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Little Donkey at AvondaleBricksGallery
Enjoy tapas from Little Donkey, Wine Tasting by Athens Imports, Art Exhibition Opening. $15. Friday, November 30, 5-9 p.m.
Visit us during the Avondale/Forest Park Holiday Crafts Bazaar at Avondale Bricks Gallery, 130 41st Street South in Avondale. Must be 21 for wine tasting.
Write firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or questions. Thank you for joining the Revolution in Avondale.
[Editor's Note: This post was written on Aug. 12th, but do to an egregious oversight it and one other will be posted today instead.]
It seems more and more likely that Darrelle Revis, cornerback for the New York Jets, will extend his holdout into the season. Considered by many the top cover corner/shutdown corner (or at least as close to any such thing that exists in the NFL these days thanks to receiver-biased rules) in the league, Revis wants to be the highest paid cornerback in the league, seeking a deal to eclipse the 3-year $45.3 million contract given to Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha. Revis is scheduled to make $1 million this season, which is part of the deal he held out for 3 years ago.
Reportedly, the Jets have laid out a deal in which Revis would make $120 million over 10 years. That sounds super great, right? Well not to Revis apparently. This would still leave Revis $40 million short of his desire to be paid more per year than Asomugha, who makes just over $15 million per year. Revis would only be making $12 million.
$12 million? Are you kidding me? And it’s a 10 year contract? Unless you are a stud franchise QB, that is unheard of in the NFL. I understand that you want to be compensated what you feel is fair. You think you are the best CB in the league, and widely considered by your peers to be such, but it just seems to me at some point you have to say, “Holy Schnikes that’s a lot of money!”
And you’ve got a chance to be playing for a Super Bowl. At what point does the desire to win and succeed eclipse the narcissistic need for self-worth and recognition? Maybe as a person who couldn’t be further removed from the talent and success of an elite professional athlete I can just never understand. I don’t know.
I guess I can respect the fact of a person trying to make the money they feel they deserve (and to be, what others think they deserve). That amount of money just overwhelms me and I just cease to function logically. But like one ESPN analyst said, if the situation was reversed and Revis was under-performing his contract, then he would just be cut. So it seems logical that he should seek fair compensation.
There is good news though. After Rex Ryan threw down the gauntlet telling both sides to just sit down together, talk it out, and make it happen, both sides did meet and agreed to keep things civil – and most importantly private. Maybe we won't have schmucks like me talking about it anymore. Here’s to hoping they get something worked out, because Revis is a lot of fun to watch.
So what’s the answer?
But paying them isn’t the answer. Perhaps we could alter the definition of ‘paying them’ and increase stipends, or allow them to collect royalties of money made from the use of their likeness. There is certainly not a clear answer, but outright paying players can’t be the answer. It’s still college football. I hope it’s still about kids coming to play football, a game that they love, maybe get an education – a bit ambitious – and experience college and campus life. The atmosphere, the passion, the tradition. You can’t get those in pro football because the players are paid.
Is Nick Saban right? Should we monitor and police the agents? Should we attempt to persuade the NFL to discipline agents who are caught colluding and interfering with college players? Perhaps. It seems like a decent idea. If we can eliminate, or at least reduce, the temptation at its source, then it stands to reason that players wouldn’t fall into the trap. But realistically, we’d probably just create an atmosphere where agents would come up with new and cleverer ways of tampering. There’s just too much money at stake.
Also, I think that Saban (which is seems like a good strategy) is diverting the focus from himself and his team, as well as the responsibility of the colleges as a whole. While I agree with Saban that coaches can’t be everywhere, and they do a great job of monitoring their players to an extent, to assert (lookin’ at you Pete Carroll) that the head coach of a top-flight school doesn’t know where his players are and/or getting brand-new houses seems ludicrous. And if it is true, then that’s just unacceptable. You will be scrutinized harder than anyone. You must be aware of this. If I’m being optimistic to think that players still want to play college football for the experience, you are being optimistic to believe that your players are going to be on their best behavior. Keep tabs. Make your players check-in. I don’t care. Do whatever it takes.
So maybe it’s both. Maybe we police the agents. Maybe we do a better job of policing ourselves. Maybe we just do a more thorough job of screening to whom we give our scholarships.
[Editor's Note: I would like to welcome John Easterling to the Birmingham Weekly fold. John will be writing and blogging about sports for us, and he's started us off here with a passionate look back at the World Cup Weekend. Enjoy the first of what I hope to be many great posts under the "X's & O's" banner. Also, I've taken the opportunity to attach some photos I took at the Sloss World Cup Event on Sunday at the end of the post.]
Well, it couldn’t have been less of an “American-style” final. A game, a beautiful game, full of all the things that are supposedly wrong with soccer and why Americans can’t embrace the love affair that is International Football – the fouls, the flops, low scoring, no breaks, the arguing, the acting. This game had it all.
Right from the opening whistle, the tone of play of the 2010 World Cup Final was established as a game full of bookings, aggressive (if not dirty) tackles, high emotion, missed chances, and close calls. The first booking – a yellow card for Van Persie, the Dutch Forward – occurred within the first five minutes. By the twenty-fourth minute, the fourth yellow card had been issued, which put the game well ahead of the pace for record bookings in a Final (which was six). The game finished with an astounding thirteen total bookings.
The first half was largely uneventful in the way of scoring chances until the Netherlands established a foothold in the Spanish box in the last minutes. No goals ultimately as the teams went to half scoreless.
The second half, however, was saturated with missed chances and un-taken opportunities. Arjen Robben failed to deliver on two chances on fast breaks inside Spain’s box. Andres Iniesta and Xavi continued to pass on shooting chances, choosing to distribute the ball to teammates instead, resulting in loss of possession. Sergio Ramos sailed a header over the bar despite being unmarked on a corner. Wesley Sneijder, who has been arguably the most exciting player of the entire tournament, was non-existent for the vast majority of the match. Despite the increase of chances for both teams, the game lacked the electricity and excitement of distance goals so prevalent in the third place game the day before, and tournament as a whole.
Spain dominated the midfield and the Dutch counterattacked.
There was a moment as the second overtime was beginning in which announcer Efan Ekoku predicted a likely outcome of penalty kicks. And it certainly appeared that way. But then, in a moment that seemed to define the whole game, Fernando Torres sent in a lackluster cross that just wasn’t cleared but the Dutch defense. The ball fell right to Cesc Fabregas who sent a beautiful ball to Andres Iniesta who finally… freaking… shot. And guess what? GOOAALLLLLL!! It was the latest World Cup goal in the history of the Finals (116’). A broken play. A beautiful goal. A breathtaking game.
Spain went on to win 1-0, capturing its first World Cup title. Other firsts Spain achieved include the first team to win it all after losing its first game and the first European team to win outside of Europe and the first team to win on African Soil.
Now that it’s all said and done, and that fat ole lady has sung, I’m struck by one thought. One word continues to race over and over in my mind – passion. As a lifetime resident of Birmingham, Alabama, passion is definitely a word that resonates within me. Passion about college football. Passion about sweet tea. All too often, passion about division. If you even mention the word ‘Auburn’ or ‘Alabama’ be prepared to have a – let’s say heated – discussion. We’re very good at being “us versus them.” We like to separate ourselves from other countries. Heck, we even separate ourselves out within our country. And that’s not even mentioning the other division Birmingham is famous for.
Soccer is no different. Even though it is growing and gaining support, it is still relegated to the sidelines and backseats. Supposedly, Americans need more action and they need it now. Give us ten seconds of excitement then let us return to our beers and bathrooms and conversations until you’re ready to give us another ten seconds. But I saw something special during this World Cup. I saw millions of Americans holding their breath for 90 minutes at a time. When Landon Donovan scored against Algeria, the euphoria and ecstasy couldn’t be contained. It was released in an nationwide explosion of relief, joy, and amazement.
This is what carries over into American culture. We live for those moments of greatness. Bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, full count. Fourth quarter, no timeouts, down by six from the 35-yard-line. :03 left on the clock, down by two, in bound and shoot from half court. We live for those moments of drama. I think soccer translates wonderfully here. Each goal can count for so much. Almost every game is a huge build up to a dramatic moment. That’s not even mentioning PKs, which are about as high drama as it gets.
The World Cup being on African soil for the first time brought out the best of what sports can be. An entire nation, an entire continent, an entire world celebrating the beauty of one pursuit – winning. No, not winning. Playing the game beautifully. Playing with heart. Playing with passion.
Seeing the enthusiasm and pride upon the faces of the South African hosts for the first game as their team stepped onto the field, especially when one of their own became the first human being to score a World Cup goal on African soil was a special moment I’ll never forget.
Images of entire towns, cities, and countries stopping everything to be a part of something bigger than themselves will never fade from my memory. Faces, colors, and boundaries blurred together into pictures of excitement, ecstasy, despair, and anguish. The World Cup had become a world canvas for us to paint a new picture of hope. This is the beauty of sports. This is the beauty of passion. Just leave out the vuvuzelas next time.
Yankees prominent, provocative, and paradoxical owner George Steinbrenner passed away Tuesday at the age of 80 after suffering a heart attack. Though Steinbrenner relinquished the reins of everyday control of the Evil Empire to his sons Hal and Hank in 2007, he will eternally be associated and recognized as the man who returned the Yankees to prominence, changing the face of baseball and professional sports forever.
Now, if you're like me, you probably aren't too happy with George and the way he changed the landscape of professional sports - giving prima donna punks like Alex Rodriguez millions...and millions...and even more millions of dollars to play stickball. Most importantly, I remember that jerk face from keeping the hometown Braves - look, I know they're in Atlanta, but I figured from the amount of time they spend on my TV, they had to be from Birmingham - from winning back-to-back World Series championships in the 90s.
Known as a tyrant, even a meddler, as an owner, Steinbrenner was never content to sit on the sidelines, behind-the-scenes, or any other hands-off area. Rather, he was the quintessential micromanager, bickering and fighting with managers (most famously with Billy Martin, whom he hired/fired five different times). Steinbrenner was the money behind the monster that was the Yankees. He took over at a time when the team was run, almost as a fun little side project - the freaking Yankees - by CBS. He did whatever it took to make the team a winner again (which usually consisted of throwing copious amounts of money at high profile free agents).
But little known - certainly to yours truly - were Steinbrenner's many, many philanthropic exploits and ventures. In his hometown of the last decade, Tampa, FL, Steinbrenner was actively involved in numerous charitable ventures such as youth sporting leagues. I think it says a photograph (that's a thousand words) about the man that many did not know of this side. Rather than flaunt his philanthropy and force feed it to us to get good publicity, he was willingly to play the controversial figure for our entertainment while doing the right thing because it was the right thing.
So I just wanted to give a little tip of the cap (I'm as surprised as you are) to George Steinbrenner. I didn't always...okay, ever, agree with you, but I can respect the passion you had for the game. Your commitment is unquestioned and unparalleled. Here's to you George. Cheers.
College Football season is officially here!
I knew it was football season once again when I turned my television to ESPN at 6 pm sharp and saw Lou Holtz’s beautiful, wrinkly, potentially fake-tanned, definitely covered in makeup, smiling face. Oh how I love thee, Lou Holtz. Let me count the ways. Basically, it starts with his slurring and spattering voice that is only slightly harder to understand than the actual words coming out of his mouth. Somewhere admist the “thuffering thuckatashes,” there are supposedly nuggets of football wisdom, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out what they are. But for some reason, that crazy old coot is music to my ears. And that reason is: College Football has finally arrived!!!
No more previews, overviews, reviews, topviews, sideviews, insider views, nor any other views matter now. It’s all about what you do – more specifically, what you do on the field. And there were teams doing just that last night. For the first time in far too long real, live college football was on my television, and in my heart. Sigh.
South Carolina and Southern Miss kicked things off (for me at least). Steve Spurrier had his little, uh, Gamecocks out in full force. Southern Miss was overmatched. Stephen Garcia finally started living up to some of his potential, scoring the game’s first touchdown after a hard, athletic run. Marcus Lattimore, highly touted recruit, burst on the scene with an impressive display of power and speed. After a slow start out of the gate, South Carolina really turned up the heat. The final score was an embarrassing 41-13.
UAB lost a heartbreaker 32-31 at home against Florida Atlantic. The Owls blocked a potential game-winning field goal by the Blazers to end the game. Just brutal. But there was at least one bright spot for the Blazers: David Isabelle rushed for a school record (for a QB) 214 yards, scoring 3 times. Unfortunately he only completed 9 of his 19 passes for a measly 79 yards, 1 TD, and 1 Int (which also was caught for a TD). And so it goes.
Ohio State and Miami (FL) both put on impressive displays in their season openers. Ohio State silenced the Thundering Herd from Marshall 45-7 on the back off early season Heisman favorite Tyrrell Pryor. Miami shutout in-state foe Florida A&M 45-0. Jacory Harris is also making an early case for himself in the Heisman race. Every game counts these days. Both Pryor and Harris tossed 3 TDs.
Utah and Pitt brought us our first OT action of the year…on the very first day! Utah controlled the action for most of the game, but the steely Panthers from Pitt clawed their way back into the game, refusing to quit. With 3 seconds left on the clock, Pitt set up for a game-tying field goal to send it to OT. It’s up, and it’s good… oh wait, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham pulled a Bush League move and called timeout right before the ball was snapped. Replay. They set up again. It’s up, and it’s no good! Utah wins … oh wait, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham pulled a Bush League move and called timeout right before the ball was snapped. Great, Utah still has one more timeout. Are they gonna use it again? Nope. This time the kick is good and it counts. OT. Utah wins the toss and elects to go on defense first. Wise Choice. First play – interception. Utah runs it up the middle a few times and kicks a field goal (sans Time Out shenanigans) to win.
USC vs. Hawaii (who was basically representing the rest of the world). Lane Kiffin’s first game as USC tyrant, I mean, head coach. The Trojans are limited to just 70 scholarship players this season due to the majority of the players being financed by the booster clubs. Lane Kiffin held the team out of contact for the majority of fall practice to prevent injury, and some rustiness definitely showed. Trojan defenders missed many a tackle on the shifty, speedy receivers of Hawaii. But USC still had a ton of top end talent, which proved to be the difference. QB Matt Barkley looked sharp, finding new favorite target WR Ronald Johnson for 3 TDs, plus another 2 more (that’s 5 total, not too shabby). But what really caught my attention was how Lane Kiffin went out of his way to change the perception of USC. I know it’s been a bit of a dark spot for you USC, but never fear, Lane Kiffin? is here. It didn’t take Lane very long to let us know the new face of USC football. Pretty much the same arrogant, cocky, meany-pants approach as before. Kiffin decided to go for 2 on his first three touchdowns. Me being wildly optimistic I thought, “Well, maybe they don’t have a scholarship kicker right now…or any kicker.” But no, on the fourth TD, they brought in the kicking team and the kicker blasted it through the middle of the uprights. Nope. Lane Kiffin’s just a schmuck.
Well, shenanigans and hi-jinx certainly ensued, but nothing was great enough to distract me from the glorious news that college football had returned and all (almost) is well with the world.
Here’s to a great year. Cheers!
The State Farm Home Run Derby was Monday night. The Derby has come under fire recently by both players and fans alike. Many player (especially winners) have seen second-half drops in production from the plate, complaining the contest alters their swing and goes on too stinking long. I thought these guys were supposed to be elite athletes in top shape. Your job is to swing the bat and hit the ball hard. You’re killing me. Suck it up and have some fun.
For many fans, the format seems to drag a little bit. Too many rounds. Too many hitters. Too many outs in each round. Here’s a thought: don’t watch it. The Derby is fun. Enjoy it. Home runs are, in a word, awesome.
Though it lacked the big names and star power of some of the previous Derbies, 2010 was still a good show. ‘Big Papi’ David Ortiz beat out Hanley Ramirez 11-5 in the finals to take the coveted title. Throughout the contest Ortiz displayed a refreshing, first-class attitude saying multiple times that it’s all about having fun and giving the fans a show. All you anti-derby punks listen up – you get to play a game (cheers! Allen Iverson) for millions of dollars. You can’t take a few extra cuts for some fun and for charity?
But enough ranting. Let’s get to the real highlight of the night – the Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game. Yep, that Legends and Celebrity Softball Game. Watching Bo Jackson and Ricky Henderson teeing off on Jennie Finch, Mario Lopez struggle to get the ball out of the infield, and John Kruk up to hijinks and shenanigans couldn’t have been more fun.
Bo Jackson took one pitch from Finch and sent it rocketing to the warning track – the real warning track – proving Bo knows softball too. He hit a slow pitch softball 300 feet. In this writer’s admittedly biased opinion, he’s still the greatest athlete that’s ever lived.
The game was a slugfest, with home runs every time you blinked your eye. Mike Piazza stepped up to the plate in the top of the 5th (the last inning) with the bases loaded, down to the last out, and sent a monster shot over the center field wall. Unfortunately for the National League, that only made the score 15-11, the way the game would end on the next pitch as some celebrity popped out to some other celebrity I don’t know.
There were 26 runs scored and 38 hits total between the teams. If you like the long ball (redirect to the title), then you were in heaven on this night.