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.

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.

Decertified!

The NFLPA turns down the proffered deal:

Unfortunately, the players’ union has notified our office that at 4pm ET it had “decertified” and is walking away from mediation and collective bargaining, presumably to initiate the antitrust litigation it has been threatening to file. In an effort to get a fair agreement now, the clubs offered a deal that would have had no adverse financial impact upon veteran players in the early years and would meet the players’ financial demands in the latter years.

The union left a very good deal on the table. It included an offer to narrow the player compensation gap that existed in the negotiations by splitting the difference; guarantee reallocation of savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7; ensure no compensation reduction for veterans; implement new year-round health and safety rules; retain the current 16-4 season format for at least two years with any subsequent changes subject to the approval of the league and union; and establish a new legacy fund for retired players ($82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years).

I’m mostly with the owners on this one, for all that I hate their greedy, parasitical dependence on public stadiums. About the only shareholders with a worse deal than NFL owners are the banks, who pay out more in salaries and bonuses than they make in profits. While I don’t think that going to an 18-game season makes any sense at all, I am completely against the NFLPA’s attempt to turn the NFL into Premier League Football where Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal are able to spend 3x more on players than their opponents.

UPDATE: As expected, the NFL has responded by locking out the players.

Super Bowl Sunday

This is your open Super Bowl thread. I expect to see the Packers by 10. The Steelers are banged up, Troy Polamalu is less than 100 percent, and if the Packers can keep Rodgers in the game, he should be able to pick apart the Steeler’s secondary on turf. If the Steel Curtain knocks Rodgers out of the game, they will probably win, but I don’t think they’ll be able to do it.

And E-Trade for the best commercial.

Special Needs Mountain

So I went skiing today. And while I don’t completely object to the idea of putting helmets on little kids since they sometimes get going and don’t know how to stop, it is astonishing to see how many adults and teenagers wear them now. It’s ridiculous. I started skiing when I was three and I don’t recall seeing or even hearing of anyone ever impaling their skull on a tree branch.

And another thing. Those short, fat skis that everyone uses nowadays. It’s the Alpine equivalent of people walking around wearing clown shoes with suits. They supposedly make it easier to ski, but when I tried them I found it far too irritating to have to keep my skis apart. So, often I’m the only one on the mountain with what I consider to be proper skis. I suppose I’d feel like a dinosaur if everyone else didn’t look like such retarded clowns.