Untangling FIFA’s Complicated World Cup Tiebreakers

Following a thrilling, soul-crushing, last-minute goal by Portugal to salvage a draw against the United States, Group G sits with two teams tied for first place (Germany, USA) and two teams tied for last place (Portugal, Ghana). Soccer fans, being no different from fans of any other sport, have of course been getting ahead of themselves and spent a good portion of Sunday evening trying to figure out what it would take for the United States to advance to the knockout stage. Unfortunately, given the number of ties in the group, figuring out all the scenarios hasn’t been that simple. Across the land many fans have discovered the complexities of World Cup tiebreakers.

Now, I was taking a look at the literature and as many of you (now) know, head-to-head victory is NOT the first tiebreaker. The phrase “head-to-head” isn’t even anywhere on the list. How un-American is that?! Instead, this what the internet has to say about FIFA/World Cup tiebreakers, with my explanations thrown in.

Tiebreaker #1
Goal difference in the group matches

Simple enough: goals for your team subtracted from goals against your team in all games played so far. Note that despite what you and I think, goals scored off your junk do NOT count extra. There’s no justice in this game. Sorry, Deuce Single.

Tiebreaker #2
Greatest number of goals scored in the group matches

In other words, run up the score ALL THE TIME. Nick Saban probably loves this tiebreaker.

Tiebreaker #3
Greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned

This is the part where FIFA decided to to make the concept of head-to-head tiebreakers as complicated as possible by using the most awkward phrasing it could come up with. Thanks guys, ‘preesh.

Tiebreaker #4
Goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned

This is the same as Tiebreaker #1 but only taking into account the tied teams. The creativity FIFA has shown in crafting these tiebreakers is staggering.

Tiebreaker #5
Greater number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned


Tiebreaker #6
Drawing of lots by the FIFA Organizing Committee

“Drawing of lots” is how they used to say “by lottery” back in like 1066. That’s approximately how current FIFA’s rule book is.

Now interestingly enough, this is where most websites end when they discuss tiebreakers. But being the crack journalist that I am (i.e., I journal crack) I discovered that “drawing of lots” isn’t supposed to be the sixth tiebreaker, it’s the SIXTEENTH tiebreaker. Here are the missing ten:

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Need Proof College Athletes Should Be Paid? Look No Further.

“My stomach hurts so I’m looking for a purse to snatch.” – Tupac Shakur, “Changes”

I had a story pointed out to me today about four UGA football players getting caught stealing tuition checks and my immediate reaction was, literally, “womp womp.” Such is the nature of my intense hatred for all things University(sic) of Georgia.

But then I actually delved into the article from Athens Banner-Herald and one little sentence hit me with an overwhelming sense of sadness:

The checks were each in the amount of $71.50 and the total loss is valued at $786.50.

(link to onlineathens.com article)

The obvious, easy stance is obvious and easy: stealing is wrong. These guys are idiots. I can’t believe they’d jeopardize their futures for a few measly dollars. MORONS!

See? Easy.

But that’s not how I received that bit of news. So forgive me for what may be an unpopular stance, but it goes something like this: how desperate were these kids that they’d steal $70 checks?? They have to know what would happen to them if they ever got caught, and it’s not like it’s a life-changing amount of money that would make it worth the repercussions. Maybe – MAYBE – if they got even a small stipend, they wouldn’t have found themselves in a situation where stealing $70 checks seemed like a worthwhile endeavor.

Time and time again we hear stories of college athletes – FAMOUS college athletes – who don’t even have enough money in their pockets to take their girlfriends to the movies. Athletes who get caught taking a hundred bucks from somebody because they can’t afford to buy groceries for the week. They’re quite literally living out the famous lyrics from Tupac: stomachs hurting, looking for purses to snatch.

I’m not trying to say stealing is the solution. What I’m saying is what are we doing when we’re sitting idly by, watching old rich dudes get older and richer off the bodes of young, poor kids? Mark Richt is going to make almost $3 million this year. Half the UGA fan base DOESN’T EVEN LIKE HIM. Meanwhile, Tray Matthews, Jonathan Taylor, James DeLoach, and Uriah LeMay are about to have their lives changed because they tried to steal $786.50.

Pay them already.

The Disturbing Trend in How People View Richard Sherman, Summed Up in 140 Characters

This happened after tonight’s NFC Championship game between the 49ers and the Seahawks:

Fox’s Erin Andrews: “Take me through it (the interception) …”

Sherman (screaming): “Well, I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like (Michael) Crabtree, that’s the result you are going to get. Don’t you even talk about me.”

Andrews: “Who was talking about you?”

Sherman: “Crabtree. Don’t open your mouth about the best or I’m going to shut it for you real quick. “LOB!” (That’s the abbreviation for “Legion of Boom,” the nickname of the Seahawks’ defense.)


The reaction by the internets was swift, and unfortunately, a pattern emerged:

Funny, sad, and accurate.

The pattern is so unbelievably predictable. In my heart of hearts I knew how Sherman’s post-game interview would be received the moment it was complete, but I couldn’t help but hope I was wrong. Alas and alack, I wasn’t wrong.


The Whitest Team in Baseball is Fleeing Atlanta

…for Cobb County:

Turner Field is a facility that was built for three weeks of use for the Olympics, but has now served us well for nearly 20 years. The issue isn’t the Turner Field we play in today, but instead whether or not the venue can remain viable for another 20 to 30 years.

Turner Field has served the Braves well since 1997, but it is in need of major infrastructure work, which will cost around $150 million. These upgrades are functional ones, such as replacing worn-out seats or upgrading the stadium’s lighting, and they would do little to significantly enhance the fan experience. If the Braves were to pay for additional projects focused on improving the fan experience, the additional costs could exceed $200 million.

Those upgrades still wouldn’t address the logistical challenges outside the stadium – lack of consistent mass transit options, inadequate number of parking spaces and limited access to major highways.

(link to Deadspin article)

Here’s the proposed new location:

I can’t really fault a team in a salary-cap-less sport like baseball for wanting to own its own house. Braves ain’t doing much with a middle-of-the-road payroll, and writing all them big checks on the first of the month to Ted Turner wasn’t helping matters. Side note: do you think they actually pay rent monthly like the rest of us normal folk? I wonder if they get a five-day grace period too, followed by threatening letters from the leasing office. Hmmm.

The complaints will be plentiful on this one though. Traffic will be worse, there still won’t be good public transportation, you’re leaving Atlanta for NOT Atlanta, taxpayers are being forced to foot most of the bill (thanks for that btw, Cobb County suckers, glad Fulton County gets to avoid pulling a Marlins), etc. One of the commenters on that Deadspin article pointed out another viewpoint though:

The only “logistical challenge” that this new stadium solves is moving the stadium closer to its white suburban fan base and away from the scary black folks who live around the stadium that the white suburban fan base complains about at every opportunity.

Not to make everything about race (do I do that?? nahhhh…) but, I mean, he’s sort of right. Check out this lovely map of 2012 Braves game ticket purchasers:

What’s that called again? Something something flight?

That walk to Turner Field isn’t exactly a picnic for most Braves fans. That area will probably continue to gentrify between now and 2017 (the proposed opening of the new ballpark). Some may even view this move as short-sighted as that area could in fact be pretty hot in four years’ time.

As of right now, though, the walk to a Braves game from the closest MARTA station is like a Bizzaro universe Trail of Tears where white people clutch their babies and their purses, shifting their eyes from side to side in hopes of avoiding a rogue “local” who might be up to no good. Given the demo of the typical Braves fan and the makeup of the neighborhood surrounding Turner Field, I’d venture to say this particular walk ranks amongst the most dreaded in all of American sports commutes. Indeed, one could view this move to Cobb County as a giant metaphorical crossing the street in the middle of the night because a Big Scary Black Guy is walking in your direction. I mean, some people might view it that way. Ahem.

Personally, like I said, I can’t fault a team for wanting a bigger share of the revenue it generates. This is still way down the line, so I’ll reserve my pissed off-ness for the time being and instead I’ll continue to needlessly and recklessly stoke the racial fires this is sure to ignite.

Here’s My Takeaway From This Whole Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin Fiasco

Post-racial America? LAWL.

How is anyone actually surprised? I mean, have you SEEN Richie Incognito?? All y’all do know he plays football, right? How exactly were you expecting him to act behind closed doors? Bob Griese he is not.

Not trying to excuse bad behavior, just wondering how on earth this story has gotten to be as big as it has. Football players, on occasion, tend to be meatheads. Imagine that!

JJ Redick is the Most Overrated NBA Dukie of All Time and Here’s Why

Blue Steel.

So, this happened today:

After that, this thread on RealGM happened.

Let me summarize for you: OMGWTFBBQ THE CLIPS ARE LOADED! DAT DUDE JJ RED(D)ICK!!!!!!!!


It’s no secret that I’m a Dook hater. Proud of it. That doesn’t change stop me from appreciating quality Dook ballers. It doesn’t happen very often. It’s pretty rare, actually (see, e.g., Uncle Drew aaaaand… yeah that’s bout it).

My problem with the reaction to this trade is that this ain’t one of them rare occasions. Here’s my initial post in that Clips fan circle jerk of a thread:

All y’all think JJ is still a freshman at Dook or something?? Dude shot 36% from 3 last season. You know who else shot 36%? Norris Cole. Jeff Teague. Chris Duhon. Clips trade for Duhon, is Doc “frothing” for him too? Talk about living on past glory…

(source: Basketball-Reference.com)

Redick’s aight. He’s not bad, he’s not great. He’s just aight. That’s it. He’s not a franchise changer, yet if you were to believe that RealGM thread you’d think the Clips traded Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler for the Larry O’Brien trophy itself.

You don’t have to take my word for it, take a look at Redick’s numbers for yourself (here and here). Just last year alone he shot .366 from 3 and .434 overall. That puts him smack dab between an aging Vince Carter and a one-foot-in-the-grave Jason Terry. A whopping 79% of his shots were assisted. He’s a high volume, low efficiency scorer with no athleticism and no ability to create his own shot.

Defense? Child, please. His 113 Defensive Rating last season puts him in the bottom 20 of all players across the entire league (and the only guards with worse D Ratings than him were Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, and Ramon Sessions). His comically small, nearly microscopic 0.010088 Defensive Win Share Per 48 is– well, comically small and nearly microscopic.

I’m not saying he’s a bad player. He’d be a great sixth or seventh man. Instant offense… sort of. As of this writing, though, he’s the Clippers’ starting SG.

Whoops! Not good.

Is Joe Flacco About to Become Joe Johnson?

Joe Flacco’s tenure with the Ravens is going to end just like Joe Johnson’s: with him getting cut so that his team has a chance of becoming a contender.

Allow me to explain.

I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts since February 7, but I talked myself out of finishing it because of three things:

1) I’ve been on my hustle like crazy. This blog is fun but it’s not paying the rent.

2) All of my free time was spent watching this video (I’m up to about 50 plays).

3) I eventually decided there was no way the Ravens would be dumb enough to make this hypothetical question a reality.

I was wrong about that last part.

Why even ask the question? What is it about Flacco that conjures up Johnson? It’s not just the similar dollar figures. In fact when I started this post nearly a month ago I had no idea Flacco’s contract would be almost identical to JJ’s (Flacco got six years/$120.6 million, JJ got six years/$119 million). It ended up being almost TOO perfect for this topic, but that’s not what this comparison is about. This comparison is about two things:

1) Nobody in his right mind could look at what either guy did on his old contract and think he deserved what he got in his new contract.

2) Both guys’ teams are (or, in the Hawks’ case, were) likely out of title contention until their guy’s contract is off the books.

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If You Don’t Want to See a Jordan Comeback, You’re Probably a Bad Person

“He sucked the last time he unretired.”

“He’s too old to play a full season.”

“He’ll tarnish his legacy.”

“I don’t want my memories ruined.”

“Nobody wants to see a 50-year-old play basketball.”

Michael Jordan turned 50 this past Sunday. That alone was reason enough for every major American sports media outlet to roll out a week of nonstop MJ coverage. As a child of the 90s and a huge Michael Jordan homer, I’d argue MJ turning 50 was reason enough to declare this entire week a national holiday, so we could all celebrate all the joy he has brought to our lives, and perhaps also so we could drink ourselves to sleep every night to help us try to forget how old we’re all getting. But that’s neither here nor there.

The coverage has been incredibly comprehensive, as expected, and overwhelmingly positive, also as expected. But there’s one particular subject that I didn’t really think would get as much scrutiny and attention as it has. Three years ago, during the most memorable, if not the most important, pro sports Hall of Fame induction speech ever given (NBA.com), MJ casually dropped the following:

One day you might look up and see me playing a game at 50. Don’t laugh. Never say never, because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.

Justin Bieber, pay the man his royalties.

On the subject of another Michael Jordan comeback, it seems that most “respected” “journalists” went cafeteria style and chose some formulation of the five quotes at the top of this post. A lil’ bit of Too Old with a side of He Sucked Ten Years Ago, please! How much for some extra Legacy Tarnish? Oh it’s free? Yeah gimme summa that too. It’s not just the journalists, though. Their opinions have been shared (or parroted, if you’re cynical like me) by many others: casual basketball fans, die-hard basketball fans, bloggers, message board posters, current coaches, former coaches, sports radio hosts. There’s about a 50-50 split for and against another comeback, although I will say that the anti-comeback crowd is perhaps slightly bigger (or at least more vocal) than the pro-comeback crowd.

To all of you in the anti-comeback crowd, I say: Shut up. You’re dumb.

When I first decided to write this post I was going to title it, “If You Don’t Want to See a Jordan Comeback, You Must Hate Basketball.” But that wasn’t forceful enough. It was too limiting to capture how I felt on the subject of a possible Jordan comeback because I think that subject goes beyond basketball. Granted, I may have overcorrected with the title I went with, but that’s how I roll. All or nothing. If you ain’t first you’re last. Or something.


At its heart this is a debate over whether MJ would be successful enough during a fourth stint in the NBA to make it worth his while. In my opinion, though, the question is pointless and the answer is a no brainer. In fact, I think that if you don’t want to see a comeback attempt, it has as much to with your own selfishness, your own fears, or your own lack of imagination, as it has to do with a hypothetical stat line.

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When are We Going to Stop Pretending Jay Williams was Going to be an NBA Star?

One of these Jason Williamses had a pretty decent career.

Nearly ten years after the motorcycle accident that cut his NBA career short, Jay Williams was profiled in a very interesting story in the New York Times. He talks in illuminating detail about the things he went through after that accident. Depression, incessant mocking from NBA fans, even suicide attempts.

In the past few years he’s reinvented himself as a college basketball broadcaster, and he’s really started climbing the ESPN totem pole. I can only assume that’s why the Times article was even written. And good for him. He’s a genuinely entertaining television personality. He’s usually very honest about himself and about the teams he covers. He doesn’t give you a lot of talking head clichés, or at the very least he’s not on Dick Vitale’s level.

Okay, so now that we’ve gotten the pleasantries out of the way…

I’m a well-known and admitted Duke hater. Jay Williams is somewhere near the very top of my list of Most Hated Dukies (he probably falls between JJ Redick and Kyle Singler– I should really write this list out). But really people, REALLY: when are we going to stop pretending Jay Williams was going to be an NBA star??

The accident was tragic. Some people probably think, “Good, you dummy, you get what you deserve. Way to throw away a winning lottery ticket.” And there’s some truth to that. But no matter how much I hate Duke, I just cannot wish that kind of ill upon someone, and I cannot take joy in his misery. That’s not what this post is about.

I’m not just talking about Jay’s legendarily bad free throw shooting. What this post is about is how we are ret-conning the shit out of his legacy. Does anybody actually REMEMBER Jay Williams’s time in the NBA? I mean did you actually see him play? Do you remember the storylines surrounding the Bulls? Or are you like a majority of basketball fans who like to romanticize his story and talk about stuff you don’t actually know?

He didn’t play for an eternity, but the man played in 75 games. That’s a pretty fucking good sample size. In fact, that’s only 33 games less than he played in his entire time at Duke. So how about we stop judging Jay Williams’s NBA legacy by what he did in college and start judging his NBA legacy by what he did in the NBA?

I want to be clear that this is a mostly objective analysis, so to be as objective as possible, LET’S GO TO THE TAPE:

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