Somebody Get The Queen A Lime!

That and a good bottle of Scotch to get over her well-compensated subjects’ shoddy performance at the World Cup.

Speaking of which, the Argentina v. Germany showdown looms large this Saturday. The verbal broadsides being taken by players on both sides (not to mention Maradona) guarantee that the contest will be an epic grudge match. Can’t wait.

Finally, Vlad Guerrero busted up his former team last night to the tune of 4-for-4 with a Grand Slam and a solo shot. You think the fact that they didn’t want to resign him last off season might have motivated the man?

In case you’re wondering about the post’s title, this should help.


México: The World Cup’s Broken Record

Once again, México fails to advance to the quarterfinals in a World Cup held outside of its borders.  Like in Germany 2006, Argentina booted them out of South Africa 2010 and depriving my homeland of participating in that most elusive of contests for them, a fifth World Cup match.  In fact, here’s what I posted after that match back in ’06,

Another World Cup away from Mexican soil, another early exit in the 2nd round by the Mexican team.  This time it was at the hands of the Argentines, who should have won at the end of regulation if it hadn’t been for that bad call on Messi’s offside.

Go in peace, Mexico, and hold your heads high, you went toe-to-toe with one of this Cup’s favorites.  To my countrymen’s credit, they had their best game yesterday, if only they had played at this level during the first round, they might have won their group.

I will say this, the officiating by the Swiss ref was atrocious.  He gave el Kaiser an unmerited yellow card and let the Args get away with murder without giving them cards.  Most notable was the non-call on the dude who rolled over Zinha, and not giving the automatic red on the Arg who took out Kikin as he had a clear path to goal (the whole last man rule).

My consolation in all this is that if El Tri would have gone on and faced Germany, they would have gotten creamed.  After all, the winner of the ARG-MEX game is fodder for the host team.

LaVolpe’s decisions regarding personnel were real head scratchers.  Franco didn’t even play yesterday, he’s a much better playmaker than Borghetti (who can’t create).  Guardado had the game of his life, too bad he didn’t see action during the first round.  If LaVolpe gets the ax, it will probably be because of his personnel decisions.

To my Che friends, congrats on a solid win, but ze Germans will steam roll ‘el albiceleste.’

Germany 4 Argentina 0 (yeah I’m bitter…)

Let’s see, some similarities to today’s affair:

  • No quarterfinals for Mexico once again.
  • The refereeing today was atrocious.  Assistant ref Stefano Ayroldi (below getting an earful, Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images) gave Argentina their first goal when he didn’t notice that Carlos Tevez was offside by at least the lenght of 2 gaucho knives.

Guys, you want someone to blame? Go talk to your coach…

  • Different coach this time (Javier Aguirre) but his decisions were equally head-scratching.  Starting the last man picked for the World Cup roster, Adolfo “El Bofo” Bautista, in the biggest match of this tournament is inexplicable.  Back then Guillermo Franco was the better choice over an aging Jared Borghetti.  Today, Pablo Barrera, who gave the Argentinians fits, should have gotten the nod over El Bofo instead of coming in as a sub
  • Had México triumphed today, the elation would have been short-lived since a sickeningly dangerous German squad awaits in the quarterfinals.  A German squad that taught England a graduate course in counterattacking.  As Tom Clancy wrote in Red Storm Rising that no one presses the counterattack “better than the Krauts””.
  • Aguirre’s personnel decisions will cost him his job as coach of the Mexican National Team

Interesting how history repeats itself, how Aguirre didn’t learn from LaVolpe’s mistakes or even his own mistakes back in the 2002 World Cup.

The main difference between ’06 and what happened today is that in ’06, El Tri actually had a shot to beat Argentina.  Today?  Not so much.  Which is why this loss didn’t shake me to the core as much as Team USA’s loss did yesterday.  Team USA had a real shot to do something special but came up short.

Another reason why this loss wasn’t as crushing is what I wrote here,

Thus, I shall enjoy watching El Tri get out of the first round only to get eliminated by giving a world-power all they can handle before succumbing to historical inevitability.

True, this time around they didn’t give Argentina all they could handle.  There was never any doubt Argentina was going to win this match and once again play the record that all of us Mexicans get to hear every 4 years:  México exits the World Cup in the Round of 16.

Despite what happened to El Tri in South Africa, I will always support the team that represents the country of my birth. I know it’s a fool’s errand but here’s hoping that in Brazil 2014, we won’t get to hear this same tired record again.

¡Viva Mexico!

México Makes the Sweet Sixteen…

Uruguay and México played today in their last group stage match. The match is otherwise known as the “Loser Gets Argentina” Derby and well, México lost and for the second World Cup in a row, they will square off against the Albiceleste in the first knockout stage, the Round of 16. Much to his chagrin, I used to tease an Argentine friend that his homeland’s flag had a happy face in the middle of it. He’d vehemently deny it but turns out I was right,

To avoid West Germany v. Austria Part Deux, the last matches of the 2010 World Cup group stage are being played simultaneously. There was even some talk on Univision amongst the studio people that Uruguay and México might just take it easy, produce a draw and then both would advance into the Round of 16.

That went out the window after witnessing the opening minutes of the match. Both teams played like they were ready to take charge of the match. Understandable that México would play to win since a draw would only serve to send them on a collision course with the Gauchos. Unfortunately El Tri de todos los Mexicanos couldn’t muster even a draw, losing 0-1 and earning a grudge match with Argentina.

Speaking of Argentina, what has gotten into them? During World Cup qualifying this team was a hot mess, not a Gallic hot mess, but one nonetheless. They lost to lowly Bolivia 6-1 and almost lost drew with Peru, which would have cost them them a trip to South Africa. Now look at them, by far the best of this tournament to this point.

Today, Argentina’s “B” team carved up a stodgy Greek team like a slab of gyro meat on a spit. Sure the final score was only 2-0 but it could have easily been 5-0. Argentina is so loaded with talent that Internazionale striker Diego Milito, fresh off starring in and winning the UEFA Champions League, is reduced to riding the pine. He played today of course, because Maradona fielded the JV squad, that’s just sick.

I know I sound like a raving pessimist but how many of México’s players would make Argentina’s team, much less start? Rafa Marquez would make it, might have a shot to start, perhaps even Giovanni dos Santos, but that’s it. Memo Ochoa might have a shot as the 3rd keeper…To have a shot at beating Argentina, México will have to show something exponentially greater than they have shown up to this point. I have until Sunday to think about not if Argentina will win but by how much…

Here are some thoughts on today’s match:

Sloppy Defense
Again, the Mexican coach chooses to go with keeper Oscar “Midget” Perez. Being taller wouldn’t have helped Conejo/Midget stop Uruguay’s score. Luis Suarez’ header was a result of shoddy and lazy defense on the part of Mexican defender and oddity, Maza Rodriguez. I say oddity because at 6’3″, Maza towers over his countrymen. Rodriguez has improved vastly playing for Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, but today with this defensive lapse and his missed opportunity right in front of the Uruguayan goal, he reverted to pre-PSV Eindhoven form.

Javier Aguirre
The Mexican coach made the curious decision to start the Mexican coelacanth, Cuauhtémoc Blanco. I know he’s a legend that no one can surpass on sheer chicanery, hell there’s even a prayer to him that is making the rounds, but he’s out of shape. Someone who is out of shape is best coming off the bench if you need a late score or an emotional infusion. I personally believe Blanco cost them momentum early.

Guillermo Franco

Then there’s an Aguirre favorite, Guillermo “Guille” Franco who once again cracked the starting lineup as the point man. Guille wasted a slew of opportunities, not by missing the goal mind you but by flopping. Someone please explain to me why having a clear path to the goal, a forward would choose to flop and go down like a marionette whose strings have been cut. Franco is Argentine by birth and I know that flopping is one of the most Argentine of traditions, but Guille for the love of Madonna’s Evita, you have a better chance of scoring when you go towards the goal than when you go towards the ground. This reminds me of my previously aforementioned Argentine friend who, when playing basketball, would catch the ball under the basket and instead of laying it up would fade away sometimes as far as the charity stripe.

Back to Franco, as if the flopping wasn’t bad enough, he managed to fan on a ball that had gotten past the keeper,

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

How many more missed chances is this man going to have before Aguirre yanks him and puts Javier “Chicharito” Hernández in his place? Enough already, take Guille out of the lineup.


Andres Guardado
The winger got the nod to start due to the hamstring injury of Carlos Vela. I know Vela has not been in top form lately but his presence was missed. At least the threat of him making a great play would have kept the Uruguayan defense a bit more honest. Guardado did a superb job of doing this however, not only that, he launched a rocket off his left foot that made the crossbar clang in pain. Had the shot gone in, it would have easily been the Goal of the Tournament.

Pablo Barrera
Again, he came on as a sub who made his presence felt. He was a thorn on Uruguay’s side very much like he was a thorn on France’s side. Makes one wonder what would happen if he was in the starting lineup…

Rafa Marquez
The central defender is playing at a high level and deserves to get the captain’s armband back. “The Mexican Kaiser” provides stability to the back line and once again showed today why he plays for one of the top clubs in the world, Barcelona.


On Cinco de Mayo

Here we are again, May 5th and people throughout these United States will hold “Cinco de Mayo” celebrations. Some will ignorantly believe it is México’s 4th of July or even believe that this date means a great deal to us Mexicans, it doesn’t.

In all fairness, México doesn’t really have a “4th of July”. Yes, its “Independence Day” (September 16) marked the end of Spanish rule but only to be followed by subsequent American seizure of large tracts of land such as Arizona (isn’t it ironic?), California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Texas, as well as a brief French occupation.

On May 5th, 1862 near the city of Puebla, an inferior Mexican force beat a superior French force. It was significant due to the “David-Goliath” aspect of it and because my people were victorious in a battle. The only problem is that the defeat only delayed the inevitable French occupation of my native land and subsequent appointment of a hapless Hapsburg (Maximilian I, pictured below) to the throne of the newly minted Mexican Empire. In other words, México won the Battle of Puebla but lost the war.

(Museum of History, Chapultepec)

For this reason, most of México doesn’t make a big deal of this day. After all, who celebrates a victorious battle in a war which was ultimately lost? Not even my peoples, who look for small victories to revel in especially over hegemonic entities, have the non-sense to do this. It’d be akin to making a national holiday over the Battle of the Alamo. Yes, México won that “battle” but lost the war and Texas.

Emperor Maximilian I eventually was overthrown and to make a statement that foreign governance wouldn’t be tolerated, was sentenced to death by firing squad.

Perhaps as some sort of twisted joke, 139 years later, another Maximiliano, Maxi Rodriguez, would fire a shot (see vid below) that would avenge his namesake’s death at the hands of Mexican authorities, break the heart of the Mexican people and make the name “Maximiliano” reviled once more throughout the land.


The San Antonio Spurs: Lovable Winners

Houston sports fans (like other fans) have teams that they find easy to dislike. In baseball, it has to be the Cardinals or the Mets, in football it’s going to be the former Oilers, the Tennessee Titans with the Cowboys not far behind.

In the NBA it might be a tossup between the Jazz and the Spurs (at least in my mind). It’s probably the Spurs given the way they have dominated the NBA during the last few years. For a long time Rocket fan might have dangled Houston’s 2 championships in the mid 90s in front of Spurs fan. Not to mention, Hakeem Olajuwon’s schooling of David Robinson during the ’95 playoffs (see below)

But that coupon has long expired given the Spurs’ current run of excellence (Champions in ’99, ’03, ’05, and ’07) during which the Rockets have failed to win a single playoff series.

With all that, for this Rockets fan at least, it is increasingly hard to dislike the current Spurs squad.

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