Always something interesting going on in sports. Here are a few things that caught my eye.

Marquise Goodwin #11 of the San Francisco 49ers dives for a touchdown

Monday Night Football

Great game on Monday Night Football: San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay against the Packers. Green Bay never loses at home, and 49ers haven’t been good in recent years, so this game should’ve been a snooze.

But nobody told the 49ers.

They’re back. And they’ve got linemen who know how to play. They really took it to the Green Bay team and made a game of it. Great play all around, but the play at the line of scrimmage was awesome. Kudos to Shanahan for building a really good team and focusing on what works.

The Packers won a close game. I guess they can’t lose at home, ever. But I really enjoyed watching this one. I’m so glad to see the 49ers competitive again, and I look forward to their contest next week against the Rams in a West Coast shootout.

winning penalty kick for Juventas

MLS All-Star game

I really enjoyed watching the MLS All-Star game between the MLS all stars and Juventas, a pro team from Italy.

I’m no soccer expert, so I had no idea how well the MLS all stars would match up against a really good European team. I also didn’t know what to expect from an all star game—sometimes these aren’t played at full effort, and the players just want to put on a good show and return to regular season play without getting hurt.

This was a good show. IMO, the MLS all stars seemed to be just as good athletes as the Juventas players, but Juventas players seemed to have better skills, especially in passing the ball around. They kicked their passes much harder and with more accuracy than the MLS guys. It reminded me of basketball: the team that can move the ball around better has a significant advantage in creating scoring opportunities.

Maybe some of the difference was because the MLS guys don’t normally play together. The Atlanta United players pass the ball around pretty well in the games I’ve seen.

Martinzez scored for MLS all stars

Of course, Josef Martinez (Atlanta United) scored a goal. He seems to have a sixth-sense for knowing where to position himself so he can pounce on a scoring opportunity.

Fun game, big turnout (Atlanta Mercedes-Benz stadium was full), lots of action. Great event!

Atlanta Hawks announce fan-friendly concession prices

Atlanta Hawks announce fan-friendly concession prices

$5 beer? At a pro sports event? Unheard of!

With ticket prices going through the roof at pro sports events, it’s nice to see a team give fans a break for once. Thank you Hawks!

Martinez gets hat trick for Atlanta United

Martinez gets hat trick for Atlanta United

Wow, Atlanta United are playing some great soccer. Even if you aren't a big soccer fan, these are fun games to watch, sports fans.

Okay, so what's a hat trick? This term is used to describe when a player does three great things in a sports match. In soccer, it means a player scored three goals in a match, not counting penalty shots. It's kind of a big deal.

This is Josef Martinez's sixth hat trick. That's a new record in Major League Soccer.

Final score: Atlanta United 3, D.C. United, 1. The match was played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, with 45,000 in attendance. Atlanta remains in first place in the Eastern division.

Looks like this soccer thing might be catching on, at least around here. These games are fun to watch!

French team wins Word Cup

French team wins World Cup

I really enjoyed watching this match. I like both teams, but I was pulling for France because that's where my ancestors came from. Really, I was just hoping both teams played their best and let the best team win.

I think the best team did win. But it was a competitive match, and France got some help from a Croatian player who deflected a shot-on-goal off his noggin, past his goalkeeper and into the net. I felt sorry for that guy, who played well otherwise.

France returned the favor when their goalkeeper had a ball come back to him, which he was supposed to either pick up or kick out of there. But he tapped a wimpy sideways kick right to a nearby Croatian player, who dinked it into the net for Croatia's second goal. Not exactly highlight-reel stuff.

I noticed the French players were very fast runners, but they seemed to be playing a control game—keep everything in front of them, then pounce. Hey, it worked.

Russia is out of the World Cup

Russia is out of the World Cup

Saw a great match today: Croatia v. Russia. Tied at the end of regulation, tied at the end of overtime, then Croatia won in a shootout.

I'm no expert on soccer, but it looked to me like Croatia were generally better ball handlers, yet struggled to make accurate passes close to Russia's goal. Russia were very good at spacing defenders around their own goal and intercepting passes attempted by Croatia. Russia also played very physical—lots of contact and takedowns, which the refs weren't calling.

I'm happy for the Croatian team and their supporters. I think they deserved the win. Hope they can rest and recover so they'll be ready to play their best at their next match.

Roger Federer gives a clinic at Wimbledon

Tennis clinic

I saw the most incredible tennis match: Roger Federer v. Lukas Lacko at Wimbledon. Federer was amazing. Reflexes as quick as a cat, and phenomenal accuracy in shot placement.

Most tennis matches I've seen, even at the pro level, are a contest to see who can make the fewest unforced errors. Even pros often get to the ball on time, prepare their shot, then mis-hit it into the net, or wide, or long.

Not Federer. He was placing his shots anywhere he wanted. Poor Lacko never had a chance. Great display of skill and control from Federer. I can't wait to see more matches in this tournament.

Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner

Pick up the pace

Yankee’s outfielder Brett Gardner was fined for slow play. He was taking too long to get into the batter’s box, so MLB fined him $3,500.

I agree with picking up the pace at sporting events, but two things seem weird about this case:

  1. Batters face 100-mph fast balls. I don’t mind giving them an extra moment to get ready.
  2. Just $3,500? Why bother?

Now if someone comes up with a way to speed up golf, that would be news. Actually, someone has: Golf Digest reported a while back that the real cause of slow play isn’t players studying putts from every angle. The real cause is that clubs start groups too close together. They crunched the numbers and found that when clubs start groups at slightly longer intervals, then the golfers spend less time standing around waiting for the group in front of them.

LA Lakers logo

LeBron opts for the Lakers

Well, that didn’t take long. LeBron decided to join the LA Lakers. Magic Johnson talked him into it in record time. I’m surprised—I thought he’d take more money and stay with the Cavs. I guess I should never underestimate Magic’s ability to persuade.

Meanwhile, Paul George decided to stay with OKC, and DeMarcus Cousins was picked up by Golden State. Wow, the NBA West is really strong.

Atlanta United Football Club

Great match for Atlanta United

This was an action-packed soccer match versus Orlando City. Lots of shots on goal—and some went in!

Why? Well, I’m no expert on soccer, but it looked like the Atlanta United squad was able to get down the field on fast-breaks with an overwhelming combo of running speed and accurate passes, capped off with accurate shots on goal. The Orlando squad just couldn’t keep up.

The local paper in Atlanta reported an interesting factoid about this match held at Mercedes-Benz stadium in downtown Atlanta: “The team announced 71,932 tickets sold and distributed, more than either of the two World Cup games on Saturday, and the second-largest announced attendance in MLS regular-season history.”

LeBron is a free agent

LeBron opts for free agency

LeBron James announced that he has opted out of the third year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and will become a free agent. So does this mean he’s leaving Cleveland? Maybe…

It’s complicated, but Cleveland will be able to offer LeBron more money in a new deal than any other team. So he might stay with the Cavs at a higher salary.

Crazy season has begun.

Do soccer fans drink beer much?

World Cup beer shortage

Ok, this is a problem: Reuters is reporting that beer supplies are running low in Russia. Managers didn’t realize that soccer (er, football) fans drink lots of beer. Really.

Atlanta Braves

Props to the Braves for leading the NL East, up by 3 over the Nats and 13 games over 500.

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons just ended their OTAs (a.k.a., organized team activity, or summer minicamp). Reports are good for the young new players, including Calvin Ridley, Isaiah Oliver, Deadrin Senat, Ito Smith, Russell Gage and Foyesade Oluokun. The team is on summer break until July 27.

I’ll be watching for reports about the offensive line and defensive line. I think success begins with controlling the line of scrimage. Those guys don't get enough credit for their contribution to a winning effort.

Check out the Falcon’s new website. Looks great!

the World Cup is in Russia this year

World Cup

I’m not a huge soccer (er, football) fan, but I do like to check out the World Cup every time it rolls around. It’s a great sport, and there are usually some good matchups. Here are a few that caught my eye:

  • Sun Jun 17: Germany v. Mexico. Upset! Mexico won!
  • Sun Jun 17: Brazil v. Switzerland. Upset tie!

Okay. Those are the only matches that grabbed my attention. The U.S. team didn’t qualify, so I’m less interested.

And I’m struggling with Russia as the host. They even put Sputnik in their games logo, for crying out loud. Yeah… it’s like that.

NBA logo

Warriors sweep

I’m happy for Warriors fans. Golden State is a great team, and they earned this championship. And a sweep! Kevin Durant is one of my favorite players—props to KD for figuring out how to defend LeBron.

My son, Jacob, is less-than-pleased. His favorite NBA team is the LA Clippers, and the Warriors are a big rival.

My favorite NBA team? The Atlanta Hawks. I’m pulling for them to do well. Need a better roster, though, to compete against all the super teams in the league.

It just doesn't seem realistic. The league has evolved into a handful of super teams—and everyone else. Anyway, I still enjoy the games.