The FA Cup, a.k.a. the Budweiser Cup featuring the Football Association, made headlines again over the weekend; there hasn't been such a resounding return to relevancy since Betty White bit into a Snickers. In this week's pod, the Men in Blazers review Chelsea's game of two halves against Manchester United, touch on Everton's alarming slide, and discuss what Tim Howard's injury means for the U.S. men's national team's World Cup qualification chances. Plus, Michael and Roger answer telegrams on home/away tactics, MLS's intrusion into the South, and "Car Talk." And after announcing the winner of the Great Becker, Man Hair Swap, they double down with a new competition to find "America's Next Top Soccer Fan."
In this week's Men in Blazers podcast, Michael Davies and Roger Bennett overcome the lingering effects of their holiday hangovers to reconcile with a much-changed English Premier League. In their absence, Chelsea have swapped strikers, Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli have fallen out of love, Spurs have found their form, and Manchester United remain atop the table. Maybe some things aren't that different after all.
Then, after taking stock of all these narratives, the Blazers welcome some ravens from the cold to answer your burning telegrams. Among them is a plea to rid the Premiership of the constant bickering of players over referee decisions. Only one man is up for the challenge.
After eight weeks, Premier League patterns are starting to emerge. The Manchester clubs continue to eek out victories in their own distinct fashion (United, attack-heavy; City during Dzeko Time), but it is nimble-footed Chelsea that have proved most impressive, week in and out. Thanks to a defensive line that appears to score when it wants, not to mention the divine work of midfield maestro Juan Mata, Chelsea came back to beat Tottenham 4-2 on Saturday — Andre Villas-Boas conceding defeat to Roberto Di Matteo in the first ever Battle of the Alphabet. All these developments and more are covered by Michael and Roger in this week's Men in Blazers pod.
The pod is also blessed by the appearance of author Nick Hornby, who is marking the 20th anniversary of the publication of Fever Pitch. Hornby discusses how the game has evolved since he wrote the ode to Arsenal fandom, how last season was the most memorable of his life, and why Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has become a cult figure in the Hornby household.
Normal service has resumed in the English Premier League. The sleeping giants — Chelsea, Manchester United, and Manchester City — have all reclaimed the top three spots in the table. And why shouldn't they, with the season being 2/11ths over, after all. But as much as the on-field drama is subject for discussion in this week's pod, Michael and Roger also consider the continued off-field troubles of a certain Russian-owned superclub.
Next, productivity on the pod takes a nosedive after welcoming the creative and strategic genius behind the EA Sports FIFA video game franchise, executive producer (and fellow Brit) David Rutter, for a quick chat. The Blazered Men discuss the newest features of FIFA 13, its impact on America's sporting interests, the future of video games, and, of course, Duran Duran.
It started innocently enough last season with the simple yapping of a finely manicured Italian hand. And now, following Manchester United's 3-2 loss at home to Tottenham, it does appear that the divine aura surrounding Sir Alex Ferguson is on the wane. Could Fergie Time really be a thing of the past? The Blazered Men are inclined to think so.
Manchester isn't the only place where the script is undergoing a revision. The visions of new managers at both Liverpool and the aforementioned Tottenham look to finally be taking hold. In this week's pod, Michael and Roger cover these and other story lines that emerged over the weekend, including the continued rise of a certain club that will be left unnamed for fear of jinxing its unnamed flying start. All we can say is: In Fellaini's 'Fro We Trust.
Dan Le Batard (@LeBatardShow) of the Miami Herald and Jon Sciambi (@BoogSciambi) of ESPN talk with Stan and Jeff Van Gundy about the sports media, coaches lying, and Stan's handling of the Dwight Howard mess.
The Jonah Keri Podcast returns with its Canadian blend of baseball news and meta-talk. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and MLB Network stops by to cover the trade deadline. We discuss the Dodgers' pursuit of pitching; the fates of Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, and Matt Garza; the surprisingly gun-shy Yankees; the stuck-in-limbo Jays; the what-the-hell-do-we-do-now Pirates, Mets, and Orioles; and a lot more.
The conversation then shifts to the state of the baseball journalism industry, with a focus on breaking-news reporting. How has Twitter changed the landscape? And can we trust what an agent tells us? Finally, Jon weighs in with Hall of Fame thoughts, including Jim Rice, Jack Morris, and Reggie Jackson being colossally wrong on a certain catcher.
It’s been an exhausting year of football, capped by Spain’s second consecutive Euro title Sunday. Michael Davies and Roger Bennett survived, barely, and reconvene on this week’s pod to discuss the Spanish Smurfs’ potent attack, heap praise on Italy’s footballing Fonz, Andrea Pirlo, and dole out grades to ESPN’s crack halftime squad.
But the football doesn’t stop here; it never does. As the Men in Blazers take a summer break, a wealth of English clubs come crashing to America’s shores. While most media outlets will be focusing on the friendlies featuring megaclubs Real Madrid, AS Roma, and Chelsea, the boys salivate over the titillating Swansea–Ventura County Fusion showdown on July 28.
If Dwight Howard listens to the Jalen Rose Show, he might want to skip this one. Jalen went in on Dwight for his recent public statements and questioned Howard's desire to win an NBA championship. Then we turned our attention to the other big names on the market: Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Jeremy Lin, Steve Nash, and even Omer Asik. After that, Jalen shed light on what NBA players really do in their offseasons and why life at home with the family doesn’t come naturally for professional athletes — and often ends poorly. He then broke down the 2012 draft and did some singing. Lots of singing.
On today's final Overdose of the season, The Basketball Jones break down the winners and losers of the 2012 NBA draft: David Stern's WWE moment, mom tattoos, surprise picks, bulging dicks, and Twitter spoiler alerts. We also look ahead to free agency by separating the realistic rumors (Odom to the Clippers) from the impractical (Josh Smith to the Lakers).
All that, plus Deron Williams's birthday, the problem with instant replay, 2K13 cover stars, flying phobias, Pun-Gun fun, and Leigh's final "Tweet of the Weak." Single tear.
At long last, Rog gets out from in front of the television and emigrates to Donetsk (the Crappiest Part of Ukraine) to provide some on-the-ground insight of the wonder that is the Euro 2012. In this bi-continental podcast, the Men in Blazers cover all the peculiarities of Polkraine, including press conference posturing, obese Ukrainian television pundits, and, of course, Chicken Kiev.
Plus, Michael and Roger offer a Euro Eulogy for their beloved England following the latest masochistic penalty kick loss, this time to Italy, and preview this week's semifinals. While everyone expects Spain vs. Germany in the final, the blazered men imagine a different scenario.