Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Britain's Got Talent?

One of the best things about England crashing and burning at the World Cup has been the uproar in the British media - they are ruthless when it comes to this stuff, especially the ‘tabloid’ papers, and they let the team have it this week!

From desperate-sounding articles like Henry Winter’s “10 ways to save English football” piece in The Telegraph to others trying to figure out just who to blame, it’s always a bit of fun to read these papers in the aftermath of shocking, embarrassing or disappointing incidents like England’s World Cup performance (which was all three).

Winter says the English Football Association needs to have a National Football Centre built, focus on five to 11-year-olds, bring in a winter break in the EPL and “trust in flair,” among other things, to save the game in his country. Does this kind of talk sound familiar? I’m sure if you hit up the Google archives and read what was printed in the wake of Canada’s last poor showing at an Olympic hockey tournament, you’d see the same type of stuff.

It’s comforting to be reminded that we’re not the only people who grossly overreact when our national team doesn’t win the top prize, isn’t it?

Onto the blame game – whenever the result isn’t perfect, a lot of people find the need to pin it on someone. Did the players let us down? Was it bad coaching? Was everyone else out to get us?

Some, like Manchester United legend Roy Keane, say it’s the English players who are to blame for the dismal showing at the tournament, and not coach Fabio Capello.

Keane tells The Telegraph the team wasn’t made up of world-class players, and not many of them had particularly good seasons in the EPL. “To keep criticizing and questioning the manager is crazy – he didn’t do anything wrong in the qualifying campaign,” says Keane, who manages Ipswich Town in the Championship.

When a team of alleged superstars is unable to do away with the likes of Slovenia and Algeria and only manages to score three times in the entire tournament (okay, four if you count the disallowed goal), it has to be the team’s fault, right?

You’d think so, but there are a lot of people who don’t share that view, judging by this headline from The Daily Mail: “Fabio Capello’s lost it! No support from the FA, the players or fans leave Italian facing the sack as England manager.”

The Mail’s Charles Sale and Matt Lawton say the English FA will give themselves two weeks to decide on Capello’s future, but that it will be “extremely difficult” for him to continue because of the “national backlash” against the coach (and, to be fair, the club).

Capello, who has apologized to the fans for the team’s lack of success, says he wants to stay on because he likes the job, but will (obviously) accept whatever decision is handed down.

There are others who go more in depth with their hatred of Capello, like the Daily Mail’s Jeff Powell – he refers to him as a “tin pot Mussolini” in his long, angry diatribe of the manager. It’s worth noting though that when he says “we need an Englishman,” he conveniently forgets the fact that England’s last homegrown manager (and in fact, their last couple of homegrown managers) didn’t fare so well either.

Should the FA decide that it’s just not working out (Fabio, it’s not you…it’s us. Well, and a little bit you…), England will head into Euro 2012 qualifying under the direction of a fourth manager since 2006. Surely that can’t be good!

Maybe Keane is right when he says it’s time to stop putting the blame on the gaffer!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: The Nike Curse?

A lot is made every year about "curses" in sports - for example, the "Madden Curse" in football, and the "Curse of the Bambino" in baseball...but what about soccer?

This may be the year of the Nike Curse!

Remember that totally awesome, three minute long commercial called "Write the Future" that played in the lead up to the tournament? It featured a lot of the world's top players in a mash-up of sorts where a guy makes a play and then envisions the aftermath, the best of which is probably England's Wayne Rooney winding up living in a trailer park after making a poor pass (then being knighted when he redeems himself).

As it turns out, basically all of the players featured in the spot have had an absolutely woeful World Cup! Now that each of the main characters has been bounced from the tournament, lets see how they did:

-Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast broke his arm days before the start of the tournament and scored once as his team bowed out in the group stages, going 1-1-1 in the process.

-Defender Fabio Cannavaro was the captain of an Italian side that came into the tournament as the holders of the World Cup, but failing to beat sides like Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia while going 0-1-2 and finishing at the bottom of Group H.

-England was dumped from the tournament by Germany on the weekend in slightly controversial fashion, but a lot of people would argue they were lucky to even get that far - Wayne Rooney's boys needed a final-day result to get out of the group stage. Rooney heads home without a single goal at the World Cup, part of the reason the team struggled so mightily.

-Portugal's tournament is over after a 1-0 Round of 16 loss to Spain on Tuesday, which means Cristiano Ronaldo ends his World Cup run with his only goal coming in the final minutes of a 7-0 thrashing of North Korea.

-Where do we even begin when it comes to France? Franck Ribery was also held goalless as the French went 0-2-1, but that was the least of their worries. There were reports on a training ground scuffle, a player was sent home, the team refused to train in protest and now people are resigning left and right. Nike, what have you done?!

-And while Brazil is having a great tournament and will face Holland in one of Friday's quarter finals, Ronaldinho (unfortunately for the director of this spot) didn't even make the team!


SO: the five players from the commercial that actually featured in the tournament combined for two goals, after scoring 124 between them in all competitions last season. Granted, Cannavaro is a defender and isn't expected to score goals but Italy gave up five goals in three games against teams they should have easily beaten.

In another sign that the ad was doomed from the start, remember all the problems that ITV has been having lately? One of their latest blunders came when they cut off the end of that commercial when it made its debut during the Champions League final!

Is a curse at play here? Is it a case of some of these guys being burned out at the end of a long season? Is it just a straight up coincidence?

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Tradition vs. Accuracy

As the World Cup continues into the knockout phases over in South Africa, one of the growing storylines is pitting the tradition of the game against on-field accuracy.

This issue of whether or not FIFA should institute video reviews burst to the forefront on Sunday morning after two fairly blatant game changing incidents in Round of 16 matches. In the first, England was denied the equalizer when Frank Lampard floated a shot in that hit the crossbar, hit the ground about a foot over the line, hit the crossbar again and then bounced out. The officials missed the call and Germany went on to win 4-1.

Later that day in Johannesburg Carlos Tevez was a mile offside when he opened the scoring for Argentina in a 3-1 win over Mexico – a play that should have been a pretty routine call for the linesman.

In the second incident, an angry mob of Mexican players surrounded Italian referee Roberto Rossetti after replays of the goal were shown on the giant screens inside the stadiums.

ESPN reports that FIFA will now censor what is being shown on the big screens to make sure that…umm…blown calls aren’t immediately highlighted and players/fans will have to wait until they get home to realize the extent to which they had been robbed, I suppose.

Really FIFA, that’s your response?! At least president Sepp Blatter apologized to the English and Mexican football federations, but that almost makes the loss harder to bare.

In the aftermath of these two unfortunate incidents, there are a lot of people calling for video review to become a part of the game, but is it time to take that route?

One of the arguments against video review that you’ll likely hear is that it’ll slow the game down too much. That’s possible, but there are already a lot of things that bring things to a crawl like diving, post-goal celebrations, arguing with the ref and other time wasting tactics.

It seems to only take broadcasters mere seconds to bring up a replay of something that just happened – what makes people think this would become a long process?

Another issue would be what plays can be reviewed in the first place – goal vs. no goal is an obvious one, but judging an offside might be tricky.

If goals can be called back because a review shows a player was offside, what about players who were clearly onside? What about major dives? I’m sure there would be some people that would want video review to be used to help weed out some of the worst ‘simulators’ in the game.

One way around these last couple of issues would be a football style challenge flag or something – if a coach thinks a player took a huge dive, handled the ball in the box or was offside, he could throw his challenge flag and initiate a review. The catch would be, you only get one (or one per half, or whatever).

These are just ideas, of course, but it might be worth taking a closer look. The MLS has offered to help out with experimental changes to the game. That might be a good idea!

If FIFA decides not to do anything, people will continue to complain when (the big) teams are burned by bad calls like these, especially if it happens in a big game.

Then again, if you don’t have the refs to blame, who have you got?

What do you think – should FIFA bring in video reviews?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Random Friday Thoughts

Taylor vs. Tyler

Well it’s been one of those weeks where I’ve been accumulating blog ideas, but haven’t had the time nor the motivation to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, as it were) on any of them.

This one is easy though: the NHL Entry Draft goes today, with the Oilers picking first overall – but will it be Taylor Hall or will it be Tyler Seguin?

It seemed like the general consensus for a while was that the Oilers would go with Seguin because he’s a centre and some people think he might be a better player when we look back on this day in 2015. That has shifted as the big day approached though, and now more and more people have decided that Hall is the way to go.

Let me say this: It’s my opinion that you take the best player available, especially if you’ve got the number one pick – and Taylor Hall is the best player available right now. He’s got an extra year of junior under his belt, he’s a dynamic player, he’s good at both ends of the ice, he plays with a tenacity that I think Oilers fans will admire and he’s got the potential to be a star at the next level.

Hall and Seguin had the exact same number of points this year (Seguin had more goals, but in more games), they’re virtually the same size, they’ll probably both be great players in their own time – but you can only pick one, and for me it has to be Hall.

Don’t worry Oilers fans, there are brighter days ahead…just think, Hall/Seguin, Eberle, Paajarvi-Svensson; there’s some talent on the way!

Upper Body Injury

Remember all that talk about banning the vuvuzela at the World Cup in South Africa?

I think this story qualifies as the craziest vuvuzela story you’ll hear all month: a Cape Town woman named Yvonne Mayer witnessed the dark side of the stadium horn earlier this month when she became the first person to suffer a vuvuzela-related injury.

So what – did someone hit her over the head with one? Did she lose her hearing after attending a game? No and No. Poor Yvonne Mayer ripped her windpipe by blowing too hard.

Mayer told The Daily Mail that she was on her way to the first South Africa game when she decided to have a go with the vuvuzela she was given at work – her first ever blow of the horn. Suddenly, she says, her throat started to hurt.

“[The doctor] said I'd ruptured my throat by blowing too hard, and that perhaps I had been doing it all wrong.”

How embarrassing!

Anyone But England

Still on the topic of the World Cup – music store HMV are being called racists over a recent advertising campaign in Scotland.

The store had “Anyone But England” banners hanging in various stores, with shirts also being sold at the Scotland locations – referring to the fact that a lot of Scots would rather see anyone but the English hoist the hardware on July 11th.

The Daily Mail reports the Campaign for an English Parliament complained to police that the store was “inciting racial hatred” against English people. HMV has since taken down the banners.

I was recently in Scotland for a week visiting family and I saw “Anyone But England” stuff all over the place! How that’s racism I’ll never know though; quite frankly, I think it’s a slap in the fact to all the actual causes that deserve attention. Some Scottish people not cheering for England, and being vocal about it, does not constitute racism.

If Canada somehow failed to qualify for the next Olympic hockey tournament and I wore a shirt that said “Anyone But the USA,” would I be a racist? I don’t think so.

Big Money

This is cute – ESPN reports a minor league baseball team is doing its part to keep LeBron James in Cleveland.

The Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League are hosting “Keep LBJ in C-L-E Night,” next week and plan to offer the soon-to-be free agent a contract worth $1,600 per month to sweeten the pot. The deal even includes a host family, to cut down on the commute from Akron to Cleveland.

He’s also welcome to use a luxury suite in the ballpark, which will be renamed “LeBron James Field at All Pro Freight Stadium” for the game. They’re really going all out – the Crushers will wear Cav-themed jerseys with LeBron’s number on the back and anyone with the name LeBron gets free tickets.

It’s a shame that just a day later he’ll more than likely be gone!

Gaga vs. Seinfeld

Speaking of luxury suites and baseball, there’s a bit of an interesting storyline developing in the Big Apple.

Back on June 10th, pop singer Lady Gaga made headlines when she was seen giving the middle finger to photographers and fans at a NY Mets home game – she was allowed to hang out in Jerry Seinfeld’s unoccupied suite for the rest of the game.

Last Friday she caused another stir in the world of baseball, showing up to a NY Yankees game wearing a jersey and a bikini bottom, getting hammered and then talking her way past security and into the clubhouse. The next day, there were reports that Gaga had been banned from ever coming back, but GM Brian Cashman clarified things to ESPN:

“She’s not banned. Celebrities aren’t banned. If Michael Jordan showed up here he would have access [to the clubhouse], but not after a loss.”

Now, if you’re like me, you enjoy yourself some Jerry Seinfeld, and he didn’t disappoint when it comes to talking about this topic. Speaking to a NY radio station, he sounded off, in true Seinfeld fashion, about Ms. Gaga:






“You give people the finger and you get upgraded? Is that the world we're living in now? It's pathetic. And why is she giving the finger? How old is the finger? How'd it even get to be the finger? Somewhere along the line somebody decided this is the bad finger."

“I'm not one of these all-publicity-is-good people. People talk about you need exposure -- you could die of exposure”

Classic!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Sewage and Screw-ups

Earlier this week we discussed a couple of "bad omens" for England at this year’s World Cup in South Africa – and what do you know, it seems another has presented itself!

The Brits were forced to re-wash their kit for Friday’s matchup with Algeria after an accident at their base at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus.

First, some English fans missed Steven Gerrard’s opening goal on Saturday because of a mistake by British broadcaster ITV, then England’s goalie allowed a laughably soft equalizer – now, the team is dealing with a sewage leak that left Friday’s match kit covered in…well, sewage.

The team says the kit will be used when Rooney and the boys face Algeria in Cape Town, but if they have a stinker, you’ll know why!

Speaking of ITV, it seems the commercial during Gerrard’s fourth-minute goal was actually the second mistake of the day for the broadcaster.

The Daily Mail reports that Adidas are ‘really upset’ over another blunder, this one before the game, that cut off the beginning of a one-time-only, multi-million dollar Star Wars themed commercial, starring David Beckham, Noel Gallagher and Snoop D-O-Double-G.

The ad played in the last break before kickoff on Saturday, but ITV viewers missed the set-up and were therefore left confused by the whole thing. I guess this proves ITV are equal-opportunity screw-ups, as they’ve now botched expensive ads by Adidas AND Nike, their bitter rivals.






The embarrassment doesn’t end there though – an ITV pundit has been fired for ‘misuse of free tickets’.

While FIFA investigates why there are big blocks of empty seats at some games, ITV has been left red-faced by how Robbie Earle allegedly used his allotment.

A group of 36 women wearing orange mini-dresses were ejected from Monday’s Holland/Denmark game after being accused of promoting Bavaria beer – The Daily Mail says some of them had tickets that were originally given to Earle.

Here’s the statement from ITV:

“Following claims by FIFA that official 2010 World Cup tickets may have been used for ambush marketing, ITV has reviewed its entire ticket allocation for the tournament. Immediate investigations indicated that a block of ITV tickets would appear to have been used for unauthorized purposes during the Holland v Denmark match. Further inquiries have revealed that a substantial number of tickets allocated to Robbie Earle for family and friends have been passed to a third party in breach of FIFA rules. As a result, Robbie Earle’s contract with ITV has been terminated with immediate effect.”

What more could possibly go wrong for ITV?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Only in Mexico

If you had to choose one word to describe a matador, what word would you choose?

Tough? Crazy? Cowardly? Remember, these are the guys that dress up and tease bulls by running around with a red cape and pulling it away just as the animal charges.

Personally, I would go with crazy, but I guess not all matadors are made equal.

Christian Hernandez made headlines in Mexico City on Sunday for running away from a bull at the famous Plaza Mexico and jumping over the wall of the bullfighting area. Hernandez seemed to have one of those “what the hell am I doing” moments as he pulled the cape away from the charging bull, kept running, dropped his cape and jumped to safety. What a sissy, eh?






Here’s what the 22-year-old, who took a bull’s horn in the leg a while ago, had to say afterward the embarrassing ordeal:

“There are some things you must be aware of about yourself. I didn’t have the ability, I didn’t have the balls. This is not my thing.”

I’m not sure how you make it that far into the process before realizing it’s not your “thing,” but to each his own I suppose. For me, I already know that bullfighting isn’t my thing and if I wasn’t sure, getting a horn in the leg probably would have cemented that stance for me.

To add insult to injury, Hernandez was arrested for breach of contract after running away, but was released after paying a fine (he was also sentenced to live in infamy as the man who ran away from an angry, aggressive bull).

I honestly can’t believe that bullfighting is even still around, but Christian – if you’re reading this – don’t be ashamed, I’d run away too!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: The Case for Leighton

From the waiver wire to the Stanley Cup Finals, there’s no question Michael Leighton was one of the big stories of this year’s playoffs…but what’s next for the 29-year-old?

ESPN reported on Friday that Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren isn’t ready to commit yet to the man who helped his club get within a couple of games of the big trophy.

Leighton had a 17-9-2 record this season (16-5-2 with the Flyers) and followed that up by going 8-3 in the playoffs (6-1 heading into the finals). Despite that, Holmgren would only say “I think we’ve got to be careful there in how we view him,” which is probably a pretty accurate statement.

When it comes to goalies, you’ve got to be very careful. There will be a lot of pressure from Flyers fans to resign Leighton, but there’s certainly no need to rush into calling him your number one, or even your number two for next year.

Some of his regular season stats were pretty good, especially considering he was plucked off waivers in December, but that .905 save percentage and 2.83 GAA should make you wonder a little.

If it were up to his teammates though, he’d definitely be back in the orange and black next season.

Captain Mike Richards told CSN-Philly last week that he’s fully confident in Leighton, saying:

“He played well, he carried us, he got us into the playoffs with the great stretches he had. And even in the playoffs, he was tremendous for us. I have a ton of respect for him…I’m fully confident that he’s going to be there next year, and I’m fully confident playing in front of him.”

Teammate Scott Hartnell, who put up nine points in the final series, had a simple answer when asked if he thought Leighton should be back:

“Look at his numbers.”

That’s just it though – he’s got 34 wins to his name in 103 starts since making his pro debut in the 2002-03 season. Surely the Flyers will be looking for a little more experience between the pipes for the upcoming campaign, don’t you think?

The only other goalie they’ve got under contract going into next season is Brian Boucher, who put up nine wins last season and went 6-6 in the playoffs before going down with an injury.

Leighton was a great story from the second half of the season all the way up to the Stanley Cup Finals, but it’s probably in the best interests of the Flyers to look elsewhere.

What do you think?

Kerrzy's Notebook: Bad Bounces

One great thing about any big storylines in Britain is that the media there always takes things to another level, and Robert Green’s woeful bit of goaltending for England on Saturday is no different.

If you’ve already forgotten what happened: with the USA down 1-0 in the opening match for both clubs, American Clint Dempsey fired a low shot and Green absolutely sold the jersey allowing the equalizer in comedic fashion.

Green says it was just a fluke and others blame the unpredictability of the World Cup ball, but were there other factors at play? The Daily Mirror says yes.

The British paper says “Dodgy shots at goal are sadly not the only thing Robert Green has trouble hanging on to,” before going into detail about his recent split with Canadian lingerie model Elizabeth Minett, ending a 20-month long relationship.

The Mirror says a source close to the 30-year-old told them he’s totally focused on his game despite the breakup, but they wouldn’t have printed the article unless they wanted to imply otherwise, would they?

Meanwhile, Mexico’s national team is taking some interesting steps to ensure that what happened to England (and Algeria) doesn’t happen to them.

Goalie coach Alberto Aguilar hopes to keep his men sharp by bouncing ‘American footballs’ at them, as he did at practice on Monday. One of the main complaints about the ‘Jabulani’ ball is that it can bounce funny and cause trouble for goalkeepers - and if you’ve ever watched CFL or NFL players trying to track a bouncing football, you’ll realize what a solid exercise that truly is.

Then again, I don’t think the ball is so wild that it quite mimics the bounce of a football, but it’s an interesting story either way.

Since we’re on the topic of the official ball of the World Cup, did you watch Germany’s destruction of Australia on the weekend?

While some other countries are having trouble controlling the new ball, the Germans put on a clinic on Sunday, thumping the Aussies 4-0 and scoring some beautiful goals along the way.

What’s interesting about that is, as Britain’s The Daily Mail reports, the Germans have been using the World Cup ball for six months now! As far as I know, just about everyone else got their first taste of it in the lead-up to the tournament. The reason the Germans have been using it for so long is that clubs in the Bundesliga were allowed to use any ball of their choice last season, while the English Premier League is contractually obligated to play with Nike balls.

The way Germany played on Sunday makes you wonder how much of an advantage that was, doesn’t it?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Clash of the Titan

It looks like Tennessee Titans QB Vince Young will be joining the likes of Ben Roethlisberger on the sidelines when the NFL season begins in September.

The league hasn’t said anything yet, but I’m pretty sure that strip club fights caught on video would fall under the league’s “personal conduct policy.”

Here’s what happened:

The Dallas Morning News reports the former University of Texas Longhorns standout stopped by a strip club on the northwest side of the city early on Sunday morning. While in the office area of the place, a Club Onyx employee allegedly started talking trash about Young’s alma mater and then flashed an upside down “Hook ‘em, Horns” sign at Young.

That’s when things got interesting:


The surveillance footage shows Young (white shirt) charging across the room to get at 45-year-old Creiton Kinchen, who apparently suffered a cut lip in the melee. It’s suspected by police that alcohol had something to do with what went down (as is usually the case at 3:30am I would imagine).

What is Kinchen thinking? Is that how they treat all the multi-millionaires that walk through the doors of Club Onyx? I would imagine that’s a great way to get these guys to spend their mounds of cash. This guy should teach a class in marketing and sales.

Anyways, Young wound up being charged with a Class C misdemeanor and faces up to a $500 fine – Dallas’ Channel 8 News likens the Class C charge to picking up a speeding ticket.

Despite that, don’t be surprised if Young misses some action at the start of the season though – remember, the NFL can suspend players for simply giving the league a bad name, even if it’s nothing serious.

What is it with football players and strip clubs?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: South African Vuvu

Through three days of competition, there has been one constant at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa – the noise.

Normally the atmosphere of a soccer game is built around fans of two competing teams singing various (often disparaging) songs in unison, but that’s not the case at this particular tournament. In fact, the only singing I’ve heard so far came during the England/USA match on Saturday.

What has taken its place?

The drone of the vuvuzela, the long, plastic horn in the hands of (what seems like) 80% of the people attending games in the various South African host cities.

It’s an unmistakable sound – sort of like a giant swarm of bees – and it has drawn the complaints of players and broadcasters alike; now the organizing committee is discussing a possible ban. Organizing chief Danny Jordaan was interviewed by the BBC on Sunday and said it’s definitely been an issue:

“We’ve tried to get some order. We have asked for no vuvuzelas during national anthems or stadium announcements. It’s difficult but we’re trying to manage the best we can. We’ve had some broadcasters and individuals [complaining] and it’s something we are evaluating on an on-going basis.”

Jordaan also said that if any vuvuzelas land on the pitch they’d take action, adding he’d rather have fans singing in the stands than tooting their horns.

(Read between the lines, haters of the vuvuzela - the organizers have laid out one way for you to get the horn banned…it’s now in your hands!)

The first player to blame a poor performance on the instrument is France captain Patrice Evra, saying his team can’t sleep at night because of the noise and can’t hear each other on the field (France and Uruguay tied 0-0 on Friday).

There’s no question it’s annoying, but I think blaming a bad game on crowd noise is a little much given that it’s a constant in one form or another wherever these guys play.

Evra isn’t the only one who hates it though – there’s a Facebook group called “FIFA – BAN THE ANNOYNG VUVUZELA (HORN) FROM THE SOUTH AFRICA WORLD CUP” (all capitals for emphasis, I believe).

Photobucket

The group is over 79,200 members strong and links to a poll where the options are “ban it” and “keep it” – as of Sunday afternoon, it was 68,228 in favor of ditching the horn and 8,408 wanting to keep it.

Here’s the thing – if blowing into a vuvuzela for 90 minutes (plus injury time) is a distinctly South African thing, banning it might be a bad idea. I don’t think it is though, because you see those horns everywhere. The difference here is that people generally don’t blow into them all game long (in fact, doing so might get you into some trouble with the people seated around you).

Will they ban them? I doubt it. Should they? I don’t know.

All I know is that I’d probably have a stronger opinion if I were actually in SA being wakened up by the damn things!

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Maple Bars

Ben Roethlisberger will be thanking the Seattle Seahawks for taking some of the heat off of him this week.

The same week that tapes and evidence from the Big Ben sexual assault investigation was released, a Seahawks rookie made headlines in what can only be called an embarrassing lapse of judgment.

At about 3 AM last weekend, wide receiver Golden Tate got a hankering for some “maple bars” (or maple long johns, as we would call them) from the doughnut store in his building. Unfortunately he didn’t feel like paying…

ESPN reports the co-founder of Top Pot Doughnuts said a baker must have taken a bathroom break while doing some baking, leaving a door unattended. That’s when Tate and a friend swept in and did the deed.

When he noticed the missing bars the worker called police (how many did they take???), but Tate and his pal escaped with a warning.

What’s funny about the fallout from this situation is that everyone interviewed in the ESPN story sounds like a spokesperson for the doughnut joint – which makes sense, since the company recently signed a deal to sell their products at Qwest Field.

Tate:

“They just kind of said ‘don’t do it again,’ which I won’t – but if you ever want maple bars, that’s the place to go.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll:

“No, I’m not disappointed at a guy being at a doughnut shop at 3 in the morning when they got maple bars like Top Pot has. However, under the circumstances…that’s definitely wrong. We’ve talked about it, addressed it. He’s remorseful and all that. I do understand the lure of the maple bars.”

Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck (via his Twitter page):

“Must be some good Maple Bars!”

The folks at Top Pot should just be counting their lucky stars that it was a wide receiver that ripped them off and not the whole team because football players can sure eat.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Blunders Aplenty

English soccer fans taking in the World Cup from the UK should have known that something bad was going to happen in their side’s opening match against the USA – after all the signs were there early on.

“What do you mean Kerrzy? England scored within the first five minutes!”

That they did, but those poor supporters watching on ITV1 in Britain had to settle for a replay after the broadcaster accidentally switched to a Hyundai commercial, says the Daily Mail.

While the rest of us were watching Steven Gerrard skillfully poke the ball past a sprawling Tim Howard, subscribers to ITV’s HD service were left looking at some Brazilian racecar drivers eating mince pies and Argentinean ones pumping their tires. Then it switched back to the post-goal celebration.

Photobucket

What’s really quite funny about the whole thing is that it’s not the first time (believe it or not) that ITV has had this type of problem!

The Daily Mail says that in the third round of last year’s FA Cup, viewers missed the extra time game-winning goal that put Everton through to the next round when the broadcaster accidentally played a Tic Tacs commercial. Then, just last month, they cut away early from that super cool three minute long Nike ad during the Champions League final.

It was so bad that the bookies actually offered 8/1 odds that ITV would muck up at least one of their broadcasts (and it happened on just the second day…ouch!).

As I said off the top though – English fans should have taken that as an omen that something bad was on its way. That “something bad” came in the form of a woeful goal allowed in the 40th minute by Robert Green.

American Clint Dempsey hit a low shot towards the England netminder, which hit his hands and then rolled slowly over the line, just out of reach.

As the commentator said, “If you buy a ticket, sometimes you win a raffle.”

British comedian Russell Brand posted a funny little comment in the aftermath that sums things up quite nicely:
Photobucket

“Steve Gerrard “The whole team is behind Rob Green”. In retrospect, that’s a good place to stand.”

Zing!

Anyways, the match ended 1-1, which as a Scottish-Canadian, suits me just fine. You’ve got to feel bad for Green though!

Kerrzy’s Notebook: “Fight of the Century” back on?

The “Fight of the Century” may be back on after all…

The past two weeks have seen some new developments in the potential super-fight between Filipino politician Manny Pacquiao (51-3-2) and undefeated American Floyd Mayweather Jr. (41-0) – but we’re still no closer to finding out if it’ll actually happen.

Talks broke down earlier this year when the Mayweather camp refused to back down on their demands for random Olympic-style blood and urine tests right up to the weeks leading up to the fight (which goes above and beyond the normal tests done). Mayweather even went so far as to claim that Pacquiao was taking some form of performance enhancing drugs, a thought echoed recently by British boxer Ricky Hatton.

Part of the issue was Pacquiao’s refusal to have blood drawn 14 days prior to the fight, however that changed in late May when he backed down on that point. He told ABS-CBN News that he made his decision after realizing this was a fight the fans really want to see, adding he wanted to see “if the drug test was the reason why Mayweather backed out from negotiations.”

That’ll prove to be a moot point if the fight happens in Las Vegas though, as the Nevada State Athletic Commission sided with Pacquiao this week and said testing will be limited to urine – a win for the only boxer to capture titles in seven different weight classes.

The NSAC says blood testing isn’t needed in the fight against PEDs and would subject boxers to unnecessary risks, including a hematoma, blood clot, or even the risk of contracting HIV or Hepatitis C.

If you think these latest developments mean the fight is back on though, think again.

In a YouTube video posted in early June, Mayweather said he was “taking a couple of years off” to devote time to his gym.

So “Money” Mayweather backs away from a fight that would line his pockets to the extreme because of Pacquiao’s refusal to give in to his over-the-top drug testing demands…then when he finally caves in, Mayweather announces his semi-retirement?

Sounds to me like he’s avoiding Pacman, who has said a fight against Mayweather would likely be his last (so he can turn his focus to politics).

Will we ever see this fight? It’s probably the only thing that could bring boxing back to the forefront of professional sports, if only for a night, like back in the days of old…

What do you think? Is Mayweather ‘ducking’ Pacquiao?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Learnin' the Lingo

Playing sports competitively for a big chunk of my life has given me a lot of things – it taught me important life lessons about teamwork, it kept me fit and I certainly learned a lot along the way.

One thing referees might have learned about me over the years is that I’ve never been shy about letting them know how I feel in no uncertain terms whenever they make what I perceive to be a bad call…and it’s good to know I’m not alone in that respect.

English striker Wayne Rooney caught some heat this past week when he gave an official an earful during a pre-tournament friendly against South Africa’s Platinum Stars in a place called Rustenburg.

Reports say after some pretty questionable calls in the 3-0 England win, Rooney turned to Jeff Selogilwe and said “f*** you.”

To me that’s not a big deal, but the ref seems pretty wound up about the whole thing, warning Roo that he needs to learn to control his temper. He’s not mad though – just disappointed, because Rooney, he says, is his favorite player.

Awwwwwwww.

Nevertheless, this story has brought on a funny little follow up story: The Associated Press reports that the officiating crew for Saturday’s England/USA match has been studying up the “lexicon of English-language obscenities,” lest some players get a little heated.

I can just picture a room full of referees going through the long list of English terms that fall into that category – words they’ve probably all heard in the past directed at them, but ones they couldn’t be certain were swears.

“At the end of the day, you don’t understand half of it,” former Premier League and FIFA referee Graham Barber told the AP. “So what do you do about it? Say ‘I think he swore at me, so I sent him off?’ You don’t, do you?”

I never thought about it, but if you knew a ref didn’t speak your language very well you could probably slip some mean things into your argument about a call…as long as you didn’t make them sound like swear words.

Either way, it’ll be interesting to see who gets the first yellow card for bad language!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Bad Strategy

I think it’s fair to say that any hope of Cameroon making it out of the group stages at this year’s World Cup in South Africa likely rests on the shoulders of Mr. Samuel Eto’o.

The 29-year-old captain is fresh off his second consecutive Champions League win (and third overall) and will really need to be on his game to give his nation a shot when things get underway on June 11th. It’s for that very reason that Cameroon as a whole should stand as one with the Inter striker right now and tell former Cameroonian star Roger Milla to “shut up.”

On Monday I was talking about distractions – well here’s another:

Milla, who is famous for scoring four goals in five games as a 38-year-old at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, has decided to start criticizing Eto’o right before the start of the tournament for not doing as much for his country as he has for his club.

Here’s the thing – he’s wrong.

First of all, Cameroon’s national team is no Barcelona or Inter Milan. It’s true, at the club level Eto’o has no shortage of hardware, but he also boasts a very decorated international career.

For example: he's the African Cup of Nations all-time leading scorer, with two tournament wins to his name, and he also helped lead Cameroon to Olympic gold at the 2000 Summer Games. To recap: Eto’o has been involved in half of his country’s African Cup titles and the country’s only Olympic medal win.

So when Milla says Eto’o “hasn’t brought anything to [the] national team,” you could say he’s forgetting a couple of small details. Do you need any more convincing that this is a bad strategy on the eve of the biggest international tournament there is?

How about this: Because of all this trash talk from Milla, Eto’o says he’s now questioning whether or not he should even play for his country at the World Cup, which would be a devastating loss.

Could it be that the current Cameroon captain’s achievements are starting to overshadow those of the former national hero and he’s a bit jealous? That’s how it looks to me.

It’d be a shame if that jealousy cost them their shot at this year’s tournament.