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Monday, July 14, 2008

Mon July 14: Home Run Derby and Olympic Men's Soccer Preview

Yesterday, we previewed the women in olympic football. Now it's time to take a look at the men. Buf first, let's look at some of the top stories in the world of sports.

Home Run Derby Tonight at 8PM
An event that started in 1985 will be played tonight at Yankee Stadium as part of the All-Star Game festivities. The Home Run Derby pits eight of the top home run hitters in the league against each other in a match-play format to determine the best home run hitter in the league.

The participants, courtesy of MLB.com:

"The National League will feature Houston Astros first baseman Lance Berkman; Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun; Florida Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla; and Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley.

Competing for the American League will be Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton; Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria; Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau; and Cleveland Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore."

This year's derby will favor the left-handed hitters and the switch hitters, since they will have the best chance to hit home runs past the short right field wall. Meanwhile, for the righties, the left field and left-to-center walls are the deepest part of the stadium.

If anything, expect many in the bleachers to get souvenirs as it is not likely, in fact impossible, that home runs will be hit out of the park. And if a ball doesn't land in the stands, expect it to land in Monument Park or in the black, unused bleachers.

Justin Morneau is the only returning home-run derby participant. He also has the most career home runs of the four American League participants taking part, with 124 home runs. The rest are first time participants, including switch-hitter Lance Berkman, who has the most career homeruns overall with 281.

For more info, check out this preview and official press release:
MLB.com - State Farm Home Run Derby Participants Announced
ESPN.com - Hamilton Looks To Add HR Crown To Dream Season

HR Derby Coverage starts tonight at 7PM on ESPN and ESPN Radio.

Olympic Men's Soccer Preview
Sixteen teams will take the field on Thursday, August 7, a day before the opening ceremonies, in the first day of competition in the men's football tournament. All the teams will feature relatively young players since 13 of the 18-player squads are required to be aged 23 or younger.

Here is the draw of the four groups:
Group A: Cote D'Ivoire (A1), Argentina (A2), Australia (A3), Serbia (A4)
Group B: Netherlands (B1), Nigeria (B2), Japan (B3), USA (B4)
Group C: China (C1), New Zealand (C2), Brazil (C3), Belgium (C4)
Group D: Republic of Korea (D1), Cameroon (D2), Honduras (D3), Italy (D4)

The football tournament always seems to produce rather unexpected results. In Athens, Argentina and Paraguay got into the gold medal final. And in 2000, Cameroon captured the gold medal in Sydney after defeated Spain in penalty kicks. The point I'm trying to make is that it's hard to predict medal contenders in the Olympic Games. It's quite a challenge to play six games in a 16-day period (competition starts Aug 7, gold medal final on Aug 23).

Looking at the draw, you can never count out Brazil or Argentina, who could face each other in the semifinal or final. Argentina will be led by 20-year-old Lionel Messi and Brazil will be led by FIFA Player of the Year Kaka (Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite). While Argentina is the defending gold medalists, Brazil was absent from last year's tournament and has never won the gold medal. Brazil defeated Argentina in last year's prestigious Copa America final, by a score of 3-0:


The Europeans can be the biggest threat to the two South American teams in the Olympics, especially Euro 2008 quarterfinalists Netherlands and Italy. Both of those teams did well at the UEFA Euro U-21 tournament which served as the olympic qualifying tournament for the European teams. But the Africans are likely to advance as well, including Nigeria and Ivory Coast.

Team USA looks to get farther than they did the last time they were in the Olympics, back in 2000. They will face Japan in their first game of the tournament, who the USA defeated in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals in Sydney. USA, who did not get past the group stage of the FIFA World Cup, will face Nigeria and Netherlands in their group stage at the Olympics. Any one of the four teams in group B has a good chance of advancing into the knockout stage if they can play at their top level.

If the top teams like Brazil and Argentina play at their best, then there isn't much hope for the other teams like Australia, New Zealand and Honduras. China may produce some surprises as the host nation, but to advance they'll have to fight hard against Belgium and limit the goals allowed against Brazil.

I found this blog that has a more team specific preview, I suggest you check it out:
BLOG - http://soccerlens.com/beijing-olympics-2008-football-preview/8130/

Other Notes:
World Team Defeats U.S. In Futures Game
New Zealand, Slovenia and Croatia Win In Opening Day of Olympic Basketball Qualifying
Cadel Evans Becomes Yellow Jersey Leader At Tour

Tomorrow will be an all baseball post, as we will talk about today's HR Derby, preview the All-Star game and introduce you to the USA Olympic Baseball team.

Hope you'll visit again tomorrow...

2 comments:

Zak Shtulberg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Don said...

Hello,

May I suggest a link related to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games?

Our site:

URL: http://www.2008chinaolympics.com
Title: Beijing Olympics

Please let me know if you want a link back.
Many thanks for your reply.

Best Regards,

Don
chinaolympics8@gmail.com

BEIJING 2008 Tentative NBC Schedule (BLOG POSTS BELOW...)