Yesterday, for about 70 minutes, soccer got into the front seat of American sports. It was sitting there with baseball, football, and basketball. Most of a nation had tuned in, including those that were soccer ambivalent up until recently.
Unfortunately for soccer, it all fell apart and the United States lost.
When Brazil scored their third goal, the sound you heard was soccer returning to the back seat with our other fringe sports. That is nothing against soccer, but more against how Americans look at their sports.
The United States team had a chance to make a huge dent with a win, and it looked like they were on their way.
The problem is, even the casual soccer fan could tell we were getting dominated for the majority of that game. Borderline fans knew that Brazil was obviously better coached, knew how to attack the weaknesses of the U.S. game, and used their experience to their advantage.
The pace of the game, the manner of offense, and the control demonstrated showed America that our soccer still has a long way to go.
Certainly, the team should be proud of what they accomplished. The issue is, they needed just a bit more to truly make some amazing inroads in the sports scene. Next year, they have another shot. They gained some great experience, and can put it to good use.
Hopefully, the country has not turned away for good.
On to the notes.
- The Indians trade of Mark DeRosa to St. Louis is a good thing for DeRosa owners. While the Cardinals have said he will not have a regular position, they did admit he will be in the lineup everyday. He likely spends most of his time rotating between second and third, but DeRosa could see some limited time in the outfield as well. He is better off in the St. Louis lineup, and is already familiar with NL Central pitching. There should be no adjustment period there.
- Reading that Mike Jacobs is messing around with his stance should send his limited ownership into a tailspin. Jacobs is in one of the worst slumps of his career, and his value is strictly in his ability to produce in power categories. Where he is tinkering with a stance in the middle of the season, those numbers are likely to take at least an initial dip. There are better options available on waivers when looking at what he is providing in his current at-bats.
- Tommy Hanson showed much better control against Boston. Hanson did not allow a run for his third straight start, and in this one only walked two hitters. While the Red Sox were slightly impatient with the Braves starter, Hanson's fastball location was impressive and his off-speed pitches were more effective. He was fun to watch pitch, and is definitely the real deal.
- Mike Lowellwill receive an injection in his hip today to help lubricate the joint. The shot will have him sidelined for 24 hours until it takes effect, but could put him on the DL. Lowell has been hampered by the injury for about a week, and it has caused the Red Sox to use David Ortiz at first base in the National League parks. If Lowell does hit the DL, Mark Kotsay would likely see increased time at first. The team could also give a short look at highly-touted Lars Anderson.
- The Mariners will lose Adrian Beltre to shoulder surgery. Beltre will miss six to eight weeks as he has bone spurs removed from the shoulder. He has been playing in pain for a while, and still managed to get through the weekend series against the Dodgers. The injury impacts his non-throwing shoulder.
- Roy Halladay will get the ball for the Blue Jays today against the Rays. Halladay is slated to come off the DL and start the game after missing time with a strained right groin. This is a pitcher that there should be no concerns regarding starting after an injury like that. Get him right back in the lineup.
- It is hard to be sold on the performances of Chad Gaudin, especially given the track record. Yes, he has had three solid outings in a row, working 21 innings and allowing just five runs. Still, the Padres have better options in their own rotation. If you are looking to buy a Padres starter, go with Kevin Correia as opposed to Gaudin.
- Chien-Ming Wanglooked much better against the Mets, but the Mets seem to be what cures most pitching lately. Wang worked into the sixth for the first time all season, and gave up just two earned runs. He did walk three, but he forced 12 groundball outs. Some of the pitches that were hit were certainly left up in the zone, but this was a more effective pitcher than we have seen at any other point this season.
- Josh Hamilton continues to work his way back from abdominal surgery. Hamilton will DH in AA ball tonight for Frisco, and if things go well will join AAA later this week. To this point, the outfielder has experienced no setbacks in his rehab work. Look for Hamilton right around the All-Star break.
- Adam Jones and Aubrey Huff have both hit Jon Lester well. Jones is 5-for-12 against the lefty while Huff has gone 8-for-22. Luke Scott has struggled at 0-for-8, and Nick Markakis has not had solid numbers either. Lester has thrown a lot of pitches over his last two outings, but has been effective in terms of numbers over his last five. The pitch count likely does not catch up with him against Baltimore, but could going forward.
- Look to use Jhonny Peralta against Gavin Floyd today. Peralta has put up two home runs and a .429 average in 14 at-bats. Keep your regular Indians active otherwise, as most have shown decent stats against the White Sox starter. Floyd pitched well against the Cubs on the road last time out, but has struggled away from home in general. He has given up at least three earned in four of his last five road outings.
- B.J. Upton has been swinging a hot bat all of June, and he is a .304 hitter against Halladay. Look to Upton in this one, and ignore the full season numbers. This is a game of what have you done for me lately. Carl Crawford is near .300 as well, but no other Rays hitter has stellar or sub-par numbers against Halladay. Use as you normally would, in this case.
- Nick Blackburn is about the only Twins starter to like regularly on the road. Blackburn has a 3.45 ERA and a 3-3 record on the road. For June, he is 1-1 in four starts, but has an ERA sitting at 2.25. Righties have struggled against him, hitting just .221. The Royals have not seen Blackburn much, and are struggling enough that he should be a solid option in deeper leagues.
- It is something about the Dodgers uniform for Ubaldo Jimenez. He has lost against them at home and on the road, struggling all season against them. Jimenez is 0-3 with a 10.20 ERA in his three starts against Los Angeles. He is pitching incredibly well this month, but this does not work out to be a solid matchup for him. Sit him if you can. The only Dodgers regular that struggles against Jimenez is James Loney, who has hit .261 in 23 at-bats. Not exactly poor numbers.
- The Cubs have registered 202 at-bats against Zach Duke, and they have pounded him. The team has hit .347 against Duke, with most regulars well over .300. Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot, and Reed Johnson are good plays. Geovany Soto has gone 3-for-15, but even he is hitting the ball too well to sit at this point. Avoid Duke here.
- Ricky Nolasco has been solid since in his last four outings, and the righty has helped make owners forget why they dropped him back in May. The Nationals are simply bad, and with Ryan Zimmerman having gone just 4-for-19 and Adam Dunn just 2-for-12, Nolasco has a solid chance at being effective in this outing as well. Nick Johnson and Austin Kearns have not hit well against Nolasco either, combing to hit just 6-for-28.
- Most Padres have hit Roy Oswalt well in the past. There should be no issues with starting the regulars in this one. Look to avoid Scott Hairston, who is only 1-for-13. Trust Kevin Kouzmanoff's recent tear more than the 1-for-10 string he has going against the Astros starter.
- The Angels just rake against Vicente Padilla. Starting any and all comers against him is largely a good idea. The red flag? Torii Hunter is 3-for-16. You likely do not have better options, but just be aware that he has not hit the Rangers starter very well. Mike Napoli is 3-for-18, and is the only other issue that could be found in the lineup.
- Spot Starts: Blackburn, Nolasco, and Randy Wolf
- Joe Saunders is 0-4 with a double-digit ERA in his last four starts at Rangers Ballpark. The Angels starter has had a lot of trouble with Texas on the road, and you should look to avoid using him in this one because of these recent numbers. Texas has hit close to .320 against him in their home ballpark. Nothing adds up for Saunders in this one.
- Paul Konerko and Scott Podsednik are necessities in your lineup against Cliff Lee. Konerko is 16-for-45 with five home runs against the Cleveland starter. Podsednik has hit .348 in 23 at-bats against Lee. Lee has pitched very well over most of the season, and has a 2.21 ERA at home. He just has simply received no run support. Without DeRosa, that is not going to get much better.
- There is no happier person to see the end of interleague play than Derek Lowe. Lowe was roughed up by the AL East, but now gets a more comfortable opponent in the Phillies. Jimmy Rollins will be back in the lineup, and he has hit .304 in 23 at-bats against Lowe. Ryan Howard is just 2-for-19 and Pedro Feliz is only 5-for-26 against Lowe.
- If a team is going to get to Ted Lilly it will happen on the road. Lilly is 3-4 with a 4.96 ERA in eight road starts this season. Adam LaRoche is 5-for-12 against the Cubs starter, but no other Pirate is going to pose an initial credible threat against Lilly. While the numbers are tough, there just is not enough offense in Pittsburgh to make his start a concern.
- Johan Santana is always a start, but it is not always that his opposition needs to be benched. In this case, though, the Brewers cannot hit the Mets starter. The 3-for-9's of Prince Fielder and Corey Hart as well as the 4-for-9 of Ryan Braun should keep them in your lineup. Do not reach beyond these three for help on offense.
- Spot Starts: Scott Feldman (Joe Saunders Corollary, deep leagues only), Ross Ohlendorf, Jordan Zimmermann