A different view of sports

 

Clearing my mind and notebook while proud I’m back home in South Carolina after being away for 19 years. Let’s prove them wrong, y’all:

Perseverance personified

Not many people give Croatia a chance to beat France on Sunday.

But that just means it’s the perfect time for Zlatko Dalic and his players to win it all, capping what has been a World Cup filled with surprises, right?

Never mind that Croatia has never won FIFA’s ultimate prize. They’ve never even won a World Cup semifinal, losing 2-1 to France in 1998.

Now the two nations meet again 20 years later.

France was considered one of the pre-tournament favorites, so it’s not a huge surprise the Les Bleus have made it to center stage in Moscow on the final day of the tournament.

Meanwhile, as good as Croatia has played, no one really thought the Vatreni (The Blazers) would make it this far.

They’ve had to play an extra 90 minutes to get here, being extended to extra time in their last three games.

They beat Denmark on penalty kicks after settling for a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes in Round of 16 match. They then went on to win another PK tiebreaker after tying host Russia, 2-2, in the quarterfinals.

They avoided spot kicks in the semifinals against England, but were living dangerously until Mario Mandzukic’s strike provided a 2-1 win.

In comparison, France outlasted Argentina 4-3, downed Uruquay 2-0 and dropped Belgium 1-0, so they’ve beaten their three knockout round opponents by a combined 7-3 score.

Didier Deschamps Les Bleus has been cruising through a blessed stretch of matches. It’s why the experts are predicting France will walk away with a two-goal win.

Croatia, as logic suggests, has been saddled with tired legs. And France hopes to take advantage with young guns like Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba.

But just when you give the Croatian players a standing eight court, they defy the odds and come to life behind Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic.

In a magical World Cup that has been filled with surprises, why shouldn’t Croatia provide the biggest stunner of all.

Prediction: Croatia 3, France 2.

Third place pick: Belgium 2, England 0.

They said it

TBS comedian Conan O’Brien after President Donald Trump tweeted that he is considering a pardon request made by Sylvester Stallone: ‘The pardon is for the guy who wrote Rocky V.’ ”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “Apparently new Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper is “contractually obligated” to keep 13-foot-high statue of Jerry Richardson outside stadium. Is he allowed to cover it in pigeon feed?”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: Ex-NBA player Charles Oakley was arrested on a gambling-fraud charge at a Las Vegas casino after allegedly getting caught on camera trying to take back a $100 chip from a losing hand. Oakley apologists, though, say it’s no more than an over-and-back violation.

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “The U.S. beat Belgium in the World Cup — of Quidditch. If ever there was a sport for the Washington Wizards.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter:  “Starting a Go Fund Me to buy CWS umpires a copy of the rule book.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Damn, England loses World Cup semi. Could the week get any worse. Oh, Trump is arriving tomorrow. Never mind.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson, again on Twitter: “If ESPN keeps showing Cornhole I may renounce my U.S. citizenship.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Sorry about that, World Cup fans, but soccer’s save of the year occurred in Thailand, not Russia.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Serena Williams is bad ass. That is all.”

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle on the Warriors signing DeMarcus Cousins: “It’s like you ask Santa for a bike and he brings you a Harley.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “The Tampa Bay Times printed a list of “investigations, suspensions and allegations” involving Jameis Winston — a total of nine. If stupid was ice, Winston would be Antarctica.”

Apocalypse, now

Jacksonville Jaguars’ running back Leonard Fournette has been asked to be released from his contractual obligations. Not from his real life gig with the Jags, but from his the EA Sports Madden 19 video version. It seems he has a higher opinion of himself than the game-makers, who only gave him an 87 rating.

Headlines

Fark.com: “With LeBron James signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, should Kobe Bryant un-retire and play along with him.”

TheOnion.com: “Serena Williams stripped of title after it is revealed she’s been playing with a racket in each hand this whole time.”

TheOnion.com:  “Qatar unveils indentured mascot for 2022 World Cup.”

Fark.com: “Minor league baseball team to hold  ‘Millennial Night’ with participation ribbons and avocado toast.”

TheOnion.com: “Wimbledon grounds crew frustrated after learning about cement courts.”

Fark.com: “Tampa Bay Rays unveil new stadium plans. Billionaire owner generously offer to chip in 15 percent of the $900 million projected cost. Whattaguy.”

Tag team me

David Arquette is an actor who once made a movie about wrestling, Ready to Rumble. That led to  brief role in WCW storylines, including a short reign as heavyweight champ.

Did I say short reign? He held the title all of 12 days.

Now Arguette is back in the ’rassling headlines with a wrassler RJ City attacking him on the red carpet on Thursday. The two just happen to be scheduled to wrestle this weekend.

“I don’t know how much wrestling is going to happen,” said Arquette. “It’s going to be more of a fight. We really don’t like each other.”

Reads like a wrestling script to me.

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