US Women's soccer lose in semis; Wentz out indefinitely; and NBA Free Agency mini-preview

The Monday afternoon edition of "Six things to know before 6 PM" is live

We have a nice collection of sports stories on this Monday afternoon edition of my Snippets. We start off with a not shocking US women’s soccer semifinals loss in the Olympics (my reasoning below), and continue with the New York Mets not signing their 1st round pick. I also give a small preview of the NBA’s start of Free Agency (6 PM EST this early evening), and discuss a major injury to an NBA starting quarterback and the fantasy ramifications. That, and a whole lot more on today’s Snippets.

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1) US Women’s soccer is eliminated in the Olympics semis

For those fans that have heard about how great the US women’s soccer team has been over the years and just glanced at this 1-0 semifinals loss to Canada, they would be surprised; but for those that pay attention to every World Cup and Olympics play (as well as the tune-up matches), this defeat should not catch you by surprise.

I was just perusing through the highlights the last time these two teams faced off in the Olympics (the U.S., of course, won 4-3 in Extra Time), and you see a lot of familiar faces: Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, Kelly O’Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn. Those leaders were still there in this early morning (4 AM kickoff) match, and this is nine years later. They also have four other players that are 30+ years old, including both goalies.

So, if you see where I am going with this… the team is exceptionally old, and a lot of wear and tear compared to the much-younger 2012 team. That team had a lot of poise and was connecting well on passes in and around the goalie box, with several goal-scoring opportunities, especially in the Extra sessions. Fast-forward to this morning (as well as the rest of the Olympic play), and this 2021 team just never found any offensive rhythm, despite the star power littered all over the offensive end. Passes were heavy/not crisp from their midfielders to their star attackers; there were poor deliveries into the goalie box; corner kicks were not centered properly…etc. They did not score any goals against Sweden, Australia and today against Canada (all teams that have the same elite talent), but scored six against an inexperienced New Zealand squad. That is very telling on what was overall a very underwhelming U.S. experience, for a team looking to win a gold medal (following a World Cup title), which has still yet to happen in their 30-year history since the inaugural World Cup back in 1991.

So, to quickly recap this semifinal game, there were only two instances of drama - the first occurred in the 20th minute, when goalie Alyssa Naher corralled a shot on goal (the star of the quarterfinals win against Netherlands), but landed extremely awkwardly on her right knee. After gutting it out for five minutes, she took herself out of the game, with the reserve in Adrianna Franch replacing her. Fortunately, Canada did not have any first half shots on goal, and only had two for the game. The second moment of high drama happened at the 70’; Canada had a pass to the right of the goalie box, with American midfielder Rose LaVelle trailing. In an attempt to clear the ball, LaVelle made contact with the Canadian attacker’s back lower leg. No call, but upon VAR (Video Assistant Review… a.k.a. Instant Replay review), Canada was awarded a penalty kick (right call), and scored. From then-on, the US mustered only a couple more shots on goal, with little luck.

Now, the team will face Australia (yet again - a rematch of their 0-0 stalemate just days ago) for the Bronze Medal match - another early morning match this Thursday morning:

2) Mets do not sign their 1st round pick in Indian-American pitcher Kumar Rocker

Remember the story of Kumar Rocker, the Indian-American pitcher from Vanderbilt that got selected 11th overall in last month’s MLB Draft? Well, his situation turned for the worse yesterday afternoon, as he and the New York Mets (the team that drafted him) were unable to come to terms on a contract agreement - mainly due to the team’s concern over his pitching arm, as physical examinations were not too promising. His agent, the great Scott Boras, of course thought otherwise. From an ESPN article:

“Kumar Rocker is healthy according to independent medical review by multiple prominent baseball orthopedic surgeons. Immediately upon conclusion of his collegiate season, he had an MRI on both his shoulder and his elbow. When compared with his 2018 MRIs, the medical experts found no significant change. Kumar requires no medical attention and will continue to pitch in the regular course as he prepares to begin his professional career,” according to Boras.

To add-on, Rocker’s arm was over-taxed, as he did have a game last year for Vanderbilt in which he threw over 140 pitches, and he had around 236 innings pitched in his three-year stint with the university.

So, what are the next stages for both the Mets and Rocker? Well, the Mets will get the 11th overall pick in next year’s draft, as compensation. As for Rocker? He had multiple avenues to take: go back to school and pitch for the Commodores to improve his draft stock for next year; do the same, but for a team in an independent pro baseball league, or rehab that pitching arm of his in preparation for the draft. His option? According to Boras, he will be choosing the second option (playing in an independent league).

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3) Former Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney rips USOC on social media regarding the mistreatment of former gymnasts when looking back at her Olympic career

You all recall a 2012 Olympic gymnast by the name of McKayla Maroney? If not, she was the one with the flawless vault routine in the London Olympics, and had her internet meme of a “not impressed” expression after receiving silver for the said event? Well, she went on blast on both her Instagram stories and Twitter, lashing out at the United States Olympic Committee at how terribly she was treated leading up to the 2012 London Olympics.

Sure, this can be considered old news, as we heard the same, harrowing stories from other gymnasts under Larry Nassar years ago, but Maroney added that she was definitely hurting leading up to that vault:

She said she suffered a broken nose that led to a concussion following an Olympics tune-up routine in Texas, then after getting off the plane in London, was instantly shuttled to a gym when she then suffered a broken foot on practicing a beam routine (something that was not part of her Olympics curriculum). Nassar made Maroney’s situation worse by saying that the fresh injury was actually “an old toe injury”, and thus allowed her to continue her Olympics performance.

This story just goes to show that the coaches will do literally anything to have their athletes perform, despite the mental and/or physical pain that these athletes are feeling under the greatest moments.

4) NBA Free Agency is just hours away - rumors abound!

Yes - it is almost that time of year - when NBA players are going to new teams, and every NBA fan is F5’ing (constantly refreshing their Twitter/Reddit feeds with the latest signing) to find out which big name is switching jerseys for the foreseeable future. That moment starts tonight, at 6 PM EST. There are loads of star players on the market, including Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, Andre Iguodala, Lonzo Ball and Enes Kanter, to name a few. Some may re-sign with their original teams (like reports say for Leonard and Conley); others have a myriad of new destinations, as Ball has been linked to about a dozen teams, some with more dire point guard situations (like the Celtics and Wizards) than others (Hornets and Bulls). We may see some surprises (as always), as dark-horse teams that have not been mentioned in free agent rumors may swoop up to sign one or more star players.

As for the local Washington Wizards? The team has a glut of forwards, but only has one point guard on the current roster (that being reserve Aaron Holiday); so you know that they will be definitely hunting for a premier pass-first and defensive-first PG; problem is this, according to a former Wizards’ reporter:

So, that’s the problem, and we will just have to wait until the moments leading up and past the start of NBA free agency to figure out who is orchestrating the Wizards’ offense next season-onwards.

5) Colts’ QB Carson Wentz out 5-12 weeks with foot injury

Another week, another significant blow to an NFL team with an injury to their star player. In this case, we have former Philadelphia Eagles’ (now Indianapolis Colts’) quarterback Carson Wentz, who is now sidelined anywhere from 5 to 12 weeks after a foot injury suffered during last week’s start of training camp. Wentz was projected to be the Colts’ starter, for a playoff team a year ago. With the loss of Wentz, rookie Jacob Eason (drafted in the 4th round in this year’s draft from the University of Washington) will now be the de facto starter for the time being. This injury really hurts the Colts’ offense as a whole, as Wentz is a decent quarterback… but now the team has to turn to a rookie to lead the team.

5b) The fantasy football fallout of Carson Wentz’s foot injury

Like with any big-name quarterback (and star player that is fantasy-relevant), I will be discussing the fallout of Carson Wentz missing anywhere from 1-4 months (could return as soon as October or miss the entire season). In this case, it hurts every Colts’ skill player, from potential fantasy first round pick in Jonathan Taylor to the wide receivers in T.Y. Hilton and Michael Pittman. ESPN fantasy football guru Matthew Berry said it best:

Yes. That means, in a standard 10-team league (even in a full point-per-reception [ppr] league), the Colts’ receivers are not worth drafting (and neither are the tight ends in Mo-Alie Cox nor Jack Doyle). Taylor’s value will almost definitely take a hit, as he was poised to be drafted in-between the likes of Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys), Aaron Jones (Packers) and Nick Chubb (Browns); with Wentz’s injury, I would be much more comfortable drafting any of these veterans over second-year RB in Taylor, and I would not be surprised if people elected to draft Austin Ekeler (Chargers) and Antonio Gibson (WFT) over Taylor as well.

6) Your ‘Fun Fact of the Day’, courtesy of Redditor u/CrossyRoadster

‘The Dodgers 40-man roster currently has 2 Zachs, 2 Turners, 2 Williams, 2 Maxes, 2 Jimmies, and 2 “McKin-”’

To be more specific, he goes on to say that the Los Angeles Dodgers have: utility guy Zach McKinstry and outfielder Zach Reks, third baseman Justin Turner and middle infielder Trea Turner, catcher Will Smith and outfielder Billy (Will) McKinney, infielder Max Muncy and starting pitcher Max Scherzer, relief pitchers Jimmy Nelson and Jimmie ‘James’ Sherfy, utility player Zach McKinstry and outfielder Billy McKinney. Also relief pitcher Corey Knebel (60-day Injured List) and shortstop Corey Seager, corner infielder Edwin Ríos (60-IL), and pitcher Edwin Uceta.

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We are done with another edition of my Snippets on this July Monday afternoon. Enjoy the Olympic events taking place this evening, including the quarterfinals men’s basketball matchup between Team USA and Spain (12:40 AM EST tip-off). Like the women’s soccer/futbol team, I would not be surprised if Team USA lost, but should be a good one, nevertheless. So, until next time, signing off.