A Platonic Symposium on the Essence of International Friendlies

“To be or not to be”, that is not the question. If you are reading this, you exist. Whether you like that or not, that’s your own issue. Rather, the pertinent question is: why do international friendlies exist? What comprises their very essence? Luckily, through a time and space warp continuum, great past philosophers & poets & writers recently met in a modern setting, drank some wine, and discussed a similar issue plaguing Greece thousands of years ago: non-Olympic friendlies between athletes. Keep in mind, this is a story I heard from my friend James who was told it by this one dude at a college party one night about ten years ago, so there may be some inconsistencies.

Here are their conclusions, if any. Continue reading “A Platonic Symposium on the Essence of International Friendlies” »

The World’s Best International Players as Judged by Similarility of Names to Literary Figures

Some famous literary heavyweights loved the sport of soccer. For example, French philosopher Albert Camus, author of The Stranger, enjoyed him some football. While some snooty intellectuals such as Borges viewed it as the opiate of the masses, others have applauded and embraced the artistry of a fine first touch. To put it simply, once you’ve seen a Dennis Bergkamp goal, your jaw drops, your mind goes blank, and only the best prose can describe the void left in your heart by every minute of the day you don’t see Bergkamp score.

Thus, it was no surprise that I noticed an odd pattern: many players on national teams around the world share names cannily similar to literary heavyweights. Wouldn’t it be beautiful for these two worlds to meld into one? Imagine the possibilities. Here are the highlights. Continue reading “The World’s Best International Players as Judged by Similarility of Names to Literary Figures” »

Clasico Recap: A Tale of Two Halves Edition

Yesterday’s clasico was a tale of two halves. Or so say the headlines. In fact, many headlines refer to a game as a “tale of two halves.” Your cerebral self chuckles and thinks: no shit. Doesn’t every game of soccer consist of two halves? Isn’t that, like, kinda the fundamental rule and proportion of time? Could a headline be any less descriptive?

I used to agree with you. But, alas, you are wrong (and so was I). Continue reading “Clasico Recap: A Tale of Two Halves Edition” »

Chelsea’s Disingenuous Penaltology

When coaching Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho made a famous remark about Pep Guardiola. He said that in the past, there were two types of coaches: those who complained after a game about the ref, and those who shut up. He then said Pep was a new, third type of coach: he who complained about refs before the game had even started. Coming from a coach who once hung out in a parking lot after a game to speak with a ref, it was pretty disingenuous but humorous all the same.

Chelsea FC’s recent blog post, though, makes Pep look like a ref cheerleader. Continue reading “Chelsea’s Disingenuous Penaltology” »

The Quintessential MLS CBA “Smoke has Cleared” and “One Side Won” Post

Hello there, reader. In case you missed it, the MLS season started on time last weekend. Crowds flocked to games. Young men (and Clint Dempsey) kicked balls. Some scored goals. Others were less fortunate. However, last week the major story was this: less than acrimonious CBA negotiations between the owners of MLS franchises and the members of the MLS Players Union. They scheduled a two-day mediation before the season started, primarily swapped offers on a form of free agency, and reached a deal late at night on the second day.

But you shouldn’t be happy. Continue reading “The Quintessential MLS CBA “Smoke has Cleared” and “One Side Won” Post” »

Junito: the Other Side of the Story

Every three to four months, the online media/writing world will produce a personal story about one of its own: a writer. The story will have one of two angles: either the writer admits that he or she can only afford writing because they come from a wealthy, privileged background, or he or she will talk about stepping away from a stressful but lucrative professional career to focus on family and becoming a writer for the job’s flexibility.

I have no beef with either of these stories: they are first-person narratives about personal growth. When done well, they’re like a 21st century It’s a Wonderful Life. Folks realize that family is important, especially when compared to the diminishing returns of wealth maximization via hours at the office. Still, they’re a bit solipsistic, a bit self-centered. Nobody dares to ask: what about other members of the family? How do they feel? Luckily, Real Madrid’s future greatest player ever Junito, an 8 year old whose dad recently changed jobs, has penned these slightly edited thoughts: Continue reading “Junito: the Other Side of the Story” »

The Astroturfery Behind the Failed Beckham Stadium Plan

In case you don’t follow me on twitter or already read Vice Sports, here’s a link to my up close look at how and why Beckham has failed to get a stadium deal done in Miami (so far). For the record, it was edited by the excellent Eric Nusbaum and the elucidating Patrick Hruby. Like all kinda long stories that require original research, there’s little snippets and footnotes along the way.

One of the footnotes that I want to share is the story of the “Downtown Neighbors Alliance.” ‘Tis a class tale of astroturfery, snobby rich people problems, and a Mayor’s flooded inbox. Continue reading “The Astroturfery Behind the Failed Beckham Stadium Plan” »

How Old is Too Old?

Bayern Munich has enjoyed a wonderful Bundesliga season to date. They’re top of the league despite an embarrassing loss to 2nd place Wolfsburg. They are also favorites to advance in their Champions League tie, despite tying the first-leg 0-0. However, for fans of beautiful soccer, not all is well in Munich. Why? Because of midfield. That’s why. And what hurts the most is that the players at fault are beloved, world-class veterans.

I speak, of course, of the Spaniard and the pig farmer. Continue reading “How Old is Too Old?” »

The Two Most Misunderstood Words of MLS CBA Talks

“Work stoppage.” As a fan who enjoys watching live soccer, these words strike terror into my heart. Thus far, the current MLS labor talks have followed the same pattern: MLS owners, happy with increasing revenue and a one-sided owner/labor balance, complain they are “still losing money” and profess to not be worried by the talk’s slow progress. Meanwhile, the MLS Players’ Union makes vague threats about “strikes” and says “free agency” over and and over.

I don’t know who has the upper hand in negotiations. I also don’t know what will happen. I know there are some creative quasi-free agency solutions. I know that MLS salaries also lag behind North American counterparts (and way behind England). However, here’s one thing I don’t know: would a work stoppage really be that bad? In that vain, I looked at recent work stoppages in other North American sports leagues. Things didn’t always end up so bad once the dust settled. Continue reading “The Two Most Misunderstood Words of MLS CBA Talks” »