Champions League Final

I’m not a big Barcelona fan, but I loathe Manchester United. United started out fierce, but once the Barca defense withstood their early pressure, it was clear that the Spaniards were the better, more talented team. United keeps trying to send the ball long to Chicharito on the left side, while Barcelona is controlling the ball and patiently working it up the field with a short, ping-pong passing game. Messi is clearly looking for opportunities to make through passes that the strikers can run onto for one-touch shots.

Update: it’s now 3-1 Barca. The United midfield simply can’t stay with the Barcelona mids, who are creating one dangerous opportunity after another.

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DeMaurice further declowns himself

Fortunately for NFL fans, the Obama lawyer’s plan to point a gun to the head of the existing NFL structure appears to be falling apart:

[E]ven with his effort to lift the lockout on the verge of sleeping with the fishes, Smith continues to talk tough. “It’s a disappointment obviously that as far as we can tell this is the first sports league in history who sued to not plays its game,” Smith told reporters after Monday’s ruling. “Congratulations.”

We’re not sure what that means.

The league hasn’t sued anyone. The league wants to impose economic pressure on the players via a lockout, and the players decertified and filed an antitrust lawsuit in the hopes of blocking the lockout. Today’s ruling that the lockout won’t be lifted pending resolution of the appeal by the Eighth Circuit hardly represents the NFL suing to not plays its game.

With a reversal of Judge Nelson’s ruling now looming, Smith’s comments likely have less to do with shaping public opinion and more to do with scrambling to keep the players unified, even if doing so requires Smith to distort the facts in the hopes of playing to the players’ emotions.

Even those who initially took the side of the players have to realize now that the players, or at least their representatives, simply do not have the good of the game at heart. The owners may be every bit as greedy, but at least they have the long-term view and the enlightened self-interest to understand that the goose that lays the golden eggs is to be fed and treated well, not slaughtered. Smith’s strategy is to “win” by threatening to destroy the league in its current format and turn it into the English Premiership, where only two or three teams have a reasonable chance of winning each year.

NFL second round

As requested. I don’t have much to add, except that I really wouldn’t mind the Vikings drafting another quarterback just to increase the odds that we might end up with a half-decent one. But we probably need offensive linemen.

NFL draft 2011

Here’s hoping it is not the last one, what with the players attempting to turn the NFL into a European soccer system where there is one heavy favorite every year and only two other big-spending teams have any shot at the title. My only thoughts on the actual draft this year are as follows:

1) Cam Newton is a stretch and will not be a star quarterback. Great athlete, but I doubt he’ll be able to read NFL defenses or have the patience to stay in the pocket and find receivers. If he’s willing to work hard, his upside is Michael Vick. Not awful, but you’re not likely to win a Super Bowl with him either. Looks like Vince Young 2.0.

2) The Vikings need to draft Mallet or Dalton. Yes, they’re not likely to be stars either and yes they’ll probably be overpaying, but they have more of a shot than Newton and more of a shot to be decent starters than Joe Webb. The NFL is a quarterbacks league. I would draft a QB first every single year until I had a keeper; there is no shortage of bad teams with great linebackers or wide receivers.

March Madness Day Two

Well, so much for the Bison. The third time wasn’t the charm. But Day One wasn’t a bad one for upsets, as it goes. It was nice to see Mr. Pitino sent home early.

March Madness

Almost forgot… this would be your open March Madness thread.

The orange and the blue

Bucknell is back to the Big Dance:

The ultimate bracket buster is back in the NCAA tournament: Bucknell. Yes, Bucknell – the team that stunned Kansas six years ago in the first round of the NCAAs. Mike Muscala scored 18 points and the Bison shut down Lafayette in the second half of a 72-57 victory Friday to win the Patriot League championship and the conference’s automatic bid.

Bring on the #1 seeds! The funny thing is that I ran into a Georgetown player who played in the 1987 NCAA tournament a few years ago in Italy. He described the Bucknell team they had beaten in the first round as “little white guys, but tough little white guys” who hung with them longer than the Hoyas had expected. So, here is to hoping for a third first-round upset this spring.