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Half a Century Since Jets’ Super Bowl Upset

January 11th, 2019 · 1 Comment · Football, NFL, Rams

Just read a piece in the Wall Street Journal by a reporter noting today is the 50th anniversary of the New York Jets’ 16-7 upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl 3.

Most football fans who were over the age of 10 or 12, on January 12, 1969, remember the event.

I fall into that demographic and the idea that the game was half a century ago prompts head-shaking (where did the years go?) as well as some flashes of recollection on the game itself (Joe Namath celebrating), as well as its build-up (Namath’s apparent “guarantee” of Jets victory, days before the game, despite being 18-point underdogs.

Key factors in the ongoing notoriety of that game?

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Soccer Goodbyes: ‘Till Next Time’

January 9th, 2019 · No Comments · Brazil 2014, Football, soccer

The championship tournament of Asian soccer is under way at the moment in the United Arab Emirates, and I sorta/kinda wish I were there.

Asian teams are becoming more interesting, and perhaps a bit more competitive, in recent years, and to have a look at the top 24 of them, all playing this month in one small country … well, that could be fun.

But the decision came down to a long stretch of time in Southern California versus most of a month in the UAE … and family and friends won out, easily.

One thing about soccer, is how players and coaches and clubs and national teams repeatedly cross paths.

The Asian Cup (as the continental tournament is known) is a perfect opportunity to consider, anew, the upheaval inherent in soccer, and particularly at the “manager” level.

It is the ultimate forum in sports where no one should ever say “goodbye” but, rather, “until we meet again.”

I thought about this when I saw that Iraq, one of the 24 teams in the Asian Cup, is coached by one Srecko Katanec, with whom I spent a few fraught days in Beirut in September of 2011.

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So Tired of Alabama and Clemson

January 7th, 2019 · No Comments · College football

The Alabama-Clemson game coming up tonight marks the fourth consecutive season those schools have met in college football’s final game.

And many of us are sick and bloody tired of watching those two decide who will be national champion.

Some have suggested it is a good thing, this repetition. “Would you rather see Notre Dame or a Pac-12 team in there?” is the sort of rhetorical question posed — which usually comes with information on how many of the nation’s elite recruits have chosen those two school in recent years, and how many of them go on to play in the National Football League.

What I would like to see is simple: Schools not named Alabama or Clemson being good enough to play for a championship.

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Marveling at an Apollo Space Capsule

January 6th, 2019 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Our Southern California sojourn has taken us to San Diego, where we found a rainy (!) day and were prompted to consider visiting an indoor venue.

Such as the Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.

It was impressive enough that we were happy the day had turned rainy.

The highlight was peering through the window of the command capsule for Apollo 9, the space mission that focused on the Lunar Module — making sure the “LM” could separate from the command capsule, maneuver away from it and link up again. That ability was key to subsequent events leading to Apollo 11 and two men walking on the moon.

Also, having two men outside the command module, which was going to be a necessity when NASA reached the moon, was another “first” for Apollo 9,

I got a little verklempt peeking through the window into the tiny capsule where three crazy-brave astronauts had less personal space than a customer on the cheapest of cut-rate, sardine-can commercial airlines.

That anyone could climb into that capsule, as it sat atop a Saturn 5 rocket, waiting to be blasted into space … well, that is some cold-blooded courage, and Apollo 9 astronauts James McDivitt, David Scott and Rusty Schweikart had that “right stuff”.

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Basketball Bruins in Ruins

December 31st, 2018 · No Comments · Basketball, UCLA

Those of us who grew up with the UCLA basketball of John Wooden … and serial NCAA basketball championships … well, we were ruined for life.

After 10 national titles in 12 seasons, including seven (!) consecutive through 1973, and an 88-game winning streak, unrealistic expectations became the norm.

I distinctly remember listening to UCLA’s double-overtime loss to North Carolina State in the 1974 NCAA semifinals, the Bruins’ first playoffs defeat since 1963. I was working at my father’s gas station; we had the radio tuned to the game. I was shattered.

UCLA did not disappear, when Wooden rode into the sunset after one more title. There was a championship in 1995 from a team coached by Jim Harrick and starring the O’Bannon brothers, title-game appearances in 1980 and 2006 and final-four trips in 1976, 2007 and 2008.

After a decade or four, only the aging fans from the days of Wooden approached every season as a “championship or bust” proposition. But, too, UCLA could never be ordinary. Let alone ridiculous.

Which is why the Bruins fired coach Steve Alford late last night.

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From Sports Illustrated to Delivering Amazon Packages

December 27th, 2018 · 1 Comment · Journalism, Sports Journalism

Interesting post-journalism story making the rounds.

A veteran writer for Sports Illustrated, laid off last year, is earning $17 an hour delivering packages for Amazon. And now he has written about his career change for The Atlantic.

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Don’t Replace ‘Wild Horse’ with Harper and his $300 million price tag

December 21st, 2018 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

Adios, Yasiel Puig, the man dubbed “Wild Horse” by Vin Scully. Sometimes you were great, sometimes you were awful … but at all times you commanded attention.

(And a second “see ya” goes to Matt Kemp, who gave the Dodgers half a season of something clearly above average, before time and a creaky body reduced him to what had been expected.)

And hello, Bryce Harper?

I hope not.

That seven-player deal the Dodgers concluded with the Cincinnati Reds … a good move. So far.

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French and Some of Its Accents

December 19th, 2018 · 1 Comment · France

Most of us, we learn a bit of another language, and we somehow assume that the words are understood anywhere that primary language is spoken.

In fact, every global language has numerous versions of what might be described as “proper” or “correct” language. Some of which might well be mocked by others who prefer their own interpretation.

Which brings us to this amusing video in which a comedian pokes fun at several French-language accents.

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The Galaxy and MLS Have a Zlatan Problem/Blessing

December 18th, 2018 · 1 Comment · Football, Galaxy, soccer

Good news, for L.A. Galaxy fans.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has signed on for another season with the Major League Soccer club. Here is video, via the Galaxy, of him talking about it.

The return of the hulking Swede with the pony-tail, a 500-goal scorer who will be 37 during the 2019 season, improves the club’s chances of making the 2019 MLS playoffs — as well as the Galaxy’s chances of adding another MLS Cup to a collection that already includes five.

Ibrahimovic’s return to the Galaxy, announced today, also is a boon for Major League Soccer, given that the prolific scorer is the league’s most famous player, comfortably ahead of Wayne Rooney and Carlos Vela.

But it is not all good news for the Galaxy and MLS for one simple yet obvious reason:

Ibrahimovic is so good … he makes the club and the league look second-rate.

More so than any other foreign star who has played in the league. Way ahead of David Beckham. Miles ahead of David Villa or Thierry Henry or Carlos Valderrama — and certainly light years ahead of anyone who showed up in the MLS so late in his career, so soon after a serious injury, and been such a dominant player.

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The Best NFL Team No One Cares About

December 13th, 2018 · No Comments · Chargers, Football, NFL, Rams

That would be the San Diego … uh, Los Angeles … Chargers.

Are they good? Turns out, yes. Yes they are.

The Chargers are 11-3 good, and only two teams in the NFL have a better record — the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams, each 11-2.

The Chiefs are 11-3, as are the Chargers, but the Chiefs are leaders of the AFC West thanks to the divisional-games tiebreaker.

The Chargers defeated the Chiefs in dramatic fashion tonight, scoring a touchdown with :04 on the clock to draw to 28-27, then adding a two-point conversion to win 29-28 — ending the Chargers’ 13-game losing streak against K.C.

And reinforcing their status as the best team in perhaps any North American sports league that no one (well, hardly anyone) cares about. (Yes, including the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes.)

Consider.

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