Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Best Simpsons Episodes Part II

Alright, time for tier 3 episodes. Things are getting big.
TIER 3 - B

My Sister, My Sitter -
Lisa has to babysit for Bart, despite the fact he is two years older than her.
One of my favorite Simpsons lines "Go to bread." instead of go to bread. And the Bob Seeger vs. Bob Saget was great too.

The PTA Disbands - The fill in teachers were the best part about this episode.

The Last Temptation of Homer - Great concept.

Oh Mindy, you came and you gave without flaking,
But I sent you Ben Gay.
Oh Andy, you kissed me and stopped me from something,
And I
The Fortune Cookie joke was great too. And the fact that the person Mindy replaced was fired for asking for a real emergency exit. And this one -
All I'm gonna use this
bed for is sleeping, eating, and maybe building a little fort.
Oh, and again two of my favorites and two of THE BEST Simpson's quotes or bits ever - First the man with the giant hand and second
Homer: Moe, I need your advice.
Moe: [bored] Yeah.
Homer: See, I got this friend named...Joey Jo-Jo...Junior...Shabadoo --
Moe: That's the worst name I ever heard.
[A man leaves, weeping]
Barney: Hey, Joey Jo-Jo!

Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy - I think this episode is a testament to The Simpsons at its height. Nothing super memorable happened, no best lines or stories, but if you watch this episode, you will laugh throughout the entire thing. But just for this blog's sake, here are a few of those funny parts:
Smither's computer turning on with Mr. Burns
The kid getting his frisbee back after years and then throwing it right back in
The Malibu Stacy creator always being drunk
And Grandpa working at Krusty Burger was pretty good too.
No one bought the Lisa Lionheart doll because there was a new Malibu Stacy doll with a hat -
Smithers: "But she's got a new hat."

Secrets of a Successful Marriage - Homer teaches a class on successful relationships and ends up just talking about him and Marge to make the class interesting. The best part is how quickly homer deteriorates when he is kicked out the house

Bart's Girlfriend - Scotchtoberfest!
 Bart: Why the crap do we have to go to church anyway?
Marge: You just answered your own question with that commode mouth.
Besides, you kids need to learn morals and decency and how to

love your fellow man.

[in church]
Lovejoy: And with flaming swords, the Aromites did pierce the eyes of
their fellow men and did feast on what flowed forth. Among
whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our


"I don't want
you playing with something that has such bizarre hair. Awful, awful

And Maggie Makes Three - I love the flashback episodes, MUCH, MUCH better than the flash-forward ones.
This one starts....
{Listen carefully and my words will shape images as clear as
any TV show.} It was a tumultuous time for our nation: the
clear beverage craze gave us all a reason to live. The
information superhighway showed the average person what some
nerd thinks about Star Trek. And the domestication of the
dog continued unabated.

The bowling alley and the pulling out of the hair are great too and the fact that Homer didn't know Marge was pregnant until the baby shower.
Homer: Ah, another perfect day in my perfect life with my perfect job.

Wiggum: [driving by] Hey, just heard the news over the squawk box.
That's nice work, Homer.
Homer: Thank you, thank you very much. It is nice work.
Apu: Oh, Mr. Simpson, I have just heard about the little bundle of
joy. Congratulations, sir!
Homer: It's true, the bundle is little, but I'm not in it for the

Moe: [sly] Hey, Homer! Way to get Marge pregnant. [laughs
Homer: This is getting very abstract, but thank you: I _do_ enjoy

working at the bowling alley.

Homer: [sniffs] This was the happiest time of my life. I'll never
forget you guys. Especially you, Joey.
Joey: [a young boy dressed like a shoe-shine boy] See you 'round,
Mr. Homer.
Homer: Don't worry, Joey, we'll make it to California some day.
Joey: Sure we will, Mr. Homer, sure we will. [coughs]
Bowler 1: It's going to be sad around here without you, Homer.
[bowlers murmur assent as Homer walks out]
Bowler 2: Boy, this is depressing.
Bowler 3: Hey, I know what would cheer us up: bowling!
Oh, and a little tidbit the writer of this Jennifer Crittenden also wrote the PTA Disbands and Seinfield episodes about Little Jerry, George trying to get fired from the Yankees, and the one with George taking sexy pictures, a pretty good resume.

A Fish Called Selma - I don't usually really like episodes with large music numbers and episodes starring Patty and/or Selma, but this one is an exception. Planet of the Apes musical, yes!

Das Bus - Lord of the Flies parody, pretty nice most recent ep on this entire list I think, excluding honorable mention.
The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show - You all know this one.

New Kid on the Block - One of the eps written by Conan O'Brian, not up to Monorail, but still pretty nice. Loved the Sarah Plain and Tall joke. Bart smoking the bubble pipe was good as well as not washing his hand and telling Moe it was Jimbo crank calling
Highlight of the episode was obviously Lionel Hutz.
   Hutz:  Mr. Simpson, this is the most blatant case of fraudulent advertising
since my suit against the film, ``The Never-Ending Story''
Hutz: I don't use the word hero very often, but you are the greatest hero
in American history.

Bart Sells His Soul - One of the few episodes where the B story is better than the lead story. Bart selling his soul is pretty nice (QUIZ - What did Bart buy with his $5 for selling his soul?) and his prank on the church organist (rock and/or roll), but Uncle Moe's Family Feedbag is flat out great.

Moe: This thing can flash-fry a buffalo in 40 seconds
Homer:40 seconds? But I want it now

And his blowing up on the little girl, man, classic.

Homer the Great - This is a favorite of many people, the Stone Cutters episode, but I have a few criticisms. One, the long music number, two, and what was the eventual downfall of the show, what Homer being too dumb and goon-like.
Gotta like Patrick Stewert, though. Memorable ep

Lisa's First Word - Great episode, cute ending too. This one is a flashback to when Lisa was born.
The beginning of the flashback is priceless. Homer is singing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and here is the narration.
The story begins in the unfortunate spring of 1983. Ms. PAc-Man struck a blow for women's rights and a young Joe Piscopo taught us how to laugh.

The Krusty Burger Olympic bit was also hilarious too - "Wow, a baby and a free Burger. Could
this be the best day of my life?"

The clown bed is great. The scene where Bart has to stay with Flanders is amazing. And we have one of the classic phrase repetitions, this one in Bart's head - "From now on the baby sleeps in the crib, Iron helps us play, evil clown laughter, Hello Joe"
Wow, maybe this episode should be higher.

Homie the Clown - Great laugh out loud episode ,but doesn't quite have the staying power, not as funny after multiple viewings.
The bit with the Hamburgler - "He's already dead"- and Homer's pants falling off whenever he does the little bike trick were nice.

King Sized Homer - Another laugh out loud episode that doesn't quite hold up over time. This is the one where Homer gets fat in order to work at home. Him trying to get fat was pretty funny, as was him working on the computer. The funniest parts were Bart's dream "I wash myself with a rag on a stick." And Homer trying to go see the movie but getting kicked out for being too fat. "I just wanna see Honk if You're Horny in peace", and the paying him off with a giant bag of movie theater popcorn.

Deep Space Homer -

I think you may be able to point to this episode as to where The Simpsons gets a bit too ridiculous. I mean, Homer in Space? After this, you have an ex-president moving in, the Simpsons traveling to every continent, Mr. Burns blocking out the sun, and tons more ridiculous stuff. Nevertheless, a very funny episode.
Highlights include Barney being crazy good at astronaut trying, then drinking to celebrate and reverting back to his normal self, a gag used multiple times, but still funny.
And Kent Brockman when the ants are floating around right in front of the camera.
And the inanimate carbon rod.

Two greatest words in the English language: de-fault

Bart Gets and F - This is a season 2 episodes and its simplicity really contrasts with Deep Space Homer. It is a simple likable story. Bart being thrilled with getting a D- was great, especially since it was due to his obscure French and Indian War reference, as was the unexpected snowstorm and all the fun everyone was having when Bart was studying. And if you don't think this episode is worthy of such a high place, just check out Bart's cat drawing, his only thing on the fridge.

Bart the Murderer -
Season 3 ep where Bart starts working for the mob and then gets accused of killing Skinner. Great from start to finish. You got the chocolate factory field trip, Bart licking envelopes for Skinner, and Bart picking "Don't have a cow"
Plus appearances by Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz. WOW
And the best part, Skinner's explanation of where he was. Classic.
And, who plays Bart in the TV movie? None other than Neil Patrick Harris. Yes!

Burns Heir - Another winner. Burns almost dies due to the weight of a sponge in the bath tub and then feels he needs an heir. The "tryouts" are great.

Milhouse: I have nothing to offer you but my love.

Burns: I specifically said, no geeks!
Milhouse: But my mom says I'm cool...
Burns: Next!
Nelson: Gimme your fortune or I'll pound your withered old face in!
Burns: Oh, I like his energy. Put him on the callback list.
Martin: [walks out as music begins]
Clang, clang, clang went the trolley!
Ring, ring, ring went the bell!
Zing, zing, zing went my heartstrings -- oof! [Nelson belts
Burns: Thank you! Give the bully an extra point.

Lisa: [clears throat] I propose to you that your heir not need be a
boy. In this phallocentric society of ours --
Burns: Er, I don't know what phallocentric means, but no girls!
Milhouse: [offstage, in drag] So much for Plan B.

Homer: OK, boy, I wrote down exactly what to say. Just read it and
you're a shoo-in!
Bart: [walks onstage, squints at cue cards] Hello, Mr. ...Kurns. I bad now. Me sick.
Homer: Ooh, he card-reads good.

Bart: So pick please me, Mr. Burns.
Homer: {[calling from offstage] It's "Kurns", stupid!}
Marge: {No it's not!}
Homer: {Disregard.}

And the fake family was great too, and Hans Moleman as Bart. And Burns attempting to play football and the Bob Mackie blazer. And another Lionel Hutz appearance, this time with his Orange Julius and as a part time shoe-repairer. Great Episode.

Homer's Barbershop Quartet - First episode of season 4, setting the tone for the rest of the great season. Great Barney appearance. Too many Beatles references perhaps. Homer sells his spare tire at the flea market. Nice

Selma's Choice - This one is VERY close to the next tier, a great ep from the get-go.
Jub Jub, Homer's place mat, Bart pretending to be dead Aunt Gladys. She died preventing them from going to Duff Gardens. Brief Hutz appearance. Hans Moleman tries to date Selma, who thinks she now wants kids, Barney at the sperm bank.
And, you cannot forget the sandwich bit, one of the best Simpson's scenes ever.
And you got Surley - Surly only looks out for one guy -- Surly
Lisa Drinking the small world ride water
Beer Goggles
Rapping Abe Lincoln
And the return of Jub Jub

That is all for now. Tune in next time for tier 2, and I promise you, there will be fewer episodes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Best Simpsons Episodes Part I

Let the controversy begin. We are here with tier 4 of the BEST SIMPSONS EPISODES. I'm sure some people will already feel done wrong by some of these selections.

Again I am using the tier system, but this time I will be dividing the episodes into A and B sections depending on how good the episode is, with A obviously being better episodes than B so in essence there are 8 tiers, but that would be a bit much So this is tier 4 of 4, (or 7 and 8 of 8) the worst of the best episodes. Let the countdown, or maybe list is a better word, begin.
In no order.....


Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire - The episode that started it all. Set the tone for the serious, mostly ridiculous, but also heartfelt, and dealing with real problems, only a bit more crazy.
Bart Gets Hit by a Car - Read the title. First appearance of the great Lionel Hutz and the average Dr. Nick

Hutz: Hutz is the name, Mr. Simpson. Lionel Hutz, attorney at law.

Here's my card. It turns into a sponge when you put it in water.
Homer: Ooh, classy.

Mr. Simpson, the state bar forbids me from promising you a big cash settlement.
But just between you and me, I promise you a big cash settlement.

The Springfield Files – obvious X-Files crossover.

Mr. Burns: So, another Friday is upon us.  What will you be doing,
           Smithers?  Something gay, no doubt!
 Smithers: Wha...?  What?!
Mr. Burns: You know.  Light-hearted, fancy-free.  "Mothers, lock up your
           daughters!  Smithers is on the town!"  [chuckles a bit]
 Smithers: Exactly, sir!  [laughs nervously]

Grade School Confidential- Teacher Strike. Mrs. Krabappel and Skinner get together.

Skinner reveals he is a 44 year old virgin.

Skinner:   More tea, Edna?

Krabappel: What kind of little boy has a tea set?
Skinner: [pours tea] I think we both know the answer to that ... alucky boy.
Mrs. Krabappel and Principal Skinner were in the closet
making babies and I saw one of the babies and then the baby looked at me.

Lisa the Skeptic – Lisa find an angel statue on a school archeology dig, it predicts the end of

the world (some parts similar to Bart’s Comet) Smithers kisses Mr. Burns. Good comments on religion and science.

The Otto Show – Great episode, Spinal Tap concert, Otto lives with the Simpsons, Skinner

drives the bus – the scene of him waiting to move out into traffic was great. Otto gets his bus license by telling Patty and Selma stories about Homer . Also the concert riot scene was great and the fact that Homer did not know that anything was going one, and that they forgot Millhouse. Oh, and the Billy Beer. The only episode where Otto is the central character?

Landlord: All I found in there was a jar of mustard and a couple of old
             `Psycho' magazines.

   Otto:     Wow!  I have mustard?

I Love Lisa –

First Episode with Ralph as a lead character. He falls in love with Lisa after she is the only one to give him a Valentine - “I Choo-choo-choose you.”

Duffless – Home goes on a Duff tour with Barney, takes his keys so he doesn’t drive drunk, but

then Homer gets pulled over for a DUI. B story was Lisa testing Bart versus a hamster. Best

part of the episode was Homer at the DD meeting.

It's funny 'cause I don't know him.

Whacking Day – You know this one. A tad over-rated I believe.

Homer Goes to College – Same. Homer repeatedly want to pull a prank on the dean was pretty nice, though.

Lisa on Ice- Hockey episode

Homer Badman – Great episode where Homer gets accused of sexual harrassement, when all he wanted was a gummi

Radio Active Man – Fall-out Boy

Team Homer – Bowling episode

The Day the Violence Died – The one about the actual creator of Itchy and Scratchy being

homeless. Average Hutz appearance. Lester and Eliza save the day.


One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Bluefish – The one where Homer is supposed to die d

ue to the incorrectly prepared blowfish. A very heartfelt episode. Larry King reads the entire

bible. The drool is warm!

Homer: Okay, okay, where do  want to go?
   Lisa:  Anywhere but hamburgers, pizza, or fried chicken!
   Homer: Fine!  We'll go to Mars!

A Millhouse Divided – The first scene is great, with the dinner party and the Pictionary. Wow. And you can’t forget “Can I borrow a feeling?” Also some good cracker-factory jokes. Gotta love those.

Homer’s Phobia – The one about gays. Probably not a necessary theme, as there are already great characters like Smithers and Lenny and Carl (?) Best part was the gay steel mill

Stark Raving Dad – Excellent episode, Homer goes to the Nut house for wearing a pink shirt and for Bart’s answering his questionnaire – heartfelt too – Lisa it’s your Birthday.

Flaming Moe’s – Classic episode. Homer’s story of how he came up with the drink was great.

Good Moe story. And it also contains one of the best Simpsons lines ever

Oh, look at me!  I'm making people happy!
       I'm the Magical Man from Happy-Land, in a gumdrop house on

       Lollipop Lane!  [leaves the room, slamming the door]
       [pokes his head back in]  Oh, by the way, I was being sarcastic.

Burns Verkaufen Der Kraftwerk- Very close to tier 3. Countless great lines.

Horst: Do we have any alcoholics among us?
          [hands slowly go up]
   Man 1: Uh, me?
   Man 2: Right here.
   Man 3: I'm drunk right now!
Marge, it's not the money.  My job is my identity.

   If I'm not a safety whatchamajigger, I'm nothing!
Burns: [recoils in mock horror]
          Oooh, the Germans are mad at me.  I'm so scared!  Oooh, the Germans!
          [hiding behind Smithers]  Uh oh, the Germans are going to get me!
   Horst: Stop it!
   Man 2: Stop, sir.
   Burns: Don't let the Germans come after me.
          Oh no, the Germans are coming after me.

Radio Bart – Classic episode where Bart pretends a kid is trapped in well and then really gets

trapped in a well. Sting guest stars. Some other good gags with the radio.

And Groundskeeper Willie and Sting digging was pretty nice. Any time where numerous characters can present ideas is great.

A falconer explains that his bird will fly the boy to safety.
He releases the bird, which flies away, never to return.
 A man shows a fishhook and a bar of chocolate.  ``And then I'll
clean him for free.''
   Although we can't reach the boy, we  freeze him with liquid
nitrogen, so that future generations can rescue him.

Krusty gets Canceled- Gabbo, Gabbo, Gabbo.

Lots of people LOVE this ep. I think it is good, especially the Gabbo stuff, but the Krusty down and out is a bit overplayed. Sideshow Luke Perry was pretty nice.

Two Dozen and One Greyhounds – See my vest!

Homer vs. Apu – Who needs the Kwik-i-Mart? The bit was James Woods was nice, but going to the Kwik-i-mart headquarters in India was dumb.

Lisa the Vegetarian – You don’t win friends will salad!

Bart Gets Famous – I didn’t do it. This one starts at the box factory, then Bart gets a job at the TV studio and becomes famous for his lame Catch Phrase. This one was close to tier 3.

"That's what passes for entertainment these
days? Woozle Wuzzle?"

There, you go. Tons of great stuff, and this is just the beginning. If you thought these were classic, just wait for the next round.
Feel from to post comments on my selections and funny stuff I did not mention

Friday, February 20, 2009

Simpsons Best Episodes Countdown Begins!

Yes, I have alluded to this many times in the past, but it is finally here, THE SIMPSONS BEST EPISODES COUNTDOWN.

This is tough stuff, tough stuff. There are over 400 episodes to choose, from, and we all know the last 8-10 years have not been very good, but there is still SO MUCH quality, so much to laugh at.
Criteria will be how funny it is (obviously), how memorable it is, how well the episode flows, how well the humor holds up over time (is it still funny after several viewings?), and just overall likability.
I will again be using the tier system, I am really, how can you compare Stark Raving Dad vs. Radioactive Man or Flaming Moe's vs. King Size Homer?
There will be 4 tiers plus honorable mention, but the top tier, the TOP 13 Simpsons Episodes will be ranked. Nice. In all, there are almost 100 episodes on this list, episodes at least worthy of mention when talking about great Simpson's Episodes.

We will start will honorable mention, in no particular order......

Treehouse of Horror II - monkey's paw, "The turkey's a little dry"
Itchy & Scratchy Land -
We need more "Bort" license plates in the gift shop.  I repeat,
we are sold out of "Bort" license plates.
Lisa The Iconoclast
Homer the Smithers
When Flanders Failed - " Ned Flanders is in trouble?!!!!!"
Much Apu About Nothing - 47 Star Flag
Homerpalooza - Hey, my shoes are talking too!
The Telltale Head
Homer vs the 18th Amendment - Must have been that bean I ate
King of the Hill - Murderhorn
Thirty Minutes of Tokyo
Life on the Fast Lane - Tell him I'm going to the back seat of my car with the woman I love, and I won't be back for ten minutes!
Dancing Homer
Saturdays of Thunder
Lisa the Greek
Old Money - the scene with people trying to get grandpa's money is definitely the precursor to the oil money in Who Shot Mr. Burns Pt 1
Bart the Daredevil
Homer vs the 8th Commandment- this is one of the first episodes I really remember watching
El Viaje Misterioso de Neustro Jomer
Treehouse of Horror VII-
Kodos: It's true, we are aliens. But what are you going to do about
it? It's a two-party system; you have to vote for one of us.
Man1: He's right, this is a two-party system.
Man2: Well, I believe I'll vote for a third-party candidate.
Kang: Go ahead, throw your vote away.
[Kang and Kodos laugh out loud]
[Ross Perot smashes his "Perot 96" hat]

There you go, and that was just honorable mention, some classic episodes already.
I'm sure as we go on more feather's will be rustled, more feelings hurt. This is indeed a touchy subject.

You are encouraged to post other great quotes and moments from these episodes.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More LOST Randomness

I got a special treat today, got to see two new (to me) episodes of LOST. I missed last weeks and didn't get a chance to watch it online. I'll comment more on the new one from today than the one from last week.
Last week's was cool, but also predictable. Nothing too new happened, except for the return of Christian and Locke turning the wheel. It was also graphic - pulled off arm, rotting arm and bodies, and compound fracture, man. Still intrigued about The Temple.
Today's episode really sped things up. Normally, I do not like and episode that does not primarily take place on the island, but this was an exception. Also, Daniel's mother was very unLOSTesque, thatwhole part of the story. She was revealed in the season premier, I think that was how the show ended, but there really wasn't much to her character tonight. The whole just-go-on-the-plane-and-see-what-happens is very unlike LOST. No explanation needed I guess.
But it was exciting to see who would actually be on the plane.
And per LOST usual, more and more questions are brought forth.
What happened to the plane?
What happened to Ben? Who was his friend?
Why/how did Hurley, Kate, and Sayid come on the plane?
Who made it to the island?
Will Desmond somehow get back too?
Why was Jin in the Van?

Well, I'll give some speculative answers to some of these questions.
I'm guessing Kate came due to something to do with Claire, probably seeing her again.
Hurley most likely was told by Charlie, hence the guitar case.
Sayid was probably arrested for something set up by Ben.
I'm not sure why Ben has such injuries.
I'm pretty sure the entire Oceanic 5 (boo to Aaron) plus Ben and Frank will be on the island. The more characters the better.
And as for the end of the episode, it looks like the island and people have stopped "flashing" through time, due to Locke's pushing the frozen donkey wheel, and have been stuck somewhere/sometime in the 1970s. This would explain Jin in the Dharma van, put an end to the problem of "flashing" nosebleed sickness, and link it back to the first scene of this season. Remember Daniel and Dr. Candle and Daniel?
At the least, they have been stuck somewhere long enough to get jobs and be part of Dharma.
And it's clear the writers are speeding things up, putting people back together again.

Oh, it's all so interesting. I'm excited to see Locke back, and what that is all about.
Good deal.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

11 Straight Years?

The Wisconsin Badger Basketball team has made the NCAA tournament 10 straight years. That is pretty good, but will they make it 11? That is a big question now. As of today, I would say Wisconsin is a solid bubble team.
They can go either way.

At the beginning of the year, I would have put them in the tournament in a heartbeat. I expected them to be the 3rd best team in the Big 10 after Michigan State and Purdue. The started out fine, but then hit a horrible stretch. A few weeks ago, it definitely looked like they would be NIT bound this year, but they have recently righted themselves.

So will they make it?
I say yes.

There remaining schedule has Indiana twice, Michigan at home, and at Minnesota and Michigan State. If they win at Michigan State or Minnesota, they will be a lock. If not, they will remain on the bubble until the conference tournament.
It helps that they have the 4th toughest schedule this year and that the Big 10 is better this year.I was worried for a bit, but things are looking up. I see one NCAA tourney win.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Things that aren't so great about football (soccer)

Ok, being the responsible blogger that I am (sort of) I'd like to like at both sides of the English football coin.
Last week I presented a the case (with great pictures) of why football is so great. And it is great, I stick by that, but there are some things that are not so great, and in some cases down right bad. So here are the negatives.
And I'm not going with the common American misconception that soccer sucks because it is low scoring. 1-0 games and 0-0 games can be great, much more exciting than a 12-1 baseball game or a 122-85 basketball game fo sho.

1. Violence/Racism - I think sometimes in the US we are shielded from how bad racism is in the rest of the developed world. Things that happen there are simply not acceptable here. It happens occasionally in England, but is common in Western and Eastern Europe. Just a few years ago when England was playing in Spain, Spanish fans made monkey noises toward black English players. WOW! In Italy, Roman club Lazio are known to be racist. Players sometimes Hail Hitler salute the crowd. Wow. If this happen here, someone would get their ass beat. There are instances of black players having bananas thrown at them. WOW! And don't get me started on Eastern Europe. It is much worse there. Some teams are not allowed to host games because fans are so racist. Man.

The violence part is a bit more mixed. Some Hooliganism is cool and funny. It's ok when hooligans fight each other, but then instant people get hurt, that is crossing the line. Hooliganism can be part of the game, but sometimes people die, and that is obviously over the line. But sometimes it can be funny, like recently when Milwall fans kicked their seats off to throw at the opposing fans. Nice.

2. No salary cap - For all the parody that the tiered league system creates, there is a definitely unbalance of power. There are a few elite teams in Europe and other simply cannot compete with them in terms of money. In England there are a "big four" who are the biggest club and have the most money. Only once in the past 5 years has a team other than them finished in the top 4. And as the "big 4" win more and more and get better and better players, the gap gets larger and larger. It simply isn't fair. They are able to buy the best players from smaller clubs and the smaller clubs have to do it so they can survive. It is a brutal cycle. And this is not unique to England, it occurs in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Holland. The big teams are allows good because they have the most money. It is like having 20 Yankees in Europe

3. Diving - Ok, Diving sucks. It is part of the game. Worse is pretending to be injured. I hate that. I'm not sure what really can be done about it. Maybe if you come off the field "injured" you have to stay off for five minutes.

4. Not strong domestically - MLS baby! It kind of blows. Our best players are young Americans who will soon go to Europe and washed up foreigners. It is unfortunate that the league is not strong.
Indoor soccer is a joke. All of it is too youth oriented.
But the MLS is making the national team stronger.

And lastly one that is both great and horrible.....

Friday, February 6, 2009

Why Football (soccer) is so Great

So, I write about sports pretty often, and occasionally soccer, or football, as the cool kids call it. I would write about it more, but I'm not sure my readers would be so interested. But, I love football so much, as it is pretty much the best thing in the world and I thought I'd tell you why, or moreso let you into my reasoning and why it is so great to me.

Ok, a lot of people in the US, don't like soccer, and that is fine. They find it boring and see it as unamerican. Well, here is a bit of an answer to that, but it also my strengthen some people's reasoning for not liking it, as much of my evidence comes from Europe.

Why is football (soccer) so great?

1. Worldwide Appeal

No other sport can compete in terms of being a global game. Basketball is stepping up, but can't really compare. Soccer has amazing worldwide play and fan support. There are leagues in pretty much every country. Even North Korea plays, or at least did play.
It goes far beyond that, though. If you know about football, you can get along with pretty much anyone in the world. It is a common ground. Kids in Africa, old men in Mexico, tribesmen in American Samoa, workers in Iceland all love football. Names like Rooney, Henry, Ronaldo teams like Arsenal, Man United, Barcalona, AC Milan are rooted on by all. Teams in England have players from the US, Mexico, Togo, Egypt, Bulgaria and pretty much every country in between.
People in Zambia pay 50 schillings to sit on a mat and watch games. Kids in the slums of Brazil make balls using tape and runner bands and whatever they can find.
1 billion people watch the World Cup finals.
Yes, you cannot compare the worldwide appeal, fan base, leagues, players, globaliztion of soccer to anything else in the world.

2. League Structure

This one could also be number 1. The way soccer leagues around the globe are set up is FAR superior to American sports leagues.
Most countries have a multiple tiered league system. There will be anywhere from 3-5 five professional leagues under a central control, pretty much one huge league, with a number of non-professional tiers below that. And what makes it so great is the relegation system. The worst teams go down to the lower leagues at the end of the season and the best teams go up. This makes things immeasurably more interesting. Every game counts no matter who is playing who at what time. Things at the bottom of the league are often times more interesting than at the top. So instead of tanking to get a draft pick the teams at the bottom are fighting to stay in the upper leagues.
There is also room for small clubs to move up. Results are the only thing that matter. Wigan and Fulham, now in the Premier League were in the 4th level just 10 years ago. And big teams that don't perform are now in the 3rd level.
It just makes things way for interesting. Face it, the Brewers of the 1990's didn't deverse to be in the Majors. And do the Lions deserve to be in the NFL? No way.

Cup competitons are also cool and make football great. Within each season there are various Cup competions (tournaments outside of league play) in which part of a league or in some cases the entire country compete. This is professional and non-professional alike. Think of a huge NCAA tournament with every college in the nation competing, only there is no seeding, spots are picked like lottery numbers. So MATC could play Duke. This my sound like a lot of blowouts will take place, but with every blowout there is an upset or an almost upset or two of the best teams meeting in an early round. Just a few years ago 5th tier team Exeter City tied Manchester United at Manchester United and then got to host them in the tiny stadium. Football! Cups allow for unpredicatiblity in a sometime predictable sport.

And then there are the Champion's Leagues where all the winners from a continent from the previous year play in a tournament. It pits the best in the world against each other and shows who is truly the best in the region.

3. Local Ties

Despite #1 football is also still very much a local game. Each club has a youth team as well and a under 16s and and under 18s and often times, despite the influx of foreign players, these local youth players make the 1st team. Most of the higher level teams will have a few local players who have been there since they were kids. And as you get lower and lower, there is more local involvement. Craig Counsell is the only local player I can think of for the Brewers in the last decade.
And even more important is who you support. You support the team from where you are from. Many people have had season tickets for generations. Fathers take their kids to the games and then later the kids take their kids. Local pride is key. London alone has about 10 teams in the professional leagues. It is easy here; we all root for the Brewers and Packers, but image if Waukesha, Racine, and Beloit had teams as well. And there is no rooting for multiple teams.
You can't root for say Marquette, UWM, and Wisconsin. You love one and hate the other. One of my biggest pet peeves in NY and Chicago people that like all there area teams.
But people live and die for their local clubs, no matter what division there is instense support. And when local teams play each other, it is and event to say the least. Moving teams to make money is unheard of.

4. The World Cup

The World Cup is the world's best sporting event. I don't think there can be any argument. It only takes place every four years, which makes it more important, and it is truly a world event. Everyone attempts to qualify. Places like Togo and Cote d'Ivoire had national holidays and, get this, cease fires, when they first qualified for the World Cup. Qualification goes on for TWO YEARS prior to the World Cup itself. It is watched by more people than anything else in the World, makes heroes out of known and unknown players, shit, someone was killed for scoring an owe goal. In most countries the World Cup effects politics, economy, and even war. WOW, worthy of the name.

5. Passion

Just listen to audio of a team scoring a goal. Listen to the crowd go CRAZY in the background. The only thing I can compare the intensity of a European football game is the student section and a big college football game, but in Europe, the fans aren't drunk, they just love the game.
It will make a grown man cry or make a grandfather yell "F--- Off!"
Teams are diveded by city, neighborhood, religion, ethnicity.
It will bring kids out of the slums.
It will put a country or city on the map.
But most importantly, it is an integral part of daily life.

Monday, February 2, 2009


There are many distinguished player numbers in sports - 4, 7, 20, 23, 32, 33, 80, 92 - known due to a single great player or a string of very good players. The new hot number ?
You heard it here first. It is by no means a historically significant player number, with the most famous to wear it being Roy Campanella and Larry Csonka, but it is a number on the rise.
Two of the NFL's hot young running backs - Willie Parker and Steven Jackson- wear it and it is beginning to be much more popular in the English Premier League.

Why do I know this you ask?
Well, I have a certain affinity to the number 39. It is an odd sports number and not often seen, but I chose it for my soccer number 5 years ago when we first formed our team. I wore it first to be unique, which it still is, and second because I like French Striker Nicola Anelka, then wearing 39 for Manchester City and probably the only player in the English Premier League to do so. He then took it to Turkey, then Bolton and now Chelsea. Soccer numbers are even more traditional than football. Strikers are usually number 9, the goalie number 1, the center midfielder number 10, and defenders low numbers. That is still close to the case today, but there are the occassional outliers, and teams play more and more they need more and more players, bigger teams mean more numbers in use.
Case in point, last week, where Tuesday saw #39 Belhadj for Portsmouth get a red card and Wednesday saw new signing for Man City Craig Bellemy score in his debut donning the 39 and also Andy Carroll for Newcastle scored in the 39 jersey.

I'm sure there are some baseball 39s I am forgetting and of course, there are no basketball 39s. Also Wisconsin running back J.P. Hill wears/wore it and some hockey players do as well.

So 39 is great. I was like at the beginning of the pyramid scheme, so I am proud and take notice of new 39s. Pretty soon everyone will be wearing it, but for now it is both unique and awesome.

Bonus: What former Packer wore 39 and holds a special place in my memory?