Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quarter Final: France v. Germany Preview

The World Cup quarterfinals kick off on America's birthday! While it would have been great to see the red, white, and blue go at it on July 4th, let's try to enjoy the incredible match we're privileged to see as France and Germany try to advance. With Europe only sending one team to the semifinals, this match has tremendous meaning.

As we break it down, adjustments could make all the difference. Both sides struggle a bit in the Round of 16, but each manager has a his moves planned.

First, on the German side, a normally impregnable defense has looked less than spectacular of late. Expect to see the return of Mats Hummels at center-back after missing the Algeria game due to illness. They'll need every ounce of his health, as he'll be expected to mark Karim Benzema, France's top gun.

Speaking of Benzema, he'll see a change as well. When Didier Deschamps chose to start Olivier Giroud in a more forward-attacking position against Nigeria, he struggled mightily. After finding success with Antoine Griezmann subbing into the midfield late in the game, the French boss will likely decide to go with that shape from the start. This allows Benzema to play as a central striker, his most comfortable and productive position. 

Most important, the French attack is clicking more than it has in any recent tournament, while Germany has trailed for just 8 minutes in the entire World Cup.  Given the French momentum, Germany shouldn't be surprised to be playing from behind at some point in the contest. Fortunately for them, there's a back-flipping veteran waiting in the wings - Miroslav Klose, who still needs just one goal to break the World Cup scoring record held by the great Ronaldo of Brazil. This may be Klose's last cap with Germany, so expect him to empty the tank, and leave it all on the field. 

Finally, the most interesting decision from Joachim Low will be whether to pull Thomas Muller when Klose is needed. Muller has played very well for the DFB, so if the German's backs are truly against the wall, they may very well keep both on the field toward the end of the game.

As always, coverage on SnapCall begins at 11:55 AM ET. Before you fire up the grill, or light off your fireworks, join the SnapCall action on with us! You don't want to miss the action as some of the best talent in the world face off.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Worth the Price of Admission?

The Yankees face one of their biggest tests of the season when David Price (6-7 3.63 ERA) takes the hill for the Rays at Yankee Stadium tonight. Not only is Price one of baseball's best pitchers on a consistent basis, but he's got something to prove these days. 

Lately, it seems as though the 2012 AL Cy Young winner has realized that he's playing for next year's contract. Tampa's dominant lefty has finally reached the end of his deal. Not only may Price walk at the end of the year, but with the Rays' struggles early on this season, they may end up dealing him to a contender at the trade deadline. 

So how has Price responded to the rumors? No big deal, he's just recorded 54 strikeouts with only 5 walks in June. In fact, he's looking to join Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers to record at least 10 strikeouts in six consecutive games. When you join that kind of company, think eight-figure contract, if not nine.

In an interview with MLB.com, Price said, "I've never been as good as I am right now, period. Not in 2012, not in college, not in high school. This is the best pitcher I've ever been."

Unfortunately for New Yorkers, the Yankee lineup is strewn with hard hitting lefties. Normally that's an advantate with the short porch in right field, but Price has only allowed 11 extra base hits against lefty batters in all of 2014. 

Who can be the saving grace for NY? Alfonso Soriano and Jacoby Ellsbury, both notorious for battling against southpaws, are a combined 8 for 13 lifetime against Price. Expect to see them in the heart of the order tonight. If they don't come through in big spots, it could spell the 8th loss in the last 10 games for the Yankees. 

Hiroki Kuroda (5-5, 4.23 ERA) will generally keep the Yankees in the game, but you have to score runs against this phenom to win. Can Girardi push the right buttons? Tune in at 7:00pm EST on SnapCall to find out!