Archive | July 2014

Best Tweets from LeBron’s Return to Cleveland

Here we go! LeBron “The King” James announced, through a very mature and insightful letter via Sports Illustrated, that he will return to his adopted hometown of Cleveland, a stone’s throw away from his actual hometown of Akron.

Twitter and the Internet in general went bonkers. Here are some of the funnier tweets surrounding LeBron’s Decision 2.0:

1. Cavs fan be like…

lebron cleveland stephenson

1A. Drake be like…

lebron cleveland drake

1B. Captain Touchback, a parody account for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and vintage LeBron Cavs jersey

lebron cleveland capt touchback vintage

2. Heat “fan” be like…

lebron cleveland heat fan

3. D-Wade, waking up from his mid-day nap

lebron cleveland wade

4. Katie Nolan, of Fox Sports One, mocking Dan Gilbert’s Comic Sans letter from four years ago. Nice one!

lebron cleveland katie nolan

5. I love it when Sports Illustrated’s Richard Dietsch takes a shot at ESPN’s insane 24/7 coverage of LeBron’s Decision 2.0. Just lovely.

lebron cleveland deitsch

6. Peyton’s Head: A parody account about Peyton Manning’s big head, poking fun at D-Wade

lebron to cleveland peytons head

7. Captain Touchback on Charles Barkley’s reaction about going to meet Cleveland-area women

lebron cleveland capt touchback

8. Kevin Durant to the DMV alert!

lebron cleveland KD to DC

9. Now, I follow this guy on Twitter; he’s a cool dude and an actual, legitimate Heat fan, but we ALL knew this was a short-term, “let me win some rings with D-Wade and Chris Bosh”, win-now approach. The response is perfect, “really dude?”

lebron cleveland miami fan

10. HAHAHA Gabrielle Union is gonna save the Heat and her boy D-Wade

lebron cleveland gabrielle union

10A: Yes, good-bye bandwagon–WOAH THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY

lebron cleveland bandwagon

10B: Whenever you use Leonardo DiCaprio in your meme, I approve. And so true.

lebron cleveland dicaprio

 

Welcome home, LeBron.

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#WorldCup2014: How Germany Destroyed Brazil 7-1: San Antonio Spurs-type Offense

FBL-WC-2014-FRIENDLY-GER-ARM-PHOTO

Now that the dust has settled from the 7-1 blitzkrieg of Brazil’s famed Selecao (with 5 goals in 30 minutes of the first half), Germany has no one to thank but themselves. Each goal was due to selfless team offense of passing the ball, being aggressive up the pitch and creating turnovers, in addition to crashing the penalty box to score goals. It reminds me of the San Antonio Spurs’ clinical demolition of the superstar-laden Miami Heat in this year’s NBA Finals, with passing and unselfish team offense leading the way.

Goal 1: Thomas Muller

Where do I start? A perfectly-executed corner kick by Kroos to get Muller an easy shot in the penalty box. Muller starts in the middle of a mass of players (circle and arrow points to him), and immediately rushes to the penalty box with his defender trailing him the entire time.

muller goal corner kick approach

Kroos lines it up and sends it deep enough for Muller to have a chance to kick it. Muller moves up, then cuts to the area (red circle) where Kroos’ ball will probably land and loses his defender in the mass of players.

muller goal corner kick

Next, Muller lost his defender in traffic (first arrow from the right) and forced David Luis (second arrow from the right) to leave his assignment to try to block Muller, but it was too late. Muller gets to his spot (red circle area) and shoots a relatively open shot on goal.

muller shot on goal

Goal 2: Miroslav Klose

Jokes about him being “the Kloser” abounds, but he finishes the best within 8 yards of the goal. Now, he has 16 goals to lead all World Cup scorers and passed Brazil’s Ronaldo. His goal came off of a turnover in Brazil’s defensive half, where Kroos salvaged a poor pass and saw Muller racing across the front of the goal.

klose goal turnover

One pinpoint pass later, the defenders and goalkeeper Julio Cesar crash on Muller, but Muller drops the pass to the feet of Klose.

klose goal shot on goal

Klose shoots, Cesar makes the first save but leaves a juicy rebound for Klose to finish. 2-0 Germany. Congrats on your 16th goal, Klose!

klose goal celebration

Goal 3: Toni Kroos

It all started with passing and precision. Mesut Ozil, without any pressure on the ball from Brazil’s midfield defense, saw Philip Lahm on the right flank with some room to run, and sent him a ball that would allow him to run up to it and send it in. There was no communication on the Brazilian backline to give Lahm, who has a propensity for crosses into the box, some trouble.

kroos goal ozil pass

With Brazil’s defenders on their heels, Lahm saw a lot of space with Muller running to the top of the box, Kroos on the left flank and Klose in the penalty box area. So he sent a cross to Muller.

kroos goal ozil to lahm

Muller missed the cross, either on purpose or not no one knows or cares, and with no Brazilian defenders able to deflect the ball or get possession, it fell to Kroos’ feet.

kroos goal lahm cross to muller

With a David Luis in the penalty area, and no defender within a couple feet of him, Kroos had the green light to shoot and he sent it into the back of the net with a slight deflection from goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

kroos goal shot on goal

Goals 4-7: Quick passes and open players for goals

Kroos scored two minutes later for his second goal of the day, Sami Khedira scored three minutes after that, then Chelsea regular and striker Andres Schurrle scored twice in the 69th and 79th minutes (and the latter against his fellow Chelsea teammate David Luis). What did they have in common? Crisp, precise passes to get the better shot.

Kroos: He steals a pass in the Brazilian half from Fernandinho and immediately runs for the goal.

kroos second goal steal

Kroos passes it to Khedira, who gives it back to him when the defender and Julio Cesar commit to him, leaving Kroos with an open goal.

kroos second goal khedira pass

Look at Khedira’s goal: Three German players in the 20 yard box, which was made possible by a pass from the German back line to Khedira, who then passed it to Ozil. Ozil, on the left side, saw Julio Cesar commit to him, so he stopped and gave it back to Khedira, who had more space and room with defenders collapsing on Ozil. Just look at that space, with no defender within six feet of him. Goal, Germany.

khedira goal shot on goal

Schurrle’s first one was a defensive breakdown (again), where Lahm (again) received a pass from the right wing into the 20 yard box on the right side. Cesar commits to him (red circle), but Lahm picks out Schurrle (red arrow going toward the goalie) in the box and sends a pass to Schurrle who just had to put a foot on it. Schurrle was unmarked, with even another German player right behind Schurrle without a defender on either of them.

schurrle goal 1 lahm to schurrle

Schurrle’s second was a nifty pass in the air, from the left wing, where he raced across the left side of the goal, tipped it to himself and the unleashed a scorcher into the back of the Brazilian net. Schurrle was unmarked (in the red circle), with club teammate David Luis of Brazil trailing him and no one stepping up to defend except for Cesar.

shurrle goal 2 pass

In the end, unremarkable and lax defending by Brazil, who was missing their captain Tiago Silva due to two yellow cards and having to sit out this match. And, they were on the unceremonious end of a 7-1 drubbing at home.

Next up: Germany versus the winner of Argentina-the Netherlands.

Best Headlines from Germany-Brazil World Cup Blowout

FBL-WC-2014-FRIENDLY-GER-ARM-PHOTO

Cue all the jokes, that Germany blitzed Brazil 7-1 today and blasted their famous Selecao away, but it was a throttling victory for the Germans. Some of my favorite headlines are “BAVARIAN CREAM” and “HOLY SCHNITZEL”, but here are some of the funniest ones via Darren Rovell of ESPN:

rovell world cup headline 1

rovell world cup headlines 2

 

What were some of your favorite headlines? Let me know in the comments section! Do you have any funny or good ones to add?

How the Dodgers Defied Logic (and ESPN) to Come Back in the NL West

Cincinnati Reds v Los Angeles Dodgers

The San Francisco Giants had one of the hotter starts in recent memory to this season, going 41-21 and outright dominating their National League West division. At that point, several ESPN writers (including one on ESPN Insider entitled “Calling NL West for S.F.) wrote off the Dodgers, who were in a distant 2nd place and were 9.5 games behind the Giants on June 7, 2014:

NL West June 7 2014

The network’s LA Dodgers writer, Mark Saxon, wrote an article with the title, “Dodgers missing too many pieces to roll” on June 12. One of the most interesting quotes was from starting pitcher Zach Greinke, who said:

“We’ll go on a streak, but we’ll probably go on another bad streak, too, before the season’s over.”

Did Greinke envision this run? Probably not.

Another piece on ESPN.com, a special by Anthony Witrado, said consistency is lacking for a Dodgers team that was gearing up to make a run at the Giants and first place in the division.

Now? The Giants have “stumbled” to a 47-38 record with a 2-8 record the last ten games, while the Dodgers are in 1st place by only a half game with a 49-39 record and have gone 7-3 in the past ten games. Here are the standings as of July 4, 2014:

NL West July 4 2014

What happened?

The LA Dodgers have caught fire and got healthy as of late, while the Giants have seen players go to the disabled list (DL). Pitchers Ryu and Kershaw have come off the DL for the Dodgers, which was a big boost for the team in their comeback bid to try to win the NL West pennant.

And, the Dodgers pitching staff is lights-out. Their starting pitchers are Zach Greinke (11-4, 2.66 ERA), Clayton Kershaw (9-2, 2.04 ERA), Korean phenom Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-4, 3.08 ERA), Josh Beckett (5-5, 2.37 ERA) and the serviceable Dan Haren (8-4, 3.57 ERA). That is a really good line-up, even with Beckett and Haren anchoring the back end of the rotation.

The Dodgers have the 7th-best on-base percentage in the NL, 10th-best team batting average at 0.257 and have 81 stolen bases as a team (with Dee Gordon stealing 40 of those).  It also helps to have explosive players like Yasiel Puig, who can throw out anyone from anywhere on the field, like this one from last season:

The Giants have only 33 stolen bases to go, where Angel Pagan has the most with 11, along with their 24th-place on-base percentage and 19th-place batting average at 0.246. The Dodgers have hit less home runs with 72 while the Giants have hit 78. The Giants have struck out 678 times and the Dodgers only 663, and the Giants have driven in 331 runs and the Dodgers 350 runs. An astounding difference is how the Dodgers have drawn 298 walks while the Giants have 235.

And the Giants pitching staff is good, but not like the Dodgers. The oldest pitcher on the Giants, Tim Hudson, is the only pitcher with a sub-3.00 ERA at 2.59, while Tim Lincecum sports the largest ERA on the starting staff with a 4.06 ERA.

But, in the end, the Giants have blown one of the larger pennant leads in recent memory.

As a USA Today article noted, “Once the majors’ leading team at 42-21, the Giants (46-35) have lost 15 of their last 19 to fall into a virtual tie for first place with the Dodgers (47-37).” The Giants have lost too many games and their bullpen has been atrocious, primarily recently-benched closer Sergio Romo. As the same USA Today article said:

Bochy deposed Sergio Romo as closer after blowing his fifth save – and third in his last five chances – Saturday night. With Romo’s once-trusted slider faltering, opposing teams have been battering him and his ERA has shot up to 5.17. It was 2.54 and 1.79, respectively, in the last two seasons, when Romo collected a combined 52 saves.

It’s not just Romo, though. In three of the four games against Cincinnati, a bullpen that had been sturdy all season failed to keep tied or one-run games within reach. And with the offense missing sparkplug Angel Pagan (back) and power-hitting first baseman Brandon Belt (thumb), San Francisco has been unable to play catch up.

It is inexcusable when your closer sees his ERA balloon from 1.79 last season to an astronomical 5.17. It reminds me of the retired closer Brad Lidge, who just started to blow saves left and right after having a couple great seasons as a member of the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies. Lidge was lights-out during those teams’ World Series runs, with seasons of 29 and 42 saves and 1.90 and 2.29 ERA with the Astros in 2004-2005 and 1.95 ERA and 41 saves with the Phillies in 2008. He had a couple good seasons after that, but in his last few years, Lidge only had 3 saves in 26 games with the Phillies and Nationals. Will Romo follow the same path?

But, their hitting has always been subpar or average, even when they won their recent World Series titles.

2010 World Series team: Hit 0.265, 55 stolen bases

2012 World Series team: Hit 0.278, 118 stolen bases

This year, the Giants can hit here and there, but are lacking in drawing walks and getting on base. In the end, it killed their chances to run away with the pennant. But the season is close to its halfway mark, so there’s a lot of baseball to go.