Soccer’s Version of Deep Blue vs Kasparov

Here’s Barcelona and Argentina legend Lionel Messi taking on a robot goalkeeper on a Japanese gameshow. He either shoots wide, hits the uprights or is denied in his first few attempts, but (and go ahead and scroll to roughly the 6:00 mark) after several shots he learns two ways to beat the evil machine.

The first is a world-class combination of pure power and deadly accuracy, as Messi blasts the ball to the upper left corner, where Robokeeper—as the infernal device is known—gets a “hand” on it, but cannot keep it out of the net.

The second is a more reliable and brilliant misdirection, as Messi sells the machine on a shot to the left corner but then rocks his attempt into the right corner. The split screen display shows this pretty vividly. Take a look:

For the record, Garry Kasparov defeated Deep Blue 4-2 in their first meeting. In the rematch a year and a half later, after the machine’s engineering had been altered by its legions of programmers, Deep Blue prevailed 3 1/2 to 2 1/2.

Italian Broadcaster Tiziano Crudeli Writhes in Existential Agony as Barcelona Overtakes His Beloved AC Milan

If, as devoted Olympiakos fan Agememnon once said, pain and suffering are the tragical source of knowledge, then Italian TV presenter Tiziano Crudeli must be a very wise man indeed.

Here he is, grappling with the fundamental questions of existence, which have rudely confronted him via Lionel Messi’s opening goal, M’Baye Niang’s shot off the post for Milan, and Messi’s second goal, after which Crudeli’s life has been drained of all meaning:

Yet take note of Crudeli in the last segment, his equilibrium remarkably restored, objectively marking Jordi Alba’s series-clinching goal in his notebook.

That’s hard-won wisdom in action.

Friday Funny: Ian Holloway on Moving the 2022 World Cup to Winter

We’re a few months after the fact on this, but it’s late on a Friday and we’re big fans of any rational responses to the irrational decision to stage the 2022 World Cup in the ceramic kiln that is Qatar in the height of summer, so … here’s the inimitable Ian Holloway, Crystal Palace manager, reacting to Michel Platini’s suggestion that the 2022 tournament be rescheduled for the winter, right in the middle of most European seasons:

He never disappoints, Holloway. He and Crystal Palace are currently in fourth place in the English League Championship table, seven points behind leaders Cardiff City and comfortably in the promotion-playoff zone.

Mila Kunis Joins Elton John, John Barnes, and Jay DeMerit In Rich Tapestry of Watford FC History

Diehard Watford fan and alleged BBC employee Chris Stark interviewed an obviously under-the-weather Mila Kunis the other day.

The enterprising young man started off talking about Kunis’s upcoming movie (something about Oz) but, not one to waste the opportunity at hand, he quickly shifted the topic onto more important matters, such as would she accompany him to a Watford match, with chicken at Nando’s beforehand and the obligatory halftime steak-and-ale pie?

From there, they moved with their cartoonishly oversized microphones on to ‘lad points,’ his mates at the pub, and Baywatch-themed wedding customs.

Also, he asked her out not one, not two, but three times.

Take it away, Chris:

We have a couple of questions (English readers, please feel free to weigh in with the answers in the comments):

1. Is it “neck” a pint, or “nick” a pint?

2. What’s the difference between “boshing” a pint and “nick/necking” one?

As Usual, Taiwanese Animators Nail It, this Time with Eden Hazard Ballboy Incident

Chelsea winger Eden Hazard was red-carded for swinging his boot at Swansea City ballboy Charlie “Needed for Time-wasting” Morgan late in Wednesday’s League Cup semifinal between the Blues and Swansea in Wales.

For the best recap available, we turn the floor over to NMAWorldEdition, who cover all sides of the story, including the one with the panda stunt-riding a motorcycle:

We first saw the incident in one brief replay that included only Hazard’s kick, and none of the buildup to it. After handsome devil Prison Mike called our attention to the kid’s very obvious time-wasting move that provoked the kick, we looked a little further into the incident.

Turns out the 17-year-old Morgan is the son of a hyper-rich Swansea executive and had boasted on his Twitter feed about his time-wasting ability as a ballboy.

He didn’t get into his acting skills, which were also on prominent display in the clip.

In our view, Hazard was definitely trying to kick the ball, and not the kid, but considering the kid’s flop onto the ball beforehand, we half agree with noted voice of reason Joey Barton that “Hazard’s only crime is that he hasn’t kicked him hard enough.”

Our other half acknowledges that Hazard was stupid to even appear to be kicking a ballboy. He lost his cool, and he’s going to pay for it. The FA announced today that he’ll be charged for the incident, which could add games to his mandatory three-match suspension for violent conduct.

Fortunately, Morgan, the teenage “prat,” as Stan Collymore called him, has been absorbing some richly deserved punishment on Twitter, as the #prayforballboy hashtag proliferated yesterday. Young Master Morgan has also seen his Twitter following balloon from 600 to more than 87,000. It’s doubtful, though, that he’ll be tweeting about any future ballboy experiences.

The game, by the way, ended 0-0, which meant Swansea, 2-0 winners of the first leg, advanced to the League Cup final, where they’ll meet upstarts Bradford City.

Peru’s U-20 Keeper: He’s a Little Unorthodox, But He Gets the Job Done

FC Dallas recently signed Peru’s top goalkeeper, Raul Fernandez, and they can only hope he’s a little less helter-skelter than one of his apprentices in the Peruvian national team set-up, U-20 netminder Angelo Campos.

Young Campos is currently backstopping la Blanquirroja in the CONMEBOL Youth Championship—aka qualification for next summer’s U-20 World Cup—and yesterday against Uruguay, he had himself quite the goalkeeping adventure. Take a look:

That was some rollercoaster. Let’s break it down.

Up: He aggressively comes off his line to deal with a ball over the top by Uruguay. That was good … in theory. You like a proactive goalkeeper.

Down: Whoa! Badly misjudged that ball, and the striker’s around him. That was bad. And now the striker shoots….

Up: That’s some hustle! Campos sprints all the way back, dives, and—yes! Stops the ball before it crosses the line. Wow.

Down: The momentum from his heroic sprint-and-lunge has sent him sliding all the way into the back of the net … and here comes the striker—empty net, ball on the goal line! Oh no!

Up: Holy recovery! What agility. Catlike, Campos regains his feet and beats the striker to the ball.

Down: Whoops, looks like he fouled the striker with that double leg sweep! (See step one: aggressive is good, reckless bad.)

Up!: The ref does not call the apparent foul. He was probably too impressed, like the rest of us, with Campos’s never-say-die effort on the play. So it’s no goal, no penalty, a sensational double save by the young Peruvian, and cardiac unrest for his coach.

Andscene.