Saturday, July 4, 2015

FWM 2015--Goodbyes and Championship Pick

Dear Friends,

FWM 2015That’s a wrap. Our time together draws to a close. A few more phone calls need to be made. Spreadsheets need to be completed. Schwag Packs need to be put together. Then we’re done ; ( ; ( It’s always a tremendously sad occasion. ; ( I’ll miss you, brothers. The hole in my soul won't be laded until we convene once again next Summer.

Your friendly bookie loves you. You’re the only reason he continues to trek on through an otherwise meaningless life. The Daily Grind gives a modest taste of the sublime in addition to the euphoria associated with cold hard cash. That’ll do. Nevertheless, there remains something more important. It’s called “friends and football”. ; ) ; ) May we forever find time for that. ; )

You’re about to win a World Championship, America. There’s little that even a tactical wizard like Ozaki can do to field an eleven that stands much of a chance against your girls. I won't bore you with the actual projections, but rest assured that I’ve taken the time to draw it up. You’ll win. You might even win big.

Image result for Schweinsteiger lifts trophy

It’s a most wonderful feeling when the Flag of your Father captures the Title and, by extension, the world. It’s almost indescribable. All the exhaustion and pettiness of one’s otherwise perfunctory life melts away. A surge of rhapsodic fervor springs forth from deep inside. The ecstasy of victory certainly proves ephemeral, but it’s an experience that will remain unforgettable. 

A few dozen Syndicate members now have the privilege of having kids. Though they may be a certifiable pain in the ass, watch this match with your progeny. Chant and cheer with them. Even if they’re far too young to form lasting memories, a World Cup Victory belongs to ALL LIVING GENERATIONS! Do your best.

If you don’t have any munchkins running around, watch the American Women hoist the trophy with your girl/wife. Should you not have one of those, get together with your best mates and some random girls to “take it out for a spin”. Unsure what I mean by “take it out for a spin”? Let’s review some Syndicate Terminology:

From WM 2014—Day Five Recap 

WM 2014Are Americans really “taking her out for a spin”? Really? Thus far Syndicate Members have reported in that they intend to “take her out for a spin”. A couple of others have filed as of yet unconfirmed reports that a few “rogues n’ rubes” in larger U.S. Metropolitan Areas are, in fact, “taking her out for a spin”. Perhaps I should take a moment to explain what I mean by “taking her out for a spin”.

It’s a global tradition. When your country wins you grab the car keys, a few cute girls (if you happen to have some handy), and the biggest flags you can find. You drive all around your city’s main thoroughfares honking you horns and screaming the name of your country. The girls (again, if you’re lucky enough to have them) blow kisses and wave flags. It’s a little more than an impromptu parade. Mardi Gras happens every year, but you only get to “take her out for a spin” every 2 to 4 years if your fortunate.

 I “took her out for a spin” last night after my country demolished Portugal. For the first time in two years I got to release all that Patriotic Fervor. This is especially important for Germans. We don’t exactly…er…have the right kind of legacy. Sorry mates, but your friendly bookie has to spend international football tournaments in the Fatherland. No way in hell I could get away with “taking her out for a spin” in Peoria or Des Moines. That doesn’t compute.

If Americans are really doing this, you’ve finally arrived. Welcome. We want you here. We always have. If these reports more accurately reflect exaggeration or wishful thinking….GET ON IT, SYNDICATE MEMBERS. Your bookie demands that you “take her out for a spin”. Drink O’Douls during the match if you must. You’ve got more important obligations to take care of should your team win. So you may scare the shit out of some old ladies. So what. I inadvertently did that this morning while taking a piss and I don’t feel the least bit bad about it.

You’re going to win. Grab the fucking car keys!

Buy some flags!


Get ready. 

I know I said the same exact thing four years ago. What did I write 48 months ago when the U.S. faced Japan in the Final? I’m Glad you asked!

USA vs. Japan

  vs. Japan

FWM 2011Often times in lesser tournaments, I declare that all bets are off for the final. Finals are a time to lounge, drink, and leisurely/passively while away a Sunday afternoon with the beautiful game. Some may recall that I obstinately refused any bets during the Euro 2008 Spain-Germany Final. Why? Because I simply wanted to get blitzed, root for my country against the odds, and not have to sit down with my black book after a debilitating loss and do arithmetic of all things! Please consider my experience and reflect on this reasoning.

It has come to my attention recently that I’ve created a monstrous cadre of compulsive gamblers, totally unequipped for their team’s presence in “The Big Game”. As a result, I’ve been besieged by requests from anxious ogres, salivating at the chance to lay their wife’s sock-drawer money on the invincibility of Uncle Sam. One can only hope that our creditors display such zeal after we default on our debt in a few weeks. Look, I welcome your enthusiasm. 

The fact that I’ve played some small role in helping form fervent fanatics devoid of any common sense surely must be that “difference” my Kindergarten teacher kept insisting I would make in the world. Very flattering. Very touching. To remain aloof from this insanity would be in some ways disingenuous of me. This is why I’ve elected to afford you an opportunity to bet on your team whilst still doing everything in my power to discourage it.

You’ve already read my mini-lecture concerning the luxury of simply enjoying the match. Think further about the perils of hyping yourself up for a game, being improbably let down, and then realizing that the money you lost will invariably ruin next week as well. Finally, take into account that your bookie has to insist on a high line. 

This game is a VERY SKEWED mismatch on paper. The Japanese have been known to pull miraculous 54,827 Hit Combos out of their ass, but have about as much chance of winning here as poor Angurius had against Mechagodzilla. (The knowledge of an insomniac occasionally extends beyond C-Span)

YOUR TEAM WILL WIN! For your wife’s sake, for you children’s sake, for the sake of whatever gluttonous addictions happen regularly drain your wallet, DON’T SET YOURSELF UP TO LOSE! Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. (Don’t you love how two of those are ludicrously dated?)

This looks to be a very exciting final! Samehima, Kinga, and Kumagi were supposed to be more exhausted than Larry Flynt after the AVN Awards. Instead they shocked us all by continually pressing forward in one the most hawkish displays I’ve ever seen from a defending corps! The strategy of this Japanese team is not difficult to discern: They are going full-blown Kamikaze, throwing EVERYONE forward without the slightest twitch of fear or regret. 

Following the conservative, disciplined approach to Germany Norio Sasaki evidently told the Nadeshiko to play with reckless abandon. In a stage of the tournament they have no business being in, against an unquestionably stronger team, with nothing to lose and a cajoling media pumping them up, look for them to encroach as many as nine players early. “Banzai, motherfuckers!” In American parlance, “Kitchen Sink” will be the watchword. They won’t let up.

How long will this strategy work?  Impossible to say. All indications are that the Japs will boldly trot out the same starting eleven they’ve been using for most of the tournament and deal with the fatigue issue only if it becomes a visible disadvantage. Iwabuchi and Maruyama are almost guaranteed substitutions, leaving them very little wiggle room should there be an injury. 

Other than these two sparkplugs, there isn’t another bench player who has logged significant minutes. Candidly, it will be up to the same squad that has played the entire tournament to deliver another improbably all out, maximum effort performance. They may well succeed in doing so, but let’s look at the team they face.

“All the Right Moves” isn’t merely a movie staring a maniacal midget with a one-inch penis, it also should be the headlines detailing Pia Sundhage’s managerial approach to the last game. It began with the brilliant decision to move Ali Krieger and start Becky Sauerbrunn in her position. A certain amateur bookie directly called for that move and wondered (as he often does) if he had finally attained the title of “complete moron”. 

As it turns out, Sauerbrunn handled her rather demanding assignment with aplomb. For an outfielder with only 11 international caps to step in late in a tournament and provide such ideal miserly defending is no small feat.  Another move advocated by a certain rambling idiot happened to be flipping Wambach and Rodriguez’s advancing assignments. This worked splendidly. Not playing as the lead striker appeared to allow Wambach to find her rhythm at her own pace. After Rodriguez was substituted, Wambach reclaimed the role and both her touch and timing were immaculate.

Fatigue and a lack of imagination set in around the 54th minute. Sundhage’s first move was to bring in Alex Morgan early and let her adjust to the tempo. Ten minutes later it was time to tinker with the midfield. Cheney switched sides, Boxx and O’Reilly were tasked with the central part of the pitch, and Carli Lloyd was substituted for Rapinoe. All the maneuvering enabled Rapinoe to work her preferred left flank. Three minutes after setting up Wambach’s goal she made her dominance of that flank obvious, setting up Morgan with an exquisite little through ball for goal number three. Marvelous. This woman should be coaching the men’s team!

So there we have it. One coach has his team on a suicide-mission; the other carefully calibrates the talent on the pitch with all the meticulousness of a Formula One mechanic. If this fails to engender enough optimism, consider that O’Reilly, Rodriguez, Rampone, Cheney, Buehler, Krieger and Boxx are all in extraordinary form. Those are just your starters! Rapinoe, Heath, and Cox will be the perfect substitution trio should you get into trouble, but a possible blowout means you may see Lindsey, Mitts, and O’Hara instead. Anything can happen, of course, but all signs point to a record third U.S. Championship      


FWM 2011What good is a World Championship in Women’s Sports? Were it in Volleyball, Shuffleboard, Handball, Ice Hockey, Basketball, Table Tennis, Golf, Softball………ANY OTHER SPORT BUT THIS ONE, you’re right! Who gives a hemorrhaging fuck? This happens to be not “a” sport, but “the” sport; the sport than over 80 percent of the world holds in the highest esteem. In the burgeoning world of Women’s Football, two countries are tied at two when it comes to the most world championships. 

The U.S. won the inaugural tournament in 1991 and Brandi Chastain took off her shirt in 1999. Germany is the two time defending world champions, winning in 2003 and 2007. A win on Sunday will make you the UNCONTESTED ALL-TIME CHAMPIONS OF WORLD FOOTBALL (provided what happens to be between your legs is irrelevant). Please treat this as a cause for great celebration. A world champion is not crowned perfunctorily. This should ideally be a special day for you.

Surround yourself with trusted friends. Cheer, shout, and dance together. When it’s all over, remember to go kick a ball with a stranger (no matter what happens to be between their legs J)


This time I REALLY MEAN IT! You won’t lose. Take her out for a spin. Make it happen, America. I believe in you so much that I’m willing to show you something that a anonymous Shadow Scholar doesn’t dare bare. Wanna see my face? My profile remains available in previous Syndicate Chapters, but I’ll give you a “full frontal”:

There you are:





Win your third Women’s World Cup Championship and those stars on your crest actually mean something!

The Shadows beckon. So tranquil. So peaceful. A writer blissfully sits in solitude…where he belongs. ; )

Before getting to the pick, let’s uphold our tradition. Syndicate Members are a team. Time for “Peace with the Metric System”

“Peace with the Metric System”

“I don’t know what to say really. Three minutes to the biggest battle of our professional lives. All comes down to today. Either we heal as a team, or we’re going to crumble. 2.54 centimeters by 2.54 centimeters…set piece by set piece….til we’re finished. We’re in hell right now gentlemen. Believe me. And…….we can stay here, get the shit kicked out of us, or………..we can fight our way back…….into the light…….we can climb our way out of hell. 2.54 Centimeters at a time.

Now I can’t do it for you. I’m too old. I look around, I see all of these young faces and think……..I mean……..I’ve made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make. I…ah…. pissed away all my money, believe it or not. I chased off anyone who’s ever loved me. And lately, I can’t even stand the face I see in the mirror. You know, when you get old in life, things get taken from you…. I mean that’s…that’s…...that’s part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out life’s this game of 2.54 centimeters. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small…..I mean…one half a step too late or too early, you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow, too fast, you don’t quite kick it. The centimeters we need are everywhere around us! They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second.

On this team, we fight for those 2.54 centimeters. On this team, we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for those 2.54 centimeters. We claw with our fingernails for those 2.54 centimeters! Because, we know when we add up all those centimeters, that’s gonna make the FUCKIN difference between winnin and losin!!!!!!!! Between living and dieing!!!

I’ll tell you this: In any fight, it’s the guy who’s willin to die, who’s gonna win that 2.54 centimeters. And I know, if I’m gonna have any life anymore, it’s because I’m still willing to fight and die for those 2.54 centimeters!!! Because….that’s what livin is!!! The 15.24 centimeters in front of your face!!

Now I can’t make you do it! You’ve gotta look at the guy next to you. LOOK INTO HIS EYES!! Now I think you’re gonna see a guy who will go those 2.54 centimeters with you. I think you’re gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team because he knows, when it comes down to it, you’re gonna do the same for him. That’s a team, gentlemen. And, either we heal, NOW, as a team……..or we will die…as individuals. That’s football guys. That’s all it is. Now………..WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?!?!?!?!”

Supreme Champion of the Women’s Football Universe—

USA vs. Japan

  vs. Japan

I couldn’t be happier for Kelley O’Hara and Carli Lloyd. Two hot girls with foxy skills on the pitch are finally getting their moment after I’ve already spent an inadvertent amount of time writing about them. The latter now dons the Captain’s armband. The former scored the “Goal of the Tournament.” Well done, ladies. ; )

Lloyd, Rapinoe, and Lloyd again.  
This one will be over with quickly.

Happy belated Fourth, America.

Allow me to reiterate: ALL BETS ARE OFF.

THE PICK: USA +2 Goals

Enjoy living your life. Enjoy it for it's own sake. Dance to the music. Appreciate the painting. Delve deeper into that novel. Make laughter and love as often as you can. : ) Live lionhearted or don’t bother living at all

We’ll meet again. The Syndicate will return. For the time being……

“Go kick a ball with a stranger”

Seriously…go kick a ball with a stranger.

--S.S. P.J.W.