1. It’s Monday, July 6, 2015.
2. Today is the 69th birthday of both George W. Bush and Sylvester Stallone. I leave the rest to your imagination.
3. The United States is celebrating the belated Independence Day gift of the Women’s World Cup in soccer.
That the celebration is a big deal is a credit to the people who have tried to promote soccer in this country for decades. All those kids’ leagues for all these years have led to a devoted following and an appreciation of the sport.
While I’m not jumping on that bandwagon (I still find soccer hard to sit through), I’m happy the U.S. is No. 1.
4. One of the things soccer has going for it is the focus on international play, and for both men and women. A whole country can unite behind a team, even if — as in the case of the United States — people in the country rarely watch it and don’t understand all the rules. By giving so much emphasis to the World Cup, soccer gets a big stage to perform on two out of every four years.
Baseball, my favorite sport, is trying to catch up with this. Which is why I’m a big fan of the World Baseball Classic, next scheduled for the spring of 2017.
The problem is that, especially given the big money player contracts of this era, baseball is not going to go all out to promote itself internationally. Which would mean stopping the baseball season one June or July every four years and allowing the world’s best players to play for their country for a month. That’s not going to happen.
But baseball isn’t even making its best effort to promote the existing tournament. The World Baseball Classic Web site hasn’t been updated with a news item since the Dominican Republic shut out Puerto Rico to win in 2013. Even if there was interest in the 2017 event, there’s no place to get information, and clearly no planning has been done.
By not even making an effort, baseball is making sure it can’t have a day when it, like women’s soccer today, can dominate the world’s sports pages.
5. If you’re fortunate, you know a lot of Americans of Greek ancestry. If so, you know they have three very prominent attributes. They are somewhat stubborn. They are intensely proud. And, foremost, they are brave.
That aspect of Greece’s national character came ringing through yesterday. Told by European creditors that a “No” vote in yesterday’s referendum would cause their economy to cave, three in five Greeks put down four of their five fingers.
Of course, a Greek collapse is not preordained. It only happens if the creditors are so offended by the Greeks that they won’t do what’s best for all parties concerned.
And what’s best (as noted economist Thomas Piketty says in an interview with Germany’s Die Welt) is a renegotiation of the debt situation, one that allows the Greek people to bust out of the five-year depression that austerity has ensured.
Whether bankers, who appear to live in their own world, will see that light is what we’ll find out in the coming days. But the fact that European markets, while lower, did not sink more dramatically Monday is a sign that there are reasonable people out there who think there’s a respectable way out.
For that, we can thank the bravery of the Greeks, who decided that it’s better to resolve the issue than let it linger and fester.