The Play by Play
The FIFA Finals
The 2018 FIFA Final was a true David and Goliath story, although ending with the expected victor. France earned a spot in the match-up after beating Belgium 1-0 on a goal from Samuel Umtiti. Croatia joined the Frenchmen upon defeating England, becoming the first team in World Cup history to win three straight matches in extra time and only the second to win a semi-final after trailing at the half (with the other being Argentina in 1990). With just 4.5 million inhabitants Croatia is also the second smallest country to ever make the finals, a feat made even more amazing considering Croatia’s coach has only had the job for 9 months and 13 games.
The two teams remained tied 1-1 for much of the first half. But then, following a handball, France earned a penalty shot. Antoine Griezmann took full advantage, burying the ball in the back of the net and turning the tide of the game. In the second half, the scoring continued, resulting in a 4-2 victory for France and the highest goal tally in a final since 1958. Didier Deschamps also became one of only three individuals to win a World Cup as both a player, as part of France’s 1998 championship team, and coach. Despite the loss, and possible perjury in a corruption scandal back home, Croatian star Luka Modric earned the Golden Ball, an award given to the best player in the tournament. Harry Kane, captain of the British squad took home to Golden Boot, for scoring the most goals.
If the teams’ athletic performance wasn’t exciting enough, we also saw a Russian punk band known as the Pussy Riots create their own version of chaos by rushing onto the field and disrupting the game. Claiming responsibility, the band viewed their ambush as a form of political activism and tweeted demands for more political competition.
Already missing soccer? The next World Cup is scheduled for 2022 in Qatar. Just four more years to go…
Not surprisingly, this year’s tournament kept fans glued to their television screens- at all times of the day. Federer lost in the quarter-finals and Nadal exited in the semis. Djokovic took home the trophy, defeating Kevin Anderson in straight sets, winning his fourth Wimbledon and his first tournament since 2016. However, it was Djokovic’s son and also Anderson’s prior match against Isner that garnered a majority of the attention. Lasting longer than any semi-final at Wimbledon, the fifth set reached 26-24 before a victor was declared. It was also the second longest match in tournament history, leading many to recall the 2010 Wimbledon match that took 11 hours and 5 minutes. Ironically enough, that match also featured Isner. It would seem he has a penchant for truly epic battles.
On the women’s side, Serena made her way, quite convincingly to the finals in search of her 24th grand slam and first major win since returning from childbirth. While she lost in two sets to Angelique Kerber, many consider this run one of Serena’s greatest triumphs as not just nine month earlier she had an emergency c-section. Developing both a pulmonary embolism and a blood clot in her leg, Serena could hardly walk to the end of her driveway and now she can proudly claim 2nd place in Wimbledon.
Papa Johns Fallout
After Papa John’s owner John Schnatter made a racist comment earlier in the week, the MLB cut ties with the pizza company, specifically ending its “Papa Slam” promotion which gave fans 40% off after any player hit a grand slam. Following suit, the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays also suspended their relationship with Papa John’s. The backlash continued when the mayor of Jefferson, Indiana, Schnatter’s hometown, returned a $400,000 donation he’d made to the city’s basketball gymnasium and Louisville is considering renaming its football stadium which is currently known as Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
The Faces and Facts
Featured Female- JoAnne Carner (Golf): This weekend we had the first ever US Senior Women’s Open, for female professional golfers over the age of 50. JoAnne Carner, the oldest lady in the tournament, was the star of opening day, shooting an age-matching round of 79. While she didn’t make the cut (qualify to play on Saturday and Sunday), Carner reminded everyone of her greatness, competing against women 29 years her junior. During her career, JoAnne won 43 events and remains the only woman to win the US Girls’ Junior, US Women’s Amateur and the US Women’s Open titles. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.
LeSean McCoy (Football): The Buffalo Bills running back faces allegations of orchestrating a home invasion and beating of his ex-girlfriend Delicia Cordon. While McCoy denies any involvement in the July 10th break-in and assault, it appears Cordon was specifically targeted and local police released records of three prior visits made to that address, two for domestic disputes and one when Cordon caught McCoy’s family and friends removing furniture from the home.
Mike Trout (Baseball): Consistently one of the best players in the MLB. At the age of 26 he has won 2 American League MVP titles and shows no signs of slowing down. On Tuesday, the Anaheim Angels had a “Mike Trout” t-shirt night which on first read sounds relatively typical. But the t-shirts were anything but and the photographs of fans sporting Trout’s face are priceless.
Magic Spray (Soccer): Did you happen notice how every time a player fell to the ground, apparently in immense pain, it only took one quick spray from a trainer’s bottle to once again feel right as rain? Ever wonder what this “magic spray” (named somewhat sarcastically to underscore players’ tendencies to fake injuries to run out time or draw a free kick) is? While not all contain the same ingredients, it turns out most have one or more “skin refrigerants” that cool the affected area enough to numb it completely. It doesn’t offer a permanent remedy but just enough to allow individuals to keep playing.
Pamela and JaVale McGee (Basketball): The first mother-son duo to play in the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) and NBA respectively. Not only that but now they can claim to have played for the same city– Los Angeles. JaVale grew up watching his mom play for the LA Sparks and while he has been on five teams throughout his own professional career, recently found himself signing with the Lakers. A move that means the world to him and his mom.
MLB All Star Game (Baseball): You won’t find any regular season baseball games this week because it is officially the All-Star break. While the host city, in this case Washington D.C., offers an incredible list of events, the Home Run Derby ( on Monday, July 16th) and the All-Star game itself (Tuesday, July the 17th) garner the most viewership.
Bryce Harper is set to compete in this year’s derby along with a handful of other big hitters. In this event, participants are paired off for one-on-one competitions. Whichever player in the pairing hits the most home runs in 4 minutes moves to the next round. This procedure is repeated, until the final two contestants remain (see the complete bracket/pairings here). The following evening, the All-Star game pits the best players in the National League against those in the American League. The winner gets about $20,000 more than the losing team, stakes far lower than in years past when the victor earned home field advantage in the World Series.
ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly)Awards (General): Like the Oscars for sports. This award ceremony, put on by ESPN (aired on ABC), recognizes the top athletes and athletic moments across sports, with categories such as Best Breakthrough Athlete and the Best Game. Hosted by Danica Patrick, the first female MC since its inception 26 years ago, you’re sure to catch a glimpse of all the stars and likely learn a fair amount about the 2018 sports year. It airs on Wednesday, July 18th at 8pm.
The Weekend Social Hour
In an earlier post, we shared some of China’s best nicknames for the NBA’s most famous players. In this week’s social hour we’ve got one from each NFL team. Saquon Barkley, the newest member of the New York Giants, goes by “SaQuads,” with even Eli Manning commenting on the size of his legs. The Atlanta Falcons’ running back Romarius Smith earned the nickname “Ito” after his grandmother thought he looked like Judge Lance Ito, who was presiding over the OJ Simpson trial when he was born in 1995. There are 30 more listed so check them out!
Also, for those a fan of the stylish, this past week Sports Illustrated celebrated its Fashionable 50. Odell Beckham took home top prize for his unique look. Maria Sharapova (tennis), Lewis Hamilton (Formula One race car driver), Cristiano Ronaldo (soccer- and new member of Italy’s Juventus team), Russell Westbrook (basketball), Andre Iguodala (basketball) and others earned honorable mention.