2014 Portland FFL Week 3 Recap

Although some trends in the standings have started to take shape, six of ten teams managed to score between 108 and 112 points this week.  That’s a startling number.  Luckily for those of us who enjoy drama, four such teams happened to play each other.  In two of the closest games of the year (obviously), Nathan Y eked out a victory over Pat, and Andrew scratched and clawed his way to a narrow win over Kevin.  In the Pat/Nathan tilt, it’s easy to blame Pat’s Larry Fitzgerald (1 point) and his apparent third banana status behind Michael Floyd and John Brown.  Through three weeks, Larry Fitz is tied for 73rd (73rd!) among wideouts with 2.7 points per week.  Maybe he needs a change of scenery.  Maybe he needs a haircut.  Maybe he needs an alter ego who can be the “bad boy” prima donna who won’t sit quietly as his position is usurped into decoy status.  Come to think of it, alter egos never end well.

?????I, like you, am still waiting patiently for the Sasha Fierce/Ziggy Stardust/Chris Gaines compilation album

Henry Ford once said of his new Model T, “any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”  Well, Nathan L can field any fantasy football players he wants so long as they suck.  Continue reading

2014 Portland FFL Week 2 Recap

That was a hell of a Week 2.  Although only one match provided real drama, there were three closely contested battles, seven 100+ point scorers (for the second straight week), and six teams with at least one 23 point scorer.  The true drama came in the matchup between Moe and Andrew, wherein Andrew was clinging to a 10 point lead in the third quarter of Monday night’s Eagles/Colts tilt.  Moe was fielding both Riley Cooper, who dropped a long TD pass in that very quarter, as well as Andrew Luck, who logged a respectable 18 points but came up short in the more important battle here.  Andrew will be in ecstasy as he gets to reintroduce Wes Welker this week.  The real story was the embattled Jay Cutler, who tossed three TDs in the final 8:05 of game time Sunday night.  Andrew immediately signed up for the Kristin Cavallari fan club and mailing list after the game.

“It’s too many questions at once!”

He will have to battle Pat for her, though, who has honored her with his team avatar.  Continue reading

2014 Portland FFL Week 1 Recap

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.

Another thing that apparently has aged well:  Matthew Thomas Ryan.  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

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

Tulo

Recently, balls have been flying around and out of Coors Field like the cards at the end of a Solitaire game.

One big reason is that the best player in baseball (no, not Mike Trout), has been unleashing hell all spring.  That player is an unstoppable force of Polish descent at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.  Troy Tulowitzki, the Colorado Rockies’ “large” shortstop in the grand tradition of his idol Derek Jeter and Cal Ripken, has quietly been putting together one of the greatest starts in decades.  And although the Rockies don’t tend to get much press on the coasts, it has become impossible to ignore the greatest shortstop of his generation.  At least, while he stays healthy.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Colorado RockiesPhoto credit:  USATSI

Continue reading