Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bubba's Bangin' Batch of . . . Bale?

I figure that baseball fans will barely notice that I post this, what with it being in the midst of Game 2 of the World Series and all. The only baseball fan who'll notice is Night Owl, and he'll ignore it as soon as he sees what Matt from Bubba's Bangin' Batch of Baseball Bits sent to me. 

Matt shipped a great package of cards my way, but only about half of the cards are baseball cards. Guess what? I'm not going to talk about them tonight. Nope. Instead, I'm going to highlight the pack of Donruss football, er, soccer cards that Bubba sent my way. While I do it, how about I act like a British tabloid and also post photos of each player's "WAG"? Indeed, it's an excuse to put up photos of attractive women, so why not? Maybe that will get this post some readership.

Let's start with this Mario Götze card. Götze burst on the scene in 2010 with Borussia Dortmund in 2009, getting his senior debut with the club at the age of just 17. The precocious midfielder received his first call-up to Die Mannschaft (that's the German Men's National Team, in case you couldn't figure it out) at the tender age of 18. By the time he was 21, he'd completed a move to the giant of German fußball, Bayern Munich. Just a month after his 22nd birthday, he scored the winning goal in extra time to lead the Germans over the Argentinians in the World Cup Final. Oh, and he has been dating German model Ann-Kathrin Brömmel since 2012.
Well done, Mario. Well done.
But all was not as rosy as it seemed. Under coach Pep Guardiola in 2015-16, Götze found himself getting less and less playing time and getting left on the bench. He was able to engineer a move back to Dortmund this past summer. Here's hoping that will put a smile on Mario's and Ann-Kathrin's faces.

Hulk is the appropriately provided nickname for Givanildo Vieira de Sousa, a Brazilian footballer who is pictured with Zenit St. Petersburg on this card. Supposedly, he got his nickname because of his likeness to Lou Ferrigno. I personally don't see it. 

Hulk is married to Iran Souza. This weird story on "" notes that Brazilian women "like big butts on their man and . . . Iran . . . is proud to be married to one of the current 'sex symbols' of Brazil." The story quotes her as saying, "He is physically privileged, and I can not deny." 

Who knew it goes both ways in Brazil?

Now, I'm not going to go through all of the cards Matt sent because that would get a little tedious (there are 10 different players on 9 cards, after all), but we cannot get past Gerard Piqué. Piqué is still only 29 years old -- it sure feels like he's been around for much longer -- and has been with FC Barcelona for much of his professional career. 

He started in the youth ranks at Barcelona at the age of 10 in 1997 and stayed there until 2004. He left Barça in 2004, though, and played a youth for a year with Manchester United in England. I watched a couple of Piqué's games during his time with United (he only played in 12 senior games, to be fair). He went on loan to Real Zaragoza in 2006 on a loan which required that he appear in at least 20 games for them. He came back to United for the 2006-2007 season, and even scored two goals in the Champions League for the Red Devils (against Roma and Dynamo Kyiv). 

But, he longed to go back home, and with Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand ahead of him, it apparently made sense to sell him back to Barça for £5 million.

Wyclef Jean apparently helped Gerard Piqué notice that Shakira's hips don't lie. Actually, the two met when Piqué appeared in the video for the official song of "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" which I just learned was by Shakira and not Fozzy Bear. Shakira is actually 10 years older to the day than Piqué, and the couple have two sons.

Luiz should have been sent off last Sunday against Manchester United for planting his studs into Marouane Fellaini's leg. As former referees' chief Keith Hackett said, referee Martin Atkinson "lacked the courage" to make the right decision and send Luiz off with a straight red card. 

Based on Atkinson's history in those games, it did not surprise me.

Gareth Bale started his career in the Southampton youth academy. Southampton has had an incredible run of producing top class football players -- Bale, Theo Walcott, Calum Chambers, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, to name just a few from the past decade. 

Bale made his way in 2007 at the age of 18 to Tottenham Hotspur. With Spurs, he had a terrible run to start his career. He suffered ankle ligament damage in a game in early December of 2007. At the time, he was playing left back for the club, so he got injured making a tackle -- something he doesn't do very much of these days as an attacking midfielder for Real Madrid. 

As he got into his early 20s, though, he started moving up the field and, by 2012, he changed his number to 11 to reflect the fact that he was no longer a defender. He kept signing contract extensions with Tottenham, indicating his interest in staying. But then, Real Madrid came in on September 1, 2013, and made a "Godfather" offer -- a then-record £85.1 million fee (since topped by Paul Pogba's fee this past summer). Spurs owner Daniel Levy snapped it up, and Bale moved to Real. 

He has since led Wales as far as it ever got into any competitive tournament, reaching the semifinals before losing 2-0 to Portugal.

Bale and his high-school sweetheart, Emma Rhys-Jones, got engaged, finally, on July 17, 2016. I say finally because they already have two daughters. They tend to stay out of the spotlight to try to give their daughters as normal a life as is possible.

Atlético Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann was one of the revelations of the Euro 2016 tournament -- at least to folks who were not paying attention to anyone but Barcelona and Real Madrid. Griezmann is just 5'7" tall, and his big break in soccer came thanks to getting invited to come train in Spain with Real Sociedad. 

He played for Sociedad until the end of the 2013/14 season, at which time the capital's less-fancied team came calling. In the time since moving to Atlético and as of October 26, Griezmann has appeared in 81 games for the club and has score 50 goals. His rise has been so meteoric that he was surprisingly named the best player in La Liga just a couple of days ago. Yes, better than Lionel Messi.

Griezmann really became the face of the French team in the wake of the Paris terror attacks in November of 2015. He was on the pitch at the Stade de France, playing against Germany in the friendly match that was abandoned after suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the stadium. Luckily, those bastards didn't get into the stadium.

Even luckier for Griezmann is the fact that his older sister, Maud, is still alive. She was at the Eagles of Death Metal show at the Bataclan music hall. Maud and her boyfriend clung to one another on the bloody floor motionlessly in silence. If they had moved, they would be dead. Indeed, the person next to Maude was shot and killed. 

Griezmann met his significant other, Erika Choperena, in 2011. Erika is a Spanish fashion blogger, so she makes sure that Antoine is dressed spiffily every time they are at a formal event. The couple welcomed their first child, daughter Mia, in April of 2016.

Thanks, Matt, for these soccer cards and the excuse to put up these photos of these attractive women. And, for the excuse to talk about some of the great stories that exist in world football outside of the English Premier League.


  1. I don't know what it says about me that I was more interested to read your write-ups than I was to see the pictures of wives and girlfriends. I guess just that I like soccer? I really enjoyed this set, busted a box of it since it was less than $30 at the time I picked it up. I like the 2016 Donruss cards I've seen too on a couple of blogs but haven't seen any in hand yet. Anyway, great to see a rare soccer post in the blogosphere!

  2. I noticed :P Yeah.. Hulk does not look like Lou Ferrigno.

  3. You took these and rode with them! Loved the post! I learned a thing or too as well (had no clue Griezmann's sister was so close to those attacks).

  4. You're right: I noticed, then ignored, then REALLY NOTICED, then ignored, ignored, ignored.

  5. "Who knew it goes both ways in Brazil?" #Feminism

  6. This post could have been in German and I would have still applauded as the best post ever.

  7. I'm just a the WAGS....

  8. I like the Donruss Soccer cards a great deal, last year's base set was 100 cards this years 200. I always thought Mario got the short end of the step from Pep-now Pep is gone and so is Mario.