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Big Ben's Smallmindedness and The Beautiful Game's Ugly Final

Yes, I haven't written in forever. A combination of laziness, writers block, and a sudden addiction to the World Cup '06 video game. I'm telling you, it's pretty freakin' exhilarating trying to get Liberia through qualifying at the "Professional" difficulty setting. Liberia really, really, really sucks. Picture a team full of guys with the offensive skills of Ben Wallace, and put them on a soccer pitch, and that's Liberia. And that's after I created George Weah for them...

But speaking of Big Ben, here's my obligatory basketball related introduction...

If I were a Pistons fan, I'd be seriously pissed at Ben Wallace. I mean seriously, FUCK HIM.

THEY gave him a chance and pulled him from the scrap heap.

THEY gave him a 6 year 30 mil contract when he was a total nobody.

THEY gave him a very generous 4 years for 48M offer, that would've taken him to age 36. 12 MIL A YEAR for a guy who can't score. Like 8 mil more than Bruce gets. Dumars kept his word and offered him a contract that would've made Ben the highest paid guy on the team, even though he's nowhere near their best player.

They offered him all this this despite Ben playing like crap in the playoffs and getting into numerous arguments and disruptions with Flip. It could easily be argued that he a biggest pain in the butt of any Piston named Wallace last season; a considerable achievement. Not only did Dumars not punish Ben, but he kept his word and rewarded him. And Ben goes to a division rival for another measly million or two a year?


Dumars couldn't have handled this any better. Nobody should blame him at all. Critics exercising hindsight blame him now for trading Darko, but I think he did it basically to show Big Ben that the organization was committed to re-signing him. Still Wallace pouted like a baby.

The one thing that Dumars buggered up with Darko was that he didn't demand Flip to play him 20+ mins a game every night, no matter what. This is simply inexcusable to me considering how many weak teams there are in the East, but because of the '05 Finals, the Pistons were hellbent on getting homecourt advantage. By the time they started cruising, in January, Darko was already gone.

Darko will easily be a better player than Ben in two years, and may already be so by next year.

The Bulls will come to regret this signing immensely. Their "window" to do anything is next year, because after that, Wallace's contract will look very much stupid. Some critics are pooh-poohing the signing because Wallace will "soon enter his decline phase." Um, HE'S ALREADY IN HIS DECLINE PHASE. Maybe a change of scenery and the revenge factor will get him to have one last turn back the clock year and he can average something like 9 pts and 13 rebs. Whoopee.

But it won't last. And karma will come back to bite Ben in the butt for his disloyalty and pigheadedness big time, just like it got Cuban and the Mavs.

As for how the off-season impacts the Spurs, like I've written before, I won't comment one way or another until the roster is set for good. I'm reading and hearing the same things as the rest of you, like they went after Mourning for example. THAT actually made me nervous. If he was their first or even fifth choice, then maybe the team really doesn't have a plan. It's one thing to throw your money away like the Knicks, but it's quite another to do everything on the cheap.

But whatever, I refuse to panic. They'll figure it out. The way I see it, just getting rid of T-Rex is addition by subtraction, and giving him to the Pistons is a bonus for us. That pretty much means if we face them in the Finals we'll win. The tricky part for each team will be getting there, of course.

I don't think it would be horrible if they never found a serviceable five, actually. If his complete dominance in the Mavs series didn't convince Duncan that he's actually a center, then nothing will. The big fella is hitting the big 3-0 now, slowing down just a bit, and it'd be a lot easier to find a four to play with him than a quality five.

They'll figure it out.

The World Cup Blog...

Somewhere along the line I just lost the motivation. The games started to blend into one another, the lack of goals was really depressing me, and I wasn't getting nearly as much feedback as I'd hoped. Matthew assures me it was all quite good, but what's he going to say, really? I've just had a lot on my mind, and I was too footballed out. It's almost become a chore just to watch the games, let alone to write about them. The final tally was 2.3 goals a game, the second lowest ever. The sport is regressing, not evolving. All the diving, the play-acting, the whining, the tattling, the ref-baiting, the cards, the lack of shots, it'so depressing. The so-called "beautiful game" is willfully trying to commit suicide in front of the world.
I've already seen hockey do it. Now this?
Really, that's the main reason I enjoy the video game. It's the only way to experience soccer the way it was meant to be, all out and attacking. Nowadays, the game is so global, and the media is so omni-present, that teams are scared shitless of getting embarrassed. It looks better and more dignified to lose 1-0 than 5-2, I guess.
The final was perfectly fitting. It encompassed all the negative elements from the previous games into one last anti-climatic insult. Nobody scored for the last 100 minutes, there was flopping and fake injuries galore, the whole game turned on a red card, and it ended on the dreaded penalty kicks. The game wasn't won or lost, it was just excreted. When it was all over, you couldn't believe what you were seeing, but you sure as hell could smell it.
Zidane's moronic red card ruined not just the game, but the entire Cup itself, and it surely left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. The only thing I could liken it to is having a wedding where the best man happens to recognize the priest as being the same man who molested him as a child. Sure, you can still go ahead with the ceremony, but nobody will remember it fondly. The game left a bad taste in my mouth, and despite the tournament having an unprecedented amount of quality in the quarters with five European heavies plus Brazil and Argentina, the teams involved just didn't have the guts to go for it when the stakes got the highest.
A damn shame. Just a God damn shame.

There's always the silver lining, however. After what Zizou did, we can safely say that Manu is no longer responsible for the biggest athletic boner of the summer. So he's got that going for him.

I'll eventually recap the games I missed, sometime later in the week when the mood strikes. But right now I'm in a crappy mood and I have to finish packing for home.