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Frank Cashen, R.I.P.



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One of the national pastime’s very best front-office executives, Frank Cashen, passed away yesterday at a hospital on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He was 88.

Although Orioles fans will remember Cashen fondly for overseeing the construction of a championship franchise in Baltimore starting in the mid-1960s, most followers of the game will associate him with being the general manager who took over the hapless Mets in the winter of 1980 and turned them into a winner.

Richard Goldstein of the New York Times notes:

In nearly a quarter-century as a baseball administrator, Mr. Cashen made shrewd trades, but he focused on building farm systems, even with the arrival in the mid-1970s of bidding wars for high-priced free agents. It was something of an old-fashioned strategy that fit perfectly with Mr. Cashen’s collection of bow ties from a bygone era in men’s fashion.

He joined the Mets in 1980, after they had finished last in the National League East for three straight seasons, and built a 1986 championship ball club featuring Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra, Jesse Orosco, Wally Backman and Roger McDowell from the Mets’ farm system, together with Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Bobby Ojeda, Ray Knight and Howard Johnson, all obtained in trades. …

In November 2004, most of the Mets’ 1986 team was on hand to honor their manager and general manager at a charity function in New York. “I guess I owe everything to Frank,” Keith Hernandez said at the time. “He put together the deal that got me here. He’s a guy who achieved greatness in baseball without ever picking up a bat.”

More here.

Tags: MLB

Reveille 6/30/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

  • After another dominant start from Clayton Kershaw, a 6–0 shutout against the visiting Cardinals, the Dodgers have snatched first place in the NL West from the hated (and slumping) Giants.
  • Using Dwight Gooden as a comp, SB Nation’s Steven Goldman shows that Tim Lincecum was able to exceed his present-day abilities to throw his second no-hitter in less than one calendar year.
  • As of this morning, the A’s have the best record in the bigs, at 51–30, and look well positioned to capture the AL West for the third consecutive season. More than a decade removed from the publication of Michael Lewis’s Moneyball, Will Leitch of New York Magazine explores what general manager Billy Beane is doing right this time around. Among the findings:

The A’s do one thing more than any other team: They platoon. Most teams would look at players like A’s catchers John Jaso and Derek Norris and lament how badly they struggle against pitchers who throw from the same side of the plate as they hit. This is seen as a liability. But Beane and the A’s see it as a potential strength. Thanks to platoons, you can send a left-handed batter to the plate to face a right-handed pitcher and get a favorable matchup anytime. Which is what the A’s do. Oakland has 12 players with more than 100 at-bats this season, tied for the most in the majors, and last season, according to Baseball Prospectus, Oakland had the second-highest percentage of “favorable-handedness matchups.” And in baseball, every little bit matters.

It is difficult to find players who can do a ton of things well, and if you find them, they’re quite expensive. But it’s not as tough to find guys who do one or two things extremely well. And this has another advantage: Platooning keeps the players’ “counting” stats down, which means it keeps them inexpensive. Jaso is a valuable hitter, but he’s not even in the top ten among catchers in homers, RBIs, or hits. That’s because he’s 17th in at-bats. Arbitrators — who determine player salaries for the first part of players’ careers —,look at these stats, and value them, more than they should, which means part-time players will cost relatively less than they should. It’s another market inefficiency Beane exploits.

  • Despite their recent success in the standings, the A’s have headaches away from the diamond. Fangraphs’ Wendy Thurm briefs us on why last week’s agreement to extend the team’s lease at O.Co Coliseum for an additional ten years got nixed shortly thereafter.
  • Thurm’s colleague, Paul Swydan, reminds us in “They Can’t All Be George Springer” that even top prospects who rise to big-league stardom don’t always do so right away.

  • Gaslamp Ball ’s “jbox” rightly takes umbrage at Mets color analyst Keith Hernandez for mocking pitcher Alex Torres for wearing one of the new, oversized caps designed to provide increased protection from batted balls.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: NFL

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Cerone to Cano: You Blew It



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Via Charles Curtis of the Newark Star-Ledger, Robinson Cano hasn’t hit too many long balls since leaving the Bronx for the Pacific Northwest. Rick Cerone, who was a Yankees backstop back in the day (1980–84, 1987, 1990), was a guest on a satellite radio program yesterday and, in the course of the conversation, blasted the second baseman’s offseason decision to join the Mariners:

Big ballpark. Big mistake. No backup. No protection in the lineup. I mean, what a fool. Robinson Cano, I liked him as a Yankee. What a fool. Got bad advice. Yeah, he took more money but you know how much more money and exposure he could’ve had playing in New York, come to the lights. He’s going to go up to Seattle, we might see him once or twice in an All-Star Game. He’s only got four home runs. Four home runs for how many million, 200 and something million dollars?

Where to begin?

  • As of this morning, Cano’s overall offensive production, while low in the power department (.431 SLG), isn’t suffering at all when it comes to reaching base safely (.384 OBP). He’s on par with a very good 2009 season (.320/.352/.520) when looking at the useful weighted runs created plus (wRC+) statistic (125 today vs. 124 in ‘09).
  • Meanwhile, the Mariners have a better record than the Yankees (42-37 vs. 40-37), despite playing in a tougher division.
  • Seattle’s lineup is hardly a feared dynamo, ranking 12th in the American League in OPS+ (93), but the Bronx Bombers also have little to brag about, as they rank 11th (94).
  • The fans sure haven’t forgotten about Cano, as he holds a comfortable lead in All-Star Game voting for starting AL second baseman.
  • I don’t recall Cano being a darling of Madison Avenue at any point during his mostly-stellar nine-year tenure with the Yankees.
  • And most important, now that he’s escaped the clutches of the Steinbrenners’ extreme grooming policies, Cano has grown a healthy dose of facial hair.

Finally, let’s not forget that the Yanks’ PR machine is still reeling from the realization that, nearly 40 years after the franchise regularly took advantage of player free agency to poach other teams’ home-grown stars, they could be victimized as well. Hence, hitting coach Kevin Long’s mean-spirited accusations of Cano’s lack of hustle back in February.

More here.

Tags: MLB

One Last Time, Here’s Manny



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Manny Ramirez is not quite ready to hang up his spikes, at least at the minor-league level. Mark Townsend of Yahoo Sports’ Big League Stew reminds us that the slugger is joining Iowa, the Triple-A club for the Cubs, to serve as player-coach.

Ramirez, 42, spent the past month at the Cubs’ spring training facility in Arizona preparing for his role by working out with minor league and rehabbing players, while also working himself into playing shape. Apparently, it didn’t take him long to knock off whatever rust he may have had. In an extended spring training game on June 4, he launched a mammoth 450-foot home run that was punctuated with a momentous bat flip. . . .

His role is also clearly defined. The Cubs have no plans on calling him up to the big league roster, regardless of how well he performs. He’s there to teach and talk hitting with anyone who will listen, which stands to benefit the organization greatly. The payback to Ramirez goes beyond earning a paycheck, it’s an opportunity to satisfy his own desires to continue getting at-bats in a competitive environment.

Actually, I see no reason why Theo Epstein shouldn’t consider bringing up Ramirez for a handful of plate appearances in September, once the Pacific League season has concluded. I suspect there are a few North Siders who would want one last opportunity to see Manny try to launch a ball onto Waveland Avenue.

More here.

Tags: NFL

Floods In Recife, Brazil Don’t Stop USA vs. Germany



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The World Cup goes on as the host city of Recife floods:

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​Even “Teddy Roosevelt” won’t be stopped:

 

Tags: Soccer

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FIFA Bans Uruguay’s Luis Suarez From the World Cup



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USA Today:

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez will miss the rest of the World Cup, as well as the start of the English Premier League season, after FIFA banned him from all soccer for four months for biting an Italian player.

Suarez was banned for nine official matches, beginning with Uruguay’s round of 16 game against Colombia on Saturday. He’s also prohibited from being in the stadium when Uruguay plays.

 

Tags: Soccer

Former Litigator on Planned Chief Wahoo Suit: You’re Not Helping, Dudes



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Recovering litigator and NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk lead writer Craig Calcaterra offers his take on the planned federal lawsuit against the Cleveland Indians over their name and Chief Wahoo logo:

I think my record on the Chief Wahoo thing is pretty clear by now. I’m quite obviously not a fan. But there’s a big, big difference between thinking something is offensive and should be banished to history and thinking that thing actually entitles people to billions of dollars in legal damages. Some folks to whom I’d otherwise be sympathetic are going to learn that pretty quickly. . . .

The Cleveland Indians are a private corporation. They, like any other private citizen, can be as offensive as they want to be. . . .

Of course Robert Roche and the American Indian Education Center likely know this. And I presume they are merely seeking out some headlines in order to draw attention to their cause. But ultimately this sort of stunt is counterproductive as a means of swaying public opinion. A lot of people hate Chief Wahoo and a lot of people love him. But a lot MORE people hate lawyers and litigiousness and are immediately suspect of someone who files — or, in this case, threatens to file — lawsuits against their beloved institutions. Especially ones with little if any legal merit.

Put differently: you’re not helping, dudes. Keep up the protests and the public pressure. Even think about narrow, focused legal action with actual merit such as the trademark challenge the Redskins just lost. But cut it out with the billion dollar damage claims.

More here.

Meanwhile, I think it’s safe to say that the Padres never (ever!) want to face Tim Lincecum again.

Earlier today, the 30-year-old righty pitched his second no-hitter against San Diego in less than one calendar year. In the Giants’ 4–0 victory, Lincecum faced only one batter over the minimum, walking one and striking out six.

Tags: MLB

Are Chief Wahoo’s Days Numbered?



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Via CBS Cleveland:

A Native American group is planning to file a federal lawsuit against the “offensive” Cleveland Indians logo, Chief Wahoo.

Robert Roche, a Chiricahua Apache and director of the American Indian Education Center, is planning to file a federal lawsuit in late July against the Cleveland Indians organization. Roche, who is also the leader of the group People Not Mascots, says the lawsuit will challenge that the team’s name and Chief Wahoo logo are racist.

“We’re going to be asking for $9 billion and we’re basing it on a hundred years of disparity, racism, exploitation and profiteering,” Roche told WEWS-TV. “It’s been offensive since day one. We are not mascots. My children are not mascots. We are people.”

Frankly, I’m amazed that the Chief Wahoo logo has survived this long — the depiction seems way more wounding than the name “Redskins” — but how is the “Indians” name offensive? Demanding $9 billion in damages for one’s not-for-profit, on the other hand . . .

More here.

Tags: MLB

World Cup: Uruguay’s Luis Suarez Pulls a Mike Tyson



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Hilarious:

Uruguay beat Italy, 1-0, on Tuesday, advancing to the knockout stage.

But star striker Luis Suarez’s World Cup could be over.

Suarez, maybe the best player in Europe last season, appeared to bite Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in the 80th minute — one minute before Uruguay defender Diego Godin headed in the match-winner.

Video here:

 

Tags: FIFA , World Cup , Suarez

Young Female Knuckleballer Throws BP to Rays



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Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:

The young lady throwing batting practice to the Rays hitters before their home game against the Pirates is 17-year-old knuckleballer Chelsea Baker, a member of Durant High School’s varsity team in nearby Plant City, Florida.

 

 

According to Andrew Astleford of Fox Sports Florida, Joe Niekro taught her how to throw the specialty pitch while she was on a Little League team with the former big leaguer’s son.

More here and here.

Tags: MLB

Reveille 6/23/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

Official scorers have a job to do, and by their very nature, their decisions don’t make everyone happy. But everyone in our game deserves respect. I hope that David will meet that standard going forward, because I don’t share the same views that he expressed.

Official scorers should never give any benefit of the doubt to the home team. We want their best judgment, based on the rules. We have a process to review the decisions that our scorers make. Even when there are inevitable disagreements, we expect everybody to act professionally and respect the game and the integrity of our scorers.

  • Sean Doolittle is the latest evidence that teams should consider free-agent closers only as a last resort. Last Wednesday, Aaron Gleeman of NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk pointed out that the southpaw, who finished off A’s victories only after “established” closer Jim Johnson imploded, has boasted a ridiculous 46:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 33 innings. (According to Gleeman, that ratio is not only the best of all time of any pitcher posting at least 30 innings in a single season but way more than double the current record holder.) Oh, and as of this morning, the ratio stands at 50:1 over 36 innings. Just . . . wow.
  • Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated’s The Strike Zone points out why Kirk Gibson’s decision last Tuesday evening to have his pitcher bean Ryan Braun may be the dumbest managerial move you’ll see this season:

Gibson has been particularly critical of Braun in the past due to his belief that the Brewers’ 2011 division series victory over his Diamondbacks was fueled by the slugger’s as-yet-undetected use of performance-enhancing drugs. Braun’s positive test, the one whose result was overturned by an arbitrator in early 2012 because his sample was improperly handled, came after Game 1 of that matchup.

Alas, choosing to load the bases in the late innings of a one-run game is a dumb time to try to exact revenge, whether it was [Evan] Marshall acting alone in an effort to curry favor with his manager and teammates — in which case, mission accomplished — or following Gibson’s ill-considered orders in a high-leverage spot. Reliever Brad Ziegler came on in relief of Marshall, and on his first pitch, he served up a grand slam to Jonathan Lucroy, who had hit a solo homer in his previous bat as well. [As noted previously, Lucroy (.331/.397/.520) is also clearly a better hitter than Braun (.278/.326/.489) this year.]

Oops. The slam gave the Brewers a 7–4 lead; they wound up winning 7–5. With the win, the Brewers are now 43–29, 3 1/2 games up in the NL Central, while the Diamondbacks are 30–44, 14 1/2 back in the NL West. One has to think that a suspension could await Gibson, who’s already on thin ice given his team’s last-place showing and the arrival of Tony La Russa as chief baseball officer. Whatever Arizona’s manager believes, it’s not his job to mete out punishment (MLB suspended Braun for 65 games last year), but you have to admire the combination of ineptitude and zeal with which his team went about doing so.

  • David Schoenfield of ESPN’s SweetSpot profiles the “horrific” rotation that plagued the 1930 Phillies. “The 1930 Phillies allowed 1199 [runs],” writes Schoenfield, “an astonishing 7.69 runs per game. The Phillies averaged over six runs per game and still finished 52–102.”
  • You don’t hear the adjective “bases-clearing” immediately before “wild pitch” all that often. Watch the Brewers pull off the wacky feat in Coors Field here.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Welcome Back, Gavin . . . Goodbye, Gavin



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This is what a fractured elbow looks like. (Not pretty.)

Nine starts after coming back from Tommy John surgery to repair an ulnar collateral ligament, Gavin Floyd is back on the disabled list, and it sure looks like he’ll be out a while.

The 31-year old Annapolis native had pitched shutout ball in Nationals Park before leaving the game with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The Braves held on to defeat the Nats, 3–0, to climb within one-half game of first place in the NL East.

More here.

Tags: MLB

ACLU: ‘Redskins Wrong, But Legal’



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Gabe Rottman of the ACLU writes:

An earlier blog on this site argued, rightly, that Dan Snyder, owner of a certain Washington football club, should voluntarily change the name of his team. He should. It’s demeaning and wrong, full stop.

The ACLU, one of the oldest racial justice organizations in the country, has an institutional obligation to call this stuff out when we see it. To the extent we are just adding our views on racial prejudice to the marketplace of ideas, this is not a free speech issue, despite what some have said.

But there are a few proposals in Washington that would force Snyder to change the name, and they raise broader issues regarding the government’s troubling ability to censor offensive speech. These proposals should be resisted as unwise for reasons that go beyond the immediate issue.

First, there’s an ongoing battle at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to revoke the team name’s registration as a trademark. Under the relevant section of the Lanham Act, the USPTO may not register vulgar (technically “scandalous” or “immoral”) trademarks or those that “disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt or disrepute.”

The latter potentially includes the Washington NFL mark, but also and unfortunately something like this prominent lesbian motorcycle club, which proudly self-identifies using an epithet (and had to fight, in court, to maintain trademark protection).

The courts that have looked at the issue generally dismiss First Amendment arguments, finding that the only thing that’s denied is formal registration, not the trademark itself, which attaches automatically as soon as you use a distinctive slogan, logo, etc., in commerce. In practice, however, denial of registration would make it much more difficult to punish someone who uses the logo without permission, which would likely force Snyder to change the name.

At first blush, it might seem obvious that the USPTO should have the ability to deny registration to racist or vulgar trademarks. But, as with all things free speech, who gets to decide what’s racist or vulgar? That’s right, the government, which is just ill-equipped to make these kinds of determinations. The motorcycle group above is a good example of the potential unintended consequences.

To its credit, the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) engages in a very searching inquiry into whether a particular mark is offensive and considers extensive testimony and evidence by social scientists, advocacy groups, linguists, lexicographers, and others.

At the end of the day, however, the ultimate determination is inherently subjective and the TTAB and reviewing courts have a significant amount of discretion in deciding what’s disparaging and what’s not. It’s not unlike “I know it when I see it” in obscenity law, and it raises similar problems.

The rest here.

Tags: NFL

Kershaw’s Historic Performance



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How unbelievably awesome was Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter against the Rockies? According to Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron, it was “the most perfect non-perfect game.”

Because Hanley Ramirez sucks at playing defense, baseball will not officially recognize Clayton Kershaw‘s effort tonight as a “perfect game”. But I would like to submit that if this doesn’t qualify as a perfect game, nothing should. . . .

Clayton Kershaw did not retire every single batter he faced tonight, so technically, he wasn’t perfect. Screw technicalities, though; what Clayton Kershaw just did was far more impressive than going 27-up, 27-down and relying on your defense in order to do it. Clayton Kershaw just threw one of the most dominant performances in the history of baseball.

In the top of the seventh inning, Ramirez, who was playing with a sore right thumb, fielded a softly hit ground ball cleanly but threw wide of first for an error.

According to Elias Sports Research, Kershaw became the first pitcher in history to record as many as 15 strikeouts without allowing either a hit or walk. Accordingly, it’s not a surprise that his game score of 102 is the second highest in a century, behind Kerry Wood’s 20-K performance in 1998.

More here and here.

Tags: MLB

Hail Mary? Brett Favre Stars in Ads for Cochran



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Politico:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is bringing in a big-time closer for the Mississippi Senate race: NFL legend Brett Favre.

Favre, a Gulfport native who has coached football at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, appears in a new Chamber ad praising Cochran as a “proven and respected leader” who can deliver education funding for Mississippi.

“I’ve learned through football that strong leadership makes the difference between winning and losing. And when it comes to our state’s future, trust me: Mississippi can win and win big with Thad Cochran,” Favre says in the commercial. “Thad Cochran always delivers, just like he did during Katrina.”

The former Green Bay Packers quarterback may be one of the few voices and faces that can stand out on Mississippi’s cluttered airwaves in the final days of Cochran’s nomination fight against state Sen. Chris McDaniel. The two are competing in a June 24 runoff after they deadlocked in the first round of voting earlier this month.

The rest here.

Tags: NFL

NFL’s Redskins Lose Trademark Protection



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Washington Post:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins trademark registration, calling the football team’s name “disparaging to Native Americans.”

The landmark case, which appeared before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, was filed on behalf of five Native Americans. It was the second time such a case was filed.

“This victory was a long time coming and reflects the hard work of many attorneys at our firm,” said lead attorney Jesse Witten, of Drinker Biddle & Reath.

Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups or “bring them into contempt or disrepute.” The ruling pertains to six different trademarks associated with the team, each containing the word “Redskin.”

The rest here.

Future story: Non-Trademarked “Redskins” Merchandise Hits Stores; NFL, Snyder Powerless to Stop It

Tags: NFL

Why I’m Voting for Jonathan Lucroy



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Jonathan Lucroy makes his case to start in the Midsummer Classic:

I approve this message too, although the Brewers catcher’s Piazza-like numbers (.340/.401./.537) and superior pitch-framing skills speak for themselves.

Rumor has it that the next Lucroy ad will accuse Yadier Molina of secretly cavorting in the bullpen before home games with both George Soros and the Koch brothers . . . 

Tags: MLB

Maybe They Should Have Tried the Haystack



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Via Deadspin’s Samer Kalaf:

Raul Ibanez hit a foul ball in today’s Angels-Indians game. That’s not odd. The odd part is that no one found it.

Ibanez’s foul ball went into the empty upper deck of Progressive Field. One fan ran up to try and get it. He did not. More people walked up to comb the sections. Their efforts were fruitless. There is no happy ending to this video. No one found Raul Ibanez’s foul ball.

On a more positive note, the fans did get to snap a few selfies with Jimmy Hoffa.

More here.

Tags: MLB

A Dad’s Grab on Father’s Day



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Some dads had more satisfying Father’s Day experiences than others this past Sunday.

For example, while Tywin Lannister’s malicious treatment of his youngest son came back to haunt him (in the privy, of all places), Giants fan and San Rafael fire captain Rob Winner showed that ambition — in this case, catching a home-run ball off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki with one hand — need not come at the expense of your precious child’s well-being.

By the way, Reveille readers will recall that Winner’s grab at AT&T Park isn’t even the first baby-in-one-hand, home-run-ball-in-the-other grab of the season.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Obligatory Post of Chancellor Merkel with Shirtless German Soccer Players



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I expect this from Joe Biden, not Ms. Merkel.

But Germans do like their soccer. Fans were even allowed to bring their own sofas and watch Germany vs. Portugal on a big screen at the Alte Foersterei FC Union stadium in Berlin.

Getty images:

The Independent:

I wonder if Germany lost, would the fans torch the sofas Michigan State style?

Tags: Olympics

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