July 08, 2006

Germany 3, Portugal 1: The Wrath of Kahn. A surprisingly well-played consolation game, with the host country getting two goals from the Pig Climber in the second half. Portugal had the run of play most of the match, but had no one who could stick it past Oliver Kahn, starting his first game of the tournament, until the final five minutes, when Luis Figo, possibly playing his last international game, set up a goal with a nifty pass. From hell's heart, I stab at thee....

July 07, 2006

Slate effectively puts the tiresome complaints about ESPN's soccer coverage, and particularly of Dave O'Brien, to bed, here. Money quote:
O'Brien didn't help his cause among the soccer cognoscenti by referring to them as a "petulant little clique." This country's soccer snobs—and I count myself among them—are a persnickety lot. They lament that most of the USA doesn't give a whit about the beautiful game but bridle at attempts to invite in nonloyalists by, say, explaining the meaning of a yellow card. Our little tribe is like the fans of an up-and-coming rock band. We want them to be successful, but when they break big, we resent the hordes of newbies who weren't cool enough to be there at the beginning. ESPN's biggest mistake here was underestimating the wrath of the soccer purist by choosing a baseball guy. O'Brien never got a fair hearing. Hell hath no fury like a footy supporter taken for granted.

the numbers say plenty of people have tuned in. This ratifies rule No. 1 of television: No one watches (or doesn't watch) for the commentary. Here's rule No. 2: The quality of the game affects the quality of the commentary. O'Brien was excellent during the pulsating Germany-Italy match, which was decided in the dying seconds of overtime with a pair of dramatic goals. As the game got tense, he augmented the scene with context about the Italian match-fixing scandal. Otherwise, he let the match play out. On the other hand, O'Brien made a lot of enemies trying to flesh out the drab England-Paraguay match during the tournament's opening weekend. That's what you get for trying to keep people entertained.
Perhaps more telling is the fact that the guy doing the games for the Beeb is receiving attacks even nastier than the ones dished out by the elitist pricks in this country.
Best take on Lieberman v. Lamont:
Gee, kids, let's not play in front of old Joe Lieberman's house any more. Gosh, what an old grouch.

The Connecticut senatorial debate featured one guy who seemed to still be wearing the shrink-wrap and an 18-year incumbent doing a one-man impersonation of The Old Radley Place. Was politics ever fun for Joe Lieberman? If he's winning, he's burdened ever so by High Moral Purpose. If he's in trouble, which he is right now, he's beset on all sides by ingrates and mountebanks. It must be difficult to remain biblical if you cast yourself as Job AND Jehovah. And while Ned Lamont's most fervent acolytes occasionally seem to be writing for Tiger Beat, last night he was cool and precise and extremely disciplined. I don't know what kind of senator he'd make, but I wouldn't go into a business deal against him without body armor.
--Charles Pierce, in Tapped.
It seems Jerome Armstrong has a new client....
Little Green Firedog: I don't know Ann Althouse from Adam's off ox, but I'm not sure you're going to win many fans on the left by portraying Barbara Boxer as a baboon.

July 06, 2006

Why people should not drink, blog, and comment on the World Cup at the same time, from the Corner:

Makes You Wonder [Michael Ledeen]:

In today's "reportage" of the World Cup semifinal between Italy and Germany, the (lefty) Washington Post reported that the game-winning goal was scored on a left-footed kick, while the (righty) Washington Times reported it was scored on a right-footed kick. The Post account was correct, but don't you find it mysteriously symbolic of something or other?

Emphasis mine. Remember, he's not retarded, he's differently abled.
Since even Thomas Lipscomb has backed away from his assertion that he was "nominated" for a Pulitzer Prize, you would think that the wingers who backed him originally would feel chastened, or at least somewhat reticent about returning to the issue. But, lo and behold, there are some who continue to justify the original mendacity, by arguing that, well, everyone lies about being nominated for the Pulitzer. Tom Maguire brings up a USA Today journalist who claims three prior nominations, while Mark Hyman of Sinclair Broadcasting fame opines
Pulitzer receives 1400-1500 nominations in fourteen journalism categories each year. The organization lists on its website 2-3 names for each category of which one is designated the "winner" and the others are called "nominated finalists." Tom Lipscomb was nominated in the 2005 "Investigative Reporting" category by the New York Sun for his work exposing fabrications by John Kerry during the 2004 campaign. Lipscomb didn't finish among the top three. The Pulitzer staff told The Point they prefer the term "entrant" rather than "nominee" for anyone not selected among the top three. But they acknowledge it is common practice for newspapers to refer to everyone entered as having been nominated.
The last sentence is particularly disingenous, since what is "common practice" is for journalists who worked on articles for which the newspaper received a nomination (such as the USA Today reporter referenced by Maguire) to claim that they were "nominated". Technically, that isn't a true nomination either, but it's a far sight more factual than claiming that the thousands who send in entry forms are "Pulitzer nominees". As Ted Remington notes, by that standard Lipscomb could claim with equal validity to have been nominated to be Miss Universe.

July 05, 2006

France 1, Portugal 0: Taking advantage of a very generous call on a trip inside the penalty area (from the same ref who called the U.S.-Italy game, btw), Zinedine Zidane once again put off his retirement party for another day, converting in the 33rd minute to lift Les Bleus to the Final. Portugal appeared to be the better team, controlling the ball for long periods in the second half, but had no one who could put the ball in the back of the net; the low point came when Figo missed a point-blank header less than ten feet from the goal in the final twelve minutes, after Fabien Barthez made one of his patented bobbles off a Christiano Ronaldo free kick.

Ronaldo was jeered at the entire game, no doubt due to the combination of the events Saturday, when he was front-and-center in the maneuvering that got Wayne Rooney sent off, but mostly because he wears that handsome, smug, shit-eating Tom Cruise grin. Nevertheless, he played exceptionally, giving his side numerous opportunities to score, but it appears that Man U may be about to perform a Perugia, and tell him to hit the road. A defense of Ronaldo is made here, in the middle of a column that is a hardy perennial in English sportswriting, the blanket attack on anything and everything that has to do with the Three Lions. It has all the classic essentials of such a piece: the personal attack on the coach, his assistants, and his team selection; the character blasts on the star players (Beckham, Rooney and Lampard); the indefensible notion that reaching the quarterfinals is tantamount to a national disaster; and, my favorite, the extolling of the Magical 1966 champions. Brian Glanville has written the same banal piece after every international tournament since 1970.

There's a kernel of truth to these attacks. England may have made the quarterfinals this time, but they never looked very impressive, and for the coach to select a teenage player who had never started in the bigs, at a position for which his squad was thin, in favor of other, more experienced players, then never seeing fit to use him during the tournament, deserves all the ridicule one can muster. But the notion that all England needs is a good coach to start dominating the World Cup is, frankly, nuts. Of the other major soccer powers, it draws from the smallest population base, thanks to the archaic division that allows Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to field different teams. England did win one World Cup, in 1966, because a) it hosted the tournament; b) Pele was injured; and c) the English got a terrible call in the Final that gave them an undeserved goal. The U.S. will win a World Cup before England wins its second.

And, of course, culturally, the present age is not a particularly rich time in English history. Its film industry is decrepit, churning out costume dramas and little else. Kylie Minogue is considered a major pop star. A culture that continuously spits out and relentlessly hypes the Spice Girls, Oasis, Guy Ritchie, Kate Moss, Coldplay, Robbie Williams and Kate Beckinsale, that elects and reelects the likes of Tony Blair, and that considers Christopher Hitchens, Julie Burchill, Tina Brown and Mark Steyn to be "public intellectuals", can't help but ensure that its athletic heroes are going to be drawn from the same low hanging fruit.

July 04, 2006

Italy 2, Germany 0 [O.T.]: A great finish. The Azzurri maintained their unbeaten record against Germany in World Cup play, scoring two goals in the final two minutes of play after putting a relentless onslaught at the German goal in extra time. Having been eliminated the last four World Cups in extra time or penalty kicks, the Italians finally got the breaks. Grosso, a defender, hit a perfect curl in the 118th minute after a corner kick, which the Italians had performed poorly the whole game, then sub Del Pierro converted on a breakaway in the waning seconds of action.

Some belated perspective on the American position in world soccer: on Sunday, a team will be playing in the World Cup final that failed to beat the U.S. in the same tournament, in spite of playing with a man-advantage for half that game.

July 03, 2006

If I were a Democrat in Connecticut, I'd vote for Ned Lamont. Having said that, Lieberman has every right in the world to run for his party's nomination, and, losing that, preserve the option of running as an independent in November. If its "democracy" to challenge a sitting incumbent within a primary, there should be no objections to that same incumbent trying to win by appealing to voters outside the party. Elections are won by getting more votes than the other guys, not having the election handed to you in a one-party state because you win your primary. If Lieberman believes he would win a plurality of votes by running as an independent, bully for him.

I just don't want to hear about any sitting Democratic Senator (that means you, Charles Schumer) knifing Lamont in the back if he wins.

July 02, 2006

Smythe Gets Results: Remember the Pulitzer "nomination" boasted by Swift Boat backer Thomas Lipscomb, whose columns on the subject were touted as the most persuasive on the subject by numerous right wing bloggers. Well, the Pulitzer claim has now been scrubbed from his bio, which now reads that "his work was entered for the Pulitzer for investigative reporting in 2005." In other words, someone (maybe himself) filled out an entry form on his behalf.... [link via Daily Kos]
France 1, Brazil 0: Les Bleus own Brazil. For the third time since 1986, France eliminated Brazil, with Thierry Henry's goal in the 57th minute proving decisive. The collapse of the defending champions, who were dominated in a manner not heretofore seen at this level, was utterly inexplicable. Another superb game by Zinedine Zidane, whose perfectly placed free kick found Henry wide open at the mouth of the Brazilian goal; amazingly, it was the first time in the 55 matches they had played together that Zidane had ever assisted on an Henry goal. Coming less than a week after conservative politician Jean Marie Le Pen had attacked the team for not reflecting the French people, a team whose starting line-up consists of seven black players, including Saturday's goal scorer, and is led by the child of Algerian immigrants can feel especially vindicated.

It sets up an all-Europe semifinal, with Axis powers Italy and Germany meeting on the 4th of July, while their wartime lackeys face off the following day. Brazil remains the only non-European team to take the Cup on European soil, while no European team has ever won the Cup outside the continent.