The Man’s A Menace

Dan Dierdorf went on and on Sunday about how Peyton Manning gave himself up on his game-clinching 27-yard bootleg to avoid risking injury (even the flacks on agreed, apparently). But to most people it was obvious he knew that if he slid short, the game was over. Manning even said if he’d wanted to score, he’d have scored.

How can you get paid to be an NFL analyst for so many years and yet be so out of touch with the game? How many more stupid things does a guy have to say before someone at CBS pays attention?

One Down…

The USA beat Canada 26-21 in women’s team handball today, coming back from a five-goal deficit on aggregate to win on away goals! It’s off to Guadalajara for the Pan Am Games!

The men are playing Canada right now…tied 4-4 in the first half, but you can follow text commentary live from Montreal here.

Once Is A Mistake; Twice Is A Problem

The first thing I thought when I read that the Steelers had been awarded a phantom first down in their game against the Jets Sunday was, “Wow. Two weeks in a row.”

Then I read the story and saw it was Pete Morelli’s crew that made the mistake. The same crew that gave the Redskins a first down they didn’t earn the week prior against Tampa Bay.

This latest SNAFU happened early in the second quarter on a 1st-and-10 play from the Jets’ 35, so it’s not quite the same as scoring on fifth down to nearly tie a game with just seconds to play. But this has to be addressed. Where is Mike Pereira on this?

Three Critical Days For American Team Handball

It’s not often we recognize turning points while they’re actually occurring. Any American soccer fan can tell you now about the importance of Paul Caligiuri’s goal against Trinidad that not only qualified the USA for the 1990 World Cup, but also put in motion all that we currently enjoy in soccer in this country. At the time it was just a great thing to qualify for FIFA’s big dance for the first time in 40 years. At the time, I’m not sure we all realized it was a critical turning point in the history of the game on our shores.

Team handball faces a similar moment of truth this week.
Continue reading Three Critical Days For American Team Handball


Inspired by this list of one-sentence reviews of ESPN’s 30 For 30 documentary series, I figured now was as good a time as any to give you my take on the whole thing.

1. King’s Ransom: Peter Berg got to hang out on the golf course with Wayne Gretzky. Isn’t that cool? Look at me!
2. The Band That Wouldn’t Die: Well done. I know the whole Colts-as-Community-Fabric thing has been done to death, but this was good.
3. Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?: Loved the USFL, so I dug this.
4. Muhammad and Larry: Very well done and poignant.
5. Without Bias: Chilling. I did not know half the stuff in this.
6. The Legend of Jimmy the Greek: Very sad.
7. The U: Hate Miami and hate thugs, so I didn’t watch it.
8. Winning Time: I’m actually in this film, very briefly, and covered some of these games, so I loved it.
9. Guru of Go: Missed this one.
10. No Crossover: Iverson proved that sometimes shorter is good. If only the filmmaker had taken that to heart.
11. Silly Little Game: Got through about five minutes of this before I said, “This is a cartoon, not particularly well done, and these people are dopes.”
12. Run Ricky Run: Ricky Williams is a complicated guy. This was a little slow, but still kind of interesting to see someone’s mind work this way.
13. The 16th Man: I knew nothing whatsoever of this story and it was absolutely captivating.
14. Straight Outta LA: Ice Cube is a filmmaker like Elvis was a black belt. Also, Al Davis passed away sometime around 1997 and his reanimated corpse features prominently in this film.
15. June 17, 1994: The storytelling technique was refreshing. But I didn’t care about Arnold Palmer then and don’t now.
16. The Two Escobars: Absolutely the best of the bunch. Gripping, compelling, masterpiece.
17. The Birth of Big Air: I would rather have a broken glass enema than watch this.
18. Jordan Rides the Bus: Ron Shelton could have done so much more with this.
19. Little Big Men: This was interesting and well done, but a little long.
20. One Night in Vegas: Missed it.
21. Unmatched: I always liked Evert and came away understanding more about and liking Martina more than I ever did. But the constant “Here we are in the car just talking to each other” technique wore on me.
22. The House of Steinbrenner: Crap. Couldn’t watch the whole thing. YES Network couldn’t have been more pro-Yankee than this.
23. Into the Wind: Slow and sad, but inspirational. I (like most Americans, probably) didn’t know the story.
24. Four Days in October: Don’t know how I missed this one.
25. Once Brothers: I’ve heard it’s good, but haven’t seen it yet.
26. Tim Richmond: This one looks interesting, but I haven’t watched it yet.
27. Fernando Nation: Well done. Fernando’s an interesting guy.
28. Marion Jones: Marion Jones should be hit with a shovel, so I had no interest in watching this.
29. The Best That Never Was: Was really, really good at two hours. Would have been fantastic at 90 or 60 minutes.
30. Pony Exce$$: They tell me this one is really good, too, but I haven’t had time to watch it yet.

So I have a few left to watch yet. I welcome your thoughts on this series, which, overall, was really good and worthy of whatever accolades it receives.

Here’s what I fear will happen, though: ESPN will get away from the one thing that really made this work – staying the hell out of the way of the filmmakers and just aiding, not controlling, the process. They say they’re going to do more documentaries under the “30 For 30 Presents” banner, which is great, but I have a suspicion the ESPN suits, having seen that this can be lucrative, will grab onto it and bastardize it and do what they do to everything. They’ll suffocate it and make it into ESPN instead of just recreating what made this so successful this time around. I hope I’m wrong, but ESPN would have to totally go against what’s in its corporate DNA to not screw this up going forward.

So How’d That Work Out For You, Genius?

With the year just days away from its end, let’s look at how I did on my 10 Predictions for 2010 from back in January:

1. The USA will advance to the second round of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. – They did. Thank you, Landon Donovan

2. The USA’s game against England will be the highest-rated soccer telecast in American television history. – It wasn’t, but it was close. The Ghana game two weeks later was the third-highest USMNT match ever, though.

3. There will be a brief MLS work stoppage, but the season will begin on time. – Half right. They came up with a collective bargaining agreement at the 10th hour. The season began on time.

4. The USL and the new NASL will agree to live together under the same roof with USSF as referee, just for 2010, before going their separate ways in 2011. – Bingo.

5. Philadelphia Union will make the MLS Cup Playoffs in their first year. – They missed it by 15 points.

6. The Seattle Sounders will win MLS Cup 2010. – Oops. I should have said, “The Seattle Sounders will finally score an MLS Cup Playoff goal, but it will be late in the process.”

7. Tim Tebow will be drafted by an NFL team, but not in the first round. – Half right, though that wasn’t exactly going out on a limb. He probably shouldn’t have been, at least not by Denver, which has a quarterback who’s doing pretty well, thank you.

8. Ryne Sandberg will be managing the Chicago Cubs by year’s end. - Never underestimate the complete ineptitude of Jim Hendry.

9. Ellen Degeneres will be terrible on American Idol, and the show will have its lowest ratings ever. – She was terrible, but I didn’t realize that in its first season, the show only got about half the ratings (or less) it does now, so it couldn’t get its lowest ratings ever It did get its lowest average ratings in six years, though, so I’ll count that as a “got it.”

10. Soccer fans will overreact. It doesn’t matter to what. They just will. – I almost feel guilty taking credit for that one, because it’s the safest bet ever.

So five out of ten (three and two halves), that’s not bad. What do you want me to predict for 2011?

Five Down Territory

It turned out not to matter, and not a lot of you saw it happen (few who did are likely to care), but the Washington Redskins apparently did get an extra down and used it to score their nearly-game-tying touchdown against Tampa Bay yesterday. Only one of the stranger endings to an NFL game that I can remember kept the mixup from mattering.
Continue reading Five Down Territory