Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Major League Soccer Power Rankings, Week 11, 5/31/11

A day late due to the Memorial Day Holiday.

The Los Angeles Galaxy Retain the Top Spot For the 2nd Week In a Row!
The Los Angeles Galaxy and FC Dallas continue on their great runs of form, while big away wins help the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United make big jumps in this weeks rankings.

I heavily weight away wins in my rankings, and correspondingly home losses. With the exception of the top two teams (Galaxy and FC Dallas) and the bottom three (Chicago, Vancouver, Sporting KC) five teams getting away wins shook the rankings up this week.

My Week 11 Major League Soccer Power Rankings (wins-losses-draws) UP or DOWN from last week:

1)   LA Galaxy, Western Conference (8-2-5) 29 points
Two wins this week including one at New England solidifies the Galaxy as the top team in the MLS.

2)   FC Dallas, Western Conference (6-3-4) 22 points
A midweek victory at Seattle and a draw at rival Houston make FC Dallas the second hottest team in the MLS behind the Galaxy.

3)   Philadelphia Union, Eastern Conference (6-3-2) 20 points UP
The Union jumps six spots after trouncing Toronto FC in Toronto.

4)   Seattle Sounders FC, Western Conference (5-4-5) 20 points
Seattle makes up for a midweek home loss to Dallas by beating Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto, ending Real Salt Lake's 29 game home unbeaten streak.

5)   Portland Timbers, Western Conference (5-4-2) 17 points DOWN
D.C. United gets a win at Jeld-Wen, first visitor to beat the Timbers there this year.

6)   D.C. United, Eastern Conference (4-4-3) 15 points UP
A win at Jeld-Wen gives D.C. United a four game unbeaten streak.

7)   San Jose Earthquakes, Western Conference (3-4-4) 13 points UP
Also on a four game unbeaten streak.

8)   Colorado Rapids, Western Conference (4-3-6) 18 points DOWN
On a seven game unbeaten streak, the last five being draws.

9)   Chivas USA, Western Conference (3-4-4) 13 points DOWN

10)  Real Salt Lake, Western Conference (5-2-2) 17 points DOWN
A home loss?!?! That aside, Real Salt Lake has looked very pedestrian in their last five matches.

11)  Columbus Crew, Eastern Conference (3-3-5) 14 points UP

12)   New York Red Bulls, Eastern Conference (4-2-6) 18 points DOWN
On a current run of poor form. When was the last time the Red Bulls won a match? (Hint: it wasn't in May.)

13)  Houston Dynamo, Eastern Conference (3-4-6) 15 points UP

14)  Toronto FC, Eastern Conference (2-5-6) 12 points DOWN
6-2? At home?

15)  New England Revolution, Eastern Conference (3-5-4) 13 points DOWN

With the Chicago Fire, Vancouver Whitecaps and Sporting KC all getting draws this week, my bottom three don't change. Chicago and Vancouver both fire their coaches, but Sporting must feel OK, as they were on a five game losing streak.

16)  Chicago Fire, Eastern Conference (1-4-6) 9 points

17)  Vancouver Whitecaps, Western Conference (1-5-6) 9 points

18)  Sporting Kansas City, Eastern Conference (1-6-2) 5 points

Monday, May 30, 2011

Link to Sports Illustrated Article About the Ohio State Football Program and Jim Tressel

Here is the Sports Illustrated article I referred to in my previous post about the resignation of Jim Tressel. Just released this evening:
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/ photo Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire

Jim Tressel Resigns-I'm Not Surprised

The Columbus Dispatch is also reporting that Jim Tressel was encouraged to resign by Ohio State University officials. Link:

Sources: Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel was encouraged to resign

There are reports that a damning article about Ohio State football and Jim Tressel is going to come out in Sports Illustrated this week, so it looks like the issues facing the program are too overwhelming for Jim Tressel to stay on as head coach.

Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio has been asking some intriguing questions of his guests on this morning's show. Can you win in big time college football and stay clean in the NCAA's eyes?

Look at some recent history. There are questions surrounding the 2011 National Champion Auburn and their recruitment of Cam Newton in addition to allegations of recruiting violations against the team Auburn beat, Oregon. USC will probably have to vacate their 2004 National Championship due to major infractions. 

ESPN just broadcast a report Sunday morning on their show, Outside the Lines, regarding the impact on recruiting that 7 on 7 high school football summer leagues is having. Third-party influences in the recruiting of college football players are becoming problematic according to the report.

I have said it before on this blog. Are Ohio State and Jim Tressel any better or worse than any other University trying to maintain their football program as a perennial top 20 in the country? It's a big business with multiple influences both inside and outside of those programs. And although the NCAA expects these programs to maintain "institutional control" it seems as though it is an impossible task.

Former Notre Dame head football coach and ESPN college football analyst Bob Davie had the best take I have heard regarding Jim Tressel's resignation. On Colin Cowherd's ESPN radio show this morning he said that Coach Tressel was the victim of a "self-inflicted wound" by not reporting the violations he was aware of to the NCAA and his superiors at Ohio State a year ago. 

College football and Ohio State will survive this. The Jim Tressel resignation will make for a great couple of days of coverage on talk radio and on the blogs. Columbus, Ohio will be batty for a couple of weeks. But soon all will be forgotten, and big-time college football will be back again in the Fall. Just a bump in the road in the big business that is college football.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

$1 Beers and Good Weather! Columbus Crew 3, Chivas USA 3, May 28, 2011

Finally! The weather was great for a home match at Crew Stadium last night.

And The Crew had $1 Bud and Bud Light drafts!

And The Crew scored a first half goal!

The only thing missing was a Crew victory.

The match won't be mistaken for the quality of soccer that I saw this morning watching the DVR'ed UEFA Champions League Final. But six goals (three scored by The Crew), a red card and a back and forth tempo made the match very entertaining. And the $1 drafts made the crowd in section 132 very entertaining too. (Big drunk dude trying to pick up on a girl who kept telling him she was gay.)
The Columbus Crew's Andres Mendoza

On the field The Crew's defense looked very disorganized and ultimately very porous. Keeper William Hesmer and the back four didn't seem like they were on the same page for the first 60 minutes of the match. Interesting as last night's starting four of Sebastian Miranda, Julius James, Chad Marshall and Rich Balchan have started almost every match this year, yet have given up seven goals in their last 3 matches, as opposed to six goals in the first 8 matches of the season.

Andres Mendoza scored two goals last night, finally showing that he deserves the DP status (and corresponding salary) the Crew have given him. Emmanuel Ekpo also scored his first goal of the year.

So The Crew is now showing some offensive punch, but their defense is not looking good at all. With their next two matches against the New York Red Bulls away and Real Salt Lake at home they are going to have a tough time getting results. Luckily they are catching both clubs at a time when they are losing several players due to CONCACF Gold Cup call-ups, not to mention that that they are both on current runs of poor form. (New York Red Bulls 0 wins in their last 5 matches, Real Salt Lake a loss and 2 draws in their last 3 matches.)

Dan Wheldon Wins the 2011 Indy 500 After Final Lap, Final Turn Crash by J.R. Hildebrand!

Wow, what a finish! Guessing Dan Wheldon feels like Nick Faldo felt when he won the 1996 Masters after Greg Norman's choke job.

FC Barcelona, Champions of Europe!

Wow, a 3-1 dismantling of a very good Manchester United team. Are they the greatest club team ever?

Congratulations FC Barcelona!

Another prediction gone wrong...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

UEFA Champions League Final 2011, Predicting a Manchester United Victory!

I'm back in the prediction game. Did I get the Super Bowl right? NO!

The Oscars? NO!

The NCAA Basketball Championship? NO!

I'm due to get one right, soooooo...

Don't know why, and I certainly don't have a logical justification for this pick.

I have a gut feeling, with the UEFA Champions League Final being played at Wembley Stadium in London, England that Manchester United is going to beat FC Barcelona 2-1!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Review-A Confederacy of Dunces (1980) by John Kennedy Toole

I had not heard of the book A Confederacy of Dunces, written by John Kennedy Toole, until I visited New Orleans this past February. I was sitting in the lobby bar at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside with my wife Tammy and sister-in Cindy having a drink while we waited for my brother Tim to finish up with his business meeting at a convention he was attending. We had just finished exploring the French Quarter, and were talking about how great a place New Orleans was, with it's eclectic culture, and it's history, both glamorous and sordid. I mentioned that I would love to find the definitive book on New Orleans, when a gentleman sitting near us piped up that if I wanted to read a book that captured the essence of New Orleans, it was A Confederacy of Dunces.

My sister-in-law Cindy had also known of the book, so the next day when we visited Faulkner House Books in the French Quarter she purchased it for me.

This satirical novel is centered around the character Ignatius J. Reilly, an overweight, slovenly, well-educated 30 year old idealist who still lives with his mother in New Orleans. Ignatius believes that he can change society for the better, but his methods and beliefs just don't mesh with the times or the people he tries to influence.

The author, John Kennedy Toole does a brilliant job weaving multiple characters and subplots into the novel, all of which are funny and even border on the absurd. And that is the beauty of this book, as Mr. Toole is able to connect all of the subplots back to Ignatius as the book reaches it's climax.

To be clear, this book is not a lesson in New Orleans history, but rather a fictionalized look at a group of distinctly southern characters at a point in time in the early 1960's. John Kennedy Toole's ability to accurately capture the dialect of the region in the book's dialogs along with his ability to accurately describe the neighborhoods, bars and businesses in New Orleans (with emphasis on the French Quarter) as the backdrop is what makes this novel a success in capturing the essence of New Orleans.

Ultimately what makes this book so good is it is very, very funny!

Interesting side note. John Kennedy Toole committed suicide in 1969 at the age of 31. He had tried to get the novel published but was unsuccessful. Eleven years later, his Mother brought the unpublished manuscript to the attention of novelist Walker Percy who helped to get it published. The novel and Mr. Toole won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1981.

A Confederacy of DuncesA Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great book, here's my review: http://jiresell.blogspot.com/2011/05/boo...

View all my reviews

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

After Further Review-Eric Brunner Was Offside, The Crew Got Screwed!

Looks like Portland's Eric Brunner (#5) was offside when the ball was crossed to him, and the assistant referee at the top of the screen was completely out of position to make the call. Brunner scored the only goal of the game off this cross in The Crew's 1-0 loss to Portland this past Saturday, 5/21/11.

Watch the video, and note there is no Crew player at the far post.

It should have been waived off!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Western Conference Rules! Major League Soccer Power Rankings, Week 10, 5/23/11

The Los Angeles Galaxy Take Over The Top Spot This Week!

It has become very clear that the teams in the Western Conference are currently the class of the MLS, holding the top seven spots in this week's rankings.

My Week 10 Major League Soccer Power Rankings (wins-losses-draws) UP or DOWN from last week:

1)   LA Galaxy, Western Conference (6-2-5) 23 points UP
An away win (kind of, it was in the Home Depot Center) against local rival Chivas USA and some weak results by the three teams ranked ahead of the Galaxy last week earn them this week's top spot.

2)   FC Dallas, Western Conference (5-3-3) 18 points DOWN
FC Dallas is still on a pretty good run, earning them the number 2 spot this week.

3)   Portland Timbers, Western Conference (5-3-2) 17 points UP
Undefeated at home!

4)   Seattle Sounders FC, Western Conference (4-3-5) 17 points UP
Steady Seattle continues to get the job done with a win against Sporting KC.

5)   Real Salt Lake, Western Conference (5-1-2) 17 points DOWN

6)   Chivas USA, Western Conference (3-4-3) 12 points DOWN
Chivas took a tough loss this week against the Galaxy.

7)   Colorado Rapids, Western Conference (4-3-4) 16 points UP
The Rapids aren't winning a lot of games, but they aren't losing either.

8)   New York Red Bulls, Eastern Conference (4-2-4) 16 points DOWN

9)   Philadelphia Union, Eastern Conference (5-3-2) 17 points UP
With a win against Chicago, The Union take over the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

10) New England Revolution, Eastern Conference (3-4-4) 13 points DOWN
Another team victimized by the three time zone curse, losing to the Earthquakes this week.

11) San Jose Earthquakes, Western Conference (3-4-3) 12 points UP
Two wins in a row earn the Earthquakes the biggest jump in this week's rankings.

12) Columbus Crew, Eastern Conference (3-3-4) 13 points DOWN
And two West coast losses in a row earn The Crew the biggest drop in this week's rankings.

13) Toronto FC, Eastern Conference (2-4-6) 12 points DOWN

14) Houston Dynamo, Eastern Conference (3-3-5) 14 points DOWN
Allowed the New York Red Bulls an extra-time equalizer to steal a point from them at home.

15) D.C. United, Eastern Conference (3-4-3) 12 points DOWN

With the Chicago Fire and Sporting KC losing, and Vancouver idle this past week, the bottom three stay the same in this week's rankings.

16) Chicago Fire, Eastern Conference (1-4-5) 8 points

17) Vancouver Whitecaps, Western Conference (1-5-5) 8 points

18) Sporting Kansas City, Eastern Conference (1-6-1) 4 points

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Case Against Lance Armstrong

I just finished watching 60 Minutes this evening:


They dedicated over 35 minutes of tonight's show to an interview with Tyler Hamilton, one of Lance Armstrong's teammates on the US Postal Service cycling team that helped lead Lance to Tour De France victories in the early 2000's.

Lance Armstrong is one of the exhibits in my Modern Museum of Gripes and Grievances. I should be clear that Lance Armstrong, through his Livestrong Foundation has single-handedly raised millions of dollars for cancer research and prevention. That is a great thing.

But Lance Armstrong is also arrogant, condescending, egotistical and generally not a likable guy. However, he is very powerful in the world of sports and particularly in cycling, and he wields that power like a sword, cutting off anyone who dares question him, his motives and ultimately his claims that he is and was clean as he won his 7 Tour de France titles.

But as was pointed out in the 60 minutes report, and as I was just reminded through a tweet from my brother Tim, Marion Jones never tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, and maintained her innocence until additional evidence proved that she had doped. She finally had to admit her guilt.

What bothers me the most about Lance Armstrong is the short and condescending way he defends himself, as if he is better than those who choose to question him in the face of overwhelming evidence. He cites the 500 plus drug tests he has never failed. It's interesting that we haven't heard him say "I have never taken performance enhancing drugs, and have never been involved in blood doping." We've only heard him say he's never failed a drug test.

So here I am, trying to strike a balance between the great work that Lance Armstrong's foundation has done to raise money for cancer research and prevention, and the fact that he is using the same influence and power that made Livestrong so successful, to continue to perpetuate his claims of innocence in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Friend Tim

My friend Tim was married to my wife's sister, Amy.

My friend Tim loved his family.

My friend Tim would do anything for you, and help whenever you needed it. He would never ask for anything in return.

My friend Tim and his wife Amy were with us when my wife's water broke in a restaurant in Valparaiso, Indiana. We needed to take his brand new car to the hospital. Luckily he had towels in the trunk so we wouldn't ruin his new leather seats. Michael, our youngest was born the next day.

My friend Tim would miss a short putt, and mutter under his breath over and over "f**kin' idiot". You couldn't help but laugh. Think about the movie Boogie Nights when Philip Seymour Hoffman's character, Scotty J. tries to kiss Mark Wahlberg's character, Dirk Diggler in the driveway-and is rebuffed-you get the picture...

My friend Tim was very proud the day his son Andrew was born.

My friend Tim was so happy when his wife Amy announced she was pregnant with their second child, Emma.

My friend Tim gave me a Steelers cap when our family moved to Pittsburgh. My wife Tammy would tell you I don't have the best shaped head for caps, so I kept it in my office on a shelf. That summer Tim and his family came to visit, and when I saw the cap I thought "Tim would really like this!" When I gave it to him he thanked me, and then my wife Tammy piped up, "Geez Jim, you're an idiot, Tim gave that cap to you last Winter!" Typical of Tim, we had a great laugh over that re-gifting incident.

My friend Tim loved the Cincinnati Bengals.

My friend Tim worked his way from the age of 16 as a stock/warehouse man at Grainger to a Branch Manager. He had a great 27 year career there.

My friend Tim preferred "sprinkle cheese" on his hot dogs rather than liquid cheese.

My friend Tim and I vacationed together with our families several times in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We were fortunate that our wives would let us go golfing in the mornings, while they took care of the kids. After one of our rounds of golf we decided to stop by a nondescript hot dog stand at the side of the road for lunch. We each ordered a footlong chili cheese dog and a Diet Coke. (It was liquid cheese, by the way.) We decided that we would sit at the old picnic table outside of the stand, both of us facing the road. Not realizing the picnic table wasn't designed for two, 240 pound men to sit on one side of the table, we toppled over, but still had the foresight to grab our footlongs and drinks...and didn't spill a drop. But neither of us wanted to put our food on the ground, so we just layed there like turtles on our backs!

We buried my friend Tim this past Thursday after his untimely death on Sunday, May 15th, 2011.

I will miss my friend Tim.

Dedicated to the memory of Tim Quinlisk. With love to his wife Amy, his son Andrew and his daughter Emma.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Marty Brennaman Speaks His Mind On The Cardinals!

Marty Brennaman (Cincinnati.com)
I can't get enough of this stuff. I do my best to listen to Red's Hall of Fame radio play-by-play man Marty Brennaman, but missed this beauty from last night (Monday, 5/16/11). Marty is known to speak his mind, and that's why we in Cincinnati love him.

Here's a link to the transcript and the audio from last night courtesy of the Unsportsmanlike Conduct Blog on the Cincinnati Enquirer's website, Cincinnati.com:


Classic stuff!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A New Number 1, FC Dallas! Major League Soccer Power Rankings, Week 9, 5/16/11

After a 4 Week Run By Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas Takes Over The Top Spot!
My Week 9 Major League Soccer Power Rankings (wins-losses-draws) UP or DOWN from last week:

1)   FC Dallas, Western Conference (5-3-2) 17 points UP
The hottest team in the MLS. Two wins this week earns FC Dallas a jump to number 1!

2)   Real Salt Lake, Western Conference (5-1-1) 16 points DOWN
Still playing well, but FC Dallas is currently on better form.

3)   Chivas USA, Western Conference (3-3-3) 12 points UP
Chivas earns the biggest jump in the this week's rankings along with the New England Revolution. The first MLS team this year to earn a victory (beating the Red Bulls 3-2) after traveling 3 time zones.

4)   LA Galaxy, Western Conference (5-2-5) 20 points
A draw against the Philadelphia Union away and a dominant win at home keep the Galaxy at number 4.

5)   New York Red Bulls, Eastern Conference (4-2-3) 15 points DOWN
A home loss against a West Coast team? Unforgivable.

6)   Portland Timbers, Western Conference (4-3-2) 14 points DOWN
Their 1-1 draw with Seattle Saturday night was a treat to watch!

7)   Seattle Sounders FC, Western Conference (3-3-5) 14 points
Their fans were awesome Saturday night. How about that Tifo!

Seattle Sounders Tifo vs Portland Timbers 5/14/11
This week's rankings demonstrate the MLS Western Conference dominance. The only Eastern Conference representative in the top 7 is the New York Red Bulls, and they were beat at home by Chivas this week!

8)   Columbus Crew, Eastern Conference (3-2-4) 13 points DOWN
Crushed by the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0.

9)  New England Revolution, Eastern Conference (3-3-4) 13 points UP
The second team to jump 5 spots in this week's rankings. Starting to show decent form.

10) Colorado Rapids, Western Conference (4-3-3) 15 points UP

11) Philadelphia Union, Eastern Conference (4-3-2) 14 points DOWN
A draw and a loss this week continues the Union's drop in the rankings.

12) Toronto FC, Eastern Conference (2-4-5) 11 points UP

13) Houston Dynamo, Eastern Conference (3-3-4) 13 points DOWN

14) D.C. United, Eastern Conference (3-4-3) 12 points DOWN

15) San Jose Earthquakes, Western Conference (2-4-3) 9 points UP
Can San Jose build on the draw at Vancouver and a home win versus Columbus this past week?

16) Chicago Fire, Eastern Conference (1-3-5) 8 points DOWN

17) Vancouver Whitecaps, Western Conference (1-5-5) 8 points DOWN

18) Sporting Kansas City, Eastern Conference (1-5-1) 4 points
Sporting's third straight week at the bottom of the rankings. Not good.

Reds Sweep Cardinals-And The Cardinals Are Whining Again!

The Reds took all three games this weekend from the Cardinals and are now in first place in the National League Central by 1.5 games.

It was definitely a fun series, and a great series for Reds fans. I saw game two on Saturday, a 7-3 drubbing by the Reds.


But the real fireworks, which continues to reinforce the fierceness of this rivalry, came in Sunday's game. In the top of the ninth, with the Reds leading 9-7 and one out, Reds pitcher Francisco Cordero hit Albert Pujols with a pitch.

Pujols took first base. The Cardinals had runners on first and second at that point. The next Cardinals' batter, Matt Holliday hit a sure double-play grounder to Reds' shortstop Paul Janish, who flipped to second baseman Brandon Phillips for the first out. But Albert Pujols slid hard into second, forcing a bad throw to first.

The Cardinals were left with runners at first and third, and two outs. Right fielder Lance Berkman came to bat. Cordero struck him out, giving the Reds the series sweep.

That's when the real fun started. Following the Berkman strikeout, someone yelled at Cordero from the Cardinals' dugout. Cordero reacted, yelling something pretty close to f**k you in Spanish back to the Cardinals. OK, I might be embellishing that part, but Cordero definitely had some choice words for the Cardinals.

Ultimately things calmed down. But in typical fashion, the Cardinals whined again after losing to the Reds. Reports are that someone (Cordero fingered Gerald Laird, but TV replays showed Cardinal pitching coach Dave Duncan) took umbrage to the fact that Cordero had hit Pujols with the pitch.

Why would Cordero purposely do that? Holliday and Berkman followed Pujols in the batting order. Hitting Pujols put the winning run at the plate with one out. Even Albert Pujols himself told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he didn't think it was intentional.

But the Cardinals are whiners, and they continue to show it. John Fay, the Reds' beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer (check out his twitter account johnfayman) covered the situation along with reactions very well in his blog. Check out these posts:
Reds win 9-7, teams trade barbs afterward

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mother's Day 2011!

Mallory, Brian, Tammy, Michael and Me at Pho Lang Thang
I know Mother's Day was last Sunday, but thought I would post this picture from that day. My three kids (Mallory, Brian and Michael) and I took Tammy, my wife (and yes, their Mother), to lunch at Pho Lang Thang, a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant located at Findlay Market in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Happy Mother's Day Bunny!

Reds Win!

I still hate the Cardinals, and just watched the Reds beat them 7-3 to move into first place in the National League Central Division! The Reds will go for the sweep tomorrow!

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

I Hate The Cardinals

I can't stand the Cardinals. After the Reds 6-5, bottom of the 10th inning walk-off (thanks Joey Votto) victory over them last night, my hatred has become crystal clear in my mind.

Living in Cincinnati, we are groomed to hate the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns. But it's hard to hate the Cincinnati Bengals' main rivals, as the Bengals are never competitive, and the Browns are never a factor. My Dad is from Western Pennsylvania  and I lived in the Pittsburgh area for two years (not to mention my two brothers live there, and my daughter Mallory will be going to grad school at Pitt in the Fall), so I actually kind of like the Steelers. Plus the Steelers are the model NFL franchise and always seem to be in the playoffs.

On the other hand it's easy to find reasons to hate the Reds' rivals. In the 70's, the Reds competed in the National League West, and the Dodgers were their main competition. I hated those guys. Steve Garvey was pompous, Ron Cey ran like a penguin (duh) and Davey Lopes was a pain in the ass on the baselines. Their fans had no commitment to their team, arriving for the games late and leaving early.

Spin forward to now. I remember not liking the Dodgers back in the 70's, but I can honestly say I hate the Cardinals today. I get pissed when they beat the Reds. Last summer, when the Cardinal came to Cincinnati and swept three games in early August (including winning the infamous brawl game) I was sick to my stomach. But my beloved Reds used that sweep as a catalyst for the rest of the season and played well enough to win the Central Division by 5 games.

Why are the Cardinals the target of my wrath?

- They are successful, one of the model franchises in the National League, with fans who are loyal, passionate and with outstanding baseball intelligence. I hate hearing that (although it's probably true).

- Since the National League Central Division was formed in 1994, the Cardinals have won it seven times, more than any other team.

-Albert Pujols. I started out liking him. But my wife Tammy hates him. She thinks he cheats. I have to go with her, as life in my house would be miserable if I don't agree.

-The Brawl. OK, Brandon Phillips stoked the fire prior to the infamous brawl last summer when he fired off this ditty prior to the series:

"I'd play against these guys with one leg," Phillips told Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News. "I hate the Cardinals. All they do is bitch and moan about everything, all of them, they're little bitches, all of 'em."

And of course the over sensitive Cardinals decided to take it personally. So when Phillips led off in the second game of the series and customarily touched Yadier Molina's shinguard with his bat (as he has done for years) the fight was on. Oh, by the way-the Reds kicked the Cardinals asses in that fight! (coverage: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100810&content_id=13276098&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb)

- They are managed by the "Great" Tony LaRussa. I have already commented on his gamesmanship in a previous post. Is there any manager more overrated than LaRussa? He has been managing for over thirty years, yet only has two World Series victories. He only has two National League Pennants in 15 plus years with the Cardinals. Hell, if I managed that long I could have walked into two pennants with the talent the Cardinals have had over the years. His biggest accomplishment is that he has built up wins over a long period of time. Congratulations on your longevity, Tony.

Tony LaRussa has conveniently turned his back to the PED (performance enhancing drugs) abuse that took place on his teams over the years, and presided over two of the most infamous teams (The Oakland A's and the Cardinals) in the PED era.

Dusty Baker and Tony LaRussa don't like each other (it goes back to the 2002 National League Championship series between the Baker Managed Giants and the LaRussa Managed Cardinals). This article from September 2010 provides a good history of their rivalry: http://network.yardbarker.com/all_sports/article_external/inside_the_tony_la_russa_dusty_baker_rivalry/3161081

But it's LaRussa's arrogance that really grates on me. Red's Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman summarizes my feelings the best. On Feb 7th, 2011 he made this comment at an event at Marshall University in West Virgina:

“I'm not a big St. Louis fan, because I'm not a big Tony LaRussa fan. I refer to him as ‘Mr. Baseball' on the radio, because he acts like he invented the game.”

If it's good enough for Marty and Dusty not to like LaRussa, it's good enough for me.

This afternoon I'm going to the Cardinals, Reds game at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. I would like nothing more than another Reds victory over the hated Cardinals. Too bad Tony LaRussa won't be there (taking some days off due to shingles) to enjoy the drubbing.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Movie Review-Bridesmaids (2011)

Kristen Wiig is a Star!

My wife Tammy and I just came home from seeing Bridesmaids. I was expecting a girl's version of The Hangover, and what I got was a very funny movie with a little bit of a love story thrown in.

Kristen Wiig plays Annie, who is the Maid of Honor for her best friend Lillian's (played by Maya Rudolph) upcoming wedding. Annie is broke and "down in the dumps" and is dealing with her own foibles (jealousy, lack of a substantive relationship, a bankrupt business...) throughout the movie. Throw in an odd and very funny group of women who make up the bridal party and you have a very entertaining flick.

Kristen Wiig has been great for years on Saturday Night Live. Her characters have been very fresh and creative. Her skills as a comedic actress translate in a wonderful way to the big screen in this movie. I feel like Ms. Wiig will use this movie as a springboard to a very good career in movies, in the same manner in which fellow Saturday Night Live alumnus Will Ferrell following his first starring roles in movies like Old School, Elf and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

I have to give a special mention to Melissa McCarthy as Megan. She is over the top funny in this movie!

If you're looking to start the summer with a great comedy, Bridesmaids is the one to see!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quote of the Week

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss

Monday, May 9, 2011

Real Salt Lake Still on Top! Major League Soccer Power Rankings, Week 8, 5/9/11

For the 4th Straight Week, Real Salt Lake is #1!

My Week 8 Major League Soccer Power Rankings (wins-losses-draws) UP or DOWN from last week:

1)   Real Salt Lake, Western Conference (5-1-0) 15 points
Real Salt Lake stays on track with a win against Chivas USA. Will they be able to maintain this pace following the injury to Javier Morales?

2)   Portland Timbers, Western Conference (4-3-1) 13 points UP
4 wins in their last 5 matches, the only team as hot as Portland is Real Salt Lake. Amazing that an expansion team is having this much success. Portland makes the biggest leap in this week's rankings, a deserving #2.

3)   New York Red Bulls, Eastern Conference (4-1-3) 15 points
A well played draw in Los Angeles against the Galaxy keeps New York at #3.

4)   LA Galaxy, Western Conference (4-2-4) 16 points UP
The draw with the New York Red Bulls showed that the Galaxy is a top 5 team. If only Landon Donovan could have hit the ball a fraction harder on that open net...

5)   FC Dallas, Western Conference (3-3-2) 11 points UP
An away draw this week, and Dallas continues to rise up the rankings.

6)   Columbus Crew, Eastern Conference (3-1-4) 13 points DOWN
This week's 1-1 draw with Seattle was the Crew's 7th straight match without a loss.

7)   Seattle Sounders FC, Western Conference (3-3-4) 13 points DOWN
A loss and a draw on the road this week drops Seattle out of the top 5.

8)   Chivas USA, Western Conference (2-3-3) 9 points UP

9)   Philadelphia Union, Eastern Conference (4-2-1) 13 points DOWN
Hot early in the year, this week they ran into a buzzsaw, or should I say chainsaw, in Portland.

10) D.C. United, Eastern Conference (3-4-2) 11 points UP
A win and a draw makes for a very good week!

11) Houston Dynamo, Eastern Conference (3-3-3) 12 points DOWN
A home loss against the Rapids, and an away loss versus a weak Toronto FC earns the Dynamo the biggest drop in this week's rankings. 

12) Colorado Rapids, Western Conference (4-3-2) 14 points DOWN
The Rapids could be on the verge of breaking out of the bottom half of the rankings.

13) Toronto FC, Eastern Conference (2-3-4) 10 points UP

14) New England Revolution, Eastern Conference (2-3-4) 10 points DOWN

The Chicago Fire and Vancouver Whitecaps played to a 0-0 draw this week, and with San Jose and Sporting KC being idle, the bottom 4 in the rankings stay the same as last week.

15) Chicago Fire, Eastern Conference (1-3-4) 7 points

16) Vancouver Whitecaps, Western Conference (1-4-4) 7 points

17) San Jose Earthquakes, Western Conference (1-4-2) 5 points

18) Sporting Kansas City, Eastern Conference (1-4-1) 4 points

My 80 Year Old Dad is on Twitter!

If you follow my blog, you already know that my Dad has contributed some interesting thoughts over the last couple of months. His contributions (click on Dad in the label cloud to the right) were sent to me via email, which I then copied into my blog, whether I had permission from him or not!

Now my Dad has joined the Twitter Universe! His Twitter handle is sandosthe. Follow him: http://twitter.com/#!/sandosthe

Of course, when he published his first tweet, he emailed us to go look at it...

Here's a sample:

 Tom Sell 

Rats spelled backward is star; ecim spelled backwards is mice.
 Tom Sell 

If you want to ruin what could be a great day, put your underwear on backwards.
 Tom Sell 

@ smart asses with Ph.D.s will be eliminated in the new world order!

Dad (sandosthe)