Monthly Archives: May 2012

Heartache in Manchester: A United Fan Mourns

By special guest contributor Manuel El Holdom, drummer and hairy-man of Hunting Bears

Anyone with even the slightest interest in international sport will know that this is well overdue. 16 days, to be exact. May 13th, 2012. It was on this date (GMT) that my heart was not quite broken, but simply plunged into darkness for a few sad, lonely hours. 5 fleeting minutes changed my mindset, from one of elation, joy and ecstasy, to one of sorrow, disbelief, and a stuck record at the back of my mind that played only one question; ‘How the f**k did that happen?!’

Thousands, maybe millions of Manchester United fans around the world, either at the Stadium of Light, watching on a television set in their local bar, or sat glued to their couch after a few too many ‘special’ cookies, may have had that exact same question running through the back of their mind. After going 1-0 down, then with only 10 men on the field coming back to lead 2-1, how did Queens Park Rangers manage to throw away all the hard work they had put in over 90 minutes to let Manchester City, those dirty blue-shirted men, steal the Red Devils’ 20th league title from under their nose?

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The San Antonio Spurs: A Basketball Utopia

A basketball utopia

The San Antonio Spurs operate differently to every other NBA team in the league. While many teams talk about having a winning culture, or sacrificing individual goals and accolades for the good of the team, no team lives this mantra as much as the Spurs.

Sure, most championships are won only if the team as a whole can subjugate their individual egos and agendas and make sacrifices for the good of the team. However, this is usually done by veteran players who had already achieved every other individual goal in the years prior. They’d made the All Star teams, All-NBA teams, piled up gaudy statistics, and had probably made close to (or in some cases, upwards of) $100 million in career earnings. By the time they get together, it really wasn’t that big of a stretch to ask those guys to put aside their egos for the good of the team.

The Spurs take this to a whole ‘nother level though, and I don’t think people realise just how much guys like Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili gave up from a reputation and career legacy standpoint in order to win.

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A Pilgrimage to Wrigley

Last September I was fortunate enough to cross off a bucket-list item well before I ever thought it would be possible. I made it to baseball’s Mecca: Wrigley Field.

My brother and I were in Chicago for a few days and we landed tickets to the second game of the Cubs’ series with their fierce divisional rival the Cincinnati Reds. We arrived at the ballpark as the sun was setting over the north side of Chicago after a beautiful early-fall day.

Truth is, the end of the regular season was fast approaching and the Cubs stood no mathematical chance of making the postseason. Still, the ever-faithful fans filed into the park in time for the first pitch at 7pm. After wandering around the concourse and taking a few pictures, we found our seats and watched the action unfold.

The Cubs were looking to notch up a series win after narrowly beating Cincinnati the night before. They got off to a slow start however and watched the Reds take a 2-0 lead in the sixth off the bat of Joey Votto. The score remained this way heading into the bottom of the ninth. After the second out, Cubs fans collectively groaned and they started getting ready to head for the exits. However, an error in the outfield allowed Starlin Castro to advance to second and the fans’ attention returned to the game. This attention turned into jubilation when Bryan LaHair homered to right field and tied the game. The Wrigley faithful erupted.

Unfortunately, the Cubs left too many men on the bases in extra innings and Joey Votto lifted the Reds to an eventual 4-2 victory after 13 innings. Still, when you get 13 innings and a game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, you know you have gotten your money’s worth.

As great as this game was, I will probably soon forget how it all unfolded. It is the other memories that will stay with me the longest.

Achievement unlocked: Watch a Cubs game at Wrigley

Memories like chatting with the ballpark ushers who are mostly elderly volunteers (one of whom gave us a very warm welcome seeing as it was our first visit to the park). Memories like watching the vendors go up and down the aisles all night long, each trying to out-do the other with their own unique take on Budweiser (“Get your Bud!” or “Bud Bud Bud Light” or BUUUD-WEISSSSSSER”). Memories like being a part of a mass exodus of frustrated fans headed towards the mens-room after the Cubs left the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th. Memories like taking in a ball-game with my brother and substantially upgrading our seats once some fans started leaving in extra innings. Memories like admiring the beauty and authenticity of the ballpark, complete with its ivy outfield walls and its grandstands on rooftops across the street.

The description of baseball as “America’s pastime” rings true when you watch the Cubs play at Wrigley. Regardless of whether the Cubs win or not, you feel the history; you feel part of something special.

Naturally, I found Rich Cohen’s recent article in The Wall Street Journal very troubling.

Cohen quite rightly points out the Cubs have had nothing but heartache ever since they have called Wrigley home. The ballclub, which had its inaugural season in 1870, originally inhabited the West Side Park and they won back-to-back World Series championships there in 1907 and 1908. Eight years later the club relocated to Wrigley and, famously, a third title has proven elusive. Since 1945, the team has failed to even make an appearance in the World Series.

According to Cohen, it is time to part ways with Wrigley. He candidly calls for the ballpark to be destroyed and annihilated, claiming that the franchise and its fans need to start afresh and wash their hands of a ballpark that carries a century-old tradition of losing.

I couldn’t disagree more. Wrigley Field is still virtually untouched by corporate America and it is as authentic a baseball experience one can have. To rip it apart and replace it with a flashy, new, sterile stadium would be a tragedy.

The Cubs will win the series one day; it will happen. But if they win it at some soulless and corporatized new ballpark instead of at Wrigley, it won’t mean half as much. Don’t mess with history and don’t mess with America’s game.

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Last year, this year and next year: The state of the Dallas Mavericks

“That was our dress rehearsal” – Jason Kidd

Come on now, 6 picks and no one’s taken the defending champs?

“Never underestimate the heart of a champion” – Rudy Tomjanovich

— Me, a month ago

It has now been just over a week since the 2011 NBA Champions were swept unceremoniously out of the first round.

All year, I had been in denial, thinking that when the playoffs came around the veteran Mavericks would ‘flip the switch’ and start playing championship-calibre ball again. How laughable that seems in retrospect, as the Thunder absolutely overwhelmed this squad of old-timers with their athleticism, skill, and most tellingly, their hunger.

I could sit here and talk about chemistry, mental toughness, fight, and all of those intangible qualities that the Mavs lacked this year. They sucked on the road (13-20), they sucked in close games (4-26 when trailing after three quarters and 10-13 in games decided by five points or less), they got off to sluggish starts, and once they fell into a hole they lacked the fight to come back and win (6-22 after trailing in first quarter, including playoffs).

Last year the team was unflappable; they’d gone through so much collective disappointment that nothing phased them. In round one they shrugged off the disastrous Game 4 in Portland where they surrendered a 24 point lead (the biggest collapse in playoff history, at the time). In round two they walked into the defending champs’ house in Game 1 and came back from a 16 point halftime deficit. In round 3 they pulled off a 15 point comeback in just 5 minutes against the same Thunder. And as if one fourth quarter comeback on the road wasn’t enough, they did it again on the biggest stage, coming back from 15 down with 7 minutes left in Game 2 of the NBA finals. Dirk reflected the personality of this team in that series, as injuries, illness, none of it mattered. Every series, they were counted out but their mental toughness kept them in it.

Where did that mental strength come from, and where was it this year? The Mavericks’ 2011 summer transactions tell a large part of the story. Tyson Chandler was the guy everyone credited with being the as being their emotional and spiritual leader last year. This year he was replaced by a guy who came in out of shape and unmotivated last year because they brought in competition at his position.

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MORTAL KOMBAT: NBA EDITION

QUEENSBRIDGE!

Editor’s note

I’m sure our readers (all three of you!) have noticed the lack of posts the last week or so. With various assignments and midterms to do, we at Double Technicals have not had much time to watch the playoff games too closely, let alone write about them. However, this hasn’t stopped us from wasting our time trying to figure out which NBA team would win in a hypothetical fist fight to the death. What began as a fierce facebook-chat debate has led to a 1500 word blog post, and here we are.

The rules: standard street fight with 5 guys a team. They can be any 5 guys on the roster, but to make it fair we stipulated that it should be (loosely) 2 guards 2 forwards and a center from each team. The winner is the team with the last guy standing (i.e. you fight till death/unconsciousness).

Also, no touching of the hair or face

Here’s how we see the first round playing out:

HAWKS vs. CELTICS

Hawks’ five: Zaza, Ivan Johnson, Josh Smith, Jerry Stackhouse, Hinrich

Celtics’ five: KG, Pierce, Bass, Bradley, Rondo

The Hawks boast a crazy insane man in Zaza and an even crazier more insane player in Ivan Johnson. If you didn’t know about Ivan Johnson, check this out. He’s definitely somebody you don’t want to fuck with. The Celtics’ leader is a man known to pick on small European players, and mostly lets his mouth do the fighting. Not gonna lie, the Hawks guards probably won’t even need to fight as Ivan and Zaza take out the Celtics by himself. But if they are called into duty, Jerry Stackhouse is one of the most feared players in the league with the beatdowns he dishes out.

Rondo is pretty fearless, as evidenced by the time he tried to step out Ron Artest in the 2010 Finals, but let’s be honest his arms are skinnier than my dick. And while everyone talks about how tough Pierce is for surviving the multiple stab wounds in that nightclub fight in 2000, everyone knows a true G woulda pimp slapped the knife out the attacker’s hands immediately. Plus he needed a wheel chair after getting a widdle boo boo on his knee. Pussy.

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And in this week’s edition of “This is why the terrorists hate us”: Scott complains about the quality of popular music on the radio

Every day a few of my friends and I carpool into university, partly because we care about the environment but also because we hate the public transport system here in Auckland. And thanks to the notoriously bad Auckland traffic, this means we spend at least 45 minutes to an hour trapped in a vehicle every morning. Unfortunately, every radio station in Auckland seems to be as shit as our road planning. Once you have scuttled through the news on national radio, the decent beats on George, the off-kilter and likely unrecognisable music of the bFM team, the only decent talkback, is The Edge Morning Crew.

Personally I’m as surprised as anyone that The Edge topped my list for talkback but it’s true. However it’s not for the reason’s you might think.

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The GC, Chris Paul, and the Importance of Finishing Your Kai

HOLY MAYAN GANGBANGS DID I JUST REALLY WATCH THAT?!

Like any respectable pseudo-hipster, I love to ironically consume “low brow” entertainment, for both its intended and unintended entertainment value. These include (but are not limited to) cheesy action movies (“IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU WIN BY AN INCH OR A MILE. WINNING’S WINNING!!!!”), chick flicks, teen soaps (I’m still mad at how severely The OC jumped the shark in seasons 4 and 5), and of course, trashy reality shows. Naturally, when it was announced that there would be a NEW ZEALAND version of Jersey Shore, based on young Maori living on the Gold Coast I was ecstatic.

The backlash was as ferocious as it was predictable. I will get to those criticism later but first, we at Double Technicals would be doing The Internets a disservice if your resident Minister for Ironic Low-browism didn’t weigh in with a breakdown of the first episode of what will likely go down as the most dominant force in NZ television history:

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The Curse of London?

No London club has ever won the UEFA Champions League.

And no, I’m not just talking about the revamped tournament that began in 1992; I’m talking about its predecessor – the  European Cup – too. This of course means that, since it all began in 1955, none of the many London sides have been able to claim European glory for themselves.

In fact, throughout this 57 year span, London teams have only ever reached the final twice: Arsenal in 2006 and Chelsea in 2008. As history has it, an in-form Thierry Henry could not thwart Barcelona in ’06 and, in ’08, John Terry’s spot-kick was famously denied by the right upright.

Excluding the sham that was the UEFA Cup Winners Cup (I mean, the name itself is self-defeating), London has performed poorly in the other major European club contest as well – the UEFA Europa League (formerly known  as the UEFA Cup). Tottenham Hotspur won a rather weak inaugural contest in 1971 and won again decisively in 1984 but, ever since, there has been nothing but shortcomings. In the 2000 finale of the competition, Arsenal lost on spot-kicks to Galatasaray and Fulham’s cinderella run to the last dance in 2010 was stamped out by Diego Forlan and Athletico Madrid.

When London’s domestic success is examined, this lack of results in continental play is very surprising.

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