AnythingChicago

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  1. What an awful time to trade nearly half of your rotation away. I attended the Cubs' 7-2 win today at Nationals Park, and the Cubs are undoubtably one of the hottest teams in baseball at the moment. The starters have been great (especially Arrieta and Hammel), the bullpen has been stellar (three innings of shutout ball today), and of late the offense has absolutely exploded. The team is on a four game win streak, and is now only eight games below .500 and 7.5 games back of a wild card spot. Do I think the Cubs have a realistic shot at making the playoffs? Of course not. But right now the Cubs have a serious gust running through their sails, and they're brimming with confidence. You've gotta ride that gust as far as possible, and this trade has completely taken the wind out of the Cubs' sails. At least wait until the team isn't red hot to sell your two best starters...c'mon, front office.
  2. All I have to say is allez les bleus et vive la France.
  3. Of course, after the World Cup it'd be great to see a spark of interest from Americans in both domestic and international soccer leagues, and I think that an immediate, sizable uptick in interest in the sport is very possible. The MLS is growing rapidly, drawing larger crowds, building fan bases, creating expansion franchises and signing big name former European superstars, so the setting is ripe for a dramatic increase in interest in soccer that is played right here in the US. However, after thousands of Americans have been hooked to their TVs watching match after match of World Cup action and learning about all the big-name players and their respective European clubs, a true litmus test as to how well the sport is catching on in the states will be how much of an interest is gained in the major European leagues. We can measure this in jersey sales, TV ratings for leagues such as the English Premier League, but most intriguingly in the attendance numbers for the multitude of friendly matches that feature European sides being played in the United States this summer. The International Champions Cup will be played here later this month (as will around a dozen friendlies mainly between EPL and MLS sides) and will include many of the big name European teams and many of the big name foreign players who many oohed and ahed over at this year's World Cup. If these matches draw markedly large crowds, it'll be a sign that the sport is truly catching on beyond the one month "patriotic masturbation" that is the World Cup.
  4. For me, there really is no one time of year during which there aren't enough sports to keep me entertained. European Association Football (August-May) Arguably my favorite leagues to watch are the European football leagues, in particular the Premier League because of its extensive coverage on NBCSN, but also Serie A, the Bundesliga, and a little bit of La Liga and French Ligue 1 sprinkled in. Although I do root for Liverpool rather profoundly, I regularly pull for the players who are on one of my three European fantasy soccer teams to score, and I'm constantly checking the scores if I'm not able to watch the matches. The best part about watching European football, IMO, is the fact that every match is essentially a playoff game because there is no postseason. I also enjoy the watching the Champions League when I get a chance midweek. Collegiate NCAA Sports (September-April) During college football and basketball season, I attentively follow the Cincinnati Bearcats. Aside from watching the Bearcats, I tend to only watch really intriguing games on both the football and basketball fronts. When "bowl season" comes around in December, I watch college football with more frequency, even attending the Military Bowl now that it's only one third of a mile from my home in Annapolis. And of course college basketball captures my attention when March Madness rolls around; I spend a good amount of time researching and (over)analyzing match-ups for my bracket, and then I watch every game that I can. Like most sane people, I don't follow college baseball or hockey (although I did find the championship game of this year's "Frozen Four" thoroughly entertaining). NFL American Football (September-February) Of course, like any good American male, my autumn and winter Sunday afternoons are almost always devoted to watching football, and I watch the Bears any time they're on (which isn't often considering I live in a part of Maryland where it is impossible for the either Ravens or Redskins to not be on CBS/FOX on a given Sunday, unless either is playing on Thursday, Sunday, or Monday Night Football). Unlike the NHL and NBA, I tend to care about the games themselves more than the fantasy aspect. I find the NFL Playoffs to be exciting at times, but depending there tends to be a good amount of mismatches. NHL Hockey (October-June) I had never been much of a hockey fan, only following the sport casually and from afar, but my first season as a GHA fantasy hockey owner really peaked my interest in the sport. During the regular season, I am admittedly more worried about individual performances than team success, but once fantasy hockey has ended and the playoffs get underway in April, my attention takes a drastic shift from only tracking individual player statistics to watching every game I can and taking rooting interests in the games. In my opinion, the NHL Playoffs are arguably the best in professional sports, and I really enjoy watching all the games, especially the Blackhawks, whose playoff games I become emotionally invested in. NBA Basketball (October-June) I follow the NBA in the regular season the same way I follow the NHL in the regular season, only paying close attention to player statistics and watching hardly any games on TV. However, once the fantasy basketball season ends and the playoffs start in April, I become completely detached from the sport because the NBA Playoffs are by far the worst in professional sports in my opinion. I'll watch the Bulls in the playoffs occasionally, but even with my favorite team playing it's still hard to watch (save the very end of the game if it's close) because even in the playoffs, there is hardly any defense to be found, which renders the sport virtually unwatchable in my opinion. Major League Baseball (April-October) From the beginning to the end of the MLB season, I follow baseball, keeping up with the action around the league, but not watching full games often except for the Cubs, who I watch whenever my schedule allows for it. As a Cubs fan, baseball season isn't as exciting for me as it can be for fans of other teams, but I still enjoy watching and I try to attend as many games (at Nationals Park or in whichever city I happen to be traveling) as I can. Domestic MLS Soccer (March-November) I've just begun to follow the MLS this season due to my acquisition of a PLA franchise, and I check the scores frequently and watch matches occasionally on weekends. I was able to attend an MLS match this season, DC United vs. Columbus at FedEx Field as the follow-up act to the Spain-El Salvador friendly, and although it wasn't the same quality of football as the Europeans play, I'd go again. Summer National Team Tournaments (June-July) On even-numbered years, I follow either the World Cup or Euro religiously, watching nearly ever match. On odd-numbered years, I'll watch some of the CONCACAF Gold Cup or CONMEBOL Copa America, or if it's the year before a World Cup, the Confederations Cup. Olympics (February or July-August) Like most, I watch select events that interest me during the Olympics. I don't invest as much time in the Olympics as I do in most other sporting events, although many of the events can be very entertaining.
  5. Uruguay over Nigeria It's probably too late now, but if we were going to stick to the true World Cup format, we'd have a third place match between South Korea and the Netherlands.
  6. Cool it, Jahgee. We're all watching; no need to state the obvious.
  7. Uruguay over South Korea The Netherlands over Nigeria
  8. Jon Champion's alliteration and wordplay can be amusing and clever at times, but it becomes more excessive and cloying with each match he commentates. On a purely football note, let's hope that the Desert Foxes are especially sly this evening in Porto Alegre.
  9. That would mean that both NL wild cards would have to come out of the West, which is highly unlikely even if the Padres were good this season. If the season ended today, the Angels and Mariners would play for the AL Wild Card out of the West. It's possible. In this year's American League, it's very possible considering how surprisingly mediocre the AL East teams' records have been and how weak the AL Central has been (as usual). However, a strong NL Central accompanied with the Braves, Nationals and Marlins all contending in the National League makes two wild card berths in the NL West much more unlikely than it is in the AL West (like I said, even if the Padres were contenders, which they're not, so there's really only two teams contending in that division and they're both likely to earn playoff berths. It's almost guaranteed that one WC will go to an NL West team and the other to either an NL East or NL Central club.)
  10. That would mean that both NL wild cards would have to come out of the West, which is highly unlikely even if the Padres were good this season.
  11. Uruguay over Mexico Bosnia and Herzegovina over South Korea The Netherlands over England Russia over Nigeria
  12. To be fair, there was a clear penalty (actually, two consecutive clear penalties) on Robben in stoppage time in the first half. So the Dutch deserved a penalty kick opportunity at one point or another. EDIT: Dammit, Needschat beat me to it.
  13. Chile over Mexico Uruguay over Japan Honduras over Bosnia (really tough call, IMO) United States over South Korea (that USA crest is one of the best in the tournament) The Netherlands over Brazil Greece over England Nigeria over Ecuador Russia over Portugal (Russia is easily one of my favorites to win it all. CAB, you should send this identity over to the Russian Football Federation; this would be a great look for the hosts in 2018. )
  14. Group C Japan Greece Colombia Côte d'Ivoire Group F Bosnia and Herzegovina Argentina Nigeria Iran Group G United States Ghana Portugal Germany Group H Russia Belgium South Korea Algeria
  15. That bite was shark-like in nature. There's must be some strange reaction in Suárez's brain that causes him to have a strong impulse to lay his teeth into someone every time he becomes angry. You could tell that immediately after (and when they showed him with his shirt over his mouth several seconds later) he did it he regretted it and couldn't believe what he had done. Not to defend the guy for biting people, but it's almost as if he has no conscious control over his bites.
  16. Group A Brazil Cameroon Croatia Mexico Group B The Netherlands Chile Australia Spain Group D Uruguay Italy Costa Rica England Group E Honduras France Switzerland Ecuador
  17. C'mon, guys, just 45 minutes until the United States-Portugal match starts and the only conversation going on is a pointless political debate over a technicality? Let's have some soccer related discussion, shall we?
  18. Dempsey will serve as the United States' only forward in tonight's match. Consequently, Graham Zusi will earn a start in the midfield. I think this is a good move. The US will benefit from Zusi's effectiveness from set pieces for a full 90+ minutes, and the Americans won't have to rely on either Johannsson or Wondolowski, who have zero World Cup experience, save Johannsson's replacement of Altidore in the first half of the Ghana match.
  19. Awful decision by the line judge to disallow that Džeko goal for offsides. He was a full step onside.
  20. Correction: a weird day to be an English Liverpool fan. For an American Liverpool fan like myself, that match was nothing but enthralling and I couldn't be happier for Suárez. Nothing beats taking it to a team stacked with five of your club teammates and some of your most talented rivals by scoring a brace to win a crucial match in the World Cup.
  21. One thing this World Cup isn't devoid of is comebacks from 0-1 deficits. I predict this match'll end 2-2.
  22. Technically speaking, Cameroon still play a role in Group A; with a win over Brazil and a CRO-MEX draw, Mexico would win the group with Croatia coming in second over Brazil on goal differential (+2 for Croatia vs. +1 or worse for Brazil). Not like that'll happen, but, hey, it's still a possibility, I suppose.
  23. Spain needs to bring on some players who haven't participated in these awful three halves of Spanish football. I say Fàbregas for Alonso and Villa for Costa, and if I were Del Bosque, I wouldn't waste any time and bring them on at the half. Honestly though, I don't see any way that Spain wins this match the way they've played this month. Best case scenario for Spain, they pull rabbits out of their rear ends and the match ends in a 2-2 draw.
  24. The 1-7 seeds were randomized and distributed between Groups B-H (the hosts Russia get Group A) so England would be one of the top seven seeds in 2018 in this scenario. They've got quite the youth movement to pull it off, in my opinion. If Switzerland can pull off a top seven seed in 2014, then why can't England in 2018?
  25. I took advantage of World Cup fever and put together a predicted field for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, including possible groups that I generated using Random.org. New to the field of 32: Denmark, Egypt, Jamaica, Serbia, Morocco 2014 finalists that missed the cut: Cameroon, Greece, Ecuador, Honduras, Algeria Non-2014 finalists that barely missed the cut: Iceland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Burkina Faso, Tunisia, Paraguay Group template: Group X Hosts/Seeds UEFA CONMEBOL/CAF CONCACAF/AFC --------- Group A Russia Croatia Chile Iran Group B (this isn't even funny, Random.org ) Netherlands Denmark Ghana United States Group C Italy Portugal Egypt Costa Rica Group D Argentina Spain Colombia Australia Group E Germany France Uruguay Mexico Group F Brazil Switzerland Nigeria Japan Group G Belgium Bosnia and Herzegovina Côte d'Ivoire Jamaica Group H England Serbia Morocco South Korea