Thursday, October 26, 2017

at Illinois

So it looks like it was late October for the beginning of the "Wisconsin's schedule is so soft that even if they go undefeated they won't make the Playoff" talk. And that talk is NONSENSE. No good, uninformed, fan-baiting NONSENSE. I'm here to make my annual guarantee that if Wisconsin is undefeated they will be playing in the Playoff. Fact. Lock it up. Championship.

There's simply no way a team that's currently 5th in the nation is left out of the Playoff if they're sitting at 13-0 with a B1G Championship win over a top 10 OSU/PSU. I don't wanna hear the nonsense about the soft schedule. So much of that crap is beyond our control that I don't see how you significantly ding us. Dingus? DINGUS!

I hate all the scheduling crap. Non-conference schedules are determined so far in advance that outside a handful of schools, it's a complete crapshoot in guessing who will be a good opponent 12 years from now. We did the LSU/Bama/LSU thing and even THAT wasn't safe given that LSU has been slipping. BYU has been a great football program in the last decade or so, but of course the year we travel there they're down. You simply cannot confidently and accurately predict which of your non-conference foes will be top 25 teams in 10 years.

And in B1G play, we are at the mercy of the scheduling gods to determine which crossover schools we get. Some years we end up with Michigan/MSU/OSU/PSU... some years we end up with the Indiana/Maryland/Rutgers cupcakes. The B1G adding another conference game would help, but it's tough for us that the rest of the West is so crappy.

I'm sure this just sounds like a laundry list of excuses. And you could very justifiably argue that we haven't LOOKED like the 5th best team in the country (fair and screw you hater). But let's get this in digital writing right now: 13-0 Wisconsin ABSOLUTELY, UNEQUIVOCALLY, INDUBITABLY gets stomped by Alabama in the Playoff thus making us wonder if we got what we wished for after all.  



Wednesday, October 18, 2017


I want you to know up front that I am truly sorry. My sports curse is infectious and it is spreading RAPIDLY. First we had #USMNT not qualifying for the World Cup. Then Aaron Rodgers shatters his clavicle on a hit that isn't technically dirty but still sucks because the ball is clearly out and GODDAMNIT THAT'S AARON RODGERS YOU'RE MANDHANDLING. The Cubs are on the ropes and to add insult to injury, UW's top hoops recruit for next year de-commits a month before signing day.

Every team I like is going to shit and there's really only one team left that hasn't been infected yet.

I'm so afraid that it's coming. I don't quite feel it in my bones yet, but it does feel like something bad is brewing. If it happens, I'm sorry. I can't say it's not my fault because maybe it IS my fault and I should go hide in a cafe in Alaska until college football season is over. I don't want to be the one to derail UW's glorious season.


PS - I'm just now realizing I wrote about an Alaskan cafe instead of an Alaskan cave, and I think the message remains clear. Not like they carry BTN in the Moosejaw Cafe in Anchorage.

PPS - What's the capital of Alaska? Anchorage? Nome? Alaska City? It's gotta be Anchorage... JUNEAU! DAMNIT!



Thursday, October 12, 2017


Oh I am feeling RANTY this week:

THE GODDAMN UNITED STATES NATIONAL TEAM DID NOT QUALIFY FOR THE WORLD CUP. Your reaction to this is most likely one of two feelings: complete indescribable anger or 'soccer is dumb who cares'. I really don't know how you find a middle ground there. And there is NO way to spin this. It is indubitably unspinnable. To be honest, I'm still struggling to just wrap my head about all of the implications:

1) I've spent the previous 3 years thinking I could take my sabbatical at work during the World Cup and go to Russia. That idea is now officially dead and my dream of going to a World Cup in person is now on hold until 2026, which sounds like the year the Jetsons took place in. Will probably be robot soccer by then. Ugh.

2) Remember how much fun it was watching the US games at bars where even soccer haters were on the bandwagon? There was so much HYPE. Faced with nothing but baseball, the World Cup gave us the intense sports fixation we craved. Now we get to hope Iceland does something cool.

3) Here's what I don't get: why is the US women's program the best in the world while the men's program is shit? Is it just less competition for the athletes to play other sports? Are more of our better female athletes sticking with soccer instead of spinning off to hoops/hockey/baseball/everything else? Does the women's program emphasize skill and tactics more than just relying on athleticism? WHAT IS THEIR SECRET, WHICH IS TECHNICALLY OUR SECRET? Give the women the @ussoccer handle, hire a female president of the US Soccer Federation, and build a men's program that SNIFFS the level of skill and success the women have.

4) Poor Christian Pulisic. We finally have a building block WORTH building around, and the best thing we could do for him was get him World Cup reps before he's old enough to drink. What do we do? Watch Jozy and Bradley and the rest of the vets come out flat and STAY flat against one of the worst teams in the entire world. Hopefully CP10's experience with Dortmund will keep him moving forward to superstardom, and hopefully he doesn't quit soccer and start playing football.

5) I'm done. I'm just so done. That was the most infuriating sporting event I've ever watched. I'm not joking when I say I've never been angrier after one of my teams lost a big game. After the UW/Duke title game I was depressed. After the '03 Cubs I was young and dumb and there's always next year. But this is in a class of its own, and that's a class I hope never grows.

Fire everyone. Burn it to the ground. Empower all the women. Embrace Pulisic. Go Iceland.


UPDATE: A commenter by the name of Aubrey has shed some light on why the women's program is a juggernut:

I love a good ranting. 
In regards to why the US women are so much more successful, there are a couple reasons. While men's soccer was becoming immensely popular through the late 19th Century in Europe and its colonial empire, women were still told their place was in the home. In fact, with a few exceptions for war (think a League of their Own), Euros did not want women playing soccer as it was viewed to be unfeminine. Organized women's leagues were banned in the UK and Germany until ~1970. The German soccer organization (DFB) stated: "this combative sport is fundamentally foreign to the nature of women" and that "body and soul would inevitably suffer damage". Further, the "display of the body violates etiquette and decency". So while the world has developed their men's programs for over 100 years, women's programs have lagged behind, creating less of a gap for us to overcome. 
The gap in men's soccer was largely caused in part because we were developing our own successful sports (football, baseball, even basketball and hockey). We also weren't part of the Europe colonial empire so it wasn't really impressed on us. 
Football and baseball aren't really sports that women are encouraged to participate in, so while many of our best men pursued those sports, women found their own favorite sports.  
Title IX is the real huge advantage for US women's soccer. When schools needed to add women's sports, soccer was a natural fit due to its affordability, the same reason it enjoys such success even in the third world. Title IX essentially created a developmental program for women that was unheard of in other countries. This gave us a significant advantage in the sport, which led to our first World Cup championship. As they say, success breeds success, and soccer exploded in popularity amongst American girls. In addition to school programs, travel teams and organizations blossomed and development became even more regimented. Europe has only begun to create developmental leagues for its women (they are getting better you might notice) somewhat recently.  
So... TL;DR: our women started on even footing, don't get to play football/baseball instead; Title IX; a history of winning



Thursday, October 5, 2017

at Nebraska

I'm not yet sure how I'm going to balance the incredible sports landscape this weekend. We've got simultaneous #USMNT World Cup Qualifier and Cubs/Nats game 1 Friday, Cubs/Nats game 2 rolled into UW/Nebraska Saturday, and then Packers/Cowboys for dessert on Sunday. October is off to a FLAMING hot start. Buckle up and strap it in.