The Bones of What We Believe: the Ebb and Flow of a Soccer Match

The Bones of What We Believe: the Ebb and Flow of a Soccer Match

If you are able, take both of your hands and stretch your fingers wide. Make your hands as big as possible, feeling skin and tendons stretch. Then bring them together slowly, clasping the two opposing sets together. See the way each fingertip advances well beyond its mate. Now try to let your longest finger touch the opposing wrist. Barring you have extremely long fingers, you will find it a difficult task no matter how much you force it one way or another. This is, in the simplest of ways, how soccer works.

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Nobody Cares About Your World Cup

Nobody Cares About Your World Cup

Sunday brings the start of the 22nd World Cup. You know, that soccer tournament played every four years by national teams. Anyway, it’s in Qatar, which most people couldn’t identify on a map, much less knew it existed before recent years. It will end on December 18th with the Final, what will end up the most watched sporting event of the calendar year, or maybe all-time. The United States is back in the tournament for the first time since 2014, and yet the buzz around the World Cup feels about as low as I can remember.

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Is Repeating as Stanley Cup Champ Possible? Well…

The grind, she makes it a difficult trek to repeat at Stanley Cup champions… or does she? Can the Colorado Avalanche do it? Can it be done at all?

That’s Gabriel Landeskog, “Landy” as it were (all hockey players have a nickname with a ‘y’ on the end). He’s already hurt. It’s a knee and he’s out for 12 weeks.

Is it really that difficult? Perhaps the days of free agency and cap restrictions, maybe? Or is it just a matter of knowing how to control that cap.
The Blackhawks did fine in the 2010’s – they won 3 and hadn’t won since 1961 before that – but inevitably collapsed under the weight. They also have never repeated. Ever.

I am going to ignore the cap. Yeah, I said it – ignore it. Not going to go back into the days of the Original 6 and marvel at their successes. That’d be stupid. For the most part it’s not that great. Here are the Original 6 and their overall Stanley Cup records.

Boston Bruins – 20 appearances, 6 victories (ouch) last appearance 2019

Chicago Blackhawks – 13 appearances, 6 victories (oof) last victory 2015

Detroit Red Wings – 24 appearances (wow!), 11 victories (meh) last appearance 2009

Montreal Canadians – 35 appearances (oh Canada!), 24 victories (amazing) last victory in 1993

New York Rangers – 11 appearances (sad), 4 victories the last one in 1994

Toronto Maple Leafs – 21 appearances, 13 victories… but the last time they appeared was when they won in 1967. It’s a sad state of affairs wearing the blue and white.

With all that history, I am going to back to what the NHL called the “Modern Era” even if said era is more than 50 years ago. Hey, that’s hockey. Stick with the past like a Bears fan. Sometimes that’s all you got.

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Potential New White Sox Managers, Ranked

It seems like just yesterday that I was speechless. I, like many others, were caught completely off guard two years ago by the report from noted MLB stooge, USA Today lackey, and Jerry Reinsdorf henchman Bob Nightengale, that the White Sox were looking at bringing back noted septuagenarian Tony La Russa to coach the Chicago White Sox. The very same La Russa who had more recently made headlines by getting DUI’s and having dumb opinions about protesting, than had actually coached a major league baseball game. Yet, there his name was, in some form of karmic nonsense, being attached to Chicago because the owner was trying to make right the issues of four decades prior.

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Fancy Boys Club 2022 NFL Power Rankings Week 2

Fancy Boys Club 2022 NFL Power Rankings Week 2

Week one of the NFL season is usually a high variant week because our impressions of teams are based on nothing more than assumptions, predictions, and results from a year ago. Even given that, week one of the NFL season this year was absolutely bonkers. From 2:30 PM-4:00 PM CST on Sunday is why Redzone exists. If you were watching, you saw the Browns win a game at the buzzer against the Panthers on a 55 yard field goal by a kicker in his first career game. Then you saw the Bengals and Steelers kickers lose their absolute minds and run a game down to the wire that should have ended no fewer than five times. Then the Saints went down field at the end of regulation to kick what should have been a game winning field goal, only to have Atlanta get into range in 15 seconds before the Saints blocked a game winning field goal attempt. Then you got to watch an absolute embarrassment between the Texans and the Colts. Then you got to watch Patrick Mahomes starting to absolutely and surgically ruin the Cardinals.

It’s going to be a fun season.

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Two Ships Keep Passing in the Night, But Never in the Same Direction

On Sunday night, All Elite Wrestling, the upstart promotion run by Tony Khan, the son of Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, had their biggest event of the year at Now Arena in Hoffman Estates, IL. Odds are, though, if you have heard anything about the proceedings of the evening, you aren’t aware of the wrestling so much as the post show fire bombing of the company by newly crowned champion CM Punk.

For those that know the Lockport, IL born wrestler, he is a soothsayer and a truth teller. He is a great wrestler and gatekeeper of the sport, but also acerbic and short tempered with those he feels has crossed him or wronged him in any way. He is as notable for his promos as he is for much of what he has done in the ring. On Sunday night, he decided to light an M-80 and throw it into the AEW toilet to see how hard he could blow it all up.

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Fancy Boys Club 2022 NFL Power Rankings Week 1

Fancy Boys Club 2022 NFL Power Rankings Week 1

Welcome back to the Fancy Boys Club Power Rankings! Let’s hope I don’t lose interest and I keep it up the entire season. We are less than two weeks until the NFL season and teams have survived the preseason without much in terms of major injuries, with the notable exception of the Baltimore Ravens mascot.

The 2022 season will start after one of the most unprecedented offseasons in league history. For those who weren’t keeping track, Aaron Rodgers did his yearly asshat routine before coming back to the Packers. The team showed their appreciation by trading Davante Adams to the Raiders. Abstinence advocate Russell Wilson was traded to a Broncos team that suddenly looks more dangerous with an NFL quarterback behind center. Massage enthusiast and noted sexual predator Deshaun Watson escaped Houston by being traded to one of the most morally bankrupt teams in a league full of them, then got suspended for 2/3 of the season. Tom Brady retired, definitely tried going to Miami until the hole they were digging themselves into got too deep, then returned to Tampa. The Chiefs sent Tyreke Hill to the Dolphins, and he proceeded to say a bunch of dumb things to the media. A year after trading multiple draft picks for Carson Wentz, every “well, actually” football fan’s favorite quarterback this side of Kirk Cousins, the Colts jettisoned him to Washington and traded for whatever is left of Matt Ryan. And the Eagles traded for AJ Brown so they can watch Jalen Hurts throw the ball way over his head on every ten yard out pattern.

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Where Will Kevin Durant End Up

Kevin Durant is one of the best basketball players ever. He is also looking for a new home. The problem with the NBA is, there are only 29 other jobs out there if he doesn’t want to be a Brooklyn Net. And there are only 28 other teams, because I feel pretty safe in saying that Golden State is fine winning championships without him. And i’ll just say 27 other teams, because i’m a miserly Chicago sports fan who cannot even dream of the concept of a player of Durant’s caliber ending up on the Bulls. I’ll just go on pretending that things will be just as good with Zach Lavine.

The other problem with the NBA is, they have a pesky thing called a salary cap. The farther over the cap you are, the more excessive you pay into the luxury tax. The rule is made to keep teams from assembling rosters so loaded with talent, that the entire point of having an NBA season goes out the window.

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Brandon Solves The Internet: Chicago Sports Edition

Brandon Solves The Internet: Chicago Sports Edition

Welcome back to another edition of Brandon Solves the Internet. Whenever he feels like it, he answers questions he finds around the internet (or gets drunkenly screamed at while at the bar). This week, Brandon is answering questions about all of the Chicago sports teams.

If the Bears catch a few breaks, can they surprise people and be a playoff team?

Brandon: No. God no. I’ve noticed over the past couple seasons that there is a large amount of Bears fans deciding their opinions on the Bears by reading Bears Twitter, which is mostly composed of failed influencers and people who build their followings by dedicating themselves to appealing to the lowest common denominator of fans. They give the absolute dumbest opinions with absolutely no use for proof. Bears Twitter is the Porn Hub comment section of fandom.

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NHL Report: The Quarters

AKA the conference semi-finals, but only the NHL cares THAT much about the Conference Finals. It’s all just window dressing to get hockey fans slobbering about the Stanley Cup Final.

Don’t think I am going to go on about why it’s called “Final” as opposed to “Finals” again. I won’t as it’s too silly to be discussed. Okay? Okay. Great.

As I am writing this, I’ll do a “live” report on the Oilers-Flames series. Right now, it is 0-0 because they’re six minutes away from dropping the puck for period 1.

Now let’s check out The Quarters by taking a deep dive into a frozen pond and scope out the Eastern Conference. As expected, and I predicted – as if it’s that big of a deal it was not hockey magic like an Edmonton goal from someone else besides Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaiti – only the Hurricanes, Panthers and Lightning stand a chance of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup. The four teams left, those are three. The other is the New York Central Park Rangers who are currently down two games to one versus the Hurricane. The Hurricane are the team I picked to win the Eastern Conference, but they must contend with a scrappy Ranger squad then the Tampa Bay Lightning. The TBL (to shorten it so I don’t have to keep typing their insipid name) are up three games to nil against the Florida Panthers. The cake is baked on that series so all that’s left is the icing.  Man I am hungry. Time to prep dinner – broiled teriyaki salmon with brussels sprouts, garlic and spinach.

Time for the Western Conference. First, we have the Avalanche versus the Blues. On paper this should be a 5 or 6 game series and still might be. The Avs are up two games to one but really got hammered at home 4-1 in game 2. They rallied big time and crushed the Blues 5-2 on St. Louis’ home ice Saturday night though. Tomorrow night is Game 4.

The keys to this series? Keeping the Blues off the power play. They are really good at scoring on the power play. They only team better this year than them are the… yep, you guessed, the Avalanche. As such, each have the same goal so to speak – keep everything 5 on 5 as much as possible. Key 2 is the same as it is on every team left – good goalie play combined with solid defense. One’s goalie can only do so much – we will get to that in a moment. Suffice to say the team that may be in danger are the Blues. They lost their number one(ish) goalie last night, Jordan Binnington when Avs forward Nazem Kadri was going after a loose puck and got shoved into Binnington by Blues player Calle Rosen. Of course, Blues fans – the blind ones – can’t see how Kadri didn’t hit Binnington on purpose but completely fail to see if Binnington had made a clean glove save and not had the puck bounce off him to sit at the front of the net this wouldn’t have happened. And, as it is St. Louis, Kadri is now getting racist death threats. How sweet of the hockey ignorant.

Time Out. I am going to go make dinner now. I’ll be back to report on Game 3 of the Oilers-Flames matchup in a while as well as continue with the Western Conference in general.

Brussels sprouts are roasting, it’s nil-nil 7 minutes into period 1.

Back to the report. I am not done with the whole Kadri brouhaha. Effectively, I just want to go on the record for two items – one, Kadri has been known to mix it up a bit too much and in fact was suspended last year during the playoffs. Two, you Blues fans who are acting like asses, look at the damn play. It clearly was not on purpose and clearly was Kadri going after a loose puck in front of the net. If you all want to really bitch about something, bitch about how your team decided the right time to pull your goalie was way too early. Goal 4 the Avalanche scored via Gabe Landeskog was declared an empty netter but it was kind of comical watching Blues goalie Ville Husso struggle to try and get back to the net to no avail.

oh Landy, you came and you scored without their goalie and it iced the game, oh Landy.

Let it be said the Avs also lost a player yesterday. Speedy defenseman Sam Girard was checked into the boards by the Blues forward Ivan Barbashov. Now if you’re thinking “hey, he sounds like he’s Russian” he certainly is, so let’s just get this out of the way to keep Avs fans frothing “gO BaCk to ruSSiA U coMmiE!” It was a clean check, just a rough one. Girard is out for the rest of the playoffs with a broken sternum. Ouch.

As for the Oilers-Flames matchup AKA “The Battle of Alberta”, you may scroll up to take notice to see how I wrote “one’s goalie can only do so much.” That particular goalie for the first tow games has been starting Oiler goalie Mike Smith. The Oilers lost Game one 9 to 6. Granted it wasn’t all his fault. He was pummeled with 10 shots in the first 6 minutes and let 3 of them into the net. As such he was pulled.

Now it’s still nil-nil at the end of Period 1, but the Oilers are the aggressors outshooting the Flames 21 to 7 at this point. Brussels Sprouts are done, the salmon is broiling, and the Oilers look like they may be cooking the Flames. There’s something poetic about that last part.

For game 2 the Oilers stuck with Smith and they won 5-3 as he stopped 37 out of 40 shots. The Calgary Flames are not going to take it easy on him whatsoever or any Oiler goalie for that matter. For Game 1 they had 42 shots. It may be tied at 1 game each right now but I cannot see how the Oilers are going to win a series when their goalie(s) have to withstand that much pressure. The Oilers can fire away too, but they are “down” 82 shots vs 68 shots through the first two games.

Food is done and delish! FYI, listening to the Flames radio broadcast via the web is pretty hilarious. Lots of “oh-ffense” and many “a-boots” plus for the first intermission you get “Flames history on this date” which was nothing but talking about the move from Atlanta 42 years ago and three coach firings. So weird.

GOOOOOOAAAAALLLL! Not sure why I am so excited. I don’t care about either team, but the Oiler Zach Hyman (AKA The Virgin) just scored for the Oilers. Maybe it’s the whole “Battle of Alberta” deal. Calgary and Edmonton are a mere 3 hours AKA a case of Labatt’s (for the passenger c’mon now) apart, don’t cha know.

Just went through the Flames playoff history. The Oilers had Gretzky so we know they won Stanley Cup after Stanley Cup. The Flames have hoisted the Stanley Cup once in 1989 with co-captain and legend Lanny McDonald.

Opah! Another GOOOOOOOAAAALLLL! The Oilers are working very hard to prove me wrong. I used OPAH because I just heard their commercial on Alberta Flames radio. It’s the largest Greek Mediterranean franchise in Canada, don’t cha know. And the Oilers just scored again, Evander Kane for the second time. It’s 3-0. I’m done with this game. OPAH! It’s now 4-0 and Kane has a flippin’ hat trick in one period. Now I have to take back my snarky comment about just McDavid and Draisaiti scoring for the Oilers. I’m also REALLY done with this game.

What else don’t cha know? My original prediction is still gold – I have the Hurricanes versus the Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Final. The Hurricane are good, but not good enough. Avalanche takes them in 7.

See you for the Stanley Cup Semis, AKA the Conference Finals.