Style points for Maddon
One of the secrets of the Tampa Bay Rays' success in recent years is not taking themselves too seriously during the long grind of the baseball season. Having got his players to wear hockey jerseys on a recent visit to Toronto, manager Joe Maddon has decided on more themed road trips for this week: World Cup soccer jerseys to Atlanta and Miami Vice apparel for a journey down the coast to play the Marlins. Maddon himself will be wearing a Crockett-style white suit, and while he hasn't yet decided on the "accessorizing," as he put it, rolling the sleeves up will surely be given after seeing his team lose two out of three this past weekend to allow the Yankees to pull level.
Up to the challenge
Not that he needs a reminder, but Roy Halladay will get a good idea Tuesday - if he didn't know already - of exactly why the Philadelphia Phillies acquired him last winter. The former Blue Jays ace will take to the mound at the familiar haunt of Yankee Stadium, where the Phillies' World Series challenge ground to a halt last November. Not that it should faze Halladay. The 2003 Cy Young winner enters the game with an 18-6 career record against the Bombers, allied with an 8-4 mark in the Bronx - and that was despite the questionable support provided to him by some less-than-stellar Toronto squads.
A disaster, naturally
One of the problems with the World Cup is the length of time between games. As a result, the whole of England will spend most of this week obsessing over the sticky remnants of "one disastrous spill the Yanks won't complain about," as the Times of London described goalkeeper Robert Green's howler on Saturday. Still, the biggest challenge of the group stage is behind Fabio Capello's squad, and Friday's matchup with Algeria should provide a welcome opportunity to get back on track after the 1-1 draw with the U.S. Of course, a comfortable win there and the Three Lions will apparently be halfway to the final - but what's wrong with a bit of hyperbole?
The calm before the storm?
Brazil will have to wait until Tuesday to make its World Cup bow, but to listen to some of the talking heads back home, the five-time champions may as well turn around now for fear of embarrassing themselves. "Brazil has let go of the fantasy and abandoned its roots," said Socrates, a focal point of the 1982 team many consider the most mesmerizing of all Brazil's teams - but which couldn't even make the semi-finals. And Coach Dunga, who captained Brazil to the 1994 title, bears much of the brunt for his disciplined but boring style. But his captain, Lucio, has the perfect retort for dissenters: "To those who complain about style, nothing is more beautiful than winning."