

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Team skylines 2.0

Link to the first installment, which includes an explanation of what’s going on here.

xMoscowMoscow:  San Antonio Spurs

Moscow is a strange duck.  It has many older but recognizable features like the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Seven Sisters, as well as cultural touchstones like the Kremlin and Red Square.  This echoes the robust history of the original ABA San Antonio Spurs and its unique and irreplaceable characters like George “Iceman” Gervin.  But the city’s actual skyline is dominated, in particular, by a cluster of modern towers that stand apart from the historic underbelly.  Continue reading

What a Messi made

Why Lionel Messi should thank Michael Phelps, and other ramblings about historical legacies.

It was a chance to stand beside, if not pass, his country’s greatest soccer star.  A rare moment, in his prime, when he could take full advantage of his singular talent.  A golden opportunity to enter the rarefied air of the consensus all-time greatest sporting legends.  Messi (with a massive assist from an excellent defense) made his Argentina squad relevant, at times impregnable, and nearly unbeaten at this World Cup.  But in the end, once the comfort of the group stages were behind him, he looked all too ordinary and could not quite inspire his countrymen to glory.  Even though he dazzled with his usual mesmerizing dribbles and pristine shots, and even though Argentina made it farther than most expected them to, and even though he was even awarded with the 2014 World Cup Golden Ball (best player) award, many will judge this World Cup as a detriment to Messi’s legacy rather than a benefit.  It’s illogical.  It’s not fair.  It’s also sure to happen.  Just look at his face below — despondent for his country’s loss, and surely aware of its ramifications for him as an individual.  Here’s why that’s a bunch of bull.

Lionel MessiPhoto credit: Clive Rose, Getty Images

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A Luis cannon

Maybe it’s all an elaborate toothpaste advertisement.  Maybe his scoring prowess is derived from some form of medieval cannibalism.  Maybe he has a “taste” for the dramatic.  Regardless, the Luis Suarez clown show marches on. Suarez, a singular talent and loose cannon who plies his trade for Liverpool and, more relevantly, for his native Uruguay, has been a rising star on the world soccer scene for several years.  He has scored fantastic goals, energized successful teams, enraged onlookers with flops, and nearly exploded the soccer world four years ago with his strategic handball that bought Uruguay a ticket to the semifinals at the 2010 World Cup.  Now, four days after receiving a four-month ban from soccer, as well as a nine-match international ban and a large fine from FIFA for biting his World Cup group stage Italian opponent Giorgio Chiellini, the Uruguayan striker is making waves again, this time for an apology.

suarezbitePhoto credit: Getty Images

First, some background.  Soon after the incident, Suarez was unapologetic (to say the least).  More specifically, he denied the bite and claimed that he had “lost his balance” and not actually attempted to nosh on the Italian entree in front of him.  This claim did not exactly ring true for me, and, presumably, for whatever percentage of the observing public is not from Uruguay. The primary factor working against Suarez, other than the fact that he obviously freakin’ bit Chiellini, is that, as you surely know by now, he had already been suspended twice in his career for biting opposing players.  In April of last year, Suarez was banned for 10 games for nibbling on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, whose Serbian flesh was simply too irresistible for the clearly hungry Suarez.  He issued an apology for that incident, saying he had committed “inexcusable behavior.”  In 2010, he munched PSV’s Ottman Bakkal during a play stoppage.  That particular bite involved an absolutely unequivocal lunge toward Bakkal’s trapezius muscle that legitimately made it seem like Suarez was seeking nutrients from the victim’s jugular. Continue reading

Klose but no cigar

He might be the least celebrated soccer legend of all time, at least on this side of the Atlantic.  Even though World Cup coverage is everywhere these days, and even though he plays for one of the most prominent national teams in the world, 36 year old Polish-born German striker Miroslav Klose gets about as little attention in the United States as possible, considering he is tied for the all time record for World Cup goals.

Klose1

Klose’s recent goal as a sub in the 2-2 draw between Germany and Ghana was his 15th, tying him with Brazilian legend Ronaldo.  He also has a few more achievements and oddities to his name.  He won the Golden Boot for most goals at the 2006 World Cup.  He is one of only two players to have scored five goals at two different World Cups.  He is the only player to have scored four goals at three different World Cups.  He is one of only three players to have scored at four different World Cups.  He recently passed Gerd Muller as the all time top scorer for the German national team. He once scored five goals in a game while playing in the Italian Serie A.  He was the 2006 German footballer of the year.

His record tying goal came on Ronaldo’s home soil against Ghana, while Ronaldo’s 15th goal had come on German soil against Ghana.  Klose’s career smacks of “chosen one” status, and he seems to simply be the type of player who rises to the occasion on the biggest stage.  In this way, he is very similar to Landon Donovan, and stands as a primary argument for why Donovan perhaps should have been included on the 2014 U.S. roster — some fellas just show up.  Indeed, according to Wikipedia, the German national team has never lost a game when Klose has scored one of his 70 international goals.

So why the hell haven’t Americans heard of him?

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