Two soccer tidbits

Real signs Owen

The transfer fee negotiated by the two clubs is unknown.
Reports have suggested the fee stands somewhere just under $20 million. It has
been confirmed, however, that midfielder Antonio Nunez will likely be moving
from Real to Liverpool, as long as Owen passes the physical.

"Contracts have not yet been finalized. Michael will have a medical with
Madrid before the deal is completed and the same with Nunez," Benitez said. "It
should be concluded soon."

Owen sat out the Reds' Champions League qualifier earlier this week, fueling speculation that a move was imminent. Now, barring a miracle, Owen will be headed over to Spain to form a potent attacking partnership with Brazilian star Ronaldo.

Real expressed its intentions earlier this summer to continue its 'galactico'
philosophy of signing one star each summer. Beckham, Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane
and Luis Figo all joined the club over the past four years.

I’ve said it before, Real makes the Yankees look like pikers. They simply go out and buy the very best players in the world. And they still lost the title.

Iraq Wins!

The Athens Summer Olympics opened with a shocker as Iraq scored a famous victory for the war-torn country, defeating Portugal 4-2 to catapult to an early Group D lead.

The underdogs gifted Portugal an own goal in the 13th minute, but drew
level quickly through Emad Mohammed.


Iraq hasn’t had a whole lot to cheer about, and a soccer team winning a game certainly doesn’t make the last year, hell, the last decade all better. But it is a great moment for a country that could use some good news.

The soccer team won’t bring electricity, or democracy, or even a day without bloodshed. But it does give the people something to be proud about. Something to be proud of. This is something Iraq did. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that important, but this is one of those times that every little bit of good news helps.

posted by Poseur 8/13/2004 04:51:00 PM

Greeks miss test

Hours before Greece was to take world center stage as host of the Athens
Olympics Friday, the country found itself plunged into depression by a drug
scandal that could lead to its best medal hope expelled from the Games. Games
200 meters champion sprinter Costas Kenteris -- so worshipped at home that he
has a ferry named him -- had been rumored to be have been selected for the 2004
Games' highest honor: lighting the Olympic flame at Friday night's opening.

Instead he and sprinting partner Katerina Thanou were in hospital after a
mysterious motorcycle accident that came hours after they had been absent for a
compulsory random drug test during an amazing night of drama Thursday.

The pair were described as "stable" Friday with a variety of minor injuries, including cuts, sprains and scratches, which were likely to keep them in hospital for two days at least.

A furious International Olympics Committee (IOC) demanded explanations, though, over the entire episode -- Greek officials blamed a "mix-up" -- and the sprinters futures were under a cloud after also missing an IOC disciplinary hearing over their test absences.
athletes are banned for two years for missing doping tests.

Missing a drug test is just as bad as failing one. It has to be, or every athlete who dopes would opt for the lighter sentence of just missing a test. So, for all of the poo-pooing of the Americans, it is the Greeks who kick off these Games with the first doping scandal.

And this isn’t the second string towel-boy for the water polo team, this is Greece’s biggest star. This is like Maurice Greene or Michael Phelps flunking a test for the US. And unless we can find some pretty damn credible witnesses that this isn’t just a way to avoid a test, the pair need to be suspended.

The IOC has talked tough, but now they have the chance to show it’s not just bravado aimed at the ugly Americans.

posted by Poseur 8/13/2004 04:49:00 PM


Winslow signs!
A team source told The Associated Press the deal could be worth up to $40
million if Winslow reaches all his incentives. It includes a $16.5 million
signing bonus, said the source, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

"It feels great, like I won the lottery," Winslow said.

His contract exceeds the deal Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez signed in
2002. That package included a $10 million signing bonus, which was the most ever
for a tight end.

I understand the desire to sign your first round pick, but are the Browns totally insane? The Browns are paying a rookie more money than the best player in the NFL at the same position. And the only dollar figure that counts, the signing bonus, is grossly larger. $6.5 million extra for a guy who has never played a down in the NFL. The Browns would have been better served to just light the money on fire.

First off, tight end is probably the least important position in football. Having a great tight end is a luxury, and not one a team like the Browns can honestly afford. When has the team with the best tight end ever won the Super Bowl? Maybe Mark Bavaro and the New York Giants. This isn’t a criticism of Tony Gonzalez or even Kellen Winslow, Sr. It’s just a simple fact of the NFL, a great tight end does not really add a whole lot of wins. Not like an impact runner or quarterback. And certainly not like good line play. Heck, a good fullback or a possession receiver can fill the role of a tight end.

I actually like the Browns. Garcia’s a good quarterback and Green, if he can stay out of jail, is a good runner. The receiving corp is pedestrian, but solid. Adding Winslow brings them absolutely no closer to winning the division.

And they are paying him more than the best tight end in the game. A lot more. Hell, they are paying Winslow like he’s one of the best linebackers or wideouts in the game. He’s not. He may be a great player, and I have no problem with him trying to get every last cent he can out of the Browns. But that doesn’t means the Browns aren’t complete nincompoops for giving in to Winslow’s demands. If Winslow is not immediately the best tight end in the game, he is grossly overpaid. And in a cap league, bad contracts are killers.

They signed their #1 pick and somehow, became a worse team.

posted by Poseur 8/12/2004 04:44:00 PM

TO is still an idiot

Owens yesterday attempted to explain his response - which was, essentially,
that "if it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, by golly it is a

That innuendo "was just some loose conversation," Owens said yesterday. "My
thing was, I didn't say that he was gay. Like I said, the conversation and the
interview was loose, and from my knowledge, I'm not sure if Jeff is gay or not.
I've seen him out, he had a girlfriend when we were in San Francisco and there's
been recent reports that he has a girlfriend now, so that was the extent of it.
Everyone is going to make a big deal about it, but like I said, it's not like I
came out and said Jeff is gay. People asked me similar questions about Steve
Young, so everybody is going to have their rumors."

TO is a great wide receiver, maybe the best in the game, but he really is a jerk. And this really is some pretty despicable homophobia. It’s not that he’s outing somebody, it’s the unspoken belief that if Garcia were gay that would be really, really bad. And who the hell thinks Steve Young, a devout Mormon, is gay? Young doesn’t chase women because of his earnest religious beliefs.

Who the hell cares if Garcia is gay? In the sports world, still populated by the Cro-Magnons of social thought, probably lots of people. But even Owens, who pretty clearly doesn’t like gay people and doesn’t want one near him, is willing to live with a gay player who can help the team win. And there’s the nuts and bolts of it.

The first openly gay player will have to be a star player. It’s probably not going to be a marginal guy, who is worried about getting cut at a moment’s notice. It will be an established player that a team already believes is “winner.” And it probably won’t be in football. Non-guaranteed contracts has a way of keep the players in line. No player with non-existent job security is going to strike a blow for gay rights

posted by Poseur 8/12/2004 04:43:00 PM

Olympics underway!

12 August 2004
South Korea’s Park Sung-Hyun beat the world archery
record by scoring 682 points on Thursday, during the preliminary round of the
individual event at the Olympic Games in Athens, and South Korea set a new team
world record at the same time.

Woo hoo! One world record down!

I’m gonna be honest with you, I love the Olympics. I also openly cheer for the Americans (I am an American and I want us to kick the rest of the world’s ass!) and I don’t apologize for caring about medal counts. This is a sports competition and part of competition is keeping score.

I do believe that the world coming together to play some games is pretty cool. And I think that, even though it is hokey, the Olympics really do promote peace and understanding. But the reason we care about the Olympics is because it is the best athletes in the world competing on the highest stage. It’s about trying to win.

posted by Poseur 8/12/2004 04:42:00 PM

One of the greats retires

"The idea of never seeing Zidane wearing the blue shirt again is
unbearable," the editorial said.
But fans were much more understanding of
the French midfielder maestro's need to move on.

"I think it's good. He needs to pass the torch. It's better to leave while
he's on top," said Jamel Miku, a 44-year-old company director in Paris.

The 32-year-old Zidane has often proved decisive for France, notably
scoring two headed goals against Brazil that brought France its first World Cup
victory in 1998.

"He has glory and money and he's over 30 years old. There are a lot of
young players out there who will get to play more now," said Laurent Montvernay,
a 40-year-old bank employee.

Zidane, who helped Les Bleus to victory in the 1998 World Cup and the Euro
2000, is leaving the team after making 93 appearances and scoring 26 times since
his debut 10 years ago.
Over the years, Zizou, as he is affectionately
called in France, has drawn praise for his unassuming attitude on and off the

"He was a good model for kids to follow. He was very professional and a
good player but humble," said Chantal Vinel, a 42-year-old housewife. "He wasn't
spoiled and irresponsible like some professional athletes,"

Though he was usually able to help deliver miraculous victories, Zidane's
last appearance in the blue jersey, France's Euro 2004 quarterfinal 1-0 loss to
Greece, was a disappointing one.

Zidane was the best soccer player on earth. Period. He belongs in that very elite class of legendary players like Pele and Maradona. I’d rate him as the best European player since John Cryuff. And Zidane actually won a World Cup.

And while his last tournament was a disappointment for his team, it was not one for Zidane himself. He single-handedly beat England and pretty much still showed the skills that built his reputation. He doesn’t go out on a winner, but he goes out as one of the best two or three players on the planet. His skills may have eroded, but not by much.

Look, even in America, a decidedly non-soccer country, this should be a huge sports story. When the best anything retires, people should care.

posted by Poseur 8/12/2004 04:41:00 PM

Pound says US track is a bunch of cheaters

ANTI-DOPING boss Dick Pound has launched a stunning drugs attack on the US
track and field team on the eve of the Olympics opening ceremony in Athens.Mr
Pound yesterday accused US track and field officials and coaches of heading a
"sleazy" program of organised drug cheating that was putting athletes' lives at

He went relatively softly on Australia, saying it was a "shame" such a
leader in the war against drugs had its reputation sullied by the recent scandal
in the Australian Institute of Sport's cycling program.

But there was no sympathy for the US track and field team, which Mr
Pound described as having a "very serious problem".

The attack threatens to overshadow the biggest sporting event in the
world, with the US fielding 531 athletes and expected to top the medal

Yeah, IOC officials would know sleazy. I’m not saying the US doesn’t have its share of drug cheats, it certainly does. They aren’t cheating on the systematic scale of some of the eastern European nations during the Cold War, but it’s still a problem. But is it really the USOC that’s cheating? When Ben Johnson got caught during the 1988 Games, did anyone say Canada has a dirty program? I don’t think the USOC is trying to dope athletes and cover up positive tests. If they are, then there needs to be serious repercussions, but can we please limit our hysterics to individual athletes?

And what a shock that Pound would go easy on his native Australia. Who would’ve guessed? Look, so far, no US athletes have failed a drug test at the Olympics. I’m reasonably sure one will, but that athlete will then be banned from these games. So far the only nation found guilty for these Games is Kenya. So let’s wait for people to jump on the “Kenyans are cheaters” bandwagon.

posted by Poseur 8/12/2004 04:40:00 PM

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