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And England retain the Ashes.

This is my favorite photo from the series.

Aren't they cool?

They look tragically unhip, but so, so happy, so I’m willing to let it go.  They’re doing the sprinkler.  It was a thing this series, for no reason at all.

This is my other favorite photo of the series, because my love for Paul Collingwood is deep and abiding and I like profoundly dull things like fielding.  Especially when it’s exciting as it is here!  Ricky Ponting is being dismissed, in Perth, I believe.

Gosh!

And the serious part of the post consists mostly in this: Mr. Ponting will probably lose the captaincy and I don’t really see why.  Certainly he should have batted better, and his tirade against the umpires was embarrassing and childish.  But there was no captain in the world who could have made this Australia squad beat this England squad.  Alastair Cook was in good nick, and so was practically everyone else, and Mitchell Johnson had a good match in Perth only after being dropped after the first Test for being totally woeful.  Effort would not have helped; wanting it, whatever that means, would not have helped.  The England team have just been better this winter (except when over-confident and complacent in Perth).

It’s entirely possible I’ll be proven embarrassingly wrong and England will collapse pathetically in Sydney to draw the series.  It’s largely what I expect, since I support England cricket.  But I will say that they are the better team, and while you can and should give Andrew Strauss credit for that, it is not entirely Mr. Ponting’s fault that Australia have not taken the Ashes back.

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AND good hands? Crikey.

But whatever, it’s bowl season.  This is totally appropriate.  It is a mark of how little college football I watch that I haven’t noticed this earlier; sorry, I can only give up one day of my weekend for American football.  Maybe it should be Saturday, but right now it’s Sunday, so tough darts, Oregon Ducks and your totally hot wide receiver corps, particularly in the person of Jeff Maehl.

Also, boo to the Oregon football website for having a totally misleading and unattractive photo on their roster page; a friend suggested that “cute Oregon player” would be Jeff Maehl, and I said “ew, no” and spent another fruitless half hour trawling through roster pages, because in fact I wasn’t sure if this guy was an Oregon player at all, maybe Stanford, and maybe someone from the Rose Bowl teams this year, but maybe also OSU from last year…  These are the perils of watching SportsCenter out of the corner of your eye with the sound off.  You will waste everyone’s time.  But at least we found him eventually!  And he is super cute.

Ladies and gentleman, Russia will be hosting your 2018 World Cup, and Qatar in 2022.  Qatar is neither here nor there (seriously, where is Qatar?  (RHETORICAL)), but Russia?  Really, Russia?

My brain is exploding with Potemkin jokes, snide remarks about human rights, and generalized indignation.  Was it not bad enough to award the tournament (riskily) to South Africa out of a sense of condescension?  What’s wrong with Holland?  They have infrastructure and food!  Also beer.  And I imagine the Panorama program on corruption in FIFA did hurt the England bid.  Possibly because many of the allegations were true?  FIFA, we are so done.

Anyway, I’m going to go calm down, so I leave you with this.

Yes, even with the neckbeard. How DOES he do it?

And at least we have moved forward from matches in which England batsmen score double tons in Australia and still lose (see: Paul Collingwood, Adelaide, 2006).  That second innings was superb and far better than I expected following the first, so fair play to Messrs. Strauss, Trott, and especially Cook and his 235 not out (which brought his total for the match over 300, incidentally).

The internet, shockingly, has rather failed us on cute pictures, either from his first century, or the second one, so here’s a nice one that will make you feel better about the mildly grim weather we’ve been having:

That's a lot of runs there.

Most importantly, what should Cooky’s new epithet be?  We’re sticking with an S, because I use “SAC” in my head.  Yup, I do.

Ben Roethlisberger is a rapist.

You know who’s not a rapist?  Almost everyone in the NFL.  For example, second-string right guard for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Justin Smiley:

Possibly not eye candy.

Congratulations, Justin Smiley.  You are more awesome than Ben Roethlisberger.  Keep up the good work!

But they do provide some hilarious photos.  Here’s the best of this year’s crop, from a reception at No. 10, Downing Street:

What are those things on the walls?

I think the best part is how Roger Federer looks fifteen years older than everyone else, because he has a real person haircut, a pin-striped suit, and an expression that doesn’t make him look mentally deficient or stoned.  And I really want to know what he could possibly have said that made Nadal that non-plussed.

The NFL has a PEDs problem.

And they’re doing nothing about it.

Say what you will about Bud Selig.  He’s thinking about ruining the postseason, and he’s kind of a weenie, and perhaps most damningly, he was commissioner in 1994 (we don’t like to talk about what happened that year).  He also presided over the steroids era.  But–and this is a big deal–he also cracked down on steroids.  I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of PEDs in baseball, and perhaps we never will, but at least the sport is clearly making an effort to keep its players off drugs, and if this year’s mini dead-ball era is any indication, it is at least partially succeeding.

Those forehead bulges are not natural.

How do we reward baseball for taking steps to solve its PED problem? We watch football, because it has real players, not just a bunch of money-grubbing jacked-up cheaters…right?  Believe me when I say that the last thing I want to hear about is how my favorite football players drugged their way up to 300 pounds, or how they felt they couldn’t compete without the edge that drugs provide, or how everyone was doing it and they didn’t think it was a big deal.  But I don’t have to hear about it to know that it’s true.  I just have to watch Clay Matthews celebrating a sack.

I LOVE linebackers! But they are on roids.

I’ve said this before in the context of cycling, but I’ll say it again here.  The number of positive tests results for PEDs in a sport is not an accurate measure of its drug problem.  If the NFL isn’t catching its players using drugs as often as the MLB is, it’s because it isn’t testing them as frequently.

So don’t be uppity, NFL. Your players’ knees should be able to support their weight. They shouldn’t be getting weird muscle tears and injuring ligaments we’ve never heard of. And don’t even get me started on concussions.

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