Recent Comments by owlhouse

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 14

CFL teams re-named with Australian native animals. The Montreal Mallee Fowls by 7. I hope they don't get the hump. The Edmonton Echidnas by 10. Well, they laid an egg last week. The Winnipeg Wombats by 12. The wombat - eats, roots and leaves. The Calgary Cassowaries by 9. Let's give BC a good kicking.

posted by owlhouse at 09:28 PM on September 25

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

It's AFL Grand Final this Saturday Down Under. So rather than tell you about how awesome the Sydney Swans are, and knowing that lots of you septics only watch the Superbowl for the half time show, here's a summary of the worst game day entertainment at previous Grand Finals.

posted by owlhouse at 07:55 PM on September 22

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 13

Thanks holden, but the only rebels I trained in Cambodia were young women setting up their own businesses in rural villages. I'm now just up the road in Laos, where I still can't get the cricket on TV, let alone the CFL. But while there are no internet cafes anymore, even my local noodle shop has free wi-fi.

I'm feeling nostalgic about football and growing up in Sydney, so here's a song.

posted by owlhouse at 09:53 PM on September 18

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 13

CFL teams as Australian World Heritage sites. BC by 12. You work it out, you lazy Canadians. Edmonton by 15. Although you've probably figured I have a thing for prairie towns. Calgary by 12. There's three this week. Saskatchewan by 21. So I'm running out of Australian desert references.

posted by owlhouse at 09:25 PM on September 17

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 12

Australian films this week. A young Mel Gibson and a bleak post apocalyptic landscape? That's Edmonton by 16. Horses, horses and horses, some of them stampeding? That's Calgary by 11. British Columbia is Canada's Tasmania, right? BC by 5. Luckily Australia's landscape offers lots of opportunities for wide open spaces and lots of weird shit, too. Saskatchewan by 9.

posted by owlhouse at 09:25 PM on September 11

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

FIFA 15 has it all:

I'm suing for copyright. That's how I've been celebrating all my goals for the last ten years.

posted by owlhouse at 09:31 PM on September 10

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Possibly a dumb question - but is that legal in NFL?

It's definitely illegal in rugby union and rugby league.

posted by owlhouse at 02:27 AM on September 08

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 11

This week, CFL teams as Australian novels. And I'll start giving you hints. West coast of a continent? That would be Tim Winton, then. BC by 15. In the middle of a prairie? Edmonton by 7. French speaking in the southern hemisphere? Montreal by 9. Blimey, another prairie town. Saskatchewan by 15.

And if you're still interested, the ex picked up another award for her latest novel this week.

posted by owlhouse at 09:49 PM on September 04

SportsFilter NFL Pick 'Em, 2014 Edition

I think I'm in. Weird site.

I hope to do one better than last year.

posted by owlhouse at 09:42 PM on September 03

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Two finals matches, two sporting codes and two different cities in one day? It can be done, even if you are a player in both.

posted by owlhouse at 05:15 AM on September 01

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 10

This week, CFL teams re-imagined as classic Australian paintings. Montreal by 9. See if you can guess the connections. Saskatchewan by 15. They're probably very tenuous. Toronto by 10. Nobody bothered entering last week's music connection round. Edmonton by 14. Philistines.

posted by owlhouse at 09:18 PM on August 26

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

who does one root for between MK Dons and Man U?

AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester.

posted by owlhouse at 09:11 PM on August 26

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 9

Australian songs as CFL team theme songs? You got it. Winnipeg by 10. Prizes for guessing the links or associations. Edmonton by 12. Actually, there won't be any prizes. Calgary by 21. Except the satisfaction of winning a weird Commonwealth Competition. BC by 18.

posted by owlhouse at 10:39 PM on August 20

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Man, you should have heard MY end of season speech to my daughter's Under 12 Girls team.

I had so many mothers hugging me afterwards that my partner came over to glare at them until they stopped. She has a black belt in karate. :-)

posted by owlhouse at 08:02 AM on August 20

The Premier League Season Kicks Off Tomorrow

I'd love to hear the reasoning behind picking ManUtd in the top four

I did the same, so I'll have a go at answering that: No More David Moyes.

By which I mean he took a Premier League winning team, augmented by new signings, into the tactical wasteland that was Man U's last season. LVG will take a bit of time with a new side, but he's no David Moyes, and has a fair idea of how to turn players into better performers than you'd expect. There is enough quality in the squad, although they could do with a new centre back pairing.

Further evidence, you say? Look at Everton last year. Roberto Martinez essentially took David Moyes' squad and made them a different team, using their talents properly in a range of different tactical approaches.

Moyes only has a Plan A, and it's not a good Plan A.

posted by owlhouse at 04:48 AM on August 18

The Premier League Season Kicks Off Tomorrow

OK, late to the party, but it's a marathon, not a sprint...

Title: Chelsea. Money talks, but defence triumphs.

Top Four: Chelsea, City, Arsenal, Man Utd. Liverpool are too flaky and could do with replacing their entire back line and maybe buy a proper DM.

Relegated: Stoke, Burnley, QPR. Stoke is wishful thinking on my part. It will probably be Leicester.

Top Scorer: Aguero.

Assists: Hazard. About time he turned up.

Clean Sheets: Chelsea, but Everton has a shot.

posted by owlhouse at 09:42 PM on August 17

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

I know he's Welsh, but are there are fewer more distressing sights than an Englishman in a baseball cap?

posted by owlhouse at 09:19 PM on August 14

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 8

I would like to note that after going 0 for 12 through the first 3 weeks with tails=home/heads=away, I switched heads/tails in week 4 and have subsequently hit 13/16 correct picks and with this week's spread points (also determined "randomly" through a system of coin flipping and mashing buttons on a calculator) have scored 17 in that time.

Damn. Someone's onto me.

posted by owlhouse at 09:51 PM on August 11

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 8

You've probably all seen this. Toronto by 12. The Molson Rant. Edmonton by 21. We're proud of our country, too. Calgary by 7. Only we have to warn you first. Montreal by 11. That you might accidentally get killed. Toronto by 10.

posted by owlhouse at 02:55 AM on August 11

Donovan to Retire at the end of this MLS season

Just to stir the pot, do Bayer Leverkusen fans consider him "professional" - where he was too lazy to work for a place in a Bundesliga side? And as far as the USMNT goes, is going AWOL during the WC qualifiers a sign of team commitment?

Just asking.

posted by owlhouse at 01:07 AM on August 09

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Since we're posting women's football, this one is a bit old, but has Lisa de Vanna going all Pele.

posted by owlhouse at 03:37 AM on August 07

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 7

Ah, Mike Pyke, Swans premiership player. Saskatchewan by 7. And Sydney's favourite Canadian. Edmonton by 21. What can Australia possibly offer in return? BC by 15. How about swapping some Footy Cards? What? You mean Mark Harris isn't Montreal's favourite Australian? Calgary by 21.

posted by owlhouse at 10:57 PM on August 04

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

The most terrifying away trips in Australia.

/Not that terrifying really. My 85 year old mother takes the bus past Brookvale Oval most days. She hates Manly with the passion that only true North Sydney supporters can muster. They also left off the Sydney Cricket Ground in the 70s, formidable during an Ashes Test or the first few years of day/night games when the crowd on The Hill was very, very drunk and violent. Formative experiences for a young fella.

posted by owlhouse at 09:34 PM on August 04

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

"To lament the commercialisation of sport is to piss on an inferno devouring your house." The NRL in Australia goes Marvel.

posted by owlhouse at 01:39 AM on July 31

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 6

So, the Commonwealth Games, otherwise known as Empire School Sports Carnival. Winnipeg by 15. Is anyone in Canada watching? Toronto by 11. Calgary by 13. Because, as Usain Bolt so elegantly and accurately put it. Saskatchewan by 21. It's a bit shit.

posted by owlhouse at 01:13 AM on July 31

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Good counterpoint to the Super League: the qualifying rounds of the 2014-15 Europa League have already been running for a few weeks.

posted by owlhouse at 11:52 PM on July 23

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

The 40th birthday of the Gray Nicholls Scoop, the cricket bat that spawned a revolution. This makes me feel old.

posted by owlhouse at 10:21 PM on July 22

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

For the owners, it's not a question of winning, never has been.

It's only about franchise value, and eliminating competition. Every business owner would love to operate in a monopoly and, failing that, a cartel. The Euro Super League would be a cartel.

posted by owlhouse at 09:43 PM on July 22

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 5

My nephew (the one in Guelph) had to do a test for his Canadian residency. Edmonton by 12. So what kind of questions should you be asked? BC by 15. I'd like to hear your thoughts. Ottawa by 7. But no references to the Meech Lake Accords, Tim Hortons or Wayne Gretzky. Even Australians can carry on a conversation about those. Saskatchewan by 15.

posted by owlhouse at 12:09 AM on July 21

How is Qatar building a national team for the 2022 World Cup?

I think it would be great for Qatar to recruit and play an Israeli.

In fact, I'm secretly hoping both Israel and Iran qualify for 2022.

posted by owlhouse at 08:59 PM on July 17

How is Qatar building a national team for the 2022 World Cup?

It's good that the players don't seem to be too loyal to playing for Qatar or too loyal to the program when a bigger club in Europe comes calling. I guess in a perfect world, FIFA would accredit or otherwise regulate these forms of international academies, as what they do can be pretty close to the definition of labour trafficking.

Still, it's not so different from private schools in New Zealand offering scholarships to promising teenagers from the Pacific to play rugby for the school. Ask a Kiwi about this and they get all high and mighty about what a wonderful country they are to provide education to such underprivileged kids. However if you're smart, from Tonga but can't play rugby, I guess you miss out.

posted by owlhouse at 02:14 AM on July 17

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

It's a perfectly cromulent ceremony.

posted by owlhouse at 02:09 AM on July 17

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

In a 4-3-3 you can bring the wide strikers back into a 4-5-1. In fact, this is how most "modern" or flexible versions of 4-3-3 are played (cf: Holland).

No Australia in that list? I guess we were relegated.

posted by owlhouse at 09:39 PM on July 16

SportsFilter's World Cup Confidence Pool Winner

Thanks for organising this rcade, and congrats to tron.

Only 4 years to go until Russia 2018!

posted by owlhouse at 09:56 PM on July 15

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 4

If you're ever in Guelph. Edmonton by 11. Drop into Grey Rock Clothing on Quebec Street. Toronto by 17. Say hello to the lovely Beth, and ask after my nephew Joel. Calgary by 12. If you mention Timmy Cahill's wonder goal against Holland, they might even give you a discount off their range of sweatshop free clothing. BC by 15.

posted by owlhouse at 09:42 PM on July 14

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Settle. It's 24 teams.

Fox Sports in Australia does a pretty good job of covering football, including the A-League and most overseas leagues. We were luck with three decades of SBS coverage that set a very high standard, which Fox seems to respect.

posted by owlhouse at 09:56 PM on July 13

Germany Wins World Cup

Fluid first half, staccato second half and very scrappy injury time, but the best team won.

Re: the concussions. I can't remember a World Cup with so many head clashes but yes, there needs to be an effective protocol.

When journalists come to interview Palacio in 20 years time, up in his reclusive retirement home in Bariloche, I'm sure he'll open the door a crack and yell "No, I don't want to talk about it!"

posted by owlhouse at 09:51 PM on July 13

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 3

I did? Sorry, you're on your own.

Different Jen, Jen.

posted by owlhouse at 04:00 AM on July 13

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 3

I've never set foot in Canada, or North America. Montreal by 7. However if I did, I'd be certain to stop off at the Wolf Den Hostel and Nature Retreat at Algonquin National Park. Edmonton by 18. Why do you say that, owlie? Well, it's just been bought by one of my old aid worker colleagues from Afghanistan. Toronto by 12. If I do end up going to my nephew's wedding in Guelph in February, I'll drop in. Jen told me that she has a pair of snowshoes ready for me. Saskatchewan by 15.

posted by owlhouse at 10:15 PM on July 09

Argentina Faces The Netherlands for Spot in World Cup Final

I quite enjoyed it, as a textbook on defensive structures.

If he was fit, Depay probably didn't play because Van Gaal wanted to keep the 5-3-2 against Sabella's fluid 4-3-3. Depay has come on previously on the left when Van Gaal wanted to flip the switch to his own 4-3-3.

It was an overly cautious approach - I thought he might go for it in the last 20 minutes, but this would have left some gaps for Messi and Aguero between the lines. The 5-3-2 allowed him to man mark Messi with De Jong and then Clasies, as well as have back up.

In the end, the team that looked like they wanted to win got through the penalty shootout. I wanted Holland to finally get a World Cup, but this version is pretty hard to love.

posted by owlhouse at 10:10 PM on July 09

Argentina Faces Belgium in World Cup Quarterfinal

Argentina were pretty content to sit back on their one goal lead.

From about the 12th minute onwards.

posted by owlhouse at 01:37 AM on July 07

The Netherlands Faces Underdog Costa Rica in World Cup

He also plays like a guy who works at Target.

posted by owlhouse at 01:36 AM on July 07

The Netherlands Faces Underdog Costa Rica in World Cup

Holland should have been smarter than that. How to beat an offside trap is pretty basic coaching.

Robben was the most effective because he was playing in the inverted role, so he was looking to come back inside onto his left foot inside from the right flank. Depay and Van Persie couldn't figure it out on the left or in the middle.

But we'll be seeing a lot of "Dennis Bergkamp! Dennis Bergkamp!" in the next few days leading up to the semi with Argentina.

posted by owlhouse at 09:32 PM on July 06

Brazil Knocks Out Colombia, But Loses Neymar

In case anyone thought the beautiful game was still alive, Big Phil dug up the corpse, hit it over the head with a shovel, cut it up into pieces with an axe, then reburied it beneath the soil of Fortaleza last night.

posted by owlhouse at 06:19 AM on July 05

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

I'll swap you a cricket explanation for a baseball explanation.

In that play:

1. Shouldn't the fielder have thrown directly to home, forcing the play, without trying to tag?, and

2. Shouldn't the catcher have tried to tag the base runner heading for home, as well as stepping on the plate, just to be sure?

And a general question - do fielding teams practice these scenarios?

posted by owlhouse at 11:26 PM on July 03

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

"I wouldn't have messed it up..."

He's no Hope Solo.

posted by owlhouse at 09:50 PM on July 03

Michael Bradley Covered Most Ground in World Cup

Bradley is being (rightly) lauded for his work rate, but there's part of me wants to point out that if he were a little better at football, he wouldn't need to do so much running.

I sort of agree with that, then I don't.

Bradley is no Messi, but then neither are Xabi Alonso, Busquets or Mascherano. Every team needs what Eric Cantona dismissed as "water carriers" or as the Brazilians say "someone has to carry the piano". Usually these sorts of players are the first ones on the manager's team sheet.

(signed)

A former defensive midfielder

posted by owlhouse at 09:45 PM on July 03

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

The statistical side of things is still tough for me to grasp at times (I understand the stat "run rate", and that "higher is better", but I can't tell you if a number is bad/average/good/great by looking at it)

Warning: Thread Hijack

That's OK, grum, no-one in cricket knows either. Run rates only came in since the advent of limited over games, as a way of trying to determine how good individual batsmen are and a way of splitting teams in tournament play (like goal difference at the World Cup).

However, a batsman may have a run rate over 100, but if he hits the first ball for 2 than gets out on the second, he's not making much of a contribution to the team. Overall batting average (over a season or career) has to be taken into account as well.

In cricket, so much depends on the state of the pitch, so you can't compare team run rates across games either. In a 50 over match, a winning score might be 200 on a slow, spinning wicket or a greentop. Then you get the "roads", or pitches where 350 won't even win it for you.

Back to WC:

In Australia, we have to put up with non-football sports commentators saying pretty much the same sorts of things every four years. They usually start with something like "I'm not a soccer fan, but if soccer really wants to make it in then..."

I am one of millions of people from my country, and countries around the world, that get great pleasure and even transcendent joy out of watching my country at the greatest tournament in the world. I watch games, I go to fan sites, I talk to my fellow workers and friends. I wear my shirt, I cheer, I drink beer, I hug strangers. We stay up all night, joined together in some special way, sharing something uniquely human.

I don't give a shit what you think.

posted by owlhouse at 09:38 PM on July 03

This isn't The Onion : Championship League football owner cuts player from team because date of birth is unlucky.

As a Derby fan, all I can say is hahahahahahahahaaha.

posted by owlhouse at 09:22 PM on July 03

How Good Are the Americans, Really?

At least you don't get patronised as much as us.

posted by owlhouse at 11:25 PM on July 02

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 2

So now my nephew is going to marry his Canadian girlfriend. Winnipeg by 16. Which is cool and all that. Montreal by 12. I mean very cool, since it will be taking place in Guelph in February. Edmonton by 21. For an Australian, this adds a totally new meaning to the words "white wedding". Saskatchewan by 9.

posted by owlhouse at 11:24 PM on July 02

U.S. Falls to Belgium Despite Epic Tim Howard Performance

Indeed. Even though there were a few surprise teams in the final 16, there have been no blowouts and plenty of close and tense finishes.

It probably shows the increasing quality and evenness of international football, which only bodes well for future World Cups, and for very competitive qualifying stages.

posted by owlhouse at 11:54 PM on July 01

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

because it suggests a wild sexual orgy resulting from a meaningless win over Australia

Lie back and think of Hugh Jackman?

posted by owlhouse at 09:43 PM on June 30

Mexico Faces The Netherlands in Round of 16

If it went to extra time, I felt that the Dutch would take it anyway. Which was a bit of a turnaround, because in the first half I thought the Dutch looked shot, seemingly half a metre behind the Mexicans and looking exhausted. Turns out it was probably their starting shape that was wrong.

Mexico made the mistake of trying to hang onto a one goal lead. Some defensive subs were probably the wrong move, and Holland dominated from about the 70th minute on. Van Gaal eventually got the team he wanted on the field. Van Persie was ineffective through the middle, and deserved to come off, while he also got Depay on to give them width on the left. The 4-3-3 works better for Holland than the 5-3-2, but apparently the players and Van Gaal differ on this, and player power means they start with two up front, so he ends up having to tinker during the game.

I thought Holland might run out of time, and when the equaliser went in, you could tell only one team was going to be set up in both personnel and shape to go for a winner.

posted by owlhouse at 12:16 AM on June 30

Mexico Faces The Netherlands in Round of 16

The Dutch aren't making too many friends, and Robben won't be taking a holiday in Mexico anytime soon.

But that won't matter if they win it this time.

posted by owlhouse at 09:29 PM on June 29

Brazil Faces Chile in World Cup's First Knockout Game

I think they ran out of steam. One of the consequences of the pressing style they play.

Tactically, Chile were all over Brasil. However they needed to win in 90 minutes - still they hit the bar in the last minute of extra time and the shootout could have gone either way.

Are Big Phil and the Brasilian national myth cheerleaders ready for Colombia? Or are they so far up themselves they won't see it coming?

posted by owlhouse at 01:57 AM on June 29

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

that South America sent the wrong Riquelme to the tournament

Nice Brazucas.

posted by owlhouse at 03:09 AM on June 27

The 10th Annual chicobangs Memorial SpoFi CFL Pick 'Em

Bonjour! Ca va? Now that I'm based in the Republique Populaire Democratique du Lao, I am finding many more uses for my cod Franglais. Toronto by 14. Why, just the other day, I found the only restaurant in town that does poutine. The owner is from Montreal. So Montreal by 5. I'll see if I can get him to show CFL on the big screen. Edmonton by 11. Mind you, he might not like me showing up at 3 in the morning, waving a bottle of Bordeaux and a baguette. Saskatchewan by 9.

posted by owlhouse at 09:52 PM on June 25

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

If he drove into the box instead, defenders are at risk of committing a penalty. That seems a more promising opportunity than skying a shot into the crowd

Tackling. It's called tackling.

I believe they teach it to defenders in Europe and South America.

posted by owlhouse at 11:00 PM on June 22

Portugal Ties U.S. in Final Seconds of Match

There are no easy games in international football these days. As Australia will no doubt find out tonight. :-)

posted by owlhouse at 10:51 PM on June 22