Saturday, January 30, 2010

Liverpool 2, Bolton Wanderers 0

A tough loss, but not a poor performance. Liverpool dominated possession, but did not create a whole lot of chances until late in the second half. Lee Chung-Yong got past the keeper and had an excellent chance to score in the first half, but his shot was cleared off the line. It would have certainly changed the tenor of the match if he had managed to get that goal.

Liverpool looked better than they have in a while, but they still looked vulnerable at the back. Every time Bolton managed to put a cross in, or a long throw for that matter, the back line looked a little shaky.

Owen Coyle played an attacking 4-3-3, similar to what was used at the Emirates last week, and Bolton's first few minutes showed that they were not just at Anfield to make up the numbers.

Unfortunately, Kevin Davies continued his poor run of form. He gave the ball away, didn't create any chances for himself, and even his flick-ons did not have their usual accuracy. New signing Vladimir Weiss got a decent run out in the second half, although Jack Wilshere didn't get to make his Bolton debut.

I am not worried, it was unlikely we would get anything from this match, and as long as the performances continue to improve, the points will come.

Monday, January 25, 2010

So much for an easy group...

The thinking after the FIFA World Cup draw in December was that the US and England had drawn an excellent group. Most assumed that after a tough opening match against each other, the two English speaking countries would cruise into the knockout stages of the tournament.

Slovenia is still something of an unknown quality, but Algeria has just thrown a wrench into these plans. In order to qualify for the World Cup, Algeria had to get past Egypt, a very good squad which has won the last two Africa Nations Cups. Now, Algeria has knocked odds-on favorites Ivory Coast out of this months showcase in Angola.

So, undoubtably the bookies will still have England favored to win the group, and the US likely to advance, but things have now become must more interesting.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Landon Donovan

I was glad that he was going to give the Premier League a try this month, a player of his talent really belongs in a top European league. However, I was concerned that he would find it difficult to get a game, considering the attacking midfielders they have (Felainni, Peinaar, Cahill, Osman, Arteta), and the fact that Donovan will only be there for 10 weeks.

But I was wrong. I have just turned on the Arsenal/Everton match, and not only is he debuting today, but he is in the starting line-up. He appears to be playing on the right wing, which will match him up against the likes of Traore and Denilson.


Donovan has just put in a cross that Osman has headed home. What a start!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Baseball Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Andre Dawson. I wouldn't have voted for him, but I don't think he is a ridiculous inductee. He has the worst OBP of any outfielder in Cooperstown, but there are worse players who have made it.

These are my opinions of the other players who were on the ballot this year.

Robbie Alomar: Possibly the best 2B of the last 50 years. Should of been elected easily. He wasn't for two reasons. The first is that his career ended relatively early. He suffered a severe drop off after his 33rd birthday, played very poorly for the Mets at the end, and was out of the game when many of his contemporaries were setting records for performances by players in their 30's.

The second reason is that he spit on an umpire. He apologized and the umpire forgave him, but the behavior is still reprehensible. It is not a reason to keep someone out of the Hall of Fame though. Babe Ruth once punched an umpire in the face.

Bert Blyleven: Probably belongs in the Hall, and I have said in the past that I would vote for him, but by no means is he a slam dunk. I heard an interesting comment on the MLB Network today by one of the Sports Illustrated writers regarding Blyleven. He said, "Blyleven is in the best 2% of players in baseball history, but in order to get into the Hall of Fame you have to be in the best 1%."

Jack Morris: A slightly above average pitcher with a few outstanding playoff performances. Not really close for me.

Barry Larkin: A bit of a dilemma, as he seems to fall in between eras for shortstops. He just follows the generation of Ripken, Trammel, Ozzie Smith, and Shawon Dunston. If you compare him to that generation, and every one before 1995, he looks like one of the ten best hitting SS's of all-time. But later in his career, Larkin was surpassed by A-Rod, Jeter, Garciaparra, and even Miguel Tejada.

I would probably vote for him, but if someone was making a passionate argument against they could convince me otherwise.

Lee Smith: No. Anyone who ever watched him pitch would never vote for him to make the Hall of Fame.

Edgar Martinez: As anyone who has ever discussed baseball with me knows, I despise the DH, and wish it could be stricken from the game. Until that day comes, it is a part of the game, and if a DH were worthy of enshrinement, I would support him. However, in order for a DH to be worthy, he would have to perform at an exceedingly high level, probably as one of the ten best hitters in the game, for an extended period of time, at least 15 years. I can't say that Martinez fits the bill.

He was dominant for seven seasons (1995-2001) posting an average OPS of over 1.000. But in his other 11 seasons, his numbers, compared to other DH's, were average. He is close, I can't lie. When one looks at his numbers, they are quite impressive. At this time, I wouldn't vote for him, but I think I may be convinced within the next couple years.

Tim Raines: I just don't see it. He had very good numbers, and was a dynamic player throughout the 80's, but I don't think he is a Hall of Famer. Going back to the earlier quote, I think he is a 2 percenter, falling just a bit short.

Mark McGwire: Should already be in. One of the best power hitters of all time. A career OPS of .982, to go along with 583 home runs. The only argument against him is that he might have taken steroids. Along with 80% of the players in MLB during his career. I would vote for him with absolutely no qualms.