Four Points – Port Melbourne

The Williamstown Seagulls exacted a small piece of revenge on Port Melbourne after Port scraped past the Seagulls by two points earlier in the season.

1. Beating the old enemy – There’s nothing better than beating your biggest rival. The ten goal margin puts the icing on the cake. The fact that the win (in conjunction with a Box Hill loss, cheers Werribee) puts the Seagulls back on the top of the ladder could be a huge turning point for the season.index

2. Timing is everything – With a ten goal margin of victory Seagulls fans could be forgiven for thinking it was an easy day at the office. Goals in response to Port Melbourne goals, as well as goals either side of the siren were vital in establishing the comfortable scoreline.

3. Winning at North Port – North Port is to the VFL what the MCG is to the AFL. If you can’t when there you aren’t going to win premierships. Walking back into the ground on Saturday I got a chill from the memory of last September. In saying that I think that’s a game confined to the memory banks of the players involved. The comfort shown on Saturday can only mean positive steps come September.

4. Stand and Deliver – If there’s one thing I’d like to see at Burbank Oval it’s having the song played after a win. In saying that the PA system isn’t the greatest, so I can understand the logistics behind it. It was great to hear the song played at North Port (albeit quietly) after the huge win.

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The nostalgia of Pedro

It’s been a busy week for Pedro Martinez. Between Cooperstown and having his number retired at Fenway Park he’s had little time to reflect. That same period has served as a great source of reflection for Red Sox fans.

My memories of Pedro aren’t what I wish they were. International broadcasts weren’t great at the beginning of the last decade, so it was a lot of scores in newspapers (not box scores, just the team (home was always in capital letters)CK4Oo8yUsAAg_Rf and how many runs each team scored). For that reason when I think of Pedro I don’t have as long a list as many who saw his every start.

Five K’s in the 1999 ASG, 23-4, Six straight seasons with an ERA under three. The numbers don’t lie – he’s likely to be the best pitcher we ever see in Boston.

Watching the ceremony from Fenway before the Wade Miley breakdown got me thinking about why Red Sox fans are so nostalgic for Pedro.

The most obvious thing is the numbers he’s putting up. At a time when the pitching stock is smaller than it has ever been the thought of reliable pitching is heavenly. I don’t think that’s what’s got most fans lusting after the days of yesteryear however.

When you look at Pedro around the guys he won the title with in 2004 it’s clear that they have something the current crop doesn’t. The bond between Pedro, Tek, Wake, Schill, Nixon and Ortiz that was on display eleven years after the historic victory is something to behold.

That’s what the club is about – Unwavering support.

That same support is currently lacking, not from a fan perspective but from those of the players. When you watch them every night you don’t get the sense they’d dive into a fire to save each other like the boys of 2004.

That’s why this weekend has been such an emotional one for Red Sox fans. The longing for a return to the clubhouse where they’re all in it together.

We’ll never see anyone wearing 45 at Fenway again. We may never see anyone with the talent of 45 pitching at Fenway again. Let’s just hope we see someone with his spirit – and soon.

Cheers Pedro!

Adam Goodes is right

Adam Goodes is a victim of racism. It really is that simple.

People might boo him for other reasons but there are people who are booing him because he’s Aboriginal. You know what that is? Flat out racism. There’s no two ways about it.

I’ve seen it first hand. At the North Melbourne V Sydney clash in the middle of June, I was observing what was going adam_goodes_racially_abused_aboriginal_flag388x365_19nlfr5-19nlfr9on around me at half time when the two men in front of me started discussing Goodes. Before long they began talking about booing him (which they were doing) when one said to the other one “I boo him because he takes being Aboriginal too far”, with the second man wasn’t shy in agreement.

“He takes being Aboriginal too far”.

Let that sink in. Grown men threatened because somebody is proud of who they are.

Australia is a racist country, let’s not pretend that we aren’t. Immigrants have always caused “problems” and it wasn’t until the referendum of 1967 that we recognised Aboriginal people as citizens of this country. If those two things aren’t racist then I have no idea what is.

How does he take it too far? By talking about issues faces his community every day? By questioning why the support isn’t there? By telling us that children from Aboriginal backgrounds are at higher risk of negative life outcomes? Those things are all true.

Is it the fact he referred to Australia Day as “Invasion Day”? Again, if you ask an Aboriginal person (if you can be bothered speaking with one) you’ll find that he isn’t alone in giving it that moniker, because for many Aboriginals that’s what it is – white people celebrating their invasion of Australia.

“Oh but not all Aboriginal / other race players are booed”. Obviously, but that doesn’t mean Goodes is alone. Lin Jong and Majak Daw have both been racially vilified in the past, yet society seems to understand that isn’t okay, but heaven forbid we give the same treatment to an outspoken Aboriginal activist.

People are afraid of what they don’t understand. Those who are carrying out the racist acts are afraid of Adam Goodes because they don’t understand how somebody who they perceive as being a lesser being could be allowed such airtime.

Airtime that we’re happy to give to the likes of Alan Jones who reinforced the misguided perception he does nothing but play the victim card. Or the talk back caller I heard who decided to tell the world they believe that Goodes “abuses his position of power”.  Abuse? No, it’s called making use of a platform you’ve been given and doing it for the greater good.

If you think Goodes does it because he’s trying to advance his own career then you have another thing coming. Goodes fights the fight in spite of the people who can’t handle what he does.

If you’re going to boo Goodes in future I hope you’re prepared to be tarred with the same brush.

 

 

 

 

 

Ranking the AFL theme songs

The AFL theme song is tribalism at it’s finest in Australia. Debate rages between supporter groups as to who has the best song. The solution? Trying to rank them without factoring in how I feel about the team.

1. Richmond Tigers – The clearest winner the Tigers have had since 1980. There’s something special about hearing “Yellow and Black” bellowed out by the Richmond faithful that gives it the top spot.

 

2. North Melbourne Kangaroos – A slight State Of Origin bias here, but having this double as the Big V theme song helps the cause. There’s a jaunty side to “Join in the chorus” that I just can’t help but sing along to.

 

 

3. Brisbane Lions – Taking their tune from the old Fitzroy song (and one of the best national anthems around), the pride of Brisbane town is hard to ignore.

 

 

4. Western Bulldogs – Until a few years ago I didn’t think the Doggies song had a lot going for it. Since moving to within 2 kilometres of Whitten Oval I’ve been sucked into the role the club plays in the mood of the community. First class.

 

 

5. Port Adelaide Power – This is the song that most AFL fans love even though they want to hate it. It’s. So. Damn. Catchy.

 

 

6. Melbourne Demons – The Dees have one of the lesser heard songs over the last decade, so it’s not overly offensive to hear given a lack of chronic overplaying.  Lyrically it strikes what sport is about – the way our heart beats.

 

 

7. Sydney Swans – The old bloke the Swans have in the middle of the circle after a win makes the Swans song so special. Talk about passion. Would have ranked higher if they could get a South Melbourne reference in there.

 

8. Carlton Blues – Solid old-fashioned music. Enough said.

 

 

9. St. Kilda Saints – St. Kilda – A club and a song tainted with frustration and aspirations for their day in the sun.

 

 

10. Geelong Cats – Clever lyrics but more importantly the excellent use of the trumpet gives the Cats an advantage over other clubs.

 

 

11. Essendon Bombers –  Not the best lyrically (I love a pun but there’s only so many times you can fly up) but it’s clear and concise.

 

 

12. Collingwood Magpies – “Side by side” works. Opposition fans can mock it at their peril because it really does define the club. Not sure about Premierships being a cakewalk though….

 

 

13. Adelaide Crows – Slightly outdated with “The pride of South Australia”now that the state has a second team in the competition. Nothing wrong with this song, it just doesn’t have the widespread appeal it once did.

 

 

14. Hawthorn Hawks – Get used to hearing this in September for the majority of this decade. Questionable use of being a happy team (which they are) and more points would be awarded if the club changed their name to the Hawthorn Fighting Hawks… Because that’s just epic.

 

 

15. West Coast Eagles – The shouting at the start doesn’t work. Neither does flying high with such great consistency.

 

 

16. Fremantle Dockers – Heave no. Trying to be new and hip just hasn’t worked.

 

 

17. Gold Coast Suns – You’ve got to feel for the Suns. If it wasn’t for the absurd trumpeting at the start of the song (which they also use after they kick a goal) they’d be further up the ladder.

 

 

18. Greater Western Sydney Giants – The music in the GWS song makes you feel like a 1930’s detective (which is great) but the lyrics are flat out awful.

 

 

Honourable mention – The original Brisbane Bears song. So unique, so 80’s. Cheers Bears.

 

Four points – Frankston Dolphins

The Williamstown Seagulls won their third straight game to return to the top of the Victorian Football League ladder. A 107-point victory over the winless Frankston Dolphins served as a great opportunity for the side to flex their muscle.

1. Dominance amid pressure – It’s tough to imagine a team that racks up 107-point win being dominated but that’s exactly what happened on Saturday. Frankston dominated the second half of the second quarter, and time on IMG_1732in both the third and fourth quarters. Despite their dominance the Dolphins were only able to put five goals on the Seagulls in that period.

What the Seagulls did while under pressure was absorb the Frankston pressure by not allowing them to have a free man. Not only did this limit the Frankston scoring but it also enabled the Seagulls to reduce the amount of time the Dolphins dominated through creating turnovers.

2. Goals, Goals, Goals – 21 goals and seven multiple goalkickers. Conway and Marcon (4), Casley, Anistasio, Masters, Gallucci and Monk (2) showed why the rest of the VFL should be wary of facing the high-flying Seagulls.

Gibbons, Dunell, Meese and Jolley all went goalless. When factoring in the ability they can have in front of goal, one thing is for sure – The Seagulls prolific scoring is going to continue for the remainder of 2015.

3. Exploiting the opposition – With no disrespect to the opponent, the gap between the two sides on Saturday was likely to be the biggest you’ll see in a VFL clash this year. The gulf in ability between the two sides showed from the first bounce, allowing the Seagulls to set the tone for the afternoon in the early stages of the clash.

The Seagulls were faster, more skillful and showed greater composure when pressure was applied. At the end of the day that was the difference between the two teams.

4. Eyes on the scoreboard – As well as hoping for a percentage boosting win (which occurred), there was one eye on the scoreboard at Box Hill. The Hawks (who have a game in hand) were locked in a tight contest with North Ballarat, and a win to the Roosters would shake up the finals picture. Box Hill prevailed with a goal after the siren, but have shown in the process they are not invincible.

With the bye this weekend all eyes will be on the Coburg and Box Hill clash on Saturday afternoon – A win for Box Hill and the minor premiership could come down to the clash between the two sides on the last weekend of the season, while a loss gives the advantage to the Seagulls as they enter the home stretch.

Red Sox ready to strike at halfway mark

After a slower than expected start the Boston Red Sox head to the All-Star break 6.5 games out of the lead in the A.L East. How does the season look when broken down into segments?

Hitting – The production isn’t what it was projected to be, but the lineup has potential from top to bottom. Bogaerts, Holt and Betts have given Red Sox fans a glimpse of the future , while Sandoval and Napoli have struggled to find the groove they’ve shown during their title-winning runs.

Hitting with RISP has improved in the last three weeks and has undoubtedly been a key factor in the recent surge in offence. One of the biggest talking points in the second half of the season will be if David Ortiz can reach 500 career STON3148.JPGHome Runs before the end of 2015. He needs 19 in the second half of the season to reach the mark after hitting 15 through the first half.

Second half key: Hitting with two outs has been a constant problem in 2015 and will need to be rectified fast if the club are going to reach their potential.

Grade: 7/10

Pitching – It was obvious on Opening Day and it’s obvious now – the Red Sox are a starter short. Clay Buchholz has found his rhythm and leads the side with an ERA of 3.26, but has landed on the 15 day DL with an elbow problem. Wade Miley’s eight wins equals his 2014 total and is half of his career high sixteen wins with the Diamondbacks in 2012. Rick Porcello’s early contract signing raises questions, yet the most common trend appears to be the inability to score runs in his starts. The acquisition of Eduardo Rodriguez has breathed life into Boston with his 5-2 record from nine starts demonstrating the importance of moneyball rather than buying a contract for the sake of buying a name.

The inconsistencies of the bullpen have inevitably cost the Red Sox win however the potential addition of Joe Kelly in the second half of the season could be the move the side need to find the consistency they’ve craved.

Second Half key: Quality starts. Given the fragility of the bullpen the Red Sox can not afford for starters not to get into the sixth inning. If the load on the bullpen can be reduced their effectiveness will increase. This will lead to more wins.

Grade: 5.5/10

Fielding – What is it about Rameriz’s and left field? Hanley’s efforts or lack their of to learn how to play the wall is probably the only thing more frustrating than Mike Napoli’s .193 average. Sandoval is making more plays than he is missing at third, which is a relief. Pedroia is in his usual Gold Glove form and Mookie Betts is showing that a lot will have to go wrong for him not to have a few of his own Gold Glove’s by the end of his career.

Second half key: Working around the horn. Infield issues have been a concern for the Sox with Sandoval, Napoli, Bogaerts and Pedroia combining for 26 errors in 89 games. At a rate of 0.292 errors per game it doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s enough that it’s hurting the side.

Grade : 7.5/10

Baserunning – The Red Sox have stolen 39 bases in the first half of the 2015 season. Mookie Betts leads the side with 13, however he has drawn criticism for being thrown out at inopportune times. What that shows is that Betts isn’t scared to use the talents he has on the basepaths. Is he going to get thrown out at times? Yes, but more often than not (he’s 13-17 SB) he’s going to advance safely.

Second half key – With the remainder of the side contributing for 16 steals, Betts need some help. Holt and Victorino have 5, Bogaerts has four, De Aza (who is still new to the club) has 3. If one or more of those four can step up and swipe 15-20 bags in the second half and Betts can stay the course , the Red Sox are going to be a threat to all they face.

Grade – 7/10

Coaching – John Farrell has had pressure on him all season (more from fans than owners). Juan Nieves losing his job was inevitable and Carl Willis seems to be settling into the role of pitching coach nicely. A Chilli Davis meeting with the hitting to emphasise patience at the plate wouldn’t go astray. The coaches are working as hard as they can with what they have as we progress throughout the season

Second half key – Knowing when to pull the starters. Farrell has a bad habit of leaving starters in the game for an out or two too long, with the hits scoring game deciding runs. If he can get this right there is no reason the Red Sox won’t be in the playoff race.

Grade – 6.75/10

Playoff potential – Will the Red Sox see playoff baseball in 2015? I’m leaning towards no, but I’m still confident they will. If I had to put a number on it I’d say we’d make the playoffs on two out of three occasions playing the season out. There is no reason for the form of the last month not to continue. A few minor changes on the field and a trade or two before the deadline offer hope in what is a very weak A.L. East. 6.5 games out in a division without a standout side isn’t as big a mountain as 6.5 games out in any other division. Only time will tell but there is no reason to sleep on the Red Sox in 2015.

Demons demonstrate destructive disposition

Melbourne went in favourites to beat Essendon yesterday afternoon and demonstrated in the best way possible that they can not be trusted with such a tag.

The line has been drawn in the sand. Yesterday was the loss that demonstrates that Paul Roos’ tenure at Melbourne wouldn’t be successful if it ended today. How you can have 25 scoring shots, only manage sixty points and get beaten

Sadly this photo is still relevant.

Sadly this photo is still relevant.

by the least stable (off the field at least) team in the league is beyond comprehension. Kicking has long been an issue for the Demons but Roos doesn’t want to see it. Instead we get the line about a young squad. It’s not 2008, I’m not interested in that or the honourable loss talk anymore.

Not to suggest that I’m the world’s greatest predictor of sporting results – but I saw this coming. From the second Essendon got walloped by St. Kilda last Sunday afternoon the writing was on the wall . I wanted to believe that after a lifetime of frustrations I’d be proven wrong (so I tipped us).

Supporting Melbourne is, at the best of times a bi-polar experience. Promising wins and devastating losses are nothing new, and certainly nothing new in 2015 (Geelong in Geelong / GWS in Canberra). So why does this bother me?

These are the games that we need to win if we are going to be taken seriously heading in to 2016.

Last weekend there was talk of Essendon not winning another game in 2015. If they were playing anyone else this weekend they would have lost and probably been comprehensively thumped. Of course Melbourne lost, it was the most Melbourne thing they could possibly do. Why bother having the great hope that things are going to change with the flick of a switch?

False dawns. Two words that perfectly sum up every Melbourne supporter experience I’ve ever come across. What is Roos doing if he can’t see that our kicking needs work? I know the weather was bad, but Essendon were able to negotiate it and we should have been too. Where was the fluidity we showed against the Gold Coast and Richmond when everything was fantastic?

There’s no denying we’ve got a great crop of young talent, but that’s little to smile about when we drop points like we did yesterday. Our time has been coming since the start of the 1970s and the reward we’ve got is a couple of thumping Grand Final losses for our troubles. Wonderful.

What is the club trying to achieve this season? I usually try to steer clear of the doom and gloom talk but yesterday really puts things in perspective. We aren’t good. Worse than that, we aren’t reliable and we aren’t going to be for a long time.

A few blokes have 30 touches for a few games and they think they’ve got the world figured out? We have some strong multiple goalkickers and we think they’re going to kick five every week? We have a strong run so we don’t need to worry about giving the ball to a man who is under pressure and only going to turn it over? The ineptitude that has been bred in the Melbourne Football Club truly knows no bounds.

You could put Nat Fyfe in our team next week and he’d forget how to put his shoes in. The culture in the club is unacceptable and worst than that it’s offering success in nothing more than mediocrity.

The culture at the club is all wrong. We’re being asked to expect miracles when for any other club it would take nothing more than a consistent effort. We’re too busy ripping blokes on the field rather than ripping the structure we have off it. That’s how we’ve come to this. A belief that we’re in a better position than we are.

It’s not difficult for Roos to fix but I fear he has no interest in delivering the home truths that are associated with the task. Our communication is awful. On and off the field there is little positive talk unless things are going perfectly. Everything needs an excuse, everything is going to be better soon. Forgive me, but I’ve heard this roughly 743 times in my life.

For the first time in the Paul Roos era I’m concerned that we’re letting the world continue to pass us by. He’s said it himself “Our best footy is streets ahead of last year, our worst is just as bad”.

Yesterday was worse than bad. Thanks Melbourne.