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Sunday, January 27, 2013

TWD Sunday Sports Thread For 1/27/13: Down Under Wonder (2nd Version)

From USAToday.com

Game, Set, Match: Djokovic defeats Murray 6-7 (2), 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-2

It was the calm that carried Novak Djokovic to his 4th Australian Open title and 3rd straight championship in Melbourne, while it was the body that failed Andy Murray in the end. 

The Serbian showed how he is the best in the world again, while the extra day of rest and much easier semifinal played a significant role in Murray's physical ailments revealing themselves as the match began slipping away from him. 

Djokovic did so well to avoid going down a crucial early break in the 2nd set, down 0-40 and seemingly letting the frustration from a poor 1st set tiebreaker grip him. That hold down three break points was the turning point in this match and one of three defining moments, as Djokovic began to settle down on the forehand side. 

If Murray gets the break there, with his forehand at its optimum level and his serve firmly locked in, Djokovic would have likely had to comeback from two sets down. Instead, the Scot's missed backhand by inches proved to be one of the shots he will be thinking about in the "what if" column. 

Those little margins between victory and defeat in these Big 4 matches were then magnified again in the 2nd set tiebreak. With Djokovic getting his own forehand back in order, he stayed with Murray and got help from a bird's feather in the 2nd set tiebreak. That sudden, minute distraction from the sky lead to Murray costly double faulting and giving Djokovic the mini-break he needed to propel and win the 2nd set. 

Murray had lost the clear advantage, deserving of a two sets lead and beginning to feel the elements of pain from his semifinal win over Roger Federer. In the last few years in Melbourne, the extra day of rest for one of the men's finalists over the other turned out not to be a distinct advantage. But it certainly was the situation this time, as both men's trajectory in the match went in different ways in the 8th game of the third set. 

Djokovic finally found his way through a Murray service game since the 1st set to go up 0-40. A valiant effort to comeback by Murray ended three points later, as he placed his shot into the net, and the match's momentum would stay with Djokovic until the very end. 

Murray's much harder semifinal and less day of rest proved to be vital, as his limp became noticeable throughout the final set. But it was Djokovic's ability to stay strong and focused on his service games, combined with his ability to settle down on his forehand side that was the reason for his win. 

It was fitting that Andre Agassi was at Rod Laver Arena to witness Djokovic equaling his total of Australian Open titles. The old king of Melbourne had to be front and center for the new king of Melbourne. 

(That's it for The Whole Delivery's live coverage of the 2013 Australian Open. A full recap of the tournament will be soon in the pipeline. Thanks for reading and Peace for now.)

The Original Thread is down below:
Both Players with Kevin Spacey Before the Match 

It's Act 18 of a professional friendly rivalry that started when they were teenagers. And now, with Rafael Nadal out and Roger Federer dispatched, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray's battle become the highlighted rivalry on the men's side to kick off 2013. 

With Murray's confidence growing in Grand Slam best of five matches, the mental advantage that Djokovic used to have on Murray up to 5 months ago has continued to close. Always a tight nip-and-tuck rivalry, the world #1 had the supreme edge when it came between the ears. Now, that has since diminished, as their matchups are now legitimate pick ups decided only by who is the superior player on the day. 

And that result is decided by only the margins. Dramatic turnaround points for vital momentum will be vital again for both of these guys. 

Keys to the Match

For Murray 
1) Keep on establishing the forehand as the biggest shot
2) You have more versatility, keep on using it 
3) Protect the 2nd serve
4) Close out the points
5) This is your time to take over. 

For Djokovic
1) Mix up the serve and get the full extension 
2) Be aggressive and don't be afraid of the net 
3) Hit to the middle of the court more to set up the angles before he does 
4) Test his fitness all the way since you got the extra day of rest
5) You are still the mentally stronger player. Have the best defense

Predictions: I picked Djokovic before the start of the tournament, and though Murray has made this an even match with his continued physical presence, Djokovic just shows still that crisp form to win this contest in, of course, 5 dramatic sets. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

TWD Saturday Sports Thread For 1/26/13: The 2013 Australian Open Women's Final- Azarenka/Li (Preview Version)

From AustralianOpen.com

Similar players, similar games, similar real, similar temperament. The similar tactics for these all court, forehand stable or unstable elite baseliners.

For Li:

1) Keep believing in your forehand. 
2) Attack Azarenka's 2nd serve relentlessly. 
3) Win the backhand battle.
4) Be a survivor to a closer. 
5) The crowd is behind you. Use them.

For Azarenka:

1) Believe in your forehand as well, get consistent depth.  
2) Be strong on your serve, placement is key. 
3) Be sound with your defense and get your backhand to her FH.
4) Use a drop shot at times, use it.
5) Win the backhand battle, dealing with the adversity. 

With both players playing in the night time conditions for the first time this tournament on Laver, it could take both of them a while to get accumulated. With that being said, Azarenka's game is just a little bit more stable when it comes to having to alter novel conditions, despite Li finding her best form right now. 

With having to usher in a "Me vs the world" mentality, I think Azarenka will do this in a 3-set terrific match and defend her title.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

The 1st Thread/S-Thread For 1/25/13: The 2013 Australian Open Thread- Men's Semifinal #2 (Murray/Federer Pre-Match Runthrough)

Photo from Australian Open

Even without all members of the Big 4 in Melbourne this year, the Big 4 matches still live on with the men, as the Australian Open men's title will be determined as expected by Rafael Nadal's elite quartet brethren. 

Novak Djokovic is patiently awaiting, with the major advantage of thrashing David Ferrer once more in no time while having the crucial extra day rest that Roger Federer and Andy Murray won't have. In short, the world #1 would not feel bad at all if both men played a titanic 4-5 hour long epic. 

Although Federer claimed victory in their last match at the ultra fast ATP World Your Finals indoor court, their last standout contest really was the victory that changed Murray's career, the Olympic Final. Regardless of how much fatigue Federer had from surviving Juan Martin del Petro the round prior or if his back was truly ailing him, the Swiss legend still showed signs of winning that big match if Murray wasn't ready again.

As we all know, Murray was more than ready, and that amazing performance sprung to him now being an Olympic and Grand Slam champion. 

With full confidence to crush his forehand and belief in his 2nd serve, Murray is now sound enough in his offense to beat Federer in this match. But with his form a little unconvincing despite an easy draw, that could come back to haunt the Scot. However, Federer was extended to five sets by Jo Wilfred Tsonga in the quarterfinals. Even with his terrific conditions at his age, that battle with Tsonga could be the difference in him having enough energy to win in another encounter going the distance. 

The Keys to the Match: 

For Murray: 
1) Establish the forehand by having it be the biggest shot on the court 
2) Dominated with the first serve 
3) Be the aggressive closer at the beginning, may Roger press into mediocre approach shots. 
4) No dipage in form like first five rounds. 
5) Remember the Olympics. The rivalry has changed in best of 5. 

For Federer: 
1) Your conditioning is still world class, keep on believing in your movement. 
2) Stretch Murray to his backhand crosscourt to set up the inside-out forehand 
3) See if Murray can hit through you on his forehand
4) Be aggressive on Murray's 2nd serve to apply pressure 
5) Win this first set and get off to a fast start 

For the longest, I thought Murray would suffer from his shaky form while Federer impressive through a tough draw. But now, with the margins so thin amongst the Top 4, I favor Murray to get through this in four thrilling sets. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The S-Thread For 1/23/13: The 2013 Australian Open Semifinals Thread (First Version)

Recap of Victoria Azarenka's almost "choke of the year," as she held onto to beat Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-4. 

GSM: Li d Sharapova 6-2, 6-2

Maria Sharapova thought she had control of this rivalry with Li Na, especially after she placed another 6-0 set on her in Beijing 3 months ago to improve to 8-4. But today, the Chinese #1 refound the confidence that made Sharapova an angry and confused presence on the other side of the net. 

Today, Li Na's forehand stability and serve placement were not only present today when they needed to be, they were simply special. Sharapova was shocked with how Li rarely donated any points to her off that notorious patchy wing, and was even more flustered by the consistent, superb spot hitting by her fellow Max Eisenbud client. 

In the middle of the 2nd set, Sharapova was more devastated by not jumping out to a 2-0 lead, as Li saved another break point thanks to another brainless aggressive return from her. It was an embarrassing display from a player who resembled more the one before 2012, unable to defend well against a stable power player who moved well. 

It spells great things for Li when most of her 21 winners came from that forehand side, and major disappointment for Sharapova. The Russian couldn't take advantage of Serena Williams lost yesterday, and the pressure of that result, the wind, and Li's indomitable presence today got to her. Her abomination and disbelief at the events transpiring in front of her will leave her with a lot of thoughts heading into February. 

Sharapova feels that way because she thought she had solved that Li puzzle, where only Serena and Azarenka were the hurdles that could stop her on a subpar day. 

Instead, Li showed her today that she has the belief and drive to solve the Sharapova conundrum in emphatic fashion, just like the aforementioned new top 2. 

The Runthrough: 6) Li vs 2) Sharapova 

It seemed Li Na had control of the rivalry before 2012, closing the gap to 5-4 with four straight wins without dropping a set. As she ascended to a top class player, the Chinese #1 controlled her raw power and got consistent mental belief against Sharapova's return with great placement on her serves. She became the bigger hitter on the court to go along with having the superior natural movement, and that really annoyed Sharapova.

But Li's confidence in big matches against similar power hitters diminished last year, particularly against Sharapova. She was a wild mess against her in Miami, the ultimate choke artist in blowing the Italian Open final (and giving Sharapova the final confidence to not waste her best chance to date at winning the French Open), and was a nervous wreck again in front of her countrymen at the China Open.

The two matches on hard court last year resulted in 6-0 second sets, as the wind in Miami and the pressure in Beijing made Na's forehand and workman like serve easy targets for a determined Sharapova eager to get the matchup back in her control. But the American-Russian knew she had to physically reclaim herself as one of the strongest hitters on tour while continuing to make further strides on her defense in 2012, and she did just that to have Li searching for ways to beat her again.

The 13th battle of Max Eisenbud money makers is firmly looking as a Sharapova win, especially buoyed by the news of not having to face Serena Williams in the final. Li simply must be at her best to win this today, meaning she must not have her notorious wild patches plague her against Sharapova's current aggressive stability.


Keys to the match:

For Li Na

1) Cheap points on her serve today
2) Stability on her forehand as always.
3) Close Sharapova off by hitting down the line and away from her, instead of crosscourt and not letting her back into the point.
4) No mental slipups. Maintain a consistent level throughout.

For Sharapova

1) Established your power and aggression from the forehand to Li's forehand.
2) Use the height advantage and believe in your 2nd serve.
3) Keep points alive as much as possible, get into her head.
4) With Serena out, be liberated. You control the rivalry now with Li, dominate her serve.

Prediction: Sharapova in 2

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The S-Thread For 1/22/13: The 2012 Australian Open Day 10 Thread- Quarterfinals Day #2 (Updated Final Version)

Game, Set, Match: Stephens d. S.Williams 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 

When the postscript of the 2013 Australian Open women's singles title is written, the fate of the tournament was actually decided in its bridesmaid competition: the women's doubles. 

For on Tuesday afternoon, the limits of Serena Williams' chance at pulling off another Grand Slam duel title reached its breaking point and trickled over to Sloane Stephens' biggest win of her young career and the shock result of the tournament. 

The physical toll of her doubles loss with sister Venus the prior day caught up to her and lead to the 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory for the 19-year-old upstart, and ended any hopes of holding all four grand Slams for a 2nd time in her career, as well as a calender Grand Slam this year. 

The back injury Serena suffered in the second set to go along with her nagging ankle ailment spelled doom for her, even with regaining enough strength on her serve and barely losing any power on her groundstrokes. The sense of doubt because of the ailments would not depart here despite recovering enough to go up 4-3 in the final set. 

Nevertheless, credit has to be given to Stephens for regaining her composure after being in shellshock mode by Serena's injury. She regained controlled of her forehand, was competent enough with the defense on her backhand, and displayed why she should be at net more with her quality frontcourt dexterity. 

Still, the match was truly not decided by own events, but of the events 24 hours before. It's always a major concern for the top singles players who decide to play doubles as well if they jeopardize their ability to win the individual tournament. The men can't do it considering the best of five set format, but even if it were best of three sets for them like the women, it's easily conceivable that Federer, Djokovic, Murray, and Nadal would stick to just singles like Victoria Azarenka and of course Maria Sharapova. Serena, Sara Errani, and Sam Stosur were the only players in the WTA's Top 10 to play doubles.

The 15 time Grand Slam champion has been fortunate throughout the years, especially last year, for it not to be a problem for her with doubles matches that didn't overextend her (or Venus too for that matter) for singles play. 

But her and Venus' inability to close out top seeded duo Errani and Roberta Vinci in straight sets lead to the black spasms, and will now lead into questions on whether she should play doubles with Venus anymore. 

She will certainly be adamant on continuing to make her and her sister happy by sticking with the doubles plan, but there has to be some doubt in her mind on how many more times can she do just that. 

Tuesday afternoon, Serena Williams served for the match and was primed for the 2nd of her two titles this year in Melbourne. Instead now, on Wednesday afternoon, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova are primed for their 2nd Australian Open title overall. 

Game, Set, Match: Azarenka d Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-1

Svetlana Kuznetsova showed the form of how she is just too much quality of a player to not have at least one legit run back to being an elite player. Unfortunately, her fine 1st set level still wasn't enough to rattle a current elite player that is Victoria Azarenka.

Azarenka knew she was in for a prime Kuznetsova, as the Russian definitely had the offensive advantage with a bigger first serve getting her key cheap points to jump to a 4-1 lead. 4 aces in her first 4 services game indicated that maybe Kuznetsova could her serve her way to her first outstanding win in a few years.

But Azarenka was not deterred whatsoever. She raised her level just a notch further by hitting her backhand to the max, solidifying her forehand when she had too, and reading Kuznetsova's serve strongly as the match progressed. And it paid off, as Kuznetsova could only win two more games the rest of the match.

Along with the 1st serve going away for the resurgent Russian, her backhand slowly displayed its streaky ways as well.

It was Azarenka staying strong with a hold to stay in the 1st set and just controlled most of the rallies from then on. Her backhand was brilliant, her forehand was at a solid level, and her movement became impervious until matches end.

Most importantly for Azarenka if she is to face Serena Williams in the semifinals is having a top serving day. Outside of a bad hiccup in the 2nd game of set 2, Azarenka hit her spots enough for decent momentum and confidence. Nevertheless, she had a number of double faults today still, and that has to be absent if she is to get through that likely blockbuster.

The Fun Thread For 1/22/13: Real Singers Do Real Things

Because unlike Beyonce, LeBron and DWade do real performances without lipsinging.

From the Heat's annual karokee event over the weekend, the #6 sung "Rock With You" and had Wade come on stage to join him in serenading this woman with Shai only major hit, "If I Ever Fail In Love."

More from The Whole Delivery later, stay tuned.....

Monday, January 21, 2013

The S-Thread For 1/21/13: The Australian Open Day 9 Quarterfinal Stage (1st Version)

Pre-Match Runthrough: 4) A. Radwanska vs 6) Li

Quarterfinal time at the Australian Open, and a key matchup expected to be the closest matchup on paper of all the singles matches left on both fields is first up on Laver. Aga Radwanska will look to continued her flawless January and record her 2nd straight win against an improving but still unpredictable Li Na.  

With no offense to their matchup at the Apia international 11 days ago, their matchup today will be the true examination to see who will be the early challenger to the Top 3. 

Some, including myself, feel that Radwanska has already displayed her legitimacy at challenging those ahead of her in the rankings. It has been the true perfect start to the 2013 for the Polish ace, with no matches dropped, let alone sets for that matter. 

Radwanska's balance of positive emotion with subtle "Come Ons" on winning key points with her usual calm demeanor has been a major benefit to her. In the past before she started her rise to elite status in summer 2011, Radwanska would get negative at the wrong times, leading to unconfident push strokes that fell farl short in the court against against aggressive power hitters. Although that can still occasionally happen, she has done a great job to curb that, with her only major problem being her congested schedule.

The latter seemed to be rearing its ugly head again with her decision to play the first two weeks of the season, but her perfect 26 out of 26 sets record and getting a day off this tournament leads everyone to believe that a lack of energy from her won't be prevalent.  

That is vital for Radwanska, because Li thrashed here badly in their two post Olympic meetings last summer (6-2, 6-1 in Montreal and then 6-1, 6-1 in Cincinnati) as Radwanska wasn't 100% while Li was on top form. Li added to her control of the rivalry with a 6-4, 6-2 victory in Beijing three months ago, making it seem like Radwanska would always struggle with Li's ability to match her movement while having more power in her strokes. 

That however changed in Sydney, as Radwanska found he first serve placement and speed for arguably the first time against Li in their nine encounters, and placed Li in more difficult positions to hit winners with much better depth. Yes, Li made too many errors on the day, but Radwanska energy level was far superior than their last three meetings and a major key. 

It's been that type of level of  that gives Radwanska the edge in this match, something I would have thought a little inconceivable two weeks ago. Although Li improved her serve dramatically in the second set against Julia Goerges two days ago, it's still isn't at the elite level I thought she would make it in the offseason with coach Carlos Rodriguez. 

Still, she can control the match based on her power alone and will always feel confident in trying to accomplish that again on Radwanska. But for the 2nd time in three weeks, I just think Radwanska shows the impervious level she is at to overcome Li in three sets. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

TWD Sunday Sports Thread #2 For 1/20/13: The Ray Lewis Goodbye Tour Extends Another Two Weeks As Ravens Go To The Super Bowl

Final: Baltimore 28, New England 13

You all know the rest to that story by now. 

Halftime Version: 

Jim Caldwell must get Joe Flacco out of the pocket and move him around to make the key throws and avoid the Patriots linebackers playing up the field. Aggression is the major strength of Belichick and Mike Patricia's unit, but when placed in pass coverage situations, it was problems once again. 

Dickson and Pitta are vital to Flacco in his second half, as the Patriots safeties of Gregory and McCourty have played deep as expected to prevent the deep ball. Caldwell must let Flacco be unleashed in this half. 

On the other side of the ball, Dean Pees must figure out a way to shut down Aaron Hernandez, as josh McDaniels has been superb at using him across the field as usual. A mix of Pollard and Ellerbe has to be used around him instead of just isolated corners, and they must try and get physical with him. 

Key performers: 

Dannelle Ellerbe will have to be outstanding again today. The unsung hero for Baltimore's defense, Ellerbe will have to assist in confusing Brady, getting pressure on him, and making sure the coverage is strong enough on cross routes from Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez.

If Ellerbe and Courtney Upshaw can help the rest of a banged up Front 7  with elite games, the Ravens will be going to the Super Bowl in two weeks time.  Both Ellerbe and Upshaw must beat off pull blocks from the likes of Logan Mankins and Nate Solder.

Of course, Cody, McPhee, and Ngata have got to get some pressure on Brady, while on the Patriots side of defensive, their linebackers have got to be strong in coverage today, their major weakness.

TWD Sunday Sports Thread #1 For 1/20/13: Gold RushGore Sends 49ers Back to the Super Bowl

Final: San Francisco 28, Atlanta 24
(Photo from NFL.com)

A tough running game and a stout defensive unit have been the strong physical identity that has revitalized the San Francisco 49ers franchise. And today in that second half, those two things proved the reason they are returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years.

The trust in their core strengths as a team, their defense and their running game, is what has given this organization a return to the ultimate stage. The offensive line was stellar after a rough start and showed why they are the best in the NFL, and Frank Gore contributed to how elite between the tackles he still is.

80 yards for Gore seem less for how huge he was in this game, with 16 effective carries all day today. LaMichael James was also keep with the touchdown to get the entire team going, but Gore showed how invaluable he is to this team.

Despite Matt Ryan's costly two turnovers in the 3rd quarter helping, there was no assistance from the Falcons quarterback to help the 49ers defense on that final drive. It was just marvelous to see the stand they had in those final four plays of the penultimate Falcons drive.

It's a back breaking loss for Atlanta, to be up 17-0 nothing and not score a single point in the 2nd half. Ryan for the 2nd straight week made unexpected tournaments after superb starts and great protection. And although Kaepernick did not hurt them on the ground as Russell Wilson did last week, the 2nd year man was superb throwing the ball today and didn't come close to making awful decisions.

Terrific game all around to close out the season in the NFC this year.

The Key Adjustments 

No sacks on Matt Ryan. Not one for Alden Smith, Justin Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Ricky Jean-Francois, or anyone on Vic Fangio's defense, as it's been another week of superb O-line blocking so far by Clabo, Konz, McClure, Blalock, and Baker.

That protection has allowed Ryan to have a dream first half, with great decision making and pinpoint deliveries. Those completions have made Julio Jones want to battle Calvin Johnson next season as the NFL's premiere pass catcher.

For Vic Fangio, he will somehow needed to bring in blitz packages for Willis and Bowmann to help both the Smiths somehow get pressure on Ryan. That is just the only "black and white" solution to whether they will be going to the SuperDome in two weeks or going home.

For the Falcons on their end, Stephen Nicholas really has to play better, as he was by far the Falcons worst performer on defense. Greg Roman made a lot of headway as the half went on with the two tight end formation in the pistol, something Mike Nolan will have to fix as San Francisco receives the ball in the first half. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

TWD Sunday Sports Thread For 1/13/13: 2012-13 NFL Playoffs NFC Divisional Round- Texans/Patriots (Halftime Version)

Halftime Adjustments: Patriots 17, Texans 13

1) When Brady had time today, he's exposed Barrett Rudd, Glover Quin, and Bradie James in pass coverage. Those three players must make those stops in open field in the 2nd half when the Patriots think they have matchup problems. JJ Watt has played as well as he can, but he needs Cody and Smith to help him out. So too Connor Baldwin when match up against Veereen and Ridley in key tackle situations. 

2) Rick Dennison must continue to show different run formations not near Vince Wilfork to give the Patriots young linebackers another thought about just crashing into the middle to stop the run. 

3) Matt Schaub has done a good job not making really bad throws, and he must continue to trust his checkdowns and not be predictable on any throws deep in the middle of the field. 

Once again, when it matters on third down, if you don't get any pressure on Tom Brady, you face the consequences. The absence of Gronkowski has long been forgotten about, as Hernandez has made enough plays. 

For the Texans to do what the Jets did two years ago and reverse a blowout regular season loss, Schaub must trust his check downs and expose the Patriots linebackers in pass coverage today. Garrett Graham and Owen Daniels will be so vital today, as both their blocking in two Tight end situations and pass catching have to be top notch for a win today.

Houston needs a big game from not only Schaub and their tight ends in the middle of the field today, but if they don't get pressure on Brady today, Glover Quin, Brandon Harris and Daniel Manning need to be immense in the middle of the field today. They were frankly terrible in Week 14, and must stay disclipine in coverage today instead of thinking on the run.

Shaun Cody and Antonio Smith have to get a push in the middle on Logan Matkins,  Dan Conolly, Donald Thomas while Connor Baldwin has to assist JJ Watt and get a rush on the inside to disrupt Brady.

Update: A total missed opportunity by the Texans there, as James Casey with a poor job on a sure touchdown. But already, exposing the Pats in the middle of the field coverage.

TWD Sunday Sports Thread #2 For 1/13/13: Dirty Dramatic Birds (Final Version)

Final: Falcons 30, Seahawks 28

Mike Smith and Dirk Koetter wanted and did blow that game for Atlanta with awful play calling in the 4th quarter, but Matt Ryan redeem them and himself with those two huge throws on that winning drive. 

But that was all Matt Bryant's heroic kicking that made the major difference on the day, and prevented Arthur Blank's franchise from another embarrassing early exit. 

Seattle's tremendous heart and competitive spirit couldn't overcome their lack of a pass rush today. The absence of Chris Clemons was felt all throughout the day, especially on the final drive. No pressure on Ryan gave him the ample space to throw and make it happen after letting the Seahawks back into it. 

Though Bryant's clutchness and Ryan's calmness with 28 seconds left will get the first thoughts, the offensive line play of the Falcons (Clabo, Konz, McClure, Blalock, and Baker) should get the major billing. They were elite today.  

Halftime Adjustments: Atlanta 20, Seattle 0
After an early mistake, Matt Ryan has been solid to lead an energetic Atlanta side (Photo From NFL.com)

1) The absence of Chris Clemons, as I thought, really is hurting this Seattle secondary. Most confusing however is Gus Bradley not aligning Earl Thomas in more pass coverage situations, as Kam Cancellor's weakness, pass coverage, is on display for Matt Ryan's enjoyment. Bradley has got to alter that. 

2) It was the first half of dominance for three of the most underrated defenders in the league. Jonathan Babineaux has been excellent, and so too have Sean Weatherspoon and Thomas Decoud. Add William Moore's excelent 4th down stop on Michael Robinson, and there it's been a Mike Nolan class display so far. 

3) Bruce Irvin, as Clemons's replacement, has to be placed in more advantageous situations to get pressure on Ryan, who after his early interception to Bobby Wagner, has had not to face any pressure.  

TWD Sunday Sports Thread #1 For 1/13/13: Unitedly Stronger Than Their Rivals

Final: Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool 

It's a sound, workman like United victory, accomplishing the double over their bitter English rivals to go up 10 points on Manchester City in the standings and 24 points better than Liverpool at the moment. 

It was another tough result for Brendan Rodgers side against the league's elite this season, as their midfield just did not have enough to help Luiz Suarez muster a consistent strong challenge for a United backline that has been shaky this season. 

No clear cut chances for Suarez today. And still relying on Fabio Borini to get goals sums up the level Liverpool just is at, regardless of the positive team oriented style of play Rodgers has implemented.

United have past the first test of their difficult two week period in the league, as they have Tottenham on the road next week. City and to a lesser extent, both Chelsea and Spurs, hoped that United would drop points in this difficult back to back. But with how determined Sir Alex's men are with van Persie clicking every game, United still aren't showing the weakness required to make this ultra competitive league be as competitive in its overall title race. 

Halftime: Manchester United 1-0 Liverpool

Robin van Persie's latest display of world class finishing has given the league leaders a deserved 1-0 lead at the break, and it could have been more if the world class Dutchman was able to get enough on a back heel towards the half's end.

For Liverpool, it was certainly a disappointing first half in the English derby of all English derbies. No clear cut scoring opportunities as the midfield three of Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen and Lucas were badly outplayed by Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, and a mixture of Ashley Young and Shinji Kagawa to help.

Allen once again was victim of another errant back pass that almost cost Brendan Rodgers side, and will need to do a lot better in half #2.

Beside considering replacing Raheem Sterling or Stuart Downing for Daniel Sturridge, Rodgers may also think about bringing in Jonjo Shelvey for some needed midfield force.  And with Pepe Reina's second half in doubt, he may have to use up a key sub to bring in Brad Jones.

Ferdinand and Vidic have not been challenged at all in the middle of the park as Suarez hasn't been in any clear cut scoring situation. Rafael was terrific in shutting down Sterling and going forward superbly in setting up Van Persie's back heel chance. Add in Evra's assist to van Perise and it's arguably been the best half of football this season from United's back four.

Rodgers and Liverpool really need to show major bite in the second half to get a result.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

TWD Saturday Sports Thread For 1/12/13: 2012-13 NFL Playoffs NFC Divisional Game #2- Packers/49ers

The key for the Packers is if they can match the physicality of this 49ers outfit. That certainly was not the case in Week 1, as Frank Gore ran whenever he needed yardage behind that formidable O-line.

B.J. Raji must be major in the middle today against Jonathan Goodwin and a mixture of Mike Iupati and Alex Boone. Raji needs to command double teams today, but that will also require Ryan Pickett, C.J.Wilson, and AJ Hawk from MLB to play their best games of the season. While Clay Matthews needs to find a way to continue to stuffing the run against Joe Staley in a heavy weight match, those are the major keys in this game today.

And not to be overlooked at all is the tremendous punting of Andy Lee, who will be vital in field position all day today if the 49ers have solid field position.

I feel the loss of Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham on offense, and Justin Smith's injury woes will be too much for Kaepernick to overcome, as Dajuan Harris will be able to give Aaron Rodgers enough balance today in a revenge win for Green Bay.

Post time: As of this post, Green Bay is up 7-0 with a Sam Shields return for a touchdown off a bad Kaepernick throw.

Kaepernick responds, makes it 7-7. 

TWD Saturday Sports Thread For 1/12/13: The Ray Lewis Goodbye Tour Continues For Another Day

FINAL: Ravens 38, Broncos 35 (2/OT)

5 key post game points: 

1) Though Manning;s throw across his body that lead to Graham's second INT of the day gets the primary focus, Rahim Moore's awful neglect of his primary job as a deep safety was the most egregious of killer Broncos' mistakes today. 

2) Overlooked from Harris and Manning crucial errors was the Broncos lack of a pass rush all game long. With only one sack (and that came in overtime), Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil were just dominated today by Oher and Bryant McKinnie were great today along with Jim Caldwell making sure Flacco rolled out of the pocket enough. 

3) Hopefully the continued ridiculous talk of Joe Flacco not being clutch will end again, at least for a week. Regardless of how he performed his 2nd half of the season, he proved last January how clutch he was in the AFC title game. 

Though John Fox did him favors by running three straight downs and allowing him one last chance to extend Ray Lewis' career, Flacco never game up and trusted in his ability to at least air it out one more time. And boy did it pay off, with a major favor from Moore's blunder. 

Can Torrey Smith continue his day of dominance? (Photo from NFL.com)

Key Halftime adjustments:

1) Obviously, Champ Bialey cannot cover Torrey Smith today, who is showing why he is growing to an elite receiver. Jim Caldwell has been great with his play calling this afternoon. Mike Adams has to help Bailey in half #2.

2) Both teams have not been able to apply any pass rush on either Flacco or Manning. So key for either side to apply pressure on the signal callers, as neither team has been able to establish the run.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The 1st Thread/S-Thread Runthrough For 1/9/13: No One Elected Into The Baseball Hall of Fame =

Photo of Cooperstown Hall of Fame (From Baseball Hall of Fame)

For only the 8th time in history and first time since 1996, no player will be going into the Hall of Fame, with Craig Biggio getting the closest number. 

It was expected but still telling that the Hall of Fame voters decided to have fake integrity and not allow Barry Bonds or Roger Clemons into the Hall of Fame despite never reporting on their steroids usage during the rise of PED in the 90's. 

The final vote tally: 

And the numbers for Clemons and Bonds.....Mark McGwire with 17%, and Sammy Sosa with 12.5%

More on this to come, stay tuned to The Whole Delivery. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The 1st Thread For 1/8/13: The First Insane Interview of Many in 2013

"1776 will happen again", "The Republic will rise again," and "Piers, don't try what your ancestors did
before," are the standout quotes from this first of many ridiculous but entertaining interviews in 2013. 

It's what happens when you have nutcases on cable news and think they are fit to have a healthy conversation.  And you'll keep on seeing people like this on TV because the likes of Piers Morgan just don't know when to stop having ill suitable people on their supposedly esteemed shows. 

At least Jones brought up the "News of the World" history of Morgan, where there isn't just one buffoon in this interview. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

The S-Thread #2 For 1/7/13: BS BCS Title Game- Touchdown Jesus, We Have A Problem

Halftime Thread: The AJ McCarron Beatdown show 

Never thought AJ McCarron would be able to repeat his sharp performance from last year against LSU. Although Bob Diaco has called a terrible game with no pressure towards him, it's been a great performance by a much maligned quarterback. 

McCarron having a big night to go along with expected top plays from their O-line and top running duo of Lacy and Yeldon, it's been blow out city USA. So embarrassing indeed for Brian Kelly, so wonderful 

The Beltway Nonsense Runthrough For 1/7/13: Drone Torture Love

The continuation of America's intelligence imperialism was highlighted today by torture/drone advocate John Brennan be selected by Obama today, but in no surprise whatsoever though.

All the attention has been given to nutcase Republicans making fake outrage over Hagel, but in a sane society, we wouldn't tolerate centrist Obama's continued preference to not alter the culture of US ridiculousness.

The Runthrough

GOP math surely is no higher than arithmetic.

Matt Stroller on our lazy corporations.

So embarrassing for Milford, Delaware.

More from The Whole Delivery, with coverage of the BS BCS title game later on this evening. 

The S-Thread For 1/7/13: Four What's It Worth

Messi wins 4th Ballon D'Or

As expected and as should be, Lionel Messi has won his 4th FIFA Ballon D'or, with Ronaldo and Iniesta finishing as the bridesmaids.

Ridiculously enough, instead of at least 90% of the vote for a record 91 goal year, the Argentine legend (and new 60 Minutes feature star) only received a 41.60% majority. Sir Cristiano got a shade under 24% while Iniesta with the rest of the scraps. Some clowns hated Messi so much that they had him in third place, while some didn't even have him in the Top 3 (especially the Italy captain, who didn't even list him).

Despite the hate from ridiculous media figures, the magic of Messi just continues to grow, as he is certainly the favorite to win the title next January.

To save Ronaldo of more disappointed faces, they might as well create their own Lionel Messi Platinum Ball award just in case there's a need to let someone else win who is clearly second fiddle to the magical #10.

Ronaldo's dejected sad face as Messi wins again

As FIFA decided to hate the Premier League one again with their all Barcelona/Real Madrid plus Falcao Best XI (Marcelo was not better than Ashley Cole, though Cole wasn't better than Jordi Alba), you have to wonder what it would take for a non-La Liga player to be in the best team next year.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

TWD Sunday Sports Thread #2 For 1/6/13: RGKnee Doesn't Take Shine From Seattle Victory (Final Version)

Final: Seahawks 24, Redskins 20 

Though all the headlines outside of Seattle will be on "The Knee", it was all about the perseverance though mistakes of this Seattle team that was the true difference in this game. 

The two 3rd quarter miscues of Lynch's fumble and WIlson missing Baldwin for two sure touchdowns could have made a young team think the day wasn't going to be theirs. Instead, Pete Carroll's ball club kept plugging away, and their fight lead to that trip to Atlanta they deserved. 

Halftime Thoughts: 

Really with all the momentum riding for Seattle, it's all about Russell Wilson not making any mistakes while keeping the pedal on the medal. Seattle survived the wave of emotion and dealing with how physical the Redskins are on the ground, and now have a growingly gimpy Griffin to deal with. 

It's going to be interesting to see if Griffin can find just another level to get through, but it's going to be up to London Fletcher and the defense to somehow make it hard for Wilson to see down the field and just prevent him from making full plays. 

Having Marshawn Lynch really does help so very much for Wilson, as that fumble recovery was just so great off of a potential game changing mistake. 

Can Griffin be effective against this fast physical Seattle defense. (Photo from NFL.com)

Keys to the Game:

Read option, read option, read option. It's the attack that many of the NFL's elite defensive ends could not solve when facing Robert Griffin this season. And though the Seahawks aggressive defense sees a version of it everyday in practice with Russell Wilson, no one operates with it fully like the Shanahans and Griffin.

Bruce Irvin, Chris Clemons, Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner, and K.J. Wright are among the standouts for Pete Carroll's team who must recognize their responsibilities and stay disclipine.

On the end, a ravaged Redskins defense under Jim Haslett made be able to blit Tony Romo with some success  but have to mix it up perfectly today against the smart versatile decision and play making of Russell Wilson. Haslett called obviously blitzes last Sunday night, something that will not work today at all against the former Wisconsin and NC State star.

The secondary of the Redskins have improved as the season has gone on, but they are still susceptible to giving up huge plays. DeAngelo Hall needs to play to his strengths, but major mistakes must be avoided from Josh Wilson, Cederic Griffin, and Reed Doughty.


With all the injuries the Redskins have had this season, I think it's too just too much to deal with. Seattle 24-20. 

TWD Sunday Sports Thread #1 For 1/6/13: Ray of Light (Final Versions)

Final: Ravens 24, Colts 9

De facto day #52 day ends with him having the most tackles, and them hitting Luck all over the place today. To Mile High they go, but it's all about Mr. Lewis for sure. 

The Key Play

Torrey Smith was virtually invisible in the first half in the passing game, with great coverage from the always underrated Vontae Davis playing a major part in that. However, Smith shows how pass catching isn't the only way a wide receiver should contribute to his team in a key fashion, especially when you have a top tier running back. 

And that was the case with Smith's key blocking extending Ray Rice's massive screen gain. 

Needed Adjustments

Clyde Christensen has done well in Bruce Arians absence calling plays, doing a good job of trying to establish the run with Vick Ballard mostly to take pressure off of Luck. Nevertheless, the Colts offense hasn't done the best job at really using Luck's ability to run well this season as D.C. has done with Griffin and Seattle with Wilson. 

With the pressure this Ravens defense will continue to give him, dropping back and throwing it 40 times is a major ask on him here again, and he must be dynamic with his mobility too. Christensen has to find a way to utilize that in the second half to make Dean Pees, Ray Lewis and company not be hell bent on getting up the field with no other thoughts. 

For Baltimore, everything else is sound on defense outside of making sure not to overplay on the bubble screens and other delayed sets that the Colts' rookie skill player and Reggie Wayne can certainly exploit. Flacco has been just mediocre in that first half, and he needs to have a presence to find his receivers and Ed Dickson more. 

Pregame Preview Version 

Screenshot from NFL.com

The emotion of Ray Lewis possibly playing his final game, Andrew Luck's first playoff game, and Chuck Pagano's return to Baltimore are the standout factors in the 2nd AFC Wild Card game for the 2012-13 season.

Key to the Game: 

Luck must show a duel threat ability and make game changing momentum plays with his legs to sustain drives. Despite his level of natural accuracy, Luck still is nowhere near the likes of Rodgers, Brady, or Manning with pin point passing.

Against the blitzes he will face today from Dean Pees, Luck must be elusive like his fellow esteemed rookie quarterback counterparts Griffin and Luck in order to win on his playoff debut.

The sudden absence of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians further complicates things, but he must find a way to stay strong against an aggressive defensive made even more emotional under Lewis' possible final game circumstances.


It's already enough for a rookie quarterback, even a greta one like Luck, to have to start his first playoff game on the road against a hostile environment and team with postseason pedigree. It's another when the added dynamic of Lewis' retirement and now Arians unavailability increases the stress load.

Those factors coupled with Joe Flacco's improve play two weeks ago against the Giants make it a rough test for the Colts. They simply need huge days not only for Luck and his young receiving core, but a blast from the past from Dwight Freeney to help Robert Mathis and maybe Jerry Hughes on the passrush, as well as big days from Vonte Davis and Darius Butler at corner.

Still, stopping the run is a major problem for the Colts, as they have given up the 4th most yards on the ground, with Ray Rice easily keen to gash and go to the house today multiple times today. Field position is so key.

That's just too much to ask for with a team that struggled to make their level on the road as they did at home. Those elements should give Baltimore the win and a trip to Denver. 27-13

Saturday, January 5, 2013

TWD Saturday Sports Thread #2 For 1/5/13: 2012-13 NFL WildCard Weekend, Vikings/Packers

(From NFL.com)

Yes, it's time to just line Adrian Peterson in the wildcat and just go from there for the Vikings.

Nevertheless. outside of standing in the pocket too long and getting sacked by Jared Allen, it's been another fine half of play from Aaron Rodgers. His line, questioned all season because of both injuries and protection quality, has done well enough.

Most encouraging for Green Bay was the running of Dujuan Harris who showed fine burst and could add another element for this team next week in San Francisco. But there is no way they are losing this game.

TWD Sports Saturday Thread #1 For 1/5/13: High Volume of Wattage...

Final: Texans 19, Bengals 13

 The O and D-lines were strong today for the Texans (Photo from NFL.com)

When it came down to it, Andy Dalton and Rey Maualaga needed huge days to win on the road, and they just did not produce it.

It was one thing for the Bengals to lose the line of scrimmage battle, but for the two guys Marvin Lewis called out in the middle of the season, they gave performances where you have to ask yourself if Cincinnati is going to have the guys to lead their team in big games the next year or two.

For Houston, their line of scrimmage and Foster showed how elite they are in the run. And the energy on defense from Quin, Barwin and others to help Watt is something they to re-find what made them elite.

Schaub showed composure to make the game winning throw to ice it, but he still was far from title winning convincing today.

Halftime Thoughts and Adjustments: 

Arian Foster has had his way so far. But can his quarterback not make constantly throws in the 2nd Half? (Photo from NFL.com)

For Cincinnati: 

That was woeful gameplaying from offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. To not design any plays for A.J. Green like he's inactive represents how totally anemic the Bengals' were moving the ball.

Leon Hall having more receptions than Green? Embarrassing.

Defensively, linebacker Rey Maualaga had a terrible first half, taking bad angles in both pass coverage and reading the red. He has to step up and be a leader out there instead of a by standard, as Geno Atkins and the D-line have been contained because of great run blocking by the Texans O-Line and superb vision once again by Arian Foster.

For Houston: 

Matt Schaub, when it comes to the key throws in a big game, has failed to be elite. Though Hall did terrifically to INT, Schaub still got baited into a simple throw without redaing his coverage. And he must drive throws on the money when he has time, something he failed to do for Andre Johnson, resulting in another field goal from solid Shayne Graham.

Other than that, an effective first half for Gary Kubiak's men. They controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides. But will Schaub make the right decisions to go along with that is the major question.

First Version: 

In terms of late game injury reports for Cincinnati, Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis' hamstring is okay for him to go. For the Texans, every player expected to play this week is a-go for the game. We'll be right back with the lineups and the keys for Cincinnati and Houston. 

The Lineup and Depth Chart: 

For the Texans, both the offensive line and Matt Schaub had a rough month of December. Uncomfortable against New England with the absence of backup tight end Garrett Graham to run their multiple tight end sets, Houston's quarterback and his protection unit come into wild card weekend in questionable form.

Even worst however for the AFC South winner of late however has been their defense, as the lost of ubiquitous signal caller Brian Cushing has tickled down to a defense not ready to stop the pass. CB's Kareem Jackson and Brice McCain and free safety Glover Quin have seen the back of receiver's numbers a lot lately. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips needs to find a way for his defense to be more than J.J. Watt if they want to avoid the fitting conclusion to a late season collapse.

Major questions around the quarterback also center around Marvin Lewis' team, with Andy Dalton not growing into a top tier quarterback this season. It's understandable considering how his offensive line have not protected him at all this year, allowing 46 sacks.

It's the eact opposite scenario for Cincinnati's defense, arguably boasting the best past rush in the NFL. Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, and rookie Vontaze Burfact are the standouts of a formidable front 7, although Rey Maualuga as the signal caller of the D doesn't play to his great potential from time to time.

Although the secondary as a collective is not as formidable as D-line and linebackers, strong safety Reggie Nelson arguably is the league's most underrated at that position. Solid in coverage and dynamic on blitz schemes, the Florida alum deserved Pro Bowl recognition as he turned it on in the 2nd half of the season.

Keys to the Game: 

With the momentum firmly on a motivated Bengals side, the Texans with all their injury concerns need Matt Schaub to at least balance out for Arian Foster. The stretch running play is something Cincinnati couldn't stop in their last several meetings against Houston, something that AFC South winners could use to perfection to slow down the vaunted Bengals' pass rush.

Both quarterbacks have the dynamic top tier receivers to make huge plays, but someone vertically needs to do something besides Andre Johnson and A.J. Green to secure the win today.

This one is truly a 50/50 one to decide, and the absence of slot receiver Mohammad Samu for Cincinnati is a key loss. Schaub is not convincing in big game situations and that Texans' secondary has been awful.

But I think he finds a way to bounce back with Graham returning, and Houston barely wins today 20-17. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Friday Fun Thread For 1/4/13: First of the Post Mayan Life

Bring in Rebecca, because it's Friday Fun Thread time......

First celebration of a Friday for 2013, and how it will be a long but fast year when it comes to its conclusion. First up, we have Meredith Vieria's latest candid usage of the "S" word on live television, happening yesterday on the Today Show.

Speaking of the "S" word, what is up with this dude throwing feces at their girl? Here it is. 

GrumpyCat is excellent, and that is your Friday Fun Thread.

Stay tuned for more at The Whole Delivery folks.  

The Flashback Fridays For 1/4/13: Mr. Cheeks - Lights, Camera, Action (2001)

The first Flashback Friday of 2013, it's Mr. Cheeks 2001's hit "Lights, Camera, Action," the best solo effort from an artist who just hasn't been talked about any much such 2003.

One of the funniest things about this video is the fact that Marcus Camby's jersey is being worn here by Cheeks, and the fact that he is back with the Knicks this season represents just how long he's been around the NBA.

One of the underrated producers in the music game in Bink delivered with this beat to set up the hook for Cheeks best solo effort. Your First Flashback joint of the year, it's Mr. Cheeks with "Lights, Camera, Action."

Mr Cheeks - Lights, Camera, Action by lachula

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The S-Thread For 1/2/13: 2012-13 Barclays Premier League After The Holiday Period

Shaun Wright-Phillips winner gave QPR a shock win at Chelsea, but they need a lot more results to save them.  

It truly is three different seasons in the Barclays Premier League, with the holiday festive year end/year start four game period being its own grueling season of importance.

It could further spurn you to make hasty or needy moves in a January transfer window that you didn't want to have to dabble in, and it sets the table for the second half of the season. After another festive period, Manchester United are in the front and center. But unlike last season, where a clear lost to Newcastle spelled omens on what became a title-less season, Sir Alex's men are sound favorites for the title.

Shaun Wright-Phillips huge goal to give QPR the 1-0 win at Chelsea moved Harry Redknapp side from bottom of the table to......bottom of the table. I just don't see enough consistent team chemistry to overcome the drop for them, although they should finish ahead of Reading, who are giving their all in recent games but really are the same Championship level side that got promoted.

Aston Villa I would slightly favor for the final third drop spot even if Bent and Agbonlahor were back healthy since.  The team just doesn't have the firm strength in the middle of the field to go along with true veteran leadership.

Since their perfect 3-0 win over Liverpool, the dam has really broke on Paul Lambert's side. And I think Roberto Martinez's Wigan (a club adapt at surviving relegation fights by now) and Nigel Atkins' Southampton (a believe in a positive manager with enough attacking talent) just have a bit more togetherness to stay up.

For the Champions League places as always, it will be a dog fight to the finish even more so than ever. Tottenham have started to finally win games consistently against lesser teams, and the squad is definitely behind Andre Villas Bosas. But the questions of them being a solid Top 3 or 4 side to the end will continue to persist until they fully confirm that.

Though Davis Moyes' players are always with him, there still is a question mark to whether they will hold both Leighton Baines and Felliani even in this transfer window, as well as them having the depth to match the likes of Chelsea or Spurs.

Arsenal and Chelsea really are going to have to be at their best consistently in this 2nd half of the season, or neither team will be in UEFA's premiere competition next year. Liverpool, with the addition of Daniel "Selfish" Sturridge and maybe young Paul Ince, will fight as hard as possible to get into the top 4th mix after working their way up the table all season.

And if West Brom can deal with injuries and added expectations to perform, they will, if anything less, have a loud say in who finishes 4th if they don't shock the world and end up in that spot.

Despite the league being competitive as ever for another season, both Manchester clubs still have just found ways to separate, with United double digits ahead of a 3rd place Spurs team that fully deserved winning in Old Trafford early this season.

The luster on City being a truly elite side has went right away with their embarrassment in Europe and letting Van Persie's late winner in their first derby match be the result to have United in firm pole position. But they are the closest to United and represent realistically the only other side capable of winning the title.

At 52 strong points despite all the defensive and holding midfield woes thus far this season, United seem destine for another title to go along with their fight for the FA Cup and Champions League (with how Real Madrid have played, United deserve favorite's billing for that glamorous knockout matches). The strength they've showed to score in Wayne Rooney's absence despite the difficult rapid fire holiday period exhibit how Sir Alex wants to win this one in style.

But in this Barclays Premier League, as evidence by City's dramatic snatch of a lifetime and the growing quality of most of its clubs, the finish still has some feeling of unpredictable, exciting events waiting to erupt.

The 1st Thread For 2013 on 1/2/13: We Truly Do Hate Funding Our Government

From 1912 to 2008, the years featuring the percentage of income the top bracket in America had to pay. 

The election and what turned out to be the inevitable Fiscal C (Cliff, Curve, Crap, whatever your preferred "C" word of choice) debacle was a real legitimate chance to see whether the nation's lawmakers, starting with President Obama and Vice President Biden, was truly adamant about funding their nation properly after a decade of irresponsible, dangerous tax cuts to wealthy people.

When I mean by lawmakers, I mean just Democratic figures making the argument that we need to go the truly opposite direction of fearing/loathing taxing, because we know the nutcases on the other side are opposed to funding any government.

It was suppose to at least usher in the clearly rational argument that the best functional democracy operates not under idiotic anti-progressive spending cuts that bring America the austerity pain that Europe is having, but fully functional revenue from those who easily survive needed tax increases.

Instead, it's not only that the $250K threshold was bypassed uncourageously by Obama and Biden for $450K based on the final Senate deal with McConnell, but the fact that the old Clinton rate for the highest bracket will be permanent for a while is what makes this yet another centrist disappointment (and let's not even talk about the wealthy estate tax idiotically staying alive).

We are left with scrambling to take money from one good program and put it in the other since our rates on the top are still too low, since we are still left with a country still idiotic enough to vote for Republicans hell bent on just ruining the middle class and a chance at a functioning democracy.

"No new taxes" is the mantra that has been used for decades, with Republicans always using it to scare Democrats and Democrats never being able (or willingly to even bother) to show the importance of sensible taxation so smart public programs can stay strong.

Reagan dramatically reduced taxes on the rich while screwing the middle class with sneaky tax increases and a starting effort to end Social Security with the payroll tax cut in 1986. Cheney & Bush added to that with the loopholes to make their already government smashing 35% rate even lower for those with accountants good at their job. These people never want a functional government, and someone needs to make the factual statement that the best government is not a poor one.

Obama clearly didn't even bother to advocate strongly for that however. And him being concerned over our vapid, centrist media framing him as being just as unreasonable as the nutcases on the other sides leads him to always say "deficit reducing" and "making smart cuts" when we have a much larger revenue problem than we have a spending one.

The only spending we seriously have a problem with is NOT Medicare, but on our ridiculous defense. If we didn't allocate all this money to meaningless protection all around the world that ballon in our "war against terror," then we would never have yearning to "urgency reform" Medicare.

We are restricted to continue yearning for Medicare reform from "true centrist like Obama" and deceiving centrists (Simpson/Bowles, No Labels, the rest) because of their inability to show courage and say how those Clinton level rates aren't sufficient enough to make up for the damage that has been done by the Bush era tax cuts.

This was a chance to make that the key narrative. But instead, it was all just a desire to get rid of it real quick at the lowest possible scale and never even think about a further increase in the near future.

This country seems like it will never advocate for common sensical funding of our public roads, schools, and maybe be a modern country and have a sensible public healthcare system for those not in the military or extremely poor or up in age.

Because this country doesn't advocate for how smart taxation for the best society can only come with giving it the right amount of tax size to actually do just that.

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