I'm sure if you told French star Zinedine Zidane that he was going to be playing his last game in the World Cup final, he wouldn't even mind the outcome. But after he disgraced himself yesterday while being ejected in the 2nd OT, that may not be the case. After knocking a penalty kick in off the crossbar to give the French the lead (on a penalty that was one of the worst calls I've seen in any championship game in any sport), Zidane had a severe lapse in judgment. His intentional headbutt to the chest of Marco Materazzi earned the French legend a red card, and more importantly, marred what should have been one of his finest moments. It also detracted from Italy, you know, the team that actually won the World Cup. Sure the Italians probably weren't the best team in the tournament (Brazil), the most entertaining (Portugal), or even the best story (Ghana/Australia), but they are the ones walking away with that tiny little trophy. So congrats to the Italians, and goodbye to the World Cup. I still don't care for soccer, and I'm glad I won't have to write about it for another 4 years. And who knows, maybe by then I will have a larger audience, and a few more people will be able to hear my views on how this sport is garbage, it's players are overpaid wimps and it will never catch on in this country.
Red Sox Update
Last Week: 3-4
Standings: 1st place by 3 games
*Solid first half of the season for the Sox, despite the heartbreak of a 19 inning loss yesterday to the White Sox. We learned a lot about our young pitching, and hopefully those guys will continue to develop the rest of the summer. But which Red Sox team is going to show up after the All-Star break? The team that lost 3 of 4 to Tampa? Or the team that won 13 straight and took 2 of 3 from the defending champs on the road?
Diamonds Are Forever
*This streak that Jose Contreras has going of consecutive starts without a loss is really the dumbest thing I've seen in quite some time. Yesterday, yet again, Contreras left the game on the hook as the losing pitcher, only the have Jermaine Dye smack a homerun with 2 outs in the 9th to preserve his no-decision. That dinger stretched his streak to 17 straight regular season games without a loss, despite the fact that he's had an ERA of 5.20 since the start of June, and only has 4 wins in his last 8 starts. Yea, really impressive.
*How smart do the Twins look now for drafting Joe Mauer #1 overall instead of taking the consensus #1 player at the time, Mark Prior. While Prior has spent more time on the DL than in games for the Chicago Cubs (and has just landed there again with an injury sustained in batting practice), Mauer has turned into arguably the best catcher in the American League. Sure there was the risk that Mauer would burn the Twins and go play football at Florida St. (he was the #1 QB prospect that year), but Minnesota decided to take the risk. And I'd say it's paying off. Pitching may be what wins in this league, but to this day, I still say it's better off drafting position players, and waiting for the pitchers to distinguish themselves in college or the minors before commiting to them. I'd say that's working out for the Red Sox, who drafted college pitchers Craig Hansen, Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon in recent drafts.
*Wait. Pedro Martinez is hurt and unable to pitch in the All-Star game? Instead of pulling this shirade every year so he can grab a few extra days rest, why doesn't he just tell us he doesn't want to play and he'd rather go home for a week? Buster Olney wrote last week in his blog (yea I couldn't believe someone else had the nerve to write a blog competing with mine), that players should let the league know in Spring training if they do not want to be included on the All-Star ballot, therefore eliminating cases like Pedro. Too bad Buster is living in some sort of Utopia. Imagine if a player came out in the Spring and said that? I'd imagine the responses would be like "that guy has the nerve to think he's going to even make it" or "so he's too good for the All-Star game?". Buster's right, but the only real solution is to have the fans stop voting, because then the managers would pick the players or the players would vote, and if a player didn't want to be on the team he could easily get the word out there not to vote for him. But that's not going to happen either, so we will just have to keep on putting up with Pedro, and players like him, for better or for worse.
I told you this rivalry was going to be something special, and while Roger Federer disposed of Rafael Nadal rather easily on Sunday, they still put on a great show. Federer extended his record grass court winning streak to 48 matches, and captured his 4th straight title at the All-England Club. He also beat Nadal for the first time in quite a while, having lost to him the previous 5 matches, including 4 finals, the latest of which was the French Open. And the best part is , is that these guys are both young enough to keep this thing going for years to come. However, it won't reach it's true pinnacle until Roger beats Raffy on clay, or Raffy does the same on grass. But one of those can't be too far off. Personally, though I am a bigger fan of Federer, I think it's Nadal who will be the first to pull that off, and eventually take his place as the best player in the world. I sure hope I'm wrong, but that's just the way I see things playing out. Many argue even now that Roger may be the best (or most talented) player that ever lived, but Nadal may be right there with him. It's rare, if not unprecedented, that two of any sports "greatest of all time" get to play in the same era, and at similar points in their careers. We always wonder what would happen if Jordan and Wilt were contemporaries, or even Mays and Griffey Jr., but right now in tennis it's reality. So again I know you guys aren't watching, but give it a look, because you don't want to miss something that's right in front of your face.
Phatty Falters as Tiger Roars Back
After Phil's collapse and Tiger's missed cut at the Open, every golf fan was curious to see how each would bounce back this week at the Western Open. Well my main man Elderick Woods finished at -11, only two shots back of the winner, Trevor Immelman. And the fat guy? Well he was 16 strokes back at +3. Now, obviously this doesn't mean much. Just because Tiger did well in this tournament and Phil played like a donkey doesn't mean that Phil is done and Tiger is back on top. But what it does mean, is that Tiger is at least playing well enough to win the British Open, which is where Phil will truly be tested. It's bad enough for Phil that he has never really done well across the pond, but now he will have to. If he struggles there like he did this week, the talk will start that his collapse at the Open may have been the beginning of the end of his career (also known as pulling a Greg Norman). So all eyes now turn to England. Can Tiger reclaim his stranglehold as the greatest player in the world, or will the lovable Phat man bounce back to challenge him for the throne. Personally, I hope neither happens. Well I would like to see Phil fall flat on his face again, and I always love watching Tiger win, but there is an even better storyline. How cool would it be to see Colin Montgomerie finally get a major, and on his own turf at that. That's what I'll be rooting for when I'm watching the British, well that and Phil missing the cut. Sorry I couldn't help myself.
Last Week: 7-12-3
Overall: 141-126-41 (21 games back)
Week 15 vs Mikey's Studs (140-124-44)
*Talk about a bizarre week. My team trailed by double digit points all the way up until Friday when my team started to hit and CC Sabathia tossed a nice 3-hitter, to actually give my team the lead. It appeared I had a win sewn up, seeing as my opponent would need tons of extremely great pitching to even have a shot. Well how does 23.1 innings 1.54 ERA and 26 K's sound? And yeah that was all in one day! So needless to say it was a little shocking to see that I had fallen behind yet again, but if you told me at any point before Saturday that this would be my final score, I would have gladly taken it.