Monday, June 30, 2014

WM 2014--Day Seventeen Recap

Your “Syndicate Hangover” is proudly presented by “Pißwasser Pils”


Day 17: Recap

Spread: 17-35
Straight up: 24-19-9

Hot Girl Standings

Games Played
Costa Rica
4 (finished)
4 (finished)
4 (finished)
3 (finished)
South Korea
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
Bosnia & H
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
Cote d’Ivoire
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
4 (finished)
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
3 (finished)

Yawn Syndicate Members,


Another short night and a long day stands before your friendly bookie. Rest assured he wouldn’t have it any other way. ; )  Syndicate Member 1-M has been so kind as to check in with a piece from the New Yorker. Evidently, Ann Coulter took a break from her morning self-induced vomiting to tweet during the Germany vs. USA game.

Nice job by Ian Crouch of mimicking everyone’s favorite “Bulimic Batshit Bitch”. As usual I don’t recommend reading the comment section, or any Internet comment section. The comment section of a publication as sophisticated as the New Yorker doesn’t feature a preponderance of posts reading “GAAAAY”, and “Ron Paul 2016!!”, but you’ve still got a bunch of worthless flunkies arguing over whether or not the latest intellectual slant of the editorials in “The Economist” reflects 1970s European neo-liberalism.

Life is so sad. ; ( Even the well-read and well-educated waste time composing carefully constructed comments on on-line forums. ; ( Seriously, dudes. Where do you find the time to waste sparring as wonkish scholars of a random Internet Article? More importantly, WHY?! Do you really think anyone gives a shit? Get back to work!

Such completely irrational behavior serves to illustrate why we will NEVER allow comments on this blog. I’ve provided an explanation already:

Further thoughts on the downfall of humanity can be found here:

God help us. There’s a highly disturbing confessional aspect to the Digital Age. You see it every time you log into Facebook. I’m really sorry about your mother. It sucks that you had to pull the plug at 3:00 a.m. She fought long and hard against that cancer. After her six-year-long struggle, I’m sure she’s proud of you for whipping out your Smartphone at 3:02 a.m. and telling the world about it. It’s all she could have hoped for.

Now….er… may want to close her eyes. They’re still open! Put down your Smartphone! Yes, I know that little “ping” just told you that you got a “like” on Facebook, but the woman’s eyes are still open!! Caress them shut and give her a kiss!! 

…..Let’s talk football.

“‘Drawing it Up’ For the Survivors”

 1) Netherlands 

Projected Lineup:

 “Clockwork Oranje” (5-3-2)—Match Four 

     Arjen Robben Robin van Persie
    Jermain Lens        Wesley Sneijder
                  Nigel de Jong      
  Daley Blind             Daryl Janmaat        
    S. de Vrij  R. Vlaar M. Depay    
                   J. Cillessen

Actual Lineup:

 “Clockwork Oranje” (4-3-1-2)—Match Four 

     Arjen Robben Robin van Persie
                 Wesley Sneijder
   G. Wijnaldum       Nigel de Jong      
                  Dirk Kuyt          
   B. Blind  S. de Vrij  R. Vlaar P. Verhaegh    
                   J. Cillessen

So it looked to your friendly bookie. I was outright shocked at the selection of 33-year-old Dirk Kuyt to serve as anchoring defensive midfielder. Additionally, Verhaegh in place of Janmaat with Depay on his hot streak? Weird stuff. Finally, Wijnaldum on the wing? Eh? Wijnaldum would have made sense last year, but his injury-plagued season at PSV had us all thinking he was nothing more than a token selection. I thought it had to be Lens for sure.

The Nigel de Jong injury forced van Gaal into his first substitution. Much to everyone’s surprise, Bruno Martins Indi turned out to be fit enough to take the reins. All three substitutes receive grades. Memphis Depay may not have gotten the nod as a centerback, but he continues to make an impact late in games. Klaas Jan-Huntelaar voluntarily stepped forward to take the PK. He felt he had something to prove after slowing down for Schalke this season. Man did he ever. This bookie won’t soon forget how he casually dribbled the ball on the spot like he was Tim-fucking-Duncan. Well done, Kumpel.


 Grades—Netherlands (Match Four) 

Klaas Jan Huntelaar
Wesley Sneijder
Arjen Robben
Robin van Persie
Daley Blind
Ron Vlaar
Memphis Depay
Paul Verhaegh
Jasper Cillessen
Stefan de Vrij
Bruno Martins Indi
Dirk Kuyt
Georginio Wijnaldum

Not a great match at all. Many commentators warned that the Dutch would slow down in their first late afternoon kickoff. Brutal heat in Fortaleza. We could chalk it up to that…or insist that van Gaal do a better job selecting his lineup. Kuyt and Wijnaldum were dreadful decisions.

The “Goofy Germans” always defy logic. Was van Gaal thinking long-term? Saving de Guzman and Lens for a more critical Quarterfinal Fixture? No one penetrates the Dutch mind, particularly not the one of an old Spinner set to take over ManU in a matter of days. We’ll just have to wait and see. If Kuyt starts again…..we know he’s thinking about decorating his office at Old Trafford.

 2) Costa Rica 

Projected Lineup:

 “Los Ticos” (5-3-2)—Match Four 

     Joel Campbell Christian Bolanos
     Y. Tejeda            Bryan Ruiz
                 Celso Borges     
      J. Diaz                  C. Gamboa        
  M. Umana G. Gonzalez O. Duarte  
                   Keylor Navas

Actual Lineup:

 “Los Ticos” (5-4-1)—Match Four 

                     Joel Campbell
  Christian Bolanos            Bryan Ruiz    
            Yeltsin Tejeda    Celso Borges     
    Junior  Diaz                  Cristian Gamboa
          M. Umana G. Gonzalez O. Duarte
                     Keylor Navas

As pertains to the starting lineup, your friendly bookie picked 11 out of 11 correctly. Jorge Pinto simply shifted to the even more conservative 5-4-1, likely out of concern that his centerbacks simply couldn’t handle the ability of Samris, Maniatis, and Salpingidis to get diagonal through balls into the attack.

The strategy yielded prudent results, even if trying to “out-defend” the Greeks is like trying to “out-slut” Jenna Haze. Defensive stalemate reigned. All three substitutes played long enough to merit grades.

And here they come…

 Grades—Costa Rica (Match Four) 

Keylor Navas
Bryan Ruiz
Christian Bolanos
Junior Diaz
Yeltsin Tejeda
Michael Umana
Giancarlo Gonzalez
Randall Brennes
Joel Campbell
Celso Borges
Cristian Gamboa
J.M. Cubero
Johny Acosta
Oscar Duarte

Not a great team. The clock strikes midnight for Cinderella next round.

Goodbyes Section

Mexico —“El Tri”
Shirt badge/Association crest 
-4 Games Played
-5 Goals Scored
-92 Hot Girls

…and it all looked to be going so well. A mere two minutes from time the Dutch snatched their victory from them. Three minutes into added time they broke ever last heart south of the Rio Grande. So close to cracking that glass ceiling. The Mexicans have only advanced beyond the Round of 16 in the two years that they hosted the tournament (1970 and 1986).

Since then (after being disqualified in 1990), they’ve now been eliminated in the Round of 16 in SIX consecutive tournaments. Yes, you read that correctly. SIX Consecutive World Cups. The Bulgarians threw them out in 1994 en route to the semifinals. The Germans disposed of them in 1998. The Americans memorably upset them in 2002. Hmmm…..let’s relive that one, shall we?

From WM 2002---“Round of 16”

WM 2002Monday

USA vs. Mexico


This is a huge match….in Mexico. I want nothing more than to pretend as if Americans view this as a clash of the CONCACAF Titans, but they won’t. At a recent party I did everything I possibly could to elicit some views on the upcoming USA vs. Mexico match, only to collect some blank stares, a paltry assemblage of bumbled words, and offers of another beer.

It’s not as if the proposition of another drink offends me in some way. I’m somehow troubled by the voluntary dismissal of flag-waving. The U.S. finds itself tasked with a “Border Battle”. Your rivals touch you, cupping your balls if you will. Where is the excitement? Where is the war paint? Where are the girls willing to go topless? (That last question had nothing to do with this match). In any event, I’d like to see some more intensity and much more devotion. I feel as if we’re privy to an epic battle and can find no one else who shares this opinion. That, paired with the abysmal play of the U.S. in the last game, forces me to pick Mexico.

THE LINE: Mexico  +1 Goal

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: USA 2, Mexico 0. A historic victory….that no one noticed. The pick was unfairly based on my immediate experiences…and the triumph was unfairly based on the notion that someone might give a shit. To be even-handed, support for the U.S. Football team has burgeoned in a way that nobody (including myself) could have ever possibly conceived. Suddenly the U.S. Football Team has become the popular summer fashion. Fair enough. This is an occasion for joy, not condescension. JJ I sincerely hope that all U.S. semi-fans will someday realize that Claudio Reyna, Brain McBride, and Landon Donovan once showed up the Mexican Side with their sublime skills. Since then it’s been all downhill. Sam’s Army hasn't managed to advance further.

Wow was that one fun! The Argentines took care of them in 2006. That one was fun too! Let’s relive her!!

From WM 2006—Round of Sixteen (Part I)
WM 2006 
Argentina vs. Mexico


Four years ago I predicted the “La Albiceleste” would recapture the former glory of the 1978 and 1986 Championship Teams. Though that side didn’t even make it past the group stages, this gang is strong enough to muscle their way to gold, return home in time to kick the Brits out of the Falklands, and conquer the South Shetlands after marching across the Drake Passage on foot. They’re that good. Jesus after snorting amphetamines.

All the big guns will be back on the pitch. Sorin, Crespo, Saviola, and Heinze were the recipients of a welcome rest cure. Should their absence lead to reduced touch, Tevez, Milito, and “the kid” stand ready to relieve. Lavolpe gets Borghetti back at long last, but must do without Francisco Rodriguez, Luis Perez, and the still injured Guillermo Franco. After an ebullient opener, striker Omar Bravo has decidedly cooled and may be left off.

It looks to be a bad day for Lavolope against his home county. He’ll be back in Buenos Aires in time to re-touch his highlights. This will be the worst Mexican Mariachi Routine since “The Naked Gun 2/12”. Adios Amigos.

THE LINE: Argentina +2 Goals

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Argentina 2, Mexico 1. (a.e.t 120) Things began promising enough for the wetbacks. In the 6th minute, the ever-exciting Pavel Pardo sliced in a beautiful free kick clinically headed on by Mario Mendez straight the boot of Javier Marquez. The Mexican lead lasted all of four minutes. Riquelme delivered a corner straight to the battling duo of Herman Crespo and Jared Borghetti. In a flailing attempt to keep the service from reaching Crespo’s outstretched leg, Borghetti’s first significant play since returning from an injury sustained in the first match was to head the ball into his own net. Things settled down thereafter with Borghetti and Saviola swapping near misses before the 90-minute march. An extra half hour would be required to separate these two teams, but in reality it was over after Maxi Rodriguez scored THE “Goal of the tournament” in the 98th. Maxi chested down a Mascherano switch and fired first time off the volley for a dazzling 35-yard half-moon effort that curved elegantly into the top left corner. “La Fuerta! Maxi, Maxi, Maxi, Maxi, Maxi Rrrrrrrrrooodriguez “ One day someone will repeat my first name five times for effect.

The Argentines overtook them once again in 2010. Come to think of it, that one was THE MOST FUN OF ALL!! Let’s review:

From WM 2010—Round of 16 (Part II)

WM 2010Argentina vs. Mexico


End of the line, Amigos. Here we have potentially the greatest mismatch in the Round of Sixteen. “Maradona’s Muchachos” are hitting their stride at precisely the right time and are poised to run over the beaners as nonchalantly as Maradona rides over innocent pedestrians. After literally decades of disappointing flops, the Argentines are finally fortunate enough to play a WM in their own hemisphere. Never thought there was much to “The Grand Hemisphere Theory”, but I’m gradually becoming a convert. More time is obviously needed, but I can see this once disregarded conjecture eclipsing Bill Simmons’ “Ewing Theory” as the most potent crackpot idea in all of sports. I stand by my early assertions that the Argentines have, pound-for-pound, the best team in the tournament and that Maradona’s lunacy will prove altogether unimportant.

Since a blowout will preclude us from seeing the Mexican fans after Sunday, I leave you with some aspects to enjoy tomorrow (plucked from the dailies of course):

“We may all look forward to flamboyant costumes of the beaners. These Mexicans know how to do it right. Mexican wrestling masks, gigantic sombreros, and Aztec warrior attire. How can one NOT love these people?! They are…..the most interesting fans in the world. Stay thirsty, my friends! Plus, they do a fantastic job with the lawn and my oranges are always tip-top. Viva Mexico!”

To this we may add the old Socialist Salute they insist on doing during the national anthem and Javier Aguirre’s baboon teeth. Man bears a striking resemblance to Klaus Kinski….   

Projected Lineups:

 “El Tri” 

1) Oscar Perez
2) Hector Moreno
3) Francisco Rodriguez
4) Rafael Marquez
5) Andres Guardado
6) Gerrardo Torrado
7) C. Blanco
8) Effrain Juarez
9) Javier Hernandez
10) Guillermo Franco
11) Giovanni dos Santos

 “La Albicelesta” 

1) Sergio Romero
2) Walter Samuel
3) Martin Demichelis
4) Gabriel Heinze
5) Jonas Gutierrez
6) Javier Mascherano
7) Gonzalo Higuain
8) Diego Milito
9) Maxi Rodriguez
10) Carlos Tevez
11) Lionel Messi

Prop Bets (as always, feel free to offer your own):
Over/Under ---5 Goals
120 Minutes— 3 to 1
Penalty Shootout— 5 to 1
Messi brace –4 to 1
Messi hat trick—5 to 1
Mascherano on set piece – 2 to 1
Milito from outside the 18 –3 to 1
Sergio Aguero substitution (70+) –3 to 1
Over 20 shots of Maradona-- 3 to 1
Tevez draws penalty – 3 to 1
Oscar Perez goalkeeping error – 3 to 1
Mexican own goal  -- 3 to 1
Dos Santos brace   -- 5 to 1
Carlos Vela substitution (70+) – 3 to 1

THE LINE: Argentina +3


Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Argentina 3, Mexico 1. Aguirre was livid after Tevez’s opening goal in the 26th, even if replays showed he had little cause for complaint. Keeper Oscar Perez rushed out to meet Tevez, sliding down to take on in the stomach. The ball bounced back to Messi, cool-as-you-like, flipped it back for Tevez to head into the empty net. Hardcore fans of El Tricolor still insist Tevez was offside when Messi delivered, even after it appears Rafael Marquez and Francisco Rodriguez kept him just on.

The two central fullbacks might have done well to stay put. Ricardo Osorio might have done well to stay home. Under pressure from Higuain in the 33rd, he inexplicably passed the ball to his opponent right in front of his keeper. Higuain deked-out Perez nicely before lobbing in to finish. Still, it was a gift-wrapped howler from Osorio that put the Albiceleste up 2-0.

Seven minutes after the restart, Tevez all but put the game out of reach for the Hossas. A 52nd minute firecracker secured his brace, as well as Argentina’s ticket to the next round. Maradona ordered them to stand down and allow El Tri forty minutes to search for a meaningless consolation. Javier Hernandez finally got it in the 71st, after squandering several previous chances.

So many years…so much fun : ) ; ) Deeply sorry for the newfound friends of  “regional solidarity”. I’m sorry you didn’t get to “take her out for a spin” with your Mexican colleagues. Even sorrier for all of those recently converted “Miguel Herrera Apostles”. Shall we link to it again? I do believe we shall:

 Even sorrier still for all the legitimate “El-Tri” enthusiasts out there. Take solace in the fact that this team was always meant to go gently into that good night. After a disastrous qualifying campaign that saw three coaches go through the turnstiles, it was simply time to realize that there will be life after Rafael Marquez, Carlos Salcido, Francisco Javier Rodriguez, and even Jesus Corona. A new dawn awaits. We’ll see you again in four years…or two....It all depends. The point is that you’ll return with an even stronger side. Aquina, Chicharito, Guardado, and Ochoa will all be back better than ever.

Miguel Herrera won’t be back…as much as we would all like him to be. ; )

Greece —“To Piratiko”
Shirt badge/Association crest
-4 Games Played
-3 Goals Scored
-67 Hot Girls

Fernando Santos’s contract has expired. He watched the final minutes of last night’s game from the tunnel, having being sent off during the penalty shootout. He’s gone. Surprisingly enough, the Hellenic Football Federation didn’t even make an effort to negotiate with him.

The Greeks will thus return in 2016 with a new coach and a new captain. Kostas Katsouranis and Giorgios Karagounis turn in their cleats. Will they qualify? Of course. Even if the tournament wasn’t expanding to 24 nations, they’re strong favorites to top a group that only Hungary and Romania have little chance of contesting.

Feeling blue, Pirate fans? Be gay and remember the Summer of 2004! I will…if only to remember a time when I amassed winning oddsmaking stats!

From EM 2004—Goodbyes and Championship Pick:

EM 2004Supreme Champion of the European Football Universe—Portugal vs. Greece


We end where we began. These two teams kicked off a tournament full of surprises with a shocking Cinderella upset over the highly favored hosts. The Navigators battled through their early adversity to win a rematch with a team that no prognosticator thought would even win a group stage game. I myself have incorrectly handicapped the Greeks in all six of their matches, picking them to lose five times and win once. Were I an actual Sports Journalist, the entire country of Portugal would surely be begging me to pick the Greeks. I sincerely doubt any other odds maker has been so consistently wrong about this team. My Final Stats:

Spread: 18-12
Straight up: 19-6-5

Sigh. Those these figures are among my best ever, imagine how dominant I could have been had I not been 0-5 with respect to the Greeks? Actually all one has to do is some simple arithmetic. On paper the Portuguese attacking options should make them 2-3 goal favorites, just as they were in the opening match. The Greeks are not only undermanned, they’ll be without Inter’s Giorgios Karagounis. Of course I’ve been saying this all tournament. The entire globe expects Christiano Ronaldo, Pauellta, Figo, and Deco to prevail on their home turf. How can they possibly dishonor themselves against a meek opposition with proven weaknesses?

I see a way. The Greek back four are miserly little obstructionists. They’ve blanked both the French and the Czechs by inserting themselves into the path of nearly every ball. Finesse teams have been constantly frustrated by their inability to string together more than three passes without encountering an obstinate Hellenic obstructionist. Fyssas, Setararis, and Kapsis appear to form some sort of triangulation defense that intercepts everything aside from pure flank prowess. In Ice Hockey parlance, this would be termed a “Neutral Zone Trap”. I do not purport to whether Rehhagel will be able to sustain his model or Scolari has a plan to exploit it. All I can say for certain is that chances are always at a premium during a Finals match. Either team can eke out a 1-0 victory on a controversial spot kick or corner. We’re there money involved, I’d have no qualms about making this a pick. I do not foresee the Portuguese offense catching fire in what will be a closely contested trench fight. I do think, however, that they just barely manage to avenge their previous abasement. The Greek pattern thus far has been W-W-L-W-W-? I say the trend continues. Portugal’s the pick. Enjoy the match. Enjoy the next two years. See you in the Fatherland for WM 2006!!

THE LINE: Portugal +1 goal

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Greece 1, Portugal 0. Hmmmm…for those of you keeping track, that’s….fuck it you get the idea. How many times can one person make the same mistake? As you can see, some stubbornly endure to do so until the very end. Re-reading this passage brings raises memories of how I toyed with the idea of picking Greece. It’s plainly apparent that I even made an effort to talk myself into it. If my father were present he would without hesitation launch into his “You’ve once again weighed the evidence correctly and made the wrong decision.” Man, I can really hate that man sometimes! Why must he have such a valid point?

Persistent defending, timely substitutions, and the insanely recurrent curse of injuries/crossbars that afflicted Greek opponents led to the biggest upset in tournament history. To this one might add “The Curse of the Amateur Bookie.” There was much clamoring for bets on Greece after I made my pick. Thankfully I was equally stubborn in insisting the match was off the table.

Miguel and Figo produced the best opportunities in the first half the former forcing Nikopolidis into a fingertip save. Insofar as I recall, Christiano Ronaldo didn’t even manage a touch. Fullback Miguel limped off with a knee shortly before halftime, depriving the Navigators of the only player who had successfully pervaded a stolid Greek defense.

As predicted, chances were at a premium. While the Navigators had only secured two chances on target during the first half, the Greeks had none. They earned their first corner ten minutes after the restart. Basinas and Charisteas combined to make it count. Basinas had been subbed out comparatively early against the Czechs and was rumored to be jealous of Tsiartas’s heroics in that game. After spending days perfecting his delivery, he served up a perfectly curled ball that dipped right into Charisteas well-timed leap. Scolari immediately sprang into action, bringing in Rui Costa and Nuno Gomez. It would be to no avail. The Navigators did not produce a memorable effort until Caravlho forced a touch from the keeper in the 81st minute. Fyssas, Setararis, and Kapsis stood tall until the very last moment, deflecting desperate dying efforts from Ronaldo and Figo safely out of harms way. The whistle blew and the Navigators had blown it with hardly a whimper. A mere eight years ago, the Greeks were the beasts of Europe. It’s been downhill for them ever since.

“Riffs of the Day”—Day Seventeen


Reader: Can you still watch soccer at this point?

17 (2)Vicey: Fatigue always comes in to play. The worldliness of it all overrides it….Indeed, knowing that one remains a very small part of a massive global scene overrides just about any petty complaints one might have.

Meditate on that….hooom..

Reader: Not worried at all?

Vicey: Not worried. Not nervous. Give it up.

Reader: Will I ever get to “take her out for a spin”?

Vicey: Keep an eye on that USA vs. Belgium match. Have your flags and car keys at the ready!


Intrigue envelops two matches that one might think resemble “mismatches” more than anything else. Can ze French avoid looking like the Dutch? Will e Germans avoid a repeat of 1982? FIND OUT!!

France vs. Nigeria


Keshi’s Boys are all but considered out in this tournament that has proven most unkind to African Squads. Your friendly bookie is still taking money on it, though. I’ve got a nasty premonition that we’ll have some controversy here. Hoping that I’m wrong.

THE LINE: France +2 Goals (rolling up from +1)

Deutschland vs. Algeria


So you don’t trust me. I get that ; ) ; ) You can still take advantage of my “Kraut-Pride”. It’s yours for the taking!

THE LINE: Mannschaft +2 Goals (holding)

Gentlemen, Enter Your Wagers