Time Out for Sports Talk: Going, Going, Ghana Around the Sports World
Todd: With the professional hockey and basketball seasons complete, time to turn our attention to the sport with infrequent action and only the occasional offense that has produced 1-0, 2-1 and 2-1 scores all week.
But before I get to the Red Sox and their Swiss cheese-like bats, let’s talk some World Cup. Mike has made some quasi-disparaging remarks in this space the last couple of weeks, so I think it’s finally time to give my thoughts on the event.
I confess to being one of those bandwagon soccer followers who pays attention once every four years when the World Cup takes place, and sometimes I even follow the MLS playoffs a little if the New England Revolution are making a deep run (I even attended the Revs’ 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy at the then-new Gillette Stadium back in 2002 in what is still the largest attendance to watch the MLS Cup).
One of the most enjoyable sports-viewing experiences I’ve had was back during the 1990 World Cup when I was visiting friends in Scotland. Spent most of that day in a pub watching games and understanding little of what was going on, but the passion my buds had watching their team made it a memorable experience for me.
I unfortunately had to miss Team USA’s opening 2-1 Group G win over Ghana, but a nice bit of revenge after being eliminated by the African nation the previous two World Cups. With the possibility of Cristiano Ronaldo missing Sunday’s USA-Portugal contest, is it possible the Americans could suddenly pull off a second upset in the so-called ‘Group of Death’ and advance to the Round of 16?
Conversation abounds as to whether Americans will ever get into soccer the way the rest of the world does. To that I say no, but I will say that momentum for the sport is growing in this country. If the many youth leagues in your local neighborhoods don’t prove that, the television ratings for Monday’s USA-Ghana match should. Expect those TV numbers to grow for Sunday’s tilt with Portugal.
Another sport getting a TV ratings bump of late has been the Stanley Cup playoffs. For all I said last week about the anticlimactic series between the Rangers and Kings, I found myself watching the overtimes of LA’s Cup-clinching Game 5 win. The back-and-forth action was tremendous, as was the call of Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, for my money one of the best broadcast voices in the business.
Even caught myself watching Game 5 of the NBA Finals, in part because it was great seeing a team like the San Antonio Spurs rewarded for the way they play the game. Congrats to Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich on bringing a fifth championship banner to Alamo City. They remind me a little of Belichick and Brady for both their longevity and success, and I only hope the Spurs’ success triggers a run of dynastic sports teams taking home championship trophies (Yankees notwithstanding).
Also enjoyed some schadenfreude watching LeBron and the Heat fail to win ‘not three’ straight titles. How about the NBA’s best player stating that it was OK winning twice in four straight trips to the Finals? Have to wonder what Danny Ainge thinks of those remarks, having played on a 1980’s Celtics team that did the exact same thing. Don’t recall Bird, McHale or Parish being too thrilled with those results. But maybe LeBron isn’t cut from the same type cloth as those guys…time to send Carmelo another text.
Speaking of Ainge, what will he do at next week’s NBA Draft? Deal for Kevin Love, or actually choose a player with the sixth overall pick? The three previous times the C’s have drafted someone at that spot has produced somewhat mixed results: Larry Bird (1978, as a junior eligible), Antoine Walker (1996) and Ron Mercer (1997). Of course, the ‘mixed result’ is Mercer, taken five picks after the Spurs selected Tim Duncan with the top pick of that year’s draft, much to the chagrin of Rick Pitino and all Celtics fans.
Oh yeah, I said I’d get to the Sox. Despite the recent sweep of the Twins, those soccer-like final scores don’t have me too excited about the club’s chances on this upcoming west coast/NY trip, unless the bats suddenly warm up with the summertime temps. Otherwise, time for management to consider dealing spare parts like Gomes, Peavy and Pierzynski (whose contracts all expire at the end of this season) and commit to even playing more of the kids. At least that would make watching the Sox this summer somewhat more interesting to me, even if they don’t compete for a playoff berth.
Finally, quick tributes to three great ones who passed this week. To Chuck Noll, thanks for introducing us all to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970’s; to Tony Gwynn, thanks for being the yang to Wade Boggs’ yin (two great hitters for average in different leagues on different coasts) in the 1980’s; and to Casey Kasem, thanks for making me interested in music during both those decades when your weekly radio countdowns kept my feet on the ground and reaching for the stars.
Mike: OK, I still refuse to get into the World Cup. I understand that some people like it, but not me.
And I don't think I'm alone out there, and thinking of those people, I have decided to present something more entertaining than the World Cup.
Yup, stampeding baby goats!
But wait, there's more!
One more? Sure, no problem!
And I'm not sure but I think Jack Black and Will Ferrell were singing about the World Cup here...
Oh, and while I'm at it, I'll throw in some LIVE footage of an osprey family...complete with babies...let's see the World Cup bring you that!
Embed courtesy of Explore.org
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