Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What time is it?

September 6, 2007

Actually, time for my fantasy football draft but TTL is boldly not studying this year. After getting burned by drafting with a little bit of knowledge the past few seasons, going with the gut this year. That’s all you’ll hear about my NFL fantasy but maybe more on my Premier League Fantasy Team (c’mon Clint Dempsey) as the season goes on.

The 2007 Rugby World Cup begins Friday in France. Most pundits including TTL (a little bit of knowledge is dangerous) predict New Zealand to win it. The All-Blacks have only won 1 WC despite being the best rugby-playing nation in the galaxy. There is a huge gulf in talent between the top 8 sides and the rest of the world, so expect some ridiculous scores posted on teams like Namibia, Portugal and sadly the semi-pros from the USA. The big interest in the pool stage is who takes 2nd in Pool D, France or Ireland, although Argentina has a puncher’s chance of sneaking into 2nd. Anyway, the 2nd-place finisher faces NZ in the quarterfinals which is something that contenders Ireland and France want to avoid at all costs. Particularly the French, as this game takes place in Cardiff, Wales and not in France. And the tournament organizers, the IRB, whose dream final is NZ v France in Paris.

TTL enjoys international rugby and will spend some time at the pub watching games. And due to an unprecedented media blackout of the RWC watching live games might be the only way to go.

Also glad that England will relinquish the Web Ellis trophy they won in Australia in 2003. The defending champs are a shadow of the physical side that bullied and kicked its way to the title. Definitely have a like/loathe relationship with England international teams as TTL knows all the players and sorta wants England to do well but just so I can root against the English. They’re like a nation of passive-aggressive Philly fans but with much cooler singing.

As this post takes on a personal nature, might as well bemoan the fate of the Cubbies. Dropped into a tie for 1st in the Central with Milwaukee today after closer Ryan Dempster gave up 4 in the ninth to lose 7-4 to LA. Troubling developments all week as this team looks close to imploding a la 2004. Not playing very good baseball, particularly at the plate, as they continue to swing away with reckless abandon. Over the 4 game series the Cubs’ batters walked 18 times, stuck out 22 times, left 58 men on base and grounded into a mind-boggling 10 double plays. Not quite the winning formula. As a lifelong Cubs fan it is terrifically exciting when the Cubs play meaningful September baseball. Just wish they wouldn’t play so much like typical Cubs.

That’s it for today. Thanks for checking TTL.

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Champions League Draw

August 31, 2007

Pressed for time (again) so this blog gonna be a bit linky. But should give one enough reading for the day.

Here are the CL Groups for this season. Little worried about Liverpool’s group as that is 3 tricky away games, especially in Turkey. Aresenal received the easiest group of the 4 Premier League teams.

England picked their roster for their massive Euro 2008 qualifying games next week. No David Beckham as the former England captain is out 6 weeks with a knee injury sustained in this week’s SuperLiga loss to Mexican side Pachuca. In that game, Landon Donovan missed a chance to win it during the penalty shoot-out. Gotta step up and make the winner.

Today is the last day of the summer transfer window. Don’t expect too much activity. Transfers can be made again this season during January.

Here is the weekend’s fixture list for the Premier League. TTL’s Game of the Week would be Blackburn v Manchester City in an otherwise mundane line-up of games.

Gotta run. Apologies. Enjoy the games and Go Cubs. Some team has to win the worst division in baseball.

CL Qualifying Round 3

August 28, 2007

The return legs of the CL qualifiers from 2 weeks ago are tonight and tomorrow. The pick of the litter tonight is Dinamo Bucharest (1) v Lazio (1) as the Romanian champs hope to use their away goal to go on and upset Lazio from Serie A. Remarkably, if Bucharest holds on tonight against Lazio and their bitter rivals Steaua Bucharest advance tomorrow night, then Romania will have 2 teams in the Group Stages. Don’t know much about Dinamo, but Steaua was in the CL last season, and has made good runs in the UEFA Cup the past 2 seasons as well (3rd place finishers in CL Group phase are entered into UEFA Cup draw).

Liverpool should finish the job against Frenchies Toulouse tonight at Anfield. LP will be without defender Jamie Carragher who broke a rib in their 2-0 win at Sunderland on Saturday. Steven Gerrard will not suit up due to his broken toe. Sincerely hope Rafa continues to rest the franchise this weekend against lightweights Derby. Free transfer Andriy Voronin continues to impress as he scored and set-up Momo Sissoko’s 1st LP goal. The power of the Ukrainian pony-tail is alive and well. TTL would link to the Sissoko goal but the Premier League is inexplicably suing YouTube for copyright infringement.

LP will pay tribute to Rhys Jones as they’ll play Everton’s theme song “Johnny Todd” at Anfield before the traditional “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” There is some deep soul-searching taking place in England at the moment as several violent acts involving young people have wracked the nation.

Also, the AEK Athens v Sevilla is postponed due to the death of 22 year-old Sevilla midfielder Antonio Puerta who collapsed during the game against Getafe on Saturday. Puerta came up through the club’s youth system and has been an integral part of Sevilla’s past 2 impressive seasons. He collapsed on the pitch, was able to walk off it but then suffered a massive heart attack in the dressing room. Simply tragic.

To be perfectly fair, looking into the above 2 items has dampened the enthusiasm for writing this post. Enjoy the games, as sometimes sports is the best remedy for life’s ills.

FU CHELSEA!!!

August 19, 2007

Straight to the action. Liverpool drew 1-1 with Chelsea at Anfield courtesy of a ridiculous 2nd half penalty call by referee Rob Styles. New Chelski signing Florent Malouda drew the penalty by literally paying no attention to the ball and jumping onto the back of Steve Finnan. Referee was in perfect position and flat out fucked up the call (apologies for the swearing, but TTL is major league TO’d). Fat Frank Lampard converted canceling out newboy Fernando Torres brilliant 16th minute goal for LP. It was a typical LP-Chelsea affair, as both teams controlled the play in spurts but overall LP was the better side. But that means nothing if you don’t get the result.

Manchester City defeated Manchester United 1-0 in their derby. TTL did predict Man City would take a 1-0 lead only to lose in the end and its shocking Man U didn’t win. The Red Devils dominated play in every aspect but Geovanni’s excellent 31st minute goal stood up. TTL MAN of the Day award to Man City defender Micah Richards a one-man fortress in defense. Carlos Tevez, the Argentian torro, missed a fantastic chance to equalize late so Man U currently sits 16th in the table while Man City occupies first.

In the day’s other game, Arsenal tied 1-1 with Blackburn. These team’s styles don’t mix and its always a choppy game. There were plenty of cards today and several shoving incidents as Arsenal, the proponents of the beautiful game, were tackled to death by a feisty Rovers squad. Robert Van Persie put Arsenal ahead in the 1st half only to see Blackburn level late courtesy of another Jens Lehmann gaffe. The Arsenal goalkeeper whiffed on a simple catch and watched in disbelief as David Dunn’s speculative effort floated out of Lehmann’s grasp into the net. In all fairness to Lehmann, this game had tie written all over it and it seemed like only matter of time before Blackburn tied it.

For all of the results click it. TTL’s quick hitters for the rest of the games:

Good news for Tottenham as Derby came calling and Tottenham rolled them 4-0.
The pressure is building on Bolton manager “Little” Sammy Lee as his side loses their 3rd straight 3-1 at Portsmouth.
Brian McBride scored to put Fulham ahead 1-0 on Middlesbrough. Then things went really wrong for Craven Cottage USA as McBride dislocated his knee on his goal, Carlos Bocanegra slipped to allow Boro a 2nd goal and substitute Clint Dempsey blew an open net as well. Boro beat Fulham 2-1 as the calls for replay technology grow when the referees disallowed a clear goal for Fulham late in the game. All in all, a rough day for Fulham.

The Premier League is in full swing. TTL is in mid-season anger and Wigan is in 3rd place. Get on it!

Today

August 17, 2007

Apologies, the copyright post is taking much longer than planned. Be 2 posts tomorrow on the copyright issue in sports and a preview of this weekend’s Premier League games. So be sure to scroll down and read both posts. Enjoy your day.

CL Quick Hitters

August 15, 2007

Quick recap of Champions League qualifiying action with some random thoughts thrown in TTL-style. For all the results hit this.

Liverpool beats Toulouse 1-0 in a crapfest. Desultory game to watch as the daytime kickoff in boiling weather sapped both teams’ will. LP was the stronger side throughout but Toulouse was pesky now and again. LP did the job courtesy of great goal by Andriy Voronin, who boasts the most powerful pony-tail in the Ukraine. Apologies cause couldn’t find the clip on youtube. Maybe something to do with the Premier League suing youtube for copyright infringement. More on that tomorrow.

The Old Firm of Rangers and Celtic did the job. Rangers defended the home turf with a 1-0 win over Crvena Zvezda. And Celtic picked up a crucial away goal with a 1-1 draw at Spartak Moscow. Scottish sides are poised to win these ties.

Fenerbache beat Anderlecht 1-0 and you can read all about that result at this excellent Fenerbache blog run by Nathan from Louisville. Quality stuff.

Arsenal were on their game winning 2-0 at Sparta Prague and putting themselves in the catbird seat to win the tie. TTL will have more on CL action tomorrow.

Quick hitters on the Premier League action tonight. Manchester United tied 1-1 with Portsmouth as Ronaldo was sent off for a “headbutt.” He scuffled with a Pompey defender on a corner and moved his head in threatening manner. Weak, but justified sending-off by the letter of the law. Since it is a straight red that means he’ll miss the derby vs Manchester City on Sunday. Going into that game Man City has 6 points and Man U a scant 2. Beware the power of the baby blue jerseys.

Speaking of Sunday’s games, there is little fixture of Liverpool v Chelsea. Snap into that!! Chelsea gutted out a 2-1 at Reading who must hate the computer. Reading started at Man U and Chelsea at home. Ouch. But they acquitted themselves well in both games and really pushed Chelsea tonight.

That’s it for today/tonight. Go Cubs!

CL Line-up & March Madness

March 12, 2007

The draw for the CL is set and shape’s up like this:

2006/07 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals
1st leg: 03/04 April
2nd leg: 10/11 April
1 AC Milan (ITA) v FC Bayern München (GER)
2 PSV Eindhoven (NED) v Liverpool FC (ENG)
3 AS Roma (ITA) v Manchester United FC (ENG)
4 Chelsea FC (ENG) v Valencia CF (ESP)

(courtesy of www.uefa.com)

In the semis, winner of quarterfinal 1 plays 3 and 2 plays 4.  Which sets the stage for a possible rematch of the 2005 semi-final between Chelsea and Liverpool.  Delicious. 

At first glace, Milan, LP, Man U and Valencia are the picks.  But April is an eternity away as evidenced by PSV who just lost defensive linchpin and goal-scoring hero Alex to a possible torn hamstring at the weekend.  This is the time of year where injuries and cup competitions can drain a team quickly.  Both Man U and Chelsea are in the title race for the Premiership, the FA Cup (and both teams have replays) and the CL obviously.  That is a lot of football to play.  And neither of those teams have particularly deep squads. 

But March is college hoops.  Glad the Illini snuck into the tourney although Illini-Wisconsin game on Saturday was painful.  Be happy when Warren Carter and Rich McBride graduate.  Neither brings much to the table except on rare occasions.  Have an inkling that Illini could take Va. Tech in the 1st round.  Seems winnable. 

TTL would like to thank President Bush for changing time.  He is that powerful.  In perhaps the finest legislative piece passed by the Bush government, Daily Savings Time has been extended a few weeks.  (Wake up America!!).  Now Europe is only 5 hours ahead, so basketball viewing will commence at more normal times.  Final Four could even tip-off before midnight.  Coupled with the no-smoking laws being enforced TTL could actually stumble home before dawn wreaking of stale beer (but no smoke!) after countless hours of basketball enjoyment. 

March Madness is slowly catching on with European fans of basketball.  While the NBA is quite popular in certain countries (Germany & Italy especially) college is quite unknown.  Besides the occasional boat race down the Thames between Oxford&Cambridge, there are really no college sporting events on the European radar.  Europe embraces the club system wholeheartedly and most high schools and universities have no real sports program.  If one plays sports at this age they play for a club team.  And if the kids are really good, then they get picked up by one of the pro teams and play for their academies.   There is nothing like the Sooner nation or die-hard Alabama fans across Europe.  Which is too bad, as the concept of a crazed Frenchman rabidly supporting the Sorbonne would be great.     

Odds&Ends

March 8, 2007

Quick update of last night’s CL action:

PSV shocks Arsensal with a 1-1 draw to advance 2-1 on aggregate.  Alex does the double, scoring an own goal and then winning the game on a great header for PSV in the 82nd minute.  Definitely worth a youtube search has he got UP.  Lots of Arsenal possession with little to show for it.

AC Milan wins 1-0 in extra-time over Celtic to advance.  Celtic did themselves proud, but Milan was clearly the better team with Kaka providing the superb winner.  Milan simply wins in the CL. 

Manchester United beat Lille 1-0 to advance.  Professional performanced turned in by Man U with the ultimate pro Henrik Larsson scoring the goal.  That Swede is one cool dude.  Still insists he’s going back to Swedish league though after his loan deal expires in the next couple of weeks. 

Bayern Munich beats Real Madrid 2-1 to advance on away goals in a wild affair.  These games were the best of the round for entertainment with ejections and goals galore.  Real Madrid manager Capello is truly on the hot seat now and it gets no easier for Madrid as they play Barcelona in the Primera League on Saturday. 

The quarterfinal teams are Liverpool, Chelsea and Man U from England along with AC Milan and Roma from Italy.  The Dutch club PSV Eindhoven, Bayern Munich from Germany and Spanish club Valencia complete the group.  The match-ups will be announce sometime on Friday.  For a complete rundown of the CL action go to www.uefa.com.

The posts will be limited in the next few days as coaching in a 3 day high school basketball tournament.  Its great fun except for the 2 last place teams (12 total) get relegated to Div II.  Unfortunately was in that battle last year and managed to stay up but it was awful.  Don’t know how teams can handle that stress.  And relegation is something that would work well in US sports.  Baseball is a good example but also probably with the NBA.  That topic will be the next big post.  Until then, have fun watching all the NCAA conference tourneys. 

Here we Go!

August 28, 2006

Welcome to the new (and soon to be improved) The Third Leaf.  Apologies to everyone for the huge delay in updates.  When I wrote August, I guess that meant March.  As you can see, the blog has moved to a new home and has a new focus.  The Third Leaf is going to look at sports from a global perspective.  I’m going to try and convince you that Tottenham-Arsenal is just as a heated rivalry as Alabama-Auburn.  That sports bars were packed with throngs watching the recently completed Team Handball Championships.  That European fans really love the NBA but are quickly catching on to March Madness. 

As sports continues to expand globally in the search for increasing streams of revenue, The Third Leaf hopes to understand why fans come to care about certain teams or sports from outside their cultures.  Why are players from Manchester United greeted like the Beatles when they tour Asian countries?  How do countries like Greece, Argentina and Puerto Rico become dominant teams in basketball?  These are some of the questions we hope to explore on this blog as we try to understand the globalization of sports in all shapes and sizes.  And by “we” that means “you.”  Your comments are the heart of this blog.  It is the opinions of the readers that interest me.  I sincerely hope that if something you read makes you think, angry, smile or you if just want to kill some time at the office, that you post a comment.   

Most of all, I hope you enjoy The Third Leaf and become an avid reader.   The  first true sports post will be up on Sunday as I’m out of town until then.  Have a great day.