Emotions are running high in the sports world this week. So look out the window at the beautiful fall foliage, take a deep breath, and then dive right in.
bird bat in Toronto
Yesterday in Toronto we were treated to of the most bizarre innings of postseason baseball you will see. The Rangers took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 7th inning when a throw back to the mound from the Blue Jays’ catcher actually hit the bat of the batter and rolled into foul territory- a play that I’m sure 99.9% of baseball fans and umpires have never seen before. When the play was reviewed and the run scored, Toronto fans littered the field with trash, and infamously a baby was hit by a flying beer can. Really.
But in a stunning turn of events, the Rangers made three consecutive errors in the field in the bottom of the inning, setting the table for the most dramatic postseason home run for the Blue Jays since Joe Carter’s 1992 World Series-winning dinger. With two men on base, Jose Bautista hit a ball halfway to Mississauga for a three-run home run, and then did the most bad-ass bat flip in history afterwards. The Rangers hated it, but I loved it. Flip the bat, dude. You earned it.
The Patriots came home from the Lone Star Republic on Sunday night with a pretty easy 30-6 win against the Cowboys and their can’t-throw-the-ball-more-than-5-yards-downfield quarterback to move to 4-0.
Big deal. All that matters in this Sunday.
This week, the Patriots head to Indianapolis to take on the Colts, who you may remember had a smallish role in a certain ball deflation controversy over the past 9 months. And here’s the rub- I have nothing against Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Frank Gore, Robert Mathis, or anyone else on the Colts. In fact, I’m sure they are nice guys. But really… Dwayne Allen is refusing to say the word “Patriots” this week? REALLY?
But there is no owner, no management team, and no front office more worthy of our hatred and disdain than that of the Colts. For well over a decade they have been complaining about the Patriots, getting rules changed for their own team to do better, tanking entire seasons to get higher draft picks, and tattling to the NFL about never-proven Patriots-related crimes. Guys, enough. Build a winning team and then come back on the field. The last five games you have played against the Patriots you have lost 59-24, 43-22, 42-20, and 45-7. You haven’t won since Fourth-and-Two in 2009 and I hope you lose 600-0 this Sunday. But I’ll take 60-0.
No Euro2016 for you
After last year’s 3-0-0 start to Euro 2016 qualifying, Israel was sitting in the catbird seat, alone in first place and seemingly on the path to qualification. In their next six games, they then managed one win, four losses, and one draw, but still had an excellent chance of finishing in third place and earning a home-and-away playoff match against a third-place team from another group to perhaps make it to the big dance. All that stood in their way was a home match at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem last weekend against
powerhouse easily-beatable Cyprus… which they then promptly lost 2-1 and crashed out of the competition. Yet again, in a critical moment, they came up short, and the collective hand-wringing began. Manager Eli Guttman resigned in disgrace, and the search is now on for his replacement. It was truly an epic collapse, but given Israel’s well-proven track record of never making big competitions, one that shouldn’t have surprised anyone. The only good news from the match was NIr Bitton's beautiful second-half strike that temporarily tied the game at 1.
Speaking of epic collapses in soccer, the time has come to name an inconvenient truth- the Jurgen Klinsmann experiment has failed. The US Men’s National team were dominated, boring, and passionless in their 3-2 CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico, and despite the game being decided in the 118th minute of extra time, and despite the beautiful equalizer by Bobby Wood, the outcome was the correct one and El Tri deserved the win. This week’s loss in a friendly to Costa Rica was not only appropriate, it was expected. I absolutely expected them to lose. And that is absolutely unacceptable.
I’m sorry, but breezing through the CONCACAF World Cup 2014 qualification hexagonal is now a distant memory, and beating Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Nigeria pre-World Cup last year was like winning a handful of Spring Training baseball games. Take off your Teutonic-rose-tinted glasses and realize that, excluding John Brooks’s miracle header against Ghana last summer, the USMNT has not had a victory in a truly challenging and meaningful game under Klinsmann since… well… I can’t even name it. Their wins against the German and Dutch B teams this summer mean nothing to me. Their 6-0 win over Cuba in the Gold Cup proves nothing. Win an important match. Try.
Consider the evidence.
- In their last six important matches, including the loss to Mexico on Saturday, they have drawn against Portugal, lost against Germany, lost to Belgium, and lost to Jamaica and Panama. There’s no hiding from the fact that against decent opponents they don’t win.
- They have lost 4 of their last 6 games on US soil.
- After his still inexplicable and unforgiveable treatment of Landon Donovan, Klinsmann continues to openly take shots at his players– his public belittling of Fabian Johnson and Alejandro Bedoya are stunning. Can you imagine Bill Belichick throwing his players under the bus like that? Shame on you.
- He is awful at player development. Where are the next stars? Clearly not on the U-23 team. They will probably miss out on Olympic qualification after losing to Hondouras last week. Is Bobby Wood a world-class striker? No. He plays for Union Berlin in the second division in Germany. Jordan Morris still plays for Stanford. DeAndre Yedlin got burned countless times against Mexico. It is a depressing picture.
- Their style of play is uninspired and listless. Where is the upbeat play we were promised? Where is the fluidity and creativity? Where is the flair and the emotion?
The signs are all there. He has to go. His massively inflated ego, his utter belief in himself, his unmet promise of player development and playing exciting soccer, and the beating he is deservedly taking all point in one direction. Out the door.
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