"Anxiety" refers to the Mets' fourth straight loss last night, and the fact that they're now tied with the Phillies for the National League East lead, with both teams (and the Rockies) a game behind the Padres for the wild card spot. Theoretically speaking, with three games against the Marlins this weekend, we should be able to get enough production to get either available playoff spot. I'm not concerned with what the record down the stretch will mean for the playoffs - all I'm thinking about is simply getting into the playoffs. It's really amazing that with three days left in the regular season, no National League team has clinched a playoff berth, and seven teams are still vying for the four spots.
The "shock" arises over the United States' women's soccer team, which lost 4-0 to Brazil yesterday morning in a Women's World Cup semifinal in China. I watched this match in its entirety on DVR this morning, and before I address the myriad of stories about the USA squad, I've got to congratulate Brazil on a game well played. They kept the pressure on throughout the game, and delivered an outstanding performance to go through to the final. The last goal by Marta was particularly stunning. Of course, the win was probably a lot easier for the Brazilians than it should have been, as the US played the second half with ten women, as Shannon Boxx was sent off with a second yellow card in first half extra time. If you look at the video of the "foul" that brought out the red card, then you'll understand why Nicole Petignat is to international women's soccer as Don Denkinger is to Major League Baseball. That may well have been the worst call I've ever seen in any sport, given the game situation and the ramifications of the decision. That having been said, all the talk surrounding this game is about the sudden switch of goalkeepers by the United States. Hope Solo hadn't given up a goal in over 300 minutes during this tournament, while veteran Briana Scurry hadn't played a full game in three months. But coach Greg Ryan justified playing Scurry on Thursday based on her 12-0 record against Brazil (Solo had never faced them). The move blew up in his face, giving Ryan his first loss as head coach and the team its first loss in nearly three years. Solo was not happy about being benched; she wasn't happy about the result; and she made her feelings known to the international media after the game. When I first heard her comments, I interpreted them as directed solely at Coach Ryan over his decision. However, many in the American media saw her words as an attack on Scurry and her play. Solo clarified her statement today, saying she did not intend to criticize Scurry, who has led the US to a World Cup and two Olympic gold medals. I can completely understand her frustration - the lady was benched after carrying her team to the last four of the biggest tournament in the world, and she could only sit on the bench and cringe as matters on the pitch progressed from bad to worse to downright ugly. It's really all irrelevant now, anyway; what's done is done, what's said is said, and the American women and their coach must refocus on beating Norway and claiming third place.
I was fortunate to get today off as compensation for having to come in tomorrow. Tonight I'm going to see The Kingdom...from the previews, it looks like it should be well worth the money.