The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Kimbo vs. Nelson

Fight was unmitigated hogwash.

Kimbo actually did alright for himself I thought, all things considered; he stuffed one takedown and probably got the better of the standup exchanges, before being taken down and noogied to death. Someone desperately needs to teach him either a counter knee or a better uppercut, because Nelson was open for either of those several times while bending from the waist to avoid Kimbo’s straight shots. Realistically he’ll never be much better than he is now but he has has improved a little and has the chance to be more than a pure hype job- this loss was certainly a better one than being KO’d with a jab in 14 seconds by a light heavyweight the way he was last time out. And to give the man his credit, he continues to have this odd, hard-to-define charisma which seems to insulate his drawing power somewhat from losses; he’s just such an improbable human being in some ways- a gigantically bearded backyard brawler who’s far smarter than he’s given credit for- that there’s a real entertainment value to be derived from watching this man interact with the normal world and/or the other mutants in the TUF house.

Big winner of the night really is Roy Nelson though. I have zero clue as to what this man is like in real life, but either naturally or through the magic of editing he’s coming off as a colossal prick on the show this year. And it’s a naturalistic sort of prickishness; he doesn’t have the cartoonish and forced quality of, say, Junie Browning which for me at least was incredibly irritating and actually made me quit watching that season of TUF. I can’t say as yet that it’s pay-money-to-watch-this-guy-lose prickishness, btu the potential amusement value of Brock Lesnar vs. Roy Nelson did cross my mind during tonight’s episode, and if Roy ends up winning this thing I’m really not opposed to that fight happening, especially if Shane Carwin beats Lesnar in their fight. Nelson would be one of the most memorable TUF winners if this keeps up.

All in all this is still the best season of TUF in forever.

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September 30, 2009 Posted by | MMA | Leave a comment

Impressive, Most Impressive

I’ve got a form email in my inbox from UFC hyping tonight’s Kimbo spectacular, which is interesting given that I’ve never signed up with their website or purchased anything from them online. I suspect they’ve got some internet search tools looking for MMA-related blogs, twitters, email addresses etc. to hit up. A bit spammy, but a reminder of how serious these guys are in their marketing.

September 30, 2009 Posted by | MMA | Leave a comment

Deep thought

As Brendan mentioned below, DMX is trying his hand at MMA. My question is, what entrance music is he going to come out to? Is it going to be something of his? If that’s the case, is it completely badass or complete hubris?

If it’s one of his, is it Party Up? Intro? Stop Being Greedy? Thoughts like this keep me awake at night…what that says about me as a person, I don’t know…

September 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kostitsyn = Belarussian for “Douche”

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

If you’re not up on your French, the basic gist is that Sergei Kostitsyn has refused to report to the Hamilton Bulldogs, and Bob Gainey has suspended him pending a trade.

First off, die in a fire and take your 8-15-23 / -3 line with you. Even better, see what you can do about having your brother Andrei and his 23-18-41 line as well.

Second off, you have contributed nothing but off-ice headaches to this hockey team, and really…die in a fire.

Hat tip: Four Habs Fans.

September 30, 2009 Posted by | Montreal Canadiens | 1 Comment

Heartwarming

Amidst all the often stupid or sad stories in the sports world, let’s take a moment to appreciate Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who along with his wife just adopted a pair of orphans. There’s a lot of sportsmen I find interesting for one reason or another; but a man like this is my hero.

September 30, 2009 Posted by | Other NBA | , | Leave a comment

Greatest Bad MMA Show of All Time

Main Event: Butterbean vs. Tank Abbott

Semi-Main: Eric Martinez vs. DMX Yes, for real-real DMX. Up In Here DMX. Robbed-a-guy-at-the-airport-and-abuses-dogs DMX.

Ok… if we’re going to do freak show fights, let’s just get this over and done with: Kimbo Slice and Dana White vs. Herschel Walker and DMX, tag team rules. Winners face Jose Canseco and Kendo Ka-Shin, with Antonio Inoki as the evil heel manager. Brock Lesnar vs. 5 Sherdog posters in a handicap match as the semi-main. I don’t even mind freak show fights, but WOW. There’s some goofy doings a-transpirin’ out there.

September 29, 2009 Posted by | MMA | | Leave a comment

Arsenal 2-0 Olympiacos

I’m going to just come out and say it – this stage of the Champions League is a farce and Michel Platini should be ashamed of himself. All over Europe, you had top sides strolling to success over minnows – Arsenal winning this game with the Greeks parking the bus for 90 minutes, Sevilla destroying Rangers 4-1 at Castle Grayskull (side note: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Choke on that, ya bastards!), Barcelona strolling over Dynamo Kiev, Lyon thrashing Debrecen 4-0 on the road, etc etc etc etc.

Anyway, as stated, Arsenal largely dominated this match (Disclaimer: I only actually saw the second half…took a late lunch and nipped off to the pub. I followed the first half via the Guardian’s MBM). As usual, our guys overelaborated in the offenzive zone, and could not make their possession count. That may seem harsh considering how many shots found their way towards Antonis Nikopolidis’ goal, but many of them were fairly tame and easily handled by a quality keeper such as him. The rare times where there was serious intent behind the shot, Nikopolidis was equal to it right up until the end.

As far as individual performances go, it’s pretty much as you were – Song and Vermaelen were fantastic once again, Eboue showed flashes of brilliance going forward while committing his customary mental error (he tried to play his way out of trouble at the edge of our area, and a better opponent would have made us pay for it), Clichy was OK but got skinned badly once or twice, Mannone had little to do but made one excellent one-handed save, Arshavin and Rosicky played well without being able to shake off the rust enough to slice open a determined backline, Gallas continued his renaissance and was quite good, etc.

This one gets its own paragraph – ABOU DIABY FUCKING SUCKS AND SHOULD NOT BE STARTING FOR THIS CLUB. Honestly, in a sane world, I think he would struggle to get a game at…say…Aston Villa or Fulham. Seriously. If an opponent runs right at him, he can break up attacks and such. But, he’s not even as good at that as Denilson is, and he offers absolutely nothing going forward (again, not even as good as Denilson). I’m so tired of him ambling aimlessly around the field, misplacing passes and contributing little defensively. It’s like playing with 10 men. Does anyone at all think it’s a coincidence that when Arsene finally yanked him from the field and sent on Carlos Vela (finally!), we scored exactly ONE FUCKING MINUTE LATER?

That’s not to say that young Vela did much to contribute – he’s clearly shaking off some rust himself. But, he at least gave the Olympiacos defenders something to think about, and it opened just that little bit of space for Cesc Fabregas to work his magic. A buccaneering run down the left-hand channel brought two defenders over, and his pass to the overlapping Eduardo (who came on for Rosicky in the 65th) was perfect. Robin van Persie’s late run into the middle was met by Eduardo’s low cross, and even the recently out-of-sorts RvP couldn’t fail to score from point-blank range with the empty net gaping.

While Nikopolidis would have every right to feel let down by his defense for leaving his back-post side open after having held the line so well for so long,  he should feel just as aggreived at himself for the second goal. Fabregas was the architect once again, and his through-ball to Arshavin left the Greek backline for dead. Those who are claiming it was offside need to see the replay again – Arshavin timed his run perfectly, and his back-heeled volley was clever. While it had to have had the element of surprise going for it, Nikopolidis did dive correctly and he did get two hands on it…it just went through him and in. It was a terrible goal to give up for the keeper, but at 1-0 already and with his offense rarely threatening, it probably didn’t mean much in the context of this match. However, with AZ Alkmaar and Standard drawing 1-1 today, you get the feeling that it will be a tight battle for the second-place slot. If Olympiacos finish in third on goal difference, they’ll look back at the second today and wish they could have it back (of course, this doesn’t take into account that were it not for The Standard Arsenal Profligacy, this could easily have been 5-0 or 6-0).

So, what did we learn today? Diaby still sucks, Wenger sometimes does get substitutions right, Nikopolidis is still good even at 37 years of age, and we’re going to overelaborate until the end of time. Oh, and Olympiacos are crap, and dirty fouling twats besides. Same as usual, then. I will say though that the return leg will be a much harder proposition – Greece is a hell of a tough place to play, and these guys have just enough about them where at home, with a slightly more adventurous outlook, they can turn us over if they catch us on a bad day.

TSBS Man of the Match: It would have been Nikopolidis, but the second goal knocks him out…step up, Cesc Fabregas!

September 29, 2009 Posted by | The Arsenal | Leave a comment

Dreamland

More Wenger quotes

Without getting into everything there, let’s focus on one part: “people want me to buy strikers, but where do I put them? I don’t know.”

Who has ever asked him to buy strikers? No one has chanted it at games; Arseblog doesn’t want strikers; Gunnerblog doesn’t want strikers; Goodplaya doesn’t want strikers; I don’t believe Goonerholic wants strikers; Le Grove has talked about strikers, but only out of conviction that strikers were all that Wenger would consider; Myles Palmer mostly just wants very expensive additional players in every position. All the papers focus on is the goaltending, defense and midfield. If you go back through this blog’s archives, the two players Sean and I talked about most this offseason were Patrick Vieira and Blaise Matuidi. Who on earth are these people that Wenger is talking about, and where may they be found? Quotes like these are a lot of what worries me, not just because he’s refusing to spend money but because he’s basically making things up for the sake of argument, constructing a strawman that he can knock down easily. Most fans, rightly or wrongly, have been convinced that Manuel Almunia wasn’t up to the task and wanted him replaced; most fans have been terrified of a defense thin enough to make games for Mikael Silvestre a real possibility; and most fans have had serious questions to ask about a midfield full of very young and somewhat injury-prone players who’ve been frequently not good enough so far in their careers. These are the actual concerns.

Now, there are answers to them as well. If Wenger came out and said: I bought Vermaelen and kept Senderos to shore up the defense, I tried to buy Robert Green and I’m aware of the issues in net, and I told you to trust me and I was right about Alex Song- he’d have a point. It’s not a complete answer, but it’s reasonable and it actually addresses the real concerns (and before you say anything- everyone strongly suspects Almunia is dropped, there’s no point in hiding it). Instead, we get this weird claim that “people” want him to buy strikers. My best guess is that someone gave him a third hand description of some message board muttering about how the team could use some insurance after losing their top striker in the offseason, or else he’s getting some needlesome questions from the press which don’t actually end up forming the basis for columns. Either way he’s not communicating with any actual fans, which is becoming a bigger and bigger issue at the club. It helps alienate fans who tend to turn that anger back on the players who represent Arsene in incidents like the booing of Eboue last year, and it results in wild overreactions from the club to mundane questioning of the type most coaches hear weekly on the rare occasions when Arsene does face the fans. The joke used to run that Arsenal was a French club in the middle of North London; increasingly they’re becoming an Arsene club in the middle of Arsenal fans.

EDIT:

One last thing to note. Arseblog said this today:

“As I said at the start of the season whether he’s right or wrong will be proven by May 2010….The manager could be absolutely correct about this group of players but if another season passes by without a trophy, or at least a real and sustained title challenge, then people will, quite rightly, point to the money we had to add players and say he got it wrong.”

And:

“…if this squad comes through this season with silverware then I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and say ‘Fair play’. If not though, this money, how often we talk about it and the manager’s reluctance to spend it will be a millstone around his neck.”

I don’t disagree with any of this, but I put this caveat to you: if May 2010 comes and Arsenal finish 3rd and lose in two semifinals, what will that mean? The manager will not change, he will not be replaced, ownership will not attempt to change him, the players will not be changed wholesale, and fan attempts to exert influence will continue to be dismissed as disrespectful. What, exactly, is going to be determined by that date? This is part of the issue at the club at the moment: people love to talk of the salutary effects of competition for places within the squad, but somehow that logic is never extended upwards to the man who selects it- and since the reality is that Arsene Wenger will remain at Arsenal until he decides to leave of his own volition and not before, and no one above him is going to dictate policy to him, there’s simply no meaningful deadlines which can be set such that some benchmark must be achieved by them. That’s the reality of the situation, and we may as well face it.

Arsenal have a certain chance each year to win each competition- it’s not as high as it might be with an improved squad, but it does exist; and Arsene will get as many attempts for that (15%? 20%?) chance to pay off as he needs. If it does so, he’ll crow and tell everyone they were wrong and he was right; if not, he’ll claim that the need is for more faith and belief in the squad. This happened through the entirety of last season when the manager repeatedly said to judge him in May, was judged, hated it, and made few changes as a result. It is in essence happening again this year already, and the problem with it is always the same: one year means nothing, consistency means everything. It meant nothing when Arsenal went one year without winning anything; it meant nothing when they went two; it meant a little when they went three; it meant a lot when they went four; it will mean more still if they go five. It means even more still when the reasons for those results are the same each year- questionable players mixed in with excellent ones and very little depth behind them to absorb the endless injuries. If Arsenal win something one year, it will mean a little; if they then win nothing for the next three because of the same underlying factors, what good was that one fluke year?

One thing that can be said in favor of Arsene Wenger is that he has the wisdom to focus on the long term, and I respect the man immensely for that. I absolutely do believe that he should be judged on that basis. That’s why I’m so worried about all of this.

September 29, 2009 Posted by | The Arsenal | Leave a comment

Goofy, Goofy Stuff

Hey, still feeling ornery post-LSAT!

Ever read that Sunday Junkie feature at MMA Junkie? The one where they take letters from readers? Ever noticed how much it sucks? I sure do! I read this stuff to try and keep an eye on what the hardcore MMA fanbase thinks (or stimulus-responses…) the same way as I read several of the wackier Arsenal blogs, but goodgodalmighty is it a chore sometimes. Feel free to read along as I go through these:

Letter #1: Has it occurred to you that there’s a difference between putting all your promotional eggs in the Kimbo basket such that him losing was a major contributor to your company dying, and using Kimbo as a ratings lure for a non-essential portion of business? Seriously, if Kimbo goes out there on Wednesday and gets KO’d in 14 seconds again that doesn’t hurt UFC in the LEAST. He’s not a key to their business model, he’s not being promoted as a serious fighter, he’s just another guy in a house albeit one with a major name. When UFC is using Kimbo to headline PPV’s and they have no other stars, then it’s a comparable situation.

Letter #2: Completely reasonable letter. Well done.

Letter #3: Why argue about what the “biggest fight” is without defining the term? Kimbo vs. Roy Nelson is extremely likely to be the highest rated fight in TUF history, so that’s one standard. Griffin vs. Bonner was the most historically important and probably the best action fight, and those are two other standards. Pick one before you argue.

Letter #4: Another reasonable and solid letter. Batting .500!

Letter #5: Gee, they set their all time best rating in week 1, did an extremely good rating in week 2 and are likely to set yet another all time high rating in week 3. Total bust, yeppers. It’s a shame we can’t go back to the wonderful days of last season, when…wait, who won last season again?

Letter #6: Very good letter. Back to .500!

Letter #7: I’ll never understand why people take disputes between UFC and (whoever Dana’s pissed at) so personally. Also we’re already reaching the point where no one can write anything about Rampage without making a Mr. T reference, and it’s already driving me insane. If this keeps up all the way to the movie’s opening I’m going to set fire to my copy of Rocky 3 by mid-November.

Letter #8: Telepathy- apparently a common skill among MMA fans, or at least Rampage’s fans. Can you tell what I think about this letter? That’s right, with a capital “ULLSHIT.” Seriously, part of the reason I try to write about these kinds of situations from a what-makes-sense-for-business perspective is because that’s a relatively knowable, quantifiable concern. Personal or emotional motivations are basically unknowable for sure; we can guess why Rampage made his “retirement announcement” or guess what it’ll take to bring him back, but that’s not really ascertainable to people outside his circle and maybe not even to those within it. There’s no point in trying to read his mind from a distance, especially when you’re aiming your brainreading at England and he lives in Irvine, California.

(Yes, I know he trains with Wolfslair.)

Letter #9: “I has vague concern. Vague concern, I has it.”

Letter #10: The great thing about this one is that like 4 comments down people provided a link to Dana’s public comments on the Rampage retirement, at the intensely obscure location of… Yahoo’s MMA blog. That’s some quality research. Also I cannot believe this letter was originally written in English; it reads like it was mistakenly translated out of Esperanto, or possibly Akkadian Cuneiform. Maybe the restless spirit of Ashurbanipal loves him some UFC.

Letter #11: Concern troll is very concerned. I mean, seriously: UFC’s business has been trending upwards at a fantastic rate for 3 years and change, and shows no obvious signs of stopping. IF it levels off and IF that’s at a level below what seems potentially attainable and IF you can demonstrate that Dana White being Dana White is a major part of that, THEN you can make this argument- but you’ll still have to define mainstream, or I’m going to continue making fun of you. Until there’s something more to go on this stuff is basically doom-mongering, and most of it comes from people who hate Dana White so much that they can’t help but keep tabs on every tiny little thing he does. A huge amount of the stuff which bugs hardcores just never gets play beyond that level- the obsession with it is a creation of the niche-sport bubble.

Letter #12: Mostly a good letter, with the exception that actually there’s quite a lot of experience with the UFC’s current business model in North America- the trouble is that it’s basically the same as the pro wrestling business model, and since MMA fans run screaming at the mention of those two little words there’s almost no one with the experience and knowledge to gain insight from 100 years of the operation of the one to make predictions about the future of the other. Go read Dave Meltzer, kids.

Letter #13: You want to know why people at first think MMA is a brutal and violent sport? Because it bloody well IS. This is something which really ought to be drawn to the attention of letter writer #11 above, because the reality is that MMA’s product has a certain self-limiting aspect to it- it’s two half-naked men beating the shit out of each other in a cage, and some people aren’t interested in watching that. There may be a few who are convinced by finding out that the fighters aren’t animals, but let’s be serious- most people aren’t really on the fence about the inherent appeal of cage fighting.

Letter #14: It’s just you, Frank. Er, “Anthony.” Seriously, dude took a giant knee to the face and still completed his takedown, then KO’d his opponent shortly thereafter and this proves he has a weak chin? You might as well say that because Carwin was hurt against Gonzaga and Lesnar KO’d his last two opponents brutally that Carwin has no chance. Or, you could be reasonable and recognize that when 240+ pound men smash each other with big knees and punches with little to no padding, that people are going to get hurt all the time. Fuck’s sake. It’s not boxing, these aren’t big gloves; anyone can be hurt and anyone can be KO’d. Not understanding this is like the striking equivalent of “tapping is for pussies.”

Letter #15: “Found these numbers in my ass and pulled them out. How do they look to you?” Seriously, Mayweather did a million, the UFC is in the 350-400 range. Multiple sources of high repute are reporting this.

Letter #16: You always get one of these letters, and the problems with them are always the same: all of the fighters named still aren’t much of a challenge to GSP in a sporting sense, and from a business stance you’re talking about a pack of complete and total unknowns. It would take a year minimum to build any of the guys listed up to where them vs. GSP would do anything above what GSP vs. anyone would do on PPV, and that’s assuming the new guys don’t get waxed by the guys GSP’s already beaten in the meantime AND that some of the new guys show a personality AND hopefully win in spectacular fashion. Not to mention, most or all of these guys are under binding contract elsewhere.

Letter #17: …seriously, this is a real concern?

I’m certainly not going to do this every week with these Junkie pieces, but for the sake of reference- this was an above average batch of letters and there were maybe 4 or 5 out of 17 which weren’t fatally flawed, oddly targeted, woefully obtuse or just crushingly stupid. And keep in mind, these are in theory the most interested of the most interested, the hardest of the hardcores, the people reading MMA Junkie in the first place who bothered to write up submissions to them- and they’re also the people making up random buyrate numbers and claiming TUF10 is a failure after 2 weeks and a new all-time ratings record for the show. It wouldn’t be such a deal except that by all accounts UFC matchmaking is partially influenced by people like this and their counterparts on Sherdog, the Underground, etc. Obviously not everyone who read or comments on those sites is a doofus, but as in most walks of life the dumbest people are the loudest people and they appear to be driving a lot of the opinions on those sites. This is not really a healthy development.

September 28, 2009 Posted by | MMA | Leave a comment

Giants 24-0 Buccaneers

So, the Giants begin their must-win stretch of games with a smothering 24-0 win on the road at Tampa Bay. It’s great that the boys took care of business, but this is the entire list of things that we learned from this game:

Tampa Bay is really, really, REALLY crap at professional football.

That said, Steve Smith seems to be growing into the No. 1 receiver role, as Eli Manning continually looked for him first throughout the day (which is frustrating as hell for me because I opted to add Mario Manningham to my fantasy team). Brandon Jacobs did the usual, pounding the Tampa Bay line into submission to allow Ahmad Bradshaw to break out with some big runs. However, it should also be noted that the Buccaneers are seemingly unable to perform basic tackling fundamentals, and those runs would have been a lot shorter against nominally-competent opposition.

Still, it was nice to see the Giants do what needed to be done against a weaker opponent, to the extent that David Carr was put in at QB for the 4th quarter. Speaking of QBs, if I’m coaching Tampa at this point, I bench Byron Leftwich and go with one or both of their rookie backups for the rest of the season. For me, three games of sub-replacement level play from the most important position on the field is reason enough to see what they have with their kids. It says it all that even though the Giants were pretty good defensively on the day, the Bucs had managed 30 yards of offense through three quarters. I say without exaggeration that if the Giants were playing the University of Texas or the University of Florida, I’d expect them to best that tally (not by a lot…let’s not go nuts here…but they’d be above it). Derrick Ward and Cadillac Williams didn’t do much on the ground for them, but our d-line was getting penetration all day, and the linebackers could cheat forward due to the utter lack of threat from the air.

Looking ahead, Kansas City and Oakland both put up dreadful performances once again in Week 3, and all available evidence suggests that a letdown isn’t coming from the Giants for either of those games. Beyond that, the Bills did a fairly good job of containing Drew Brees and the Saints…New Orleans’ margin of victory was inflated somewhat by two late TDs from Pierre Thomas. If the Giants can come up with a similar performance, there’s every reason to believe that we can punish their defense enough to end up with a comfortable victory. Admittedly, that’s a dangerous assumption, but I like to live on the edge.

Finally, congratulations to the Lions for putting three years of futility behind them to finally win a game of professional football. It’s even sweeter to see it come against a divisional opponent!

September 28, 2009 Posted by | The Giants | 2 Comments