Don't ask me why (its an even longer and more boring story than most of the nonsense I post up here) but I was checking up the olden-times theory of the four humours the other day and found something vaguely interesting. See, back in the days it was widely believed that people's personality and basic characteristics were based upon the relative balance of four “humours” in their body – it might sound crazy, but then again some relatively sane people in our times (and Nancy Reagan) take their horoscopes seriously. The eventual article referred to the four “cardinal” humours as being black bile (melancholy), yellow bile (choler), blood and phlegm with each humour having a corresponding element, organ, quality and characteristic and an imbalance in any leading to illness. As someone who knows almost nothing about medicine (and is prepared to further solidify American prejudices by admitting that last month I went to the dentist for the first time in about 15 years) the obvious error in the theory was not to do with any particular medical theory espoused by the mediaeval mind, but the assumption that there were four “cardinal” humours when it is a well known fact that the Cardinals don't have any humour whatsoever. Perhaps if the article stated there were four Cardinal “dispositions” I could have bought it, but only if the four were whinging, self-righteousness, pomposity and conceit. The four horsemen of the Cardinal-ocalpyse. Mind you, perhaps my outpouring of disgust at the Cardinals is merely the result of our relative positions in the league or perhaps its more simply that my levels of black bile seem to be going through the roof (too much watching Yuni flounder away in the last few days) at present. Not much I can do about that, though, but in the spirit of mediaeval medicine there's nothing that a few leeches won't cure...
Week 12 review
More Than A Feeling (339) beat MSKM (267)
Last week I referenced the War of Jenkins Ear, a serious war between England and Spain caused by the severing of an English merchantman's ear. Whatever you might think of the recent conflicts that the USA and its allies are involved in you'd be pretty crazy to think that they're caused by trivial incidents like someone's ear getting chopped off. However, it wasn't that long ago (42 years to be precise) that a serious war between El Salvador and Honduras began due to widespread rioting after the two teams met in a series of soccer matches to see who would qualify for the 1970 World Cup. Of course, the soccer matches were merely the last straw in a number of incidents between the two countries, primarily over the mass immigration of El Salvadorians across the border, but without the high tension and riots caused by the sports matches a peaceful solution may have been possible. Ultimately, the war left about 4-6,000 dead and vast areas destroyed as the Salvadorian ground assault was eventually halted by the Honduran air force. It's not often that I recommend books on these pages, but Kapucynski's “The Soccer War” is a fantastically engaging read (and includes other essays too) with used copies available from Amazon in the US for a mere cent. Or any other type of cent you might have. Anyway, as everyone on this site absolutely adores sport and has no interest in anything else the most important thing to take from this story is that El Salvador won the final match 3-2 and had the joy of playing in the 1970 World Cup where they lost all three matches, one of them controversially after the referee allowed a Mexican player to take a free kick for El Salvador – and you thought Bob Davidson was bad! In fact, they were so poor that the official team song was considerably less popular in the country than a version taking the piss out of their own team. Kinda like the Cubs fans thinking “Choke, Cubs, Choke” is really great. Or like me thinking my fantasy team could take on the might on More Than A Feeling and survive. It was close for a couple of days but, after that, each morning I'd look at my teams scores and think I'd put up a decent total only to find that MTAF had still outscored me. Andrew McCutchen went a touch crazy (37 points), with Baker (27), Westbrook (26) and, joy of joys, Mark Reynolds (25) helping out as I put up a weekly score than only 4 teams would beat. Unfortunately, MTAF were just a couple of points off from the highest weekly total, with Joey Bats (39), Ervin Santana (36), Shane Victorino (33) and Jason Vargas (29) all scoring well. Of course, Jason Vargas developed as a player while sitting on the MSKM team so I'd like to think that MTAF's victory was, actually, a moral victory for me but in this match-up of the teams that were two and three in the power rankings there was only ever going to be one actual winner...
Little Lebowski's Under Achievers (265) beat Chin Music (192)
Sporting collapses are, in my not-so-humble opinion, a thing of joy. While many Brewers will quite rightly have a rather less than positive view of Wes Helms I'll always have a soft spot for him purely due to his role in sealing the Mets collapse in 2008 and sending the Crew to the play-offs. There's something about large, arrogant franchises falling flat on their faces that is just too enjoyable. Schadenfreude, indeed. Perhaps the stereotypical last second failure in the UK is the story Devon Loch, a relatively talented horse which literally collapsed when 40 yards away from winning the 1956 Grand National. To this day there's been considerable debate as to the cause of the horse's disastrous sprawl – some state it was due to cramp, some to the horse trying to jump a non-existent fence, some to the fact the horse was republican and thereby disgusted at being owned by the Queen Mother, while many believe the horse was simply trying to embarrass its rider, Dick Francis, in the vain hope it would stop him in the future from writing execrable equine-based “thrillers”. This match-up wasn't quite in the same category, but Chin Music held things close for the first few days before a putrid last four days (averaging about 18 points a day) saw LLUA win with ease. Haren and Beachy (both 28) were the main scorers for LLUA, with Colby Lewis (19) being the other player closest to 20 points. Chin Music was led by Jose Reyes (24), Carpenter (23) and Stauffer (22) but could have come closer with higher scores from Braun (18), A Gon (11), Lind (13), Morse (11), Venters (3), Pineda (-4). With five position players sitting on the DTD injury list CM'll be desperately hoping for a return to fitness and form.
Phoenix Fire (275) beat The Team I Refuse to Name (133)
One of the things that always seemed particularly brutal when I got taught history was the extent to which hanging, drawing and quartering was used as a means of capital punishment. Generally, after the victim had been finally despatched, chunks of their body would be sent to key locations around the country with the head normally stuck on a huge spike on London Bridge. For ages I thought this was merely more evidence of the bloody-thirsty nature of justice at the time before recently realising that the reason the head was displayed (and occasionally sent on a tour around the county) was to actually prove that the person was dead. See, much as today there are conspiracy theorists believing that Osama Bin Laden or whoever is still alive, back then it was difficult to actually prove someone had died, particularly as there was always the possibility of “pretenders” emerging stating that they were actually the next-in-line to the throne who everyone thought was dead. At the end of the War of the Roses, Henry VII had to fight off two such pretenders, the gloriously named Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck. Simnel pretended to be the Earl of Warwick, one of the two Princes killed in the tower, when in reality he was most likely the son of a baker who had been trained since the age of 10 for his role. After his troops were defeated he was, unusually for the time, pardoned as he had clearly been used by the adults who trained him and allowed to live the rest of his life as a turn-spit and a falconer. Warbeck pretended to be the Duke of York, the other of the Princes killed in the tower, and after his army was defeated was imprisoned in the Tower, escaped, was captured and hung. However infamous these pretenders were they are nowhere near as good at pretending as TTIRTN's hitting line-up which hit a miniscule 69 points, with Nick Swisher accounting for 22 of those points. Yeah, he's slightly hamstrung by LaPorta, Tabata and Morneau being on the DL but they wouldn't have made too much difference. Being brutal, his pitching wasn't all that great either, putting up 64 points although Weaver (26) and Humber (20) did well. PF was led by some decent pitching from Billingsley (26), Papelbon (25), Kuroda (26), Halladay (24) and Harden (21), while Aubrey Huff (20) was the only position player to put up decent numbers.
Craig Counsell's Steakhouse (201) beat Never Gonna Give You Upton (107)
Much like today, when I was growing up in Scotland the one question you could guarantee any boy would get asked whenever he met someone from outside the country and that was whether he supported Rangers or Celtic (correct answer being that you'd rather have your left hand incinerated and be forced to watch a non-stop loop of Cubs wins than support either). For me, I hated both but if absolutely forced to ask would probably admit to my dislike being slightly higher for Rangers than Celtic. Rangers were just starting their run of nine successive championships and, in Graeme Souness, had a particularly arrogant manager. Nowadays, however, I've got a bit of a soft spot for Graeme Souness for three reasons. Firstly, despite his record as a notorious soccer hard man one of his best friends is UK TV “star” Dale Winton who just happens to me one of the campest men on television. A more bizarre friendship could not be imagined. Secondly, because of the infamous Galatasaray flag incident when he managed the Turkish team to a cup final victory over their hated rivals Fenerbahce and celebrated by running on the pitch at the end of the game and planting a massive Galatasaray flag in the centre circle. Oh, did I mention this happened at the Fenerbahce ground in front of a packed stadium of Galatasaray-haters? Madness incarnate. Thirdly, for the infamous Ali Dia incident. One day Souness got a call from an “agent” claiming that he had an internationalist from Senegal looking to sign for a Premiership club. Souness not only signed the player on a one-month contract largely on the understanding he was soccer legend George Weah's cousin but, after seeing him in training, decided to put him in the squad for the next game. Of course, Dia eventually appeared as a substitute in the match but was so woeful Souness had to substitute him off after a few minutes in which Dia had made a complete idiot of himself. Ali Dia never played professional football again and Souness's reputation had taken a severe dent). It would have been like the Brewers selecting Scott Boras's kid in the first round of the draft because his Dad had promised that he was a really good prospect. Given the results from this match-up, NGGYU would have done significantly better had Souness picked his side and stuffed it full of people pretending to be Albert Pujols's cousin as he was wiped out by the newly resurgent CCS. Cano (32) and everyone's favourite douche/genius Nyjer Morgan (22) led the hitting for CCS, while Colon (23) starred on the pitching side. NGGYU had average scored from the crime-fighting due of Beckett and Crisp (22 and 20) but was let down by a pitching staff that accumulated a mere 9 points due to substandard efforts from Marquis (-25), Sipp (-9), Wolf (-6), Loe (-4) and Peavy (-1). A bit of a fall from grace for NGGYU, who was number one in the power rankings, but who knows what this week will bring...
Bringing Home the Bacon (113) lost to Poughkeepsie Footpickers (193)
As a youngster growing up in the late 80s the success of numerous soft-metal acts didn't seem all that surprising. While I found some of the American groups such as Motley Crue or Poison a bit weird I could totally appreciate the success of Def Leppard. Not because I particularly appreciated their music but just because it seemed so ubiquitous. The album “Hysteria” was continually played by my friends when they weren't playing The Waterboys or Don McLean (yeah, I know...) and its become tattooed on to my brain as a result. As a result, I only need to hear the opening chords of Pour Some Sugar On Me or Armageddon It to be transported back to my golden youth. Well, not so much “golden” as “repressed”, “geeky” and “just a bit weird, yeah?” but that's about as golden as it gets. Of course, as teenage boys the coolest thing about Def Leppard wasn't so much their music as the fact that their drummer only had one arm. A one-armed drummer? Waaaaaay coooool! Nowadays I wouldn't dare be caught listening to Def Leppard (why do that when you could be caught listening to the fantastic Iron Maiden?) despite the fact that they always seem a solid, decent, down-to-earth type of group even if lead singer Joe Elliott did unwittingly insult ice hockey fans by getting confused and placing the Stanley Cup upside down. And then made it worse by issuing a classic “I take full responsibility but I really wasn't my fault at all, honest!” apology. Similarly error-ridden was BhtB's week as one of the traditionally stronger teams in the league put up a shocking performance and was easily beaten by a Footpickers team that didn't really need to move out of first gear. Sure, there were some decent scores for BhtB, mainly Marmol (28), Carlos Pena (25) and Juan Pierre (21) but he'd have been better not going with a pitching staff the whole week as his hurlers scored -7 points. Thanks very much Chacin (-15), Moseley (-9), Scherzer and Albuerquerque (both -8) and Marcum (-5). Funnily enough, Poughkeepsie's pitching was almost as bad with -3 points as Blackburn (-33) and Holland (-19) negated the good work done by Yanks CC (30) and AJ Burnett (15). However, a really good hitting week led by Sandoval (32), Melky (28), Bonifacio (27) and Utley (24) was enough to take the honours for the week.
The Braun Supremacy (223) lost to Social Anxiety All Stars (238)
Its interesting to see how public perception changes, particularly in terms of looks and fashion. For example, back a few hundred years ago having pale white skin was deemed particularly attractive as the lack of a tan would show that you were sufficiently wealthy to spend all day indoors and didn't need to work outdoor for a living. Similarly, being a fat male was not an altogether bad thing – Henry VIII was a notoriously fat monarch while Edward IV used to deliberately make himself vomit so he could cram more food down his gullet. These days if the King or Queen started becoming hideously fat or deliberately vomiting there'd be a public outcry. Not that there's likely to be a public outcry, but TBS must be feeling as sick as the proverbial English monarch after getting squeezed out by SAAS. The match-up was close with four days to go and, after putting up similar scores for the last three days they entered the final day almost all-square before SAAS outscored TBS 59 to 41 to take the victory mainly due to good pitching on the last say from Gio Gonzales and CJ Wilson. TBS was powered by a fantastic week from Ian Kinsler (41) and good support from O-Cab (25), R-Nol (24) and F-Lir (21). SAAS got 119 points from both hitters and pitchers and his good scores were primarily due to a huge 52 points from Gio Gonzales, while CJ Wilson (30) an Josh Hamilton (27) helped out. But just not quite enough to get the victory.
Gold Glove Gamels (235) lost to Bumpin' Ugglas (342)
One of my favourite sporting events of the year is the Tour de France. I remember in the 1980s being occasionally allowed to watch the Tour during French lessons and grew to appreciate the intense single-mindedness of Bernard Hinault, the aloof Robert Millar and, best of all, crazy South Americans such as Luis Herrera who could stand up on the pedals and cycle up a steep Alpine pass as easily as if they were popping down to the shops for the daily paper. I've always paid at least vague attention since then but the advent of long Summer holidays and terrestrial TV coverage of the sport over here has rekindled my interest. A sporting event which involves cycling over 3,000 kilometers and can end with one guy being the quickest by eight seconds leads inevitably to stories of heroism, abject failure and great interest. Most intriguing at present is the Euskatel-Euskadi team which is based in the Basque country and, resplendent in bright orange uniforms, sees itself very much as a symbol of Basque nationalism. Teams have to compete for places in the Tour and Euskatel-Euskadi always not only get a place but perform well despite the fact that they restrict themselves to riders who are either directly from the Basque country or have grown up there. A welcome attempt to form a connection with an area and celebrate its unique culture or regressive, nationalistic introversion? Being honest, I'm not entirely sure. Still, in a society which prides itself on its uniqueness (the origins of the Basque language, which is entirely different to any other in Europe, are still a source of debate for linguistic experts) its not a surprise that the Basques do things slightly differently. Or perhaps its not so much that what they do is always different but sometimes may be ahead of its time – after all, there is a long-standing Basque claim that they developed the first democracy in Europe at a time when the rest of the continent was mired in absolutism. Similarly ahead of the pack is Bumpin' Ugglas who put up another crushing performance to move to 9-3. Who could dare challenge a team with such talents as CarGo (47), Jurrjens (34), Boesch (30) and Pagan (29)? To be honest, they're not exactly a line-up that you'd have thought would be superlative at the start of the season but they keep on getting the job done in style. GGG scored well this week as Berkman (37) and Cliff Lee (26) and, errr, Aaron Miles (22) put up decent totals but it was never likely to enough...
Stinky Cheese (338) beat Harvey's Wallbangers (190)
One of the recurring motifs of the year so far in the UK has been continual grumbling over the Olympics and, specifically, the ticket allocations. At times its been difficult to turn on the radio without heading repeated grumbling from those who have applied for hundreds of pounds worth of tickets only to find their family's entire Olympic experience will consist of a morning spent watching the preliminary event for the dressage or the rhythmic gymnastics. The one thing, though, that has always bemused me about the ticket pricing for major sporting events is the fact that one of the highest ticket prices is always paid for the opening and closing ceremonies. Sure, you get to see some of the competitors parade around the track (and its always amusing watching the countries with only one or two people in their team) but apart from that its a melange of interpretive dance, weird costumes, the bizarre and the banal. Given how much there is to choreograph it isn't really a surprise that they can go wrong, from Beijing replacing a young girl with a better looking (and lip-synching) alternative or the barbequed doves in Seoul to Diana Ross's spectacularly poor penalty to open the 1990 World Cup. What went wrong for HW this week wasn't so much his own score, which was by no means the worse, but coming up against the juggernaut of Stinky Cheese. SC had loads of solid performances, led by Mike Leake (35), HanRam (27), Lester (25), Masterson (24), Carrasco and Daniel Murphy (both 23) and Bourn and Cruz (both 21). In comparison, HW had a mammoth week from, of all people, Aramis Ramirez (45), but his support was pretty much solely Granderson (24) and Wandy (21) and that was never gonna be enough...
Power Leagues. Some big changes this week as some really high scores from traditional powerhouses MTAF, SC and BU saw them rise to the top, while a poor score from BhtB saw him collapse into the bottom league.
More Than A Feeling – 833 (11-2, East)
MSKM – 823 (8-5, North)
Stinky Cheese – 798 (10-3, West)
Bumpin' Ugglas – 785 (10-3, South)
Social Anxiety All Stars – 724 (5-8, North)
Never Gonna Give You Upton – 717 (4-9, South)
Gold Glove Gamels – 693 (6-7, West)
Phoenix Fire – 692 (5-8, East)
Chin Music – 691 (5-8, North)
Little Lebowski – 677 (6-7, East)
Harvey's Wallbangers – 658 (6-7, South)
Craig Counsell's Steakhouse – 655 (2-11, West)
Poughkeepsie Footpickers – 615 (6-7, South)
Bringing Home the Bacon – 593 (9-4, West)
The Braun Supremacy – 55 (4-9, East)
The Team I Refuse to Name – 514 (6-7, North)
I'll get this up later once the ESPN website updates the overall scores with the proper totals for this week!
Next week's match-ups
MSKM vs Little Lebowski's Under Achievers
Chin Music vs The Braun Supremacy
Social Anxiety All Stars vs Phoenix Fire
The Team That I Refuse to Name vs More Than A Feeling
Never Gonna Give You Upton vs Bringing Home the Bacon
Poughkeepsie Footpickers vs Stinky Cheese
Harvey's Wallbangers vs Gold Glove Gamels
Bumpin' Ugglas vs Craig Counsell's Steakhouse