OK, This Is Wrong, Even By Soccer Fan Standards

I lived in the Pacific Northwest for several years, and I can tell you that it takes a lot to drum up any enthusiasm for a sports rivalry between teams from Washington and Oregon. Such rivalries do exist, but on a more tepid level than you’d see in other areas of the country; Sonics-Trail Blazers animosity was practically non-existent, and now the former team is gone. It’s just too damp and laid-back up there to get anything going in a Dodgers-Giants, Packers-Vikings kind of fashion. But the Seattle Sounders-Portland Timbers rivalry is an exception.

The teams aren’t even in the same league, yet. But the Sounders of the MLS played the USL Timbers in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, and things got rather politically incorrect in the stands at Portland’s PGE Park — as illustrated above with this totally offensive-yet-amusing sign, hoisted by a Timbers fan. If you want to cut a Sounders fan to the quick, mock the suicide of Seattle grunge band icon Kurt Cobain. That was in very poor taste. Well played, Timber Army. Read more…

Sounder Facing Sexual Assault, Stalking Charges

If the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer want to feel like a real major league club, now they can - since one of their players could soon be facing charges of stalking & sexual assault.

Fredy Montero Seattle Sounders

The SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER reports that Fredy Montero is under investigation for sexually assaulting a Washington woman - and showing up in the woman’s neighborhood a week later. No charges have been filed yet, but the King County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the investigation.

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Speed Read: A Very Sane Start To March Madness

If the early games in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday were kind of a bust (except for the Memphis vs. Cal State Northridge game; sorry, no love for the “scrappy underdogs” - way to blow it, Matadors!), then the late games were … marginally more exciting. There was an actual upset, with No. 12 Western Kentucky taking down No. 5 Illinois, 76-72.

Western Kentucky celebrates win over Illinois

But then again, most experts were predicting that Western Kentucky would win this game ahead of time, due to the loss of the Illini’s starting point guard Chester Frazier with a broken hand, and the return of Hilltopper’s mascot from a broken right … orange blobby thing.

Western Kentucky mascot

No, the late games were more notable for the near misses than the upsets. Take No. 6 UCLA, which almost fell apart completely against Virginia Commonwealth, nearly blowing a 10-point halftime lead and having the ball in the hands of Rams star Eric Maynor with time expiring and a chance to win the game. (Not the person you want with the ball if you’re UCLA - just ask Duke) Fortunately for the Bruins, Darren Collison came to the rescue, forcing a hurried, off-balance miss from Maynor to hold on to a 65-64 win.

Darren Collison of UCLA and Eric Maynor of VCU

Speaking of blowing a lead … poor American. Just like their namesake economy, their 14-point second half lead against Villanova went into a deep recession, and there was no bailout package coming from the government. Playing in front of a partisan Philadelphia crowd (thanks, seeding committee!), the No. 3 Wildcats rallied later to survive a scare from the No. 14 Eagles, 80-67.

(Note to American University: nice try in attempting to gain our sympathy with your name: the American Eagles. Why don’t you just call yourself the American Heroes Who Died On 9/11 Who Will Weep In Heaven If You Root Against Us? It’s about as subtle.)

Not having trouble advancing was No. 2 Oklahoma, who trounced No. 15 Morgan State 82-57 behind 28 points and 13 rebounds from star Blake Griffin. However, Griffin did have one moment of problems: specifically, when the Bears’ back-up center Ameer Ali decided to practice his armbar takedown on Griffin after they got tangled up together:

It should go without saying that Ali was ejected, and then immediately escorted to St. Louis for the NCAA Wrestling Championships. Ali says the whole incident was unintentional and “a misunderstanding,” which I would only believe if I was Billy Packer and he was a Duke player who just shattered Tyler Hansbrough’s face.

(Not only has Griffin had to deal with this and sustaining a concussion a few weeks ago, but remember the cheap shot he received from USC’s Leonard Washington at the start of the year as well. Either Griffin in such a pacifist than he makes Gahndi look like Genghis Khan or he’s going to snap and pummel someone to death with his sneaker by the end of the tournament. Maybe this explains why he feels the need to lash out at society by peeing in bushes.)

For those of you who are part of the 80 percent of American males who managed to come down with a 48-hour bug starting yesterday morning, your slate of games today look good enough to help you cope with your “debilitating illness”. There are several games that have “Upset Special” written all over them, which probably means that the games will go chalk all day.

In other sports news from last night you might have missed as you polished up your…ahem…resume for a Rhode Island strip club’s job fair:

  • Martin Brodeur might be the winningest goalkeeper in NHL history, but the CBC reports that he might be the losingest ex-husband in the history of hockey: an appeals court ordered him to pay $500,000 a year in alimony to his ex-wife Melanie DuBois until 2020.
  • Martin Brodeur

  • It might be a sport played by drunk men with pot bellies, mullets and porn mustaches, but damn it, you must respect the rules of etiquette in bowling! The SACRAMENTO BEE reports that a dispute about who had right of way to bowl turned into a brawl at a Rocklin, CA, bowling alley featuring one man knocking out another man’s tooth with a bowling ball. <RUN FUNCTION TO READER: INSERT “BIG LEBOWSKI” JOKE HERE>
  • BUGS & CRANKS is focusing their considerable hatred on Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo, and his decision to spend Spring Training living on a houseboat. Apparently, if there was ever a movie made about Arroyo’s life, it would star Matthew McConaughy. And it would probably suck, but your significant other would drag you to it because he’s so “dreamy” and “laid back.”
  • Your semifinals for the World Baseball Classic are set (yes, that’s still going on) after Japan’s 6-2 victory over Korea. The defending champion Japanese will take on the U.S. in one game on Saturday at Dodger Stadium, while Korea faces off against Venezuela.
  • Speaking of the WBC and your apparent apathy to it, LARRY BROWN SPORTS says that Red Sox slugger Kevin Youklis is very upset with American fans for not showing up to the team’s games at the World Baseball Classic. This means you, Joe Six-Pack: even if you’ve lost your job, your house is being repossessed and your kids are being forced to share the same pair of shoes, that’s no excuse for not coughing up $45 a person for cheap seats.
  • How about a hearty welcome to the MLS for the Seattle Sounders, as Drew Carey’s expansion team drubbed New York Red Bull 3-0 in the team’s inaugural game. But I don’t care how many games this “new” Sounders team wins: I doubt they’ve have a music video of their highlights as cool as this collection of highlights from the NASL team in 1975 set to “The Hustle”:

  • I know he’s only been on the job for a couple of months, but here’s a friendly bit of advice to President Barack Obama: it’s probably not a good idea to make jokes about the Special Olympics, as the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR says you did on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” last night.
  • I guess they are teaching Hawaii Warrior football players to not quit on a play, but this is ridiculous: the HONOLULU ADVERTISER says that cornerback JoPierre Davis was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting the same female student twice within a four month period, and then knocking her unconscious at a nightclub. Big surprise: this isn’t his first run-in with the law.
  • While we wait to find out what athletes named come up as clients in the Houston prostitution ring, the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER has news of another brewing scandal: a secret, late-night warehouse that offered sex, drugs and high-stakes card games to its clients. When the club was raided, at least one former NFL player was there, and other athletes are said to be “frequent patrons.”
  • Yawn: another day, another LeBron James triple-double, going for 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. His feat led the Cavaliers to a 97-92 overtime victory over Portland as Cleveland tied an NBA record by committing only two turnovers - and one was at the end of overtime.

Which team has the most fans at Dodger Stadium for the World Baseball Classic this weekend?

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MLS Goes American Idol: Seattle Fans Pick Player

It’s just the latest proof that the world of sports is nearing total apocalypse, but it’s a good one: the MLS’s newest team, the Seattle Sounders, are officially opening the team’s final roster spot to the whimsy of largely uneducated, online fans.

jorge flores chivas
(This guy was a reality TV hit, but can Seattle copy Chivas’ thunder?)

According to the soccer blog THE OFFSIDE, the Sounders will post a list of contenders for the team’s final spot on the web site KING5.COM, the local TV station that will be hosting the tryout. Note that the contest is being hosted by local media, not the team’s official web site. The trialists will have bios, “comments from evaluators” and videos on the web site. And of course they’ll have their photos, which greatly increases the possibility that, for the first time, an athlete could make a professional roster just because pre-teen web savvy girls think he’s cute.

It’s worth noting that the winner of the online vote isn’t guaranteed the roster spot, but rather is given one of four spots in the competition’s final tryout show, which will air after the Super Bowl. Still, with a professional contract on the line, getting even a one-in-four shot is huge, particularly given just how unreliable a one-time exhibition can be. After all, how else can we explain Frederic Weis?

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Speed Read: Your MRI Machine Is Ready, Mr. Oden

Yup, Greg Oden hurt his foot less than three minutes into his first regular season game against the Lakers. That’s not a punchline to a joke, but the sad truth. He played through the first half before throwing in the towel. ESPN.COM reports that Oden suffered a mid-foot sprain, which sounds like a made up injury you would use to get out of work, but apparently you can get if you are made out of peanut brittle.

Greg Oden

Not that Oden was tearing the joint up. His stat line for the game: 0-4 from the field and five rebounds in 13 minutes.  Which puts him about on par with the rest of the Blazers, as they were thumped by Los Angeles 96-76. As for Oden…he has a trip to the MRI machine scheduled for later today, or as he calls it, “The Mother Ship.”

Derrick Rose

Having a much better NBA debut was Derrick Rose, who scored 11 points and had nine assists as the Bulls stuck it to their ex-coach Scott Skiles by beating the Bucks 108-95. Meanwhile, that clanging you heard in Boston was LeBron James rattling free throws all over the place against the Celtics. He missed four of eight free throws, all in the fourth quarter, and Cleveland fell 90-85.

Here’s some more of last night’s news, but be forewarned: Bud Selig says that he has the power to suspend this after six links.

Gary Danielson and Colt McCoy

  • CBS analyst Gary Danielson thinks that Texas runs a “junk offense” and that Georgia’s Matthew Stafford would be putting up Colt McCoy-type numbers in that offense, says the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. No SEC homerism there at all.
  • The man who saved the NBA during the lockout in 1999, according to the DETROIT NEWS? Not David Stern. Not Billy Hunter? Nope, it was Michael Curry.
  • Relax, says the DENTON RECORD-CHRONICLE: it turns out that those 15 North Texas football players tested positive for recreational drugs, not steroids. Which is great, because we wouldn’t want their run at an 0-12 season to be tainted.
  • The AP has a tip for Eli Manning - don’t let the defense read your lips when you call a play on fourth down. It kind of helps them know what to do.
  • The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS estimates that only 20,000 people will be on hand to see Stanford take on Washington State this Saturday, even though the Cardinal are 3-0 at home this year and fighting for a bowl berth.
  • Even after having beaten the Chargers in a thriller on Sunday, the NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE says that Saints coach Sean Payton was less than thrilled with the experience of playing in London.
  • The BOSTON GLOBE reports that Patriots’ nose tackle Vince Wilfork is going to be getting called to the Principal’s office - in this case NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell - for his blow to the head of Broncos’ QB Jay Cutler. Wait, I thought the Patriots were perfect schoolboys who never, ever committed any penalties?
  • Will the expansion Seattle Sounders get more from signing Swedish star Freddie Ljungberg than the LA Galaxy did from David Beckham? Arash Markashi of SI.COM thinks so.
  • Why would Isiah Thomas apparently continue to lie about his alleged sleeping pill overdose? The local police chief speculates to NEWSDAY it might be because of his contract. “If he takes drugs or whatever they may not owe him the $18 million. I have no idea.”
  • Remember when Joe Tiller said that Rich Rodriguez was a “snake oil salesman” after Purdue lost a big recruit to Michigan? The DETROIT FREE-PRESS says that there’s really no bad blood there. Really.

What will be Greg Oden’s next injury to knock him out of action?

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