Tuesday, August 19, 2014

National Guard Deployed to St Louis Suburb After Week of Protests and Looting

After criticizing the presence of 'militarized' police in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, MO last week, Missouri governor Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard into the city to restore order on Sunday night.

The unrest started last weekend when a Ferguson police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager named Mike Brown. Although some witnesses gave conflicting accounts that claimed Brown was fleeing or surrendering when he was shot, the police claim that there was an altercation before the shooting where Brown tried to take the officer's service weapon.

After the shooting, a number of vigils and protests in Ferguson where demonstrators called for the officer to be charged with homicide took place [there are some unconfirmed reports out of St Louis that seem to corroborate the officer's version of events- NANESB!].

As tensions escalated between citizens and area law enforcement escalated- with looting and clashes with police in riot gear following the shooting- state and local officials decided to hand over authority to the Missouri Highway Patrol and Captain Ron Johnston. Johnson espoused a hands-off approach to de-escalate tensions, in some instances outsourcing public safety to domestic terror groups like the Black Panthers. However, the clashes and looting continued over the next several nights [further agitated by outside groups such as the Revolutionary Communist Party and New Black Panther Party- NANESB!].

Heading into the weekend, Gov Nixon ordered a midnight curfew for the city of Ferguson as the looting and clashes continued. However, looters ignored the curfew and raided a Dominoes Pizza, Family Dollar store, a self-storage unit and an auto parts store. Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson also released surveillance video purportedly showing Brown committing a strong-arm robbery of a nearby convenience store shortly before the shooting took place, despite pleas from the DOJ not to do so.

An autopsy was also conducted that determined Brown was shot six times- none of them in the back, contrary to early eyewitness accounts. US Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered a federal autopsy of Brown and ordered FBI agents to canvas the neighborhood to search for possible additional witnesses to the shooting.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Australia Scraps Carbon Tax

Australia, the twelfth largest economy in the world, has voted to repeal a costly and contentious carbon tax in a 39-32 vote in Australia's senate last month.

The former Labor government, while introducing a price on carbon, said the move would help slash emissions by 160 million metric tons by 2020. It offered voters billions of dollars in compensation through tax breaks and welfare payments for increased costs stemming from one of the most dramatic reforms ever attempted in the energy-reliant economy.

But after the global financial crisis took hold in 2008, followed by the end of a decadelong mining boom in 2012 that slowed growth and employment in the A$1.5 trillion (US$1.4 trillion) economy, Australian voters turned against climate laws—recognized by the International Energy Agency as model legislation for developed countries—blaming them for rising energy bills and living costs.

The World Bank in May produced a State and Trends of Carbon Pricing report counting carbon pricing programs in 40 nations and 20 regions worth a collective US$30 billion, while also singling out repeal plans in Australia as one of the biggest international threats to the rollout of similar programs elsewhere, given its example.

However, implementation of the carbon tax and other emissions laws proved costly for the then-incumbent Labour Party. Former prime-minister Kevin Rudd was unseated in an internal party challenge from Julia Gillard as his approval ratings plummeted due in part to proposed Resource Profits Super Tax which would've levied a tax of no less than 30% on mining companies should their annual profits pass an annual A$75 million threshold.

As leader of the opposition party, Tony Abbot warned the Australian federal government against spending millions of taxpayer dollars for an ad campaign in support of the Carbon Tax in 2011. During the 2013 elections, Abbot campaigned against Labour's carbon tax scheme, saying it increased energy costs and hurt small businesses.

According to 2011 figures from the US Energy Information Administration, Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal and 4th largest exporter of LNG. The demise of the Resource Profits Super Tax also is likely to increase investment and exploration in the Coober Pedy area of the Australian outback, which is believed to hold as much as 200 billion barrels worth of oil according to multiple reports from last year.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Todays' Train of Thought- Annoying Orange, August 1st, 2014

Today's Train of thought takes us to the Peach State and highlights what is sure to be a source of consternation for commuters in Georgia's second largest city and home to the US Army's Ft Benning.

The 26-mile Columbus and Chattahoochee is one of the newer railways in the Genesee & Wyoming family of shortlines and actually the second one to operating in the western Georgia city of Columbus. The line operates between Phenix City and Mahrt, AL was formed in 2012 but has trackage rights over a stretch of the former Central of Georgia line between Columbus, GA and Birmingham, AL to reach the Norfolk Southern yard in downtown Columbus.

To get the that NS yard, Columbus and Chattahoochee trains have to traverse the Chattahoochee River, which forms much of the boundary between Georgia and Alabama. Once across the river, trains for both the NS and Columbus & Chattahoochee have to traverse several blocks of street-running trackage on 9th street, sometimes snarling up traffic at rush hour in the heart of this city of more than 200,000.

Here, railpictures.net contributor Casey Thomason caught Columbus & Chattahoochee SD40-2 #3348 leading a consist on its way back to the NS yard after picking up loads from the paper mill in Mahrt, crossing the river and trundling down the middle of 9th street on September 7, 2012- just two months after the Columbus and Chattahoochee was formed.

According to the photographer, this was a relatively short train that only took up 2-3 blocks. Longer trains on the Norfolk Southern from Birmingham have to slow down for yard limits while westbound trains only gradually pick up speed, creating a rolling roadblock that leaves soldiers and civilians alike scrambling to fins an alternate route.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Trade Deadline Sports Chowdah Update- So Long Jon, Lester, Lackey Dealt at Trade Deadline; The Price is Right

RED SOX- Never mind remaining members of the 2004 or 2007 World Series team on the Boston Roster- after the July 31st trade deadline, the 2014 iteration of the Boston Red Sox is now quite unrecognizable from last season's World Series champions.

After getting out to a 4-0 start immediately after the All Star break- including a sweep of the resurgent Kansas City Royals- the Red Sox fleetingly looked like contenders in the AL East. However, after a convincing 14-1 win against the Toronto Blue Jays last week, the Red Sox lost eight of their last nine games- all of them within the AL East. On Saturday, the Red Sox traded starter Jon Lester to San Francisco for minor league pitchers Heath Hembree and Edwin Escobar. Following that, Boston sent Felix Doubront to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later.

But the Peavy and Doubront transactions were mere appetizers to the main course for Thursday. The first big deal of the MLB non-waiver trade deadline had the Red Sox dealing ace pitcher Jon Lester and OF Jonny Gomes to the Oakland A's for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes [.256, 17 HR and 67 RBI] and Oakland's competitive balance pick in the 2015 MLB draft. The trade sends Boston's homegrown ace to Oakland as what is essentially a rental for the AL West leader's pennant run and raises questions to where Lester will end up at the end of the season when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Currently, the A's [who have a number of former Red Sox players and prospects on their roster before this transaction even took place- NANESB!] lead the AL West over the Angels by two games and have the best record in the big leagues at 66-41. Earlier in the week, there were reports that the Mariners, Pirates, Orioles and Cardinals were in talks with Boston to acquire Lester, all of them given even more credence when Lester was scratched from Wednesday night's game against the Blue Jays and Brandon Workman made the start in his place.

However, the wheeling and dealing by Cherrington wasn't done yet. After the Lester deal was announced, starter John Lackey and minor league pitcher Corey Littrell were sent to the St Louis Cardinals- their opponent in the 2004 and 2013 World Series- for right-handed starter Joe Kelly [2-2; 4.37 ERA] and outfielder Allen Craig [.237, 7 HR and 44 RBI].

Following that up, the Red Sox sent relief pitcher Andrew Miller to Baltimore in return for minor league pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez and SS Stephen Drew was sent to the Yankees in return for infielder Kelly Johnson, who is currently on the DL but is expected to play at 3rd while Bogaerts may end up moving back to shortstop.

The Miller and Drew transactions surprised me not so much that they departed, but that Cherrington was willing to trade within the division- although Johnson represents a slight upgrade offensively from Drew. With Jeter playing the rest of the season (his final season, no less) at shortstop for the Yankees, Drew is expected to play second after the Yankees after the Bronx Bombers designated 2B Brian Roberts for assignment.

Interestingly, Drew won't even have to leave Boston right away- just use the visitor's clubhouse at Fenway for this weekend's upcoming series between the Yankees and Red Sox. Game 1 gets underway on Friday night and will have former Red Sox reliever Chris Capuano [1-1; 4.30 ERA] going up against PawSox callup Anthony Ranaudo, who is making his MLB debut for Boston. Ranaudo has spent the entire 2014 season in Pawtucket and has a 12-4 record and 2.41 ERA with the PawSox. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 ET and the game will be televised on NESN as well as the MLB network in some markets.

ELSEWHERE IN MLB- Not to be outdone by the A's acquisition of Jon Lester, the Detroit Tigers acquired Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price in a 3-way deal that was announced with less than 40 minutes to go before the trade deadline.

In return for getting David Price, the Tigers sent OF Austin Jackson to Seattle and left handed pitcher Drew Smyly and minor league infielder Willy Adames to Tampa Bay. Seattle sends 2B Nick Franklin to Tampa to complete the deal.

The acquisition of Price gives Detroit no fewer than three Cy Young winners in their starting rotation with Price, Verlander and Max Scherzer. Since Price isn't a free agent until after the 2015 season, this also gives Detroit some flexibility with Scherzer, who becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Air Algerie Flight Crashes in Mali, All 118 Aboard Killed.

An Algerian airliner flying between Burkina Faso and Algeria crashed over a remote stretch of the Sahara desert on Thursday, killing all 118 on board.

At least 54 of those passengers were from France. French President Francois Hollande declared three days of mourning as soldiers from Mali and the UN have been combing the wreckage for human remains. However, conditions on the ground- even under the best of circumstance- are pretty grim. The nearest town from the crash site is Gao, which has been fought over by the Malian government, Tuareg rebels, Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists and the French Foreign Legion over the last 24 months. Both the remote location of the crash site and the fact that the nearest population center is in an unstable war zone have slowed down transportation and communications considerably.

Two flight data recorders have been recovered from the crash site and flown back to France for further examination by that country's Bureau of Investigations and Analysis- the agency responsible for investigating major air accidents.

With Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 being shot down by a surface to air missile the week before, the downing of Air Algerie Flight 5017 led to concerns that terrorism could've played a role in the downing of the aircraft. However, Algeria has ruled out terrorism in the crash and AFP has reported that the pilots had asked to turn back shortly before the crash.

The Aircraft- a McDonnel-Douglas MD80- actually belonged to Spain's Swiftair and was leased to Air Algiere earlier this year.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

DOJ to Investigate Nebraska 4th of July Parade Float Mocking President Obama

Glad to see all the other pressing issues addressing the United States have been sufficiently resolved by the Department of Justice.

A 4th of July parade float featuring a dummy and an outhouse marked Obama Presidential Library in the town of Norfolk, NE was enough to involve the DOJ's Community Service Relations team after some residents and Cornhusker state political operatives complained that the display was racist.

The department sent a member of its Community Relations Service team, which gets involved in discrimination disputes, to a Thursday meeting about the issue. Also at the meeting were the NAACP, the Norfolk mayor and The Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

The Odd Fellows organized the parade. One of the floats included a zombie-like mannequin standing near an outhouse labeled “Obama Presidential Library.”

The float’s creator, Dale Remmich, has said the mannequin depicted himself, not President Barack Obama. He said he is upset with the president’s handling of the Veterans Affairs Department.

The man behind the float is rural Madison county, NE resident Dale Remmich, said that the zombie-like mannequin on the float is actually supposed to represent himself. Remmich used his own bib overalls and a walker and the mannequin is posed in a manner similar to Edvard Munch's The Scream. As a veteran, Remmich said he's been frustrated by the VA scandal and the lack of response from the White House since the story seemed to fall off of the headlines. The float has been described by the local chapter of the Oddfellows as a 'political cartoon on wheels' in the parade entry form.

The reaction of the Nebraska Democrat Party and an increasingly politicized DOJ serve to reinforce that Dale Remmich may very well be this year's edition of Tuffy Gessling, a clown at the Missouri State Fair rodeo who donned an Obama mask while performing his antics last year. Moreover, it presents an opportunity for north-eastern elitist an opportunity to wag their fingers and lament the backwards souls residing in America's heartland who just don't appreciate the genius and superior intellect of their 'betters' on the coasts.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quickie Sports Chowdah Update- Sox Sweep Into Second Half With Strong Homestand Against Kansas City; C-See-Ya Sabathia, Yankees Starter to Have Season Ending Surgery

RED SOX- I'm not going to come right out and say that AJ Pierzynski was part of the problem, but Boston's record since cutting the veteran catcher should speak for itself [although with the All-Star Break, it's a relatively small sample size- NANESB!].

The series against Kansas City got off to a promising start with a come-from-behind 5-4 win against the Royals at Fenway Park on Friday night. On Saturday, the Red Sox once again trailed early but were able to tie the game at 1-1 before Mike Napoli's solo homer in the bottom of the 6th put the Red Sox up for good, as it turned out.

Heading into Sunday's game against the Royals, the Red Sox had managed to go 6-1 with a team .292 batting average (.290 with runners in scoring position) and a combined ERA of 2.57 in their last 7 games [granted some of this was padded by the 11-0 romp in Houston immediately before the All Star break- NANESB!]. In just four games with the Red Sox, C Christian Vasquez- who is splitting time at backstop with David Ross- has a .385 batting average with 5 RBI.

On Sunday, the Red Sox got out to an early lead after back to back singles by Brock Holt and Daniel Nava off Kansas City starter Yordano Ventura opened up the bottom of the first. Holt, who moved to 3rd on Nava's single, came home after Pedroia grounded into a fielder's choice to give Boston a quick 1-0 lead.

Jon Lester, who had struggled a little bit in the first after hitting Eric Hosmer with a pitch in the top of the first, had settled down and was cruising along nicely through the Royals lineup.

In the bottom of the 3rd, David Ross led off the inning with a walk and Jackie Bradley Jr followed that up with a single. JBJ and Ross advanced to 2nd and 3rd respectively on Borck Holt's groundout, and with two runners in scoring position, Daniel Nava belted a ground-rule double to right field to make it a 3-0 Red Sox lead. Ventura then walked Pedroia, but got David Ortiz to ground out and Mike Carp to fly out to shallow center to get out of the inning.

Shane Victorino, who returned to the Red Sox lineup on Saturday, led off the bottom of the 4th with a double to left field. Although Ventura got Stephen Drew on a fly ball to center field for the first out of the inning, David Ross took a 1-1 offering from Ventura and put it into the Monster seats for a 2-run homer, making it a 5-0 game. This was followed up by back to back singles from JBJ and Brock Holt, with Bradley moving to 3rd on Holt's hit and then coming home on Daniel Nava's sac fly to deep center, making it a 6-0 game.

Meanwhile, Lester would throw 8 complete innings of shutout baseball giving up just four hits and two walks while striking out eight batters. Tazawa and Mujica would come out of the pen to close out the game. The Red Sox win by a 6-0 final and compete a sweep of the Kansas City Royals to start off the second half of the season.

Up next is a big 4-game series against the Blue Jays north of the border at the Rogers Centre. John Lackey [10-6; 3.79 ERA] is scheduled to start on Monday night against the Jays' Drew Hutchinson [6-8; 4.16 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 ET and the game will be televised on NESN. Toronto just wrapped up a homestand where they took two out of three from the struggling Texas Rangers to start off their second half of the season.

ELSEWHERE IN THE AL EAST- New York Yankees starter CC Sabathia is expected to undergo season-ending surgery on his right knee this week. So far this season, Sabathia has gone 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA for New York. Earlier this month, Sabathia had a setback while in the minors on a rehab assignement after going on the Yankee's DL.

Yankee's general manager Brian Cashman seemed optimistic that Sabathia could be back with the Yankees by Spring Training in 2015.

ELSEWHERE IN MLB- The Angels have acquired closer Houston Street from the San Diego Padres for a number of prospects on Friday. Street saved 24 games in 33 appearances for the 3rd place Padres this season with a 1.09 ERA. In exchange for Street, San Diego gets prospects in the form of 2B Taylor Lindsey, pitchers Elliot Morris and Roy Alvarez and SS Jose Rondon.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Today's Train of Thought- MRS Dash, July 20, 2014

Today's Train of Thought takes us to Brazil one more time [at least until the 2016 Summer Olympics- NANESB!] and features a scene that's reminiscent of a gritty, larger-than-life Lionel trainset- only instead of running under a Christmas tree, this scene takes place in one of Brazil's highest cities.

One of the other major private companies to form after Brazil privatized their rail network is the 1000 mile MRS Logistica [in which VALE mining owns 40%- NANESB!]. While not as big as the other privatized systems in Brazil, MRS links the key population centers, ports and transportations hubs such as Rio de Janerio, Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo.

Shortly after its 1997 formation, MRS inherited a number of diesels from the state run RFFSA including SD18s and SD38Ms, some of which were built under license by Spain's MACOSA in the late 1960s. A number of these units still soldier on in yard or Maintenance of way service for MRS.

Here, railpictures.net contributor Michael R Silva caught the engineer for light power led by MRS Logistica C36-7M #3860-4 leaning over the talk with a crew member on board SD38M #5111-2 on the point of a passing freight train through Barbacena, Minas Gerias.

Besides being situated on the Rio to Brasilia BR-040 highway, Barbacena was once the junction of the narrow gauge Estrada de Ferro Oeste de Minas line and standard gauge lines. The burly six-axle GE began life in 1979 as Santa Fe #8078 while the 5111 was constructed in 1967.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Malaysian Airliner Shot Down Over Eastern Ukraine

At least 298 people are dead after a surface to air missile brought down a Kuala Lumpur-bound Malaysian Airlines flight over Eastern Ukraine on Thursday. The flight- Malaysia Airlines Flight 17- had originated in Amsterdam and was flying more than 32,000 feet over the strife-torn Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

In recent weeks, that part of the Ukraine has seen fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatist militias that are essentially Kremlin proxies along Ukraine's border with Russia. Earlier in the week, separatists boasted that they had shot down a Ukrainian military An-26 transport plane over the eastern city of Lugansk.

After the Ukrainian 'Maidan' uprising ousted Kremlin allied president Viktor Yanukovych earlier this year, Russia responded by annexing the strategically important Crimea peninsula- part of the Ukraine, but home to a number of strategic Russian naval facilities. After a hastily put together 'referendum' in which Moscow claimed the populace of the Crimea wanted to become part of Russia, masked fighters claiming to be pro-Russian separatists began seizing public buildings in key cities in the eastern Ukraine. However, it's widely believed these 'separatists' are acting on direct orders from the Kremlin. In May, shortly after candy tycoon Petro Poroshenko won a special election called after Yanukovych fled the country, the Ukrainian military launched a series of counterattacks culminating in a raid on Donetsk's international airport in late May that killed dozens of pro-Russian separatists who were using the buildings as headquarters.

The 'rebels' retaliated by shooting down Ukrainian military aircraft over eastern Ukraine- the deadliest of which was when a Ukrainian Defense Ministry Il-76 transport was shot down while on approach over the eastern city of Lugansk on June 14th, killing all 49 on board. Just days prior to the downing of Flight MH17, two Ukrainian military aircraft were shot down over the restive eastern part of the country.

An hour before news broke of Flight MH17 going down, pro Russian separatist leader Igor Strelkov boasted of shooting down an aircraft on Russian social media site Vkontakte [similar to Facebook- NANESB!] complete with the ominous line 'We warned them not to fly in our skies'. Although it was quickly deleted after news of MH17 being shot down broke internationally, several online observers were able to obtain screencaps of the damning message. In addition to the Russian government caught editing the Wikipedia entry on Flight MH17 on Friday, Ukraine's SBU intelligence agency released what they claim is a telephone conversation between separatist commanders and Russian officers, with the separatists notifying them they had just shot down a civilian airliner.
It appears to capture the chaotic moments after the plane was shot down — and the realization that it was a passenger plane rather than a Ukrainian transport plane, which had been targeted in recent days by the Russia-backed separatists.

"We have just shot down a plane," says a man the SBU identified as Igor Bezler, a Russian military intelligence officer and leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

That call came just 20 minutes after the crash and was placed to a person identified by Ukraine’s SBU as a colonel in the main intelligence department of the general headquarters of the armed forces of the Russian Federation Vasili Geranin, according to Ukraine security officials.

But in a second tape released by the agency, two men identified as "The Greek" and "Major" discuss the debris field and the fact the the plane was a civilian aircraft.

“It’s 100 percent a passenger [civilian] aircraft,” Major is recorded as saying, as he admitted to seeing no weapons on site. “Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.”

The Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down by what U.S. intelligence sources confirm was a surface-to-air missile near the village of Chornukhine, Luhansk Oblast, some 30 miles inside the the border with Russia.

The second conversation, if verified as authentic, could dispel Russian separatist claims that it was the Ukrainian military that shot the plane down. According to the transpcript:

Major: "These are Chernukhin folks who shot down the plane. From the Chernukhin check point. Those cossacks who are based in Chernukhino."

Grek: "Yes, Major."

Major: "The plane fell apart in the air. In the area of Petropavlovskaya mine. The first '200' [code word for dead person]. We have found the first '200.' A Civilian."

Greek: "Well, what do you have there?"

Major: "In short, it was 100 percent a passenger [civilian] aircraft."

Greek: "Are many people there?"

Major: "Holy [expletive]! The debris fell right into the yards [of homes]."

In a third intercepted conversation released by the SBU — which the agency says took place about 40 minutes after insurgents seemed to realize they had shot down a civilian plane — Cossack commander Nikolay Kozitsin tells an unidentified separatist that the fact the Malaysia Airlines plane was flying over the combat zone likely meant it was carrying spies.

"That means they were carrying spies," Kozitsin allegedly says. "They shouldn’t be [expletive] flying. There is a war going on."

At this point, the most likely scenario is that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by pro-Russian separatists who misidentified the aircraft as a Ukrainian ministry of Defense transport plane and opened fire with a surface to air missile system known as the 'Buk' SA-11 or an updated variant. The 'Buk' is a complex, crew serviced weapons platform that is mounted on a tracked or wheeled vehicle. Both Russia and the Ukraine militaries have the SA-11 Buk in their inventory, but pro-Russian separatists from the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic boasted of seizing heavy weapons- including an SA-11 launcher- from a Ukrainian air defense facility in late June. On Friday, the Ukrainian government released a brief video of a Buk missile system with at least one missile missing on a flatbed trailer purportedly heading towards Russian territory. For its part, Russia has lobbed accusations that Kiev downed the airliner [a civilian aircraft that was within moments of leaving it's airspace at an altitude of 32,000 feet, no less- NANESB], prompting one English-language RT correspondent to abruptly resign.

Further complicating matters is the fact that the flight data recorder for MH17 is almost certainly in territory controlled by the pro-Russian Donetsk militia. Should it be recovered and sent to Moscow, international aviation experts claim it will most likely be doctored and anything that incriminates Russia or their proxies in Donetsk will be removed. There is also the likelihood that MH17's descent was so abrupt and catastrophic that they black box flight recorders may yield little in the way of data. Even so, heavily armed militiamen had prevented international observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe from examining the crash scene on Friday. 193 of Flight MH17's passengers were Dutch- including an American who held dual citizenship with Holland and 22 schoolchildren from the town of Roosendaal, and amid reports of militiamen compromising the crash site, pickpocketing the scattered bodies and dumping dozens of bodies from the crash site by the side of a road, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said Putin has one 'last chance' to show he's serious about helping recover the bodies and personal effects

Despite the ongoing conflict on the ground, the skies above the eastern Ukraine weren't off-limits to commercial airliners. According to online aviation tracking website FlightAware.com, other commercial carriers such as Lufthansa and Air India were routinely flying through eastern Ukraine airspace prior to the downing of Flight MH17.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Don't Cry For Me Argentina Sports Chowdah Update- Germany Bests Gauchos For 4th World Cup Title; Jeter Take A Bow, Yankees Shortstop Goes 2-2 In Final All-Star Appearence.

WORLD CUP- Seems as though this year's FIFA tournament flew right by....not that I'm a huge fan of 'the beautiful game', but that's not to say attractive, scantily clad women with little more than paint representing the colors on the flag of their homeland on their bodies are without merit.

After humiliating host nation Brazil in the semifinals, Germany advanced to face Argentina in the final game of the 2014 World Cup final. Unlike the contest against Brazil, this was a low-scoring affair that went to a scoreless tie after 90 minutes and sending the game into extra time.

However, the only goal of the game would come in the 113th minute as Mario Goetze got one past Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero to give Germany a 1-0 lead- a lead Germany wouldn't relinquish in the remaining time.

The win gives the Germans their first World Cup title in nearly 24 years and their fourth since 1954. To put it in some historic perspective, the last time Germany won the FIFA World Cup, they were listed as 'West Germany'. This is also the 3rd straight World Cup title for a European team with Spain winning it in 2010 and Italy winning the 2006 World Cup.

Interestingly, there was an odd dynamic in play prior to the final where the Brazilian hosts were rooting for the Germans, despite the hugely lopsided 7-1 win over Brazil in the semifinals. While the Germans were most inhospitable on the pitch, the fans and players were reportedly courteous and gracious guests while in Brazil- German midfielder Mesut Ozil used his World Cup earnings to pay for 23 Brazilian children to undergo surgery. On the other hand, Argentina and Brazil are archrivals and Argentine fans reportedly did not miss an opportunity to taunt their Brazilian hosts with chants of "Brazil- how does it feel now that daddy's home?" and boasting that they would take the World Cup back home with them. That turned out not to be the case, although it ended up being a much closer game than the semifinals.

As for the host nation, they managed to get shut out by the Dutch by a 3-0 final during the consolation game. Over the final two games of the tournament, Brazil was outscored by a combined 10-1 and the loss against Germany in the semifinal was the worst since 1920 when they were shut out by Uruguay by a 6-0 final.

MLB ALL STAR GAME- In a mid-summer classic that was light on Red Sox, Derek Jeter and Mike Trout were the ones in the limelight in the Twin Cities as the American League managed to best the National League by a 5-3 final on Tuesday.

Adam Wainwright started out for the National League and promptly gave up a leadoff double to Derek Jeter before Mike Trout belted a triple to bring the Yankees SS home and put the AL up 1-0. After Wainwright got Cano to strike out, he surrendered a homer to Miguel Cabrera to put the AL up 3-0 before getting Nelson Cruz and Jose Bautista out.

However, Jon Lester would come on in the top of the 2nd and after getting Giancarlo Stanton to pop out, he allowed a single to Aramis Ramirez before Chase Utley and Jonathan Lucroy belted back-to-back RBI doubles to make it a 3-2 game. However, Lester was able to escape any further damage by getting Carlos Gomez to pop up in foul territory and getting Andrew McCutchen to fly out to center field.

In the top of the 4th, Chris Sale would come on in relief of Yu Darvish and after getting the first two outs would end up hitting Chase Utley with a pitch before giving up a deep RBI double to LuCroy to tie the contest up at 3-3.

The score remained that way until the 5th when Trout hit a 1-out RBI double with runners on first and second before Jose Altuve hit a sac fly to make it a 5-1 game.

The AL bullpen, which included Koji Uehara, made sure that lead held up as Twins closer Glen Perkins came in and got the last three batters he faced out in the 9th inning.

The American League goes on to win by a 5-3 final, ensuring that whoever wins the AL pennant later on this year will start out with home field advantage in the World Series. In his final All-Star appearance, Derek Jeter went 2-2 and scored a run while Mike Trout went 2-3 with 2 RBI and was named the All Star Game's MVP while Max Scherzer was named the winning pitcher. For the National League, Jonathan LuCroy went 2-2 with 2 RBI.

BOSTON RED SOX- After splitting a 4-game series with the White Sox at Fenway last week, the Red Sox travelled to Houston where they managed to take two out of three from the Astros- including an 11-0 shutout of Houston on the final game before the All Star Break.

Clay Buchholz [4-5; 4.52 ERA] got the start on Sunday's romp in Houston and boasted 12 Ks in a complete game effort that saw him allow only 3 hits. He will get the start again when the Red Sox return to Fenway on Friday night to take on the Kansas City Royals to kick off the second half of the season, who are currently sitting at second place in the AL Central. James Shields [9-5; 3.65 ERA] is expected to start for Kansas City and the game will be televised on NESN with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 ET.