-- Phil Ploquin, July 18th, 2014 [ Comments ]
The captain of the German team that just won the World Cup has decided to retire from international play! It's hard for highly accomplished players to know when to let go from international duty, to make way for the next generation. Glory is addictive, and Philip Lahm
has been at the core of a German squad
that won the World Cup in 2014
, made it to the semi-finals in 2010
, reached the semi-finals of Euro 2012
and the final of Euro 2008
Lahm has logged more minutes played
for his country in competitive matches
than any other German player, by far - by over 1200 minutes! This includes the dirty work of the qualifiers, where he played every match from the Euro 2008 qualifying
campaign to the 2014 World Cup qualifiers
Recent history is filled with players who hung on too long, to disastrous effect. No one dares ask them to step down, they've earned the right to leave whenever they please. There was Fabio Cannavaro
, the captain of the Italy side
that won the 2006 World Cup
. He returned for the 2010 edition
- and he was clearly past his prime, the tournament was a disaster for the defending champions. There was also Lilian Thuram
eternal hero for getting France past Croatia
in the 1998
semi-finals. He wasn't up to it at Euro 2008
and asked to be benched for France's last game.
So Bravo Philip Lahm, and all the best and continued success with Bayern Munich
Cleveland has not had a championship team since the Indians won the World Series in 1948. If you rank all of the major metropolitan areas by number of seasons played by its major franchises divided by the number of championships won (in the modern era, since 1966), Cleveland is dead last with a score of infinity. -- Phil Ploquin, July 16th, 2014 [ Comments ]
Their Major League Baseball team, the Cleveland Indians, came very close in 1997 when they lost the World Series in 7 games to the upstart Florida Marlins (after being ahead in the 9th inning!), and before that in 1995 when they lost to the Atlanta Braves in 6 games. The Indians made the playoffs (if you consider the wild-card game as the playoffs) for only the second time in 14 years in 2013, and it's not looking good for 2014.
The Cleveland Browns have never been to the Super Bowl, the closest they've ever come is making it to the 1986-1987 and 1987-1988 AFC Conference championship games. In fact they've been so bad that they haven't reached the playoffs at all since the 2002-2003 season. They didn't even exist from 1996 to 1999 as the team moved to Baltimore at the end of the 1995-1996 season (where they became the very successful Ravens franchise), but were reincarnated for the 1999-2000 season. If you rank all the NFL franchises starting from the Super Bowl era - 1966 to 2013-2014 - the Browns are 22nd out of 32, they made the playoffs 31.11% of the time. However if you look at their performance since 1990 - they are dead last with a playoffs percentage of 9.52%.
The people of Cleveland will not find solace in Hockey as they do not have a NHL team, which leaves them with only the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers to root for. The Cavs were largely inept until Lebron James arrived, with only a short blip in the early 90's when they posed a legitimate challenge to Michael Jordan's dynastic Chicago Bulls, but that was followed by 8 years of despair. Then, the Lebron James led-Cavs made it to the NBA Finals in the 2006-2007 season (where they were unceremoniously crushed by the San Antonio Spurs), but after James left in 2011 they haven't come anywhere close to the playoffs.
But now, an experienced Lebron James is returning to Cleveland to lead a team of talented young players and they have a real shot to bring Cleveland a championship at last. Good luck, Cleveland!
Congratulations to Germany for winning the 2014 World Cup, their fourth World Championship! They did so with a positive attacking game and it was a pleasure to watch. The solidarity and joy in the group was impressive and they played team football, there was not one big star they all looked to to win each game. In that sense they were like Spain was in 2010. -- Phil Ploquin, July 13th, 2014 [ Comments ]
It would not have been unjust if Argentina had won the final with an action coming from someone other than Messi as well. Argentina were a fabulous team, well organized, and had a lot of big game experience.
But the result we all wanted was for Lionel Messi to win it for Argentina by himself on some amazing piece of skill so it was a little sad having to see him miss his big moment. It was there for the taking, but the lightning just didn't strike when it needed to, as it had so many times for him in his career at Barcelona. Had Lionel Messi scored the goal that Mario Götze scored it would have been regarded as one of the greatest goals ever scored, the goal that won the World Cup just minutes from the end, earning Argentina their third World Cup title. He would be Diego Maradona's equal, and his amazing goal against Germany would rival the second goal Maradona scored against England in the quarter-finals of the 1986 tournament. The technical ability required to pull it off is possessed only by a small handful of human beings (including Lionel Messi.)
Alas, it wasn't to be. Had he been more precise with his shot that went wide in the second half he might have been the hero. Instead it was a benign performance, an ordinary performance, nothing special. He did not rise to the occasion as Diego Maradona did in 1986. And ultimately, what you do at the World Cup is all that matters in the end. Nobody remembers the goals you score in La Liga or the Champions League.
Mario Götze joins the likes of Andrés Iniesta, Ronaldo (BRA), Zinédine Zidane, and Alcides Ghiggia in having the distinction of scoring the goal that wins a World Cup. It doesn't matter if he never does anything again for Bayern, it doesn't matter if he retires right now (though he's only 23 years old), he'll always be better than Messi according to the billions of people who watched his goal and who will never see Bayern play in the Champions League. I have a feeling Götze won't have as much trouble getting into Bayern's starting XI this season.
The good: Die nationalmannschaft, Les Bleus, CONCACAF, James Rodríguez.
The bad: England, Russia, AFC, Iker Casillas.
The ugly: La Seleção, Luis Suárez.