Happy Saturday! It's the day we've all been waiting for since the World Cup pairings were announced: USA vs. England, 1:30 p.m. today. The teams haven't met in the World Cup since the Americans shocked England 1-0 in 1950. Across the pond, they're looking forward to a stroll in the park in the group stage; over here, American fans are hoping for a glorious upset today, which would provoke some serious teeth-gnashing in England. Your two-sentence match preview: England has seemed to find its stride under manager Fabio Capello, and cruised through qualifying undefeated. The USA can't defend to save itself -- look for at least two mind-boggling defensive errors -- and usually attempts to get its offensive chances via counter-attacks and set pieces.
It's America's chance to knock those highfalutin' English off their stride -- but first, a few weekend links:
*Don't, of course, take my word for it. Television producer Michael Davies is once again writing for ESPN.com during this tournament, and here's his preview of the big match. Davies' writing was among the best things about the 2002 and 2006 editions of the World Cup; here's hoping he's just as good this time around.
*In TV news, Game 6 of the Stanley Cup drew a 5.8 rating, the NHL's best TV rating for 36 years. That said, I'm disappointed in our local showing: the game drew a 5.9 in the local market, with just 11% of people watching. That's behind Buffalo (13.5/20) and Pittsburgh (9.7/14), and eighth in local ratings, on par with such hockey meccas as Indianapolis, Fort Myers, and Las Vegas. Seriously, people -- what could you possibly have been doing Wednesday night that was better than Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals? As punishment, I'd like everyone to write "NORM GREEN SUCKS" 200 times and mail it to Rand's office.
*At EDSBS, Spencer Hall's re-imagining of the delivery of the USC sanctions report is both hilarious and profane. (Watch the language, kids.)
*In Twins links this week: Jesse at Twinkie Town goes over the basics on cortisone shots, which have affected both Nick Punto and J.J. Hardy this year. Parker Hageman at Over the Baggy examines Joe Mauer's seeming inability to throw out base stealers this year -- and discovers that the blame lies elsewhere. And if that's not what you're looking for, then there's always Stu, posting true facts about Carl Pavano's Mustache. Tremendous.
That'll do it for me; time to go get geared up for USA-England. Please help support the team by destroying bags of English muffins, avoiding all tea and tea-related products, and if possible, locking English people in the trunk of your car. Go USA!