Tuesday, June 29, 2010

If You Start Me Up...

Okay, exhale (not you, President Clinton). US Soccer team, what went wrong? I tried to inspire through my emotional, cathartic blog last week but to no avail. It was a good run but we came up a bit short against Ghana. Did our World Cup run change your perception of soccer in the country? Maybe for a short time - but objectivly I do believe that soccer is getting more love in the US now. On the way home from work today the lead story on the sports update was the World Cup. Did we fall short of our expectations? Yes, I think we absolutely should have beaten Ghana. But was this one of the more enjoyable runs a US soccer team has been a part of? Absolutely. I definitely didn't agree with some of Coach Bradley's starting decisions but overall I think he did a good job. That being said, I do think he gets fired (another hot story in the sports section). The US team constantly started slow and that cost the team a spot in the quarter finals. In fact, both Ghana goals were scored within five minutes of the respective halves (well first half and first OT) and I believe all but one of the goals we gave up were within the first 8-10 minutes of the game.

By the way ESPN, can I get another cutaway of President Clinton and Mick Jagger? I'd give a week's salary to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

So before everyone hits the panic button on the Phils lets take a couple of deep breaths here. Yes, losing 2/4 of our infield hurts. Yes, Chase Utley is our leader. Yes Placido Polanco is third in the NL in hitting this season, but as I said to loyal SFCS-head Derrick Hinmon, I would much rather this happen now than in 4-6 weeks. I think we have enough talent to hang around the race and be poised to make an August push. Mind you, Chase, Polanco, J-Roll, Madson, Happ, Lidge, Ruiz and Durbin all have missed time this year (all but Lidge have missed significant time) and we are still just a few games out of first. We have seven guys currently on the DL. Incredibly Rollins and Polanco have played in a TOTAL of 10 games together this season, and our starting infield has been together for less than that. Eventually we will be healthy - and if we can stay in the race until August, I like our chances to get heatlthy come August and down the stretch.

I expect J-Roll, Howard and Werth to all continue playing well and but the key is going to be Rauuuuul. If he can continue to slowly bring himself back, I think we will be more than fine.

In other news:

  • May 2011 will mark a sad day in American TV. The end of Steve Carrell's run on the office as do-nothing boss Michael Scott. Hard to think of another show that leans on one specific character more than The Office. The good news, it seems to be on syndicate everywhere and all the time.
  • Just saw one of those forwarded powerpoints, that my Mom loves to send and it was the most simple point really stuck with me. "Be ALIVE while you are alive." Love that.
  • Ever say something really foolish to someone, that given the context of your relationship, makes no sense. This happens to me quite a bit. For example, I was speaking on the phone to a customer care "specialist" yesterday about a billing issue. Once my issue was resolved, my closing salutation was, "Thanks again and I'll catch up with you later."
  • Ever notice that when you bang your head on something - like a cabinet or or a overhead freezer door, there's a sudden rush of equal parts pain and anger. It's like I immediately want to turn into fists of fury and no household object is safe.
  • Loved the first episode of Entourage. Typically, the first few episodes are slow, but this was good. The business that Turtle started was a bit confusing and I thought it was going to be part of a dream sequence, but I guess LA needs a scantily clad driving service
  • Someone please tell me why Andy Roddick get so much tennis hype. Outside of his wife, he's done nothing to warrant the credit or praise. He loses big matches frequently and regularly comes up short. Someone asked him if his recent second-round loss at Wimbledon would bother him the next morning? Roddick responded, "Yeah, of course I'm gonna be pissed tomorrow morning." Poor guy. You make millions, you play a sport for a living, you are insanely overrated and you are married to Brooklyn Decker.
  • And the dear G-d please don't let her be our next President (or ever) quote of the day comes from Mrs. Sarah Palin, who talked about one of her hero's Ronald Reagan by telling a crowd in California, "This is Reagan country, and perhaps it was destiny that the man who went to California's Eureka College would become so woven within and interlinked to the Golden State." Only one problem, her hero President Reagan went to Eureka College in Illinois from 1928-1932.
Thank you. You've been a great crowd.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Landon' on our Feet...

I have enjoyed watching the World Cup this year far more than I have in the past. While watching incredible stars like Messi, Maicon and Ronaldo is always fascinating, and the implosion of the French is easy to enjoy - it is the US Soccer team that I am here to talk about. As I watched that match on Wednesday with my head in my hands for the first 91 minutes and 15 seconds, I felt extreme frustration - much like most US viewers around the world. Only a bit different.

Let me share a little insight. My parents enrolled me in the YMCA Soccer league when I was four. Think my first team was the Wildcats, then it was the Tigers and so on. Our t-shirts had a big Pepsi logo on the back, and that's when you knew you had arrived as a soccer player in Wilmington, DE. Our games were played on Saturday mornings - and the soccer fields were always the place to be! My biggest fear was that the studs on the bottom of my cleats would fall off when I touched the ball. Inquisitively I would ask, "Mom and Dad are you sure these things won't fall off when I kick the ball?" Looking back, I'm not really sure why this thought gave me panic, but many things I thought as a kid didn't make sense. Anyway, in Wilmington every kid played soccer. Two of my oldest and best friends - Eric Conner and Eric Levin played - and we would take turns sleeping over each others' houses, then go out and play against each other. After the game we would go to McDonalds after and talk about how great we were. Who could we ever forget those incredible Saturday's?

From there I continued playing soccer in leagues and for club teams in Delaware (except for a short stint from 11-14 when I burned out on soccer and wanted to focus on my "baseball career"). After this hiatus I regained my passion for the sport in a big way. In fact, I still get that same childhood excitement now when I play in my adult league games, that I had as a 4-5 year old. Of course, my old Saturday mornings have turned into Tuesday and Wednesday nights and there is no more McDonalds, which is DEFINITELY addition through subtraction but that love for the game is still the same.

From the time I had the Pepsi logo on my back until a few days ago - soccer has always struggled to gain any kind of major acceptance in the US. While it is the most popular sport for young kids, once they get older most tend to lose interest. I headed down that path, but quickly recognized how much I loved the sport. Why do I love soccer? It's a cerebral game. It's a patient game. It humbles you. It's much more physical than it looks. It's about the team. It requires you to be in phenomenal shape. It's the most simply, complex game around. It's played with your feet, and your legs, and your head, and your chest, and once in a while with your hands - but always with your mind. When you break it down, scoring a goal is really an incredible accomplishment, yet it's the expectation. Every possession is wrapped with a bow of hope. And really (along with football) its the only sport where a good team consistently beats a great individual performance. It is the ultimate team sport. A good team that knows how to play together will always be a great team of individuals.

So this my friends is why Wednesday's incredible 1-0 win over Algeria meant so much to me. As a kid there was no MLS, the US had NO international presence in the World Cup, no olympic soccer team, and there was nothing for young kids to dream about. On Wednesday, June 24 all of that changed - if only for a moment. Soccer was the lead story. Bars, restaurants, offices were jammed with people hovered around TV sets to watch the end. I was fortunate enough to be working from home that day as many other people were.

Could we really have had a second goal taken away by a ref who completely blew a call and subsequently cost us a chance to advance in the World Cup? Would it be another World Cup of unmet expectations, disappointments and irrelevance? It looked that way until Landon Donovan scored in extra time (91st minute) to propel the US team into the round of 16 at the World Cup. Not for one minute do I take for granted what Landon's goal meant or how that felt. To have the sport I love, the sport many love, get the headlines not just in the sports section but the lead story - was an amazing feeling. Soccer's day had arrived. Will it pass? Yeah, it probably will. However, for one day soccer was the sport people in this country most wanted to talk about. That game will go down as one of my greatest sports memories of all-time.

So, where will you be on Saturday at 2:00 PM when my sport fights to stay relevant against Ghana? Hopefully close to a TV. Because as excited as you might be for this game, I assure it feels bigger than just another Saturday to me.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bigfoot-vs-Freddy Kruger

So I'm sitting here listening to Philadelphia sportstalk, like I do everyday, and the topic is Chase Utley (my favorite Phillie). This moron calls in and criticizes Chase for playing through injuries. He's literally criticizing the man because he doesn't like to talk about injuries and blame injuries on his poor play. He goes on to explain that Chase is actually hurting the team and the fans deserve more. If I had just 30 seconds with this guy - I would slice and dice his argument like I was a Freddy Krueger. First off, these same idiot callers are the guys who call in when a player doesn't "suck it up." Meanwhile noted tough guy Utley plays through EVERYTHING and now he's being criticized? You can' have it both ways, jackass! The caller goes on to say that "we are such die hards in Philadelphia and we, as fans, deserve better" (basically inferring that Utley should sit b/c he was hurting the club).

Dear Mr. Short-term memory idiot, it wasn't long ago when people couldn't GIVE AWAY tickets to Phillies games. Admittedly, I have always been a Phils fan, but now that Phils are doing so well, of course I take a greater interest. So does the entire city. That doesn't mean I couldn't rattle off the likes of: Doug Glanville, Jerry Spradlin, Kevin Stocker and David Bell. And don't challenge me on 80s-90s Phils! The Phils will always be my baseball team, but being that baseball is such a long season, my A-D-D doesn't permit me to get to feel each win or lose, quite like football does. But don't go calling yourself and the city a town full of diehard Phils fans when they used to struggle to get 30,000 to the games in the early to middle part of the decade.

As a general rule, Eagles and Flyers fans seem to be the most loyal. Sixer and Phillies are still loyal, but they don't pack the house consistently like the other two do, unless they are winning (which the Phils have been doing and coincidentally selling out the joint every night). Philly fans are ferocious, passionate, sometimes knowledgeable and loyal fans. No doubt! There definitely ARE diehard Phillies fans among us and Philly is a great baseball city, when we are winning. Lets be honest -- diehard fans don't feel the need to go around defending themselves or anointing themselves. First off "diehard" is probably the most overused cliche in sports. Secondly, if someone says, "Are you an Eagles fan," you can tell them about how your week is either made or broken based on what happens on Sundays/Mondays. But long-ago I grew out of telling people I was a "diehard" fan because the definition itself is watered down. Anyway, it just pisses me off when I hear a guy call himself a diehard Philly fan and he feels that Utley (who has been known to read this blog) owes it to him to sit out the game? To quote my in-laws, "go fly a kite."

By the way, J-Roll returns tonight and if you are worried about Doc Halladay, you shouldn't be. Even though he's 8-6, his ERA is under 2.50, which is phenomenal - basically speaks to the fact he has gotten as much run support as I have. In fact, in 11 of his 15 starts the Phils have scored 3 runs or less.

Two days away from the number two pick in the draft. There absolutely should be no question that the Sixers take Evan Turner and play him at the 2. I hear they like Favors, they love Wes Johnson -- but Evan Turner has exactly what they need. He's got size, he can score, post up, has a good mid-range game, can rebound, has a high hoops IQ, and plays defense. He literally carried Ohio State into the NCAA tournament. No one from that Ohio State squad will sniff the pros. I could care less if Turner is not very "athletic." We've got plenty of athletes. I want a ballplayer and that's what Turner is. Don't screw up the obvious, Fast Eddie.

I will go on record as saying I love Doug Collins as our coach. Just listening to this guy talk hoops is unreal. He's like Yoda or a hoops Einstein and I like that he's wise enough to adjust his style to player's strengths. What a novel concept!

In Other News:
  • Longtime SFCS reader Chronic Ronick told me that the iPhone actually has an app to replicate the sound of a fan. Seriously? This is unbelievable - might need to get me one of those fancy phones, they call an iPhone.
  • Ding-dong the French are dead -- in terms of World Cup action. The 2006 Finalists get bounced in the first round after the team fell apart and they lost to host South Africa. Loved every minute of it.
  • Does Eric Lindros make the Hockey Hall of Fame? He didn't get in on his first vote, which was announced today.
  • Have you ever witnessed an industry with less customer loyalty than the cable industry? It's incredible that new customers are routinely offered better deals than existing customers. In your line of work, could you imagine giving better deals to potential customers than your current ones? Who wants to revolt? I bet the French would be in.
  • How is it possible that some people don't wash their hands after using the bathroom? Unless you have a vat of Purrell handy, I think you should be sent to your own contaminated island.
  • One of my favorite groups Counting Crows is coming back to Atlanta. I wondered if anyone else misses the days of camping out to get the best concert tickets?
  • Whether you believe in bigfoot or not, you MUST spend 2 minutes watching this video. This is incredible..."He had beautiful hair" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFLyO2RWGms
  • For all those people in Atlanta - 6 feet under is one of the true, underrated spots in the city - especially the one off Howell-Mill w/the huge rooftop deck and an amazing view of the city. Do it!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

You Can Get With This...

Look at this -- I'm back on the blogging circuit. Inspiration can come from funny places - that's all I'll say. I'll start with the Dawgs, since I haven't given them as much love lately...

I know putting my faith and excitement with kids who are now officially half my age is nauseating, however, both Mark Richt and Mark Fox are putting together some impressive recruiting classes for our football and hoops teams. I love that Richt is putting together the "Dream Team" class in Georgia and Fox signed the top prospect in the state. Now, a lot can happen between now and singing day -- such as the college football season, but since football season, historically, has been somewhat of a letdown (2007 notwithstanding), let me enjoy these moments of bliss. And thank you to the mystery person who sent us four UGA tumbler glasses as a wedding gift, but neglected to include a card. Was that from my collective 23 followers? We love you all!

I'm not a fan of Jamie Moyer, but it is amazing at 48 that he can do the things he does. Yes, his fastball tops out at 83 - and I'm pretty sure some of you could throw faster - but when he beats the Yankees or shuts out the Braves - it warms my hardened soul. I'm not sure why everyone acts so surprised that he is the oldest to do these things. Basically, anytime Jamie Moyer does anything he is going to be the oldest player to do it.

What is going unnoticed is the season that Cole Hamels is having. He looks to have rebounded from last season in a big way. Hamels hasn't given up more than 3 runs since April and he was throwing between 94-96 in his last start - even hitting 97 on a couple of pitches (disclaimer: if Hamels throws 97, then I will be starting at center mid for the US soccer team).


Nice to see the Eagles getting their draft picks signed so quickly -- especially since a few will contribute this year. They have signed 10 or 13 draft picks thus far with Brandon Graham (1st), Nate Allen (2nd) and Riley Cooper (5th) still unsigned. Not sure what Cooper is waiting on. I did watch him torch the Dawgs in college and think he could be a very intriguing player, especially in the red zone. I fully expect Graham, Allen, Jeff Owens (UGA represent) and Teo'Nesheim to contribute this year.

Announced earlier today, the Sixers traded disgruntled and underachieving center Sam Dalembert to Sacramento for Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni. I love the trade. Hawes is a 22 year old center with good size. He plays decent defense and provides a better offensive game than Dalembert, which isn't saying much since Dalembert was at his best catching alley-oops. I really like that Nocioni can hit the 3 and play some good defense. I don't usually like having too many white dudes on my team, but I do like this deal.

In terms of the draft, word on the street is that there is a power struggle in the Sixers front office. GM Ed Stefanski wants Evan Turner (so do I) but new head coach Doug Collins wants Derek Favors. I don't agree w/Collins rumored assessment that Favors is the next Dwight Howard - maybe closer to Juwan Howard, but he knows more about basketball than I will ever know. Is Howard worth the second pick? Not so much. Further, while Favors has the raw gifts, according to his workout w/Minnesota he's not been keeping himself in shape. A sign of immaturity? Laziness? Stupidity? Give me the sure thing in Evan Turner.

Any chance we can deal Iggy to Minnesota for one of their picks? I'd take either their 4 or the 16th.

Heard a report that Danny Briere was in an accident this morning with his 9 year old son. They reportedly are both fine but were very lucky. Briere apparently was tired and swerved into the path of an oncoming tractor trailer, but was able to swerve out of the way and hit the guardrail.

World Cup
Anyone watching the World Cup? Here are my quick thoughts:

If you haven't seen Maicon's (Brazil) goal, go youtube it - it's insane. How good do Argentina and Lionel Messi look? These guys are fun to watch. Speaking of Argentina, Maradona is the Ozzie Guillen of soccer -- he told soccer icon Pele to "go back to the museum" when Pele was critical of his coaching. Who does that? Very impressed with the US's second half against England. We'll take a 1-1 tie; Bring on the Slovenians and their smack-talkin' ways. Let's bring the pain, Uncle Sam. I took GREAT pleasure watching France get their asses handed to them in any sport. Today's beating, courtesy of Mexico.

In Other News:

  • In terms of updates, my wife "happily" reminded me that I forgot to give ya'll the biggest update of all - we are now THE JACOBS. It was every bit as good as I hoped it would be and it definitely flew by. What a phenomenal weekend.
  • Isn't it weird that some foods taste better as a kid and some foods taste better as an adult? Sure taste buds mature, but after eating a strawberry pop tart for the first time in 30 years, I'm thrilled to say I experienced the same joy I did when I ate them as a kid.
  • I think I'd pay more to join a gym where basic hygiene is required. Stuff like cleaning up after you sweat all over a machine or bench, wearing deodorant so you don't smell like ass rot, dudes being required to wear shorts and shirts of a certain correct fitting size. You know, the little things.
  • Speaking of the gym - you know what my secret to consistency is? Make up names for people. I've done this for years and now Summer will ask me if "stinkman" or "Kiedis" were there. See, they are our friends.
  • Last weekend we saw the artsy, fartsy film "Exit Through the Gift Shop" and although I had to sit through a preview with subtitles and immediately started getting a headache, the movie itself was GREAT. Even if you don't like pop graffiti, Banksy is incredible and I really appreciate his work. His dark humor was fantastic and it was an interesting look at a culture I knew nothing about. It was also under and hour and a half, so even if you hate it -- it's shorter than a flight from Atlanta to Philly.
  • Just updated my blackberry w/all this new software and the greatest part about it is, I feel like I have a new phone. Maybe I'll hold off on the iPhone Version 61 I was saving for.
  • Summer and I are convinced our dog Comet talks with a southern accent. When no one is there we (I) are constantly including her in conversations. It's gotten so bad that I now have to refrain from doing it when company is over.
  • Back in the day, my UD roommate and current swell guy Steve Rosen introduced me to sleeping to the sound of a giant box fan. I remember when we lived together I wondered what the hell we needed w/that since the dorms had AC. Steve convinced me that the fan would drowned out all the outside noise (since our dorm faced a street). After a while I grew accustomed to using the fan and grew to miss it when I went back home over summer break. I carried the fan tradition along for a while until my man Cobi use to have coughing attacks b/c the fan affected his asthma. Last week I bought a fan for us and I have had the best week of sleep. Although Summer Jacobs only will allow it to be put on medium, I'm confident she too will fall for the Steve Rosen fan theory.
  • Yesterday I saw a guy with two daschunds walk across the street. One of them looked just like Cobi and couldn't be happier to be on a walk. Man, I miss Cobi. I hope he is enjoying all of the peanut butter and mints that doggie heaven has to offer.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It's Been A Minute...

You know it's been a loooong damn time that I've posted since I forgot my login password. It happens to the best of us. I was actually off gettin' married, which was simply the greatest experience of my life. Everyone told us that it would fly by, and in truth it definitely did. However, thanks to these wise words uttered from everyone 8-80, Summer and I really tried to take in every single moment, which I believe, made our engagement and wedding weekend that much more enjoyable. Was I stressed? Maybe the last two days. Was I nervous? No. Was I excited? Indeed. I decided early on that I was going to enjoy this process, rather than stress over it. Now comes the process of writing thank you notes. Figure that will take us about another year but in the meantime....The fans of SFCS await.

Man, what an amazing season by the Flyers. I've NEVER felt good about a loss and last night was no different, but I also don't remember watching any of my teams overachieve like this one. I truly believe these guys gave every ounce of effort that they had, and who knows, if Carter didn't hit Niemi in the mask, and maybe if Simon Gagne converted on his breakaway or Claude Giroux finished his opportunity we would be talking about a game 7. But that's not the way it went down. In the end, I think we lost to a better team who played just as hard as we did - but you cannot be disappointed in this team. Upset - fine. Need a drink? Sure. Need to talk to a shrink? I have one for ya, but disappointed - NO. I like our young nucleus of Carter, Richards, Carle, Giroux, JVR and my new favorite player Ville Leino. I also love Danny Briere's game. This guy earns his keep with his sensational playoff play. This year he broke ol' Brian Propp's team record for points. Seemed like he was a force in every series. I do not think Boucher, Leighton or Emery are the answer between the pipes. Sadly the Flyers have made a habit of making lateral moves between the pipes. Often bringing in "new talent" as opposed to "better talent." While I don't blame the series loss on Leighton, he was pulled twice during a 6-game series and he let in a Pillsberry Doughboy soft goal to end the season. At best he's a number 2 goalie, but certainly not a Stanley Cup caliber goalie. Our defense is a major concern for me. Both Timonen and Pronger will turn 36 next year and although I think Matt Carle has All-Star potential, there is a HUGE drop-off after our top three d-men. Coburn took a step backwards this year. Parent can't stay healthy. Krajiceck is a 3rd liner and Bartulus is still young and largely unproven.

Baseball is such a long season. I have some concerns since the Colorado binoculars scandal and the Phillies inability to score. I have traditionally refused to panic until after the all-star break, so we'll see where we are in July. Amazing to hear about Roy Halladay pitching a perfect game during my rehearsal dinner. I'm also not panicked that we are trailing the Braves right now. We'll see how things look late summer.

In other news:
  • Hey BP here's an idea - stop spending so many millions on your PR campaign and start giving that money to the local citizens, animals and the earth that whose lives you have destroyed. It's one lie after another w/this company. First they said there would be minimal impact. Now they say there's more oil gushing out of the well then origially thought. Shocker. Make a stand people! Boycott BP gas. There are 15 other great gasoline choices for your car - no need to use a company that could care less about the damage they have inflicted upon this world. Oh, sorry Mr. Hayward we didn't mean to "take your life away."
  • Sadly, I feel like American Idol has given false hope to average singers around the country that they can actually sing - AND - that they should feel free to sing out loud whenever they get the urge. Awful.
  • If you haven't gone to Charleston - get on it. I have been championing this cause for years. It is truly one of the 3 most under-the-radar towns in this great country.
  • Summer and I learned that if you want tons of free shwag - tell people you are on your honeymoon. It's amazing how much nicer people became after doing this.
  • Speaking of honeymoon - no one accurately prepared me for the adjustment after the honeymoon. Specifically, I don't know why people look at me funny when I ask them to get me a drink
  • WORLD CUP FEVER - I definitely have it. And here's a fearless, foolish prediction. The US upsets England on Saturday. I know many of you might not be into futbol, but I hope you will give this US team a chance. They are good and if you get a chance watch Portugal - they are an exciting, physical team.
  • I cannot take anyone seriously who where's those oversized sunglasses. Sorry, just can't do it and everytime I see someone wearing them, I laugh. Sometimes uncontrollably.
  • My one year anniversary as a blogger recently came and went. That's what the great bloggers do -- they make time fly and 38 blogs later, here I am. Still standing (not really sure what that means, it just sounds tough).
  • I urge all of you to check my friend's blog: thedriveat35.blogspot.com - it's a good place to go to read about an amazing strong guy. It should make you feel much better after reading the tar I spew on this blog.