Football

Bases Loaded: MLB.tv Across the Pond

Bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, two outs and the count is 3 and 2. It’s all down to this, if the ball is despatched into crowd, via the inky black night sky. The game is won. Miss, and the glory is theirs.

MLB on Apple TV almost like being there... well maybe

MLB on Apple TV almost like being there… well maybe

My first brush with baseball came with the launch of Channel 5 in the mid 90’s. Late night, after the low rent porn movies, I would sit and watch. I chose a team, based on name only; The Royals of Kansas City. The Royals also being the name of Reading FC.

Both sets of Royals during this period were less than good.. Also I can’t recall Channel 5 showing a single one of the KC Royals games. Now however, thanks to the glory of my Apple TV I can enjoy, every single strike out or homer of the MLB season regardless of whether I can stay up to see the games or not. My allegiances have changed somewhat. The draw of the Yankees and the influence of a friend who is far too wonderful for her own good, means that I now follow the boys from the Bronx.

MLB.tv is included on all Apple TV’s second gen onwards (and 39 other devices). It is a subscription service in the UK it costs £89 per year. I didn’t sign up for the whole year, because I wasn’t sure I’d get into it or if most of the games would be at stupid o clock so I signed up via MLB.com which lets you use Paypal to pay monthly. From there you sign into your account via Apple TV and you are good to go.

The MLB.tv subscription includes access to the great MLB At Bat App for mobile devices, which allows you to follow more action than you’ll ever have time for, wherever you are. You can enquire about that hitter whilst on the shitter if you so desire. You have stats, video and audio feeds.

Baseball itself for the uneducated English gent; Forget comparisons to Rounders, yes this is where the game originates but to compare it now is like comparing an iPad to a Newton. Think Cricket, think T20. If you stripped some of the English away from that and replaced it with some American English terms you’ll be halfway there. (My favourite term from last nights game was “Nowhere man’s land.” So no mans land then!) The game itself is not typical of American sport, there are long periods of action, at a low level (like cricket) but then it can change in a split second and be over quicker than an excited virgin. This is an American showcase but without the usual need to score a point every other second.

Yankee2WM

Thanks for the images.. you know who you are 😉

The Premier League take note. This is how sport should be delivered, all the games (for UK viewers, blackouts are in effect in North America) whenever you want. No adverts (yes really!) I want to be able to watch my team play, be it at the ground or via Apple TV in my pants. If you like Baseball or even have a passing interest. Well worth a look.

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(WMB4X) If There’s Grass on the Pitch…

The World Cup, the premier football competition, the one they all want to win and unlike the World Series (which I know was named after a Newspaper) it is truly a global event. Because of FIFA’s global conquest to spread the game to all corners of the globe the 2022 tournament will take place in Qatar. That and a whole bunch of money, a ridiculous amount of money.

With every new major sporting event there comes redevelopment of the areas which will stage the pieces of history. London 2012’s Olympic Park would be a prime example of how they do things outside of football with a new stadium and aquatic centre built amongst other things.

Recently The Qatar supreme committee unveiled their ‘Olympic Park’, their ‘Wembley’.

This was designed by the same woman who designed London’s Aquatic centre Zaha Hadid. Very elegant and contemporary it is. However it does remind me of something, I was thinking it might be my dirty mind but it does remind me somewhat of a “lady garden” Now before I get accused of being a disgusting individual other folks have noticed this too and they have put this to the architect. She isn’t happy with the comparison. Stating:

“It’s really embarrassing that they come up with nonsense like this. What are they saying? Everything with a hole in it is a vagina? That’s ridiculous.”

That in itself is fair comment I suppose. However as I write this I am watching West Bromwich Albion play Aston Villa. Neither of those teams have a home ground that looks anything like a vagina, the Hawthorns and Villa Park both have “the hole” but I’ve never thought wow this place really shouldn’t be shown before the watershed. But art, and this art, is up for interpretation.

I have problems with this addition though:

“Honestly, if a guy had done this project, critics would not be making such lewd comparisons.”

I beg to differ. If a man designed something to look like a massive vagina people would mention it. Woman-kind would protest, some might even say how disgusting it was. The sex of the designer is irrelevant. I realise that architecture is not exactly an area where women are able to flourish as opportunities for high profile projects go to men and Zaha Hadid has probably had to work her arse off to get a foot in the door, but comments like this do little to aid the case of female equality.

I liken it to the “Is it because I is Black” comments of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali G or me blaming me not getting any hits on this blog because I am disabled. You can’t allow yourself that cop out, because it is not giving your critics a valid response and that leads to a lazy artist always unwilling to use the criticism to improve.

I think this stadium looks good. Zaha Hadid would have been much better off saying “A vagina you say, well now you mention it….”

Image from http://www.theregister.co.uk (I needed the image to illustrate my point please don’t sue me)


Please visit the Resident Weeble who likes a good stadium as much as the next man

Justice for the 96…. but no respect

15th April 1989, Sheffield England. FA Cup Semi Final day. Liverpool vs Nottingham Forest. All that should have been lost that day was the hope of an FA Cup Final place. As it was it was a day that caused 96 people to lose their lives. It has been a long fight for the fans of Liverpool Football Club to clear the names of their fallen, who were blamed for the Hillsborough disaster. A fight which continues some 24 years on.

Today we played Liverpool at the Madejski Stadium. (0-0 Final Score) We observed a minute silence for the 96 who lost their lives at Hillsborough. I thought although time has moved on, the game that we share and the love for our respective clubs shall forever remain. Thankfully there are now safety regulations in place that should prevent such a terrible disaster occurring again. All seater stadiums, Police surveillance, prohibited items. Fireworks and flares for example are not allowed, by stadium rules. Fans found with such items could face a football banning order (stopping them attending any match anywhere in the UK) or even prison.

So “Justice for the 96” sang the Liverpool end. Rightly so.

“Lets all do the conga, cos Maggie is no longer.” OK Macabre but I can see why Liverpool fans might rejoice in the death of a woman who presided over a botched enquiry into the death of their loved ones. Football humour has always been dark.

However. At kick off, a certain section of Liverpool fans let off a huge red smoke flare. Then at various points during the first half let off fireworks. Both prohibited by stadium rules, and endangering the wellbeing of others in their end. Police did nothing as far as I saw, there were no loud bangs in the second half so I assume either the Police did something quietly at half time or simply that there were no more fireworks to be set off.

There are two sets of double standards here as far as I can see. Firstly, if Reading fans even as much as stand up during the game they are told instantly by stewards to sit. Liverpool fans stood throughout. If a Reading fan took a flare into a away ground. They would be looking at a night in a cell. Apparently it is ok for Liverpool fans.

The second set of double standards is the issue I have most problem getting my head around. 96 people died, but they did not die in vein. Because of those people we now have a better game to see, in better equipped and safer venues. A game which can be enjoyed by all, safe in the knowledge that for 99% of the time the only thing that will be hurt at football is pride.


99% because there is always that 1% of people. Morons who don’t have a thought in their head. Don’t sing of Justice for those killed at a football match, whilst standing, running up and down the stands without a care for those around you. Don’t sing of Justice and light a flare, a flare which induce an asthma attack and kill someone. Don’t sing of Justice and let off a firework which could explode and kill one more of your own.

I’m sure those 96 would be proud.
Liverpool

 

He Used to Manage Slough.. He’s Not a Royal Now

Loyalty in Football it’s a rare thing indeed. Always an agent that can get you a better deal than you are on, at a more prestigious club. Players, managers everyone involved and why not. Almost everyone wants to progress and make as much money in the process just as this was any other industry. But it’s different.

Lets say you work a manufacturing plant, managing a small team of 25. When you were appointed in 2009 their work was shoddy and disorganised, no-one brought your product. Your predecessor was an arrogant man with a God complex who wanted to re-invent the wheel. You had been working under him. You did your bit quietly and professionally making a good impression on those who would become your team.

You stabilise the ship. Getting your team to produce some very good work, with minimal expenditure. It is not quite on a consistent level yet but that’s ok. Your products are gaining a good market reputation, and even when some of the best manufacturing operatives moved on to seek out opportunities in Germany you still manage to galvanise the team. Quietly working with a great passion and professionalism.

A year or two goes by. Your team missed out at the 11th hour on a huge contract worth in excess of £90 million. The CEO keeps the faith, and a year later you win an industry award and the new Russian owner nails his colours to your mast and gives you a new contract. Manufacturing with the biggest and brightest lights in the industry. In this line of work you would be given time to stabilise, maybe even fall back a little and consolidate for another assault on new markets. You are lauded as your industries leading light and your company is proud.

If you are in football you get the sack.

Brian McDermott turned down an approach in February 2012 from the then Premier League club, Wolves, to stay at Reading and “finish what I started” which he duly did. Winning the Championship for only the second time in the clubs history. Earlier this week he was sacked.. I have waited a few days before writing this piece. I am so angry. Granted results haven’t been what they should have been this year and the club does sit join bottom of England’s top flight. However I am disgusted that Brian’s loyalty (been with the Club since 2000) and work counts for nothing.

Just after Christmas, Southampton, a team who gained promotion by finishing second behind us last year, sacked Nigel Adkins. I have to admit I don’t like Southampton or Adkins. I laughed. I thought that is a poor way to treat a manager who has got you so much success. That would never happen at Reading. We are a well run club, not prone to press the panic button. How wrong I was.

Brian took us from the brink of Division One (Third tier of English football) to the Premier League. He did it not by spending millions on prima donnas but by building a close knit team of players, displaying a quiet air of determination to WNG (Win Next Game) He is a man who lives and breathes football and always acted with the best interests of Reading Football Club in mind. Thanks Brian for all you achieved and the memories which you helped create. I wish you every success and I hope you find a club which treats you with the respect your talent deserves.

Save us from Di Canio.

Brian McDermott: Out on his own

Brian McDermott: Out on his own

Teaching the Kids to “Play” the Game

It’s not often I find myself agreeing with Robbie Savage (ex Wales, Blackburn, Derby etc Footballer, now BBC Pundit and Presenter of the BBC 5 Live 606 Show) Robbie as a player and a pundit delights in being controversial. He was a player you hated if he played against you, but loved if he wore your colours. A character in a sea of blandness, a Simon Cowell on X-Factor, a twat who is compulsive viewing rather like a Panto Villain.

By TuborgLight (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Last night I listened in to 606, in the bath if you must know. I only tend to listen when Reading win, so I’ve only caught it a few times this season. Robbie said this:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p013zscj (Sorry it’s probably UK only)

To summarise for non UK readers (yeah the millions of you!) Robbie said that as a professional a player should foul an opponent deliberately, taking a yellow card in the process to prevent a goal.

If you managed to click the link (well done) you will have also heard several kids coaches phoning up and bemoaning this standpoint. Because it is breaking the rules. Yes I suppose it is, but it’s playing the game. One caller who’s call was not included in it’s entirety went on to compare this viewpoint with the cheating exploits of Lance Armstrong. Mr Armstrong has was not punished immediately with a yellow card, Mr Armstrong pleaded his innocence until the very last, and his actions were entirely in his own interest. Robbie is advocating “taking one for the team.”

We appear to have a warped view of fair play in this country. I have heard many a tale of schools football where one player has scored 10 goals in the first half of a game, only to be taken to one side by the coach and reprimanded for “being unfair” to the other kids. A solid player is valued in the English game rather than a player who is brilliant. Lionel Messi would have been rejected by English coaches because he is small. England would be proud it seems to produce 100 John Terry’s before one skilful player slipped through the net.

Part of professional sport is knowing how far one can bend the rules, to gain an advantage. It’s part of any game, it’s part of the entertainment,, the boxer who wins the mind game before the fight, the cricketers sledging. Diving is cheating, deception of the referee to gain an advantage, bending the rules too far. Fouling (with no intent to injure) to break up play and maybe stop your team conceding is not. It’s high time that we stopped teaching kids how to play the game, and started teaching them how to win, not at any cost, but win, and not stifle skill, talent or desire to triumph.

MK Dons vs The Real Dons

Yes it’s a football post. But even those of you who aren’t fans of the beautiful game maybe interested in this so stick with it.

Pretend for a moment that a cornerstone in your life disappeared, a thing you like to do with your friends every week upped and moved away overnight. 70 miles (or so) by road away. Meaning that to do your thing, you faced a 140 mile round trip and 120 minutes in the car. You’d be pretty annoyed. Particularly if your chosen thing had been around for a good time in the local area, being successful.

In 2001 Pete Winkelman decided to move Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes, a relatively new town with no football club of any note. In their old guise Wimbledon had won the FA Cup against all the odds beating the then all powerful Liverpool in a memorable Wembley final. Wimbledon have always been the ultimate underdog story, at times homeless, but striving with almost a English war time spirit to survive. The crazy gang era of the 80’s and 90’s started the careers of Vinny Jones and Denis Wise, two of the original “love to hate” characters that set the English game apart from the more polished La Liga or Serie A.

I have just watched the new Wimbledon, AFC Wimbledon founded in 2002 by fans after their club was ripped away from them, lose to MK Dons (what their Wimbledon became) 2-1 in the FA Cup. AFC Wimbledon has risen from the bottom of English football to reach the forth tier in a remarkably short time. This FA cup meeting was the first in the two clubs history.

As I watched on the TV I was amazed by how many fans MK Dons have. I know football is popular and people will watch games on park lands all over the UK but most Football Clubs here are older than America! Families go back generations supporting the same club, it’s part of peoples DNA a religion of sorts. One based on blood sweat and tears rather than lies and conjecture mind.

I have to come clean here. I am the football equivalent of a born again christian. Until I was 14 I supported Tottenham Hotspur, despite living in Reading. I regret this. My family had a tradition of supporting Spurs so I went with it. In 1994 I went to Elm Park with my Dad, since that day I have been loyal to my home town club. Back to MK…

Who are these people? Who did they support before? Did they even like football? Watching them celebrate their teams win is rather like watching a football movie, someone yelled action and all the crowd extras jumped up and down. Actors for hire. This might be unfair, but football is a game steeped in tradition. A badge of honour, cliche but a truism, for all the changes in Football from being a working mans game to the big business opportunity it has become, the fans remain just as their fathers and grandfathers did. Just paying more money.

MK Dons, there but for the grace of God go I.

Promotion 2012.. or 1912

Promotion 2012.. or 1912

5-7

I have witnessed a lot of things at the Madejski Stadium. Yesterday I saw a game that finished with a score of 5-7. Depressing thing is I didn’t go back on my promise never ever to watch another London Irish rugby fixture.

Reading 5
Arsenal 7

Even as I now write it in the cold light of day I can barely believe it. Going into the game I thought we would lose, I always do. Even when we won the Championship (English Second Flight) with a record 106 points, until it was mathematically certain I thought we would conspire to lose it. It’s the Reading way, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory with un-erring accuracy.

Even I, the most pessimistic of football fans, thought we couldn’t possibly lose at 4-1 up at half time. We had dominated, with only Theo Walcott appearing to want to play for Arsenal in the first half. He deserved this goal. More was to come. Before the Walcott goal at 4-0 we gave it the big un. Taunting Arsenal fans, and at 4-0 it was like shooting fish in a barrel. The classic jibe about Robin Van Persie “Laughing at this.” Should have stuck in my memory for years. At half time sections of the crowd were asking for a change of board. “We want our Arsenal back” they shouted. Unfortunately for us they got their wish sooner than even they could have hoped for.

We knew Arsenal would come out all guns blazing. The old cliché “If we can keep it tight for the first twenty minutes” was uttered. Wave after to wave of attack, we weathered the storm for twenty four minutes. Then opened the flood gates. I watched in a kind of drunken nightmareish haze. No-one not even us can lose from 4 nil up. I’ll wake up in a minute.

Various people have mentioned the referee, who deemed it right to play for 96 minutes instead of the 93 he had previously stated. In those added three minutes Arsenal scored their forth goal. This makes no difference to me. In all sport, you play until the end. If the ref saw fit to play until midnight (however wrong) then the teams must play.

4-4 Extra time. Thousands of Londoners (some from “Just round the corner) jumping around like loons at a Sex Pistols gig. Three sides of the Mad Stad silent. Dazed, onlookers. Arsenal scored to make it 4-5. Ludicrous. But at least it was over, the torment of the turnaround. Done.

No but wait. Step forward Pavel Pogrebnyak to offer more false hope than a cheap rancid psychic medium searching for a missing child. 5-5. Now it was our turn to pogo like punks. Game on, we can do it. Get in! Push for a 6th.

Caught upon a wave of optimism. We lost the ball, they scored.. twice more. I would describe it but like a person involved in a horrific accident I have blocked it out. It is a blur.

Usually when we suffer a defeat, I think to myself, it’s part of the reason I go. Not to see us lose, but to experience the lows so that when those oh so infrequent highs come by I can take it all in. But 5-7…. All I can think is maybe we’ll get a sponsorship deal with Heinz next year and for all I hate my job I’m pleased I’m not a football manager. Where the hell do you go from here.

By Organic_Heinz_Tomato_Ketchup.jpg: Gordon Joly derivative work: Octave.H (Organic_Heinz_Tomato_Ketchup.jpg) [CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

(BDYBIS) The Addiction

Ok BDYBIS 16. I was going to write about the Reading vs Tottenham game today, but we lost 3-1 and I don’t feel very much like writing about that. Call me a poor loser if you like, because I am. On the quiet of course I’m British after all. I like for things I like to win. Winning even by association makes you feel good, ask Charlie Sheen.

Part of the reason the Olympics were so good this time around is because people in the UK felt so much more involved with successes of the athletes. That is the attraction of being a sports spectator. You live with the hope of often infrequent highs, you live in anticipation that one day, just one day everything will come right and you will have your day in the sun. People who don’t “get” sport say it is pointless. Just some guys kicking a ball around or unfeasibly flexible girl balancing on a beam. Sport is much more than the activity itself.

By Francesco (cenci88) (Flickr: Gymnastic Artistic2) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sport spectating, the eternal balancing act.

It’s the day. The travelling to the venue, the nervousness over something you have almost no control over. Crowds can influence, hugely. They can encourage and destroy someone maybe even at the same time, the lines are narrow. The criticism that would spur on someone like John McEnroe to prove the critics wrong would destroy someone of a more sensitive disposition. Sport is not played by machines, athletes at their peak will go to great lengths to maintain a neutral emotion, often with great success. Steve Davis in the 80’s springs to mind. The human being is always in there though.

One year following Reading I went to every away game bar 5 or so, not a boast as there are some that go week in week out. This season was not a good one. On our travels my Dad and I saw the team win once. Why did we continue to go? I mean you wouldn’t watch a turkey of a theatre performance more than once would you? Well whilst football has been bashed this year, it is a living breathing theatre. Unscripted you never know what is going to happen. World beaters last week turn into players who look like they have never met, seemingly overnight. So you go to reach the highs again.

It’s addictive.

It’s not just football, any and every spectator sport has twists and turns that even a EastEnders script writer would dismiss as far fetched. So whilst I experience the low tonight the Spurs fans will bask in their deserved glory. Both of us knowing, each feeling is fleeting and to have experienced the lows means we can truly enjoy the high.

(BDYBIS) 60 Million Dollar Season

Last April, something amazing happened. My mighty Reading FC won promotion to the Premier League by beating Nottingham Forest 1-0. A league title followed and we were once again the promised land.

A rainy bus parade Photo courtesy of the Resident Weeble

Time passes. The summer of sport progressed, with a lacklustre Euro 2012, followed by a spectacular Olympic games. So much so that the build up to the Premier League was not what it should have been in terms of excitement. Although as the season kicked off at home to Stoke City our return was complete.

We got a point on the board from that game. 1 point in our quest to gain a guaranteed 60 million pounds next year. You see this year is all about next year. The TV contract for the 2013-2014 season has been decided and the money invested will rise 70%. The bottom side in the Premier League next year will “win” 60 million. Which is more than Manchester City got for winning the title last year.

It is obscene. 60 million for being the worst. Although as a fan it’s got to be good news because even the boards at Rangers and Portsmouth combined couldn’t burn through 60 million pounds that quickly. At Reading currently, we are a well run club, so it should ensure we are competitive for years to come.

So as much as the scenes captured here in the promotion parade are great to relive, I don’t want to see them occur again. Because that will mean we survived, rubbing shoulders with the big boys.

Reading FC Champions Bus Parade from slowlycreepingdeath on Vimeo.

Whilst I Was Sleeping

Whilst my motivation has been lacking I missed:

Jimmy Carr and Tax
Team DB not for Team GB
Microsoft Surface
Euro 2012
Murray Mania

So because I know you are all dying to hear what I (the angry masses) thinks about all this microblog a go go.

Jimmy Carr

Rich man employs people to pay as little tax as possible shocker. “It’s not fair” scream the masses all of whom would have done the same thing if they had:

1. Thought of it
2. Could afford a decent accountant.

Life isn’t fair, people will always want more for less in return. Human nature folks, embrace it.

Team DB not for Team GB

David Beckham 25 year old footballer plays for Man Utd and England, he has the vibe of a man who has yet to reach the pinnacle of his career, he has a wicked right foot that can fizz crosses into the box and he can hit a dead ball with style similar to that of Roberto Carlos. So it is a travesty that this young talented player has been denied a chance to perform at London 2012. What do you mean he’s 37 and a bit part player in LA? You are kidding me???

The Olympics is supposed to be for athletes who are at the peak of fitness to compete with each other according to Olympic ideals and values. Yes David Beckham gave a lot to bring the games to London but so did Seb Coe. I don’t see anyone mounting a campaign for him to get out his running spikes. Why? Because he had his time. As has Beckham.

Microsoft Surface

Finally a piece of hardware that suits Windows 8. An iPad killer? No. I don’t think so one because the iPad fitted into an ecosystem that was already in existence, and the distribution plans are shaping up to be a nightmare. On launch the Surface will only be available at Microsoft Stores and online in the states. How many stores? Less than 30!

Euro 2012

England were ok. Despite all the press saying we failed. We played a defensive game versus Italy that nearly worked. Boring well maybe, but defending is part of the game too. Spain were a cut above. The dutch need to actually like each other, relax in each others company. Maybe over a smoke and a pancake.

Murray Mania

Tennis. I can watch. Not the greatest fan but I can watch. Wimbledon however seems to be surrounded by people who are unaware that Tennis is played as part of a world tour. They seem to think that Tennis pros play for 2 weeks in a year. I don’t think Andy Murray will ever win Wimbledon which is a shame for him and Scotland.