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Is the Future of U.S. Women’s Soccer … in Europe?

February 16th, 2017 · No Comments · Football, soccer, World Cup

U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd, twice the Fifa women’s world player of the year, said this week she will spend three months this year playing for Manchester City of England’s Women’s Super League.

This is the same Manchester City organization that has been competing for championships on the men’s side, in England, for the past half-dozen years.

Man City has a women’s team, and it’s good, and figures to get better now that Lloyd has committed to joining them for most of the spring.

Lloyd, 34, will miss the first half of the National Women’s Soccer League season to spend those 13 weeks in England, but her commitment, albeit temporary, is only the latest for elite American soccer players, who have had trouble monetizing their careers.

It now seems more likely several European nations will develop the women’s club game faster than has been seen in the U.S., where various leagues and clubs have come and gone and mostly lost money while paying players pittances.

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End of Line for Arsenal’s Wenger?

February 15th, 2017 · No Comments · Arsenal, Champions League, English Premier League, Football, France, soccer

This has been an oft-revisited topic over the past five or six years.

Has Arsene Wenger, on the job since 1996, stayed on too long as coach of English Premier League side Arsenal?

Increasingly, the answers have come back, from fans and pundits, “Yes. It is time for Wenger to go.”

The criticism of his work, and of the latest apparently “soft” team he has assembled, seemed to reach an unprecedented height tonight, even before Bayern Munich had concluded a 5-1 thrashing of the Gunners in a Champions League match.

The usual criticisms came rolling in, but this time it seems as if his defenders had gone silent.

A journalist for The Guardian summed up Arsenal’s performance in harsh terms:

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Dodgers Semi-Blackout Enters Year 4

February 14th, 2017 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers and their TV policy is right out of 1963.

That was when the Dodgers televised nine games every year — the nine played in San Francisco.

Oh, wait. Except those were in black and white.

The handful of games that get on to most Southern California cable providers … those are in color.

Isn’t progress something?

It was reported yesterday that the Dodgers have done nothing to address their TV issue. To wit: More than half of local consumers — those who do not get Charter Communications — will not be able to see the club on TV again this year.

Which is just crazy. Still.

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The English Premier League and Serious Fans

February 13th, 2017 · No Comments · English Premier League, Football, NFL, soccer

I take a few long looks at the crowd whenever I watch an English Premier League soccer match.

I am always impressed at what appears to be a person sitting in every seat. At every match. For every minute of every match. No matter the weather.

In the winter, the fans stand out a bit more, via TV — all of them wearing their black foul-weather gear, creating little dark-blob islands of individuals, one dark blob per seat.

And they sit there shoulder to shoulder for most of two hours without aid of entertainment from exploding scoreboards and elaborate sound systems. Like, watching the match.

I saw another strong performance by English fans tonight, Manchester City at Bournemouth.

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When in San Diego … Go Exercise!

February 12th, 2017 · No Comments · tourism

We spent a weekend in San Diego last month, and we did a 45-minute walk one day, and then a three-hour hike up and down a 2,700-foot mountain … and we felt like slugs.

In San Diego, exercising is not part of a lifestyle, it is a lifestyle all on its own. You get fit, then you go find a job.

So get off the couch and grab a bottle of filtered tap water infused with carbonation … and get up a hill, dammit!

A hill like Iron Mountain in the next-over town, Poway.

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Kevin Durant vs. Russell Westbrook and OKC

February 11th, 2017 · No Comments · Basketball, NBA

Do you remember when you first heard about free agent Kevin Durant allegedly negotiating with the Golden State Warriors, last summer?

Our original reactions were, pretty unanimously, “he can’t be serious.”

And, “No one quits his team to join his arch-rivals.”

But Kevin Durant really did walk away from the only team he had known, signing with the Warriors to create a “super team” — as if a team that won an NBA-record 73 games last season needed reinforcements.

And tonight, in Oklahoma City, Durant plays in OKC for the first time as a member of the Warriors.

Let’s just say things have been a little weird, ahead of the game.

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Ah, the ‘Go to Hospital, See a Match’ Scam

February 10th, 2017 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Football, Russia 2018, soccer, UAE, World Cup

Great story out of Italy.

FC Crotone, a small club from the south of Italy, qualified to play in the top-flight Seria A this season — a first for the team from the ancient city in the deep south of the country.

As one might imagine, the local fans of calcio were quite excited, for themselves and their club, of course, but also because it meant all the greatest clubs in Italy would play in Crotone.

Such as serial champion Juventus of Turin, who played at Crotone’s 16,000-capacity stadium on Wednesday.

The game was a sellout, and fans had to become creative to figure out a way to see the match … and many eyes turned to the big hospital next to the stadium, from where tightwads previously had seen matches while posing as visitors to the hospital.

This time? A more ingenious plan was devised.

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USS Midway: A Taste of the Carrier Experience

February 9th, 2017 · No Comments · tourism

If a person has a chance to go aboard an aircraft carrier, he or she pretty much has to go. For a long time “aircraft carrier” was a byword for enormous. Both in size and in military impact.

The seagoing aircraft carrier retains its ability to project power but it has lost its monopoly on enormity, giving way to bigger tankers and container ships and, often (gasp!), cruise ships.

Still, a weekend afternoon in San Diego … yes, please, I would like to tour the USS Midway docked right there in the southern California city.

So even if 40 cruise ships currently afloat are longer than the longest aircraft carrier (and they are), the latter is still a big deal because of its ability to win a war just about anywhere by arriving off the coast and loosing the jets.

Have to respect that, and a chance to see what an aircraft carrier looks like and feels like … needs to be done.

Some thoughts on the USS Midway Museum:

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My Childhood Chum: The Scourge of Wine Pretensions

February 8th, 2017 · 1 Comment · France, Long Beach

Let’s get right to it.

A recent example from the irreverent/spiky/pissed-off/influential wine blog of my childhood friend Ron Washam:

There are too many f***ing wineries. Why do we need so many wineries? Really. All of you who are planning to start a winery some day, or your own label, DON’T! You’re not that good at making wine. I know you think you are, but you’re not. Sorry. Somebody had to tell you. The world does not need your take on single-vineyard, own-rooted Mondeuse. No one cares about your dedication to rescuing obscure varieties from the trash heap. … You’re not an artisan. Really. You’re not. Winemaking is not an art. Sculpture is an art. Ballet is an art. Balloon animals—art! … How is [winemaking] an art? You take grapes, ferment them, stay out of the way … do a bunch of lab work and the bottle the stuff. If that’s art, then so is cooking meth. At least people who are lousy at cooking meth eventually blow themselves sky high. Man, if only every new lousy winemaker did the same.

Ron was probably my best neighborhood friend, five decades ago, in our hometown of Long Beach, California. We were a year apart and had many of the same interests.

I am not at all surprised that he became well-known in the field of his choice, which for 35 years has been wine. First as an award-winning sommelier, now as a critic/hell-raiser at HoseMasterofWine.blogspot.fr

Ron was both the best athlete of our little group of a half-dozen sports-mad boys, back in the “Leave It to Beaver” era, but he also was the most creative in the arts, and particularly in writing.

And he is making another reputation now as the bane of every pretentious or shady person in the wine industry, and apparently they are legion.

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Tip-a-Cat: Little-Known Forerunner of Baseball?

February 7th, 2017 · No Comments · Baseball

I do New York Times Sunday crosswords. Only. If that sounds arrogant, given how difficult those monsters are, I plead guilty.

But I also readily concede that I solve one — and “solving” a crossword puzzle means 100 percent accuracy — about once out of 20 puzzles. All it takes is one wrong letter … and you have failed.

A Sunday puzzle I worked on the other day came down to one letter. I was that close to winning.

The final letter involved two clues. And one of them was: “Forerunner of baseball.” Seven letters.

I guessed … and I was wrong. But I discovered an interesting notion about a sport played in Britain which may have led to cricket as well as baseball.

Tip-a-cat.

No, really.

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