Your morning roundup for July 5, the day a monkey stole our camera.
What we watched: Marta is one of the few reasons that a casual soccer fan might watch early-round games in the Women's World Cup that do not involve the U.S. national team. In the men's tournament, for example, we seek out the Spanish national team's games with the expectation that they'll do something spectacular. On the women's side we look for Brazil with the understanding that Marta will do something spectacular. The 25-year-old demonstrated her usual authority on Sunday; she looked like the neighborhood virtuoso out to show the ragtag bunch a thing or two. Marta has a schoolyard, bullish quality to her game that's rare for the women's side: perhaps in part to make up for her size (she might pass for 5'5" in spikes), she's never shy of throwing an elbow to earn herself some extra space for a play.
On Sunday, just 22 minutes into Brazil's 3-0 win over Norway, Marta needed some space. She received a perfect leading pass for a breakaway down the right side, but found a few Norwegians in her way just outside of the penalty box. Two hands to the back took care of the first defender, and then she calmly gave a trademark step-over move to the second and fired in her first goal of the match. The play is worth a look, and throughout the rest of these games, Marta is worth our attention. (Emma Carmichael)
What we're watching: So Albert Pujols really really wants to play baseball. Which is good, because fans really really want Albert Pujols to play baseball. And why shouldn't he be able to if he feels fine? "I feel like I could have played the next day if they let me," Pujols said yesterday. He's been swinging, he's been taking infield practice, and he says he feels completely fine. So why wouldn't he be activated off the DL today?
Three reasons. First, Mr. Pujols is a franchise player, a big investment. If there's even the slightest chance of doing any more damage, they should cover him in bubble wrap and store him in a rubber room. Second, Mr. Pujols is a free agent, and if John Mozeliak thinks he can shave a few million off his value, due to missed time or a history of injuries, all's fair in love and free agent negotiations. Third, it's the NL Central, and whether Pujols plays or not, the same thing's going to happen that happens every year. It'll come down to 3 or 4 teams until the final week, and one will win, and promptly get swept in the division series. (Barry Petchesky)
Why are Americans the best at everything?: "Two months ago, Tyler Farrar was demoralized, sleeping 20 hours a day. He had even stopped riding, overcome by sorrow after his best friend died in a crash at the Giro d'Italia. On Monday, Farrar became the first American to win a stage of the Tour de France on the Fourth of July. It was the first time he had won stage in cycling's showcase race, and he dedicated the victory to the late Wouter Weylandt of Belgium." [AP]
These jerseys are only the 8,742nd worst thing about Trenton: "'I was uncomfortable (Sunday),' Jeter joked when asked about the custom-made jerseys. ‘We had some fun with it. Cash took a picture and sent it to my teammates. I was uncomfortable the entire day, so don't judge my performance.' [Times of Trenton]
Don't look now but Turkish soccer might be crooked: "On Sunday, police officers from the Organized Crime Department conducted simultaneous raids at homes and club offices, detaining more than 49 people for questioning in an investigation into alleged match fixing. The most notable names included Fenerbahçe Chairman, Fener Vice Chairman, Sivasspor Chairman, Eskişehirspor Sports Director, Eskişehir coach, as well as some players, including Fenerbahçe's new signings, Nigerian striker Emanuel Emenike and midfielder Sezer Öztürk, in addition to former Sivasspor striker Mehmet Yıldız. The figures were taken into custody on claims that they fixed several games last season, helping Fenerbahçe win the title. [Istanbul Daily News]
The old guys want a piece of the lockout pie: "Negotiations toward a labor deal that would end the N.F.L. lockout were confronted with a new hurdle Monday when the group of retired players involved in the antitrust lawsuit against the league - angered because they say their interests and representatives are being shut out by both sides in the talks - filed a separate complaint against players and owners... [T]he real goal of the complaint is to have Judge Susan Richard Nelson, under whose orders the mediated negotiations are being held, instruct the mediator, the league and the current players to allow representatives of the retired players to be active participants in the negotiations." [New York Times]
Bryce Harper gets a promotion: "General Manager Mike Rizzo said earlier in the day that "it's safe to say" Harper will remain at Class AA for the remainder of the season, and then proceed to play every day at the Arizona Fall League. Rizzo also said "it's important for him to play at every level in our minor league system." So, presumably, Harper will begin next year at Class AAA Syracuse and not open the 2012 season in the major leagues." [Washington Post]
Antoine Walker will be bouncing more checks than usual: That June 30, 12:01 a.m. drop-dead date to reach a deal was basically a public-relations stunt by the NBA. In reality, we all know that this labor battle doesn't officially start until around Nov. 15. That's when players will miss their first regular-season paychecks. [Boston Herald]
Right, right, this is why we're watching the Women's World Cup:
We are all Dave McKenna CXLVI: Here's your daily link to Dave McKenna's brilliant "Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder," which we'll be posting every day until Snyder Manor sinks into the Potomac.
That'll put a bee in his bonnet: "Frank Schleck couldn't tell by the taste if it was a bee or wasp. He was merely happy not to develop an allergic reaction after being stung inside his mouth when he swallowed an insect while riding in the Tour de France." [AP]
Jerry Jones is optimistic: "The Dallas Cowboys are tentatively set to start practicing at the Alamodome on July 29, a city official said Friday." [San Antonio Express-News]
This is a very German problem: "Last month, before the start of the Women's World Cup, Birgit Prinz was the face of the German team and the talk of the country. She stood on the verge of becoming the first woman to score in five World Cups, with the hope of winning the championship game scheduled to be played in Frankfurt, her birthplace and the home of her professional team. A week into the tournament, Prinz is still the talk of the nation, but no longer in the way she or anyone here envisioned. Fairly or not, she is bearing the blame for the lackluster performance of Germany, the defending world champion, in two close victories. Her play has been leaden, and she has yet to score. Prominent analysts have called for Coach Silvia Neid to remove her from the starting lineup." [New York Times]
Guess who! (You won't guess): "‘I'm the best shooter of all time,' he said. ‘I know that from the jump. I set the standard. I gave them something to shoot for. I was the first player in the history of the game to get 1,000 3-pointers. To be able to play on that level, you have to have that attitude about yourself. You can say it's arrogant or cocky or whatever, but that's OK. There's no way you can compete without it. There's no way you can excel without that confidence level.'" [Boston Globe]
Freestyle carp attack interlude:
Kyle Korver saves a snapping turtle: "Meanwhile, another car pulled over to help. It was Kyle Korver, an ex-76er who plays for the Chicago Bulls. Korver, a friend of Robert's who still spends time in the area, coincidentally was driving by. ‘There was blood everywhere,' Korver said in an interview. ‘I didn't think [the turtle] was going to make it.' Korver fetched a shopping bag from his SUV. Robert picked up the snapping turtle - a dangerous maneuver, Schubert later told him — and put it in the bag." [Philadelphia Inquirer]