Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hope Solo, Greg Ryan, and losing to Brazil

"It was the wrong decision, and I think anybody that knows anything about the game knows that. There's no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves. And the fact of the matter is it's not 2004 anymore. It's not 2004. And it's 2007, and I think you have to live in the present. And you can't live by big names. You can't live in the past. It doesn't matter what somebody did in an Olympic gold medal game in the Olympics three years ago. Now is what matters, and that's what I think."

Hope Solo's post-match reaction to being benched in favor of Brianna Scurry

It's not too often that I get a chance to weigh in on an issue about which I actually know something (I coached women's soccer for a decade), so I have to say something about what just happened at the Women's World Cup. Here's what happened and my take on all of it:
  • US Coach Greg Ryan chooses to replace goalkeeper Hope Solo with Brianna Scurry for the semi-final match against Brazil. His rationale is that Scurry has a good record against Brazil- Solo had never faced Brazil.
    • Problem 1: You don't replace a "hot" goalkeeper. Solo hadn't lost match in the last fifty or so she played. It was unlikely she would suddenly not play well against Brazil were slim.
    • Problem 2: Brianna Scurry had not played a meaningful (World Cup, Olympic, etc.) match in three years, and is now 36 years old. To borrow a boxing term, "ring rust" was likely to be an issue for Scurry.
    • Problem 3: Greg Ryan's rationale makes no sense- every US keeper ever has a great record against every opponent- the team is 275-50-39 since it's founding and had not lost under Ryan until the loss to Brazil!
  • Hope Solo publicly states that Ryan made the wrong decision and that she would have stopped the shots that Scurry let pass.
    • Problem 1: Even if you're right, you don't say it in the press. No matter how moronic the decision was, the issue needs to stay within the team.
    • Problem 2: When criticized for the first mistake, trying to "recontextualize" your comments about your teammate and coach makes you look like an idiot.
  • The claiming she would be a distraction, the US team votes to have Solo leave the team for the rest of the World Cup.
    • Problem 1: The rationale here is ridiculous. Solo would be a distraction for the one remaining match?! The 3rd place/consolation match? Very, very weak.
    • Problem 2: As a coach, you cannot- as I read the situation- use your players to cover your mistake. Even if the players came to him to request a vote on the issue, he has to refuse it. He made the mistake, the blame is solely his- having her leave the team only exacerbates the problem by airing team business in public, again
  • Coach Ryan forgets how to coach, over an above his match day decision.
    • Problem 1: Hope Solo is a world class athlete, a necessarily competitive person, and beyond that, a soccer goalkeeper- she should be expected to have an ego! Without it, she probably wouldn't be as good as she is- Ryan should know this. While he probably couldn't have predicted her going public with her feelings, did he expect her not to have them? Would he have wanted her not to have them?!
    • Problem 2: He suggests that there is, and I'm paraphrasing, "Plenty of talent out there..." and that, and this is a direct quote, "what's got to occur is reconciliation and that is a very slow process." Coach, you can't try to turn Solo into the only person who made a mistake. And coach, FYI, she's got a brighter future with the team than you do.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Musical Ponderings

A former co-worker and I used to pass the time (and at the job in question we had a lot of free time!) by engaging in lengthy debates on the subject of popular music. Sometimes it was making "best" and "worst" lists, sometimes comparing concert-going stories from our past, etc.

So today, as I was listening to Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer singing a duet of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," I thought about some other artists I would love/would have loved to see work together, and in some cases, the song I would have loved to hear them sing. Some of these- I think- are musical "homeruns" and others, perhaps, just ideas...

  • Johnny Cash and Shane MacGowan singing "The Long Black Veil"
  • Sam Cooke and Sinead O'Connor singing "Frankie and Johnny"
    • Granted, this one would take some reworking, but I think the interplay would be great and I'd love to hear Sinead sing soul music.
  • Billy Bragg and Woody Guthrie singing "All You Fascists"
    • Yes, the Mermaid Avenue albums sort of addressed this pairing, but not quite the way I would have wanted to have it happen if I controlled time and space.
  • The Proclaimers and the Everyly Brothers singing "All I Have To Do Is Dream"
  • Joan Jett and the Donnas singing "Bad Reputation"
  • Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan singing "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)"
    • Although, I think my head might explode.
Any others I missed?

Monday, September 24, 2007

The War by Ken Burns

If you are not watching Ken Burns' new documentary, "The War", you should be.

Rather than writing a new post about it, I'm going to repost a prior post with some expanded parts. My apologies if any of the information is incorrect as a result of the passage of time since the average post.


Today is the 61st anniversary of D-Day. Soon, we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of V-E (Victory in Europe) Day and V-J (Victory in Japan) Day.

In a time when wars are characterized by ambiguity and misgivings, it's important to remember that this was not the case during the Second World War. Then there truly were "good guys" and "bad guys." It's also worth remembering that while we should mourn each and every life lost in service to our country, the scale of loss during WWII was unlike anything we encounter today. The combined loss of life in Iraq and Afghanistan has yet to top 4,000. During WWII more than 400,000 American lost their lives, an average of 6,639 a month.

Like todays servicemen and women, these men (and women) came from all walks of life, from all areas of our country- and even from other countries, and gave all that they had. They did so willingly, heroically, and humbly.

If you have a relative, a friend, or even just a neighbor who served, say "thank you." These veterans won't be around forever, in fact, WWII veterans are dying at a rate of 1,000 a day. It is likely that they will all be gone before you or I pass away.

One of these veterans was Senior Radioman John Mitchell of Kingsland, AR. He left home after high school to cut timber in Idaho and Utah as a member of the Civil Conservation Corps. Like many young men who came of age during the Great Depression, he chose this path to ease his family's financial burdens.

Later, when war came, this farm boy from southern Arkansas joined the United States Navy- having never seen the ocean before.

During the war he served on the U.S.S. Hambleton and the U.S.S. Newcomb. The Hambleton took part in the invasion of North Africa and hunted U-boats in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The Newcomb took part in every major Pacific operation from the Marshall Islands to the Battle of the Phillippine Sea.

Having seen so much action in their time on the Newcomb, Senior Radioman Mitchell and many of his shipmates were sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba just before their ship headed for Iwo Jima.

Senior Radioman Mitchell was on duty the day the Japanese surrendered and had the honor of announcing this news to the base.

Senior Radioman Mitchell came home in 1945 and lived for another 52 years, the last 28 of those as my grandfather.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

That's what I thought all along!!

If you know anything from reading my blog, you know I love sweet, sweet vindication. Today's comes courtesy of the BBC's website. The highlighting is mine...

"Many 'Imagine' Food Intolerance"

Millions of people in the UK have self-diagnosed a food intolerance and may be avoiding key foods as a result, a poll by a testing firm suggests.

Less than a quarter of the 12m people who claim to be food intolerant have had their condition formally diagnosed.

While many of the nine million who also claim to be intolerant may well be so, it is suggested they may just be fussy.

Nearly 40% of the 1,500 people polled by Yorktest thought it trendy to be intolerant and many blamed celebrities.

Actress Rachel Weisz for instance has a well-publicised wheat intolerance, TV presenter Carol Vorderman a gluten one, and Rod Stewart's former wife, Rachel Hunter, a lactose intolerance.

The range of foods people declared themselves intolerant of was diverse, but grapefruit and sushi were declared by those polled to be key culprits.

Food intolerances are not as severe as food allergies, which in severe cases can prevent people from breathing properly.

But symptoms can nonetheless be uncomfortable, ranging from a stuffy nose to aching joints and nausea.

However the wide variety of complaints which people pin on food intolerances could be related to a number of other conditions.

Nutritionist Tanya Haffner said it was important to seek the advice of a qualified medical practitioner.

"You may be cutting out something you don't need to which might be putting your nutritional health and your longer term health at risk," she says.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Colin McRae, MBE (1968-2007)

Colin McRae, his five year-old son Johnny, and two others died in a helicopter crash yesterday near his home in Lanark, Scotland.

Within the world of motorsports rally drivers are considered by their peers to be the best drivers, and for more than a decade, Colin McRae was one of the best rally drivers in the world.

If that means nothing to you, and it might not, think about it this way. Colin McRae was as good at what he did as anyone you can name at any given endeavor. If Colin had played guitar, he would have been Stevie Ray Vaughan, if he'd been an artist, he would have been Picasso.

If you want to have an idea of what rally drivers do, and specifically, what Colin McRae could do, go here: Pay particular attention at about the :53, watch the landing and recovery on after the second jump.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

This is meaningless, but...'s a little something I just stumbled upon:

During France's last 47 outings they have suffered only three defeats:-

Against Italy during the 2006 World Cup Final and against Scotland twice in the Group B matches for Euro 2008.

'mon the Scots!

And Now It Gets Interesting

In a match already being called Scotland's greatest in 40 years- if not ever- the boys in blue left Paris with a 1-0 victory over France in their latest EURO 2008 qualifying match, vaulting them into first place in Group B.

A 64th minute long distance strike from Jamie McFadden (pictured) gave the underdog Scots a stirring victory over the heavily favored French side.

Scotland now have three matches remaining- Ukraine, Georgia, Italy. Seven points from these matches will guarantee qualification regardless of what France and Italy do in their three remaining matches, but five points might be enough. Either way, Scotland must hope the Ukraine- with matches remaining against both sides- can do them some favors with a strategic win or draw.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Is there such a thing as "good-natured" complaining?

So, a friend convinced me to join his fantasy football league.

I spent yesterday chained to my laptop bending my brain around how I could root for Tom Brady to have a great game while at the same time, not costing me points- I have the Jets defense, or based on yesterday's game, "defense."

Anyway, now I find myself doing the same thing while also trying to follow the Red Sox game and watch something on PBS.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Just a thought...

...maybe I'm just betraying my northeastern liberal provincialism, but I pretty much stop listening to anyone talking about politics when they pronounce it, "EYE-wrack."

I want these people to hop back in their "VEE-hick-ulls" and drive away.

EURO 2008 Qualifying is Back!

Scotland has won again- 3-1 against Lithuania! Thanks to the Urkaine v. Georgia & the France v. Italy ending in draws, Scotland remain 2nd in Group B. Following the mid-week game against France, things can only get better. A win, and Scotland move into 1st place alone, a draw and Scotland remain in 2nd place on goal differential, and a loss keeps Scotland in second, but with only a precarious 1 point lead over Italy. The good news ahead of the Paris match* is that Bazza is back for Scotland and Henry is out for France via an accumulation of yellow cards.

*c'mon, that's a great joke!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

In better soccer news...

...early in the second half Scotland lead Lithuania 1-0. It's still going to be hard to qualify- too many good teams in the group, but all they can do is win their matches and see where it takes them.


At first I was just going to make some snarky comments about the Russian national team being by far the ugliest team in Euro 2008 qualifying...

...and then I found myself constantly switching back to the West Virginia v. Marshall football game.

Why? Because the Russia v. Macedonia match is all but unwatchable! As much as I would like to see Macedonia- excuse, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (I don't want the UN leaving a nasty comment on my blog)- stick it to the Russians, they're awful, and it's not going to happen.

My parting tip for the FYROM? If you keep giving up free kicks near your goal and then defending like blindfolded drunks, you're going to lose- by a lot.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Food (literally!) for thought

Twice in the last week or so I've come across something that, I don't know, restored my faith in our country just a little bit. One was in my hometown, the other in a town near where I live. What were they?

Self-service produce stands.

One of them- the one in my hometown had a multitude of produce and no list of prices. You just took what you wanted of each vegetable and left what you thought was appropriate.

I realize that the money coming in from these stands isn't going to be the difference between affluence or poverty in either case, but it's nice to know that there are a few people who still have faith in their neighbors.