Monday, June 14, 2010

Spitfire Thoughts (World Cup edition)

Like many of you, I have kept a close eye on the world cup. These are a few of my thoughts after the first several days of the tournament.

  • Most impressive team as of 06/14 - Germany. The Germans put on a clinical and comprehensive beatdown of the Socceroos from Australia. Miroslav Klose scored for his third straight world cup, after a fruitless club season in Germany. The Germans patiently built up from the back and picked their spots for the full 90 minutes seemingly at will. The current crop of young talent seems poised for the big stage and will keep Germany at the top of the soccer world for years to come. Lukas Podolski, Thomas Muller, and substitute Cacau completed the goalscoring for a 4-0 final tally. After the game, German coach Joachim Low admitted that his side will see far superior competition in the coming weeks; however, his team looked like a well-oiled machine in their first match of the group stage. I expect them to make a deep run, maybe to the semi-finals. The Germans' next match will be Friday morning vs. the Serbs.

  • Most disappointing team as of 06/14 - France. The French don't deserve to be here in the first place, but I'll regretfully not get too much into that. Legendary "Les Bleus" midfielder Zinedine Zidane put it bluntly when speaking about manager Raymond Domenech: "He is not a coach." Say no more, Zizou. This is a side full of dazzling individual talents; there are 11 different agendas going on at once. There is no creativity, no communication on the pitch, and no sense of urgency. I'm not sure how such a talented team can continue to underperform on a consistent basis. The scoreless draw against 10-man Uruguay was a real bad look for the French and only a drastic change in leadership in a short period of time will right the ship.

  • Overrated team - England. Say what you want about Dempsey's goal being a fluke, the Americans deserved a point from their Saturday match against the English. While many across the pond will surely disagree, for me England is a step below the likes of Spain, Brazil, Germany and maybe the Netherlands as well. Rooney seems a bit off, the goalkeeping debacle has reached new heights, and a second striker has yet to step up. They'll still get out of the group, but after that we'll see. However, I thought Gerrard was the best outfield player on the pitch against the U.S.

  • 5 who have impressed me so far: Mesut Ozil - Germany, Tim Howard - USA, Siphiwe Tshabalala - South Africa, Vincent Enyeama - Nigeria, Giovani Dos Sanots - Mexico.

  • 5 who have disappointed: Team - France, The guy who got sent off for trying to catch a cross with his hands - Algeria, Samuel Eto'o - Cameroon, Fabio Cannavaro - Italy, Mark Schwarzer - Australia.
Looking forward to some of the other favorites taking the field for the first time in the next couple days. I'll make another post after I catch a few more matches. Before the tournament started I predicted the Netherlands defeating Spain in the final with Robin Van Persie securing the Golden Foot - we'll see how that holds up.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rob and Spyder Show, Tuesdays at 7

Check out the Rob and Spyder Show this Tuesday, at 7 on Led by good friend Rob Coloney - this week's guest is young New York Yankee pitcher Mark Melancon.

NYK, NYM, US Hockey

  • The Knicks, among a handful of other NBA teams, made a flurry of trades at the deadline last Thursday. Each trade had a common goal - get as far under the salary cap as possible for the free agent class this summer. Apparently, the Knicks are trying to sign this guy from Cleveland this summer - I had no idea. However, in the process of clearing all this cap space, we managed to add a guy who was once one of the top 5 premier talents in the world, Tracy McGrady. Coming off microfracture knee surgery and a grueling 18 month comeback, Knicks fans didn't know what to expect. All we knew is that this guy was the most talented player to don the Orange and Blue since Patrick Ewing. What we saw last night is a guy who was nowhere near 100% come out and drop a cool 26 on one of the better defensive teams in the league. T-Mac says he wants to be here next year, will take a pay cut to play with a guy like Lebron, Wade, or Bosh. Does he mean it? I have no idea, but he seems like a genuine guy - not to mention he has made over $150 million so far in his career. Suffice it to say, he's doing just fine. I want him back next year as a number 2 or 3 option.
  • Mets fans must have welcomed this sight down in Port. St. Lucie, Fla a few days ago. Personally, I'll get fired up when I see him running the bases full speed, but it's good to see Jose apparently moving well. The overall tone seems to be upbeat, confident and focused. There are many question marks on the roster, but there's no better feeling going into a season with a 0-0 record knowing anything can happen. I don't know if this team has the potential to win the pennant, but the core remains from a team that was 4 outs away from the 2006 world series. Everyone should be hungry and determined. I'm ready for Mets baseball - one thing is a given, it will be entertainin; for better or worse. David Wright looks poised to have a huge bounce-back year after his power outage last year.
  • Tonight, USA hockey takes on the hometown Canadians. I'm not a huge hockey fan by any stretch, but this should be interesting to see how we compete against a roster full of top-level NHL talent in their own building (which, by the way, is called the Canada Hockey Place. Is this really the best you can do when you have the olympics being held on your home turf?). Anyway, this seems like a classic matchup of blue-collared hardworking playrs (US) against finesse superstars such as Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron from the "Land of the all jean suit, or Canadian tuxedo"). To me, this is about more than just a hockey game, it's a matter of national pride. And while the only thing at stake will be seeding for the medal rounds, a strong performance against the Canucks would send a loud message to the rest of the hockey world. 7:40 on MSNBC tonight.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Biathlon - The most badass sport at the Winter Olympics

Whether or not you are crazy about the Winter Olympics, everyone ends up watching them at least a little bit. While I am more of a fan of traditional mainstream sports, I can't help but watch a good amount of the Olympics, too. While the skiing, snowboarding and speed skating are all pretty ballsy events to take part in, they have nothing on the biathlon - the most badass of them all. A little research indicated that the biathlon, a mix of cross country skiing and rifle shooting, was created as alternative training for Norwegian soliders in the 1800s. Why not get some cardio in with some rifle shooting at the same time? I don't know why our marines aren't doing this, too. Apparently these Norwegians also used grizzly bear wrestling and and bare-handed fishing to train, too. No wonder they created arguably the most badass sport of all time - definitely takes the title for all sports at the olympics.

These grisly-ass homediddlies ski a cool 10k while stopping at two different shooting stations - one standing up and the other laying down. The penalty for missing the 2 inch target from 164 feet away in the snow? Extra laps of skiing. Needless to say, these guys must spend 99% of their waking moments shooting, skiing and drinking Schmidt's beer, the only one which would be suitable for a man who chooses to compete in the biathlon. The final was today, but whenever you can, check out this event sometime; there is always the chance that one of these guys will re-enact World War I on global tv.

Overdue Spitfire thoughts (02/15)

Let me start this off by saying I have had no reason whatsoever to stop writing for the past two months. I have been a bear in hibernation, and do not have much to show for it. This is a revival of epic proportions. Let's start with a retroactive timeline of the past two months.

12/25 - Christmas. It was a pretty run of the mill Christmas at the Fitzpatrick household. Billy's mop was cut off the top of his head - nice to be home for the first time in 3 1/2 months but couldn't be happier to have spent a semester in Galway.

12/27 - Watching Al Harrington throw away games for the Knicks has begun to take off 3 months of my life per bonehead play. As of today, I have lost 16 years and 9 months off my life. Thank you, Al.

12/29 -Jason Bay signs a 4 year, $66 million deal with the Mets. Up to this point I was unsure Omar Minaya was still taking in oxygen. We can all exhale now.

12/31 - New Year's Eve....not much to be said here.

01/03 - I have a nightmare that Al Harrington gets a technical foul in the 4th quarter of a close game costing the Knicks win. Then I realize this has happened 4 times in the last calendar year. A full calendar year is taken off my life. I apologize to my future children and wife, but it's out of my hands. Maybe I need to stop watching this team. RIP Knicks 09-10 season.

01/05 - Chris Duhon's next basketball contract will be signed in Athens, Greece. We may be better off playing 4 on 5.

01/06 - 01/17 - Literally nothing happens in my life. Not one thing.

01/17 - Return to the land of the Stags. I'm very happy to be back and the townhouses are a great living arrangement.

01/18 - 02/01 - Mets pass on 14 pitchers that could have significantly helped the rotation. If Johan Santana has not seriously considered tying bricks to his ankles and walking into the Atlantic Ocean at this point, something is wrong. One of the best pitchers of our generation is watching his prime being wasted by a completely inept front office. At this point I want Mark Cuban to purchase the Mets...can this happen?

02/02 - Legality ensues in my life. Death/Resurrection of Thomas Fitzpatrick occur. Resurrection can be contributed to Drew Colon.

02/05 - Al Harrington just came to my townhouse and stabbed a pitchfork through my throat.

02/07 - Discovery of The Thrill by Wiz Khalifa. Fantastic song.

02/08 - Mets sit on their hands and do nothing of note. Arsenal are fighting to stay in the Premier League title race as my man-crush on Cesc Fabregas grows to an all time high. Why I did not make a trip to Emirates Stadium in London last fall really escapes me. One big regret of my study abroad experience.

02/09 - Knicks will somehow be well-represented at all-Star weekend in Dallas. Gallo in the Rookie-Soph game and 3-point shootout. Kryptonate in the dunk contest and Lee in the all-star game. Al Harrington causing me to lose sleep and make a move toward legal insomnia.

02/13 - Diddy Kong Racing introduced to Townhouse 75. I take no prisoners.

02/14 - Emerging music sensation Ipso Facto releases his first single. Check it out here.

When does golf season start in Connecticut? One more snow day and I'll be ready for spring.

03/08 - 03/15 ... Return trip to Galway? To be determined.

05/15/2034 - Al Harrington gets charged with involuntary manslaughter in my death. I hope this turns out to be a joke.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Truth

For virtually the first time in his life, Tiger woods is finding himself on the back page of newspapers around the world; this time, it's for all the wrong reasons. After a mysterious 2:30 a.m. crash outside his Orlando mansion Thanksgiving night, a cornucopia of allegations have come out over supposed infidelities in El Tigre's marriage with Swedish model Elin Nordegren. Woods has come out through his PR team with a very vague apology - something along the lines of "...I regret these transgressions with all my heart" and ..."my family deserves better." Really Tiger? This is the best they can come up with? If I have learned one thing following American sports all my life, it's that we are a forgiving society for those who can come forward and admit our mistakes.

Think about the whole steroids scandal in baseball. Guys like Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, and Mark McGwire have beat around the bush on their steroid use - and their images are forever tainted. As a result of this, they are unlikely to ever make it into the hall of fame. On the other hand, Andy Pettite and Jason Giambi were admitted what they took, why they took it, and for the most part they have been forgiven.

I understand that everyone has a right to privacy, but the reality is that Tiger Woods is the undisputed most popular, rich, successful, and accomplished athlete of our generation. He is also the world's first one billion dollar athlete. If he thinks this is going to go away by asking the media for privacy, he's gravely mistaken. Woods needs to put his face in front of a camera, admit what he did without getting into any vivid details, and then and only then will this go away. Everyone makes mistakes - Tiger screwed up, he deserves all this; and quite frankly he deserved to get chased down his driveway by his angry wife with a pitching wedge. He deserved to wreck his own Escalade as a result of that.

You know who doesn't deserve any of it though? His wife and kids. Only Tiger has the power to come forward and put this to a rest. He needs to put his face in front of a camera, man up, and put this behind him. If he cares about the sanity of his and his family's lives, he will do it. What are you waiting for Tiger? America is ready to forgive you. Will Elin?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Springsteen in Galway

Missing about 10 Springsteen concerts while I have been in Ireland has not been an easy pill to swallow. Last week this is the closest I got to it while over here....not too bad at all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Come on ye boys in green

Tonight, France, with a one-goal lead, hosts Ireland in the crucial second leg of their World Cup Qualifier. Last Saturday at Croke Park in Dublin, the Irish played neck and neck with their superiorly talented opponents and were unlucky to come away with nothing from the match. Chelsea frontman Nicholas Anelka's deflected shot just got by Shay Given. Hopefully tonight the luck will be on the side of the Irish as they look to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2002. If we can score first, the intensity will be at an all-time high and it should be great to watch. It is time for Robbie Keane to step up and prove his worth as the team leader and best finisher. If you're not in Ireland try or Fox Soccer Channel for the match....8 pm in Ireland, 3 pm on the East Coast.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Life of Music

It's been a while since proverbial pen has been put to paper on my blog, but a rare night in the confines of my apartment in Galway is leading to the renaissance of "Who Will Stop the Rain." Sometimes I just get in a zone where I want to listen to music and really get lost in it. This usually happens with Bruce Springsteen songs in particular, but is absolutely not limited to them. Tonight is one of these nights I know I am a nerd and a loser. Watching a 2003 live performance of "Into The Fire" from Barcelona is really firing me up. It can be seen here.

Growing up in middle school, I was surrounded by the culture of basketball almost year-round. Along with that, and thinking I was "the man", came a simultaneous upbringing in rap and hip-hop My grammar school team was very good, as we competed for the championship almost every year in the Suburban Catholic League in central New Jersey. I was usually picked to the all star team, all league team (whatever you want to call it), so I was immediately under the disillusion that, like Nelly, I was goin' right out of high school, straight into the pros - Pros meaning NBA, and yes I just quoted country grammar by Nelly. Naturally, I had to listen to all the latest rap to pump me up for all the big games. It started out with Big Willie Style, The Eminem Show and eventually, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. No one could hold me down.

As I moved into the high school game I slowly began to realize that I was never going to have the luxury of cashing a check from the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, or any other NBA team. I wasn't even going to get a college scholarship either. My dreams were crushed, and I slowly started to listen to "white man's music." The first band that started my transition was Hootie & The Blowfish - still one of my favorite bands today. I remember hearing Hannah Jane, Let Her Cry, H0ld my Hand, Only Wanna be With You, Time, Not Even the Trees, and Drowning all on one cd in about an hour's time and I was hooked right away. To this day it remains my favorite album of all time. I have been lucky enough to see them play live three times, and while their show is not on the level of a Springsteen show, it's still like a fun party with your drunk uncles. Springsteen live is a religious experience, Hootie live is a drunken family party. Two completely different types of fun.

As college rolled along I started listening to more and more white man's music. I listened to Tom Petty, Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox 20, Creedence Clearwater Revival, U2, and so on. Don't get me wrong, I still have a good amount of hip hop on my Itunes; but it's mostly circa late 90s and early 2000s. Nevertheless, my present day favorite artist began to emerge - The Boss had entered my life. I don't remember what or how exactly I started to listen but once I did, there was no looking back. No one has challenged his position on my musical throne since then, and I am confident in saying that no one will. Maybe it is because Bruce is an American rock icon. Maybe it's because we both live in the best state in the USA. Maybe because his E Street Band is a set of motley characters ranging from Clarence "The Biggest Man You've Ever Seen" Clemons to his red-headed wife Patti Scialfi. Somewhere in between is Steve Van Zandt, a former actor on the Sopranos. Maybe it's because Springsteen has delivered top of the line rock albums for 4 straight decades. Maybe it's because he still puts on the best live show out there at age 60. Actually, it's the combination of all of these things an the fact that I am a borderline nerdy music addict. That's cool though, right? Moving on...

I'm surprised that people around me don't get sick of hearing too much Springsteen. Maybe they do, but they bottle it up because my charming personality balances it out. Anyway, for me, no one can compare to Bruce. He does not have the most memorable voice, but his mixture of tone and rasp make it completely unique. Bruce's singing is not his strength as a musicion, though, nor is his guitar-playing. There are plenty of other legends out there who have more natural talent on both the microphone and the guitar. Where Springsteen has everyone else beat in in the lyrics. He is one of the best poets and song-writers of our generation. Every song is a story from his life; and if something happens to you in yours and you need a song to relate to it, Bruce has it. Break-ups, family problems, songs of despair, of triumph, of jubilation, of struggle, of hope, of mischief, of scandal, of the best times, of the worst times, of summers on the Jersey shore, of Growing Up, and of looking back - the Boss has them all. Without further ado, here is my all time top 10, subject to frequent change.

1.) Jungleland (Born to Run): I don't think you can describe this 9 minute masterpiece as anything other than triumphant and epic.

2.) Badlands (Darkness on the Edge of Town): Fires me up for day-to-day life. Sometimes we are at a low point or rough patch in our life, but it's always temporary and no one is ever stuck in the badlands.

3.) Growin' Up (Greetings from Asbury Park): This song takes you on a 3 minute and 6 second ride through your past. It has significant nostalgic value every time you listen to it.

4.) I'm Goin' Down (Born in the U.S.A.): Everyone has had that significant other that they were crazy about, but it was always doomed from the start. This is an anthem for guys (girls too I guess) falling out of a relationship looking for an outlet.

5.) Thunder Road (Born to Run): Similar to Jungleland, this song is an all-time rock classic and has stood the test of time to continue living up to its top-billing.

6.) The Promised Land (Darkness on the Edge of Town): I see some parallels here with Badlands. The promise of a better tomorrow is the main theme.

7.) Into the Fire (The Rising): This song about the brave who risked their life to save others during the 9/11 attacks in New York City speaks for itself.

8.) Long Walk Home (Magic): Anyone coming out of a relationship with a loved one knows all about the proverbial "long walk home." This song is incredible live, with Little Stevie going wild at the end with a solo.

9.) Rosalita (The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle): Bruce probably tried to court 1000 Rosie's in his day, but her parents were very wary of him

10.) Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (Born to Run): Another classic of Born to Run about the early formings of the E Street Band. It's hard to top this as a concert opener.

Top 5 Bands as of today:
1.) Springsteen
2.) Hootie
3.) CCR
4.) Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
5.) Pearl Jam