Sunday, April 29, 2012

EM 2008--Syndicate United

Editor’s retroactive notes:
EM 2008

Hallelujah! A Sportsbook of manageable size! The Summer of 2008 was an incredibly busy time. Freshly returned from fourteen months in the Fatherland, I stopped over in Missouri to take a few Economics Courses before heading over to California for graduate school. A hefty workload of classes, research, and prep wouldn’t deter Vicey. An entirely new cohort had to be introduced to this freakishly idiosyncratic tradition. New European mates, future California classmates, hometown heroes, Philly old schoolers, and diehard adherents. They all joined in for the most rollicking good time yet.

In order to accommodate such a broad audience (and juggle numerous other obligations), the scaled-back content tended to return to its original goofy roots. Most of the technical talk was forgone in favor of old-fashioned irreverence. At the helm was a young and energetic idealist convinced that he might effect positive change in the world. The visionary enthusiast no longer exists and it was likely for the best that he got killed off, but enjoy your ride with him anyway J

The overall length of the book notwithstanding, your friendly bookie poured entirely too much work into it, as he invariably does with every task. Far too much industry went into the courses and preparation over this summer; so much so that he arrived at the CA Central Coast predictably burnt-out before any of the serious work even got started. LL As tempting as it may be to scold him for going full throttle while paying no attention to the fuel gauge, quite a bit must be said for pouring heart into everything one does. You only go around once, dearest mates.

Others will judge the practicality of the projects you take on and the unceasing sweat you invest. Fuck ‘em. They know far too little about your life anyway. Anyone can be a critic, or for that matter a professor. The average critic copulating bile on some online forum is nothing more than a troubled Egoist who can only compensate for his or her own intellectual mediocrity by projecting personal insecurity onto the thoughtful work of others. Same goes for your average humanities professor, who merely hung around the Ivory Tower long enough to carry out this process with greater sophistication and more colorful language.

You only go around once, dearest mates. The trip’s far too short not to take pride in work that you genuinely love. Managing time begins with managing to find time for rewarding work. There are those who will categorically object, but fuck em’. Fuck them and the painted donkey they rode in on. Trust me, that’s no horse. They’re nothing more than asses saddled atop asses. Do what you love. Love what you do.     

Greetings Syndicate Members,

Two years ago, we all basked in the glory of “Deutschland: Ein Sommermärchen”. For a marvelous month we engaged in non-stop riff swapping, hard-and-fast line rolling, and incorrigible insanity. Well I’ve fantastic news. Time for your resident bookie to dust off his old black book once again. Our proud biennial tradition resurfaces. The Summer Sports Book is BACK! Prepare to laugh your way all the way to the poorhouse. I’m once again prepared to make a complete jackass out of myself while raking in on your dough.  

For those who’ve not had the misfortune of meeting me yet, this practice dates all the way back to 2002. I’m not merely interested in taking your money or pretentiously burnishing my knowledge of Global Affairs. The Summer Sportsbook is more of an opportunity for all us to come together and exercise the best of our finely sharpened wits while consuming copious amounts of alcohol. The festivities begin with an overview of competing teams that present one with overall victory odds. Throughout the group stages we employ increased limit spread betting, with special rewards for those that flex a little creative muscle. As we move on the knockout stages, all manner of prop bets are introduced. Finally, at the end of the journey we declare all bets off and witness the crowning of a new champion under the auspices of a severe alcoholic haze.

Current academic obligations will, for the first time, force me to write a sober book. That doesn’t mean we can’t have a tremendous amount of fun. Ready to begin to the adventure? Excellent. After some consideration, I’ve elected to alter our standard rules somewhat to make things more exciting. The most important adjustment involves the jettisoning of “Wash Bet”. In this new system, a precise line constitutes a win. Got that? There may be ties in football, but I’m doing away with tie bets. Enter the newly refashioned “High Stakes Sportsbook of DOOM”…if you dare JJ    

Since were not playing with monopoly money, lets go over an example line just for clarity's sake.

Deutschland vs. Italy


The Line: Deutschland +3 Goals

The Favorite, is favored to win by 3 goals. If you bet on Italy, there are three ways you can win the bet:

1) Italy loses by less than 3 goals.

2) Match is a draw

3) Italy wins
Conversely, there are two ways to win if you bet on Germany

1) Germany wins by three goals (This is somewhat different. Some would say if the line is met exactly, the wager should be nullified. IMPORTANT: in this system A PRECISE LINE constitutes a win!)

2) Germany wins by more than three goals.

Alles Klar? Right. None of you of retarded or semi-concussed, so that should be easy. On to the amounts. For the initial round, bets between $5 and $25 are taken. Increments of $5 are the way to go. In subsequent rounds, we might bump it up higher.

1) Your Bookie takes bets on a FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE BASIS. I've got the European Crew, The BR Gang, some new Monterey recruits off the listserv, and all the old hats involved in this ring and will obviously not bet when I have a serious conflict of interest. Send in your picks, and I'll confirm your booking via e-mail. BETTING CLOSES AT 9:30 a.m. on the day of the match (when I check e-mail after class). Give me a short call at (---) ---/---- if you must.

2) Speaking of conflict of interest, THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO WAY IN HELL YOU'LL GET ME TO BET AGAINST GERMANY!! Don't even try. This would be analogous to a black man casting a vote for David Duke.

3) Payouts come at the end of the tournament. Trust your bookie, if only because he can't risk having the lid blown of this shadowy operation.

4) A "STRAIGHT UP" bet is just that. Fuck the lines. Pick your team.

5) Even if you're sitting this round out, definitely give some of the games a look. In the group stage there are two games a day. The first kicks off at 11:00 Central, the second at 1:45. You can watch 100% of the games on basic cable (ESPN 2). Tape delayed repeats are sometimes shown at 4:00 p.m.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

The new system certainly made matters more exciting and has been retained for the subsequent three books. Did you really have to blot out your phone number, Vicey? Eh, probably not. It’s not if a legion of fans will be calling. J

Here are your sixteen countries vying for the continental championship.

Austria (Winning Odds 32-1)

See original image

Anchluss baby, it’s the European Championship debut of “Das Team”. They’ve never attained this level before, for the very legitimate reason that they’re not a real country. As co-hosts they’ve been bestowed automatic qualification just in time to get the piss knocked out them by group neighbors Germany and Croatia. But, Vicey, don’t the Austrians know how to “climb every mountain”? Meh. You’ve been snorting too much crushed Edelweiss.

SwitzerlandSwitzerland (Winning Odds 30-1)

Köbi’s flunkies also join us based not on merit but their hosting duties. Regular readers will recall the unfettered disdain I have for this despicable microstate. Here are some highlights from the 2006 Sportsbook:

“You meaningless, contemptible sacks of goat shit! The Ukrainians are no longer the joke of Europe. You! You trifling, anachronistic, nugatory piss urns. You are now officially the laughingstock of the continent. You’re nothing more than Germany’s scrotum with the added stench of metaphor. You’re Italy’s happy trail patch of pubic hair, personified beyond the interest of any woman. You’re France’s foreskin, Austria’s rosy red rectum, Hungary’s wafting flatulence, and all of Eastern Europe’s gypsy dumping ground. Your Alps are the STD-induced genital warts of our Europa. You are a fucking plague that, much like Herpes, will NEVER GO AWAY!”

Good times, good times J Welcome back sheep-shagging alpine assholes. Have fun getting mauled by the Czechs and Portuguese!

Editor’s retroactive notes:

One day Vicey will learn how to treat the Swiss in a toned down and rationalized fashion. This will occur after country is conquered and absorbed into the newly formed administrative district known as “Southern Baden-Württemberg”.

Poland (Winning Odds 28-1)

Hello Polska! Once again you find yourself grouped with my Mannschaft, so here’s a little German hospitality. RAUS! You haven’t a chance. We’re back, now with four Poles on our side, and we’re going to march all over you with your own people for old times sake. J

Portugal (Winning Odds 1-1)

A hearty welcome back to Europe’s new shining beacon of regional integration. One week to go before the Irish vote on the Lisbon Treaty. The vote wouldn’t be so close if they had qualified and were presently strutting on the European Stage. Alas, they’re not here and feeling somewhat alienated. The Lisbon Lads, however, are present and I couldn’t be more ecstatic I wish to take a moment to celebrate the inclusion of Christiano Ronaldo and the Navigators. Petit, Simao, and Deco return to provide us with some top-notch entertainment. Ronaldo, now the footballer of the year, has been playing like a Man U God. Once again they bring one of the best teams in the tournament. We’re all glad you’re here. 

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Unmentioned in the hastily scribbled out primer were newbies Bosingwa and Nani. Controversy swirls around Bosingwa, reportedly kicked off the national team for psychological issues. Nani has truly come into his own as Ronaldo’s most effective Man U replacement. He’s another frightening cog in the blood-curdlingly talented squad to compete this summer.

Spain (Winning Odds 5-1)

Headlining a weak group, La Roja returns to an almost certain disappointing upset in the Quarterfinal Round. Welcome back Liverpool teammates “Fernando, Fernando” and Xavi Alonso, both fully fit and coming off strong seasons. Also returning are Barça’s Xavi, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, Carlos Puyol and David Villa. Other than England no country has so consistently underachieved at the international level. Every goddamn tournament I must write something to the effect of how their immense talent makes them a force to be reckoned with, and then divine some reason why they faltered…again.

See original imageRomania (Winning Odds 7-1)

The Transylvanians have once again crawled out of the crypt, impaling the competition in the qualifying stages with the help of immortal Florentine striker Adrian Mutu. Yes, that’s no fewer than three Dracula inferences in one sentence. If I didn’t have a set of proofs to complete I might extend myself a little further and try to work in something involving Simon Belmont or the Konami Kukeiha Club. Unfortunately, the final lame pun will have to be “Reality Bites”. The Romanians find themselves inauspiciously placed in the “Group of Death” alongside Italy, Holland, and France. Yeah, that about says it all. Thanks for stopping by, EU comrades.

Russia  (Winning Odds 6-1)

Déjà vu. I believe I wrote this exact combination of sentences last time. Guess who’s back? Gus Hiddink!. In 2002 we saw him patrolling the South Korean sideline. In 2006 he captained the Australian ship. Now he’s found his way to the “Yakov Smirnoffs of the Plastic Pitch”. This guy’s got more miles under his belt than a Bangladeshi sex slave. Like a bloody whack-a-mole, he keeps popping up somewhere else every two years. This go-round he’s assembled a squad of competent players, mostly from Zenit St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow. Among them are Andrei Arashavin, Roman Pavyluchencko, and Pavel Pogrebnyak. The best Russian side ever fielded shocked the English in the qualifying round and looks to turn a few heads in the Euros. We’ve not seen the Russians since 2004. We’ve not really seen the Russian fans since 2002, when they brought a disturbing number of Soviet Flags to the games. Presumably, a larger proportion of them will have gotten the memo by now. We’ll still see an awful lot of communist nostalgia on parade. Exciting stuff. 

Editor’s retroactive notes:

I recall the ratio of Soviet to Russian flags was about 50-50 in this tournament. This had shifted to 40-60 during the 2010 Euro Qualifiers. Can’t wait to see what we’ll behold this summer. I anticipate we’ll be operating around 30-70.

Sweden (Winning Odds 9-1)

Lars Lägerback’s last hurrah includes two players, Henrik Larsson and Nicholas Alexandersson, pushing forty. The non-geriatric roster features Zlatan Ibrihimovic, Kim Källström, Fredie Ljunberg, and Tobias Linderoth. We all know what they’re capable of, but the bloated Blaugults are in serious decline. They only qualified because the Danes forfeited a crucial qualifying match when a drunken Danish streaker ran onto the pitch.  

Netherlands (Winning Odds 1-1)

“Clockwork Oranje” have the red hot Robin van Persie along with peaking Arjen Robben and Rud van Nistelroy. Talented returnees coming off sub par seasons include Wesley Sneijder, Khalid Boularhouz and Rafael van der Vaart. The fresh face is Ajax’s Klaus Jan-Huntelaar. After making the semi finals in three of the last four European Championships, one can assume the Dutchmen will fly once again.  

Croatia (Winning Odds 3-1)

Toss up a flare for the Blazers. After the inexplicable debacle of 2006, the Slavs promoted U-21 Manager Slavan Billic, who immediately promoted the most promising youngsters from his team. Klasnic and co. are sure to play with a chip on their shoulder. The Germany match cannot get here soon enough.

Czech Republic (Winning Odds 3-1)
Czech Republic

Brückner’s boys are back for more. Jan Koller and Milan Barros still have some magic left in those cleats as evidenced by their topping of the Germans in the Qualifying group. As sure as the Jews overcharge for entrance into the Prague Cemetery, they’ll make the knockout stages.

Turkey (Winning Odds 5-1)

Fatih Terim and the “Tenacious Turkmen”! A record eight Galatasary players join Bayern’s Hamit Altintop, Newcastle’s Emre Belozöglu, and Villarreal’s Nihat Kavechi. After the third place finish in 2002, we’ve heard virtually nothing from the Crescent Stars. After failing to qualify in either 2004 or 2006, my honorary German brothers snuck past the Norwegians and into the tournament. By the way, Brüder, though we are technically blood relations, I would appreciate it if you did not kill me for some minor sexual indiscretions. I know that we have to preserve the family dignity and what not, but I sort of grown accustomed to the whole “living” thing. I thank my siblings in advance.

Greece (Winning Odds 10-1)

Rehhakles and the defending champs better not even consider raising any more hell on this bookie’s watch. I know you’ve brought even more talented players like Ionis Amanatidis and Alessandros Tziolis along, but ENOUGH ALREADY!

France (Winning Odds 8-1)

Despite losing to the Scots twice in the Qualifying Round, Les Bleus recovered in time to finish atop their group. Yes, to answer your question Lillian Thuram and Claude Makelele are SOMEHOW still playing for this team. Among the returning cast of characters are Thierry Henry and Frank Ribbery, both off of strong seasons for Barça and Bayern respectively. New Chelsea cat Nicholas Anelka has recovered in form enough to earn his reinstatement. The fresh new faces include Karim Benzema, Samir Nasri, and Jeremy Toulalon. There exists quite a great deal more potential in this team than the one that surprised us all in 2006. I myself am very intrigued to see if the newbies can carry them out of the “Group of Death”.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Henry had one the worst tournaments anyone will ever behold, in spite of scoring the Frog’s lone goal. We all suddenly realized why Arsenal was prepared to part with him. Benzema was a total non-factor. Ditto Sami Nasri, who did little other than get in a highly publicized shouting match with William Gallas. Oh how the mighty French and Italians have fallen. On that note….

Italy (Winning Odds 9-1)

What’s this? A squad with THREE players not playing in the Serie A? I assure you new coach Roberto Donadoni is no maverick. He’s fielded an uninspiring team of overpaid has-beens who earned new contracts after the Wops captured the World Championship. Fiorentina striker Luca Toni earned untold millions from Bayern after his performance. Olympique Lyon wasted a bunch of cash on Fabio Grosso and Barça threw money down a hole for Gianluca Zambrotta. Prospects for this overrated bunch were dismal even before captain Fabian Cannavaro ripped his ankle. I sincerely hope you Dagos have enjoyed the intervening two years. The fun stops now.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

The Cannavaro injury was huge. Alessandro del Piero was bequeathed the armband and the Azzuri ran around like a bunch of retarded shrews.

Deutschland (Winning Odds YOU DON’T GET TO BET)

Time to blow the big load. Gentlemen, I give you the only team worth actually putting some effort into writing about: The latest version of the vastly superior MANNSCHAFT. Über alles in der Welt!

The only notable retirement is Berndt Schneider, whom most of remember for blowing a sure goal against the Azzuri in the 2006 semi-finals. Jens Nowotny is also gone, but I couldn’t possibly give less of a shit. Huth and Henke have been ruled out due to poor form. Say hello to former KSC standout Clemens Fritz, Schalke up-and-comer Heiko Westermann, Leverkusen’s Simon Rolfes, and Hamburg’s Peter Trochowski. Big news out of Gelsenkirchen where Kevin Kuranyi has reagained his touch and forced his way back up to the national squad. He still won’t start, however, or even likely play. The third striker position belongs to the sensational Spaniard out of Stuttgart, “Super” Mario Gomez.

Everyone else is back. The Podolski-Klose partnership stands ready to light up some scoreboards. Ballack is fit….for once. Borowski, Lahm, Mertesacker, Schweinsteiger, Metzelder, Neuville, Odonkor, Hitzlsberger, Frings, and Friedrich. We’ve got a great squad this year and we’re headed all the way to the pinnacle of Europe!

Editor’s retroactive notes:

And we almost got away with it too! Löw tinkered with the Klose-Podolski partnership, much to the detriment of the offense. Podolski was dropped back to winger with Klose and Gomez up front. When this led to abject failure, Gomez was benched and the partnership revived. Gomez would not assume a lead striker role in 2010, with Löw opting to keep his tandem together even as they disappointed in the domestic league. That’s all out the window now as we rely heavily on Gomez to carry us to victory this summer. He’s had another spectacular season for Bayern, but looks ever the selfish player fortunate to benefit from hard-won balls from Frank Ribbery and Arjen Robben. Just thinking about how much we have invested in him caused me not only to bite off every fingernail, but also cannibalize the flesh around all ten of my digits. LLL