The Heat is on at FHP and on the USA Soccer Team

The Greensboro Grasshoppers began the second half of their SAL season on Thursday night at First Horizon Park. The game-time temperature was 95 degrees and The Heat Was On and it stayed on into the night. The Hoppers dropped the game to the Augusta Greenjackets 7-5 and the Heat had to be effecting the players. They were continuously wiping sweat from their faces and it was very bothersome to the pitchers. Starter Matthew Goyen was feeling the heat when he served up a homerun to the leadoff man Bill Copeland of the Greenjackets and later in the contest Eugenio Velez of the Jackets connected for a three-run shot.

The Hoppers had leads in the game of 2-1 and 5-4 but after the Jackets tied the game at 5 the Hoppers were headed to the loss station. RHP Todd Doolittle took the loss for the home team and it was his first defeat of the year against 4 big wins in primarily middle relief. Andy Jenkins had 3 hits and drove in four runs and it was Jenkins’ two-run double that had given the Hoppers the early 2-1 lead.

The Hoppers SS James Guerrero left the game after a hard slide out at second base where he was caught stealing and left-fielder Jeff van Houten popped his arm while making a play on a ball in foul territory up against the wall near the Hoppers bullpen. Van Houten stayed in the game and it seemed like everything was OK but it makes you worry after all the recent injuries that have taken a toll on the GBGH(Greensboro Grasshoppers).

The Hoppers need some help in a hurry. The team has never seemed to fully recover from the loss of first-baseman Gaby Sanchez when GS left the squad with a hand injury. Can and will the GBGH bounce back? We sure hope the Hoppers can still make a move in the second half of the SAL season and that the players can step up to the plate and get some big hits to help this team. The Hoppers could use some big-time starts from their young pitching staff, in particular from guys like Sean West and Chris Volstad.

You have to believe that Van Houten, Harvey, Jenkins, Figueroa, D’Antonio, and Kutler will come through for the Grasshoppers at the plate. Hopper stopper Blake Jones(RHP) will be ready if he gets his chances out of the Hoppers’ pen. This team just needs to re-establish its’ identity and get to work as they uplift each other in the quest for the second half title.

Rob Daniels of the News and Record was on hand to write up the game from Thursday night but something that won’t make the pages of the N&R is that RD had trouble completing his post game wrap-up because the Florida Marlins-Baltimore Orioles game was on the TV up in the Hoppers’ press box. Daniels was glued to the tube and he was very upset when the Marlins’ batter reached out across the plate and stroked a pitch-out for a base hit. The Marlins went on to beat the O’s and Mr. Daniels was not a happy camper. Baltimore is the favorite team of RD and he didn’t enjoy the Fish taking it to the Birds in extra innings especially after the Birds had grabbed an early lead and should have been able to put the Fish away.

The Marlins are playing steady baseball these days and as RD mentioned in his article there are many former Greensboro players( a number of pitchers) that are contributing to the success of the Fish. The Marlins have the NY Yankees up next and we will let Spaz the team motivator for the GBGH break down that series for us at a later date. Spaz is the biggest Yankee fan on the block unless you talk to John Horshock. Who is the bigger Baltimore Oriole fan, Bruce Bullington or Rob Daniels? What about the Atlanta Braves? Davis Troxler and Doug Cockman have been known to fight it out for the title of “Braves Biggest Fan”.

What is wrong with the Choppers? The Braves look like they are headed for the cellar for the season and most fans didn’t foresee this as being a free-fall for the Choppers. All way to the bottom and looking up at the rest of the NL East teams? The Bravos going down and staying below .500 the entire year? Has Bobby Cox lost it all and has Leo Mazzone’s leaving the club cost the Choppers a chance at respectability? BC is not washed up, and you can be sure to expect the blame to fall heavily on the shoulders of Roger McDowell(pitching coach) if the Choppers don’t find a way to stop spinning and start winning again and put a stop to their free-falling. Who sang that song anyway, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers?(Free-Falling)……

The USA Soccer Team has fallen about as far as they can and some observers are questioning whether they were ever worthy of a top 5 ranking in this year’s World Cup draw. The other countries in the World Cup challenge make our side look silly. We are in bad shape and much worse off than we were when the World Cup came to the US back in 1994. The US squad might be better served to field a US Women’s team led by Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy. What about we bring back Brandi Chastain and let her take off her shirt again in an encore moment that appears to be the Golden Minute in USA Soccer history?

Our soccer players don’t look anything like the men from the opposing nations. The other countries have teams that pass the ball and move it up and down the field with some type of direction. Why our men and our coach Bruce Arena can’t figure it out is beyond me. Can anybody put a finger or a foot on our problems? The US team couldn’t even score a goal for themselves until the last game and our squad never even won a game.

We need to take a page from the CAROLINA HURRICANES playbook and bring in a busload of foreign players with talent and build our US fortunes around the new guys that are now newly aquired US citizens(President Bush or President Clinton-(Hillary), we need soome help). The Hockey players are a bunch of Canadiens winning a championship for a team from the South. How about all the Mexicans that have come into our country from South of the Border? Let’s put uniforms on these Hispanic fellows and go out and kick some World Cup Soccer hiney.

It is time we start thinking and use our resources. We have all the outside help and we are not putting it to good use. The Canes were smart winners, they played to their strengths. USA Soccer needs to be doing the same thing. If we don’t have any home-grown talent in our country, then let’s import some more and see if we can’t win at least 1 game at the next World Cup. European nations have been bringing our Basketball people over to their lands for years now to teach the Hoops and we are seeing guys like Dirk Nowitski and others benefitting from the education. Let’s go get some Soccer people and players, we’re getting tired of the losing.

I personally enjoy Soccer and would like to see the US make a better showing when the World Cup Tournament is being played. Some folk are saying they are glad the stupid thing is over, but I wish the US was in the hunt and doing something to improve our chances at winning the CUP one day, down that long and winding road. Youth Soccer is huge here in the US and the sport is a great activity for exercise and to build stamina if it is being played correctly.

The Final Word that I am hearing is that “Soccer Sucks”, and we don’t need to waste our time with the sport. Soccer is the most played sport in the World and we need to do something to improve our status since we(the USA) are supposed to be the most progressive country in the World. Jim Rome used that phrase, “The Final Word”, and I kind of like the way it sounds.

One footnote to add to the “Final Word or the Final Phrase”, is that former Greensboro Hornet baseball announcer Tony Schiavone is now doing sports reporting on WDUN/WGGA down in Gainesville/Atlanta, Georgia. Tony made the big-time announcing with TBS/WCW Ted Turner owned wrestling and he did work on the Atlanta Braves pre-game and post-game shows after the demise of WCW. TS worked at the old WKEW AM 1400 out on Summit Avenue when he was here in Greensboro and he married the receptionist who worked at the “Metro Voice of Greensboro”.