Thursday, November 14, 2013

WMQ 2013--Alzo Sprach das Syndikat

WMQ 2013 (3)

Greetings Dearest Mates,

Welcome to the FINAL syndicate for SEVEN WHOLE MONTHS! Truly a special occasion. What a privilige it’s been to share this time with you. Tonight we bring to a close our eleventh year consectutive year of irreverent nonsense, frivolous fun, and general debauchery.

2013 has been an industrious one for our syndicate. Syndicate members have matched the effort. Many of you have been equally as diligently productive. As has become typical many members have found their place in this world. Others continue to seek. Many still fight the obnoxious yet necessary battle against the egos of others, which—sadly—ends up being a battle against one’s own ego.  Some finally know who they are. Others appear to be getting more flummoxed by the day. Assuage and console yourself with the following fact: Only true losers know who they are. Thoughtful people relentlessly seek….until they figure out how to become losers ; ) ; ) ; ) 

2013 also featured a record EIGHT separate syndicates. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of producing such a large volume of text proved to be maintaining a sense of sincerity when directly addressing all those who placed a wager, made a long overdue phone call, texted some updated pictures of the kids, sparred with a few sharp satirical barbs or simply skimmed a dense paragraph and opted to invest an entire half minute of their free time to write:


Yes. I refer to you, my fellow eccentrics. It’s all for you. As difficult as it may be to still sound sincere, here goes:

I love and respect you all. Writing means more to me than life itself. As evidence, I’ll offer you my contemporaneous physical condition: Three packs of smokes per day isn’t too high a price to pay. Neither is twelve cups of coffee.

Sleep isn’t necessary. Not when I have a chance to happily clack away at the keys. I’m the happiest guy in the world working away at the keys. Thanks for granting me the opportunity to do so.

Though it may not seem it, seven months actually might as well constitute an eon in this Information Age. A constant stream of data and feedback alters us nearly every waking minute. No sense in even using the word “paradigm” anymore. That would imply constancy. These days most of us are so schizo that we exhibit thirteen different personalities all in the same Facebook post.

No telling where or who we’ll be seven months from now. Your friendly bookie hasn’t the foggiest as it applies to himself. For all he knows, he’ll be writing about the 2014 World Cup from some far-flung remote alcove of the world when on break from his primary job as a coconut collector. He knows neither where the adventure will lead, nor whether he will still be referring to himself in the Third Person. ;)

This promise I can make: Come June 11th, 2014 everyone will have a fresh set of lines to peruse. Stronger than the curiosity surrounding my own fate, I’ll be wondering what and how the hell YOU are doing. We’ll meet again. The Syndicate will return. That’s how your friendly bookie finds constancy in a supremely fucked up world. Everyone needs a totem.

What I have in mind for this evening—apart from betting opportunities on the most exciting week of international football you’ll witness for another four years—involves us undertaking a flit through some of the more memorable moments we shared over the course of 2013’s eight syndicates

Kick back and relax as we traverse the preceding year….  


Already qualified

Although I’ve already composed welcoming segments for the ten nations that had qualified as of our last edition, it simply seems to dim and shallow to merely re-post more dated material from this autumn’s other two qualifying rounds (WMQ 2013: Das Fröhliche Syndikat/ WMQ 2013: Der Wille zum Synidikat if I may at least afford myself a plug ; ) )

After all, what sort of spectacular farewell would this be if I didn’t irresponsibly neglect the more lucrative work that inconspicuously eyes me from the corner of my desk and carelessly allot myself time I absolutely do not have to goof off with you guys? Fuck it. I deserve it. If you ever feel like developing a misanthropic hatred for the irrefutable and incontrovertible pettiness of humanity, try working 60-80 hours a week as a Shadow Scholar. If that isn’t enough to completely crush your spirit, work an additional 40 hours a week as a useless doormat in the retail industry. That’s guaranteed to do it. ; ( Act now and you’ll receive special added bonuses such as the complete obliteration of your desire for meaningful human relationships and a rapacious urge to drink yourself to death!!

Hurrah! We must re-visit ten qualified nations. Our “Year-in-Review Retrospective” shall clutter up this low-optic blog enough as it is ; )


Since beholding the one-man-majesty that was Neymar is last Summer’s Confederations Cup, we’ve now had eleven matches to observe his form at the Camp Nou. Though he’s tallied only four goals in comparison with Messi’s eight, he’s by all accounts off to a cracking start. With respect to the Trillion Dollar Question—will he surpass Messi by season’s end—the tealeaves haven’t even had time to be snipped, let alone read. Nevertheless, he’s shown glimpses of historically unrivaled brilliance with a gorgeous assist in the Champions League and an absolute stunner in his La Liga debut.

Fellow nationals/teammates Adriano and Dani Alves have begun the season sharply as well. Ramires, David Luiz, and Oscar may be slow to take off under The Special One’s at sluggish start at Stamford Bridge, but there’s simply no denying that Scolari’s men remain the heavy favorites to recapture “Samba Sublimity”.

Football fans rejoice. We’re excited to witness history. Neymar’s excited to make it. Scolari’s excited to once and for all silence his critics. Dilma Rouseff’s excited at the imminence of her very own “Merkel Moment”….or at least that’s what the NSA transcripts tell us. ; )

209 Days seems an eternity to wait….


The latest incarnation of the Blue Samurai continues to gather momentum. With a record FOURTEEN players assiduously honing their skills in various high-profile foreign leagues, one can expect that Zaccheroni’s “Zac Japan” stands a reasonable chance of punching through to the quarterfinals.

His final squad selection will prove a matter of particular interest. Will he maintain the “Bundesliga Corp” of Hosogai, Atsuto, Inui, and the two Sakais or will he make room for waning veterans Yasuhito Endo, Keisuke Honda, Yasuyuki Kono, and Kengo Nakamura? Will Tanaka make it back in time? Will Saito be ready? What the TEPCO-mangling-fuck is wrong with Shinji Kagawa and can he (along with David Moises) rectify matters in time? 

We’ll find out in seven months time as the revamped bring the answers to Rio…along with some precocious schoolgirls.


Even a transfer to the AFC couldn’t keep the Socceroos out. Timmy Cahill would appear to still have plenty of juice left…that is until one considers that he plays for the New York Red Bulls in MLS. Sorry people, but that still doesn’t count.

Big news on the Australian Front as the whole country remains irreconcilably pissy. Barely two months after toppling a perfectly serviceable Prime Minister, the FFA sacked a solid manager in Holger Osiek. The former Schalke forward led the Aussies through their challenging initial qualifying campaign in the AFC. It thus came as a shock when he was terminated last week. Even more curious, his replacement is an unknown Greek trainer with zero experience outside of the Hyundai League.

Yikes. Early odds have this team taking a long overdue nosedive.   

South Korea
South Korea

“The Tigers of Asia”, “The Taeguk Warriors”, THE RED DEVILS! Even the most casual of Syndicate observers know of my unyielding love these Asian pearls. Legendary Dutchmen Gus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat (Schwanz Befürwörter) led them out of obscurity and into the knockout stages.

But this is no longer your father’s Korea. The intrusive foreign influence of the Dutch has long since departed. Moreover, you will not recognize a single face on this team as they take the pitch seven months hence. Midfielders Ki-Seung Yeung and Lee Chung-Yong remain, at present, the only holdovers left from a highly inconsistent 2010 squad that eventually bowed out with a whimper. The Koreans have cycled through three separate managers and at least 40 new players as they desperately fumble for some sort of workable formula.

AFC qualifying was certainly no cakewalk. The Taeguks parted ways with “chosen one” Cho-Kwang Rae early in the qualifying stages after some frightening friendly results. The Korean Football Federation then found itself forced to launch an all out lobbying blitz in hopes of recruiting a very reluctant Choi Kang-Hee back to the reigns. Choi eventually capitulated on the condition that he would only temporarily carry the limping country to a World Cup berth. He reportedly received assurances that a seasoned international trainer would take the helm in his stead. Given that he actually possessed no leverage in such an arrangement, that wish went unfulfilled.

Hong Myung-Bo, a former footballer so enigmatic that he played two seasons in MLS and somehow couldn’t figure out how to score a goal, now leads a team of youngsters so unfamiliar to this bookie that it was news to him that three of them play in the Bundesliga!

No clue where this team is headed….but damn glad that they’re here ; )  


Airtight Shadow Scholar precedents preclude me from sharing with you in full some of my recent writings on the latest rounds of nuclear negotiations taking place between the Iranians and the P-5 (+1). This notwithstanding, I do believe I’m permitted to reveal the general gist of my thoughts on the matter:

1) Substantive discussions have been taking place. It’s certainly not diplomatic mumbo jumbo when delegates to these meetings describe them as “constructive”. Contrary to what the “armchair international policy experts” believe their intuitions hold, credible inspections of known enrichment sites CAN PROVE SUFFICIENT in attaining the overall objective of averting the development of weapons-grade Uranium.

2) Likewise, I’m getting fucking tired of hearing people insist that an enrichment freeze isn’t a meaningful concession. Shutting down those centrifuges doesn’t merely stall the process, it sets everything back considerably. The West isn’t playing for time, it’s skillfully creating MORE time.

3) To anyone who naively believes the six rounds of international sanctions didn’t actually devastate the Islamic Republic…get your head out of your ass. Even a total devaluation can’t save the Rial. A country that presently finds itself without access to any foreign reserve currency, 90% frozen electronic assets, and a near global embargo on their oil exports happens to be the very definition of crippled. It’s no coincidence that they’re in the mood to negotiate. Of course, a brand new regime must at least publicly seek to construct a proposal that appears acceptable to a wary populace. One has to least allow them that.

4) “But how does this make America look”? Shut the fuck up. All of you. Liberals, Conservatives, Libertarians, and proudly “Ignorant Independents”. Stop forming your opinion of foreign policy from pundits on cable news shows. You’re a sad lot. Who gives a shit if this makes us look “weak” or “strong”. Stop asking whether this constitutes a “good” or “Bad” thing. Get a godammned life. Once you do, you’ll discover that it’s rarely ever so simple.

Phrew..ah yes. The football team. “The Princes of Persia”. Recall that these lads wore green sashes during the 2009 Qualifying Campaign. Know that the “Shia Soccer Stars” are led by a Portuguese coach and feature players from the English Premiership, La Liga, the Dutch Erdevisie, the German Bundesliga, and…believe it or not…MLS! 

Kindly refrain from overtly rooting against them…although it would be nice if they allowed females to cheer them on and didn’t kow-tow toward Mecca after every goal. Treat it as a complicated relationship with a bi-polar girlfriend. Welcome, honey. At least the sex will be halfway decent.


The current version of “Clockwork Orange” has left Bert van Marwijk’s 2012 Embarrassment in the dust. Louis van Gaal (how us Germans miss him) obviously didn’t need to tinker with the talent. He simply had to find a more effective means of motivating them. By all accounts the strategy worked. The most talented European team headed to Brazil fell one draw shy of taking maximum points from the qualifying stages. Gentlemen, I give you the UNDEFEATED Flying Dutchmen.

We’ll wipe the slate clean. Forget 2012. Van der Vaart and Robben are back in fighting form. It’s been fantastic to see the former back in the Bundesliga. Van Persie shows no signs of slowing down. Vlaar and Willems are coming along nicely. Hell, even Kuyt and Jan Huntelaar are defying their age.

I realize I over-hyped them in 2012, but this team WILL LIVE UP TO THEIR BIDDING. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see them right back where they were in 2010: contesting the final for a shot at a World Championship.



The Azzuri also cruised through the qualifying rounds undefeated. Admittedly, six wins and four draws doesn’t engender the same level of respect I have for Holland. Nevertheless, I stand in fear of the recent uptick in form provided by such veterans as Thiago Motta, Alessandro Diamanti, Andrea Pirlo, and Alberto Gilhardino.

The 400 lb Behemoth, of course, remains Mario Balotelli. Since moving back to Milan, the ravenous beast has garnered fifteen goals from 20 caps. He’s incredible. Quite possibly the best Italian footballer in history. Even more significantly, he’s made amazing strides in his maturation as a football player. Gone are the vain haircuts and narcissistic antics. The new Balotelli is all about the business at hand. He single-handedly KO-ed my beloved Mannschaft in Euro 2012 and I live in perpetual fear that he’ll repeat that feat next summer. Endless nightmares.

Things are truly looking up for the Mediterranean Peninsulars…and not just on the pitch. Long-term growth indicators spur economic optimism. Youth unemployment trends downward. For fuck’s sake, the government even managed to survive one of Berlusconi’s trademark circus-like vote-of-confidence maneuvers.

In honor of this veritable “Italian Renaissance 5.0” I’ve written a whole, albeit modest, section entirely devoid of derogatory ethnic slurs. Hurrah!

Perhaps there’s even hope for me….provided you guys don’t go stomping all over my country’s football team again. ; ). Grr….stupid….er….indo-European Romance Language Speakers! Yeah. Take that.  

United States
United States

Great news all around, Yanks! Key members of your team are set to obtain valuable international experience in the lead up to next Summer’s festivities. Yes, yes. Your highly predictable friendly bookie cannot compose something on U.S. Soccer without outright dissing MLS. Sorry, but it must be said. It must be emphasized.

MLS remains something of lush retirement community. I write such words while maintaining respect for the emerging fan bases of the Pacific Northwest. You may have captured the European spirit, but you cannot ignore the indelible fact that you’ll likely never be able to emulate the level of play. A genuine talent such as Landon Donovan languishes on the choppy flows of the Starhub Center Pitch. It’s no small wonder that he has difficulty finding his legs in faster-paced fixtures. You should absolutely be concerned about your boy Clint. He’ll find it difficult to sustain top-flight fitness levels at the Sounder’s training facility. The same applies to Kyle Beckerman, Benny Feilhaber, and Edson Buddle. These five players are unquestionably past their prime It’s immensely difficult for footballers to resist the temptation to succumb to laziness, given how ruthless the physical demands of the sport are.

Klinsi hasn’t proven a damned thing yet. If he truly wishes for us to forget the debacle that was his tenure at Bayern, he’ll push these five players towards Winter Loan Agreements with clubs at which they were respectively comfortable. Donovan needs to return to the other side of Mersey. He needs training, conditioning, and some last-minute guidance from the masterful Roberto Martinez. Dempsey should finish what he started over at White Hart Lane. The Spurs would be foolish not to bolster their roster and go for broke. Europe is very much within their grasp. Bekerman would be an instant hit with a Bundesliga Club, but it would probably be best if he teamed up with either Shea, Maurice, and Cameron at Stoke City or Onyewu at QPR. I’d love to see Benny back at Hamburger SV, but he’d likely be a better fit at Stoke or maybe even Danny Williams at Reading.

One gleans from the above paragraph that three U.S. Internationals are already “gelling” together at Stoke. Beyond the trio playing for the Potters, Williams and Onyewu are holding their own in the English Championship League. Who else is burnishing their international credentials? Jermaine Jones still stars for Schalke and Klinsi has recently called him up to have a look. Timmy Howard remains Everton’s #1 and continues to give it his all in the run-up to what will surely be his final tournament. Fabian Johnson is doing just fine with Hoffenheim…and that’s a kind rhyme ; ) Defender Timothy Chandler continues his development at Nürnberg, meriting a potential call-up. Sacha Klijstan’s move to Anderlecht has worked wonders for his career. Michael Bradley, son of former coach Bob Bradley, has had to fend off injury, but is now back in the Roma lineup and poised to truly hone his skills against Serie A competition.

The lynchpin of U.S. Soccer hopes warrants his own paragraph. Target Forward Jozy Altidore has finally been given a shot at a regular starting job over at Sunderland F.C. Of all the positive news to report, this piece of information should inspire the most elation among U.S. Football enthusiasts. Despite being an overnight success for the men’s national team, Jozy has truly struggled to gain a foothold in a quality European League. Villarreal didn’t know quite what to make of him, so they shipped him off to Hull where he did little other than warm the bench. Sure, he played a crucial role in propelling AZ Alkmaar into a perennial Champions/Europa League contender, but the Erdivisie contains little legitimate competition outside Ajax and PSV. Now his time has finally come.

Though he hasn’t officially registered on the Black Cat Score sheet yet he’s made a stellar impression in terms of presence and prowess. A breakthrough appears imminent. Keep your eye on Jozy. As goes his season, so fluctuate U.S. hopes in Brazil.

Overall, plenty of reasons for U.S. fans to eagerly anticipate a Knockout Stage run. You’ve nearly seven full months to acquaint yourselves with your boys.

Get enthusiastic…..NOW motherfuckers!

Take it away, “Petey Pablo”

Costa Rica
Costa Rica

“Los Ticos” tore up CONCACAF, finishing only behind the United States to clinch a solid qualifying berth before we last convened. The squad itself remains an awkward hodgepodge of domestic league players, a few Scandinavian second stringers, some Aussie League experiments and a pair of Premiership starters (Fulham’s Bryan Ruiz and Everton’s Bryan Oviedo) who might provide us with a Wanachope-style moment of magic. Nothing much more to say here other than these Central Americans a “Mexclamation Style Welcome”



The hosts aren’t the only country fiercely hoping to reclaim faded international glory. La Albiclesete are turning into more dourly predictable underachieving flops than the Spanish teams of old. They haven’t even made the semis since 1990. This in spite of being the best talent factory in all of football. Once again, their talent pool swells larger than Christina Fernandez de Kirchner’s protruding botoxed lips. If they can’t at least make the Semis with Higuain, Mascherano, Maxi, Messi, Tevez, and Aguero in their current form….I shudder at the innocent loss of life that will transpire in the subsequent riots..Ugh.

As a Graf-Spee-descended-German, I continue to consider the Argentines my legitimate cousins. C’mon Amigos! Stop fucking up! I don’t want to meet again in the Quarterfinals!

We’ve eleven new nations to welcome into the fold. Before moving on to that, however, it’s my great pleasure to welcome you all to “Part I”.

S.S.S. 2013---Year in Review (Part I)

The 2013 African Cup of Nations

Many of us traditionally usher in the New Year with pomp, circumstance, and fanfare. In truth, a wholly arbitrary Gregorian designation of what constitutes a complete revolution around the sun offers one little cause to celebrate. The Atomic Clock enables us to precisely pinpoint when one exact “Modern Human Year” has passed…right down to the four thousandth decimal point. All of this means….nothing in football.

Football isn’t about nanoseconds. Hell, football isn’t even about seconds. The clock continues to run even when the ball crosses out of bounds. It’s an endurance contest. So it was that your friendly bookie elected to undertake his own “endurance contest.” Quality football takes place year round. Why bother to wait for the World Cup?

The 2013 African Cup of Nations presented a most salivating opportunity. The Africans wished to switch their quaternary rotation. As a result, we were treated to back-to-back tournaments!

Interest in the actual lines turned out to be….er….tepid. That’s a shame. Heavyweights such as Morocco, Tunisia, Zambia, Algeria and Cote d’Ivoire were easily cast aside in order to make room for newcomers like Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, and Mali. After Mali dramatically bested hosts South Africa in the Quarterfinals, the Burkinabes bitchslapped the Black Stars for another thrilling upset in the Semis. In the end the Super Eagles shocked us all by finally refusing to choke in the final match. Viva Nigeria!!

Following the tournament closely turned out to be an amazing experience. Still, the general lack of interest in all of that intriguing football led to some memorable rants:

From CAN 2013—Round Three:

Today’s offerings were nothing short of spectacular. The anti-North-African inclinations of your friendly bookie were satiated in full. Viva Les Elephants! Viva Adebayor! An unreservedly exciting finish awaits us all, football fans. We’ll get to that right after your friendly bookie vents about the unavoidable/entirely predictable problem of watching the matches via peer-to-peer matches on his laptop.

--I’m not really interested in finding a “fuck buddy”. I don’t give a damn about your “fuck request”. After some probing and ruminative soul-searching, I’m not terribly interested in Russian Mail Order Brides either. Go ahead. Tell me that I can “fuck a different woman every day”. I already can. It’s called porn and it’s in my head.

--Speaking of these sad pop-ads that we have to fight through in order to watch a little football, what loser out there responds to a “fuck request”? Are you seriously telling me that some guy out there says, “……Me? Gosh Golly! I know she’s serious! She has to be serious! No other explanation for her using white text in standard font on a blue background. I’ve received a “fuck request”!

--Dear Internet Ad Copywriters,

It’s all your fault. It’s all your fault that “Mad Men” is popular. People yearn for a time when THOUGHT actually went into advertising. “Penis Pill companies/Ron Jeremy’s psychoanalyst/John Holmes’ psychotherapist/Peter North’s chiropractor ‘HATE HIM’” doesn’t work.

From CAN 2013—Quarterfinals:

Random Thoughts from a Disarmed Bookie….Vicey is a Rambling Man

--Sitting down to sling out a few arrows of thought, the first one that surfaces concerns the inability to find a decent online electronic trance radio station. By this I mean, could I possibly beseech someone out there in the ether to SIMPLY PLAY SOME UNINTERRUPTED UPBEAT TRANCE?!? I’m on my fourth station thus far, and haven’t gone so much as a minute without having to listen to some accented DJ bursting in:

“’s Joachim von Schwarzlaugenschmelze and YOU..are in…DA MIX!”

Shut the fuck up. I know where I am…and I was doing just fine until you showed up!

If they’re not shamelessly plugging themselves, they interrupt to string together a bunch or irreverent and redundant information.

“Yes, yes…high energy…energy techno…spinning the tables for you’re high energy dance energy Friday night party. Out of control. ENERGY!”

This shit doesn’t happen on the classical channel.

“Hey..hey…it’s BACH! Baroque, baroque, baroque. Lot’s of stings. There’s even a French Horn in there somewhere. Twenty-minute bass-solo. Baroque!”

--Sigh. Speaking of Austrians who don’t know when to quit, why does the Gubernator have a new movie coming out?

“Schwarzenegger in “The Last Stand”: “Not in his town! Not on his watch!”

Hmmm…apparently, “Not at the U.S. Box Office” either. Sorry, but I refuse to suspend disbelief this far. Why are residents of a conservative Texas border town electing a foreigner as sheriff? That’s just….no….no, no, no.

--Plodding through my copy of Jeff Bridges latest offering, “The Dude and the Zenmeister”. Sad to say it’s going about as disastrously as my initial viewing of “Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy”. Halfway through and I’ve still got no clue what’s going on. All I’ve been able to surmise is that it must be nice to be those people. It’d be nice to have a career as a spymaster…or an actor who talks about “cuons” with a nutty old Jew for a weekend. Yeah…my life’s not so bad….just not as good as theirs.

--More disappointing writing from Michael Lewis. Perhaps I waited to long to read “The Big Short”. It just hasn’t aged well. After being exposed to all the pompous hype, one reads with a more vigilant eye. His take on Germany? A bunch of tired, clichéd NAZI analogies that remind me of very bad drunken times at very dingy bars.

“Oh, your from Germany,” some slob would spit out on a sultry Louisiana night, “come on and…sheet down Brüder (gesticulating). Let me make you a little….LEBENSRAUM! Bwahahahahahaha!”

I’m not a snob. Additionally, absolutely love me some frivolous drunk humor. It’s just…..maybe it’s about time we let some of this go.

--Your friendly bookie Vicey: Perpetually happy to write about the countries Rick Steves wouldn’t touch with a soiled mop handle.

--Do you know Jean Ping? You should get to know Jean Ping:

He’s half Chinese, half Gabonese. One doesn’t encounter that sort of inter-ethnic breeding everyday. Somewhere in Africa there was a Chinese man who managed to charm and seduce an African woman. The results are nothing short of astounding. The accomplished diplomat sports a head shaped like a football itself, yet still somehow manages to pull of a Samuel L. Jackson glare. After working his way up through the late Gabonese President Omar Bongo’s cabinet he served honorably in UNESCO and the UN General Assembly before finally ascending to the Chair of the AU Commission. He’s essentially the Juan Manuel Barrosso of Africa. Check out some of his directives. It’s Confucius meets Shaft.

--Time to come clean. Off my chest. I count myself among the legions of grown-up alpha American males intrigued by the surprisingly deep existential lessons embedded within the television serial….”My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”. I have no excuse for this. I’ve borne no children. The show was deliberately developed to appeal to the parents forced to watch their show with their children. I heard about through general Pop Culture Chatter, checked it out, and……am……astounded.

--I’ve yet another Chinese Politician to introduce to you to. Have you met Wang Yang? Seriously..that’s the man’s name. The “Wukan Wonder” ran Chonquing Province before giving way to Bo Xilai upon his promotion to the Politburo. With all that we’ve read about Bo Xilai over the past year, why have newspaper reporters been depriving us of the name of his predecessor? The man’s name is “WANG YANG”! I wouldn’t be able to resist mentioning that three sentences below the dateline.

--About time to close this little free-styling section. We’ll pick up where we left off during the semifinals. For now, there’s football to discuss. DJ Vice with leave you with this:

“Yes, yes…high energy…energy techno…spinning the tables for you’re high energy dance energy Friday night party. Out of control. ENERGY!”

Whoops. Hit the wrong button there. Let’s try again. DJ Vice will leave you with this:

Great book. Best book I’ve read all year. For all of the smack I’ve been talking about disappointing over-hyped literature, allow me to say in all earnestness that this one is a MUST-READ for all the beaten-down Grad-Students out there. Yes, I’m talking to you my beloved clients. Read this snarky account of how we’ve all been duped into hating ourselves because years ago some mediocre asshole carved out a niche and elected to defend it like a junkyard dog. Sure, it amounts to little beyond some narcissistic sour grapes in the final analysis…but at least read it to feel a little bit better about your current predicament. It’s been discounted!      

From CAN 2013—Semifinals:

Random Thoughts gleaning from spelunking a soul….Vicey is a Rambling Man

--Well done, New Orleans! The Crescent City delivered everything an amateurish cocktail party patron could want in a Super Bowl. Nothing like a power outage to get the conversation started. Professional Sports needs more live commentators with nothing to commentate on.

“Let’s check in with the sidelines reporters. Fred, how’s it going?”

“Well Jim, the players didn’t expect this to happen. They’re wondering why this happened and wondering when play will resume.”

“Thanks, Fred. Truly valuable insight from our man on the field.”

It was priceless. It wasn’t quite “Kahn’s eating Pasta”, but it came close.

--Congratulations to Gerard Depardieu on your Russian Citizenship. While we’re on topic, congratulations on your Belgian Citizenship. While we’re on topic, please stop pissing on the floor of planes. While we’re on topic, please stop pretending that you have a gift. While we’re on topic, please pay your taxes.

--Silvio Berlusconi has taken a stand against his racist A.C. Milan Fans. He’s threatened to fuck them and force them to pretend as if it was actually enjoyable sex. That, gentlemen, is a threat.

--Everyone in the Anglican Church can relax. Gay bishops will be ordained so long as they pledge to remain celibate. That may prove akin to asking a Strip Club DJ to stay away from the dancers, but still.

--A recent edition of “Der Spiegel” I happened to read contained the cover story “Deutsche Waffen für die Welt”. That translates to “German weapons for the world.” Evidently, the Germans are finally realizing that they manufacture over a quarter of the world’s munitions…and finally realizing that there’s something they forgot to feel guilty about. That’s more or less what it’s like reading “Der Spiegel”. Every week. “Hey guys…we forgot to feel guilty about [insert cover story]!!!”

--At least the Germans know that regulating beer is wrong. The poor Russians have to deal with a ban on beer at street kiosk. I agree with 56-year-old security guard “Victor”:

“You can’t regulate beer. It’s NOT a spirit! It’s a drink that quenches the thirst, NOT the underlying conscience!”

A wiser man I’ve not yet known.

--To Round things up, God bless Brent Musberger. So he called Katherine Webb “hot”…so what? Fuck that whiny bitch. Anyone watching a sporting event has the god-given right to observe hot girls in the stands. As any Syndicate Member will enthusiastically attest, it’s a goddamn “GOD-GIVEN RIGHT”!!!

And there’s something else too : )

From CAN 2013—Quarterfinals:

Pump it up Syndicate members,

Stateside, the subsequent three days are known by a colloquial designation. Somewhere along our culture’s inexorable slide toward decadence, the next fifty some-odd hours received the classification “Super Weekend”. I do not object to this. Quite the contrary. I consider it my solemn duty to accelerate the trend. The term “Super Weekend” rings entirely too banal, bourgeois, worn-out to a point that now warrants retirement. Moreover, the use of ONE bromidic adjective does not accurately convey the divine offerings that lay before us.

The knockout rounds of the African Cup of Nations are upon us! The new season of Downtown Abbey is in full swing (oh yes, I’m deathly serious. deathly, deathly serious). Then, of course, to round everything up, Sunday evening all of us Americans will engage in a uniquely consumerist annual holiday that involves getting completely plastered whilst eating our own weight in nacho cheese dip.

I don’t have to go into work! I’ve also cleared all my deadline contracts. For the first time since….you know….I actually cannot remember…(possibly September, but don’t quote me)…I HAVE TIME OFF! It’s scarcely believable. This bookie maintains no memory of what “time off” even feels like! Where should I begin? The Halloween/Christmas decorations that I never got around to taking down? The load of laundry that first resembled a sizeable ursine creature, then gradually morphed into now what undeniably looks like marshy swamp habitat? Perhaps I’ll begin by cleaning out the fridge. The milk with the sell-by date of “November 27th” has probably seen it’s best days. Hmmm…perhaps the fridge is too ambitious. That half-eaten ham sandwich over there has turned into a half-something-I-entirely-do-not-wish-to-know-about. Let’s start there.

All this free time. Which backdated stack of scholarly journals should I start with? “Foreign Affairs”? “March/April 2012”. Shit. How did that happen? “American Journal of International Law”? WINTER 2011? Dammit. “European Journal of International Relations”. Oh for chrissake. I’ll spare you the quarter. Suffice to say we’re still living in 2010!!

Okay, okay. Peer-reviewed scholarship might prove a bit heavy anyway. Let’s hit up the magazine periodicals. Surely I don’t have such a ways to go to catch up with “The Economist”? Yeah! I’ll just pick up right where I left off….on….JUNE 23rd 2012!?!?! AHHHHHHHH! Newspapers. Newspapers, newspapers, newspapers. How we doing’ my beloved Grey Lady/? Wednesday January 23rd. Phrew. Okay. Doable. WSJ? January 18th? How the hell does this keep happening?!? Okay. Relax. Stop hyperventilating Foreign Press, foreign press. That’s the beauty of the Internet! It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since I’ve followed the IHT, Guardian, Süddeutsche, or FAZ. The latest always sits on Page One. We’ll just pretend the old news didn’t happen. Of course the Internet also supplies us with Podcasts. PODCASTS!! Arrrghhh. I’m over four months behind on my RBB Podcasts! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Tongue and cheek wink. Of course, there’s no real need to worry about me, mates. Your friendly bookie remains the same brutally stubborn bastard he’s always been. Though he possesses numerous character defects, one cannot claim he lacks a focused and determined work ethic. Sleep-deprived or dry heaving, he always finds a way to “get shit done”. He’ll catch up just fine, just as sure as he’ll eventually stop referring to himself in the third person. Maintaining concentration is a simple matter of allowing one’s mind to edit out unimportant things…like the expired milk, the half-eaten ham sandwich, and the extremely hot girl in the thong bikini staring at you obsequiously from the corner holding up a four-foot sign that reads “PETER! I LOVE YOU! Please ravish me in all orifices immediately!”

What’s that? I didn’t see anything. Honestly. The mind simply edits it out automatically.

Whatever I end up catching up this weekend, a “radonkulous” spate of first-rate football fixtures mean I definitely won’t be catching up any sleep. I sincerely hope all of you will find to catch at least one. Thus far, many syndicate members have written in to innocently (and truly with no amount of sarcasm) inquire why they should be interested in African Football. Only by actually taking in a match can you figure out the answer to that question for yourselves. We’ll compose an entirely non-football related ramblings section for the terminally bored. First, I’d like to welcome everyone to the vastly superior version of “Super Weekend” that you’ve long since assumed I forgot to enclose:

Gentlemen, welcome to the…..


Don’t begrudge the lonely dude ; ). It remained a tournament for which such excitement was truly justified. Period. Sorry you missed it. Onwards to eleven recently qualified countries.

File:Belgium flag small.gif

More perplexing than the fact that this bizarre dysfunctional amalgam of a county still exists, they’ve SOMEHOW wormed their way into the WM! Even more shocking, they cruised through at the top of their group UNDEFEATED. What the wallooning fuck is going on?

This bookie cannot rightly say. The Belgians have not qualified for a World Cup or European Championship since 2002, taking us all the way back to the beginning of The Syndicate. I had the following to say back then…

From WM 2002—“The Humble Beginnings of a Syndicate”

“Though this team has attained the title of “Red Devils”, I prefer to call them the “Brussels Sprouts”. Beyond Bruge and Anderslecht, there exists no perceptible reason to give two shits about Belgium football…let alone the country itself. Douglas Adams once bleatingly fictionalized an instance in which Belgium was the most obscene intergalactic insult. Good for him. I cannot expect to top that.”

Eleven years later, this team’s prospects are no laughing matter. The side features legitimate superstars like Tottenham’s Mousa Dembele, Everton’s Romelu Lukaku/Kevin Mirallas, Man City’s Vincent Kompany, and (of course) blockbuster United Transfer Maroaune Fellaini.

Not only are they coming along, they’ll join us as contenders. Can you believe it? The country that could learn a lesson or two from Iraq (of all places) in the art of forming a workable coalition government will likely make the Round of 16. Incredible. I’ll have to up the pace of my writing in order to stay ahead of the asteroid.


We go BLAH (alpine horn)
We go BLAH (alpine horn)

I’m hopping mad; furious at the qualification of these racist goat herders. They killed off far more interesting countries such as Slovenia and Norway. Dammit. One can only now hope that they endure the same humiliating fate as their cheating 2006 counterparts. I’ll never forget the look on Köbi Kuhn’s face as they dropped that shootout. I’ll bring it up until I draw my final breath.


To quote Nice Guy Eddie’s snarky assessment of priority’s in “Reservoir Dogs”,

“First things fucking last!”

Yes, I’m a little miffed at my Fatherland these days. Having planned my first social outing in months, the news of German “outrage” over the purported hacking of Angie Merkel’s phone dumped several odious contracts too lucrative to let go right into my lap. Instead of actually conversing with live individuals face-to-face, I got stuck Skyping with a bunch of pseudo-intellectual louts looking for novel ways to describe a historic sense of German betrayal that violated “The very soul of a nation”.

Er…if any of you happen to be reading this…I……er….didn’t really mean that. Call me! I’ll work for food!

Anyway, seeing as how The Syndicate exists as a safe haven of sorts for me to express my true feelings, I really wish the Germans would stop whining about these allegations. It strikes me as hubristic to think that the U.S. actually cares about obtaining actionable intelligence on Germany. The Trans-Atlantic relationship is as strong as ever and there remains tangible advantage to be gained from stealing secrets from a tangentially relevant partner. The tapping more accurately reflects a bloated U.S. National Security Apparatus obsessed with leaving no stone unturned. It does not (repeat DOES NOT) in any way amount to a conspiracy aimed at infiltrating the German government. Stop flattering yourselves. There’s practically nothing of interest in the German government, at least from a strategic perspective. The U.S. fucked up, but it was a good-old-fashioned “Automatic Fuck Up”. There wasn’t a plan….just a net that was entirely too wide….for the sole reason that it could be engineered so wide in the first place.

Did that make any sense? Probably not. In any event I feel infinitely better having got that off my chest. I’ll feel even better after discussing my Mannschaft.

Whew. That was some match against the Swedes, no? Who could have predicted a Schürrle Hat Trick? The youngsters are really coming along. I also love what I’m seeing from Marco Reus, Mario Götze, Matt Hummels, Toni Kroos, the Bender brothers, and Gündogan.

We still lack a natural striker with Gomez tanking and Klose downing pints of Geritol. Özil’s transfer to the Emirates, however, may yet supply us with a solution to that problem. He’s been phenomenal. He’s got Giroud rolling. Now all we need for him to do is kick-start Podolski once he returns from injury.

Stalwart Syndicate members often broach a very salient point: Although Vicey is a rabid Premiership follower, he doesn’t have an actual Premiership Team! Touché, mates. It’s true. I refuse to commit. It’s enough to simply watch the best players in the world lace it up every weekend….or perhaps I was simply waiting for the stars to align. They’ve done so this season.


I’ll be cheering Arsene’s army on from now until may. Go Arsenal! We’re at the top of the table and we’re going all the way! Bear in mind that this is by no means a long-term marriage. It applies only to the 2013-14 season. Podolski, Özil, and Mertesacker in a World Cup Year.



As predicted, “The Coffee Growers” took care of business and now hold the (however dubious) distinction of being one of two “Syndicate Debutantes”. The people of Columbia haven’t had the joy of rooting for their national side for sixteen long years. As such their supporters will undoubtedly be among the liveliest and most fun to be around. Can’t wait to meet them, just as I can’t wait to watch Fredy Guarin tear in up in yellow ; )

So happy you cats could join us.  

Antonio Mockus 2014!!


The RFU Eleven held on against the Navigators…by their bloody fingernails no less. Who clinches a World Cup berth with a 1-1 tie against Azerbaijan? Evidently, that’s just how the Ruskies roll. Kerzhakov, Shirokov, Ingashevich, Zhirkov, Denisov, and Berzutski (combined age 184) apparently aren’t done yet.

This bookie fully expected them to bounce back with ease:

From EM 2012—Quarterfinals

Russia (3 games played, 5 goals, 4 points, 32 Hot Girls)

Looks as if the initial assessment has been vindicated. They were wildly overrated….and you can transmit that information to Vladimir. Schwanz Befürworter has only himself to blame, sticking with Arshavin and Kerzakhov despite their inconsistent play and insisting on using Pavyluchencko as his go guy. These mediocrity stradlers burst out of the gate to stun us all one-punch Ivan Drago style. I had them ranked at the top at the beginning of Round Two. As the group phase progressed, we learned that they weren’t machines. THEY WERE (fallible) MEN!! We observed the first scrape in the second fixture as Polish captain Blaszczykowski all too easily swept past a 34-year-old Konstantin Zyryanov while Zhirkov and Denisov were caught napping. Fatigue soon set in. This group of aging stars struggled to keep their legs alive. Arshavin and Kerzhakov began the third match noticeably out of gas and Advocaat took far too long to switch to either Kokorin or Pogrebnyak.

Advocaat implemented one half of the bold moves recommended by this bookie in the preview section. The elevation of a streaking Malefeev to number one backstop worked out well. We shall never know how far this team might have progressed had Advocaat intrepidly replaced the supplanted Kerzakhov, the demoted Arshavin, or the in-crisis Pavlyuchencko with new Fulham frontman Pavel Pogrebnyak.  The legendary Dutch trainer remained steadfast in his obstinate refusal to shake things up until the bitter end. He wouldn’t administer wholesale changes after the embarrassing failure to qualify in 2010. He wouldn’t tinker during a sluggish spell during qualifying. He wouldn’t juggle his lineup as his team crashed and burned all the way out of this tournament. Sbornaia fans should be glad he’s leaving.

Let’s talk future. After six years under two Dutch managers it’s time to go domestic. I fully expect assistant coach Alexandr Borodyuk, who briefly served as caretaker in 2006, to be promoted come July 2nd. The former Soviet National team star has over ten years of experience coaching either the Russian U21 or A-Squad. Zyryanov, Semshov, and Sharaonov are the only players we can definitely wave goodbye to. No huge losses Depending on their club team performances. Arshavin, Pavlyuchencko, Malafeev, Ingashevich, Kerzhakov, and Izmailov might all be back. Based on the new up-and-comers, things look quite bright in tournaments to come. What a spectacular debut for Alan Dzagoev, who will now get practice in against the best athletes in the world at the tender age of 21. Pogrebnyiak approaches his peak, but he shouldn’t be past it come 2014.

What I could not have augured was just how fantastic a job former England manager Fabio Capello would do with Kokorin. This side exhibits a great deal of potential to make the Quarterfinals, though the hostility of the turf they’ll find themselves playing on begs one to exercise restrained hopes.

Bosnia & Herzegovina

A very hearty welcome to our other “Syndicate Debutantes”.

From WMQ 2013—“Der Wille zum Syndikat”

The “Golden Lillies” of this newly cleaved pragmatic arrangement are, barring some improbable collapse, GOING TO QUALIFY!!!

Hurrah! Welcome Bosnia and Herzegovina. Come next summer, we’ll have a total newcomer to talk about.

Congratulations to Edin Dzeko and the “Balkan Dragons”. With any luck the exceptionally talented core of this lineup will keep B & H a formidable international force for years to come.

Fantastic job down the stretch by Susic & Co. A late goal from Ibisevic ensured that, even though Greece had pulled level, a mammoth goal differential would push the Balkan Dragons through.

Since the dissolution of Tito’s Yugoslavia, the Bosnians have never even come close to qualifying for anything. With Eastern European splintering now mostly complete, time to let those wounds heal and watch some quality football. The Montenegrins and Kosovars will eventually qualify for a tournament (Europe) too. All is gradually becoming right with the world. We’ll have to wait for the draw in order to properly ascertain whether Man City’s Edin Dzeko and Stuttgart’s Vedad Ibashevic will have a chance to shine against porous defenses. We’re still looking at a talent-laden team staffed by the likes of Freiburg’s Mensur Mudjza, Roma’s Miralem Pjanic, and Bayer Leverkusen’s Emir Sphacic.

This isn’t an entry to be taken lightly. Trust me.


“It weren’t pretty”, but they did it. Hodgson’s much maligned eleven dug deep, pulled together and rallied for convincing victories against Poland and Montenegro. The margin of victory against the Montenegrins proved crucial, allowing the Three Lions to relax a bit in their final match secure in the knowledge that the would at least best the Ukrainians on goal differential.

Another last-minute escape from the jaws of defeat for St. George. Prognosticating England’s prospects next Summer remains more difficult than one might expect, and not for the reason you'd think. Sure, the snake-bit English are always invariably a mercurial rollercoaster. It’s really the Premiership, however, that renders logic inapplicable.

Not even one third of the Premiership’s grueling schedule has been completed. Seeing as how England once again fields a team entirely comprised of Premiership players, one cannot predict what effect injuries and fatigue will have on the squad Hodgson ultimately selects. As of this writing, Rooney, Sturridge, Lampard, Ashley Cole, Baines, Defoe, and Michael Carrick are battling with ailments. Aging can be a bitch. In theory Oxlade-Chamberlin, Walcott, Wellbeck, Cleverly, and Aaron Lennon can be expected to remain fit….in theory.

Let’s all just enjoy the rest of the season. There will be more to talk about after it’s over ; )


On the topic of teams I’m nowhere near ready to make predictions about, we arrive at potentially the greatest international football force in the history of ever. That, at least, happens to be the question on everyone’s mind. Will La Roja achieve the unprecedented “Four-Peat”? I don’t know. I can tell you what I think of Villa’s comeback, of Iniesta’s latest form, of Michu’s and Negredo’s maturation. I just can’t answer that question. Check back with me in a few months. It’s simply too early. We’ll have to leave it there.


All around sturdy and stable team effort from the “Red Slivers”, who now return for their second consecutive trip to the World Cup Finals. Didn’t really get a chance to see this team in action until last round’s nifty little victory over Ecuador. I absolutely loved the defensive directorship of Cardiff City center-back Gary Medel…..but that may more be a result of my quirky intrigue with the two Welsh teams now playing in the Premiership. At any rate, nice goal there, Senior Soto ; )


Speak of the devil, it’s nice to have “La Tri” back after an eight-year absence. United’s Antonio Valencia will have a statement or two to make before the tournament concludes.

Honduras flag

La Bicolor found themselves the primary beneficiaries of the Mexican catastrophe during CONCACAF qualifying. They’ve much to prove in the wake of a disastrous showing in 2010. Seriously, amigos. I’ve no desire to unearth some of those old lawn care jokes.

You may rightly accuse me of running out of gas when it came time to write about the CONCACAF/COMNEBOL Entrants. A plausible explanation is that I was thinking ahead to a segment initially formulated in “WMQ 2009: Syndicate Afterlife”. Back then, I considered it worth our time to cover the “Notable European Absences”. Well get to that, but first we’ll get to this.

S.S.S. 2013---Year in Review (Part II)

The 2013 World Baseball Classic

Winter took it’s own sweet ass time melting into Spring…or so this bookie was told. The shifting colors of the botanical landscape didn’t capture his imagination in quite the same way that the shifting of the Sports Tide did. The allure of certain sports can prove as ephemeral as one’s daily frustrations.

During one episode in my life I spent years enchanted by Ice Hockey. This obsession led to the purchase of an obscene amount of expensive equipment; skates, sticks, bags, helmets, pads, tape, bearings, breezers, christ I must have hit up my mother for $35’s worth of Allen Wrenches. I can recall a time during which the charms of Indoor Lacrosse had me so captivated that I purchased a full set of Philadelphia Wings Playoff Tickets. Go Wings! For a brief period of time I considered competitive playing of “Magic: The Gathering” a legitimate sport. I played adult kickball AND softball. I briefly joined an Ultimate Frisbee team. I even participated in Basketball, Racquetball, and Squash tournaments. I donned the helmet and (attempted) to play quarterback for my High School Freshman Team. My boxing career only lasted one round (most of which my bludgeoned to death ass can’t remember) but I was taken by it for a little while.

Here’s my point: We’ve all had fleeting romances with competitive events. Maybe your were once into Paintball hardcore. Perhaps you spent a year of your life obsessively playing an MMO. I don’t know too many competitive target shooters who kept up with the habit for more than a couple of years, but for many it WAS their entire world for a while. Some joined a bowling league. Others played ping-pong every other Tuesday. Others still considered competitive playing of “Magic: The Gathering” a legitimate sport. With the advent of the PS3, I saw the best minds of my generation “howl” at the prospect of logging in and playing Madden….until they got bored of it. “Counter Strike” sucked in every computer savvy male under the age of 30 for a solid two years.

Our unrefined humanity attracted us to such competitive pursuits. We sought not merely the thrill of losing ourselves in the thrill of combative engagement. We also sought camaraderie, companionship, a symbiotic clash of sympathetic wills. Sorry to get all pedantic on you, but we were basically after love. So there. Put that in your vaporizer and smoke it.

But love rarely endures. Look back on your life and ask which sporting hobbies remained with you through it all. Go ahead. Take your time. I’ll just fill out a crossword or two. Have the answer? Good.

My answer: Baseball and (the real) Football. Hmmm…I suppose that’s fitting for a German-American hybrid. Accordingly, I truly hoped to construct some special lines on the World Baseball Classic. As with most of one’s hopes, reality intervenes and plans go awry.

We begin with an earnest attempt to convey some historically pertinent info.

From “WBC 2013—Syndicate Reloaded”

Japan (Overall Winning Odds 2-1)

Contrary to the common prevailing logic, the game of baseball was NOT a post-World-War II American export. The Japs have been playing organized ball since well before the turn of the 20th century. American imperialists brought the game to the shores of the Isle shortly after the end of the American Civil War. The game proved to be a smash hit almost immediately. The Japs fell in love with a sport in which each player was delegated a specific role. The inherent Zen like values of personal discipline, patience, focus, deep concentration, and meditation led to the development of the first teams under the auspices of none other than the local Samurai. Yes, THOSE samurai motherfucker.

Of course, it also didn’t hurt that baseball isn’t exactly a physically demanding “sport”. Players may remain active well into their fifties. A culturally compatible respect for seniority sealed the deal. Arigato, Dragons. Good luck.

China (Overall Winning Odds 12-1)

The Land of Confucius embraced the game of baseball even earlier than the Japs. Organized ball was being played in Shanghai a full decade before the Japanese constructed their first diamond. For a brief interval in the 1860s, the Chinese had more active amateur teams than the Americans. As was the case in across the East China Sea, the leisurely game of the patient technician took root in an Eastern Society that heralded the values of carefully circumscribed tasks, rapt focus, flawless execution, and team identity.

One might even envision Confucius himself as a contemplative right fielder. He pensively sits in the lotus position, pausing only intermittently to scratch his scrotum and take a puff of opium. He descends ever deeper into a ruminative trace, musing over the precise trajectory of the fly ball that the left-handed hitter at the plate will pull in his direction. Forty minutes later, the crack of the bat summons him out of his transfixing catatonia. He calmly rises from the pitch, hitching his eyes on the ball as it reaches the apex of its parabola. With a supple flick of the wrist he draws down his shades and takes measured steps towards the shadow of the descending body. At the last possible moment he thrusts up his glove to ensnare the orb. Following that he rifles the ball toward home in plenty of time to catch the runner tagging up at third.  Strike up the pan flute.

Brazil (Overall Winning Odds 10-1)

Former owner of the Texas Rangers, and current nude self-portrait painting ex-President George W. Bush, once infamously conceded that he had no idea there were blacks in Brazil. Ostensibly, had he known a little more about the world he was placed in charge of leading, he might have been a better President.

Former owner of the Little League Phillies Fantasy Baseball Club and current nude typing enthusiast Vice now concedes that he had no idea there was baseball in Brazil. Ostensibly, had he known a little more about the “sport” he was covering, he might be a better writer?

Brazil? Who the sura-del-bundaing fuck plays baseball in Brazil? That wasn’t even in that god-awful Albert Brooks movie! We did not see Brazil in 2006 and 2009, for the simple reason that there was no qualifying round, 16 teams were pre-selected, and the Brazilian team featured a goat at third base.

Everything changed when the IBAF invited the Samba Nine to participate. The Brazilian Baseball Federation hired none other than Cincinnati hall of fame shortstop Barry Larkin to sculpt a credible club. He made a mockery out of those minimalist expectations, upsetting two Latin American countries with well-established baseball traditions: Panama and Columbia. Twice Larkin’s lads eked out one run victories against the Panamanians. Additionally, they massacred Columbia in a 7-1 rout that made no sense whatsoever.

South Korea (Overall Winning odds 2-1)

Hell Yes, the Koreans play baseball!! They do it “Gangam Style”. Who can forget Chan Ho Park, Hee-Seop Choi, Byung-Hyun Kim, Shin Soo-Choo? Hmmm….evidently most major league clubs. Of all those Korean dynamos, only Soo-Choo still plays in the states, and his new manager in Cincinnati won’t allow him to join us.

By all accounts MLB currently experiences a Korean lull. That by no means suggests that this team isn’t capable of contending for the title. Behind the States and Japan, South Korea boasts perhaps the third most competitive league in the world. While the Japanese Nippon League operates under the designation of “AAAA Ball”, Korea’s Championship League lies only a notch behind. One might liken in to “AAA ½ Ball”. Much like with the Japanese powerhouses, this bookie would be tempted to pick the Samsung Lions, Kia Tigers, Nexen Heroes, or Lotte Giants were they squaring off against a lowly MLB Team like the Royals, Mets, or Orioles.

Differentiating the Koreans from their Jap brethren across the way, all Korean teams are backed by the mighty Chaebol. Whereas the Japanese use their company teams for developmental purposes in the “Industrial League”, the Korean Championship and it’s developmental farm counterpart “The Korean Futures League” are all backed by mighty corporate entities. LG, Samsung, Doosan, Nexen, Kia, SK, and NC. Yes, you stereotypical jackasses, Hyundai once had a team too. They were called the “Unicorns” Some lucky syndicate members will soon take pride in owning that awesome jersey

Netherlands (Overall Winning Odds 5-1)

Ahem. Well, the Dutch are here. Quick everyone! Turn out the lights and hit the floor! What triple-vowel-stacking fuck are the goofy Germans doing here? Allow me a moment or two to regain my composure and I’ll tell you. Fucking Dutch……

In 1911, a worthless English Professor took a sabbatical in America. In lieu of getting any research done, he spent most of his time goofing off and drinking heavily with baseball enthusiasts. Upon returning, he immersed himself in a project almost as worthless as this blog: translating the rules of baseball into Dutch. Within two years he had founded a club: Quick Amsterdam. Within a decade, an actual professional four-team league sprung up. So goes the legend.

Ajax branched off into baseball. Another notable football club (Blue-White) also followed suit. The northern municipality of “Haarlem” got in on the act. Thus far, you’re welcome to conclude that this narrative is about as ridiculous as this tiny little kingdom itself. Despite numerous attempts by visiting American military and missionary teams to utterly humiliate them, the Dutch kept plugging along.

In Marshall Plan Europe, Germany, Italy, France, England, Belgium, and the Netherlands all found themselves recipients of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of baseball equipment. Insanely enough, the cultural exchange actually worked in every country except France.

It worked in Italy, where baseball somehow remains popular in certain communities. It worked in England, where there’s actually a counter-counter of baseball playing punks. It worked in Germany, which has four tiers to its “Baseball Bundesliga”. Your friendly bookie even trained with the Karlsruhe Cougars of the Third German Baseball Bundesliga. None of the players even spoke English. They were 100 percent Kraut. It worked in Belgium, where there really was never terribly too much to do other than find ways to piss the Dutch off. The Belgians formed a national team and proceeded to take on the Dutch every year in a regional Derby. The French took one look at the leather mitts and rawhide-stitched balls, concluded that they had evil smells about them, and returned to guzzling cat’s piss wine and gorging themselves on steak tartar over the course of their five-hour-long lunch break. That was to be expected. Can't win them all.   

The Dutch gratefully accepted their new bats and began erecting batting cages. To this day one can still find a lone batting cage in many Dutch Amusement Parks. Over the course of the next sixty years, the “Kingdom of the Nether Regions” captured 20 of the 32 European Baseball Championships. Yes, that tournament exists. No, I’ll never cover it. There’s the subtle joy of writing about sports that some people may falsely consider obscure, then there’s the feeling of actually writing about obscure sports. There’s also the feeling associated with shaving one’s own head with a cheese greater. I think I’d prefer the latter to the former.

So now then. The Hollanders upset the Cubans in 2011 to capture the IBAF World Cup of Baseball. You read that correctly. As of this writing, the title of World Baseball Champion belongs to the Europeans…….somehow. Here we encounter yet another reason why the World Baseball Classic needs to take off PRONTO! The IBAF World Cup of Baseball is a fucking joke! I refuse to accept that the goddamn Dutch are the Master of the Baseball Universe. This cannot be! No, no, no, no!!.

Australia (Overall Winning Odds 11-1)

American prospectors + Victorian Era Gold Rush + Cricket Off season = Baseball in Australia. So they tell us. Cricket was widely played in the old British Penal Colony from the very beginning. Yet what was a cricketer to do as the winter months settled in on the Southern hemisphere? Some scraggly U.S. Gold Miners evidently had the answer after the 1849 California Gold Rush petered out and some of the more enterprising individuals hopped a boat. Baseball rapidly became the official “off season sport”. Australian baseball clubs were already touring the U.S. before the advent of the 20th Century. Most notably, a “mitt-less” Aussie squad toured the U.S. and England in 1897-98. Why did they not wear gloves? Because they were Aussies, dammit. No padding for us real men!

The tradition of Baseball as a Winter Sport continued until the 1960s, when baseball hot spots such as New South Wales carved out a full summer season for professionals who exclusively played what they then called “Basecube”. A full national league would have to wait until 1989, when MLB invested a hefty chunk of change to form a new “Winter Ball” developmental league. In spite of the heavy financial stakes put up by us Yanks, the league lasted all of a decade before abysmal finances forced it to fold. Eleven years after that, a revamped concept got its turn. The “New Australian Baseball League” debuted in 2010, and has ventured nowhere near the black.

Spain (Overall Winning Odds 13-1)

Now, now. Everyone settle down. The Spaniards have every right to be here. They crushed the Israelis in the qualifying rounds! Beating Jews a’int easy! Think of Sandy Koufax! This wasn’t the Inquisition! They actually had to work to best these Jews!

Okay….let’s see if we can’t slay the elephant in the room. Today’s “Big Question” is:

“What the inimputable fuck is Spain doing with a baseball team?”
Answer: It was none other than the Spanish aristocracy that fled Cuba after independence! They brought the game back with them. Though the sport barely survived the Franco dictatorship, the Spanish currently maintain a three-tier professional relegation league. There’s even a “Copa del Ray de Beisbol”. There’s even a rivalry Derby between “Beisbol Barcelona” and “Piratas Madrid”

I know none of this makes any sense and you’re prepared to hang me for hyperbole. All the condemned man can say in his defense is that 12 of the players on the Spanish National Team currently play professional baseball in the United States. That’s not to say that they all play for major league clubs. Many receive checks from unaffiliated farm teams like the South Maryland Blue Crabs or the Lincoln Saltdogs. Still, Alesandro Sanchez aims to be the next starting shortstop for the Atlanta Braves. Pitcher Ricardo Castillo has been making waves in the St. Louis Cardinal’s farm system. Rhiner Cruz might someday start for the Astros. Jesus Merchan, Gabe Suarez, and Adrian Nieto are one step away from the show. Engel Beltre should make the cut for the Texas Rangers this year.

Who knew? Not this bookie. Regardless, we must accept the fact that the Spaniards are present. 

After an early pique of interest, traffic once again slowed down. ; ) That’s cool. At least it afforded me space to rant.

From WBC 2013—Round Three:

We must proceed…..after the concerted effort to compose a “Rambling Section” has been attempted:

--Anyone interested in the Nuclear Power Debate should definitively check out “Pandora’s Promise”. The ideals of this iconoclastic film ultimately do a fine job of concealing their asymmetrical portrayal….if that makes any sense. In any event, the film should be accorded “must see” status for any of my German friends currently considering whether they should once again lie down on the railroad tracks. Just see it, guys. “Leid und Demütigung wurde von Niemanden verlangt.”

--Is the Lehman Bankruptcy over yet? Evidently not. Someone needs to explain to me how General Motors exits Chapter 11 in a few short months while the bank that triggered a global financial collapse is still in court. Was it U.S. Government Assistance? Impossible. We all know that the government cannot possibly do anything right…even when it actually does.

--Apropos decent movies, Columbia Missouri recently hosted Year Ten of its very own homegrown True/False Film Festival. I won’t bore you with all of the minutiae. A Midwest Documentary Film Fest hardly qualifies as Sundance or Berlinalé I won’t pester you with obscure Docs….save for this one final exception. “After Tiller” qualifies as a “Must See” If you only see one documentary film on third trimester abortions this year, I recommend this one. Until seeing this film, I often wished I was dumped in the “Baby Klappe”. Now I finally understand how painful a “wanted pregnancy” can be.

--No rambling section would be complete without some up-to-the-minute assessments of the latest works of Allain de Botton. The prolific writer is up to no good again. Last year he kept far too many of us enthralled with his latest blockbuster, “Religion for Atheists”. The follow-up, “How to Think more about Sex”, has this commentator convinced that he’s found a Proust for the present age. De Botton’s genius lies in his ability to convey deeply existential concepts in a pleasurably readable narrative. If only us amateurs could hope to attain such a level.

--To the citizens of L.A.:

$5 for the megalith rock. Do we have a deal? I pay you $5 and some 4,000 citizens don’t get tax breaks. Everybody wins.

--Chavez’s death raises some serious questions. Namely, why are we paying attention to a passing (however sensational it my be) instead of trying to replicate Brazil’s Bolsa Familia Program? How truly it sucks when South America’s lessons fail to reach us.

--As I recall, there was something I read about the Danish Parliament that really pissed me off last week…but I can’t for life of me remember what it was. 

--Over  at:

You too can insist that “Iron Sky” be released in the States.

--The Chick-Fil-A President never pissed me off. He might have been a bigot, but the “Eat More Chicken” Advertising Campaign left me craving some foul. If anyone else is ready for the “Eat More Pussy” Advertising Campaign, I’ll get a few T-Shirts printed up. So the guy is against Gay Marriage. So what? I’m pro-gay-sex, pro-gay marriage, AND pro-fried chicken. Is there anything wrong with such a stance?

--Amid all of the talk concerning “America’s Missing Middle Class”, I beseech anyone dumb enough to listen to consider “Africa’s Missing Middle Class”. Seriously, no. We’ve got a problem….and it extends beyond South Africa’s “Pistourius and his Platinum Blonde” problem. In Nigeria, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia….fuck it….in any sub-Saharan African country, the wealth disparity remains embarrassingly bad. Here in the States, we insist upon adhering to primitive economic theory. Across the Atlantic, primitive economic theory yields primitive results.

--Time to declare India’s “Tata Motors” officially dead. Early enthusiast or no….the sales just didn’t catch fire like we hoped. Some of the cars caught fire, but that doesn’t mean they were sold. Perhaps now might be the time for the world’s largest legitimate democracy to start considering a public transportation plan.

--“’Nudge’ vs. ‘Freakonomics’“. “Nudge” wins…..barely. Only just slightly. Look…both were great books. It was one helluva fight. In the end there can be only one. Sorry to be so blunt, but behavioral economics can be easily reduced to “How to best punch someone else in the Solar Plexus”

--A recent study suggests that Koreans and Germans pick the most secure website passwords. Forgive me for being cynical. Choose whatever password you like. No one cares. Stop pretending as if you matter. Stop now.

From WBC 2013—Round Four

--Sincere thanks to all of the both of you who got the joke about Ratzinger and his doctoral thesis. The current snafu German politicians are forced to contend with happens to be the best belated Christmas Present any experienced Academia Basher could possibly hope for. Anyone interested in a small revelation for the road? All universities are charged $20,269 annually for online access the Tetrahedron Chemistry Journal. The International Journal of Mathematics costs $20,100. In fact, most journals provides by the gouging middleman “Elsevier” cost in access of $20,000. That’s what happened to the fellowship money you never received. It went to pay for access to mediocre scholarship written by those who already found their niche.

--An interesting article that I can’t find the link for:

“Fat Years: Why Germany has a Brilliant Future” by Dick Heilman

I’ve spent the obligatory four minutes fiddling around with Google. Fact is, there are too may “Dick Heilmans” out there….and they’re screwing with my attempts to link to something. He had so many great things to say about the infamous German “Mittelstand”, the improbable concept of “Mittbestimung”, and plenty of existential psychobabble about the importance of living in a modest way that makes sense to….YOU. Sadly, all Google gives me are Facebook and LinkedIn links. No, I don’t remember in which periodical the article appeared. That part is my fault. The rest of the blame lies with all the “Dick Heilmans” out there. Damn you!

--One piece of writing I can link to is the fascinating vlog of Chilean activist Camila Vallejo. Here’s a Guardian article that will take you all the way to the Promised Land:

Yes, I’m attracted to her. That doesn’t mean she’s not a genius!

--What the hell is going on in Zenit St. Petersburg? When the fans are chanting “Sell your Dacha to finish the Stadium”….well that goes beyond ordinary drunken banter.

--One week into the sequester, one is forced to conclude that every last political talking point amounts to nothing more than a head rush for the megalomaniacal.

--A bit of blowback in Northern Mali…no matter…no sense in talking about the enemy in grand terms. Let’s put it candidly: “Chickenshit losers strike back temporarily”.
--My personal utilization of the Internet may amount to nothing more than a few random thought ejaculations. At least I don’t heckle those working in the service industry. I’m looking at you…..Radio Shack/Chick-Fil-A People.

--My personal vendetta against Vice Media….the decision to send Dennis Rodman to meet with Kim Jong-Un greatly exacerbates matters. FUCK YOU, HIPSTERS!!

--Overkill: It may mean writing entirely too much. It may mean taking your job too seriously. To put things into perspective, it really means being a member of either the Afghan or Pakistani Taliban. Banning newspapers in regions that feature literacy rates of 20 percent or below….that’s overkill.

--Now that the tired talking point of a “large government stealing from its citizens” has resurfaced in the American Political Discourse, it’s time to bring up the tired counterpoint regarding “Surplus States”. Who contributes more in taxes than they give out in entitlements? In the States it’s the Northern States. In Germany it’s the Southern States. The geography is arbitrary. Bavaria can be as conservative as Alabama on occasion. Hessen might resemble Mississippi. Baden-Württemberg functions as more densely populated Georgia. It doesn’t matter. Those German States are your perennial “makers”. Those American States are statistically “Takers”.

--The events in Camden confirm a deeply held belief: Every American municipality should immediately fire 25 percent of its Police Department. Let’s get it over with. Cut the fat from the bacon. Smaller government begins with firing cops.

--The Syrian National Council reminds one too much of the 1848 German convention: “Hundred Fünzig Professoren, Vaterland du bist verloren.” Same thing here. I give them another week before personally sanctioning the arming of the rebels.

--In the bluntest terms possible, Obama’s anti-sequester scare tactics were an abject failure. He might do well to take a page from “Mr. Pudding”. Hollande manages to be indecisive, boring, and somehow effective all at the same time.

--Kudos to New York on opening the Math Museum a scant two blocks away from the Sex Museum. Now we’ve got “MoMath” not to far away from “MoSex”. Two Museums presently explicitly satisfy both the urges of the mind and the body. Man, I can’t wait to re-visit New York!

--Who doesn’t enjoy a good David Brooks column? The sclerotic (not to mention brilliant) wordsmith specializes in coming up with content so inspiringly metaphysical that one forgets how little sense it makes. It would be my great pleasure to write a regular blog entitled “David Brooks once again succumbs to over-reasoning”. New material would come down the pike every three days. Here’s one of my favorites from the files:

“We have to have a consumption tax if we want to both grow the economy and reduce debt.”

Adorable. Poor Dave completely forgot about the ridiculously high consumption taxes we already have in place. It’s not his fault. He’s a good man. You should read his column.

Ultimately upending all of our plans was none other than “Pope Emeritus” Ratzinger, who selfishly opted to retire to a life of tranquil thought right in the middle of the World Baseball Classic ;) ;) In all seriousness, we wish him well. Your friendly bookie still had to scramble to build a “Syndicate within a Syndicate” on short notice.

From WBC 2013—Round Six

Benny retires to a life of leisurely writing and thinking. At the age of 85, one shouldn’t anything more of him. He’s even too old to be a Wal-Mart Greeter. He won’t appear on “Dancing with the Stars”, “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, or “Jersey Shore”. The only remaining task to be fulfilled involves sitting and reflecting upon his life. The inevitable end to which the more fortunate among us must all draw near needn’t be a time of fear or regret. We must simply resign ourselves to the fact that we were fortunate enough to exist in this universe at all. The clock ticks down on all of us. Our bodies decay and soon the mind joins it. Benedict proved to be an exceptionally wise man in that he wished to drag as few people down with him as necessary. A prolific scholar, he’s hinted that he knows the ultimate truth: God is “sleeping”. God “sleeps” because he doesn’t exist. Ratzinger will deal with his own demise privately and with dignity. He was a stand-up guy all along. Do what you can for the world, then exit without burdening anyone else. Also, don’t plagiarize your doctoral thesis.

Time to convey the essential stats. As you already know, cardinals aged 80 and over are not eligible to vote. Thus, although 207 Cardinals will find themselves locked in St. Peter’s, only 117 are eligible as electors. 115 will participate in the process. That still leaves us with over 200 hundred candidates. Oh how I wish I could somehow conjure up enough time to handicap individual odds. Regrettably, I’ve been smitten by God’s Laws of time. Hence, we’ll have to take wagers according to regional contingents this time. That doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. Let’s go.

1) The Italian/Wop Contingent (Winning Odds—0.5 to 1)

(28 Electors, 24 Percent of the Electorate)

Allow me to clarify to the point that it’s ABSOLUTELY CRYSTAL. The election of an Italian Pope is so likely that if you wish to bet on it, you’ll actually end of owing me money. If a non-Italian is elected I owe you double the bet. Venturing into uncharted territory here, but I’m confident. You can’t double up. (i.e., you can’t bet BOTH on an Italian Pope and a Pope from the Rest of the World (R.O.W.) ) Either you bet Italian or you bet something else. Are we clear?  

2) The European Contingent (Winning Odds 2 to 1)

(32 Electors, 28 Percent of the Electorate)

This qualifies as our UPSET SPECIAL. Do you think the Guineas are prepared to elect a third consecutive non-Italian Pope? Try your luck.

3) The North American Contingent (Winning Odds 4 to 1)

(20 Electors, 17 Percent of the Electorate)

Keep dreaming about your French Canadian Pope. Keep dreaming about it. It a’int happening, but bet on it regardless.

4) The South American Contingent (Winning Odds 2 to 1)

(13 Electors, 11 Percent of the Electorate)

If there’s any truth to the possibility that the church wishes to expand it’s reach, the Latins make for a legitimate Dark Horse. All bettors should nevertheless be cautioned that the Church wishes to forget Vatican II more than it wishes to be relevant.

5) The African Contingent (Winning Odds 4 to 1)

(11 Electors, 10 Percent of the Electorate)

Your friendly bookie and his unhealthy African obsession would like nothing more. White Smoke….Black Pope. The headline essentially writes itself. It’s still not happening, no matter what Ghanaian hype you’re prepared to buy into.

6) The Asiatic/Oceanic Contingent (Winning Odds 6 to 1)

(11 Electors, 9 Percent of the Electorate)

Orwell’s Oceania comprised North America and the British Isles. Later, mankind would deem the term more appropriate to Pacific Rim countries and Australia….to the point that J.J. Abrahams solidified matters with his “Oceania Air”. Useless bastard. We’re not getting an Asian Pope…if only for the reason that the new Pope’s genitals must be thoroughly inspected to ensure that he’s not a woman. End of story.

Thanks so much for reading. Everyone who isn't a baseball enthusiast now has permission to stop paying attention.

We met the new Papa in a matter of days. That got the Syndicate Members rolling!

From WBC 2013—Round Eight:

Habemus Papum Syndicate Members!

It’s been a glorious day for all those faithful in the “Pope and Change” Camp. Infinitely more important, it’s been a divine day for the Syndicate. So many Firsts on this day. The cardinals elevated first non-European Pontiff to the papacy. We witnessed the birth of a birth of a brand new order: The First Pope to choose the name “Francesco”. And of course….I must concede in with full Catholic humility…your bookie has for the first time lost money on a Book.

No need to worry about me, however. Your friendly bookie blesses you. In Nominee Parti et Filii et Spiritus Sancti…  Until the newly elected Papa, he doesn’t even ask of you to bless him. I’ll be fine. My losses were by no means deep, and they are a small price to pay for the privilege of beholding a day like today. Today we recaptured the “Spirit of the Syndicate”. This difficult-to-define essence easily beats the shit out of the “Holy Ghost”. Today we resurrected the foundational principles, the governing dynamics, the Passion of the Bookie, the roots of this entire endeavor, the whole reason I devote the Lion’s Share of what little private time I get to compose these lines.

Why does the Syndicate exist at all? So sharp wits can exchange biting riffs. Days like these justify it all. We all got together again. We all got together and “felt alright”. 1.2 Billion Catholics may have seen their faith reaffirmed, but a hundred or so oddballs re-affirmed something much more significant. Your friendly bookie blesses you. In Nominee Parti et Filii et Spiritus Sancti…

Time to share some of today’s exchanges. It’s been far too long since we’ve featured a Simmons-style “Mailbag Section”. I’ve a few unfinished ones from the Election, CAN, and the WBC on my desktop….along with probably at least 42 other unfinished projects that keep getting pushed to the backburner. Approaching Downtime should enable me to complete…hell….maybe one. For now, we owe it to the “Spirit of the Syndicate” to share the day’s highlights.

Enjoy. Your friendly bookie blesses you. In Nominee Parti et Filii et Spiritus Sancti…


Syndicate Member: When is this fucking pope going to show up? I’ve been sitting here watching Anderson Cooper interview ditzy American Exchange students for almost an hour. I can’t take listening to another one of these girls telling me, “Like, we’re like studying abroad and this is, like, historic.”

Vicey: Patience, my son. First the new Pope must have his balls fondled. Seriously. Tradition dictates that the Cardinals inspect his testicles to ensure that a woman didn’t somehow fool everyone in the Basilica. The tradition was retained to preserve the humility of the office. They say whoever ascends to St. Peter’s chair must eschew hubris first and foremost. I can imagine nothing more humbling than having my sac cupped.

Following this, the new pope heads to the “Room of Tears” to get fitted for his prom dress. After every last cardinal has pledged fealty, he retreats to the Pauline Chapel for private prayer. It may take a while to get Jesus on the Mainline. The Pauline Chapel isn’t like the War Room in “Dr. Strangelove”. There isn’t a God-to-Pontiff Red Hotline Phone. Jesus may have stepped out. Give the Son of Man some time to check his voicemail messages.

Syndicate Member: To hell with this pudgy egghead. When is Pontiff “Viceus the Unready” going to appear on the balcony and bless us with some original comedy?

Vicey: Patience, my son. First I have to fondle my balls. I’ve been sitting on them for over an hour. Then, I must head to the “Room of Tears” to cry about all of the money that I lost. After receiving pledges of fealty from all Syndicate Members, I have to try and raise Jesus on the Mainline. The Pope typically appears 45 minutes after the White Smoke. I’ve some White Smoke of my own to make before I’m prepared to address the masses.

Syndicate Member: No fair! I cry foul! This Pope can’t ask me for a favor two minutes into the job! Why should I bless him?

Vicey: (giggling uncontrollably) Yeah! Who does this guy think he is? Kennedy! “Ask not what your Papa can do for you, ask what you can do for your Papa”.

Syndicate Member: Will you ever get back to talking Baseball?

Vicey: Let the record show that you remain the ONLY one to even come close to suggesting that. It’s a unique distinction. I love you for it….just know that you’re special.

Syndicate Member: My Faith in God has cost you a lot of money.

Vicey: Your Faith in God has also cost you a few brain cells. Er….the check is in the mail, ye of enviable faith. 

Syndicate Member: Are you, in fact, an observant Catholic? It almost seems so.

Vicey: Your friendly bookie isn’t truly observant of much beyond Internet Porn. Nevertheless I’d likely still find sitting in a Catholic Mass eminently relaxing. It sure beats watching a bunch of stark-raving mad apostolic assholes running around the aisles screaming about their “Holy Ghost Power”. Forced to sit in on one of those services, I very nearly punched a wild-eyed guy who was barreling towards me shrieking “JESUS! Mashalabas fu este mans shublle na tune tuope falalalalala!”. Ugh. Something tells me that recurring nightmare will return this evening.

Syndicate Member: Somewhere in a magnificently manicured Garden, Ratzinger is mumbling to himself “Good luck, schmuck”.

Vicey: (at a loss for words). Your friendly bookie blesses you. In Nominee Parti et Filii et Spiritus Sancti…

Syndicate Member: Is this really a new beginning? Can I masturbate freely now?

Vicey: Dorothy, Dorothy, Dorothy. You’ve always had the power to masturbate freely. Simply bite your lip, close your eyes, and keep repeating the mantra “There’s no place like my imagination”.

Syndicate Member: I thought we were done with the Nazi Popes. Considering that this guy’s from Argentina….I’m not convinced.

Vicey: (smacking the table to keep himself from laughing too hard.)

Syndicate Member: Vicey’s Papal Lines are brought to you by “I can’t believe it’s not Jesus!” Low-Fat communion wafers!

Vicey: Bah-ha. This one had me reeling. Inspired by his ingenious reference, he then opted to really push the limits:

Syndicate Member: Vicey’s Papal Lines are also brought to you by “Dr. Happy’s Third Trimester Abortion Funhouse.” Dr. Happy’s: We’ll bring out the kid in you!

Vicey: Christ almighty. I actually laughed at this, then flagellated myself for at least a half hour. You’re going to hell, syndicate member. I’ll see you there. Thank God there aren’t any women reading this!

Syndicate Member: Sic Transit Goldie Hawn.

Vicey: No clue what that’s supposed to mean. I wish my Latin knowledge didn’t come exclusively from the Asterix Comic Book Series. I also wish I had been paying attention when watching “Housesitter” starring Steve Martin.

Syndicate Member: Man, oh man. I wish I were in that Vatican crowd with all the horny college girls.

Vicey: Amen to that. Your friendly bookie blesses you. In Nominee Parti et Filii et Spiritus Sancti…

Syndicate Member: Love the look in this pope’s eyes. It almost seems like he’s come to terms with his own sexuality…or asexuality as the case may be.

Vicey: Interesting point. Based on his distended stomach, I read the look in his eyes to read “It’s been almost three hours since my last meal. Il Papa is hungry. Do we have anymore of those Sea Salt Communion Wafers?”

Random Mailer: Why make a joke out of religion?

Vicey: You took time to write me and I appreciate that. My counter-question is, since you did indeed take time to write me, “Why make a joke out of yourself?”

Syndicate Member: Pop Quiz, Hot Shot. Say you’ve just donned the Papal Vestment and are preparing to tread out on the balcony to address some 200,000 individuals in St. Peter’s Piazza. What do you do? What do you say?

Vicey: Now that’s a tough question, Keanu. Pope Peter II has just been anointed. He’s got his best dress on. He’s had his balls fondled, he’s prayed for the strength to make it through this moment. He feels himself ready. Yet, after the curtains are drawn and he beholds the marvelous spectacle of over 200,000 pilgrims, he suddenly comprehends the enormous burden of his charge. What does he do? What does he say?

After probing the inner depths of my soul, I’ve little choice but go with:

“Hey Everyone! We’re all gonna get laid!”

Strike up the band.

Viva la Syndicate! Well done, brothers. There isn’t an ecclesiastical order that can hope to hold a candle to us. Though our numbers may be few, our sardonic commentary remains legion. Your friendly bookie blesses you…..

So went the World Baseball Classic. The Dominicans won..but even I hardly noticed : ) ; )

BACK TO 2014!!


Serbia State Flag

It was a great pleasure to welcome Petrovic and his pets to the 2010 World Cup as a newly cleaved independent nation. Regrettably, we won’t be welcoming them back this time.

Scottish Flag Graphic

Since coming within a whisker of qualification back in 2008, the Scots haven’t come close to a berth. Won’t someone please appoint Kenny Dalglish head coach already? He’s the Brian Clough of Scotland. Someone needs to give these wankers a shot in the arm!!

If Gordon Brown can manage to avoid running the U.K. into the ground over three years, I’m fairly certain Kenny Dalgish can avoid crashing the Scots.


Da-da-Danes are Da-de-dead. Olsen’s eleven fell tragically short of a chance at a playoff, narrowly eclipsed by the French and the Icelandic. What a debilitating end for a talented team. Too morose to discuss this further. Let’s move on.

Czech Republic
Czech Republic

The Czechs can’t figure out what sort of government they want…let alone figure out a future for their football team. Settle in for months of horse-trading as we attempt to find a replacement for Necas’s reluctant choice. Also, Josef Pesice will last six months at best. That’s that. Welcome to the “Era of Czech Soul Searching”. This should be fun.

Republic of Ireland
Country flag of Ireland

At least I FINALLY got it right this time. Damn shame that Trappatoni had to leave, but Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane will get the Micks back on track.


Only a Döner Kebab can heal the pain in my heart…I MUST HAVE DÖNER!!



In hindsight it seems wholly obvious that this day would come.

From EM 2012—Quarterfinals:

Poland (3 games played, 2 goals, 2 points, 51 Hot Girls)

Polska, Polska, Polska. I did not anticipate having to write your necrology so soon. How could you flounder so thoroughly? The chants of your fans, the unprecedented euphoria, the most talented squad you’ve ever had, the unflinching love/faith of a loser bookie…..WHY?!? Over the past ten years you’ve evolved from my favorite subject for an easy barb to one my favorite EU countries. Now you’ve let me down. You’ve let your country down. You let an absolute minimum of 51 hot girls down. Keep those heads down…where they belong.

In previous tournaments you’ve been cursed in the group draw. Now you’ve summarily failed to break out of the “Group of Life”. Difficult to ascertain where it all began to go to shit, but I blame Perquis, Murawski and Wasilewski; three players you need to dump faster than a girl with daddy issues. Smuda’s persistent neglect of Wojtkowiak and Wawrznyiak rightfully earned him an unceremonious dismissal. The defense was simply too soft up the middle. All three opponents exploited it early and often. I’ve no interest in debating the merits of the goalkeeper controversy, for this was most certainly NOT the problem. In addition to having terrible fullbacks, Smuda never devised an adequate solution for central midfield or his wingers. Dudka, Polanksi, and Murawski never looked comfortable passing to one another. Pisczech, Rybus, and Obraniak rarely made it out to the flanks, let alone had the opportunity to work in crosses.

While the outfielders all possessed above average talent, there simply wasn’t any chemistry. At fault may have been the lack of truly competitive matches during the qualifying stages. Automatically qualified as hosts, the Bialo-Czerwoni played only friendlies. The laid back pace of such meaningless matches appears to have precluded any chance for the Barber Shop Poles to coalesce. One may assemble all the capability one wishes. Teams crystallize only under pressure. Natural diamonds don’t form in the crust.

Here’s where we’re headed: Nowhere. The White Eagles need a new coach and a new mentality in less than three months. The 2014 Qualifying Campaign does not look promising. They’ll have to fend off England, the Ukraine, and (in all seriousness) a decent Montenegrin side just to earn a playoff spot. Pisczech, Blaszczykowski, Lewandowski, and Szczeny are all very young in addition to being especially gifted. There we have the good news. The “magical trio” can carry Polska through if nothing else. Holding out hopes of seeing you soon, brothers.

The Inter-continental Playoffs (and lines associated therewith) approach. First, however, it’s time for the next installment.

S.S.S 2013---Year in Review (Part III)

Euro 2012—A Retrospective

Preparations for the 2013 Confederations Cup were divided into two parts:

1) I had to read up on the participating teams in order to ultimately compose some sort of semi-coherent analysis.

2) I had to grit my teeth and delve back into Euro 2012. Trepidation reigned. How was I supposed to revisit an enchanted Summer that only just past? “Retroactive Notes” may be part of the Syndicate Tradition, but this bordered on a literal “cross to bear”.

To be perfectly candid, it was painfully hard work. Reliving that Summer was more painful than staring at a picture of your hot ex-girlfriend and wondering why you couldn’t find some perspective. We’ve all experienced our own glorious moments; split seconds we wished could last forever. Once they pass, we’d very much prefer to just keep on trekking forward in search of more such moments. It’s at that particular juncture that The Past grabs you and tries to take you down. It tries to cripple you with ludicrous ideas about your best days being behind you. It tries to take your legs out from underneath you…not unlike an overrun footballer looking to utilize the so-called “professional foul”.

The past tries to catch up with you. Its “partner in crime” is your memory. You don’t easily forget. Thankfully, Facebook burst upon the scene. Now you can easily interact while simultaneously forgetting the past. Don’t misunderstand me. I like Facebook. It works wonders for many of us. That didn’t stop the cynical side of me from finding inspiration in the narrow-minded niggling of it all.

From the Euro 2012 Introductory Sections:

Editor’s retroactive notes:

A writer blissfully sits in solitude, bathed in the pleasant glow of the screen whilst he astutely hacks away at the keys. To many, a mere allusion to this scene via a barely descriptive sentence will immediately conjure up feelings of warmth, security, and a tranquility that no companionship can hope to match. For what actually compares to the repose of intense work within one’s one privately confined world? Absent a requite space within which each one of us can dream, implement, and perfect one leads a life devoid of the greatest pleasure.

Outside the cozy realm of diligent concentration lies a world of trivial boredom, spiteful nonsense, and petty personalities. Inside the insular cocoon one jettisons the innate shallowness of one’s consciousness. The focused mind remains fixated on the task at hand. In the process, one experiences an almost spiritual elevation away from all other matters of corporeal concern. Billions engage in this activity every day. Hundreds of millions of pages are generated every hour as the prolific sit alone, minding their own business and troubling no one. They seek no quarrel, harbor no malice, and are beholden only to the desire to further hone a polished product through their ever-evolving craft. Such a bloody shame this world doesn’t belong to them.

“Hey you there! Yes, you! The one quietly sitting over there in the secluded alcove happily working away. Just who the hell do you think you are? I’m an important person you know! Yeah. I’m sort of a big deal around here. I kind of run the show, keep the ship sailing if you will. Yeah! That’s me. Me, me, me, me, me. I’m not entirely sure how to break it to you, but, even as exceptionally intelligent as I am, I have these…you know… “needs”. I need to feel as if I’m special and that’s YOUR responsibility. I compensate for my intellectual mediocrity and utter lack of maturity by affirming myself a specified number of times each day. Haven’t met the quota today yet. YOUR FAULT! As of the last five minutes, I’m not entirely certain that I’m a sparkling diamond in a rough of 6,999,999,999 complete idiots. I need to beat my chest out. GET OVER HERE!”

“If you think I’m simply going to stand idly by while you attempt to actually get something done, you can forget it. I need to bitch. I need to whine. I need to remind you that you’re doing everything wrong. How else will I be able to feel better about myself? The fact that YOU have the audacity to sit there engaged and detached is an UNFORGIVABLE SIN! I’m the one who KNOWS things! That’s why I don’t DO things. YOU! STOP THAT! How can you sit there while I’m in the midst of my puerile identity crisis?! I’M THE TALLEST LEPRECHAUN! You don’t get to live your life. You live in MY reality. You play MY games by MY rules. You act as a projection screen for MY insecurities. You are the repository for MY problems.

“No escape from the drab, colorless, cutthroat, backstabbing, uncomfortable “Me-circus” I need these surroundings to be. Don’t even contemplate it. I’ll drag you in…or I’ll drag you down!”

Welcome inside the mind of the underachieving and frustrated academic. They outnumber the thoughtful and kind ones in nearly every discipline. Hell hath no fury like that of a bruised ego of a delusional pseudo-intellectual who happens to be empty and rotten to the core. Frailty, thy name is petty professor. One would think that a group of individuals who have fortuitously attained professional success through the skillful manipulation of their own individual passions would be considerate and gracious to those who have done the same. Accordingly, those who still actively work in their own “world” are likely to be more respectful of yours. After all, they’ve little time to concern themselves with much else. Unfortunately, they remain in the minority.

On the other hand, one might say that there exists a little “petty professor” in all of us. No matter our profession, trade, or craft, most of us millennials living in the Western World remain complicit in “The Great Tragedy of the Information Age”. When deprived of the fundamental human need of losing ourselves in a task, we hop on the Internet to randomly lash out at random innocents whose only crime is to occupy our immediate vicinity. In other words, unable to get anything done ourselves, we search for someone close by to kick in the shins. Thanks to the Web, anything and everything anyone ever created lies proximate and may be considered fair game. Hence, we shit all over movies that actually had plenty of merit. We “Tosh Down” Youtube in search of some quality Schadenfreude. We take to Facebook to convey one of the following six proclamations, inherent in most nearly every post, to whoever will listen:

1) “Waaah. I’m having a bad day. I need love and attention. Pity me now! Come to my “Pity Party”!!

2) “I’m no insignificant schmo leading a completely meaningless life! Check out the serious political issue I’m advocating on behalf of! No one else is paying attention to this issue, but that’s because (unlike me) THEY SUCK!”

3) “Hey! Did you that I’m in transit right now? Yeah! I’m not stationary! I’m presently between “Point E” and “Point F”. I thought you might like to know that. I’m on the move. I’m going places. This car/plane/bus/train that I’m sitting in means that, by the time you read this, I’ll be at different coordinates. You know what that means? No one can place me! I’m all over the map! I’m special.

4) Attention everyone! Attention please! Do I have everyone’s attention? You there in the back. SHUT UP! I have a momentous announcement that will significantly alter the course of human history. Is everyone listening?

Ahem. I’VE MANAGED TO COOK A TRAY OF BAKLAVA! Lest you doubt this seemingly impossible feat, here’s a photo to prove it. There it is. Baklava. Crispy. Flaky. Sugary. BAKLAVA BITCHES! Eat it. Oh wait, you can’t, can you? Your poor, lonely, and likely fucking off whilst slaving away at a job that doesn’t even allow for a lunch break! Fuck you! No Baklava for you, motherfucker!

5) Just wanted everyone to know that I “like” Campbell’s Soup. Everyone got that? I “like” Campbell’s Soup! Also. I EXIST! I EXIST! PLEASE GOD, LET THAN MEAN SOMETHING!!

….and, of course….

6) “Gentlemen, Enter your Wagers.”  : ) : ) : )

To a certain extent, we’re all a bunch of jaundiced pricks, immaturely envious of the success of others. That’s at least somewhat understandable. The skewed realities within which we live leave little room for the requisite self-expression that validates our very consciousness. More damning, we’re some truly needy bastards. Life suddenly no longer appears complete absent uninterrupted “pings” emulating from our laptops, cells, or smart-phones. We require constant affirmation. It’s the only way we can escape the frustration of NOT actually getting anything done; of NOT being able to lose ourselves in a worthwhile task; of NOT being left alone long enough to carve out some inner-sanctum.

It’s not as if people should be judged harshly for joining the ranks of “The Constant Interrupters”. On the contrary, some sympathy is in order. Many belong to the “Interrupted Generation”. It’s a fast paced world of in which one is constantly bombarded with ads, advice, loud opinion, micro-parenting, nano-management, twelfth dimension feedback loops, and a generally platitudinous background of “White Noise.” Eventually one has little to choice but to give in and add one’s own voice to the fray. Interrupt the quiet and productive enough times and they’ll learn….learn that they too must act like insecure assholes in order to protect their own livelihood.

The Syndicate has always been a project geared towards the collective. No “One Man Show” can possibly be expected to garner wealth or fame. What brings your friendly bookie the greatest amount of joy, apart from typing up something both existential and silly in the privacy of his own mind, is hearing from you; hearing ABOUT you. Bear that in mind as we embark upon our twelfth year. No “Constant Interrupter” here. Just your old eccentric pal…looking forward to hearing from you.

We all must live in someone else’s skewed reality. It’s called having a career. We all have far too little time to devote to the projects that truly utilize our talents and imbue our existence with meaning. It’s called dealing with life. It is the fate of every last one of us to be baited and ultimately give in to those who would draw out our baser instincts. That would be called “being human”.

Who does this world truly belong to? The loudest? The neediest? The sociopathically shrewd ones of shitty memory? Not necessarily. Not if you choose to stand firm. If you’ve found a way of researching and writing on your passion for a living, then you’re a hero. Piss on those who would stand in your way. In all likelihood, they cut you down because they themselves are incapable of producing.

“Publish or perish”. Not a bad dictum at all. Publish total crap if you must. Just publish. Now, with that in mind, let’s have some fun.

FINALLY…time for some lines. The intercontinental playoffs this year are….shit…they’re more lopsided than I’ve ever seen.



Jordan vs. Uruguay (Uruguay leads 5-0 on Aggregate)


Jordan bested Uzbekistan in a penalty shootout that lasted three rounds. It would appear as if Herman Cain was right all along “Uz-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan”? Who cares? The Jordanians eked out a moral victory. The Uruguayan menace still won’t fail. Jordanians may take solace in the knowledge that they’ll soon have a two-year term on the Security Council…courtesy of those stubborn Saudis.  

THE LINE: Uruguay + 7 Goals (on Aggregate)


Mexico vs. New Zealand (Mexico leads 5-1 on Aggregate)


The “All Whites” can “All go fuck themselves”. As if there were any doubt. A lifeless qualifying campaign won’t stop the Spicks. Excuse me. “El Tri” will prevail.

THE LINE: Mexico + 6 Goals (on Aggregate)

S.S.S 2013---Year in Review (Part IV)

The 2013 Confederations Cup

The World Cup’s official “Dry Run” doesn’t exactly constitute a reason to set off fireworks and run naked through the streets. We still had to get hyped for it somehow. This bookie’s decidedly inelegant solution was to countdown the days with temporally inter-sparsed faux advertisements for a brand of beer too terrible to mention by name. Luckily, his Syndicate Members responded in kind and we had ourselves a “Dry Run” worthy of the ill-fated “Bud Dry”.

From CC 2013—Round Two:

Do forgive your friendly bookie as he finds himself atypically “over-worked and over-politic-ed”. Such things happen even to the most experienced academic warriors. The intrinsic value of the syndicate remains our fellowship. We shall not deviate from this foundational principle as our Summer festival progresses. Even if a late start leaves your reliable Vicey scrambling to catch up with your riffs, rest assured that every last letter remains duly saved and documented. Should you require evidence of the “Proof Positive Grade”, I’m happy to present to you the best counter-riffs (written, spoken, and intimated) associated with this year’s sponsor:

 “Big Flats 1901 Premium Brew”

Riff: “Big Flats 1901 Premium Brew: When a bottle of Isopropyl Alcohol just isn’t classy enough.”

Counter riffs:

--“Big Flats: Even better than the Wintergreen variety of Isopropyl Alcohol!”

--“Big Flats: Your teeth are already green. Who gives a shit?”

--“Big Flats: Stock it properly.”

Riff: “Big Flats 1901 Premium Brew: At a price of $2.99 you can’t afford NOT to get wasted. Big Flats: Pour some on the ground for all your dead homies, and try not to act surprised when they spit it right back in your face”

Counter riffs:

--“It actually costs $3.49”

--“You better have a fridge full of that crap next time I visit”

--“It tastes worse than middle management ego!!”

Riff: “Big Flats 1901 Premium Brew: It’s the only beer out there brewed in accordance with the Walgreens Reinheitsgebot of 2013. Big Flats: Piss on the problems in your life. While you’re at it, might as well piss in your beer. It can’t hurt the taste. Trust me.

Counter riffs:

--“Happy 500th anniversary, Reinheitsgebot!!”

--“I thought that ‘Reinheitsgebot’ meant that someone’s pants smelled like Sauerkraut”

--“Pabst Blue Ribbon: Piss in your beer and no one will notice.”

Riff: “Big Flats 1901 Premium Brew: It’s what to drink when you find yourself at the corner of “I’m bored” and “I’m broke”

Counter riffs:

--“I’m going to kick you in the butt”

--“You forgot “at the corner of ‘more work’ and ‘less pay’ “

--“We’re all broke. We’re all poor. You whine like no one else.”

Riff: “Big Flats 1901. It’s the anti-Nawgan energy drink. It’s ‘what to drink when you prefer not to think’. Nine out of ten hobos prefer the taste of “Big Flats 1901” to “Keystone DryIceLite”. Nuff said

Counter riffs:

--“I always prefer not to think”

--“You’re beginning to sound like this beer brand should be paying you some advertising fees”

--“Where is this going?”

Riff: “Big Flats 1901”: Conceived by overpaid marketing executives, consumed by underpaid laborers. No other beer comes close to being so bad on so many levels. Crack open a can and enjoy.”

Counter riffs:

--“Welcome to the real world, Vicey.”

--“Gimme the Cash!!!”

--“$$$$ is all that matters”

--“If it's even sold here, it would be capped at 3.2% alcohol. That’s pointless.”

Riff: “Big Flats 1901 Premium Brew wishes to remind you that the word ‘premium’ means about as much as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’. Swallow your ‘Fish Oil’ and eat your ‘Sea Salt’. Just so long as you consume.”

Counter riffs:

--“..But I shop at Trader Joe’s!!”

--“My local Walgreens does not carry the glorious beer that sponsors your ‘business’. Shit.”

--“Stop talking smack about my potato chips! They’re all I have left!”

PLEASE FIRE ME! If it helps, I no longer endorse “Big Flats 1901 Premium Brew”. I now only officially endorse Pißwasser German Lager.

We’ve matches to attend to…


Cote d’Ivoire vs. Senegal (Cote d’Ivoire leads 3-1 on Aggregate)


I’m afraid that the “Lions of Teranga” have little hope of making up this difference. Les Elephants reign supreme once more.

THE LINE: Cote d’Ivoire + 3 Goals (on Aggregate)

Ethiopia vs. Nigeria (Nigeria leads 2-1 on Aggregate)


It’s not happening, Antelopes. Certainly not after you dropped the opener on home soil. The “Super Eagles” are coming to Brazil, flush with confidence. 

THE LINE: Nigeria + 2 Goals (on Aggregate)

Tunisia vs. Cameroon (Neither country leads on Aggregate. The first match was a draw)


A draw counts as a victory for The Indomitable Lions…or so I’m prepared to bet.

THE LINE: Cameroon +2 Goals (on Aggregate)

Ghana vs. Egypt (Ghana leads 6-1 on Aggregate)


Poor Egyptians. They’ve survived a popular revolution AND a military coup. In this age, one should sort through all the confusion and conjure up some empathy for the Cairo shopkeeper. He did nothing wrong. He was simply selling his wares. The “revolution” and its predictable blowback had nothing to do with him. He just wanted to peddle a few knick-knacks to support his family. He’s the real victim. ;( ;(

All of these self-entitled jackoffs decided to fuck his world in the ass. We salute you, Abdul the street vendor. You never deserved to be embroiled in all of this nonsense.

THE LINE: Ghana + 8 Goals (on Aggregate)

Burkina Faso vs. Algeria (Burkina Faso leads 3-2 on Aggregate)

The Burkinabe Stallions took full advantage of their home-field debut. They now technically lead, but may yet be vulnerable should the “away goals” rule apply. 

THE LINE: Pick em’ (Pick your Aggregate Score)

S.S.S 2013---Year in Review (Part V)

The 2013 Women’s European Championship

We’re all about inclusion here at The Syndicate. Mitt Romney needed “Binders full of Women”. I only needed the 2011 Women’s World Cup. No need for me to apologize for loving Women’s Football. We’ve now published two full “Female Syndicates” (counting the 2011 World Cup).

 If you missed out on this Summer’s Frauen Europamesitershaft (FEM), you skipped over a great deal of fun. My Mädels won after batting away worthy challengers like the Dutch, Danes, Norwegians, Italians, and Swedes. Naturally, all you’s care to read about is the complete work known as “Storia della Bellaza” with Umberto Eco Peter Weis. Very Well. Here you are.

From FEM 2013—Semifinals:

Presenting…..all TWELVE parts of “Storia della Bellaza—With Umberto Eco Peter Weis”       

From FWM 2011—Round Two

“Storia della bellaza – With Umberto Eco Peter Weis” (Part I)

At first glance Gaetene Thiney appears relatively plain.

While her profile remains intriguing, the indiscriminate observer will quickly dismiss a frontal shot of her face for a whole myriad of reasons. Yes, the overall width of her face almost belies a subtle symmetry that tends too far toward the masculine. Her mouth, nose, and forehead exhibit disproportionate girth and her jaw line is slightly too pronounced. Such imperfections are rendered completely immaterial by a striking attribute that elevates her to the realm of the undeniably beautiful. Clearly visible capillaries irrefutably enhance a woman’s beauty. While skin tone ordinarily counts for little in the looks department, who can resist the captivating power of the “involuntary blush”?

Thiney’s capillaries are perfectly positioned pentagonal patterns that run from the top of her respective cheekbones to the base of her lips, taking an elegant 35-degree turn from the bubble protrusions of her nose. She may very well be as tough as nails, but the rosy red cheeks of her “involuntary blush” perpetually transmit the image of a charming dainty with a shy, innocent allure. We thus commend Gaetene Thiney and all girls with an “involuntary blush”. You emanate a resplendent aura with every smile. Keep smiling girls.

“Storia della bellaza – With Umberto Eco Peter Weis” (Part II)

Simone Laudehr and Alexandra Popp have bad teeth. Not exactly British bad, but they still sport a snarl.

Does this somehow disqualify them from the heights of the Mount Rushmore of Beauty that I suddenly conceived of without warning? As someone who has always resented his own Diasthema, I might have once answered in the affirmative. Yet, these two most certainly qualify as “very pretty”. What makes them so? Blond hair? Blue eyes? Chiseled faces? No, we’re not going down that road. Neither one of them meets complete Aryan criteria anyway. Both have an hourglass figure punctuated by muscular thighs. These facets they’ve worked hard to maintain. The most prominent property in the image of Simone Laudehr sprinting forth, fists clenched, shoulders hunched, and mouth agape is her bulging right ulterior gammon flank; a protruding section of thigh muscle that signals to the world that she’s a footballer. Popp possesses a similar flawless physique.

For all those unable to invest the long hours (and I count myself among you when things get hectic) know that the pair possess eminently pretty faces irrespective of their teeth. Gaps matter not. 

“Storia della bellaza – With Umberto Eco  Peter Weis” (Part III)

Homare Sawa affords us a wonderful occasion to discuss the controversial issue of aging women. Some gentle jokes aside, I consider myself in the male minority when it comes to this delicate subject. It is with great disdain that I note how many men who would consider themselves deep thinkers behave shallowly when it comes to casting off their own age cohort, trading them in for a younger model. Truly a disgrace. Whether you are a zealously devout Christian (think Mel Gibson), a meditative and reflective Buddhist (think Russell Simmons or Richard Gere), or an agnostic yet socially aware humanist (think George Clooney), the one gospel all men seem to agree on is the importance of dating a girl at least twenty years younger than you. Yes, your philosophy of life notwithstanding, the philosophy of the dick remains the same.

Wait. It gets even worse. It’s not even the fresh, unblemished skin, the accelerated metabolism, or the tighter cunt that men are after. They simply find it easier to have someone less experienced and considerably dumber than them around. It’s less taxing on the ego, requires less work, and allows us to remain wrapped up in ourselves and our own petty meanderings. The younger women who boast that an older man “selected” them for their “uncommon level of maturity” always facilitate a good laugh. I’ve gotten to the point that I may sit straight-faced while you describe how “exceptional” and “unique” you are for dating an older man. “Yes, you really are something special,” I’ll remark while dutifully nodding my head. My inner-emotions remain a mixture of pity and Schadenfreude. You poor little tarts just don’t realize how patently stupid you are. You’re worse than a trophy. You a pet, owned by man too immature and lazy to maintain a partnership.

In the unlikely event that there’s a young woman reading this, she’ll surely conclude that I speak out of personal bitterness or deep-seated spite. You’re more than entitled to your opinion, but there exists no buried animosity here. As a man, my aging process doesn’t perturb. On the contrary, life continues to improve exponentially as I get older and I relish the prospect of growing more grizzled still. Give yourself some time, sweetheart. Time, an unrelenting menace not even close to being on your side, will catch up to you too. When it finally does, just remember that only a less hollow man will find the extra pounds you’ve packed on in the mid section, the grey streaks running through your hair, the crow’s feet nestled underneath your eyes, and the wrinkled crevices dominating your blotched face still attractive. Then you’ll truly be “something special”.

This brings us back to Homare Sawa. Only thirty-two years of age, repeated exposure to the most physically demanding of athletic endeavors leave her looking as if she’s in her mid-forties. Her skin appears well worn. The bags under her eyes exhibit a dark-yellowish hue. Wrinkle-folds invade her neck. A close inspection reveals her hair begins to gray. Is she still beautiful? I happen to think so. Nothing wrong with a vehicle with 170,000 miles on the odometer. So long as it still runs, there’s quite a bit one can do with it. Trust me. Nothing rides like a classic. Don't bet on me pulling an Ashton Kutcher anytime soon. I still contend they don’t make em' like they used to. Too many younger women are appallingly bad in bed anyway.

“Storia della bellaza – With Umberto Eco Peter Weis” (Part IV)

Okay, Vicey. What precisely is it that makes Ali Riley so gorgeous?


Insofar as I can surmise it’s her highly intriguing genetic alchemy. I honestly cannot even attempt a guess as to her spawning stock. I know she was born in the states, attended Stanford, and obviously has a parent from New Zealand. Beyond that, I’ve no clue what she is. She boasts some Asian features that for some unexpected reason express themselves subtly. Asian genes are normally so dominant that they overpower any European recessive mutations. Of the top of my head I can think of at least a dozen Asian-Caucasian couples I know who have elected to breed. In eleven of those cases the kid comes out looking so Chinese/Korean/Japanese/Phillipino/Vitenamese/Cambodian that the wife might as well have been cheating. No one will ever know. Of course, genetics transcends the simplicity of the Mendel Charts we all studied in grade school. In the one remaining case, one can barely tell that of friend of mine was born to a Japanese mother. Only after concentrating intently on the nuances of his mien can you see the Hibachi behind the Man-grate.

Given that human beings come in such a wide variety of hues and skeletal structures, the permutation that you can’t place never fails to fascinate. Ali is such a specimen. Two very different people opted to mix it up and they ended up accidentally discovering a valuable new element/inventing the most delicious cocktail ever/concocting a cure for cancer/stumbling upon the “Powerpuff Girl” formula. Yes, chemistry is fun. Whenever I’m forced to cook I dump whatever I can find lying around the house into some diced tomatoes in search of the Holy Grail of pasta sauces. I mix alcohol with any item in the fridge that hasn’t begun sprouting hairs. Sometimes I blunder upon a glorious solution in the most unexpected of areas. Did you know that Mayonnaise, Gin, and Tony Chacheres seasoning in a blender makes for one heavenly smoothie? How about whisky, V8, and Tabasco? It’s damn good. Trust me. Spicy seasoning also perks up most any light beer.

I stand firm in the belief that we humans almost have an obligation to mix it up on behalf of the species. Our lives are so insignificant that some evolutionary experimentation appears a solemn duty. If, by some miracle, I ever made enough money to start a family, I might very well take a page from Eddie Murphy’s “Raw” and head down to Namibia to pull the girl with the biggest afro out of the bush. (with her permission of course). I’d be madly curious to see what we could make. Never dated a blonde haired, blue-eyed girl. Honestly, what’s the point? I could just make out with myself in the mirror. Er…not to say that I do that….regularly…anymore.

“Storia della bellaza – With Umberto Eco Peter Weis” (Part V)

The very pretty Lotta Schelin has a very pretty smattering of freckles.

For the second time in this installment we salute girls with features that inadvertently make them look sweet, innocent, even somewhat shy. One should not equate the connotations of these traits with what a guy typically wants in a woman. There is such a thing as too docile, too domestic, too sad little puppy dog. Passion, zeal, and a firecracker personality side are important as well. A few times in my life I’ve crossed women that were sweeter than a milk chocolate binge. A guy such as myself has no idea how to handle such innocence. I certainly can't fuck its brains out. If she’s a virgin…well…reminds me too much of a daughter or little sister. Looks like you’ve acquired a new big brother. He’ll be nice and kind to you, never even thinking of touching you. Seventy-two virgins don’t sound like paradise to me. It sounds like my own personal hell. I can’t help that many girls with their papers! 

“Storia della bellaza – With Umberto Eco Peter Weis” (Part VI)

As I’ve already remarked several hundred times, there simply wasn’t a fugly face on this [American] team. We surely won’t get away with covering one single player this time, not with a predominantly American readership. Not entirely sure I would wish to focus on one of them anyway. Much like the presenter of the AVN Award for “Best Anal Sex Scene”, I simply feel too bad that if can’t give all the girls their due credit. They’ve all worked so hard!  Hence, we shall blitz out a compilation that touches em’ all. Er…that it to say….well you know what I mean.

Hope Solo earns her stripes, as I’ve already mentioned, through her attractive eyebrows.

Heather Mitts is sexy in the more generic Playboy Playmate way.

Christine Rampone is perhaps a little too butch in the face, but has nice curves.

Becky Sauerbrunn earns her cuteness via the nebulous “girl next door” factor.

Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan, and Rachel Buehler work that angle as well. Morgan in particular has one of the cutest noses I’ve ever seen.

Amy LePeilbet has nice eyes.

Shannon Box has a nice ass.  Amy Rodriguez sports a gorgeous pair of legs, along with the freckle factor. Carli Lloyd has very nice skin, accentuated by well-placed capillaries.

Stephanie Cox will be my “a note to follow so” in that she’s beautiful in exactly the same way.

Ali Krieger has the same basic features of Danica Patrick, and happens to be ten times as strikingly beautiful. She should be doing those “Go Daddy” commercials.

Lauren Cheney has a darling face to go along with her inviting hips.

Lori Lindsey emits a nice MILF vibe. Meghan Rapinoe and Abby Wambach blow the stereotype about women with short hair right out of the water. No, I don’t care what you think. I find them both attractive. The answer would be yes. All day, every day, even on sober holidays.

That about takes care of everyone except the two back up keepers. Have I gotten to everyone? Not quite. We've still have the Southern Belle who barely edged out Ali Riley for the dubious honor of “Vicey’s hottest girl in the tournament”. I speak of none other than Georgia’s own Kelley O’Hara. After spending a drunken evening ruminating on why I found myself so infatuated with the former Stanford Cardinal and current Boston Breakers midfielder, it hit me like a ton of bricks: She looks almost exactly like a girl I had a crush on in Junior High. Yikes. Did I just write that for anyone and everyone to see? Fraid so. Oh well. At least no one’s reading this.

Oops. This just in. Apparently someone from a U.S. Appellate court was reading and I’ve been ordered to keep a distance of 200 feet from anyone involved in the U.S. Women’s Soccer team at all times. No problem. The joy of writing this section was well worth the restraining order. This isn’t the first time I’ve been ordered to get the hell away from a bunch of female soccer players by a judge in good standing.

“Storia della bellaza – With Umberto Eco Peter Weis” (Part VII)

Ask a dude what precisely it is that merits “girl next door” status and you won’t receive anything close to a coherent answer. As articulate a man as I consider myself, I cannot compose something that supercedes American Football Player Interview Speak:

“Uh….yeah…you know….uh….the ‘girl next door’…she’s…like….uh….the girl who be….all bashful….and stuff.”

Yes. The eloquent writer finds himself reduced to sounding like “Miss Teen South Carolina”. As one fumble for some sort of useable definition, all that comes to mind concerns her proclivity towards reticence. But the “girl next door” need not be quiet and reserved. I’ve lived next some who were wild and crazy freaks in the sack. Perhaps the essence of the “girl next door” relates to the moment when you catch that passing glimpse while trying to insert the key into the lock while juggling your mail. That brief glance is all you need for a dirty little fantasy to abruptly flit through your head before just as quickly disappearing. She’ll never know of this vision, in part because it raced in and out of your mind too rapidly for your face to react. So there we have it. The “girl next door” happens to be the one you hope is DECEPTIVELY tame; the one who uncorks with a screeching, (PLEASE STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE ONE OF MY RELATIVES) “fuck my pussy! fuck it harder!”

Wow. Please feel free to take a shower as the unfortunate Collette McCallum doesn’t deserve to be introduced like this. She’s a be-freckled redhead (Nine times out of ten she’s a redhead. Love me some redheads) with an adorable smile.

She’s the type of girl you’d be content just to cuddle with, holding her tight all night long. But…wait a second…she’s not satisfied merely lying in your arms while you kiss her neck. She’s got a surprise for you….

“Storia della bellaza – With Umberto Eco Peter Weis” (Part VIII)

What better way to conclude this misconceived little serial than with a look at Marta’s [Brazilian forward] vigorous tenacity? She takes every stroke of luck and stamps it with her own signature. From time to time in my life I’ve found myself lying spent in the afterglow, passing a bit of pillow talk with some girl I picked up. Many times they express admiration at your initiative. “I can tell you’re the type of guy who sees what he wants and takes it,” they say…or at least something that effect. This happens to be much more than a woman not so subtly suggesting that she hopes you can one day make enough money to take care of her. There’s a bit of that in there, but the infinitely more important point concerns the “seize the day” mentality that can make or break our lives. Man or woman, you’ve got to let those metaphorical balls drop. If there’s even the vaguest inkling of a moment lurking somewhere in the recesses of your head, take your chance.

No, it won’t always work out. In point of fact, it will work out far fewer times than you’ll be prepared to commend yourself for your bravery. One mustn’t allow one’s failures to rule you. Put in a more clichéd way, never allow your past to determine your future. Most assuredly, there is a time for hanging back to let things breathe. Make the most of it. Tell your hesitant friend to go for it when it would be counterproductive for you to do so. In the process of telling him or her, you might just realize that it’s not so counterproductive after all…..or not. I’ve had girls give me the “Get away from me now, loser” line more than a few times. At the end of the day, I still maintain that a bitch a’int one of my ninety-nine problems. Watch the way Marta moves. Watch how she grabs every chance by the balls and out-shines the sun and the moment it gave her. It holds true for both women and men. Seize your moment. You won’t regret it.

From FEM 2013—Quarterfinals:

“Storia della bellaza – With Umberto Eco Peter Weis” (Part IX)

Tuija Hyyryen affords us an opportunity to explore the once again explore the indefinable concept of the “Perfect Girl Next Door”. (Sometimes referred to as “The Pristine Farmer’s Daughter” in certain circles.) What do guys mean by this?  I’ve tried to tackle this in previous installments and honestly haven’t done all that great of a job at all : (

From Part VII:

“Ask a dude what precisely it is that merits “girl next door” status and you won’t receive anything close to a coherent answer. As articulate a man as I consider myself, I cannot compose something that supercedes American Football Player Interview Speak:

“Uh….yeah…you know….uh….the ‘girl next door’…she’s…like….uh….the girl who be….all bashful….and stuff.”

Yes. The eloquent writer finds himself reduced to sounding like “Miss Teen South Carolina”. As one fumble for some sort of useable definition, all that comes to mind concerns her proclivity towards reticence. But the “girl next door” need not be quiet and reserved”

I’m still fumbling for answers. All one can truly say concerns the fact that there is a certain kind of adorable cuteness that makes even the most foulmouthed of sinners want to foreswear drinking, cursing, and gambling….forever. One look at Tuija Hyyryen leaves one feeling as if its time to move to the country, buy a tractor, and start a small ministry. Don’t take my word for it, now. See for yourself:


I need to buy a farm. Doesn’t anyone know where I can find some reasonably priced sheep? No more gambling columns for your friendly bookie. All I want to do is scythe grass, breed bunnies, and cultivate alfalfa sprouts. I want to wake up to this beautiful girl’s incredible smile every morning, and make sweet passionate love to her every night. Time to settle down and get back to the simple life. We’ll till the earth until 4 p.m., then play football with the kids in the field until sunset. Country Roads….take me home…to ze place…….where I BELONG!

Whoa. What just happened there? SNAP OUT OF IT VICEY! Whew. I don’t know where I just was, but I’m back. How do these “Girls Next Door/Pristine Famer’s Daughters” do it? I still can’t tell you exactly. Three factors help.

1) Height

She has to be small. No taller than 5’5’’ (164 cms). Taller women engender an entirely different sort of attraction.

2) Facial Structure

All varieties work, but “The Girl Next Door” has to sport a round-ish face. 

3) Smile

That smile constitutes the “real deal”. She’s not faking or posing! Everything about it screams, “Don’t you want to get to know a nice girl? I’m not crazy! I’m sweet and mentally stable! I won’t drive you up the fucking wall with incessant neediness!”

Beyond that, most men exhibit two kinds of inherent primal attraction. The first is pure, unadulterated sexual lust:


“Holy shit! Did you see the ass on that redhead? What I wouldn’t tear up given a few minutes alone in the dark with that! Follow the erection!

However, a man’s softer, more supple paternalistic instincts shouldn’t be discounted either.


“Awww..Look at the sweet, innocent little round-faced girl. I’d love to cradle her in my arms and tenderly love her like a big brother.”

The former type leads to some fairly rough sexual escapades and over ninety-five percent of one’s relationships. Very rarely does the latter type lead to anything other than friendship. It’s not an implicitly sexual attraction, after all. Once in a very blue moon, a girl can somehow dial up the right combination of these two instincts and the man swoons in a way even Percy Sledge couldn’t sing about. He’ll give up EVERYTHING. That’s the magic of “The Girl Next Door”.

“Storia della bellaza – With Umberto Eco Peter Weis” (Part X)

Why undertake such a time-consuming and über-thoughtful rethink? Because it remains all in the eye of the beholder, people. How can an overworked Shadow Scholar desperately grasping for free time possibly be expected to put together a even remotely factual segment on female footballers. The answer? He can’t come anywhere close. I write not such words not to placate a few haughty female readers who can’t spell, can’t type, and can’t even manage to put a coherent sentence together. Hell with that.

Nevertheless, it remains a relevant use of my limited time to remind everyone how subjectively dynamic the subject of beauty is. Consider our highly regarded Dutch Dames. Lieke Martens initially earned a 9.4. If you saw this picture of her, you’d write her off as the chubby chick who sat next to you in your Trig Class.

Hmmm…who’s that frumpy little ugly duckling? Surely this can’t be the same girl:

So she’s done up in one picture you might argue. Don’t jump to conclusions. She looks good in uniform too.

Perfect Ten. What about Danielle van de Donk, Vicey. Seems like a pretty average looking woman to me:

Sorry, but she earns Perfect Ten Status here:

Why is Leonne Stentler so high? What’s so special about this?

Well…what about the regal beauty obvious here:

or here:

My point isn’t that people take bad pictures, have bad hair days, occasionally gain/lose weight, or stumble into the right/wrong lighting….although that does adequately explain why one can’t take ONE picture with most girls without having to delete at least 34,213 others. The point isn’t even that one shouldn’t focus on outward aesthetic beauty. The point, if indeed I still have one, is that all of our beauty remains ephemeral. An OBJECT of beauty relies upon the recognition bestowed upon it during one fleeting moment. By contrast an UNDERSTANDING of beauty cannot be achieved without a requisite investment of time and thought.

I’ll explain what I mean. No, I’m not on drugs in case anyone is wondering. No, I haven’t been drinking the Erich Fromm Kool-Aid either. I can provide arbitrary numerical designations based on a bit of rudimentary Internet research. I can discover even more beauty after watching some of the girls in action. Take note that the better players keep rising. That’s what inflates the rankings (along with the Big Flats). I still miss A HELLUVA LOT. Just like any other imperfect human being, I’m liable to automatically edit out all the beauty that sits directly underneath my nose. That’s all I wanted to say.

Well…that AND…should you ever consider yourself underappreciated or outright ignored, know that the eye of some beholder is out there somewhere. Eventually that eye will find you…maybe even after having ignored you for years ; )

“Storia della bellaza – With Umberto Eco Peter Weis” (Part XI)

Time to discuss Eniola Aluko and what precisely makes black so beautiful. To begin with, I must emphasize that it’s NOT THE HAIR!!

Here’s Eniola with a sweated conch:

Here she is with some nappy braids:

Here she is short and unkempt:

And you can also check her out long and styled:

I acknowledge that whatever argument I’m building towards faces the fundamental flaw that I can’t find her rocking a fro. It’s always been my contention that black girls should let their hair grow wild and avoid makeup at all costs. I don’t want anything tarnishing that pure regal beauty. It would appear that Eniola isn’t quite ready for that yet…and I’ve no choice but to forgive her. ;) ;)

To broach the topic of skin tone when discussing beauty borders on the sacrilege. I couldn’t care less if a girl has a few pimples, a touch of eczema, or a blotch here and there. No need to spend all of your money on foundational makeup and tanning salons, ladies. That’s not what’s important. I wouldn’t be honest, however, if I didn’t concede a peculiar fascination with women of the deeply dark persuasion. Light-skinned blacks can charm and enchant just as well….but look at this woman!!!

She looks as if her face was chiseled from a piece of obsidian! It’s almost as if Michelangelo himself took a rock hammer to a piece of volcanic glass!

Okay, okay. My strange infatuation with “Midnight Black” mostly has to do with its exotic horizontal distance from what I see when I look in the mirror. It has a lot to do with Randy Crawford as well. My all-time favorite soul singer was also dark as night. That made her gleaming white smile all the more captivating.

“Storia della bellaza – With Umberto Eco Peter Weis” (Part XII)

Keeper Elvira Todua possesses a distinctly Russian face:

I know what you’re thinking. You falsely assume that, when she’s not plotting to kidnap you, she’s a cold automaton that doesn’t give a shit. This blank stare is often the default facial expression of Russian/Slavic women. As it so happens, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t give a shit. 

Here she is NOT looking at you as if the interrogation session is about to begin:

Oops. Not the best example. Nope! The interrogation session is in full swing there. Let’s try again:

Hmmm…like the half smile, but I still have the sense she’s attempting to pry me open by the neck and suck whatever passes for my soul out with laser beams she emits from her eyes. C’mon, girl. How about a smile?

I said SMILE!!!

Awww…there we are. That dog doesn’t look as if it’s about to become lunch at all! See? She’s got a softer side to her! Maybe she’s tender after all…or maybe she wants to tenderize the Pomeranian.

Okay. Here’s what to take way from all of this guys: Russian Women are nothing to be afraid of. They’re merely house an unfathomably deep soul. They are the guardians of a dark subterranean abyss that claws away at their hearts. That’s enough for them to deal with. Why would they want to eat your soul when they already possess too much of one to begin with?  Everything will be alright. Isn’t that correct, “Elvira Angel”?

I rest my case.

Time to hit up UEFA. We’re now officially sixty pages deep. Might as well go for broke.


Portugal vs. Sweden


As splendifourous as Ibrahimovic’s goal from last year may have been, the poor forlorn Blaugults drew some “angry Navigators”. The Portuguese might as well be “angry wasps”. This one will be authentically and verifiably brutal.

THE LINE: Portugal + 4 Goals (on Aggregate)

Ukraine vs. France


Are we really supposed to pretend as if Seleznyov and Devic will score against the French? Kudos, Froggies. You win by default this time. At least you won’t have to cheat.

THE LINE: France +4 Goals (on Aggregate)

Greece vs. Romania


This one could go either way. As a devout opponent of fascists, I don’t need to tell you which way I hope it will swing. I’d love it if my beloved Translyvannians could instigate a true “Golden Dawn”, Reality dictates otherwise ; ( ; (

THE LINE: Greece +1 Goal (on Aggregate)

S.S.S 2013---Year in Review (Part VI)

We approach an inevitable conclusion. Time to say goodbye. Whenever this time creeps in, know that your friendly bookie is left with little choice but to light a candle and pour a drink. Always such a sad occasion ; ( ; ( Writing the “Goodbyes and Championship Pick” Section tugs at the heartstrings. That’s why I’m cheating slightly by placing it before the final line. I’ll cheat further and enclose some post factum material. It may bend the rules slightly, but I’ll enclose my personal favorite of ALL the “Goodbyes and Championship Picks” Sections.

From WM 2010—Goodbyes and Championship Pick

Supreme Match to determine the Football Champion of the World:

Waka Waka States-side syndicate members,

As we stand before the terminus of our month-long festival, I am finally prepared to use that phrase. It saddens me greatly that this is farewell until 2012, unless of course Ratzinger dies unexpectedly and I have privilege of writing another “Pope-a-Palooza” betting pool LLL Unlike the von Trapp Family Singers, I am not particularly skilled at saying goodbye. I find myself more blocked that John Goodman during the season finale of “Treme”. Not only must we part, but our next rendezvous will be for Euro 2012 in……the Ukraine LLLL (a location I am frankly sick of talking about). Before I throw myself off the West Bank Ferry, do allow me to try and express my thanks:

Stateside syndicate members, it was an honor to spend a month with all of you. J I was thoroughly delighted to hear from every last one. It was my pleasure to hear where you are living now, what bullshit job has you frustrated, what graduate program is kicking your ass, what new babies your wife popped out, what you decided to name those babies, and even what color vomit those babies spewed out last Tuesday. You were deemed syndicate members because you are journeymen like me. Every two years you find yourself in a fresh situation with loads of new exciting developments to report and tons of fresh quick-witted jabs to deliver. To all of those that I’ve met during my travels, my sojourns, and my more extended stays I merely wish to convey to you the following: The whole past month of furious writing was just for you. To all those who have found their place in life, and to those who continue to seek, glad we could share a global tournament over the past thirty days. JJ May we all meet again in two years time, regardless of where on this planet life has decided to lead us. May we all once again congregate to celebrate the beautiful game and its universal appeal. May we all yet again wager money, level puerile insults, and catch up on the cell until the sun threatens to rise or set. The spectacle shall return. My sincere hope is that not one among us will be too busy to revel in it. JJ

For far too many stateside members, this is not simply a goodbye to the sports-book. Many of you will proceed to ignore football as soon as the Saints kick-off/the Phillies make the playoffs/ Lebron signs somewhere/ The new “American Idol” season starts/ “Jersey Shore 2” debuts/ The Cardinals enter the home stretch/ The Sharks hit the ice/ LSU signs another high-schooler who can barely write his own name/Kevin Kolb makes his first start, etc. etc. etc.

And now the final line…….

Iceland vs. Croatia


A complete joke. A parody upon itself. The Croats will demolish the “s’sons”.

THE LINE: Croatia +4 Goals (on Aggregate)

One Final Time (fighting back tears)


We’ll meet again. The Syndicate Shall Return. Now get out of here…and GO KICK A BALL WITH A STRANGER!!