Friday, June 27, 2014

Breaking News: Ann Coulter is Stupid, Trolling for Clicks

Listen, I know that Ann Coulter says stupid shit just to get attention. I do. And I know by responding, I feed the beast, in whatever small measure. But fuck it. She's stupid, and when one assumes that other people recognize stupidity, the result is that the stupidity spreads. It's like a virus. But with stupid.

So, let's knock this out quick, OK?

Ann Coulter's stupid column is here. You can read it, if you want. But it is pretty stupid.

Keep in mind, this is now an America in which World Cup matches are being broadcast in MLB Parks so both the players and the fans can watch what happens before the baseball game starts. That was certainly not true back in 1930, when the USA had their finest performance. Ann Coulter was there for that tournament, and she's still bitter. Let's just see how stupidly out of date she is!

"She" uses an itemized list, and luckily, that's how I like to blow up stupid arguments, so this will be very convenient. Let's start at the beginning. Ann Coulter quotes in bold.

1) "Individual achievement is not a big factor in soccer. In a real sport, players fumble passes, throw bricks and drop fly balls -- all in front of a crowd."

That's incredibly stupid. Soccer is full of individual performances. Russia is going home because their goalie failed to stop an easy shot. Lots of teams are sent home because of a failed Penalty Kick. Roberto Baggio's missed PK was TWENTY YEARS AGO. Ghana last cup?

Also, just to be clear, Ann is celebrating the fact that people who play her sports often display incompetence at them. Yay?

Also, soccer is played in front of a crowd. Not sure what that last phrase is about.

2) Liberal moms like soccer because it's a sport in which athletic talent finds so little expression that girls can play with boys. No serious sport is co-ed, even at the kindergarten level.

Boy, that's stupid. No sport is co-ed, even at the kindergarten level? When did Ann Coulter decide that she hates women, anyway? Liberal, Centrist and Conservative moms like soccer, by the way, because it doesn't leave their kids with brain damage.

3) No other "sport" ends in as many scoreless ties as soccer.

Is soccer low scoring? I HADN'T HEARD.

4) The prospect of either personal humiliation or major injury is required to count as a sport...After a football game, ambulances carry off the wounded. After a soccer game, every player gets a ribbon and a juice box.

Boy, that's stupid. Major injury is necessary? So, tennis is not a sport, then? Also, if you think soccer doesn't have the chance for major injury, you're stupid. And have probably never watched a game, much less this video. That's a stupid argument, from a stupid person.

5) You can't use your hands in soccer. What sets man apart from the lesser beasts, besides a soul, is that we have opposable thumbs. Our hands can hold things. Here's a great idea: Let's create a game where you're not allowed to use them!

Nonsensical. Idiotic. The only thing keeping the Wombats from being great at human sports is their lack of opposable thumbs! This sport is open to all species! The horror. I could make a joke that even the biggest dick of the animal world, the mink, has more of a soul than Ann Coulter. But that would be picking on a really stupid person, and I'm above that.

But seriously, this point? It is incredibly stupid. Hey, Volleyball? Why don't you just catch that ball and throw it back and forth? What's with this bumping and setting? Why aren't hockey players allowed to pick up the puck and skate with it? BECAUSE SPORTS HAVE RULES. Poor, stupid, Ann Coulter.

6)  I resent the force-fed aspect of soccer. The same people trying to push soccer on Americans are the ones demanding that we love HBO's "Girls," light-rail, Beyonce and Hillary Clinton.

Watch soccer, don't watch soccer. We don't care one way or another. The fact that something is on TV, because the TV Channel in question has decided it is worth their time and money to broadcast it? That's not force-feeding. It is actually the Invisible Hand of the Marketplace, which you stupid jerks LOVE.

It isn't soccer's fault, Ann Coulter, that you are widely derided as an idiot and soccer and Hillary Clinton are more popular than you. That's your fault, you stupid dummy. Stop writing stupid things, and maybe people will like you more.

Ann, do you think that "force-fed" means "made available"? They are quite different. But you are quite stupid, so maybe you don't get the difference.

7) It's foreign. In fact, that's the precise reason the Times is constantly hectoring Americans to love soccer. One group of sports fans with whom soccer is not "catching on" at all, is African-Americans.

That's why half the US team is African-American, you stupid person. Let's see - Tim Howard, DeMarcus Beasley, Jermaine Jones, Julian Green, John Brooks, Fabian Johnson, Tim Chandler, DeAndre Yedlin, Jozy Altidore. But, sure, yeah, African-Americans aren't into soccer, and certainly not playing it. I'd call that argument stupid AND racist, but the real racist argument is upcoming. You want a sport that African-Americans are not playing much anymore? Try baseball, dummy.

8) Soccer is like the metric system, which liberals also adore because it's European...Liberals get angry and tell us that the metric system is more "rational" than the measurements everyone understands. This is ridiculous. An inch is the width of a man's thumb, a foot the length of his foot, a yard the length of his belt. That's easy to visualize. How do you visualize 147.2 centimeters?

Ummm, what?

9) Soccer is not "catching on." Headlines this week proclaimed "Record U.S. ratings for World Cup," and we had to hear -- again -- about the "growing popularity of soccer in the United States." ...If more "Americans" are watching soccer today, it's only because of the demographic switch effected by Teddy Kennedy's 1965 immigration law. I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer. One can only hope that, in addition to learning English, these new Americans will drop their soccer fetish with time.

So, record ratings, showing a growth in the sport doesn't mean anything? Makes sense, to a stupid person. MLS keeps expanding, that doesn't matter. TV deals for the Premiership and Bundesliga and Serie A and Premiera keep getting more expensive--but soccer's popularity is just an illusion. Huh.

Why the quotation marks around American, Ann Coulter? Is because you are kinda racist, or because you are VERY racist?

And, hi, my last name is nice and white and my great-grandfather was born here. In fact, on one side of my family, I can trace my American roots all the way back to Nathan Hale. I've got the DNA of Hale, and John Muir and General George Crook flowing in my veins. And I love soccer. I also love the NFL, and college basketball. Can you imagine that, or are you too stupid to grasp that potentiality? Or were you just grubbing for reactionary bile, so you could complain about the Liberals Who Love Soccer were mean and vindictive towards you?

I don't care what your goal was - the column you wrote was the product of a stupid, stupid mind. A mind that is possibly calculating and definitely racist, but mostly stupid. It kinda feels like you wrote this article 50 years ago (which still would have been 14 years after the first time America made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup, which you were around for, being the Stupidest Vampire). Learn your history, learn the sport, if you can, you stupid, stupid person.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

World Cup: Group C and D preview

Clearly, I'm feeling pretty full of myself with the way that I predicted that Holland collapse. (In my defense, I had no idea Iker Casillas was capable of playing that shittily. He personally gave away 3 of the 5 goals that Holland scored on Spain. Of course, Spain only scored one, but that's what they are good at, in theory. Score once and win 1-0.)

So, just to be slightly ahead of the games tomorrow, here's the rigmarole, and then some quick thoughts.

It is possible to overthink the World Cup. In fact, it is really easy to do so. You can get into tactics, or managerial skills, or possible talismans. Simple point of fact - since the World Cup began, only 8 teams have won. You can pick a Dark Horse if you want, but the odds are not with you.

Group A here
Group B here

Group C consists of:
Cote d'Ivorie

What Group C is is the Group of No Fucking Clue. Colombia is probably the strongest top to bottom. The Elephants of the Ivory Coast have the most talent, but they are all on the wrong side of 30. Can they get it together for one more push? I WOULD LOVE THAT SHIT. Greece is boring as shit. Japan plays a very high energy, frenetic passing game, modeled on Spain. Which means in their own way, they are also boring as shit.

If I were picking, I would Colombia gets out of the group (but not guaranteeing that they finish 1st in it) and that the second team could be anyone. But I really, really want it to be the Ivory Coast. I want Didier Drogba to have one last great run.

Group D consists of
Costa Rica

If people thought just a little more of England, or a little less of Ghana, this might have been the group considered to be the Group of Death. This is a mean, tough group.

Italy and Uruguay have to be considered the favorites. Both are going to be playing to their strengths, which is attacking football. I happen to LOVE Uruguay. The combination of Suarez and Cavani up top is a better attacking duo than just about anyone in this tournament. They have old man Forlan, who was one of the best players in 2010. He doesn't have to be that good this time around, because the youngsters have come into their own. Though they do have to contend with the Sports Illustrated curse. Their midfield is full of hard men, whilst their backline is shaky. They are like a mini-Argentina.

Italy, I would think, can contend with the loss of Montolivo.  Italy has almost too many options. Their success is predicated on which combination of players will be on the pitch. For some teams, their Top 11 is pretty easy to suss out. Italy? Who knows. Hell, going into the Cup, Italy has deployed a wealth of formations that have left much closer observers than I wondering what the hell they will look like on the pitch tomorrow (bear in mind, they are playing on the worst pitch to start their World Cup).

England is caught between generations. The previous generation, so full of bad red cards and shitty penalty kicks and really questionable goalie play? That generation is still around. But they are also counting on a bunch of near-teenagers. If it all comes together, it will be a miracle. Miracles happen, via hard work or belief or some such intangible bullshit. The truth of the matter is that if someone asked me to pick between England advancing and England not scoring a goal, I'm not sure which one I'd pick. I am pretty damn sure they will concede a decent number, though.

Costa Rica is not advancing, but they are going to make sure as shit that the team they are playing doesn't advance because of them. Costa Rica is going to play physical, borderline dirty, and if the other three squads aren't careful, they aren't going to lose to a Costa Rica team that scores 1 goal and gets 9 yellow cards. If nothing else, Joel Campbell is a Master Diver, first class. If Costa Rica should draw a referee as easily duped as the ref in the Brazil/Croatia game, anything can happen! (But again, The Ticos are not advancing).

Saturday, June 07, 2014

World Cup: Group B Preview

It is possible to overthink the World Cup. In fact, it is really easy to do so. You can get into tactics, or managerial skills, or possible talismans. Simple point of fact - since the World Cup began, only 8 teams have won. You can pick a Dark Horse if you want, but the odds are not with you.

Group A here.

Anyway, let's get to Group B, and who is going to advance! 

Group B consists of:
Spain (your defending champions)
The Netherlands (your defending runners-up)

Spain, barring something horrible happening, should advance out of this group. The bloom is off the rose for this team, which is arguably the greatest collection of players to have ever been on the pitch together. Much has been made of the tiki-taka, but positive and negative. There are times that Spain seems be playing for 0-0 draw for the first 85 minutes. I have a grudging admiration for the way Spain plays, but I don't necessarily like it.

Yes, owning huge percentages of possession means the other team can't score, but it is the kind of "innovation" that led to the shot clock in basketball. This team, for a long time, has been "What if Barcelona didn't have Lionel Messi", and that lack of a truly great finisher does sometimes get in their way. I think it will trip them up at some point in this tournament, but not in this group.

(note: Deadspin's Billy Haisley says that "Sergio Busquets has the best first touch in the world". I'll admit to not watching as much soccer this year as I have in years past, but I refuse to believe that is true. Busquests, to my mind, is better known as one of the consummate floppers/complainers/foulers in the game. I don't know who I'd put at the top of the Best First Touch in The World list, because that's a really weird thing to give a ton of thought to, but it wouldn't be Busquets. )

The Netherlands are primed for a disappointment. This is not a controversial take, but it is one I believe strongly in. For a team that, historically, has been one of the more beautiful teams to watch play the game, they were ugly and disturbingly cynical in their 2010 Final against Spain (in which they accumulated 9 yellow cards, and ended the match with 10 men.) This is a team that dominates, wonderfully, against inferior opponents, but as soon as they are faced with a challenge, they shrink up the field, cluster and foul. It's like Nigel De Jong says, "Hey guys, let's play this one my way," (Nigel De Jong is this decade's answer to Gennaro Gattuso).

Everyone's four years older, everyone's carrying knocks - Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder can all be great. But the odds of them all being great at the same time? Seems unlikely to me. I do believe that only one of Spain and Holland advance, and my money is on Spain.

On a personal note, as a guy who has been around just long enough to remember Cruyff, and Van Basten, and Guillit, and certainly remember the team of the 90's, with Bergkamp and Davids and Kluivert, this version of Holland? It makes me sad.

I think Chile is advancing. And Haisley at Deadspin is right, a lot of the reason goes to the sheer badassery of Arturo Vidal. I love this comparison between him and Yaya Toure: "Whereas Yaya makes popping up deep in both penalty areas at any given moment look effortless, almost like he teleports from place to place, you can see the exhaust fumes billowing from Vidal when his motor is revving. He'll steam backwards into a tackle, collect the ball and slap out a pass to start the counter, then speed ahead to join the attack all in mere seconds."

Vidal is the straw that stirs the drink, to be sure, but combine him with top notch talent like Mauricio Isla (dangerous overlapping runner/crosser), veteran midfielder Jorge Valvida, strikers Eduardo Vargas and Alexis Sanchez (and Mauricio Pinilla in reserve), and you have what could be the most aggressive offensive talent in the group. With La Liga netminder Claudio Bravo (whose nickname, "Little Monkey" is awesome) in the back, Chile is one of those teams that is sneaky - players who play in top competition all over the world, but somehow escape notice.

Australia's team is nicknamed "The Socceroos", and that isn't the worst part about them. They will get to enjoy the sights and sounds of Brazil, and I bet their cute accents will help them get laid. That's about it. Their chances of advancing would only be slightly worse if their nickname was "The Kangaroos", and they fielded 11 kangaroos. Where's Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell when you need them? Retired, years ago, that's where. And Tim Cahill probably should have joined them by now, but he's now the "star". Australia never did anything of note when they were kind of good. No reason to expect anything out of them now that they are, hands down (with apologies to Iran) the worst team in the field of 32.

World Cup 2014: Group A Preview

And we're back, kind of. This here blog was started, back in 2006, for one simple reason. The World Cup was not being talked about, and when it was, it was being talked about by idiots who hated soccer. Back in 2006, some of our fun was running the US roster through the Wu Tang Generator. It still exists! Jozy Alitdore, in case you were curious, is Big Wicker Ventriloquist. Which feels frighteningly apt, in its way.

In 2010, we were happy to see that the idiots backed off their idiocy. Tom Powers was still stupid, but he knew that he couldn't describe soccer as the sport of Illegal Immigrants anymore.

In 2014, it feels like a watershed has been crossed. 4 years ago, Deadspin was perfectly happy just calling out provincial fucks, without providing any actual soccer coverage themselves. But with Greg Howard and Billy Paisley, and assorted others, Deadspin is providing insights to every single team out there. And that's great! But they are often wrong, and that's OK! They know the game, perhaps too well.

It is possible to overthink the World Cup. In fact, it is really easy to do so. You can get into tactics, or managerial skills, or possible talismans. Simple point of fact - since the World Cup began, only eight nations have won it. You want to pick a dark horse? Go ahead! But history is against you.

Anyway, let's get to Group A, and who is going to advance!

Group A consists of:
Brazil (your host)

Brazil is as guaranteed to walk into the Round of 16 as any team in the Cup. But let's not pretend there are not warts on Brazil. There are, absolutely. Their defense is tough up the middle, but their wing backs are maybe prone to a bit o' wandering. There is almost always space behind the Brazilian defense. Thiago Silva is almost always there to clean that up. But if he's caught out of position, when Dani Alves sends a shitty cross in to spark a counter? It could be trouble. But not in this round. Not with group.

That said, in the long term, I don't love this Brazil team. Neymar is spectacular, but a bit dainty. There's no Ronaldo on this team, especially if Fred isn't available. Brazil has wunderkinds up the ass, but it has been 12 years since they hoisted a trophy, and I don't know they have the depth and physicality to win this whole thing, home team or not.

Mexico is terrible. Let's not kid ourselves. They needed an extra time goal from the US to even get here. Couple that with Luis Montes' great goal and terrible leg break in a friendly a week ago, and that team is coming into the World Cup knowing that they are lucky to be there, and without one of their best players. Couple that with a suspect defense? The New York Times argued that Mexico got lucky in this draw, and they are right. But it won't matter.

My pick to advance is Croatia. Deadspin says that Croatia's way to advance is to "Rise and Grind", which is, to my mind, damning with faint praise. This team is dangerous. They don't have to "grind". They will be as dangerous as anyone on set plays, with Manzukic up top, with Olic and Eduardo possibly playing withdrawn attackers. Combine those guys with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, and you've got the second best offense in the group. They aren't fast? We'll see.

Cameroon is a very old team that qualified. The Indomitable Lions are back, and you never know what E'to and Webe will pull off. But a weak midfield and sketchy defense dooms them. They may lose every game in the Round Robin, even as they score 2 or 3 goals a game.

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