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Women's World Cup final

United States vs. Japan
Frankfurt, Germany
2:45 p.m. Sunday, ESPN, Ch. 5.

Planning your day: Television coverage begins at 2 p.m. However, the game's official starting time is 2:45 p.m.

Planning your time: Halves are 45 minutes, so the game should be over by 4:30 p.m. or so. That's avoiding "added time," which is the few minutes added by the officials at the end of each half, or "extra time," which is soccer's version of overtime (two 15-minute halves played to their completion), or the harrowing penalty kick shootout.

Who you're listening to: Ian Darke is the play-by-play guy with the British accent and the fun soccer phrasing. "Well done," "brilliant," "splendid," "deft," and -- hopefully for the U.S. fans -- some "good football" resulting in a "cracker" of a shot or two. Color commentator Julie Foudy is unsteady in the booth compared to the field, where she was the sturdiest of defenders for four World Cups and two U.S. titles. She will "do well" to keep her comments "on frame" today.

In the haus: Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former President Bill Clinton and current Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Biden, are expected to be among the sellout crowd of about 49,000.

U.S. history lesson: The United States has won two Women's World Cups, but hasn't done so since 1999, when Brandi Chastain scored the game-winning penalty kick against China and whipped off her jersey before more than 90,000 people in the Rose Bowl.

Japan history lesson: The team -- which begins each pregame by displaying a banner thanking the globe for its support following March's tragic earthquake -- had won just three games in a combined five World Cups prior to this month. Japan then recorded the stunner of the tournament by defeating host and defending champion Germany in the quarterfinals, and beat Sweden (which beat the U.S. in group play) in the semis.

U.S. stars: Rochester native Abby Wambach and her dramatic headers have helped lift the U.S. to the final, first with a scintillating, shorthanded, headline-grabbing, last-minute goal to force penalty kicks with Brazil in the quarterfinals, then with a go-ahead goal against France in the semifinals. ... The great goalkeeper (aggressive, athletic, measured, confident) with one of the greatest names in sports is Hope Solo. ... Her starting job was taken away just prior to the tournament, but New Jersey's Megan Rapinoe has been a force when being substituted late in the game, including her momentous cross --- which found Wambach's head --- in extra time against Brazil.

Japan stars: Homare Sawa is a 32-year-old in her fifth World Cup who leads the team with five goals in four games. ... Nahomi Kawasumi, who had seen limited action before the semifinal, made her first start in the semifinal and scored twice in the 3-1 win over Sweden. ... Diminutive 26-year-old Aya Miyama personifies the fine passing of the Nadeshiko (what the team is known by in Japan) with a team-high three assists.

Impress your friends: Japan has succeeded with excellent tactical and technical play, keeping possession of the ball with good, quick combinations of passes and remaining well-positioned to defend even if they lose the ball. Their play has been lauded worldwide and is a great contrast with the U.S., which is more physically imposing and more physically fit. The U.S. was outpossessed against France in the semifinal, but after some dicey moments early in a 1-1 second half, Wambach's header and a well-placed breakaway shot by Alex Morgan gave the scoreboard the look of a sizable (for soccer) 3-1 win.

Our team, our coach: "It's something about the American attitude, and finding a way to win," was the way U.S. coach Pia Sundhage described her team's comeback win over Brazil. Sundhage is a native and citizen of ... Sweden.

Real-life pregame show: FC Buffalo of the National Premier Soccer League moved its regular season finale at All High Stadium up from 3 p.m. to noon today as not to conflict with the big game.

Opportunity to see the stars up close -- but hurry: The WNY Flash (featuring Alex Morgan of the U.S.) hosts magicjack (featuring Wambach and Solo) of Florida in a Women's Professional Soccer match at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday at Sahlen Stadium in Rochester. At last count, some 8,500 tickets had been sold, and the stadium will open up its upper deck to accommodate what is expected to be a sellout crowd.

---Keith McShea

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: One and done

   July 16, 1890 -- If you don't believe that baseball is one of the most well-chronicled activities in the United States, consider the case of Dan Cotter.

   The record books say that Cotter made his major league baseball debut with the Buffalo team in the Players League on this date. It's difficult to imagine a debut going any worse.

   Cotter pitched a complete game for the Bisons. He allowed 19 runs, 14 of them earned, on 18 hits with seven walks and no strikeouts. His team went on to a 19-0 loss to the Boston Reds.

   And that was it for Cotter. He never played another big league game, finishing his career with an 0-1 record and a 14.00 earned-run average. But he was a major leaguer for a day. We know he was born on April 14, 1867, and died on September 4, 1935, in Boston.

   Cotter couldn't be blamed for the Bisons' problems that year, as they went 36-96. The Players League was something of a revolt by the best players, who decided to go off on their own when they wanted more money. The new league had better players but poorer financing. It died after one year.

   The most famous reminder of the league might be the stadium that the New York team used in
its one season. The Polo Grounds water as used by National League teams through 1963.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Another Chase in the books

It's been a very busy week in local running, with plenty of good races already this week. The highlight was tonight's Subaru Buffalo Four Mile Chase. Kumsa Adunga of Ethiopia and Megan Brown of Toronto were the winners on a hot night. We'll have all of the details in Saturday's News.

The weekend should be a warm one, but there are even more chances to run. Here's the schedule, with thanks to buffalorunners.com:

* Laurel Run, 8K, Silver Creek Village Square, 8:30 a.m, Saturday, 661-4735.

* CharacterChase 5K, 150 Pleasant Ave. in Hamburg, 11 a.m. Saturday. It's a new race, but they do have Erie County to themselves. That might lead to a good turnout for those who could not do Subaru.

* Emily Rose 5K, Russell Park in Akron, 10 a.m. Sunday, 725-2380.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Big Apple Triple – The devil made me do it

By Gene Kershner

We’ll travel down the New York State Thruway to Farmington on Saturday for the second leg of the Big Apple Triple, a series of races for New York-breds. Any horse that sweeps the three races will receive an additional bonus of $100,000. The first leg was last month at Belmont Park, where 3-Preachintothedevil won the Mike Lee Stakes. One of Finger Lakes Casino and Race Track’s feature races, the 1-1/16 mile $150,000 New York Derby has attracted five other horses that will try to deny the favorite a chance at the Big Apple Triple at Saratoga in August in the Albany Stakes.

Last year’s New York Derby was won by Ibboyee during my inaugural visit to Finger Lakes. He beat a rather game Shrewd One with Edgar Prado aboard in the stretch in a very exciting race. Mike Luzzi came in to ride Ibboyee to victory.

The last and only horse to pull off the Big Apple Triple was Tin Cup Chalice in 2008. Unfortunately, he was euthanized after a freak training injury suffered the following year at Finger Lakes.

Trainer Gary Contessa not only has the favorite in the race, but second choice 2-Socialsaul, who will have a local jockey, 49-year-old John Grabowski, in the irons on Saturday as the 3-1 second choice on the board.

Let’s take a look at the New York Derby challengers and try to figure out who’s going to nab the second leg of the Big Apple Triple (trainer, jockey, morning line odds in parentheses):

1 – Sky Music (Weaver, Rodriguez, 5-1) – NYRA-based trainer George Weaver adds blinkers. The Sky Mesa colt has finished behind the favorite twice while under trainer Todd Pletcher. The favorite is giving him a whopping nine pounds, which is just enough to make me consider underneath.

2 – Socialsaul (Contessa, Grabowski, 3-1) – Lightly raced Read the Footnotes colt won his last two efforts at a mile at Belmont under Javier Castellano. First foray at the Finger with veteran jock Grabowski, who is winning at a 26 percent clip. He’s been working lights out and should be a major win contender.

3 – Preachintothedevil (Contessa, Espinoza, 6-5) – After folding in the Wood Memorial on the Derby trail, he was much the best in the Mike Lee, which is run at 7 furlongs. He hasn’t handled the distance well in his starts in route races. While he’s the class of the race, I think he’s vulnerable being the high weight at 124 pounds and will be way overbet based on who he’s faced in the past (Animal Kingdom in the Spiral) and not based on his efforts.

4 – Bristol Harbour (LeCesse, Davila Jr., 12-1) – The Rockport Harbor colt stretches out to 8 1/2 furlongs for the first time and has leading Finger Lakes jockey John Davila Jr. aboard (winning at a phenomenal 35 percent rate). Not convinced.

5 – Winners Laugh (Ferraro, Morales, 8-1) – Since arriving at Finger Lakes after a trainer switch, he’s perfect in three races, showing improvement in each. Even with a bad break, two races back he won decisively. Won off a bullet workout last time out, he should be fit to run on Saturday. Wouldn’t leave him off the bottom of any exotic tickets.

6 – Tap Attack (Schwartz, Carr, 5-1) – Finished second to Preachintothedevil in the Mike Lee after being bumped at the break and he was closing late, but had too much to make up. He ships in after a bullet workout at Aqueduct on July 11. The Tapit colt gains a solid local rider in Carr. The added distance may be just what the doctor ordered for this one.

New York Derby Post Time Selections:
1 – Socialsaul
2 – Tap Attack
3 – Sky Music

Prince of Wales Outlook: I attended the post position draw Wednesday for the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie Racetrack, where seven horses will vie for the $300,000 first place prize on Sunday afternoon at the border oval. I favor Pender Harbour in the race and will box him with Bowman’s Causeway and Oban, my longshot play. I think Check Your Soul and Hippolytus will be underlays and will be taking a stand against both.

Good luck and let’s go cash some tickets!

Gene Kershner is a Buffalo-based turf writer, handicapper and member of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance who blogs at equispace.blogspot.com and tweets @EquiSpace.

 

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Welcome to Buffalo, Rolie

   July 15, 1998 -- The Buffalo Sabres have gone through quite a list of second-string goalies over the past 15 years. This is the day when they officially signed one of them.

   Dwayne Roloson came aboard as a free agent on this date, leaving the Calgary Flames to come here. His time in Buffalo is best remembered for winning Game One of the Eastern Conference finals against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1999. That got Buffalo off to a great start, and there was no stopping the Sabres once Dominik Hasek returned to action later in that series.

   Roloson has had an interesting career. He didn't see much action in Buffalo -- no one playing behind Hasek ever did -- and jumped to Minnesota as a free agent in 2001. Roloson was good there, putting up a 1.88 goals-against average in 2003-04. Rolie the Goalie was good in Edmonton as well. He helped the Oilers reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006.

   From there, it was on to the Islanders, where he had a season and one-half of respectible play. Then it was on to Tampa Bay, where he was a big help as the Lightning won a pair of playoff series last spring.

--- Budd Bailey 

Watkins Glen president on IndyCar return in 2012: 'I highly doubt it.'

When I asked Watkins Glen International president Michael Printup if there was a chance the IndyCar Series would return to the famed Finger Lakes track in 2012, he said: "I highly doubt for next year."

And the more he talked, it seemed the level of doubt got higher and higher. 

"We haven't been able to meet anything and their schedule is already full for next year," said Printup, a native of Hamburg who just completed his second full year as president at WGI.

Watkins Glen was left of this year's IndyCar schedule after a six-year run at the track. That run featured various date changes and mixed reviews on attendance but often very entertaining racing.

Drivers and teams had been near-unanimous in their appreciation for the track and it's open-wheel history, which includes the hosting of Formula One's U.S. Grand Prix from 1961-80 and CART IndyCar events from 1979-81.

"I wish Randy [Bernard, who took over as IndyCar CEO last summer] would take a look at what's going on in his sport and take a look at us, because we obviously have something to offer that the drivers love," Printup said following a public relations event featuring Juan Pablo Montoya -- the defending champion of the Glen's NASCAR race -- at the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in the Rochester suburb of Henrietta. "And if you ask Juan, he'll tell you the the same thing because he told another [reporter] earlier.

"It's a shame that they're not racing at the Glen. They belong there. The drivers -- you have to go where the racing is racing. Toronto was not racing, Milwaukee wasn't racing. Watkins Glen is racing. Where do fans what to see it, whether it is on TV or live? It's a facility that can provide the excitement."

Printup said that the reasons behind the IndyCar's absence from the Glen come down to money.

"It goes back to the contract, it goes back to what we pay them," he said. "It goes back to the business relationship. You've got to have a product to sell; they've got the product, but you can't outprice yourself either. That's true in free trade, too, supply and demand."

"They wanted more money -- and it didn't fit the business model for WGI."

Printup, as he has said in the past, hopes the series will return to the Glen in the future. 

"Once we can all figure that out together," he said of the business model, "I think we'll all put together a great product again."

Printup said that despite the lack of the IndyCar event this summer, the season was busier for he and his staff. The Glen hosting a celebrated car swap with NASCAR's Tony Stewart and Formula One's Lewis Hamilton in June followed by a Phish concert over the Fourth of July weekend (which had been the IndyCar series' most recent event date).

"We actually got busier," Printup said. "It actually really put a lot of pressure on the staff to function so often together. We always concentrate on Cup obviously, and we're looking forward to it, we're just a mere month away."

Track officials held events with Montoya to promote this summer's NASCAR race weekend of Aug. 12-14. NASCAR has been racing at the Glen since 1986, and its August weekend has regularly attracted crowds estimated close to 100,000.

Ticket sales "are going great," said Printup. "I think we'll be up to the capacity that we were at least last year -- again."

Montoya was in Canandaigua earlier in the afternoon, visiting the Junior Chef Camp at the New York Wine & Culinary Center -- which will have some of its instructor chefs running culinary courses at this weekend's Finger Lakes Wine Festival at the Glen. Montoya then visited with a group of loyal Glen ticket holders at Wild Wings, engaging in an entertaining question & answer session.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Lots for little

   July 14, 1998 -- This is a paricularly difficult day in Buffalo Bills' history, especially if you are Ralph Wilson.

   The Bills signed quarterback Rob Johnson to a new, record-setting contract.

   Johnson had been acquired in February that year from Jacksonville in exchange for two draft choices. He agreed to a five-year deal worth $25 million, including an $8 million signing bonus. It took several months to work out the particulars.

   "The framework was set back at the league meetings in Orlando," said Johnson's agent, Leigh Steinberg said. "Given that we couldn't sign it immediately, it made sense that we take our time."

   At the time, the Bills had high hopes that Johnson would be the team's quarterback of the future and the successor to Jim Kelly. It's fair to say that concept didn't work out. Johnson started 26 games in four years with the Bills, compiling a 9-17 record. From there it was on to backup work with Tampa Bay, Washington and Oakland.

   And it's also fair to say that Wilson didn't exactly get his money's worth.

 --- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: New champ

   July 13, 1925 -- Jimmy Goodrich was a busy man in his professional boxing career. He had a career record of 86-34-21, plus about 40 "no decisions.

   One of them was unquestionable the highlight of his career.

   The world lightweight title was vacant when Goodrich took on Stan Loayza of Chile in Long Island City, New York. Goodrich had won his last six fights to earn his shot, while Loayza went into the bout undefeated.

   It didn't take long for Goodrich to take charge. He knocked down Loayza five times in the first round alone, injuring his ankle in the process. Referee Ed Smith stopped the bout at 35 seconds of round two, and Goodrich was a world champion.

   Goodrich held on to the title until December of that same year, when he lost to Rocky Kansas in Broadway Auditorium in Buffalo. But Goodrich wasn't done yet. He continued his professional career until 1930.

   Eventually Goodrich returned to Western New York, and became a local businessman. He died in 1982.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Selling a superstar

     July 12, 1885 -- The Buffalo Bisons were in the midst of their last season in the National League. Maybe they would have lasted longer had they hung on to their best players.

     The Bisons had a pretty good pitcher on their roster by the name of Pud Galvin. He had been a Bison for several years, including a pair of 46-win seasons. However, he was only 13-19 as part of a struggling Buffalo team.

     The Herd sold Galvin to the Pittsburgh Alleganys. The price? Five thousand dollars.

     Galvin continued his fine pitching ways in Pennsylvania. He won 20 or more games four straight years with Pittsburgh, and finished his career with a 365-310 record. Thus, Galvin became the first 300-game winner in major league game history. He also was the first player known for using illegal drugs, as it was believed he drank an elixir filled with monkey testosterone in 1889.

     The Bisons, meanwhile, staggered home and finished in a virtual tie for last place with Detroit with a 38-74 record -- 49 games out of first place.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Doubling up

     July 11, 2004 -- Professional golf tournaments have been few and far between over the years in the Buffalo area. It's nice to celebrate the ones we have had.

     The women's tour paid a visit across the river in 2004, as the Canadian Women's Open paid a visit to the Legends on the Niagara Battlefield course in Niagara Falls, Ont. Meg Mallon will never forget the tournament.

     Mallon followed up her victory in the U.S. Open the week before by taking Canada's championship. She fired a 70 in the event's final round to move to 18-under for the tournament.

     No one had ever won both the U.S. and Canadian Opens in the same year before.

     "This is my 18th year on tour, and it's been such a rewarding career," Mallon said. "But I've never had two weeks like this. It's been incredible.

     Beth Daniel finished second four shots back. Tied for third at 12 under were Jean Bartholomew of Queens and Lorena Ochoa of Mexico.

--- Budd Bailey

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