Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Note on Comments

I noticed a big influx of spam comments this afternoon, deleted a bunch of them, changed the setup to moderated comments and added a word verification to comments. That kind of sucks, I think. I always appreciated having this an open forum. But when a post on Kirby Puckett from 18 months ago ened up with a dozen porn spam comments, I figured I had to do something.

If I haven't done this before, here's my mission statement on comments:

I will never delete a comment unless it's solicitation or beyond the pale (and I reserve the right to determine what that is).

I won't delete a comment, ever, just because the commenter disagrees with me or points out that I'm wrong about something (if the commenter does so outside decorum, different story).

If you want to blogwhore, post a comment that's at least slightly relevant - because I'm wont to delete comments that even kind of look like solicitation. Or, in the alternative, email me at the address above - I'll be much more likely to link to you or post it if you take some effort. Also: my blog is read by, like, 3 people; you're probably better off whoring elsewhere.

I might turn off the moderation if I get annoyed by it or if spammers are blocked by the verification system. If I haven't moderated a comment in a while and you're just dying to let me know something, email me and I'll get on it.

Sorry about this. Blame offshore betting sites, fake college degrees, and porn for it.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Why I Like The Braves Adding Mark Teixeira

1. On Baseball Reference, the player most similar to Mark Teixeira at his current age is... Fred McGriff. And McGriff's next few years of OPS+: 157, 147, 165.

2. Teixeira means Andruw Jones gets to move from a significantly underperforming cleanup hitter who makes a lot of outs early in the lineup into a kind-of underperforming 5th hitter who makes a lot of outs a little later in the lineup. Teixeira means Jeff Francoeur gets to move from a decent 5th or 6th hitter into a good 6th or 7th hitter. Teixeira means Brian McCann gets to move from a pretty good 5th or 6th hitter into very good 6th or 7th hitter. More on this in a second.

3. Teixeira will mean more wins to the Braves. How many more is up in the air, but he'll mean more. Assuming no improvement by Teixeira (a conservative assumption, since he'll be moving to a league with worse pitching and to a team with better players in the lineup - meaning better pitches to hit), he'd be worth, on his own, about 2 more wins to the Braves (his current WARP3 is 5.4, and a little more than a third of the season remains). Wait... let me adjust that. Teixeira's WARP3 is affected by the fact he's missed 27 games this year so far. If he's got 56 games left with Atlanta, and he'll only play 125 total, that might mean we're up to 2.5 wins - and that assumes no improvement. Second adjustment: the players Teixeira will be replacing aren't "replacement players". Those 2.5 wins I've mentioned only would be an improvement if the guy he's supplanting is a "replacement player". If the guy he's replacing is better than replacement (which would be, y'know, normal), then those 2.5 wins would shrink. Luckily (sort of) for the Braves, the guys who have played at first this season aren't even replacement level. Thorman's WARP1 is negative right now. Craig Wilson's was too. Franco was at 0 most of the year. Saltalamacchia was the only guy with a positive WARP number, but that wasn't even worth a single win. I think it's a safe assumption to make to say that the Braves' output at first was costing them wins rather than helping them get wins. I'd guess that by simply not playing Franco or Thorman, that's worth an additional half-win. That brings us to 3 wins. Now, as I wrote above, I think Teixeira will mean the other guys in the lineup will see better pitches, or get protected better, or have more opportunities to drive in runs (Teixeira's OBP is the highest of his career). This is the murkiest part of the equation, but if the addition of Teixeira will increase the win totals for 6 other players in the lineup by just a half-run each, that's 3 more wins (I'd bet that moving Andruw down the lineup is probably worth one by itself). I think these are conservative estimates, but my guess is that adding Teixeira is worth 6 more wins the rest of the way. If he improves on his performance this season, he's worth even more than that.

4. Using an estimate of 6 more wins by adding Teixeira to the Braves, here's what that's worth. Using the studies and numbers in the recommended book Baseball Between the Numbers, six additional wins are worth approximately $4.5 million (see Ch. 5-2, Table 5-2.1) for the regular season wins. That additional amount covers Teixeira's salary the rest of the year (about $3.5M). The real value, however, is in making the playoffs. A playoff appearance is worth approximately $30M to a franchise. If Teixeira's addition means the difference between making the playoffs and not, his addition would be worth $30M to the team. And if you look at Fig. 5-2.4 of that same chapter, you can see the logistic regression analysis for probability of making the playoffs. Based on the Braves' results thus far, they're on pace for about 85.5 wins. According to the regression analysis, that's equal to approximately a 10% chance of making the playoffs. Add 6 wins to the Braves, and that'd raise them to 91.5 wins. 91.5 wins is equal to a 75% chance of making the playoffs. That's a massive difference - and uses the biggest swing of the regression curve. Let's use a poker analogy: if you, by betting 1/8th the pot (the cost of adding Teixeira's salary is your bet, the pot is the potential added revenues of making the playoffs), you increase your chances of winning the hand by 65%, that's the smart play, isn't it? If Teixeira's worth only 3 wins more to the Braves, the probability of making the playoffs increases from 10% to about 40%. 4 wins = increase from 10% to 50%. 5 wins = increase from 10% to 63%. If Teixeira is worth more than 6 wins, the probability starts to approach a sure thing (7 more wins gets them above 85% probability of making the playoffs).

All this is just for this season - but if Teixeira helps the Braves make the playoffs (assuming they wouldn't without him), he just added $30M in revenue. And that would make an extension more palatable for him.

I think it's a good deal for the Braves to add Teixeira. And I'm starting to get fired up about this team. And if Dotel comes aboard too, damn.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Word of the Day

The Lady and I actually watched a few minutes of that silly reality show that's basically an impersonator's American Idol yesterday. The Seacrest wannabe is a woman named Michelle Merkin. For some reason that word, Merkin, stuck in my head. I knew it was a good word, and that I should remember the definition. But I couldn't remember it.

Thank the Lord for Google for being there to remind me.

Definition 1. –noun- false hair for the female pudenda...
Definition 2. n. A pubic wig for women.
Etymology. "female pudenda," 1535, apparently a variant of malkin (q.v.) in its sense of "mop." Meaning "artificial vagina or 'counterfeit hair for a woman's privy parts' " is attested from 1617. According to "The Oxford Companion to the Body," the custom of wearing merkins dates from c.1450, was associated with prostitutes, and was to disguise either pubic hair shaved off to exterminate body lice or evidence of venereal disease.

Needless to say, I find this freaking incredible.


On the Growth of Soccer In America

What with David Beckham arriving like Cleopatra in Rome, I figure now is as good as any time to talk about where soccer is in America, and where it should go.

For the sake of most readers, I'll put the bulk of the post below the fold.

First, let me just deal with Beckham... He'll be one of the more talented players in the league, and he'll help the Galaxy a good bit. He'll bring some attention from people who aren't really interested in soccer. The attention will be swift and will fade quickly, domestically at least. But his presence will mean more foreign nations will pay some attention to MLS. And he'll make money for the league and its sponsors.

What about the level of play in MLS? Beckham's just one guy, so his arrival can't change the talent level or competitiveness. But he can change the way the league is perceived.

The league today isn't perceived very well. MLS supporters seem to overrate the league, and I suppose they feel they need to frame the debate in favor of the league. The foreign press probably underrates the league, and I suppose they feel the need to keep holding over our heads the one sporting thing the rest of the world has an advantage. Both aren't right.

It's difficult, if not impossible to compare domestic leagues. How does one compare? By taking the best of the teams? The worst? International competitions? Eventually, one simply has to make a subjective guess.

I'd say these leagues are certainly better than MLS, meaning that, in my mind, even the best MLS team would struggle to avoid relegation: La Liga Primera, the Barclays Premiership, Serie A, Bundesliga A.

I'd say these leagues have a few teams significantly better than the best MLS teams, but several MLS teams could hang with most teams in the league: Eredivisie, Ligue 1, La Liga Mexicana, Brasil's first division, Argentina's first division, Portugal's Superliga, Greek Super League, Turkish Super Lig, Russian Premier League, Ukraine Premier League.

I'd say that an MLS team could challenge for the title frequently in these leagues: Belgian Jupiler League, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Austrian leagues, J-League, UAE's league, all African leagues, most South American leagues other than Brazil and Argentina.

Considering that MLS is pretty young in the game, and considering where soccer stands in the national consciousness, I don't think that the current posture is a bad thing. The US league doesn't need to be the best in the world. But it also won't ever be the worst.

That said, I don't think that just because MLS isn't an international embarrassment, MLS shouldn't try to improve and get better. It most certainly should.

First, much has been made about how the league has gotten better since several franchises have built and opened soccer-specific stadia. I've got a lot of thoughts about this, and it'll make for its own post soon. In short, I think it's good that there are soccer-specific stadia, but they could also do even better.

Second, the refusal of MLS to even consider relegation and promotion I think is a bad idea. Relegation is, effectively, the marketplace for markets. For a young league, a host of experts might think they can place the best spots for franchises to be located, but they might be wrong. Miami and Tampa Bay were thought to be good locations initially, but both failed. Meanwhile, a smaller market like Rochester has thrived in the USL. And every league has something like this. If you were starting the NFL today, nobody would locate a team in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but not Los Angeles. But the best part of relegation is this: nobody has to guess. If certain cities are great spots for teams - and public support provides resources for the team to improve and compete - those cities will stay in the top flight. If particular cities don't support the team, it'll be harder to compete in the top flight. If the result is that a town like Rochester, or Charleston, almost organically, becomes a first division city, and cities with larger TV markets but which just don't care don't end up in the top flight... well, the league is healthier for it. And if over time, those larger markets develop support for teams, and they move up through promotion... well, isn't that better? Then we know the cities in the top flight want it, rather than a centralized league determining what's good for particular cities. Anyway, this should've been its own post too. And it might still be.

Third, importing talent. In an odd way, I kind of hope that Beckham's arrival gets some attention, but it's clear enough (hopefully because of already-decent talent in the league) that one or two imported players won't make a huge difference. MLS has shown a commitment to player development, and they've resisted quick fixes by throwing money at players before. Hopefully, they'll hold firm with that. Slow growth is best.

Finally, expansion. San Jose was awarded a franchise, which will be MLS's 14th. There've been announced plans for 2 more in the next few years. If MLS keeps the same, East-West divisional structure, I'd bet there will be one Eastern and one Western team added. Suggested locations are Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, Las Vegas, San Antonio, St. Louis, Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Rochester, another in NYC, Cleveland, and Milwaukee. Expansion gets its own post. Come back soon.

And now, because I feel like I'm writing like a 4th grader, here's a summary of all this:

  1. MLS isn't that bad, and it shouldn't have to be that good.
  2. Beckham won't be bad, and he'll serve his purpose, and hopefully nobody's really expecting him to be a true savior.
  3. MLS can get better, but needs to use more grass-roots methods.


Saturday, July 14, 2007


The USA-Austria U-20 World Cup Match isn't over yet as I write this, but I'm pissed enough to start writing now.

A few thoughts...

1. Austria looked like the better team on the field. I think I underestimated their talent, and it looked (after Altidore's goal) that the USA team did too. The USA didn't deserve a win, so the rest of this post is just me bitching.

2. Adu's crosses looked like they were fired from a potato gun all day. Totally useless.

3. Altidore's sitter that was missed early in extra time was awful, yet very "American". I still have hopes that he's the striker that doesn't bottle up the USA has needed for years.

4. Okotie is an impressive striker. Bright future there.

5. The conditions weren't good for keepers, but Seitz really has trouble hanging on to things. And combine that with the tendency of the USA defense to go from decent organization to Keystone Cops after rebounds meant both goals in this game (and the goal in the Uruguay match). Kind of odd how the three goals conceded in the knockout round were all busted up rebounds, while there were probably 5-6 very good scoring opportunities that didn't result in goals (due to woodwork, luck).

6. On the last goal, that sure looked like a handball. Wonder if the ref was playing the advantage and had there not been an immediate goal if he'd have pointed to the spot.

7. Like I said, the conditions weren't great. Hard rain, very wet track. When the conditions are that bad, there are two directions a referee can go in terms of changing the way he judges (which I feel is necessary). He can take the conditions into account by calling a closer game, thinking that in bad conditions players are already at risk for injury, so blowing the whistle more and breaking out cards, in some way, will protect players. The other direction the referee can go is by allowing for the fact that the conditions cause added slipping and sliding - and often balls and bodies don't go precisely the spot players had intended - and because of that, the ref allows perhaps a little more contact before breaking out the cards. The ref in this game, I believe, chose the former. I was bothered by that, and considered, in many cases, that the cards doled out in this came (for both teams) weren't the result of intended assaults, but rather odd bounces and unexpected slides. This is a shame, considering that either team would lose key players due to card accumulation in subsequent rounds.

8. Considering the way the ref was calling the game, the USA was at a disadvantage. The USA played definitely a bit rougher, and the Austrian had a definite advantage in touch and finesse. But also, Austria played probably the middle 45 minutes with their chests on the ground or whining with their hands facing the sky. And I think the ref responded. Didn't mean the USA should've won, but it did annoy. It always bothers me when teams with a talent advantage are also the teams that work the ref more.

A good tournament for the USA, but it could've been a game-changer had they advanced to the final (not that winning the next round would've been a sure thing). It's a little sad that there's very little non-Beckham-related soccer to follow now (after the Copa America final). I've actually watched more MLS this year than any before, so maybe I'll stick with that. Houston is good.

So with that, no more soccer for a few months.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tater Tots don't go well with fact-checking

From Terry Bowden's column a few weeks ago:

June 26 – We can argue ad nauseum which conference has the best players, but when it comes to the biggest stadiums there isn’t much room for debate. The Big 10 wins hands down. Of the four college football stadiums that seat over 100,000 people, the B10 has three of them … Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State (Tennessee is also on the list). Now, it looks like Michigan is going to solidify its position as the “Biggest House” on the collegiate block with a planned renovation of $226 million to give them a capacity of over 108,000. I’m shocked that the Southeastern Conference is going to take this sitting down (or should I say standing up.).

Ahem. There is room for debate. There are more than 3 stadia in the Big 10. There are 11. And there are more stadia than just Tennessee's in the SEC.

The Big 10 has 3 stadia with capacity over 100,000 seats. The SEC has 1. OK. Point Big 10.

But the Big 10 has only 4 stadia with capacity over 80,000 seats (same number as the Big 12). The SEC has 7. Point SEC.

Add up all the capacities for each conference's stadia, and average them out:

SEC Stadia: 78,106 per
Big 10 Stadia: 76,295 per.

Point SEC.

Hands down? Only if the question is "which conference has the most 100,000 seat stadia?". If "big" means anything else, the answer isn't the Big Ten.

For reference, here are the other conferences' capacities:

  1. SEC: 78,106 per
  2. Big 10: 76,295 per
  3. Pac 10: 64,517 per
  4. Big XII: 62,373 per
  5. ACC: 57,732 per
  6. Big East: 50,518 per
  7. Independent: 50,241 per
  8. C-USA: 49,712 per
  9. Mountain West: 46,958 per
  10. MAC: 32,393 per
  11. WAC: 31,708 per
  12. Sun Belt: 28,071 per

All numbers via World Stadiums.

Finally, as if this needed to be said... the size of the stadium isn't what matters. What matters is how many people actually attend the games. Rice has a 70,000 seat stadium that they're lucky to have 1/6th full. Same with plenty of others.

And in terms of attendance, the debate actually is "hands down". The SEC has led the nation in total attendance and percentage of capacity for [insert ridiculous number here] years in a row (26 years for total fans, 23 years - every one since it's been kept track of - for percentage of capacity). Last year, the SEC averaged about 6,000 more fans per contest than second place Big 10.

No matter how you look at it, the SEC has more conference members with a big stadium, and puts more fans in the seats than any other conference.

Having 3 100,000 seat stadiums is definitely respectable. Too bad it's not the Big 3 (or would that be the Big 2, since you always need to subtract one?).


Monday, July 09, 2007

Can't just focus on the negative

Some things I like...

  1. Miller Chill.
  2. That the World Series of Pop Culture has returned.
  3. When The Lady surprises me by making mini cheeseburgers.
  4. The girl who can't stop crying on Age of Love (comedy reasons alone - total trainwreck).
  5. PLANET EARTH DVDS - this deserves its own post times ten.
  6. Every episode of Man vs. Wild except the one where Bear drops into the Everglades.
  7. Fatherhood.
  8. Rafael Soriano, Jared Saltalamacchia, Kelly Johnson, and Chipper Jones.
  9. Amazon Prime.
  10. The sassy Russian girl in GoldenEye.
  11. Chicago's Greatest Hits. No shitting.
  12. Trader Joe's chai tea cookies (and just about everything else in the store).
  13. Joe Simpson on Braves games.
  14. That there's less than 2 months to college football.
  15. Flight of the Conchords.


Bile Dump

Stuff that's bothered me for a while...

  1. The way Alicia Keys draws every syllable out when enunciating in that American Express commercial.
  2. SportsCenter's "Who's Now" gimmick.
  3. Bob Wickman
  4. Ringtone Subscription commercials
  5. The fact that I'm not in London today, considering the Tour de France starts there, Wimbledon is just finishing, the Live Earth concert, British Grand Prix, etc.
  6. When local sports talk radio focuses on "parenting" issues.
  7. That SportsCenter sometimes shows WNBA highlights instead of MLB scores (and highlights or anything else, really).
  8. Zach Braff's voiceover on Wendy's commercials.
  9. And on that note, the Wendy's commercial where the dude in the Wendy Wig is kicking a tree. Am I missing something? Is "kicking trees" some sort of regional colloquialism or idiom I'm not aware of?
  10. The way that Starz (which I don't get) has lots of movies I'd like to watch, while HBO (which I do get) has only TV shows I like to watch.
  11. I know I'm not the first to say this, but Rafael Nadal's shorts.
  12. The way that VH-1's host and hostess felt they had to spend a minute explaining Ricky Gervais' comedy during the Concert for Diana.
  13. The taste of White Hawk IPA.
  14. MTV's Scarred - the show and all commercials.
  15. Wasting too much reading time on a weak book that you know is bad, but you refuse to put down on principle.
More later.


Update on U-20 WC

Zambia upset Uruguay 2-0, so the US have drawn a better team than any of those I thought they'd face.

The next USA match is 7:45 Wednesday, currently scheduled to air on Galavision and ESPNUprobablydon'tget. Hopefully one of the bigger ESPN networks will step up, but ESPN is currently scheduled to be replaying tonight's Home Run Derby and ESPN will be showing the AAA All-Star Game. So ESPN is currently planning on running something they've already paid for... I wouldn't expect them to show the game. But who knows? They were supposed to replay the Hot Dog Eating Contest last Friday.

The good news about the draw is that the USA probably has the clearest route to the semifinals, as their quarter of the draw has no other top seeds from the group stage (and by "top seed" I mean both a team that actually won their group and team that "should" have won their group). Austria, Gambia and Uruguay are much more reasonable than just about every other group.

The bad news about the draw is that the bottom quarter of the USA's half looks like a Murderer's Row. Spain, Brazil, Czech Republic and (group topper over Nigeria) Japan all are tough. If the USA makes the semis, it won't be an easy hurdle to get to the finals.

But first things first. Uruguay won't be a pushover after getting embarassed by Gambia. They'll be ready to rumble. Hopefully the USA won't be looking ahead like I have.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Flick the Button

Some of these I forgot last time, and I'm trying to do this more often so I don't forget...

The Pursuit of Happyness: It's a biopic but I feel like I don't know the main character very well still. Even though I think Will Smith was quite good. Kid is cute. I think there's a veneer of nice values (hard work, love your kid), but there's not much depth. There are flaws in looking at this movie with a broad view. The more I think about this movie, the more I think it struggles, though on a cursory view it seems like fine family friendly viewing. You're fired.

Match Point: Strangely, most of the time when I think a movie runs too long, I think they needed to end it sooner. This movie needed to be about 20-30 minutes shorter, but I would've cut it all in the exposition in the beginning. I liked exactly zero of the characters. On the other hand, Scarlett Johansson is very attractive. Hmmm. That makes this hard to rate. The movie: You're fired. Scarlett: Cadillac.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: I'm an idiot for forgetting this one, because it was one of the best movies I saw over the last few months. Top notch dialogue. Exceptional acting from Downey and Kilmer. Very very funny. Everyone involved in this seemed to be having a good time. Fine first film (though the director has written some good stuff before). Dented cadillac.

Accepted: Yeah. Not good. Jonah Hill is the only actor involved with any comedic ability. Ridiculous plot, without ridiculous comedy. Justin Long's performance in this raises my esteem for John Hodgman exponentially. Lewis Black is annoying and incoherent. One of the worst movies I've seen this year. Fired Fired Fired.

Miami Vice: OK, here's why I liked this (a lot actually): I wasn't comparing it to the TV show, but rather to Michael Bay directed crapfests like Bad Boys II. And when you compare it to those kinds of movies, this is (a) smarter, (b) better directed, (c) really well filmed, and (d) even well acted. Farrell and Foxx's public personae in the publicity for this movie were awfully grating, but their performances in the movie on their own were subdued and kind of smart. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this. All about expectations, though. Steak Knives.

An Inconvenient Truth: I didn't really learn anything new in it. I suppose it's decent in terms of filmmaking, but it definitely isn't among the most interesting or entertaining docs I've seen in a long time. I think Gore's presentation would definitely work better in person, so this is kind of a concert film - OK, but I already know the music and it doesn't have the same effect as a live show. You're Fired.

Dreamgirls: The sum didn't equal its parts. The acting was OK, the songs were alright (if overdone), and the sets and direction was fine. But all-together, the movie just seemed a little simple, and not really "big" enough to support the weight of the notes hit. Had this won lots of awards, I'd have been very disappointed. A big meh. You're Fired.

Knocked Up: There were several scenes of dialogue in this movie that word for word mirrored conversations the Lady and I had over the last year. So I guess there were parts that hit a little close to home. There could've been a sitcom-like quality of this movie, but there wasn't. The scenes with and interaction between Rudd and Rogen were very funny, but the movie overall probably could've pulled fewer punches. Maybe I like comedy a little harsher, so I guess I would've placed the balance between sweetness and audaciousness a bit farther away from sweet than the filmmakers did. But it still had several funny moments. Acceptable date comedy, though not outrageously hilarious. Steak knives.

Reno 911: Miami: Previews gave away too much, and because I love the series I found it a little disappointing that the movie wasn't even more ridiculous. But at the same time, it was really hilarious in parts. Could've been better if it was a little longer. I wouldn't mind more comedies like this. Steak Knives.


Youth Served in Ottawa

Let's talk about soccer for a while...

Watched the U-20 game between the USA and Brazil last night and I have a bunch of thoughts.

First, I absolutely LOVED the coverage. The feed was clearly destined for overseas consumption, and there was no American crew interrupting the feed from Bristol, constantly interjecting googled facts that had little to do with the on-field action. The announcers actually seemed to follow the flow of the game and, God forbid!, kept quiet for large portions of the match. They actually sensed the game and didn't feel it necessary to fill every single second with an inane rambling. Also, there were limited commercials! It was amazing! Normally in soccer matches, pregame festivities aren't covered on TV here at all, and halftime is 15 minutes of straight commercials. For some reason, ESPN didn't cut in and fill every second that the clock wasn't running with DiTech, esurance and "The Bronx is Burning" commercials. They actually showed the national anthems and spent some time announcing the players and formations. It was great, and I'm quite certain that ESPN won't ever let it happen again.

Second, the Canadian crowd was awesome. Sure, the stadium wasn't massive, but it was totally full. And let's not kid ourselves, U-20 tournaments aren't anywhere near as big a deal as full internationals. Compare the attendance of these matches in Canada to the attendance of the Under 21 European Championships in Holland this year: not a single match in that entire tournament, including those with home team and the title game, had as many fans in attendance as last night's USA-Brazil game. Add in the excitement of MLS's Toronto FC, and there's a soccer crazed nation to the north. That's not exactly good for US Soccer - as the next time it's CONCACAF's turn to host the World Cup, they might not choose the massive stadia of the USA and instead opt for better summer weather in Canada. Canada could probably put up very good bids to host the Gold Cup too.

Now, about the game itself... The future's bright for the USA. The Brazil squad wasn't exactly their optimal U-20, but there was definitely talent on that team. But at the same time, it seemed to me like the USA had as much, if not more talent out there. I actually thought Adu was the best player on the field, when he stayed upright. The American defense appeared confident and quick against very skilled and athletic strikers. The result last night wasn't luck. In fact, I'd say that the only lucky thing of the night was that Brazil scored at all - their goal could've been handled by Seitz or been cleared off the line. The game was really enjoyable to watch, and it makes me think the future of the USMNT can't come soon enough. The core of Adu, Altidore, Zizzo and Szetela is something to get excited about. Adu draws som much attention that he frees others up (see the second goal last night), and his skill is world class. Altidore is right now as good a pure finisher has anyone wearing the US uniform. Zizzo looks like the kind of speed and skill, and most importantly an ability not to get blown off the ball with a faint breeze, we've needed on the wing forever. With the talent out on the field, almost as important is the fearlessness. After the match, the players seemed excited and happy - like they knew that their last 2 matches were a big deal. But it was also the look of a group of kids not afraid to do something great.

Now the draw comes up pretty good for the USA. Their next match is Wednesday, probably against the winner of Costa Rica-Scotland, but possibly North Korea, Zambia or Jordan. If the win that one, they'd get probably Portugal or Austria. There's a decent chance that the USA could avoid Argentina, Nigeria, and maybe Brazil again until the Finals. Spain looks to be the biggest threat on the USA's side of the draw.

Back on the TV coverage thing... I think it's very cool that ESPN showed last night's game. I wonder how much the surprise ratings the Gold Cup final got for Univision and the YouTube excitement about Adu's hat trick against Poland had to do with it. I don't think ESPN had intended on showing last night's match until just the other day (my cable guide had "NFL Live" and the Hot Dog Eating Contest supposed to air). That's a good sign for people who like watching soccer, like me. Adu's star power and on-field success for the team can only lead to more coverage, and more interest.



Michael Savage?

That's some sort of copyright infringement isn't it...


Is this thing on?

Might be time I dusted off the cobwebs...