Thursday, May 24, 2012

Midweek Mailbag

So Agudelo is now playing for Chivas USA, and in return they get Heath Pearce, money allocation, and future considerations. Who got the best end of this deal, Chivas or the Red Bulls, and do you see this helping Juan Agudelo's development as a player? - Cory L., Raceland, LA
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I really think this is a great move for both sides. The Red Bulls have been devastated by injuries this year, particularly on defense, and Heath Pearce gives them exactly what they need to shore up what has become a very inexperienced backline. With plenty of firepower up front in Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper, Juan Agudelo basically became expendable and Chivas USA is a perfect landing spot for him. The Goats have scored just 8 goals in 12 games so far this season and Agudelo gives them a legitimate weapon in his prime. This is also exactly the opportunity that the 19 year old Agudelo needs to continue to develop as a player. Stuck behind Luke Rodgers for much of 2011 and Kenny Cooper in 2012, Agudelo hasn't gotten the minutes you'd expect for a player with his potential. The move to the west coast finally gives him the opportunity to take his next steps forward as a player.

Ok, so Chelsea wins the Champions League title this past weekend after a very exciting game that went all the way past extra time and into PK's. Now they get to play Champions League ball even though they only managed a 6th place finish in the EPL this year. Now that relegates Tottenham to playing Europa ball, and knocks Liverpool out of playing in Europe at all, correct? The whole thing seems a bit convoluted if you ask me, but then again what do I know? Do I have it right? Do Liverpool fans have yet ANOTHER reason to hate Chelsea? Is there any other possible way for the powers that be to manage a situation like that? And has their even been a situation like this before? - Cory L., Raceland, LA
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First of all, what an unbelievable run for Chelsea. I didn't even give them a puncher's chance against Bayern Munich, especially with the game in Munich, but as they say, that's why they play the game. Anyhow, as you mentioned, there are consequences as Chelsea, the 6th best team in the English Premier League this past season, wins the Champions League title and the automatic berth into next year's tournament that comes with it. Because England can only send four teams tom the Champions League, Tottenham Hotspur, the 4th place team in the Premier League had its spot in the Champions League revoked dropping them into the Europa League tournament instead. Now the Europa League is slightly more complicated. England gets 3 automatic berths there typically reserved for the winner of the Carling Cup (Liverpool), the 5th Place Premier League Finisher (Newcastle) and the 6th Place Finisher (Chelsea). With Chelsea's spot vacated, Spurs slot in nicely, so no one's really getting robbed of an opportunity here. Liverpool fans can rest easy. 

Interestingly enough, Liverpool is actually the reason there is a contingency plan in place for a situation like this. In 2005, when Everton finished fourth, and fifth place Liverpool won the Champions League, there was no provision in UEFA's regulations for such an unlikely scenario where the champion wasn't an automatic qualifier for the next tournament. UEFA had simply presumed that any team good enough to win its marquee tournament would also have qualified for next season's competition by conventional means. As a result, the rules were rewritten so that if the circumstances of 2005 were repeated, the reigning champ's entry would take precedence over the weakest league qualifier, with a maximum of four clubs permitted from a single country. It's a tough break for Spurs, but considering they choked away a third place finish in the EPL they really have no one to blame but themselves.

With all the media surrounding the roger Clemens perjury trial, why is he testifying before elected government officials? Since when has the federal government cared about drug usage with sports? Why don't they go after Hollywood types for drugs if it's that big of an issue to them? I just see our tax dollars going to an odd place and I missed why Clemens, and Bonds for that matter, receive so much federal attention. - The Dude, Chesapeake, VA
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It's a legitimate question. With everything else going in the country, why did our Congress use its resources to address steroids in baseball? But, these are people we elected so I guess you get what you vote for. Or don't vote for. Anyhow... Agree or not with Congress's involvement, the fact remains that Clemens, and Bonds for that matter, were alleged to have made false statements while under oath. In Bonds' case, he was found guilty of obstructing justice stemming from his grand jury appearance in 2003. And then currently Clemens is on trial for six felony counts involving perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice. Two jurors have already been dismissed for falling asleep during the trial so that should tell you everything you need to know about whether people care or not.

That does it for this week. As always a special thanks to everyone who wrote in. And remember, as the great G$ Meyer says Reading is for Winners, especially when you read Smitty's Mailbag.

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