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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Italo-Disco is Dead (Courtesy of the Augusta Chronicle)

 

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is here, and I have a novice’s degree of knowledge as to what’s happening, as well as a small amount of sentimentality for the event. This is me traversing through work, drunken weekends, and Spotify with the World Cup either in the fore or background.

Sunday, June 15

My head was pounding as I was blaring a song called “The Dream” by Thee Oh Sees. I have been noticing that my summer song selections seem to be filled with riff heavy garage rock post-2010. It’s a far cry from the disco induced summer I endured via Daft Punk in 2013. Maybe I am experiencing an inner “Disco is Dead” moment.

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Courtesy of FIFA

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is here, and I have a novice’s degree of knowledge as to what’s happening, as well as a small amount of sentimentality for the event. This is me traversing through work, drunken weekends, and Spotify with the World Cup either in the fore or background. 

Thursday, June 12th 

The broadcast on my work computer showed blurry images of smiling Brazilian fans who were all wearing the bright, sun yellow jerseys associated with their home country’s national team. The din of people talking and looking for their seats emitted out of my old Apple headphones. A huge sphere sat in the center of the arena; the camera would toggle between this global metaphor of a centerpiece after a few crowd shots. There was hardly a Croatian fan in the crowd, nor one that ESPN cared to show. The focus was purely on the Brazilian people. This seemed more like a fitting opening ceremony than the nightmare fuel that followed.

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2014 NBA Finals - Game Four

This is Kawhi Leonard’s world. We’re just living in it.

In an NBA Finals that was supposed to be dominated by the Big Three, Tim Duncan’s potential farewell, Gregg Popovich’s in-game interviews and Pat Riley’s slicked back hair, there has been a runaway star in a player who seems to want to be anything but. Kawhi Leonard is the soft-spoken, three-pointer-making, slam-dunking phenom who is leading the San Antonio Spurs against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.

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History is not kind to losers. History will not remember the 2013-’14 New York Rangers. The names of the Los Angeles Kings will be etched into the Stanley Cup ring, and eventually that ring, and those players’ names, will find their way into an eternal resting spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame. These Rangers will not have that luxury. There might arise a Wikipedia page detailing their abysmal start, the mid-season trade of a beloved captain and their improbable run to the Stanley Cup Finals, but that’s the best anyone can hope for now. Poetic justice means nothing on the ice, and even if these Rangers deserved to win the Stanley Cup, or at least to suffer a slower death than the five games they got against the Kings, they found themselves in this reality, in this dimension, with nothing but a stream of black-and-white ticker tape and the memories of a wild season to welcome them to obsolescence.

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argentina vs portugalOn Thursday, the 2014 FIFA World Cup begins in Brazil. While many eyes will be on the home team, which is the nominal favorite to capture its record-extending sixth World Cup title, thirty-one other teams will be vying to bring the glory of the beautiful game’s most hallowed prize to their homelands. Many of these sides have legendary players in various stages of their primes. Some seem simply to be along for the experience of playing on a senior international level as a sort of deposit for the future (See: Green, Julian). For all the acclaim of Brazil’s joga bonito, Italy’s azzurri and Die Mannschaft of Germany, two individual players are carrying the weight of their countries perhaps more heavily than anyone else, with the outcome of the tournament potentially dictating their places among the game’s all-time greatest.

I am, of course, talking about Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi.

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Courtesy of ESPN

Courtesy of ESPN

If the Major League Baseball All-Star Game had a place in American History curricula, 11-year-old me would be a figure taught alongside Boss Tweed. The democratic nature of electing the Midsummer Classic’s starting lineups was intoxicating to the dorky kid who watched coverage of the 2000 Florida recount every day after school. I was a conniving little bastard and when it came to finding ways to stuff the ballot box, I took my lessons less from old Joe and Jane Stadium Usher, who’d hand out ballots at the ballpark than I did from Chicago’s Daley clan.

No strategy was beneath me. Paying friends a few quarters to punch out the bags of ballots I’d bring home from a trip to Candlestick? Check. Fabricating email addresses to run up totals in the early days of online balloting? Yep. I was a foolhardy kid who thought that my dirty tactics made a difference in who’d trot out to represent their league each summer, and I took that shit seriously. It probably would’ve been good practice for a career in politics.

Over the years, the dynamics of voting in players for the ASG have changed. Over the years, online ballots have eclipsed voting at the ballpark as the preferred way to select the game’s starters. Teams now solicit fans to pull out their smartphones, click an app a few times, and presto, send the hometown nine’s best to the game. The speed of voting online has made it more effective than even the most mischievous fan could manage via the old-fashioned, Bush v. Gore-inducing, punch card manner.

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Update One (12:54pm): We made it to the semifinals of The Basketball Tournament. Four teams remain in contention for the grand prize of $500,000. Also at stake today, the potential for home court advantage in the championship game, as a fan vote will decide the location of the final. Can Team Barstool bring the title game north to Bean Town? Or will the Big Apple Ballers take it to the Bronx or Brooklyn? A win by the Fighting Alumni could mean a trip to South Bend. And PeacePlayers International could take us anywhere around the world.

So all of that is on the line. Also, half a million.

http://instagram.com/p/o_YnzuKD5r/

We are five minutes away from tip of the game between Team Barstool and Big Apple Ballers. The arena speakers just started playing “Timber” by Kesha (feat. Pitbull) so the mood for high stakes basketball is officially set. Get ready.

More updates to come.

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http://instagram.com/p/o8wvJrKDzt/

Update One (12:30pm): The second day of the inaugural Basketball Tournament. After today, only four teams will remain in contention for the $500,000 grand prize. One of the day’s first games was also the biggest nail-biter thus far, as the Big Apple Ballers eeked out a win over HITTAS. The Ballers held the lead for the most of the game and took an eight point cusion into halftime, but a fierce rally from the HITTAS tied it up late. Smush Parker played hero for the Ballers though, nailing a free throw with under ten seconds remaining that would prove the difference in the game. Other contributors to the Ballers winning effort included Russell Robinson, who added 26 points and went 7-13 from beyond the arc, as well as Luke Bonner, who put up 18 points and 6 boards. Read More

TBT

Update One (1:55pm): The Basketball Tournament is upon us. Live in the Gallagher Athletic Center at Philadelphia University, 32 teams of non-professionals have come together to compete for a $500,000 grand prize. Everyone who isn’t currently someone in the NBA seems to be here, from ghosts of NCAA tournaments past, to career pick up ball players, to the man/myth/legend Smush Parker of Kobe bothering fame.

I emailed into those running The Basketball Tournament (#TBTOpen) and acquired press passes for the first time in my life. I’ll be doing my best to live blog the day, but I have no idea how that will turn out. In the mean time, here is the bracket: Read More