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Soccer, mostly, but some other stuff, too

Archive for April, 2009

And Then…She Made It Worse

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April 20th, 2009 at 12:34 pm

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Monday Dispatches

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  • We have beauty pageants. We have interview shows. We should not mix them. Case in point: Miss California USA. (To be fair, she did much better than Miss Teen South Carolina, and had she not said “opposite marriage” – which, when you think of it, makes sense, but these girls aren’t known for thinking on their feet – she’d have probably been okay. But saying anything of substance while you’re wearing those earrings is just impossible. No one hears what you say.)
  • Today is the 10th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School in suburban Denver. And most of what you probably remember about that day is wrong.
  • Okay, tell me again why I would want to do this? (Thanks to Nick for the heads-up on this one). So, let me get this straight: I’m basically giving you a 15-year, interest-free loan of $25M or so, and for that, I get front-row seats and the right to “hobnob” with guys with high school educations. Where do I sign up for that?
  • You know what the problem is with WPS right now? The soccer’s just not very good yet. It’s going to take time.
  • I find myself very anxious lately. But Diet Coke seems to help. Go figure.
  • Today’s high in the Valley: 95, they tell me. Summer (otherwise known as Six Months In Hades) has begun.
  • The people say “Newspapers aren’t important to us.” The government says “We must intervene because we think newspapers are important.” The people say “WTF? It’s government of, by and for the people, right?” Or, they should. NOTE TO NEWSPAPERS AND AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURERS: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. We want something else. Change with the times, don’t wait for us to bail out your failing business model.
  • Cool article here about the branding and launch of Seattle Sounders FC, an early-season MLS success story.

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April 20th, 2009 at 10:36 am

Four At The Back – Episode 4

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The new episode of Four At The Back features discussion of MLS officiating, a visit with Chivas USA’s Jesse Marsch, theories on lagging MLS attendance and the US Soccer Supporters Club.

Download the show here, send us your feedback and go to iTunes and subscribe to the podcast if you like it.

Four At The Back is a weekly soccer podcast featuring LA-based soccer-blogger and philanthropist Dan Loney and myself. We like to think it’s (fairly) intelligent, but at least (as the saying goes) it’s short. So what do you have to lose?

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April 17th, 2009 at 8:43 am

Here’s A Guy Who, When He Retires, He Doesn’t Work Anymore

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John Madden caricature from LA Times

John Madden has hung ‘em up. He’s done as the analyst in the booth on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, done with broadcasting entirely.

Now, you have to be older than, say, about 33 to remember when John Madden was a really good analyst – when he was new and different and fun to listen to. That was in about 1984, and it seems like no one listened to him since then. Certainly not in the last 10 years.

You know how scientists will say your brain kind of stores stimuli that you experience every day – kind of like your browser’s cache – and so you don’t notice when there’s a change because you don’t really look at it like you used to? Like your wife’s hairstyle or that painting on the wall or the route you drive to work. Minor changes happen, you don’t even notice them. Your brain just assumes it’s always the same.

That’s the way it was with Madden. At one time he was really good. So all the TV critics (like Rudy Martzke) and all the TV executives and a lot of the fans just stamped “Okay, he’s the greatest analyst ever” on him and never went back to re-examine that. Ever.

He was supposed to affect ratings (he was touted as the only analyst who could actually do that). Except ratings for Monday Night Football (and then Sunday Night Football) weren’t really that different whether he was there or not and he didn’t keep the ratings from slowly dropping (like everything else in sports television). But people kept hiring him and saying it, and if you say it long enough, people believe it.

Except it wasn’t true.

People tuned in to see the game. Their team. The game was the thing.

Now, the tandem of Madden and Pat Summerall, that was money. From 1981 until probably about 1996, those two voices told you you were watching an important game. They were comforting. There was inertia and familiarity at play, yes, but they were a great combination and an obvious hire when FOX stole NFC rights from CBS*.

But he hadn’t been any good in years.

I would imagine Cris Collinsworth# would be his replacement. It certainly won’t be Boomer Esiason.

I figure this adds Frank Caliendo to the ranks of the nation’s unemployed, but this impression of Madden is worth revisiting. It’s so classic because it’s true to life.



*As an aside, you also have to be my age or older to remember when FOX was a joke of a network. There were three networks: ABC, NBC, CBS. Always had been, always would be (hello, DuMont!). FOX had Married With Children and The Simpsons. Now, it’s like the second-highest rated network most of the time. And they’ve had football for 15 years.

#Who probably has his names misspelled more than anybody in show business.

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April 16th, 2009 at 9:03 am

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Idol Speculation: The 50 Percent Solution

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So the monkeys that produce American Idol finally figured out a way to bring their 61-minute show in…in 61 minutes: only have the judges review the contestants in pairs. Simon and Paula review the odd-numbered contestants, Randy and Kara the evens.

How about this? Don’t have four judges, first off. Or don’t let Paula ramble like a crazy homeless person. Make your point, get out. If Simon doesn’t get to review every contestant, the show suffers. So how about we fire the line producers, cut out the inane chit-chat and get a nice, tight, show?

Okay, last night was “Songs from the Movies” night. Its working title was “Six Performances of Muzak and One Adam Lambert,” which is the one they should have kept. Seriously – a lot of familiar songs from movies are the love songs, but six of them?

As always, comments on each of the seven contestants, made-up scores and subjective power rankings after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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April 15th, 2009 at 9:08 am

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Must Be Playoff Time

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Funny commercial from the Boston Bruins (thanks to Deadspin):



Two others here and here that are also pretty funny.

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April 14th, 2009 at 2:38 pm

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The Things You See On The Road

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April 14th, 2009 at 10:33 am

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Well, THAT Was Fun!

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Team handball is really fun.

Army beat Air Force, 29-26 Saturday afternoon in Colorado Springs. Tense game, in doubt until the end.

Broadcast was….rudimentary, let’s say. But a lot of fun. And over too quickly. Kudos to my partner, Laura Ryan and to all the USOC folks who helped pull it off. Hope we get to do it again soon.

Before we go home tomorrow, we’re going to check out Boulder and maybe have lunch at the ESPNZone downtown. More on the weekend when I get home. Video clips possible late in the week!

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April 11th, 2009 at 10:14 pm

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Heading For The Mountains

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I’ll be off the grid most of the weekend (except maybe for Facebook and Twitter updates) as I’m off to Colorado.

Don’t forget – Saturday at 5:30pm ET, college team handball between Army and Air Force on teamusa.org.

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April 10th, 2009 at 4:24 pm

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Oliver Bierhoff Was Unavailable For Comment

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It’s all part of the atmosphere, love. Drink it in. Once you wring it out of your hair.



This just proves what I’ve always said: the Germans love throwing beer on people. And David Hasselhoff.

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April 10th, 2009 at 10:40 am

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