Tuesday, June 29, 2010

So....what did I miss?

Hey all! Back from a nice break in the action, spent time with family and friends, and now it's back to the grind. Big props to Tim Baier at Jason Brown for minding the blogger store in my absence.--stuff looks great guys!

So while I was away, John Isner played a tennis match that just ended, the USA soccer team won their group, but was knocked out by Ghana in the eliminations, and Carlos Zambrano went...well, Carlos Zambrano on his teammates.

Seems like all is normal.

Elsewhere, Yahoo sports has ranked the Carolina Panthers defensive line last in the NFL for the upcoming season. To paraphrase comedian Lewis Black, "are you kidding me?" OF COURSE they are ranked last in the NFL. The Panthers defensive front is very limited in the experience category, it's a wonder they were even ranked at all. Mind you, I'm not saying they stink. I'm saying nobody knows just how good they can or will be. The Panthers have gone young (and cheap) for the 2010 season, a sign, to me at least, that labor peace will be hard to come by after this non-salary cap season. The Panthers point of strength in the coming season is the offensive line, and running backs. 4/5ths of the O-line is back, and with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart returning, the real "Smash and Dash" has potential to be lethal again.

Oh, they get the "Smash and Dash" title because Lendale White is no longer wasting time in Tennessee. In fact, White is currently without a job, after Seattle cut him, not long after they got him in a trade.

Back to the Panthers, if they are competitive in 2010, ti will be a testament to Head Coach John Fox and his staff, for taking a large number of young, and inexperienced players beyond everyone's expectations. And then you can say goodbye to him, as he will likely end up as a Head Coach someplace else (which could come to pass if Carolina struggles this season, too).

Watching the World Cup, I am still annoyed by the vuvuzela (and who isn't?), but I marvel at the spirit and passion shown by all the fans of their respective nations. Tim Baier posted that You Tube video showing reaction to Landon Donovan's goal against Algeria, which was breath-taking (scroll down to check it out). In the end, American soccer came and went in a flash. This was supposed to be the most talented USA team in World Cup history. They were gifted, but they lacked something. They seemed to lack the same desire, and fire, as many of the teams that are considered underdogs. Don't kid yourself, USA soccer is an underdog in any tournament against other countries. They might not be so, if they played with a little fire in their belly. It comes down to heart and execution. Team USA's defense was lacking, as evidenced by the 2 goals scored by Ghana in the knockout round. There were other examples of that throughout the tournament, and that's simply something a team can not hide.

Why is USA soccer not as competitive on the global stage? A number of factors. More sports to choose from in the USA might just be the biggest factor. Some of the best soccer players in America go undiscovered, as they are playing something else. Soccer in North Carolina is a big deal, having lived in both Raleigh and Charlotte, I've seen it first hand. There is a breakdown in the system somewhere, and it's on USA Soccer to figure it out. Personally, I'd like to see the USA be a leader in everything. Watching that Donovan video sent chills down my spine, and if it didn't affect you, go see a doctor.

The Carlos Zambrano factor. What to do with the "Big Z." The answer? Nothing. Zambrano is a hot head, who is now on the restricted list. He has to undergo evaluation, and won't be available to the Chicago Cubs until after the All Star break. The Cubs should welcome him back, by making him a middle reliever. Their season is lost, and Zambrano won't make much of a difference as a starter. You want to punish him? Keep him on the roster, doing something he doesn't like. At season's end, you try to deal him. If not, you don't give him more money, you don't do anything to appease him. He's shown complete disrespect for your ballclub, and the players that are on it. I understand trying to fire up your team, but hurling expletives because you got touched up for a crooked number in the first inning against your cross-town rival. Zambrano is the modern day Ebbie Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh. Million dollar arem. Five cent head.

Mike Solarte

Follow me on Twitter! www.twitter.com/MikeSolarte

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