Monday, July 28, 2008

Great Game!

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Soul --the Jon Bon Jovi owned 2008 Arenabowl 22 (!) Champion. A great, close 59-56 victory over San Jose wrapped up a nice season.

Here are my final 2008 Arenafootball Rankings:

1. Philadelphia Soul. The Champs
2. San Jose Sabercats. Nice comeback.
3. Cleveland Gladiators. Great Playoff Run.
4. Dallas Desperados. Window of opportunity is closing.
5. Chicago Rush. Disappointing fade at end of season.
6. Georgia Force.
7. New York Dragons. Nice 2nd half of season.
8. Grand Rapids Rampage. Moving to Minnesota rumors?
9. Arizona Rattlers. Need to build on this rebuilding year.
10. Orlando Predators. Has Gruden lost his edge?
11. Tampa Bay Storm.
12. New Orleans Voo Doo.
13. Utah Blaze. Why did Danny White quit?
14. Columbus Destroyers. Already signing players for 2009.
15. Los Angeles Avengers
16. Colorado Crush. Time for Elway to clean house.
17. Kansas City Brigade. Need to find a QB solution.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

An All-Star Game Worth Watching

Some facts are well-established. Like, All-Star games suck. The NFL Pro Bowl is a half-speed farce. Major League Baseball tried to put some life in its all-star game by awarding the winning league home field advantage in the World Series. It didn't work. Perhaps the worst all-star game of all is the NBA's version of a super-star scrimmage. The NBA version feature absolutely no attempt by players to play hard. The games suck.

But Major League Soccer has stumbled onto a system that works. The games are exciting, well-played, and perhaps most important, it is clear that the players are going all out. Tonight's MLS All-Star game (at shiny new Sold-Out BMO Field in Toronto) was a perfect example. MLS prevailed 3-2 over West Ham United of the English Premiere League in a close, exciting game full of excellent play, great shots, and hotly contested possession. For five years now, MLS has pitted its All-stars against top professional teams from the world's top leagues. For 5 years MLS has won those games, and for the most part the games have been quite good. Regardless, they are worth watching --which automatically makes them better games than the all-star shows put on by NFL, MLB, and NBA. The NHL occasionally tweaks its all-star format, and its North America v. Europe version of its all-star game improves the product. But this "us vs. them" set up used by MLS is clearly superior. The players really care about the result. League pride is on the line.

Such a set-up obviously will not work for baseball or the NFL. But the NBA should consider an NBA all-=star team v. a world team or the olympic champs or something similar. As a kid I remember watching with interest when the super bowl champs (Pittsburgh in 1979) took on a college all-star team. Now that was fun. Too bad the NFL would never try something that interesting now.

Regardless, skip the current all-star formats and make sure you tune in for next year's MLS All-star game. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

ESPYs Baby!

Hello! Mike and I are back from our week in Hollywood.
We had a great time, but we are sure glad to be back in AZ :)
On Tuesday, we got to dine at The Ivy. We pulled up to the valet and the paparazi ran out to take pictures and realized we were no one important and ran back inside. It was quite funny. On Wednesday, we got to go to the ESPY's as guests of Matt Leinart's. That was very fun b/c we got to walk the red carpet and see a whole bunch of movie stars and sports stars. Justin Timberlake hosted the ESPYs and did a fabulous job. I'm not a huge Justin Timberlake fan (probably b/c I'm not 20), but I have to say that he was absolutely hilarious. [editor note: I agree on both counts]
We sat behind Steve Nash and most of the Celtics. Then, they had a party after and I got to meet and talk to Michael Strahan, Braylin Edwards, Steve Nash (AZ shout out) and Tony Gonzales and a whole bunch of other huge football players that I had no idea what their names were. (not even sure if I'm spelling their names correctly) Mike knew everyone and kept throwing out stats from their rookie years, which was quite funny.
Later we got to go to an "after After Hours Party" for about 300 people. One thing about LA is that there is always a party after a party. We got to talk to Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Berman and Paul Pierce (no gang signs please). I got to give love to my KU peeps Mario Chalmers and his dad. My favorite of the second party was WNBA Candice Parker and her family. She was super nice and VERY tall.
Then, on Thursday, we went to Matt Leinart's annual fundraiser at the Lucky Strike Bowl in Hollywood. Mike got to bowl with Greg Odom (a spectacular performance of 150 for both). Again, we saw a bunch of sports stars, but who really cares about them. Let's talk about the reality stars I saw.
I saw the entire Kardashian family (sans the mom) and they are just as pretty in person. The whole family is very small (I refuse to think that I am big) and they are very nice. The highlight of the night was getting to hang with the "Girls Next Door" -Bridget and Kendra. Wow! They are really tiny (except the boobs)! Of course, there were like 7 after hours parties after the fundraiser. On second thought, my favorite athlete of the night of the fundraiser was Brandon Mebane, DT from Seattle. He was super down-to-earth and brought two friends, who collectively weighed 1,200 pounds (big dudes). I had to find others to chat with since Mike was off all night with The Girls Next Door!
#1 is "Purvis" with Reggie Bush
#2 is her husband with Greg Odom

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fixing mistakes

News item: the Diamondbacks just traded a minor leaguer to the Padres for veteran Tony Clark. Read the story HERE. Nice of the Dbacks to fix the mistake they made in letting him leave town in the office season. I wonder if the Chicago White Sox would be so kind to trade back Carlos Quentin?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bruce Snyder

Yesterday the AP reported that former ASU Sun Devil football coach Bruce Snyder has cancer. No details are being released --which does not bode well for Coach Snyder. I'll be pulling for him. Not because he was a great coach (which he was), but because he happens to live half the year near some relatives of mine and I've met him a few times. He is sharp, funny, and best of all --honest. He'll tell you what is wrong and what is right in college sports and as would be expected, he has some great insights. Mrs. Snyder is funny and sharp as well. I look forward to his full recovery.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Super Superliga

You probably have missed some great soccer as "Superliga 2008" is well underway. Superliga pits the top four MLS teams against the top four Mexican League teams in a "league" much like the Champions League in Europe. To my surprise, the soccer has been excellent. These matches are well-attended (in comparison to MLS matches) and hard-fought. It is clear that the Mexican League teams care as much about winning as the MLS teams do. This makes for some brutal play and tough contests. What is more impressive is how well the MLS teams are doing. Most soccer fans assume the Mexican League is superior to the USA's Major League Soccer. Top to bottom, I suppose they are right. But Superliga proves that the top MLS teams are on par with the best of Mexico.

Last night was a perfect example. Two excellent 1-0 games that featured hard tackles, tons of effort, and fast play. In both cases the MLS team won. Chivas USA beat Santos 1-0 on a nice header by Razov. Earlier the New England Revolution went to 2-0 in league play on a 1-0 victory over Pachuca. Read the game stories HERE. The only downside is that the games are a little hard to find --as they are only on Spanish-language TV. Telefutura is showing the games here and the channel is available on cable and the dish.

This kind of well-attended, well-played soccer bodes well for soccer in America and reflects the huge growth in the skill level played by MLS.