The US Women’s Soccer team has achieved unparalleled greatness in the 2019 World Cup. Since the first FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991, US Women have won 4 titles including the last two. The Women’s National Team will have played in the finals in half of the eight Women’s World Cups. They have never finished lower than 3rd in the WC. They have displayed athleticism, passion and excellence on the field. Their success has built the gold standard brand of a US woman soccer player. The Yard was heavily invested in the 1999 Championship by the US Women. The championship game was at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The original Yard HQ was in the flight path for the fly over on Championship Sunday. We were almost at the game as we watched on TV and the jets buzzed our tower. Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain and the rest of the 1999 World Cup Champion tipped the paradigm for Women’s soccer. They beat the Chinese on a 5-4 shootout. The final kick has been replayed billions of times and it always ends up with Brandi Chastain at mid-field in her black sports bra. That moment witnessed around the world set the stage for this next generation of female warriors now dominating at the highest level. It has been a decade of unprecedented success. Besides the WC Championships, the WNT has won four Olympic Gold Medals. There is no better role model than the women on this team. And thank goodness they ran Hope Solo off. What a load.
For the 2019 WWC, the television ratings have been over the top in more ways than one. Nearly 8 million people watched the UK-US match on Friday in the US. 11 Million watched in the UK. Millions more have been following via streaming services on mobile devices. Raucous US crowds have been ever present at matches all over France. USW jerseys are flying off the shelves like Durant’s Nets jersey. The US Men missed the last Men’s World Cup because they could not earn a tie with Trinidad and/or Tobago in 2017. The US Men’s Soccer Team is making trying to defend their CONCACAF Gold Cup title. It is a quaint inter-regional affair where the US and Mexico invite Central America and the Caribbean to provide foils before the they meet in the finals. The US Men will play Mexico for the CONCACAF Gold Cup tonight. Check Google to see who won. The World Champion US Women will probably be partying on the Champ Elysees and might miss that one.
Pay inequality between men and women in the same profession has been a lightning bolt across corporate America. Pay and financial discrimination between the traditional genders has been called out across many industries but apparently difficult to prove. There are many subjective criteria that lawyers raise to protect the entitled against the less titled. The US Women’s National Soccer team has agreed to arbitration in their lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation USSF. The USSF claims that, “the players on the Men’s and Women’s Soccer team receive fundamentally different pay structures for performing different work under their separate bargaining agreements.” The Yard has always espoused our limited understanding of soccer nuances, but the game seems the same, right? Different genders but same size field, size of the goal, duration, red and yellow cards, did I miss something?
The pay discrepancy between the men and women on the US National teams is dramatic. The women’s average salary is $30,000 less than the men. In addition, the women’s potential bonus per game is $15K, the men’s is $55k. The bonus pool for the 2014 USMNT who went 1-2-1 and lost in the first game in knockout round was $5.4 million. The USWNT won the 2014 World Cup championship and earned a total bonus pool of $1.5 million. The Women’s game generates more viewers, more jersey sales and far superior results to the men but they are paid unspeakably less. This team of Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Rose Lavelle are the next generation of dominant female athletes challenging for another World Cup. They are memorable, iconic and winners. Name one legendary US male player other than Landon Donovan. Show them the money!
Megan Rapinoe got in President Trump’s Twitter cross hairs when a quote attributed to her circulated last week. She said to a magazine several months back that she would not be going to the F-ing White House if they won the World Cup. Trump fired off that “Rapinoe should win first before she TALKS! Finish the job!” Rapinoe doubled down on not going to the White House but apologized for the obscenity. Then with all of France cheering their favorite women’s team and Trump waiting on his Twitter trigger finger, Rapinoe scored both goals in the 2-1 quarterfinal victory over the French. She came back from a hamstring injury to score the deciding goal today for the championship. She won the Golden Boot for the World Cup. She had a pretty good week. Rapinoe finished the job and she won’t be going to the White House.
The 4th of July coming on a Thursday this week made for lots of bingeing Stranger Things, Wimbledon and Women’s Soccer. There were the usual libations, fireworks and all things BBQ. The Yard covered two out of the three with the fireworks on the tele. President Trump also brought some fireworks to the National Mall with a display of military might. The Donald brought out the military toys at his disposal including tanks, armored personnel carriers and multiple flyovers. It was brought under Democratic scrutiny based on the $2.5 million cost to stage and Trump hijacking the celebration of our independence for political gain. The Yard tries to steer clear of today’s politico except to poke fun at the absurdity of it all. Trump NOT hijacking an event for political gain would be more newsworthy. If the cost was $2.5 million, not sure why anyone is bitching about that given the money we piss away all over the dais. Also, Donald had to show Vladdie and the Kimster, that he has some cool toys under his command also. Big military displays are not just for despots anymore! He does not get to oversee it with their tyrannical power but not for lack of hope.
Laker nation had something to cheer about after Rob Pelinka finally got the deal done to bring Anthony Davis to Staples. Pairing this young superstar with the aging Lebron James, will hopefully put the Lakers back in the title discussion. It had been the season of the witch prior to that for the Lake show. They are not the Knicks, but they were heading that direction. That trade changed the trajectory and the resulting story lines. Yard is hoping a playoff berth in the top half of the draw for starters. The Lakers have not been in the playoffs since 2012-13 season when they are swept in the first round by San Antonio. There has never been a playoff drought this long in the franchise storied history. Unfortunately, the Lakers had to trade most of their 2018-19 roster to secure the rights to AD. The team does need some 2nd tier quality players to contend and there does not appear to be enough money or incentive to join Lebron, AD and company.
Kawhi let the Lakers twist in the wind while he instructed the Clippers to get a Robin for his planned Batman role. Kawhi bought the Clippers some time to pull off the Paul George trade and they did. Who is in the center of taking the Clipper’s legacy of irrelevance and flipping them to NBA title favorites in a 24-hour period? The Logo-Jerry West. West has been the nomadic genius who built the LA Laker dynasty, turned Memphis into a contender and showed the Warriors the way to repeated championships. He gutted the entire Laker roster to lure Shaq out of Orlando in 1996. That same year, he saw something in a 17-year-old named Kobe Bryant and traded up to get him. Kobe with Shaq and then Gasol would win five titles in a ten-year span. He foresaw the Buss children’s dysfunction and headed to the exit to let Mitch Kupchak go down with the ship. Job well done.
It was shocking to see the defending World Champion Warriors lose to the Raptors in the NBA Finals. They were prohibitive favorites at the beginning with the expectation of Durant returning to lead them to the title. KD did come back for part of their needed Game 5 win in Toronto but tore his Achilles while playing 12 minutes and scoring 11 important points. The Warriors could not overcome the loss of Klay Thompson to an ACL later in that same game. Not only did they lose the title, they lost two starters to serious injury. It might be the end of the dynasty or the beginning of the next one but 2019 would appear to be a transitional year for Golden State with Thompson out. The Yard usually slams all things Nor CA, but we have huge props to Steph Curry in defeat. He was gracious, candid and sincere in his post-game comments. ABC was rolling tape as he walked off after losing Game 6 and the Series at home. He is stoically walking down the tunnel when he sees Bill Russell in a wheelchair. He snaps out of his funk and goes over to give the namesake of the NBA Final MVP some love. True champion. Warriors will be back, but Bob Myers is going to need to figure out on his own. Jerry West is probably at his last stop on the tour.
19th Hole: It was truly amazing to see Tiger rally and win the Masters this year. Tiger is the best front runner in golf history. He has only lost one time on the tour when he has had a lead after 54 holes. On the flip side, he has never won a major when trailing after 54 holes before this years Masters. Of his previous 14 Major Titles, Tiger was in the final pairing. He could obliterate the inexperienced with his physical game and mental toughness. When those traits were eroded through ego, infidelity, and back spasms, it appeared Woods would never recover. But this year he did, and the sports world welcomed him back with open arms as did the television ratings and sponsors. And not to be outdone, President Trump jumped into the moment and gave Tiger the Presidential Medal of Freedom. We should embrace this moment. Tiger may not pass this way again. The Masters is the only major that is played on the same course every year. Augusta National might add a tree or a bush but they do not trick up the course like the PGA tour does for the US Open and the PGA. The British Open has 150 years of legend and the weather to crush a man’s spirit. Tiger has played Augusta many, many times. He has been in the lead on a Masters Sunday four previous times. He knows the course and it showed as they played the back nine. Molinari slipped while Tiger stayed the course. We loved it and we hope he wins another.
Signs of the Apocalypse: “I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.” FCC Chairman Newton Minow May 9, 1961.