Links on Friday

Pirlo long ball to Baggio, who finishes exquisitely. This is basically pornography for football nerds.

BIG DATA! Picking a winner in a golf tournament is more difficult than combing an annoyed cat., however, have figured out that Rory McIlroy’s withdrawal has apparently increased Masters and US Open winner Jordan Spieth’s chances by 3% in the British Open – go deep and go figure.

The Cricket Monthly on the Greatest Ball. Great piece, Wasim and Waqar feature.

Paneka penalties are a favourite, and to attempt one that only dribbles accross the line to win the Copa America, even if you are a gooner, is pretty classy.

The tiger and the cow

Today Tiger Woods AXED long time caddie and New Zealand’s greatest athlete Steve Williams in a business like statement on his website. Williams has given this country some of its proudest sporting moments, carrying Tiger’s shit through some of the world’s greatest golf tournaments, making him go to Huntly and throwing an American ‘get in the hole’ dickhead’s $7000 camera in a lake one time.

The AXING is a tragedy for New Zealand’s reflected glory everywhere – no longer will Kiwi dads be able to tell their sons “That guy winning the golf tournament? That guy next to him carrying his shit is a Kiwi, son.” Williams was an inspirational figure for personally taking responsibility for making sure Tiger knew New Zealand existed, and showed that coming from a tiny South Pacific island nation was no barrier to growing an ego the size of Megashark. Tragically, in the post-Williams era, young New Zealander’s best chance of reflected glory will be finding another Shrek The Sheep.

In other news, the All Blacks will line up against Fiji this Friday night in Dunedin. is not clear what’s happening on Saturday evening (or Saturday afternoon) to prevent our national team in our national sport playing then, but it must be pretty amazing. Waikato v Auckland with three jousters per team amazing. Paul Henry being denied access to Party Central for wearing black jeans live on air amazing. Boxing featuring Sonny Bill Williams and Norma Plummer amazing.

At least we’re underway – the All Blacks squad and team is as expected, with Jared Hoeata coming in, and your Slades and Williams getting a run against Fiji, which is only right. The Crusaders players need to get their airline-weary feet up. If we were thinking straight, the only games to work ourselves to yelling at the TV over will occur in a couple of months time, in the quarter, semi and final of the Big Fucking Tournament. But, rest assured, we will yell as one at the sports news, newspaper, ‘online’ ‘sport’ ‘blogs’ (this one especially), ALL the Hurricanes’ twitter accounts, pre-match build up and the games themselves as we spiral into a rugby black hole the likes of which has never been seen before. By the time finals week rolls around, Kiwis everywhere will be so wound up about all things rugby, Martin Snedden won’t be able to walk the streets without being punched in the face. Guys – take it easy.

Rugby black hole (artist’s impression)

Still, at least we’re not aping cretinous fluff from overseas tournaments that divert attention from the sport itself, so that after the final whistle everyone’s talking about a sodding cephalopod instead of the match. Oh. Hang on. Unfortunately, while the Herald is crowing about Richie McCow’s ‘international coverage’, the context is along the lines of ‘look at what those simpletons downunder are doing now’. The best bit is Richie’s owner breezily explaining that Richie’ll be off to the freezing works to be slaughtered if he doesn’t cut the mustard (geddit) as a rugby pundit. I bet Paul the Octopus would have been fantastic in a bit of beer batter too.

Trouble in the carpark

Seve Ballesteros died this week at 54.

Holding a slender lead in The Open of 1979, with Jack Nicklaus breathing down his neck, Seve was fearless from the tee, swinging hard and landing erraticly, missing 8 of 9 fairways when he took his driver. In the clip below, he gives his drive everything, lands 60-70 feet right of target in the car park, delicately lofts his ball back onto the green and rolls it in for birdie. He won the tournament.

Sure, Jack had fetching taste in knitwear and 18 majors to Seve’s 5, but there’s little doubt who’s cooler. Never forget about style and imagination in sport, team, they’re  important. Danny Blanchflower‘s quote seems appropriate: “The game is about glory. It’s about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.”

Lawrence Donegan on Seve

Photo gallery

Links on Friday

Formula One is very, very boring indeed – the only way to make it exciting is by ‘bad-ass’ ‘shredding’ on an ‘axe’

Be like Tiger without all that messy indiscriminate sleeping around and media attention with the Tiger Woods soundboard

This guy takes the ‘goal-keepers are crazy’ saying and upgrades to insane

NZers, you can see Paris-Roubaix, the hell of the north, on Sky Sport 3 on Monday at 9am. Take the day off work, tell your boss some guy on the internet said it was OK

Catch a Tiger


Here’s Tiger winning The Masters, his first Major, by 12 shots way back in 1997. When was the last time you saw him smile like that? Most days, Tiger makes being the world’s most successful, famous and highly paid sportsman look as much fun as losing changes from an Excel spreadsheet.

Tiger’s love of privacy makes Howard Hughes look like Rodney Hide. He swears, he glares, and woe betide anyone who wants to talk to him. It says a lot that his best mate is ‘top’ NZ ‘sportsman’ and prickly shit Steve Williams, a nightclub bouncer at Club Fuck You.

This current troubles will pass (he was crazy not to front-foot this in the media. WHAT are IMG getting paid for?), but I just hope he doesn’t retreat further into his shell because of it.

I know it must be tough being Tiger, but come on, Golf is fun. I have that hacker’s love of golf where I lie awake after a round thinking about that one sweet 7-iron that hit the green nicely, not the search for my third lost ball in the rough. I’d hate to see Tiger grimly march past Nicklaus’ 18 Majors with little joy. I want to watch him enjoy himself while he does it.

Tiger reading list:

The Guardian’s wonderful Lawrence Donegan profiles Tiger.

Another Guardian profile, linking to The man. Amen, a 1997 Esquire article on Tiger, when he was more trusting of the media. The Guardian profile asks:

Why should a man who, at 33, is in the prime of his life, who constantly expresses the joy his son and daughter bring to his life, who is reckoned to be a billionaire and who earns close to $2m a week even if he chooses to lie in bed, be so apparently fed-up and irritated?

Sport’s top five Fight Club duos

<SPOILERALERT> This post discloses plot details from David Fincher’s Fight Club (1999). If you haven’t seen Fight Club in the ten years since then, give yourself a cock punch. </SPOILERALERT>

Can we apply Fight Club’s plot twist that Tyler Duden is merely a macho, sexy figment of Ed Norton’s narrator character’s imagination to sport? It works with Calvin and Hobbes and Cameron and Ferris, after all. Yes we can, here’s a top five.

5. Matthew Hayden is a figment of Justin Langer’s imagination.

Matthew Hayden scared the shit out of world Cricket by standing two metres outside his crease, flogging attacks with his swagger, self-righteous Christianity based verbal abuse, and those brutal forearms that could take an eye out. If you were an opposing bowler, seeing that maniacal light in his eyes was far, far scarier than seeing the headlight of an approaching freight train while trying to get your stalled car off the track. Langer got lots of runs, too, but no-one ever noticed.

4. Tiger Woods is a figment of Phil Mickleson’s imagination

Poor old lefty. Phil’s stellar amateur career pointed to triumphs in a whole lot of Majors before happily retiring with the world’s biggest bag of Nacho Chips. Then along came Tiger, more force of nature than golfer, who grimly went about winning TRUCKLOADS of Majors, doing amazing shit, filming ever more self-reverential ads, getting bored and reinventing his swing every couple of years, and turning the air blue.  He made Phil wear a “Best player to have never won a major’ baggy sweatshirt until, agonisingly, 2004, when Mickleson eventually nailed the Masters. Phil and his alter ego really don’t get along, meaning Phil has spent the last decade looking ever more pissed off and whiny. Hilariously for everyone else, the pair are often forced to play together in tournaments and the Ryder Cup, where the atmosphere on the tee turns more icy than Hoth.

3. David Beckham is a figment of Gary Neville’s imagination.

Gary ‘n’ Dave were key members of Ferguson’s golden generation, the ever so reliable right back and the rock star winger who announced himself with a wonder goal and wasted no time marrying a Spice Girl. Beckham’s England captaincy, the falling out with Ferguson, the move to Madrid and the haircuts were all covered to death and made him Football’s biggest name, at least off the field. Meanwhile, Gary kept his head down, tided up neatly behind Becks on the right, and just got on with it. Still, deep down Gary was intense, wild (watch this til the end) and scary intense; when he snapped, he was terrifying, frankly.

2. Carlos Spencer is a figment of Andrew Merthens’ imagination.

You can tell by the haircuts. While Carlos rolled out ever-more-bizarre combinations of curls, bleach and goatees throughout his career like a some kind of NPC Cher, Merthens played it straight down the middle with short back and sides every time, the kind of thing that befits an ex-private schoolboy  and future Prime Minister. Merths used to run, but soon settled in to the role of All Blacks’ quarterback, doing the accurate passing and pinpoint kicking basics so well he mostly wound up getting picked. And winning, especially with the Crusaders. Up in the big smoke Carlos was pure rock and roll, strutting around Eden Park like Prince on his motorbike in Purple Rain, or Kiss’ Gene Simmons, with wipers kicks, netball passes and banana poppers*.  He’d have been right at home in the Harlem Globetrotters. Both wound up messing up a decent shot at a World Cup for New Zealand.

1. John McEnroe is a figment of Bjorn Borg’s imagination.

The Ice-Borg’s baseline game, with all the flair of a garage door, won him a record breaking number of Wimbledon titles, while his aloof, oh-so-European temperament had the mysterious, intriguing allure of a sort of demure Swedish Zorro. New Yorker McEnroe didn’t give a fuck about any of that and smashed his way into world Tennis intent on winning Majors and yelling very loudly. Borg and McEnroe’s careers only really crossed paths for three years; they first played in a semi final in 1978, and Bjorn’s defeat to McEnroe in the 1981 US Open ended his career; Borg left the stadium immediately after the loss, not bothering to stay for the ceremony and press conference. Mac had broken him – his serve and volley game, based on superb touch, was the antitheses of the Swede’s metronome-like style. Poor old Bjorn realised he had to get out of the way of this big sweary freight train that was busy grabbing Tennis by the nuts and squeezing. Hard.

*I made that up.

Old Tom


As Tom Watson’s putt on the 72nd died a little to the right, every golf fan died a little inside, too.

The walk from the 18th green to the 5th hole for the playoff put back on all those years he’d shed throughout The Open. He looked tired, and the contrast with the seemingly seven foot tall Cink, who went about winning the playoff with the matter-of-fact efficiency of a Storm Trooper, was stark.

Tom conducted himself with down home dignity, of course, and while not many can match his record, I wanted the fairytale. Bugger that putt.

Links on Friday

Ronaldo, the proper one, is back playing in Brazil. Not a bad first touch, that. Accept no imitations.

Padraig Harrington is always game for a laugh – when not playing an EXTREME par three, he’s helping some nerds test the Happy Gilmore swing.

PJ O’Rourke is in NZ to talk to some rich guys. Hamilton Public Library’s PJ trove was a formative influence on a young – if you don’t know him, start with the classics.

I think he’s just circling the airport – are you alright there, Dougal?