Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Best Movies - as you will see, these are not necessarily movies that came out in 2010, as I don't often actually go to the movie theater, just movies I saw in 2010.
First a few honorable mentions:
Lawrence of Arabia - well this obviously is an old movie, and it wasn't even the first time I saw it, but upon re-viewing it, it is a pretty amazing movie. Check it out again or for the first time.
Couples Retreat - Yeah, I watched this movie as part of the free HBO preview. It wasn't too great, but not too bad either. I like Vince Vaughan and it had a pretty attractive female cast.
Dan in Real Life - This is one I saw randomly on TBS or something. It was one of those movies they play back to back and I saw the second half and then watched it again to see the first half. I couldn't change the channel. A great movie, check it out. Steve Carrell was brilliant.
Legion - I know lots of people hate this movie, and although it didn't really make any sense, I did enjoy watching it.
Now on to our Worst Movies of the Year
Valentines Day - Another HBO free preview film. Pretty weak, though the Ashton Kutcher/ Jennifer Garner storyline did rope me in.
The Other Guys - I think I legitimately laughed out loud once during this movie
Robin Hood - I had high hopes, but was disappointed
Angels and Demons - A great book (for the first 4/5), but a pretty disappointing movie.
The Hangover - Not a bad movie, but highly over-rated.
And the winner for Worst Movie of the Year:
The Other Guys - It looked bad from the previews, but I watched it anyways. Don't make the same mistake I did.
Best Movies of the Year
Up - Great from start to finish
Hurt Locker - Very intense throughout. Characterization was a little generic, but you could not take your eyes off the screen.
Near Dark - Finally saw this "vampire" movie strongly recommended from a friend. It was one of those movies that started pretty slow, but by the end, you are glued to the screen and do not want the movie to end.
Up in the Air - George Clooney at his best. This one was much funnier than expected and the serious side worked too. I actually liked Clooney's interplay with Anna Kendrick much better than Vera Farmiga.
Drag Me to Hell - Another HBO free preview movie, but his one was a quality surprise. Some really sick stuff, some kind of fun stuff, not super scary, but definitely entertaining.
And the Winner is:
Up in the Air - it is the only movie on the list I would recommend to everyone.
Best Books of 2010
Again, this is books I have read during 2010, not new books. I don't know if I've ever read a new book before. Also, I'm not a huge reader. I like to re-read old books. Of the 10 or so books I've read this year, I'd say 70% of them I have read before.
I've reread Timothy Zahn's Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy, a must for Star Wars fans. Harry Potter 7 was better the 2nd time I read it.
I've reread 100 years of Solitude and The Silmarillion, both of which now claim a place in my all-time top 10. I would love to have read 100 Years in Spanish (but I don't know Spanish). Garcia Marquez's work is so poetic (almost too much at times at expense of the actually momentum of the story) I can't imagine it in its original language. The Silmarillion to me, maybe because of my history background is better than the Lord of the Rings. It takes a while to get into, and through, but is worth it, much better after the second read.
Any my best new read of 2010:
A Canticle for Leibowitz - Not in my top 10, and not an easy read at first, but definitely entertaining and thought provoking. It's a post-apocalyptic tale of an abbey that preserves all history. If you like Sci-Fi, check it out.
Best Music of 2010:
Ok, some I'm pretty late on the music scene. My stereo got jacked over a year ago, not that KISSfm plays good music anyways. Well here are my picks for music I got into this year.
Regina Spector and from her to a slighter extend Nellie McKay just for this song
B.O.B. - great stuff with Bruno Mars, Rivers Cuomo, Hayley Williams, and his ESPN bowl song. Yes.
Adam Lambert - Ok, this might be odd, but his music is tight. No homo.
Best Sports Moments
Landon Donovan against Algeria
Michael Bradley and the US against Slovenia
Badgers wins vs. OSU and Iowa
Favre's Int vs Saints
Everton's 2-goal injury time comeback vs. Man U
And the winner is:
Donovan vs Algeria - no doubt. This one should be the top moment of the decade.
Oh, and the Worst Sports Moment of the Year: Wisconsin vs. Cornell in the 2nd round of the NCAA, total torture watching that thing. Argghh.
Lastly, we'll take a look at the best 2010 post by Big Dunc. It wasn't necessarily a banner year for Big Dunc, but looking back it was pretty substantial - we had great World Cup Coverage, our Comic Book Bracket, Survivor Week, and awesome reviews of Lost seasons 1-4. It looks like going for quality over quantity paid off. So without further ado, here are my posts of 2010.
Star Wars Trilogy
World Cup Wrap Up - Definitely my best picture finds of the year. Check it out for a super hot Australian chick and Bill Clinton drinking a beer
Big Dunc's Survivor All-Stars - The definitive list of the best players and characters in Survivor History. This is a must see for Survivor fans and I think my best of the year, and also my Hottest Women of Survivor wasn't bad either.
Comic Book Bracket - I think this one of the Negative Zone region was the best of the bunch.
Best of Lost - Some great reviews of all the seasons, but I enjoy season 2 the best.
Enjoy, and look forward to more in 2011, or '11 as I will call it.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Anyways, I figured I'd share my thoughts a few weeks late on the announcement of the World Cup Host for 2018 and 2022.
What? This more of a what??!! than a What: subcategory. This post is very stream of consciousness if you can't already guess. But as I'm sure you know, Russia has been awarded the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the 2022 World Cup. to the lay person, this doesn't make much sense. To the soccer insider, this doesn't make much sense. To the media, it is just plain odd.
The favorites a few months ago were UK for 2018 and USA for 2022. Then recently Russia and Qatar entered the fray. The day before the announcement I'm thinking Russia was a slight favorite and the USA was a slight favorite. Either way, the awarding to Qatar and Russia was perplexing.
Analysis: The decisions on their own make sense. There is no way FIFA would put the World Cup in the two most Western nations in the world, two English speaking countries as well. So it makes sense that UK and USA were not a pair. Russia is seen as an untapped market for soccer, a place where lots of people play, but the game hasn't really taken off economically as compared to Western Europe. It puts the Cup in a new place and "opens up" Eastern Europe to FIFA and the rest of the World. Qatar is in the Middle East. It has money. It is the most stable, safe place in the region. With this pick, FIFA is trying to be groundbreaking, trying to be proactive. I'm also thinking Qatar must have promised lots of profits.
But, together, they don't make sense. Why not have one in England or the US. This would be guaranteed to be a money maker and a successful World Cup with little or no money having to be spent before hand. Lots of things could go wrong in either place. Russia has vodka, the mob, cold weather. Qatar has sand, heat, oil. Both places will not be easy to get to or stay in. It will be an expensive trip for all.
So, as most, I can't make total sense of FIFA's World Cup host choices. Both selections have something to offer, something new, something political perhaps, but both also have huge potential flaws. 2018 and 2022 are a long time away, put I am still disappointed in those choices.
But then again, why not travel to Russia or Qatar. It would be quite fun.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
I was pretty shocked by this as she is only 29 and still in the top 10. Elena was always the best player never to win a major. She was never the main draw of the WTA, not because of her game, but because of the way she carried herself. She did not want the spotlight or the hype, even though it could have, and rightfully, been hers. She was everything the game needs - intense, honest, honorable, funny, competitive, cosmopolitan. One thing lacking along with the Grand Slam title, a swimsuit issue appearance.
I got to see her in person at Wimbledon, and she is stunning. Even better when she lets her hair down, which she rarely does. You don't think of Dementieva in terms of looks to be up there with Sharapova and Kournikva, but she is. I got a great picture of her serving at Wimbledon on court #3. I even submitted it for a photo contest. Stunning.
Elena, you will be missed. You will be fondly remembered here at Big Dunc. Thanks for what you brought to the game. Maybe teach Brett a thing or two while you're at it.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Here's my first Bucky Channel post - http://www.thebuckychannel.com/2010/10/badgers-vs-packers-great-football.html All about how I enjoyed the Badger victory more than the Packer victory. Not sure why I have to qualify everything, but check it out.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
1. Fellowship of the Ring
2. Two Towers (Ents put this one over #3)
3. Return of the King (I'm a fan of the build-up)
Most Attractive females of Middle Earth
This is a tough one. The quality is higher than Star Wars, but all the women on the list are attractive, but not super hot, or really something to fantasize about, unless you have a thing for elves.
4. Rosie Cotton - hairy feet?
Best Supporting Characters
1. Treebeard -
5.Haldir - Came through with the Elves at Helm's Deep. This did not happen in the book.
Best Action Sequences
1. The Bridge of Khazad Dum - Fellowship - Obvious choice here, amazing sequence from all the orcs surrounding the Fellowship and leaving to Aragorn rousing them to continue after exiting the cave. Powerful stuff all around.
2. Ents at Isengard - Two Towers - Angry Ents, yes.
3. Witch King of Angmar vs Eowyn/Merry - Return of the King - Action in the third film came so fast and furious its tough to truly pinpoint what constitutes as a scene. In the Fellowship, there is usually proper build-up and aftermath of the big actions, and I think with the death of Theoden and the later finding of Eowyn and Merry on the battlefield, this scene best couples action with emotion.
4. Mines of Moria - Fellowship - This was the first big action scene and led to #1 on our list. Again, you have this great build up with some tender scenes between Frodo and Gandalf, then a hot battle
5. Breaking of the Fellowship - Fellowship - Huge build-up here, this was the climax of the first film. The battle was rather quick, but contained the end intense of Boromir "My Brother, my captain, my King!" and led to Sam's "promise" to Mr. Frodo. Cool battle between Aragorn and the Uruk leader too.
6. Battle of Pelennor Fields - Return of the King - This is one of the that is hard to distinguish with other action scenes around it. This one I consider to be the Riders of Rohan battle. Would move up to number 3 on the list if you include Theoden's Speech.
7. Helm's Deep - Two Towers - Awesome, but a bit long in repeated viewings
8. Oliphants and Ghosts - Return of the King - great visually
9. Final Battle - Return of the King
10. She-lob's Liar - Return of the King - Sam's moment to shine
Other Best Scenes
1. Opening Sequences - Fellowship - Sets the tone of grandeur, fantasy, battle. Great narration for Cate Blanchette.
2. Council of Elrond - Fellowship
3. Theoden's Transformation - Two Towers
4. Gandalf vs. Saruman - Fellowship - Starts out innocent enough. We get lots of necessary information and ends in a pretty tight wizard duel.
5. Osgiliath/Sam/Frodo - Two Towers - Definitely not from the books, but a good speech nevertheless, and a good tone setter for the final film
6. Singing/Sacrifice -Return of the King - Pippin singing to Denathor while he is rather grossly eating and his son is getting sacked, great juxtaposition.
7. Funeral Pyre - Return of the King - "He's not dead!"
8. River Anduin - Fellowship - Something real majestic about this trip down the river. You know this is the last peace for a while but you really take it in along with the Characters. Some great visuals.
9. Fellowship sets out - Fellowship - Some cool simple scenes here as the Fellowship begins its journey. Love Saruman's voice in the mountain pass, Gandalf's desire not to go to Moria forshadowing things, and Boromir's observations of of the ring.
10. Oliphants/Meeting Faramir - Two Towers - Lots of mystery here with the Southern Men and Faramir's men.
11. Gates of Mordor - Two Towers - I remember my heart pounding as Sam, Frodo, and Gollum first came to the gates of Mordor.
12. Elves come to Helms Deep - Two Towers
13. Palantir - Return of the King - Some cool stuff
14. Stairs of Cirith Ungol - Two Towers
There you go. Great Stuff
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
1. Star Wars A New Hope
2. Empire Strikes Back - I feel Empire is a better film, but I like A New Hope better. I watched it countless times and remember each little detail. I like how it is the beginning of so much
Best Inconsequential Lines:
"But I was going to the Tosche Station to pick up some power converters."
"Uncle Owen, this R2 unit's got a bad motivator."
"Stay on Target, Stay on Target!"
"He doesn't like you. I don't like you either. We're wanted men. I have a death sentence on twelves systems!
"Who's Scruffy lookin'?"
"And I thought they smelled bad...on the outside"
"Evacuate? In our moment of triumph?"
"Shut down all the garbage mashers on the detention level. (high pitched) Shut down all the garbage mashers on the detention level!"
"Bounty Hunters. We don't need their scum."
"Look at the size of that thing"
"May, what an amazing smell you've discovered."
"Intensify forward fire power!"
There you go. The greatness of Star Wars in blog form.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
and did the damn thing with Indy in the snake room. I like her style.
6. Young Indy - River Phoenix
6. Retrieving Marcus and Henry Jones - Tank scene - Crusade, a bit too long
Monday, August 30, 2010
In the year 2010.....
-the Milwaukee Brewers will make the playoffs (starting out bold) Gosh I am stupid. If this prediction makes you stop reading, I totally understand.
- the Lost finale with disappoint (staying bold) Hmm, I think I am correct here. The last episode wasn't bad, actually pretty entertaining, but the last season was weak. And the last 10 minutes kind of lame.
- Brandon Jennings will not be Rookie of the Year I got one right.
- Everton will not win any trophies Yes, some bold predictions.
- Wisconsin Badgers basketball will win either the Big 10 regular season or Big 10 tournament Arggh, I thought this one would be on the mark. I think they ended a game out.
- Wisconsin Football will make a BSC Bowl When Wisconsin has expectations, they seem to fall well short. When they don't, they usually do well.
- The Republican Party will gain lots of seats in the House but only 2 seats in the Senate We'll see
- The Olympics will be somewhat interesting Hockey was fun.
- Tron, Robin Hood, Priest, and Toy Story 3 will be tight I really don't know why picked this films. I haven't seen any of them.
- The A-Team, The Karate Kid, and Little Fockers will suck probably correct
- I will begin writing the Great American Graphic Novel In they year 2011....
- I will go on a date Shit, I still got 4 months left, right?
- I will get a real job or get into a great masters program Damnit! The latter will not happen. Better get myself in gear.
- I will get into great shape Wow, wrong again. Nostradamus I am not.
- I will be on Survivor Ok, they're not taking applications, but I should send one in anyways. Let's put that one on 2011 docket as well.
- The US will make the Quarterfinals of the World Cup Should have
- Three celebrities that might die - Lil Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Winona Ryder Hey, we still got 4 months left. Get off my back!
- chances of me leaving Milwaukee 45% Still here, but chances of living are rising
- purple will be the hot fashion color told you
- Alicia Keys will still be super hot indeed
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Time for another fantasy English Premier League fantasy season. This is the fourth year my friends and I are running our own league. This year we are up to 12 teams, one more than last year, with a few dropping out and a few new additions, or promotions and relegations as we like to call them. We do our own league because there is not a draft based EPL fantasy league out there. Everything is based on salary cap. We do a draft. That makes it more fun, more entertaining, more cut throat, and more fragile. Every pick counts. The scoring is pretty simple with goals, assists, clean sheets, and team of the week getting points, and red cards own goals, and goals against getting negative points.
What sets the EPL fantasy draft apart from other fantasy leagues is the high level of uncertainty. Players are constantly moving between European Leagues. It’s possible that one of your top picks could not be in the Premier League in a few weeks time. Just imagine if you drafted Greg Jennings and he only played one game with the Packers before moving to the CFL. There is also a high amount of uncertainty among starting lineups. There are only a few defenders for the top teams that you can be sure will start every game. And unlike the NBA and NFL, for the most part, you do not want players from bad teams. Because scoring is so scarce and bad teams give up lots of goals, there are not players like Stephen Curry or Andre Johnson out there.
Ok, let’s get to the draft.
1. Wayne Rooney – Striker – Man United – I had the privilege of drawing the number one pick. I was deciding between Rooney and Drogba, but went with Rooney because I feel even in a down season, he’ll still score 15 goals. Drogba could get 35, but he could also get 7. Rooney was the safer pick.
2. Cesc Fabregas – Midfielder – Arsenal - This manager is a super Arsenal fan and refuses to take players from Tottenham, Chelsea, Man U, Liverpool, or Man City. Obviously, he is handcuffed, but Fabregas is definitely a top 5 pick. Speculation of a move to Barcelona has ended, so he should perform this season.
3. Didier Drogba – Striker – Chelsea - Definitely the right pick here. His hat trick in the opening weekend has already proven that.
4. Frank Lampard – Mid – Chelsea- Due to being his fantasy team captain last season, Lampard was the league’s leading point getter. He has performed at a very high level all four years of this league, and there is no reason he should stop now.
5. Steven Gerrard – Mid – Liverpool – Gerrard was last year’s #1 pick, but injuries kept him from reclaiming that honor again. He will get points and will probably be in the fantasy team of the year. The only question mark is how Liverpool will play this season.
6. Robin Van Persie – Striker – Arsenal – Van Persie is one of the best goal scorers, when he plays. He seems to be injured a lot, so this pick has a bit of a risk.
7. Carlos Tevez – Last year’s third leading scorer after Drogba and Rooney, there was a little uncertainty if Tevez would stay at Man City, but now, he seems the only City striker who will get the start virtually every week.
8. Fernando Torres – Striker – Liverpool – Injuries are a concern, but Torres is dynamic when he plays.
9. Nicolas Anelka – Striker – Liverpool – I’d say the top 8 picks are pretty cut and dry – all are clearly in the top 10 and would only move up or down a few picks, but after that 8, things are a bit less transparent. There are a lot of good players, but as you’ll see by the next picks, not of the caliber of the first 8. I see Anelka as a player on the way down, so I would not like him at #9.
10. Andrei Arshavin – Mid – Arsenal – Probably the midfielder with the best upside remaining in the draft, but tailed off last year after an amazing first 4 months in the league.
11. John Terry – Defender – Chelsea – Probably not the player you foresee taking with your first pick, but pretty safe as the Champions will get lots of clean sheets and Terry will start every game despite his World Cup woes.
12. Antonio Valencia – Mid – Man U – This is probably the first pick I truly question. Valencia is a great player, but not a huge goal scorer. I think better midfielders were available.
13. Petr Cech – Goalkeeper – Chelsea - Getting the best goalkeeper available is a good move, not sure if he is 13th pick worthy, maybe a bit safer than the last pick.
14. David Silva – Mid – Man City – A big risk here. City has loads of midfielders and Silva is unproven in the EPL, but it could be a stroke of genius before the end of the season.
15. Patrice Evra – Def – Man U – Of the big four, Man U and Chelsea are your surest bets for cleansheets. And on those two teams, there are probably only 4 defenders you can be certain will start every week. Evra is one of those.
16. Florent Malouda – Mid – Chelsea – For my opinion, better than Valencia and Silva. He seems to score goals every season and still be underrated.
17. Glen Johnson – Def – Liverpool – A great attacking defender. He will chip in some goals and assists, but will Liverpool’s defense consistently produce the clean sheets like years past?
18. Darren Bent – Striker – Sunderland – Streaky striker. I like the pick, but I’m not sure if he can match last year’s form, especially at Sunderland, especially without his strike partner Kenwyne Jones.
19. Joe Cole – Mid – Liverpool – A bit high at 19. I don’t recall Joe Call having a strong fantasy season in the four years of this league. Too many injuries. Maybe the new club will help.
20.Thomas Vermaelen – Def – Arsenal – Surprised to see Vermaelen, last year’s top scoring defender fall this far. He scores goals. He defends very well. Arsene Wenger has an eye for talent. Maybe people are not convinced about Arsenal.
21. Pepa Reina – Goalie – Liverpool – Not much about this pick, right place I guess.
22. Aaron Lennon – Mid – Tottenham – Has the potential to be one of the best fantasy midfielders in the league. Seems a little high, but maybe not at the rate midfielders are going.
23. Marouane Chamakh – Striker – Arsenal – I think Chamakh will be a very important player for Arsenal. Look for him to pair well with Van Persie, but I’m not sure that necessarily means fantasy success.
24. Ashley Cole – Def – Chelsea – I was thrilled to get Ashley Cole with the 24th pick. I see him as a scoring, assisting, cleansheet producing defender, definitely a first round talent.
Alright, I won’t bore you with all 17 rounds. Instead, check out my stellar team.
1. (1.) Rooney
2. (24.) Ashley Cole
3. (25.) Edwin Van der Sar – Goalie’s were going fast, and I think Van der Sar was the best bet only the board, especially already having a first choice striker.
4. (48.) Rio Ferdinand – Injury problems and getting old, but I still consider it a steal at 48.
5. (49.) Theo Walcott – Attacking midfielders on good teams are always a good bet. Walcott did not really perform last year, but I’m looking for him to find his best form this year.
6. (72.) John Carew – Good value for your second striker
7. Phil Jagielka – Strong defender, now playing for England. Everton should be good value in round 7.
8. (96.) Niko Kranjcar – With only one midfielder, needed proven goalscoring. Not flashy and not certain to start, but I’ll stand by it.
9. Johann Djourou – Def – Arsenal – If this guy starts even just half the games, this is a steal, but with injury issues, it might be a waste.
10. (120.) Stephen Ireland
11. Shaun Wright-Philips – This was a tandem pick here. I figured one would stay at City and fight for a spot and the other would go to Villa and take the place of Milner. Good picks. Best case scenario, both leave City
12. (144.) Sylvain Distin – Its possible Distin will be on the bench, but I again see Heitinga playing a number of different positions and Jagielka and Distin teaming up in the middle with Yobo the odd man out.
13. Joe Hart – This was kind of a defensive pick here. I know that a few people still had not picked a goalie and I know Hart had a chance of starting at City. If he didn’t he could go to Arsenal, Sunderland, or Fulham, which are not bad alternatives. I won this round.
14. Robert Huth – Stoke defender
15. Steven Nzonzi – a bit of a reach for the young Blackburn midfielder. I saw him score a tight goal against Everton, so I see a bright future.
16. Mesut Ozil – Not really a gamble, no down side, but no upside in the end. Real Madrid?
17. David Moyes – This year we are experimenting with taking managers. I don’t think it will have much effect, but either way, got to go with Everton.
I like me team. This is the most confident I’ve felt after a draft. Late round pieces like Hart and Ireland will make those early round picks even better. I could be derailed by injuries and poor form by Rooney. Other than that, I’m feeling good.
Here are some other draft hits:
Mikel Arteta – 5th pick in the 4th round – 6 goals and 2 assists in 13 EPL games last season
Maruone Fellaini – Another Everton player returning from injury, good value in the late 8th round
Milan Jovanovic – Attacking midfielder on a good team in the 9th round – steal
Johnny Evans – Another 9th round steal, will start a lot for Vidic and Ferdinand
Stephen Pienaar – Ok, I rate Everton players, but you can’t complain with Pienaar in the 10th round
Ryan Shawcross – Stoke defender in the 14th round, scored some nice goals last year and broke someone’s leg
Scott Parker – Good midfielding option in the 15th round
Luke Young – 16th round – should get some starts with Villa’s injury problems
Verdun Corluka – 11th round, nice
Some not so clever picks:
Yossi Beneyoun – Too high in the 5th round. Won’t start. Other players drafted around him much more valuable – Milner, Modric, Cuellar, Dunne, Downing, Saha
Zhirkov- 5th round. Ouch! Manager thought he was classified as a defender. Not a good pick either way.
Maxi Rodriguez – 8th round. 19th appearances with Liverpool. 1 goal.
Jonas Gutierrez – 8th round. Interesting choice.
Daniel Sturridge – 9th round. Probably would have been available in the 19th round
Charles N’Zogbia – 6th round, high even if he does stay in England
Teams – I think Rory did well for a newcomer. Usually there is a tough learning curve for new players. With picks like Evra in the 2nd, Berbatov in the 4th and Downing in the 5th, he seems to know what he is doing.
I expect the veterans Worth and Dustin to again challenge at the top, maybe more due to their transfer prowess than their drafts. For Dustin, I don’t expect Dunne and Gomes to have as good a season as last.
BJ – too reliant on Arsenal. Big surprise.
Junkie – a strong start with Gerrard, Vermaelen, Vidic, and Milner. Not sure if his depth will hold up.
Andy – a mixed bag, no big four defenders will give him inconsistent weeks.
Jerry – newcomer showed his naivety with some picks, but Drogba should help out.
Carlo – If Adebayor and Boateng play well for City, he has a chance to challenge for midtable, if not, he’ll be wishing Jesse were still in the league.
Serg – wishing Jesse were still in the league. Good thing he transferred for Balotelli
Raubert – Similar to Junkie, strong beginning to draft, may have what it takes to challenge the leaders
Bryan – I predict another season of languishing in the bottom half of the table.
A few random notes:
BJ has 7 Arsenal players
By the end of the week, Serg probably will have drafted 3 players who are not in the league
11 of Serg’s players have Italian managers
Bryan love Cahill’s, having both Tim and Gary, I believe Trevor is open for the Oakland A’s
Carlo has Paulo Ferreira and Pablo Barrera
Robinho 1st round last year, 14th round this year
There you go, mostly random thoughts. Thanks for putting up with my over confidence and ribbing. I will own this league.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Tomorrow is the start of another English Premier League Season. Exciting. I now know what I will be doing most Saturday mornings. This year due to the World Cup, we did not have much of an off season, but I am excited nevertheless. Last year my picks were pretty good, picking Chelsea to win, Tottenham and Man City to challenge for a Champion's League spot (but I predicted it at the expense of Arsenal, not Liverpool), and picking two of the three relegated teams.
Here are my predictions for an exciting season.
I believe things at the top are the most exciting they have been in years. In years past you really only had two or three times that could legitimately challenge for the title. This year, I think there are 5 - Chelsea, Man U, Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool. And then you have the second tier of teams that could finish in the top 4 and will consistently challenge the big boys - Tottenham, Everton, Aston Villa.
After that top 8, though, there is a large drop off.
You have your comfortable midtable teams - Fulham, Stoke, Birmingham
And them pretty much everyone else is in the relegation battle.
1. Manchester United - I'm really sure why, but I'm not feeling like Chelsea will win it again. Terry is getting old. Lampard cannot repeat his performance of last season. Man United hasn't really added too much, but they always seem to be having lots of young players coming up at all times. Look for Berbatov to finally tally some goals in Man U shirt. I think it comes down to depth, though. Man U has much more than Chelsea. Look at defense - Vidic, Evra, Ferdinand, Evans, Smailling, Raphael, Fabio, Wes Brown, Gary Neville. These are all competent defenders. And the midfield is much of the same.
Player to Watch - Chicharito
2. Chelsea - Took take the title again. Drogba coming back from injury, Anelka getting old, Terry getting old. Chelsea will need a few more additions to fully stake the claim as favorites.
Player to Watch - Solomon Kalou - I'm thinking Drogba or Anelka get injured.
3. Arsenal - One of the few top teams to really better themselves in the offseason. Van Persie will be mostly healthy to start the season. Chamakh provides a reliable 2nd striker. Fabregas did not leave. Gallas, Campbell, and Silveste left. There is a little uncertainty in the central defense, and a lack of a true defensive midfielder, but look to Arsenal to play their normal brand of exciting football - scoring lots, losing the occasional game to a bad team, losing to the best teams, playing well in Europe.
Player to Watch - Nasri - I'm feeling a breakout season for the Frenchman Nasri.
4. Manchester City - Lots of money, lots of players. A few more additions in the weeks to come. Uncertainty among who will actually play, they have so many players. It's kind of ridiculous. Two great keepers, loads of midfielders, strikers for days. I see talent only getting them so far. They will not gel until the end of the season.
Player to watch -Adam Johnson, one of the few unproven players at City.
5. Everton - Might be a bit of a homer pick here, but Everton has their strongest side in years. They have depth and competition for places. Look for breakout seasons for Jagielka and Arteta. Hopefully Everton can consistently beat the lower level competition and keep up the high level of play against the top teams. The lack of European football will actually help them. Look for a FA Cup or Carling Cup final as well as a strong league finish.
Player to Watch - Jack Rodwell - future England star.
6. Liverpool - They have the quality and are bringing in good players, but I don't think their defense is where it was a few years ago. Torres has had lots of injury problems. Joe Cole and Milan Jovanovic are good additions, but I think Liverpool are on the way down.
Player to Watch - Jovanovic - Young attacking talent, scored against Germany in the World Cup
7. Tottenham - Champions League will have an adverse effect on Tottenham. They'll be a bit stretched and will not be able to recreate the form of last year. They are a quality team, but not top 4 material.
Player to Watch - Michael Dawson - young(ish) defender, played great last year. Look for him to get better and be the only real rock on that defense.
8. Aston Villa - Loss of coach a week before the season. Their best player will soon be leaving. Things are going downhill fast for Villa. Lucky for them the teams below them are not really strong.
Player to Watch - Stuart Downing - Was a great young English player, but missed much of last season with an injury. He will have to step up with the impending loss of Milner.
9. Fulham - Nothing really excites me about Fulham. Last year the made it to the UEFA Cup final. Wild. I don't think they have a strong enough midfield to really challenge the big boys.
Player to Watch - Andy Johnson - Missed much of last season with injury. Can he return to his Crystal Palace/early Everton form? If so, Zamora and Johnson will be a dangerous combination.
10. Stoke City - Stoke are one of the few teams on the rise. The addition of Kenwyne Jones definitely signals this. Stoke know the brand of football they play, and in England, in the current EPL, it really works (at least against the bottom half of the table.)
Player to Watch: K. Jones
11. Blackburn - Much like Stoke, Blackburn play hard, physical football. Blackburn lack the quality strikers that Stoke have, but hard nosed midfield and defense will have them be a clear mid table team.
Player to Watch - Steven Nzonzi - Young midfield prospect, scored a cracking goal against Everton, so that's how I know him.
12. West Ham - Not too much to get excited for in Avrem Grant's West Ham. Charlton Cole is a quality striker and Scott Parker runs things well in the midfield. Defensive and consistent scoring are suspect.
Player to Watch: Barera
13. Bolton - Another industrious, physical, unimpressive on paper side. Kevin Davies epitomizes this team. They often times give teams like Liverpool and Arsenal problems, yet lose to Hull the next week.
Player to Watch - Matt Taylor - flair for great goals
14. Birmingham - I don't see Birmingham following up on their success from last year. They just don't have enough quality players and some of their best performers from last season are getting old.
Player to watch: Cameron Jerome
15. Newcastle - Back in the top league. I think they will struggle, but ultimately be safe. They want to be a big club again, but that will have to wait a few years while the maintain secure Premier League footing. Oh, and their players don't have the look of a big club, except the Big Sol Campbell.
Player to Watch - Andy Carroll - Exciting young striker, great in the air. Switching from number 39 to 9, though.
16. Sunderland - Some people are tauting Sunderland to challenge for the top 10. I see them barely avoiding relegation. They do have Darren Bent and young talent like Cattermole and Frazier Campbell, but their defense does not measure up and look for their offense, much like their striker Bent, to be dreadfully inconsistent.
Player to Watch: Frazier Campbell - will get lots of chances with Jones moving on.
17. West Brom - West Brom is the ultimate "yo-yo" club, but I think their EPL experience will help them hang on for another year.
Player to watch: Chris Brunt
18. Wigan - I have picked Wigan to go down for about 4 straight years now. I feel this will finally be the year. Rodallega cannot possible have a year like last year and their best midfielder N'Zogbia will be leaving.
Player to Watch: Alcarez
19. Wolves - Lots of bad teams around the league this year.
20. Blackpool - They have about 17 total players.
Player to Watch: Charlie Adam.
There you go. Enjoy the start of the season.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
My thinking got me a bit sad, as the likelihood of an oncoming plethora of championships looks pretty bleak. Anyways, I've decided to take a closer look at my teams prospects of winning a championship.
1. Packers - The Packers are obviously number one, the far frontrunner of most likely to win a championship in my lifetime. They could win next year. They could win 3 times in the next five years. They have a great QB, an awesome receiving corps, and a strong young (for the most part) defense. But, even with greats like Favre and White, the Pack only won 1 Superbowl. The playoffs are tough, and the best team does not always end up champion.
Last Championship: 1997
Odds of winning a Championship in my lifetime: 97%
2. Bucks - I don't want you thinking I am on the Bucks bandwagon here. I don't think they have a team that can really compete with the best right now. It's just that basketball in many ways is a fickle game. Things change greatly from year to year. You only have 5 players on the court at a time. A few strong draft picks can totally change your fortunes. Look at the Spurs. They are a similar market to Bucks. They don't have tons of money, but a few draft picks, a strong coach, and a couple great foreigners have totally turned their franchise around.
What might be going against the Bucks, though, is that in the NBA, you truly have to be the best team. No "hot now" or "peaking at the right time" team will win 4-straight 7-game series.
Last Championship: 1971
Odds of Winning a Championship in my lifetime: 8%
3. Wisconsin Football - This one might surprise people. Winning a college football National Championship is hard, but I think the Badgers have all the right ingredients, and in the perfect storm, they could win it all. What are these ingredients you ask? A relatively strong program, killer home field advantage, play in a strong BCS conference, play an increasingly unique brand of football. Call me crazy, but I think they can do it. If the Badgers, as a Big 10 team go undefeated, there is no way the BCS can keep them out of the national championship game. They could do this if they build a strong team and play the right teams at Camp Randall. Get to the National Championship game, and they play a brand of football that the likes of Florida and Texas and teams like that are not used to playing. Just look at the Miami game last year. Again, maybe I am dreaming, but in the right circumstances, I like it.
Last Championship: Never
Odds of Winning a Championship in my lifetime: 3%
4. US Soccer - Team USA is what got my thinking about this list. Most agree the US is getting better at soccer, with the great draw and a potential for a break out tournament, you start dreaming. The problem is, the World Cup is only every 4 years. If it was every year, the US would be ahead of the Badgers and the Bucks, but the World Cup is tough. Spain, who were the favorites going in had to beat Chile, Paraguay, Portugal, Germany, and the Netherlands. Tough stuff. The USA will continue to improve, but will that be enough to be genuine contenders?
Last Championship: Never
Odds of Winning a Championship in my Lifetime: 2%
5. Wisconsin Basketball - The Badgers are a great program, but I don't think they are good enough to win it all. Bo Ryan is a great regular season coach, developing players, getting the most out of his team, but they are just not good enough in the post-season. Their flaws show clearly. With their style of play, they will always be good or very good, but never great. In college basketball, you need freak athletes. You need blue-chippers. Wisconsin just does not get them.
Last Championship: 1941
Odds of Winning a Championship in my lifetime: 1%
6. Everton - For Everton, I only consider the Premier League Title or Champions League title a true championship. The League Cup or FA Cup, though greatly desired, does not really count in these terms. Everton are a good team, but everything in football is currently going against them. There is more money, more foreign investment, more foreign players and Everton cannot compete. The can field a strong side, but the best players will leave to get more money and more opportunities. Since 1995, only 3 teams have won the Premier League. That is a pretty wild stat. To compete Everton need a new stadium and new investors, but even that, does not guarantee success.
Last Championship: 1987
Odds of Winning in my lifetime: Less that 1%
7. Brewers - Baseball. It's unfair. A few teams prey on the rest. Remember when we waited 26 years to make the playoffs and then lost in the first round? We were so thrilled just to make it there. Yes, then did nothing the next two years, and much of the success the playoff year was due to a free agent here half the year. Do you think the Rays won't begin shipping off players after this year? If you don't, you are incorrect. Plus Milwaukee is no Tampa. Maybe I've just been jaded by years of disappointment, but I don't think the Brewers stand a chance.
Last Championship: Never
Odds of winning in my lifetime: much less than 1%
Maybe I have unrealistic expectations, but even these 2 or 3 championships in my lifetime will be much more fulfilling than being a Lakers or Yankees fan.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Best Game - Ghana/Uruguay - Yes, had to go with this one. You have the stuff you can't make up with the Suarez handball, the Gyan miss, the Gyan make, the Abreu chip for the win, but the rest of the game was high quality too. The second half and overtime were great eb and flow stuff.
The fact that this is the game of the tournament might shed light on the fact that though the tournament had parity, and many close games, there wasn't really many truly great, memorable games.
Runners-up: US/Slovenia - The Algeria game had the moment and anticipation, but as an overall game, US/Slovenia one was much better, better play and entertainment. 2-0 to 2-2, the disallowed goal, and Slovenia unlike Algeria, played pretty well at the end.
South Korea/Nigeria - Most probably forgot about this game, but it was edge of the seat stuff for me. 1-0 Nigeria, 2-1 South Korea, the Yakubu miss, 2-2, then chances at the end to win it. Plus you have the drama of flipping back to the other game, and in the end knowing that all Nigeria needed to do was score to go through to the next round.
Best Moment - Donovan Goal vs Algeria - It's hard to think of a moment that could top this one in any other sport. For 90 minutes the anticipation and anxiousness is growing and growing and just when you think it's over....GOAL!!!!
There were stories about the Dutch porn star who was going to blow all her twitter followers if Holland won and the Paraguay lingerie model that would run through the streets naked if Paraguay become champions, but I'm pretty sure neither has anything on this Australia fan.
Runner up: Bill Clinton
Most fun team to watch - Germany - I definitely want to rewatch Germany against Australia, England, Argentina, and Uruguay. Fun young team and it isn't just about their counter attack ability. They are great in possession as well.
Tightest Jerseys (Physically tight, not tight meaning cool or fly) - Llorente (Spain) and France team. Adidas makes tight jerseys. I think Llorente's is painted on. It actually ripped from him just running. And France, well, at least they have one award.
Biggest Surprise - For me it has to be Japan. I had them getting zero points. Not only did they win two matches and make it to the next round, but they played well and made it through on skill not luck.
Last words: Lots of commentators are saying that this wasn't a very good World Cup. They complain about the lack of scoring, the lack of great games, the vuvuzelas and the ball, but I disagree. This is by far the most I have invested in a World Cup. I probably only missed about 5 games and saw a little more than half in their entirety.
I loved it - the passion, the skill, the different styles of play, the shear number of games, the ups and downs and surprises. My only complaint is I now have to wait 4 years for another one.
But all in all, to me, it was a great World Cup. I'll remember the awesome US games and people at home actually caring, the great German team, the African disappointment on the field, Spain's mastery, and much more.
South Africa 2010!