Fresh baked “Fong Bao” from the oven – 方包出爐

Random musings & meditations straight from the oven. Hopefully some food for thought as well…

Archive for July, 2010

The Decision – Steve Carrell version

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Thank you South Africa for everything except the Vuvuzelas…

I woke up Monday somewhat sad because for the first time in a month there were no World Cup matches to look forward to. Hard to believe another tournament has come and gone so quickly. Euro 2012 couldn’t come soon enough.

The Final was a disappointment for me as there was hardly any rhythm or flow to speak of. Once Holland started to play physical, referee Howard Webb lost control of the match and players from both sides took advantage of the situation. It was unfortunate that a side as skilled as Spain would resort to theatrics but there were, in my mind, some questionable fouls being called. Both sides had good chances to take the lead but give La Roja full credit for converting the one that matter the most.

Two things I shall remember about this World Cup.

For all the talent that was on display in South Africa, pragmatism was the definite showstopper. Perhaps that’s to be expected with so much on the line for all the countries involved. But it’s a shame someone like Leo Messi was unable to fully replicate his club form at the world stage. Don’t get me wrong. He was very good in South Africa but the lack of goals has prevented him, at least now, from joining the likes of Maradona and Zidane in the legendary category.

And the last word – or in this case, last sound – goes to the Vuvuzelas. They sounded like a swamp of bees. They were annoying. They were loud. But they sure made South Africa proud. Love them or hate them, they are one of the legacies of World Cup 2010.

Item du jour

George Steinbrenner – The man who traded Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps

“Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next.”

As much as I despised the way he went about his business, I cannot fault George Steinbrenner for doing what’s best of his club. Baseball not only lost an owner today, but also a one-of-a-kind, larger-than-life character. Love him or hate him, “The Boss” will always be remembered for his win-at-all-cost philosophy as well as how he turned the New York Yankees into a global brand.

For myself, as a Mariner fan, I prefer to remember him this way…….

LeBron-a-thon

Caption: 7 years in Cleveland. No Rings

“We interrupt this string of World Cup related loaves* with this breaking story…….”

For someone who could care less about the NBA, I found myself glued to the tele last night watching the whole LeBron-a-thon in its entirety. I woke up this morning hoping it was just a bad dream but the unthinkable has happened: A professional superstar athlete has exploited a situation and turned it into bad, but must-see, reality television. Should I be surprised? Perhaps not. So for that, good/shame on you LeBron & ESPN for getting my attention. And David Stern must be laughing in New York with all the publicity that’s been generated at a time what his league sorely needs it.

There was nothing wrong with what LeBron did – he chose winning & took less money – but how he did it was wrong and completely unnecessary. It was like, as per multiple writers and commentators, “breaking up with a girl friend by publicly flashing his options, in front of her friends and family, then going with the one who had the new boob job.” Michael Jordan, in his prime, never did anything like it and he’s way bigger than LeBron James. This whole exercise came across as very self serving and another reason why I have trouble watching the NBA again because the league is full of people who are so out of touch.

I just hoped Brett Favre wasn’t watching last night. Don’t want him to get any funny ideas.

By the way, I heard that a lot of people in Africa & Asia were seen walking out of factories wearing LeBron NY Knicks jerseys today…….

“We will now return to regularly scheduled World Cup related loaves*…….”

Humbled

It was never an issue as far as I’m concerned.

But now that the time has come, I find it to be quite a humbling experience…….

Reality TV at its best

“The last time GER looked so unstoppable was when their tanks rolled into Paris.”

@greatbong via Twitter

 

Some may remember this proclamation from Maradona before the start of the World Cup. Suffice to say a lot of folks, including myself, would dearly love to see that happen…NOT!  So despite my non-affinity with Germany, I was more then happy to back them simply to avoid being scarred for life.  At Cdn Gooner’s recommendation, we headed down to the Vancouver Alpen Club to catch a little bit of the Deutschland spirit.

Considering my allegiance to England, I felt odd walking into “enemy territory”. However, the energy inside the building was remarkable and I couldn’t help but to feel a bit excited about what I was about to experience.

From the young to the not-so-young, they all stood up to cheer and celebrate, be it a scoring opportunity, a well-timed tackle or a goal. Flags were waved with pride and vuvuzelas (yes, there were a few) were blown with gusto. It was one big party, without the alcohol!

Had Argentina took advantage of their dominance in the first 20 minutes of the second half and level the match, it could have had a grand stand finish. Alas, Leo Messi failed to score and the rest of the team quit shortly after Miroslav Klose made it 2-0. Both Cdn Gooner and I agreed it was hard to hate this German team because they played footy the right way with verve, power, pace, energy and intelligence. In addition, they were fearless and relentless. Can you imagine what kind of a threat they’ll be in Euro 2012 & World Cup 2014?

A scary thought.

Although not as scary as a streaking Maradona on the streets on Buenos Aires…….

“On Friday, Maradona said God wanted Argentina in the World Cup final. Today, God apparently disagreed.”

@JamiesonCanucks via Twitter

AMEN!!!

*******

After watching the Germans run wild against the Argentines, the Spaniards looked like a bunch of seniors strolling in the park. But give Paraguay full credit for being organized defensively and played with great spirit and commitment. Surely the match was headed towards penalty kicks……..

Or so I thought.

As unbelievable a finish the Uruguay – Ghana match was, along came the tale of the 3 penalty kicks.

On the first one, there was no doubt Gerard Pique was holding onto Oscar Cardozo’s arm for a long time. Unfortunately, Cardozo also took a long time to take the PK and it cost him dearly. A deserved penalty but one that was not converted.

Soon after, David Villa decided to try out for the Spanish diving team and came away with a perfect ten in the eyes of the referee. Perhaps realizing he’s been duped, IMHO, the ref then disallowed Xabi Alonso’s PK conversion on the grounds of encroachment.

Finally, Justo Villar saved Alonso’s second attempt. An undeserved penalty but one that was saved.

Poetic Justice. And the end of a wild sequence.

I was Fabregas…err….flabbergast. Frankly, you cannot make up stuff like that! It was reality TV at it best, unscripted to boot.

By that point of the match, based on David Villa’s dive alone, I wanted Paraguay to win. My World Cup pool be damned! Sadly, it was not to be. Two posts and a goal later, Paraguay said goodbye to South Africa. They certainly earned my respect after a heroic effort today. And good on the Spaniards for consoling Oscar Cardozo after he became the latest member of the World Cup 2010 heartbreak club.

These quarter finals have been tremendous. We shall find out if the last four matches will be as compelling. 

Drama of the beautiful game

I was back at work after the Holland – Brazil match but sounds and images from that morning was still swirling in my head. So much so that I totally forgot about the second half of the double header between Uruguay and Ghana. By the time I settled into the lunch room 20 minutes have gone by and the Black Stars began their ascendancy. 

Overall it was a strange match – especially when the Uruguay keeper looks like someone who bag my groceries the other day, I digress – but what’s not to like when there’s questionable goal keeping, slack defending and wasteful, borderline terrible, finishing? From that standpoint, it was a fairly entertaining affair but one I felt would end in penalty kicks. Eventually I was proven correct but little did I know how we would get to that point.

By now, most of you have probably seen the highlights so I won’t rehash the story. For shear drama, I don’t recall anything recently that would come close to it. One man, literally, was carrying the hopes and dreams of a team, a country and an entire continent on his shoulders. It took great courage to be the first penalty kicker after missing one that could have won the match moments earlier in extra time. Nonetheless I felt terrible for Asamoah Gyan who had to live with this devastating moment for the rest of his life.

Football can be a cruel game, at times…….

Item du jour

Found this quote on Twitter:

“BEST. HANDBALL. EVER. Maradona has been dethroned.”