I was there: Gold Cup Final

My apologies for taking two plus weeks to get around to posting these pictures – it wouldn’t be too much hyperbole to tell you that it took me that long to recover!

Let’s preface all of this by saying that if you are at all a fan of US Soccer, you should be a member of your local American Outlaws chapter. The Outlaws are a supporters group with chapters in more than 90 cities around the country.

We’re members of the AO group here in Milwaukee and mostly that means we hang out at a local soccer bar together watching games and talking US Soccer. But occasionally it means we get on a bus together and head to Chicago for things like the Gold Cup Final.
Membership is a paltry $20 a year. You get discounts for some soccer websites and travel sites as well as opportunities for advanced purchase of tickets to pretty much all USMNT and USWNT games. We’re so glad to have joined. Our local group has FB and Twitter pages and we love joining the discussion and meeting fellow soccer fans. It’s a great group and I’d advocate everyone joins.

So we bought our Gold Cup Final tickets the day they went on sale. We hedged our bets on the USMNT being there. We know that big international games only come near us (usually Chicago) every could of years. We decided that even if the USMNT didn’t make it, it would be a good time, so we were in no matter what. Using the AO advanced sale, we got our tickets first thing and had 10th row. We were stoked and then just had to sit back and enjoy the ride of the US through the qualifying stages.

We also knew this would be an easy trip for us – we wanted to get WCQ tickets in Columbus or Kansas City, but we also want to go to Europe next year, so we sort of settled on this Gold Cup final instead. In the end, I don’t feel like I settled, though. I’m sure US/Mexico will be bonkers, but I’m glad we did this. It was a good intro into the world of AO and supporters section mania.

So the morning of the game we gathered with other local AO members at our soccer bar and boarded a bus. The price of bus admission included beer, drinks and snacks. Someone did the math – there were 9.5 beers on board for each person. (Let me just say that as much as I love AO, I would have loved AO so much more when I was about 10 years younger!)

The bus trip alone was an experience. The “America playlist” was as varied as you’d imagine and somehow the song that had the most crowd participation was Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight” – there’s nothing like grown men shushing each other in anticipation of “the breakdown” and then playing the drums on the roof of the bus. It was a moment.

Chicago traffic was true to form, despite it being Sunday morning/early afternoon. The Chicago AO chapter as well as any others in town had met at a bar. The plan was to march to Soldier Field past the US Soccer Federation House, where President Sunil Gulati would address us. Thanks to traffic, we missed the bar part and had our bus driver take us straight to the Soccer House. We stood there and listened to the rest of the group march to us, which was awesome. Having got there first means that the Milwaukee chapter is featured prominently in the video of Gulati addressing the crowd (notice the cheesehead and AO Milwaukee scarves).

My pictures seem to have uploaded in all kinds of order and if you’re familiar with WordPress, you know why I’m not going to try to fix that. Sorry. It should be clear which pictures are the march to the stadium and which pictures are of the game and inside the stadium.

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Friday Miscellanea

Anthony Recker, for no particular reason.

Anthony Recker, for no particular reason.

I’m doing the sportswriter-mailing-it-in impression today and writing a post of snippets about unrelated sports things.  It has been an exhausting week.

  • Must read: this graphic essay on The Toast about why sports are awesome. Will be particularly enjoyable for our sizeable hockey fan contingent.
  • Also must read: our own Nicole’s article about the WWII Girls Baseball Living History League, which she recently joined. I am really, really bad at playing baseball, but if there was a New York branch of this I’d endure the humiliation of being unable to catch or hit (I can throw semi-okay) to participate.
  • Somewhat related to baseball history: Baseball Nation’s been photoshopping photos of new-ish stadiums to look like retro postcards. They did Busch III today, but I think my favorite so far is Citizens Bank Park.
  • NYC (along with I think, LA and Dallas?) Time Warner customers are currently enduring a standoff between TW and CBS. CBS is trying to push their luck with ads pointing out that TW customers will be unable to watch the PGA Championship this weekend or their preseason football coverage. Unfortunately for them, it’s hard to threaten “no NFL” coverage when LA has no team and the NYC team in question is the Jets.
  • Also, I refuse to watch pro football before Labor Day, as it is prime baseball season. The Cards haven’t had an off day in almost three weeks and I have at least checked in on every single game (which of course means they started losing a bunch). My boyfriend is streaming the Saints game right now and I’m pointedly not looking at the TV. Related: this might be why I’m usually not prepared for the fantasy football draft.
  • Peanuts and The Simpsons: both good at baseball math. I appreciate this, as I love both of these cultural whatevers, and the improbability of the football scenes in Friday Night Lights still distracts me from the overall awesomeness of the show.
  • Some of you know that I’ve been basically teaching my boyfriend to love baseball during the course of our relationship (for four years as of this weekend – Happy Anniversary, babe!). This week, while watching the Dodgers-Cards series, the instant Jerry Hairston came up to bat, he immediately identified him as “that guy I hate.” While with the Brewers, Jerry’s habit of stepping out of the box after every pitch drew particular ire from my boyfriend (and he saw it a lot, as this occurred during one of the seasons where the Brewers and Cards slugged it out for the division title and then played a playoff series). However, I believe this is the first recorded instance of my boyfriend recognizing a player who was not formerly with St. Louis or New York after he changed teams, without some prompting on my part. Poor Jerry.

Happy Friday!

Manning Brothers Get Us Ready For Football In The Most Hilarious Way Possible

Video

Not that we’re shilling for Direct TV, but you have to give the company props for pulling together this hilarious promotion for NFL Sunday Ticket that has already gathered almost two million hits as of this posting.

We’ve witnessed Peyton’s comedic chops on various occasions, but I have to admit I didn’t know Eli had this in him. Case in point, this line: “It’s like the milk is like football, and your blouse is the PHONE.”

I…I can’t even.

2013 MLB All Star Game: Shoe Porn Edition

All Stars Lineup

One of my favorite parts of the All Star festivities is the looser uniform restrictions. It reminds me of my days in Catholic school when we had to wear our uniforms on a field trip but could accessorize anyway we chose. Girls would wear crazy earrings and fun shoes with funky socks. We went buckwild, and it’s no different for the boys participating in the All Star Game.

That brings us to this year’s fashion statements. Use your fancy new cleats to jump over the break for some of this year’s best feet accessories.

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ESPN’s 9 for IX films about women by women

There are many negatives to say about the WWL, but one of the things they’ve consistently done well are their 30 for 30 films/documentaries. They’ve run the gamut from well-known topics to hidden gems and they’re always so well done. Even the most well-known of stories have been covered in a way that you didn’t feel like the topic was being re-hashed.

So when ESPN announced the 9 for IX series of films about women by women, I was pretty excited. They are touting it as from the producers of 30 for 30 and executive produced by Robin Roberts and Jane Rosenthal.

The first one debuted this week – called “Venus vs.” it was ostensibly about the fight for women’s singles players to earn an equal payout at Wimbeldon.

And I was thoroughly disappointed.

I do not follow tennis. I exist in this world, so I know who Venus Williams is and am aware of her career accomplishments. And so I was bored by this film. It was mostly a re-hash of each of her accomplishments, centered around Wimbeldon. Every so often, a screen would appear to show me that with those Wimbeldon wins, she earned less than the men’s winner. There was a few minutes about a meeting and a letter to the editor that were influential in changing the All England Club’s standards. But really, it was mostly about 45 minutes of Venus highlights. It felt like there was more talk about her hair beads than equal pay.

Again, I don’t follow tennis at all and I learned little to nothing new. And I just felt so sad that this was the intro to this film series. It left me bewildered and beyond concerned about the rest of the series.

Where I was once super-excited about the 1999 Women’s World Cup winning soccer team one, set to air August 20, I can only imagine I could probably write it word for word. And I’m afraid what kind of rhetoric about bras and abs it will include.

Maybe I’m jumping the gun and the films will redeem themselves – but you’d think they’d put one of the strongest ones at the front, to come out of the gate galloping. And if that’s the case, despite the fact that I set my DVR to record all 9 films, I’m imaging my finger will be reaching for the delete button early on.

The films were made in part to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX, but man do they really fail to live up to that legacy. It seems like maybe the idea and the goal was one thing, but the execution and final product was something else altogether. I can’t help but wonder if in the interim, ESPN and it’s executives pulled back on the reins. Because I felt no excitement or empowerment from “Venus vs.”

Did anyone else watch? What was your take?

Blatant Homerism

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There’s just something about hearing that a pitcher has a no-hitter in play that makes you shed your team loyalty and cheer like mad. That’s how I felt tonight when I received the alert that Reds pitcher Homer Bailey, he who was separated at birth from Christian Bale, was working on his 2nd career no-no Tuesday night against the Giants.

A single career no-hitter is an amazing feat on its own. But two no-hitters, and you find yourself in the company of the likes of Nolan Ryan.

Bailey was perfect through seven, threw a total of 109 pitches, 74 strikes and struck out nine batters.

I doubt I’ll pay any more attention to Cincinnati from here on out. But for tonight, it was fun to cheer for the pitcher who delivered the first no-hitter of this season (and the last one of last season!)