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BALL FIVE: Soccer rules leave me a World Cup wonderer

I’m sure there are a lot of soccer fans out there who are all wrapped up in the World Cup. Sorry, but I can’t enjoy your enthusiasm.
The Fair Play tiebreaker is silly, as is a match were both teams want to lose. If you have paid even less attention than I have to World Cup, here’s a brief synopsis of the two inane parts of the tournament. Fair Play is one of the tiebreakers, albeit one that is a ways down the criteria list. At the end of pool play, South Korea and Japan were tied. Japan advanced and South Korea had to go home because South Korea didn’t play as nice, having received two yellow cards for misconduct during a game. In futball one yellow card on a player is equivalent to a personal foul penalty in football (I looked it up). Imagine if the Vikings didn’t make the playoffs because during the season they had more personal fouls than the Packers.
The second inanity was England and Belgium playing in a match they both wanted to lose. Both teams were already advancing, but whoever lost was going to get a better draw in bracket play. Winning for losing. And people wonder why soccer is not as popular in the U.S. as it is around the world.
I know why. It’s because we have good games where you play as hard as you can and only winning takes teams to their goals.
Speaking of American sports, I have been a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers ever since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar joined the team in 1975. Lately they have been a struggling team. In fact, the only player I can tell you is on the team is one of the Ball brothers, and I don’t even know which one he is. That’s all going to change now. With LeBron donning the purple and gold, I’ll start watching a game once in a while again.
When it comes to the NBA, the Lakers are the historical equivalent of the Yankees. With LeBron joining the team, six of the top leading all-time scorers played for the Lakers at some point in their careers. The top eight are, Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, Dirk Nowitski, James and Shaquille O’Neal.
It remains to be seen if LeBron (and whoever else the Lakers sign) can return the team to the top of the NBA heap. My guess is that he will.
One more thing before I go, sorry Twins fans, a weekend in Wrigley Field did little for your season. The silver lining is that it did give the Cubs the jumpstart they needed heading into the second half of the season.