Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday's Starting Five

1. The Turkish National Soccer Team. They scored in the 120th minute (which is the very last minute of overtime) against Croatia to send their quarterfinal to penalty kicks. Where they won. They reached that quarterfinal thanks to scoring three late goals (75th minute, 87th minute and 89th minute of a 90 minute match) to erase a 0-2 deficit against the Czech Republic in the last game of the group stage. The Turks scored a game-winning goal at the death in the preceding match against the Swiss in the drivingest rain storm I can remember watching a football game contested in since the Christmas '06 Jets/Dolphins clash in Miami. And that winning goal only mattered because a second half equalizer had leveled the game at 1 score apiece. And prior to that miracle finish against the Swiss the Turkish national team had been manhandled by Portugal in their opening game. This is a long way of saying that the red-clad Turkish footballers have reached the semi-final of Euro 08 and they only actually held a lead in a match for approximately 1 regulation minute (plus some extra added-on injury time) in well over 390 minutes of play. It is a truly amazing run. And, it should come to an end today when they face the Germans.

2. The German National Soccer Team. Although the sky seemed to fall after their 1-2 defeat at the hands of Croatia, the German side find themselves in the semi-finals and heavily favored to advance to the Euro 08 Final. Midfielder Michael Ballack has been superb and domineering in the center of the park and has looked the player that everyone thought he would be for Chelsea following the last World Cup. He seems to definitely do his best work playing for his country. Which makes sense on so many levels but seems somewhat bizarre when you compare the seriousness with which these men take their national team responsibilities to the way in which the recently named USA Mens basketball team take theirs.

3. Any Mariners Pitcher Facing the NY Metropolitans. On Monday night Felix Hernandez became the first AL pitcher in seventeen million years to hit a grand slam and last night M's knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey overcame his inherent mediocrity to dominate the Mets "offense" for seven shutout innings. He threw 78 slow, curving strikes in those innings and didn't surrender a run. Coming in to the game he had an ERA over 5 and was occasionally coming out of the bullpen because no one really knew what to do with him. Apparently, the answer to that question was: face the Mets. (this great artwork can be found on the Brooklyn Mets Fan blog)

4. The Fresno State Bulldogs. The clock has not yet struck midnight for this Cinderella team still dancing at the College World Series. After dropping Game 1 of their set with the University of Georgia these underdog Bulldogs of Fresno State stormed back from to win 19-10 last night to force a decisive Game 3.

5. NBA Draft Day Trades. We've already had the Hornets swap their No. 27 pick to Portland and rumors abound that Miami might trade the No. 2 pick. It can't be too long before we get this year's equivalent of this gem from 1998:

The Dalls Mavericks get:
Dirk Nowitzki (who had been selected at No. 9 by Milwaukee)
Pat Garrity

The Milwaukee Bucks get:
Robert Traylor (who had been selected at No. 6 by Dallas)

Benched. The US Supreme Court. These guys. In a two-fer that should send the majority deciders straight to the Lake of Fire, the Supreme Court struck down a law that allows execution for raping a child AND reduced the $2.5 billion punitive damages award in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster to a relatively paltry $500 million. It's not often that someone can get out of bed one morning and strike a victory for child rapists and oil companies.

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