A different view from the world of sports …

Bruce Almighty! 

No doubt, Bruce Arena gets results.

I never would have believed U.S. Soccer would have required saving from  Jurgen Klinsmann, but that became clear after the team lost its first two games of 2018 World Cup qualifying and found itself at the bottom of the CONCACAF standings.

In came miracle worker Arena to lead the U.S. to a 6-0 home win over Honduras, a 1-1 tie at Panama, a 2-0 home win over Trinidad and Tobago and then a 1-1 tie at Mexico.

Not only did Arena orchestrate a rare point at Azteca, but he did it by making seven changes in the starting lineup and switching to a more defensive 5-3-2 formation.

It worked. Give ’em an A-plus for American pride and Arena arrogance. 

No one but Arena would have expected those changes to work, but now the U.S. is third in the CONCACAF standings heading into the next round of qualifying in September.

“I’m just doing things the way I do things,” Arena told The Associated Press. “I can’t comment on the things that went on in the past, but I could say that the players have responded very well, and we’re really becoming a team.”

Three, by the way, is the magic number. Finish among the top three and Arena and the U.S. will be in Russia for the World Cup next summer.

Arena, 65, has been here before. He was the U.S. coach from 1998 to 2006, including guiding the national team to a quarterfinal appearance at the 2002 World Cup.

That’s why he agreed to return. He realizes there’s still much work to do to make the U.S. a World Cup contender. And he’s just arrogant enough to believe he’s the one who can do it.

It’s a huge lift, but no other American coach has the resume Arena has. He won five national titles at Virginia (including four in a row from 1991-94) and five MLS Cups with D.C. United and the L.A. Galaxy.

 Go fishing

Some San Francisco Giants fans occasionally take in a baseball game at AT&T Park by padding around McCovey Bay, where they can retrieve a soaked souvenir or two whenever a ball clears the stadium wall. But on Tuesday during a game against the Kansas City Royals, it was the sight of a shark hanging out in the bay that created all the excitement.

Reportedly, there was no reason to panic.

Repeat, NO REASON TO PANIC.

It was a leopard shark, which are common in San Francisco Bay. A spokesperson for the National Aquarium even claims that species of shark is docile and a “great species to care for.”

Maybe so, but if I ever catch a Giants’ home game it will be inside the stadium.

Headlines

From TheOnion.com: “Dead catfish disgusted by idea of being handled by Predators fan.”

From SportsPickle.com: “LeBron James optimistic he can still lose at least five to seven more NBA Finals.”

TheKicker.com: “Lakers to bring back Lonzo for another workout/adoption consultation.”

From TheOnion.com: “Kevin Durant: ‘Deep down, I’ll always be a free agent at heart.’”

From SportsPickle.com: ‘Giants and Odell Beckham reach agreement to hold minicamp on Beckham’s yacht.’

From Fark.com: “The McGregor-Mayweather fight will be dumb as hell and make both men obscene amounts of money.”

 Nice moment

Capital Police Officer David Bailey, who was wounded Tuesday while protecting Republicans from a lone gunman during a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, was at Nationals Park Thursday to throw out the first pitch at the Congressional Baseball Game.

Bailey was on crutches because of his injuries, which partly explains why he lacked the strength to get the ball over the plate. But his one hopper likely drew some of the loudest applause of the night.

The game was dedicated to Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who is still in critical condition because of his wounds. While the Democrats won 11-2 with Cedric Richmond of Louisiana again on the mound, it was announced that the trophy will be on display in Louisiana Republican Scalise’s office.

The Dems now have a 40-39-1 edge in the series that began in 1909, but hasn’t been played all 108 years.

 They said it

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon on someone paying six figures for two tickets to Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday to see the Golden State Warriors clinch the title: “It’s pretty crazy. I read someone bought the most expensive seats in NBA history at last night’s game for $133,000. It seemed like a great idea until they found out that the seats were behind Shaq.”

 CBS comedian James Corden: “There are rumors going around already that the Warriors have voted unanimously to skip going to the White House to meet President Trump. Trump was very understanding. He was like, “Look, I get it. I skip going to the White House whenever I can, too.”

 Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “So the NBA postseason is finally over. NBA 2017-18 preseason starts next week.”

 Comedy writer Tim Hunter, on a study claiming most divorces happen in March and August: “That does pave the way for being able to watch all of March Madness and the start of the NFL season.”

 R.J. Currie of SportsDeke.com’: “Golfer Michael Buttacavoli had to withdraw from US Open qualifying because American Airlines lost his clubs. It could have been worse: United would have thrown them off the plane.”

 

 

 

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