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Real Fast & Legitimate Trash Talk!

I feel confident you were all as traumatized as I was by the counterfeit Trash Talk appearing recently on these hallowed threads! Apparently, simply because this blog is named “Emptywheel”, people named Emptywheel think they can just stroll in and post up trash. Madness, I tell you, madness!

Hmmmm, speaking of Madness, turns out it is March, and we haz some going on with the student athletes of the roundball variety. Yesterday, not one, BUT TWO, second seeded teams were upset by 15 seeds. Tiny Norfolk State, appropriately led by Kevin O’Quinn on the eve of St. Patricks Day, took out the well regarded Missouri Tigers. Then joy in the hearts of haters everywhere was ignited by Lehigh crushing the Dookies.

For the women, hate to say it, but Obama is right, Brittney Griner and Baylor look unstoppable, though I have a sentimental hope for Pat Summitt. My sleeper to watch are the Delaware Blue Hens, led by maybe the real story of the year, Elena Delle Donne. If you don’t know the story of Elena, you should. The Hens have a shot.

In NFL news and notes, the Arizona Cardinals are left at the altar again. We went through this with Joe Montana, and now again with freaking Peyton. Marcy’s anti-Peyton rap all these years was clearly spot on the money. But, hey, we get to keep Kevin Kolb. Yay. Looked like the Donkos were in the lead, then the Titans, and now the 49ers have pulled even. Who knows. I am probably joining Steve Young and leaning SF because that is the best overall chance for a championship fast, and Peyton needs to catch up to Little Bro. The Bolts have had a decent off season, but losing Vincent Jackson is tough. I still believe Matt Flynn can be a very quality starting QB, and still think he joins his old OC from the Pack, Joe Philbin, at the Fish, but the Squawks are in play. Talk amongst yourselves about all the rest of the ongoing free agency and draft news.

We all wait on pins and needles for Intrepid Emptywheel Roving Reporter Rosalind’s horse racing updates. Assuming she doesn’t get tipsy from St. Paddy’s Day, reportage on the baby shower for Zenyatta’s baby colt and the racing debut of Zenyatta’s little sister, Eblouissante is in the offing.

Of course, the real sports news this weekend is the opening of the 2012 Circus – The Formula One season! We again start down under in Oz, and both the track and the weather have been perfect and hot n’ fast so far. There are six – count em SIX – World Champions in this year’s field and on the grid in Melbourne. They all look fast too, even Michael Schumacher, who has been beleaguered by bad equipment since his comeback. Schuey came up a fast fourth in the factory Mercedes, and will be starting from the second row. McLaren owns the front row, with Lewis Hamilton looking killer on pole and Jenson Button right beside him. Seriously, and uncharacteristically, off the pace are the Red Bull boys back in the third row, Webber in P5 and Vettel in P6. As was, sadly, predicted over the winter, Ferrari is in trouble. Alonso went driveabout in the kitty litter, and bombed out in Q2; Fernando will start from P12. Felipe Massa is even worse, and is all the way back in P16. Best line, by a mile, I have heard of the new Circus season so far:

Two seasons of crashing rally cars has had no adverse impact on [Kimi Räikkönen’s] ability to speak Morse code.

If you have ever watched the Flighty Finn in a press conference, you know how spot on that is. Jeebus, I about keeled over laughing in the middle of a courtroom yesterday when I read that.

The official F1 site is here and has boatloads of great stories and helpful coverage, including live scoring if you sign in. It is worth joining for the live scoring. Old friend Brad Spurgeon has moved from the NYT to their international effort, the IHT (International Herald Tribune), but continues with his excellent on scene reportage.

The Australian Grand Prix goes off early Sunday morning/late Saturday night with coverage on Speed Channel starting at 1:30 am EST and 10:30 pm PST.

Music by The Faces. Rod is a little long in the tooth these days, but make no mistake, he, Ronnie Wood and Ian McLagan could really bring it in the day. Lite this joint up people, let there be Trash!

Big Kitty Cats On The Prowl & Talking Trash In Detroit Motor City

[Hi there Kitty Kat fans!! The tigers are tied with the Rangers in the 9th and the Lions coming on soon. Time to Prowl, so Trash has been moved back up to where it can be found – bmaz]

The big cats are on the prowl, and they are growling right on down Woodward Avenue. Los Tigres are Looking For Love and they’re Making Thunderbirds.

And they are not the ever lovely Watertiger kind of kitties either. Nope, these kittehs are big, bad, lean, mean and will Fuck. You. Up.

Detroit Motor City is happenin baybee; seriously happening, and here is hoping there is no Detroit Breakdown.

First on the catwalk are the Tigers. Los Tigres dispatched the evil empire of the NY Yankees. Fittingly, the game, and series, ended with a strikeout by Mighty Casey LeBron Rodriquez, aka “Mr. April”. Congratulations pinstripe pushers, you have 6, count em six, more years of this joy at the low, low price of only $27 million a year. Worry not though, while he has already been through Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz, you still have the ARoid and Gwyneth Paltrow hookup to look forward to. So you got that going for you, along with you new number one starter, AJ Burnett, after CC Sabathia bails. Red Sawx cognoscenti feast. As to everybody else, ponder whether there is enough Justin Verlander to slow down Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and the Rangers. Say what you will, these are, at this point, the two best teams in the American League.

In the Senior Circuit, my local kids, and they are kids since they are the youngest team in MLB, came up just a bit short tonight against the BrewCrew. Awesome game five, and awesome series. Both teams just had so much personality and good vibe, it was hard to root against either one. But someone had to win, and in extra innings in the win or go home game, Milwaukee did. And Albert Pujols and the Cards shocked the mighty Phillies, in Philly, to make the unlikely advance to the NLCS. This is almost certainly not the NLCS matchup FoxTV hoped for. Too bad, both teams earned it, suck on that Fox.

In the college gridiron type of sporting activity, a couple of has beens like Texas and Oklahoma are playing. If only they both could lose. Then the better and more appealing team, the Boise State Broncos, could move ahead to the rank they deserve in the standings. Especially after dropping 57 points on conference rival Fresno State Friday night. The most exciting team in the country as far as supposed first tier conferences go, the sharp toothed Wisconsin Badgers, have a bye week.

Next on the beautific catwalk are the Deetroit Lions. These too are some slinky cats.

The Chicago Poo Bears are going to mosey into the Lion’s Den at Ford Field, where the Kitties hope to say “Suh you later”. So far, so good, Matt Stafford is still healthy and leading the Lion offense. Stafford’s resume is spotty because of injury, but when healthy, he has clearly demonstrated he is a top-flite quarterback. Javed Best is a nice back, but the Lions might want to invest in another back at some point to insure the future that seems so bright. As good as the Lions’ defense has been so far this season, they have been playing without what many considered the best athlete in the draft, Nick Fairly out of Auburn. Dude has the potential to be another Suh. If he is even close, it is hard to imagine what it will mean to Detroit, and he may make his season debut against Da Bears.

I understand there may be other games of both the student and professional athlete variety, but if they ain’t from Detroit, you will have to supply your own analysis in comments. Because this is Motor City Madness Weekend!

Well, okay, maybe we will get to non-motorcity talk because, if nothing else, there is some shit going down in Suzuka. And if you know squat about F1, you know there is usually wet, and corresponding wild, in Suzuka. That’s just the way it is. Vettel was off pace in practice, but was fast and took pole in qualifying, with Jenson Button of McLaren in P2. Lewis Hamilton hung on for P3 followed by Mass and Alonso in the Ferraris. True to form, qualifying was off schedule due to rain. We will see yet what the conditions are for the actual race, but I have always found the wet to be a good thing at Suzuka as it seems a bit pedestrian of a track without it. The race goes off at 2:00am EST and 11:00pm PST and is being carried in the US by Speed TV. If Vettel finishes anywhere in the points, even with the minimal single point, he clinches the Drivers’ Championship, and that is a pretty safe bet to occur.

As you may have noticed, this is a VERY heavy music Trash post. But, if there is one thing Detroit is known for other than American steel on wheels, it is music. I didn’t roll with the common Motown motif, and I did not fall back on old friends that used to be from Detroit, but now are here in the desert. If you are a music nerd, check out the enantiomer MC5 version of Motor City Is Burning. Not sure exactly what the deal is, but it is clearly, whether intentionally or unintentionally, a reverse print if you look at all the right handed people flipped opposite. Weird. Probably not many people remember the MC5, but they were one of the early foundations of straight up hard rock, and they were dead nuts killer.

So, that is it for the Motown Trash. Burn it down!

Italian Grand Prix 1961-2011: Monza, Death of von Trips & A Yankee Champion

When we started the 2011 Formula One season back in March, I noted that 2011 is the 50th anniversary of the magical 1961 F1 season in which Phil Hill, driving for Ferrari, became the first, and other than Mario Andretti in 1978, only American Formula One Grand Prix World Champion. From our season opening post in March, Circus Starts Anew, 50 Years On From the Yankee Champion:

As starts the 2011 Formula One season, so too started the 1961 F1 season fifty years ago. For all the differences brought by technology and time over five decades, there is much in common. The excitement and anticipation of the drivers, the longing to put the knowledge of the off season testing and tech changes finally to proof in actual race conditions, the first drivers’ meetings of the season, the beautiful people and the eyes of the international sporting world focused. There is nothing like the Formula One circus; that was the case then as much as it is now.

Longtime regulars here at the Emptywheel Trash Talk threads will likely remember that I had the privilege of knowing Phil Hill as I was growing up. Phil was the first, and still one of only two (Mario Andretti), Americans to win the Formula One Grand Prix World Championship and his career was immortalized in the excellent biography Yankee Champion by William Nolan. 2011 is the fiftieth anniversary of his championship season. In honor of that, I will be comparing and remembering the races and excitement of the 1961 season over the course of the current season. See here for some simply superb [Cahier Archive] photos from the 1961 season.

Phil was my friend, and my mentor. I miss him.

Phil Hill German GP 1961 - Cahier Archive

This will be the last formal installment in the 1961 retrospective series. While there are 19 races in this year’s 2011 F1 schedule, with six remaining after the Italian, there were only eight races on the 1961 docket. The Italian was the seventh and penultimate race, and the one that will not only live in infamy, but in which the Championship was determined. Indeed, with both the Driver’s and Constructor’s Championships decided at Monza in the Italian, and in light of the tragic death of their star factory driver, Count Wolfgang von Trips, the dominant Ferrari team did not even travel the Atlantic to contest the final race, the inaugral United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, NY.

So, in 1961 all the marbles came down to the famed steep banked course at Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Read more

Trash: F1 British Grand Prix, Sweater Vest Forfeitures & Foxsuckers

There are a lot of sports deserving of some Trash Talk this weekend, including the one and only British GP from Silverstone, Derek Jeter…Jetah…, getting his 3,000th hit and the gleeful schadenfreude over The. Ohio. State. University. having to self forfeit all its wins from 2010. All are glorious sports stories, but we will start where we always do this time of year, with the F1 Circus.

This weekend is the British Grand Prix from historic Silverstone in Northamptonshire (and Buckinghamshire) England. Silverstone has evolved over the years and, in its current configuration is a fast track with several straightaways, coupled with two near hairpins and a smattering of other turns that make it a great track for racing and overtaking. Combined with the potential for the wet stuff, Silverstone holds promise for great races.

Aussie Mark Webber of Red Bull was fastest in practice, which was hampered in the second session by the rain. the Red Bull dominance continued into qualifying this morning with Webber taking P1, followed by teammate Sebastian Vettel in P2 and the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in P3 and P4 respectively. Di Resta in the Force India, Maldonado in the Williams and Koayashi in the Sauber were pleasant surprises in P6-P8. Of the three upstarts, I think Kobayashi has the best chance to break through for a podium, but it will be really tough. Lewis Hamilton continues his downward slide from Read more

Trash Talk: Fox TV Sucks a Bag Of Big Honking Salted Dicks

Well, I am getting ready to watch the European Grand Prix. It is being broadcast for all of us lucky discriminating American viewers on Fox TV, and coverage will start at 12pm EST and 9am PST. Did I mention it is on Fox TV?

I hope one and all will join me in a discussion as we watch the race live. We can regale in how young Sebatian Vettel started from pole and drove away from the field for his sixth victory in eight races this year, basically racing against himself while the rest of the grid actually had a competitive race. We can marvel at how Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari is putting on a hell of a show throughout the entire race in front of his home country Spaniard crowd in Valencia. We can take sides with some of us supporting Fernando’s foil today, Mark Webber, in the Red Bull and us Scudderia aficionados screaming with glee as Alonso out bulls Webber’s Red Bull for the precious P2 podium finish; especially in that heart stopping Senna like pass that put the crowd breathless and on its feet.

We can do all of the above, of course, because the fucking race is over. And, thanks to the MENSA geniuses at Fox TV, we Americans were denied the ability to watch it live and have no alternative but to watch it on tape delay long after the checkered flag dropped for Vettel.

This is just craven and malignant jackassery by Fox; and there is simply no excuse for it. Formula One is the biggest and most popular sporting league in the world. Contrary to the ignorant belief of most Americans, the circle jerk that is NASCAR is NOT the highest form of motorsport, and its drivers are nowhere near the best in the world. No, that distinction would belong squarely to F1. The entire rest of Read more

F1 Trash: Bernie Ecclestone Takes a Swing At Sultans of Bahrain

This week is the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal. We will get to that shortly, but perhaps the most significant news from the Circus this week is the swing of F1 from reinstating the Bahrain Grand Prix, which was previously pulled from its season opening slot in mid-March due to civil unrest and corresponding governmental oppression, to again yanking it from the schedule.

The race was called-off Friday after Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) announced its withdrawal to stage the event in the wake of objections from the teams and its drivers. The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council last Friday had re-instated the race to October (28-30) but removal of it now is most likely to make way for the staging of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix on the same dates.

“We will be back to normal. We have to put it to the World Council. I sent something this morning, so it will be quick,” Ecclestone was quoted as saying by The Guardian Wednesday.

Ecclestone, while defending his earlier decision, said the teams had the right to object to the re-scheduling of the race that was cancelled in March due to anti-government protests.

“The truth of the matter is we put the calendar together and the teams race on the calendar,” he said. “We were trying to help Bahrain, who have been very helpful to Formula One, and hoping they could get themselves sorted out.

“I don’t know whether there is peace or not. I have no idea. The FIA sent somebody out to check and they said it was all OK. I think the teams had different information and they have the right to say they don’t want to change the calendar.”

Since not everybody can translate jive, here is the deal. After the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt began in late January and started to spread, there was a brutal crackdown on protesters in Bahrain. A wave of pressure was placed on F1 and its governing body FIA by supporters of the protesters and reform movement to pull the Grand Prix. I certainly doubt I was responsible for diddly squat, but I was among the early suggesters that putting the GP in play would be perhaps the biggest single blow that could be leveraged against the oppressive Bahraini government and the Khalifa clan that owns, runs, and dictates it.

They paid dearly and through the nose to build the facility and buy their way into the F1 schedule and, like the crown jewels to a monarchy, it is the very symbol of their belonging and relevance in the international community. It means everything to them. To Bernie Ecclestone, who does not just run F1, he IS F1, it is simply a giant wad of money. And Bernie likes money. Having seen Bernie in action over three plus decades, and casually meeting him a couple of times, my take is Ecclestone does not care about the Read more

Formula One Trash Talk: Malaysian Grand Prix

Coverage is again on Speed TV and the race goes off at 3:30 am Sunday morning East Coast time which is 12:30 am West Coast time Sunday morning.

Picking right up where he left off at the Australian GP, Sebastian Vettel has taken pole for the run at Sepang in Kuala Lampur. Vettel barely nudged out Lewis Hamilton in the last seconds of the final qualifying round, with Webber, Button, Alonso, Heidfeld, Massa and Petrov following in that order. Petrov had a great run in OZ, placing third for his first podium in his young career. It will be fun to see what he can continue to extract from the Renault, both at Sepang and during the rest of the year.

Little noticed was the fact that the fastest lap turned at the Aussie GP was put in by Massa. The Ferraris are stronger than they have shown in the results so far this year; they will come around I think. Not so for the Mercedes cars and Michael Schumacher. Schumi, again, could manage only eleventh place on the grid. The poor qualifications are shocking for the all time, by a large margin, leader in F1 poles with 68. Certainly the quality of machinery is a large part, but Michael made his reputation for wringing incredible things out of lesser cars well before joining Scuderia Ferrari, so it is really looking like the lion’s skills and drive are not what they once were.

It appears that Major League Baseball is back and the boys of not quite yet sumer have taken the field again. Except of course Manny, who being Manny, has apparently juiced and walked off into retirement. A shame, he was one hell of a professional hitter and a heck of a character; a sad way to see him him go. Also the NBA season is winding up, so there are plenty of sports to jabber about.

It is raining like hell here, so tonight is right for some storm music courtesy of the Doors.

F1 Trash: Circus Starts Anew, 50 Years On From the Yankee Champion

It is the most wonderful time of the year – that’s right, the start of the Formula One season. 2010 turned into a nailbiter at the end, with the young and fast Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull pulling out the Driver’s Championship over runner up Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and Red Bull teammate Mark Webber by winning the last race with in Abu Dhabi. And so we start the new 2011 season full of hope and expectations for all the teams, but with the strength still where it was last year, with Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren.

Already the season has been affected by extraneous forces, as it was scheduled to begin two weeks ago in Bahrain; but the turmoil of the crackdown on the Arab Spring in that country, thanks to the aid from shock troops from the oppressive US client state of Saudi Arabia, squelched that and delayed the season start until this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. But the boys are already tearing up Albert Park in Melbourne as qualifying just went off as I write this post. There is a new rule for qualifying in 2011, to be eligible for the grid you must be within 107% of the fastest time clocked in the first qualifying session. This is a concept toyed with once before in F1, but sacked. The premise is that you do not want to many slow cars in the field buggering up the path for the faster vehicles. We shall see how it plays out this time and how the grids fill out with the 107% rule in place.

Another significant change is that Bridgestone is gone as tire supplier for the teams. The new supplier will be Pirelli and all teams are, for once, working closely with the manufacturer to insure that no teams get favored status. The early reports are that the rubber is burning off slightly faster than was the case with the Bridgestones; the upshot is there may be more pit stops and there may be more of a premium Read more

Are You Ready For Some Futbol? Special FIFA Trash

Yeah, well, gather round the campfire boys and girls, because this may be the only time you get soccer trash talk out of me. And it took some extreme measures from mom to get it at all. But Mr. Wheel, being Irish and all, has the beautiful game in him and that is enough for me; so here goes.

Tomorrow’s match with England may be, at least in some respects, the biggest soccer tilt the US has ever played; certainly at least in a very long time. The tilt goes off at 1:30 pm EST and 10:30 PST. From NBC Sports:

The bars are stocked across America, and the pubs are getting ready in England. A 70½-foot billboard of Clint Dempsey stands near Penn Station in Manhattan, and there’s even a large poster of Landon Donovan in a store along Piccadilly Circus.

American soccer has never been more popular in the United States or its players more well-known across the world. And on Saturday comes the first competitive match between the U.S. and England since the great American upset at the 1950 World Cup. For one afternoon, millions will be watching from California to New York island. Like never before in the United States, this is the sport’s moment.

Yep, sounds about right. Brits v. Yanks. Old Glory v. Union Jack. The big tilt. If the US is going to do anything in this, they need to get out of the gate early, get the point and get out of group and into the sweet sixteen. That process, if it is to happen, starts by beating England tomorrow. England is a little beat up and a lot cocky; they are ripe. The Yanks must put a clamp on Wayne Rooney and Landon Donavan must step up and Jozy Altidore must hold up. Game on. Above and beyond this opening match, the smart money is on Spain or Brazil taking the cup. Germany is down, but always dangerous; the Netherlands is the hot longshot if you are in a betting mood and feeling loose.

Next up is some real football. You may have heard, there is a bit ‘o shuffling afoot in the major NCAA football conferences. Nebraska has already officially joined the Big-10 Big-11 Big-12. the Colorado Buffaloes have already joined up with the PAC-10. Ralphie and the Buffs hooking up with my homeboys, the PAC-10, is fine by me. I went to graduate school in Boulder for a year and a half; it is a beautiful and wonderful town and university. Gotta love a place where the restaurant in the student union building is named after a cannibal and Vail, Copper, Mary Jane and Breckenridge are all within 90 minutes or so bed to slope. So I Read more

The Last Days Of May Trash

Now that the Top Hat is back in BP style, I constantly think of this when I hear the term “Top Hat“. Oh well, whatta ya gonna do? Beer Thirty, that’s what!

Lots of junk to blather about, only a few of which are Los Suns hosting the pinche Lakers, baseball (look out, here come the amazing Mets and Sawx), college baseball is in the playoff run, something called the Stanley Cup is supposedly being played, although you would hardly know it here, and early tomorrow morning the Turkish Grand Prix goes off. Crappy cookie cutter track that makes for forgettable racing. Don’t know why the Circus stops in Turkey.

Hoop it up, and I will be along with a couple of real posts in a bit.