Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hilarious video

Check this out. It's two and a half'll want to watch to the end.

My instinct is to call the Razorbacks' Brian Walker names. That instinct, however, is completely unneccessary to anyone who watches the video.

Instead, MAJOR props to home plate umpire Nelson Graham, who not only stayed cool and composed throughout, but resisted the urge to laugh. I may have been doubled over.

Monday, June 26, 2006

FIFA gives ref a "yellow card"

Story is here.

It's clear that Ivanov had some troubles. Still, I have some questions.

Given how intensely ugly the second half was, what could have been done to reduce the number of cards? If this game had been perfectly officiated, wouldn't it still have sucked?

You can't make chicken soup out of chicken manure.

Marcelo Balboa, yet again, is bitching about the number of cards in that game. But didn't the players act foolishly? Couldn't Ivanov have reasonably produced more cards rather than less?

Why aren't players responsible for their own behavior?

UPDATE 12:40 EDT: THANK YOU, John Harkes, for providing a voice of reason, one of the first of the World Cup. He just said this during the Ukraine/Switzerland match:

"Certainly a lot of the players have to take the blame as well...The players have to take responsibility for their behavior on the field as well. They didn't help the referee help themselves in that game."

Asheville manager a class-A (low-level) buffoon

What gets me isn't so much the story, or the attached video.

What gets me is that the toddler manager, Joe Mikulik, seems upset not just at the call, but that the umpires did not respond to his antics. According to the article, one of Mikulik's complaint was that the umpires had a bit of a flat affect. "I just wish the umpire's association would train their young men to have a personality," he said. "I could get two mannequins at Sears and umpire better than what I saw this whole series."

Um, Joe? Are you suggesting that they respond to your antics?

Anyone who has raised a toddler knows that, if he or she is having a meltdown in the grocery store, the most effective techique is to ignore the tantrum. Let 'em howl. It ends before long, and the parents can hold their ground.

When dealing with an emotional toddler like you, Joe, the same technique is called for.

The umpires responded to you immature, unreasonable behavior with maturity and reason. Meanwhile, you've made yourself into a national punchline.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I am tired of Marcelo Balboa.

After a Ghanaian tackle from behind produces a yellow card from Markus Merk (considered one of the best 3 or 4 refs in the world...coincidence he's been assigned this game?) Balboa repeated yet again how he feels the ref shouldn't card right away, but should give a stern talking-to.

My question: How is this different from saying "All players should get one ugly tackle without consequence"?

Just a few minutes later, after a hand-ball yellow that I disagreed with, Balboa said "A yellow card changes the way these guys play!"

Exactly. That's the point of a yellow card! What's wrong with that?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Holy crap, I'm watching hockey

I mean, it's game 7, so why not?

Anyhow, there was apparently a controversial play in the first period. NBC's analyst felt that there should have been a penalty shot...but look who he's interviewing! It's the NHL's VP of officiating, Stephen Whalcom! He explained the rule and why the officials were right (something about a delayed penalty and contact ending the play).

The commentator's response: "Good to know from the boss!"

Indeed it is.

So tell me again why the NFL, MLB, and NBA don't do the same for their biggest games?

A good World Cup Ref blog

is here.

It's like me, only with soccer knowledge, and with a lot more angry commentary.

Eric Wynalda calms down...

Just caught Wynalda on "Mike and Mike." He has eased up a bit...he is now saying that Mastroenni's foul was "silly." "I think the referee actually makes the right decision," he adds. Does this mean he's backed off? I can't fully tell.

He was upset, and it appears a night's sleep or two has been good for Wynalda. And even though he has repeated his silly "players win games, coaches lose games, and referees ruin them" statement, he actually seems like a good guy now, and not so much of a dick.

I'll give him a mulligan for Saturday's tirade. He was upset. We all have bad days.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

More on yucky World Cup commentary

Eric Wynalda: "There are two kinds of referees: bad ones and worse ones...Players win games, coaches lose them, and referees ruin them."

I thought of many, many Wynalda needs either a pacifier or a time-out, or how Wyanlda, at the very least, should put on the stripes and do a few weekend games before complaining in such an infantile manner.

But my wife had a better--and more instantaneous--response.

She said: "What a dick!"

I don't know soccer very well.

But I know that Marcelo Balboa, ABC's World Cup analyst, is good friends with many of the guys on the team. I understand that he's upset with official Jorge Larrionda for Pablo Mastroenni's sending off before half. The old "makeup call" saw came out (I've noticed that only those who have never officiated believe in this animal). Still, Mastroenni's foul wasn't as obviously a cheap shot as Italy's Daniele De Rossi's sending-off elbow earlier. I thought it was a yellow...but I don't know soccer at all.

So I thought I'd look for another unbiased see if Balboa's harsh and unrelenting criticism is in line.

From the BBC's story on the game:

"[Mastroenni's] two-footed, reckless lunge on Pirlo was deserving of a red card and left referee Jorge Larrionda with little option."

From the London Sunday Times (a story called "The Beautiful Game Turns Ugly"):

"There were 34 fouls, some of them disgraceful. There were three red cards, all of them justified, and three more yellow cards that might have turned the deeper colour. There were two goals, two memorable saves from either goalkeeper, and a match of shame petered out.

"This turned into the first brutal and calculatedly ugly affair of the tournament. The Americans allowed themselves to be sucked in and within the first 47 minutes the players gave the Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda no option but to send off three players...

"Pablo Mastroeni lunged into a two-footed tackle on the shin of Andrea Pirlo — so late and so vicious, it was a wonder there was no breaking of bone — and was dismissed."

Shall we leave England? OK. Staying in the English-speaking world, however, here's the description of the game from the Times of India:

"It wasn't warfare, but this gripping contest was far from friendly. Three-time world champions Italy had Daniele De Rossi sent off in the 28th minute for elbowing Brian McBride and the USA's Pablo Mastroeni shortly followed him down the tunnel for clattering into Andrea Pirlo."

A third continent, anyone? Let's go to the Sydney Morning Herald:

"IT WAS the United States' own fault that they found themselves with nine players - one fewer than the Italians - for nearly half of this extraordinary match...

"[The Italians'] suicidal tendency turned out to be shared by the US midfielder Pablo Mastroeni, who, with the interval looming, launched a dangerous challenge, late and high on Andrea Pirlo's ankle, to which the Uruguayan referee had no hesitation in responding with the second red of the first half. "

All right--I'm sold. The rest of the English-speaking world does not believe the US got jobbed. They think the calls were legitimate.

I'm glad I looked for a second opinion...and a third...and a fourth. In the end, I'll take the unbiased rest-of-the-world's view over our former players' view for sure.

Makeup call? Nope.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ref Apologizes at World Cup: Also, God Loves Refs

During the Japan/Australia first round World Cup match, Egyptian referee Essam Abd El Fatah apologized for allowing a goal by Japan to stand in the first half. Apparently he felt that Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer had been pushed, but he didn't make the call.

Five minutes later, according to this article from an Australian newspaper, Schwarzer approached the ref to say he felt he was fouled. Schwarzer says that Abd El Fatah responded by saying: "Yes. I made a mistake."

Holy crap! I've been taught not to admit mistakes on really really big calls. Last year, I anticipated contact on a three-point that, alas, didn't happen. As the player lined up to shoot three due to my mistake, when the coach asked, I said "You know what, coach? I'm not thrilled with that call." The coach, apparently shocked, demurred and said nothing. My partners told me I shouldn't have done that--they recommended that I "limit my admission of mistakes to out-of-bounds plays and not to shooting fouls."

Abd El Fatah took an opposite approach.

And we're not talking about a three-shot foul at a high-school game. He confessed to a mistake that resulted in a World Cup goal!

And guess what? It seemed to work out.

"He has got a lot of courage to come out and say that," Schwarzer said.

Courage or foolhardiness? I'm curious what y'all think.

Believe it or not, it gets stranger. When Australia came back and won, Abd El Fatah went further (again according to Schwarzer): "
He said God was on his side because the result went the way it did and it didn't affect his decision to give them a goal in the first half."

Wow! I tend to get annoyed at players who credit God for their victories. But this is the first time I've heard a ref invoke God's name in connection to a ballgame. Apparently God saw Abd El Fatah's error, pitied him, and allowed Australia to win so he wouldn't be shamed by his mistake being the difference-maker.

I know full well that this invocation of God is equally silly as an athlete's...but all the same, I must admit I like the image of God helping out a fellow Guy In Charge, another Maker Of Big Decisions. There's something totally appropriate about God wearing stripes. ..after all, God is supposed to be about justice.

I now must create an altar to a Ref God (one even bigger than Pierluigi Collina, than Ed Hochuli, than Darrel Garretson. Combined.) I just hope that, if I make the right sacrifices and praises, that the next time I kick one, He likes me as much as He seems to like Abd El Fatah.

I did not know

that FIFA president Seth Blatter declared the 2002 officiating "a disaster," and that it led to changes this year which include the officials wearing receptionists' headphones to communicate with each other.

I totally favor the receptionists headphones for officials, by the way. Good for communication, especially on a massive field like a soccer field, and on a loud field like a World Cup match. I bet it's not wrong before they're used in all sports.

I just hope we remember to turn off the microphones when we blow whistles.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A hilarious anti-umpire rant

How can I be righteously indignant about this when I'm laughing so hard?

Check it out.

P.S.: don't miss her P.S., which I'd love to hear shouted at me by an idiot fan. I'd laugh myself into an inadvertent whistle.

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