Where were you on June 23, 2010? Normally, the time between the end of the NBA Finals and the beginning of college football season is the barren dead ground of sports, but not this year. If you were as lucky as me on the 23rd, you were sitting at home on your couch, watching your high definition TV as the greatest sports day in the history of the world unfolded.
I don’t care how you feel about soccer (personally, I refer to it as women’s competitive ball kicking), Donovan’s goal in penalty time was amazing. That one goal by that one player may single handedly change the face of not only American
women’s competitive ball kicking soccer, but soccer around the world.
The introduction of the American market into world soccer would forever alter the face of the sport.
The Ghana-Germany game was also huge because it sets up the US against the only African nation left in the tournament in South Africa, where they should be dogs, despite winning their group and it pits England against Germany, another intriguing matchup.
That was followed up by the unbelievable Wimbledon match between John Isner, the 6’9 250 lb American ranked 23rd in the world, and Nicolas Mahut, the diminutive Frenchman. He became my new third favorite tennis player, behind Tsonga and Federer today (yes two of my favorite tennis players are French, deal with it). Isner and Mahut played their fifth set to 59-59, before the game was called due to darkness – it began at 2 in the afternoon.
Neither man won a single break point and they set just about every Wimbledon and tennis record in existence. Mahut put on probably the gutsiest performance I’ve ever seen from a French player. The juxtaposition of him diving head-first for multiple balls in the sixth and seventh hours of play against the French team getting bounced from the World Cup days after pouting and refusing to practice in “protest” of one of their players being thrown out of the Cup really saved what’s left of France’s reputation in the world.
In between those amazing performances, we were treated to images of Lawrence Taylor being indicted on rape, child prostitution and sex abuse.
But there was no time to laugh at LT. The best rookie pitcher in MLB history, Steven Strasburg, was pitching against the hapless Kansas City Royals…and LOST. He lost on a 95 pitch, 75 strike, one run, nine strikeout performance.
I immediately turned to ESPN U where TCU was mounting an amazing comeback against Florida State in the College World Series. In the eighth inning, the Horned Frogs’ Matt Curry hit a grand slam and Jantzen Witte (who had only hit three home runs all season long) hit another homer that lifted the crowd in Oklahoma City to chants of “TCU.”
The Horned Frogs came back from down 7-3 and put up eight runs in the inning – eight! – to win 11-7. Pitcher Kaleb Merck then got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the inning with a virtuoso pitching performance that would’ve made Strasburg proud.
I nightcapped all that action by watching a replay of the Kentucky-Mississippi State thriller from the SEC Championship tournament earlier this year. There was a “Cheaters” marathon on G4, but I needed more sports.
Oh yeah, and how about the Rockies walk-off homerun to beat the Red Sox?
Wednesday truly was a great sports day. Not only was there something for everybody, there was something for everybody all over the world.
Soccer, aka “football” to the rest of the world, is the most popular sport on planet earth. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, World Cup soccer is in full swing, and has more drama then Snookie and her cohorts on “Jersey Shore.”
Episode number 1: Unfortunately, team USA has been on the back of a hand slap a few times already. In their game against Slovenia, veteran referee, and calling his first World Cup match, Koman Coulibaly blatantly robbed USA of their go-ahead goal by calling an offsides infraction (that no one else apparently saw). Afterward, Coulibaly did not offer an explanation as to how he saw what he did. Since then, the soccer governing body, FIFA, has not allowed Coulibaly to referee any matches in the next round.
Episode number 2: In the recent USA vs. Algeria vs. the referee game, horrendous calls reared their ugly heads once again. USA’s Clint Dempsey scored in the 20th minute, but the referee waved that goal off because he claimed Dempsey was offsides. The television replay clearly shows that he was even with the defender; hence the goal should have been allowed. USA, feeling like a jilted lover, stayed focused and scored their winning goal during the excess time.
Episode number 3: After the loss to USA, Algerian player Rafik Saifi slapped a female writer across the face as he walked through the interview area. Algerian journalist Asma Halimi, who hit him back, said the slap was unprovoked. Witnesses also confirmed the unfortunate event. She had previously written an article for her newspaper and apparently this non-starting player had a difference of opinion.
Episode number 4: The man who will definitely be left off the “sportsmanship of the year “ ballot has got to be France’s coach Raymond Domenech. Not only did he call his team “unspeakably stupid”, he sent home player Nicolas Anelka early, the team boycotted a training session, and the sponsors dropped France like overcooked french fries.
When the final whistle blew in South Africa’s 2-1 win over France, South African coach Carlos Alberto Parreira offered the customary handshake. Although Domenech shook hands with others around him, he refused Parreira’s hand, instead wagging his finger and giving him a tongue-lashing. Unapologetic, Domenech refused to answer any of the media’s questions regarding his behavior. Being such a disgrace for the entire world to see, one would think that Domenech attended the Bobby Knight “principles of coaching” class.
Round one of World Cup soccer is almost complete. With our collective breaths held, and DVR’s set to record the upcoming episodes….err, matches, the shenanigans of the referees, coaches, and players will continue to entertain. Stay tuned…
After the match yesterday, someone said to me, “That was a very uninspiring game.” It was obvious the man lacked knowledge of the game, as most Americans do. I kindly smiled at the man and politely disagreed saying, “I could not have been more inspired.”
Yes, there were only two goals.
Yes, there wasn’t much threat from the American side in the second half as the English controlled the majority of possession.
And yes we did not win the game. So what is there to be excited about?
A lot actually.
We just tied England, one of the best teams in the world. They are full of talent. They have a world-class manager. And they have a rich football history. This is their sport, not ours. Many fans weren’t giving the United States much of a chance, saying we would get blown out of this game. To me that is just ignorance. This is a sport where anyone can beat or play with anyone on any given day. It’s as simple as that.
Over the past couple years I’ll admit that I was not very excited about the team being put together for this World Cup. I am used to seeing a bunch of kick and run and not much soccer sense on the pitch from the U.S side. Yesterday’s performance gave all Americans a reason to be excited about our team’s chance the remainder of the way.
For the majority of the first half, the U.S. was controlling the pace of the game. We knocked the ball around great for our standards. We didn’t panic like I did after an early first strike from Steven Gerrard. Our composure was brilliant.
We also managed to take one of the best strikers in the world in Wayne Rooney out of the game. He was nowhere to be seen. Our defenders did an excellent job marking him and an even better job of clearing the ball from our end in dangerous situations.
With that said, Tim Howard is the anchor of our team. He is one of the best keepers in the world and will keep us in every game. The guy plays with heart and purpose. He is aggressive and committed to every play. He came up huge yesterday and a strong goalie can take you a long way.
This was a great way to start the tournament and a huge confidence builder. The result is what matters most, and the Yanks gave fans a reason to be inspired the rest of the way.
Co-players of the game for the United States: Tim Howard and Steve Cherundolo
England’s man of the match: Glen Johnson
Next game: Slovenia 10AM eastern Friday morning. Support our team. Support our country. This game brings the world together.
It’s Christmas in June. Soccer fans throughout the world are holding their breaths just a bit today, ready to exhale for an entire month. I am, for lack of a better term, excited. But if you have a better term please send it in. My symptoms include dry mouth, perspiration, and a complete inability to work.
The World Cup is March Madness in June. That is if March Madness were an international affair pitting the top athletes in their sport against each other every four years. So yes, World Cup is better than March Madness. That should say something to those nay sayers out there. Especially since I used to loathe futbol.
But now I am part of the lucky few. I am aligned with those in this country that can witness and marinate in the greater picture that is soccer. I was once befuddled by those that could sit around and watch a game that had no score for an hour and a half. Now I know the answer to that question is easy. You sit and watch. Once you do so, you will never look back.
My arguments were the same as yours. The scoring is too low. Well that’s a very American thing to say. Sometimes the foreplay is just as tantalizing as the act itself. In soccer the build up of a potential goal is like an hour with a beautiful woman. Except if you’re me, you are drinking beer and the room probably smells like carnitas. I am talking about the game watching not the being with a woman…but the same for that too. Either way the passing and movements in open space are like poetry. That is of course if poetry was awesome.
What else? Oh yeah the flopping. I can’t help this. I hate it. You hate it. The players feel foolish doing it. Its a necessary evil that more people should just accept. Running around for ninety minutes is tiring. So if there are no timeouts in this sport, why not just fall down and say “Hold on a fucking second, I’m Super winded over here.” I can deal with that. I think I might employ this tactic in my daily life, perhaps after reaching the top of a flight of stairs.
Then there is the possibility of a game going to kicks. This is another acceptance that one has to make for a game that already takes from every player all they can muster. When running for 90 minutes does not give us a winner, the players will run for thirty more. If they still have none they can either run for a little more and make a complete mess of the field or they can just kick the ball and call it a day. I hate that this happens, but really there is no other way.
But in the arbitrariness of the free kick is the justice of it all. Both teams get a coin flip. The rest is left up to fate. I like that idea. Let’s let some magical mysticism decide the game. I guess. I’m sure I will still be pissed in the end. But here’s to the journey. That is all soccer is after all.
I know theres absolutely no reason in the world to believe a word Floyd Landis has to say. After all, hes an admitted liar and cheat and has become a pariah in the dirtiest of sports. All that aside, I tend to believe the guy. I know lance Armstrong never failed any drug tests, but I find it just a bit too much to believe that hes one of the only ones in that sport to play by the rules.
The last match of the European football season will be the most anticipated one: FC Bayern Munich will face off with Internazionale Milan in this year’s Champions League Final, played on Saturday at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain. Both squads have won the most prestigious trophy in club competition multiple times (Bayern in 1974, 1975, 1976 and 2001, Inter in 1964 and 1965) and have enjoyed a season of terrific domestic success.
Inter, led by controversial manager Jose Mourinho, won their fifth consecutive Series A crown and 18th overall, finishing atop the table with 82 points. In addition, the Nerrazurri also claimed the ‘Coppa Italia’, the annual cup competition in Italy. In Champions League play, Inter boast the tournament’s best defense, having ceded only 3 goals against in their last 7 meetings. It was in the knockout stages where Inter truly began to flourish, frustrating Chelsea and CSKA Moscow before stifling Barcelona’s brilliant attacking unit in the semifinals.
Bayern, on the other hand, has had an improbable run after a rough start to the season. Managed by first-year Bayern coach Louis van Gaal, the team eventually bought into their new boss’ strategy and gradually improved. They secured yet another Bundesliga title (their 22nd overall) along with a ‘DFB-Pokal’, the German cup. Reinforced by new acquisition Arjen Robben, FCB also put their stamp on Champions League play, advancing past Fiorentina and Manchester United while beating the latter in an epic battle. It was Robben’s spectacular volley goal late in the second leg of the quarterfinal that allowed Bayern to advance on aggregate. Lyon was no match then for Munich’s potent attack in the semifinals.
The table is nicely set in Madrid, not only for a spectacular matchup between these two titanic clubs, but for history to be re-written. The winner will be assured their first ‘Triple’ in club history. No german or italian team has ever won the coveted combination of two national titles along with the Champions League. Either Mourinho or van Gaal will also join the elite club of coaches who have guided two different teams to ultimate glory in the most illustrious of club competitions.
Why do some celebrities get charged with a crime, and others donʼt? Is it because of their specific occupation, their gender, how much money they make, or how “beloved” or important they are to their fans and judiciaries?
Last month actress Heather Locklear was allegedly behind the wheel, near her home, when she hit a street sign and left the scene without notifying anyone. A neighbor reported the accident the next day, whereupon police located her vehicle and matched some debris that was left at the scene. Locklear was arrested, issued a misdemeanor citation, and her case is still in revue for a felony DUI.
A recently published book by Steve Helling called Tiger: The Real Story gives details as to what happened back in November 2009, the night when Tigerʼs SUV met up with a tree on his street. He also details why Woods wasnʼt charged with a DUI despite evidence to the contrary.
After Woodʼs smashup, his wife Elin told police that he had been drinking. To those attending him at the scene, it was apparent that Woods was impaired and unfit to operate a vehicle. “I would bet everything I own that he was not fit to drive,” says one of the officers who investigated the case. “But Iʼll never be able to prove it, because our hands were tied. The powers that be didnʼt want to tangle with Tiger; they just wanted the situation to go away.”
When a paramedic asked Elin if he was on any medication, she ran back into the house and returned with a bottle of Ambien, and one bottle of Vicodin. The paramedic put the bottles in a bag as to accompany Woods to the hospital. When the Florida Highway Patrol came on the scene, an officer also asked Elin if Tiger had been drinking. She said “He drank some earlier that night.” The officer notated it.
Police felt that they had sufficient evidence to subpoena Woodsʼ blood from the hospital. By doing so, this would allow them to build a stronger case and charge him with DUI. The Request for Investigative Subpoena stated: “The driver lost control of his vehicle, crashed and was transported to the hospital. A witness stated that the driver had consumed alcohol earlier in the day and the same witness removed the driver from the vehicle after the collision. Also, the same witness stated that the driver was prescribed medication (Ambien and Vicodin). Impairment of the driver is also suspected due to the careless driving that resulted in the traffic crash.”
Officers were stunned to learn that their request had been denied by the Assistant Attorney Steve Foster, head of the State Attorneyʼs Office Intake Division. His reply to the request was “insufficient information provided to lawfully issue subpoena.”
One Florida Highway Patrol officer involved in the case said, “I have gotten subpoenas issued with a lot less evidence than that. I don’t know why the subpoena wasn’t issued. I really don’t. All I know is that everything was done by the book, and I believe that subpoena should have been issued.”
Makes you wonder how someone of Woodsʼ stature can dodge a DUI bullet as big as this, and just get by with a $164 careless driving ticket, yet Heather Locklear is facing a possible DUI charge any day. All things equal, shouldnʼt Tiger be facing the same penalty as Locklear, or is his case another example of a “bigger” celebrity being above the law?
Okay, so I was away for a couple weeks and, as such, missed some really big stories from the world of sports. The biggies were Tigers return to the Masters, where he played quiet well despite his own overblown expectations.
And of course the other big story was that Big Ben Roethlisberger avoided going to the big house when the DA down south decided not to file sexual assault charges. Though he wont be serving any jail time, the Commish is sure to put the smack down on him with a several game suspension next season. Dont be surprised if the Rooneys pull a Santonio with Big Ben. Then again, who would want that kind of baggage?
OUR CHAMPION: Phil Mickelson
Coming to The Masters, Phil was winless on the year in his first seven events, recording one lousy top ten. His remedy: Augusta National. With an incredible track record at this event, Phil found his A-game. He still struggled off the tee at times, but this course can be very forgiving, and Phil avoided the “big” mistake.
The one thing I do admire about Phil is the way he stays true to himself and the game he plays. His risk-reward strategy may be crazy at times, but it paid off over the weekend. I mean why wouldn’t you go for the green in two, from 207 yards out, in the pine straw, behind two trees, on the down slope, have to carry a creek, up two shots, at The Masters, with five holes to go. It makes sense…
With the victory, Phil cemented his name in Augusta history with three green jackets. It’s hard not to be happy when he wins a golf tournament. His personality is contagious. He interacts with the fans. And he is exciting to watch play. He is a true champion.
To me, it was truly synchronistic that Phil won The Masters for two reasons:
1.) His wife, battling breast cancer, attended a tournament for the first time in almost a year.
2.) With all of the Tiger hoopla still circulating, what a refreshing scene it was to see Phil embrace his wife and kiss all of his children after the victory. Golf needed this. Sports needed this. Hell, I needed this.
On a side note: I am convinced that Phil and Bones (his caddy) are having a contest to see who can go the entire year without putting on any sunscreen. I give Phil the edge at this point with a slightly redder complexion.
THE RETURN OF TIGER
This is my take on everything “TIGER”:
* It is amazing to me how he always manages to end up in contention, no matter how poorly he is playing. It’s as though he has some magical magnet that pulls the field back to him.
* It is absolutely ridiculous that some so-called experts were picking him to miss the cut this week. It’s like betting the sun it will not set every night.
* It was ideal that he played in the same group as K.J. Choi every day.
* Saturday’s 6th hole showed Tiger has been working on his positive reinforcement. After a poor tee-shot, he loudly said, “Tiger Woods, you SUCK. God dammit.” What a beautiful day at Augusta.
* Was Tiger really wearing sunglasses all week as a result of his bad allergies or because it was an easier way to look at women?
* I love the idea, but it was way too early for the Nike commercial with Tiger and his father’s voice.
* My prediction: Tiger will win both the U.S. and British Opens.
THE SENIOR TOUR
* Fred Couples played well again at Augusta, and it is always fun when he is in contention. The first round leader and ’92 Masters champ hung around all week. Fans love the laid-back, no glove, free swinging Couples. The guy also wears spikeless shoes. I have to admit it; he may be even cooler than we think.
* Tom Watson continues to defy his age. For the second time in a year, the 60 year-old hung with the young guys at a major. He continues to defy his age. It goes to show that if you play smart, keep the ball in play, and stay within your own means, you can always be successful on a golf course. Look for him to be in the hunt again at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he won the major in 1982.
* It looked as though England would end their 0 for 56 major drought with Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter leading the tournament heading into the weekend. They failed yet again to win a major golf tournament. The last player to win from England was Sir Nick Faldo at the 1996 Masters.
* Speaking of Faldo, he talks too much about his glory days on air. But I guess I would too if I had three green jackets.
* The youngest player and low amateur of the tournament was 16 years old — Italy’s Matteo Manassero. Wow!
* Wouldn’t it be fun just once to see the name Carl Spackler on the leaderboard?
* Rumor has it that Stevie (Tiger’s caddy) goes commando every year in his all white Augusta jump suit. I think it’s safe to say he put his briefs on this year in light of everything that has happened with Tiger.
* My dad is still convinced the birds heard in the background during play are computerized. I wouldn’t put it past The Masters committee in doing such a thing.
* I will never watch another Forrest Whitaker movie again after hearing his voice-over IBM commercial every break in action.
The Masters proved once again why it is the best and most exciting tournament of the year. The scores were low. The roars were loud. The weather was beautiful and the course in pristine condition. There were storylines everywhere. At an event filled with such tradition and history, the golf gods were smiling down, as Augusta shined in all of its glory.
I say it every year, but this time I mean it: I am going to Augusta next April.
As we all know, Tiger Woods is making a comeback. Next month he is set to resume his career at the Masters. But someone in his camp was smart enough to realize that he couldn’t just show up at Augusta National without fielding a few questions first.
Thus, two interviews, five minutes each, no restrictions on the questions that would be asked. The end result was both pleasing and surprising. It was the best thing he could do to “humanize” himself, and in turn, start the healing process for both his fans and sponsors.