Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Arena Football Time!

Yes, you can smell it in the air. Arena football time! My Rattlers open vs. Arch-Rival Utah Blaze and I predict a narrow victory for Arizona. No doubt Danny White and Joe Jermaine have some tricks up their sleeve, but we have... uh... NEW UNIFORMS!

Anyway, here's my take on the relative strength of this year's teams. For a more enjoyable preview, check out the Its Still Football blog.

1. Dallas Desperados -An amazing regular season record over the last
two years, but choke in the playoffs. I hate 'em, but I don't see why they can't make a run.
2. Philadelphia Soul- Acquisition of Jackson makes the talented Soul
the team to beat.
3. San Jose Sabercats- Defending champs could easily repeat, but QB
Grieb isn't getting any younger and they lost WR Ben Nelson to Denver.
4. Georgia Force -Outstanding offensive team will miss Chris Jackson,
but still have other weapons and outstanding QB Chris Griesen (former
AZ Cardinal).
5. Chicago Rush -The Rush are back with a new QB/WR combination, after
losing stud WR Bobby Sippio to the NFL. Bonner to Harrell looks good
on paper, but as much as I love Bonner, he is certainly not the QB he
once was.
6. Tampa Bay Storm -QB Brett Dietz proved he could get the job done as
he took the Storm on a roll to the playoffs. Tampa is the team to beat
in the South.
7. Columbus Destroyers Outstanding at QB with Matt Nagy, but the
Destroyers need more offensive firepower if they plan to catch
lightning in a bottle again during the playoffs.
8. Kansas City Brigade -KC finally has a QB in Raymond Philyaw and they
are slowly building a solid team. They have a good shot at the
9. Arizona Rattlers- New Owners, new coach, new QB and almost all new
players. The Rattlers have promised full refunds if they don't make
the playoffs. With Burley back, they have a shot so long as they get
decent play from their new QB.
10. Los Angeles Avengers --Very solid, well-run team that will make a
playoff run, but doesn't have enough firepower to win it all.
11. Colorado Crush --The former champs lost their best receiver but
locked up QB Dutton to a long term (for AFL) contract. I think we'll
be seeing lots of camera shots of an unhappy owner (John Elway) this
12. Cleveland Gladiators --Led by GM Bernie Kosar, the Gladiators
have completely retooled the team for their new home city (formerly Las
Vegas and New Jersey). They could be good out of the gate.
13. Orlando Predators- QB Shane Stafford is solid, but Orlando has
completely rebuilt the predators and it may take a year for them to
fully adjust.
14. Utah Blaze- Best offense in the league has lost their best WR. But
they still have little defense and will struggle to make it to .500
this year.
15. New Orleans Voodoo. I love Steve Bellisari --as he has worked his
way up from the bottom of the indoor football leagues. But New Orleans
doesn't have enough speed or skill unless they are able to bring in new WR (former Rattler) Chris Horn. In that case they will be much improved.
16. New York Dragons. If QB Garcia stays healthy, the Dragons could
challenge for the playoffs. If not, they're the worst team in the
17. Grand Rapids Rampage -The Rampage have brought in new leadership
and new players but it won't be enough.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Good Soccer

Granted, since MLS is in early pre-season, Houston and LA will not be at their best. Or even close. But its about time MLS started pushing the international tournments as they do in Europe.

Update (2/19): ESPN is reporting on David Beckham's arrival in Hawaii for the "Pan-Pacific Championship" games here.

Update (2/26): LA Times reports here that the future of this tournament is in doubt. Lousy crowds and awful field are just a part of the problem. Its a cool idea to bring teams from MLS, Japan, and Australia to Hawaii for a Pacific Ocean Tournament, but alot needs to be done to make it work.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Nashing" our teeth for soccer...

The LA Times reports the following:
By Grahame L. Jones, Los Angeles Times staff writer
February 20, 2008
Steve Nash could walk into any Major League Soccer
club today and make the starting lineup within a few weeks, but the
soccer-loving NBA star's passion lies across the sea, like so many others.
He might play basketball for the Phoenix Suns, but Nash's soccer heart is
with Tottenham Hotspur, the English Premier League club better known simply as
Spurs. Talking to England's Guardian newspaper, Nash predicted that he one day
would have a role toplay with the 126-year-old London club.
It won't be
about trying to make money, Nash said, separating himself from American
investors who have taken over several of England's leading teams.
them, I've been a passionate supporter all my life," Nash said. "My parents are
from North London and so it's not like I'm some Yank who wants to make a profit
out of football. I don't care about making money. I just want to see Spurs
succeed. If I can help, that's great."
Nash, a Canadian who recently
invested in the Women's Professional Soccer league that launches in the U.S.
next year, is a close friend of Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy and director of
soccer Damien Comolli. "They know how much the club means to me," Nash said.
"But at this point it's more a friendship than a business partnership."

COME ON STEVE! We need MLS Soccer in Phoenix. You make your money here and you live here half the year (we know your heart is in Canada and NYC, but throw your desert fans a bone), so BRING SOCCER HERE! It would take a tiny portion of your vast wealth to bring a MLS team here and put up a stadium (say at the Fairgrounds --wouldn't that be cool!).


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Champ Car Dead

It appears the 10 year split of open wheel racing is finally over. All indications here are that Champ Car is about to declare bankruptcy --leaving Tony George and his Indy Series as the sole survivor.

Too bad. George is the greedy ass owner of the Indianapolis 500 who split the series over the decade ago in a snit about money. It appeared that a merger was likely, but the bankruptcy will end the merger and permit the Indy series to emerge as the winner. Champ Car was the better series with better drivers and great road races, but Indy had Danica Patrick, the Indy 500, and the cash to stay aflot. Hopefully this will lead to better racing. Remember, before the split Indy racing was bigger than NASCAR. Now both leagues were losing drivers left and right to NASCAR because there was so much more money for drivers to make.

I don't like how it was resolved, but thank God the split appears to be over.

Click on the picture of George & Kalkhoven for recent photo of an IRL Driver.

UPDATE: Good news! is reporting here that the two series will merge. This means we will see the Long Beach race continue and more roadcourse races. Plus at least 10 Champ Car teams will race in the IRL this year.

NBA Europe!?

Very interesting news reported by Sports Illustrated here. NBA sources say that David Stern (apparantly tired of screwing the Suns out of NBA Title hopes) is planning for a European Division of the NBA in the next few years. Because NBA-style arenas are finally being built in Europe, now is the time to expand. Proper arenas will be available in London, Berlin, Rome, and Madrid and so those will probably 4 of the 5 or 6 teams in the division. Lots of details to be worked out, but given the total mess that is European Pro Basketball, this appears to be a good thing.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Suns: Crazy Like a Fox

Suns fans are furious about today's blockbuster trade between the Suns and the Miami heat for Shaq. Read about the trade on ESPN here.

I'm a long time Suns fan (and partial season ticket holder) and at first I hated this trade. I mean Shaq is going to KILL KILL KILL our cap room with his crazy contract and bad knees. But... As I thought about it I liked it more and more.

1. Marion wants to be the Man. He and Amare don't get along and someone has to go.
2. Marion is an amazing athlete, but his skills don't help us much a playoff time. The Spurs just don't give up that many uncontested ally-oops. Marion too often disappears in the playoffs.
3. I was at our last games against Spurs and Hornets (two leaders in the West). In both games we couldn't hold off the other team in crunch time and Amare played the "Ole" defense at Center. Conclusion: WE ARE NOT going to win a championship with this lineup and fastpace offense.
4. Amare HATES playing center and shows it with his lack of effort on defense. A better coach could motivate him, but with what we have now, something has to change.
5. Banks is a good player but is NEVER going to get playing time w/ D'Antoni. We needed to move him and his cap space. I wish him the best in Miami.
6. Marion's cap room is huge (almost as big as shaq's). It would be a mistake to resign him for what he wants. I love watching the guy play but he isn't the difference maker he thinks he is. We'll miss his excellent defense much more than his exciting but inconsistent offense.
7. Shaq is a huge risk. But now we have a chance to win against Dallas/Lakers/Spurs. We are actually going to struggle more against Golden State, but I'm more worried about the teams that knock us out of the playoffs every year.

Conclusion: Take the risk, roll the dice, and do this trade. We aren't going to win with what we have now --our best chance to win it all was two years ago and we came just short. Last year, Stern knocked out our best players so who knows. Let's make this trade so that we have a chance to have the inside presence we need against the Lakers/Hornets/Spurs/Mavs. If it doesn't work we're screwed for years cap-wise. But I think its worth the risk. Amare will be much happier playing power forward and Diaw can play small forward. We still have outstanding guards and we'll still be a solid team. We can't run w/ Shaq so we'll look a bit like the '80s "showtime" Lakers -- four guys running and gunning w/ Kareem (now Shaq) trotting down the court to join the offense if the fast break doesn't work.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Red Card to ESPN

Latest News on ESPN and Soccer:
Wynalda dumped from telecasts
Posted: Friday February 01, 2008 07:46AM ET
ESPN announced a new broadcast lineup Thursday for its Major League Soccer and U.S. national team telecasts -- and it doesn't include Eric Wynalda. Wynalda did himself no favors last season after derogatory comments he made to a soccer blog about a fellow ESPN personality who's also a notorious soccer critic. ESPN suspended the former U.S. national team forward for the MLS season opener.

Basically, Wynalda said (while drinking a few beers with a soccer blog guy) "Jim Rome Can Suck My Dick!" He was suspended by ESPN because the comments were published. He later went on Rome's radio show to apologize. That should have been the end of it, but basically ESPN fired him and replaced him with John Harkes (the same John Harkes who allegedly "slept" with Wynalda's wife just before the 1998 World Cup in France. Ouch!

Wynalda is the best thing for ESPN soccer --he is actually critical and makes insightful comments. Yes he tends to pop off, but that's why we love him. As for Jim Rome (who makes a thing of hating soccer), Wynalda simply said what every soccer fan was thinking.

Bring back Wynalda ESPN! Where do I sign the (futile) petition?

Wynalda loses network job
Posted: Wednesday February 06, 2008 07:42AM ET
Just weeks after ESPN made the decision to remove Eric Wynalda from its broadcast team for MLS and U.S. national team games, the network has completely severed ties with the controversial analyst. Sources have told SBI that ESPN and Wynalda have parted ways after weeks of negotiations to find a new role for Wynalda. The original plan was to have Wynalda work on Champions League broadcasts but the network and Wynalda could not agree on his role. It is believed that ESPN bought out the remaining year on Wynalda's contract.