It’s Tournament Time and I Miss My Friend


Some say that basketball is just a game. This is true. However, that game has the power to move people to tears, evoke unbridled joy, bring friends, teammates and even strangers together and create heart-warming memories that last a lifetime.

The 2003 championship game of the NCAA Tournament between Syracuse and Kansas left an indelible impression on me. I watched it with my friend Gary. In a sense, we were like millions of other basketball fans around the country taking in the game with their buddies, but it felt different. Gary was sick.

In March of that year, doctors found a cancerous tumor in his brain. They removed as much as they could and Gary underwent radiation treatment. The outlook was bleak, but you would not have known it from his demeanor.

My friend refused to let the tumor or the fatigue caused by radiation slow him down. He had too much living to do. Gary reconnected with old friends, went to ballgames, attended cultural events and inspired his friends and family with his optimism and enthusiasm.

Gary and I met as students at the University of Michigan. I knew early on that there was something special about him. He was a passionate person who loved people and experienced life on a deeper level than most. We were friends, but not extremely close. That changed when he got sick.

Barriers melt away when a person is facing death. There were no secrets between us. No need to put on airs. We talked about life, love, death and friendship in ways I never had before.

In early April, he invited me over to watch the Syracuse-Kansas game. I distinctly remember being depressed on my way to his parents’ house. I was worried about my friend and sad that he and his family had to deal with such a horrible illness. The night played out like every other time I visited Gary during that period: I was intent on lifting his spirits, but inevitably he lifted mine.

He greeted me at the door with a big hug and a sparkle in his eyes. Gary wore his emotions on his sleeve and I could see that he was excited about something. “Have you seen this freshman Carmelo Anthony on Syracuse” he asked, “He is unbelievable. He can shoot, post up, pass. And he’s just a freshman.”

I was surprised by his enthusiasm for Anthony and the Syracuse team. Gary preferred the NBA to college basketball. It was one of the things we had in common. We shared a devotion to the New York Knicks.

I told him I knew of Anthony, but admitted that I had not seen him play very much. That made Gary even more excited. He knew I was a big hoops fan and could not wait to share the experience of watching Anthony with me.

Gary’s father Mario watched the game with us. We shared laughs and enjoyed great basketball. The game went down to the wire and Syracuse pulled out an 82-78 victory. Anthony scored 21 points despite a sore back and every time he did something special Gary smiled at me, as if to say “I told you so.” Anthony was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

Gary and I hung out together several more times over the next six weeks. He joked about his hair falling out and shared his deepest fears. His spirits were high. He was enjoying life and remained optimistic about his future.

Shortly after Memorial Day I received a phone call from a mutual friend informing me that Gary had slipped into a coma. He passed away on October 1. It broke my heart.

I recently watched the latest film from ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, “Survive and Advance” about the miraculous 1983 NC State basketball team and their coach Jim Valvano, who waged his own courageous battle against cancer. In the film, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski referred to the period when Valvano was sick as “four of the most beautiful months I’ve ever had of friendship with anyone.” That is how I feel about Gary.

I still think about my friend often. Little things trigger memories, like driving past Mario’s Pizzeria in Syosset or hearing certain Grateful Dead songs. I thought about how excited he would have been when Carmelo was traded to our beloved Knicks, and he is always on my mind when the former Syracuse star has a big game.

However, I think about Gary most often during the NCAA Tournament. I am still moved by the thought of that 24-year-old with so much to be fearful of and angry about receiving so much joy from a basketball game.

Ten years later, Syracuse is back in the Final Four. But Gary would not be pulling for the Orange this time around. They are facing our Michigan Wolverines. I can imagine him gushing over Trey Burke the way he once did about Carmelo. It makes me smile. Thinking about Gary always does.

Why No Golf?

by Paul Knepper

Over the past several weeks, a number of people have asked me why I don’t write about golf. I’ve heard, “You cover basketball, baseball, football , even tennis, but never any golf.” So, I’m setting the record straight; this site does not provide any golf coverage because it is a sports site and it’s this blogger’s position that golf is not a sport. All sports are games and athletic competitions, but not all athletic competitions and games are sports.

Before you golf lovers throw a fit, relax, I’m not going to go all George Carlin on you, ranting about golf being an elitist, silly waste of valuable real estate. I understand that it’s an extremely difficult game which requires tremendous skill, hand-eye coordination and years of practice in order to perform at a high level. I recognize that it can be very competitive, even addictive for some, and respect its value as a relaxing get away from the wife for a few hours.

I don’t begrudge those who enjoy playing and watching it or appreciate the technical, competitive and historical aspects of the game. I may even join you one day.

I’m also aware that golf is a “sport” as defined by standard dictionaries. defines sport as, “An athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature such as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.”

But practically speaking, that definition is inaccurate and overinclusive. As it states in the examples provided, bowling, hunting and fishing are athletic activities which require skill or physical prowess and are often of a competitive nature, and they are certainly not sports.

My definition of a sport includes two key attributes which distinguish it from a game or competition: 1) There must be significant physical exertion and 2) There must be direct head-to-head combat, typically involving defense. By “direct head-to-head combat” I mean that one player or team’s actions is directly affected and countered by the opposing player or team’s actions.

Golf meets neither of those criteria. According to my definition, ping-pong is more of a sport than golf. At least ping pong involves direct competition, though it likely falls short on the physical exertion side.

On a side note, most sports involve a puck or ball, though it’s not required. Boxing and wrestling are sports. Track meets and competitive swimming are a bit tricky. Both require extreme physical exertion, but they don’t involve direct combat in the traditional sense of defense. Participants are confined to their own lanes and may not interfere with other competitors.

However, runners and swimmers do compete simultaneously, directly next to one another, so that the performance of one athlete is likely to evoke a mental and physical response from another athlete, which in turn affects the performance of the original athlete. At one time in our lives we’ve all run a little faster when we realized that somebody was running next to us or after us. Ultimately, given the indirect nature of the competition, I lean towards categorizing swimming and track meets as athletic competitions, rather than sports, though I leave that up for debate.

Golf fans are quick to argue that walking 18 holes, while carrying a bag of clubs is quite tiring and swinging an iron requires significant force, which takes a toll on the body. I don’t doubt that, but in the realm of athletic competition, walking a few miles and swinging a club several times is pretty minimal exertion. Any activity during which participants may smoke cigars while discussing a potential business deal cannot be too strenuous. 

Supporters of the game also claim that a golfer engages in direct combat with the rest of the field. A golfer may even choose to alter his approach based on the actions of a competitor. I recognize that there is a competition taking place, but the athletic interaction is indirect. There’s not another player in the golfer’s face attempting to block his shot, or prevent him from hitting it altogether. There’s not a goalie on the green trying to stop the ball from going into the hole or somebody on the other end of the course hitting the ball back at him, forcing him to react and counter.

I’ve even heard golf enthusiasts make the ridiculous argument that the number of sports fans who follow and play golf, combined with the coverage it receives from the sports media, is evidence that it’s a sport. The game’s popularity shouldn’t affect its classification. Poker is one of the most preferred games in the country, yet it’s not a sport, regardless of how many hours of air time ESPN2 fills with it. Nascar is another very popular competition which involves skill, but is not a sport.

My classification of golf isn’t based on my personal interest, or lack there of, in the game. I don’t follow hockey or volleyball, though I consider both of them sports. Nor is golf’s reputation as a “country club sport” a factor, since I believe tennis is a sport.

I’m not saying that sports are inherently superior to other types of games and competitions. I love watching Usain Bolt run and was a sucker for Hungry Hungry Hippos as a kid. I’m simply pointing out that there’s a difference between games, competitions and sports, and golf is a competitive game.

If you disagree with me, that’s your prerogative. I’d love to hear arguments for both sides. But if you’re looking for coverage of the upcoming British Open, new wonderkid Rory McIlroy or speculation as to whether Tiger used performance enhancing drugs, you can putt-putt your way to another website. This one’s reserved for sports.

Kobe’s Slur Wasn’t Enough

by Paul Knepper

After being assessed a technical foul during a game against the Spurs Tuesday night Kobe Bryant was caught on camera mouthing “fucking faggot” at referee Bennie Adams. I won’t take the sting out of it by replacing those words with “homophobic slur,” or censoring video of the incident as many news sources have done. Kobe’s comment was ignorant, malicious and deplorable.

Throughout the 20th century sports were at the forefront of social change in this country. Athletes like Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente dispelled racial stereotypes and broke barriers. Billie Jean King and other female athletes pushed for Title IX legislation, which led to equal opportunity and pay between the sexes. However, when it comes to the rights of homosexuals, the sports world lags far behind.

Locker rooms are a world unto themselves. The competitive environment fosters a kill or be killed mentality in which athletes’ “manhood” is regularly tested and often questioned. Homophobic slurs such as faggot and homo are commonplace. Kobe’s comment wasn’t an aberration, he just happened to get caught on camera.

Michael Jordan was notorious for using words like faggot to chide his teammates during practice. Others have been more public with their anti-homosexual sentiments. Allen Iverson released a rap album rife with homophobic lyrics. Tim Hardaway was suspended from All-Star festivities a few years ago for saying on a radio show that he “hated gay people” and LeBron James once stated that he wouldn’t be able to trust a teammate who came out of the closet.

Of course, homophobia isn’t restricted to basketball. Former San Francisco 49er Garrison Hearst once said, “I don’t want any faggots on my team!” Jeremy Shockey is among several other football players who expressed that they wouldn’t feel comfortable playing with a gay teammate. Former relief pitcher Todd Jones went on the record that he wouldn’t “want a gay guy around me.” One can only imagine what’s said behind closed doors. Is it any wonder that not one male professional athlete in a team sport has come out during his career?

I don’t mean to portray sports as the last bastion of homophobia in this country. Homosexuals are denied rights in most states that we take for granted, like visiting a loved one in the ICU, and are routinely victims of hate crimes and vitriolic slurs. It’s customary in certain social circles for males to insult friends and foes alike with words like “faggot” and “homo” and to refer to something that isn’t popular or tough as “gay.” However, the collective mentality in sports appears to be especially antiquated, which is particularly disturbing because professional athletes are role models for so many of our youth.

Ideally, a martyr in the mold of Jackie Robinson will begin to change the culture from within. The NBA and other leagues aren’t going to address the issue unless homophobia begins to impact their revenue. NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a swift response to Kobe’s remarks stating, “Kobe Bryant’s comment during last night’s game was offensive and inexcusable,” Stern said. “While I’m fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated. Kobe and everyone associated with the N.B.A. know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society.”

Yet the punishment the league meted out was not commensurate with the Commish’s words. Kobe was fined $100,000, a hefty sum for most of us, but pocket change for a player earning $27 million this season. If Stern wanted to send a message that such language is truly intolerable he would have suspended Kobe for at least one playoff game, regardless of the impact on TV ratings.

If leagues and their players aren’t willing to change then it’s incumbent upon us as a society to push them to do so. That’s easier said than done. The lack of consensus on gay rights is further complicated by the reality that unlike women, African-Americans and Latinos, it’s within the power of each individual homosexual to hide or reveal his minority status. Homophobia also isn’t as blatantly institutionalized as other forms of discrimination. There’s no de facto barrier as was the case with African-Americans or differing pay scale, like women had to confront.

Consequently, in the absence of players or coaches publicly condemning homophobia in the locker room, it’s difficult to prove that discrimination exists, no matter how prevalent it is. That is, until somebody like Kobe Bryant or Tim Hardaway state their feelings publicly or are caught on camera making a homophobic slur. Then the gay rights and human rights organizations and the rest of society can spring into action.

GLAAD and The Human Rights Campaign were two of several organizations that condemned Bryant’s behavior. The Lakers and GLAAD have since announced a joint initiative to curb anti-gay comments during Lakers home games and the NBA has indicated that it intends to work with GLAAD to come up with ways to discourage homophobia among fans. As GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios said, “In light of this slur, there is a real opportunity to build support for our community and educate fans of Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the NBA about the use of such words.”

Bryant’s slur didn’t just open the door for human rights organizations; the media and public have seized the opportunity to discuss homophobia as well. William Rhoden of the New York Times is one of many writers who have criticized the NBA for not punishing Bryant more severely and used the opportunity to denounce the homophobia that exists within sports. Openly gay ex-basketball player John Amaechi wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times in response to Kobe’s remark. Sports fans and non-fans alike are discussing the incident over water coolers and at the bar. Many of us have been forced to look in the mirror and question the impact of the words we use.

For the most part, the widespread homophobia in sports is confined to the practice court and locker room. Yet, every so often, a temporary lapse of discretion by an athlete shines light on the ugly hatred that persists in this country and in sports particularly. Homophobic slurs like the one uttered by Kobe are despicable, vile and hurtful. Yet, sadly, we need more of them. It seems to be the only way we’re going to change the sports culture and in turn ourselves.

Athlete Endorsements of Wisconsin Workers Ring Hollow

by Paul Knepper

For the past few weeks thousands of Wisconsin residents have swarmed the state Capitol in protest of a proposal by Governor Scott Walker which would require public employees to pay more for their health insurance and pensions, and severely diminish their ability to collectively bargain. The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and individual members of sports teams in Wisconsin have issued press releases backing the protesters, but their support stops there.

During the 1960’s athletes like Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell and Wilma Rudolph were at the forefront of social and political change in this country. Two of the most enduring political statements from that tumultuous period in American history came from athletes, when John Carlos and Tommy Smith raised their black fists on the medal stand and Muhammad Ali stated, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong…They never called me nigger.”

Over the past quarter century player salaries and individual endorsement deals have skyrocketed, leaving athletes with a lot more to lose and reluctant to take a political stand. There are some current ballplayers who speak out for what they believe in, like Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo and Hawks forward Etan Thomas but they’re few and far between, and you’d be hard pressed to find a superstar willing to take the lead on a political or social issue.

The prevailing political statement by a professional athlete of the past 25 years was Michael Jordan’s refusal to make any statement at all. When asked why he doesn’t support Democratic causes MJ replied, “Republicans buy sneakers too.”

Given the current climate, at first glance it would appear unusual for the NFLPA and NBPA to publicly support the protesters in Wisconsin, but their motives are clear. Both parties are currently involved in heated negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement and face a potential lockout by their league’s owners. They’re trying to establish solidarity with laborers in an attempt to gain public support for their own clashes with management. Interestingly, the NHLPA and MLBPA – who aren’t embroiled in labor negotiations – haven’t issued an official press release on the subject. The lone statement on MLBPA’s website is from an individual, Craig Counsell, of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The statements issued by the NFLPA and NBPA are perfunctory in addition to self-serving. If the associations are truly concerned about the potential law in Wisconsin, they should be sending their members to Madison in droves. Their unwillingness to make a meaningful sacrifice for the protesters’ cause merely calls attention to the growing divide between athletes and other laborers in this country. Public employees are storming the Capitol while the wealthy ballplayers issue press releases.

The battle in Wisconsin, like any labor dispute is a dichotomy of “us verses them.” For the working man and woman, “us verses them” morphs into “the haves and the have-nots.” Today’s athletes are wealthy to a degree that public employees can’t relate to and they hide behind gated mansions and traveling entourages from the laborers they’re now trying to cozy up to.

To the average American, athletes are the “haves.” They’re the “them” in “us verses them.” It’s irrelevant that ballplayers are also laborers who have a legitimate gripe with ownership. Most Americans see the labor strife in the NBA and NFL as billionaires fighting millionaires over billions of dollars. If there’s a lockout in either sport the fans may blame one side more than the other, but ultimately they’ll be bitter towards both.

To an extent, Wisconsin residents are an exception. The Green Bay Packers are the last “small town team,” the lone community owned professional sports franchise in America, and their players do make an effort to embrace that community. For example, as part of a tradition dating back to the days of Vince Lombardi, the Packers ride to practice on the bicycles of local children during training camp. So when Charles Woodson and other Packers issued statements of support, it may have resonated with the protesters, but any public relations boost for the NFLPA failed to extend beyond the Wisconsin border.

The ironic thing about the chasm between fans and athletes is that athletes now have a greater ability to mobilize people and bring about social and political change than ever before. High salaries, the branding of individual athletes and a plethora of communication mediums provide them with a tremendous amount of power.

Some former athletes have called out today’s pros for not using that power to bring about positive change. Jim Brown has been particularly critical of Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. While I agree that athletes have a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on society, I don’t believe Brown or anybody else has the right to tell another man how to spend his time or allocate his resources, regardless of his status.

I also recognize that great athletes like Jordan who come across as charismatic in commercials and rehearsed responses to simple interview questions don’t necessarily have the tools or the desire to lead a movement. In fact, based on the one time we heard MJ give a real speech (his Hall of Fame induction speech) evidence is to the contrary.

I’m not arguing that the NFLPA, NBPA or individual athletes have a responsibility to support the protesters in Wisconsin. I’m simply saying that if athletes want to be taken seriously as advocates for a cause and develop camaraderie with other advocates they need to be willing to make a significant sacrifice. If they’re sincerely interested in protecting the rights of laborers in Wisconsin, they should put their reputation on the line and join the demonstrators on the front line. Self-serving press releases are a nice gesture at best. They don’t bring about meaningful change or win hearts and minds.

How About a Little Separation Between Sport and State?

By Paul Knepper

As I watched some girl from Glee sing America the Beautiful before Sunday’s big game, I found myself wondering when exactly the Super Bowl became mistaken for Patriots Day?  Sports are supposed to be a diversion from controversial issues like politics and religion and I’ve grown increasingly disgusted by the way sporting events are used as a platform to promote nationalism and militarism in this country. Sunday’s game put me over the edge.

Let me run down the litany of patriotic propaganda that was thrust upon the viewing audience. First there were the presidents. Like Commanders-in-Chief before him, President Obama couldn’t pass up the opportunity to espouse his love of America’s favorite pastime during the most televised event of the year. Then shortly before kickoff the fans at Cowboy Stadium were subjected to a video tribute celebrating the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan. These people paid thousands of dollars a ticket to see a football game, not a prelude to the Republican National Convention.

After the presidential portion of the event the viewing audience was bombarded with a heavy dose of nationalist propaganda. First, Fox showed several past and current NFL stars reciting the Declaration of Independence with an American flag waving in the background. I’m sure Thomas Jefferson and the boys were thinking about the right to play football – especially for the predominantly African-American NFL – when they signed their names to that historic document. I know this has become a Fox tradition, but so is that robot dancing in the corner of the screen. That doesn’t make it a good idea.

Next, several military men unfurled an enormous American flag on the field as Lea Michelle belted out America the Beautiful. Apparently, The Star-Spangled Banner is no longer enough, we now need two songs extolling the virtues of this great nation before the game. I suppose given the Christina Aguilera debacle we can’t blame the NFL for hedging their bets on that one.

And how could we possibly have a sporting event of that magnitude without the military getting in on the action. It began subtly with the color guard presenting the flag and a few uniformed officers serving as honorary captains during the coin toss. Then there were the shots and interviews of troops watching the games in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I fully support facilitating communication between troops and their families and providing the public at large with a glimpse into life on the base. I just don’t think a sporting event is the proper venue for it. If that were the NFL, Fox or military’s primary concern they could air monthly or bi-annual specials showcasing the troops. That would give Americans the option to tune in or not. What takes place during the Super Bowl is nothing but cross promotion between the three parties.

After Christina Aguilera botched the national anthem the Navy treated the fans in Cowboy Stadium to a ceremonial fly-over by four F-18s. By the way, the roof was closed in the domed Cowboy Stadium. The fans saw the jets for two seconds on the jumbo screen and this ridiculous stunt cost the Navy, and in turn taxpayers $450,000.

The encroachment of the American imperialist agenda upon the sports world isn’t confined to the Super Bowl. The national anthem has been played regularly before sporting events since World World II and after the September 11th attacks several baseball stadiums added a rendition of  God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch. It’s also become common place for fighter jets and enormous American flags to make appearances at football games.

At the risk of sounding unpatriotic, I don’t think I should have to rise at attention and salute the flag every time I attend a sporting event. We don’t sing the national anthem before a Broadway show or at the movie theater. Why should a ballgame be any different? I’ve actually been yelled at for not removing my hat during the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner. I’m sorry, I thought the freedoms this country were founded upon gave me the right to express my love of country if, when and how I choose.

Sports leagues and team owners receive plenty of compensation in return for marketing the United States of America. The federal and local governments don’t poke their heads into the business of professional sports leagues – with the exception of addressing rampant drug use – unless it’s to offer up public funds for the construction of new luxury stadiums, so the billionaire team owners don’t have to dip into their own pockets.

As Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post pointed out yesterday in an excellent piece on the excesses of football, “The last great building binge in the NFL was from 1995 through 2003, when 21 stadiums were built or refurbished in order to create more luxury boxes, at cost of $6.4 billion.” Jenkins asked, “Know how much of that the public paid for? $4.4 billion.” Bankrupt states are cutting spending on social welfare programs and education, while footing the bill for new stadiums replete with sky boxes the average tax payer will never step foot in.

Enough is enough. I’d like to go to a ballgame without having the stars and stripes shoved down my throat. If there’s one aspect of our lives which should be free of government interference and propaganda it’s our play time. There’s a word for societies which intertwine the forces of nationalism, militarism, private enterprise and entertainment: It’s called fascism. This country needs separation between sport and state.

Media Deprivation Mode

by Paul Knepper

It hurts. Oh man does it hurt. I try to block it out by delving into a book or one of life’s many mundane daily activities, but every few minutes it pops up again.

I’m talking about the Jets loss to the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.  Sometimes it’s the image of a certain play which creeps into my head, like Sanchez’s fumble and the ensuing touchdown late in the first half or L.T. getting stuffed at the one yard line on fourth down. Other times I’m overwhelmed by an existential thought, like there are only so many times in my life that the Jets will get that close to the Super Bowl again.

It’s not the thought itself that hurts. It’s what follows. Like Alex in A Clockwork Orange when exposed to violent images, a sick feeling comes over me. It’s difficult to describe, but every die hard fan knows what I mean. My stomach feels queasy and my knees get weak. My heart aches and the features on my face involuntarily scrunch together, like an addict jonesing for his next hit. I desperately want that feeling to disappear. I desperately want to forget.

But the reminders are everywhere. People talk about it around the water cooler at work. Some of my “friends” fan the flames with sarcastic comments. Other friends and family members attempt to be supportive by offering up a cliche like “It was a great season” or “They’ll be back next year” when all they’re really doing is feeding the sickness.

However, the greatest irritation is caused by the ubiquitous sports media. The Jets loss to the Steelers is the lead story in every local newspaper, national sports television and radio show and sports website. In order to truly avoid the sickness I must go into complete media deprivation mode. For a sports junkie like myself that’s easier said than done.

I typically start my day by watching Sportscenter and checking for any developments in the sports world since I went to sleep the night before. During the subway ride to work and several other times throughout the day I check Twitter to see what my favorite sports reporters and athletes are writing about. While walking from the subway to the office I pass several bodegas with the headlines of the New York Post, Daily News and New York Times prominently displayed in the window. Then I check and at least every half hour to see if there’s any breaking news. The first thing I do when I get home is watch PTI, usually followed by Sportscenter or another sports news program later in the evening.

By Wednesday it will appear as if the threats have died down, but I know better. A second wave of media attacks will be launched. Sports Illustrated hits the newsstands, its cover almost certain to include a shot from the Jets game. Inside the NFL and other weekly sports shows will bombard the airwaves. If I’m not careful I can fall victim to a near vomit inducing segment of Plays of the Week on Sportscenter a full week after the tragic loss.

Media deprivation mode requires significant changes to my daily routine. I stare at the ground as I walk down the street, overdose on CNN  and crappy reality shows and start tweaking from a lack of tweeting. Before long I’m completely out of sorts, leaving me vulnerable to unwanted intrusions by virulent thoughts about Schottenheimer’s play calling and why the refs called a personal foul on Eric Smith, but not on James Harrison when he dove into Sanchez after Sanchez slid to the ground.

And like that the sickness is back. My eyes peeled wide open, vivid images of missed tackles and dropped passes thrust before them. And it hurts. Oh man does it hurt.