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.
Perhaps football facemasks are hiding some doozies, and we’re too distracted by horrible tattoos in the NBA, but baseball seems to take the cake in players with hideous facial hair. This is certainly true in the MLB in general, but some combination of topicality and their actually being worse than average has led us to focus exclusively on the Phillies and Giants. So, without further ado, the Not The Swimsuit Issue NLCS Worst Facial Hair Awards.
First up, the “You Can’t Be Serious” award goes to Sergio Romo’s facial monstrosity, which actually manages to trump his mid-season excrescence, which seemed like an attempt to look like an Egyptian pharaoh–and ugly Egyptian pharaoh.
It's kind of in shadow. Trust us: it's for the best.
Second, the “You’re Actually Not Serious” award goes to Brian Wilson, who is actually not serious. Really, his beard is kind of awesome. I, for one, hope that he tears it off and reveals its fakeness after the World Series (win or lose–no jinxes).
All he needs is a false nose and cheap plastic glasses.
Finally, we present the “Worst Facial Hair…Squared” award to Jayson Werth, for going from bad to worse. Actually, more like terrible to OH GOD GET IT OFF MY SCREEN.
It's like we photoshopped this, but we didn't.
Annnnd, here’s this:
Seriously? Actually yes. Unlike Brian Wilson.
To wrap things up, we’d like give out some honorable mentions for Worst Soul Patches. First, Raul Ibanez for Worst Soul Patch. There are far too many soul patches out there (read: some), but Ibanez’s is particularly bad. Yes, he looks like a turtle and the craptacular triangular tuft adds some definition to his chin, but it’s just not worth it.
Choosing this image may be cheating.
And finally, the award for “Worst Attempt at a Soul Patch,” to Tim Lincecum, because he may be trying to grow one, and it’s also a good excuse to include him in this post. Here’s a picture we found that might have some hair growing below the lip.
They mostly get yelled at by players and fans, and their job is really not that easy. They are also, as a rule, not that cute.
But Carlos Ramos is. So, in the spirit of featuring an actually obscure sporting personage on this blog, as we said we would do, here he is.
He’s actually a pretty good umpire, as well. I can’t remember a bad performance, at any rate, and I hold grudges. He’s certainly more dashing than Pascal Maria, and carries those white shoes off with considerable panache. (He may be slightly too short for the Roland Garros chairs, as one of the truly bizarre camera angles I’ve seen this tournament showed his feet, and they were dangling. The shoes were still white, though, which on clay is impressive.)
And I think he’s pretty cute, although we can put it to a vote.
Now, £17 million is a great deal of money, and generally you want a better return on that kind of investment than Mr. Hargreaves and his big brown eyes looking picturesque on your bench for a year and a half. He might get injured at the World Cup. England will almost certainly not win, though they might have a better chance of winning with Mr. Hargreaves in midfield, since everyone else appears to be a child, antique, or broken, and he was by far their best player last time ’round. (Obviously fitness issues play into this.)
On the other hand, as Roy Keane has pointed out, probably in some rather salty language, you should want to play for your country. That’s where the glory is. It’s selfless. There’s no sponsor’s logo on your chest, just the Cross of St. George (or what-have-you).
This subject is complex, and there’s a great deal to be said for both sides, since not everyone has my starry-eyed ideals of love of country and lack of mercenary instinct. Possibly because their livelihoods rely on making money from sport. So we’ll leave it to a vote!
As I’m sure you all know, England triumphed over Australia today at Lord’s for the first time since 1934 in an epic and glorious match in which Freddie Flintoff was cosmically effective. And I’m not really making any of that up or editorializing much.
Without the stress, then, of watching England blow it, as usual, I was free to consider other, possibly more pleasant, things, like whether Alistair Cook is cute.
The best part is the other fielders' body language.
So that’s pretty much the case against Alistair Cook in a nutshell. Failed attempts at fielding and an enormous jaw. I feel kind of bad for posting it, actually, because in fairness he did catch three in the first innings and they weren’t all sitters or anything. Also, he looks ridiculous.
At least here he doesn't need a haircut.
Pretty cute, right? And his eyelashes are less girly than usual (I think it was Tom Fordyce on the BBC text commentary who called him “doe-eyed,” and he’s not wrong). And the face makes the jaw less obvious.
Poor Matt Prior.
Um, I’m pretty sure he looks smokin’ there, and I don’t think it’s just because he’s next to Matt Prior. Tall, dark, handsome, not dropping anything. Sharp.
Until recently, I had never considered the eventuality of people actually being from Luxembourg. I’ve heard possibly apocryphal things about it (e.g. that there’s a national referendum every time someone wants to become a citizen), but this merely cemented its status as a mildly fictional, if totally gorgeous, country where people might go on holiday.
But! There are people from there! Some of them cycle professionally. It makes a lot of sense. Most sports, up to and including squash, probably require more flat space than there is in all of Luxembourg. Why not start in a sport for which everyone else’s training regimen is automatically much easier? Luxembourg is not Lichtenstein. Who knew.
Today we will spotlight two Luxembourgeois cyclists: the brothers Andy and Fränk Schleck (above, in that order). They are currently ninth and twelfth, respectively, in the individual classification of the Tour de France, 1’49” and 2’25” behind the leader. (It has always floored me that the Tour is won by a matter of minutes or seconds, which of course makes total sense, but in such a long race is just intense. And must drive you insane if you lose by a couple of minutes. But I digress.)
AND not a jerk.
At first, I thought Andy was clearly the cuter brother. This may have something to do with his being rather younger (than Fränk, not than I!) and, you know, 36 seconds faster after Stage 10 of the Tour. Maybe it’s the lack of diacritical marks in his name, because, when blogging, every keystroke counts. Maybe it’s his slight resemblance to Fernando Torres, only without the risk of mullets. Possibly it was photos like this. He looks super nice and mildly self-deprecating.
I bet you'd bake him cookies.
But then I realized that Fränk was pretty cute too. He’s making a totally goofy face in this picture, but that’s because he’s just finished racing and someone handed him a plate of cookies and all he wants to do is hoover them and not be photographed doing it, so, really, he’s doing heroically. And, let’s face it, he still looks pretty good. Red’s a pretty good choice for him, and his shades aren’t even some wacky color that makes him look like an alien.
So now, since we haven’t had one in a while, and you can all help me make up my mind, a poll: