Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Now THAT'S a Nickname

There have been some rumors about Scottish striker Kevin Kyle being brought in by the San Jose Earthquakes. Normally I wouldn't care the least about a journeyman striker with tenuous claims of interest from MLS. In mister Kyle's case however, I must make an exception because of his most excellent nickname. Here's the details, courtesy of the wonders of Wikipedia:
In 2006 Kyle received the dubious nickname of "Scaldin' Balls" from the Daily Mirror, a parody of David Beckham's "golden balls" nickname, after Kyle missed one of Sunderland's matches after scalding his testicles with boiling water

You've got to love the British media. I can only imagine the heated editorial discussion as the Mirror's staff chose between scaldin' balls, boilin' balls and hunka hunka burnin' junk.

MLS and the FIFA Club World Cup

A few days ago, Gamba Osaka of Japan defeated Pachuca of Mexico to claim third place in the FIFA Club World Cup. Interestingly, both teams had one opponent in common this year -- the Houston Dynamo.

Gamba beat Houston 6-1 in the ridiculous Pan-Pacific Championship in February. Houston later defeated Pachuca 2-0 during the Superliga tournament. Does that make Houston the fourth-best team in the world? Of course not, but it's an interesting footnote.

Monday, December 22, 2008


I've been thinking seriously about switching from playing the Pro Evolution Soccer series and giving the long-running FIFA franchise a try. There's a number of things that bug me about PES 2008 -- including the increased grass friction that makes long ground passes difficult and the continued lack of an MLS license.

My biggest gripe is that somewhere between Winning Eleven 9 and PES 2008 the developers changed the shooting controls. In all the previous incarnations of the game you pushed right or left to aim for the right or left side of the goal. Now you push up or down. I spent many, many hours swearing at this game until I figured out what they had done. Why the hell did they do this? Someone at Konami has a smack upside the head coming to them.

I'm willing to give FIFA 09 a try, but one thing is holding me back. It has quite possibly the worst ad in the history of video games.

Why on earth would I want to listen to sixty seconds of someone half-heartedly yelling goal? Lord almighty is that annoying.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

How do you say "corked bat" in Swedish?

Seattle Sounders fans can't be too happy right now. Midfielder, Designated Player and former underwear fancier Freddie Ljungberg had hip surgery this week which will knock him out of action for 10-12 weeks. He will thus miss most of training camp and might not be ready for the start of the season.

Sadly some folks must have seen this coming. He's had on-again, off-again hip and ankle problems as far back as 2005 when he played for Arsenal. He also had a bizarre bout of blood poisoning supposedly brought on by one of his large tattoos.

Seattle better hope this is a blip on the radar, otherwise they will end up being the Baltimore Orioles of MLS (minus the cool retro stadium.) In 1998 Baltimore signed Albert Belle to a five-year, $65 million contract. In return the Orioles ended up with one good and one average season followed by three years on the disabled list so an insurance policy could pay his guaranteed salary. So what felled the once mighty Albert Belle... *drum roll* a degenerative hip problem.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Without much fanfare, Jeff Cunningham joined an elite group this past season. In August he scored his 100th goal, making him only the fourth player to do that. The others are:

Jaime Moreno (122)
Ante Razov (114)
Jason Kreis (108)

With his next goal, Taylor Twellman of the Revolution will join this group. If that happens (and the others continue playing) the league could have four active players with at least 100 goals.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

EVERY Kiss???

By now, I'm guessing every life form that's been near a television in the last year has been exposed to this ad campaign for Kay Jewelers...

I have no qualms with the ad itself (other than the fact that if he's serious enough to give her jewelry, he should be serious enough to learn ASL) but every kiss? Anyone who's been to college knows that a large percentage of kisses begin with alcohol...

I suppose it's catchier than "Every kiss begins with Kay... except the ones that begin with Gin."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Shooting Mutant Hellbeasts is Fun

A review of House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return for the Nintendo Wii

When I saw that this game had been released for the Wii, I was very excited. These arcade games were some of my favorites, thanks in no small part to the controllers which allowed you to point a gun-like apparatus at the screen and blow legions of horrible undead to kingdom come.

The games are a direct port of the arcade games, with all the primitive graphics and unintentionally hilarious voice acting included. I had a blast fighting my way through the genetic freaks unleashed by scientists who tampered in God's domain.

I did experience one huge problem with the game. In order to reload your gun, you need to point it off screen. There were a number of times when the game didn't seem able to distinguish the edges of the screen from off screen, and the gun would get in a perpetual loop of loading -- even though the cursor was visible on screen and I was pulling the trigger. Occasionally this would even happen when the cursor was in the middle of the screen. At times this made the game almost unplayable.

My verdict -- rent this game and shoot things until your wrist is sore from holding it straight at the screen.

Let's Go Bowling...

Gone are the days when your school qualifying for a college football bowl game actually meaning something. The proliferation of bowl games means everyone with a half-decent record or a large contingent of traveling fans goes to a bowl game. Recent additions include the EagleBank Bowl, San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl and my personal favorite, the prestigious Meineke Car Care Bowl. I didn't even make those up -- they are real bowl games.

If we're going to keep adding more bowl games, I respectfully submit these new names that adhere to truth in advertising standards:
  • The Contrived Sponsorship Opportunity Bowl
  • The Excuse For Alumni to Go Somewhere Warm and Drink Bowl
  • The At Least You're Over .500 Bowl
  • The Popular But Mediocre Teams Bowl
  • The Scrounging For Tourism Dollars Bowl

I'd list more, but I can't concentrate. I'm too excited thinking about the upcoming Bowl.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Enter the Devastator

A review of Mercenaries 2: World In Flames for the XBOX 360.

In Mercenaries 2 you play as a mercenary (surprising, I know) who becomes embroiled in the military takeover of Venezuela. It's an open-world game where you take on missions from the various factions trying to control the country (the big oil companies, Maoist guerrillas, etc) and generally cause mayhem and destruction on your path to vengeance upon the people who shot you in the rear.

As I played, I kept getting the sense that I'd seen this all before. Eventually it dawned on me -- this game is Grand Theft Auto... with airstrikes. On the upside, the controls are good, and the destruction you can cause is both huge and beautiful. One of my favorite things is the weapons practice where you shoot marble busts. Mmmm... physics-y gorgeousness.

The game also has a sense of humor. Early in the game you're sent to retrieve an experimental vehicle called "the devastator," which turns out to be the scooter seen below.

My final verdict -- it's fun, but it wasn't fun enough for me to buy. Rent it first and decide whether it's something you want to add to your permanent collection.

Image by Encogen

Monday, December 01, 2008

CCL Result By Country - Group Stage Complete

The group stage is complete, and the "country standings" have changed to reflect what most would have said before the competition started -- the Mexican league is the strongest in CONCACAF.

Mexico 15 5 7 61 25 36 55.6% 1.93
Canada 4 1 3 11 5 6 50.0% 1.88
Honduras 6 3 5 26 15 11 42.9% 1.64
Puerto Rico 3 2 3 12 12 0 37.5% 1.50
Costa Rica 3 3 2 9 12 -3 37.5% 1.38
El Salvador 2 3 3 9 12 -3 25.0% 1.13
Guatemala 2 3 3 13 18 -5 25.0% 1.13
Joe Public 3 5 0 9 16 -7 37.5% 1.13
Panama 4 7 5 21 25 -4 25.0% 1.06
USA 2 9 5 15 31 -16 12.5% 0.69
Nicaragua 0 1 1 0 1 -1 0.0% 0.50
Jamaica 0 1 0 0 3 -3 0.0% 0.00
Belize 0 2 0 0 12 -12 0.0% 0.00

The following countries had teams move on to the knockout round:
Mexico (4) Cruz Azul, Atlante, Pumas, Santos Laguna
Honduras (1) Marathon
USA (1) Houston Dynamo
Canada (1) Montreal
Puerto Rico (1) Puerto Rico Islanders