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Sunday, March 02, 2014

OT: The Soccer Thread March, 2014

Lots of great games this month and a lot of good mid-week action. Make or break time for Arsenal, Barcelona and Napoli.

March 5th: Ukraine vs USA
March 8th: Seattle vs Sporting KC as MLS gets started, Chelsea vs Tottenham, Arsenal vs Everton in the Cup
March 9th: Man City vs Wigan in the Cup and in Italy Juventus begin have the first of their three battles in the span of two weeks and Napoli host Roma
March 10th: CONCACAF CL begins with Alajuense taking on Arabe Unido. Feel the excitement!
March 11th: Bayern v Arsenal and Atleti v Milan
March 12th: Barca v Man City and Rangers v Airdrie United
March 13th: Spurs v Benfica, Napoli v Porto and Juventus v Fiorentina in some good looking EL matchups.
March 15th: Seattle v Toronto in the battle of American stars, the battle of the Borussias in Germany, Bayern v Leverkusen
March 16th: Derby Day! Liverpool vs Man U and Spurs vs Arsenal
March 17th: Torino v Napoli
March 18th: Chelsea v Galatasaray and Crawley Town v Wolverhampton
March 19th: Borussia Dortmund vs Zenit and Man U vs Olympiacos
March 20th: Europa League return legs
March 21: Freiburng vs Werder Bremen
March 22: Chelsea v Arsenal, Monaco v Lille
March 23: Spurs v Southampton, Real Madrid v Barca, Napoli v Fiornetina
March 25: Manchester Derby, Roma v Torino
March 26: Liverpool v Sunderland, Sevilla v Real Madrid
March 27: Inter v Udinese
March 29: Arsenal v Man City
March 30: Liverpool v Spurs, Barcelona Derby, Athletic v Atletico, Napoli v Juventus

 

 

 

Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 02, 2014 at 11:12 AM | 1404 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: soccer

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   101. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 09, 2014 at 03:49 PM (#4668687)
Flop.
   102. frannyzoo Posted: March 09, 2014 at 03:59 PM (#4668693)
Strootman looks to be coming off. That's not good for Roma. In Totti's almost eternal absence (see what I did there?), he's a rock.

Proving that Serie A has the medical acumen of surgery pre-anesthesia, Strootman plays four/five minutes while obviously unable to perform and worsens the injury. Pathetic.
   103. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: March 09, 2014 at 04:00 PM (#4668694)
Isn't Hull in the BPL?

I'll definitely be pulling for Sheffield United and the Latics, a lower league FA Cup final would be awesome, and if Sheffield somehow won it would make me so happy.
   104. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: March 09, 2014 at 05:15 PM (#4668723)
Roma have been impressive, given all the absences. Being held together by Pjanic, Nainggolan and Benatia.
   105. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 09, 2014 at 08:10 PM (#4668794)
Yes, I forgot that Hull is in the Premier League.
   106. PepTech Posted: March 10, 2014 at 12:51 PM (#4669039)
So the next time Sounders hook up with Kansas City, you might want to check out the end of the match:

March 8, 2014 (94')
May 8, 2013 (94')
August 8, 2012 (shootout, USOC final)
August 7, 2011 (90', 92')
May 21, 2011 (93')
April 17, 2010 (92')

   107. J. Sosa Posted: March 10, 2014 at 06:36 PM (#4669225)
Barca done in by that dastardly pitch again says Xavi. As far as I can recall Barca is undefeated in his career against every opponent not named pitch.
   108. ursus arctos Posted: March 10, 2014 at 09:37 PM (#4669286)
That was the worst game they've played in about six years. At least the Bayern humiliations were against quality opposition.
   109. Spivey Posted: March 10, 2014 at 09:52 PM (#4669287)
Bayern is so f'n good. If you had to take them or the field at this point, who do you take?

I feel like that was the question I asked myself about Barcelona two or three years ago.
   110. frannyzoo Posted: March 10, 2014 at 09:58 PM (#4669288)
Bayern FC has the advantage of being f'n great, to use the parlance, along with having zero "domestic troubles." Even Real has to worry...a bit, about home form, while Bayern is playing the pitiful, relatively, Bundesliga schedule. I say that as someone who wants the strongest German league possible...it just ain't happening at present (Gotze signing, et. al., primary examples of why there ain't even a top two/three situation these days).

Personally, I think the lack of participation among certain OT:Soccer participants with deep understanding of Bundesliga is indicative of how bad things are in this regard. Pity.

P.S.: I like to play the 5-0 Barca game (Xavi with the chip volley opener) v. Real circa 2010 or 2011...just for the good times. Good times.
   111. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 11, 2014 at 01:45 PM (#4669603)
I want to watch Bundesliga but for me its just not on TV. My (albeit limited) knowledge of Serie A has nosedived considerably since Fox Soccer lost the broadcasting rights several years ago.

Spalletti got canned by Zenit. Another fairly well-regarded manager is available and no compensation to another club required. Who do the Spurs fans really want? There is "stuff" flying around that Levy is looking at Pochettino.
   112. jmurph Posted: March 11, 2014 at 01:45 PM (#4669604)
I noted that Joe McGinniss died yesterday. I haven't read any of his more famous (and more controversial) stuff, but I absolutely loved The Miracle of Castel di Sangro about Castel di Sangro's experience in Serie B.
   113. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:23 PM (#4669674)
I noted that Joe McGinniss died yesterday. I haven't read any of his more famous (and more controversial) stuff, but I absolutely loved The Miracle of Castel di Sangro about Castel di Sangro's experience in Serie B.

I saw that, too. I just read that book last year. May he be in a place where every game of soccer is on the up and up.

Who do the Spurs fans really want?

Meh. I'll worry about this in June. I actually think Sherwood is doing fine and I was impressed by how he had the team playing on Saturday up until the catastrophe. We'll see, I guess. Prandelli or Van Gaal seem the most likely if Sherwood doesn't come back. I wonder if Levy has the balls to bring in Van Gaal, though.
   114. Swedish Chef Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:33 PM (#4669690)
It's not going to be easy to persuade Van Gaal to go Easyjet.
   115. ursus arctos Posted: March 11, 2014 at 04:08 PM (#4669737)
The first decision that Levy has to make is whether he gets rid of Baldini.

If he keeps Baldini, Spalletti is a real possibility.
   116. Flynn Posted: March 11, 2014 at 04:20 PM (#4669751)
Personally, I think the lack of participation among certain OT:Soccer participants with deep understanding of Bundesliga is indicative of how bad things are in this regard. Pity.


Isn't it more of a sign that the Bundesliga has spent most of the past decade selling their US TV rights to as many obscure TV channels as possible?
   117. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: March 11, 2014 at 05:04 PM (#4669795)
Last time I checked ESPN3 (shortly after it stopped being called ESPN3), it had a lot of Bundesliga and Eredivisie games.
   118. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 11, 2014 at 05:14 PM (#4669801)
Last time I checked ESPN3 (shortly after it stopped being called ESPN3), it had a lot of Bundesliga and Eredivisie games.

That stopped when beIN got the Bundesliga rights, I think. They do still have some Eredivisie games.
   119. ursus arctos Posted: March 11, 2014 at 05:57 PM (#4669817)
Unfortunately, the most effective way to watch Bundesliga in North America is through streams (of which there are a lot, of generally high quality).
   120. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: March 11, 2014 at 06:48 PM (#4669838)
That stopped when beIN got the Bundesliga rights, I think.
Doesn't goltv have the US rights? beIN doesn't show any Bundesliga games...
   121. zack Posted: March 11, 2014 at 07:49 PM (#4669860)
Count me among those who watched the Bundesliga fairly often when it was still easily available. (Doesn't help that my team has been relegated in the meantime).
   122. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 12, 2014 at 09:10 AM (#4670040)
It's disappointing that it's so difficult to watch Bundesliga here. It's a very telegenic league and would do well here, I think, if a sports network were to invest in it the way FSC did for the Premier League.

If he keeps Baldini, Spalletti is a real possibility.

My guess is Baldini is going to quit.
   123. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 12, 2014 at 09:19 AM (#4670046)
I must have missed it when the news first came out, but it looks like we'll have to wait only one more season to see the Bundesliga on Fox. Fox did invest a lot of time and effort for the Premier League, but it pales in comparison to what NBC did with it. At least I get Fox Sports 1. May have to spring for the sports package so that I can get FSP and FS2. I can't imagine those channels making it on the basic tier of my cable provider any time soon.
   124. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 12, 2014 at 09:41 AM (#4670054)
I must have missed it when the news first came out, but it looks like we'll have to wait only one more season to see the Bundesliga on Fox.

This is great news. Please, Freiburg, don't get relegated!
   125. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 12, 2014 at 09:51 AM (#4670062)
Doesn't goltv have the US rights? beIN doesn't show any Bundesliga games...


This is correct.

I must have missed it when the news first came out, but it looks like we'll have to wait only one more season to see the Bundesliga on Fox.


And this is good news. GolTV is the cable equivalent of B.F.E.
   126. just plain joe Posted: March 12, 2014 at 10:08 AM (#4670083)
I saw that, too. I just read that book last year. May he be in a place where every game of soccer is on the up and up.


He probably won't be watching professional soccer in Italy then :-) RIP Joe McGinniss
   127. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 12, 2014 at 10:28 AM (#4670100)
My guess is Baldini is going to quit.


I suppose we'll never know the details of who really wanted and didn't want whom, but frankly, everyone who had their fingers in "constructing" this Spurs side should be fired. What a wasted opportunity ...
   128. J. Sosa Posted: March 12, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4670159)
How in the world did I miss Fox picking up Bundesliga? That is excellent news. I gave BeIn a try for awhile, but the simple fact is I don't care as much for Serie A or La Liga as I do the Bundesliga and after Liverpool crashed out of the Capital One Cup I stopped paying attention to BeIn (although getting to watch some matches in the Championship was nice). A few of my sons were playing futsal as well and I wasn't watching as many games. I am really looking forward to it now, thanks for the heads up Frank.

Yes, NBC has made Fox Soccer look bad. I plugged in essentially just for soccer and I've been very happy with NBC's coverage of the PL. Hopefully now that they have more content than just the FA Cup and Champions League Fox Soccer will do better than Barton and Wynalda (although to be fair it doesn't seem like Fox Soccer has nearly the production values as NBC does with the sport). I've been spoiled with NBC providing overflow channels without an extra charge, I would assume Fox will be using an additional channel rather than just FSP1 and FSP2 and will place it on an added sports tier. Bah. Maybe I will get lucky and there will be some sort of delux soccer package and I can throw in BeIn as well if I'm going to be throwing more money at it anyway.
   129. jmurph Posted: March 12, 2014 at 11:27 AM (#4670168)
A few of my sons


This wording makes it seem like you have many, many sons.
   130. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 12, 2014 at 11:38 AM (#4670181)
Its still a ways away - the end of this season and the next before Fox gets its hands on it. I don't know how much La Liga or Serie A I would watch if I had BeIn. I guess I would be like every other fairweather fan and might watch Madrid, Barca, Juve, the Milan teams along with the more "entertaining" teams like Napoli and Atletico. I mean its not like I'm waking up early on a Saturday for a Newcastle - West Brom match.
   131. J. Sosa Posted: March 12, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4670185)
I feel bad for Sherwood. It wasn't exactly a secret that he wasn't ready for the job, and if I understand correctly he had been a good servant for the the club correct? It isn't like he could turn down the opportunity. He probably should have kept some of his post Chelsea thoughts to himself, but to be honest I was sympathetic. Some of Sherwood's tactical decisions that match were odd, but the players on that team have exibited a recurring theme in games against the top sides this season, and I think Sherwood can be forgiven for thinking that recurring theme isn't down to Sherwood or AVB's tactics.

As an aside, is Walker always like that? I watch Spurs quite a bit, but not all their matches. It reminded me of that pass he made awhile ago that he pinged back to the keeper from midfield. What in the world was he doing on that header? Vertonghen's was dumb, but at least he has the excuse of having slipped and maybe succumbing to panic. I think Vertonghen might have checked out mentally awhile ago anyway. He hates playing left back. It is a shame. I read an interview from Sturridge the other day, and he said that Vertonghen was the centre back that gave him the hardest time in the league.

I sang the praises of Levy this offseason, but it has served as a good reminder that the cliche about the sport not being FM has a lot of truth to it. I was really high on Spurs other than the lack of a a creative mid. It has been puzzling, is it down to injury, or are players in addition to Lamela having problems adjusting?
   132. ursus arctos Posted: March 12, 2014 at 11:53 AM (#4670198)
In tangentially related news, there are lots of rumours out of Russia today that Villas Boas is on the verge of signing a 3.5 year contract with Zenit St. Petersburg.
   133. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 12, 2014 at 12:15 PM (#4670227)
I sang the praises of Levy this offseason, but it has served as a good reminder that the cliche about the sport not being FM has a lot of truth to it. I was really high on Spurs other than the lack of a a creative mid. It has been puzzling, is it down to injury, or are players in addition to Lamela having problems adjusting?

Too many new players, a manager that couldn't imprint his vision on the team, injuries...take your pick. That said, the team isn't that FAR from where they've been the last few years, but they are not competing at all against the top teams. I don't know. This season has been a real grind. My heartbeat still quickens for each game even though I know the let down is coming, though.

In tangentially related news, there are lots of rumours out of Russia today that Villas Boas is on the verge of signing a 3.5 year contract with Zenit St. Petersburg.

With all sincerity, good luck to him. I hope he does well.
   134. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 12, 2014 at 12:37 PM (#4670252)
I was really high on Spurs other than the lack of a a creative mid. It has been puzzling, is it down to injury, or are players in addition to Lamela having problems adjusting?

Well, they do have a creative mid in Eriksen, who is pretty much the only buy that has worked out so far, he's just been injured a lot.
   135. Flynn Posted: March 12, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4670255)
Tottenham's foibles make me glad that Wenger is pretty much built into the stadium at this point, for all his faults. There's continuity. The lack of a really long-term plan hurts Tottenham, as they're pretty much always lurching from one change in idea to another. They're a big enough name and good enough to get the kind of players to keep them very competitive, but they've gone from Euro model to English model to Euro model to English model in the space of 5-6 years. Just pick one and go with it.
   136. Flynn Posted: March 12, 2014 at 12:41 PM (#4670257)
Its still a ways away - the end of this season and the next before Fox gets its hands on it. I don't know how much La Liga or Serie A I would watch if I had BeIn. I guess I would be like every other fairweather fan and might watch Madrid, Barca, Juve, the Milan teams along with the more "entertaining" teams like Napoli and Atletico. I mean its not like I'm waking up early on a Saturday for a Newcastle - West Brom match.


That might be something of a good thing for Fox, given how ridiculous Bayern are right now. It's when they're a bit off their best that the Bundesliga is most exciting, since the league is wide open then.
   137. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 12, 2014 at 12:43 PM (#4670262)
Well, they do have a creative mid in Eriksen, who is pretty much the only buy that has worked out so far, he's just been injured a lot.

I don't think that's quite right. Paulinho and Chiriches are both good players and have done well when they've played. If Chiriches gets a little stronger he's going to be outstanding. That, of course, is not a great hit to miss ratio on the summer signings. I'll agree to that.
   138. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 12, 2014 at 12:49 PM (#4670266)
Tottenham's foibles make me glad that Wenger is pretty much built into the stadium at this point, for all his faults.

I like the way Arsenal is run and Tottenham have certainly been chaotic, but they haven't exactly been smoking Tottenham in the table the last few years despite having nearly twice the revenue. 75% of the time I think Wenger is pretty great for Arsenal and am very jealous they have him, but 25% of the time I think what Jose Mourinho thinks of him and wonder if he doesn't hold them back.
   139. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 12, 2014 at 12:52 PM (#4670271)
Paulinho and Chiriches have both had some good games and some bad games, though I do think they'll be generally good in the future. Of course, they've both had injury problems also.
   140. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 12, 2014 at 01:20 PM (#4670310)
Paulinho and Chiriches have both had some good games and some bad games, though I do think they'll be generally good in the future. Of course, they've both had injury problems also.

You can't really blame the club or Paulinho for Charlie Adam performing his schtick on Paulinho's ankle. I don't regret Spurs signing either of them. Chirches' durability is a bit more worrying.
   141. J. Sosa Posted: March 12, 2014 at 01:36 PM (#4670340)
I like Chiriches. He has the tools in his locker as they say. I also like Paulinho, I think whatever problems he has had this season are at least partly due to often playing with midfield partners that don't complement his skills. Eriksen has played better than I expected. Soldado I thought was a bad signing at that price even if he performed well. I did not see the Lamela situation coming. I was really high on him. Capoue was a little dissapointing.

With Wenger, he is what he is at this point. For the life of me I've never been able to figure out how much of Arsenal's parsiminous ways are down to him versus some of the suits. It's the same song stuck on repeat. Before the season "why do they only have Giroud". After January "why do they only have Giroud". A club that huge shouldn't be trotting out Sanogo (or whatever his name is) and signing age 30+ swedish midfielders with crocked backs. It would be really interesting to see how Arsenal did if Wenger was kicked upstairs or for that matter, if he was kicked downstairs and only had managerial responsibilities.

I will have to pick a German team to follow next year prior to the tv rights switching. I'm not sold yet, but I'm leaning towards BMG given the ties to LFC. Dortmund has gotten a little too popular. Bayern is Bayern. Schalke is blah (which is kind of what I guess they are famous for) every time I see BL in Champions league they lay down like dogs, and Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg don't really do it for me. I will have to think about it some more, but it will probably be BMG.

My quasi Spanish team for the past few seasons has been Athletico, so that's been nice. They meet my criteria of being a big club with a bigger rival but the chance to do something requirements for a team pretty much down to a t. BMG probably won't have much success but barring some type of Lazioesque discovery I like a lot of things about the club. I also like Dortmund a lot but they are a little too big at the present.
   142. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 12, 2014 at 01:45 PM (#4670355)
I don't regret Spurs signing either of them.


Chirches' okay. If Spurs' CB rotation was Verts, Caulker, Chirches & Kaboul, I'd be okay with it. Of course, there's one fellow in that list, who's played almost every game in this EPL season, that's missing from that Spurs' lineup ...
   143. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 12, 2014 at 01:46 PM (#4670358)
I will have to think about it some more, but it will probably be BMG.

I obviously think you should latch onto Freiburg but, barring that, I'd consider Stuttgart or Hamburg(lar), too. Hertha Berlin could be a fun team to get behind, too. If they're in the Bundesliga when the rights switch over, 1860 Munich deserves a shout, too, simply because their the anti-Bayern team in Munich.
   144. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 12, 2014 at 01:49 PM (#4670366)
If Spurs' CB rotation was Verts, Caulker, Chirches & Kaboul, I'd be okay with it.

If Cardiff get relegated Spurs have the right to buy him back so there's a good chance he'll be back next season, especially now that he's getting call ups.
   145. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 12, 2014 at 01:53 PM (#4670370)

If Cardiff get relegated Spurs have the right to buy him back so there's a good chance he'll be back next season, especially now that he's getting call ups.


Which is nice, but the fact that he was sold in the 1st place (so that we could essentially keep a RCB pairing of Dawson//Kaboul together) is in part what led me to my conclusion in [127]. Counting on Kaboul to be fit enough for the season and counting on Dawson to be fast enough for the season ... was a fool's errand.
   146. zack Posted: March 12, 2014 at 01:58 PM (#4670373)
I just looked at the 1.BL table for the first time in a few months...how the hell are Augsburg in 6th?!
   147. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 12, 2014 at 01:59 PM (#4670375)
Which is nice, but the fact that he was sold in the 1st place (so that we could essentially keep a RCB pairing of Dawson//Kaboul together) is in part what led me to my conclusion in [127]. Counting on Kaboul to be fit enough for the season and counting on Dawson to be fast enough for the season ... was a fool's errand.

On UK based Spurs boards there are some sordid rumors about why Caulker was sold which would explain his puzzling sale but which I prefer not to believe. I just apply Occam's razor that AVB was fine with the Kaboul/Verts/Dawson/Vlad set up and he told Caulker he'd need a new club for regular playing time.
   148. J. Sosa Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4670376)
1860 Munich was a consideration for awhile until I thought better of it when finding out they sold the rights to playing in Allianz to Bayern (seriously, is there anything about that club that isn't Vaderesque?). Their propensity for not being good was also a downer. When I first starting following the PL Newcastle went down and then I never got to see them play which is no fun and led to a change in my fandom selection process (which admittedly includes just a dash of front runnerdom, but just a dash!). BMG is not immune to relegation which is a concern, but we'll see. I considered Stuttgart and Hamburg too, but nothing jumped out.
   149. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:03 PM (#4670379)
I considered Stuttgart and Hamburg too, but nothing jumped out.

Aw, but I need a Stuttgart fan to talk crap to. Hamburg is actually a fascinating club and, if they ever get their shit together, is one of the few that can challenge Bayern. You'd be getting in on the ground floor! Even if they go down this season, they'll bounce right back up in time for Fox. BMG is a fine choice, though. I'm surprised Lucien Favre isn't more famous.

edit: Speaking of Favre...he just signed a contract extension with BMG. So scratch him off the list for the Tottenham job.
   150. zack Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:06 PM (#4670383)
It'd be pretty funny to latch onto the Dinosaur 2/3 of the way through the season where they're relegated for the first time ever.
   151. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:09 PM (#4670386)
It'd be pretty funny to latch onto Hamburger 2/3 of the way through the season where they're relegated for the first time ever.

Naw, that's the way to do it. Anyone can latch onto a glamor team challenging for a title. When Hamburg are the darlings of the BL in 5 years you can brag you liked them when they still had acne and braces.
   152. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:09 PM (#4670387)

On UK based Spurs boards there are some sordid rumors about why Caulker was sold which would explain his puzzling sale but which I prefer not to believe


Well, if sordid rumours [147] were why he left, why would he be coming back [144]? In any case, if I just apply Occam's razor that AVB was fine with the Kaboul/Verts/Dawson/Vlad set up and he told Caulker he'd need a new club for regular playing time was true, AVB deserved to get fired*, because it was clear to practically everyone else, before the season, that Caulker was a better hold than *either* Dawson or Kaboul.

*Again, it's very unclear (and almost certainly will remain that way) who exactly was responsible for what personnel decisions this past summer transfer season ...
   153. Baldrick Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:14 PM (#4670389)
I'm learning German - and watching the Bundesliga seems like a great way to facilitate that - so I'm going to try and follow it pretty closely. But I'm suffering a bit of the same problem: no teams really jumping out at me, at least not yet.

I've got a good friend from Frankfurt and he's trying to sell me on them. But every time I've watched them over the past few years it's just terrible. All things considered, I suppose I'd be better going with a team from Berlin since I'm far more likely to visit there than anywhere else. But I haven't been inspired on that front. I am finding myself tipping slowly toward BMG almost by default.

What's the selling point of Freiburg?
   154. The Kentucky Gentleman, Mark Edward Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:17 PM (#4670391)
I just looked at the 1.BL table for the first time in a few months...how the hell are Augsburg in 6th?!


This season, there's a seemingly a whole bunch of teams that are interchangeable and one hot streak of 3 or 4 wins can bump you from the relegation zone to Europa League qualification. Bayern is Bayern; Dortmund's been a mess with injuries. Aside from those teams, basically anybody can beat anybody on any given Friday/Saturday/Sunday. Leverkusen's had a horrible second half of the season, Schalke's in a constant malaise. Wolfsburg's starting to figure things out, but then they go out and get destroyed over the last two weeks.

We can always use more Dortmund fans here! But I really like watching Gladbach & Frankfurt as well.
   155. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:19 PM (#4670395)
What's the selling point of Freiburg?

They're a plucky underdog and it's a great town to visit? They will never win anything and will most likely be relegated at some point so I can't forcefully recommend them. Seriously, you should consider Hertha Berlin. They even have an American in their 11!
   156. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:23 PM (#4670398)
This season, there's a seemingly a whole bunch of teams that are interchangeable and one hot streak of 3 or 4 wins can bump you from the relegation zone to Europa League qualification. Bayern is Bayern; Dortmund's been a mess with injuries. Aside from those teams, basically anybody can beat anybody on any given Friday/Saturday/Sunday. Leverkusen's had a horrible second half of the season, Schalke's in a constant malaise. Wolfsburg's starting to figure things out, but then they go out and get destroyed over the last two weeks.


Schalke's my team in the BL, but just because I played them to glory, once upon a time in FM 2010. In real life, I'm torn between them and Dortmund. There is, of course, no chance of rooting for Bayern ...
   157. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4670403)
At the end of the summer, I thought Spurs did a good job spending the Bale money. At the time, Paulinho was starting for Brazil, Eriksen was fairly well-thought a year prior (and consequently a bit of a bargain), Capoue was a semi-regular for France, Lamela was the next big thing and Soldado was a proven striker, albeit overpriced. I couldn't tell you anything about Chadli and Chiriches prior to the season. The only departures that were somewhat puzzling was Bennie and Caulkner. Chemistry problems were bound to occur and the whole rift between AVB, Baldini and Levy was always going to throw a monkey wrench into short-term plans.

I tried following Madrid for a bit - only because I started following United mainly because of Ronaldo and my hatred of Barcelona and their play-actors, but currently have no favorites. On my trip to Europe I stopped in Munich and Berlin, but can't find myself rooting for Bayern. Hertha apparently has a bit of a Nazi connection, but I'd imagine most German clubs do. They do have an American central defender and are the only team in the Bundesliga that is from the former East Germany.

   158. Swedish Chef Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:34 PM (#4670408)
They do have an American central defender and are the only team in the Bundesliga that is from the former East Germany.


They're not, they always played in the western sector.
   159. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:36 PM (#4670409)
Hertha apparently has a bit of a Nazi connection, but I'd imagine most German clubs do. They do have an American central defender and are the only team in the Bundesliga that is from the former East Germany.

Hertha were actually in West Berlin and were the club for a lot of East Germans on the other side of the wall. Simon Kuper has a great chapter about the club and its importance to East Germans during the cold war in his book Soccer Against the Enemy. So...there are romantic reasons to latch onto Hertha if you're inclined to romanticism.

edit: Coke to Chef.
   160. Swedish Chef Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:57 PM (#4670429)
I don't think cokes are needed when you take the time to make a superior answer.

Speaking of which, when I was little I went on a school trip to Berlin where I drank East German cola. I don't think the communists' inability to make a palatable carbonated beverage was the biggest factor in the fall of the wall, but I'm not sure it's entirely negligible either.
   161. ursus arctos Posted: March 12, 2014 at 03:00 PM (#4670433)
Do you remember if it was Club or Vita?

They were both horrible, as was the chocolate.

Hertha are one of the great underachievers of European football, having been poorly managed for decades. I'd take Gladbach over them in a second.
   162. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 12, 2014 at 03:10 PM (#4670443)
Speaking of which, when I was little I went on a school trip to Berlin where I drank East German cola. I don't think the communists' inability to make a palatable carbonated beverage was the biggest factor in the fall of the wall, but I'm not sure it's entirely negligible either.

There's a classic Billy Wilder comedy starring James Cagney, of all people, about bringing carbonated beverage to East Berlin. It's pretty good!
   163. frannyzoo Posted: March 12, 2014 at 03:10 PM (#4670444)
One more vote for Gladbach. I finally finally overcame my FM 2013 addiction by taking Gladbach to back-to-back League and CL doubles. It took until 2035. Man, what an incredible time-sink (great at times, the worst of times at times).
   164. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 12, 2014 at 03:16 PM (#4670447)
I like all this Bundesliga talk. Takes my mind off Spurs! I actually had a quasi bad dream last night about Spurs and a bus and something something. It was vague but foreboding...
   165. frannyzoo Posted: March 12, 2014 at 03:38 PM (#4670470)
No "Boot Room" for this game? Methinks this will be far more interesting than Bayern/Arsenal yesterday. Oh, there's another "game," too.
   166. just plain joe Posted: March 12, 2014 at 03:39 PM (#4670473)
I will vote for BMG as well. Some years back, at a previous job, we had an intern who was actually from Moenchengladbach. He was a huge BMG fan, IIRC he even wore BMG jerseys on casual days. It will interesting to see how FOX does when they start telecasting BL matches.
   167. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: March 12, 2014 at 03:56 PM (#4670486)
What are the best crowds in the Bundesliga? Serie A is just killed for me by the giant, 3/4 empty stadiums, but in the smattering of non-Bayern/Dortmund Bundesliga games I've watched it seems like there are a lot of great home atmospheres.
   168. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: March 12, 2014 at 04:01 PM (#4670490)
Looks like good Messi showed up today. Definitely should have had that penalty.
   169. ursus arctos Posted: March 12, 2014 at 04:31 PM (#4670529)
Current season attendance figures.

First column is average attendance, second number of home dates, third change from last season, last highest gate this season (which is a good proxy for capacity).

Dortmund stand out, but reasonable prices and a vibrant fan culture mean that virtually every match is played before an excellent crowd. The comparison with Serie A in this respect could not be more stark.

1  BV 09 Borussia Dortmund  80.509  12  0,0%  80.645
2  FC Bayern München  71.000  12  0
,0%  71.000
3  FC Schalke 04  61.512  11  0
,6%  61.973
4  VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach  52.007  12  4
,6%  54.010
5  Hamburger SV  51.834  11  
-2,0%  57.000
6  Hertha BSC Berlin  48.931  12  22
,3%  69.277
7  SG Eintracht Frankfurt   46.417  12  
-3,4%  51.500
8  VfB Stuttgart  46.224  11  
-7,7%  60.449
9  Hannoverscher SV 96  44.055  11  
-0,7%  49.000
10  SV Werder Bremen  40.674  12  0
,1%  42.100
11  1. FC Nürnberg  39.237  11  
-5,5%  50.000
12  1. FSV Mainz 05  30.168  11  
-3,2%  34.000
13  FC Augsburg  28.973  11  
-0,4%  30.660
14  Bayer 04 Leverkusen  27.907  12  
-0,8%  30.210
15  VfL Wolfsburg  27.840  11  4
,5%  30.000
16  TSG 1899 Hoffenheim  27.005  12  3
,2%  30.150
17  SC Freiburg  23.064  11  
-0,9%  24.000
18  Braunschweiger TSV Eintracht  22.786  12  11
,8%  23.325
.  Total  42.941     0,7%  80.645 
   170. Baldrick Posted: March 12, 2014 at 05:57 PM (#4670592)
Barca crisis, well, not OVER. But they were very good today.
   171. Mefisto Posted: March 12, 2014 at 07:16 PM (#4670629)
Yes, City were lucky it wasn't worse. Whatever Pellegrini thought of the refs after the first game, they did him at least one and probably two real favors in the first half today.
   172. Spivey Posted: March 12, 2014 at 09:15 PM (#4670671)
I would not have expected Bayer to have one of the smallest stadiums in the league.

As for attendance in England/Germany vs Italy, is there something to be said for the state of the economy? Obviously the stadiums do suck too.
   173. ursus arctos Posted: March 12, 2014 at 10:18 PM (#4670694)
Leverkusen is a rather small company town situated pretty much halfway between Koln and Dusseldorf, each of which is much larger, and which are themselves less than half an hour apart by train. Bayer really have been punching above their weight in terms of catchment area for some time.

The economy does have something to do with Serie A attendances, but so do the poor stadia, a perceived lack of security, the ubiquitousness of television coverage, inconvenient start times and an inescapable belief that the quality of play has dropped. It has been going on for at least 15 years and isn't getting better.
   174. Spivey Posted: March 12, 2014 at 10:47 PM (#4670699)
Koln is a great city.

On another topic, I was impressed with how Arsenal played yesterday. They didn't back down, and all in all really challenged Bayern. I think that second half they played was probably the best they've played in a long while. I actually feel pretty bullish on their future. They'll need to replace Mertesacker at some point and get a backup for Giroud but they're in pretty good shape most everywhere else on the field. I think their window has shut this year though.
   175. ursus arctos Posted: March 12, 2014 at 11:03 PM (#4670704)
It may be psychobabble bollocks, but I think that they really need to win the Cup so as to get the trophy drought off of their backs. If they end this year empty handed, the media isn't going to allow them to forget that, and Wenger seems to be becoming more thin-skinned as time passes.
   176. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 13, 2014 at 05:41 AM (#4670746)
All things considered, I suppose I'd be better going with a team from Berlin since I'm far more likely to visit there than anywhere else.

Ugh, don't visit Berlin. It's like the least inspiring German city.
Koln is a great city.

Köln is indeed very nice, especially in the summer. Although Kölsch is an abomination... But just don't try and order Alt.
   177. Flynn Posted: March 13, 2014 at 07:19 AM (#4670749)
I like Koelsch and Alt. Koelsch is a great first beer if you've walked a bit to get to the pub. You can, and should, knock those down in minutes.

Alt's a little less inspiring, but it's nice to try a German beer that tastes like an ale.
   178. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 13, 2014 at 07:32 AM (#4670750)
You a worse than Hitler.
   179. frannyzoo Posted: March 13, 2014 at 08:07 AM (#4670754)
Verdict on German Beer: More hops, please. Or at least the option...the doppelbocks (sic?) are nice, but I'm definitely longing for a Hop Notch IPA or such after a few days of malt.

Meanwhile, now that we're all Gladbach fans, here's an ESPN FC preview about "our" team as they go to Dortmund this Saturday.

Berlin: Well, I guess I just don't get it...I'm inspired visiting there. Sorry. Inspired quite a bit more than in, say, Magdeburg or Eisenach.
   180. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 13, 2014 at 08:48 AM (#4670768)
Berlin apparently has a very good club scene, and has a lot of museums - which admittedly are hit or miss, especially if you've been to the British Museum or the Louvre on the same trip (I recall that some exhibits were recreations based on molds from those museums). Its very spread out, plus it has all sorts of Cold War stuff - Berlin wall, that weird spire, the atomic clock. Also you can compare and contrast the west side and east side. Plus its generally cheaper than the other Western European capitals.

Regarding Italy and its crowds - aren't the ultras a huge problem? It seems to me it would be like if English clubs cultivated hooligan groups and then gave them semi-official status. I know not all ultra groups are like that, but I think in general they contribute a lot to an atmosphere that is deemed unsafe for families and regular fans.
   181. J. Sosa Posted: March 13, 2014 at 09:50 AM (#4670805)
I also like the Bundesliga talk, it is unfortunate that the league has not been very accessible in the States. I used to watch a few matches on ESPN 3. I prefer the style of play in the PL and the Bundesliga to that in Spain and Italy. Also as others have mentioned the stadia in Italy are a huge turnoff. And in Italy there is always the specter of match fixing. As for ultras, some of the stories about ultras confronting the players and things of that nature always surprise me. I don't think that is especially healthy for the sport.

As for Arsenal, I do think the trophy drought may have gotten in Wenger's head at this point. It would do Arsenal a lot of good to win the FA Cup I think.
   182. Mefisto Posted: March 13, 2014 at 10:04 AM (#4670818)
Ugh, don't visit Berlin. It's like the least inspiring German city.


I had a great time in Berlin. Also Dresden.
   183. ursus arctos Posted: March 13, 2014 at 10:48 AM (#4670859)
Uli Hoeness gets three and half years in jail for tax evasion.

180, the ultras have a lot to do with the perceived security problem that I noted, but personally, I tend to think of them more as a symptom than a cause of the decline, and consider the other factors to be more important. Their relative prominence has increased as attendance from other fans has declined.
   184. frannyzoo Posted: March 13, 2014 at 10:58 AM (#4670873)
I've wanted to like Montella at Fiorentina, but he's been unable to get everyone on anything close to the same page. Beating Juve in Europa would make me like him as a manager a great deal more.

Meanwhile, I love Donadoni at Parma. They're really got a chance for Europe, esp. as Montella has done the aforementioned.
   185. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: March 13, 2014 at 11:35 AM (#4670894)
The Italian ultras also help to make Italian derbies such a spectacle. As but one example.

As for Serie A more generally, it doesn't help the two Milan clubs are mediocre at best, and don't project to be much better than that over the next couple years without a healthy infusion of cash from either Thohir or Berlusconi. Juventus look well poised to dominate the league -- I wonder what sort of odds you could get on them tying or breaking the record of five straight scudettos. All of Napoli, Roma and Fiorentina look to be in good shape, although still a gulf between any of them and Juve(*).

I also don't know much about Serie A's TV deal, outside of the amusing anecdote about how a portion of the money is distributed based on the size of the fan base. But if their next deal doesn't see a percentage increase comparable to those of the EPL and Bundesliga, I fear the level of play may plunge even further.

(*)EDIT: After posting, I checked Matt's stat page. His system sees Roma as an equal, so my use of "gulf" is probably an exaggeration.
   186. ursus arctos Posted: March 13, 2014 at 12:10 PM (#4670910)
The most likely reason for Juventus not to win a title over the next few years is that they have focused all of their efforts on Europe
   187. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: March 13, 2014 at 03:49 PM (#4671028)
Just a heads up that ESPN3 has the Europa games (in Spanish).
   188. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: March 13, 2014 at 04:26 PM (#4671055)
Ivan Rakitic has made a couple of really incisive passes so far.
   189. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: March 13, 2014 at 04:55 PM (#4671086)
Spurs look their normal selves: reasonably competent at getting and keeping possession with no real threat on goal, and incredibly vulnerable to quick counterattacks.
   190. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: March 13, 2014 at 05:47 PM (#4671129)
3-1 Benfica and now Sherwood is getting into fights with the Benfica coaching staff. No idea why.

Edit: Ah, Jesus held up 3 fingers towards him.
   191. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 13, 2014 at 05:51 PM (#4671130)
Whee Spurs!
   192. J. Sosa Posted: March 13, 2014 at 06:37 PM (#4671168)
Sherwood should have kept his cool there, but as someone who got into an altercation with a rival coach last season, I'm not going to throw stones.

Sherwood has cracked, it isn't his fault. He never should have been given the job. It wasn't fair to him. I've also gotten a faint whiff of doggery from a couple of Spurs players which doesn't help.

It has all the makings of blowing it up this offseason. We'll see.
   193. frannyzoo Posted: March 13, 2014 at 08:35 PM (#4671216)
As an avowed Erik Lamela fan, are recent developments sign of his strange vindication? Or simply sign that he really isn't even good enough to start on the Titanic FC? Regardless, Lamela's biggest fan, Baldini (as noted above) isn't long for North London. What a ####-up, so to speak.

Btw, the Nanny caught my reference to roosters, not phalli, per se.
   194. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 13, 2014 at 08:35 PM (#4671217)
It has all the makings of blowing it up this offseason. We'll see.

Can't disagree. Something's gotta give.
   195. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 13, 2014 at 09:07 PM (#4671226)
It has all the makings of blowing it up this offseason. We'll see.


Best to take off and nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure ...
   196. Textbook Editor Posted: March 13, 2014 at 09:21 PM (#4671232)
I honestly think the problem is more management then the players.

I'm not saying I would have had a better idea at the time, but hiring Sherwood has turned into a terrible idea. Yes, they have a good "honeymoon" run of form after the hire, and Adebayor certainly turned a corner, but once they started encountering decent sides who had a plan to face them, the tactics seem to have gone kablooey, and it seems likely some of the players might see Sherwood for what he appears to the likes of Jonathon Wilson and Michael Cox: half Patton and half Mr. Magoo.

It's not a good mix, and I'm guessing some of the players have checked out, having been through this once before already this year with AVB. But Levy's in a spot in that his likely first-choice hire (even before he canned AVB) won't be available until after the World Cup... and no one would take a 6-month gig (or at this point a 2-month) gig.

I'm sure that firing AVB wasn't a rash move, but in firing him it doesn't seem a plan B for THIS YEAR was in place... I cannot honestly believe Sherwood was the next call Levy made after telling AVB to pack his bags. And that's on Levy for not having the plan B... But in fairness, after AVBs last game in charge I'm not sure there was a good option to be had.

They have all the pieces, I think, from midfield forward to be a legit top-4 contender. To me, their defense is just a mess, with a lot of pieces that just do not fit well. Am I the only one who thinks they need a left back (Danny Rose cannot defend), a right back (they must have options outside of Walker), and at least one center back (if not two; Dawson can't play against legit attackers and Kaboul can't be counted on for 30 EPL starts)?
   197. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 13, 2014 at 10:21 PM (#4671252)
As an avowed Erik Lamela fan, are recent developments sign of his strange vindication? Or simply sign that he really isn't even good enough to start on the Titanic FC? Regardless, Lamela's biggest fan, Baldini (as noted above) isn't long for North London. What a ####-up, so to speak.
Lamela hasn't been fit since December. He missed much of Nov-Dec with an injury, and got hurt again immediately on his return. Apparently this time was a hip injury that he tried to rush his recovery on, that turned into a back injury. I don't know why he played so little - and so uninspiringly - early in the season, but I wonder if he was just never fit. Certainly he never got any consistent chance before the injuries hit.

I'm planning on writing a piece on the Spurs season. My basic thesis will be that AVB massively overreacted to the Newcastle and Man City losses. Spurs looked like a very good, if boring 4th place contender at that point. But to get more goals out of a side that was to a significant degree just in a finishing slump, he tried to open up the game by loosening the press, but not ditching the high line or instituting a replacement defensive strategy. Then when he got fired, there was another opportunity to restart the season, but instead we hired a man who is massively out of his depth managing at this level. Adebayor going on a crazy finishing hot streak, plus some bad shooting by Spurs' opponents, hid this for a month or two. The season's pretty much over now.

The NLD means it isn't over yet, and Arsenal have not been great recently, but I'm emotionally ready for it to be over. I'm ready to start dreaming on Louis van Gaal building an attack around Eriksen and Lamela, with Tawwmmy Freakin Carroll getting his shot as the English Modric.
   198. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 13, 2014 at 10:32 PM (#4671255)
Am I the only one who thinks they need a left back (Danny Rose cannot defend), a right back (they must have options outside of Walker), and at least one center back (if not two; Dawson can't play against legit attackers and Kaboul can't be counted on for 30 EPL starts)?
Kyle Walker is a perfectly fine right back. He makes the occasional mistake, but given the massive space modern fullbacks need to play in, occasional mistakes are unavoidable. He's strong defensively and offers good pace and understanding going forward. Upgrading Danny Rose and adding center backs is the big job for this offseason. I'm pretty resigned to losing Vertonghen, which means buying an nailed-on first XI center back is necessary along with a rotation CB and an LB. The rest of the club looks strong. Maybe I'm crazy, but I still haven't given up on the talent. Too much of the season has been dragged down by bad or non-existent tactics, plus injuries to what should have been our best attacker.
   199. Textbook Editor Posted: March 13, 2014 at 11:54 PM (#4671271)
Kyle Walker is a perfectly fine right back.


Sorry--my syntax garbled my point: when I said we need options outside of Walker, I meant we need a backup that is adequate to cover for Walker should he get injured/be unable to play 30+ EPL matches. I suppose some might think Naughton is that backup (and they might be right); I guess I'm not the biggest fan, but do concede Naughton's might be perfectly fine if left to just have to fill in at right back (and not get played out of position elsewhere).

I'm pretty resigned to losing Vertonghen, which means buying an nailed-on first XI center back is necessary along with a rotation CB and an LB.


Eh, the summer transfer season is long and Vertonghen's not going to be sold/dealt until the WC is over, and by then (perhaps) the new coach can sweet-talk him into staying. (I've got the rose-coloured glasses on, I know...)

Can Caulker be that rotation CB if Cardiff go down? Would we want him? (Is that clause that offers him back to us if they get relegated real, or just a rumor?) I couldn't run down whatever vague rumors were mentioned above about why we might have sold him in the first place, so maybe the bed is permanently #### for Caulker at WHL.

I confess I have no idea who we could bring at LB, just that we desperately need one so Danny Rose can go back to being depth instead of a starter.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I still haven't given up on the talent. Too much of the season has been dragged down by bad or non-existent tactics, plus injuries to what should have been our best attacker.


Yeah, this is sort of where I am. I hope they blow up the defense and leave the rest more or less as it is... only under the care of a competent manager. Then for god sakes give the guy all of the 2014-2015 season to see what he can do.
   200. Baldrick Posted: March 14, 2014 at 02:56 AM (#4671288)
Ugh, don't visit Berlin. It's like the least inspiring German city.

I really enjoyed Berlin when I was there about 10 years ago (during the 2002 World Cup, actually). But that was a pretty short trip - only four days. We stayed in a very bohemian little hostel in Prenzlauer Berg, ate a bunch of falafel, and went to a ton of museums for a very small amount of money. It was great.

Looking at the World Cup schedule, it must have been right around June 15 - because I remember watching them play Paraguay in the round of 16 while I was there.
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