Monthly Archives: August 2010

You Can Thank Dan Snyder For The Haynesworth Mess

So, what would you do if you were the Washington Redskins and you had a player like Albert Haynesworth? Would you a. Sit him on the bench for being a malcontent, b. Trade him for less than market value, because honestly, who really wants an 100 million dollar pain in the neck who only earned this much money for one good season in Tennessee? C. Deal with him because you gave him a load of promises and he’s making sure that are kept. Or d. (my favorite option) NOTHiNG!! Because it’s the Redskins fault for this entire mess.

Yeah, i'll do that fitness test coach... but i'm really not in a hurry.

I understand that Haynesworth has become the league’s biggest baby and should never have gotten 100 mil to begin with, but who signed off on the deal? Once again a bad free agent signing has hurt the Redskins and now has people asking questions about the future of a player they once thought would anchor their defense much like he did in Tennessee.

It’s Snyder’s fault for the deal he gave Haynesworth, for the promises he gave him about the type of defensive scheme he wanted to be in, and it’s his fault for disregarding all of this and bringing on Mike Shanahan who changed the system  immediately, which is the cause for this mess.

I understand that people have come to look at Haynesworth as a pain in the rear, but can you really blame the guy for what’s gone on early in Shanahan’s regime? Shanahan’s methods of punishment against Haynesworth for not wanting to be a part of his system have either proven to be unsuccessful or have backfired.

The three 300 yard sprints seemed to be a tool for embarrassment by Shanahan, until Haynesworth took three days off due to “exhaustion” and then passed the test only to take off more time for “recovery.” So pretty much Shanahan has punished Haynesworth by giving him more time off during training camp and allowing him to buy more time to draw the ire of Dan Snyder so he can be traded. Good job on that one Mike.

So now here we are three weeks before the beginning of the regular season and the Redskins have a huge headache on their hands in the middle of their defense and in the newspapers.

Haynesworth couldn’t care less either way. He’s going to pocket all of 41 million plus in guarantees whether he plays or not and the Redskins defense will suffer because of it. The right thing for Snyder to do would be to cut Haynesworth and see what you have down your depth chart. It sounds crazy, but what can you truly expect out of a man that hasn’t really practiced, has shown no signs of working hard in the offseason and probably won’t do it in the regular season.

The Haynesworth saga has been one big pain in the back for the Skins and they have to figure out how to stop the drama before their opener in September. However, as much as you want to blame Haynesworth for this mess, make no no mistake this is all Dan Snyder and the Redskins fault and it’s up to them to correct it.

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The Haters College Football Preview

So here’s an interesting scenario for college football this year, there actually is only one team to beat this year, Alabama. They’re back, reloaded and just as good as last year. Mark Ingram returns for a possible second Heisman, John Parker Wilson comes back at the helm at QB, plus the defense is anchored by Marcel Daerus who is gaining lots of attention for the NFL draft.

Mark Ingram is back to add to his collection

They do play in the SEC, you know the best conference in college football (yawn) and looking at the SEC they should go undefeated due to Florida having to replace key pieces on offense and defense and teams such as Georgia, LSU and Auburn who all have little kinks to work out before they become contenders again.

So there you have it, it’s a shoe-in, Bama repeats as national champions with ease—if any of you know me, you know damn well I’m not this stupid.

Honestly I could see Alabama winning it all because when you look at the preseason top ten there isn’t one team I actually could see myself picking to win it all, however this includes Bama.

Yeah yeah yeah, they play in the SEC, Ingram’s back blah blah blah… they lost Rolando McClain, Javier Arenas and Terrance Cody on defense, that’s key ingredients in three areas that were all important on that defense. You don’t just replace three all-SEC players and expect to just run through a conference no matter how down of a year it might have—

Yup you read that correctly, DOWN YEAR and SEC in the same sentence. I know that as far as talent on the field goes no one is better than them and it’s showed, they’ve won the last four national titles and have done it convincingly. However, when you look around the league you really can’t see any of the guys factoring into the title chase.

Florida is replacing #15 behind center (you know I never use Jesus’ name in vain) Aaron Hernandez, Riley Cooper and Maurkice Pouncey on offence and Brandon Spikes and Joe Haden on defense. Auburn is throwing another quarterback under center in Cam Newton. LSU with Jordan Jefferson has underachieved mightily since its title win three years ago and Les Miles is starting to feel the heat (luckily for him Rich Rodriguez will be fired in three months so can slide right into his alma mater without a hitch). Then there’s the Betty Ford clinic in Ole Miss with Jeremiah Masoli, the school for convicts in Tennessee and Georgia (no jokes, no shaking of the head just Georgia. When will this school put Mark Richt on the burner for a. never winning an SEC title, b. always coming up short in big games, c. not factoring into national title picture at all and d. ALWAYS ALWAYS UNDERACHIEVING?!?!) You’re probably saying hey Arkansas is a dark horse—they are but I still hope Bobby Petrino gets run over by a Greyhound bus and Arthur Blank drives by to laugh at him with Matt Ryan in the passenger seat, so I am a little biased towards them.

So here is where you probably think I’m going to persuade you into thinking that the Ohio State Buckeyes, my alma mater as of June 2010 thank you, will overtake an over confident Alabama team and win the national title—eh not quite.

I like the Buckeyes I really do but (warning: beating a dead horse) I don’t really trust Terrelle Pryor. For all of the hype that Pryor has received, and is still receiving as he is the favorite for the Heisman, the only really good game that he has put together since coming to Columbus was that Rose Bowl win against Oregon.

I’ve watched Pryor, dissected him, criticized him, prayed that Jim Tressel put him at wide out and I still can’t trust that for a full season based on that Rose Bowl that he will put it together running and throwing the ball. Is that wrong? Maybe but that’s what I’m rolling with (plus Ohio State has to figure out their running game. Is it Brandon Saine? Jordan Hall? Jamaal Berry? Carlos Hyde? Maurice Clarett? Who’s running the ball consistently for them?).

I want to trust the both of you, but I know I can't.

So who do I like then for the national title? No one really. I’m a hater this year. I can’t find reasons to like these teams enough to pick them to win the national championship including Boise State who I’ve been touting since they embarrassed Bob Stoops at the Fiesta Bowl years ago.

The top 5 is really a top 3. Florida and Texas? I have no clue how teams that lose that much talent the year before, can start the year in the national championship race. Garrett Gilbert at QB for Texas can grow into something special in Austin especially after his gutsy debut at the Rose Bowl versus Bama last year. However, number 4 in the country? No, not yet.

As much as I don’t like any of these teams there has to be a way to find a viable national title pick among them so let’s try to find one. (Note: these are my personal rankings, like it matters anyway because rankings this early in this season are foolish)

ALABAMA (no.1, defending champions, SEC, key player: Mark Ingram)

What I don’t like: losing Arenas, Cody and McClain will hurt them at some point. The defense is still one of the toughest in the nation nut I feel it’s going to struggle. They play a soft non-conference schedule with Penn State coming to Tuscaloosa in September then they get a wake-up call from Arkansas and Ryan Mallet in Fayetteville on the 25th, it might not seem like such a big deal right now but I can see a loss to an upstart like the hogs and all those weapons they have on offense.

However, I do like: one, they’re the defending champs; they got the hunger to go back and continue the SEC dominance. Two, it’s a week SEC this year, sure they go to LSU but I don’t see LSU as a challenge for the Tide. It could make for an easy road back to the BCS championship game.

OHIO STATE (no. 2, Big Ten Champions, Winners of the Rose Bowl, Key player: Terrelle Pryor)

Hate: Pryor. He has to put together a full season to gain my trust and the trust of the Buckeye faithful out there. I’m anxious to see if his throwing motion has improved or if he can spread the ball around to receivers other than Dane Sanzenbacher and Devier Posey. Also, I hope Jim Tressel tells Tresselball to kick rocks. He has to open it up and air it out, Tresselball has been the reason for the Buckeyes deficiencies in recent years on offense and Tressel has done nothing about it. He has to either adapt or watch another title dream go down the drain.

Like: Miami comes to the Shoe in three weeks which provides a good early season challenge for the Buckeyes. Also the Big Ten is looking pretty good this year, Iowa and Wisconsin are dark horse national title candidates and will provide the Bucks with their first real Big Ten challenge in years.

BOISE STATE (no.3, WAC champions, Winners of the Fiesta Bowl, Key Player: Kellen Moore)

Hate: I don’t want to hate the Broncos, but they play in the WAC and traditional voters will do everything in their power to use that against them in their contention for the national championship. Also they start off the season in a neutral site game against Virginia Tech in Washington D.C.—Blacksburg is a good two and a half hour drive from the capital— neutral? Yeah, sure.

Like: They are faster, tougher and deeper than you want to believe. Austin Pettis, Jeremy Avery and others provide a punch on an offense that will score lots of points with Heisman Contender Kellen Moore at the helm and Ryan WInterswyk leads a tough defense that shut down Oregon and TCU last year. I’m really pulling for these guys but I don’t see it happening.

TCU (NO. 4, MWC champions, 12-1, Key Player: Andy Dalton)

Hate: They totally choked up in the Fiesta Bowl last year. The mental toughness should be a concern as the Mountain West gets more attention this year than ever with their recent success. Also losing Jerry Hughes in defense hurts more than they’ll know.

Like: They are the best team in Texas. On offense Andy Dalton will get a long look for the Heisman and he’ll have plenty of help in looking good from Jeremy Kerley and Joseph Turner. The defense is still stout without Hughes as Coach Gary Patterson will rely on defensive tackles Kelly Griffin and Cory Grant to lead one of the nation’s top ranked and toughest defensive lines.

VIRGINIA TECH (No.5, ACC, 10-3, Key Player: Ryan Williams)

So I could win the Heisman, we could go 12-0, again and still wont play for the National Title again?

Hate: They play in the ACC, the worst conference in all of football. They have to go to Miami and Chapel Hill against the best the conference has to offer. Also they shrink against the big competition. They lost to Georgia Tech, UNC, and Alabama last year while barely beating Nebraska in a game that they were not impressive in. suddenly that home field advantage versus Boise State doesn’t look like a big deal.

Like: The progression of Tyrod Taylor. He is the undisputed man at Va. Tech and has finally found a way to make them score regularly. Having Ryan Williams in the backfield doesn’t hurt. He should match his 1600 season last year with the cupcakes coming up on the schedule.

IOWA (no. 6, Orange Bowl Champions, 11-2, Key Players: Defensive Line)

Hate: Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. They plagued them in losses and in games that shouldn’t have been close last year. Ricky Stanzi has a flash for brilliance at QB but his iffy arm puts the Hawkeyes in trouble A LOT! Also that week three matchup against Arizona will be tougher than most think.

Love: That defense. Ask the Big Ten about it. Led by Adrian Clairborn and Karl Krug they can rush the QB at will with just the front four. The front line won six of their games last year and can do it again this year. Also Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State have to come to Kinnick Stadium this year. Talk about a lucky break.

FLORIDA (No. 7, Sugar Bowl Champions, 13-1, SEC, Key Player: John Brantley)

Hate: They’re young, with unproven receivers, no real threat in the backfield and a defense that lost four key starters. They face South Florida September 11th which could be a tough test for them. This might be the year that Florida State restores the balance of the rivalry in their favor.

Like: Mechanically and from the eye test John Brantley is a better quarterback than Tim Tebow (BLASPHEMY!!). With the spread offense in play they should still put up lots of points especially with Vandy, Appalachian State and Miami (Oh) on the schedule.

TEXAS (No. 8, National runner-up, 13-1, Big 12, Key Player: Malcolm Williams)

Hate: The fact that they are ranked third in the nation without their returning top QB, WR, tackler and defensive back. If Malcolm Williams cant step up and be Garrett Gilbert’s main target then that offense will have problems scoring, even in the pass happy Big 12.

Like: They only play Nebraska, and Oklahoma. There schedule screams 10-2 or 11-1 even without the clarity on offense.

OKLAHOMA (No. 9, 7-5, Big 12, Key Player: Landry Jones)

Hate: Normally I’d rage against a coach for scheduling Utah State as its first game of the year… until you see Oklahoma facing Florida State, Air Force and Cincinnati in their non-conference.  Nice job Coach Stoops scheduling your team coming off of a wretched year against a rejuvenated Seminole squad a tough Air Force team and the Big East champs on the road. Oh yeah followed by a matchup versus Texas.

Like: Landry Jones was a revelation last year. With Sam Bradford being injured Jones got his reps early and knows what to expect this year. He’s got weapons by the boatload and will put up lots of points. Oh and the top ten defense returns all of its starters too, that helps.

NEBRASKA (No. 10, 10-4, Big 12, Key Player: Jared Crick)

Hate: Replacing Ndamukong Suh is not going to be easy for Jared Crick. While he won’t be expected to put up the same numbers as Suh they will expect the same presence and motor that Suh brought every Saturday.

Like: Bo Pelini’s defensive schemes gave the big dogs nightmares last year, ask Texas; also no one is throwing on Prince Amakamura (great name). QB Zac Lee looks to rebound from an up and down year but won’t be asked to do much with this great defense in front of him.

Hey Tressel! Here's your preview of what's to come!

Ideally I would love a TCU vs. Boise State BCS title game however that will never happen in a million years. So I’ll instead settle for Nebraska vs. Ohio State in Glendale. Why? Why not.

Look, of all of these teams these are the two I feel safest in picking. The Buckeyes because they get Miami at home early and should handle two tough tests at Iowa and Wisconsin, The Huskers because they get Texas at home and in a conference that’s offensive minded they will have the upper hand with their suffocating defense. Also do you really see Oklahoma beating them in the Big 12 title game with the Prince all over Ryan Broyles, Landry Jones’s only real threat down field? Nope.

So that means the national champion will be… NEBRASKA!!! The Buckeye faithful hate me right now. I like Nebraska a lot. They have an NFL mentality, defense wins championships and Zac Lee will play Trent Dilfer easing the ship on its course. Plus we know how Jim Tressel fails versus the SEC over and over, so coaching against Pelini and his SEC ties to LSU will be a nightmare for him. Also wouldn’t that be interesting? Nebraska beating Ohio State then starting Big Ten conference play the next year as the clear favorites? Hmmm…

So as it turns out, I do like one team. Even without Ndamukong Suh the Huskers are still a force to reckon with and won’t fall a second short like they did last year versus Texas. Also its sort of a win for the SEC as one of their old coaches gets another ring. So everyone’s happy, well except the folks in Columbus. Another failed title game appearance and to lose to the new guy coming in next year? Ugh. There’s something to hate.

ACC Winner- Florida State (Dark Horse- Georgia Tech)

Big East- Pittsburgh (Cincinnati)

Big Ten- Ohio State (Wisconsin)

Big 12- Nebraska (Oklahoma)

Pac 10- Oregon (Arizona)

SEC- Alabama (LSU)

BCS Busters- Boise and TCU

Orange Bowl- Florida State vs. TCU

Sugar Bowl- Alabama vs. Pittsburgh

Fiesta Bowl- Oklahoma vs. Boise State

Rose Bowl- Oregon vs. Wisconsin

BCS Title Game- Nebraska vs. Ohio State

Heisman Winner- Kellen Moore, Boise State


St. Louis Sends Cincinnati And Brandon Phillips A Message

Cincinnati and St. Louis came out swinging, but St. Louis landed a knock out.

Brandon Phillips came out talking, too bad for him the St. Louis Cardinals did most of the walking this week in a three game sweep of then first-place Cincinnati to put themselves into first place in the NL Central by one whole game.

Phillips if you recall gave some pretty scathing remarks about how he felt about St. Louis:  “I hate the Cardinals. All they do is b***h and moan about everything, all of them, they’re little b****es, all of ’em,” said Phillips. Unfortunately it was the Reds who got b****** out by the Cardinals thanks to stellar performances by Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright on the mound and some timely hitting from their lesser known players.

But let’s be truthful… the fight was the most fun part about this series. During game 2 on Tuesday night Phillips and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina exchanged pleasantries at the plate that were not caught by a microphone. Whatever it was, it led to Phillips and Molina standing toe-to-toe and lead to both benches being cleared, some pushing, Cards and Reds managers Tony Larussa and Dusty Baker being ejected and Jonny Cueto kicking at anything in his way that made him blend in with the netting behind home plate. A barn burner I tell you!

Phillips talked tough, but couldn't back it up.

It was a little juice that the pennant races needed. Sure 5 of the six divisions are up for grabs (Texas has all but wrapped up the AL West) but you don’t sense urgency or some dying need to win and win now.

With the Yanks-Sox rivalry all watered down and the Phillies banged up everywhere it’s been hard to get into these races without yawning—until now.

The Reds and Cardinals displayed emotion that we’ve been aching to see. With every big hit and towering home run, Cardinals players pumped their fists with the fiery teenage rage as if they were each sticking it to the Reds.

The more telling thing to come from the series is the Cardinals showing the Reds that they aren’t ready to hand over the division just yet.

St. Louis has slept walked through most of the season due to an unbalanced lineup, lack of pitching out of the bullpen and at the back of the rotation while Cincinnati has shot out like a cannon thanks to a youthful enthusiasm that has taken over the team and lots of overachieving.

(It also doesn’t hurt that Joey Votto is the NL MVP right now and that Jonny Cueto has finally put it together on the mound.)

But Phillips comments seem to wake the sleeping giant. Before Phillips opened his yap St. Louis took game one thanks to a grand slam by light-hitting infielder Skip Schumaker in a seven run fourth inning. After the bulletin board material and the brawl, Molina crushed a home run to put the Cards up in game 2 and Matt Holiday put it away with a bases clearing single. In game 3 Cody Rasmus decided to factor into the series with a grand slam of his own to give Wainwright more than enough run support. When it was all said and done the red birds had come into the Queen City and swept the Reds right out of first place.

Talk now mister Phillips.

“We’re just going to look forward,” Phillips said after Wednesday’s game. “There is no reason to panic. They’re a good team. They’ve been to the playoffs so many times.” Very different from his Monday comments.

He’s right though. The Cardinals know what time it is and what they are up against. The sleepwalking has ceased and the big dogs are back on top of their division just as we hit the dog days of summer.

Cool thing about it is that these teams still have three games in St. Louis in September to finally settle things. It might be the most anticipated re-match in baseball most heated race, and one that’s worthy of watching more closely.

If the Reds need to regroup they need to do it quickly. After this upcoming series with the Marlins they travel to the west coast for a nine game road trip against the D’backs and two teams fighting for the playoffs in L.A. and San Fran. Any effects of a hangover from this beat down will have to be put aside if they want to continue to contend for the playoffs.

The Cardinals may be peaking at the right time. Of their next seven series only one is against a team with a winning record (San Fran). They get to feast on the cupcakes of the NL in Pittsburgh, Washington and Chicago and will have a great opportunity to create some space between themselves and the Reds before they go back at it in early September.

Whatever happens, it should be entertaining. Baseball’s got some fire in its belly coming down the stretch. One thing’s for sure, we know neither of the teams will go down quietly. We just hope they learn from Phillips, if you say something you better back it up. The Cardinals certain talked it and walked it the week, all over Cincinnati.


The Favre Saga Continues

The Brett Favre Reality Show continues.

I’m not going to get mad about Brett Favre anymore, really I’m not.

I’m not going to call him selfish, egotistical, and a hog for attention, even though he is.

I’m not going to go the Chad Ochocinco route and wonder why he gets special attention and can have his negatives be constantly overshadowed by his love for the game, and by the fact that he is such a kid on the football field while the fun Ochocinco has is always vilified.

However, I will say this, there has to be a point where someone has the cojones to say enough is enough and that you aren’t bigger than the game.

Someone at some point has to go up to Mark Schlereth and Merril Hoge and tell them that they are idiots for constantly slurping Favre and his ways. Someone has to tell these people that Favre is the worst technical quarterback of his generation and benefited from having good receivers and running one style of offense for his entire career (you saw what happened to him in New York right?).

Someone at anytime, in anyplace has to put an end to the soap opera that is the Favre retirement decision. It’s like any season of Heroes after season 1, annoying. Yes I am ranting about Favre, again. It’s just that I’m so sick of this story and the fact that it won’t go away.

Packers GM Ted Thompson got tired of it and did the right thing by moving on with Aaron Rodgers years ago, too bad for the Vikings they don’t have a Rodgers to move on with, nor drafted anyone to assume such a position. The Vikings are at fault for being so reliant on Favre because of not properly planning for their future by developing John David Booty who they drafted three years ago or drafting a quarterback in the first two rounds of the last two years of the draft. The fact that Brad Childress, who flies down to Mississippi to talk to Favre, doesn’t know what he’s going to do is laughable.

He knows Favre is coming back, he knows the routine. He’s going to see Favre in camp in about two weeks ready to go while the other players have been earning their reps in camp. He’s feeding into it.

I just want Zigi Wilf to come out and say to Brett Favre, “dude, yes or no?” stop letting him do the same run around with the fans, media and players that he’s been doing and getting away with. It’s as if everyone is afraid of the wrath of Favre and I don’t know why.

The guy is the most statistically decorated QB of our time, but he has cost his teams more than he has helped them (2005 divisional game versus Philly, 2008 NFC championship versus the Giants and last year versus the Saints just to name a few). Favre isn’t Joe Montana, Troy Aikman or Terry Bradshaw. Heck I’ll put Tom Brady and Peyton Manning ahead of him in retrospect.

Just get the message across to him, stand up to him, something. I really don’t want to go through another summer of this, really I don’t. even this blog is feeding into the Favre frenzy. I’M SICK OF IT!!!

See I went against my word, I got mad. I really hate Brett Favre, please go away.


Kevin Howard’s Decision: Choosing An English Premier League Team

So I’m not the biggest soccer fan in the world. Granted neither are most Americans, true statement. Soccer is always a hot and cold thing in America, we have a huge A.D.D. problem in this country because either we can’t follow it, don’t want to follow it, we think it’s too boring or some other negative way of viewing it.

Funny thing is that as youngsters the first sport we learn to play is soccer. There you are at the age of five running around a grassy field and kicking around a ball having a blast. Then around age 11 or older American Football takes its place and we trade shin guards for shoulder pads.

I hated soccer. The fact that I couldn’t use my hands annoyed me to no end. It’s the only sport where you have to have your head down for more than a fraction of the time (side note: Scott Stevens would probably love soccer because he would take everyone’s head off).  It never resonated with me like the other sports. What also can factor into that is the fact that there isn’t a major soccer league in the country that could’ve me recognize what cool players there were in the game (MLS you don’t count today).

Let’s be real, how did you get into sports? Three reasons; a. parents and relatives, my mom was a huge San Francisco 49ers fan and loved Joe Montana to death. She knew about the Steelers dynasty and bought me books on past Super Bowls to get me into the game, so before I knew how to tie my shoes I knew about John Elway’s legendary drive against the Browns, Lynn Swann’s catch versus the Cowboys and the undefeated Dolphins of 72.

Thanks mom for getting me into Jerry Rice

Second reason? Star players. Yeah, I liked basketball—until a guy named Michael Jordan dunked from the free throw line in an exhibition showing, and scored 63 versus Larry Bird, and switched hands in mid-air in the finals. Get the picture? We love athletes, buy their jerseys, worship them practice their moves, batting stances and everything else they do. Athletes draw us to sports after a while more than parents because we catch ourselves drooling at the TV over them.

Example: my family is a bunch of Mets fans, Mom, uncle, aunts all of them, when I was a kid I liked the Cubs. Why? Andre Dawson. I loved the way he played the game. He hit home runs, stole bases and was a great outfielder. Dawson was the reason I began to follow baseball on a daily basis. It went from buying the newspaper to see what he did in a game to looking at the box scores of the Indians, Braves, Mark McGwire, Doc Gooden and others. One guy turned me into a baseball junkie.

Third, a winning team. Yeah it sounds bandwagon-ish but hear me out. The 1994 New York Rangers got me into hockey, not just by winning the Stanley Cup, but just the whole story of the 54-year curse and Brian Leetch and Mark Messier’s guarantee. Hockey wasn’t big in my family (black family, 99% white sport, you figure the rest), funny thing is in the early 90’s they used to show hockey on channel 9 in New York. So I missed out on free hockey that I could actually find before the age of 9, thanks mom.

But when 94 happened I had to watch, at this point I was a Yankees and Giants fan (family hates that) so as a New Yorker I had to follow the Rangers. Watching them win the cup turned into a hockey nut. I began following the Rangers on a regular basis, bought a Gretzky jersey when he came here years later, and studied the game. Everything from the Montreal Canadiens to Bobby Orr, the Edmonton Oilers and everything else just took me over. I fell in love with hockey and still am, even though Glen Sather makes me want to shank myself.

So now we come back to soccer. Here’s its problem in this country and has been for a long time; we don’t know who plays the game, our family didn’t have a bunch of AC Milan gear lying around the house and in America there are no Chicago Cubs, Red Sox or anything similar to latch onto in soccer.

It’s the world’s game, just not ours. Hence the reason we have a major league here and outside of L.A., D.C. and Seattle you wouldn’t know it.

Which brings us all to this point right here. Why am I talking about soccer when it’s obvious that I know nothing about it? recently I have given soccer another chance and it’s due to this blog and just the admiration lots of Americans have for the game.

Turns out as much as we don’t like the MLS we love the English Premier League and La Liga and Serie A. We pledge allegiance to Arsenal, Chelsea, Real Madrid and other soccer clubs. You could probably thank this to world travel and studying abroad where we meet actual die-hards who love the game, and since we can’t watch the Cavs or Cowboys at the time we get into Bayern Munich or Ajax. For me it started with those ESPN sports fans issues where on the cover we see Kobe Bryant decked out in FC Barcelona gear. The world’s best baller a soccer fan? Hmmmm….

Donovan always did look better in the EPL

Then what happens is you get a job that you hate that makes you want to blow your brains out (I’m going somewhere with this don’t worry). I worked recently at Ted’s Montana Grill (no comment) it was so slow there that all I did was eat ice cream and watch soccer because the night time bartender would always through on the soccer channel. I watched what seemed like 3000 games in 30 days, yeah it was that slow, and I found myself inquiring more about the game. The flow was different in European soccer, more graceful and offensive. Teams actually scored more than  a goal a game, and if they didn’t the defense was still beautiful and lured me in.

Strikers were like dunkers. Lionel Messi and Didier Drogba were like watching Vince Carter and Dominique Wilkins. They were graceful yet powerful, I loved watching Drogba just always know where to be when the ball came and knew where to finish. Yes you just read that properly, I know two soccer players, progress I thought.

So was I ready for the next step—drum roll please—finding a team to cheer for?

It’s different when you’re older than a child because whatever team you start sheering for you immediately seem like a bandwagon fan. We normally make excuses like being a bruins fan but cheering for the Sharks because Joe Thornton used to be a B, or liking the Jets as a Ravens fan because of Rex Ryan. It’s hard for soccer because of two things; one, we have no allegiance because we don’t know about the teams or b. we cheer for whatever team had the most Americans. As much as Clint Dempsey seems cool I’m not routing for Fulton because of him.

So for me I had to factor about 6 things into my decision on picking a team to follow:

League

MLS is not a good enough league to get me more involved with soccer so scratch that. You have to identify with a league that you actually know about. You have to know more than three teams, so German league Bundesliga is out. Serie A is cool but the way they move teams in and out of the A and B leagues is confusing, out. La Liga was a tough call, lots of star power, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, Diego Forlan, but really you only know FC Barca and Real Madrid. Juventus and Atletico Madrid are major programs but the league is like Baseball there’s the Yankees, Red Sox and everyone else.

(Granted I’m a Yankees fan, but it’s not good when you’re getting into a new sport and that’s what the set-up looks like so sorry La Liga you’re out).

That leaves English Premier League, or the SEC of soccer. Man U, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, and we know about Everton, Fulham, and Hull City thanks to our American players. DING DING DING!!!

Players

Like I said earlier, players make you enjoy the game. I love guys like Drogba, Fernando Torres and Wayne Rooney who can find the back of the net with ease. You also got to love Tim Howard. He’s the American keeper that many people consider to be the best keeper in the entire EPL (he plays for Everton if you’re factoring your own decisions.

OVERALL TEAM LOOK

This is the feminine factor. You know how women pick their March madness brackets by team color and name (annoying I know) well that does sort of factor into this decision. I’m an Ohio State guy so anything in red looks good on me; Man U, Arsenal and Liverpool all make the cut. But you got to love some flair on your team I love the Man City light blue jerseys and Chelsea new black road set is awesome. However looks can also turn you off, Wigan that’s you.

Also name can factor into this. Do I know anyone on the Wolverhampton Wanderers? No. did I check them out because their name was cool? Yes.

FRIENDS INFLUENCE

This is where your friends take the role of your parents and put things into your head to sway you one way or another. My buddy Renee is a huge Arsenal fan while my buddy Danny told me to be a Liverpool fan or else, fanatics exist everywhere.

The tricky thing with this is that most of my friends like players, not teams necessarily. So I found myself trying to follow David Villa, Thierry Henry, and Luis Suarez all at once.

(Until Henry went to the MLS. Is the MLS the league where great soccer plays go to retire? David Beckham and Henry came over here past their prime almost just to check it out and see what it’s like. They get a little American sun for a year or two then roll out. Don’t be surprised if Ronaldinho, Kaka, and Fabiano Cannavaro do the same thing)

WINNING

You don’t know much about Tottenham Hotspur or West Ham United. But I know Man U and Chelsea. It sucks but come on it has to factor in. no one like a loser unless you were born into it and you hold on for hope.

Lionel Messi is a baller, but he plays in a two team league, sorry La Liga

Apologies to fans of the Maple Leafs, Cubs and the entire city of Cleveland.

SIMILARITIES TO YOUR FAVORITE AMERICAN TEAMS

Man U is like the New York Yankees, everyone knows them and despises them. They win all of the time, 11 0f the 18 premier league titles, and are worth the most of any soccer team in the world. Man City is like the Cubs, they haven’t won an English title since the 60’s, and they came close last year only to fall short again.

Fernando Torres is like Vince Carter. Dude is immensely talented but seems like such a head case that it could eventually be his undoing. Then  there’s Jozy Altidore, America’s next great hope, he reminds me of Andy Roddick, he has a lot of talent a great game, a lot of hype, but I don’t think that he’ll live up to it. We put a lot on Jozy in the World Cup and he didn’t deliver. I know he’s only 20 but you can already tell these things just by looking at him. Hull City is either going to love him or throw him off of a bridge by the time his time his up.

So after factoring all of these things into my decision I came up with 5 teams that I could pledge my allegiance to:

MANCHESTER UNITED

Like I said, they are the Yankees of the EPL. They’ve won 11 of the 18 all-time EPL titles and countless others. Also, think of the names that have played for this team, Beckham, Rooney, Ronaldo, a lot of the guys that I have actually heard of have played for them. They play in the largest stadium in the EPL and are always almost filled to capacity. Yet that’s every reason why I should hate them and it seems almost too easy for me to cheer for them.

EVERTON

Easy to cheer for them because they have Howard as their keeper, and Donovan was once a midfielder for them. Also they have played in England’s top league for 107 years with nine titles so they have huge staying power. Also their nickname is “The People’s Team,” that’s definitely a head turner.

ARSENAL

Thierry Henry used to be a star for them before FC Barcelona paid a ton of money to take him away so one guy I like used to play for them. Also my buddy Renee constantly has Arsenal statuses on her facebook page so the passion for them must run deep. Also 13 premier division titles caught my attention.

(Which reminds me, there are two things I really don’t understand about soccer, one, why do they always walk out with little kids, and two, these transfer fees. Maybe they’ve never heard of a thing called free agency. Think about this Real Madrid paid Man U 80 million pounds to take Cristiano Ronaldo off of their hands, and then had to pay him. So in reality Real paid more than 150 million pounds for one guy. That makes no sense. Then again Real Madrid did the same to get Kaka for some ridiculous fee, maybe soccer is just filled with about 35 George Steinbrenners’ as owners, which makes me wonder why I haven’t watch soccer in the first place.)

CHELSEA

Drogba, that’s it. the guy is like Jerry Rice to me. Watching him play in those recaps on the soccer channel was like watching Rice catch passes from Joe Montana on the slant routes.

He had me at 37 goals

Drogba in space is silly. The guy has a nose for the net whenever the ball comes near him and makes it look easy. He does what somebody told me that Wayne Gretzky used to do, he doesn’t follow the ball, he goes to where he thinks it’ll be. Hence the reason why he scored 37 goals last year and Rooney was next with 27.

The rest of the team is stacked as well, Nicolas Anelka, who led the EPL in goals last year, Michael Essien, John Terry and Andrew Cole, their loaded. However you can’t claim to love a team that just won its league’s title right? (Kyle Coleman is ready to slap me I think).

LIVERPOOL

Pop culture reference. This is where Oasis brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher are from. Also Danny Kaminski told me to like them so I looked them over. Low and behold they have Torres, good or bad thing? Don’t know but I thought about it.

So after all of that looking and searching and thinking I decided that the team that I should follow is…CHELSEA FC!

Drogba did it for me, I love the atmosphere that their stadium brings, the colors, uniforms and everything, but Drogba brought me to them. There isn’t another player that made me feel the way he did and once I saw him I saw the rest of the team and fell in love.

So there you have it, after thinking and wrestling with ideas, I found my soccer team, Chelsea F.C. or The Blues if you will. All I need is a Drogba jersey and an alarm clock to watch their games at 8 a.m., the things we do for our favorite teams.

Congrats Chelsea you won me over as a fan. Now don't screw up!