One of the greatest games ever played in any sport?

Today is one of those days when I feel sorry for those who aren’t soccer fans. Seriously. Because what happened earlier this afternoon in the Champions League semifinal at Camp Nou in Barcelona was one of the most exciting things I have ever witnessed in any sport. And I don’t do hyperbole. I mean this literally. It was Miracle on Ice huge. If I called it David vs. Goliath, I’d be giving David way the hell too much credit. (Okay, maybe that was hyperbole. A little.)

Final score: Chelsea 2, Barcelona 2, with Chelsea advancing to the finals in Munich on a 3-2 aggregate score (the Blues beat Barca 1-0 in London last week). Read More »

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The R Word: Understanding the Seven Kinds of Rivalries in College Football

Today is the day that my University of Colorado Buffaloes head down to Mile High to take on the Rams of Colorado State in the Rocky Mountain Showdown. I’m sure several dozen CSU fans will be breaking out their green and gold overalls and doing some tailgating, although I’m not sure how that’s going to work since I’ve never seen a tailgate on a tractor. Whatever.

Anyway, most years the week leading up to this game is full of sports radio chatter about the big “rivalry.” Which has always struck me as a bit silly, frankly. I know a lot of marketing departments would like for us to think it’s a rivalry, but it really isn’t. Read More »

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Time for some straight talk on the NFL’s top faith-based quarterback

This just in:

CBS Sports game analyst Randy Cross believes Tebow haters are bashing him for his outspoken Christian opinions.

“People, especially the media, root against him because of what he stands for,” said Cross.

The 3-time Super Bowl champ added: “My personal belief is there are people in the media, people in the stands, who are predisposed to see a guy like that fail…Just because he’s so public about the way he feels.”

My gut response is to mock Cross for being a barking gongbat. Read More »

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An open letter to LeBron James from America: let’s get back together

Dear LeBron:

The WWE, Hollywood, soap operas and the NBA front office have something in common: they all understand that a compelling narrative requires what the pro wrestling biz calls a “heel.” A bad guy. An anti-hero. A villain. A black hat. The only thing different about the NBA is that they won’t admit they’re in the compelling narrative business.

But trust me, they are. And ever since last summer you have been very good for them. You’ve been Godzilla, Hannibal Lecter, Stefano DiMera, Freddy Krueger, Snidely Whiplash and Andre the Giant all rolled into one, the looming über-evil thug who rigged the game, casting a long, dark shadow over any hope of prosperity and fair play for years to come. Read More »

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Panama 2, USA 1: ANALYSIS – is it time for Bradley to go?

The US soccer team just dropped a 2-1 decision to Panama in the second group stage match of the 2011 Gold Cup. To say the game was frustrating to watch is to understate the case, and with some panache.

Despite an appalling first half, the Americans certainly had their chances to draw even and win the game late, capped by sub Steve Wondolowski swallowing his tongue and club-footing what amounted to a layup attempt into the third deck at the 80:00 mark. Read More »

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What if we hired a war criminal to “clean up” FIFA? Sepp Blatter has a plan

Every once in awhile a story comes along where it’s impossible to fathom what the fuck somebody could possibly be thinking. Usually it’s something political, but today it’s sports.

In case you haven’t been tracking along, FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, has been swamped with corruption allegations of late. It began with the decision to award Copa 2022 to Qatar instead of the US. Qatar might not have things like a football infrastructure or a world-class sporting organization or, you know, stadiums, but they did have what mattered the most: a suitcase full of cash. Read More »

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Tressel out at Ohio State: whatever happened to fair play in the USA?

Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing. – Vince Lombardi I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating. – Sophocles
If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying. – Variously Attributed Ask yourself is it right or wrong and act accordingly. – Otto Graham

There sure has been a lot of news about cheating in sports lately, hasn’t there? Read More »

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Gays and professional sports: Charles Barkley stands up for what’s right. Again.

A few days ago, Phoenix Suns president Rick Welts revealed that he is gay. And the whole sporting world exploded yawned.

Okay, that’s not precisely true. There has been a bit of comment and analysis. But so far, no controversy. No homophobic ranting, no athletes stepping up to say that Jesus doesn’t approve, none of that. This is a wonderful thing. That the public response so far has amount to a collective shoulder shrug is evidence that America is finally getting over the idea that sports just isn’t ready for gays in the locker room. Read More »

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Is ref Danny Crawford biased against the Dallas Mavericks? And why isn’t the NBA smart enough to run basic statistical analyses?

The NBA assigned referee Danny Crawford to work tonight’s Dallas Mavericks/Portland Trailblazers game, touching off a series of galloping hissy fits across Greater East Texas/Shreveport metropolitan area. The reason for the unhappiness can be found in this paragraph. See if you can spot it.

The Mavs have a 2-16 record in playoff games officiated by Crawford, including 16 losses in the last 17 games. Dallas is 48-41 in the rest of their playoff games during the ownership tenure of Mark Cuban…

Wow. 11% with Crawford in the gym, 53% when he’s somewhere else. At a glance, that does look suspicious, doesn’t it? So I pinged my buddy Dr. Michael Pecaut of Pecaut Lab and Loma Linda University and asked if he’d run the stats for me. He did, and the results are about what I’d expected: these numbers are statistically significant at the .05 level. Which means that you’d only get this kind of variance by random chance one time in 20.* Read More »

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The Most Valuable of All

The basketball season is winding down.  March Madness is over, and the NBA playoffs are almost here.  This year, the NBA playoff season will involve even more hype than usual over the greatest players, and whichever team wins the championship, there may well be talk of the “greatest player ever” thing.  If Kobe wins a sixth ring, the hype around him tying Jordan for championships will result in inevitable comparisons.  If LeBron’s Heat gets the title, even with him sharing the glory with Wade and Bosh, the talk of whether King James finally ranks on the all time greats list will be rekindled.  If the surprising Spurs follow up on their great regular season to get a 5th title for Tim Duncan, everyone will be reminded of what a steady and superb all-around big man he has been, and the comparisons to the all time great buy guys will be in full throttle.  And speaking of all time great big men, a 5th title for Shaq, and 2nd title for Garnett, by the Celtics will spur lots of talk about how their greatness compares with the big men basketball gods of the past. Read More »

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