It is Dave Fishwick's World. We just live in it. That is our big learning of the week. The reaction to the North of England’s greatest ever Minibus Tycoon’s pod interview [LISTEN HERE] has been overwhelming. GFOP @jhowardhistory was one of many who tweeted, “I want to move to Burnley now.”
Judging from your feedback, if only Fishwick would stop mini-bussing and jump on the American Speaker circuit, Burnley FC could be a global brand, in the conversation with Barca, PSG, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. As a public service we will now repeat the FISHWICK LAWS OF BUSINESS:
From not having enough money for a chip butty, to having his name on the stands at Turf Moor, these are the rules Dave Fishwick lives by. He’s a minibus salesman, banker, author, TV host/producer and cult hero among American football fans. We will be hosting Dave in the Burnley Part of SoHo very soon.
REAL Football is back this weekend. Thank the New Gods and The Old. Liverpool battle Arsenal. A psychological thriller akin to Girl, Interrupted 2.
If your sad nap lasted the entire International Week, HERE are the only highlights you need to catch up on. The only good thing about the International Break: it saved you from The MEN IN BLAZERS SHOW. WARNING: We return Monday, April 6 at 10 p.m. for a special episode in which we’ll use the predictive power of crystal balls, Pie and blood sausage to tell you who will finish in the Top Four at season’s end, and who will fall through the moon door into the Championship.
In this newsletter:
- In Three Questions, a fantasy soccer expert offers sagacious advice that could help those of you in the MiB fantasy league land the Championship Belt.
- A fascinating interactive map that pinpoints almost every bomb to fall on London during The Blitz.
- Our EA SPORTS FIFA 15 Ultimate Team comprised solely of Gingers. And the winner of our Ginger Emoji contest.
I. Men in Blazers Unbuttoned: Now That’s What I Call Suboptimal, Volume II, The Best of 2014
2014. It was the epoch of suboptimal soccer, it was the epoch of never-ending narrative. It was the year Liverpool nearly won the league. And the United States nearly, nearly, nearly won the World Cup. We've sifted through our 2014 archive and collected the most most suboptimal moments from Pods, interviews, and live shows. They will be available on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play next week. Watch our social media for an announcement. Have a listen, and then a Sad Nap.
II. Periscope, #IsItDone
As some of you already know, we’ve been experimenting with the new live streaming app Periscope. We still haven’t figured out exactly what it is, but we do know it live streams Panic Room birthday parties for Tracy Chapman (Happy Birthday, Tracy). We also Periscoped at halftime of Tuesday’s USMNT game, reacting to Brek Shea’s wonderstrike, and giving you a look at Producer Lexi’s boots. We’ll be doing more Periscopes soon. Download the app and follow us @MeninBlazers. If you have any questions you would like us to tackle, or concepts you would like to challenge us with, email us.
III. The Bombs of The Blitz
Last week, the discovery of an unexploded 500-pound German WWII bomb prompted a mass evacuation in London’s Bermondsey neighborhood. The news lead to British GQ Tweeting a link to one of the more remarkable studies of The Blitz we have ever seen. It is THIS interactive map from The Bomb Site Project. The map pinpoints the landing spots for bombs that Hitler’s Luftwaffe indiscriminately littered across London, killing tens of thousands and causing incalculable damage to the cradle of the British Empire.
“What he [Hitler] has done is to kindle a fire in British hearts which will glow long after all traces of the conflagration he has caused in London have been removed.” - Winston Churchill, Sept. 11, 1940
IV. Steve Bruce on Holiday
Because everyone deserves to be happy. View all images HERE.
V. Two Ginger-Related EA SPORTS Contests
Our quest to help eradicate anti-gingyism took a massive step forward thanks to your #WeStandWithGingers EA SPORTS FIFA contest submissions. As you’ll recall, we asked you to create a gingy emoji after Apple’s egregious omission of redheads in their latest software. Congrats to the winner, GFOP Alex Martinez, whose entry is below. He will receive a custom Green Keane Xbox from our friends at EA SPORTS. Runners up include Breakfast Club-era Molly Ringwald and mullet-headed Miguel Herrera emojis.
As one gingy-inspired EA SPORTS FIFA contest ends, another begins. Between sad naps, Rog spent the majority of the International Break playing FIFA 15. He created a FIFA Ultimate Team comprised only of gingers. HERE is his starting XI. We want you to write a Twitter-sized match report for Rog’s Gingy XI vs. an opponent of your choice. Send them to us using the hashtag #RogsGingXI. Our favorite wins a special FUT Man of the Match Kevin De Bruyne.
VI. Rog’s Film on Goalkeeping
A few weeks back on the Pod, Rog detailed a trip to England in which he knocked it around with Arlo White at Hotel Football, and evaded bands of feral children in Stoke. The trip wasn’t all fun and games. He was there interviewing goalkeepers (Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Kasper Schmeichel and Asmir Begovic) for his latest Premier League Download film. It’s an insight into the mind of the sentries between the sticks. Spoiler alert: no keeper cares about being beaten near post. The film premieres Sunday, April 12, immediately following the Manchester Derby. A special director’s cut will air after the Chelsea vs. Arsenal clash Sunday, April 26.
VII. Arsene or Aristotle?
One is a father of modern philosophy. A scientist. Alexander the Great’s tutor. The other, a father of ill-fitting outerwear. A football manager. Jack Wilshere’s tutor. Yet, it is quite difficult to tell the quotes of Aristotle and Arsene Wenger apart. GFOP Kevin Schneickert sent us THIS BBC Radio quiz that asks you to do just that.
Hope is a waking dream, indeed.
VIII. The Most Popular Throwbacks, State-by-State
We love a good throwback. For Rog, it’s a Chicago White Sox Joey Cora No. 21. Davo opts for the mid-90s Penny Hardaway look. The GFOPs at Mitchell & Ness recently released THIS map that breaks down their most popular throwbacks, state-by-state. It’s an interesting insight into each state’s sporting heroes. Mitchell and Ness are also helping us gear up for baseball season (It’s chess with chewing tobacco). Particularly tasty: their new batting practice throwbacks, including Wade Boggs. One man. One plane. Sixty four beers?
IX. Who Wants to Sex Mutombo?
It IS true… and it worked, according to Alonzo Mourning.
X. Three Questions
While the Premier League’s popularity has exploded in the United States, fantasy football hasn’t quite caught fire in the same way. Like Spurs defense, it’s still figuring itself out. But we believe fantasy football is on the precipice of taking off in the U.S. in a big way.
While in Austin for SXSW, we met the gents from Togga, a Texas-based fantasy game. Unlike traditional fantasy soccer sites, Togga is draft-based, and includes myriad scoring categories (tackles, runs, accurate crosses, etc.), not just goals, assists and clean sheets. John Wallin is Togga’s fantasy expert. His blog is littered with weekly rankings, columns and player profiles. Impressive for anyone, let alone an NYC attorney with a full-time job. In this week’s Three Questions, we ask John about the evolution of fantasy soccer and some of this season’s sleeper picks.
MiB: Fantasy soccer, seems to be, to some degree, still figuring itself out. There are leagues where you select your team based on money, there are draft-based leagues, etc. What is your favorite type of fantasy soccer to play?
Wallin: Draft is the best. The salary-cap leagues like BPL's 'Official League' will always feel familiar, almost nostalgic. But as fantasy soccer evolves, that game will be passed by. In some ways, it already is. Information is everywhere, and there is a rabid, stats-savvy audience waiting for greater access to data. A monumental shift is underway, led in part by the game I work on now. Togga is a draft league styled after American fantasy sports which is conscientious of a player's true value. When fantasy soccer first started, there was no value in picking a player in the Makelele role. But in draft, and Togga specifically, those players earn proper points and have their on-pitch value properly weighed by their fantasy score. More fantasy managers are moving to draft even at this late stage in the season - in a year or two it will surpass salary-cap in popularity.
MiB: What is the most effective formation for fantasy football and why?
Wallin: This season it's any XI that includes Eden Hazard. The big-bottomed Belgian small is making his case for Player of the Year on the pitch and in fantasy. He's amazing to watch and valuable in every fantasy format. Most effective in salary-cap leagues? 3-5-2 is quality. Allows managers to pick a trio of attacking defenders, play a bit of rotation in the rearguard and invest heavily in the front seven.
As football evolves from 4-4-2 to a modified 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, fantasy managers will be able to find more midfield values. Raheem Sterling is a midfielder but he typically lines up in Rodgers' front three. That shows in his numbers. This season his stats are best or level-best for Liverpool in goals, assists, shots on target, chances created, successful crosses and successful dribbles. That's value and a high-upside play rolled into one. One season soon he'll be the top fantasy point scorer (and then promptly move to Spain).
MiB: What is the biggest mistake almost every fantasy soccer player makes?
Wallin: Hometown hero. I can only image that Rog's side is populated with any number of Toffees. It's brilliant when you win - you can forgive two dropped points at home when Lukaku's scored a brace for your fantasy XI - but twice as bitter when you lose. A close second would be waiting on players too long. The Premier League is not forgiving. It has been fourteen matches since Graziano Pelle scored a goal and ten since he's had an assist. Yet many, many managers insist on owning him, starting him and even handing him the armband. An incomplete history of players who've scored at least two goals since Pelle last notched: Laurent Koscielny (2), Branislav Ivanovic (2), Ben Mee (2), Chris Smalling (2). Struhfenders, all.
MiB: What is your theory on the best goalkeeper to buy -- the save making relegation battler, or the elite top four stud?
Wallin: Whomever costs the least. If you can land a David Ospina for a fraction of the cost of Thibaut Courtios, why wouldn't you? The reality is the game has evolved and none of these lads are Kevin Pressman. This is a premium position on the pitch staffed by world-class athletes (and Tim Krul's gorgeous locks.) All 20 of the keepers who start each week are capable of posting a top performance - as we just saw when Boaz Myhill recorded 13 saves against Manchester City. Find a couple of shot-stoppers who aren't priced too dearly and play a bit of rotation.
MiB: Who has surprised even you this season -- someone not named Harry Kane?
Wallin: Harry Kane really wasn't a surprise. Two seasons ago I openly declared him to be "The Truth". He promptly (well, sporadically) played 141' of goal-free Premier League football. Three goals in 500' of action last term was better, but didn't live up to my boast. 27-odd months of outright mocking later and the London-born lad is finally coming good for my fantasy team (and his own!).
My biggest surprise this season: Southampton's wing-backs. Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand are glorious footballers. Easy on the eyes, composed at the back and explosive in support down the wings. Little that either of them can't do. Remarkably, they've combined for four goals and five assists while playing in the least breached side in the League. At writing, they've allowed 21 goals in 30 matches. They're on pace to match Chelsea's defensive record last season (27 conceded) - which was the lowest mark since the 2007/2008 season. Brilliant play, wholly unexpected at this level, and delivering for fantasy owners - particularly in Togga leagues where Bertrand (4th) and Clyne (5th) are in the top five most valuable defenders.
XI. A Book for Your Library, If You Still Read
We have mentioned it in the past, but Phil Klay’s “Redeployment” is a truly remarkable piece of writing that deserves to be read by everyone. We had the privilege of seeing Phil speak at an event not far from the Crap Part of SoHo. He is as impressive in person as he is on paper.
XII. A Poem To Gird Your Loins
In honor of our mate Dave Fishwick’s Rules No. 3 and 4 (see said Rules above).
by William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
XIII. "Plumb our Annals”
In this week’s pod from the past, we hop into The George Michael Sports Machine and travel back to our 2014 Passover Special. We talk with HAIM, our favorite sister rock trio about their soccer playing pasts and favorite Passover memories. Listen to our Pod with HAIM HERE.
Our entire pod archive is available here. If you prefer the Cliffs Notes version, check out "Men in Blazers. Unbuttoned: Now That's What I Call Sub-Optimal, Vol. I" on iTunes and Amazon. It's the least objectionable of our football "analysis," Ravens and interviews from the first four years.
You can access all MiB-related content (videos, pods and articles) by visiting www.nbcsports.com/mib.