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Began In '96

Death defying: The US and the round of 16

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By Matt Anderson

"There is only one god, and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: ‘Not today.’"- Syrio Forel, Game of Thrones

The US Men’s National Team went into Group G, the Group of Death, and emerged as one of the living.

What’s amazing is that, by the end, any other result would have felt unfair and supremely disappointing. The World Cup so far has unfolded almost exactly as we hoped, ignoring the odds and instead plotting a delicate course in line with the United States’ wildest fantasies. The U.S. beat Ghana, tied Portugal and kept it close with Germany. That wasn’t supposed to happen, not all three at least, and with everything falling into place at the perfect moments.

And yet. 

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The World Cup: The US and the Group of Death

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By Matt Anderson

Previewing Team USA, its formidable pool-play opponents and the chances of moving onto the round of 16.

June 16, 2014 marks the start of the World Cup for the US Men’s National Team. This one ain’t going to be easy.  If Qatar getting the World Cup in 2022 started speculation that FIFA hated the USA, ensuring the USA’s “random” draw into the deadliest Group of Death ever ended it with a resounding yes. 

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Landon Donovan: The great contradiction

By Zach Ricchiuiti

The USMNT kicks off its World Cup campaign without Landon Donovan, this generation’s brightest soccer star.

Landon Donovan is the greatest American soccer player of all time.

Goalies are often cited as our greatest player export, but there is an unfortunate scaling in assessing the careers of a goalie. In order to be remembered as great, their feats must be unimaginably brilliant, and no such American keeper has reached the same heights as Dino Zoff, Gordon Banks, or even Gianluigi Buffon. Landon on the other hand has consistently proven himself at the international and club level as a player that delivers at the biggest moments against the biggest teams. In order to understand Landon Donovan, all aspects of his career must be looked at — his tactical evolution, his feats, and his personality.

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beganin96graphics:

It took 40 games and a record 65 at-bats, but the Mets’ pitching staff finally got its first hit, a line single off the bat of rookie Jacob DeGrom:

Kerr plunk: Another Knicks disaster

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By James Epstein

The Knicks are losers again after Phil Jackson failed to land his best and only head coaching candidate.

Steve Kerr just orchestrated a masterful coup, landing his first coaching gig as the head man of the Golden State Warriors.

It’s a prime situation, one that will 1) provide the economic security of a five-year, $25 million contract (more than he ever made during his playing career), 2) offer all the firepower of a roster with a strong core and the flexibility of future draft picks, 3) keep him close to his San Diego-based family and last and most importantly, 4) keep him far away from the circus that is the New York Knicks.

Coaching the Warriors is the absolute right move, and as great as it will be for Kerr, that’s how absolutely awful his decision is for the Knicks’ future.

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Racism, interrupted

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By Michael Bennett

Donald Sterling is the latest in a long line of rich white racists, and a shorter line of those who were caught being rich white racists.

I was sitting at a bar recently watching the Mavericks close out a win against the Spurs, stealthily eavesdropping on two young black men discussing the NBA’s headline topics.

They started with clarifying that the Heat were the only team to sweep its first-round opponent. Concurred that Indiana was surely falling short of its top seed expectations. Disagreed as to whether Russell Westbrook was shooting too much for Oklahoma City to defeat Memphis. And finally, after a brief silence:

“Man, how about that racist old man who owns the Clippers?”

“That dude is crazy, but what are you gonna do?”

“I guess we just have to wait for him to die.”

They shook their heads, laughed, and washed down the last gulp of their beers.

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The Associated Press, April 6:

"Texas is the largest athletic department, earning more than $165 million last year in revenue — with $109 million coming from football, according to Education Department data. The university netted $27 million after expenses."

The full out-of-state cost for a year at UT-Austin — which includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, estimated personal expenses and transportation expenses — is projected at $49,842.

Multiplied by the total allowable number of football scholarships (85), that’s about $4.2 million a year. Or, 15.7% of the athletic department’s profits and just 3.9% of total football revenues.

And that’s in the absolute most expensive case, given that players aren’t allowed to except anything of monetary value beyond their scholarships, not even pasta.

Tell us again how universities are nonprofits giving their star (student) athletes equal educational value for the millions he brings in. Tell us again how (student) athletes aren’t employees

We’ll wait.

WAR explains the 2014 MLB season, in three charts

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By Adam Cancryn

A primer on who’s a contender in 2014, and who isn’t, using Fangraphs WAR.

Through six innings on a sunny Opening Day in New York, the Mets kept it together. 

They entered the seventh frame up 4-2 on the Washington Nationals, thanks in large part to a three-run homer from left fielder Andrew Brown. Starter Dillon Gee struck out the first batter, allowed a single, but got the second out on a fielder’s choice.

And then, disaster.

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Giving Qatar the World Cup was a terrible idea

Worker Fatalities: Mega Sporting Events

By Adam Cancryn

At least 1,200 workers have died and thousands more subjected to appalling labor conditions in preparation for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

"Qatar is a country without a conscience."

That’s what the International Trade Union Confederation concluded after investigating the nation’s preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and judging by its resulting report, that’s no exaggeration. Slave labor, child abuse, nonexistent medical care and widespread corruption are just a few of the legal and human rights violations that the ITUC found, in what is already a state-sponsored humanitarian crisis. 

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Franchise failure

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By Jason Bacaj

The institutional failures of the Washington Redskins.

Imagine you’re Andy Dufresne.

You’re chipping away for years at the rock wall of your prison. Then you’re methodically smashing that sewage pipe, busting your way toward freedom as thunder crashes and the storm outside rages on. You crawl 500 hundred yards through all sorts of muck and grime, emerging finally to soak, with open arms, in the cleansing rains of liberty.

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