Barnsley

It’s been three weeks since the Patriots gagged away the Super Bowl on a house blitz. I’ve kept down food for six days now and the green/red contrast isn’t blurring anymore, so Doc. Eakin gave me the a-okay to get writing again. She was wonderful, thank you, Doctor! Whenever I clamp down on a wood bit, I’ll think of you. Here’s what you may have missed:

-The NBA has seen been blown around by trade winds in the past two weeks, but the end result is the same: the Western Conference is strong. The addition of Pau Gasol to the Lakers makes LA a playoff favorite; their late game lineup of Derek Fisher/Jordan Farmar, Kobe, Lamar Odom, Gasol, and the returning Andrew Bynum may be the strongest in the league. There are questions about depth, but in a thirty team league depth, like chemistry, only matters if you absolutely lack it. Speaking of chemistry, Shawn Marion, who freely admitted he’d prefer to be a top dog on a terrible team, can now spread his team play and joys on the charred, crippled remains of the Miami Heat. With Shaquille O’Neal now manning the post for Phoenix, the big beneficiary of this deal is Amare Stoudamire. Back at power forward he terrorized the Lakers for 37 points and 15 boards Wednesday night. Jason Kidd’s return to Dallas is a win-now move which will put more pressure on Josh Howard to boost his 20 PPG average. The Spurs (Kurt Thomas), Hornets (Bonzi Wells), and the Jazz (Kyle Korver a few weeks ago) also made deals, lifting the fortunes of the top six teams in the West. To be fair to the East, the Cavs got Ben Wallace’s corpse!

-This last week I’ve repeatedly come back to one of the first things I heard about Roger Clemens in conjunction with steroids and HGH: He isn’t smart enough to avoid the sharks. The Congressional hearings made this uncomfortably clear for all parties involved. With the exception of Sammy Sosa’s sudden and persistent claims that he spoke no English, this was the most embarrassing of all MLB’s days in the Washington sun. At least when Raffy Palmeiro outright lied, he did so with conviction; the Rocket appeared to duck Brian McNamee’s claims with all the intensity of an only child claiming someone else broke the lamp. Clemens’s foolish performance needs no more discussion, save this: even Barry Bonds doesn’t look as bad, and he’s under investigation for perjury. At least San Francisco likes him; Clemens is a pariah more or less everywhere.

-Memphis by 5 on Saturday. They are better than people think; it’s not their fault they play in Conference USA; Bracketthey’re at C D-Rhome; Chris Douglas-Roberts is the best player on the court. We are less than two weeks away from the most wonderful time of the year, and less than three weeks away from the two days that, if counted as holidays, would rank only behind Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas on my list.

-Sometimes you can be sitting down and still have to sit down. The following excerpt is from an AP article (via yahoo) about the complicated process in seating delegates for the Texas Democratic caucus/primary/votestravaganza. Its title: “Texas’ Compicated Rules May Favor Obama”. The key words there are “complicated” and “rules”.
The Obama campaign is trying to simplify the process by calling it the “Texas Two-Step,” and used former “Dancing with the Stars” and Dallas Cowboy standout Emmitt Smith to promote it Wednesday. “If we win one we’re done, and Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States of America,” former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk told a rally Wednesday before confessing he doesn’t really understand the party’s rules and introducing the football player to explain them.

Emmitt Smith! Emmitt SmithHow in God’s name does he understand these things? If you’ve seen him for even one minute on ESPN’s NFL work you understand that he was such a great back his whole career because he was running away from coherency the whole time. Does this make Smith some sort of super-genius who has been fucking with the populace for years, some great science experiment? Does he really know how to acceptably delegation the voters and dolomite equally? Or did Troy Aikman not return Mayor Kirk’s phone call first? Either way, I’m beyond flabbergasted. He and Arlen Specter need to work together.

-Barnsley F.C. is a football team in the Football League Championship, the second highest level in English football. They, along with 730 other teams, competed in this year’s FA Cup, the national club championship for England. Imagine a sort of classic Indiana High School Basketball Tournament, but with professional clubs and across the nation. The 731 clubs play each other over the course of 14 stages; some start at the very beginning and others, like, say, Manchester United (you know that one!) get a pass into the 9th stage (Third Round Proper). As a result, it’s very, very difficult for a weaker team to progress through the field. Barnsley is entering the quarterfinals of the FA Cup in two weeks following a road upset against Liverpool, maybe the most stunning upset of the tournament so far. There is a chance that for the first time since 1976, a non-top level club will lift the Cup. Barnsley’s next task will be a home match against mighty Chelsea, currently the defending champions and 3rd overall in the top-flight Premier League (probably the best football league in the world). You think those tickets will be tough to come by?

Barnsley isn’t even the most surprising team still going. Bristol Rovers won a playoff to get promoted to Football League One, the 3rd ranked league in England. Since then they drew with those worldbeaters Leyton Orient twice, escaping from Round One Proper by one penalty (6-5). They drew with Fulham twice in Round Three and again prevailed from the kicking line, and in Round Four they were lucky to face an even weaker team, squeaking out a 1-0 road win against Barnet F.C.; ten points if you can name their manager. (No peeking!) Bristol Rovers winning the FA Cup would be the equivalent of Will Ferrell’s team from Semi Pro winning an NBA title this year.

-Alright, alright, a Patriots note. Congrats yet again to the Giants and their fans, who at the very least aren’t pigs like For New England fans it’s been quite difficult, and the repetition of the term “18-1” gives me an eye twitch, but I take solace in these facts: #1, the Patriots played okay, but the Giants just played a great, better game, and #2, it took the greatest play That Fucking Playin Super Bowl history and a near-catch by Randy Moss to give the Giants the title. The Patriots were less than 40 seconds from a perfect season. Insane. Their loss reminded me of the ’91 UNLV Running Rebels, unbeaten until the stunning upset in Indianapolis. They were a team that was so good, the only way to beat them was to avoid getting knocked out early on and hope that the pressure of a close-late game would force a mistake. The Pats just didn’t have it in them late, and I’m sure quite a few of them were surprised it was even close at that point.

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  • Is there anywhere in the Boston area to watch these FA cup games?

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