Grab Bag: USWNT, NASCAR, Happy Birthday

Carli Lloyd and the 2015 World Cup Champion United States Women's National Team (2015 USA Today)

Carli Lloyd and the 2015 World Cup Champion United States Women’s National Team (2015 USA Today)

Soccer! NASCAR! Birthdays! Things we never talk about are the only things we’ll talk about on today’s grab bag!

“USA! USA! USA!” – Me tweeting last night. 

Yay! The USA Women’s soccer team won the World Cup! Alex Morgan agreed to marry me! (In my mind). Carli Lloyd is the new Mia Hamm! If you still know who Mia Hamm is, congratulations! Hope Solo! I won’t even go there! AMERICA! USA!

“So does this actually mean female sports will be put on respectable time slots more often?” – one of my [female] friend’s Facebook posts last night.

Nope. Look, what the women’s team did was fantastic. They dropped a five burger on the Japanese. It was almost almost as dominating a win as last year’s men’s World Cup when Germany beat Brazil 7-1. If that game was a 99-10 football game, this one was 76-14. However I’m sorry that I’m about to be the cortisone shot of reality straight into your ass. Give this about two weeks and no one will care. It’s the unfortunate reality of female sports in the United States. What happened the last time the women’s team won the World Cup in 1999? We forgot about them three weeks later. And we forgot about them for the same reason, unfortunately, that we don’t watch women’s college basketball, the LPGA, the WNBA, or the female Olympic hockey championships: we don’t like watching women play sports men are better at. Olympic figure skating or gymnastics? The ladies dominate. Because they play better than their male counterparts. I’m not saying it’s true but it’s certainly the feeling we collectively have – we just don’t like to admit it.

Was it awesome watching the women win the World Cup last night? Abso-freaking-lutely! Will it inspire a new generation of young girls to want to play soccer? I’m sure it will – just like the 1999 team did to the 2015 team. But will the nation continue to be captivated by female soccer? No way. Not at least until the 2019 World Cup.

Austin Dillon crashed into the catch fence during the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. (2015 USA Today).

Austin Dillon crashed into the catch fence during the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. (2015 USA Today).

“NASCAR on at 2:00AM?!” – me through half-closed eyes trying to fall asleep watching TV.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona this morning … and I do literally mean this morning. He crossed the finish line at 2:40AM EST. The race was delayed three and a half hours until 11:42PM due to rain. What ensued was a wreck-ridden yet highly-entertaining race. If only people actually watched it. I read all about it this morning – there was a bad wreck on the last lap where Austin Dillon’s car got airborne then smashed into the barrier fence injuring five fans. This was Jr.’s second victory at this race – ironically I was at the first one he won in 2001.

I don’t talk about NASCAR much on this site because it hasn’t given us too much to talk about lately. Let’s get you caught up on the big stuff. A playoff system was introduced last year where after 26 races only the Top 16 drivers proceed to a bracket-style system for the final 10 races. Every three races the field gets narrowed down from 16 to 12 to 8 to 4 culminating in the final race at Homestead where any one of the four drivers can win the championship on the last race. It’s cooky. But it’s fun. But there is one unwanted side affect to this: now, unless you’re a true NASCAR fan, you have zero reason to watch races two through 25 (you have to, of course, watch the first race – the Daytona 500). And really you have zero reason to watch races 26 through 35 as well. Good job, NASCAR. Way to make only the first and last race of your schedule interesting for non-diehard fans.

“Happy Birthday, Marco Scola!” 

Yay! The site turned one year old on Friday and the podcast turns one today! We’ve had some big hits and misses over the past year. Let’s revisit my favorites:

Biggest Winners:

– The highest-rated article in the first year was the Green Bay Packers Why We Hate Your Team from September 2, 2014. It was shared a record 125 times on Facebook, and clicked over 10,000 times. Amazing.

– Correctly picked the Patriots over Seahawks on the NFL Preview Podcast on Episode 1.15 of The Game.

– Four months later on the NFL Playoff Predictions article I stuck with my pick of Patriots over Seahawks and on the podcast before the Super Bowl I correctly picked the final score. Boom. Of the eight NFL divisions I correctly predicted five of the division winners. The only ones I missed on were Cincinnati winning the AFC North (Pittsburgh won), Philadelphia wining the NFC East (Dallas won), and New Orleans winning the NFC South (Carolina won). Half-boom.

On October 8 I picked the Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup and furthermore picked the ‘Hawks over Ducks in the Western Conference Finals. Seven months later I picked the Lightning and Blackhawks to meet in the finals before the playoffs started. Then on the eve of the Stanley Cup Final I chose Blackhawks over Lightning in Six. Triple boom.

On the October 29 NBA Preview article I correctly picked Timberwolves rookie Andrew Wiggins would win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Unfortunately that was about the only thing I got right in that article.

Biggest Losers:

– “LSU will win the National Championship” – August 21, 2014. Yeah, I was way off. LSU wound up going 8-4 and lost in the Music City Bowl to Notre Dame. Far from the National Championship. In fact of the four playoff teams I picked (LSU, Oklahoma, Florida State, Ohio State) only two of them actually made the playoffs. Ouch.

– “The Clippers will win the NBA Title.” – October 29, 2014. So there was a lot I got wrong in this article. First of all I picked the Clippers to beat Dallas, Golden State, Oklahoma City, and Cleveland en route to the NBA title. Not one of those things happened besides Cleveland making and losing the NBA Finals. I had Cleveland winning over Vegas’ line of 58 games – they won 53. I had LeBron James winning the MVP – this was the year of Steph Curry. I had Clippers-Thunder and Cavs-Bulls in the Conference Finals. Only one of those teams made the Conference Finals at all (Cleveland). I picked Golden State as a three-seed in the West – they had one of the best seasons in NBA history. I picked Miami as a seven-seed in the East – they missed the playoffs. I said the Knicks would just miss the playoffs as the #9 seed and go an even 41-41 – they were the second-worst team in the league with 17 wins. OUCH.

Overall it’s been an amazing first year of the website! Can’t wait to see what the future has in store!

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