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World CupYesterday was the first day of Summer.  Two days ago the NBA Season came to an end with the Miami Heat’s first title, ending a flat out fantastic NBA Playoffs.  Three days ago the NHL Season came to an end as the Carolina Hurricanes won their first Stanley Cup title behind the heroics of a rookie goalie.

So, as the seasons and sports officially transition, what are sports geeks to look forward to during the summer of 2006? Here is my Top 11{ref1} list for what to expect during upcoming 3 months.

11. MLB All Star Game and Home Run Derby: There is usually at least one memorable moment from the All Star Game and Home Run Derby. In Pittsburgh this year.
10. MLB record watch: Can Barry Bonds catch the Babe? Will Ichiro break more records.  Someone will set a record, surely.
9. Wimbledon: I don’t even know who the tennis stars are these days, but I’m looking forward to the traditional 6:00 am breakfast for Wimbledon.
8. NFL Kickoff Weekend: The return of professional football will signal the next season change.
7. Return of NCAA Football and the Longhorns defending their first title in years: We’ll find out a lot about this team on September 9th when they host Ohio State.
6. The British Open: Can Phil make up for his debacle at the US Open?
5. The NBA Draft: Who will draft the Stache? Who will draft the next Sam Bowie?
4. Fantasy Football Season: Ah, the best time of the year.  Productivity goes down and trash talking goes up.  Everyone thinks that they can be the next best Billy Beanesque type General Manager.
3. World Cup Quarterfinals: The action really heats up and the top teams have to be on their game to move on.
2. World Cup Semifinals: Can the United States advance further than they ever have before? They have yet to reach the final 4, this might be the year.
1. World Cup Finals: Seriously, it doesn’t even matter who is playing. This is the number one event of all of 2006.

It’s gonna be a hot summer, enjoy!


She's a Portugal fan… one more reason to love the World CupFIFA World Cup: Yesterday’s matches was just as eventful as the first day’s.  Trinidad and Tobago played to a scoreless draw against a strong Sweden team, who just couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities.  However, Shaka Hislop did take it to another level tending goal for T&T.  The England/Paraguay match was odd in that, within three minutes of play, a David Beckham kick deflected off of Carlos Gammarra’s head into Gammarra’s own goal.  And the scoring ended there with England winning 1-0.  The Argentina contest with Ivory Coast pretty much went as it probably would have with the young, but talented Argentinians winning 2-1.  Here are today’s matches:

*Group C: Serbia and Montenegro VS. Netherlands
*Group D: Mexico VS. Iran
*Group D: Angola VS. Portugal

NBA Finals: In Game One of this final series of the NBA, the Dallas Mavericks won 90-80 against the Miami Heat.  The Mavs’ Dirk Nowitzki had a subpar game, but “The Jet,” Jason Terry turned it up and scored 32 points, seemingly not being capable of missing any shot that left his hand.  Credit must also be given to the Mavs’ defense and Erick Dampier for doing better than expected and not totally succumbing to the force that is known as Shaquille O’Neal.

Click to continue reading Tap The Schedule And Twist The Cap: 6.11.06

Maradona in Argentina's heydayGroup C: This is a strong grouping here in Hamburg with Argentina, Ivory Coast, The Netherlands, and Serbia-Montenegro.  In fact, it’s arguably one of the more difficult ones, in the World Cup.  Argentina came into the tournament having won twice, last time in 1986 with the legendary Diego Maradona, but this is a very young team that is on its way up.

This was a very well-played match with Argentina coming out on top, thanks to goals from Hernan Crespo and Javier Soviola in the first half of the matchup.  Didier Drogba scored the lone goal for the Ivory Coast in the 82nd minute of the game, but by then, it was too late.

Carlos GammarraGroup B: Poor Paraguay captain, Carlos Gammarra.  He was a part of history twice in this matchup with England, but it definitely was not good things to be a part of.  Less than three minutes into the match, Gammarra inadvertently headed a ball off of a David Beckham kick into his own goal, which became the fastest own-goal in the history of the tournament. 

And when the English team took the field in the second half, they played flat thanks to the rise in tempature and since no one else for Paraguay scored, Gammarra directly affected history again by this match being the first one decided by an own-goal.  However, Gammarra shouldn’t hang his head for putting his team in the predicament of losing a game that could be critical in a three match-up group playoff to see who moves forward into the next round.  If it wasn’t for Gammarra, I doubt Paraguay would be in the World Cup right now.

England is now 3-0 in World Cup play versus Paraguay.

Shaka Hislop got busy!Group B: David didn’t quite slay Goliath in this matchup of a little country against one of the better football (soccer to us Americans) countries in the world, but for all intents and purposes, David did win.  And if anyone on the T&T squad epitomized David, it was goalie Shaka Hislop who stopped shot after shot from the Swedish team that had a ton of experience and talent over the two-island country.

To finish with a draw can be considered an upset for T&T and they know it.  But, for the Swedes, this has to be a tough pill to swallow.  Especially considering that T&T played one man short when Avery John received his second yellow card for hard tackling Christian Wilhelmsson and ejected from the game in the 46th minute.  But, a story like this is why the World Cup is so great.

Bernard Hopkins got busy!FIFA WORLD CUP: What an excellent opening day for one of the toughest and most competitive tournaments in the world!  Host country, Germany, was a part of history, beating Costa Rica in the highest scoring opening game in World Cup history, 4-2.  And Ecuador, despite some controversy regarding the legitimacy of their being in the tournament, beat Poland, 2-0.  See the recap of Day One here.  Let’s see what the second day of opening round games brings us:


*England VS. Paraguay
*Trinidad and Tobago VS. Sweden
*Argentina VS. Ivory Coast

NHL: Game Three of the Stanley Cup Finals takes place up North in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  And guess what?  The Edmonton Oilers think that G Dwayne Roloson can make it back for the series.  This would be great news as the Carolina Hurricanes have had an easy go of it since Roloson has been out.  Keep watching and keep that ear to the ground.  The Hurricanes are leading the series 2-0.  The puck drops tonight at 8PM EST and will be shown on NBC here in the States.  Woo hoo!  Primetime for the NHL… gotta build that profile up.

MLB: News on Albert Pujols - he actually said he could be back in two weeks!  Of course, he did go on telling the press that it could be three, four, six weeks even.  Basically, he isn’t going to rush himself back.  Smart move.  Roger Clemens is on his way back, but young fireballers - Kerry Wood and Rich Harden - are both back on the DL after serving time on the list earlier this season.  If I were Wood or Harden, I’d bother Clemens and ask how he did it for so long.

*Texas Rangers rookie pitcher, John Rheinecker, looks to continue to go undefeated for the season (2-0), facing the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.  Rheinecker currently has a 1.77 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and has only given up one walk in 20.1 innings.  One walk!  That’s some pretty impressive control.  However, let’s see how good that control is when the rookie faces the likes of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. 

*A few pitchers look to follow the footsteps of the New York Mets’ Tom Glavine and Red Sox’s Curt Schilling and win their ninth game of the season.  Mike Mussina (8-1) of the New York Yankees will try to do it against the Oakland Athletics this afternoon.  The St. Louis Cardinals’ Jason Marquis (8-4) matches up against the Milwaukee Brewers to try to win his ninth game.  The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Brandon Webb takes the hill for the third time in trying to win his ninth… maybe the third time is a charm?  Webb will face the New York Mets and their improved lineup.

BOXING: Antonio Tarver and Bernard Hopkins get it on tonight in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  Light heavyweight champ, Tarver, has to be considered the favorite, if only because Hopkins is 41 years old now and lost his last two fights.  It is thought that this will be Hopkins’ final career fight and will hang it up out of the ring.  For 11 years, Hopkins dominated the Middleweight division and left it all in the ring.  It would be nice to see him go out with a victory.

Enjoy the games!

Germany Wins FIFA World Cup openerGermany VS. Costa Rica
Germany isn’t being a very nice host.  Just ask Costa Rica.  Today, the host country beat Costa Rica by the score of 4-2, the highest-scoring opener in the history of the World Cup.  Costa Rica had little else besides Paulo Wanchope, who scored the two goals for them.  The German team is young, but a win like this can catapult them far.

The German team was without captain Michael Ballack, who is one of the better players in the world.  Before the game, Ballack did want to play through his calf injury, but was talked out of it by his coach, Juergen Klinsmann.  If Ballack can come back and play up to par, the German team becomes even stronger.  Miroslav Klose scored two goals for the host country, while Philipp Lahm and Torsten Frings each scored one goal.

Ecuador VS. Poland
Ecuador was highly criticized regarding their credentials to play in the World Cup because a lot of their qualifying matches were played in the high altitude of Quito, Ecuador, which gave them an advantage versus their opponents - the Ecuadoreans were used to the thin air, while their opponents were not and would theoretically tire quicker.

However, playing in front of a hostile crowd cheering for Poland, Ecuador beat Poland 2-0… near sea level!  The win is a big win and talks well of the Ecuadorean team and the validity of them being at the World Cup.  Augustin Delgado played a hand in both scores as he scored one and assisted on the other to Carlos Tenorio.

FIFA World Cup trophyOkay, so not a lot of us here in America (that were born here, anyway) are really into the World Cup as our foreign neighbors around the globe are and that’s too bad.  However, I’m not going to get into how you SHOULD care about the World Cup because different strokes for different folks.  But, hey, if you’re even a casual fan, I’ll preview the countries involved and the groups that they’re in as they battle for one of the more important and most coveted championships in the world.  In TSTC, I’ll naturally update the goings on in the World Cup, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, here’s the groupings:

*Top two teams in each group advance to the next round.
Group A: Poland, Germany, Costa Rica, Ecuador
Group B: England, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Sweden
Group C: Argentina, Ivory Coast, Serbia and Montenegro, Netherlands
Group D: Mexico, Iran, Angola, Portugal
Group E: Italy, Ghana, United States, Czech Republic
Group F: Brazil, Croatia, Australia, Japan
Group G: France, Switzerland, Korea Republic, Togo
Group H: Spain, Ukraine, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia

Brazil has to be favored to win the whole thing and are the defending champions, winning the World Cup in 2002.  And to say something about their consistency, they’ve appeared in the finals three consecutive times and with the firepower of Ronaldinho, winner of player of the year honors everywhere he plays, Adriano, Ronaldo, and Kaka, a fourth consecutive time in the finals is not out of the question.

Argentina will be a strong team, having won the gold medal in the 2004 Olympics and the FIFA World Youth Championship.  They’ll be led by Lionel Messi, a tough competitor that looks unassuming until he jams the ball downfield and puts a deft touch on his kick as it sails over the goalie’s head or in the corner.

England is also a strong team to look out for, despite Wayne Rooney’s broken foot.  Their defenders are deep and able.  Italy is antoher team to watch, but how will they handle the scandal that has to be looming over their heads.  Host country, Germany, has a chance with Michael Ballack leading the way.  But, of course, I’m pulling for my boys - Langdon Donovan, Brian McBride, DaMarcus Beasley, Oguchi Onyewu, and the rest of the U.S. Team!

UEFA Champions LeagueEarlier today in Paris, France, two masked gunmen stormed a suburban city hall seeking to steal soccer tickets for the Champions Leagues final.  Luckily, no one was injured.  The original plan for the thieves was to rob the mayor of the city, because the mayor usually receives extra guest tickets for special events.  The hot ticket is for a match-up between the Ronaldinho of Barcelona and Thierry Henry of Arsenal.  The Champions League is organized by the UEFA (Union of European Football Association) and is regarded as one of the most prestigious club competition in soccer - basically the yearly Finals of Soccer in Europe.  This event is red-hot, black market tickets have reached as high as $2,580.  Even with a stadium capacity of 80,000 seats, the supply still is not high enough.  These turn of events have French-joke-material written all over it for comedians to use.

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