Football, Podcast, Sports

The Blitz: Episode 1

The Marshalltown begins its journey into podcasting with The Blitz, our all-new sports round-up show hosted by the two guys that used to do the radio show. The inaugural broadcast features some dodgy recording, some post-radio broadcasting haze and a blocked nose, but it’s step 1 in returning to regularly scheduled material from the world of sports.

Episode 1 features a round up of the crazy English Premier League season, recent NBA playoff developments and our incorrect Champions League Final prediction.  Check it out below. It’ll get better… we promise.

The Blitz: Episode 1


Kyrie Irving is Australian…

…according to the Australian media. At least that’s what they want to believe, because here in Australia a big news story about the NBA does not come along too often.

The league and the sport is mostly confined to the back columns of newspapers, while much of the local basketball flair and drama comes from D-grade imports like Corey “Homicide” Williams (I suppose that “Homicide” goes over great here because it’s both very urban and “American”). We here assume that Andrew Bogut is actually a good player (and treat him here like he’s the Outback Shaquille O’Neal) even though anyone who watches the game on a regular basis knows he’s anything but. In fact, I’m pretty sure Luc Longley has never had to pay for a drink wherever he goes in Australia. And while you can look at Andrew Gaze’s incredible college career and stellar international numbers… actually, I am not going to say anything bad about Andrew Gaze in fear of my life.

Nonetheless, on the cusp of this year’s NBA Draft, former Duke point guard Kyrie Irving is making noise in Australia. While he spent the majority of his life playing hoops in America, he was in fact born in Melbourne, Australia where his father (Drederick) played pro hoops for the local Bulleen Bombers in the 1990s. He moved back to the United States when he was 2 and hasn’t been back since, but it hasn’t stopped him from saying positive things about potentially representing Australia on an international level;

“You know, it would be great to play for my country, which is primarily Australia, so, I was born there and I want to represent Australia”

Did you hear that? He WANTS TO PLAY FOR AUSTRALIA! He says it’s his country. As a recent Australian myself, I have to say I’m all for that. Australia would welcome him with arms more open than the Australian outback is vast. Sure, he’d probably only play during the Olympics and World Championships, but who watches international basketball outside of these times anyway?

Australia consistently tops the sporting landscape when it comes to rugby and cricket. The men’s football (soccer) team is on the verge and the women’s team is making waves both in Asia and the world. If there were ever an Australian Rules Football World Championship, team Australia would be kicking goals the way basketball’s Dream Team romped through Barcelona. So with the potential of Irving in the backcourt, the men’s basketball team would really make some serious headway come international competition time. The one big name superstar with the skills and swagger to compliment the more meat and bones game of the Boguts of the team.

The potential hurdles as such would be the fact that Irving has played for the United States at a junior level, and switching allegiances would not be as easy as saying so. There is however, precedent, Charlie Villanueva of the Pistons played for the United States at a junior level but decided to play for the Dominican Republic at senior level (let’s just say he wasn’t going to displace any of the current power forwards playing USA Basketball). The official rules state;

Item 23 – A player who has played in a main official competition of FIBA (see article -1) after having reached his seventeenth (17) birthday may not play for a national team of another country. However, in exceptional circumstances the Secretary General may authorise such a player to play for the national team of his country of origin if he is ineligible to play for such country according to this article -23 and if this is in the interest of the development of basketball in this country.

So you’re saying there’s a chance?

Yes. Let’s make this happen Australia. Whatever it takes, a nice house on Sydney’s cove, Harry Kewell’s Politix sponsorship, Shane Warne’s black book, a nice Australian farmer girl…. anything. Let’s do this.

Irving has a lot on his plate at the moment. Consensus points to the Cavs picking him at #1, but as the pre-draft games play out, word out says the team aren’t going to say anything until David Stern announces the name. By the time you read this (or not long after), Kyrie Irving will either be holding up a Cavaliers jersey or perhaps, if both Dan Gilbert and David Kahn are truly crazy enough, a Timberwolves jersey.

Either way, Irving will make good on his pro career, but the only jersey I really want him to wear would be the green and gold of Australia’s national team.

Film, Sports, Trailers

Trailer watch: Brad Pitt in Moneyball

It feels like forever but Moneyball looks like it’s finally seeing the light of day. After a rather tumultuous developmental run (director Steven Soderbergh was replaced days before shooting), the Brad Pitt starring film will hit cinemas this Fall.

Moneyball is the story of Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane, who adopted a more statistical approach to winning baseball games. The film is based on a book of the same name while its screenplay was rewritten by Aaron Sorkin (his trademark dialogue features prominently in the trailer). Alongside Pitt, the film co-stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman (as Art Howe), Jonah Hill and Robin Wright.

Sabermetrics + high profile cast + Aaron Sorkin script = homerun? Look for it to hit cinemas September 23rd.


Bart Scott shows us some emotion

Much has been said about the NFL’s strict policies on players exhibiting the kind of emotional release that made Chad Ochocinco a household name. From celebratory endzone dances to trash talking, the NFL seems intent on curbing everyone’s enthusiasm.

Personality in the NFL is a bad, bad thing and they want to make sure everyone stays in line because God forbid, football gets rough outside of its physicality. Sure, it’s probably dumb to trash talk an opponent after a marginal gain when your team is losing (I’m looking at you Deion Branch), but I’m all for WWE-style, post/pre-match interviews that add a little spice into the matter. If anything, Vince McMahon and company have always done a fine job at broadcasting the realities of American pop culture in an amplified manner; all trash talking, hip hop-ified, look-at-me posturing that has become the norm.

The NFL just wants the reality of it swept under the rug within their league. Let’s face it, the NFL brethren isn’t exactly the Harvard Society of Fellows. Let’s not pretend it is.

Check out Scott after the game below, saying what I’m sure most of the Jets were thinking. More talk, more rock.

Film, Sports

NY Jets’ Bart Scott to get biopic

Following in the footsteps of the Baltimore Ravens’ Michael Oher, New York Jets linebacker and All-Pro Bart Scott will soon get himself a Hollywood biopic. Deadline is reporting that Unique Pictures has tapped Richard Regen (whose credits include the Chinese civil war film Chasing the Dragon) to write the script for the currently untitled project detailing the early life of Scott.

The linebacker grew up in a tough area of Detroit before overcoming these difficulties to reach his current status as a quality NFL player. Scott once spoke to Sports Illustrated about his childhood and said;

I wasn’t supposed to make it out of Detroit. I wasn’t supposed to get a scholarship. I was supposed to be [covering] kicks the rest of my life. But here I am. I’m a man playing with the house’s money, and that’s a dangerous man.”

The biopic looks to tap into the recent success of The Blindside, the film about Michael Oher’s tough upbringing that netted actress Sandra Bullock an Oscar win.

Now all this film needs is an actress looking for a comeback, a heart wrenching story with a feel good ending and we’re good. And maybe there’s room for a Mark Sanchez cameo? Or maybe a sulky Darelle Revis? Or heck, after their Hard Knocks performances, why not get the entire team some screen time?

Highlights, Sports

Victory over Sydney FC: The Sweet Sorrow

It’s been a mediocre season for the Melbourne Victory at best, highlighted by frustrating lack of imagination, average goalkeeping and, most painfully, an Archie Thompson-less attack exhibiting as much bite as a senior citizen with gum disease. Kevin Muscat, always a talisman, has looked old and broken while the midfield primarily rotating through Grant Brebner, Carlos Hernandez and Leigh Broxham has at times looked utterly clueless. I sat through a painful home opener to see Robbie Fowler (Robbie Fowler for Christ’s sake!) poke holes through our defense (eventuating in an 0-2 loss) and had to sit through the indignity of that other Melbourne team I refuse to name win the very first city derby.

We’re probably not going to win the league or the championship this year, but I’m okay with that, because on a night where temperatures hit rock bottom, we put one over Sydney FC. We put one over them well and good, 3-0 at home and even Carlos Hernandez (who until this point couldn’t hit the side of a barn) put one into the back of the net. Now I’m normally a fairly reasonable human being, well kept and level headed, but when it comes to matters pertaining to the team from the Harbour City, I lose all sanity and revert into a profanity swilling, anger-driven, hate-filled animal hell-bent on the destruction of all that is Sydney FC. It’s permeated through to my understanding of the city itself- it’s an overly stylish city whose metropolitan self-belief overshadows the truth; it’s a craphole.

March 2010
Perched upon the third deck of Etihad Stadium, I am staring into the stars in disbelief. Moments ago, Sydney FC’s Byun Sung-Hwan had slotted the last penalty of the Grand Final past our goalkeeper and in the distance, an infestation of sky blue is rapturous in their celebration. Sydney FC had just won the A-League Grand Final on our turf on a penalty shoot out on a night I will have trouble forgetting until my deathbed. There are few instances in sports as stomach-punchingly painful as losing a final by way of penalty shoot out. There just isn’t, and this of all nights, against them of all teams.

October 2010
Months removed from their pitiful displays of joy, Sydney FC are languishing at the bottom of the ladder, suffering through their most pathetic season since their formation. They’ve notched up zero wins through the first ten league games and have performed with the sputtering guile of a dying antelope. And nothing has brought me more joy and happiness in sports than the suffering and pain of their club, their city, and most of all, their fans. It’s an unreasonable train of thought, inhuman even, to take pride in the suffering of others, but it’s a sports thing- and one only diehard fans and crazies can understand. We know it’s not right, we not it’s not human, but we’re programmed this way.

So perhaps this season may not end up being the Victory’s best, and yes, that other Melbourne team that I refuse to name pulled the wool over our heads in embarrassing fashion, but I tell you, watching Sydney suffer the way they’ve suffered, brings the kind of joy meant to be celebrated with champagne and fireworks.

Suffer in your jocks Sydney. Take your ugly-ass uniforms and your average team back to your always-empty stadium and suffer for all eternity.


The Bandwagon of Gold

It is the sad fact that we, the modern sports fan, the media and all who are involved expect superhuman things from mere mortals. Contrary to popular belief, driving around in an expensive hummer while flashing the best in “bling” makes one no more a human than cappuccino Joe down at your local coffee distribution centre (expensive way of saying “Starbucks”). And yes folks, Shaq’s little superman tattoo will do his aging mass no good when he’s pushing 40 (although, it seems to have worked for Jon Bon Jovi). So why is it that the sports fan can get so down on one player? How can one player go from being tomorrow headlines to yesterday’s punch line in such a swift swoop? Easy, it’s about the hype.

Often construed as a good thing, “hype” in reality, is just a bad four letter word. A stamp of expectation, a limit set so high that only the few can reach. It is the reason why we see so many prime athletes come and go before we can even snatch a bit of whatever and sell it on eBay. And in these recent months, that “hype” has reached previously unseen proportions, so much so that the hype itself has “hype”. If you’re a sports fan, or most accurately a basketball fan, you will undoubtedly have heard of a young and multi talented man-child who will soon make the big leap. Like so many before him, the call of mega bucks and bright lights will see him don an NBA jersey come this summer’s draft. We of course, like everyone else for the past few months, are talking about LeBron James, or as Sports Illustrated calls him, “The Chosen One”.

His high school games were nationally televised, he drives a VERY expensive hummer and his mom is already making Allen Iverson’s mom look like the dispirited cheerleader. Yes, there was all the flap about the throwback jerseys he received that ultimately led to his suspension – but his jersey, the #23, has already been RETIRED by his high school. At the age of 18, the amount of pressure put on his shoulders is astronomical – the expectations he will have to face when he is (most definitely) selected as the #1 overall pick will be like no other before him. While other 18 year olds will worry about performing adequately on prom night, James will try to live up to all the talk, all the potential and hoopla that surrounded him. True, those who have received attention before him took awhile to develop – Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett took a few seasons – but neither got the microscope treatment LeBron is getting. They will be expecting him to make a big splash – every move he will make, every shot he will take will be analyzed, scrutinized and Sportscenter-ized. Every bad game taken as sign he is underachieving, every mediocre performance a sign he was not all he is cut out to be … all the makings of what could very well lead to the biggest bust in NBA history, if not sports history altogether.

While a little hype can do wonders, too much of it can place a burden of unsurpassable expectation. While hype itself applies to almost all aspects of life, it is in the sports world where its head is the ugliest. This NBA fan will hope for the best when it comes to LeBron – because only the greatest achievements in the sport will satisfy all that preceded him. Whether or not he will live up to all this hype remains to be seen, and it will without a doubt, be seen. It is the world of today’s sports – there is no escape from the hype. It is an entity of its own, devouring those in its path and making rich those who see the bandwagon of gold.