Friday, June 25, 2010

2010 World Cup Knockout Round

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United States 1, Algeria 0

Judging by the all-vuvuzela band marching the streets day and night since the victory over Algeria, I'd say the United States finally has themselves a world-class soccer team, despite the world's obvious efforts to keep us down. It only makes it sweeter that we have to put up with a controversial disallowed goal in every match from here on out. We even had to deal with Algeria cowardly playing for the draw, despite needing a victory for any chance at advancement. With all of the close chances and near misses, it felt like our time would never come, and would combine with our shortcomings from the 2006 World Cup concluding a failure of an era that looked so promising. However, none of that mattered, or maybe all of it mattered, when Landon Donovan boomblasted the game winner past the charismatic Algerian goalie in the 91st minute of the match (the unsung hero of the goal was Howard, who threw it to midfield in the air, and ignited the fast break).

That golden goal didn't mean more to anyone than our new national hero, Lando Donovan (portrayed by Billy Dee Williams in the movie). He would have found himself in the scapegoat role once again, albeit unfairly this time around, but that's the responsibility you take on when you wear the #10 jersey (Pele's number, commonly worn by the team's best player, even more popular than #23 in basketball). Instead, he has been a Top 5 player of the World Cup to this point. I'm convinced he cares more about winning than any other present day athlete. He cares, and we should care because he cares so much. It's an absolute joy to watch. He is the unquestioned leader of the team that has played with the most heart in this World Cup. No other team has crawled back from a 2-0 deficit. No other team has won a game in extra time (New Zealand tied one). No other team has fought through such egregious officiating. We never give up, we fought through adversity, and we laid it all on the line when it mattered most. These are the defining characteristics of a team, led by Captain Lou Albano, playing with a ton of heart.

United States vs Ghana

A rematch with the team that slammed the door shut on our slim remaining hopes in the 2006 World Cup. And anybody that needs some extra fuel for their fire...



Yes, that garbage you see at the 1:20 mark actually leads to a penalty kick (hey, another bad call against the US! Blame it on the Black Stars). Ghana is the only remaining African team and will probably have the roar of the vuvuzelas behind them. It'll be interesting to see how partisan it will be and if it'll affect the U.S. team at all. So far, Ghana was impressive in beating Serbia 1-0, uninspiring in a 1-1 draw with a shorthanded Australia squad, and respectable in a 1-0 defeat to a desperate Germany squad. Both of their goals have come off penalty kicks, so they have yet to see the ball pass the goalie in normal play. It's difficult to forecast a soccer match, but I believe the United States to be the superior squad. We may have a feeling of playing with house money now after coming so close to elimination, and find ourselves with a somewhat favorable draw with Argentina, Germany, and Spain opposite us and no Brazil or Netherlands until the Semifinals. That doesn't mean anything will come easy, but the path is atleast plausible. Dirkness, for one, already feels satisfied with our showing, mostly due to the fashion in which it's been done.

Dirkness prediction: United States 2, Ghana 1 OT
Goals: Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore
Number of Disallowed Goals for the US: 2


Power Rankings heading into Knockout Stage:

1. Brazil- Kaka has been the second best player I've watched
2. Argentina- Messi has been the best
3. Netherlands- More concerned about style than result which I like
4. Spain- Rough first draw in Portugal should be round's best game
5. Uruguay- Most surprising dominant team of the tournament
6. Germany- Podolski (The Polish Rifle) has the fastest slap shot in the world
7. Portugal- Ronaldo's sissy play makes me outspokenly angry
8. Chile- My adopted team of the tournament, second cheering interest
9. England- Wayne Rooney is my biggest disappointment so far (besides the Floppin Racist terms)
10. United States- Keep an eye on the unheralded Benny Felihaber, I dig his style
11. Ghana- Should have the host fans behind them
12. Mexico- Worst team of the best foursome (Arg, Ger, Eng)
13. Japan- Fit their hard-working Asian stereotype and outrun teams to death
14. Paraguay- Winner of the weakest group
15. South Korea- See Japan and Slovakia
16. Slovakia- Here for the knockout swag

Dirkness

Thursday, June 24, 2010

2010 NBA Draft Live Diary

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First news is that the Chicago Bulls might be trading Kirk Hinrich to the Washington Wizards, freeing up enough cap space enabling them to go after two max-contract players in free agency. Imagine LeBron or D-Wade paired with Carlos Boozer or Chris Bosh. All on top of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Hellooooooooooooo.

On to the draft...

Wizards- John Wall- Can't help but imagine him using his dance in the bedroom.

76ers- Evan Turner- My main assist man, D-Tuck, drops off this dime: he strongly resembles a Sesame Street character.

Kings- DeMarcus Cousins- Only two years away from the unavoidable John Calipari scandal at Kentucky leading to him coaching Cousins along with another Calipari Cronie, Tyreke Evans, in Sacramento.

Warriors- Ekpe Udoh- Taking a dump in his first professional interview is a great start.

Pistons- Greg Monroe- Higher on him now than I was when I made my predictions.

Clippers- Al-Farouq Aminu- Ridiculous looking glasses.

Jazz- Gordon Hayward- As if he wasn't white enough already, now he plays for the Utah Jazz.

Pacers- Paul George- His name says it all.

Hornets- Cole Aldrich- Everything is so great man, I'm so happy, golly gee. Nice looking teeth though. TRADED to Thunder.

Grizzlies- Xavier Henry- Bilas claims he's purely a spot up shooter as they show repeated highlights of him driving to the basket. The only three times he did it all year, but still. Ironically, Xavier ends up in Memphis where he should have spent last year watching Mario Little and the Jayhawks host the National Championship.

Raptors- Ed Davis- Before the Toronto Raptors pick a USA chant breaks out. Is this aimed at Canadians or just a product of US Soccer sweeping the nation?

Rockets- Patrick Patterson- He's a big soccer fan and is cheering for Spain. Also supports the Yankees, Lakers, and oddly enough, Duke.

Bucks- Larry Sanders- I heard his show is pretty damn funny. Reminds me of Theo Ratliff, the dude that was so overpaid that he was mentioned in every trade rumor of the last decade.

Timberwolves- Luke Babbitt- Atleast this year's picks will actually show up and/or communicate with the team unlike Ricky Rubio. Hopefully...

Bulls- Kevin Seraphin- Fran Fraschilla loves the pick. Dirkness love the pick. We have that kind of relationship. Love drafting foreigners post-lottery.

Thunder- Eric Bledsoe- Stu Scott says they gave the Lakers their toughest series of the playoffs. How wasted was he during the Finals? Love the fake cheering from Durant for a player that he knows won't be on their team. TRADED to Clippers.

Celtics- Avery Bradley- How fast he can adjust to the Celtics strategy of taking the entire season off will determine his success. Was the number one rated high school player and the 470th best college player last year.

Spurs- James Anderson- The Spurs thrive with their late first round draft picks by usually taking successful college players. Now that's what I call advanced thinking.

Thunder- Craig Brackins- Big 12 Run continues. TRADED to Hornets.

Blazers- Eliot Williams- Never heard of him. Possible explanation is that they fired their awesome General Manager, Kevin Pritchard, effective after the draft. AFTER the draft. He's making picks for a team that just fired him. The team that he has completely rebuilt. I would've drafted a kindergartner. Or the best player in the Leavenworth Penitentiary League. Actually I might do that if I were trying to win.

Timberwolves- Trevor Booker- How miserable must it be to know that you'll be spending your first few NBA years (supposed to be filled with hoes, blunts, and making it rain) in cold ass Minnesota? OHHHHH TRADED to Wizards. There goes that.

Hawks- Damion James- How many Big 12 players we at now? Answer: Too many. TRADED to Nets.

Grizzlies- Dominique Jones- I would've taken the red thing from the KIA commercials instead. TRADED to Mavericks. Red Guy would've looked great playing next to Dirk.

Thunder- Quincy Poindexter- Love this pick. Kevin Durant all but admitted that his voice is heard on decision making. So it's important that your star player isn't only good, but also smart.

Nets- Jordan Crawford- TRADED to Hawks. The author of the dunk that sent LeBron's camp into an embarrassing cover-up that only led to more publicity, all for a mediocre facial that barely grazed the face of LeBron (HA!). He continues to be more concerned over his self-image than winning.

Grizzlies- General Grievis Vasquez who EXPLODES in excitement! He must be confident that this guaranteed contract will be his one and only. Well, I don't, I like his game.

Magic- Daniel Orton- Again, he averaged 3 points a game last year. Must be represented by Drew Rosenhaus. Dude can't even speak, not really a downgrade in the NBA.

Wizards- Lazar Hayward- Closes out the first round with David Stern thanking the crowd for their "enthusiasm" (booing him every time he popped out from behind the curtains). I really hope the name Lazar catches on.

2nd Round- Adam Silver- Comes out to a huge ovation from the crowd excited to see anybody besides the worst "Best Commissioner in Sports" in the best moment of the night. He is now being greeted with what I believe to be "Sexy Silver" chants when he emerges from the green room.

Along with most of the players, half of the staffs, and all of the Atlanta Hawks, I'll be taking a good majority of the second round off.

Heat- Dexter Pittman- See, I told you he was still alive.

Kings- Hassan Whiteside- Disappointed the fans who wanted them to draft Jeff Van Gundy.

They have two minutes to get their pick in for the second round. There are many things I can do in two minutes, but making decisions heavily affecting my future is not one of them.

Knicks- Andy Rautins- Trying to please the hometown fans at the Draft. This will be their selling point when they miss out on the LeBron sweepstakes.

Knicks- Landry Fields- There goes that enthusiasm...

Pacers- Lance Stephenson- The Vegas favorite in the 'First 2010 NBA Draft Pick to get Arrested' race. Don't let us down Lance!

Heat- Jarvis Varnado- Sports Guy once penned a theory that it's smart to draft anybody that's really good at one thing, rather it be shooting, rebounding, on-ball defending, or in this case, blocking shots. He will be useful in the League.

Suns- Gani Lawal- My boy, D-Tuck's sleeper, going to my boy, D-Tuck's favorite team. Claims he is the next Cedric Ceballos.

Bucks- Tiny Gallon- Somehow, Buckethead got an invite to the Draft. Going to the unhealthiest city in the country probably isn't the best fit.

Celtics- Luke Harangody- Does he have enough crazy to fit in with the Celtics frontcourt? He certainly looks it. And his last name has possibilities to become its own sub-race. Oh, he's a Harangody.

Lithuanian Mudducks- Sherron Collins- I can't believe he didn't get drafted. Seems to be in vogue to hate on him. I think he could be a creator in the league that loves its playmakers. I guess people question his character, but I don't remember one game that he didn't bring it. I hope he finds a home somewhere, and continues banging strippers in the process.

Dirkness

Monday, June 21, 2010

World Cup Power Rankings

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I'm starting to recognize that soccer is the equivalent to the sporting world that art is to our culture. The game is relatively self-policed and referees step in only when necessary, which creates a fantastic flow of play. It's something the NBA sorely lacks and needs to adopt (more on this in a developing post coming soon!) It's unlike other sports in that it operates in a gray area, outside of absolutes, where referees govern the game on intent and don't have defined regulations to follow.

The so-called soccer gods are said to reward teams that play the game the right way. Fans and analysts praise teams for their creativity, risk-taking, and style of play, rather than the score, which is a rather superficial judgment. The beauty extneds beyond the end result. It's a better representation of life, if you care to take it that far (I do). I believe the reason it hasn't fully caught on in America is that we'd rather be told what to think. Forming our own opinions is not a strength of our people. The lack of action argument makes no sense. With no down time, there is actually constant action. Sure, there is less scoring, and sometimes even no scoring, but the subtleties are something to be appreciated, with the game apt to change at any one moment. There are plenty of ways to judge a match or squad, so don't let the score tell the whole story for you. Embrace the gray area. Don't be scared. And remember, only siths deal in absolutes.

Power Rankings (as of 2 games played for all teams):

1. Brazil
2. Argentina
3. Netherlands
4. Spain
5. Portugal
6. Chile
7. Germany
8. Mexico
9. Uruguay
10. Switzerland
11. Paraguay
12. United States
13. Serbia
14. Ghana
15. England
16. Slovenia
17. Ivory Coast
18. Italy
19. South Korea
20. South Africa
21. Algeria
22. New Zealand
23. Japan
24. Greece
25. Australia
26. Denmark
27. Cameroon
28. Nigeria
29. Slovakia
30. France
31. Honduras
32. North Korea

Thy Shirkness

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

NBA Finals Thoughts

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The Finals have been such an eclectic group of games, that I feel like there is no one way to properly analyze and sum up everything that is happening. Each game is vastly different than its predecessor, consisting of different players starring in each game. Game 1 was all about The Bearded Seal, King Kong Kung Pau (although I didn't watch, his numbers told the story). Ray Allen dominated Game 2 with an NBA Finals record eight three-pointers. Derek Fisher took over the 4th quarter of Game 3. Self-appointed "Shrek n' Donkey" (Big Slobby Davis and Lil' Mane Robinson) were the stars off the bench for Game 4, while Paul Pierce, The Troof, finally asserted himself in Game 5. You may notice a big name left off of that list, the Icon Impersonator himself (while John Hollinger of the Evil Empire wrote a shameful article suggesting Kobe should be the MVP, even in a losing effort). Will Game 6 be his game? He must do a better job of delegating the ball, as he took his teammates out of rhythm with his 3rd quarter raindrops, leaving them with nobody else to help contribute come 4th quarter, and wearing himself out in the process. Is new Kobe II back to old Kobe II or was there ever even a transformation? We should find out in Game 6 tonight.

If there was one defining angle to take away from the first five games, it would be that the Celtics are much tougher than the Lakers, perfectly evidenced by the extremely symbolic play that saw Paul Pierce outmuscle, outwill, and outheart the ball out of Kobe II's hands at the end of Game 5. This seemed to start at halftime of Game 4, when the Celtics emerged from the locker room with their season on the line ready to beat up what they perceive as a soft Lakers team, specifically their frontcourt, with a hobbled Gomorrah. If I had to guess, I'd say this stems directly from Kevin Garnett, who seems to be the tone setter for the Celtics. I think he is just a mean dude, and has rubbed off on to the mostly talentless Kendrick Perkins, creating a monster that is very effective on the boards and defensive end. These are two blokes I would not want to run into in a dark alley. It's strange because the Lakers obviously outclass the Celtics in talent, but can't measure up to their toughness, will, and resolve. And if you doubt them, then you'll get the Paul Pierce treatment, just like this referee did...



All this being said, I believe the series to be a complete toss-up right now. This is what the Finals should always come down to, the team with the last two home games needing to win both for the title. I expect some fishy, one-sided officiating for Game 6, but to what extent? And how many times will Cheezy Sheed Wallace whirling dervish his way down the court after a slaptacular foul call? I do believe the Celtics need to tone down the on-court whining, or atleast the spectacles they create about singletary calls. It doesn't help their cause. So with a gun pointed at my head right now, and my fate on the line based on the pick of this series, I think I'd go with the Celtics by a vuvuzuela.

So what are the keys to tonight's Game 6? Well, the Celtics' are obvious: Keep the inept Con Artest on the floor as much as possible. If I were Phil Jackson, I would severely limit his minutes, and would even consider playing The Abominable Snowman, Luke Walton, over him. Or they could just play The Unrealized Potential, L'Odom, more minutes. Anytime there is a player on the court that the other team openly roots for to shoot, and even cheer when he makes one because that means he's certain to shoot more, that's a bad sign. The Lakers' goals seem clear to me too: They have to get Kung Pau more involved in the game. If he remains intimidated by the Celtics frontcourt, which was the case in Game 5 and all of the 2008 Finals, than the Lakers will lose. I would aim to get The Bearded Seal 20 shots in Game 6 (shot totals so far: 14, 10, 11, 13, 12. Kobe II's shot totals: 22, 20, 29, 22, 27). The Dirkness guarantees that if Kung Pau takes more shots than Kobe II, then the Lakers will win the game. It's ironic that the reason they work so well together (Pau's passiveness and security in Beta-dog status) could end up being their tragic downfall.

Dirkness prediction for Game 6: Lakers 96-87, in an ethically questionable matter.

Go Celtics!
Dirkness

Monday, June 14, 2010

Nebraska in the Big 12?!?

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Ding-dong the Big 12 is dead (insert generic joke about incorrectly numbered conferences here). While most people are stuck living in the past, Dirkness will stick to progressive thinking and examine what the future might look like for Nebraska in the Huge 12 (sad thought- soon conferences will be renamed and will most likely be attached to sponsors- maybe the Amazon 12 and the Roscoe's Chicken n Waffles 16). I'll share just a few thoughts on the messy break up before a team-by-team breakdown of the new Evan Williams Green Label 12.

~I don't hear enough people blaming the true villain of this situation- Dan Beebe- Commish of the Atari 12. His lack of forward thought and ability to adjust to new-aged media will be the death of the Xanga 12. If there were a Big 12 Network right now, there's no way the conference breaks up.

~Given the USC sanctions and impending fall from the nation's elite, Texas is the number one team to avoid in conference realignment. They, along with Oklahoma, will dominate the Taco Tico 16.

~I feel bad for Iowa State in this situation. They always had great fans and a happy-to-be-here kind of attitude. KU basketball will be fine because you can win it all without being in a top conference (although it's extremely fascinating how completely ignored basketball is in all of the realignment discussions). Missouri started talk of the exodus, but wasn't prominent enough to finish it. Nobody really cares about K-State, and I think they are a basketball school now anyway. But, Iowa State, doesn't stand a chance in this cruel, cruel world.

~Next season's Big 12, especially Nebraska road games, should reach a new level of intensity. Players and fans alike will be out for blood against any and all defectors. How crazy would it be, and this is very possible, if Nebraska runs the table and wins the Big 12 Championship in its final year?

On to the breakdown of the newly formed Red Apple Cigarettes 12 (Dirkness Dollas to whoever comprehends that):

West- Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Northwestern
East- Purdue, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State

Iowa- The most natural, impending rival with Nebraska due to geographical location and prestige. Iowa is my personal third favorite team in the NCAA behind Nebraska and Kansas, which will make it hard to develop true hatred for them (and even harder for my Dad, who went to Iowa). Could possibly evolve into more of a respected rivalry (Nebraska-Oklahoma) than one built on abhorrence (Nebraska-Colorado). Oh yea, and then there is Eric Crouch's introduction to the country...



Minnesota- Met with Nebraska four times from 1983-1990. Combined score: 226-20 (84-13, 38-7, 48-0, 56-0). That's some serious Gopher exterminating. Minnesota has remained relatively irrelevant since their incoherent decision to fire Glen Mason.

Wisconsin- Could foster into a good blue-collared annual rivalry filled with running games, hard hats, defense, and warm PBR's. Wisconsin won the last meeting in 1974, upsetting the #4 ranked Huskers. One of the newly formed matchups I am greatly looking forward to.

Illinois- The Fightin' Ron Zooks would've rather seen their true rival Missouri knighted into the conference, but instead will have to settle for a yearly beatdown from a non-rival. Not much history aside from two lopsided Husker victories from the mid-80's.

Northwestern- The fans of the new purple-clad Wildcats adversary most likely remember ending one of their most successful seasons with a 66-17 drubbing at the hands of a Nebraska team that felt it should've been playing in something better than the Alamo Bowl. This rounds out what could be a relatively weak Western division of the Beard n' Stache 12.

Purdue- Only one meeting between the two in their history and it was a 28-0 thrashing in favor of Purduhhhhhh in 1958. I assure you, Nebraska fans have not let go of that, and will finally get their chance at revenge. Purdue won't be anything until they hire Herm Edwards as their next head coach.

Indiana- Another red and white brethren actually leads the all-time series 9-7-3, despite Nebraska romping in the last four meetings. It'll be intriguing to see if this team on the rise can survive in the new landscape of the Fop 12.

Michigan- Here's where things get interesting. These two teams shared the 1997 National Championship after Nebraska was more impressive in beating the Tennessee Peytons than Michigan was in beating the Washington State Ryan Leafs (which of those seems more impressive now?). There was also the 2005 Alamo Bowl with one of the more improbable endings of all time...



Michigan State- Interesting fact: Bo Pelini's first game as head coach of Nebraska, when he was interim coach for the 2003 Alamo Bowl only, came against Michigan State (I'm told there was a coach in between there somewhere, but I just can't recall). Sure enough, we only allowed three points, and although I can't vouch for it, I'm sure we had dominant defensive tackle play. The Spartans also had the honor of getting bamboozled by the greatest team of all time, the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Ohio State- These will be the two teams wrestling for alpha dog status in the immediate future in the Nissan Blaxima 12. It will be a spectacle every time these two juggernauts get together, and will prove to be one of the more captivating matchups that results from all the realigning. These two storied programs have met only two times in their history, both Buckeyes victories from the 1950's. Although, I faintly remember another encounter...



Penn State- Tom Osborne vs. Joe Paterno (the obviously disputable two best College Football coaches of all time). A history exists between these two programs, meeting five years in a row from 1979-1983, with both teams being ranked in every game, and Nebraska winning three of the five (not to mention, their heated volleyball past). There is also 1994, when both Nebraska and Penn State finished the season undefeated, that saw Nebraska emerge with the National Championship, which the Nittanies are sure to hold against the incoming Huskers. This traditional, powerhouse matchup should be fun every time they get together.


Go Big Red!
Dirk Blaximess

Thursday, June 10, 2010

2010 World Cup Preview Extravaganza

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I'll start off with my thoughts on the United States team (uh, squad) before getting into predictions for the 2010 World Cup. I'd like to give a shout out to my DVR for the load it is about to handle, and for making it possible for me to witness the World Cup sans a 6 A.M. wake up call (I wouldn't have stood a chance 8 years ago). But, please World Cup, return to Asia soon so I can once again experience live sporting events in the midnight to 6 A.M. hours- the original reason that I got into the sport of soccer (er, futbol).

United States~ They are better set up for success this time around than they were in 2006, when unfair expectations were placed on them due to an overachieving 2002 team. You follow? Overachieving leads to expectation, which ultimately leads to failure. You see it all the time in sports. This year they bring a more seasoned team ready to handle more moderate expectations. This is my analysis based on no soccer knowledge whatsoever.

What's the key on the field (ahem, pitch)? Jozy Altidore. He is their chance. What I remember from 2006 was that we fielded a good team throughout the field, but lacked a striker, which when it comes down to it, is the name of the game. We had to work too hard for goals. He is our chance at a difference maker.

So what are The Dirkness' expectations for the United States? Anything less than reaching the knockout stage would have to be considered a disappointment (the top two of each group advance for those not in the know). I say winning a game in the Round of 16 is a great success, and anything above and beyond is just tea and crumpets (?). If they can just come out of the England game with a tie (draw) than they are in great shape, with the belief that England is the most celebrated team of the group. But, this is no "Group of Death" (the term applied to the toughest group of the World Cup) where the U.S. found themselves in 2006, and we should expect The Yanks to make an appearance in the knockout round.

Prediction Time~

Group A:
1. Mexico- Odds on winning it all went from <125-to-1> to <60-to-1> ruining my betting plans (but helping my online gambling problems).
2. Uruguay- No I'm not....not that there's anything wrong with that.
3. France- Handballs won't be allowed in this tournament, Henri.
4. South Africa- Would become the first host country to not make the knockout round.

Group B:
1. Argentina- Led by the former (Diego Maradona) and current (Lionel Messi) best players in the world.
2. Greece- I find Greeks to be tough and resilient.
3. Nigeria- The worst team from the original FIFA Soccer game for Super Nintendo.
4. South Korea- Midfielder Park Ji-Sung is nicknamed 'Three-Lung Park' for his impressive stamina.

Group C:
1. England- History of dominating the Group stage but faltering in the knockout round.
2. United States- Chuck Klosterman really believes soccer could be the sport of the future in the U.S. (and if you don't know who he is, quit reading me and read him!)
3. Slovenia- Dominating defense scares me a bit.
4. Algeria- Awesome nickname- 'The Desert Foxes.'

Group D:
1. Serbia- Makes me think of Siberia, which makes me thinks they'll be tough.
2. Australia- You can never question the heart of a Socceroo.
3. Germany- My shocker. Lots of missing players due to injuries (and their top goalkeeper committed suicide!) Would be the first time missing the knockout round since 1938.
4. Ghana- Suffer in this year's 'Group of Death.'

Group E:
1. Cameroon- My choice for African team that rides the wave of home turf.
2. Netherlands- My favorite European team (despite leaving Chili Peppers' lead man Ruud Van Nistelrooy-pictured-off the squad) donning the fresh out of the penitentiary uniforms (kits).
3. Denmark- Something about Denmark.
4. Japan- Can't imagine them being good at soccer.

Group F:
1. Italy- 'The Floppin Racist Terms' have the best goalie in the world, Gianluigi Buffon.
2. Paraguay- Dedicating the tournament to their top qualifying scorer who was shot in the head. Sold.
3. Slovakia- Won't be motivated because they've already advanced further than their former name sharers, Czech.
4. New Zealand- Just here for the swag.

Group G:
1. Brazil- Led by forward Kaka (Spanish for poop) and coach Dunga (American for poop). Cue Clay Davis: Shieyyyyyyyit!
2. Ivory Coast- My personal favourite (!) player from the 2006 World Cup, Didier Drogba, may or may not be out for the tournament.
3. Portugal- Soccer is no place for pretty boys like Cristiano Ronaldo...or atleast my predictions aren't.
4. North Korea- Suffer from this year's 'Group of Chinese Water Torture.'

Group H:
1. Spain- The World Cup Favourite has lost one time in its last 45 games (to the U.S. baby!)
2. Chile- Their coach is nicknamed El Loco for his sideline antics (he most likely gets liquored up on Loko's before games).
3. Honduras- Come oh so close to being the tournament Cinderella.
4. Switzerland- They plan to stay neutral in hopes of not upsetting any of the other Group H teams.

Knockout Stage:

Round of 16:

Mexico over Greece
England over Australia
Cameroon over Paraguay
Brazil over Chile
Argentina over Uruguay
United States over Serbia
Netherlands over Italy
Spain over Ivory Coast

Quarterfinals:

England over Mexico
Cameroon over Brazil
Argentina over United States
Spain over Netherlands

Semifinals:

England over Cameroon
Argentina over Spain

Third Place Game:
Cameroon over Spain

World Cup Final:
Argentina over England

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOALLLLLLLL!!!!!!

His Dorkness

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lakers vs. Celtics Game 3

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I feel there is no direct angle to go with after the Lakers' Game 3 victory (and don't want to create one on my own to thrust out an "intriguing" article), other than it was poorly played (Lakers bad, Celtics worse), poorly officiated (might want to review this), and poorly affected the Celtics' chance at winning the series. This was a contest that went from the Lakers inability to put the game away when they had the opportunity, to the Lakers allowing the Celtics to crawl back into it with incredibly bad shot selection and arrogance of The Icon Impersonator, to the Celtics relying on ice-cold (the bad variety) Ray Allen down the stretch, to a near complete and utter embarrassment for the league and the sport of basketball if the Celtics would've unjustifiably come back in the last two minutes.

The Celtics lost home-court advantage (suddenly more important in Hockey) on a night that saw their most underperforming player (KG) score the first six points of the game to the delight of a raucous crowd. However, it quickly became evident that the Celtics couldn't put together anything resembling an offense without Garnett in the post or Rondo in transition. I cannot comprehend why Doc Rivers played Crazy Eyes Baby down the stretch as opposed to Cheesy 'Sheed or Krazy Kendrick (how many loose screws amongst those three? And that doesn't even include Ron-Con Artest). He (back to Big Baby) provided nothing on the offensive end, was too slow to guard L'Odom, and too small to guard Kung Pau. Much the same, Doc was too slow to reinsert players from the bench, and too small minded to keep riding Garnett down the stretch instead of a shooter that couldn't hit a jail yard from a basketball arena (think Jesus). The ironic part of the series is how Ray Allen has now won the Celtics a game, and lost them a game, which I suppose makes him the most important player in the series up this point.

I feel I must address the Celtics semi-possible "comeback" at the end of the game, sponsored by the refs, that included three reviews on out of bounds calls (first I've heard of this rule), and which led to every player complaining after every shot and the announcers scrambling for ways to stay hush-hush (Beard n' Stache wouldn't have masqueraded this) about the NBAtrocity that the officiating has become. Lets face it, the Celtics and Lakers got to the Finals based on how they've played, but also by how well each veteran-laden team is able to work the refs during games (led by Derek Bitcher). How can this continue to be such a problem for a professional sport? You might respond with the argument of how hard it is to govern the game of basketball, to which I reply College Basketball does just fine with it. Blame falls equally on the refs (phantom call on Pierce's And-1 to keep things interesting) and players (Kung Pau flopping around like a bearded seal) in present terms, but collectively on David Stern ("The best Commissioner in sports"), who deserves his own sentence. The review implementation didn't seem like a bad idea up until they're reviewing a play containing a foul that can't be called, leaving the refs no choice but to switch the call and reward the fouling team with the ball. This is a case of the letter of the law overriding the intent of the law, a situation that should remain absent from professional sports, yet present in Stern's nightmares. Nobody will be upset about this because it hasn't gravely affected the outcome of a game. Yet.

The worst part of the game was that the Celtics had the Lakers right where they wanted them. Kobe started to panic and was returning to his former Pop-A-Shot self (He drew backboard before iron unintentionally on atleast three fourth quarter shots). Kung Pau wasn't touching the ball nearly enough and was cowering into his KG-induced imaginative shell, ala the 2008 NBA Finals. It will be hard to overcome a home loss and find a way to grind out another victory in Los Angeles. Since 1985, when the NBA introduced the 2-3-2 Finals format, the team winning Game 3 in a series tied 1-1 has gone on to win the series every time (I got that stat from Linda Cohn's Facebook!!!). My prediction may come to fruition, to the dismay of many, especially those that sat through Derek Fisher's post-game waterworks.

I would like to encourage further Laker-bashing on the comments of this post. Come with all nicknames, anecdotes, and rants. Bring your creativity, immaturities, passion, emotional backlash, and irrationalities to the party. All is welcome no matter how short, unfunny, or illogical it may be. Trust me, it'll make you feel better and probably enjoy the rest of the Finals even more.

Di Shirkness

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Thought Smorgasbord

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I wanted to alert my loyal readers that I will be setting off on a journey full of Klostermans, bears, Qwangzillas, and goat skin for a week. I will be living technology free immersed in nature, with just me and my thoughts (most people's worst nightmare).

I am severely looking forward to the World Cup this year, and will be hitting it hard in an attempt to expand my writing versatility.

If anybody clamored for me to write about baseball (you know who you are), I would even give that a shot. All I'd need is a contending team to follow. I might be leaning toward the Tampa Devil Rays (will never call them just 'Rays').

I am moderately excited about the NBA Finals. A 7 on a scale of 1-10. Although, we finally had some intriguing playoff games- One close, the other not. Lakers-Suns Game 6 will probably go down as the best game of these playoffs.

I see the Lakers winning the series in six. Celtics steal one of the first two in Los Angeles. Lakers take two of three in Boston and win it in Game 6 at home.

I hate to acknowledge it, but I believe Kobe has distanced himself from the rest of the game's current elite. I credit Phil Jackson.

I put Dwyane Wade second on that list (ahead of LeBronius). Has anybody noticed the Favre-ness in the spelling of Dwyane?

Got a chance to watch Stanley Cup Finals Game 2 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Hopefully, the series evens out and goes deep so I get a chance to observe the conclusion. I don't know one person supporting Philadelphia in the series, so go Flyers!

The Indianapolis 500 happened.

If Dirk Nowitzki leaves the Dallas Mavericks for the Phoenix Suns this offseason, the Suns will become the funnest NBA team of this era and win the title next year.

I feel more optimism and overall excitement towards my three main sports teams (Nebraska, KU Basketball, Chiefs) than I have in a handful of years.

Just to remind those in the know: Mike Cloud.

This concludes the end of my stream of consciousness, so hop off the smorgasbord. Remember to check back for an uneducated look at the first two games of the NBA Finals and a Mondo World Cup Preview Extravaganza that would satisfy even Diego Maradona's strict personal hygiene requirements.

Dirkness
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