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Friday, October 20, 2017

OT: Winter Soccer Thread

November 4 Borussia Dortmund v. Bayern Munich
November 5 Chelsea v. ManU
November 9 & 12 - Northern Ireland v. Switzerland/Croatia v. Greece
November 10 &  13 - Sweden v. Italy
November 11 & 14 - Denmark v. Ireland
November 10 & 15 - Honduras v. Australia
November 11 & 15 - New Zealand v. Peru
November 14 - Portugal v. USA (friendly #&!^#&)
December 1 - Napoli v. Juventus
December 10 - ManU v. ManCity
December 11 - Champions League Round of 16 draw
December 20 - Real Madrid v. Barcelona (how contentious will this be given the political climate?)

Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: October 20, 2017 at 05:27 PM | 2146 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: off topic, soccer

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   1001. Baldrick Posted: March 14, 2018 at 02:50 AM (#5637683)
Champions League quarterfinals: I'm super excited to see Sevilla and Roma here. Neither have a particularly good chance of advancing, but I'd love to see them at least give the marquee teams a game. It feels like this is Man City's to lose at this point, but it's hard to bet on a team that's never actually managed to seal the deal. I still think I'd probably bet on them, but it could really go all sorts of ways. It will certainly be more exciting than the major domestic competitions, which (Serie A aside) are already concluded.

NWSL: I wrote a thing on the Houston Dash, who have been struggling for a long time. I don't really see it improving this year, but I do think there's SOME indication that things might be trending away from total disaster. Maybe.
   1002. Mefisto Posted: March 14, 2018 at 08:56 AM (#5637697)
Writing that should stand you in good stead when you justify the Italian political system. :)
   1003. Chicago Joe Posted: March 14, 2018 at 09:08 AM (#5637701)
"System"
   1004. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 14, 2018 at 01:50 PM (#5637906)
I enjoyed the spectacle of Mourinho downplaying his failure in the CL by mocking his current club. That is all.
   1005. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: March 14, 2018 at 02:44 PM (#5637965)
Amusing stuff from Barnay Ronay over at The Graun:


There was a slightly ghostly moment in the second half at Old Trafford as Manchester United were euthanised from the Champions League knockout stages, a sense of worlds colliding, timelines crossed.

Wissam Ben Yedder had just eased the ball into the corner of David de Gea’s net to make the score 1-0 on the night. As the Sevilla players romped in front of their away support and the Spanish radio commentator broke out of his “gol, gol” chant to shout “ON FIRE ON FIRE” a wiry black-clad figure could be seen sprinting down the touchline, fists pumping.

It was tempting to blink a little at this ghost of Old Trafford, rattling its chains, howling at the portal doors, breaking though, just for a moment, into our world. Like all good cinematic ghosts it seemed to be trying to communicate something: desperation, excitement, the need for United’s players to regroup. And beyond that a sense of something more profound being lost than just a quarter-final spot at the hands of a balanced and deserving Sevilla.

Naturally there were painful echoes of that famous sprint down the same touchline 14 years ago, back when the world was still young, the Mourinho hair a chestnut bouffant, and when Porto’s young manager was announcing his arrival as a Champions League force. Rather than, as on this occasion, his departure.

It will be tempting to resist the cliched circularity of those two sprints, bookends on the José supremacy. But the facts are hard to argue with. And the facts say that when it comes to the real cutting edge of European club football Mourinho is pretty much cooked, his best moments – Inter, Porto – already yellowing at the edges, marked by the baggy gear and dated grooming of a world that has now passed.


Link
   1006. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2018 at 04:06 PM (#5638034)
Not to pick a fight, but what if La Liga is better than EPL, and the results of the draw are representative of the relative strengths of the leagues? Having seen Sevilla's debacle hosting Valencia, I held little hope today, but there's the counterpoint question of where Valencia would end up in EPL. It's hard not to think Sevilla, obvious problems noted, would be at least above Arsenal.


I don't have a strong feeling about which league is better, but if I had to guess I'd say the EPL is slightly better now, for the first time in quite a few years. The ManU display was terrible, but the balance of the interleague games featuring EPL or La Liga over the last 4 weeks or so was very even (though there weren't many head-to-heads... there were a lot of games from both leagues and the EPL generally did quite well.) If it weren't for the ManU game the EPL probably would have had the edge in results over La Liga.
   1007. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2018 at 04:26 PM (#5638046)
Barcelona is up 2, but they aren't exactly dominating this game.
   1008. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 14, 2018 at 05:09 PM (#5638069)
Messi does Courtois through the legs again.
   1009. J. Sosa Posted: March 14, 2018 at 06:38 PM (#5638144)
Re: PL vs Spain

I think it is close but that the PL passed la liga this year. Something to keep in mind is that Sevilla as a club are noted knockout specialists. They don’t generally have the depth to challenge on multiple fronts in spain much less if they were in the PL. It is kind of like Rafa’s #### on a stick Liverpool teams that were a CL semi threat for several years but didn’t really challenge for the PL title. Also kind of like baseball where a team with starting pitching depth is a better bet in the regular season but a different club lacking that depth might be favored in a knockout series. The best team over nine months isn’t necessarily the best team over two legs. The hydra at the top of spain is incredibly tough but it is hard to judge how the other teams would do in a deeper league. Spanish giants get a lot of true minnows. In England you’ve got a super agent feeding a club like Wolverhampton, a team which isn’t even in the first tier.

Re: Courtois

I have gotten the impression that he has been poor this year but this game was ridiculous. His head has been elsewhere all season. Surprised if he doesn’t move this window.

Re: Mou

I always felt he should have taken a longer sabbatical after Real. Real broke him. Hasn’t been the same since.

Re: Barca

I think they are not as good as the various models suggest. They are old. Iniesta can be a liability and they can be hurt in pockets of space as Willian showed repeatedly in the first leg. Chelsea just didn’t have the will or personnel to exploit it properly.

Re: CL draw

Excited. Anything from here on out is gravy and any team could knock out LFC but here is my half assed order of preference for the draw:

Roma
Sevilla
Barcelona
Juventus
Real
Bayern
City
   1010. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: March 14, 2018 at 06:42 PM (#5638147)
Sosa - thanks for that on Courtois, I was wondering if I was being unfair thinking the two Messi goals he should have done better on. The first one in particular was a really tight angle and there is no excuse for a keeper at this level to give that up but it’s Lionel Messi so it’s tempting to say it’s one of those things.
   1011. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: March 14, 2018 at 06:48 PM (#5638150)
Well, this is interesting (and good news if true for Spurs, though as I stated earlier, I don't see Pochettino going anywhere this summer):


But maybe not! Two different sources — the Guardian, and Fox Sports soccer writer Grant Wahl — say that they’re hearing that a deal is nearly in place that would take Chelsea’s Antonio Conte (along with midfielder N’Golo Kante) to PSG to replace Unai Emery, leaving Pochettino free to bask in his glory under the lights of the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium.

Conte is almost certainly leaving Chelsea this summer after wearing out his welcome, and Unai Emery has been tipped for the sack for months now. And to be honest, Conte at PSG would make some sense, so long as he doesn’t completely alienate Neymar. The Guardian is reporting that meetings between the two clubs have already taken place. Wahl says his source for this rumor also tipped him off to Conte heading to Chelsea back in the day, so it seems, if not accurate, at least well-sourced.


CFC
   1012. Mefisto Posted: March 14, 2018 at 07:22 PM (#5638164)
I think they are not as good as the various models suggest. They are old. Iniesta can be a liability and they can be hurt in pockets of space as Willian showed repeatedly in the first leg. Chelsea just didn’t have the will or personnel to exploit it properly.


I agree. It's a good team, but not a great one. Messi makes the difference.
   1013. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: March 14, 2018 at 10:40 PM (#5638223)
I also agree about Barca. They didn't embarrass Chelsea the way the old Barca teams would have. Hell, if a couple of those Chelsea shots off the woodwork went in, things could have been very different. The Pique penalty/red card shout was after I was well into fast forward mode, but I think this is one of the weaker Barca teams in a while. I've heard Iniesta has had a bounceback season and obviously some things have to be going well for them to have the regular season run they're on.

But there was a point in the game where Chelsea were passing it around and Barca was kinda letting them and I was just thinking, man... like 7 years ago Barca's press was so damn intense that you could barely think in a game against them. Even Messi is well off what he used to be, though I guess he's still the best player in the world. Such is the life of the best player modern soccer has seen.
   1014. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 15, 2018 at 04:46 PM (#5638663)
Rooting for Arsenal over Milan (I'll root against Milan until Berlusconi is long dead and forgotten), but that penalty call was the worst. Even if there was contact (alone, quite dubious), it was in the exact part of the box where a foul needs to be (IMHO) clear, obvious, and indisputable before a penalty is given.
   1015. jmurph Posted: March 15, 2018 at 05:11 PM (#5638679)
Rooting for Arsenal to finish 6th but win the Europa League, get into the Champions League, and have them bring Arsene back and pretend everything is fine is honestly the funniest possible outcome for Arsenal haters, right?
   1016. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 15, 2018 at 10:42 PM (#5638793)
Europa league is living up to its name... 8 teams from 8 different countries. 1 each from arguably the best leagues in Europe. (Certainly the best 6 or 7. The only one that has a tough argument making it into the top 8 is Austria).
   1017. manchestermets Posted: March 16, 2018 at 05:54 AM (#5638842)
The only one that has a tough argument making it into the top 8 is Austria


You seem to have mis-spelt "doesn't come even vaguely close".

Seriously, if the top 5 are indisputably,

England
France
Germany
Italy
Spain

which I think they are, then there are many that would get in the next 3 before Austria.

Netherlands
Portugal
Russia
Belgium
Switzerland
Turkey

just off the top of my head.

Have Austria ever even had a team get out of a Champions League group?
   1018. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 16, 2018 at 07:38 AM (#5638850)
Liverpool v Man City. I'm guessing a match up neither side wanted.

Have Austria ever even had a team get out of a Champions League group?

Can't say for sure, but I'm sure they must have. The Big 4 leagues haven't always had the monopoly on the competition they do now. I just checked Rapid Wien's record at random and they last reached the group stage in 2005-6.
   1019. manchestermets Posted: March 16, 2018 at 08:04 AM (#5638855)
I did a quick check back - in the 2000-01 season Sturm Graz qualified from their group in the first group round. Since then, no Austrian team has, but teams from 17 other countries* have. So no, I don't think Austria are anywhere near top 8.

*Go on them, name them all.
   1020. jmurph Posted: March 16, 2018 at 09:17 AM (#5638881)
Liverpool v Man City. I'm guessing a match up neither side wanted.

Can confirm. Liverpool are terrifying when they're on. I guess I'd prefer to get them over two legs than in a potential winner take all final, though.
   1021. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 16, 2018 at 09:46 AM (#5638888)
Liverpool are terrifying when they're on.

Sure, but it's also kind of boring to draw an English team. European competition is when you get to play exotic teams and develop hatred for clubs you never gave two thougts about before. I'm still mad the president of Lyon called our lads rosbifs. #### you Lyon!
   1022. manchestermets Posted: March 16, 2018 at 09:50 AM (#5638894)
European competition is when you get to play exotic teams


Except it's not really, any more. 20 or 30 years ago, perhaps, but the modern Champions League with the top x teams from each country qualifying has resulted in much less intrigue and exoticism. It's sad that we've got to the point where fans can be blasé about playing Juventus, Barcelona or indeed Manchester United, but there you are. At this point, for teams that have been playing in the competition for most of the last 20 years, there are very few new experiences to it.
   1023. J. Sosa Posted: March 16, 2018 at 10:09 AM (#5638907)
Sigh. Oh well. Didn’t want City. For a lot of reasons but mainly because I’ve already seen them play each other.

As for the top leagues, other than the top four it really takes a dive. France would have to be fifth I think but the quality in that leage is well below the top four. After that who knows. The dutch league tends to get overated. Dozy Altidore scored for fun there.
   1024. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 16, 2018 at 10:41 AM (#5638932)

Except it's not really, any more. 20 or 30 years ago, perhaps, but the modern Champions League with the top x teams from each country qualifying has resulted in much less intrigue and exoticism. It's sad that we've got to the point where fans can be blasé about playing Juventus, Barcelona or indeed Manchester United, but there you are. At this point, for teams that have been playing in the competition for most of the last 20 years, there are very few new experiences to it.


United fan, right? We Spurs fans will take the new experiences, thanks.

If French teams could keep their players that would be an awesome league.
   1025. manchestermets Posted: March 16, 2018 at 10:50 AM (#5638940)
I don't know what you're calling the top four if France isn't in it. France is significantly better than Italy. And really, Germany isn't a strong league, it's one very strong team and nothing much at all after them.
   1026. manchestermets Posted: March 16, 2018 at 10:52 AM (#5638941)
United fan, right?


Yes, but what I said doesn't just apply to the teams in the top countries. Basel aren't getting any exciting new opponents any more either.
   1027. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 16, 2018 at 11:13 AM (#5638964)

Yes, but what I said doesn't just apply to the teams in the top countries. Basel aren't getting any exciting new opponents any more either.

I don't think here's any solution to this except artificially limiting what clubs can spend which hurts the players more than the clubs. My idea has been to let the federations of smaller countries band together to form larger leagues (much like what has happened in the NCAA) but there doesn't seem to be much appetite for it. I think it's a mistake as Celtic, Porto, Ajax, Anderlecht still have some brand recognition but the longer they play in marginalized leagues the less they will have. The time to experiment with an Atlantic League is now while they still may be able to attract some tv money. I recognize I'm in the minority on this and may be completely wrong about it for cultural and traditional reasons, away travel, the complications of relegation, etc. It's a fun thought experiment, though.

These seem like interesting League combos:

Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, Scotland.
Denmark, Sweden, Norway
Yugoslavia plus Czechoslovakia
Austria + Switzerland
   1028. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 16, 2018 at 11:18 AM (#5638969)
Going by ELO and UEFA rankings (which admittedly have some of the same biases), France is nowhere near Italy at the moment. Both have France as closer to Russia in quality, which admittedly is probably a bit of an oversell, but regardless. France is not close to a top 4 league.

As for Austria, yes they are probably not top 8, but except for Russia and probably Portugal, which should be top 8, there are a bunch of leagues that just aren't very good at the moment, including Turkey, Switzerland and Belgium. The Netherlands is crap right now under just about every measure.

I did a quick check back - in the 2000-01 season Sturm Graz qualified from their group in the first group round. Since then, no Austrian team has, but teams from 17 other countries* have. So no, I don't think Austria are anywhere near top 8.

*Go on them, name them all.
You know, there is actually a UEFA ranking that is very imperfect but regardless does a more thorough job than that little survey of yours. It currently has Austria 11th at the moment. One other note is that Austria only has 10 teams, so if it even has one or two good teams (right now Salzburg is quite decent) its overall league average is higher.
   1029. J. Sosa Posted: March 16, 2018 at 11:39 AM (#5638992)
League Uh has been raided down to the studs. The quality has diminished substantially. Serie A is on the upswing, Juve, Lazio, Roma, and Napoli are all quite good. For the moment anyway before they get pillaged too. Germany is weaker than they were but it is an odd defense of France to call Germany a one team league given PSG. Both leagues could do with more depth.

Edit to add: didn’t see Beas post. It has like, facts and stuff. Read that post instead.
   1030. jmurph Posted: March 16, 2018 at 11:48 AM (#5639003)
I'd also have France pretty clearly below Italy at this point, just on the strength of each league's top handful of teams.
   1031. jmurph Posted: March 16, 2018 at 11:52 AM (#5639009)
To manchestermets's points about intrigue and exoticism, I still like the idea of just the league champions competing in a knockout version of an actual champions league. I mean I also like the current version just fine, but to like it you kind of have to accept that the same 10-12 teams are going to generally dominate the knockout rounds every year. Which is something, but not exactly fresh.

In the "league champions only" version the top teams would also presumably dominate, but at least Shamrock Rovers or whomever would get to actually play top teams in knockout games rather than fading in the millionth round of qualifiers every year, while the 4th best team in England gets a shot to win the whole thing.
   1032. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 16, 2018 at 12:00 PM (#5639014)
I hate that teams from the same country can meet in the quarterfinals. Hate it when it's Barca/Real Madrid, and hate it when its Liverpool/City. Maybe Liverpool against Madrid wouldn't be "exotic", but it would surely be more special than Liverpool/City.
   1033. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 16, 2018 at 12:00 PM (#5639015)
In the "league champions only" version the top teams would also presumably dominate, but at least Shamrock Rovers or whomever would get to actually play top teams in knockout games rather than fading in the millionth round of qualifiers every year, while the 4th best team in England gets a shot to win the whole thing.

The problem, though, is that as the leagues become separated in quality you'd end up with a ton of Real Madrid vs Astra Girgui kind of games that no one wants to watch. They had to open it up to the top teams from the biggest leagues to create more competitive match ups. The Arsenal Trophy team from England is a lot better than most league champions in Europe. This is probably a problem that can't be fixed since the problem is inherently a social one and not a football one. We live in a time when increasing amounts of cash flow upwards and Euro football is a symptom of that. Or a feature. I don't want to presume anyone's feelings about how this stuff works in this thread.
   1034. jmurph Posted: March 16, 2018 at 12:05 PM (#5639018)
The problem, though, is that as the leagues become separated in quality you'd end up with a ton of Real Madrid vs Astra Girgui kind of games that no one wants to watch. They had to open it up to the top teams from the biggest leagues to create more competitive match ups.

Sure but there are a lot of features in there, too. Now I'm obviously not an idiot and realize everything is done to maximize tv revenue, thus the current set-up involving all of the biggest, richest teams, even if they finished 4th. But if we were starting from scratch, surely there would still be a lot of tv interest in a tournament that would eventually feature 4 of those biggest/richest teams in the semi-finals. But in the meantime we'd also get Barcelona-Shamrock Rovers* in an early knockout round, spreading some of that wealth to the minnow leagues of Europe, which seems like a good thing.

*I have no idea if they win the Irish league ever, they're just the only team I can think of. Sligo, maybe?

   1035. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 16, 2018 at 12:13 PM (#5639026)
CL and EL draws are interesting in one other respect: no favorites are matched up against each other. The favorites in the CL are probably Barca, Bayern and ManU (order depends on who you ask), with Real in 4th, Juve in 5th and Liverpool in 6th.

in the EL, the top 4 are probably Atleti, Arsenal and Lazio, with Marseille having a good claim to 4th. Unlike the CL, where Sevilla and to a lesser extent Roma are truly underdogs, none of the remaining EL teams are really much worse than Marseille. On the other hand, the EL has something that the CL does not--a truly dominant favorite in Atleti.
   1036. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 16, 2018 at 12:20 PM (#5639031)
Sure but there are a lot of features in there, too. Now I'm obviously not an idiot and realize everything is done to maximize tv revenue, thus the current set-up involving all of the biggest, richest teams, even if they finished 4th. But if we were starting from scratch, surely there would still be a lot of tv interest in a tournament that would eventually feature 4 of those biggest/richest teams in the semi-finals. But in the meantime we'd also get Barcelona-Shamrock Rovers* in an early knockout round, spreading some of that wealth to the minnow leagues of Europe, which seems like a good thing.

I'm a starry-eyed idealist, too, but this will never happen because the moneyed interests in Europe would lose their ####. The big clubs don't want to risk a place in the tournament, the broadcasters and commercial sponsors don't want to lose the eyeballs and UEFA enjoys the filthy, filthy lucre. I just don't see a solution to this except some kind of social revolution or unless people lose interest in the CL and reduced interest leads to radical reform. What can we do, it's China Town. It's why I think leagues should experiment with consolidation but even I will recognize that's a defeat to the homogenizing power of current economics. We seem to live in a weird time where the more access we have to everything the less everything there is.

I think Shamrock Rovers is the only Irish team anyone has ever heard of because they managed to play the mighty Tottenham in Europa League.
   1037. Rennie's Tenet Posted: March 16, 2018 at 01:44 PM (#5639081)
Re a league of league champions: haven't the Champions and Europa leagues expanded as they have largely because UEFA is trying to keep national leagues viable? I've thought that they were providing places for the big clubs to play each other during the week so that the big clubs wouldn't just form transnational leagues.
   1038. jmurph Posted: March 16, 2018 at 03:17 PM (#5639126)
That feels like giving them too much credit for being strategic, whereas I think they're just cashing in. If they could find a way to get all 6 "big" English teams in there, and guaranteed slots for Milan or whomever, despite their downturn in league performance, I imagine they would do it.
   1039. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 16, 2018 at 03:46 PM (#5639135)
If they could find a way to get all 6 "big" English teams in there

Can't keep Tottenham out no more!

I think expanding the CL, Europa and the Euros has more to do with UEFA bureaucrats pandering for votes from the smaller countries than anything else.

More hilariously, Mourinho spent his news conference today slagging Man U as a way to embiggen himself. He is the gift that keeps on giving. How can he compete with Pep with United are so shit?
   1040. jmurph Posted: March 16, 2018 at 03:53 PM (#5639140)
I think expanding the CL, Europa and the Euros has more to do with UEFA bureaucrats pandering for votes from the smaller countries than anything else.

Multiple of you have now expressed a similar idea so I must be missing the point: the current format seems to almost guarantee the smallest leagues get knocked out ASAP. What am I missing that benefits them?
   1041. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 16, 2018 at 04:27 PM (#5639153)
One data point on the perceived relative quality of the leagues in France and Germany: Leipzig (6th in Bundesliga with +4 GD) is currently pretty much even in betting odds to advance over Marseille (3rd in Ligue 1 with +25 GD) in the next round of the EL.
   1042. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: March 16, 2018 at 07:36 PM (#5639215)
Murph - I can see two benefits for the smaller nations

1 - in the CL a better (read: bigger clubs go deeper) generates more income to spread. Th8nk of the way League Two teams love to get road games at top EPL teams for the gate.

2 - in tourneys like the Euros adding more teams mean more teams make it. Iceland, Wales, Ireland, etc...benefit just from making the tournament. A smaller tournament keeps them out and they don’t get the money and attention that brings.
   1043. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 17, 2018 at 12:17 PM (#5639369)
I can't decide which of UMBC winning or Erik Lamela scoring a goal with his right foot is more shocking. A puzzler.
   1044. manchestermets Posted: March 23, 2018 at 12:56 PM (#5642272)
Zlatan to LA Galaxy confirmed.
   1045. Mefisto Posted: March 23, 2018 at 01:58 PM (#5642322)
Bad move for both of them.
   1046. jmurph Posted: March 27, 2018 at 01:43 PM (#5643787)
Remember when the leagues used to play games? That was fun.
   1047. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: March 27, 2018 at 01:50 PM (#5643794)
On the plus side once this international break is over it is pretty much non-stop soccer until mid-July.
   1048. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 27, 2018 at 01:55 PM (#5643800)
I usually enjoy international breaks as a change of pace, but this one is the worst. All friendlies, few games of any consequence (and all of those really on only two days... Thursday and Tuesday). The only mitigating factor (I guess) is that the top leagues this year are mostly lacking in drama themselves.
   1049. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 27, 2018 at 02:07 PM (#5643811)
International soccer is the worst. The soccer is terrible, the people running it are terrible and it breaks up the rhythm of the club season. The irony is that following the USMNT is what whetted my appetite for club football and now I don't have words for how much I loathe everything about international soccer. Just don't hurt any of the Spuds flying around the world, you FIFA bastards.

The only mitigating factor (I guess) is that the top leagues this year are mostly lacking in drama themselves.

Well, Italy is still tight. Oh, you said "top" leagues...I kid, I kid! But imagine how epic the EPL would have been this year if Man City were just really good instead of all time good. It could have been a 5 team race for the title! On the other hand, I don't think I would have survived that.
   1050. jmurph Posted: March 27, 2018 at 02:14 PM (#5643815)
I usually enjoy international breaks as a change of pace, but this one is the worst.

My least favorite window remains the really early one sometime in September, when the leagues have only played like 2 or 3 games and the transfer window is just ending. So, so terrible.
   1051. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: March 27, 2018 at 02:44 PM (#5643841)
International soccer is the worst. The soccer is terrible, the people running it are terrible and it breaks up the rhythm of the club season. The irony is that following the USMNT is what whetted my appetite for club football and now I don't have words for how much I loathe everything about international soccer. Just don't hurt any of the Spuds flying around the world, you FIFA bastards.


At least tonight's match is a chance to watch some of the young guys.

CCV should get a start!
   1052. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: March 27, 2018 at 05:16 PM (#5643924)
My least favorite window remains the really early one sometime in September, when the leagues have only played like 2 or 3 games and the transfer window is just ending. So, so terrible.


This year at least has the benefit of being the debut of the Nations League. I suspect it will be a big nothing burger but it's something. Because usually that window in a world cup year is absolutely painful.
   1053. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: March 27, 2018 at 07:03 PM (#5643956)
12-Zack Steffen; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 3-Matt Miazga, 5-Cameron Carter-Vickers, 19-Jorge Villafaña; 20-Wil Trapp (capt.); 6-Darlington Nagbe, 8-Marky Delgado, 4-Tyler Adams, 10-Kenny Saief; 7-Bobby Wood


Gonna admit, I think I only know who about half these guys are ...
   1054. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: March 27, 2018 at 07:06 PM (#5643957)
Well, this will piss you off:


The United States Soccer Federation must better engage with America’s Latino population and hire coaches who “think outside the box” if it doesn’t want a repeat of rising star Jonathan González’s defection to Mexico. That’s the takeaway from those who say the sport’s governing body is “arrogant” and ignoring the country’s ever-growing Hispanic population.

González, an 18-year-old American-born midfielder who never quite fit the US youth system, dreamed of playing for the US. The feeling wasn’t mutual. He wasn’t included in an experimental US squad that faced Portugal in a friendly last November – the Americans’ first run out since their World Cup qualification failure – nor the current national team winter camp. No big deal, maybe. Except in Mexico, González is considered an exceptional talent.

The backstory reads like a love-gone-wrong romance novel. He appeared for US youth teams but was hardly a central cog. He did, however, stand out at the 2013 Sueno Alianza, a free-to-enter talent contest pitched at Hispanic players in the US that is heavily scouted by Liga MX clubs.


While US Soccer remained unconvinced of his quality, González received offers from 13 Liga MX teams after his Sueno performances. He signed with Monterrey where he climbed the youth ladder and made his senior first team debut in July last year alongside veteran internationals from Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia.

It got better. Monterrey finished Liga MX runners-up last season, the kid from California was named to the league’s Best XI – and the US had a new star. Except January kicked off with González, who says he only spoke “so-so” Spanish when he arrived at Monterrey, saying he wanted to represent his parents’ birthplace – Mexico – in international soccer (this is not a decision motivated by a chance to go to the World Cup this summer: Gonzalez is unlikely to win a starting spot).

“Jonathan wanted to continue playing for the US until the day before he chose Mexico,” says Brad Rothenberg, founder of Sueno Alianza. “His heart was in the United States. He grew up here. He’s American. I’m angry that we have an arrogant approach to Hispanic players and it was reflected by [US Soccer youth coach] Tab Ramos who said ‘If you want to play for the United States, it has to be in your heart’. What Mexico did was convince the kid by appealing to him directly.”


The Graun
   1055. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: March 27, 2018 at 07:38 PM (#5643970)
The Tottenham/Chelsea game is maybe the biggest of the year for them outside of the Juventus game which they botched. A win seals the deal on top 4. A draw is very good but leaves some work to do without Kane. A loss creates a very real chance they finish out of the top 4.
   1056. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 27, 2018 at 09:28 PM (#5644008)
The Tottenham/Chelsea game is maybe the biggest of the year for them outside of the Juventus game which they botched. A win seals the deal on top 4. A draw is very good but leaves some work to do without Kane. A loss creates a very real chance they finish out of the top 4.
538 gives it an "importance" rating of 40 out of 100, which is fairly middling. Basically it thinks that even if Tottenham loses the game they'll fairly easily finish above Chelsea in the league.

edit: the betting odds give Chelsea a much better change to finish 4th than does 538, so it's probably quite a bit more important than 538 thinks.
   1057. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 27, 2018 at 09:44 PM (#5644016)
I have been fairly blasé about VAR to this point. I just realized tonight that it was going to be used in the World Cup and immediately felt sick. I realize now that my indifference was due solely to the fact that I had only seen it in use so far in games that I didn't care about (early stage FA cup, and league cup mostly.
   1058. Mefisto Posted: March 27, 2018 at 10:22 PM (#5644034)
You shouldn't care about the World Cup either, at least not the next 2. Boycott 'em.
   1059. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: March 27, 2018 at 11:10 PM (#5644049)
You shouldn't care about the World Cup either, at least not the next 2. Boycott 'em.


#### 'em. I'm in Miracle Max vs Prince Humperdink territory at this point.

VAR's a disasterbacle?

Humiliations galore.

That is a noble cause!

#### Russia, #### Qatar and #### FIFA.

   1060. Howie Menckel Posted: March 27, 2018 at 11:32 PM (#5644052)
2026 World Cup expected to go to North America when FIFA chooses June 13

48-team bracket

60 games in US
10 in Mexico
10 in Canada

ATL/DAL proposed for semis, NJ proposed for final

only competition is Morocco
   1061. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: March 27, 2018 at 11:55 PM (#5644055)
All the luck to Morocco.

FIFA is a set of grifters that would make a Trump organization blush ...
   1062. Textbook Editor Posted: March 28, 2018 at 12:09 AM (#5644057)
I had read that it was not at all a done deal re: USA 2026, mainly because of, shall we say, the current status of USA in the world's eyes, and that many smaller nations were going to throw in with Morocco (perhaps most of Africa, much of Asia). From the stuff I read, it made it seem it was not a fait accompli.

And, damnit, if there actually is a WC Final in my state, I'm going to feel compelled to take TE Jr. to at least tailgate in the general area of the Meadowlands (there is no way in hell I'll be able to afford actual tickets), and I'm already half-dreading the trek on NJ Transit--in 8 years the damn trains will probably be held together with bubble gum and probably running only every two hours...

   1063. Howie Menckel Posted: March 28, 2018 at 01:52 AM (#5644068)
if there actually is a WC Final in my state, I'm going to feel compelled to take TE Jr. to at least tailgate in the general area of the Meadowlands

I would expect some sort of "Experience" in Manhattan during Finals week

the most amusing part of 2014 Super Bowl "NFL Fan Experience" in Times Square was how few locals had any interest in the outdoor proceedings (in spite of balmy 50 degree weather). iirc the majority of NYC residents were born elsewhere, same for the workers, plus busy commuters and uninterested foreign tourists. that huge cohort just rolled their eyes and worked their way through narrowed sidewalks - just like any major scaffolding construction.
   1064. jmurph Posted: March 28, 2018 at 09:46 AM (#5644100)
ATL/DAL proposed for semis, NJ proposed for final

Love to host important outdoor sporting events in the American south in the summer. I guess after Qatar it will feel downright brisk, but still.

I've seen several cities are publicly opting out of being part of the pitch- Chicago and Minneapolis are the ones that come to mind. I wonder if the tune will change as some of that sweet sweet dirty money starts flowing.
   1065. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 28, 2018 at 10:38 AM (#5644131)
VAR may end up dramatically changing the balance of the game, if, as seems likely, it results in significantly more penalties being called (even 20% more would probably do it). If so the game is likely to be played less aesthetically. Over time I would expect the offense to do anything to get the ball into the box, even if its just lofting in hopeful crosses. Also offensive players more than ever will be looking for contact and going over so long as they are in the box, maybe even if the ball is nowhere near them. As in baseball with players coming off the bag for a split second, there are many plays each game where there is contact in the box on an offensive player that upon replay could be judged a foul if one is so inclined to do so. If refs start calling a lot more of these as penalties the game will change, almost certainly for the worse.

Then there is delay itself--an irritation in any sport and an abomination in soccer.

I wish people would realize that it's never going to be possible to have a play or game judged perfectly correctly, and sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.
   1066. jmurph Posted: March 28, 2018 at 10:52 AM (#5644149)
The oddest thing to me about VAR in soccer is I just didn't sense there was a real outcry/demand for it? I don't even understand how it happened. The goalline technology, yes, I remember a demand for that, and I think it's been a great addition. But who asked for this?
   1067. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 28, 2018 at 11:28 AM (#5644182)
I wish people would realize that it's never going to be possible to have a play or game judged perfectly correctly, and sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

QFT. VAR is going to kill what I like most about soccer, the uninterrupted play. The goal line technology is great and the simple addition of a spray canister to line up the defensive wall is an underrated and very helpful addition to keep play moving, but VAR is just awful.
   1068. Textbook Editor Posted: March 28, 2018 at 04:54 PM (#5644508)
I wish people would realize that it's never going to be possible to have a play or game judged perfectly correctly, and sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.


I quite purposefully make "wrong calls" when we have practice drills/scrimmages (for out of bounds, or fouls, or offsides, etc.) so the boys are used to bad calls and have to deal with them in the flow of the game. There are still a few who get very indignant at missed/bad calls, and I've seen the red mist descend in games with a couple of them... which is why I keep doing it in practice (and flat out tell them I will always do it as long as I'm coaching).

Bad calls are part of the game.
   1069. Sean Forman Posted: March 28, 2018 at 10:20 PM (#5644669)
The oddest thing to me about VAR in soccer is I just didn't sense there was a real outcry/demand for it? I don't even understand how it happened. The goalline technology, yes, I remember a demand for that, and I think it's been a great addition. But who asked for this?


It does seem that an awful lot of time during halftime on NBC Sports is running back penalty shouts and offsides calls, so I think it's a case of people are bothered by this, so we should make the change.
   1070. Sean Forman Posted: March 28, 2018 at 10:21 PM (#5644670)
Love to host important outdoor sporting events in the American south in the summer.


Neither Dallas nor Atlanta would be an outdoor venue.
   1071. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: March 28, 2018 at 10:42 PM (#5644671)
Start at around 1:20 into the clip.

I have to say I completely agree with Moreno here ... WTF was Sarachan thinking?

Using only 4 out of 6 subs?

With the first one not until 67 minutes into the match and the last two coming 84+ minutes in???

Who gives a #### if you eek out a 1-0 win against Paraguay in an utterly meaningless ####### friendly?*

He managed the 2nd half of that match like they were playing against T&T and a win could somehow magically reverse reality and put them back into Russia 2018.

It's not like the win was even slightly meaningful to his chances of keeping the USMNT's manager's job ... because he won't.

I know he's only got 3 more matches at most, but I'd still fire his ass after that ...

* Although, since Paraguay decided to act like cheap-jack punks and thugs for most of the game**, I'm glad we did win out ...

** For which the ref deserves much of the blame: just because it's "a friendly" doesn't mean you shouldn't show a Red Card when a player goes into a tackle with both feet off the ground ... Ref let this one get away early.
   1072. stevegamer Posted: March 29, 2018 at 02:51 AM (#5644704)
I'm okay with the first sub coming in at around 67 minutes, although I'd want it sooner. But I'd want to see all 6 used, and basically all of them in before 70-75.
   1073. jmurph Posted: March 29, 2018 at 09:44 AM (#5644750)
Neither Dallas nor Atlanta would be an outdoor venue.

Hmmm, this seems worse maybe.
   1074. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 29, 2018 at 10:37 AM (#5644780)
The Meadowlands in August is awful. I seem to recall the 94 final was really hot (Rose Bowl?).

That Gonzalez switch to Mexico is baffling. It's not like he fell through the cracks. He played on a whole bunch of US youth teams. How does a guy who made a team of the season playing for a team that finished second in Mexican league not get wooed? They didn't even have to go to Germany or the Netherlands to scout.
   1075. Mefisto Posted: March 29, 2018 at 10:46 AM (#5644792)
I didn't go the final in '94, but I was at the Rose Bowl for the WWC final in '99. It was brutally hot.
   1076. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:26 AM (#5644838)
The Rose Bowl would be a great place for a final if it's played in the evening. Any place on the west coast would do if the start time is an evening start. If they insist on playing in the middle of the day Seattle is probably the best bet. Of course, no one involved in organizing this cares abut the quality of the soccer played so I'm sure it won't even come up.
   1077. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:40 AM (#5644857)
Guardian's team of the season.

I disagree with a lot of it. Some of it I disagree with very strongly.

Here's mine:

DeGea
Walker Lascelles Vertonghen Alonso
Fernandinho Kante
Salah DeBruyne Sane
Kane

Alonso is the one I feel least strongly about. Lascelles, too. Vertonghen has, hands down, the best season as a CB this season. Those Burnley CB's are protected by a bank of midfielders in front of them and by a team that isn't adventurous going forward. Also, Firmino is really good, but picking him over Kane or Aguero is I don't even know what. Man City obviously deserve to be well represented.
   1078. jmurph Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:54 AM (#5644875)
There's like 20ish percent of the season to be played, seems weird for the Guardian to do this now?

On the actual content, DeGea, DeBruyne, and Kane should be locks as far as I'm concerned. I'm persuadable on everyone else. I think Willian has been incredible this year and would like to fit him in, but I don't even know what position we're putting him in these days.

   1079. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 29, 2018 at 12:16 PM (#5644907)
Yeah, Willian has been great. The bastard.
   1080. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: March 29, 2018 at 12:21 PM (#5644913)
That Gonzalez switch to Mexico is baffling. It's not like he fell through the cracks. He played on a whole bunch of US youth teams. How does a guy who made a team of the season playing for a team that finished second in Mexican league not get wooed? They didn't even have to go to Germany or the Netherlands to scout.


I blame Trump.
   1081. jmurph Posted: March 29, 2018 at 12:22 PM (#5644916)
For the Man City guys, I'd put Walker, Fernandinho, and Sane there, too, but a. I'm biased and b. I watch all their games and not those of all the other teams, so that's not really a comprehensive view.
   1082. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: March 29, 2018 at 12:23 PM (#5644918)
I guess DeBruyne is like LeBron James in that he's probably the best player in the league at a few positions, but he's not a CAM this year. I'd slip him in Fernandinho's spot. Some of it depends how you structure teams but if doing a 4-2-3-1 which seems to be the most common formation these days...

In DeBruyne's spot I'd probably put Eriksen or Silva. But there's still big games left, as noted, which will help decide this. That CAM or 3rd winger seems like the position most up for grabs. If you consider a 3rd winger (or one that could probably play more central), which I think is even more up for grabs - Son and Hazard factor in.

I think Salah is more of a lock than Kane, especially with Kane going to likely miss at least a few key fixtures. But I'd have Salah as more of a lock anyways. He's at worst the second best player in the EPL this year.

   1083. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: March 29, 2018 at 12:56 PM (#5644978)
Yeah, I don't know how anyone wouldn't have Salah in the best 11. He's been magical.
   1084. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 29, 2018 at 01:13 PM (#5645015)
That Gonzalez switch to Mexico is baffling. It's not like he fell through the cracks. He played on a whole bunch of US youth teams. How does a guy who made a team of the season playing for a team that finished second in Mexican league not get wooed? They didn't even have to go to Germany or the Netherlands to scout.
I don't know a thing about this so it's hard to make any kind of judgment, but I'm loath to suggest there's a systemic problem based on a single case. Are there other somewhat comparable players this has happened with recently?
   1085. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: March 29, 2018 at 01:20 PM (#5645021)
I don't know a thing about this so it's hard to make any kind of judgment, but I'm loath to suggest there's a systemic problem based on a single case. Are there other somewhat comparable players this has happened with recently?


Not that I can think of. At the same time I suspect the mayhem in the system played a role. The USMNT doesn't really have a coach at the moment and the system has been in flux with the Presidential election and I think it's a fair assumption that things behind the scenes are pretty chaotic. If you're Gonzalez who is the person coming to you over the past few months and saying "hey, here's the future for you with the USMNT?" There really isn't anyone in position to do that.

There's like 20ish percent of the season to be played, seems weird for the Guardian to do this now?


Don't the Football Writers vote on their awards around this time for some reason? It doesn't really make sense but if the awards are voted on now then at least it explains the timing of having everything done at the same time.
   1086. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 29, 2018 at 02:12 PM (#5645107)
The voting for the PFA took place a couple of weeks ago!

Kane is now expected to only miss the Chelsea game, by the way.
   1087. jmurph Posted: March 29, 2018 at 02:40 PM (#5645139)
The voting for the PFA took place a couple of weeks ago!

Well yeah this makes sense, that way they can get the vote on the World Cup Best XI done by mid-May.
   1088. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: March 29, 2018 at 02:46 PM (#5645146)
I don't know a thing about this so it's hard to make any kind of judgment, but I'm loath to suggest there's a systemic problem based on a single case. Are there other somewhat comparable players this has happened with recently?


I think the article I linked above from The Guardian addresses this, it's worth a read.

TL;DR is that people involved in the system see Gonzalez as sort of a "canary in the coal mine" in the sense that there's been a tremendous growth in the Hispanic-American (majority Mexican) population that isn't being served by the existing structure and focus of US Soccer, but is much more a focus for Mexican Soccer and Liga MX:


The 2010 US census found the country has a Hispanic or Latino population of around 50.5 million people – around 16% of the total population - with approximately 60% of that number claiming Mexican ancestry. Those figures were almost double the 2000 census numbers.

“For years [USSF] moved forward as an Anglo organization because that was the bulk of the participation base,” Rothenberg says. “It was highly Eurocentric and Anglo. Since the mid-1980s we had a huge influx of Latinos, they have become citizens, it has changed the country, and US Soccer hasn’t adapted.”

That failure to adapt, according to critics, includes fueling a talent pipeline from middle class suburbs at the expense of less-wealthy inner-cities and minorities. Rather than participate in expensive pay-to-play academies, kids outside suburbia play for high schools and in church or other independent leagues that fall outside established US Soccer pathways.

“We are very much a suburban sport,” says [Hercules] Gomez, who grew up in Las Vegas. “The reach is not long enough. A lot of these [talented] players are not in the same system. US Soccer needs to get into the communities.


   1089. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 29, 2018 at 03:27 PM (#5645183)
Do doing a little more research, from this article:

Thomas Rongen, U.S. Soccer's chief scout under former coach Bruce Arena, told CBS Sports that he had been to Gonzalez's house "three times in the last year" in an effort to retain Gonzalez's services.

However, Gonzalez's father recently told ESPN FC analyst Herculez Gomez that Rongen had never visited the house, and the scout confirmed that he had only been to Monterrey three times to speak to officials about Gonzalez's future.


So our (former?) head scout went to see him but never really talked to him. Also apparently Gonzalez was pissed that there was a friendly in November for the US that he wasn't called up for and never got an explanation as to why. WThis is incompetence on the highest of levels.


   1090. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 29, 2018 at 03:40 PM (#5645190)
It appears to be worse than incompetence. If the below is true (from CBS) Rongen should be fired immediately, if he hasn't been already.

Jonathan’s father categorically denies this,” said Gomez. “I said, ‘Sir, are you sure?’ He said, ‘I think I would be sure if somebody came to my house and I did not know him.’ I said, ‘Okay, can you ask Jonathan?’ He asked Jonathan (and the response was), ‘Never.’

Gomez, who was approached by Gonzalez’s dad to talk on the matter of his 18-year-old son choosing to play for Mexico over the U.S., then reached out to Rongen for clarity. Rongen admitted his previous claim was untrue.

“Rongen said, ‘Jonathan’s father is correct. I never went to go see him at his house specifically,'” said Gomez. “He then said he has been to Monterrey three times. He didn’t specify if he tried reaching out to Jonathan himself, but he said he spoke to officials down there. We spoke both via phone and text. At this point, I didn’t know if he was referring to Monterrey or (the Mexican federation) but his claim about seeing Jonathan at his house on three specific times is false.”
   1091. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 29, 2018 at 04:01 PM (#5645205)
Well coverup lies usually follow incompetence.
   1092. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 29, 2018 at 04:13 PM (#5645217)
Well coverup lies usually follow incompetence.
And, deservedly, they get you fired whereas incompetence might just result in a demotion.
   1093. Pirate Joe Posted: March 29, 2018 at 08:12 PM (#5645328)
The Rose Bowl would be a great place for a final if it's played in the evening. Any place on the west coast would do if the start time is an evening start.


An evening start on the west coast would mean the game would start in the middle of the night in Europe, and that just isn't going to happen. It's why they played so many afternoon games and almost no night games in Brazil.

Even 6:00 PM PDT would be 2:00 AM or 3:00 AM in most of Europe.

   1094. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: March 31, 2018 at 08:56 AM (#5646133)
Benteke is sooooooo useless right now.

Also, how in the world did Mane not get sent off for that clear, deliberate handball???

O.o?
   1095. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: March 31, 2018 at 08:57 AM (#5646134)
The ref in the Liverpool game choked mightily twice in about five minutes. First he avoided a soft but clear penalty against Crystal Palace. It's one of those I hate. The Palace player tugged on Van Dyk's shirt on a corner. If Van Dyk had done that he certainly would've blown for the foul but he was afraid to give the penalty. Then Mane fell down and tried to win the call by grabbing the ball for a free kick. He ruled hand ball (correctly) on Mane but then didn't give Mane the obvious yellow that would have been his second yellow.

This is what drives me nuts about officials. These are easy calls but the ref simply didn't have the balls to make them.
   1096. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 31, 2018 at 11:36 AM (#5646161)
Pogba’s hair has jumped the shark.
   1097. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: March 31, 2018 at 12:50 PM (#5646177)
Strewth, but City are a NIGHTMARE when they are clicking going forward ...

Given the results today, Spurs are very much "under the cosh" tomorrow.
   1098. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 31, 2018 at 01:19 PM (#5646184)
So Big Sam has decided to play Rooney and Schneiderlin in the midfield together with a four man backline. In addition, they are sitting back deep with very little pressure on the ball. Of course City are terrifying going forward but if you're going to let them do whatever they want with a slow and immobile midfield then you're going to get destroyed.

In other hidings, Dortmund is down to Bayern 5-0... at the half.
   1099. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: March 31, 2018 at 02:23 PM (#5646207)
Resistance is futile ...
   1100. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 31, 2018 at 03:07 PM (#5646223)
flop
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