I spent the afternoon at Professor Thom's with a few friends watching the USA-Italy World Cup matchup. The day however, turned into a special afternoon due to three events:
The United States played to a 1-1 draw with Italy: The US played a very heroic match, and earned the single point that kept their World Cup hopes alive. The US went right at the Italians, and despite a 22nd minute goal, hung in there with them. An Italian player was ejected for elbowing Brian McBride in the face, and it was a mess. But McBride was a warrior and stayed in. Italian defender Cristian Zaccardo accidently headed a ball into his own net to tie the match. But just before halftime, Pablo Mastroeni was sent off for rough play, negating the US advantage. In the second half, Eddie Pope was also sent off, and it put the US down a man for the rest of the match.
Here's where the Americans dug in and held their ground. Kasey Keller was terrific in goal, and made two world-class saves. The Italians had three forwards, but couldn't penetrate the US goal. The US had a goal called back midway in the second half when McBride was offsides.
After the disaster against the Czech Republic, the US showed grit and courage in getting their first ever point in a European World Cup match. The US can now advance with a win over Ghana and an Italy win over the Czechs on Thursday.
This game reminded me of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. Like the Red Sox back then, the US was thoroughly embarrassed in their previous game, and went out and got some dignity back. And like the Sox, it's time for the US to go out a "slay the dragon." Speaking of the Red Sox.....
Red Sox win their second straight over Atlanta: Fox, in their infinite wisdom, made this game their main Saturday game, and the Yankees-Nationals game the backup. Guess which one we saw in New York? I followed the game by updates in the bar, and Josh Beckett pitched 6 strong innings, allowing just two runs, and Jonathan Papelbon picked up his world-leading 22nd save to give the Sox a 5-3 win. Kevin Youkilis led off with a homer, and David Ortiz, who was originally supposed to be off, also hit one. Manny Ramirez was pulled from the lineup due to a sore knee, and Youk played left field.
Julian Tavarez gave up his usual run in the eighth, but other than him, the pen did another fine job. Alex Gonzalez tied a team record with his 48th straight errorless game at shortstop. The win put the Red Sox back in a first place tie, as......
The Yankees blew a seven-run lead and lost to the Nationals, 11-9: In the fifth inning, the Yankees hit three home runs, including a Judas grand slam to give them a 9-2 lead. But Shawn Chacon gave the Nats four runs back to put them back into it. If the Yankees are counting on this guy, they are making a serious mistake. He sums up their pitching woes perfectly. The Nats chipped away until they were down 9-8 in the eighth. Alfonso Soriano walked, stole second and third, and scored on Jorge Posada's throwing error. Mariano Rivera blew the save, and then the game when he gave up a triple to Jose Guillen and a single to Ryan Zimmerman. It was the first time in 9 years the Yankees blew a seven run lead and lost.
The pitching and defense let the Yankees down again. Joe Torre is burning out his bullpen again, as he doesn't have reliable starters to get him to the bullpen late in the game.
Not a bad afternoon. I need to have more days like this.