Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Another Year, Another Review

As I enter my third year of posting, and with the recent migration of this blog to a new host (thanks Bulldog Creative and Chris Michael!) it seems a good time to look back at the evolution of the issues and events that I addressed over the past year.

With the exception of the occasional post about music, this blog has evolved primarily into one that examines stories in the sports headlines from the perspective of a coach, parent, fan, citizen, and lawyer. I don't intend any posts to be particularly controversial, although apparently sometimes they are. 

Neither do I intend to offend. Quite to the contrary -- I detest columnists and bloggers who transparently set out to stir the pot. But I would do you, or at the least myself, a disservice if I didn't bring my perspective to the issues that I examine. You can read about the latest employment law case or the most recent views of a particular coach's or player's deeds, or misdeeds in a variety of places; you don't need to come here for that and, frankly, it would bore me to tears to post about it. 

My perspective, more often than not, is shaped by my belief (to quote the character Mike Schwartz in the excellent book "The Art of Fielding" who, in a pre-game pep talk, quotes his teammates Schiller) that "Man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man. And he is only completely a man when he plays." And that applies equally to women as well.

Here are the updates:

After I declared the U.S. Men's and Women's National teams not dead but at least ailing, the women reached the finals of the World Cup, only to lose in excruciating fashion to Japan and apparently deprive Abby Wambach of her last chance at a world championship. The good news for the women is that they qualified for the Olympics and that Wambach will be there, along with Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Sydney Leroux, among others.

The American men failed to qualify for the Olympics, bombing out of the U-23 qualifying tournament by first losing to Canada then allowing a last-second goal from 25 yards out that tied its match with El Salvador 3-3 and sent El Salvador to the semi-finals. The U.S. effort in the tournament was marked by bad defending and atrocious goal tending, which is usually a strength of U.S. teams.

No description needed. El Salvador was wearing blue.

After getting off to an indifferent start under Jurgen Klinsmann, however, the U.S. full team is undefeated in 2012, including a 5-1 thrashing of Scotland last week, highlighted by a hat-trick by Landon Donovan and a stunning strike by midfielder Michael Bradley. The U.S. is playing five matches over the next two weeks to begin preparations for World Cup qualifying. The match Wednesday against Brazil will tell us more about how that preparation is coming, and whether Klinsmann is starting to get to team to a level where it can compete consistently against the best in the world. Highlights of the Scotland match are below.

Lionel Messi capped a record-breaking personal season with a goal in Spain's Copa Del Rey ("King's Cup") bringing his total on the season to an unimaginable 73. The victory was the fourth trophy this season for Barcelona (adding to the Club World Cup, European Super Cup, and Spanish Super Cup already won), but the two biggest prizes, the Champions League and La Liga titles, eluded Barca in its final season under Pep Guardiola, who had already announced his retirement at the tender age of 41. Fortunately, Real Madrid and Christiano Reynoldo also crashed out of the Champions League in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, in American football Bobby Petrino lost his job as Arkansas coach, to be replaced by John Smith, who never coached a game for his alma mater Weber State, which had just hired him over the winter. Stan Van Gundy is gone as well, apparently at Dwight Howard's behest, although the "NBA insiders" now believe it almost a certainty that Howard will not return to the Orlando Magic after he plays out his next and last season under his current contract. At least in the NFL the foxes are not yet running the hen house as Roger Goodell laid heavy fines and suspensions on the New Orleans Saints, their players and coaches, and former defensive coordinator Greg Williams. But an arbitrator has yet to rule on the players' suspensions, and we know how that could turn out.

In State College, Joe Paterno's son announced 11 days after my post about his reign at Penn State that his father had lung cancer. Two months a day later, Paterno died. While his sudden decline was tragic, it is made all the more so by his tarnished legacy, caused by hubris, inattention, or implausible deniability.

Finally, and sadly, back to soccer where my Blackburn Rovers were relegated from the Premier League, going out with a whimper and two last dismal performances. The club is in greater disarray now than before, with a decision regarding the future of manager Steve Kean (who would be long gone from any professional organization) still up in the air. News of Rovers will be much harder to come by next season on this side of the Atlantic, but that may not be a bad thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment