Thursday, June 17, 2010

At A Glance: World Cup

It is day six in South Africa and each of the 32 teams have played their initial match. There have been plenty of surprises thus far. One reoccurring theme throughout the first matches is tentativeness. Only a few sides really came out and asserted their strength against their opponent. Those top teams were Germany (4-0 win over Australia), Argentina (1-0 over Nigeria, 4-1 over South Korea today), South Korea (2-0 over Greece, a loss to Argentina today) and Netherlands (2-0 victory over Denmark). Otherwise, it has been sub-par performances from the tournament favorites. Struggles by France (lost 2-0 today to Mexico), Mexico (awesome win against France today), Italy, England, Portugal, Cameroon, Spain and Brasil (to an extent amid their 2-1 victory over 105th ranked North Korea). It appeared that these teams were playing for 1 point rather than risking going for 3 and falling flat.
Delving deeper into the first set of matches: USA has to be satisfied with their overall performance against rival England, although the Americans had a few good chances to take the lead and with it, the match. It must be nice to know that USA will not wind up facing England for a shot at the round of 16. They should be able to handle Slovenia and Algeria to get into the knockout stage.
Bafana Bafana, the boys from South Africa are in serious jeopardy of being the first host nation to fail to make the Round of 16. After an emotional opening match against stronger Mexico, Bafana Bafana were dissected by Uruguay in a 3-nil outing.
Heavy Cup favorite Spain went down in shocking fashion to the Swiss. What actually happened here? Did the Swiss win the match, or did Spain loose it? One tends to think Spain will move on to the next round. This group (Group H, which includes Chile and Honduras) has added incentive to finish strongly due to the draw in the Round of 16 and a looming match up against the runner-up of the Group of Death.
Japan pulled the 2nd biggest stunner (next to Switzerland) by beating the most talented African side, Cameroon, 1-0. Cameroonian and Euro Treble winning-Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o was bottled up for the entire match. He will need to break out if they plan to advance.

Other noteworthy items: Style is
certainly front and center in South Africa. Case and point: Argentine head man and rookie coach Maradona. Take a look at this classy gent as he patrols the touch lines. That's like a $6,000 dollar suit. Com'on! And those rocks in his ear? Could explain why he is so short!
On the opposite end of the style spectrum, look at Slovenia's kits. Are you kidding me? Looks like something Charlie Brown would wear. But being honest, if I saw that at the store, I might be tempted to purchase one. Just sayin'.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

When will the rain end??

Tired of the rain yet? Chances are your ready for summer, it's June for crying out loud! It has been cold, it has been wet, and it has not been our usual June.
Yesterday, the entire state was hammered with rain. Records fell at almost every major station. Here is a look at the setup to yesterday's soaking rain.The big batch of moisture came from the tropical Philippines. With the system originating from such a warm source, it was able to hold much more in terms of moisture. Thus, many locations got drenched. Take a look at some of the numbers that fell.

Other records that were set were in Pendleton where they saw .84" of rain. That beat their previous record of .65" in 1971. Lebanon saw 1.27 inches of rain in 24 hours. Otter Rock, OR got just about that amount (1.26") in only half the time. Needless to say, this storm held some serious precipitation. To put this June in perspective: our .65" of rain at the PDX airport yesterday does not crack the top 10 wettest June days on record. So it HAS been worse, people. However, look at the big picture at it tells us something different. Only three days into June and our measurable precipitation at the PDX airport stands at .89". The monthly average for June is 1.59" of rain. Do the math and you'll find out that we are over halfway to the monthly average...only three days in!!
So, there is the overview on the precipitation end. How about the cool temperatures we have had this spring? May 2010 was the coldest in the last 11 years, and the third wettest on record. So far this year, we have hit 70 only a handful of times and we have yet to top the 80 degree mark. On average, PDX gets its first 80 degree day on May 8th. This year on May 8th, the temp got to 69 degrees. The earliest PDX has ever hit 80 degrees was on, get this...March 16th, 1947! And on the opposite end of the spectrum, the latest the airport has ever recorded its first 80 degree day was June 9th, 1991. So we are in danger of setting another record.
How are things looking in the near future?

Here is the latest model for Friday morning, showing a surface low pressure system making landfall on the north Washington coast. It will bring more rain and some breezy conditions to the Northwest again, but not as intense as Wednesday's soaker. Look up to the Gulf of Alaska and you can see another low pressure system, that is the main system that brought all the rain into the Northwest yesterday and will again feed the system for tomorrow. After tomorrow though, things begin to look up! Several partly to mostly sunny days with only a slight chance of rain on Sunday makes the 7-day forecast look much more like June. However, there appears to be no hope for an 80 degree day by the 9th, so look for another record to fall.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hitting on a few things...

A few interesting things to cover today, considering it has been a while since my last post.

The NBA Finals are set and take a guess who it features? Celtics vs Lakers is about the best match-up the NBA could hope for (still waiting for LeBron vs. Kobe final). The C's have 17 NBA titles, the Lakers with 15 championships. So it's no shocker that these two will face off again. What does the series have in store? Well these games should be ultra-competitive. The LakeShow and C's squared off twice this season each team winning on the other's court and each victory came by one point! So expect this series to go seven games. The Celtics have more experience than the Lakers (but with experience comes age). Boston also has arguably the hottest player right now in Rajon Rondo. He has elevated his game since the Cleveland series and has been unstoppable since. Now Kobe has also been on fire, with a slew of 30+ point games, but Rondo has been playing great basketball on both ends of the court. My prediction here is that the rest and experience that the Celtics have, and given their ability to steal a game or two away from home this playoffs give them the edge over Los Angles. Take Boston in 7.

On to Paris, where there will be an unfamiliar feeling heading into the French Open semifinals. For the first time in 23 consecutive Grand Slam events, Roger Federer will not make the semifinals. Federer's streak began in 2004 when he made the Wimbledon semis and lasted all the way until this year's Aussie Open. How impressive was his streak? 2nd place on the consecutive semis list is Ivan Lendl, with 10! So Federer will be unable to defend his first and only French Open title this year. His loss also will bump him out of the world's number one spot assuming Rafael Nadal wins the event (and let's be honest, who else dominates on clay like Rafa?). But with the Federer loss adds a new name to tennis' top echelon, Robin Soderling. Soderling unseated Roger yesterday with shear power. He hit the ball harder than Roger and forced Roger into key unforced errors. The Swede won the match the best way you can against Federer, win break points. Roger isn't going to make a whole lot of errors, so when he does it is crucial to take advantage and Soderling did. Was Soderling's win a surprise? Not really. Here is why: Soderling beat Nadal on the clay surface last year in the Open. Soderling has a nack for playing well on clay and beating the big boys. We know Robin can compete. Also, Soderling was due for a win against Roger. Before yesterday's match, the two faced each other 12 times with Roger winning all 12 matches. Soderling didn't even push Roger to extra sets until their match-up last year at the U.S. Open. So look for Soderling to become a factor in future Grand Slam events.