Sunday, December 21, 2014

Urging North Korea to Use their Cyber-capabilities for Good-Not Evil

     With professional soccer in the United States on a break – we can turn to pressing world events:

     The United States says that North Korea hacked Sony Pictures in order to prevent “The Interview” from being released and viewed.  North Korea says that they are not responsible.  While at some levels this resembles most family discussions when trying to pin blame on just which child might have had a hand in relocating the goldfish from the aquarium to the bathtub – I choose to look at this wonderful power that North Korea has developed and wonder what would happen if it was used for good and not evil. I urge North Korea to look beyond the usual International Hot Buttons like Hollywood Comedies.
     I, therefore, with tongue firmly in cheek – offer these five targets to the North Korean Cyber-Attack-Apparatus.  If the North Koreans take my advice – they will actually be furthering the cause for world harmony by hacking and then causing these targets to pull their performances from the public.

     OPRAH:  - I don’t get Oprah and I confess that I never will.  However I suspect that at some point in the future she may be planning to turn all of her O-Zombie followers into a disastrous cult determined to give free cars away to every female on planet earth.  I live in Danville where the downtown becomes as dangerous as a war zone after school pick up when all of the moms in town drive their huge Escalades and talk on the phone at the same time while picking off pedestrian after pedestrian without noticing.  I don’t wish that on all of us and I would like North Korea to hack Oprah’s production company in order to shield us from a world of danger.

     JUSTIN BIEBER: - Enough said.

     THE OAKLAND RAIDERS: - Please hack the Oakland Raiders and threaten them until the front office pulls the team from production and we don’t have to sit through any more dismal games.  I know this is stretching it – but if they could also get Reggie McKenzie to become the General Manager for the Broncos, Chargers, and Chiefs … all at the same time … that would be great as well.

     THE WATER PEOPLE: - These are all the professionals whose job it is to be interviewed on the news immediately after a rainstorm to tell us that the drought is not over and the snow is too dry.  I’m not saying the drought is over – but I am saying that I have not seen the sun for 73 days and I have never enjoyed hearing that the snow is too dry when it somehow is always able to soak through to my socks.

     THE GROCERY BAG POLICE: - Now we have to take our own bags to the grocery store or risk being summarily executed while standing in the Express Line.  I don’t call that an advanced society – I get that plastic bags at grocery stores are posing an existential risk to our very being – but they sure are convenient.  Going to Safeway is tough enough with the fact that by the time you get back to your car you’ve signed 27 voter’s petitions and given money away to at least 3 charities (while avoiding eye contact with 11 other solicitors)… now we have to do all of that while saving the planet with our own reusable bags.  Grocery shopping has become difficult. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What I Have Learned ... Being a Father of a Professional Athlete

What I Have Learned From:
Being a Father of a Professional Athlete

     One thing about getting old that you only learn by getting old … is that the advice you have to offer from years of experience as a man, husband, father, divorced husband, step-father, and all other roles along that long journey … has no interested audience.  Trust me – I am not complaining … it’s not like I have any wisdom at all … but it is a dynamic of our current lifestyle.
     Being blessed with three sons and two step-daughters I have come to realize quite a bit.  Chalk it up to the incredible amount of teaching and advice that is only a click away … or maybe this generation is not any different from previous generations.  I adore our five children and am so incredibly proud of them, but, I was surprised to learn that they knew everything about being an adult before actually becoming an adult --- everything about being married before actually being married --- everything about being a parent before actually being a parent ---- and fortunately for Joanne and me --- they have always been incredibly unselfish in their willingness to share their wisdom with us.
     With that in mind, I am going to seize on the opportunity to possibly write about something that even my children are not yet experts in:  Lessons from being a parent of a professional athlete.

-          Television broadcasters are amazingly bi-polar … they are either far too effusive in their praise or far too critical in their judgment.  But you learn that is what they get paid to do and you appreciate the fact that you can watch your son play soccer on television instead of freezing your ass off in the stands at some rainy and muddy stadium/field/patch of weeds.  I also have a ‘system’ – I listen and agree to the effusive-praise broadcasters and mumble that the critical broadcasters are clearly idiots. 

-          Being a sports fan --- I criticize players from time to time (for crying out loud I am a die-hard Oakland Raiders fan … criticism in now in my DNA).  When I sit at a stadium and fans start ripping on my son – I have learned to just smile and be glad that he is a topic of conversation.  My wife however … has not quite learned that skill … I don’t think she ever will.  (Wait until he starts coaching – she will not be able to go to the games with me at that point).  If you ever sat at Earthquake games and a lady in front of you shot you a look that made you quiver --- that was my wife and you were talking sh@t about Chris … sorry … that was me sitting next to her and I was cool with it.

-          Watching your son play – either in person or on television is so intense that I cannot even imagine how it could be done before big screen HD.  Trust me – in soccer on television – picking each player out from a wide-angle shot of the field becomes a learned skill.

-          Watching your son play – either in person or on television is so intense that you end up with only a very small circle of friends who are even allowed to sit in the room and watch with you.  And those friends do not include people who ask a lot of questions. 

-          Your son/daughter will have good games and not so good games … no athlete has ever had only good games.  The age old advice is to not get too high on the good and not get too low on the bad … but my advice is == celebrate the good like freaking crazy and don’t get too low on the bad.

-          I stopped offering critical advice to my son many, many years ago.  I now tell him how proud I am of him after every single game no matter what happened in the game.  Frequently he will tell me to shut up because they lost or he didn’t do well … but come on people – how could you not be proud of your son going out there and playing his heart and soul out????   Now … if he ever was mean to a spectator or didn’t respect the game --- he and I would have a different conversation. – (I do look the other way when his on-field intensity gets extremely strong … but his wife doesn’t look the other way so I know that gets criticized at home).

-          For a couple of years I had two sons playing professionally together … watching them on the field together was the best part of my professional-fatherly life.  My younger son, Stephen, once scored a tying goal in the last minute of an US Open Cup Game in Charleston … to watch Chris go over and jump on top of him was my favorite professional fatherly moment of all time … and I dare say will always be.  I wish that feeling of that one moment in time for every father --- and it does not have to come from professional sports – I am so fortunate to have traveled to Charleston that week in July to be able to take that in.  Well worth all of the 5am departures from home on Saturday morning to drive to Buzzards Breath, California or some other crazy place to get to an 8am tournament game … and ….freeze your ass off on the sideline of some weed patch drinking lukewarm coffee.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Goodbye to Buck Shaw ... Raiders Football ... and Wondo Fantasy Football Update (Spoiler Alert - I'm winning)

     I really enjoyed watching Chris play with the National Team the past two weeks … their results could have been a little bit better but I have such fondness for those guys and that team and it was great seeing Chris getting the privilege to wear the US Badge again.  But we have even more relevant items to blog about on this Award-Winning – yet recently neglected – Blog.

     Last Saturday night I walked out of Buck Shaw Stadium with a small twinge of fond memories.  It is a miserable place to go to a professional soccer game but it is a wonderful place to watch a professional soccer game.  Beyond all of that- my fatherly-soccer-memories will always be Buck Shaw Centric.  I was fortunate enough to have so many personal memories there that will stay with me forever.  I have enormous appreciation for all the fans that stuck it out at Buck Shaw and we all look forward to the new John A. Wondolowski Stadium @ SJC (people are starting to call it JDUB@SJC). 

     Best memory ever at Buck Shaw???? – I have too many fatherly memories and I don’t want to bore anyone with that … I have a tie for first place that is not totally Wondo-Centric.  The night we clinched the Supporter’s Shield – after the game the Players really showed a close love with the fans … and Lenny Wig Night – because I wish I was the one who invented that night –the concept and the finish.


     The Wondo Family have been Raiders fans forever … even including a couple of years when they decided to play in Los Angeles.  The family has season tickets thanks to Aunt Wondo – and the Wondo Boys go to virtually every game.  So it was great this past Sunday when Chris was able to be a guest of the Raiders and kick field goals on the field at half time.  He did OK kicking field goals in his running shoes (Quakes fans would have been proud) – but he essentially was the warm up act for the frisbee dogs.  Nevertheless we had a blast and A Pequena Chefona enjoyed sitting in the suite and providing crumbs in the carpet for the janitorial crew.  Chris drilled 45 yard field goals and Grand-Dude fed Chefona in the Suite. Great seeing Sam Cronin and Jason Hernandez there as well – they didn’t boo Chris’ 55 Yard Field Goal attempt that missed short by a yard or two as loudly as Chris’ brother did.


     Just a quick update on the Wondo Boys Fantasy Football League … that includes my three sons, myself, my two sons in law, and two close FoW (Friends of Wondo).  Long story a little shorter – one guy is in first place at 6-1 (Oh – that would be me) and everyone else is so far behind that it hurts my feelings to think that they are my offspring, sons in law, and close friends.  I suspect they are trying – but I cannot prove that based upon demonstrated performance. 

     Here is the result of our Fantasy Football League … nobody in the family is talking to me (the sons in law have Joanne in their camp) … and yet – no matter what I do I just keep winning.  In some ways it is a curse to be this good at Fantasy Football but – I am learning to live with that curse. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Cal Football Defense - Saying Goodbye to Buck Shaw Stadium - and Fantasy Football Update

Cal Defense – Saying Goodbye to Buck Shaw Stadium – and Fantasy Football Update

University of California Golden Bears – and What They do When the Other Team Has the Ball
     As an Old Blue (UC Berkeley Alumni) – there have been precious few times in a football season when my alma mater is 4-1 and their one loss came on a Hail Mary pass as the last play of the game.  However I can say that, while I am happy about our record, I cannot believe that there is a FBS team at 4-1 that has chosen to rest all of their players when their defense would normally be on the field.  You have to go way back to --- well … I guess only last year actually … -- to see a defense that looks similar in that their mission is to get off the field quickly after yielding a touchdown as quickly as possible.  It is disheartening – but (cynically) it may show what you have to do if you want to increase graduation rates.  I love my Bears --- but I think we should on-side kick after every score and just go for fourth down every single time.

Goodbye Santa Clara University – Buck Shaw Stadium – Home of the San Jose Earthquakes
     I am not a fan of Buck Shaw Stadium – although to be fair I have said many times that it is a great place to actually watch a game because it is kind of like it is being played in your back yard.  If you have ever been to Stubbs BBQ for a concert in Austin, Texas ... You'll agree that Buck Shaw is to soccer what Stubbs BBQ is to concerts.  But it is not a professional stadium and when they stop fans from entering or exiting because the guy carrying the cones from the visiting team is walking by … that is beyond rinky-dink.
     In just a couple of weeks the Earthquakes will play their final game at Buck Shaw Stadium as they prepare to move to their own new stadium by the San Jose Airport.  And … despite the fact that I have never been a fan of Buck Shaw Stadium … looking back I am a fan of Buck Shaw Stadium.  Because it has given me special Dad moments there.
-          First MLS goal that I saw Chris score in person
-          Goal that Chris scored to set an Earthquakes all-time scoring record
-          Goal that Chris scored and then came over and kissed A Pequena Chefona
-          Being able to be so close and enjoy the Ultras (Chefona dances to their songs) 
-          Having an intimate soccer experience that most dads will never have
o   (I still don’t like the place … but wow has it given me great memories)

Fantasy Football Update
     The Fighting Basset Hounds are now 4 wins 1 loss in the Wondo Family Fantasy Football League.  Of the 8 teams in the league … the Fighting Basset Hounds find themselves at the “top of the table” as soccer people like to say.  In addition – through the first 5 weeks – no team has ever scored more points in one week than the FBH did in Week One.  We have had to deal with adversity – injuries, suspensions, bad attitudes, poor performers and egos … but our management philosophy has helped guide us to the lofty place that we sit today - JUST WIN BABY.
     Our position in the standings? Far above my sons Chris and Stephen – in fact, you would probably need a telescopic rear view mirror to even see Chris or Stephen from our place in the standings.  I have even started rooting for both of them … because (1) they are my sons and I care for them and (2) they are embarrassing the crap out of me right now. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

End of Month Special - Random Thoughts on MLS Salaries, Fantasy Football, and Babysitting

     We are heading into October … and your Award Winning Blog has had a far too insignificant September.  Here are some observations and thoughts to take us all into October better informed.


     The updated Salaries of all Major League Soccer Players were released this week.  For the first several years of my son’s career it was an opportunity for me to realize I needed to take the poor boy out to a good dinner.  For the past few years of his career it makes me realize that I should stop picking up the check at those dinners.
     You know your Award Winning Blog always digs deep into the details to find news.  To that end we analyzed the pay by Last Name (and specifically which letter was at the beginning of your last name).  Spending my entire life at the end of the alphabet … I pay more attention there.  I uncovered a shocking discovery in pay equity in Major League Soccer.  While there are only 8 players whose last names begin with “Z” … their total pay is $1.44 million.  Compare that to the poor players whose last name begins with “V” – there are 9 of them! But in total those 9 only add up to less than $1.4 million.  I will proclaim right now that this is a compensation scandal that Major League Soccer needs to address immediately before the press owns the story  … the Commissioner needs to get out in front of the story. 


     I can tell you that one thing MLS Salaries clearly do not take into account is your ability in Fantasy Football.  My eldest son, Christopher, is a dismal 1-3 with his team.  He lost to me (his stupid father) this past weekend and I am told that he found the spider hole that Saddam Hussein was hiding in and has taken up residence there due to his shame.  My team, The Fighting Basset Hounds, have staked a claim to first place in the league.  My other two sons have made me a prouder Fantasy Football dad so far … my sons-in-law … well I’m sure they are trying (on second thought I hope to God they are not trying because that would be embarrassing). 

BABYSITTING AS A GRANDFATHER – A Pequena Chefona for 8 Hours Straight

     A Pequena Chefona (Little Bossy Pants) is now 9 months old.  She is regularly cared for by her uncles (Stephen and Matthew) – and she is a lot of fun.  A few days ago the desperation set in at the Chris Wondolowski household and they had to turn from Plan A to Plan B then to Plan C until they finally got to Plan Q – and I got the call from the bullpen for an 8 hour stint as the babysitter.  While Lindsey was somewhat surprisingly calm and confident in her staffing choice … the three boys who I had raised, changed their diapers, fed them, and somehow they survived Planet Earth under my care to arrive at the present points in their lives …. Those three boys were very concerned and would have called Child Protection but that would have made them stop watching the third re-run of Sports Center to make that call.  To be fair – Chris had no problem with me babysitting … but clearly not because of his confidence in me rather mostly because he was happy to have someone plug in for 8 hours that he did not have to pay. 
     Stephen and Matthew on the other hand … could not even comprehend how I could possibly watch a baby (the same baby that they have watched for similar stretches of time).  Fortunately for me … Stephen and Matthew gave me untold amounts of advice and tips on how to babysit.  It is only a bit ironic that neither of them have children and both of them are among the three children that I semi-successfully helped evolve into young men.  
     A long story a little shorter … A Pequena Chefona and I had a great time.  I found that she loves music so much that she even likes my awful singing voice.  She is of course standing every chance she gets which means that she is nanoseconds away from falling continually --- but there was not going to be a bruise or stitches on my watch so I was intensely protective.  She also fell asleep in my arms late in the afternoon from me reading the Wall Street Journal out loud to her (going to be a Republican I guess). 
     I was able to take her to Gymboree … which was the highlight of our day.  We walked down to Gymboree (I walked she rode) and she had a great time.  Perhaps on purpose … I cannot say for sure … 1 minute into the session --- there I was the old guy with the 9 month old sitting around and definitely NOT singing --- and Chefona decides to drop a deuce.  The singing of the others drowned out the grunting and we both decided to just play through it … but my sensory memories of that Gymboree session will forever be more of smell than any other sense.
     In short – we had a great time … and I taught her the words to Camptown Races because she had been getting a couple of them wrong.

     I think I made the approved Babysitter list at Casa de Juando … much to the surprise of my offspring. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Earthquakes - and Somebody is Undefeated in NFL Fantasy Football (and being a grandpa is pretty cool)

     I have never been a big fan of the San Jose Earthquakes home ‘stadium’ (Santa Clara University – Buck Shaw Stadium) and I have never been very shy about that fact.  It is a great place to ‘watch’ a soccer game – but a less than great place to go to a professional sporting event.  Over the past few years the construction that Santa Clara University has done has taken away the little ambience that the place has and rendered it a tough place to enjoy a professional sporting event.  Again – except for the game itself where there may be no better place to watch a game and no seat in the house is bad.

     Yesterday – I think my opinion changed somewhat dramatically.  I think my opinion on a lot of things has changed dramatically since I became a grandfather.  We are fortunate enough to have been able to purchase seats right down on the field (which honestly you cannot really do at other professional venues).  And for the last two games – my daughter-in-law has allowed me to take my Pequena Chefona (Little bossy pants) – Emersyn Wondolowski – into the stadium for pre-game warm-ups by myself.  It was surely against all protests by other family members but Emersyn and I have spent 45 minutes before each game within feet of her daddy warming up.  So --- long story a bit shorter --- I have never been a big fan of Buck Shaw Stadium for a professional sporting event --- but I will always treasure the moments it gave me with my granddaughter.

     By the way – we have good season tickets at the new stadium as well.  Mrs. Wondo and Mr. Wondo pony up their own money for their seats (Buck Shaw Stadium and the new John Wondolowski Stadium) – we go to untold number of sporting events and there is no better value. 

     For those who wonder about my Fantasy Football League – I have good news and bad news.  My youngest son, Matt, got a win this week.  My two older sons, Chris and Stephen, looked again like they were nuns trying to play with the big dogs and got drilled.   Me?  Oh – I am undefeated – but that’s not important … I just want everyone to have fun.  In case you missed it – my winning was the good news and Chris and Stephen being completely humiliated (again) is the bad news. 

     Finally – for the Earthquakes soccer fans – nobody on planet earth could have been happier to see Lennie on the field yesterday.  His presence is incredible … Mrs. Wondo understands as much soccer as Emersyn does Quantum Physics (right now) – but Mrs. Wondo LOVES when Lenny hits the field.

     I have said it before and I will say it again – 3 wins in a row changes everything … it can still happen as long as we get the 3 points in Montreal. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Let's Not Talk Earthquakes - Let's Talk Fatherly Advice (and fantasy football)

I have found a fool-proof way of getting your three sons to not talk to you at all.  It is more brilliant than just cutting off the money (because that tactic just makes them come at you more) – it is joining their Fantasy Football League and winning.  I have to admit this is not the way I drew it up – but the outcome has been great.

I decided this year to join my three sons (Chris, Stephen, Matt) and my two sons-in-law (Brendan and Chris) and two close Wondo Family Friends (Dom an Zak) – in fantasy football.  As I have said before the week between our draft and Week One of the season was a time for every guy in the league to ridicule me as the worst Fantasy Football Player ever.

But then – when Week One was over … I had 131 points – beating Stephen’s team (my opponent) by 53 points – scoring more points than anyone else in the league by a huge margin. 
The result?

None of my sons, sons-in-law, close friends of Wondo Family, or even the love of my life – my Basset Hound Mildred Penelope, will talk to me or respond to my emails or texts.  (OK – Millie P doesn’t know how to text). 

AND … I have discovered the thing that nearly every dad of teenage kids ever wanted to discover --- how do you get your sons to stop talking to you.  (When you have teenage sons they have only two ways of talking to you --- (1) they need money --- and (2) they want to tell you what an idiot you are).  I don’t really enjoy hearing what an idiot I am and I really, really don’t enjoy shoveling out money to my kids.  So --- having my offspring ignore me is a wonderful thing. 

In summary – I have some sage fatherly advice for young fathers out there who have boys who are driving them crazy.  All you need to do is get a Fantasy Football League with them and then get incredibly lucky one week – not just win but win by 53 points – and nobody will bother you for a week.  Imagine that – one week of watching Sports Center (or PBS News Hour) without a son next to you telling you how old and stupid you are … all you need to do is (1) join fantasy football with them and (2) get lucky in week one.  It is a recipe for peace and solitude.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Frustrating Soccer Officials --- and NFL Fantasy Football Outlook

Earthquakes-RSL and then NFL Fantasy Draft
This past weekend’s San Jose Earthquakes – Real Salt Lake game was a bit maddening … but most MLS games are to one degree or another.  It was not the first game where a penalty kick was awarded where no foul occurred … but it was the most recent really important game for the Quakes and that result --- particularly due to that call --- was upsetting.  Fortunately – I don’t think MLS can fine me for complaining about a really bad call … that is one of the best things about writing an Award-Winning – yet obscure – blog.

NFL Fantasy Draft
Our 8 team league is in full swing (your blog editor’s first foray into the world of fantasies that pertain to parts of Sports Illustrated that are not directly related to the Winter Swimsuit Edition).  We have the full Wondo Boys contingent (Chris, Stephen, Matt, and me) – along with my two sons-in-law and two very close family friends.  The Wondo Boys Division is made up of “Fighting Basset Hounds”, “East Bay Brown-Rice”, “Run DMC Feat. MJD”, and “Foles Finds Holes”. 

The draft was great – 6 owners were there in person … 1 used the excuse that he was in Europe and 1 used the excuse that he is a Fire-Fighter and was out saving lives.  Being Commissioner, I levied fines on both of them. 
But I know everyone wants to know about my team – here is a sneak peek:

-          It is Fantasy Football so Character Does Not Matter:
·          I drafted a couple of guys who were stupid enough to both get busted for weed possession at the same time … and another guy who (after I drafted him) got a 4 game suspension for amphetamine usage.

My points on that:

1)       I didn’t draft lawyers … my poor Steelers Running Backs were basically duped by the man.  My guys (Cheech and Chong) “Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blout” did not realize they could get busted for DUI when they did not actually drink anything (just smoked marijuana and had bags of it in the car when busted).  Fortunately – I do not need locker room unity – I need yards and touchdowns from my backs and the NFL Players Association Bargaining Agreement will keep them on my team and active until the Pittsburgh judicial system winds its expeditious course. 

2)       Wes Welker from Denver was a nervy late round pick up by me … only to find out today that he has been suspended for Amphetamine Use.  I do not condone Amphetamine Use and I am particularly against Amphetamine Use when it results in a suspension of one of my players (I have a code after all). 

-          Wondo Boys Summary -- 
·          My sons had trouble keeping up with my bold and innovative draft strategy. 

Ø   Stephen has a similar calling to help and counsel players in trouble so he drafted Ray Rice.  Somehow though he ended up with Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall … but he has Matty Ice and I think that is a reach.
Ø  Matt is solid with Peyton Manning and Julio Jones but he also has a sentimental side where he may have drafted past prime like Larry Fitzgerald, Tom Brady, and MJD.
Ø  Chris got the receiver in Demaryius Thomas and the back in Matt Forte – he is putting his trust in Chip Kelly’s offense and Nick Foles however … some see that as a risk. His darkhorse?  Sammy Watkins of Buffalo – his TE is probable (Cameron) with no other cover currently.
Ø  Sons in Law – Brendan somehow got Drew Brees when we were not looking – Chris (Big Country) picked up Adrian Peterson through Auto Draft.
Ø  Friends – Zack has Seattle Def/ST (let’s hope for him that they don’t get penalized every single defensive snap) – Dominic has RG3 and Jimmy Graham.

All in all – a good holiday weekend.  Matt is holding the money paid in on the dues so I expect to be getting my winnings in January. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It is Football Season ... and What that means in Wondo's World.

     I know that I am supposed to be a soccer fan … and I am … but football season is starting (yes that football not that other football that we pretend is football while we know it is really soccer) – with college games this weekend and the National Football League (let’s call it the NFL) starting the following week. 

     I love football season … for full disclosure I love long walks on the beach, a good romantic novel, hot cocoa in front of the fire with my Basset Hound, and little kittens.  But football season people !!!  The start of football season is better than the first robin in spring, better than the first hot day at the beach in June, better than going to a high school reunion and seeing the girl you had a crush on is married to an unemployed guy who could stand to lose 300 pounds … I mean it is really good.

     I always loved football (again the real football not the football that is really soccer that ‘cool soccer fans’ have to call football) … when we started to combine grilling with football – we really invented something that is even better than drinking beer and fishing on a warm fall day. 

     My point is simply that even though we are saying goodbye to summer – we are saying hello to football season.  That is like having Halle Berry move away from next door but at the same time Beyonce moves in instead – it is all good. 

     This year I am going to try my first structured and formal Fantasy Football League.  We have my three boys, my two sons-in-law, and two close Wondo Friends all in the league.  I’ve never done a structured “real” one before so I am pretty clueless which will explain why I am the League Commissioner.  Our draft is on Labor Day and at dinner tonight my youngest son talked to me like I was in kindergarten because of my stupid questions.

     All in all – this may be more than I had bargained for … but I am going to see it through.  It seems a little too intense and there is studying and research and other things that none of my sons did when I was actually paying for their schools.  I may be longing for grilling and watching football without seeing how many yards Matt Ryan has thrown for so far in the game … but I’ll keep you posted on how a soccer (other football) guy fits in with a football (real football) Fantasy League.

     And … if the Raiders suck again – and my starting quarterback is actually Matt Flynn because I wasn’t paying attention … I can always put a few beers in the cooler and go out to the lake where at least the fish will not bother me. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

What I Learned this Summer (that you can use too)

With Labor Day coming up this weekend – and many people calling it the ‘unofficial end of summer’ – your Award Winning Blog will join the me-too group and reflect on this past summer.  Now, the editor of Your Award Winning Blog will only recognize the end of summer when the Autumnal Equinox brings the season to a close at 7:39pm on September 22nd.  But I always do like to jump on a bandwagon --- so --- here are the three things that I know now but did not know when the summer of 2014 began. 

·          If the San Jose Earthquakes give up 4 or 5 goals per game … their chances of winning that game go down dramatically (you don’t get your C Coaching License by not paying attention people).

·          Having a grandchild has given my wife something to shop for.  She loves to shop and so prior to having Emersyn - when she ran out of things to shop for – I ended up with a lot of socks.  Now she spends 15 hours per day at Buy Buy Baby … and I have run out of socks.

·          The Oakland Raiders are just never, ever, ever going to have a competitive NFL team ever again – never.  Except the year after they move to Los Angeles or San Antonio.  My new coping device is Fantasy Football. 

     No season is without trials and tribulations – things you just have to fight through.  Until this summer I was never going to use a gas grill … I had my Traditional Weber and my Big Green Egg and my life was brilliant.  I was not a zealot for my way of grilling and smoking ... I did not evangelize… I just let gas grill guys be lazy and wrong without criticizing.  UNTIL – the summer of 2014 – I found myself during one family getaway at a vacation cabin with a gas grill and a traditional Weber.  I opted for the gas grill that ONE TIME – and it became my gateway drug.  I am now hopelessly conflicted – when under the influence of the gas grill (Weber – 4 burner – Searing Station … Stainless finish … easy ignite … a temptress powered by propane) I think that this is what grilling should be like – but two days without the gas grill and I am back to being my old self.  I guess the good news is that I don’t need to go to Grilling Rehab Camp – because my wife is simply not an enabler – no way she will let me get a gas grill in addition to my traditional Weber and Big Green Egg … of course if I said it was for the baby – I might be able to squeeze it through the bank account filter.  I’ll keep you posted. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sports Predictions ...

One of the constants in the childhood of my three boys was sports --- I could probably rationalize the reasons into building strong young men but the reality of it was that I really like sports and I am pretty lazy so I watched sports and went to sporting events and played sports so the boys watched sports with me, went to sporting events with me, and played sports – with me and then with each other and friends. 
My wife and I are kind of like the Flintstones on our court – we are the ones who have three newspapers delivered on our driveway every morning.  (caveat – I do read them on my iPad when I am on the road so that is kind of like a cross between Flintstones and Jetsons). The first thing I do in the morning is to grab the sports page from the Contra Costa Times and the sports page from the San Francisco Chronicle and read them cover to cover (I read the Wall Street Journal at night and their one-page sports page gets devoured each evening). 

With that as background into my pitiful little life … I offer this set of observations.  Tonight I read an article on-line that had the odds for which college team would win this year’s NCAA Football Championship – and they had odds for 53 teams with the 53rd team coming in at about 1000-1 or so (Spoiler alert – Cal was not in the list of 53 teams).  I am amazed that people can feel confident predicting how teams of 19, 20, 21 year old (and sometimes 26 year old) men will perform over the course of a four to five month season … and it made me consider the fact that there are much easier sports predictions that can be made year in and year out. 

For Instance:
-          Right before the NFL pre-season starts, then again after the first pre-season game, and then again after the third pre-season game, and then again after the regular season week two, week six, and week nine … there will be a headline in the Contra Costa Times that reads:


-           At some point during the Major League Baseball Season the Giants will be in a losing streak (of some length) and during that streak the following headline will appear in the San Francisco Chronicle:

                - Note – I have always wondered the value of closing the doors and some veteran telling his teammates that they need to get the critical two-out hit … but I’m not a professional baseball player so I guess this is a good thing.

-          At some point during the summer, the home of the best team in baseball will become the subject of a headline:
*”Oakland Coliseum (aka McAfee,, Oracle, Grocery Outlet) – toilets back up and flood locker rooms … all 3300 fans made it out safely … Oakland City Officials confirm their commitment to keeping the A’s in the Coliseum.”
Note- That last part of the headline gives me the visual of the Oakland City Officials with a picture of Lew Wolff holding today’s newspaper while standing in the prehistoric A’s Clubhouse (for those who don’t get my humor --- think hostage tape).

Other sports stories mystify me as far as their importance.  For example neither Tiger Woods nor I have won a Major in the past six years – and last weekend the sports networks were flashing alerts that Tiger Woods was going to take a practice round – coincidentally that same day I went to the golf range to hit a bucket of balls --- not one network ran the story about me … they all picked up the Tiger Woods (non-story) instead.

Finally – although this was a story from a couple of years ago … the press became obsessed with Notre Dame Football Player (now San Diego Charger) Manti Te’o when he happened to invent a fake girlfriend.  I don’t know Mr. Te’o but I can guarantee you that if he is an NFL Linebacker – I have had far more imaginary girlfriends than him … and yet … not one article published with the scoop that I have had imaginary girlfriends.  You can call it a West Coast Bias or a vast conspiracy against Polish-Americans – I cannot explain the popular press I can just offer observations.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Earthquakes-Galaxy Recap --- We Basically Watched a Star Wars Movie

The Earthquakes went on the road to a very difficult place to play (very large field in Carson) – against a very good team that has been playing very good soccer.  Adding to their challenge was that Los Angeles’ best player (in fact best U.S. Player to ever play) – Landon Donovan – just announced that this season would be his last season as a player.  The Earthquakes are suffering from injuries and still trying to claw their way back into relevancy in Major League Soccer.

So this past Friday night seemed like it might be better to be an Oakland Raiders fan as they started their newest rebirth in their first pre-season game at Minnesota a couple of hours before the Earthquakes game.  But those who picked Raiders … had a rougher road. 

How did the Earthquakes tie the Galaxy on Friday night in Carson, California?  I don’t really know.  Unofficial recollection of the game statistics had the Galaxy with 273,564 shots and the Earthquakes with 3.  Fortunately for the Earthquakes, while they converted 67% of their shots into goals – the Galaxy converted 0.000001% of their shots into goals.  Also fortunately for the Earthquakes – the Galaxy decided to shoot about 273,562 of their shots not directly at the goal and hope for the best.

Last night was like the old Star Wars movies … where the Empire Soldiers … all decked out in their white armor and great weapons – went into battle stations by the hundreds against the rag-tag group of Rebels (who numbered 2 guys, 1 girl, 1 wookie with a speech impediment, and 1 pessimistic android).  While the Empire Storm Troopers fired thousands of lethal rounds from their state-of-the-art weapons … the Rebels fired about 3 shots and ended up killing 10,000 Empire Storm Troopers with those 3 shots.

So to me – that was last night.  Somehow, improbably, as the dew set in late evening in Carson --- the Earthquakes and Galaxy ended up with the same total of goals when the game was over.  I guess all us Northern Californians can say is … “It’s L.A. people – nothing makes sense down there

Thursday, August 7, 2014

MLS Soccer Announcers - Revisions and Additions

Two quick revisions/additions to yesterday’s important blog on MLS Soccer Announcers and Color Commentators …

A few people whose opinions I value ‘reminded’ me that I am an idiot for not including Gus Johnson in the good list.  I could not argue either the point that I am an idiot nor the idea that Gus Johnson is a good Play by Play Soccer Announcer.  Gus brings the street cred of being that rare American Sports Announcer who has been on networks for other major sports and then picks up soccer and does well.  We were lucky enough to have Gus do a few radio games for the San Jose Earthquakes in seasons past --- and hearing his audio on some replays was really great.

Other people – many I don’t know – wanted to use me as their proxy for completely blowing up Steve McManaman of ESPN.  I would argue that he doesn’t do MLS games but he does from time to time work as studio guy for MLS playoff games.  Those people (many I don’t know) wanted me to write that his act of talking down to American Soccer Fans because they are American Soccer Fans is a bit abrasive – ok --- they wanted me to say that it is far too abrasive (they had other adverbs).  While I don’t know why ESPN would have him from time to time do MLS games when he wants to just belittle the product --- I nevertheless keep my journalistic objectivity and point out that he has great hair.  I have to give him tremendous credit because I am neither on television – nor – have great hair.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

MLS All-Star - Broadcasters (Suitable for Fans who watch games on TV)

I am going to try to not get in trouble with this … but with the MLS All-Star Game this evening I have decided to look at MLS Announcer All Stars.  This is not a comprehensive list as it has a deep bias for anyone who I have actually watched/listened to more than a couple of times.  AND --- I am trying to not offend anyone here so I am going to be less critical than I am when I am sitting on my couch screaming at these idiots for getting things wrong. 

Sometimes you can see your life play out even at a young age.  For me, it was clear that I was going to be a Major League Baseball Player for the San Francisco Giants and then move on to a successful career as their broadcaster.  Neither of those things has happened yet, but I am only 56 years old so I am not giving up (and who would believe the bad luck of having to follow Kuiper and Krukow???).   I’m not saying I could have hit as many major league home runs as Duane Kuiper – but who knows?  Even Gaylord Perry hit one I think. 

PLAY BY PLAY GUYS – for some reason the networks all believe that they need to bring in a British accent to be authoritative play by play guys.  I don’t subscribe to that but if you have to have a Brit – make it Adrian Healy (or Ian Darke … or any other Brit that I am forgetting) but Adrian Healy is very, very good.   
For the American guys (or guys who sound like Americans) – I have become partial to Jim Kozimor – being from the Bay Area I see other sports that he does and I have grown to really like him on the screen.  Of course it is ridiculous when the local Earthquake games are done with the announcers in a studio rather than at the road game … but that aside – Kozimor is great.  I like Steve Cangialosi’s voice and style with New York Red Bulls – but my best American play-by-play is Glenn Davis.  Glenn is in Houston but had done national games and when he is doing the game you get a very clear account of what is going on and some insight into the game.

COLOR COMMENTATORS – I have to say first and foremost that my two favorites have to be excluded from consideration.  I have known Alejandro Moreno since Chris first came up with the Earthquakes and have been able to spend time with him over the years.  It is not a surprise to me that he is really good as a commentator --- it is probably more of a surprise that he does it without flopping in front of the defenders (sorry Alejandro … I hope you laughed at that).  The other exclusion has to be Taylor Twellman --- not because we are friends – I have only met Taylor once (and by the way he is a great guy) --- but when Chris first got drafted I told Chris that he could be successful in the mode of Taylor Twellman … which kind of outs me as a huge Taylor Twellman fan.  Fandom aside --- Taylor does a great job and is not afraid of voicing his opinion (no matter how incorrect it might be from time to time).  I also have to include Kasey Keller who is really, really good (somehow goalkeepers see the game better and if you happen to get one that isn’t flat out crazy – they are good as commentators NOTE – Kasey is probably the only goalkeeper who doesn’t appear to be flat out crazy).  Brian Dunseth is fantastic and Kyle Martino may be the best of the best as commentators (until he let that ham Stu Holden pinch hit for him)…. Some of us see Kyle Martino now as Wally Pipp and Stu Holden as Lou Gehrig (google it and you might agree – but at least you will learn a little baseball history).  Finally – if I didn’t mention Eddie Robinson he would probably jump on top of me and elbow me in the back (like he used to do to guys like Taylor Twellman).  I’m semi-kidding – I mean I am scared of Eddie and he did play like that --- but he is really good on the Houston games.  Eddie is also the nicest guy in the universe off of the field (as long as you remember to compliment his broadcasting and try not to step in front of him for head balls or dinner lines).  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Levi's Stadium Opens --- But This Blog is Just Whack

     I can accurately say that I was an Earthquakes fan long before my son became an Earthquake.  In fact, I was an Earthquakes fan long before I ever had a son.  Similarly my love of the U.S. National Men’s Team predates even a predate with Chris’ mom. 
     This last Saturday, being at the new home of the San Francisco Forty-Niners, I feel like I do have to come out of the closet and tell everyone that I am the one guy on planet earth who is both a Forty-Niner fan and a Raider fan.  When they play each other I root for the Raiders.  In fact, even though I became an Earthquakes fan when I was a boy … I became a Raider fan a few years before there was even a small tremor of an Earthquakes team to follow. 
     I fell in love with the San Francisco Giants when I was a very small boy.  We lived in Livermore and I used to make my dad take me to the games at Candlestick (about a 14 hour drive back then) to watch Willie Mays (I saw 17 of his home runs in person)… and I would let my know when Juan Marichal was pitching so he could pick out that convenient weeknight game to take me to.  I also love the A’s … but strangely --- I am Giants before A’s and Raiders before Niners … but love all four. 
     With self-proclaimed love of all four teams … there is a marked difference between Oakland fans and San Francisco fans … and an eerie similarity between Raiders fans and Giants fans. 
     A real Giants fan will tell you stories about McCovey, Mays, Bonds (the other Bonds – the one who was the dad), Cepeda, Marichal, Gaylord Perry, and every one of them knows why they hate the Dodgers and every one of them knows about the Johnny Roseboro incident and every one of them knows that neither Don Drysdale nor Orel Hersheiser would have shutout inning records if the umpires didn’t bail them out.  A real Raiders fan will see a #12 jersey and think “Ken Stabler” and a #21 jersey and think “Cliff Branch” – every Raiders fan will tell you the story of the “Sea of Hands” – and the “Holy Roller” – they will all claim that they were there in fact.  Just about every real Raider fan knows that our two best Running Backs both came from Colgate – and each of them will tell you that if we used to have Instant Replay we would have won 7 Super Bowls (Immaculate Reception, Rob Lytle fumble at goal line, etc).   And real Raiders fans know that we even hate the Chiefs more than we hate the Steelers (and everyone else we don’t like … but we hate them less than those two teams).
     So there you go – probably the lamest blog post ever (unless you are a Giants or Raiders fan … then you know exactly what I’m talking about).  Of course if you are a Raiders fan then you hate me mostly for also liking the Niners. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Earthquakes Open Levi's Stadium - Views from the Tailgate

     Yesterday was the grand opening of the new San Francisco Forty-Niner Stadium – Levi’s Stadium – in Santa Clara, California.  The very first game featured Major League Soccer and the San Jose Earthquakes against the Seattle Clint Dempseys.  Your Award Winning Blog will now capture the key elements of the day – the Wondo Group Tailgate … and some stadium highlights. (Quakes 1 - Seattle 0). 

     I have told you before that my wife will use any excuse to organize a party and I will use any excuse to go to a soccer game.  Yesterday was a sort of nexus of marriage dynamics – she and her friends created an amazing party that fortunately broke up just in time for the soccer game.  I read that the attendance last night was 48,765 (since it was the inaugural game the Earthquakes did not sell tickets to the top deck) – of those 48,675 fans there were roughly 53 to 56 of them who did not attend our tailgate (I lost count for a minute when I went to use the restroom). 
     We were in “Lot 6” which is surprisingly easy to get to (if they did not make you for unknown reasons take a u-turn at Tasman and come back on Great America Parkway rather than simply turning left into the parking lot) … and when it is not busy being “Lot 6” it is the driving range for the municipal golf course that is located there.  Fortunately for us the golfers had wrapped up their practice sessions before we arrived (but it was my son-in-law’s car so I really didn’t care that much). 


     I have four brothers and three sons – and if you include me and my dad – 9 male family members who are all nicknamed “Wondo”.  At each stage of your life you run across people who think they invented the nickname – and you just smile and say “Oh – clever!”  But I like the nickname and I especially like that the nickname has really become a way of people feeling more familiar with Chris. 
     Our tailgate had (again by my count – over 48,600 attendees) – and many of them were wearing various “Wondolowski” jerseys.  Some from Team USA, some from the Earthquakes, and Pequena Chefona – Emersyn even had on a “Lil Wondo” Earthquakes Shirt.  For reasons I cannot really explain – I don’t wear Chris’ jerseys or really any Earthquakes gear usually when I go to the games.  I try not to be “That Guy” who has to show everyone that Chris is my son.  Don’t get me wrong – of the 48,675 fans at the game there were 48,674 who were significantly less proud than me of Chris.  I just feel strange about being seen as “That Guy”. 
     But … since there were dozens of “Wondolowski” jerseys at our tailgate it did tend to draw attention from fans walking by … and that leads me to the point here … can you imagine how strange it is that people want to meet me and talk to me simply because I am Chris Wondolowski’s dad?  I have had that experience before but it exclusively came from the Principal at St. Isidore School and the Dean of Boys at De La Salle High School who wanted to specifically talk to me because I was Chris Wondolowski’s dad (and those conversations involved behavioral reprimands). {By the way - Thanks Mrs. Gannon-Briggs and Mr. Alioti for letting me keep him in school}.  
     Plus - consider the fact that my own three sons really find no interest in talking to me and it just makes that whole dynamic a little stranger for me to understand. 
     Well … when you combine the fact that (1) I don’t wear Wondolowski jerseys or gear with (2) I don’t share any of Chris’ good looks or really resemble him at all … when someone from our tailgate would introduce me as “Wondo’s Dad” – most of the people passing by thought it was a cruel joke.

     I have read a few articles in the papers this morning – some saying it was a disastrous first opening and some saying it was smooth.  It was a great experience … the stadium is great and we got home (Santa Clara to Danville) in about an hour from the time we got into the car after the game.  I suggest that if you ever go … get there very, very early – and if you don’t know what you will do with all that time before the game --- call my wife and she and her friends will plan a tailgate for you

Friday, August 1, 2014

First Ever Tailgaters at Levi Stadium Tomorrow

The Earthquakes are playing Seattle at the new Levi Stadium tomorrow evening and the Wondos will be among the very first tailgaters at the new stadium as this game is the debut event for the stadium.  A crowd of above 45,000 is expected.

Thanks to my Italian Wife --- I think about half of the 45,000 people will be part of our tailgate.  Joanne loves a good party and she will even tolerate a soccer game if she can organize a good party and at least loosely associate it with the soccer game.

I've looked at the parking lots and they do not look like they lend themselves well to tailgating - in fact I have a real fear that by the time the game starts we may all look like ants that have been under a  microscope in the sun all afternoon.  But I am there for the soccer game and I am the driver of at least one of the vehicles so I will be there.

Look for a captivating account of the event on this Award Winning Blog.  I'll tweet pictures for those who are playing at home.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Taking Your Daughter to Work Night

Last night the San Jose Earthquakes played the Chicago Fire in Santa Clara (fill in your own 'natural disaster vs. natural disaster' line here).  It was a great crowd (seemed like full capacity in the 'charming' Buck Shaw Stadium... I'm still looking for the right euphemysm that doesn't come right out and say old, small, and fan-unfriendly).  If you had Earthquake in your Natural Disaster Fantasy League then you are a lot happier today than if you had Fire - Quakes 5 and Fire 1...

I thought that the last game in New York (or more accurately Harrison, New Jersey in the 'modern' Red Bull Arena ... I'm still looking for the right euphemysm that doesn't come right out and say - hey that stadium is in an old abandoned field in New Jersey) ... showed an Earthquake team that was vastly improved and solid.  The result in New York was a tie but the Quakes were on the upswing.  Now - catching Chicago on the road in a mid-week game - optimists will be happy.

More importantly last night - I took my beautiful daughter-in-law and my even-more-beautiful grand-daughter to the game.  They sat with me in our field seats because my beautiful wife decided that a mid-week game crosses the line of her soccer passion.  There is something about taking children to the game ...

When the boys were young (my boys - Chris, Stephen, and Matthew) -- I used to take them everywhere on the weekends.  I can accurately claim that I have changed diapers in every stadium and sports arena in the Bay Area.  Back in the day (when I dragged them to Candlestick) Chris had his favorite Giant - Candy Maldonado - and Stephen had his - Will the Thrill Clark - and Matty being the youngest probably had his favorite but I am sure his brothers told him he was wrong.  (Side note - Matty now bench-presses more weight than his two older brothers combined and they spend a lot less time telling him he is wronng).

Back to the story -- last night A Pequena Chefona - Emersyn was sitting with Lindsey and me.  Well --- Mr. Emersyn's Dad ... scored a goal and then came over to give his little Angel a kiss.  As luck would have it - Emersyn signed off for the night about 10 minutes before the goal.  There are two lessons in this ---- first - kind of cool if your dad is a professional soccer player and scores a goal and comes over and kisses you on television --- second - it would be cooler if her dad had scored a lot earlier ... like when she was awake.

So - take your daughter to work day ended up pretty fun for the Younger Wondo Family last night.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Quakes Tie - plus - Fresno and Cleveland Square Off

The San Jose Earthquakes are reaching a point in their season where wins are the only thing that they can be happy with ... but ... if you do not get a win then getting a tie by scoring a goal in the final five minutes on the road is the next best thing.  It was really interesting to watch the game yesterday (San Jose vs. New York Red Bulls) --- when a Penalty Kick was awarded to the Red Bulls the Bay Area Announcers were convinced it was a completely horrible missed call --- watching the highlights later that night (from the New York Feed) the New York Announcers were convinced it was a completely black-and-white correct call.  That just goes to show you that officiating live play is tough (I will say that the way the ball bounced I would bet it hit Cahill's head rather than Lenny's arm).  I think my son agrees with me but unlike Chris - I did not get a yellow card arguing my point of view --- I just screamed at the Big Screen loud enough to wake up my Basset Hound, Mildred Penelope.

This week I have taken my talents to Northeast Ohio (I don't know if that line has been used before but I am thinking of trademarking it).  I am sitting in Cleveland, Ohio this evening (I wrote that just to make you envious).  My professional life is a tapestry of glamorous metropolitan culture ... I do not want this to come across as bragging but not only was I able to fly all day Sunday to go to Cleveland but last week I was in Fresno.  I cannot help but do a comparison of Fresno and Cleveland (and I do not mean to upset anyone --- I am just trying to find humor after sacrificing my Sunday to THE MAN).

Fresno has roughly twice the population of Cleveland so if you like more people - Fresno wins that category if you like less people - Cleveland wins.

Cleveland sits on the southern shores of Lake Erie (a bit north of Akron and a bit east of Toledo).  Fresno hasn't seen actual water since the current drought started a couple of years ago.  If you like water - Cleveland wins.

The Cleveland Indians are two games above .500 (after today's game) while the Fresno Grizzlies are 3 games under .500.  Some might give that edge to the Indians (especially since they are Major League and the Grizzlies area AAA) but I call that a draw because the Grizzlies are my Giants farm team.

Cleveland has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while Fresno has 287 jukeboxes within the city limits that can play Rock and Roll.  The edge here goes to Cleveland.

Cleveland has LeBron - (again) - Fresno never had LeBron but they did have Jerry Tarkanian coach the Fresno State Bulldogs.  The edge goes to Cleveland.

After this analysis -- I should be very happy to be in Cleveland.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Deep Analysis of the Recent FIFA World Soccer Rankings

The FIFA World Rankings came out today (Soccer’s Governing Body doing their impersonation of the College Football Top 25) – and the USA dropped two places to number 15 in the world.  At the same time the Netherlands and Costa Rica jumped up double digits in the new rankings.  Scotland at number 27 and Egypt at number 36 were the only teams in the top 50 to not change rankings at all in this first post-world cup ranking. 

There are countries that have tried to combine together to get stronger – and the results indicate that does not work well. 

In the new category of “Combined Countries”  - Bosnia and Herzegovina are ranked highest at number 19.  Trinidad and Tobago are ranked 84th.  You have to go all the way down to St. Vincent and the Grenadines (number 135) to find the next highest ranked combined country.  I think the lesson is clear – even if you combine countries and your name sounds like a Reggae Band --- FIFA Rankings are still harsh on you.  By the way --- in a manner somewhat like T-ball --- there is no clear-cut last place … number 208 is inexplicably shared by Bhutan and San Marino.  Bhutan is a small country in the Himalayas and San Marino is a little piece of land that somehow is surrounded by Italy but is not Italy.  But before we feel bad for San Marino … they have the highest per-capita standard of living in Europe with the lowest unemployment rate.  Maybe soccer is not that important after all.

Final observation of the FIFA World Rankings … putting “Republic” in your name is not a big accelerator.  The Czech Republic is ranked 35 and Korea Republic is ranked 56.  If you thought that leading with “Republic” would help – just ask the Republic of Ireland who holds down number 70. 

The big controversy in these rankings is that people have no idea how Andorra could move up two slots to number 198 while Papua New Guinea moved down three slots to 199.  Most people point to that and blame it on the East Coast Bias. 

So that is it on the current FIFA rankings --- but people it is summer time --- go out and enjoy some summer without soccer if you can.  There are County Fairs in July in most locations and I understand that on Saturday night the 8pm show at the Sonoma County Fair is going to be St. Vincent and the Grenadines – covering Bob Marley and the Wailers.  Should be awesome.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Top Five Signs that Soccer is Becoming Popular in the United States

Top Five Signs that Soccer is Getting Popular in the United States:

5.  My blog got 1000 views per day when I was in Brazil … I have – like – 3 friends – (Ok- probably 2 and 1 acquaintance)  -- that many people are interested in my blog because my son plays soccer and I am in Brazil for the World Cup??? – crazy.

4.  Jimmy Fallon gets 1,000,000 views on Youtube for his bits on the World Cup and the U.S. World Cup Team.  This is equal to the National Geographic Youtube video on Platypus Evolution:
Tell me people … did any of us really ever imagine U.S. Soccer as popular as platypus evolution????

3.  The wives of the U.S. Players are so hot that it honestly hurts to look at them – just wait for their vacation pictures to start showing up on  is all I’m saying.

2.  USA fans purchased more world cup tickets for games in Brazil than any other country- (not funny but true).

1.  I don’t really have 2 friends … I like talk to a guy at the gym once in a while and a girl who works at Safeway and call them friends … and still my blog got more than 1000 views per day – so there you go.  And the USMNT won an ESPY last night and one of my favorite players – Kyle Beckerman was there – so that is my number one sign that soccer is popular in the United States.  Now … if the Williams sisters rang my doorbell and wanted to meet me because my son was a soccer player --- that would mean we really made it. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Post World Cup Blues

The 2014 World Cup is over (you probably did not hear that first from me) – and now the next big International event will be Euro 2016 (European Championship) in France in June of 2016.  Qualifying for that starts in two months.

Many of us ‘soccer people’ have a bit of a letdown this week as we did have nearly a month of great soccer competition.  For those of us who were lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks in Brazil to enjoy the tournament first-hand … we all have to acclimate back to our real lives.  I may be luckier than most in that my real life includes daily workouts at the Renaissance Club Sport in Walnut Creek, California.  If you cannot be in Brazil – then Club Sport is not a bad alternative.  I am pretty sure they have a ‘minimum attractiveness test’ that they apply to people who want to join – because the place is full of beautiful people.  Fortunately for me – I joined about 10 years ago … prior to the institution of the ‘minimum attractiveness test’ and I have been grandfathered in. 

Another non-World Cup thought is that there are a few things I have heard in my life that just never really make sense …  for example some are:  “Oh she is a Basset Hound – what trouble could she possibly get into?” … and there is:  “Your children already paid for that.”  … and the most recent one is something that I am saying today:  “My son is going to Los Angeles this week because of his third ESPY nomination.”  -- I can tell you that if ESPN had never been invented – I would have invented it.  The fact that Chris has been nominated for ESPY awards is something that I cannot really get my head around.  In my world I can only equate it to the day where the Wall Street Journal has a front page article above the fold describing my business executive brilliance.  But unlike good basset hounds, children paying, and me being a model business executive --- the ESPY award is not a fantasy. 

If you think I have trouble getting my head around it … consider my family.  Of course Chris’ brothers will say:  “Oh – are they giving an ESPY to the guy who blew the far post volley at the end of the Belgium game?”  (all those people who tweeted death threats - you cannot compete with his brothers in terms of criticism) … and then there is my wife --- she has watched ESPN roughly 2 times in the past 3 years … both times she watched the ESPYs when Chris was nominated so that she could (1) see if they did shots of Chris and Lindsey in the crowd during the show and (2) see what was in the SWAG Bag that Chris and Lindsey took home.  Four years ago my wife would have thought ESPN broadcast Masterpiece Theatre – but now she is a regular viewer (you know … 3 times in four years counting tomorrow).  I don't know what she thinks they broadcast the rest of the time - probably game shows. 
I am so proud of Chris and so glad that he and Lindsey get to go - two other people who are ecstatic are the two grandmas who will be in a "Spoil A Pequena Chefona Contest" for the next two days. I predict a draw. 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday at Pebble Beach (Oh - and apparently Germany Won)

The day at Pebble Beach was fantastic…  and quite surprisingly –I didn’t suck at golf.  In fact – I was on the green putting for birdie four times (ok – so my putts did suck).  Chris was solid, Matt hits the ball so hard that it makes you think that they will just explode on impact --- it is like he really hates the balls --- and Lukas was good, bordering on great.  And --- this is with Lukas hitting LEFT HANDED! --- I cannot even imagine how good Lukas would be if he hit from the right side.  (Note – if you are Lukas’ partner – who I was – don’t borrow his wedge – it faces the wrong direction). 

     Stephen Wondo missed the event due to Earthquakes Academy Try-outs … and when he hears that I was not embarrassingly bad – he’ll toggle between the emotions of denial and reluctant acknowledgment.  Lukas, who pinch hit for Stephen, ended up with an expensive free round of golf since he grabbed breakfast, dinner, club-cleaner-tip, and some adult beverages on the course --- thanks Lukas.

     I did learn a couple of lessons golfing today …

-          Apparently walking right in front of someone else’s ball on the green (between the ball and the hole) gets frowned upon (not just at hole 3 … but also at holes 8, 13, and 16).

-          You can be as awesome as possible on the practice greens … that does not translate to these sadistically tiny and contoured greens at Pebble Beach.


-           If you happen to hit a lucky tee shot that outdistances the other three members of your foursome – your best and perhaps only action is to just shut the f#%@ up (learned that lesson the hard way with Matt)


-           Apparently putting is an important skill


-          If you have 5 hours on a Sunday afternoon – you could do a lot worse than hanging with the Wondo Boys and Lukas on what just may be the most beautiful place on earth … because everyone was serious and while 3 of the group broke 90 in strokes … we all were over 100 in laughs.