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Saturday, November 03, 2012

OT: The Soccer Thread: November 2012

Yeah, yeah, it’s late.

RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: November 03, 2012 at 07:10 PM | 370 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   201. Baldrick Posted: November 20, 2012 at 06:02 PM (#4307060)
That Messi kid might turn into a pretty good footballer someday. Seems like he has some talent.
   202. DA Baracus Posted: November 20, 2012 at 06:17 PM (#4307074)
It's the best gig out there, five million or so for four months work.


That counts as a "no."
   203. Swedish Chef Posted: November 20, 2012 at 06:22 PM (#4307077)
That counts as a "no."

You can spend Christmas with the family too!
   204. ursus arctos Posted: November 20, 2012 at 08:22 PM (#4307158)
Shakhtar's first goal was absolutely scandalous.
   205. The Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter Posted: November 20, 2012 at 08:32 PM (#4307164)
Shakhtar's first goal was absolutely scandalous.

From watching the highlight only, Luiz Adriano is on the far end of either the oblviousness or sociopath spectrum. Maybe both.
   206. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: November 21, 2012 at 01:25 AM (#4307280)
From watching the highlight only, Luiz Adriano is on the far end of either the oblviousness or sociopath spectrum. Maybe both.

The best part of that highlight was him managing to get a low five from his teammate after the goal. Also, I wasn't watching the game, but apparently Shakhtar didn't just let Nordsjaelland score after that, either.
   207. Swedish Chef Posted: November 21, 2012 at 05:48 AM (#4307306)
And the inevitable happened at Chelsea. They probably already have lined up the next manager, my guess is that it's a big name like Pep. To make the process more efficient, they should start looking for the replacement for Di Matteo's replacement now.
   208. ursus arctos Posted: November 21, 2012 at 10:03 AM (#4307336)
I'd be shocked if Pep left New York now.

It's going to be a quick appointment (rumours are an announcement tomorrow), and Rafa (who appears to feel a need to get back into the game) seems to have the inside track. That should make Torres happy, but it won't do anything to remedy the team's fundamental structural flaws or its Steinbrennerian culture issues.

   209. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: November 21, 2012 at 10:18 AM (#4307341)
Also, I wasn't watching the game, but apparently Shakhtar didn't just let Nordsjaelland score after that, either.

They didn't, but just as incredible was the fact that they still managed to score anyways on a rather excellent strike. The whole scene was pretty funny -- the Danish guy started dribbling from the restart towards Shakhtar's net, thinking Shakhtar were going to let him score, but one of Shakhtar's midfielders stepped up and won the ball back. The pick-up (basketball) phrase "ball don't lie" seems wholly appropriate here.
   210. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: November 21, 2012 at 10:33 AM (#4307352)
What governs that situation? Is that a rule infraction or just a gentlemens' agreement? Everything I've read is pretty harshly condemning Adriano for it but at the same time it doesn't seem like their is any enforceable remedy. Can UEFA suspend or fine Adriano/Shaktar? Can Shaktar unilaterally elect to fine Adriano?


It's going to be a quick appointment (rumours are an announcement tomorrow), and Rafa (who appears to feel a need to get back into the game) seems to have the inside track. That should make Torres happy, but it won't do anything to remedy the team's fundamental structural flaws or its Steinbrennerian culture issues.


70s/80s Steinbrenner is a good comp. There is no small amount of silliness around the Abramovich-run Chelsea team but at the same time they bring in elite players and they are the reigning European champs so it's hard to say that it's been a particularly harmful approach. Of course the late-80s/early-90s Yankees provide a cautionary tale.
   211. JuanGone..except1game Posted: November 21, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4307370)
And the inevitable happened at Chelsea. They probably already have lined up the next manager, my guess is that it's a big name like Pep. To make the process more efficient, they should start looking for the replacement for Di Matteo's replacement now.


I can't lie and say that I'm not embarassed this morning for my club. Today's firing of RDM borders on the ludicrous. Yesterday was a tough defeat, but we are basically playing the last month without a striker whether Torres is or isn't in the lineup and Sturridge hasn't been fit. Chelsea has been better than I thought coming into the season with a transitional lineup with lots of young players, a thin and poor form striker position and the Terry debacle. AVB deserved his sacking, but I don't see how RDM did, especially considering that he's family and has trophies to show for less than a year of effort. Torres and the board that gave him that crazy contract has a lot more to do with our autumn swoon than RDM has.
   212. Flynn Posted: November 21, 2012 at 11:09 AM (#4307378)
Nothing Chelsea do is going to fix their problem. Abramovich is the problem.

Obviously it's a problem a lot of teams would love to have and I am not for a moment suggesting that Chelsea are going to finish midtable or anything. But Abramovich wants Chelsea to basically be like late-50s Real Madrid in their dominance and it's just not going to happen. Not everybody wants to play for them and many of those who do play for them - or coach for them - are in it for the big paycheck. They've reached the point of diminishing returns, where the more he meddles the less likely Chelsea are going to become the dominant team he wants but he doesn't get that.

I would also suggest that even if Pep comes it won't change a lot. Abramovich is going to force him to play his guys, he's going to bring in guys Pep doesn't really care for and Pep is going to be there for the paycheck. If he fails out loud everybody will chalk it up to Chelsea being run by a lunatic and he'll be able to walk into any job in world football as if Chelsea never happened. It's also not his club like Barca was, so I don't think he'll bring the 100% dedication that basically forced him to quit the Barca job before he keeled over from a heart attack.
   213. Textbook Editor Posted: November 21, 2012 at 11:13 AM (#4307379)
I'd be shocked if Pep left New York now.


He can't leave NYC now! In a few weeks the family's taking a trip up to do pre-Xmas tourist-y things, and one of the main reasons TE Jr. is excited to go is that he fully expects he will bump into Pep somewhere in our wanderings and be able to chat his up with the rudimentary, 2nd-grade-level Spanish that he knows...

I tried explaining to him that the odds are pretty much stacked against this happening, but in his head, if Pep's spending a year in NYC, why wouldn't he just be wandering around the city all the time, doing all the tourist-y stuff we do? Ah, the logic of a seven-year-old.

Aside from the fact you know you'll get a payout for doing nothing because you're guaranteed to be fired before the end of your contract... why on Earth would anyone with serious managerial ambitions take the Chelsea job? Or maybe that's exactly why: you know you'll get a nice fat check in the end to do nothing.
   214. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: November 21, 2012 at 11:14 AM (#4307380)
What governs that situation? Is that a rule infraction or just a gentlemens' agreement?

Just a gentleman's agreement and a general sense of fair play. I think in the replay you can see a half-hearted appeal by the Nordsjaelland players towards the ref and he just kind of shrugs. Nothing Adriano did is illegal, it's just extremely frowned upon. Shakhtar's manager Lucescu said after the game Adriano wouldn't be punished. You can read a translation of his press conference here.

Ridiculous that Di Matteo got sacked. Utterly ridiculous.
   215. I am going to be Frank Posted: November 21, 2012 at 11:55 AM (#4307420)
Well Chelsea has had the most success in Champions League when they fired their coach left mid-season. Going to be tricky to advance this season but there is precedence!

I can't imagine Roman liking Rafa's playing style. I seem to recall he played pretty defensively his last years at Liverpool.
   216. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: November 21, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4307441)
Aside from the fact you know you'll get a payout for doing nothing because you're guaranteed to be fired before the end of your contract... why on Earth would anyone with serious managerial ambitions take the Chelsea job? Or maybe that's exactly why: you know you'll get a nice fat check in the end to do nothing.


Since Roman took over they've won 3 EPL titles, 4 FA Cups, a Champions League, been Champions League runners up and advanced to the Champions League semis four other times. It's a short term gig but it's one that is going to come with a lot of money, a lot of attention and ultimately should come with at least one significant accomplishment. Not terrible for six months work.

Obviously you go in with eyes wide open but if you do that it doesn't seem the worst option in the world. It's not like going someplace where you're goal is to avoid relegation. Of the recent crop has any manager seen any meaningful decline in his reputation? It doesn't seem like it to me. Maybe Grant.
   217. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: November 21, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4307449)
So the only way left for Chelsea to advance is to have Shakhtar beat Juventus and Chelsea beat Nordsjaelland, correct?
   218. Swedish Chef Posted: November 21, 2012 at 12:31 PM (#4307465)
Some nebulous entity has now bought Leeds from Ken Bates. Hopefully it's the last time we see him around.
   219. Sweet Posted: November 21, 2012 at 01:06 PM (#4307505)
I tried explaining to him that the odds are pretty much stacked against this happening, but in his head, if Pep's spending a year in NYC, why wouldn't he just be wandering around the city all the time, doing all the tourist-y stuff we do? Ah, the logic of a seven-year-old.

Pep's daughter goes to school in NYC with my friend's kid, and my friend has gotten to know him a bit through school functions and birthday parties, which Pep seems to faithfully attend. He's apparently living a normal Upper West Side life in relative anonymity. No clue whether he'd leave that for Chelsea midyear, but I sort of doubt it.
   220. SuperGrover Posted: November 21, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4307511)
What governs that situation? Is that a rule infraction or just a gentlemens' agreement? Everything I've read is pretty harshly condemning Adriano for it but at the same time it doesn't seem like their is any enforceable remedy. Can UEFA suspend or fine Adriano/Shaktar? Can Shaktar unilaterally elect to fine Adriano?


Gentlemen's agreement, but on ethat is pretty universally accepted (unlike, say, not bunting in a no hitter). My guess is UEFA levies a fine or Shaktar does it to themselves. Luckily, the game ended in a blowout so no replay was necessary (unlike last time this happened in the FA Cup - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whO5GAFBp30).

I can't lie and say that I'm not embarassed this morning for my club. Today's firing of RDM borders on the ludicrous. Yesterday was a tough defeat, but we are basically playing the last month without a striker whether Torres is or isn't in the lineup and Sturridge hasn't been fit. Chelsea has been better than I thought coming into the season with a transitional lineup with lots of young players, a thin and poor form striker position and the Terry debacle. AVB deserved his sacking, but I don't see how RDM did, especially considering that he's family and has trophies to show for less than a year of effort. Torres and the board that gave him that crazy contract has a lot more to do with our autumn swoon than RDM has.


Agreed. Liverpool complain about their talent but at least they have Suarez. Chelsea has absolute shite up front and has been beat up at the back. Not replacing Drogba with a similar striker was unforgivable.
   221. SuperGrover Posted: November 21, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4307514)
So the only way left for Chelsea to advance is to have Shakhtar beat Juventus and Chelsea beat Nordsjaelland, correct?


Yep. Don't see Juve losing a game in which a draw gets them through. Hope I am wrong though.
   222. Swedish Chef Posted: November 21, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4307528)
Rafa is said to be on a plane to London.
   223. Textbook Editor Posted: November 21, 2012 at 02:42 PM (#4307569)
Pep's daughter goes to school in NYC with my friend's kid, and my friend has gotten to know him a bit through school functions and birthday parties, which Pep seems to faithfully attend. He's apparently living a normal Upper West Side life in relative anonymity. No clue whether he'd leave that for Chelsea midyear, but I sort of doubt it.


That's awesome. In the back of my mind I sort of hope he expresses a desire to take over the Red Bulls and lead them to CONCACAF Champions League glory while bringing tiki-taka to NYC.

The real question: Does your friend know if Pep likes skating at Bryant Park? And, if so, would he be doing so sometime the week of December 3rd? A certain seven-year-old would love to know... ;)
   224. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: November 21, 2012 at 02:48 PM (#4307575)
Luckily, the game ended in a blowout so no replay was necessary (unlike last time this happened in the FA Cup - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whO5GAFBp30).


I'd heard of the Arsenal-Sheffield game but never seen the clip. Interesting that only a small number of fans behind the net seemed to be celebrating the goal.
   225. ursus arctos Posted: November 21, 2012 at 03:27 PM (#4307607)
223, Pep is living a block away from our old building, and our old doorman knows his doorman, etc.

Dunno their attitude to skating, but would think that Wollman (or even Lasker) would be a more likely destination than Bryant Park, which is really just for tourists and denizens of midtown.

Lots of reports that Rafa will be unveiled this evening.
   226. DA Baracus Posted: November 21, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4307620)
Benitez to Chelsea official. Good luck with that Rafa. You will need it.
   227. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: November 21, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4307646)
So the only way left for Chelsea to advance is to have Shakhtar beat Juventus and Chelsea beat Nordsjaelland, correct?

I'm a Chelsea fan, but I'm sort of weirdly excited about this, because I have tickets to Chelsea-Nordsjaelland, and it might be a bit exciting to see a game that really matters! Although I'd rather they'd beaten Juve, of course.

Rafa might actually suit Chelsea. More organisation, more discipline will help, I think.
   228. Swedish Chef Posted: November 21, 2012 at 04:27 PM (#4307677)
I see Rafa is officially a stopgap, maybe they should designate all their future managers as such for truth in advertising.

Guess Rafa's role is to keep the seat warm for the future big name then. That elusive long-term dude.
   229. Swedish Chef Posted: November 21, 2012 at 05:03 PM (#4307712)
   230. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: November 22, 2012 at 12:43 AM (#4307925)
Not much drama left to be had in the group stages in terms of progression. Groups A-D and F are determined. Chelsea need a longshot to get past Juventus in Group E. Benfica and Celtic are tied on points in Group G, but Benfica holds the tiebreaker so Celtic need to better their result. Galatasaray and Cluj are tied on points in Group H, but Galatasaray holds the tiebreaker so Cluj need to better their result.
   231. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 22, 2012 at 08:26 PM (#4308168)
So, in THTF news, Spurs ended today's sort of ok draw at Lazio with just about their best XI on the pitch. It's not really a 4-4-2, because Adebayor plays well off Defoe, really more in the #10 position that had been Sigurdsson's and Dempsey's. It looked a lot more like a 4-2-3-1, with Dembele and Sandro lying deep, Lennon and Bale on the wings. Adebayor was about ten times more useful than Dempsey or Siggy in that position, and everyone else should be good.

They weren't able to produce that much in 15 minutes today, but I think it's a really competitive lineup for the premier league.

It looks like I'm going to be going to the Spurs-Panathinaikos in two weeks. That should be fun, one hopes.
   232. Mattbert Posted: November 23, 2012 at 12:35 AM (#4308192)
I see the most charming elements of the Lazio support decided to up the ante in Rome last night. I have no idea if some of the pictures of injured Tottenham fans that are making the rounds are legit, but they're enough to turn your stomach. I hope for the sake of those ten or twelve Spurs supporters confirmed hurt and/or hospitalized that the photos are not them. Appalling.

As for the game, Lloris probably grabs the headlines with a sensational shift. Hopefully AVB sticks with him for the weekend. Carroll wasn't as effective as he was against Maribor, but it was a disgrace that his peach of a through ball for Bale to score early on was wrongly chalked off for offside. That's three, maybe four, perfectly good goals that've been called back over the two Lazio fixtures. Good grief.

It sure was great to see the Moose back out there late on. Someone who'll take a man on in midfield and beat him! I'd nearly forgotten what that looked like. Lazio (and everyone else Spurs have played since Dembele's been out) had it too easy insofar as they knew pressure on the ball in midfield would almost certainly result in a sideways or backwards pass. Hoping for a 4-3-3 against West Ham with Sandro, Dembele, and Carroll in midfield to give Spurs a little more authority in their buildup play.
   233. DA Baracus Posted: November 23, 2012 at 08:34 AM (#4308239)
Hughes sacked at QPR looks like Redknapp will replace him.
   234. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: November 23, 2012 at 09:08 AM (#4308248)
So how about that 1978 World Cup Tunisia side, eh? The clip for the Poland game is particularly good - that would have really been a classic goal, had it been maybe four inches lower.
   235. Swedish Chef Posted: November 23, 2012 at 02:53 PM (#4308401)
Adebayor: I will leave if Tottenham want me to

That's a pretty strange suggestion.
   236. puck Posted: November 23, 2012 at 05:33 PM (#4308463)
I see the most charming elements of the Lazio support decided to up the ante in Rome last night.

Ugh! Just incredible.

Edit: wait, the suspects are Roma fans? That seems even more effed up.
   237. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: November 23, 2012 at 08:09 PM (#4308503)
Adebayor: I will leave if Tottenham want me to

That's a pretty strange suggestion.
Obviously there's some degree of mind-reading here, I think Adebayor was more saying that he wasn't going to be a first-team regular, he'd want out.

It's a really odd headline.
   238. Swedish Chef Posted: November 24, 2012 at 08:43 AM (#4308596)
So it's Harry for QPR, that's a real test for him, but he's been in that situation before. There's probably no better manager for that position.

He says he "fancied" the Ukraine job. The newsmill says QPR had to act before he took that job, which is why Hughes got the sack now. Not that they really needed an excuse for firing him now.
   239. I am going to be Frank Posted: November 24, 2012 at 11:17 AM (#4308627)
I guess this a good time for 'arry to get in. It gives him a little over a month to evaluate the team and then the transfer window opens and he can start his wheeling and dealing.
   240. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: November 24, 2012 at 11:27 AM (#4308629)
   241. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: November 24, 2012 at 12:19 PM (#4308652)
Hannover should officially have to rename their city to Rollover. Can I petition the White House for that?
   242. I am going to be Frank Posted: November 24, 2012 at 01:30 PM (#4308667)
United wins again after going down. They should be hammering QPR 5-0 if Ferguson never wants to lose on goal differential again.
   243. Swedish Chef Posted: November 24, 2012 at 03:38 PM (#4308696)
Add Inverness to the teams that are better than Barcelona.
   244. ursus arctos Posted: November 25, 2012 at 09:09 AM (#4309077)
Or to put it another way.

Super Caley were fantastic, Celtic are atrocious.
   245. DA Baracus Posted: November 25, 2012 at 12:36 PM (#4309125)
Chelsea fans loud and hostile towards Benitez. This going to be great.
   246. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: November 25, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4309147)
The two games I've seen today, Liverpool/Swamsea and now Chelsea/ManCity have been awful. In 150 minutes between te two games their haven't been five decent scoring chances and there has been a his of truly awful and mistimed passes.
   247. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: November 25, 2012 at 01:23 PM (#4309152)
The two games I've seen today, Liverpool/Swamsea and now Chelsea/ManCity have been awful. In 150 minutes between te two games their haven't been five decent scoring chances and there has been a his of truly awful and mistimed passes.

Well, Spurs are scoring some goals, so there's that.
   248. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: November 25, 2012 at 03:59 PM (#4309207)
'Arry has quite a task ahead of him. QPR has 25 games left, and so far they've only got 4 points. If you go for the traditional 40-points-for-safety number, they're going to need something like 1.5 points per game to reach that. Luckily for them, they've played a fair amount of their tough games (they have away to Chelsea, but that's probably the toughest one). Still, even if 'Arry turns them around a lot, they could go down very easily.
   249. Spivey Posted: November 25, 2012 at 04:59 PM (#4309217)
QPR has way more talent than a last placed team should have. A lot of that is past-its-prime talent or overrated, but there are still good players on that team. The key is they just need to beat the bad teams at home - these are also the teams they're competing with, so it's killing two birds with one stone.
   250. ursus arctos Posted: November 25, 2012 at 10:20 PM (#4309362)
I think 40 may well be an unnecessarily high bar.

They stayed up last season with 37', and three seasons ago the best relegated club only managed 30.

35 won't be easy, but it could very well be enough.
   251. DA Baracus Posted: November 25, 2012 at 11:14 PM (#4309402)
Landon Donovan hints that Saturday might be his last game. Ever.

Speaking of last games on Saturday and QPR, they would answer if Beckham called.
   252. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: November 26, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4309746)
It almost feels like the English guys are on here to fill some kind of quota or something.
   253. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: November 26, 2012 at 03:15 PM (#4309860)
Ha. It's pretty hilarious that Gerrard and Lampard are on there.
   254. JuanGone..except1game Posted: November 27, 2012 at 05:01 PM (#4310864)
Chelsea fans loud and hostile towards Benitez. This going to be great.


Liked the Rafa hate, but absolutely LOVED the RDM chants. RDM deserved to know that some non-meglomaniac's appreciated both his tenure as a player and winning the f-ing Champions League trophy.


Obviously still a rumour, but good god would I love Jozy on Chelsea. This is exactly why I hate sports sometimes because its so seductive even when you hate your own club. Falcoa would obviously be a lot better option, but I'd love to see Jozy as a target man in front of Mata, Oscar and Hazard. Wouldn't be a bad fallback option to Torres's terribleness.
   255. DA Baracus Posted: November 27, 2012 at 05:02 PM (#4310868)
I would hate Jozy on Chelsea because then I would have to like Chelsea and they do everything possible to make themselves unlikable.
   256. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: November 27, 2012 at 11:45 PM (#4311122)
Anyone know if the Liverpool/Spurs game tomorrow is going to be archived on ESPN3? It seems to me that EPL games this year generally have not been archived, but looking on tomorrow's schedule, it says "Live Only" next to the West Ham/Man United game (also on ESPN3). Does this imply that the games that don't have the "Live Only" tag are archived?
   257. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: November 27, 2012 at 11:51 PM (#4311127)
Anyone know if the Liverpool/Spurs game tomorrow is going to be archived on ESPN3? It seems to me that EPL games this year generally have not been archived, but looking on tomorrow's schedule, it says "Live Only" next to the West Ham/Man United game (also on ESPN3). Does this imply that the games that don't have the "Live Only" tag are archived?

I was curious about this as well. There are 4 EPL games tomorrow on ESPN3 and Spurs/Liverpool is the only one that doesn't say "Live Only". I'll be in class when the game is live so it would be great if it were archived.
   258. Mattbert Posted: November 28, 2012 at 10:15 AM (#4311256)
Nice piece on Riccardo Montolivo and Milan from Michael Cox yesterday:
Montolivo's performance was more inspirational given the context of the game – not just looking at the league table, but in terms of aesthetic quality. Pre-match discussion about Milan versus Juventus is now, inevitably, one big joke about how Milan were foolish enough to release Pirlo last summer, although it should be noted that he was seeking a new challenge. Not only did they release Pirlo, they favoured more functional, hard-working, destructive players. "Allegri wanted to place [Massimo] Ambrosini or Van Bommel in front of the defence," Pirlo said. "I'd have to change role … in my role Allegri preferred other players."

Of course, Allegri still does – De Jong was also vital in Milan's victory, sniping and battling in front of the defence. But Montolivo's prominence proved that Milan can play football. In a side that once squeezed Rui Costa, Kaka, Clarence Seedorf and Pirlo into the same midfield, it's a completely different side under Allegri. De Jong is a tackler, Nocerino a box-to-box man, and Kevin-Prince Boateng an unusual attacking midfielder that offers more aggression than guile. Montolivo is almost solely responsible for Milan's creativity, and yet he offered so much more.
   259. SuperGrover Posted: November 28, 2012 at 02:00 PM (#4311517)
Anyone know if the Liverpool/Spurs game tomorrow is going to be archived on ESPN3? It seems to me that EPL games this year generally have not been archived, but looking on tomorrow's schedule, it says "Live Only" next to the West Ham/Man United game (also on ESPN3). Does this imply that the games that don't have the "Live Only" tag are archived?


Don't know for sure but am fairly certain ESPN does not have digital rights to game archives. Could be wrong.
   260. SuperGrover Posted: November 28, 2012 at 02:02 PM (#4311519)
Bad Idea Jeans

Seems awful to me. One of the things that makes the UCL so special is the quality of the group stages. Why change it? Right up there with the proposal to expand the NCAA basketball tournament to 128 teams. Leave well enough alone.
   261. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: November 28, 2012 at 02:10 PM (#4311530)
I like the Europa League but the teams certainly don't seem too excited by it. It's kind of a "more is better than less" thing for me but if the teams are not going to take it seriously then should it be played.

Most of my focus is on the EPL though so maybe I'm projecting an EPL attitude toward the rest of the continent erroneously. I just go back to about a year or two ago when Stoke City gave it a short shrift. If a club like Stoke isn't going to get fired up for it, who is?
   262. SuperGrover Posted: November 28, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4311603)
Most of my focus is on the EPL though so maybe I'm projecting an EPL attitude toward the rest of the continent erroneously. I just go back to about a year or two ago when Stoke City gave it a short shrift. If a club like Stoke isn't going to get fired up for it, who is?


I don't care that much if Europa is scrapped; I would prefer it stick around because the knockout stages are exciting. I am more concerned about expanding the UCL. It's big enough in my opinion,

Maybe they should trim the Europa league as well? Liverpool has been playing games since August. Maybe they should trim the qualifying rounds a bit although I would guess those are pretty important games for smaller clubs from around the continent.
   263. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: November 28, 2012 at 03:09 PM (#4311618)
I'll be in class when the game is live so it would be great if it were archived.


If it doesn't say "Live Only", it should be archived.

They don't archive all of the EPL games, but they do archive some.

For example, the Tottenham v Chelsea match from 10/20 is still available on replay ...
   264. SuperGrover Posted: November 28, 2012 at 03:27 PM (#4311646)
Never break an unwritten rule!

Not surprising. Good thing the game was a blow out.
   265. SuperGrover Posted: November 28, 2012 at 03:28 PM (#4311648)
Mata dropped again from Chelsea? Hmmm. Not sure what to make of that considering he was their best player for a good while this year. Seems shortsighted.
   266. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: November 28, 2012 at 03:32 PM (#4311655)
Teams don't want to be in the Europa League because there are too many games. If the Europa League didn't have group stages, just straight knockout, it would be better. The group stage reduces 48 teams, 10 of which have dropped out of the Champions League, to 32 teams. Holy ####### bananas! What a waste of time!
   267. ursus arctos Posted: November 28, 2012 at 06:23 PM (#4311825)
The 64-team Champions League thing strikes me as exactly the kind of idea that Platini would float in order to unleash a wave of criticism which will strengthen his hand in opposing the idea.

He's become a rather skilled football politician.
   268. Mefisto Posted: November 28, 2012 at 08:48 PM (#4311948)
Man, Rafa sure knows how to dull up a game.
   269. Mattbert Posted: November 28, 2012 at 10:59 PM (#4312020)
Had caught glimpses of yet another cueball-coiffed Liverpool player in highlights, confirmed today that it was Jose Enrique. Rounding out the foursome of the Mutant Ninja Skrtels with Agger and Shelvey.
   270. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 28, 2012 at 11:06 PM (#4312028)
I spent a little bit of money to get access to some stats this year. I have a lot of trouble following sports without having at least a little bit of data to throw into a spreadsheet. I wanted to look, first, just at some team-level stuff - what stats predict goals scored and goals allowed?

Looking at correlations between even and odd weeks for previous seasons, it appears that Shots on Target + Shots of Woodwork are the best predictor of goals scored (better, by a notable but not huge margin, than goals scored). A big portion of finishing skill is just getting the ball on target, and actually beating the keeper has a good bit of random variation to it.

I've seen people talking about the utility of "shots in the box", but that looks like more of a descriptive than predictive stat to me - it's not showing any real improvement in correlation.

There are clearly teams that are better and worse at converting shots on target - Man U scored 16 more goals than you'd expect based on SoT+SWW last year, and they've scored 6 more this year. City was +17 last year but exactly league average this year. Given that it's pretty much the same stable of attackers for City, that could be a little good fortune last year, a little bad fortune this year, or a combination of the two. Liverpool of course remain a disaster, -19 last year and already -3 so far this year.

The big overperformer by this metric isn't surprising - it's West Brom. They're already +5.5. My guess is that attack has been a little lucky and will fall off a bit. Chelsea is +4.5, and it may be that their early attacking brilliance was partly good fortune and the ugliness under Benitez is a bit of rough regression. (On the other hand, maybe the interplay of the #10s was creating particularly great chances and Benitez's defensive modifications to the formation have hurt.)

The big underperformer that is most likely to improve is Newcastle. They were +7 with the same core attack last year, and -5 already this year. Everton, interestingly, are only slightly ahead of Newcastle in conversion rate, already 4 goals below average. Everton's attack is probably for real, and might be even better than they've shown so far. QPR is underperforming more than anyone else at -6. They were -3 last year, so to some degree they just don't have great finishing talent, but they're probably better than this.

Annoyingly, I can't find shots on target conceded anywhere, so I can't do much of an analysis of defense.
   271. SuperGrover Posted: November 28, 2012 at 11:26 PM (#4312043)
Hey Matt, you should come check out the Shots on Target blog. We have a small group of pretty engaged fantasy footballers who are trying to work through the baby steps of football sabermetrics. Might be interesting for you.

From my work, I have found shots on target have strong correlation on the offensive side, but it's much weaker on the defensive side of things. My theory is that is essentially the influence of the goal keeper. I have written up more about it here.

Hope you can stop by.
   272. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 28, 2012 at 11:36 PM (#4312051)
I've been reading the blog on and off. I like the work. Thanks for the invite.

I'll go and read your stuff in the forums, but are you combining SoT and SoWW? It made a small but real difference in the numbers I looked at to include shots off the post with shots on target.

It's incredibly frustrating how difficult it is to get useful stats. I feel like football stats / fantasy football stats are pretty much trapped in 1987 right now, where the best we've got is the USA weekly league stat updates. I think I was only reading the blogs on and off in part because it was so frustrating not be able to #### around with the numbers myself. (And because of, you know, work and life.)
   273. SuperGrover Posted: November 29, 2012 at 02:14 AM (#4312111)
I am actually using Opta's Big Chances in combination with SOT. I have found pretty good improvement with the data available, although admittedly it is a limited data set on the defensive side of things (SOT allowed only for last year and this season). The Big Chances are admittedly subjective, but they are showing some value. I would prefer to move off them at some point but haven't gotten there. I did briefly look at incorporating hitting woodwork, but I dismissed it fairly quickly for some forgotten reason. Maybe I should re look at it.

My model correlation for this season are 0.82 for goals scored and 0.73 for goals allowed. The goals scored is discouraging (it's worse than plain SOT) but the goals allowed is much improved over plain SOT allowed (which is 0.55). Last season, the numbers were 0.89 for attack and 0.90 for defense. Will be interesting to see if this season trends towards last year's data.

And yes, I agree on the frustration. I was shocked at how little there was for fantasy football. This is my first season playing and it's become a mini-obsession of mine. I used to be the same way about American fantasy football, but I feel those numbers have been picked to death at this point. This feels like a new frontier of sorts.

Anyway, the forums over there offer some pretty good discussion, especially when it comes to fantasy selections. We have only a small group of regular posters, but they have some great thoughts and their teams are pretty good (better than mine at least; I'm around 150K).

   274. SuperGrover Posted: November 29, 2012 at 02:16 AM (#4312112)
Oh and I should mention that I have painfully built some software that analyzes the data once I download it. That's how I have defensive data. It is a pain in the arse, but at least I am able to use my now dormant Java skills for something productive!
   275. zack Posted: November 29, 2012 at 10:21 AM (#4312201)
The most important question about Spurs-Liverpool must be asked: who won diving gold?
   276. Mattbert Posted: November 29, 2012 at 10:49 AM (#4312225)
The most important question about Spurs-Liverpool must be asked: who won diving gold?

I would say, in a shocker*, Clint Dempsey. Bale got booked for being tripped by Daniel Agger, and Suarez stayed on his feet for the most part. He went down looking for a penalty at one point, but there was legitimate contact there - after the ball had been won off him, though.

* Not really, if you watch Clint a lot. He's very good at winning free kicks in the attacking third.
   277. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: November 29, 2012 at 10:52 AM (#4312227)
I'll begrudgingly put in a defense of Spurs. All three players who went down theatrically yesterday were clipped. Henderson seemed to get Dempsey, Sterling got Vertonghen and Agger definitely got Bale. Dempsey's was frustrating because (a) the contact is ever-so slight, and (b) he takes a moment after his heel is clipped to decide whether to play on before making his splash landing. (Ultimately, though, still a foul on Henderson, at least IMO.) I don't know why Bale is being discussed - Agger clearly got his foot while Bale was running at close to full speed. Definitely a foul, definitely not a yellow card.

Of course, the two non penalties is another discussion. I think you could make a case for both as penalties. To have neither awarded is tough to swallow. Then again, you simply can't come out and lay an egg in the first 15 minutes against such a clinical team and expect to get away with it. Three wins out of 14 -- yeech. Do they let you drink whiskey at work?
   278. Mattbert Posted: November 29, 2012 at 11:38 AM (#4312281)
I agree with your assessment, Keith - although I think you're being charitable to Dempsey. That was a very soft foul--if any--and I would have been furious if a similar call had been given against Spurs. It looked to me like Clint was expecting more contact after he felt the hand on his back/shoulder, and when it didn't come he tripped over his own feet.

Both penalty appeals were very narrow decisions, but I think Dowd got them both correct - although I freely admit my bias here. Gerrard and Suarez were both felled by Spurs defenders, but only after the ball had been taken off them cleanly prior to contact. Risky challenges, and definitely heart in the mouth moments for me, but Dembele and Gallas got the ball before getting the man. Contrast that with Glen Johnson wiping out Bale on the touchline before hooking the ball back into play late in the second half. Right in front of the assistant and no foul given. Could easily have been a booking.

Overall I felt Liverpool were unfortunate not to get at least a point from that game, even with Spurs ripping them apart in the first 20 minutes or so. Like West Ham, I think their mistake was allowing Tottenham to get too comfortable in midfield until they went behind. Once Liverpool got their legs under them and Spurs backed off their high press, the pendulum swung well in Liverpool's favor. Spurs' fitness wasn't good enough to maintain the frantic press in the second half, and Allen and Gerrard suddenly had plenty of time to pick out the runs of their front three. And Gallas played them onside about four times.

I give Rodgers credit for being brave and pushing his fullbacks way up in the second half, which meant Spurs had no wide outlets with Bale and Lennon having to defend so much. And there's no reliable out ball besides them once Dempsey ran out of gas and was subbed. Sigurdsson did his defensive work well, but he's not a hold-up option. If Adebayor wasn't suspended, I think Tottenham wins that game a lot more comfortably.

I would have brought on Carroll instead of Siggy, though, and probably would have done it five to ten minutes earlier. Spurs needed that extra passer in the midfield to control possession better; Dempsey and Sigurdsson weren't contributing much in that respect, being positioned higher up. Anyway, Liverpool were able to keep the pressure on and really should have scored three or four had their finishing and general sharpness in the box not let them down. Unfortunate that the same refrain keeps popping up, but they can take a lot of positives from their performance. Once your boys got their act together, they kicked our butts for a good solid hour.
   279. Mattbert Posted: November 29, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4312413)
Richard Jolly tackles the the risk of buying local in the Premier League.
The major difficulty is that there is a comparatively small group of high-class British footballers, the vast majority owned, and in many cases produced, by United, City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal, and thus effectively out of reach. The laws of supply and demand dictate that the smaller the talent pool, the larger the prices for the few available players can be.

Factor in the difficulty of signing other excellent Englishmen - for instance, Liverpool would struggle to sign from Everton, or vice versa - and it reduces the options still further. The isolated exceptions can be in demand and, as Young proved in preferring Old Trafford to Anfield, can opt for destinations with a guarantee of Champions League football.
I would say that's half right. The major difficulty is that the best English players just aren't very good right now, and most are fairly ill-suited to playing the style of football increasingly in vogue at the top clubs. This may change now that the FA has at least been paying lip service to the idea of developing talent that can play a more European style, but it won't change overnight. Even if English youth development is no longer overtly hostile towards small, quick, and nimble technical players, it's not clear that they know how to best utilize such players yet (as Leon Osman's absence from the England team--until getting his first cap in his early 30s--will attest).

In the meantime, I have to wonder if the home-grown player quotas are not having the opposite effect to the one intended. Far from providing more opportunities for up-and-coming and fringe-y domestic players to develop at the top level, it seems like such players are merely being hoovered up by the biggest clubs principally to make up the numbers and are only in the squad for insurance in case of a dire injury crisis afflicting the largely imported first-choice (and sometimes second-choice) players.

At best, young Englishmen are mainly getting bit-part roles. Jolly mentions Scott Sinclair in his article, a great example of a young guy with some promise who was blatantly signed for his nationality and little else. Same goes for his teammate Jack Rodwell, for Adam Johnson before them, and for Victor Moses, who's gotten a few more opportunities than Sinclair but not by much. Although he's chosen not to represent England at international level, it seems obvious that Chelsea were interested primarily because he qualifies as a home-grown player. For every Steven Caulker and Raheem Sterling, there are many more young players hardly getting a sniff. It's one thing if they're just plain not good enough. It's another thing for the big clubs to know they're not good enough but still have the cynical incentive to pay them solely to hang around the fringes of the squad and be available if the three guys ahead of them on the depth chart all go down at the same time.
   280. DA Baracus Posted: November 29, 2012 at 01:20 PM (#4312426)
I hate home grown player quotas, or it's counter part, limits on foreign players. (Especially in Football Manager.) Then again I hate pretty much any restriction on player movement in any sport, particularly the xenophobic ones.
   281. Gaelan Posted: November 29, 2012 at 01:24 PM (#4312433)
Seems awful to me. One of the things that makes the UCL so special is the quality of the group stages. Why change it? Right up there with the proposal to expand the NCAA basketball tournament to 128 teams. Leave well enough alone.


I find the champions league group stages unwatchable, empty stands and many pointless games, while I quite like the qualifying stage that precedes it. Getting rid of the group stages of the champions league and making it a straight tournament would be awesome. Further, this wouldn't be a dilution of the champions league since all of those teams already compete for it.
   282. PepTech Posted: November 29, 2012 at 01:27 PM (#4312437)
Speaking of foreign players - test your knowledge! Hint: Argentina is not Messi.
   283. Swedish Chef Posted: November 29, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4312456)
Remember when the CL had two group stages? That was strange.
   284. Mattbert Posted: November 29, 2012 at 02:04 PM (#4312481)
Speaking of foreign players - test your knowledge! Hint: Argentina is not Messi.

Sporcle says it's not Tevez either, which I think is wrong. And upon learning the "answer" I definitely object, as the valuation given was based on a cash + players transfer with less than half the reported value coming from cash. That's bollocks.
   285. PepTech Posted: November 29, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4312526)
Yeah, the quizmaker himself noted that there's a lot of ambiguity in transfer fees:

Lavezzi? no Di Maria? no Aguero? no Tevez? no Pastore? no I can't tell you how baffled I was with Argentina.

Yeah, I'm kind of surprised this one was published because it's so hard to find agreement on what transfer fees actually are. Different websites give different results. So it's not a quiz I'm that confident is entirely accurate.


Still, it's fun picking off places like Trinidad and Iceland.
   286. I am going to be Frank Posted: November 29, 2012 at 02:39 PM (#4312538)
Has anyone bought FM2013? Is it worth upgrading from FM 2012?
   287. Mattbert Posted: November 29, 2012 at 02:42 PM (#4312542)
The one that drove me crazy was Romania. I knew who it was. Could see his face, knew the clubs he's played for, all of it. Even knew what letter his first name began with. COULD NOT come up with the rest of the damn name, though.
   288. Mattbert Posted: November 29, 2012 at 04:37 PM (#4312673)
Jonathan Wilson takes a few swings at the Ronaldo punching bag:
When Ronaldo comes up against a strong driving right-back, Real struggle. Dani Alves, for all his defensive flaws, has generally had the better of him in Clásicos over the past three seasons. Philip Lahm, in the first leg particularly, was key as Bayern Munich won their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid last season – his overlap led directly to Mario Gómez's winner. Ronaldo was still good enough to score twice in the second leg; the question is whether the problems he causes the team shape are worth it.

It was a similar story against Dortmund this season. Essien, playing at left-back in the game in Germany, was widely blamed for his inability to handle Marco Reus but Ronaldo's failure to check Lukasz Piszczek's surges for right-back were just as much to blame. You wonder what might have happened at the Euros had the Czech Republic had the courage to attack Ronaldo with Theodor Gebreselassie.

In a world in which systematised football is de rigueur, Ronaldo is an anachronism. Collective pressing was devised in the USSR in the 1960s by Viktor Maslov, who culled from his Dynamo Kyiv team anybody who refused to fulfil their share of defensive work. That included a hugely popular and skilful but dilettantish left winger – Lobanovskyi; Ronaldo, it's fair to say, is unlikely to follow a similar path to the Colonel, beguiling as it is to think of him in 30 years glowering from beneath a leather cap in a dugout having redefined the use of science in football. Only one player, the attacking midfielder Andriy Biba "retained full rights of democracy"; playing centrally he didn't have to attack the opposing full-back. Had Ronaldo moved into the middle, his lack of defensive work might have been possible to accommodate; by insisting on playing wide, it becomes, given the importance of attacking full-backs in the modern game, a liability.
   289. I am going to be Frank Posted: November 29, 2012 at 05:45 PM (#4312745)
nothing super new - Ferguson played him through the middle and Rooney out wide left during a couple of those Champions League runs. At least back then he faked it. At Madrid he just doesn't care any more.
   290. zack Posted: November 29, 2012 at 05:54 PM (#4312760)
Only one player, the attacking midfielder Andriy Biba "retained full rights of democracy"; playing centrally he didn't have to attack the opposing full-back. Had Ronaldo moved into the middle, his lack of defensive work might have been possible to accommodate; by insisting on playing wide, it becomes, given the importance of attacking full-backs in the modern game, a liability.

Is this suggesting that it's easier to hide a floater in central midfield then up on a far wing? That may be true but it seems completely backwards to me.
   291. Mattbert Posted: November 29, 2012 at 05:58 PM (#4312765)
Is this suggesting that it's easier to hide a floater in central midfield then up on a far wing? That may be true but it seems completely backwards to me.

Center forward rather than central midfield, but yes. Wilson's saying Ronaldo's lack of enthusiasm for defending is less of a handicap there because he's not letting the fullback fly past him; he's matched up against center backs in that position.

The examples given by Frank in #289 are referenced.
   292. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 29, 2012 at 06:08 PM (#4312779)
Attacking central midfield, right? Sort of "in the hole"? Wilson's example wasn't of a center forward staying up, it was about the midfielder he'd allow to shirk some defensive responsibilities.

I took the logic to be similar in either case - if the winger doesn't defend, then the fullback behind him can easily get dominated in a two-on-one matchup. Whereas if a CAM doesn't defend, the center backs will probably stay back anyway, and you have your own central midfielders and your center backs behind him.

EDIT: Going back over the article, I see that Wilson talks about Ronaldo's time as a center forward with United and compares it to Biba's role with Kyiv, though he calls Biba an attacking midfielder. So I don't really know.
   293. Swedish Chef Posted: November 29, 2012 at 06:36 PM (#4312809)
But it's Mourinho that's deploying Ronaldo there and he's a very tactical-minded manager. I have to think he knows what he is doing.
   294. I am going to be Frank Posted: November 29, 2012 at 06:39 PM (#4312811)
Just read the article. I think someone like Mourinho would be able to compensate for his lack of tracking back, like Ferguson did, or what Swedish Chef just said.
   295. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: November 29, 2012 at 11:41 PM (#4313028)
The one that drove me crazy was Romania. I knew who it was. Could see his face, knew the clubs he's played for, all of it. Even knew what letter his first name began with. COULD NOT come up with the rest of the damn name, though.

I'm guessing you don't listen to The Football Ramble. They like to keep track of that particular player, which is the only reason I got him.
   296. Mattbert Posted: November 30, 2012 at 09:55 AM (#4313186)
I'm guessing you don't listen to The Football Ramble. They like to keep track of that particular player, which is the only reason I got him.

I don't. Another day, another moment and I probably would have come up with the name. Just one of those brain farts...
   297. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: November 30, 2012 at 10:11 AM (#4313189)
I think being critical of Ronaldo's impact on the defensive shape is like complaints about the Yankees hitting too many home runs. There probably is something there in terms of impact in specific cases but the overall benefit is so great that I think it's incumbent on the coach to find a way around it.
   298. Mattbert Posted: November 30, 2012 at 10:13 AM (#4313191)
Going back over the article, I see that Wilson talks about Ronaldo's time as a center forward with United and compares it to Biba's role with Kyiv, though he calls Biba an attacking midfielder. So I don't really know.

I think Wilson is comparing Ronaldo's current role at Real with two things:

1. Ronaldo's past usage as a center forward by Ferguson to minimize United's exposure on the flanks.
2. The different tolerances Maslov had for a lack of defensive work from his wingers versus his central attacking mid.

His main point is that because overlapping runs from attacking fullbacks have become such a widespread tactical feature in today's game, it's also become more important that wingers be able to shoulder some of the burden defensively. That's not Ronaldo's bag, but Mourinho is evidently willing to accommodate Ronaldo's apparent "insistence" on playing wide whereas Ferguson often pushed him into the center for big games (where, like Biba, he could be the one guy with "full rights of democracy" and not be the obvious weak link defensively). This is the first suggestion I've heard that Ronaldo has such influence over his own role in the Real team, so I'd be interested to know where Wilson got that info.
   299. Mattbert Posted: November 30, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4313212)
Speaking of spectacular attacking play, how about this hit from Juan Arango for Gladbach?

Takes a 40-yard diagonal ball on the volley and BOOM.
   300. Mattbert Posted: November 30, 2012 at 10:43 AM (#4313217)
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