Southwest Ball, FIFA Finale and more

An Oil Slick

The first round of the SWBL playoffs are underway with some good match-ups. The Oilers take on the North Division champions from Hamiota; the Rivers Comets meet the Oak River Dodgers. In the South Division, the Deloraine Royals play the Hartney Hoppers and the #1 seed, provincial reps and pennant winners the Boissevain Centennials tangle with the Souris Cardinals. 

Maple Leafs Win Lottery

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With the Maple Leafs being handed the most glorious gift from the hockey gods in a decade, (signing star John Tavares), the question remains, how will this translate into a Stanley Cup parade for the party faithful, one that hasn't been held on Yonge Street since 1967. On paper the Leafs move from playoff hopefuls to serious SC contenders but we all know how that can turn out, just ask the Blackhawks. It's one thing to have a ton of talent on paper, and they do, but it's quite another feat and much more difficult to put it all together to bring home the Holy Grail of hockey. 

There is already a little drama being played out in the Big Smoke, as in, who will be the next captain of the team, JT or the young emerging superstar Auston Mathews? Tavares is the obvious choice but will the pouty Mathews' nose be out of joint if he isn't chosen? It should make for a very interesting season but they do have an ace up their sleeve, they have the best coach in the league (mentally) to manage it all. Mike Babcock will make sure that his players' heads are on straight and he'll will find a way to get the most out of his "horses", either by stroking or whipping them.

Wimbledon

Milos Raonic, for the third consecutive year, is into the Wimbledon quarterfinals over in jolly old England where he will face 6'9" American John Isner. It should be quite the battle (for example, Raonic had 39 aces in his last match) between two of the hardest serving players on the WTA. Unfortunately, the winner of the match has to go on and face eight-time champion Roger Federer. Thanks a lot! But it all should add up to a great final between RF and either Nadal or the Joker (Djokovic).

On the women's side, for the first time in over 50 years, not one woman from the top 10 seeds will be in the quarterfinals. Very strange or has some parity finally arrived? The odds on favourite now is obviously Serena Williams (remember she's seeded #25 due to her taking time off to have her first child) with her only possible challenge coming from former #1 Angelique Kerber. Williams has won seven titles at the All England Club; 23 majors in total, so I can't see her comeback being derailed now. 

FIFA Finale

After three weeks of the best "football" action in the world watched by millions around the world, we're down to the final two teams at the World Cup being played in Russia. The winner of the England-Croatia game will play the winner of the France-Belgium match, both being played in mid-week, on Sunday. The atmosphere will be electric and picking the winner will be a coin flip as there is so little difference between the teams. Even though England is on a miraculous winning streak and has had everything go their way, take the flying Frenchmen over the young English 2-1. 

In related news, the best player in the world, (either Ronaldo or Messi most people's eyes), is moving to another team. After nine years with Real Madrid, Ronaldo is taking his act to Juventus (Turin, Italy) for a reported $150 million transfer fee, plus he signed a four-year contract at $45 million a season. Times are tough, aren't they? Until next time....

© 2018 Virden Empire-Advance

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