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3 words: Walk It OFF!!

Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Pedone_RickRick Pedone
Sports Editor

Having witnessed a considerable portion of the 2014 World Cup, I have one suggestion for the participants: WALK IT OFF!
The way the players have flopped down and writhed on the turf the past two weeks, it looked like the zombie apocalypse struck Brazil.
Not only do they crumple to the turf at an absurdly high rate, but they stay there like someone Velcroed their shirts to the ground.
Some of these players act so fragile that I hope someone passes out helmets in case it rains.
Do they call it the beautiful game because of all the swan dives?
Yeah, I get it, some of these guys take real shots to the ankles and knees and there have been a few wicked head shots. And, of all things, biting. (Maybe it’s a vampire apocalypse?)
But, most of the melodramatic knee clutching seems to be, well, melodramatic.
I wasn’t keeping an official count, but if there were any less than four Nigerians down on the turf at any time during their match against Bosnia-Herzegovina Saturday afternoon, I’d be surprised. The amazing thing is, Nigeria won, 1-0. The Bosnians were apparently caught off guard when one of the Nigerians actually got to his feet and kicked the ball.
You know who these guys look like, don’t you? Wide receivers, the undisputed divas of the NFL.
Does a wide receiver who misses a pass just walk back to the huddle these days? Of course not.
They either plead for pass interference to every referee on the field, or they go down and clutch
a hamstring.
American movies have been popular overseas for 70 years.
Didn’t anyone see John Wayne?

Beautifully cruel is one way to describe Portugal’s tying goal against the U.S. in the final seconds of injury time Sunday that resulted in a 2-2 draw.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s laser-guided cross to Silvestre Varela, who headed in the tying goal in front of helpless U.S. goalie Tim Howard, reminded me of Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie’s last-play “Hail Flutie” TD pass against Miami 30 years ago. Alabama football fans no doubt had a flashback to Auburn’s 109-yard game-winning field goal return last year. Oakland fans still loathe Franco Harris’ Immaculate Reception in the 1972 NFL playoffs.
Unlike Miami, Alabama or Oakland, the U.S. soccer team has a chance to mitigate its misery today by beating or tying Germany to earn a berth into the Round of 16.
The odds say that the U.S. has a 75 percent chance of getting through. Germany has a 99 percent chance.
And, both teams advance if there is a draw.
The U.S. would have to work extra hard to blow this opportunity, but let’s keep Nick Saban off the sideline just to play it safe.

The World Cup TV ratings have been monster. Thousands of fans are gathering to watch in public parks.
Is this the turning point, when soccer finally breaks through to become one of the major sports in the USA?
Maybe, but this isn’t the first time that soccer euphoria is supposed to sweep the nation.
Way, way back in the 1970s the North American Soccer League packed stadiums in Tampa and New York on a regular basis for a few summers before fading away.
The U.S. Women’s soccer team drew 98,000 to the Rose Bowl in 1999 on its way to the World Cup, sparking a women’s pro league that disappeared after a couple of years.
The U.S. men reached the Round of 16 in 2002, giving Major League Soccer a boost that is showing some staying power.
It seems inevitable that soccer will become a major sport in the U.S. More and more soccer fans are immigrating here, and many young Americans enjoy the game.
Right now, in the dead of summer with little else going on, the U.S. soccer team naturally is hogging the headlines, especially since it is pretty good.
But, we’re probably a generation or two away from the time when a lot of Americans will tune into a MLS game that opposes pro baseball, football or basketball games.
When the best soccer players in the world are making Major League baseball money here, you’ll know that soccer has arrived.

Is this bad timing, or what, for the NBA? It has the whole summer to hold its draft, and by an unfortunate coincidence it goes up against USA-Germany soccer today.
On top of that, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James have usurped a lot of the draft’s interest by opting out of their contracts earlier this week. Where they will play as free agents is dominating the NBA conversation.
The Orlando Magic have two picks among the top 12, and this is getting close to make-it or break-it time for the Magic, who aren’t exactly the talk of the town these days.
The problem for Magic GM Rob Hennigan is that there aren’t many sure bets in this draft and the team isn’t a potential destination for Melo or King James.
With a new $500 million building that is increasingly tough to fill, it will be interesting to see what Hennigan does tonight to boost the basketball pulse around Orlando.

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