IN THE WAKE OF THE WEEK: France wins Cup; Rossi battles in Toronto; AL reigns supreme
FRANCE CLAIMS WORLD CUP: It took 20 years for a repeat, but France did it in convincing style with a 4-2 conquest over Croatia. It was Kylian Mbappe with the game winner in the second half. Despite being outshot, France was a very advantageous and skilled group. Paul Pogba showed great style and finished it off with France’s final tally from the pitch. Excellent coverage by Fox and a simply stellar event.
THE STORIED FLOP: In Japan, soccer flopping is met with disgrace. Everywhere else, it has become so commonplace. Soccer players display a near end-of-life experience on the simplest of takedowns. Designed to get the referee’s attention and be awarded a foul and subsequent free kick, the sport is much maligned with a mixture of sports talent and Academy Award performances. Is it a distraction from the game? Yes. Will it go away anytime soon? No. It, unfortunately, is a part of the thread of the game.
RAY EMERY’S UNTIMELY DEATH: It is an apparent drowning as he jumps from a boat at 6 a.m. Sunday to go for a swim for the ex-NHL goaltender. He never resurfaced. The Hamilton, Ontario police confirm the event for a man who toiled for many years in the NHL and actually hoisted the Stanley Cup as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. Drafted by the Ottawa Senators in 2001, owner Eugene Melnyk noted, “He brought a competitive edge and combative mentality to the game.”
TOUGH DAY IN TORONTO: Alexander Rossi keeps battling. A superior talent, he ran into adversity on Sunday. Two separate incidents would have spelled disaster for the average competitor. However, Rossi continued and posted a Top 10 finish again. How he did it was simply miraculous. Despite two crashes, he kept racing hard. In the last sequences of the race, he surged from 15th to eighth. Not the way he would have wanted it, but a great effort for our Nevada County man.
A.L. REIGNS SUPREME AGAIN: This time it took 10 innings, but the American League is again in the winner’s circle. It is an 8-6 win with a record-setting 10 home runs in the contest. The Houston guys got it done with back-to-back homers in the 10th. However, it is continued domination by the American League. They are on a six-game winning streak. It begs the question. Are the A.L. players really that much better than the NL players? It is a provocative question based on their recent dominance that allowed them to take a 44-43 series lead.
A’S TAKE FIRST HALF OF BAY BRIDGE SERIES: At least for now, the Oakland A’s look like the better team. They take two out of three in the opening set of the Bay Bridge series before the All-Star Break. On Sunday, they orchestrate a big fourth with a walk and four consecutive hits. The result, a 6-2 Oakland win. They are the more opportunistic team with better pitching before the resumption last night in Oakland. For the Giants, they remain in the hunt. For the A’s, they chase a Wild Card spot. It should be some great weekend drama.
HARPER COSTS NATIONALS DEARLY: It is a promotion gone wrong. It was Black Monday for the Washington Nationals. They promise $1 off tickets for each round tripper that hometown boy Bryce Harper hit during the Home Run Derby on Monday night. He hit 45 and wins the trophy. The Nationals are now selling $1 tickets to a cadre of select games. Ouch! At least they know these games will be sellouts!
MORE NFL ANTHEM DRAMA: Now the NFL has come to a standstill agreement with the NFL Players Association on the National Anthem issue. The league is in negotiations with the NFLPA and the current NFL stand, at least for the moment, has been vacated. Final decisions and compromises should come in the weeks ahead. So, for the moment, the issue is in limbo. However, it needs to be decided soon after all sides have been heard.
CHANGING OF THE BROADCAST GUARD: Oakland Raiders Mark Davis has apparently decided that 21-year veteran play-by-play man, Greg Papa, is done with the Raiders. His replacement? Brent Musberger. Musberger lives in Las Vegas, but his best years seem behind him. On the other hand, Papa has been a brilliant, long-term broadcaster for the Raiders. From firsthand experience, it is not a position for the light-at-heart. Papa rose to the occasion with each broadcast. Another strange decision for a franchise already packing.
THE BALL FAMILY CIRCUS: LaVar Ball had a decent football career. However, his credentials for basketball are weak. Now he says, “He’s too weak,” when referring to LeBron James. He insists he would overpower James. This is after Ball stated that James’ children would fail in the NBA because of their father’s incredible career. James responded by stating, “…keep my family out of this.” The days ahead in Los Angeles will surely be interesting. How will James deal with the Ball’s constant distractions?
Jim Adams is a regular contributor to The Union. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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