Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wild World of Wednesday - April 30, 2008

I’m not the only one complaining about the NFL Draft coverage. I was glad to see that Fox Sports ran a story about the incessant banter and hype being absurd. Thank you. In other NFL news, Randy Moss is getting involved in NASCAR. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. I guess I underestimated what being from Mississippi will do to someone.

Pat Riley has retired as the head coach of the Miami Heat. He’ll always be that coach that led the Los Angeles Lakers to all those championship seasons to me. When I think of Riley, I can’t help but think of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Showtime! And as this legend retires, another returns. Larry Brown has returned to coaching. He’ll be at the helm of the Charlotte Bobcats, joining fellow North Carolina alum Michael Jordan in the organization. Speaking of Charlotte, I visited this city just before this team chose the name. I still think they should have been the Charlotte Flight since we can all see the connection with aviation easier than big cats in this state. I guess they were trying to go with the animal theme since the Carolina Panthers were already there. Either that or they couldn’t figure out what the costume for the mascot would be if they were the Flight.

By the way, does anyone know if the Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki is related to Sig Hansen of The Deadliest Catch?

Manchester United advance to the Champions cup final by defeating Barcelona 1-0. They will face the winner of the Chelsea v. Liverpool game in Moscow for the title. This is the first all-England final.

Today in Sports History:

1976 – Muhammad Ali defeats Jimmy Young for the heavyweight title

1994 – Soccer diety Pelé gets married for the second time

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Things That Make Me Laugh (Or Smile Enthusiastically)

I was noticing that several happenings in the world of sports over the last few days have made me laugh a bit or become unable to help but smile. First off was the fact that the New York Yankees were not in first place in their division. What made this more hysterical was the fact that the Boston Red Sox were also not in first place. The topper? The Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Devil Rays were tied for the top spot in the AL East. The Devil Rays even swept the Red Sox. (Yes, I know that everyone freaked out and the official name is the Rays. They’ll always be the Devil Rays as far as I’m concerned. If “devil” was such a bad word, why haven’t the New Jersey Devils changed their name? I would find that name change absurd also.) Of course, this may only be a short-lived chuckle, but a chuckle nonetheless. Aso bringing a smile to my face is the fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers have come out of the basement for the time being and come up to second place in the NL West. The sweep over the Colorado Rockies sure helped out. Take that, Rockies fan that tried to talk trash at the game on Saturday. Oh, and your basketball team got swept too, which means their season is over! Keep it up Lakers!

Another thing that made me laugh – in a nervous laughter sort of way – is a story on that I came across. The piece was boasting how well their analysts picked the first round of the draft. Alright guys, enough already! Again, I love the NFL just as much as the next fan but they are killing me with the detailed analysis, horn tooting, and endless coverage. The last several weeks were the analysts on the NFL Network talking about who was going to be chosen at what slot in the draft. I’m sure that the next several weeks will be full of who made bad picks and who made good picks. Of course they’ll talk about the picks they predicted right to death as well. Really, I know a lot of regular fans that picked the draft very well also. The fact that you can report the obvious is not really news.

Speaking of the draft, USC had ten players picked. Yes, ten players! Ignore the Pac-10 no more, sports world. Ha!

Oh, and by the way – the feel good story of the draft has to be that of Caleb Campbell. Here’s a guy that was a stand-out at West Point on the defense and will be allowed to play in the NFL instead of going to war. He’ll still be serving the Army as a recruiter and undoubtedly a goodwill ambassador.

And, speaking of football – the Southern California Breakers beat the Tucson Monsoon 35-15 on the road over the weekend! Ha! Coach Anthony Bartlett told me that the win was long overdue and they wanted to make a statement after the loss from last week. Statement made!

Special note to Brett Favre: I am very amused that you are toying with everyone about the whole retirement thing. It is easy to imagine that not playing football is a difficult thing for you to do since you have done it for so long. Keep having fun with it! At least you don’t have to worry about the Madden curse being on the cover of the upcoming game…or will you…

Monday, April 28, 2008

5 Questions With GolTV’s Phil Schoen

If you’ve watched a GolTV soccer broadcast then you’ve likely heard Phil Schoen (pronounced SHANE) calling a game alongside the always emotional Ray Hudson (see video). In addition, Schoen is one of the hosts of the network’s “American Soccer” program. In the sports world for many years, he’s been involved in American football, baseball, and basketball reporting and is a fixture of the South Florida scene. A lifelong soccer fan, Phil was kind enough to be a guest for my five questions:

1. What do you find is the biggest resistance to soccer in the United States? We must be missing something here since it is so popular in the rest of the world - what do you think is the barrier?

The historic answer goes back around the time of World War I when many immigrants stopped supporting the game and took up other sports, mainly baseball in an effort to appear less foreign and show their patriotism towards their new home.

Many new fans don't realize how big soccer was back then. It rivaled baseball in many cities in the northeast - outdrawing, sometimes doubling the attendance of neighboring baseball teams. People talk about Crew Stadium being the first soccer specific stadium, but Marks Field in Rhode Island held 15,000 back when it was built in 1922 - and Bethlehem Steel built its soccer stadium seven years before that.

Since then, I would say it's a bit of a comfort-zone problem. Many people - especially those who have made a living in sports journalism and broadcasting - feel threatened when it comes to learning a new sport. The same situation exists with the people that control the purse-strings of sports sponsorship.

I think we are about to experience a huge opportunity in the near future as many of these 'bumps in the road' decision makers are retiring and being replaced by a generation that has grown up, not only familiar with the sport, but in many cases in love with it.

Couple that with a better infrastructure in regards to stadiums and training facilities and a younger generation that can do more than 'play with heart' and the future looks bright.

2. One thing I know gets even the most savvy sports fans confused is the offsides rule - can you give me the quick synopsis of that rule?

One thing that gets mentioned by ex-non-soccer people is that it's like a moving blue line in hockey. Personally I think that makes it more confusing. (smile) It's very simple, just like the sport. The hard part is the speed that everything is happening might be too much for a human official to judge all the time. However, mistakes keep the human element in the sport.

Basically, you need to have two people from the other team between you and the goal line at the moment the ball is last played by one of your teammates. Normally, that's the goalkeeper and another defender. And that touch could be a pass or a shot.

The rule was instituted years ago to prevent players from cherry-picking and harassing the opposing goalkeeper. However, then the rule was to prevent people from being yards offside. Now, it seems to be as fine as millimeters.

The rule has been modified in the past. Before you needed daylight between you and the second defender. Now you only need to be no closer to the goal than that defender, basically in line. In addition, the only parts of your body that matter are the parts that can legally touch the ball, in other words hands and arms don't count.

FIFA has asked officials to give the benefit of the doubt to the offense. However, every linesman seems top have the Wisdom of Solomon and no doubt whatsoever considering the number of blown calls around the world every week.

Personally, I would like to see them 'reverse' the earlier rule and make it so that the offensive player is onside until there is daylight separating him from the defender. That way, it would tend to be only blatant offside calls that would be made.

3. Another thing that has confused some of us - the Champions League and Champions Cup in Europe. Are they the same thing? What is the difference?

It's a progression of the same tournament. Basically, it's the championship for club teams in Europe for the European Cup. Not to be confused with the EURO tournament for nations which gets underway this summer in Austria and Switzerland!

4. Which American MLS team is the one to watch this year? Other than the one big name player that nearly everyone has heard, who are the big name stars in the MLS today?

It will be interesting to follow Los Angeles as they will either start to shine like the star that they are made out to be, or implode because of the salary restrictions placed on them by having so many high priced players. Kinda like waiting near that dangerous intersection for the next wreck! (smile)

I think this is the year that some of the non/under-achievers make their move. Columbus and Salt Lake will do better and I think Colorado could make some noise as well if they can acquire or develop a true center forward to take advantage of their midfield strength.

As far as league favorites, my pre-season picks were Dallas and DC, and even though DC is slow out of the gates they have the talent to come back strong, as does Houston out west.

5. What is in store for your show "American Soccer"? What can we expect in the near future? Any exciting guests coming up?

Ay, yay, yay... Love to have Amy Winehouse stop by for a quick chat. (smile) Other than that... hmmm. Well, since we don't have a team down here in Miami (frown) we have to be a little more proactive and take what we can get when we can get it. We have some arrangements in Europe for an occasional feature and we do go out on the road about 4-5 times a year.

We were at the World Cup in Germany. We were planning on going to the Copa America until we found out the US was not really going to try to win it. South Africa is already on the drawing boards although that has a lot of steps to take before it's a done deal. We're going to try to make it a habit to go to the MLS Cup, and continue to attend the NSCAA convention, which is an amazing place to meet and greet with true soccer nuts.

Really, star power is nice but American Soccer is more of a show where you will get critical analysis of the sport in the United States. It's a show where we try not to talk down to the existing knowledgeable fans in an effort to hopefully woo some new viewers. I believe that if you truly give soccer a chance you can't help but fall in love with it, and that love and passion needs to have a place to vent - and that's us!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Sports Wrap - April 27, 2008

The biggest deal in sports today is the remaining rounds of the NFL draft. It’s great that this event is finally here. Certainly fans must be tired of seeing the segments on the NFL Network that have beaten this subject to death. Especially insightful are those that show their production meetings. Yeah, exciting stuff…

The Los Angeles Dodgers play the Colorado Rockies today and are looking for a series sweep. Of course, if you are one of those fans who like to catch their batting practice; don’t bother unless you have an expensive ticket. Apparently, Dodgers BP is now only open to fans that have baseline, dugout, or Stadium Club tickets. Even if you have field box, you have to stand outside of the gate and have the security guards treat you like dirt until they decide to let the commoners in. Thanks so much Frank McCourt for continuing to place a happy day at Chavez Ravine out of reach for all but the elitists that you are trying to cater to. To further rub it in our faces, most of the dugout and baseline seats were empty last night – as they always are. Since I can remember, the stadium was open to all for Dodgers batting practice. The change in policy this year is absolutely infuriating.

Update: After writing this post, I filled out the "contact us" page at the Dodgers' website and told them how I felt. I included my contact information and, to my surprise, they called me this afternoon and apologized for how I was treated. They also said that the fans should have been let in two hours early as they always have been although worded it in such a way that I'm not so sure that is what they meant. I am delighted they called and appreciate that they are at least listening to what fans are saying. Let's see what happens...

The weather is nice almost everywhere so may I suggest that you get out and enjoy it? Participate rather than be a spectator today – or if you are a spectator, why not watch some surfing or beach volleyball while you enjoy the outdoors? Don’t live near a beach? Go hiking, skating, bicycling, or just take a long walk! Let me know what you did!

Today in Sports History

1956 – Rocky Marciano retires from boxing.

1981 – NASL (North American Soccer League) hires first woman as an official for the league.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Penny's Pitch Hits Ump

Alright, I normally don't post from my phone while I am at a Dodgers game but Penny threw some heat, Martin missed it, and the home-plate the ump went down. It was really scary as he fell back in what seemed like slow motion. The ambulance came on the field and they took him. Scary. Another fan that was in line for food told me that they showed it on the televisions and he got hit in the neck. I really hope he is okay. Penny was visibly shaken afterward.

Update: KABC radio reported after the game that Kerwin Danley was going to be released from the hospital tonight. Martin described it as sounding like a Tyson uppercut and apologized over and over. Danley has been involved in baseball for many years, including as a player for San Diego State. Here's to a full and speedy recovery.

The Dodgers won 11-3, with a 10 run first inning! (Apologies for the bad pic quality - I left the camera at home.)

Update: Danley has been released from the hospital as of Sunday morning. You can see his MLB bio here. It turns out that he is a Los Angeles native that attended Dorsey High. As I mentioned before, he went to SDSU and played baseball with Tony Gwynn.

May 2, 2008 Update: The Los Angeles Times speaks to Kerwin Danley about his experience. The ump claims to be doing well but still has headaches.

More Fan Lawsuits!?

Alright, this one really makes me ill! Apparently David Beckham was being kind and handed the jersey off of his back to a child in the crowd at a game. Tugging and fighting resulted and now a potential lawsuit! The parents of these children have hired lawyers for possession of the jersey. Really!?

More frivolous lawsuits by fans. Great. What is wrong with people? This is a really crummy example for the children. Think about it, they are taking legal action over an article of clothing. While I am an admirer of athletes, they are just other humans on our planet and not deities. (Of course they are talented, well-off, and popular but that is beside the point). Certainly there was a more amicable way to deal with this. The children involved are now being taught that you should fight over trivialities in life and then sue when you don’t get your way.

In fact, a photo shows one of the boys struggling with other kids over the jersey with the other boy in the lawsuit standing behind him. What makes it even more disappointing is that the two boys are reportedly close friends.

Alexi Lalas told the media that a judge should teach the children about sharing and cut the jersey in half. Michael Wilbon of ESPN’s PTI pointed out that Beckham and the Galaxy could end the fight now by videotaping Beckham signing two jerseys and shipping them off to the boys. Of course, the caveat to the latter is that it teaches the kids that if they whine loud enough they will get what they want in life. Perhaps the answer is to take it away from both of them and auction it off for charity. On the other hand, this sort of gesture by the Galaxy could have ended the absurdity of this entire episode before it got to this stage. In addition, the MLS is not exactly the most popular sport in the States and this will certainly not help make them look good. Seriously, what is a jersey to them? These poor kids have lost a friendship over something trivial and made another argument for those who don’t like soccer and disappointment for those of us who do.

What do you think should happen?

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Purple and Gold of Old

So much talk about the Los Angeles Lakers, so little time! The city is buzzing, local radio can’t stop talking about them, and ESPN is giving them their due. Finally! Is this the year for the Lakers? I feel optimistic, but as one of the bloggers at wrote after the first win, and I quote:

“I have a love/hate relationship with the playoffs. I love that it’s the pathway to the Finals, that the best teams in the league are competing and that every game means something. But I hate the tension, the nervousness, and the worry over little problems maybe becoming big ones and leading to a key loss. When all is said and done though, when the Lakers play with the poise, professionalism and control they played with today, the playoffs can be a joy to watch.”

So yeah, I’m very optimistic! They not only beat the team they were supposed to beat in Game 1, but they did so with finesse. Pau Gasol scored 36, Kobe Bryant scored 32, and everything else fell into place. I’m afraid to jinx them with any confident talk and I don’t want to sound pessimistic, so I’ve enlisted the assistance of my comrade Daniel Sagal from again to talk about what’s up with the team in this post-season:

The Lakers have really started to grow and develop as a ball club. It seems like these guys finally genuinely like each other and are happy to be sharing the court. I think every GM in the league understood from the 2004 Detroit Pistons that team ball wins games. Mitch Kupchak has done a superb job in assembling this roster with players that can dominate at every position. Similar to the Pistons of old, they had a solid guy at every position, when one piece was gone (Ben Wallace) the team lost it's mojo.

The Lakers are still missing one of their biggest pieces, Andrew Bynum. They have managed to dominate for quite a while now without him as Pau Gasol has given the team a boost in offensive efficiency to make up for the hole in the middle. The defense is lacking but guys like Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf have really stepped up to fill in the paint.

Also, we can't mention the Lakers success without giving a hand to the bench. This includes Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, Radmanovic (starter but really a role player that should be coming off the bench), Luke Walton, Ronny Turiaf, and even DJ Mbenga, Chris Mihm, and Ira Newble. Every guy seems to know their role on this team and when this unity occurs, the game just flows. If you watch the Lakers run their offense, you will notice that they really don't have to do very much in terms of looking for a pass. The triangle offense is designed so that the point guard doesn't have to call plays, instead, the players just simply start moving in some form of configuration around the ball, eventually the defense will not be able to keep up and someone will be left wide open. The Lakers, especially Lamar Odom, did a great job in penetrating and finding the open man all of game 1, which was often Pau Gasol directly under the basket for an easy dunk or lay up.

The rest of the series should go similar to the first example. Game 1 was the evidence; the rest of the series is the jail time.

The win on Wednesday was also impressive. In the second half especially, the team was so synchronized that it was beautiful to watch. Fortunately, they aren’t taking their lead for granted. Post game interviews with Kobe Bryant and the gang all sounded very focused and determined to finish what they have started. In addition, the team is acutely aware of the obstacles they will face playing in the altitude, with fan taunting, and being away from Staples. The hype machine is in full force about a Lakers v. Celtics Finals – here’s hoping they’re right!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Really? Dentist Sues Mascot?

This is likely another sign of the apocalypse, a reason the world hates us, or a prime example of absurdity. It seems as though a dentist was at a Chicago Bulls basketball game and stuck his hand out to high-five the mascot. “Benny the Bull”, the mascot, obliged and the fan stayed through the remainder of the game without so much as a whimper. Later, this fan decided that he required surgery and would subsequently miss four months of work. He is now suing the Chicago Bulls for the income he will be losing while he recovers.

So let me get this straight – it was serious enough to get surgery yet he stayed for the whole game? Interesting. Is he sure he didn’t do something getting into his car that night? I’ll bet there are two sides to this story (I hope) and we are only privy to what gets reported unless we happen to know those involved or witnessed the fracas. There is no lack of opinions about the incident for sure. The comments on most of the articles and posts I’ve seen have been priceless and quite heated. The general consensus is disappointment in the dentist’s choice of action to put it mildly.

Again, I’m not sure what happened since I wasn’t there but I just have to believe there was likely a better way to handle this. For example, telling someone at the event what transpired right then would have been a good start. There are customer service people and security staff all over the stands at NBA games. If he was hurt, wouldn’t it make sense to document that with someone on staff and get some answers while the incident was fresh? It seems sensible to point out that you were injured. It’s hard to believe the mascot would have done anything on purpose either. The costume that he is wearing is probably not the most graceful. “Benny” was probably just doing what he gets paid for and might have lost his footing when he grabbed this man’s arm. I’m sure the Bulls have very expensive and competent lawyers that will poke many holes in the complainant’s case. Of course, a dentist will be able to afford elite counsel as well.

At any rate, I hope this incident gets settled without hurting the silliness that happens at NBA and other sporting events that some fans really enjoy. Frolicsome mascots have been involved in sports for a very long time and it would be a shame if one bad incident ruined that for those who appreciated them. I get that many fans aren’t excited about having them there, but certainly harsh words and allegations are not the answer either.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wild World of Wednesday - April 23, 3008

Can I first just point out that the Los Angeles Lakers play Game 2 against the Denver Nuggets tonight? I’m giddy as can be that they not only won on Sunday, but looked good doing it. More on this subject on Friday…

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers are stinking up the place. What is with these people getting fat contracts to come here and then doing nothing? Yeah, I’m complaining about Andruw Jones again. The good news as I mentioned before is that it will be easier to get tickets. Somehow I knew the frustration would return…

I’m not a racing fan, but I have to congratulate Danica Patrick for winning her first race. There are definitely mixed reactions to her victory around the blogosphere

The Champions League is down to the semi-finals. In the first leg, Chelsea v. Liverpool ended up as a 1-1 tie. The second leg will be on the 30th. Manchester United face off against Barcelona today and will have the second leg on the 29th. Let me guess, we won’t be able to get it televised here…as usual. Man U’s Cristiano Ronaldo is the top scorer in the League so far with seven goals.

Last year’s Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks have been eliminated in the first round. So much for a reapeat.

Of course, I can’t let this post go by without talking about the NFL draft. Analysts have beaten this poor dead horse into paper-thin road kill. Now that the Miami Dolphins have signed Jake Long, the mystery of the very first pick of the draft is gone. This move also made carefully written commentary on why Chris Long should be chosen first useless. Even Mel Kiper Jr. didn’t fare so well when he was predicting what Miami would do all the way back in January. I’m not saying that I could do any better in trying to analyze who should be drafted in the first round. I haven’t posted once about mock draft predictions. I’m also no fun in Las Vegas as I don’t spend much time gambling.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What's a Srixon?

Just this past Saturday, the Roger Dunn Superstore in Santa Ana had a tent sale (they called it the Orange County Golf Show). This was an event with huge markdowns, discounted clubs, and manufacturers galore. We found some nice deals on spare gloves and shoe bags and went to try the plethora of clubs that were available to demo. Just about every club manufacturer was there including Ping, Mizuno, Callaway, Cleveland, etc. This was a much better “golf show” than the recent event in Long Beach – here you only had golf and not a surplus of timeshares and resorts trying to get your personal information so they could market to you for the next twenty years.

This was our first opportunity to try the Srixon clubs. We’ve read about them on Golf WRX and Bomb Squad Golf but hadn’t seen them at our local Roger Dunn in West L.A. Both sites have forums that speak very highly of the brand. If Srixon doesn’t sound familiar to you then you haven’t seen the commercial on the Golf Channel or other golf events with Jim Furyk talking about their balls. We got to the booth and they didn’t have left-handed demos, so my right-handed husband got to try them out. They looked great when he swung them and his opinion about them is:

I tried the Z-RW driver with the stiff shaft and it has a very solid feel. It is easily workable, very traditional, and the head does not seem oversized at all. What surprised me was the distance – the ball really flew. I also tried the 3-wood and the I-701 Tour irons. Every club felt remarkable and I would highly recommend that you check them out.

So while he was trying them out, I spoke to the rep about the company a bit. They’re from Japan and have a huge following in Australia and Ireland. He was very gracious and gave us each a free sleeve of balls and some other good information. As my husband was hitting balls, our conversation totally swayed from golf and we started talking about surfing. Lucky guy went to Costa Rica on a surf trip recently and said the waves were awesome! The tides have something like eleven foot differentials so there is some really large surf. I know, I have sports ADD but you should already realize that if you are a regular reader.

Back to golf – I heard on the radio today that the Roger Dunn in West L.A. is having a tent sale this coming weekend April 25-27. If you are in the area and the Srixon rep is there, stop in and try the clubs. You won’t be disappointed and you may also talk about surfing if that is your fancy and the same rep is there. I’m sure if you miss that event there will be plenty more opportunities over the next few weeks. This is that time of year where demo days are around almost every weekend, depending on what part of the country you live in. My email inbox is filling up lately with courses and resorts having open houses that combine demos and giveaways that are open to all.

So, I didn’t get to try out any new clubs at the show to tell you about since none of the manufacturers with new clubs that I wanted to try had them in lefty. No, not ladies, I use men’s regular flex. The irons I have now are the Callaway X-18 men’s steel regular flex. I like them just fine and hit them really well (read: straight) so I won’t be replacing them too soon in spite of them being about 18 months old. I might want to change them out if I was able to try some others. You lefties know what I mean – it’s a good thing I can hit men’s clubs or I’d really be out of luck. The available clubs and equipment for left-handed women are almost non-existent. In fact, the glove I bought that was only a few dollars was a men’s glove! I know, waaaa…

Monday, April 21, 2008

5 Questions With The Homeless World Cup

As I was combing the headlines for more exciting sporting events I came across one that caught my eye – recruiting for Homeless World Cup. Homeless World Cup!? I thought it was some sort of sick joke at first. Guess what? It isn’t. This is a serious event that brings people together for the world’s most popular sport. It takes place in different host countries every year and has teams from around the world competing. The event truly supports my belief that sport not only unifies, but empowers.

Kat Byles, Media & Communications Director of the Homeless World Cup was kind enough to take the time to participate in an interview. Kat is into her fourth year at the Homeless World Cup. She says that she loves the combination of uniting at least 48 nations of soccer players with courage, determination, and an inspirational life story plus the grit, spirit, and glory of soccer played with passion and heart. The Homeless World Cup is soccer where there is everything to play for and that has the power to change lives and change the world.

1. What is the Homeless World Cup and when did it begin? Is this an annual event? Are there participants around the world and who can be involved? Is there an age or gender requirement?

The Homeless World Cup is a world-class, annual international football tournament addressing health, education, and welfare. People who are homeless take a once in a lifetime opportunity to wear their jersey for their country and change their lives forever. It has triggered and supports grass roots football programs in over 60 nations and right now it is estimated that around 30,000 players who are homeless are training to get a place on their national team for the Melbourne 2008 Homeless World Cup 1-7 December 2008. You have to be 16 years old or above, because it is very difficult for people below that age to travel across borders without a guardian, and there is no age limit. Most players are between 16-25 years old and both male and female. It reaches the most marginalised group of people in our world today and gets them involved in sport, enables them to regain their self-esteem, respect, and a healthy lifestyle.

2. How does a person get recruited to be on a team for the cup and then how are they funded when they make the team?

Each national team has a different recruitment procedure. In the USA there are currently about 18 projects across the country inviting people who are homeless to participate in training. They put up posters, contact all the hostels, put adverts in the street papers. In late June/July this year there will be a national tournament in Washington DC with one team from each project taking part and each player vying for a place on the National USA Homeless World Cup team. The USA team raises money to take the players to Melbourne for the Homeless World Cup, once in Melbourne all expenses are taken care of by the host nation.

3. What happens to people after the events are over? Are they back to homelessness or do they have new opportunities?

Players return home knowing that they have taken the courage to represent their country and stand proud. They know that they can do anything that they put their mind to if they want it enough. 77% of players significantly change their lives after participating. They come off drugs and alcohol, move into homes, jobs, education, training, repair relationships, become coaches and soccer players with semi-pro teams. 94% have a renewed motivation for life. This is a radical leap forward for social inclusion programmes, which typically achieve 30% success and often lower. Soccer has tremendous power to change lives, change the world.

4. What have been some of your biggest success stories with this event? Is there a particular individual or team that has had remarkable success?

Every single player participating in the Homeless World Cup has a remarkable story to share that is inspirational and demonstrates tremendous courage and formidable human spirit. Michelle from Brazil has just been selected for the Brazil National Team in the South Amercia's Cup; Cheri from Liberia has won a four year college scholarship in the USA. Sarah from Uganda became homeless when her mother was abducted by the rebels and murdered. Sarah now looks after her 6 siblings and after representing Uganda at the Homeless World Cup and is a peace ambassador speaking to local schools about solutions for peace in Uganda. David Duke was homeless and an alcoholic when he played for Scotland in Gothenburg 2004. At the next tournament he became the coach for Scotland and then eventually the manager taking Scotland to victory at the Copenhagen 2007 Homeless World Cup. In between he came off alcohol, completed a HND qualification in community development, and bought his own home. He is the David Beckham of the Homeless World Cup. This is just a few of the many thousands of players who stand proud. Russia held their first national championship to select their team in 2006 and for the first time the Russian media were discussing the issue of homelessness in a serious way. There are 5 million people homeless in Russia and the issue is taboo.

5. What can the average sports fan do to become involved with the event? In addition, will the event be televised or how can we watch it around the world?

If you are in Melbourne join us 1-7 December 2008 in Federation Square for some fantastic soccer. And if you can't make it to Melbourne you can watch online and check out all the fixtures and results on the website.

Plus Kicking It, narrated by Colin Farrell, a documentary following 6 nations on their journey to the Cape Town 2006 Homeless World Cup will be broadcast by ESPN towards the end of 2008.

We would really appreciate your support to make the Homeless World Cup happen for tens of thousands of players around the world. A few dollars can make a big difference and fans can join the Fan Club, buy the t-shirt, or make a donation.

You can also find this group on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, and YouTube. Their online store has more than t-shirts as well, check them out and get involved!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday Breakers Wrap – April 20, 2008

The Southern California Breakers professional football team hosted their home opener last night against the California Quake. “Home opener” is a bit of a misnomer since a scheduling conflict positioned this game at Dana Hills High School in Dana Point and not the Breakers' usual home of Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo.

The Quake came ready to play off of a 45-14 victory last weekend against the Tucson Monsoon, but they would not deal out such a beating to the Breakers. With a very spirited following, the trash talking across the field was quite serious.

1st Quarter Highlights: The Breakers took possession of the ball but were intercepted by #24, Michelle Friesen (CB) of the Quake. The Quake were not much more productive on their first touch, with #97 Amanda Garcia (LB) and #87 Suzanne Linn (LB) making the necessary play-stoppers in the series. The Breakers third possession of the game had them pinned inside their own 5 yard line. The following play resulted in a fumble that pushed them further back to the 1 yard mark, which set up a safety for the Quake on the next play. Score 2-0 Quake.

2nd Quarter Highlights: The key matchup of the game starts to sound like a broken record from the announcer. The Quake’s RB, #5 Monique Zacky carries only to be stopped by Linn. A long pass puts the Quake in the red zone, but Linn stops Zacky each time and forces them to settle for 3. Linn exhibits her athletic prowess on the other side of the ball by making first down gains and proving to be hard to take down. Late in the Quarter, the Breakers’ #43, Priscilla Gardner (DL) gets a sack and forces a fumble, recovered by Linn. The Breakers are unable to capitalize here, but get a fumble recovery again on the next Quake possession by Garcia. One play forces #53, Tutu Armstrong (LB) to go down and come out for the remainder of the game. Score 5-0 Quake.

3rd Quarter Highlights: The war between Linn and Zacky continues, once with Zacky taking an incredible hit that required some extra time to recover from. During an early Quake possession, Breakers’ #35 Dorothy DeLeon (DB) intercepts the ball. Running back, #28 Vanessa Santillan for the Breakers breaks off a nice run. Score 5-0 Quake.

4th Quarter Highlights: At this point of the game, the Breakers fire and synergy was obvious as they started to put together longer, more productive drives. Linn and Santillan make substantial gains on offense. Nearly driving the length of the field in their last possession, they were eventually stopped just before the end zone by the tough Quake defense with an interception. The resulting Quake possession ran out the clock. Final score 5-0 Quake.

As time expired, Coach Bartley noted that the team was able to hold the Quake to five points by containing Monique “Wheels” Zacky (ironically wearing #5) and staying disciplined. The Breakers played an exceptional game with a very tough opponent. Watch out in the coming weeks as they just keep getting better with time!

You can get the complete team schedule on their website. The next game is in Arizona against the Tucson Monsoon. The next home game is on May 10th and it will be at their regular home field. Check back here for the next Sunday Breakers Wrap on March 11.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

This Week Has Been Fun

It seems as we get closer to the NFL Draft, the NFL hype and hoopla is getting out of control. I still can’t get over just how much attention and analysis is given to the schedule. The best commentary had to be the one that said if analysts and reporters get their predictions for the season wrong then they should suffer the same fate as GMs and coaches do when they get it wrong. No such luck. We are constantly subjected to everyone with an opinion’s vision about what division will be strong and who the standouts will be. Now don’t get me wrong – I really love the NFL. I also love the MLB, NBA, MLS, EXPN sports, etc. I’ll be stoked when we finally get a franchise back in Los Angeles also. I guess I just have a short attention span and cannot focus on only one sport.

Speaking of the NFL, Steve McNair announced his retirement this week. Starting way back with the Houston Oilers, he was always a reliable presence when he was healthy. He did have that McNabb-like playing ethic and came within about a yard of a Super Bowl win.

The Dodgers had a respectable week and churned out eleven runs the other night. As Dodger Blues points out, this means nothing. I’m starting to get that sick feeling again. It’s that one that smacks me in the face and says “Hey stupid! You really think the team is going anywhere this year? Wake up!” The start of the season had a really pretty wrapper but the present inside is starting to stink…

Speaking of baseball – I am so absolutely tired of hearing about the Yankees, Mets, Cubs, and Red Sox all day every day. I would like to request that ESPN please just start a new channel dedicated to covering those teams so that the rest of us can watch more interesting sports coverage.

Oh, by the way - no one can ignore the NBA Western Conference now. Go Lakers! Ha ha!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Now That’s A Triathlon!

Bringing together all board sports into one, the first annual Ultimate Boarder competition ends this weekend in Ventura, Ca. The competition started last weekend with the first portion of the event - snowboarding. On Wednesday, the surfing competition was held and Saturday is the final stage of the event will take place with skateboarding. The final stage is at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, an excellent park right on the water. Surfer’s Point is nearby so you can make a day out of it by catching some waves and then checking out the competition.

One of the coolest things about this event is that amateurs and pros competed together. Athletes came from all over the world to be a part of this. Throughout the week, there were parties, concerts, and other cool happenings around Ventura. You can check out the live webcast here for the rest of the competition.

I’m quite excited to see this new event that blends some of my favorite sports to participate in. It really is nice to see these sports get so much more respect than in the past. Dare I say that surfing, snowboarding, and skateboarding are mainstream now? All I know is that when I drive around town now I see kids on skateboards in neighborhoods that would have never gotten into it when I was a teen. There is a much more diverse group surfing and on the mountain too. I think it’s awesome! Bring boards to the masses!

In fact, one of the best stories I’ve heard about skateboarding recently is when I had to take someone to the emergency room last year (they are fine, just stitches). A young girl, about eleven, struck up a conversation with me in the waiting room. She was telling me how much she enjoyed designing clothes and that she was very good with a sewing machine. Of course, I asked her if she wanted to be a professional designer for her career. Nope. She wants to be a pro skater. It hit me why she was talking to me at that point as I looked down and noticed we were wearing the same style of Vans slip-ons. I asked what tricks she could do and her eyes lit up while she described the skate park she went to in the Valley with her cousins every chance she had. It was really awesome how stoked she was, much more than talking about clothes. As enthusiastic as she was, I’ll bet she really rips! Hopefully I’ll see her name winning competitions in the future!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

When Will The NFL Return?

Growing up in Los Angeles, I was spoiled with two NFL teams, the Rams and the Raiders. The Rams basically always stunk – you know, the Lambs? There’s a sign at a sports bar I once visited that reads: “Will the lady who left her eleven children at the Coliseum please come pick them up. They are beating the Rams 21-0.” That pretty much summed up their existence in Los Angeles. The owner took fans for granted and had nothing nice to say about the city. When she moved the team to St. Louis, suddenly it was time to spend money. Thanks! Of course, L.A. was still good enough for her to keep her main offices here. Argh…I won’t say anything too mean about her since she’s no longer of this Earth.

The Raiders were a different story. They brought a Super Bowl win to Los Angeles and plenty of hype, shenanigans, and overall good times. Since Al Davis is alive I will rag on him. He broke Oakland’s heart when he moved the team down here. Then he stepped all over us when he took them back there. Someone even told me that he was threatening Oakland with bringing them back down here again. I don’t think that will work, Al. Would someone please take the team away from him before he hurts anyone else!

Angelinos now follow a multitude of teams. I root for California football teams – 49ers, Chargers, and Raiders of course. I’ll even avidly follow the team from the city where I went to college – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Side note: you must go to Raymond James Stadium before you die. It is an amazing place to catch a game. Just don’t stand too close to the pirate ship if you value your hearing. Fire them cannons! Oh yeah, listen to Gene Dekerhoff calling the game also at least once – he’s right up there with the best announcers in sports. Alright…back to Los Angeles…

Today we are getting a special announcement from Edward Roski about the NFL in Los Angeles. Apparently, he is unveiling plans for a stadium in the City of Industry. Great! We have a stadium. What is wrong with the historic Coliseum? Why do I have to trek all the way out there? Argh! At least it’s better than putting a team in Anaheim. (Anaheim is in Orange County and not Los Angeles in spite of that baseball team using the Los Angeles name so they can get television coverage.) At any rate, I am just terribly cynical since the NFL has been gone for so long. Please stop teasing us.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wild World of Wednesday - April 16, 2008

Alright, really now, I don’t want to hear ever again that we are a bunch of nuts in Los Angeles. You crazies that are Yankees and Red Sox fans take the cake! I cannot believe how much press, time, and effort is being spent on the jersey that was buried in the concrete at the new Yankees Stadium. Apparently, the guy did it back in August. Earlier in the week, the Yankees denied it. They denied it so much that they spent the cash and time to jackhammer the alleged spot and – lo and behold – there was a David Ortiz jersey. Not only did the guy who did it think it was a joke, so did his buddies who are Yankees fans. The guy is even from the Bronx. Thank you all for reminding me that I live in a sane town.

In more respectable baseball news, yesterday was the 5th annual Jackie Robinson Day around the league. Players paid their respect by wearing the famous retired number 42 jersey and there were ceremonies everywhere.

And yes, I am still very disappointed with Andruw Jones. How much more must we endure? (note: don’t look now but he hit a double against the Pirates on Tuesday night…be still my heart…oh my, he actually hustled to catch a ball in the 9th also…could this be a change of pace…)

Even more interesting news in Dodgertown - Tommy Lasorda is having dinner with the Pope at the White House. I know there's a punchline in there somewhere...

The Los Angeles Lakers ended last night with a win, cementing their number one seed in the Western Conference and home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Sweet!

The world of golf had much hoopla since Tiger Woods did not win the Master’s tournament. I’ve heard lots of complaints from fans that didn’t want to watch because Tiger wasn’t winning. Trust me folks, as disappointing as it was that he didn’t win, Tiger Woods could never play in a tournament for the rest of his life and his lifestyle would not change. How much more money could he possibly need? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan, but I see nothing wrong with new faces winning also!

Manchester United moves on to the next round in the Champions League – four games take place next week to decide the semi-finals. Man U travels to Barcelona in what should be a really great game. Wayne Rooney has been getting attention as the future captain of Man U. When I read that article I realized that I am still missing quite a bit in the sport of soccer.

The weather is getting warmer everywhere and if you tried to surf in Southern California over the weekend, you had a lot of company. The waves are not as tasty this time of year but the water is warming up so that means big babies like me can get in the water. There was a mass exodus to the Pacific in Los Angeles County over the weekend. It even took me almost 45 minutes to park in my secret spot in Santa Monica on Saturday.

The Southern California Breakers played their first game of the season on Saturday in Las Vegas. Coach Bartlett told me that they couldn’t capitalize when they needed to and lost 22-12. I’ll be covering their first home game this coming Saturday in Dana Point against the California Quake.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Can We Return Him?

I really try not to rag on anyone too much but someone must say something about Andruw Jones. I was going about my day as usual, listening to ESPN Radio, and Dave Dameshek pointed out what I have been thinking about since opening day. What is going on with Andruw Jones?

Here’s a guy that was in a slump all last year and continues to be unremarkable. To top it off, he has the nerve to claim he has nothing to prove! Really? So that fat, multi-million dollar contract is nothing to live up to? You don’t need to worry about performing now that you live in low humidity on the coast? Nice. Yeah, we aren’t necessarily going to boo you in the first few weeks – we always give people a chance. Soon, though…you know how we start those chants about teams and particular players. I suspect it isn’t far off for Andruw…

Thanks so much Mr. McCourt. I appreciate that you have gone out and got some big bats for the team. Awesome! How about getting a player or two that isn’t apathetic and past his prime? Do something different – get a young guy that can play for many years. Why not get someone that doesn’t take the fans for granted.

Oh wait, I forgot, that is what you are doing, Mr. Hotshot Owner. Los Angeles Dodgers fans have the record for attendance over the last decade or two. We stick by our home team through speed bumps and let downs year after year. Ownership has become apathetic because we spoil them with attendance and buying up merchandise.

Prices of tickets, parking, and food go up every year. I’ve complained about this before – how fans get bled for every penny. One of these days, we’ll get tired of it…maybe…

Monday, April 14, 2008

5 Questions With...YOU!

If you’ve stopped in here before you know that I have a new interview with a sports personality every Monday. I’ve been able to talk to Lisa Guerrero, Shayne McIntyre, Debi Purcell, and many other notables such as:

Patricia Hannigan - The Golf Girl
Paul Young - PGA Professional
Body Balance – Golf Swing Consultants
Lauren Feldman – Amateur MMA Fighter
Louie Baur – Obsessed Skateboarder
Shelly Mascaro - Archery Expert
Amanda Garcia – Football Lineman
Shirlett Hendry – Dorsey High School Hoops Coach

And before I consolidated to this site for my blogging I had:

Fred Roggin
Anthony Bartley – Football Coach
Fat Louie – Women’s Sports Blogger
Tattoo Golf Clothing

I have some other very cool pieces lined up for the upcoming weeks but I had an idea – why not talk to other fans? Isn’t that what the blogosphere is for? This is the place where average Janes and Joes get to speak their minds and talk about what they want.

So here’s the deal – from now until the end of the month, please take a moment out of your day and shoot me the answers to the five questions below. You can remain anonymous if you want, just let me know that. Ideally, your tagline will be your name, location, and blog/website/occupation/title. You can include any plugs to what you are working on also. Send your responses to:


I’ll fix your grammar, spelling, and structure if you want so don’t worry if you aren’t the best wordsmith. The form is not important, what you have to say is! I’ll pick the best out of the responses and throw them up on upcoming Mondays starting in May.

Are you game? If so, answer these:

1. What sports can you absolutely not live without?

2. What athlete has inspired you the most?

3. Do you play any sports? If so, which? If not, what would you like to try?

4. What do sports mean to you? What do they add to your life?

5. Other than sports, what are other things you enjoy?

That isn’t so hard now, is it? Please be as creative, silly, sarcastic, serious, apathetic, etc. as you see fit. Have fun with it and send me your best shot! As I mentioned, I’ll post the best responses that I get. C’mon, don’t be shy – this will be fun! It’s your chance to do more than just comment and participate! Again, I won’t publish your name if you don’t want me to – you can use any alias you wish.

I look forward to your answers! Remember to email them to my gmail address – sportswriterchick[at]gmail[dot]com. You can also click the “view my complete profile” link on this page and then click “email” from there.

Thank you all in advance – this will be fun!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday Sports Wrap - April 13, 2008

I must say, it was awesome to wake up this morning and get live Premier League soccer on my television! It started at 8:00 am PST so I thought I was dreaming at first, but sure enough, Manchester United v. Arsenal was on the screen. Owen Hargreaves scored a free kick to put Man U up 2-1. They held on to that in spite of diligent efforts by Nicklas Bendtner and Arsenal in the waning minutes.

One of the biggest events of the day is the Master’s Tournament. It’s exciting to see some new names at the top, but you just cannot count Tiger Woods out until someone else puts on the green jacket! Speaking of Tiger, apparently someone managed to get a discarded banana peel from the golf star. I admire Mr. Woods and am quite the fan myself – but the last thing I want is someone’s food remnants. Ewww! Come on people, take a picture or something. At least an image won’t rot and make you look like a complete scrounge. Have some dignity!

Pro Bowling has a major event today with the Motel 6 Roll to Riches. The top prize of $150,000 makes it a really nice paycheck!

In Major League Soccer, Toronto FC visits the Los Angeles Galaxy. TFC wants their first win of the season in this Week #3 contest. The teams have met twice before with a tie and a Galaxy win.

The best thing about this time of year is that, no matter what day it is, there is Major League Baseball!

The Western Surfing Association has a competition at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz today. This place has choice waves so if you’re in the area – definitely check it out!

Yahoo! Sports has an article today about the most miserable sports cities – and Los Angeles is NOT one of them. So there.

Today in sports history:

1949 – The Minneapolis Lakers defeat the Washington Capitals for the 3rd NBA title

1986 – Jack Nicklaus wins at the Master’s Tournament – the 50th anniversary of the event

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thank You

As there has been exceptionally beautiful weather and plenty of awesome sports lately, I am feeling rather thankful. As it often does, ESPN Radio inspired an idea for me yesterday and for that I am grateful. In fact, I would like to thank the following for brining a simile/gratitude/satisfaction/etc. to me in the last few days:

Thank you Michele Tafoya for pointing out the East Coast bias that exists in sports. In fact, she pointed out the “east of the Rockies” bias that we are subjected to in the West. The phenomenon should be known as “ignore the West Coast” or something to that effect. Those who think the bias does not exist cite the South and Mid-West getting attention. Yes, they do – these areas are not the West, just so you know. Case in point: the NBA Western Conference is the most interesting story in the league with the battle for first place. What gets more coverage? The disrespect, but many aren’t excited about hearing how great sports media believes this single team is when an entire conference is clearly a much better story. Lisa Guerrero talked to me about this as well. It does exist people…

Thank you Unutzer for making very cool women’s golf shoes. Shano Designs also rocks for making very sweet ball markers. It is nice to see that there are finally less-pretentious options for the rest of us. Special thanks to Golf For Women for turning me on to these sweet fashions.

Speaking of golf, thank you Phil Mickelson for being a left-handed star of the sport (you too, Steve Flesch). Also, a special word of gratitude to Ian Poulter for livening up the place with his choice in wardrobe color at the Master’s. While we are on the subject, I want to also thank Tiger Woods for giving us all a benchmark and something to strive for.

Thank you Mike Golic and Dave Dameshek for making me laugh at your musings, rantings, and observations. I guess I should just thank ESPN Radio for existing.

Thank you Kobe Bryant for reminding everyone that Andrew Bynum needs to worry about healing his injury more than anything else.

I would like to give Rafael Furcal a special word of appreciation for being an exceptional example of what a Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop should be.

And finally, thank you construction worker Boston fan for allegedly burying a Red Sox shirt in the newly poured concrete at the Yankee’s future stadium. If it isn’t true, thank you storyteller for making a bunch of fans freak out, another bunch of fans laugh, and adding to the evidence of the East Coast bias.

Friday, April 11, 2008

More Signs of the Apocalypse?

First of all, thank you SportsTsar for pointing out that Beckham’s first goal was last season, not on opening day this year as the media is reporting…that is why you are the Tsar…

Remember when Tiger Woods could do no wrong? Lately I have heard sports journalists on ESPN radio second-guessing and even losing faith in him. Did someone forget that he is the best golfer, sometimes considered the best athlete in the world? I really don’t think he should be counted out of the Master’s behind only 4 from the leader…plus whatever happens won’t likely change his lifestyle either way…

Kobe Bryant has apparently been lobbying for the MVP title…why is this surprising? When you do a good job do you not ask for a raise? When you want something in general don’t you ask for it? Yes, we remember that he wanted out of Los Angeles and complained but apparently he has gotten over it. We’ll see how long that holds out if the Lakers don’t get far in the post season…

The NHL Stanley Cup playoffs have started and I have not had time to watch…why can I not just watch sports on television and go to games all day every day…darn responsibility…

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Signs of the Apocalypse?

When I used to have a subscription to Sports Illustrated I would anxiously open it upon arrival to read the sign of the apocalypse for the week. I miss those days before the internet ruled my news sources and sarcasm had to be hunted down. Fortunately, sarcasm and irony are just clicks away now! I found some doozies on of my old favorite:

“Shawn King, a former NFL defensive lineman, says he failed a league drug test because the woman whose urine he had used to help hide his marijuana use turned out to be pregnant.”

“Instead of an athlete boycotting the media, nine writers covering the Oakland Raiders decided to boycott talking to veteran defensive end Warren Sapp.”

“Reebok recalled 140,000 pairs of its Allen Iverson toddler shoes because the peelable logo tag on the tongue of each shoe was a potential choking hazard”

“Kevin Millar said that before his Red Sox beat the Yanks in Game 7 of the ALCS, the team did shots of Jack Daniel's whiskey.”

Ah, yes those were the days…

The thing that got me thinking about this old column was a commercial on the NFL Network. The spot shows coaches like Jon Gruden, Tony Dungy, and many more hyping up an upcoming show…the show where they announce the regular season schedule…

Maybe I’m just becoming really cynical, but have we totally gone nuts? Now don’t get me wrong, I love the NFL. I absolutely exist on this planet to watch NFL football. It has been my life’s obsession. I even dreamed of being a QB when I was a child…

(Speaking of childhood dreams…the Harlem Globetrotters are on television right now…am I in a time warp…Twilight Zone music playing)

At any rate, how is it that we are now so obsessed that there is hype leading up to the schedule release? Does anyone else notice the absurdity here? In fact, when I was on looking something up, I found this page that tells you who the opponents are for each team - but without dates. Ooh, buildup.

In other signs of the apocalypse – on the Steve Mason show yesterday another head-scratcher surfaced. Fred Roggin and Steve were covering the fact that David Beckham got a traffic ticket on Fairfax for making an illegal turn or something minor like that. As they were covering it, they really seemed to be in on the absurdity of the whole thing. Apparently, the soccer star was very pleasant and respectful to the law and went on his way afterward. I am going to be very sad if sports coverage becomes what celebrity coverage is - where we are subjected to their every move. I actually don’t really care if Mr. Beckham got a ticket, where he shops, or if he eats sushi. Sports news to me is the story where he actually scored his first goal for the Los Angeles Galaxy on opening day last week. If must have been a slow day…

One other oddity…so what if Tiger Woods missed the Par 3 Contest yesterday? It is really amusing how the players all try to lose due to superstition, but really…was it a slow sports news day that such a big deal was made about Tiger’s decision to forgo the fun?

Am I just becoming exceptionally jaded?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wild World of Wednesday - April 9, 2008

Where do I start…

The Lady Vols are the NCAA Women’s hoops champions, defeating Stanford 64-48…ouch…

In Men’s NCAA Basketball news, UCLA’s Kevin Love will enter the NBA Draft…yeah, that is a bit too much money to turn down. Word is on Los Angeles’ ABC News that Darren Collison is also leaving but the L.A. Times article says he is not 100% sure as of last night. Again, too much money to turn your back on...

Tennis star Venus Williams announced that she is taking a break from tennis for a while. She claims that she has some “issues” that need to be resolved but loves the game. The amount of time she will take is not certain but she says she does want to play in the French Open that stars in May.

I am still in a state of bliss after my double dose of Dodgers last week. They did fairly well in San Diego afterward and still look like they could possibly have a real season. In case you didn’t know, Rafael Furcal is the real deal. He makes sick catches. He steals bases. He hits when he needs to. He deserves Andruw Jones’ salary…

So, Liverpool beat Arsenal in the Champions League match 4-2. I thought it would be the other way around! Man U face Roma today and are reportedly a bit worried. My biggest gripe is that I haven’t been able to watch many of the matches…

You know you’re the best golfer in the world when ESPN has a very long article about your caddy. I learned a lot about Steve Williams, the man who carries the clubs for Tiger Woods. He has one of those “feel good” stories that give you the warm fuzzies about hard work and perseverance. Speaking of Tiger, the Master’s starts tomorrow and the hype around him has begun.

David Garrard of the Jacksonville Jaguars signed a 60 million dollar contract to continue as their starting QB. Nice! He really showed his stuff last year, leading his team to beat the rival Pittsburgh Steelers at home in the cold…twice! Besides that, he really comes across as a genuinely good guy in interviews and has overcome some rather challenging health issues recently.

I noticed a headline that announces the Indian Cricket League’s World Series has started this week. I really need someone to help me get up to speed on this sport. I’ve watched some highlights on Sky Sports News and read up but haven’t caught a televised game. This is the number one sport in India and very popular in other parts of the world as well so it must certainly be worth a watch…

The action sports world is picking up - the Quiksilver Pro Durban South Africa starts on Friday and the Moto X World Championships start this coming weekend as well.

By the way, if you want a plethora of sports news links all in one spot – check out SportsTsar’s "Abraham Linkin" posts. He travels the blogosphere/news world - so you don’t have to - and puts it all in one neat spot!

Oh, and one more thing…would someone please tell me why ESPN is covering Dancing With the Stars? I don’t care if there are professional athletes that are contestants – is this a way to justify someone’s guilty pleasure?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Speaking of MMA...

Did anyone watch the match with Shayna “Queen of Spades” Baszler v. Keiko "Tama * Chan" Tamai on Saturday night? I really admired Shayna’s seemingly calm demeanor as she walked into the ring. She then went ahead and handled her business, winning the match by submission. Ouch! An uncomfortable position on the neck there! The best part had to be the interview after she won where she triumphantly challenged anyone to come into the ring and try to defeat her. She is definitely an amazing fighter that had very methodical, focused technique against her opponent. Shayna’s record is now 9-4 with all nine victories by submission. I can’t wait to see her next fight!

Monday, April 7, 2008

5 Questions With A Professional MMA Fighter

Nicknamed Whiplash, Debi Purcell is one of the most prominent women in Mixed Martial Arts. Her long career includes groundbreaking work for women in the sport of MMA as well as being the first woman to win at the King of the Cage competition. Now working toward making MMA more accessible to women, Debi mentors other fighters, is launching a clothing line, continues to train, and maintains the website Debi slowed down for a moment to answer my five questions:

1. You're in amazing shape - tell me what your routine consists of day-to-day. How does that change when you prepared for competitions?

I talk a lot! (laughs) Actually, regardless of what is going on I always train at least once per day at 10:00 am. For my second workout I mix it up every day – swim, run, run hill, box, Muay Thai. When I have a fight I step up the cardio and change up to focus more on MMA.

2. What is the most difficult part about MMA-style fighting? What is your favorite type of fighting? Which are you most proficient in? Least favorite/not so good at?

The most difficult part is when I'm training – I hate cardio! I love fighting, but hate cardio. My favorite art changes all of the time. I've loved stand up and then loved the ground. Right now I'm loving boxing and working with Genaro Hernandez. My proficiency is everything equally – which is my biggest strength. I'm well rounded and don't have a least favorite.

3. Who were your biggest influences in getting involved in MMA? Who do you consider to be the "icons" of the sport? On the same note, who do you admire now and who should we be watching out for in the future?

Marco Ruas has been the biggest influence and who I consider to be an icon as well. Other icons have to be Frank Shamrock, Vandelay Silvia, and Kashusi Sacaraba. Some up-and-comers that you should be watching for include Erin Webb, Casey Blasco, Jessica Pene, and Kathy Brothers - who is a BJJ icon and coming out of retirement to shake things up!

4. Could you tell me your inspiration and mission behind your website? What do you hope to accomplish and what can we expect in the future?

When I started there was literally no support for women's MMA. I really wanted to build the sport and make a difference. I'm the type of person that does something when I see a need. Marco put so much into my training that I needed to give back. We have been online for eight years now and have had a lot of great people helping out to get this thing out there. I really want women's MMA to be taken seriously the way men's MMA is.

5. Speaking of the future, I know you do some coaching of other fighters, is this where you plan to focus your efforts? What should we watch for from Debi Purcell in the future?

I'll definitely be coaching and managing fighters. I've been focusing a lot on the business side even though I am still fighting. I'm also trying to get my clothing line going on top of that. The main thing is getting a women's league going where we can be taken seriously. There's a lot of "cat fights" now that are all the rage but this is not real, serious fighting. I want to build a place where women have a league of their own where they can compete.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sunday Sports Wrap - April 6, 2008

Here we are with another Sunday and my latest attempt to show the world that there is sports life outside of the NFL on this day.

The NCAA Women’s Final Four begins tonight in Tampa, Florida. The games kick off with Stanford v. UConn followed by LSU V. Tennessee. The final game will be played on Tuesday night between the victors.

There is plenty of Major League Baseball action around the country today. The best part about this point in the season is that no team really stinks that bad yet…sort of. Watch for the Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees for the continuation of the newly brewing rivalry saga. So far in the series, the Rays won on Friday 13-4 and Saturday 6-3.

The action sports world has a busy weekend: The Alyeska Resort in Alyeska, AK is hosting the North Face 2008 Big Mountain Snowboarding Tour. This event is geared toward filling a competitive void in big mountain snowboarding – sort of like the same concept as big wave riding in surfing. Amateur skateboarding converges in Arizona this weekend for the Phoenix AM 2008. Today’s events include the finals and the best trick contest. The finale of the Northstar Resort’s Pinball Rally freestyle events happens today in the world of ski and snowboard in Truckee, CA. The best part about these events is that nearly anyone can enter and take home prizes.

The NBA has ten games today and some have implications for the post season, especially in the west. Those without any post season meaning have fans holding on to the last few home stands of the season.

Today in Sports History

1896 – First modern Olympics in Athens, Greece

1958 – Arnold Palmer’s first major golf tournament win at the Master’s

1974 – New York Yankees first home game at Shea Stadium

1993 – Los Angeles Dodgers hand the Florida Marlins the team’s first loss in franchise history

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Final Four Previews

NCAA Women’s and Men’s Final Four Tournaments are this weekend – YAAAAY! The women are a strong bunch with Stanford, UConn, Tennessee, and LSU. The men’s tourney has UCLA, Kansas, Memphis, and North Carolina. If I was to pick the winners I would of course say that the Stanford women and UCLA men would be the victors but I’ll try to give a less biased synopsis of each team.


Stanford has been absent from the Final Four for 11 years. Coach Tara VanDerveer has a visibly more relaxed exterior though and a hot team led by star Candice Wiggins. Wiggins scored 41 points in the regional final victory. Overall the Cardinal make over 50% of their shots from the field and have an average of 86 points.

UConn are touted as not giving many clean 3-point shots, with opponents only making 27% of shots in 3-point territory. Coach Geno Auriemma has been selected as the Coach of the Year by the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association. Freshman Maya Moore has collected awards including USBWA Freshman of the Year, AP first-team All-American, and Big East Player of the Year. The Huskies' strong defense is expected to be their edge.

Tennessee is led by first-team All-American Candace Parker but lost to LSU in February 78-62 after having a 19 point lead earlier in the game. They have the luxury of being the reigning champs, but will have to work hard to make it back-to-back titles. Analysts have called them “senior heavy” and “distracted” with respect to looking forward to the post season.

LSU is also led by a first-team All-American in Sylvia Fowles but has lost in the last four straight Final Four contests. The team has many of the same players from the previous year and will likely be ready to make a statement. Given credit as relentless defenders, they’ll want to defend their honor with a W.


UCLA has become a bona fide “basketball school” and makes their third straight Final Four appearance. Much of the hype surrounds Kevin Love and his remarkable abilities. Simply because the team rested a bit in some of their games does not mean that they are not a threat. Again, I’m biased, but I wouldn’t write UCLA off. On a lighter note, ESPN’s Dave Dameshek does a great Ben Howland impression.

Memphis has had two straight Elite Eight appearances with no Final Four. They will also certainly have something to prove. Coach John Calipari has been using the “no one believes in Memphis” song all year and led the men to an unquestionably deserved number one seed.

North Carolina has been billed as near-perfect and has many star juniors. At least two are considering the NBA draft, but they could return if they win and try for two à la Florida according to ESPN’s Andy Katz. They’ve essentially dominated each game in the tourney and not a group to take lightly.

Kansas lost in the Elite Eight last year to UCLA but defended their right to be in the Final Four by squashing Cinderella Davidson’s dreams in a nail-biter. Guard Brandon Rush and center Sasha Kaun are dangerous and will help make a memorable event.


As I was on the treadmill yesterday morning watching ESPN, they had a segment choosing the Final Four based on mascots since all are animals this year. Enlisting the help of an animal “expert” the questionable decisions were interesting. First up, the Rams vs. Jayhawks was chosen believably with Rams being the victor. Next, the Bruins vs. Tigers was postulated and rightfully determined a close match. Eventually, the expert chose the Tigers. In the final matchup – Tigers v. Rams, the “expert” chose the Rams. Apparently the “expert” was biased since she works with Rams and felt some sort of loyalty to them. I guess she thinks she’ll break her mamma’s back if she steps on a crack also.