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Friday, August 28, 2015

The Flashback Fridays #2 for 8/28/15: Chris Brown feat Juelz Santana - Run It (2005)


And just like his former flame, this clown came out in 2005 before he became a clown, and was just destined to be massive. He did become massive, not as we all know, in both the good and really bad ways that still persist today.

With Juelz Santana and Scott Storch producing (talk about two careers that have hit a downward spiral), it's Chris Brown with his classic debut, "Run It."



More to come from The Whole Delivery later today. 

The Flashback Fridays #1 For 8/28/15: Rihanna - Pon de Replay (2005)


Before she became known for threatening to beat b----es up for money to the current entertaining, original brash superstar she is now, this is when it all started for one Ms. Fenty 10 years ago. It's "Pon de Replay," her debut song. when she was just that island girl.


More to come from The Whole Delivery today, stay tuned. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sports Sunday Thread #1 For 8/23/15: La Liga BBVA 2015-16 Preview - The Other 18



Since so much attention is given to the Big 2 and their continued preference to have the rest of the league be broke and not competitive against them, this La Liga preview will take an important, quick look at the rest of the 18 teams in the second best league in the world.

It's the historic 85th season of La Liga BBVA.

Atletico Madrid are arguably the deepest they have ever been under Diego Simeone, and that includes the title winning, Champions League finalist campaign of two years ago. Still, that deepness is created by the absences of key figures Arda Turan, Mario Manduzkic, Miranda and Mario Suarez. Though the latter have been replaced by equally talented figures, Turan's passing quality and vision is something yet to be seen consistently from exciting prospects Oliver Torres and Saul Niguez. Nevertheless, if Simeone gets a great season from the explosive Jackson Martinez, Atletico could certainly benefit from Barcelona's early season lack of depth and Real Madrid's always potentially combustable situation with Rafa Benitez at the helm.

Valencia was The League's most exciting team after the big two last season. A free following attack with a vibrant midfield and class finishers Paco Alcacer and Alvaro Negredo saw Nuno Santo name rise as a potential star manager for years to come. The loss of Nicolas Otamendi, however, is a big blow right before the start of the season, as Los Che will hope Portuguese youngster Ruben Vezo can form a fine partnership with German young stud Shkodran Mustafi. They also hope they can get the steal of the summer in Belgian talented teen Zakaria Bakkali, banished from PSV after being the youngster player ever to score a hat trick in the Eredivisie's great history. With the Champions League playoff tie against Monaco a must win as well as anything else in either the Champions League's group knockout stage or Europa League, this season will definitely show us all if Valencia are back among Europe's elite.  

Sevilla haven't been so lucky at keeping all their valuable figures, as the Europa League champions see Carlos Becca, Aleix Vidal and Stephane M'Bia gone. Unai Emery knows that Sevilla are a smart transfer club, and the arrivals of Michael Krohn-Dehli, Yevhen Konoplyanka, Ciro Immobile, Sergio Escudero, Gael Kakuta, and record signing Steven N' Zonzi could have the Andalusia power as owners of the best summer business. Kevin Gameiro is more than capable of picking up the slack from Bacca's departure in what will be a season that asks Emergy's side if they too are among the continent's best or a tier below.

Villarreal has suffered some many losses, with Giovani Dos Santos leaving to Los Angeles the least of the major departures. Standouts Denis Cheryshev and Luciano Vietto have either went or returned to the capital, meaning manager Javi Garcia will have to count on Spurs castoff Roberto Soldado to refind his sparkling form from his time at Getafe and Valencia. The two Malaga Samus, Garcia and Castillejo, will also be vital to whether Villarreal will be amongst Spain's elite or be mired in a relation struggle their club has seen too often. Atletico Madrid man Leo Baptistao will also be key.

Atletico Bilbao has managed to keep their core players and will be formidable this season if they can handle the Europa League awkwardness that can plague teams. Ernesto Valverde has retained key men Adruiz, Susaeta, Iturraspe, Muniain and de Marcos to name a few, making times at San Memes very positive right now.

Celta Vigo meanwhile will have to overcome the departures of young promise Santi Mina, lead line leader Joaquin Larrivey (to Baniyas of all clubs), clever Brazilian veteran Charles and solid Dane Michael Krohn-Deli. Eduardo Berizzo will do well to hold onto the much coveted Nolito before this transfer window ends, but has at least made up for his departures with good editions. UEFA U-21 Championships star John Guidetti comes in on a free, while solid Daniel Wass keeps the Denmark representation at the club going on for another season with his move from Evian. Iago Aspas returns from where he made his name a few years back and hopes to shake off a few humbling, disappointing seasons at Liverpool and Sevilla.

Malaga have seen the departure of some of their exciting wave of young talent that made their mark last season. Juanmi and the two aforementioned Samus (Garcoa and Castillejo) have exited, but Javi Garcia's has done well to retain dynamic Moroccan Nordin Amrabat while bringing in his countryman Adnane Tighadouini from a good season at NAC Breda. The signing of Charles from Celta was a fine move as well.

Espanyol have seen a number of changes to their side. Longtime captain and figure Sergio Garcia has journeyed off to a big pay day in Qatar, while other big names Kiko Casilla, Christian Stuani, Hector Moreno and Lucas Vasquez have departed as well. It will be a challenge for second year manager Sergio Gonzalez, who hope a bunch of new young additions lead by Gerard Moreno and Italian keeper Francesco Bardi will overcome big losses.

Rayo Vallecano is another fun mid table side who will have to overcome key departures. Gone is club record scorer Alberto Bueno and pacy Gael Kakuta, where Paco Jemez will hope his passing side have enough to stay comfortable this year.

Real Sociedad start their second season with David Moyes with a lot of stability. Only struggling Alfreo Finnbogason is the key departure, as the Scottish manager may have gotten the steal of the summer for a midtable club with the signing of talented Brazilian forward Jonathas from cash strapped Elche.

Levante seek David Barral as the only major departure, as Lucas Alcaraz has done well to add Liga Sagres talents Nabil Ghilas and Deyverson. Mainstays David Navarro, Ruben Garcia, and captain Juanfran return for Lucas Alcaraz in his second season in charge. But he'll be asking himself all season once again on where the goals will come from.

Getafe sees rookie coach Fran Escriba retain most of his key players. Pedro Leon, Pablo Sarabia, Angel Lafita and Alvaro Vasquez are still with the former Burger Kings, with influential left back Sergio Escudero as the only key man out gone. And with incoming on loan young talents Moi Gomez, Alvaro Medran, Emiliano Velazquez and Benard Mensah, it could be a funny season for this unglamorous Madrid club.

Deportivo La Coruna features another second year coach in Victor Sanchez, who will likely have another precarious campaign to avoid the drop. As another cash strapped La Liga side, it's another season of loan arrivals and departures for Deportivo. Longtime club personality Helder Postiga is gone for good, with youngsters Ivan Cavaleiro, Borja Lopez and Isaac Cuenca's time at the club unfulfilling and short. The big additions of talented veteran Cani, after his disappointing loan spell at Atletico, and uber talented Valencia on loan man Federico Cartabia will do wonders for the club, especially if they and sharp Celso Borges can be clever in the middle. JuanFran returns again, with Oriol Riera and Juan Dominguez back to lead Deportivo into the 85th season of The League.

Granada also had a stress filled campaign with their fate saved at the very end. Manager Jose Sandoval doesn't need that pressure again, but it seems inevitable with a boatload of players egressing and a good number of them coming in. Granada cashed in on Jeison Murillo's solid Copa America
for Colombia. Gone as well is right back Allan Nyom to Watford, but there are way more welcomed editions for Sandoval to deal with. Fast Congolese forward Thievy is capable of producing some tallies, though Uruguayan youth international Nico Lopez could be the new singing hit for the Andalusian side. The development of young talents Isaac Success and Jhon Cordoba could make for exciting times for Sandoval, especially if they and veteran duo Piti and Youssel El-Arabi bring their best.

Sporting Gijon return to La Liga BBVA with Abelardo Fernandez establishing himself as the man to lead this team back up to the second best league in the world. Fernandez's third year sees no major departures, vital for Gijon's chances of surviving a drop many people expect them to take. Gijon also saw the major boost of getting on loan young talents Antonio Sanabria and Alen Halilovic. The Croatian Barcelona wunderkid in particular was a notable scalp for Fernandez, as many good clubs throughout the continent clamored for his services. Gijon had by far the best defense in the Liga Adelante and will need that in ambulance this season, especially in their opener against Real Madrid of all teams. Luis Hernandez, Bernando, Alberto Lora, Bernardo and Ivan Cuellar's play determines the fate of the Asturias located club. Can their backline be superb with higher competition?

Real Betis also see their return to the Spanish top flight, with Pepe Mel bringing in a number of notable names. Longtime Hamburg regulars Rafael van der Vaart and Heiko Westermann, along with Peruvian Juan Vargas, are the "glamour signings." But the editions of Francisco Portillo, Petros and German Pezzella could prove more valuable. More important than bringing in players for Mel, however, was seeing star scoring duo Ruben Castro and Jorge Molina remain. Betis definitely have enough in attack to stay up, but they know full well the dangers of thinking you are too good for the drop.

Las Palmas dramatic playoff promotion win sees their first return to La Liga since 2002. Goal scoring was never a problem for the Canary Islands club in Liga Adelante, producing a league leading 73 goals with champions Betis.  Former Boca Juniors and Barcelona B product Sergio Araujo is their star man, as the 23-year-old will look to see if he can finally shine at the highest level. Veteran backline editions Antolin Alcaraz and Javier Garrido will be tested week in, week out, with young Argentine holding midfielder Federico Bravo a player who may have to protect them. Paco Herrera knows that they are the favorites to finish bottom at the league. But he and the Las Palmas fans will certainly enjoy the experience and give it their all. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Flashback Fridays For 8/114/15: T- Pain - I'm Sprung (2005)


10 summers ago, T-Pain came out in the game with Akon backing him with this 2005 late summer classic, and the rest is history.

It's T-Pain's "I'm Sprung", as the Flashback Fridays return to entertain you on your late summer journey.


The Flashback Fridays will continue later on, as will the rest of The Whole Delivery. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Sports Thread #1 For 8/13/15: How Djokovic Isn't a Lock To Win The US Open


As his return to competition begins at the Rogers Cup in Montreal this week, it appears nothing can stop Novak Djokovic from capturing a 10th Grand Slam title at the upcoming US Open, not even a grown man on his back with a steep flight of stairs in his path. His recovery from a devastating Roland Garros defeat to Stan Wawrinka, by winning Wimbledon for the third time, was just as impressive as if he were still up for a calendar Slam. It was a signal that Djokovic is clearly the best in the world at the moment as questions beset his other Big 4 rivals with Roger Federer’s age, Andy Murray’s consistency and Rafael Nadal’s confidence affecting their level.   

Coupling Djokovic’s current dominion of the ATP World Tour with his hard court supremacy may appear to make him a larger favorite in Flushing Meadows. The Serbian has already won the three biggest titles on the surface this year, capturing a fifth Australian Open with ease and showing his legendary resilience in conquering the big Indian Wells-Miami double once again. All signs appear pointing to Djokovic repeating his extraordinary feat of 2011 in winning three Grand Slams in a year. 

But those presumptions pronouncements about Djokovic hoisting the trophy on the final day of the year’s last Slam need to be halted, as arguably the tennis season’s toughest stretch is where Djokovic has found the most difficulty. The men’s world number one has gone a full two North American summers without taking home a title, and has still just one U.S. Open title to his name, from 2011. The two big Masters 1000 events, the Rogers Cup (both Montreal and Toronto alternate the tournament each year with the women) and W & S Open (Cincinnati Masters), Ohio, have seen roller coaster results from Djokovic that has culminated in ordinary finishes at Arthur Ashe Stadium. 

Despite being in the fifth year of his gutten free diet that has taken his fitness and game to the elite level, Djokovic has still at times struggled when the conditions get hot and humid in North America. That was mostly prevalent in his U.S. Open semifinal loss last year to Kei Nishikori, as the smaller, slighter Japanese talent, known for his own array of physical problems, was the stronger man in that four set surprise upset. But even coming into that tournament, Djokovic was already on shaky hard court form after winning Wimbledon 2014. He suffered shock, straight forward defeats at both Masters 1000 warmups. Jo Wilfred Tsonga completely hit him off the court in a 6-2, 6-2 thumping in Toronto that served as one of 2014’s shock scorelines. The ageless veteran Tommy Robredo followed that up a week later in Cincinnati to defeat Djokovic 7-6 (6), 7-5 in another eyebrow raising result. Djokovic’s forgettable 2014 summer came after a titleless 2013 summer hard court season, at the hands of a then sharp Nadal (in both the U.S. Open final and Montreal semifinals) and John Isner (in Cincinnati) out serving him. 

The Canadian cities have by far been the best place for Djokovic in the summer. His three titles north of the border, including his Montreal 2007 breakthrough win defeating Andy Roddick,  Nadal and  Federer when they were the Top 3 ranked players at the time, give him some comfort there. But Djokovic has been completely shut out of the winner’s circle in Cincinnati, a four time runner up who has been denied the last significant hard court title left on his resume by Federer and Murray. The heat in the midwest has affected him, as well as the pressure expected to win on his best surface. And it’s where Djokovic’s career hit its nadir, suffering a frustrating quarterfinals defeat to Roddick in 2010. It was a loss that almost resulted in him departing with then longtime coach Marian Vajda and almost going out in the Open’s first round to countryman Viktor Troicki. Djokovic went on to later beat Federer in a dramatic semifinal before losing to Nadal in that 2010 U.S. Open, citing that tournament as the turning point in his career before that amazing 2011 campaign.

Despite all of that, Djokovic is still the worthy favorite at all three of these prestigious hard court titles. The great momentum he carries from winning Wimbledon, coupled with the mysteries surrounding Nadal, Murray and Federer (who is not playing in Montreal), will not be ignored by any rational soul.  But just like how the nerves of winning a calendar Grand Slam could prevent Serena Williams from being a solid lock in New York, past summer form indicates that writing in Novak Djokovic as the 2015 US Open champion is way too premature. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Flashback Fridays #1 For 7/31/15: Common - Sweet (2011)


After Meek Nil's awful (first) diss back at Aubrey, here is a "diss" that was already made actually less atrocious with how embarrassing Tweet Mill's was. It's Common's largely forgettable 2011 song that had the middle of the first and second verse aimed at Drake during their Serena Williams love triangle. "All that La La, you ain't no motherf--king Frank Sinatra."



More to come from The Whole Delivery today.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

The FIFA Women's World Cup Review Thread For 7/6/15: How The Third Time Is The Biggest Charm For The United States Women's Soccer

Photo from Fifa.com/Getty Images

Score Settled. 

Those are the operative words when one comes to mind the minute Carli Lloyd put two goals into the back of the Japanese net in 6 minutes to show the full intent on the United States closing out their World Cup of revenge. It was a start so expedient and clinical, unlike any other World Cup Final had ever seen before, a determination that was set in stone the minute Saki Kumagai hit the final penalty past Hope Solo four years ago in Germany. And it was a desire to feel the glory that the 1991 and 1999 teams felt, instead of the agonizing heartbreak that tormented them for four years all the way to the final whistle was blown at BC place. 

The Olympic title for a third straight time and instant revenge in London wasn’t satisfying enough. The hashtag “#ScoretoSettle” was established, because this United States women’s national team program hates when it is not in first place. In their minds, it is against the law of the universe for the country that invented, reinvented and revitalized women’s soccer to not be at the forefront of the sport. And when it was the third major program that had denied them that purch atop the sport’s heap, the USWNT was hell bent on bringing hell to Germany and especially Japan. 

The final two matches (especially the final) for the United States were the opposite of how the first five matches went: the attack was at its best saving the defense. Lloyd, the feisty New Jersey legend of clutchness for her big goals in Olympic gold medal contests, ascended to another level unlike any other female player in a major final. Say what you want about a Naomi Sasaki coached backline and organization that completely fell apart. Lloyd just has that innate gift of seizing the moment that not every elite athlete can achieved. 

The crestfallen spirit the 32-year-old midfield ace displayed after she skied her penalty kick attempt into the stands four years ago served as a noticeable but minor blip on a radar of bringing her best in the biggest moments. It’s one thing to score two set piece goals off horrendous defending; it’s another when you are able to pull a goal from half field to complete a hat trick even she couldn’t have fathomed. 
  
The compliment to Lloyd’s record book performance was her midfield partner Lauren Holliday having a moment that made her easily the most grateful person in the entire stadium. For the entire month, the player even more a proper #10 than Lloyd herself had to be shackled with the burden of knowing when to go forward and when to protect her centerbacks. It was a moment of utter relief and joy for the Kansas City star when more  atrocious Japanese defending gave Holliday the opportunity to unleash a full volley hit of the top order. For an offensive talent who has had to sacrifice and take a back seat to other attacking options for several years on this national team, Holliday’s class finish was a moment as significant as Lloyd’s epic eruption. 

Still, as mentioned before, the defense reverted to having the struggles the offense previously felt. After a five match and a half campaign of sheer brilliance, Julie Johnston began looking more like the good but still young, error prone defender that everyone expected her to be at age 23 and just with 19 caps, not the precocious dynamo she ascended to before getting her hand on Anja Mittag’s shoulder. Fortunate to be in this game in the first place, Johnston gave the reigning world champions hope that they would produce a miracle comeback. Her over aggressive and wrong reading of Japan’s intricate passing was fully exposed, allowing Yuigi Ogimi the chance to wake up Japan from their miserable nightmare. Johnston continued her decline from Best XI member of tournament in the second half, as her own goal header gave Japan hopes that a 4-2 deficit could lead to one of the all time comebacks ever in sports. 

But the pain of four years ago was too much for the U.S. to blow a lead of four. Tobin Heath, one of the youngest players back then, galvanized herself once more this tournament in the most emphatic way. Another set piece disaster from Japan, highlighted by the latest moment where keeper Kaihori did not cover herself in glory, set up Tobin Heath to score the 4th goal for a New Jersey woman on the day. It was a low finish that provided a fifth tally and the most important goal in the game, just when it seemed that Japan, led one last time by its legend Homare Sawa coming off the bench, had all the momentum to produce a comeback like no other. 

But the only comeback here was the United States women coming back to the position they held in the first and third editions of this tournament. It was the full reward for a team and program under justifiable criticism in 2014. Tom Sermanni was suppose to be the coach that lead the USWNT to full glory again, not Jill Ellis. Sermanni was suppose to be the coach to prevent the USWNT from falling behind the rest of the pack in cultivating young talent. And Sermanni was suppose to be the coach that got the USWNT to win matches against the elite without having to rely on their great athleticism, fitness and fight. But after a promising start, it began to turn sour when the established stars complained more and were given the best reason for Sermanni to be replaced by Ellis: that seventh place showing at the Algarve Cup. It was a full players revolt of Sermanni, whose firing remains quite the mystery to those still wondering what happened, especially with a six month silence period he signed into with U.S. Soccer for his dismissal.  

Sermanni’s shocking firing seemed so foolish at the time, an inevitable sign that the most privileged women’s team and program in the world would be humbled by being so obstinate to necessary change. It felt the collapse of a superpower was beginning to manifest itself right in front of our very eyes. The way Ellis was slammed after the Colombia match, from Michelle Akers all the way down to your favorite women’s soccer blogger, was a clear sign that the things Sermanni wanted to be implemented with this team needed to be taken by Ellis immediately. Gone was Wambach and the 4-4-2, and in came Morgan Brian and the 4-3-3. The rest is history. 

The energy, the vigor and the overall quality that a team wanting to be the best in the world has to show returned to the United States’ women’s team once their quarterfinal with China started. A tired, shorthanded Germany and a physically overmatched Japan felt the full force of this resurgent team desperate for a third crown.  

Only the United States women’s team can have a players’ revolt on a quality coach, see one of its star players in Abby Wambach intentionally skip club play to just focus on training for Canada 2015, deal with the endless array of Hope Solo’s alleged domestic violence actions, and have overaged veterans Christine Rampone and Shannon Boxx be on an elite team at the end of their careers and still win a World Cup.  

July 5 at BC Place served as the reward for enduring all of that and standing on top of it in the end. It is the chilling excitement and tears of joy for this group of women sans Rampone, who had to hear the whispers of whether they could match the feats of the ’91 and ’99 women. While those teams had their own pressure to make women’s soccer become a thing in this world, the 2011 & 2015 World Cup teams had to keep it a thing. 

And the only way for them to do that, to get record ratings for Fox and endless array of tweets in the United States to capture the country’s imagination again, was to settle the score. 


Mission complete. 

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