The Play by Play
With Week 2 in the books, we find ourselves two thirds of the way through the Group Stage and with plenty of exciting storylines. En route to its second game in Sochi, Saudi Arabia’s plane caught fire. No one was hurt and the plane managed to land safely. But it certainly caused some alarm. We saw Senegal defeat Poland 2-1, on a somewhat controversial second goal. The sideline referee allowed a player (the eventual goal scorer) back onto the field at an interesting moment. Carlos Sanchez nearly set a FIFA World Cup record when he received a red card within the first three minutes of Colombia’s game against Japan. It’s the second fastest any individual’s been red-carded and his team was left to play over 80 minutes a man down. Not surprisingly, Colombia ended up losing 1-2. Germany just barely won its second game which, after losing to Mexico earlier in the week, certainly helped its chances of moving on to the next round.
While numerous games remain to be played, a handful of teams have already been officially eliminated from the tournament. Egypt, losing their first two games, and Saudi Arabia both exited from Group A. Portugal knocked Morocco out after beating them 1-0 (with yet another Ronaldo goal) and France sent Peru packing. Costa Rica is the most recent team to get the boot from Group E, Panama and Tunisia are out of Group G and Poland didn’t make the cut in Group H.
The 2018 NBA Draft
A night during which each NBA team selects its newest members. The Phoenix Suns earned the first pick (the draft order is decided based on a combination of a team’s regular season record and luck), something they’ve never had in franchise history, and chose Deandre Ayton. Michael Porter Jr, a player many thought would go early despite only playing 53 minutes last season, went to Denver with the 14th pick.
For a bit of history, ten years ago, individuals could enter the NBA directly from high school (think Kevin Garnett and LeBron James). Now, a college basketball player must complete at least his freshman year before electing to enter the draft. If chosen, the individual joins said team. If a player goes un-drafted, the picture’s a tad less rosy because he cannot return to his college or university to continue schooling or playing. This is a policy that many, including Steve Kerr, wish would change. While this draft proved relatively uneventful, over the years teams have certainly made some mistakes, passing on future super stars for players who produced very little. We’ve also witnessed some exceptionally smart choices that have led teams to great success.
The Faces and Facts
Featured Female- Marta Vieira da Silva (Soccer): Considered one of the best female soccer players in the world. Playing for Brazil, Marta’s footwork often leaves her opponents in the dust and has earned her numerous accolades including Fifa female world player of the year, five consecutive times.
Sterling Brown (Basketball): A basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks who is suing the city and its police department for unlawful arrest and excessive force. Back in January, police approached a car that took up multiple handicapped spaces in the Walmart parking lot. Body cameras show Brown, the owner of the vehicle, being taken down to the ground and, when refusing to take his hands out of his pockets, tased. Brown played in the Bucks’ game later that night with bruises on his face. The police officer who tased him proceeded to post about the experience on Facebook, making light of the situation. He also later joked that JR Smith’s mistake in Game 1 of the Finals must have been because he too was tased in the Walmart parking lot.
Bryce Harper (Baseball): The Washington Nationals’ star player recently appeared at home plate clean shaven. Having sported a beard for months, fans immediately started questioning why he made the change. Some thought he chose a new look to boost his game (he’s been in a hitting slump). Others jumped to a far different conclusion. Because Harper made the facial hair decision leading up to the Nationals’ series against the Yankees, fans wondered if it was Bryce’s way of showing he wanted to play for the New York team. The Pinstripes are notorious for their strict “appearance policy,” which has led to some very famous hair trimming over the years (aka Johnny Damon’s transformation from Caveman to Clean Cut). The only person who really knows the motive for the shave is Harper himself. One thing’s for sure, he’s a good looking guy bearded or not.
Enes Kanter (Basketball): A basketball player for the New York Knicks. As an outspoken opponent of Turkey’s President Erdogan and follower of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen (who Erdogan credits with planning the 2016 coup), the Turkish government recently issued a warrant for his arrest. They also previously revoked his passport, leading the US to step in and ensure he wasn’t sent back to Turkey. The government also demanded Kanter’s parents disavow him and then proceeded to sentence his father to 15 years in prison for “membership in a terrorist group.”
Brandon Morrow (Baseball): A closer (the pitcher who takes the mound at the end of a game to secure a win) for the Chicago Cubs. Morrow was unable to play in Tuesday’s double header due to a back injury he suffered…while taking off his pants. Apparently Brandon isn’t the only MLB player to hurt his back in a less-than-conventional way. Sammy Sosa fell victim to a sneeze that proved a bit too violent. Glenallen Hill managed to scrape himself up escaping from a nightmare about spiders.
With soccer on t.v. daily, it’s important to fully understand as much of the FIFA World Cup tournament as possible. People will be talking about the matches, the teams, and possibly arguing over the rules. In order to keep everyone up to speed, in lieu of a Social Hour, we’ll cover a few more procedures this week.
- Substitutions: Each team can make three substitutions per game, and only when play has stopped. In order to enter a game, the substitute must get permission from the sideline referee who will then signal the exchange by raising the flag above his head. The player subbed out cannot re-enter so teams use their three opportunities strategically.
- Injury/Additional Time: A soccer match lasts for 90 minutes, with two 45 minute halves. During each half, the clock does not stop running despite losing time due to injury, substitutions, or other operational reasons (broken equipment). The head referee calculates how much time is used during these stoppages in play and adds it to the end of each half as “injury time.” Because the duration is somewhat subjective, when/if a team scores a goal during injury time it can lead to some very angry fans. In this World Cup alone, both England and Iran have tallied game winning goals during this window.
- What Comes After The Group Stage: The tournament’s initial stage consists of 32 teams split into 8 groups identified with letters A-H. During this portion, the four teams within a group play each other, amounting to each team participating in three games a piece. The top two teams in each move on to the next round (16 teams in total) where the winning team in one group plays the runner-up team in another (A-B, C-D, E-F, G-H).
- Argentina v. Nigeria (Soccer): After tying Iceland 1-1 and losing to Croatia 0-3, Argentina now, shockingly, faces elimination. They desperately need to beat Nigeria (and for Croatia to lose) in order to stand a chance of moving on. Fans are hoping for Messi to be at the top of his game. Tune in on Tuesday, June 26th at 2:00pm EST.
- England v. Belgium (Soccer): This is the final match-up in Group G, pitting the group’s top two teams against each other. England and Belgium are dead even in their goals scored in favor (8) and against (2) which could mean it’s the fair play ranking that determines who comes out on top. Fans of the Premier League will certainly want to watch as both teams are stacked with numerous of the League’s biggest stars. Kick off is at 2:00pm on June 28th.
- Denmark v. France (Soccer): A game that will likely determine the winner of the group. Both will likely move onto the next round. But the runner-up will face the winner of Group D, which will be Croatia, a team that’s certainly on a roll this tournament. So, Denmark and France both really want to come out on top. The game is scheduled for June 26th at 10am EST which means we’ll have to watch while at work.
- Men’s College World Series (Baseball): The tournament kicked off June 16th and the final two teams are set to meet in a best of three game series starting Monday, June 25th. Oregon State is facing off against Arkansas and its certain to be a great show.