Onyewu is an embarassment

July 29, 2009
No really gooch, I think he was going to dribble back up the field too.

No really Gooch, I thought he was going to dribble back up the field too. Photo by Justin Libano (www.libanophotos.com)

As previously mentioned by my colleagues here at Blue Duck Sports, we had the privilege of watching some world class futbol this past weekend.  I’m fully aware this is just a preseason tuneup for the squads, but none the less it is a drastic step up from the level of play you’d catch in any MLS match… well, for the most part.

Much to my dismay I was forced to sit through a painful 64 minutes of watching #14 stumble around the backfield.  I realize I’m in the vast minority of those who believe Gooch is a pathetic excuse for a defender.  However I am also the first to realize that it is the typical American ego that is clouting the judgment of most.

The only reason Americans believe this guy has any talent is because he is AMERICAN.  The USA has had no success on a club level in Europe and as Americans we are constantly looking to show we are the best.  It’s that kind of pigheadedness that causes every other country to hate us.  Gooch will give them yet another reason to hate us.  His complete ineptitude on the soccer field.

Onyewu does not  look like he should be on the field.  I have never seen a more goofy or awkward looking player on the field.  He should be directing traffic on a city street with his 7 foot wing span, not embarrassing himself and his country on a soccer field.  The first thought that immediately comes to mind to illustrate this point perfectly:

USA vs Italy in the confederations cup.  The 2nd goal the Italians scored was a low shot to the right side of the goal.  The shot was not by any means a scorcher, however, Onyewu went out of  his way to try and clear the ball with his right foot when his left foot could have easily poked it away.  In the process his gangly body obstructed Howard from making the easy save, and when Gooch inevitably whiffed at the ball, it scooted into the corner of the net. Quality play.

Now back to the friendly between AC Milan and Inter Milan.  Onyewu once again looked completely lost on the playing field.  The first goal was Diego Milito pulling the simplest of cut back moves on the goofy Gooch.  Milito literally sold Gooch that he was going to just dribble the ball in the opposite direction of where he wanted to shoot, and immediately he cut the ball back and walked in for an open shot from the corner of the 6 yard box for the first goal of the game.  It was another absolutely pathetic display from Onyewu and most likely caused every AC Milan fan to hope their is some kind of return policy on garbage American players.

This guy is an embarrassment to US soccer both on the international level and now on a club level.  I have a feeling the Rossoneri will be calling for Gooch’s head on a platter before the end of the season.  He will single-handedly destroy any progress the US national team had made towards improving how other countries view our soccer ability.  That will not be his only legacy however, he will have the privilege of  attempting to quell the Milan fans who are already restless over the sale of Kaka to Real Madrid.   He signed only one day after outraged fans held a demonstration at a Milan training session berating the administration for trading one of the greatest players in the world.

Something tells me those are cleats that Onyewu won’t be able to fill…Even with his 6 foot 4 in 210 pound completely un-athletic body.

AC/Inter Milan Friendly Too Friendly

July 27, 2009

BlueDuck was in full effect on Sunday.  We went out in force to Foxborough, Mass to provide our readers with the most in depth, truthful, and semi-legitimate coverage available on the web.

Sure, we had media credentials and a photographer on the field, but did that stop us from tailgating, and somehow avoiding paying the recession-friendly $40 parking fee at Gillette stadium? Hell no.

We are above all, fans.  It was almost uncomfortable, as well as slightly obstructed (somehow AC/DC trumps AC Milan) sitting in the stadium press box.  It was hard to get a feel for a game that didn’t have much of a feel anyways.  So we checked out at halftime, and joined our colleagues in our rightful position, the third bowl.

Once out of the nicely air conditioned luxurious box we rejoined the sweaty, mostly drunken fanbase we had connected with earlier in the parking lot, and watched the last forty five.

The game itself was a disappointment.  The fans weren’t separated, the players not into it, and it had the feel not of a game between rivals, but of a spring training game between say the Royals and the Diamondbacks.  Most of the support around the pitch was for AC Milan, but no one seemed devastated by the 2-0 Inter victory.

Diego Milito, after beating Enyewu like a rented mule.

Diego Milito, after beating Enyewu like a rented mule.

The World Football Challenge was an awesome series of games, and obviously they were preseason tuneups.  So, it should not be expected that these guys go all out.  It was a chance for the American audience to see what good futbol looks like.  Something they rarely see from US teams, and even the US national team.

In the near future, BlueDuck will fly overseas to cover the club soccer teams, but until then, it will be impossible to get the real emotion brought out by the local supporters of these squads.  In the near future, though, so… keep BlueDucking.

Until then, friendly friendlies will have to do.

Thanks Gillette Stadium for treating us like the semi-legitimate media organization we are.

Terrell Owens: Shut Up

July 27, 2009
Keep this man away from microphones for awhile.

Keep this man away from microphones for awhile.

“There’s a number of guys around the league that have done far more worse things than that and gotten a second chance. So I don’t see why he shouldn’t.”
-Terrell Owens

I feel like that quote really speaks for how stupid TO’s latest spat was.  Who has “done far more worse things” than Michael Vick?  I would really like to know.  Ray Lewis certainly had a brush with the law and got a second chance, but that’s really the only incident that comes close.

The idea that Michael Vick has done his time is ridiculous.  He has done his time when it comes to the law, but has really faced no penalty in relation to the NFL.   So four games is really just a slap on the wrist.

“Michael Vick is a guy that really hasn’t had any character issues besides [what] he got a prison sentence for”
-Terrell Owens

That is like saying John Wayne Gacy didn’t have any real character issues other than the whole serial killing spree.

I am not surprised by the comments, and I do think the guy deserves another chance to play, but T.O., you’re an idiot.

“It’s almost like kicking a dead horse in the ground.”

Or like electrocuting a live dog.

What Goodell Should Do With Vick

July 23, 2009
Goodell is in the process of deciding Michael Vicks fate in the NFL.

Roger Goodell is in the process of deciding Michael Vick's fate in the NFL.

It has been widely reported that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with Michael Vick this week, to discuss his possible reinstatement into the league.  Vick, on indefinite suspension due to his involvement in dogfighting, is seeking to return to the league after being released from his prison/home confinement sentence on Monday.  The commissioner is a disciplinarian, and has wielded his power using the Personal Conduct Policy to clean up the league.

Gone are malcontents like Pacman Jones.  Suspended are those who break the law.   He has been swift and decisive with his authority and the NFL is better off for it.  The current scenario regarding Vick’s reinstatement is one that needs to be handled sensitively.  On one hand, Vick is a first time offender and is subject to lighter penalties than repeat offenders.  On the other hand, Vick was sentenced to prison because he was the leader of a dog fighting ring.  Too light a penalty, PETA will protest the NFL and give it bad publicity.  Too heavy a penalty, the NFL Players Union will be up in arms over how steep a punishment Vick is given.  So what is Goodell to do?

It’s been rumored he will give the former Atlanta Falcons QB a temporary reinstatement, while handing down a suspension as the season nears.  This would allow Vick to find a team to sign with and attend training camp.  ESPN.com is reporting that Goodell has decided to suspend him for 4 regular season games, which has been disputed by NFL officials.

What Goodell should do is what is rumored, and that’s to temporarily reinstate Vick.  Let him go find work and report to training camp.  Let him go through the rigorous 2x-day workouts in the dead of summer.  And then right before the season starts?  Suspend him for the year.  Yes, this screws over the team that signs him.  But signing Vick is a risk unto itself, given that nobody knows how long his suspension is for or if he can still play. Why should Goodell do this?  To really teach Michael Vick the lesson he needs to learn: don’t lie.

Vick lied to the commissioner’s face when the dogfighting accusations were originally made.  He repeatedly denied any involvement, even meeting with Goodell in New York and telling him to his face that he was not involved in any way.  Jump ahead a little ways and we know he lied through his teeth.  He was the ringleader of a multi-state dogfighting operation, breeding, fighting and killing dogs for sport.  If you look a man in his eyes and lie to his face, you don’t deserve any favors from that man.  Roger Goodell should exact his revenge on the quarterback.  Teach him the lesson that he apparently never learned growing up; lying is wrong and there are consequences for it.

And no, I don’t consider his two years out of the league as punishment.  He was in prison and thus couldn’t play anyways.  Yes, he was “indefinintely suspended” by the league following his sentencing.  Fact is, even if he wasn’t suspended, the Falcons would have been able to withhold paychecks because he wasn’t fulfilling his contract or playing in games.  He’s eligible to play in the league now, therefore he should begin serving his punishment now, when he’s able to play.  And is my punishment steep?  Yes.  And it should be.  You aren’t supposed to lie.  You definitely aren’t supposed to lie to your boss, especially one like Goodell who was going out of his way to support Vick during the investigations.  So Mike, I hope the commissioner lays the hammer down on you.  You dug yourself a hole that you can’t juke or jive out of.  Maybe this time you’ll learn.

The NFL Draft Goes Primetime… Why?

July 23, 2009
The draft moves to primetime, while it ruins the event for fans.

The draft moves to primetime, while it ruins the event for fans.

The NFL announced today that the draft will be stretched out over three days.

It will now start on a Thursday night for round 1.

Rounds 2 + 3 will proceed on Friday night.

Rounds 4-6 complete on Saturday.

What is the motivation in this?  Roger Goodell is fishing for ratings, and he may well get them.  But I don’t like it.  The draft is an annual event, traditionally a weekend for hope for fans of every team in the league (except the Eagles, who hate all draft picks).  Now, it will be a drawn out affair as the NFL sells out to corporate America even more than usual.  As I said, the draft has always been an event.  Groups of friends clear their Saturdays to gather around the TV, pimping their mock drafts, predicting the next pick while debating the last.  Will that continue with the new set-up?  I doubt it.

Sure, some groups of friends will still get together for the first or second round.  But how many will stay together for 2 nights and another full day of draft action?  People have lives outside of football, with our schedules becoming busier by the year.

This decision will pay off for the NFL, I’m sure, but it will kill the camaraderie the event has embodied in years past.

Steve Phillips Needs To Stop Talking

July 22, 2009
Steve Phillips is another sportscaster who just doesnt have credibility.

Steve Phillips is another sportscaster who just doesn't have credibility.

So I was just watching Baseball Tonight on ESPN, and the topic of trading for Roy Halladay came up.  Karl Ravich asks Steve Phillips his opinion on the situation.  He proceeds to say that if he was a GM in the game, he would sell the farm for Halladay.  Now I have no problem saying “I’d trade almost anything for him,” because Halladay is among the best pitchers in the majors.  But Phillips didn’t stop there.  He proceeded to name every single top young pitcher in the bigs and offered them to Toronto.

This isn’t shocking, coming from the former New York Mets GM who has a long track record of trading future stars for short-term help.   He obviously doesn’t value prospects, which is fine to an extent, because they are not guaranteed to succeed.  But he didn’t name just prospects.

Steve Phillips named the Dodgers as a team that needs to trade for Doc, offering Clayton Kershaw and others for the Blue Jay’s star.  Another team Phillips feels should trade for Halladay is the Phillies, offering every prospect in their system.  He even said that the Yankees should give Toronto, a division rival, anything they wanted including Phillip Hughes and Joba Chamberlain.  He went as far as saying, “if I was the Yankees, I’d pack his bags and drive Joba to the airport.”

My problem with his thinking is that its not practical, and it perfectly showcases the reason he’s the former GM of the Mets.  Consider his Dodgers proposal: trading 21-year old lefty Clayton Kershaw (8-5, 2.95 ERA, 104k, 1.22 WHIP) for 32-year old Halladay (11-3, 2.73, 113k, 1.07).   We’ll leave out a breakdown the “others” Phillips would give up (Tony Abreau, Blake DeWitt, James Loney, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp to name players sure to be requested by Toronto).  Let’s just compare the pitchers that would be swapped.  What exactly do the Dodgers gain in this?  Sure, Halladay’s peripheral numbers are slightly better.  But when you consider the cost, both in terms of talent and cash, does this deal make sense?  Halladay is on the hook for the remaining of his $14m+ for this year, and $15.75m for next year, after which he’s free to go as a free agent.  Kershaw, on the other hand, is under team control for another 5 years at very cheap salaries.  Common sense tells us that Kershaw is on the upslope of his promising career, while Halladay is at the top of his game but 11 years older.  How much longer does he have before decline?  Sure, the Dodgers are World Series favorites (along with Philly) in the senior circuit, but does Halladay improve their odds in October?  He’s got the same number of October starts as Kershaw, ZERO.

As Philly is running away with the NL East, do the defending World Series Champs need Halladay?  At the cost of a starting fielder and top prospects Kyle Drabek and Jason Donald?  As is, they are on their way to a deep October run.  Do they mortgage the future hoping that Halladay wins them the title, something that nobody can guarantee?  Do the Yankees, already short on starting pitching, deal Joba and Philthy Hughes (shout out to carebear) for a pitcher with several times more wear on this tires than the two players offered for him?

When we consider Steve Phillips track record on trades of any kind, he loses all credibility.  Let’s take a look:

He traded Carl Everett (MVP candidate 2 years after being traded) for John Hudek (1-4 for the Mets). –> Lose

Sure, when he traded AJ Burnett for Al Leiter, he got 85 wins and 2 playoff appearances, including a World Series           appearance from the old guy.  But Burnett is younger and has won 95 games since then, including a World Series Title.  –> PUSH

Jason Isringhausen (283 saves since) was traded for Billy Taylor, who was 0-1 in 18 Mets appearances with an ERA over 8.0.  — > Lose

Looking for a short-term fix in 2000, Phillips nabbed Mike Bordick for 56 games and a .260 average.  Ironically, he traded a young Melvin Mora, who was hitting .260 at the time of the trade.  Unfortunately for the Mets, Mora has gone on to hit over 150 home runs with a .281 batting average over the past 10 seasons for the Orioles, including a couple of all-star appearances, a Silver Slugger award in ’04, and an MVP candidate in ’04.  Bordick left after his lone season, returning to the Orioles.  –> Lose

In ’02, Phillips gave away Gary Matthews Jr. for John Bale (who?).  ‘Nuff said.  –> Lose

Phillips traded a minor league Jason Bay for middle reliever Steve Reed.  Bay is a top corner outfielder, which is a historically weak spot for the Mets,  Steve Reed was decent but a free agent after the year.  –> Lose

Sure, he had a couple good trades (Piazza, maybe Mo Vaughn), but overall, Steve Phillips was the meth addict of baseball general managers; he traded long-term pieces for short-term fixes.  In the end, he had 2 playoff appearances to show for all of his awful trading.

So Steve, stop doling out the advice to GM’s who still have jobs in the game.  Nobody has even interviewed you for a GM position since you were canned, so perhaps they agree that you were a terrible judge of talent.  Just stop giving us your opinion on trades just because you are on ESPN.  Only talk about subjects which you have credibility with, like what kind of hair product I should use to get a ‘do like yours.

Philthy Hughes

July 18, 2009

On Friday night, the Yankees beat the Tigers 5 to 3 in a pretty ordinary game.  AJ Burnett started the game for New York, and was relieved by Phil Hughes at the start of the 7th inning.  Hughes gave up 3 hits in two innings, but struck out the other 6 hitters he faced.

It was just another good appearance out of the pen by Phil Hughes who is looking more and more comfortable in that role.  He has quieted the Joba to the pen cries as well, and has shown a power fastball and harder breaking stuff in the shorter stints.

He is a toolbag, but he may be the bullpen savior the Yankees need.

He is a toolbag, but he may be the bullpen savior the Yankees need.

Since going to the pen Phil has pitched 20 1/3 innings, given up just 10 hits, struck out 25 batters, walked only 5, and given up just 2 earned runs.  If you discount his first appearance out of the pen, where he relieved Chien Ming Wang in the 3rd inning of a game against the Red Sox, Hughes hasn’t given up a run.

Hughes’ Bullpen Line: ERA: 0.88, WHIP: 0.73, K/9: 11.08

Hughes could be a huge commodity for the Bombers either in the pennant race or in a deal for ace sinkerballer Roy Halladay.

Carebear’s British Open Preview/ Predictions

July 15, 2009
Can two guys recreate the Duel in the Sun 32 years later?

Can two guys recreate the Duel in the Sun 32 years later?

The 2009 British Open is being held at Turnberry for the first time since 1994.  15 years ago, Nick Price took down the Claret Jug with a young Jesper Parnevik nipping at his heels.  Turnberry presents the unique challenges that make the British Open a change of pace from other tournaments on the PGA tour schedule.  It gives guys a taste of what many of the European players deal with on a weekly basis, and most of the players are happy to get back to the States when its over.

Weather seems to always be a huge focal point when the tour jumps across the ocean and this year should be no different.  Tiger spoke in depth about the wind after his practice round on Tuesday, and talked about how this is a ball striker’s course.  Looking at past champions, Nick Price, Tom Watson and Greg Norman you would think you may see a big name take the Jug, but there are so many solid strikers teeing off that it is pretty wide open.

So, without further ado,

My Four Horsemen
Tiger Woods

Tiger has become the British Open king in the last few years.  He has won two of the last three Opens he has played in, and has the shotmaking ability and precision with his irons to keep his Trans-Atlantic dominance in full effect.  Throw in the fact that he has already won three tournaments this year and has been driving the ball quite well, and it would be irresponsible not to pick him as a potential winner.

Martin Kaymer

Martin Kaymer is hot right now.  The young German has won the last two tournaments on the European tour and this may be the week that he makes his big splash on the world scene.  19th right now in the World Golf Rankings, Kaymer has got a shot if he keeps his strong play going.

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy: Perfect Swing, Jackass Hair

Rory McIlroy: Perfect Swing, Jackass Hair

I am always going to side with the European players when it comes to the British Open.  Even though before Padraig Europeans haven’t had a huge amount of success at the Open Championship, they are just so much more adapted to the style of play necessary to tackle the courses and the weather in the big tourney.  McIlroy is also an easy choice because he is extremely talented.  He has finished in the mix in many tournaments on both sides of the pond this year, but has yet to really show the golf world what he is capable of.  There is no better stage for the young Irishman to show his ability.

Boo Weekley

Boo has had some injury trouble so far this year, but I love the guy.  He is the type of American player that the Brits really like.  He is a cartoon American, a gun toting, southern accent twanging, camo wearing, American caricature, but he is also a great ball striker who hits it straight and can hit it low.  Boo showed some signs of life at an easy course in Hartford a month ago, and hopefully he will put it together at Turnberry.

Who’s Really Hot Right Now?

Other than Martin Kaymer:  Hunter Mahan.  He finishes top ten every week now.  Not really sure if he can contend on this course, but he has surprised me all year.  If Hunter could put a whole week together, he might have a few wins this year.  Very close to a US Open championship.

Old Guy that could Contend:

Greg Always had his priorities straight:  Hair, bitches and trophies take notes Rory.

Greg Always had his priorities straight: Hair, bitches and trophies. Take notes Rory.

Greg Norman: Throw some money down on Greg.  He won at this course once.  So what it was 23 years ago.  He was leading this event going into the last round last year.  Greg makes enough money off of wine to not feel the pressure of winning anymore, and even more of a reason to favor the 54yr old Aussie, he doesn’t use MacGregor equipment anymore.  He swings actual golf clubs now, but then again, Paddy’s won 2 in a row with Wilson.

2 More Longshots

Robert Rock and as always, Ryuji Imada.  Rock lost in an epic playoff in the Irish Open that was a baby-British Open.  Don’t expect a similar result, but I’d look like a genius if one came.

Best Potential Storyline

There are a few good finishes that could come out here.  Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods facing eachother down on the Isles would be pretty cool.  Rory is everyone’s expected heir apparent, but hasn’t shown it yet.  I’d expect expect him to shake in his footjoys in a showdown against his idol, but maybe we will find out on Sunday.

Sergio losing in 2007 is one of my favorite recent golf memories, but it was only after Padraig put two in the water on 18 to give him a shot to blow it.  This brings in the potential for a 2009 meltdown.  Who will be the victim?  My guess: Lee Westwood?  Paul Casey?  Who knows?  Expect a choke, though.  If Ricky Barnes was playing I’d pick him.  He wears the dumbest hats.

A Warning for the TV Audience
This weekend should be a commentator’s dream come true.  Check out the Results from Turnberry’s last Open.  One David Feherty finished fourth, Nick Faldo finished eighth, and if they decide to bring Peter Jacobsen along, he finished in a tie for twenty-fourth.  Faldo’s actually playing this week, too.  Johnny Miller was rehearsing for his lines in Tin Cup when the tournament took place.

Before becoming the semi-funny guy thats not Mccord, and not as serious as Baker-Finch, David Feherty put up a solid week at Turnberry.

Before becoming the semi-funny guy that's not Mccord, and not as serious as Baker-Finch, David Feherty put up a solid week at Turnberry.

So, on that note I will conclude.  Having Tiger back in the Open Championship returns it to prominence in 2009.  The course that was the site of the famous Duel in the Sun in 1977 should make for a great venue and no doubt, the British crowd will be as boisterous as ever.  If you’re a night owl, you can really take it all in.  Set down in the recliner at 1:30AM thursday morning and start pounding beers.  They only tee off at the first so you got tee times for the next 9 hours.  That means Calcavecchia and his athletic frame will be done with eighteen before you get up for work.  So enjoy another good week of what has been a solid season for golf thus far.

The Turnberry Lighthouse will be the backdrop for another big Major week.

The Turnberry Lighthouse will be the backdrop for another big Major week.

Federer Survives Marathon Final To Make History

July 6, 2009
Roger Federer now has the most Grand Slam championships in tennis history

Roger Federer now has the most Grand Slam championships in tennis history

Roger Federer passed Pete Sampras on Sunday, to hold the record for most Grand Slam championships with 15.  It was fitting that he had to survive a marathon four-hour sixteen minute match to take possession of the record.  Andy Roddick had the match of his life, but it wasn’t enough to beat the greatest player the sport has seen.

Federer offered up 50 aces during the match, a personal record.  He battled through two tiebreakers after dropping the first set 7-5.  After losing the fourth set 6-3, Federer grinded out a 97-minute fifth set for the victory.  He only broke Roddick’s service game once during the epic showdown, at the end of the fifth set, to clinch the victory.  Federer survived the grueling 77-game match, using his poise, power, and stoic concentration.

Roddick threw the kitchen sink at Federer today, showcasing his power serve, a steady return game, and solid approach shots, but in the end, destiny won out.  Everyone had Federer winning this tournament and setting the record, but nobody could have predicted this unbelievable match.  Many predicted a blowout, citing Federer’s 18-2 career record against Roddick.  But after last year’s thrilling loss to Rafael Nadal, Federer was determined to regain the championship he’s now won six times.

Congratulations to Roger Federer, a graceful winner and determined champion.  He barely survived one of the greatest matches in Wimbledon history to set the record for most Grand Slam titles in men’s tennis history.  Hats off to the champ.