Monday, June 23, 2014

World Cup and World Series

I spent an absolutely delightful day Saturday at Yankee Stadium. Not bad, since I've never been a Yankee fan. Not really a true Yankee hater, either. But I still have some liking for the O's, built up during my ten years of driving up to Baltimore to see a few games a season on a shared series. Alas, I did pick the really bad years for the franchise, but I still enjoyed their coming back after losing the first two to the Bombers and leading right from the start. (They even went on to shut out the Yanks Sunday.)

Baseball on a nice -- actually, perfect -- day is wonderful. You watch for the good plays, the exciting turnarounds. They also honored Tino Martinez with a plaque in what is now called Monument Park -- it had so much more significance when the three monuments--Ruth, Gehrig, and Miller Huggins -- were right there in center field and Joe D (never saw him, alas) or the Mick had to retrieve a ball from behind them. I'm also not sure that anyone but the true greatest belong there and to me, that would be the Babe, Lou, Joe D, and the Mick.

It was also great to see a lot of O's shirts--some for Manny or Adam or Wieters--but more than a few Cals and Brookses.  Lots of Orange in the crowd, as it turned out, because it was Syracuse U day at the park. The O's played well, as they have been capable of doing for the past two or three seasons. Manny hasn't settled down, he's still only 20. But they have the makings of a steady club--Adam Jones, Markakis, JJ Hardy, Witers when he comes back, next year, I think.

The exciting part of the weekend was having the Nats turn it around mid-series against their tormentors, the Braves, and take the last two games after suffering painfully close losses in the first two. It would be great to have two contending teams right around here.

So then I watched the U.S. v. Portugal encounter in the true jungle. Getting beyond the World Cup environment--the FIFA sleazebags who almost make the Olympic Committee look good, the horrible waste of Brazils' building all those needless stadia--the match was wonderfully enthralling to watch. Lots of good play--plenty of room for improvement on the U.S. side although they did play well enough for most of the game. 

I was surprised that after playing total defense for the last few minutes, that they had no one around the defense area in front of the goal when the Portuguese attacked. Did they forget about keeping a close watch on Christiano Ronaldo because he had been "not a factor" until the very final seconds? I would berate Klinsmann for that egregious and disastrous oversight, or maybe the team captain, too.

The organized attack that Portugal mounted was also impressive; I was amazed that for most of the game, it was more or less ineffective. I'm afraid that the wrenching tie (which the U.S. would have readily settled for before the match) may still inspire overconfidence among U.S. supporters. Anyone is crazy should they underestimate everyone's most traditional opponent: the Germans.

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