Friday, June 25, 2010


No more ties from here on out. One team wins and progresses, another team loses and goes home.

Just a reminder, if teams are tied after 90 minutes, they play a 30 minute overtime period, which is NOT sudden death. Then they go into penalty kicks if still tied after that.

10:00 AM - ESPN: Uruguay vs. South Korea
Uruguay tied France, beat Mexico, and beat South Africa. They have not allowed a goal, and they're probably playing the most efficient and disciplined of all the teams in South Africa. South Korea has some talent, but barely survived their group. Had Nigeria not blown a 1-0 lead against lowly Greece, they might not still be around. Argentina humiliated them, and I think Uruguay will beat them with relative ease. 2-0 Uruguay.

2:30 PM - ABC: USA vs. Ghana
Ghana ended USA's 2006 World Cup. And you can bet players like Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey remember that. The US has to play poised and comfortable, which they historically struggle to do more than anything. They get nervous in big games. Then they make mistakes. They let a bad break crush them. They miss easy shots. They'll hesitate, then they'll rush. I'm afraid I have to pick Ghana to win 2-1. I don't want to, but it's what my gut's telling me.

10:00 AM - ESPN: Germany vs. England
This is a titanic rivalry. England beat Germany in the '66 Final. England beat Germany in two World Wars. They've met 27 times, and England have a slight edge with 12 wins, compared to Germany's 10. When they meet, it's epic. But this year neither squad is all that good. England only scored twice in three games. Germany lost to Serbia, and barely beat Ghana. England have a bunch of overrated individualists, while Germany fields the 2nd youngest team in the tournament. But I think Deutschland's big defenders stymie the English attack, Klose scores his 12th World Cup goal, and Podolski also gets onto the scoresheet. Germany 2, England 1.

2:30 PM - ABC: Argentina vs. Mexico
Get ready for some action. Argentina might be the most offensively gifted team in the tournament. But Mexico are no slouches. But Argentina has so much talent, so many weapons, they'll wear Mexico down to a nub, and prevail 4-2.

I'll have the preview of the other 4 games on Monday morning.


It hasn't been a good tournament for traditional European powers. France is out. Spain lost a match. England's scored twice. Germany lost a match, and now it's arrivederci, Italia, as the Italians have been ousted.

Slovakia 3, Italy 2

Robert Vittek scored a brace (2 goals), and the Slovaks have a player with the first name Zdeno, so I'm doubly glad they won this match. Italy, who typically muster the best and most efficient defenses in the world, looked confused and sloppy in their back 4. At least France can point to the loss of Zidane, and the general aging of their stars, but Italy's poor showing is much more mysterious.

Paraguay 0, New Zealand 0

It's been a bad World Cup for Europe and Africa, but a great one for South America. Paraguay qualified for the Round of 16, the 3rd South American team to officially do so. And although they didn't advance, bravo New Zealand. They became the 4th team ever to go undefeated yet not advance (3 ties). They didn't score, but for the 78th ranked team in the world to earn 3 draws is worthy of a parade through the streets of Aukland. Then maybe The Shire.

Japan 3, Denmark 1
It's been a good World Cup for Asia and the Pacific too. Japan advances with a nice 3-1 win over the Danes. Japan and South Korea are both in the Round of 16, while Australia and New Zealand mounted respectable group efforts. If you speak Spanish, or can go swimming in the Pacific, it's been a good World Cup for you.

Netherlands 2, Cameroon 1
The Dutch get overlooked, but they've been the best European side in the tournament. 3 games, 3 wins. They can get goals from multiple directions, a credit to Total Football. Robin van Persie finally scored, and the Dutch will be a real threat in the knockout stage.

Speaking of which, it'll be Netherlands vs. Slovakia on Monday. And Japan faces Paraguay on Tuesday.


The bullpen tried to lose this game for the Sox. They really tried. Daisuke had a nice little return start, settling down for a 5 inning, 2 run night. Although he did allow 5 hits and yield 4 walks. That drove his pitch-count to 105. Then Delcarmen tried to blow it, then Okajima, then Atchison, and finally Papelbon.

Should the Red Sox be worried about the bullpen? YES! It's an inconsistent bunch out there. Papelbon and Bard are the only two trustworthy arms out there, and even they're not perfect. So unless the starter can go 7 (a good way to do that is to keep the pitch-count down, and a good way to keep it down is to not walk 4 guys in 5 innings), these games can get a bit hazy in the middle innings.

Thankfully, Pedroia went 5 for 5 with 3 homers, a double, and 5 RBI. Beltre also hit a homer, and knocked in 3. Daisuke hit an RBI single.

Had the Sox lost this game, it would have really hurt. Instead, they salvaged a win despite their atrocious bullpen. And you've got to do that from time to time.

Sox at Giants late night tonight. Wakefield vs. Jonathan Sanchez, who is 5-5 with a 2.90 ERA. But that sounds like a deflated National League ERA there.