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"U-S-A! U-S-A!": Americans beat Brazil on PKs in Women's World Cup; plus D-Wade plays Europe card, LeBron's decision 1 year later (with poll), O.J. 'n Casey, ranking 3,000-hit men & more

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USA BEATS BRAZIL IN WORLD CUP QUARTERFINALS: Do you believe in miracles? USA beats Brazil 5-3 in penalty kicks after tying match in final minute of overtime -- the latest goal scored in men's or women's World Cup history. ..... USA ties it miraculously 2-2 in final minute of overtime on Abby Wambach header. Justice is served. ..... Brazil ties it 1-1 controversially, on penalty kick call on foul in the box against Marta. Hope Solo stops penalty kick but it is rule she moved, so kick is retaken and made. Awful call in that situation. So now USA is tied and a player down. ..... Americans lead 1-0 at the half after an own-goal against Brazil in the 2nd minute. Anxious lead, though. Very. Brazil has dominated possession of the ball and has the better chances on goal. U.S. will have to be better in the second half. It is with unabashed jingoism and patriotism that I hope the Americans kick some Brazilian a-- in Germany. Looks to be an even game. The winner will face France in the semis and should be considered the favorite to win it all, after the upset elimination of two-time defending champion and host nation Germany. 

DWYANE WADE PLAYS THE EUROPE CARD: This NBA lockout is going to get ugly and will be protracted, and the players association is using Europe as leverage. Already, the Nets' Deron Williams has an agreement with a Turkish team to play there if the lockout eats into next season. Now, today, the Heat's Dwyane Wade told The Associated Press in Chicago, "If there's an opportunity there, I'd consider it." Oy! At this point, I'd consider Wade's mildest-of-threats to be a bunch of Instan-bull, just early NBAPA-sanctioned posturing. But this is smart strategy by the players. We'll see where it leads.

LEBRON: ONE YEAR LATER: It was one year ago tonight, in that infamous "The Decision" show on ESPN, 1aa1lebronjames when Jim Gray ran out of stall questions about the weather, finally asked the only question worth asking, and heard LeBron James say he was taking his talents to South Beach. What followed was an eruption of cartoonish outrage in Cleveland, negative backlash across much of the rest of the basketball nation, and ultimately a successful season for both James and the Heat. But successful enough? The Heat lost in the NBA Finals to Dallas, and James' statistical dropoff in the Finals -- especially in the fourth quarters -- ended his year on a sour note. To his critics it was an indication James lacks the heart or fortitude of a champion. To me it was nothing of the sort, but was a performance that increased the onus on him to get that elusive first ring. The question: One year later, how thrilled should Miami be to have LeBron James?       

1aa1happycouple WEDDING OF THE CENTURY!: You can imagine how thrilled I am to bring you this blog exclusive and announce the planned wedding of accused/acquitted double-murderer O.J. Simpson and accused/acquitted child-murderer Casey Anthony. I hear they plan to marry in Dismember I mean December. God bless Photoshop, and God bless the United States of America.

RANKING THE 3,000-HIT CLUB MEMBERS: With Derek Jeter the newest member of the 28-man 3,000-hit club, we rank them first to last based on overall careers: 1. Hank Aaron, 2. Willie Mays, 3. Stan Musial, 4. Ty Cobb, 5. Honus Wagner, 6. Carl Yastrzemski, 7. Pete Rose, 8. Tris Speaker, 9. Roberto Clemente, 10. Al Kaline, 11. Wade Boggs, 12. Tony Gwynn, 13. Rod Carew, 14. George Brett, 15. Cal Ripken Jr., 16. Paul Waner, 17. Lou Brock, 18. Derek Jeter, 19. Nap Lajoie, 20. Eddie Collins, 21. Eddie Murray, 22. Robin Yount, 23. Dave Winfield, 24. Cap Anson, 25. Craig Biggio, 26. Rafael Palmeiro, 27. Paul Molitor, 28. Rickey Henderson.      

LEAN CROP FOR MARLINS FARM SYSTEM: The Marlins' once acclaimed farm system isn't what it used to be, a troubling sign. The latest indication: Baseball America today published its Midseason Top 50 Prospects list -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is No. 1 -- and zero Marlins prospects made the list. None. Nada. Not a No. 48. Nobody. Not good.

FOUL BALLS HAVE GOTTEN OUT OF HAND: Last night a 39-year-old Rangers fan died after he reached 1aa1foul for a ball tossed to him by outfielder Josh Hamilton and tumbled 20 feet onto concrete. (Story here). I have only sympathy for this man and his family and of course no blame should be placed on Hamilton. But the tragedy invites me to rant about the increasing devaluation of foul balls and the insanity over fans' fascination with them. I can see the excitement over special, milestone balls such as maybe catching somebody's 500th home run. Ka-ching and all that. What I can't understand is some fan hauling his beer gut over three aisles of seats, lunging past a Cub Scout and elbowing a pregnant woman to retrieve a ball off the bat of Mort Utilityman. The ball is worth about eight bucks. If you forge Mort's signature, maybe $8.25. What I also can't understand is why teams' players and stadium attendants now give away balls as souvenirs, further devaluing the aura of the foul ball. At least catching a foul is a cheap thrill. Being handed a ball by a ponyailed ballgirl along the third-base line would qualify as charity, an embarrassment unless perhaps you are 8 years old or younger. The giveaways have turned the foul ball into a piece of crap not worth fighting for, let alone dying for.

Click back. Will be adding more stuff to this latest blogpost today and throughout the weekend...