Twining’s Take on the week in sports: World Cup, Jeter’s 3,000 and Vrabel’s retirement
If you are like those two guys in the Geico commercial who live under a rock then you missed some monumental sporting events and accomplishments this past week. Never fear rock-dwellers, or anybody who needs a refresher on last week’s events, I am back with Twining’s Take on the week in sports to fill you in on what you may have missed, what you chose to avoid, or what you simply wish to rehash.
As with last week, I must begin with my thoughts on the FIFA Women’s World Cup. If you don’t care much for women’s soccer or were still asleep Sunday morning when the United States faced Brazil, you missed something spectacular.
FIFA World Cup
Now that I think about it, I’m not sure spectacular quite sums up what took place Sunday morning. Maybe the word that should be used to describe Sunday’s match is miraculous. In fact, I’m not sure there is a single word to describe the events that led to the United States’ stunning, come-from-behind, penalty-kick victory over Brazil.
As I rack my brain to think of the best way to convey the emotional response of this victory, only two things come to mind:
“U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!!”
Everything leading up to Abby Wambach’s game-tying goal spelled defeat for the Americans; it was U.S.-Ghana from the 2010 Men’s World Cup all over again. Extra time; quick goal by the opposition; unfavorable refereeing; opponent flops; time wasting. The United State were on the verge of losing back-to-back games for the first time in 10 years, losing two games in a single World Cup and not advancing to the semifinals, both of which had never happened in team history.
As a fan, I was in despair.
It was the 118th minute, a Brazilian defender lay writhing in pain from a horrendous flop. It was the 120th minute and the sideline referee signaled three minutes of stoppage time. It was the 121st minute and the announcers started to lose hope. I remember them saying “This is the last chance for the United States. They better send everybody up because there is no sense in defending now.”
And then, in the glorious 122nd minute, it happens. Megan Rapinoe gets free down the left side of the pitch and lofts a picture perfect cross with her left foot. As the ball bends away from the approaching keeper, Wambach leaps in the air and buries a header into the back of the net; the latest goal scored in World Cup history. Bedlam ensues, penalty kicks follow and the United States completes the most improbable comeback in FIFA history.
Sure, spectacular and miraculous could describe Sunday’s victory, but on the 12-year anniversary of Brandi Chastain’s championship-clinching goal to beat China I have a better description: “meant-to-be.”
Derek Jeter reaches 3,000 hits
Throughout Major League Baseball’s history, only 27 players preceded Derek Jeter in reaching the 3,000-hit milestone; most recently Craig Biggio with the Houston Astros. Of those 27 players only 10 racked up all those hits with the same team. With Jeter’s 3,000th hit, which was also his third homerun of the season, he became the first New York Yankee to join the illustrious 3,000-hit club.
Wait, did I say that right? The team with the most championships in baseball history, a bevy of Hall-of-Famers, some of which are the best players ever (Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio to name a few), and the team which became the first club to push its payroll past $200 million has never had a player reach 3,000 hits? Is this it? could it be? Is Jeter the best Yankee ever?
Let me make this clear, as a Seattle Mariner fan I despise the New York Yankees. One of my fondest sports memories is Edgar Martinez’s double in 1995 to beat the Yankees and one of my least favorite memories is losing in the ALCS to the Yankees in 2001, the year the Mariners won 116 games. Nevertheless, there will always be a few Yankees I just cannot dislike. One is Tino Martinez and the other is Derek Jeter.
After everything I heard about Jeter leading up to and following his pursuit of 3,000 hits, a few things stood out. Jeter isn’t flashy; he doesn’t grab headlines and his strongest statements are made on the field. As a Yankee he has made a career of performing at the highest level and on the grandest stage. In fact, he had never had a game with five hits, one homerun, and more than two RBIs in his entire career, until Saturday.
I think it’s time to give Jeter a nickname that will remain with him far after his career is over, Mr. Postseason.
During his 17 seasons in the MLB, Jeter has made the playoffs 14 times and won four championships. While most players would love to play 147 games in a single season, Jeter has played that many games in the postseason. Here are Jeter’s postseason stats and, like Jeter, I’ll let the stats speak for themselves.
679 plate appearances (599 at-bats), 101 runs, 185 hits, 30 doubles, 4 triples, 20 homeruns, 57 runs batted in, 17 stolen bases, a .309 battings average, .377 on-base percentage and a .472 slugging percentage.
Mike Vrable Retires
Since the NFL Lockout began I made it a point to avoid news about the NFL because, frankly, nothing matters until there is a new collective bargaining agreement. It seems NFL players are getting arrested as often as news breaks about “progress” in mediation between the NFL and its players union. Until somebody reports on an actual signed document and not what “sources say” I am staying away from NFL news.
Hey, did you hear Kansas City Chiefs linebacker and former New England Patriot great Mike Vrabel decided to hang up the cleats?
If you are quick on your toes your response should be “Um, Jeff, didn’t you just say you aren’t following NFL news?” And you would be correct, but this isn’t NFL news, it’s actually college football news.
“The” Ohio State University has recently turned into a corrupt football program under Jim Tressel. Amidst all the controversy over the resignation of Tressel, the departure of Terrell Pryor and countless other infractions from the past nine years, the Buckeyes finally got one thing right: they hired a former Buckeye to help turn the program around.
Vrabel is the new linebackers coach at Ohio State. Up until the day of his retirement from the NFL, the 35-year-old veteran who won multiple championships with the New England Patriots was still listed as a starter for the Kansas City Chiefs, in what would have been his third season in Kansas City. Vrabel was one of the best linebackers in the past 10 years and now gets to immediately help turn his alma mater back into a respected college football program. Congratulations on a long, successful career.
Video courtesy of RobbyDKitchel on YouTube, photos courtesy of Jeffrey Beall on Flickr and Keith Allison via Wikicommons.