Recent Comments by owlhouse

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.


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

Portugal Ties U.S. in Final Seconds of Match

And Germany has form, of course.

posted by owlhouse at 09:41 PM on June 22

Luis Suarez Pushes England to Brink of World Cup Elimination

And in what way is Suarez a pantomime villian of this World Cup?

Oh yes he is!

Oh no he's not!

Oh yes he is! etc.

posted by owlhouse at 01:55 AM on June 22

Luis Suarez Pushes England to Brink of World Cup Elimination

Everyone (except Australian fans) seems to forget that Ghana only advanced from the group stages in 2010 because of a very similar incident against the Socceroos. Harry Kewell was red carded in the middle of the first half against Ghana for a "handball" on the line, when the ball hit his arm as it was alongside his body. In many cases, not a penalty, yet he received the red. Ghana scored, but Australia managed to equalise with only ten men, and probably should have won it. With eleven on the park, they most certainly would have and progressed instead of Ghana.

Bitter? Yes. Although I did want to see Ghana prevail against Uruguay in the quarters, I had a definite feeling that karma was at play.

posted by owlhouse at 05:42 AM on June 21

Luis Suarez Pushes England to Brink of World Cup Elimination

All great entertainment deserves a pantomime villain.

So far in this World Cup we've been blessed by two: Suarez and Pepe.

NB: And pantos must have audience participation. Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie did their best against Australia, and were booed by the Brazilian crowd at very turn, but they stayed on their feet for the most part.

posted by owlhouse at 04:38 AM on June 20

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Australia is ahead of Spain in the Pool B group of Death standings. With the third place head to head clinching game to come. And you know what? I fancy us.

/That's the kiss of death.

posted by owlhouse at 09:50 PM on June 18

The 2014 World Cup is Here

If you don't want the national jersey for those reasons, check out Dinamo Zagreb's kit.

My daughter played as a junior in this kit because one of the parents was a crazy Dinamo fan, and bought the shirts for us one year. He hated when they temporarily changed the club name to Croatia Zagreb.

posted by owlhouse at 07:41 AM on June 13

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

I especially like the "London Soccer Chickens", (Spurs), and the Derbyshire Soccer Goats, for a certain SpoFi Rams' fan.

Goats terrify me.

posted by owlhouse at 03:41 AM on June 12

Enter SportsFilter's World Cup 2014 Confidence Pool

Thanks for coding this, rcade. Unlike the others, I found this easy to use, especially if you KEEP A FRIGGIN LIST OF THE GROUPS handy.

Seriously, people, this is the World Cup. Haven't you got wall charts and TV schedules posted up on every available surface at work and home? Sheesh.

And yes, I did put Australia second last. There's a Brazuca at stake. Business is business.

posted by owlhouse at 03:40 AM on June 12

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

An aeronautical achievement from the top deck of Wembley.

posted by owlhouse at 09:07 AM on May 31

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

WTF happened to Rajasthan's bowlers?

Two of the last three deliveries were full tosses on the leg stump. I could have probably got a boundary off both or either. Terrible control.

posted by owlhouse at 01:54 AM on May 31

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Pretty good run chase in the IPL a couple of nights ago. Mumbai chased down 190 in 14.4 overs to go through on run rate.

Here's the last over.

posted by owlhouse at 04:38 AM on May 30

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Sigh. Now let's see if we can hold onto Hughes, Wisdom and Buxton, as well as the manager, for next season.

posted by owlhouse at 10:29 PM on May 24

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

OK, it's play off final day, and Derby are looking to get back into the Prem against QPR at Wembley. This has been called the most valuable fixture in competitive sport, because so much is at stake.

Which doesn't explain why I can't actually watch it from here, since the coup in Thailand means they aren't broadcasting normal programming. Bugger.

posted by owlhouse at 10:01 AM on May 24

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

This, from the Guardian's weekly round up. Steven Taylor gives it to Asmir Begovich. Be careful to watch until the end for the payoff.

Something you won't normally see on the official coverage.

posted by owlhouse at 02:48 AM on May 23

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

So to summarize, you cannot win the WC and any other confederation's tournament in the same year

Unless you count a year as a 365 day period, as grum suggests. The next Asian Cup takes place in Australia in January 2015, less than 7 months after the Socceroos lift the World Cup in Brazil.

posted by owlhouse at 09:17 PM on May 22

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Harold Larwood by Frank Keating. They don't make them or write them like this any more.

posted by owlhouse at 09:46 PM on May 21

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Louis Van Gaal is a football genius. (Repeat ad nauseam)

posted by owlhouse at 09:36 AM on May 20

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Am I missing something?

No, you're on the right track. The formula used is based on the "top four" from the previous five seasons, so it's a trend analysis. It doesn't take into account that the top four from ten years ago might be somewhat different today - i.e. it doesn't look at the performances of individual clubs. Also, why just the top four? If you chose two, it would skew the figures significantly for Spain and Portugal, for instance.

A better analysis is needed if you really wanted to prove something that fans implicitly understand anyway.

posted by owlhouse at 09:55 PM on May 19

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Steve's a new man, apparently.

He started with us before he went to Man U, and Jose reckons more English coaches should work in Europe.

posted by owlhouse at 06:02 AM on May 19

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

I just figured that a pick 'em is what inbred Derby fans called confidence pools down under

*To the tune of Kenny Rogers' "Coward of the County"*:

I promised me gran that I'd always be a Ram
and always fight the Forest when I can
Now please don't think I'm weak
cos I was born to shag your sheep
I hope you're old enough to understand
sometimes you gotta fight when you're a Ram

Everyone considers them the best, that's Derby County

(We're Going Up!)

posted by owlhouse at 11:33 PM on May 18

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

That's the one - a confidence pool, not a pick 'em. I don't know what I'm doing.

posted by owlhouse at 09:20 PM on May 18

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

How about the pick 'em where we go up against each other and Sepp Blatter's FIFA Rankings?

posted by owlhouse at 03:02 AM on May 18

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Ours is bad enough, but may not be the worst. World Cup 2014 bus slogans.

posted by owlhouse at 11:05 PM on May 12

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Also, why Fulham got relegated.

posted by owlhouse at 09:30 PM on May 06

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Is there anything with his "baseball stance" that would make him a bad cricketer?

What everyone else said, and adding that around two thirds of all Test cricket strokes are defensive, i.e. the batsman is not trying to score runs. Defensive strokes (forward and backward) are the first thing you learn when you pick up a bat.

While on the subject (try and stop me!), another thing drilled into all junior cricketers, and which has become a description for someone who is honest and open is "to play a straight bat". Which means straight up and down.

/But the good thing for baseballers crossing over to cricket is you still get to run on foul balls.

posted by owlhouse at 08:56 PM on May 06