Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Team USA arrives in Austria

A warm welcome goes out to the 2011 Senior National sqaud as they arrive in Austria for the IFAF World Championship of American Football. The team has spent the last 8 days at the U.S. National training camp at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Led by NCAA Division II College Football Hall of Fame Head Coach Mel Tjeerdsma (3 NCAA Division II National Championships at Northwest Missouri State), Team USA begin their World Cup campaign against Australia on Thursday, July 8th at 3pm CEST in the mountain town of Innsbruck, home of the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics.

Unfortunately there is little television coverage for the USA with Eurosport 2 only broadcasting two games:
July 10 @ 10 pm / 22.00 (CEST): Germany vs USA (delayed 3hr)
July 12 @ 7 pm / 19.00 (CEST): USA vs Mexico (live)

Check here for possible unofficial streams of the IFAF World Championship:

Congrats to the following 46 man squad and good luck during the championship. I myself will see you at the final on the 16th of July in Vienna, Austria!

1 Nate Kmic RB, Mount Union (Ohio)*
2 Ricardo Lenhart WR, Otterbein
3 Greg Betterson WR, Delta State (Miss.)
5 Matt Bassuener QB Georgetown
6 Lane Olson LB, Wisconsin-Whitewater
7 Cody Hawkins QB, Colorado*
8 Korey Williams WR, Northwest Missouri State
10 Myles Burnsides DB, Northwest Missouri State
11 Micah Brown QB/WR, Saint Mary's University (Canada)
12 DeWayne Lewis CB, Southern Utah
13 Ben McLaughlin QB, Louisiana College
17 Greg Berkshire K/P, Ashland (Ohio)
18 Tommy Connors S, Southeastern Louisiana
20 Taylor Malm WR, Northwestern (Iowa)
21 Jordan Lake S, Baylor
22 Stephen Virgil CB, Virginia Tech
23 Daniel Tromello DB, Occidental
24 Osayi Osunde LB, Villanova*
25 Da'Shawn Thomas RB, Univ. of Western Ontario
27 Jeff Franklin CB, Central State (Ohio)
29 Diezeas Calbert CB, Northwest Missouri State
30 Maurice Banks DB, Georgetown
32 Henry Harris RB, Southeast Missouri State
33 Joe Sturdivant S, Southern Methodist University
37 Jason Haller RB/WR, Occidental College
40 Richie Brockel FB, Northwestern
42 Demetrius Eaton LB, Northwestern*
43 Terrernce Jackson LB, Indiana-Pennsylvania
44 Zach Watkins LB, Washburn (Kansas)*
51 Gerard Bryant DL, St. Lawerence (New York)
54 Brandon Jordan OL, Missouri S&T
60 Cameron Zipp OL, Southern Mississippi
55 Daniel Catalano DE, Northern Michigan
56 John Jacobs LB, Saginaw Valley State (Michigan)
58 Brandon Jordan OL, Missouri S&T
65 Josh Koeppel OL, Iowa
70 Luke Summers OL, Mount Union (Ohio)
72 Frank Knights OL, Southeast Missouri State
77 Dane Wardenburg OL, Northwest Missouri State
78 Darius Henderson OL, Central Missouri State
88 Mike Peterson TE, Northwest Missouri State*
91 Charles Bay DE, Dartmouth
93 Wacey Coleman DL, Black Hills State
92 Johnny Dingle DL, West Virginia
98 Tyler Roach DL, Northwest Missouri State
99 Daniel Calvin DT, Kansas State

*Team Captains

Mel Tjeerdsma (Head Coach)
Larry Kehres (Offensive Coordinator)
Lou Tepper (Defensive Coordinator)
Derrick Williams (Defensive Backs)
Matt Webb (Defensive Line)
Erik Raeburn (Offensive Line)
Mickey Joseph (Running Backs)
Dave Weikel (Team Trainer)
Steve Bernstein (Defensive Backs)
Adam Austin (Receivers)
Jordan Brown (Ops/Tight Ends)

The IFAF World Championship of American Football takes place in Austria July 8th-16th.

Tickets can be bought on

The schedule and other information can be found at the official website:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The World Championship of American Football 2011 - Vienna, Austria

We've all heard about the World Cup. Some of us have even seen it long enough to realize it's only some over-hyped soccer matches between a few countries corrupt enough to field a team. Well there is another lesser known World Cup that takes place every 4 years as well which might be slightly more interesting to the North American market; The American Football World Cup or the World Championship of American Football as it is called by its 2011 host nation Austria.

Previously held only 3 times with Japan taking home the championship in 1999 and 2003, and the United States winning the cup in 2007, 2011 sees a line up of 8 nations in a two group round-robin tournament. Starting July 8th in Innsbruck, Austria with the kick-off match between the USA and Australia, the following week will see a salvo of grid iron competition between Germany, Mexico, Austria, France, Japan, Canada, Australia and the USA before culminating in the World Championship Final at Ernst-Happel-Stadion in the Austrian capital of Vienna on the 16th of July, 2011.

Ernst-Happel-Stadium, Vienna, Austria.

The schedule and other information can be found at the official website:

A few of us Americans living in Vienna are organizing some tailgating festivities before the final game on July 16th to add some authenticity in the stadium parking lot. All nationalities are welcome and encouraged. You can support us by joining our event on Facebook:

For more details please contact:

Go Team USA!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Indy 500 on European TV

Just a heads up this weekend on May 29th across Europe at 5:00/6:00pm UK/CET is the 100th Anniversary of the 500 Mile Race live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sky Sports 4 (UK) also in HD.

It should be a good Sunday race double header as at 14:00 the world famous Monaco Grand Prix kicks off for the 69th time in Monte Carlo followed by the Brickyard Classic at 18:00. Reserve your pub seat as the best place to watch both will be Irish pubs across the EU.

Watch Scott Dixon claim revenge on Alex Tagliani for just edging him out during qualifying in Indianapolis last weekend. Meanwhile folks on the F1 side of the pond will be watching in anticipation for someone who can stop Sebastian Vettel with a 2011 runaway crown for Red Bull Racing.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

5 things to do in Europe during the NFL lockout:

NFL fan? Like to go down to the pub on a Sunday evening and enjoy watching some football with your American (or British, Spanish, Austrian, etc) buddies? Yeah, me too. I also enjoy watching the games at home on the big screen, courtesy of ESPN America. Or on the PC, with the NFL season pass (something I had gotten along without quite nicely until the Chiefs up and became respectable last season, forcing me to go along for the ride). How did they choose to build upon that success? They locked the damn players out. And now that a judge has put the lockout back in place (after a brief, ultimately unresolved ruling temporarily ended it). Great call, NFL!

I’m too big of a fan to pretend that a lockout, even a lost season, would keep me from watching the games ever again. I’ll be back. But, in the interim, how to fill that void? (I figure, better to prepare now and be pleasantly surprised if they come to a settlement)…

1 – NCAA football. Yeah, it seems obvious, and likely if you’re an American football fan living here in Europe, you’re already plugged into the NCAA games as well. Still, if you’re a pro-first guy like me (though I lean the opposite way when it comes to basketball), sometimes it’s easy to forget how great a college game can be. Set those DVRs and watch ‘em on Sunday evening to complete the NFL illusion!

2 – Flag football (Or touch, tackle, whatever floats your boat). You heard me. Get up off the couch/bar stool and take advantage of the fall weather. A couple of beers, couple of friends, a park, a pigskin ball and you’re ready to go! Just try not to tear anything while you’re out there…
3 – Football. And by that, I mean soccer, naturally. If you’re not already enmeshed in the local (Europe) game, now’s the time to add it to your repertoire. Find a bar showing some Premier League or Bundesliga action and learn to love again… (see our blogs on getting into soccer if you need further assistance).

4 – Pub quiz. Most any Irish pub worth its salt will have a weekly pub quiz. Round up a team and put your brain to work on something that doesn’t involve calculating down and distance! Get those competitive juices flowing in a whole new direction.

5 – Take a language course. Yeah, it’s no fun, and it’s in no way sports related. But you never seem to find the time. Well, now there’s a gap in your schedule, so take advantage and get out for a weekly French/Spanish/Dutch/German/Polish course (preferably not all at the same time).

If those all fail you, there’s always the old standby: beer. Admit it, it’s why you moved to Europe in the first place. Or maybe that’s just me…

Monday, April 11, 2011

Viewing in Europe - live vs. delayed

It’s the ever-present dilemma of the US sports fan living in Europe. Do I make the effort to watch the event live, often destroying sleep patterns and sanity in the process, or do I make the “tape-delayed”/TIVOed sacrifice and try to maintain radio silence long enough to maintain some portion of the live sports thrill? Of course, we’re fantastically spoiled today. To even have access to American sports in Europe, live or otherwise, is a relatively recent phenomenon for most. The internet has made it possible to have it all, with satellite and cable options close behind (or even ahead, in terms of video quality). Ten, twenty years ago, expats living in most European locations would have been hard pressed to catch more than the Super Bowl to get their American sports fix. Still, why apologize for where we’re at now? Things are great, and they’ll likely get even better. But with the North American time differences, the choice will remain…

For some sporting events, it’s easy. NFL regular season games start at 7pm on Sundays (CET). In some ways, that presents a much better option than continually sacrificing family outings in favor of pigskin viewing, as was often the case back in the states. Same goes for college ball on Saturdays. Baseball-wise, there are often good games available on the weekend, Sunday for sure, at similar times. Both of these are less palatable if you are, like my buddy luvbeers, a west coast sports fan, as you’re still going to be starting around 10pm CET at the earliest. Still, it’s doable. The early rounds of the just-ended NCAA basketball tournament were also quite easy to follow. NASCAR races are often run “early” on a Sunday, major golf and tennis tournaments have the same hectic, catch-some and miss-some schedules to deal with that they would if we all lived back home still.

Beyond that, though, it gets a bit tougher. Questions arise. Priorities kick in. Do I stay up to watch regular season MLB games? Probably not. Those keep for the next day just fine. NBA? NHL? The same, for me at least. But then come the playoffs, and the tradeoff gets more difficult. Divisional series, ALCS, World Series… which are worth losing sleep over? What if your local team is in the thick of things? What about the NBA’s “second season”. It’s just not as much fun to watch it the next day, even if you’re able to avoid the score from all of the available sources long enough to watch a game “pure.” Still, there has to be a tradeoff.

Me, I watch a good deal of the “easy” events. And if one of my teams somehow manages to get involved in the thick of things, post-season wise, I will move things around to watch it live (let’s not talk about the Jayhawks right now, though. The wounds are too fresh). Then it becomes about the matchups, and what’s going on in the real world. Rooting for the Giants last season, I ended up watching nearly every minute of the World Series as it unfolded. Made for a tough week, but well worth it. Saw several of their earlier round games as well. On the NBA front, I watched a smattering of games live, and about three games during the Finals. The rest were on delay. I was up to watch all of the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. That was a no-brainer in my world. I stayed up late for several NCAA bowl games during January and most of the NCAA basketball games during the tournament (though I sure could’ve skipped that god-awful final!). The NHL was strictly a “watch it the next day if at all” proposition for me, as I wasn’t too involved in the later-stage matchups.

What’s your take? What keeps you up at nights in the world of American sports? What would you just as soon sleep through…?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The NBA’s young guns

The NBA regular season is nearly over. Still, it’s worth talking about the year that was before we get into the good stuff. The league is divided. On one side we have the old standbys. The perennial powers. Your Celtics, Lakers, Spurs, Mavericks, even the Heat (and, of course, the Bulls, who seem to straddle the two sides). They’re leading the pack, back in the thick of things. And undoubtedly, two of those teams will meet up in the Finals and take it all. Still, there’s another side to the NBA this season. One which we might not see again for a few years, if the scouts are correct about the dry pipeline in both college and Europe (and/or if prolonged labor negotiations submarine the 2011/12 season). This dominance at the top has somewhat obscured the other big story in basketball’s top league. Namely, the emergence of a plethora of young talent. Talent which should see a changing of the guard within another season or two.

It started last year, with Kevin Durant’s emergence and scoring title. This season, the Oklahoma City star has been eclipsed to some degree (though his recent scoring binge has him back in the MVP discussion) by rebound machine Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves), dance-crazy double-double machine John Wall of the woebegone Washington Wizards, the LA Clippers surprising duo of Eric Gordon and human highlight reel Blake Griffin as well as most of the Memphis Grizzlies. And of course Derrick Rose’s emergence as a true MVP contender for Chicago.

What do they have in common, besides youth? Well, for one thing, they all seem to be on the brink of something big (with the exception of the ‘Wolves and Wizards). KD’s Thunder gave the Lakers all they could handle in last year’s playoffs, and this season he and budding star point guard Russell Westbrook are building on the breakthrough by making a real push for the Western Conference four seed. Their team success is undoubtedly inspiring for the other youngsters making an impact on the statistics, highlight reels and All-Star contests but who have yet to see those translate into Ws. The Clippers have shown a vast improvement since their insipid, slow start, and Griffin’s “over the car” dunk contest winner wasn’t nearly as impressive as the improvement in his overall game since they tipped off in late October (or, indeed, as impressive as many of his in-game dunks have been, although they’re rarely accompanied by actual choruses). The Grizzlies are on a late season surge, a team that no one wants to draw in the first round of the playoffs. And of course the Bulls are running away with the East.

They’re also just plain fun to watch. Griffin’s dunks are the obvious Youtube highlights, but Wall’s dishes have been fun to watch in short clip form, and Love’s impressive knowledge of the area around the rim is quite impressive as well.

So, enjoy the “classics” while you can. Another season or two and the changing of the guard just might be complete!

Monday, April 4, 2011

MLB – the first weekend

Okay, after a weekend of ODing on baseball it’s time to take stock of what we think we’ve learned (and overanalyze what is, to be fair, only about 2% of the season.) The first four days give rise to the following questions:

  • Are the BoSox incredibly overrated? Or is Texas just that good? The Rangers shut down the much-lauded “Greatest Team of All-Time” while lighting up their pitching staff. I don’t think it changes much vis-à-vis Boston, who never plays well in Arlington, but it does point towards another run from the Rangers, even without Cliff Lee.

  • Hope for the downtrodden? Baltimore sweeps the Rays, KC comes within an Alex Gordon foul ball of taking four from the Angels, Pirates and Mariners both win their opening series. Does this portend a genuine run from any of the clubs? The Orioles starters looked solid, which would be a good sign if they didn’t play in the AL East…

  • Will the Dodgers make everyone forget about the McCourts? Taking three of four from the defending champions is a good start.

  • Will the Phillies run away with the NL East? They sure looked solid against Houston. How much better might they be when their starters get some innings under them?

  • Is the Angels bullpen really that bad? After giving up leads and losing (or nearly doing so) in the first three games against the Royals, LA finally got some decent innings out of the pen on Sunday, only to give up the ninth inning tie and lose it in the 13th. So now they’re beat up in addition to pitching poorly. Lucky they had a day off before playing the Rays.

I’m sure there’s more, but maybe we’ll let a whole week slide by before drawing any more conclusions... Enjoy!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Last second Final Four thoughts

So, yeah, the Sweet Sixteen went pretty much to form, eh? All of my predictions came true and I’m ready to look at the remaining four teams, none of which are surprises to me… Okay, then, at least I had one of the brackets called right (thank you, Kentucky).
Why'd I take so long to discuss the games? Just maybe I was a touch despondent about KU’s untimely exit. But, looking back, could you really expect anything else? No 1 OR 2 seeds remaining? WTH? Crazy doesn’t begin to explain tonight’s first game matchup between VCU and Butler, so I won’t even try. I think Butler will take a close one, moving on to face Kentucky in the Final. At which point, I’m going to stick with Kentucky to win it all (admittedly, this is a bit of reverse psychology, as I figure whichever team I select will ultimately lose the game, giving the title to the underdog. Sneaky, no?)

Anyway, looking forward to the games and I can only hope they’re as tightly contested as those amazing Elite Eight games were! Hope you’re staying up late across the continent to watch them with me.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening day!

It’s finally here! It is upon us. Twelve teams across six cities are throwing out their first pitch, starting at 1pm ET (7pm CET) all the way through 8pm ET (2am CET, ouch). There’s a solid triple-header coming our way on ESPN America: Detroit at NY Yankees, San Diego at St. Louis and San Francisco at LA Dodgers. I myself plan to watch at least parts of all three, however I’ll rotate out the St. Louis game for my own MLB feed from Kansas City (Angels at Royals). Additional games that one would need the MLB package to view in Europe are the Brewers at Cincinnati and Atlanta at Washington.

What’s on your agenda for the evening’s festivities? Hot dogs? Beer? Peanuts and Cracker Jacks (pretty sure you’d have to import the latter, of course). Anyway, it’s a nice break from all of the basketball drama, and I’m excited as ever about the new season. Hope that everyone is getting a little taste of home tonight!

Help Bring ESPN America HD to UPC Digital Cable Austria!

On the advice of a good friend in the SEO industry, I have started a grassroots campaign similar to bringing democracy to the Middle East only this time it is ESPN America HD to Austria's digital cable provider, UPC.

For the kids!

Monday, March 28, 2011

ESPN America HD coming to Austria? UPC Digital?

Hi Luvbeers,

Apologies for the delay in getting back to you. ESPN America HD is currently available on many television platforms in Europe, including Canal Digital in the Nordic region (Sweden, Finland, Norway), Sky Deutschland in Germany and Austria, and others in the UK and France. ESPN are in commercial negotiations with a number of satellite, cable and ADSL platforms throughout Europe about launching in the months ahead, though we do not disclose the terms of any of our business deals publicly. Thank you for your note, and I hope you continue to enjoy the channel.

All the best,


Richard Vivian
Sales Director Sports Distribution

The Walt Disney Company
3 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith, London W6 9PE


Sent: 17 March 2011 10:06
To: Vivian, Richard
Subject: ESPN America HD Distribution

Dear Mr. Vivian,
I am writing you in regards to ESPN America HD distribution. I am an American consumer currently living in Austria. I am aware that through Sky Satellite Germany I can acquire the HD feed in my building, however I have some offhand questions before I switch from my cable provider. Is the HD feed only available through satellite? I cannot find any cable operators in Europe right now offering the feed. Also does Sky Germany have exclusive rights to the HD feed that would prevent an operator such at UPC Austria from licensing it?

I am not sure if you are the correct person to contact, if so perhaps you can send me some else’s email?

Thank you with warm regards,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The 2011 app

I just installed the new free Formula 1 app for my Samsung Galaxy Android and I must say that it looks pretty nifty and will come in handy when I want to see F1 news and time sheets and can't be in front of a television. Download it now for free!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sweet 16 – An Alternate Take

So yesterday we posted Arturo’s take on the remaining NCAA squads. I don’t think I’ll go into the full detail that he did. Suffice it to say that I too thought that the opening week was, for the most part, amazing (if one can suffer some temporary amnesia where the refereeing is concerned, that is). We had upsets galore, close games, buzzer beaters and a few dominant teams asserting themselves (and I had one of those annoying American Sports in Europe situations rear up when we made our monthly trip to Upper Austria to visit relatives and my viewing options were wiped out completely for 36 hours. Torture!)

Now, though, is where it gets serious. The Sweet Sixteen – where Cinderella dreams go to die. It’s tough to carry over the momentum into the second week, and this is why I expect most, if not all, of the double-digit seeds to fall by the wayside sooner, rather than later. Which teams will get through, then? Will it all play out to form from here on in? Not quite…

East: Before the tourney started, everyone pointed this out as the “killer” region, and it doesn’t look much different today. Marquette winning through would be a surprise, but any of the other three could make it out alive and no one would blink. Being as I identified them before it got started, I’ll stick with UK in this one, pulling off the upset over a cruising Ohio St. that’s due for a tough game and a win over Roy Williams and UNC to reach Houston. Kentucky it is.

West: Hate to do it, but I’ve gotta go with the Blue Devils in this, the one region that went to form. I don’t see Arizona giving them much competition (unless their friendly Pac-10 ref is in charge of all of the clock management), SDSU just doesn’t strike me as a Final Four team and the Huskies are bound to cool off sometime, aren’t they? So, once again, we'll be stuck with Duke on the last weekend. Yipee!

Southwest: Yeah, this is all Jayhawks, baby. Sure, they could run into a cold spell, coupled with an opponent shooting lights-out from downtown and fall short of the Final Four. But they won’t. This team is too deep to drop one at this point, and none of the remaining teams in their region has the horsepower to stay with Kansas when they’re playing well.

Southeast: Eh, I still don’t like this region. I didn’t like anyone in it when the tournament started, and nothing has changed that opinion. Butler, maybe. Or the trendy pick of Wisconsin. BYU? Jimmer? Maybe without their ridiculous, self-defeating pre-marital sex clause they’d have pulled it out. Hmm… that leaves Florida. Oh, what the heck. I’d love to watch KU dismantle the Gators in the semi-finals. Let’s call this one for FU. Or is that UF? :)

That’s it for now. Tune in next week to see me either gloating or writing up a formal retraction of all my predictions…

Monday, March 21, 2011

Guest blog: Arturo's take on the NCAA Sweet Sixteen

I am sure by now you know that the NCAA Tournament has started. If you are like most Americans living in Europe you are disconnected from what is going on back home or you’ve just lost that giddy feeling. Well, let me give you this feeling back and share with you my experiences of this past week.

This is by far one of the greatest tournaments I have witnessed on many accounts. The fact that there is no one team that can impress you that much or is a clear favorite is beyond me. This week has been full of upsets, buzzer beaters, crazy plays (ones that make you wonder “Did that really just happen?”) and just plain plays that break hearts. All this in one week!

Teams that are pulling like they are for real are in my opinion: Ohio State, Kansas, and Florida. These are teams I see going far into the tourney and I have them in my final four in my bracket along with SDSU. More on that later. So I have been staying up late watching almost every game which is insane since most games end around 4:30am or 5am (GMT +1). During the first week myself and another co-writer on this page, Joel, made a tourney bracket bet, then I stayed up to see how my bracket turned out. Let me tell you, I found out my bracket sucks. But that is not important - the games have been unbelievable. By the time one of the first games (Butler vs. ODU) ended, you had your first buzzer beater of the tournament. On that day you would also find yourself looking at #12 Richmond advancing to play a #13 Morehead. If you do not know who these schools are do not worry. You are not the only one. I mean, this has been great. This is what makes March Madness great - watching top schools fall to Mid Major schools on a daily basis. The fact that we have a #11 VCU team advancing to the Sweet 16, a #8 Butler also advancing and winning both of their games on last second shots, a pair of narrow escapes from top seeds such as Duke, UNC, and SDSU is awesome. It seemed that all of the games were headed towards the final minute, if not seconds.

So, let’s get down to the Sweet 16 and my opinion on teams to watch for upset alert. First, UNC will go down to Marquette. The reason I say this is because Marquette is an insane team. Their defense is playing as well as anyone in the country, they have a great low post presence (very tall front court), have lots of bodies to throw at you and decent perimeter shooting. Another upset, for which I am going to get killed by my fellow writer, is the Kansas Jayhawks. They are playing a quality Richmond team whose confidence is way high and lets not forget that Kansas has a tendency to take lower seeds very lightly during tournament time.

Games to watch:

Ohio State vs Kentucky: This has all the components to be a great game. Ohio State, which I think is overrated, has not played anyone on a neutral court. When they did play on an opponent’s court, they faltered. For instance, their game at Wisconsin. But this game has 3 freshmen on the Kentucky side that have been very streaky and inconsistent. The game will be decided by rebounding, so Harrison (Kentucky center) has to be tip-top and as leading rebounder in the SEC he better have a monster game and control the boards, as Ohio State likes to crash the offensive glass. Knight and Miller had better be on board as well, as they will have to control the pace of the game and try to keep it up-tempo. Ohio State needs to control the guards of Kentucky and get quality 3-point shots. Make Kentucky play a half court game and then methodically rip apart a young Kentucky team.

Pick: Ohio State wins it on experience, even though Kentucky has better overall talent.

UConn vs SDSU: These are almost two identical teams. Both play at a frantic pace, both have terrific talent in the guard position and both are patient. However, the point here is that UConn has more experience then the Aztecs. Even though SDSU was ranked #2 in scoring in the nation, they seemed a bit tight playing on the big stage and that counts dividends to UConn, who has been here before and is ready to rumble. SDSU need to control the boards. They did not do a good job in their previous match against Temple, who not only controlled boards but also the type of game they wanted.

Pick: Uconn, but in my heart I want SDSU (I have them in my bracket Final Four)

Finally, I conclude with a look at which team has the easier path to The Final Four. And that, my friends, is the Florida Gators (I am very biased here, not only because my father and I graduated from UF or because my younger brother needs just one more semester to graduate from there, but because the main competition the Gators had in that bracket, Pitt, is gone.)

The Gators not only have the talent, but are a very deep team. They have a great do–it-all player in Chandler, incredible guards in Walker and Boynton, but most importantly they are getting quality contributions from the bench big men, especially from Young (a McDonalds All-American) Their bracket is tricky with BYU, but the Cougars are very thin on the boards. They lost their quality big men on some dumb no-sex rule that would never fly here in Europe. Do not get me started on that. Also, who do they play if they get past BYU? Wisconsin or Butler… Come on!!!!! I would, of course, love for the Gators to play Butler, as I am a sadistic person and would love to crush a Cinderella-type team.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Season’s Greetings!

The Formula One World Championship. Part Three.

With the start of the 2011 World Championship season next weekend you don’t get anything closer to Christmas for me. I would roast a Turkey or something if the race wasn’t on down under Aussie time, 8am here in Austria. You can bet there will be a nice breakfast spread and a naughty screwdriver or two! This season is shaping up to be quite the classic as there are now 5 former world champions in the first 4 grid rows. Let’s jump right into it with what’s new in 2011 as far as rule changes and technology are concerned.

Burn Rubber.

In 2009, Formula 1 tire supplier Bridgestone announced they would no longer manufacture tires for the Formula 1 circuit at the end of the 2010 season due to the “continuing evolution of the business environment”. This left the door wide open for a new manufacturer which was eventually filled by the high performance tire company Pirelli, who have competed in F1 before during the 50’s and 80’s. This time, exclusively and to some degree of controversy. From initial driver reviews and pre-season testing, the Pirelli compounds are purposely more delicate than their Bridgestone counterparts which are acknowledged to require better conservation and pit strategies. Some even believe it may cause a safety issue due to tire blowouts and heavier pit lane traffic. The super-soft Pirelli tire may only last 3 laps before noticeable degradation. Whatever the end result, the quick wearing tires will favor some drivers over others as hard pushing, aggressive drivers will find themselves in the box more often if not the wall.


Every season it seems some team invents, or more aptly put, bends the rules on how racecar technology can be adapted. With every successful bend, comes a slew of teams copying the breakthrough for their own car. The following season these loopholes are banned and teams go back to the drawing board to see how they can manipulate the rulebook. 2011 is no exception as the double diffuser, made famous by the 2009 Brawn GP Championship team, is forbidden. Also out the door are the less important F-ducts and adjustable front wings. Making its debut this season is the adjustable rear wing. Still to be decided by the FIA on exactly when and where it can be implemented, the rear wing will have the ability to “open up”, decreasing the car’s drag and giving it extra speed during passing maneuvers. Most likely it will be used by following cars on straights that are otherwise impossible or too short to pass on. Returning this year after last season’s hiatus will be the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems). A costly device still under development that stores a racecar’s kinetic energy during acceleration and cornering for use at other times, it can provide extra speed boosts although it adds another 25kg and can change the center of gravity. It had mixed results in the 2009 season. And the tricky newcomer this season is Renault’s forward facing exhaust system. The theory being it will reduce the air turbulence trailing the car which results in drag. I’m not sure how it works yet, but Renault will definitely be a team to watch as they walk the fine line between the front-runners and mid-field.

Let’s have a quick rundown on teams and drivers (in order of supremacy)…


Red Bull (Austria)
The WDC and WCC defending champs of 2010, Vettel has been phenomenal in pre-season testing, topping the time sheets on many days. Even as a Ferrari fan I must admit they are hands down the favorites and the season is theirs to lose. Mistakes made last year that nearly cost them the Championship will have surely been ironed out. Expect them to be on the podium every race.

Sebastian Vettel (Germany)
Mark Webber (Australia)

Ferrari (Italy)
Red Bull’s only rival during training, Scuderia will come out of the gates fighting with probably the second fastest car on the grid. Never underestimate a thirsty Alonso to take a last minute pole during qualifying and coast to victory during the race. The new Ferrari F150 is looking quick and reliable as ever. Also keep an eye on Felipe Massa to improve greatly this season as his freak accident in 2009 appears even farther in his rearview mirror.

Fernando Alonso (Spain)
Felipe Massa (Brazil)

McLaren (England)
The first question mark arises with McLaren’s recently introduced MP4-26. It has produced nothing worthwhile during testing until a new package was introduced last week in Barcelona. Even so it still is at least a second of the front-running pace. On top of the team’s speed woes, Hamilton has some qualms in regards to the new tire compound of Pirelli which may favor his teammate Button who is known for a more lackadaisical driving style. Regardless they boast a pair of world champions and stiff upper-lipped Britons at that. Look for a slow start as they redesign the rear of the car but expect them to catch up by season's end. With 25 points up for grab every race weekend, a trailing driver can be right back in the mix of things with a win.

Lewis Hamilton (England)
Jenson Button (England)

Mercedes GP (Germany)
Schumacher’s return to Formula 1 last season left much to talk about in a comeback. The Michael Jordon of motorsport failed to make a lay-up, dunk or three-pointer. The highlight of the season sadly was when he almost forced his former teammate Barrichello into the wall (this blocking move will come with a heavy penalty in 2011). With a surprise car update for the final stage of testing in Barcelona, Schumacher managed to grab the best lap time of the pre-season making the critics wonder if Mercedes can leapfrog McLaren for the title of “The Best of the Rest”. With a 7-time world champion and a competent, cold-as-ice Val Kilmer-like wingman in Rosberg, all the duo need is the right car package for success.

Michael Schumacher (Germany)
Nico Rosberg (Germany)

Lotus Renault (France)
Apparently on pace with rest of the front-runners at the beginning of testing, the 2011 season outlook took a turn for the grim when their main driver, Robert Kubica, suffered severe injuries in an exhibition rally race. Expected to recover, Kubica’s season looks to be over before it even began and his future in F1 beyond that is uncertain. Even though Renault are introducing a tricky new exhaust system that may bag them an extra second, it is unseen how two drivers with 0 wins between them might utilize this advantage. If Renault are not drinking champagne at the end of the race, at least they will look like a bottle of Dom Pérignon in their new colors.

Nick Heidfeld (Germany)
Vitaly Petrov (Russia)


Force India (UK/India)
This former British team bought by Indian mogul Vijay Mallya will be making its 4th appearance in F1. With a good amount of reliability, many testing kilometers under the fanbelt, and the debut of Scottish rookie Paul di Resta, look for this team to hold a consistent mid-field lead.

Adrian Sutil (Germany)
Paul di Resta (Scotland)

Williams (England)
With well over 300 race starts, Rubens Barrichello has become the Elder Statesman of F1. Unfortunately the former Ferrari #2 will be lucky to reach the podium this season. The mechanics team at Williams has been struggling with the new KERS all pre-season, completely disabling it for the final test in Barcelona. Their plan is to have some incarnation working in time for the season opening Australian GP and continue to develop it race by race. However, the best hope for Williams in 2011 is to challenge Force India for the mid-field crown.

Rubens Barrichello (Brazil)
Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela)

Sauber (Switzerland)
Another hopeful second-tier team, this Swiss outfit clocked the most pre-season laps except for Red Bull and Ferrari. Kobayashi, coming off his rookie season already sees himself in the first team position as he welcomes 2010’s GP2 series second place driver Sergio Perez to the pits. Perez’s main focus this year will be to stay ahead of the back-markers while Kobayashi will continue to score points on a consistent level.

Kamui Kobayashi (Japan)
Sergio Perez (Mexico)


Team Lotus (England)
Currently involved in a sponsorship name dispute with Lotus Renault, Team Lotus only wish they were in the position of their name rival. Hoping their pre-season improvements will put them in the points, they will have a hard time separating themselves from fellow mid to back-markers Sauber and Torro Rosso.

Heikki Kovalainen (Finland)
Jarno Trulli (Italy)

Toro Rosso (Italy)
Red Bull’s farm team, Alguersuari and Buemi will have to perform well this year if they do not wish to be replaced by double-A drivers in 2012. It will be a tough task for this pair to shine as Williams and Sauber have made big improvements since last season.

Jaime Alguersuari (Spain)
Sebastien Buemi (Switzerland)

Virgin Racing (England)
Despite Glock recovering from an appendicitis, the team is confident they have made the necessary steps to challenge the mid-field this year. Only time will tell.

Timo Glock (Germany)
Jerome d'Ambrosio (Belgium)

Hispania Racing (Spain)
Last and probably least are newcomers Hispania. Pre-season testing didn’t even include their 2011 car which was not unveiled until the final day of testing in Barcelona. This will be a team that, if slow enough, may appear to be in first place for a short time.

Tonio Liuzzi (Italy)
Narain Karthikeyan (India)

In summary it should be an interesting year. Both Red Bull and Ferrari will have to be reliable and consistently on the podium to outdo each other. Who will fall in 3rd place McLaren or engine partner Mercedes? Can Schumi reclaim some of his former glory? This perhaps will be an interesting B-story. And what will become of Renault’s season without Kubica and how effective will their new exhaust system be? Formula 1 is a very hard sport to predict, with so many variables to deal with, the Championship often plays out like a novel with plot twists and surprise endings. We will just have to wait and see.

This blog mainly focuses on American Sports in Europe as the name implies, but I will drop a quick F1 update if something extraordinary takes place during the season.

Forza Ferrari!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Schumi. The man that everyone loves or hates.

The Formula One World Championship. Part Two.

In the winter of 2000 I decided to pack my bags and move to continental Europe. My flight was actually on Christmas Day and I could think of no better present to myself than to immigrate to the land of Formula 1 and practically non-existent alcohol consumption laws.

Michael Schumacher, the 32 year old German driver for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro had just won the 2000 World Driver’s Championship, his first for Ferrari (career 3rd) and the first in 21 years for the Italian team. I unfortunately missed this because it was not broadcast in the states. Well things were about to change as March of 2001 was quickly approaching and I had landed an advertising job in Austria where they show every round of Friday’s practice, Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race on national television, ORF, commercial free to boot. It was going to be heaven and it was also the debut that year of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen, two of Schumi’s future rivals not to mention the final season of ex-Ferrari driver Jean Alesi whose glorious 12 season career produced only 1 win, the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix.

Not him again.

The 2001 season proved to be a walk in the park for M. Schumacher and Ferarri as his 9 wins and 5 second place finishes out of 17 rounds nearly doubled his nearest rival, David Coulthard's point total. 2002 resulted in more of the same domination as Schumi nearly doubled his own teamate’s points while clinching the WDC in record fashion with still 6 rounds remaining in the season. Between Schumacher and his teammate Rubens Barichello, Ferrari accumulated more points than the rest of the teams put together. This was the pinnacle of Ferrari dominance not seen in Formula 1 since the era of Nikki Lauda in the mid to late 1970’s. In the 2003 season, to help make the competition tighter, the point system was changed to allow more points to be scored from 2nd through 8th place. That, combined with a more competitive Mercedes and BMW team, led to a very exciting season with Schumacher only winning the championship, his 4th consecutive with Ferrari, by 2 points over rival and future Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen. This is about the time that the critics became really annoyed with the sport calling the Schumacher dynasty a bore. Things wouldn’t change the following year has Schumacher and Barichello muscled their way to another 1-2 WDC and Constructor Championship. In times like this, as a fan of a team that dominates to everyone else’s displeasure, especially in Austria where they hate Germans (the whole micro/macro cultural envy thing), you just have sit back and enjoy as the day will come where your team will be a shell of its former glory and you will become the critic.

Fresh meat.

And with that I segue to 2005 when a young and cocky 24 year old Fernando Alonso and a surprisingly quick Renault F1 team managed to knock the record holding 7-time World Champion off his pace. Of course this was due to Bridgestone, Ferrari’s tire supplier being shit that year, but I won’t get into it. 2006 saw Alonso again retain the Championship as Schumi, although making it close, suffered from some season ending mechanical problems in the last two rounds. Now approaching 40 years old, shattering practically every Formula one record, his career seemed to be at its end. Appropriately on September 11th, 2006, Michael Schumacher confirmed his retirement from Formula 1.

One for the road.

One last ray of Italian sunshine came in 2007 as former Mercedes rival, now Ferrari front-man and personality of the decade, Kimi Räikkönen, somehow managed to snag the WDC away from a rookie Lewis Hamilton by a flipping point in the end of the last race. Kimi, seven points back from Hamilton going into the final round in Brazil, basically had to win the race and hope Hamilton could place no better than 6th to have a chance. On top of that Alonso, who was in between the two in the point standings could place no better than 3rd. This scenario seemed fairly impossible as Lewis Hamilton, on pace all weekend just lost out on pole to Felipe Massa, the second Ferrari driver, however still on the front grid. Amazingly, in perhaps the biggest sporting choke of the decade, Hamilton early in the race made a gear shift mistake that stalled the car which sent him back to 18th. The rest of the race was spent trying to catch the Ferrari’s to no avail. I was in a casino in Moscow to watch the last race and I nearly bet my entrance cover on a Räikkönen WDC for shits and giggles which was paying out at around 27/1. I still kick myself to this day. Fortunately I watched the race right next to a table of British McLaren fans whose face I happily rubbed a Ferrari victory in and the wife won enough money at blackjack to pay for the rest of our holiday.


The next 3 years were a struggle for Ferrari in the post Schumacher era to find a rhythm. There were some major organizational changes in the team between 2006 and 2010 with the departures of team bosses Jean Todt and Ross Brawn not to mention chief designer Rory Byrne and Michael all together known as the “Dream Team” in autosport. The signing of former 2-time World Champion Fernando Alonso for the 2010 season who had been struggling with the internal politics at Renault and McLaren, seemed to be a step in the right direction. Unfortunately through some team errors and a strong Red Bull team/car, Alonso missed out on his third Championship title in his debut season with Ferrari by a measly 4 points to a record breakingly young Sebastian Vettel (23).

The looking glass.

March 25-27th sees the Formula One World Championship return for its 53rd incarnation. The opening race originally scheduled in Bahrain was canceled due to democracy which will now drop the season down to 19 hopefully action packed rounds. Next time on American Sports in Europe in Part Three, we will preview next weekend’s race, teams, drivers and the outlook on the 2011 season.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dancin’ days are here again! March Madness begins!

March Madness is upon us once more, though one would be hard pressed to recognize the fever from this side of the pond. Basketball is fairly popular in Europe, with some notable exceptions (most Brits I talk to just can’t seem to countenance with so many points being scored in a single sporting contest), but they’re not really keyed into the whole notion of college athletics. You’ve got the various pro leagues around Europe (it’s pretty big in Greece, Italy and Spain, for example) and international competitions. And then there’s the NBA, though it’s late start times will likely keep it from ever becoming as popular as, say, the NFL is (unless Stern makes good on his twice-yearly threat to expand to Europe. Do it, Dave. Do it.)

Point being, the college game and news of it are basically nonexistent here. Heck, I’m betting that most Americans living here won’t realize that it’s on until they’ve missed the first week’s worth of games. Even those of us who stay in tune with American sports have a hard time keeping up with the NCAA game. So many schools, conferences, records, stats, seeds… it’s exhausting! So, I’m not going to pretend that I have any real insight here. I’ve seen a handful of games, and followed the Big 12 (especially my ex-local triumvirate of Kansas, Missouri and Kansas State, all of whom are dancing this season I am happy to report), but aside from what I’ve read on SI, ESPN and various other blogs, I could no more tell you which top seeds are ripe for a fall than I could handicap a ski jumping event.

I can, however, report that the tournament will receive extensive coverage on ESPN America and, for those lucky enough to have access, ESPN America HD. And, once again, the option for streaming the games has been provided by the NCAA: - an especially compelling option this first weekend, as so many of the games start early and can be viewed in Europe without completely altering one’s sleeping pattern! And I can tell you that, depending on just how long you’ve been out of the loop, there is a key change this season that is worth noting. If you pull up any one of the many free brackets available online, you’ll notice something called the “First four”, which is the new nomenclature for the four games tipping off the tournament. Two of these games are the 16 seed “play-in” variety games that we’ve gotten used to in recent years, and the other two are similar but at a different seeding level. In this instance, UAB will play Clemson for the right to become the official 12 seed in the East (and take on 5 seed West Virginia in the “first round”) while USC plays VCU to see who’ll be the 11 seed in the Southwest. How they came up with the placement of these “extra teams”, I have no clue, but it’s a much better solution than the expansion to a full 96 invites that they nearly went to after last season.

The teams themselves? Well, the top seeds are Ohio St, Kansas, Duke and Pitt. All of whom seem vulnerable to me, which probably means they’ll all make it to the Final Four in Houston, just to spite me. The Big East is nearly as scary tough as they were last season while the ACC is still down a bit, though UNC is back in a big way. The Big Ten and Big 12 both have a respectable showing at the dance but it remains to be seen whether either conference will back up that number with a solid showing. No big run of mid-majors, but everyone is abuzz over BYU and their scoring sensation Jimmer Fredette (I’m convinced that the hype is 90% cool name and 10% actual talent. We’ll see. Might be a bit of a fizzle as late-season injuries have sapped them of their early-season juice).

Who’s going to win it? Haven’t you been reading? I have no clue. I’ll be rooting for Kansas, as usual (and MU/K-State right after the ‘Hawks). It works out for me every now and again. And my “upset” team is Kentucky, which is so talent laden that calling them Cinderella would be just plain silly (they’re only a 4 seed, but came on strong after a long jelling period to start the season). Beyond that, I’ll just be sitting back and rooting for the underdog. Hope that some of you are going to do the same!