Champions League Final

Tomorrow marks the biggest game of the soccer year outside of World Cup years. That would be Champions League Final between Manchester United and Chelsea. Chelsea will be looking for revenge against the Red Devils who won the English Premier League crown less than a month ago.

This is the first time the CL Final will feature two English teams and they have to travel to Moscow to do it. It’s Man U’s 3rd trip to the Final and Chelsea’s debut. ESPN has reported today that Ashley Cole suffered an injury today during training and his status is uncertain. The Chelsea website, of course, has said that Cole is fine and will play tomorrow. While Ashley Cole used to be one of my favorite players at Arsenal, he fell out of favor with me when he defected to Chelsea in a messy transfer saga. I won’t miss him if he doesn’t play but Chelsea will.

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has decided to give United some bulletin board material by saying Chelsea are hungrier than Manchester. There are two things that I can’t understand about this statement. Why would you call out a team on the verge of the biggest game of the year? Great, piss off Cristiano Ronaldo and his 41 goals. Wonderful idea. Also, what does this even mean? We’re hungrier? Yeah, Man U probably doesn’t want to win as much just because they already won something. They’ll probably just roll over and die for that reason. This makes no sense; Mr. Cech, you should have kept your mouth shut on this one.

I’m picking Man U for tomorrow by a score of 1-0 with a second half winner from Carlos Tevez. Chelsea is a little nicked up with minor injuries to Didier Drogba and John Terry, plus this new injury to Cole, which I think will be just enough for United to slide by in a close one. Got any predictions of your own? Let me know in the comments.

One For The Ages

It’s been about a week since I last posted something here, but that’s because I haven’t been around much due to various graduations, finals, and concerts. My sabbatical has ended and with summer upon us, I may have a little extra time on my hands. This Friday I will be headed on a baseball tour that will last about 10 days, but I will talk more about that later. Onto the night’s events…

Earlier tonight, Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester threw a no hitter against the Kansas City Royals. Obviously any time someone throws a no-hitter it’s a pretty big deal, but this one had some added significance.

Lester struck out 9 and walked two over the course of the game. The no-hitter was the 18th in Red Sox history, placing them second to the Dodgers 20. The Mets, Padres, Rockies, and Rays have never thrown a no-hitter. Also, this was the fourth no-hitter Jason Varitek has caught, which is a record. (His four no-hitters were Nomo, Lowe, Buchholz, and Lester) Four of the last six no-hitters in the AL have come from Red Sox pitchers, which the others coming from Justin Verlander and Mark Buerhle.

Now, the added significance of the Lester no-hitter is that he is a cancer survivor. In September of 2006, Lester was diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, causing him to miss the remainder of the season. In December of that year, after extensive chemotherapy treatments, Lester’s CT Scans came back cancer free. Lester was able to go to Spring Training in 2007 and started the year at Class A Greenville. By April, Lester had battled his way up to AAA Pawtucket and on July 23rd made his first start of the season for the Red Sox against the Cleveland Indians. In that game, Lester pitched 6 innings and earned the victory. For his efforts, Lester was the recipient of last year’s Tony Conigliaro award, which honors a player who “best overcomes an obstacle and adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage.”

Having had cancer touch my family more times than I care to think about over the last year, I can’t help but be ecstatic for Jon Lester. For anyone who’s seen the effects of cancer, this is an unbelievable feat. Players like John Kruk, Eli Marrero, and Brett Butler have all overcome various forms of cancer to return to Major League form, but none of them have accomplished something of this magnitude. Hopefully it will bring more attention to those who have been affected by this disease and bring inspiration to those who are currently battling it. Hopefully I will be writing a similar post about Doug Davis when he returns from thyroid cancer later this year.

So congratulations Jon Lester on a beautifully pitched ballgame. Throwing no hitters will never get old. Beating cancer in any way will never get old. Doing both at the same time is just about as good as it gets.

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