Red’s World Cup Update

Red’s pre-tournament  favorites Mexico, Spain, Portugal and Argentina seem to be headed in different directions.

Spain and Portugal are likely moving on with 4 points each and playing Morocco and Iran respectively in the third game of group play.  But neither side has impressed so far.  Red calls Spain and Portugal mediocre in action to date.  Each side needs a three goal outburst against the lesser competition.  Red views Portugal as more likely to come up with a big game.

Any time you beat the reigning world champion, things are looking up.  Mexico is certainly looking that way and a win over Sweden (make that S. Korea)  tomorrow (not a given by any means) would all but assure an entry into the Round of 16 for El Tri and add to the swagger that comes with beating Deutschland.   Look for more fireworks from Mexico’s powerful frontline and rising star Hirving Lozano and more solid keeping from Memo Ochoa.

And alas, Los Albicelestes are wondering where the bus came from that has run them over and drug them a kilometer down the road in this WC.  A total ass-whomping by Croatia has put Argentina in a serious bind.  There is a narrow path to the knock-out rounds but Messi and Co. no longer control their own fate.   SB Nation has the scoop on Argentina’s chances.

  1. Iceland ties or loses to Nigeria tomorrow.

  2. Croatia then needs to beat or tie Iceland.

  3. Argentina needs to beat Nigeria.

All three of those things happening will allow Argentina to advance.

If Iceland beats Nigeria tomorrow, there is still an outside chance that Argentina could sneak in, but for that to happen it would rely on them beating Nigeria and then Iceland losing to Croatia, and then it would come down to a tiebreaker, since both teams would be on four points.

Goal difference would decide it at that point, and if goal difference is the same, then it will go to yellow cards, of which Argentina has more than a few.  If none of the above happens, Argentina is eliminated.

This looks like the end for Argentina as a serious world power for at least a couple of years.  Maybe they come back in Copa America next year – but maybe not.

Other teams to watch (besides the obvious favorites to move on) include – Croatia, Senegal, Japan and Denmark.  Meanwhile, Red is sort of wishing he had gotten on the Uruguay bandwagon – but he just doesn’t like Suarez or Cavani (the Robbins of South America).

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Today in Texas History – June 20

From the Annals of Statehood –  In 1844, the U.S. Senate rejected a treaty providing for the annexation of Texas.  Texas’ annexation was a hot political issue of the day because it meant the addition of a vast slave-holding state to the Union.  Both the Democrats and Whigs had opposed annexation understanding that it would further inflame tensions between the free and slave states.  However, President John Tyler began to promote annexation as a gambit to gain support for a second presidential term.  Tyler had abandoned the Whig party by this point and believed that pursuing annexation of Texas would create a groundswell of popular support among slave states and secure him another four years in office.  He began secret negotiations with Sam Houston’s administration and ultimately secured a treaty of annexation in April 1844.   When the terms became public, the 1844 became something of a referendum on the issue of annexation.  Pro-annexation southern Democratic delegates  rejected Tyler and the anti-annexation leader Martin Van Buren at their party’s convention in May 1844, instead nominating pro-annexation James K. Polk who ran on a pro-Texas Manifest Destiny platform.

In June 1844, the Senate, with its Whig majority, rejected the Tyler–Texas treaty and in the Fall elections Polk narrowly defeated anti-annexation Whig Henry Clay.  In December 1844, lame-duck President Tyler once again attempted to gain passage of the treaty.  He called on Congress to pass his treaty by simple majorities in each house. The Democratic-dominated House of Representatives passed a bill expanding on the pro-slavery provisions of the Tyler treaty. The Senate narrowly passed a compromise version of the House bill (by the vote of the minority Democrats and several southern Whigs), designed to provide the incoming President-elect Polk the options of immediate annexation of Texas or new talks to revise the annexation terms of the House-amended bill.  On March 1, 1845, President Tyler signed the annexation bill, and on March 3 (his last day in office), he forwarded the House version to Texas, offering immediate annexation (which preempted Polk). When Polk took office the next day, he encouraged Texas to accept the Tyler offer. Texas ratified the agreement with popular approval from Texans.

Meanwhile on the subject of tolerance and understanding

A billboard on Interstate 40 in Texas tells liberals to to keep driving until they leave the state.

An undisclosed client hired Burkett Outdoor Advertising to put up a billboard in the Panhandle advising “liberals” to leave Texas.  According to the latest polling in statewide races, that would require as much as 40% of the state to “get the Hell out of [insert city name here]” as the liberal Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke is currently polling around that number.  If you look at Trump’s disapproval rating, then maybe as many as 47% of Texans would have to make like horseshit and hit the trail as that is the percentage that strongly (40%) or somewhat (7%) disapprove of Trumpf – the Insult Comic President.  Red is just guessing, that might hurt the Texas economy just a bit – but it would leave a lot of room for immigrants (or worse Californians) to move in.  That is called “unintended consequences.”

Hot Texas Barbecue Spots

Travel & Leisure has released its list of the top 25 barbecue spots in the U.S.  It’s a bit surprising that only two Texas pits made the list.   Even more surprising, are the absence of famous spots such as Franklin’s in Austin (overrated in Red’s opinion) and Snow’s in Lexington (the best there is).  The only Texas pitmasters to make the list were:

No. 15  – Spicy Mike’s  Bar-B-Q Haven in Amarillo.

No. 14  – Kat’s Barbecue in Santa Fe.

Red will be checking them out and letting you if T&L knows its stuff.

Today in Texas History – June 15

From the Annals of the Aviators –  In 1892, Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman was born in Atlanta. In 1921, she became the world’s first licensed African-American pilot.  Bessie was the 10th of 13 children George and Susan Coleman.  George was Cherokee, Choctaw and African-American. Susan was African-American.  Coleman grew up in Waxahacie and attended the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University.  Unable to study in the U.S. she went to France to obtain her license.  Upon her return to the U.S., she was a sensation as a barn-storming daredevil pilot.  Unfortunately, she died in a plane crash at the age of 34.

Today in Texas History – June 14

From the Annals of the Daily Papers – In 1881, the Laredo Morning Times was founded as the Laredo Weekly.  The LW was a four-page newspaper published by James Saunders Penn in the corner of a downtown building on Farragut Street in Laredo. Two years later, the paper began daily publication as the Laredo Daily Times. In 1926, the paper became the first English-language paper on the border to include a Spanish section.  In 1986, William B. Green became only the ninth publisher of the Laredo Morning Times. The paper is owned by the Hearst Corporation.

Red’s World Cup Group Play Predictions

The world’s largest single sport event gets under way in less than one hour with host Russia taking on Saudi Arabia in what is the worst match up in the entire tournament between the two lowest ranked teams.  Nonetheless, Red will be watching as much as possible.  And despite the scandals, despite Russian, despite the USA failing to make the Finals, despite everything – Red is still excited.  So hear goes:

Group A  –  Uruguay and Egypt.   The weakest group by a long shot with Russia and Saudi Arabia bringing up the rear.  Uruguay is the overwhelming favorite to win and Red sees no reason why they shouldn’t be 3-0-0 with the disagreeable Suarez and sulking Cavani up front. Mohammed Salah should be enough to carry Egypt into the Round of 16 with a 2-0-1 total.

Group B – Portugal and Spain.  The winner of Friday’s Iberian rivalry will have the inside track to finishing on top here.  Look for Ronaldo to have his hair and game in perfect form and Pepe to anchor a solid defense on the way to a first place 2-0-1 ranking going into the knock-out rounds.  Spain sacked its coach 48 hours before the Finals begin and will be playing catch-up but will finish 2-1-0 and be the most dangerous second place team.  Morocco and Iran can’t match these powerhouses.

Group C – France and Peru.  Les Bleus are the class of this group led by centerback Varane who has the difficult task of keeping and shaky back line in order, France will move on at 2-1-0 possibly losing to Peru or Denmark.  Peru is an up and coming squad with most of the players coming from the rough and tumble of Liga-MX.  They play tough defense and will squeak in at 1-1-1 on a tiebreaker with Denmark.  Australia will enjoy the show.

Group D – Argentina and Iceland.  If Argentina doesn’t overwhelm this group then Los Albiceleste need a thorough housecleaning.  All should go well unless Higuan blows it again. Messi, diMaria and others will carry the day but only at 2-0-1.  Iceland – Cinderella story from out of the North Atlantic about to move to the Round of 16 – unless the Super Eagles get in the way.  That could happen, but Red is going with the upset here and Iceland getting in at 1-0-2.

Group E – Brazil and Costa Rica.  Brazil!!!!!!!! Neymar!!!!!! Enough said.  Brazil 3-0-0.  Costa Rica rides on the mighty shoulders of world’s best goalkeeper Navas.  And mighty shoulders they are.  Switzerland is the hot pick for second here.  Red is not a believer.  CR has just enough offense to move on at 1-1-1.

Group F – Germany and Mexico.  The Germans look for back-to-back  for the first time since Brazil did it a good while back.  Red doesn’t discount their chances.  There has been a lot of turnover, but that is usually a good sign of rising talent.  Kroos in the midfield is the new leader and the Germans know how to follow.  Deutschland 2-0-1.  Mexico is Red other choice.  This is a struggling Mexican squad that looked uninspired and unimaginative in their last friendly with Denmark.  Maybe that is a kick in the pantalones.  This is the last chance for this generation.  Chicarito, Lozano and Corona must attack, attack, attack.  And hopefully there will not be a rotating cast of characters in goal.  If they beat Germany on Sunday all bets are off though. Mexico 2-1-0.

Group G – Belgium and England.  Belgium is a real contender for the Semis.  They cruise through this group 3-0-0.  England by default at 1-1-1.

Group H – Colombia and Poland.  Colombia finally lives up to its potential and James Rodriguez again competes for the Golden Boot.  2-1-0.  Poland is a dangerous squad with another candidate for top scorer in  Lewandowski who scored a European-high 16 goals in qualifying. Polski in at 2-0-1.