The 2010 World Cup So Far — Group Breakdown: A & B … and some commentary

•June 20, 2010 • 1 Comment

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa has been well under way for a while now. Just going to break it down a bit.

Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France

For my ESPN bracket I seeded Uruguay first and Mexico second. I reasoned that South Africa simply doesn’t have enough talent to continue the tradition of the host nation progressing out of the group stage. That has proven to be the case after 2 games. I also reasoned that France had waaaay too much turmoil ongoing to have a successful tournament. And, so, let’s see…hmmm…internal strife among players and media rumors leading up to the tournament, then an awful display and tie in the first group game, then going behind 1-0 at halftime during the second game, a player telling off the coach at halftime, the player being replaced for the second half, then the loss, then another tirade after the game, then being told to apologize, then a refusal to apologize, then a player dismissal by the French Football Federation, then a bust-up between the team captain and a team trainer, then the trainer’s resignation while storming off the field and literally THROWING his team credential card onto the field, then the players refusing to practice and getting back on the bus, then a players’ statement read to the media by the under-fire manager for the reason not to practice (in support of the dismissed player), and then the resignation of the team director. Read and hear it here and see it here.

OH…and add to it a reported sex scandal involving the team captain right before the start of the tournament and also criticism from the French Sports Minister about the French team’s luxurious accomodations and setup while in South Africa while Europe struggles with a credit and solvency crisis. HA! I mean, really, what else can you say? They’re French. They love drama. FROGS OUT!!! FROGS OUT!!! FROGS OUT!!! FROGS OUT!!!

So, with South Africa and France out of it, that leaves the teams I picked to advance as being the ones still in it. Uruguay and Mexico both are talented teams. Uruguay has not performed well historically at the WC, however, this team has talent. It had to shine. The thing that I believed would be crucial was Diego Forlan. He has been improving as a scorer for the past several years after his transfer from Manchester Utd to Atletico Madrid. He was clinical for Atletico during the UEFA Cup this past season, and he scored the goals in the final game to win the UEFA Cup. He’s been fantastic, and I believed he would carry that form into the WC. I thought that he would be one of those players on an underdog team that could inspire his teammates to achieve a higher level. With his play in the first game and his goals in the second, I think Uruguay are doing well. I actually picked Uruguay to top the group, and with a predictable draw in the last game between with Mexico — neither team should really go for broke as they look to avoid injuries knowing both teams are through with a draw — then Uruguay will top the group based on goal difference.

Mexico have one of the best teams in a long time of their history talent-wise on an individual basis. Two of their young strikers are members of two of the Big 4 of the English Premier League. Another player belongs to Barcelona FC. It’s a young-ish team, but there is enough old head to guide them along. Mexico has found stability in Javier Aguirre after their federation disposed of Sven Goran Ericsson. Maybe nerves and South Africa’s energy for hosting and opening the tournament’s games are what caused Mexico to fall behind in their first game, but they fought back to tie the game. They were BY FAR the better team in the second game against France and won 2-0. They really looked classy on the field. I believed that Mexico’s usually strong performance on the WC stage with their talent and their decent preparation would set them well to progress. I thought Mexico would beat South Africa, tie France and tie Uruguay when I looked at the game schedule. I figured that schedule and that it was simply a stage for Uruguay to shine were reasons for their second seed.

Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece

I picked Argentina #1 and South Korea #2. Argentina…there’s just waaay too much talent there not to top this relatively easy group. I mean, c’mon, this squad is stacked. As I should write about in a later post, I don’t know why I picked them to be upset by Mexico in the first elimination round other than the fact that there has to be upsets somewhere along the line and why not with Mexico? Could be a BIG BIG mistake in my bracketology. Anyhow, the Nigerian “Super Eagles” had an OK 2010 African Nations Cup with a 3rd place showing. Ghana and Ivory Coast have supplanted Nigeria as Africa’s soccer powerhouse. I picked them to be a flop as one the African continent’s teams. So far, yes.

Greece…the country is crumbling literally and figuratively. “King Otto” Rehagel would not reproduce the kind of 2004 European Cup magic for this WC. The Greeks don’t have enough to take them far. They’re old. I figured that South Korea were really the better team, and Greece wouldn’t be able to rise to the occasion in the first game. Defeat. I thought they would struggle against an African team, which they did, but they were fortunate to have Nigeria reduced to 10 men during the game. They won. However, I knew that they’d come up against it in their final game with Argentina. Argentina will go for the win. There’s a lot of pressure on that team’s players to perform, particularly Lionel Messi, who could go off for 2 goals and an assist in the last game. The Greeks had none and have no chance.

South Korea comes into this cup on the surge of their performance from hosting the last WC in 2006. It’s an Asian team. Certain things you can expect from that. Disciplined. Committed to a plan. Fairly speedy. Hard work making up for any lack of technical talent. They have some good players though. Park Ji-Sung is a figurehead in the Manchester Utd midfield. He’s scored some timely goals this year, and he’s a mature player. Plus South Korea had pretty good results in preparation and leading up to the WC. However, with Greece’s win over Nigeria, that leaves South Korea tied with Greece on 3 pts and the same goal difference. South Korea will play Nigeria going for the win. However, South Korea hold the tie breaker with Greece due to head-to-head result and assuming the goal difference doesn’t change.

So, for Groups A & B with the final group games to play, the outcomes are fairly predictable. This would give me two groups with the right picks in the correct positions. Can you say BONUS points? Yes, indeed. 🙂

Now, there’s been the topic of the vuvuzela noise at this World Cup. I really don’t know why people are complaining about it at home. “WHAT is that bee-buzzing sounds????” “It’s annoying.” “I can’t hear the crowd singing and cheering.” Blah blah blah. South African officials claim that the horn is a part of their culture.

Blow yer horn!

Now, I haven’t done much research to determine if the vuvuzela really is integral to South Africa’s culture and if it is routinely used at, say, a Kaiser Chiefs vs. Orlando Pirates, two professional soccer teams for South Africa’s top tier league. Is it blown at rugby matches? I don’t think I’ve heard it. I don’t really know. I searched once and read one article. It mentioned that the blowing of animal horns to call for something or maybe mark an occasion. So, really, I don’t know if it is a part of their sporting culture. However, if it truly is a part, then it should be respected. That can’t be denied. It would be a crime against humanity to impose a restriction on it. It would be hypocritical and elitist to do so. Those are not characteristics embodied in the spirit of FIFA, the cup or football itself.

You can’t hear the crowd singing? Really? Do you even know the songs that are being sung? If you’re English speaking, do you know any of England’s football chants? Do you know any of the chants for the USA? Yeah, maybe 15% of you, and I think that’s a REALLY generous estimate. So, you’re English speaking and from Brazil? You know the samba’s beat, and maybe you know some of Portugal’s songs too. Do you know any Danish sing-a-longs? How about a Slovakian chant? The answer is that if you’re North American viewer at home, where the media has latched onto complaints about the vuvuzela, then you probably don’t know shit about football songs and chants. You just know that’s what happens. You may notice the singing and part of the tune, but you have no fucking clue what’s being said. But, basically, you’d prefer to hear a bunch of inaudible verbal din instead of instrumental. Right. That makes a lot of sense. Fuck off. BESIDES, the supporters at the match more than likely don’t give a shit that they can’t be heard on the television. The supporters are definitely going to be heard when you’ve got a pub filled with Germans on one side and Dutch on the other. Between pints, they’ll take turns facing off at one another singing as loud and as emphatically as possible. That’s really where they want to be heard. It’s a spectacle. People watch. Vuvuzelas won’t upstage something like that.

It’s not really annoying. It’s really not. The level and sound changes. It’s not as if the frequency of the sound never changes. It’s just different. Get used to it. I like it, because it tells me as I watch at home that there’s a crowd there and they’re enjoying it and it’s a festive atmosphere. And, how is the noise that much different than general crowd noise you’d encounter at a game? When people cheer, is there a specific cheer or sound they should make? Should it be “YYYYYAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY”? Should it be “AAAAAARRRRRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!” Should it be “OOOOOHHHHHHHH!!!” There’s no answer to it, because there’s no inherent answer and can’t be. That’s one reason why the vuvuzela has to be permitted.

Why does God hate me?

•May 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I really don’t understand my life sometimes. Ever since my “you gotta know” post, there has been an uptick in interest. I have no idea why. Maybe we really should “wish they all could be Californian…” The timing has been the worst.

Why why why why why why?!?!?! Ugh. God must really hate me, or I am tremendously cursed with like 10 voodoo dolls.

In other news, I have extremely little motivation. Haven’t trained in about 3 weeks. Getting fat. Loading up on carbs, beer, ice cream and just about anything else I can stuff into my face. I’m pretty much ready to give up on everything.

fuck my life

•May 11, 2010 • 2 Comments

it was all over before it ever even began. 2010 was merely the start of a cruel joke. poof. gone in the blink of an eye.

laid off yesterday. i go from living and feeling like i exist again back to worthlessness and being the scrap along the bottom of a garbage pail.

i can’t believe this has happened. i’m pretty well screwed, and i have no idea whatsoever that i’m going to do.

i guess it is time to give up on what i want.

The new day

•April 21, 2010 • 1 Comment

Back into training regularly. Nothing scheduled as of yet, except for 2 mud runs, the first this weekend, but I do have a rough plan in mind. Unfortunately, not enough XTERRA. =-(

In any event, I’ve joined the Ventura County Masters swim group, the Rincon Tri Club and the Inside Track Running club, which is the least active and worthless of the bunch. I feel like I have almost completely restarted training from zero, but things are coming along.

The days are new…nothing at all like before. Rise and shine @5am. In the pool @5:30. Out @7. Quick shower, dress and drive to work. Arrive ~8-8:20am. Breakfast. Work. Run at lunch. Work. Drive straight to the gym. Lift for an hour. Home by 7:15pm. On the bike around 7:30-8pm. Ride for 2hrs. Move the trainer and bike back inside. Eggs and potatoes have been a very FREQUENT menu item. Hopefully in bed before 11:30. Rinse and repeat Mon-Fri.

Saturday is ~6:30am wake up. In the pool from 7-9. Breakfast. Nap. Long ride = 5hrs. Nap. Gym. Home. Relax. Run. Dinner.

Sunday is random wakeup. Gym in the morning. Run on the treadmill usually. Start another long ride in the early afternoon or late morning hopefully. Run in the evening or afternoon. Cook a proper meal.

Been doing relatively okay with that so far. Now, it’s time for bed.

you gotta know.

•March 17, 2010 • 1 Comment

You are devastatingly attractive. I hope to hell that you are doing something with it.
__________ DVM, MS (to gain credibility behind my words)

I received that message the other day, and it threw me for a loop. Honestly, it made me a bit dizzy when I read it, because of who the sender was. The problem with it is that it depresses the hell out of me.

I met this girl once. How doesn’t matter. We met up for a 10mi road race, and we agreed ahead of time that the loser had to buy the other a beer. It was right in the midst of my base training for IMWI in January, and I was not optimistic regarding my chances in finishing ahead of her. She was fit. A Boston qualifier. I got 4 hours of sleep the night before the race, because I didn’t get off the bike until 2am after a 4 hour session. Anyhow, she took first place for her age group and finished ~2 minutes ahead of me, if I recall correctly.

We talked for a bit at the bar afterwards, and we went our separate ways. I’ve never seen her since, but we semi-regularly keep in touch via comments or jokes on Facebook. We’ve gotten to know each other — more or less — that way, which, I think, counts to some degree as you see this person in pictures, you see their thoughts, you see their wit. It’s called social networking for a reason. Anyway, aside from winning the race, this girl is a winner in other ways. Fit as a gazelle. Beautiful. Friendly. Quick wit. Humorous. Adventurous. Intelligent and cultured. California chill with east coast no-nonsense approach. From what I saw, heard, read and see, this girl is what we’d call a keeper. She ticks off a lot of major boxes.

And, she referred to me as devastatingly attractive?! Uh, what? Here’s a girl, who is for all purposes, out of my league, and she came to me COMPLETELY out of the blue with her opinion/observation. Completely random. I saw the little red light on my BB flashing to alert me to a message. I opened it up just as the opening scene to Green Zone — good movie, see it — sprung on the screen. I saw it was from her and the subject title “you gotta know.” I thought, “Hmm, this oughta be interesting…I wonder what race she’s going to tell me about…” Then I read it, and the phone sorta wobbled in my hand.

She offered an honest opinion, and it wasn’t really a come-on. She had further comments in a follow-up message. “Nothing is sweeter than a gem of a nice guy who isn’t afraid to pull a girl around by her hair a little bit. If you are already dating a gal…then I’m embarrassed. But if you are single again, try it out. Lemme know how it goes.” Now, I recognize these are kind words, and I appreciate the candidness and her intent. The problem is that I can’t accept it.

I am NOT devastatingly attractive. I do NOT hold that opinion of myself. I am not attractive, and I’m OK with that. I accept that. Gnothi Seauton … know thyself. I know that I’m average looking, at best. It’s so easy for me to point out why I’m not good looking, and I don’t see any logical retort to the assertions. But, here is someone who floats at the top of the crucible having an opinion of relative regard about me. What does she see that I don’t? Why?

There can’t be an ulterior motive to it other than to be truthful and open. Thereby, I should be able to accept it. I don’t get it. It doesn’t compute for me. It’s at this point that it goes from being a positive to a negative. It’s not me. I’m not devastatingly attractive. I can’t accept it, and it may sound weird but I don’t want to.

While I will yammer on about never getting married and never having kids these days, I am lonely. I would like to stand next to someone and someone by me. The kids bit hasn’t changed though. I’ll rely on my sisters to allow me to play the uncle role. Yet, if I have such a conflict in perception of myself versus other people, then how could I expect to find future companionship? At this point in my life, I don’t see it happening. I don’t see it happening for a very long time, in fact, and at a time that I kind of want it.

I struggle with it in my head, and think about what’s wrong with me. There are, obviously, still things that I have yet to figure out about myself. The fact of the matter is that I don’t need someone. I can accept that I’ll more than likely be single my entire life. But, the past couple of weeks, it’s been more of a “wanting” feeling. Yet, despite wanting it, I don’t believe it will happen, and that kinda sucks. I think I’m going in circles now. Maybe it’s time for a revisit and consideration of all options again.


•November 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I am currently back in the dirty Jerz. Have been back since Weds. of last week. Rental truck is packed, my lower back is unexpectedly sore and I am facing some 2,900 of highway to get to Ventura, CA.

I finally got a job. Never in a million years did I think that I’d live in Southern California. Never. It’s not my style, but supposedly Ventura is a cool place. I’ve read that as well from several outdoor magazines. Patagonia headquarters there. Should be able to find some great burritos. Looking forward to the year round farmers market. Maybe take some sailing lessons at some point. Still, however, Socal has plenty to prove to prove me wrong — mostly the people there. It’s going to be an exhausting several days. Next report should be from California, unless something drastic occurs while I’m in Colorado or somewhere along the highway in middle America.

Have you ridden your bike to Singapore lately???

•November 20, 2009 • Leave a Comment