Thursday, June 24, 2010


More palpatating drama as scenarios pivoted and turned around within seconds. At one point yesterday, the US was facing elimination, then within seconds and they win their Group. At one point yesterday, Ghana were secure in advancement, then suddenly within either a German goal or an Australian goal of elimination.

USA 1, Algeria 0

The US had another goal disallowed, this time for an incorrect offsides call. It's pretty sad, because FIFA encourages their officials to err on the side of offense, especially when it comes to offsides. After this, the US showed little poise, as they were handed opportunities, but blew them like Chris Farley blowing a sale in Tommy Boy.

It took them 91 minutes, but they finally scored. Landon Donovan had the final touch, but it was a team goal, earned by a team through 90 minutes of hard play.

This was the first time the US has not lost their final group game. This was the first time since 1930 that the US won their group. It was the latest goal the US has scored in their World Cup history.

England 1, Serbia 0

The English also needed a result, and they also got one. Jermain Defoe got into the scoring ledger with the game's only goal. While England finally won a match, and advanced to the Round of 16, they've still only scored 2 goals. Which is pretty bad for a team so stocked with offensive talent.

Germany 1, Ghana 0

Another thrilling 90 minute spectacle. Both Germany and Ghana created strong offensive opportunities, and some defensive lapses creating some breathtaking counterattacks. Mesut Özil, born in Gelsenkirchen but of Turkish descent, scored his first World Cup goal, and it was a doozey, both in quality and importance. Germany's win in the game gave the win in Group D. This is the 4th straight World Cup that they've won their Group, and the 17th time that they've advanced to the Round of 16 (out of 18 attempts to do so).

Australia 2, Serbia 1
The Aussies and New Zealanders might be going home early, but they can go home with some pride. Australia goes home on tie-breakers, thanks in large part to their 4-0 loss to Germany.

So it will be USA vs. Ghana on Saturday at 2. That's a rematch of what was essentially an elimination game for the US in the '06 Cup. And you've got to be happy with drawing Ghana in the Round of 16. And if they were to beat Ghana, they'd get either South Korea or Uruguay. Again, an excellent draw.

And there will also be Germany vs. England, ancient rivals on the field and off. The South African police might be the only ones not excited about this pairing, as English hooligans will try to reenact the Battle of the Somme in Bloemfontein.


The Sox had come from behind against the best pitcher in baseball, given themselves a 6-5 lead. Even John Lackey contributed to the offense, going 2 for 3 with a double, and scoring the go ahead run. All they needed was a scoreless 9th from Papelbon, and they would have been only the 2nd team to give Ubaldo Jimenez a loss.

Look, Papelbon is still quite clearly this team's Closer. And this was only his 2nd blown save of the season. Then again, it was also his 4th loss. The fact of the matter is, he's not invulnerable anymore. It happens with closers. He has an ERA of 3.64, and a WHIP of 1.21. Not horrible, but not magnificent. So we should expect games like this.

And we should brace for an entire season like this. These guys can find ways to win, like they did against the Dodgers. They can also find ways to lose, like they've done against the Rockies. They are an inconsistent bunch of variables. So try not to get so high when they win 6 in a row, and try not to get so low when they blow a game like this one.

Daisuke returns tonight against Jason Hammel.