Monday, September 22, 2003

I'm an idiot. (Yeah, I know, you've said that before.) I didn't figure out until last night that I could listen to Kansas City Chiefs games on Internet radio. Yep, it can be done; just google "KCFX radio", go to the site, and click on "Listen now". While there's a game going on, of course. The rest of the time they play crap seventies rock. Anyway, the Chiefs crushed the Houston Texans 42-14, bringing them to three-and-oh. This week they limited the use of Priest Holmes, which is an excellent move; you're going to have to count on Priest for twenty-five or thirty touches a game throughout the season, and we know he got hurt bad last year and missed the last two games and was questionable during the off-season, so questionable that the Chiefs drafted a running back in the first round. So don't use him when you don't need him. Don't make him into another Earl Campbell, who the Oilers used to give the ball to forty times a game and who just got pounded to death, shortening his career by many years. By the way, the Chiefs' defense is much better than it was last year and Trent Green is a competent quarterback. Not great, no superstar, but he can do his job. He has one Super Bowl ring, which means something. OK, it was with the Ravens, but he still won a Super Bowl. The Chiefs haven't made it to one of those since about 1971.

As for the Royals, it looks like they're finally out of the race in the AL Central, though time hasn't run out on them yet. Still, though, they're going to finish over .500, which is a miracle coming from a team that had lost 100 games the year before, that used something like thirty different pitchers during the season, and that was widely predicted to be the worst team in the league.

Barcelona tied Osasuna on Saturday night at home; I saw some of the game on pay-per-view at Miguel's bar. Barca is 2-2-0 and in fifth place with eight points, which is not bad after four games. Ronaldinho is all he was cracked up to be, a genuinely fine signing. The problem is that Kluivert and Saviola aren't doing their jobs, that the Xavi-Gerard double pivot at midfield is uninspired, that for some reason they're using Cocu and Reizinger, both out of position, as central defenders--Cocu I can see, he was always a tough midfielder and now that he's over thirty drop him back to defense just like Real Madrid did with midfielders-turned-defensemen Fernando Hierro and Ivan Helguera. Where's Marquez, the young Mexican star defenseman who we just signed? And what, for God's sake, is Mark Overmars doing getting playing time? How about a 4-2-3-1 lineup like this: Valdes; Puyol, Marquez, Cocu, Van Bronckhorst; Xavi, Gerard; Quaresma, Ronaldinho, Luis Enrique; Kluivert.

I have confidence in new coach Frank Rijkaard, who is widely thought to be Johan Cruyff's man. I just don't think that most of the players are all that great; Ronaldinho and Puyol are the only two who are outstanding. Philip Cocu might turn out to be an excellent defenseman; if any player's going to blossom in a new position, it's hard-working, always fit, intelligent Cocu. Same goes for Luis Enrique, though he's clearly over the hill as far as playing full 90-minute games goes. He can play in almost any position, though; I remember way back when Ferrer was hurt and they'd just signed Luis Enrique; they put Lucho in at right back and he did just fine. That was '96, I think. As for the rest of the team, they're not that special. Kluivert has the talent, and he does a lot of things well (he's a big guy so they bring him back on corner kicks to play defense, for example; he's the guy who stands in front of the near post and tries to get his head on the ball before it passes in front of the goal), but he does not do what he is paid to do, which is score goals. He's a muff diver, which means that whenever he gets a chance he muffs an easy goal and then takes a dive looking for a penalty call. The rest of the players are replacement level, more or less.

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