The Weekend That Was: Women’s World Cup, the British Open, and Verbs

You ever notice how redneck speech sometimes involves mixing up the singular and plural forms of verbs? Where I grew up, you always heard sentences like these:

“They was fishin’ for crawdads half the morning!”

“That dog weren’t half as fast as the one he chased.”

OK, if I’m being totally honest, I probably never heard those exact sentences. But you get the point. Both “was” and “were” are clearly in the language arsenal. They’ve just been flipped, willy-nilly, like tenses are nothing more than an arbitrary game. It’s almost calculated — are they trying to subvert the whole system with their saucy inversions? If anyone ever hired me to correct their speech, I’d hammer home the was/were lesson right from the start. That would be my layup drill. They’d practice and practice and practice, and while they did that I’d probably be on Wikipedia reading about wars, because man, what a boring job.

Here’s what happened over the weekend:

  • Despite the U.S. team’s best efforts, Japan won the Women’s World Cup final. The Americans controlled play for portions of the match, but couldn’t reap the fruit of their attacks often enough to fend off an unflagging opponent. Japan came back twice, scoring late goals in regulation and extra time to force a penalty kick shootout. The prevailing postmatch narrative was Japan’s triumph in the wake of the tragic earthquake that devastated the country in earlier this year, but the humanitarian angle won’t curb the regrets of U.S. fans who reasonably expected a win. It also won’t curb their unreasonable expectations, such as the elimination of taxes and the right to light things on fire when they feel lonely.
  • Darren Clarke played a steady final round to win the British Open. It was the first major victory for the easygoing 42-year-old Clarke and the jewel in the crown of a strong career. He also became the third golfer from Northern Ireland to win a major in the past two years. As you might have heard, Northern Ireland is a nation of 1.8 million, and it has split the past six majors with the rest of the world (population: 6.9 billion).
  • Then again, most of the rest of the world managed to gain independence from Great Britain somewhere along the way, so we should probably hold our applause. Am I right, Earth?

  • The Texas Rangers won their 11th straight game Sunday, sweeping the Seattle Mariners and opening up a four-game lead in the division. Texas always looked like the superior team in the west (the run differentials alone have borne this out since the early going), but a sluggish start kept them in range of the Angels. Now, the cream is rising, and it would be a shock if Los Angeles — or anyone else, for that matter — could keep pace as the summer unfolds. This reality did not keep the Mariners from honoring the 10th anniversary of their 116-win season by angrily listing 116 reasons why defense is still an undervalued commodity.
  • On a side note, it never occurred to me until recently that “Angels” is an inherently ridiculous nickname. The words “Los Angeles” mean “the angels” in Spanish, so the whole thing is redundant: The Angels Angels. This would be like naming a team the “New York Nueva Yorks.” It could only work for one city: The San Diego Saint James. Those guys sound mysterious!

    And speaking of the Rangers, did anyone else read the annotated version of Tony Kornheiser’s great Nolan Ryan profile and feel really bad that Ryan played in an era before people realized the flaws of measuring a pitcher by wins and losses? We should all congratulate ourselves on living in a world in which Felix Hernandez can win a well-deserved Cy Young with a 13-12 record. If the old mindset persisted, David Price (19 wins) or CC Sabathia (21 wins) would have won in a walk.

  • The Pittsburgh Pirates are sniffing around first place in the NL Central. They beat the Astros in 11 innings Sunday to stay level with the Cardinals and a half-game back of the power-happy Brewers. The Reds are within striking distance, too, and all four teams have benefited from the ineptitude of the Astros and Cubs, who are currently the two worst clubs in baseball.
  • The winner of this horse race is anyone’s guess. The Pirates have pitched the best, the Reds have hit the best, and the Brewers have either been very fortunate or very clutch in close games, depending on your view. Meanwhile, the Cubs have been the best at forgetting to shuck their corn before they eat it, and the Astros are getting better at not fainting when a pitcher throws too fast.

  • In an epic 16-inning pitcher’s duel, the Red Sox outlasted the Rays, 1-0. Josh Beckett and Jeff Niemann each threw eight scoreless innings, and the bullpens thrived the rest of the way. With a game that long (almost six hours), there’s always the risk that fans will leave early. Luckily, this game was in Tampa Bay, so the fans had nothing else to do. Also, none of them showed up in the first place.
  • The NBA and NFL lockouts remain unresolved. Good news seems to be on the horizon for the NFL, but a litany of issues remain unresolved as the preseason approaches with the looming threat of canceled games. In defiance of its own lockout, the NBA said it would release next season’s schedule, a move that would come not long after Deron Williams signed a contract to play in Turkey and Dwight Howard said he was considering a similar path.
  • Resolutions to both conflicts may be imminent, but in the meantime fans will have to suffer the byzantine twists and turns of the ongoing player-versus-management drama. But it’ll all be worth it when we finally see the hilarious new sitcom Hold the Turkey, starring Deron Williams as an American basketball player who gets into hot water in a foreign country because his translator is a roguish mischief maker played by Debra Messing.

  • In four straight upsets, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Venezuela made the semifinals of the Copa America. The winner will play the San Diego Saint James’ for the world championship.

Shane Ryan is a staff writer for Grantland. Follow him on Twitter at @SCurrySavesDuke.

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Shane Ryan is a contributing writer for Grantland. His book about the young stars of the PGA Tour will be published by Random House in early 2015.

Archive @ ShaneRyanHere