The Pulse: What the world is watching
Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and offering opinions. We'll collect the daily highlights and create a running file throughout the week to measure The Pulse of SportsNation on a wide variety of issues. Check this page every day for an update of what the 'Nation is saying.
1. Are you ready for some football?
You know, the "other football." The one the rest of the world follow.
The World Cup kicked off in Germany on Friday, with the host nation knocking off Costa Rica 4-2. The United States doesn't play its first game until Monday, but SportsNation is already in soccer mode.
Perhaps heeding the buzz, a solid majority of voters prefer the World Cup to Summer Olympics when it comes to quadrennial spectacles. And most fans think the United States will be part of the fun for weeks to come, with 74 percent predicting Bruce Arena's team will escape the group stage.
20% David Beckham
16% Thierry Henry
4% Andriy Shevchenko
I am considering going by just my first name at work, a little World Cup flavor!
This is the year that Spain wins it. They've been cruising into this tournament. I really see them pulling away with it.
Nedved's injury could help out the U.S. in the first game. Winner of that game is in pretty good position to take that death bracket and avoid Brazil in the round of 16. Big game.
I want to see England get as close as possible without actually winning the whole thing. They've become the Chicago Cubs of international soccer.
Matt (Washington, D.C.)
I feel ashamed as an American saying this, but I am picking the Frenchies to take it in the final over a stunned Brazil. USA plays well into the quarters again, but they cannot quite get to the semis. 2010 though, USA should be a legit title contender.
Dougie Fresh (Washington, D.C.)
I tell you, soccer fans are great. I was in D.C. when the World Cup was here and I was walking down the middle of the street in Georgetown. Coming up the street on one side was a parade of Ireland fans and on the other Germany fans. They were shouting and singing. It was great!
I'm feeling really good about England's chances -- everything seems to be coming together and only Brazil have a better starting XI. Look for an aging French squad to go out on a high and make a real run at the title. And get ready for four amazing weeks of football!
Chris (Oxford, England)
I'm picking Italy. A lot of scandal surrounding them, but last time there was a scandal like this in 1982, they won. I think the Azzurri will be back. Runner-up surprise team is the Ivory Coast. They seem to be a trendy pick to come out of that group with Holland and Argentina.
Tunisia will make it out of their group and win a knockout match or two, with plenty of help from naturalized Brazilian Dos Santos. You heard it here first.
1. Which team will win the NBA Finals?
SN gives Miami the edge in the backcourt and on the bench while giving Dallas the not in the frontcourt, and the picks for who should take the last shot for each team follow the same pattern. Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki each got better than 90 percent of the vote for their respective teams.
Eventual NBA champions? SportsNation is somewhat torn. Just over a third of voters think the Mavs will win in six games and nearly 30 percent see the Heat taking the series in six. Only two percent predict a sweep for either team while 87 percent see the series going at least six games.
And finally, which city wins the important matchups away from the arena? Pat Riley and his hair gel win out over Avery Johnson and his throat lozenges and Miami Vice is deemed decidedly cooler than Dallas, but the Lone Star State wins out in the battle of legendary NFL coaches.
92% Dwyane Wade
4% Shaquille O'Neal
2% Jason Williams
2% Antoine Walker
92% Dirk Nowitzki
4% Jason Terry
2% Jerry Stackhouse
1% Josh Howard
1% Devin Harris
36% Mavericks in 6
28% Heat in 6
12% Mavericks in 7
11% Heat in 7
8% Mavericks in 5
4% Heat in 5
1% Mavericks in 4
1% Heat in 4
Mavs in seven. Heat have too much star power but in Game 7 everyone is going to want the ball and Payton will shut down followed by everyone else. Mavs give the ball to Dirk and take Game 7 easy.
This is gonna be a great series because each team has so many players who can light it up and be the difference for one game. This series won't be decided by Shaq, Wade or Dirk; it'll come down to which team's role players step up.
Heat in six and I think it'll be a two-part storyline: "Wade is the best in the NBA and it's surprising the Heat didn't need Shaq to step up as much as we thought."
Troy (Gainesville, FL)
Shaq is old and will be in foul trouble most of the time due to the Mavs driving to the basket and burning the much slower Heat perimeter defense. Mavs in five.
Dallas remains undefeated when Josh Howard scores 20+ points. If he can do his part on offense, his defense on a sick Wade may not make or break the series. Mavs sweep the Heat with only one game being close.
Hopefully, Cup Fever is the only kind of fever that D-Wade will have to deal with for the next two weeks. If he's healthy this will be a great series.
Vik (Fort Myers, FL)
1. What do you make of Jason Grimsley's steroid bombshells?
2. How will Steve McNair fare in Baltimore?
3. Which are the top college football stadiums?
Grimsley was released at his own request by the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday. There could be repercussions for many other current major leaguers as well, as the names redacted from Grimsley's statements to investigators are sure to be leaked in the near future. More than 80 percent of SportsNation thinks it will be a few weeks at most before the names implicated are out in the open and better than 90 percent believe his claims that many players are guilty of using HGH. Very few are hopeful MLB will quickly develop a test for the currently undetectable HGH.
Still, more than half of SN thinks Barry Bonds' involvement with the steroid scandal will end up having a bigger impact than Grimsley's revelations.
27% Won't care
15% Won't believe it until he confesses
38% By the end of the decade
29% They never will
22% By the end of the year
11% 2010 or later
60% Barry Bonds
40% Jason Grimsley
This will be like dominos falling. The Feds know who Grimsley named, and those guys will all fold and name more names. Maybe lots of job openings in the majors to come.
Robert (Wilmington, DE)
WOW! Names are going to be dropping like flies. This is going to be very, VERY bad for baseball.
I don't blame Grimsley one bit. If the federal government came looking for any of us we would spout out everything we knew. Although, he should probably have gotten a witness protection deal out of it.
Jake (VA Beach)
Baseball may be in for a much more serious time if the Feds start charging the players who provided the drugs to others with trafficking.
Andrew (Toledo, OH)
Honestly, this story is a yawner to me. Another pro ballplayer was cheating with 'roids? Not exactly a shocker.
Jose Canseco also named names but nobody believed him because he was a slimeball steroid user looking for attention. Why should we believe that Grimsley doesn't have similar motivations?
Nearly 90 percent think the Titans are doomed to miss the postseason in 2006 while just over 30 percent see the same fate for the Ravens. In fact, nearly 40 percent feel Baltimore is now in position to win at least one playoff game this season.
32% Miss playoffs
30% Make playoffs, but won't win a game
28% Win Wild Card game
6% Win Super Bowl
4% Win conference championship
88% Miss playoffs
7% Make playoffs, but won't win a game
3% Win Wild Card game
2% Win Super Bowl
1% Win conference championship
The Titans are giving Steve McNair away for free.
Michael Hill (Chattanooga, TN)
I think it's a dumb trade for Tennessee. McNair and Vince Young are good friends and McNair could have mentored him for a year.
Jack (Grand Rapids, MI)
I say Baltimore with McNair is Pittsburgh's biggest challenger in the division with a great defense and veteran leadership on offense.
Kevin (Harrisburg, Pa)
One can argue that the Ravens have the talent but have always been a quarterback away from being close. McNair can easily change at least three losses into three wins by himself.
Baltimore now has a realistic shot of winning the Super Bowl and McNair will show that he dropped off because he had no talent around him, just youngsters.
Shahtaj Ali (Houston,TX)
Ohio Stadium is the 'Nation's winner, with Neyland a close second followed by Michigan Stadium, Notre Dame Stadium and Penn State's Beaver Stadium.
|Top College Football Stadiums|
|Feldman's Top 10||SportsNation's Top 10|
|1. Neyland Stadium, Tennessee||1. Ohio Stadium, Ohio State|
|2. Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame||2. Neyland Stadium, Tennessee|
|3. Rose Bowl, UCLA||3. Michigan Stadium, Michigan|
|4. Ohio Stadium, Ohio State||4. Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame|
|5. Husky Stadium, Washington||5. Beaver Stadium, Penn State|
|6. Michie Stadium, Army||6. Florida Field, Florida|
|7. Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech||7. Tiger Stadium, LSU|
|8. Michigan Stadium, Michigan||8. Kyle Field, Texas A&M|
|9. Florida Field, Florida||9. Sanford Stadium, Georgia|
|10. Memorial Stadium, Nebraska||10. Camp Randall Stadium, Wisconsin|
There is NO better football Saturday than being up in Happy Valley for tailgating then watching Lions roar to another victory!
Brad (Fort Worth)
No question, Lane Stadium in Blacksburg when Metallica is playing and the Hokies take the field. NOTHING is louder.
Bart (Fairfax, VA)
I went to Michigan so I will always be loyal to the Big House, but I grew up in Columbus and the volume and intensity of the Horseshoe can't be matched.
Michael (Los Angeles, CA)
Without a doubt it's Neyland Stadium, night or day, with 107,000 all dressed in the inimitable Vol Orange and guarded by the Vol Navy sitting outside.
Tom (Bowling Green, KY)
Morgantown, West Virginia at night is one of the best atmospheres for a college football game. Mountaineer Field should be included.
Kel (Vineland, NJ)
1. Do you care about the MLB draft?
2. Are the Edmonton Oilers dead in the water?
3. Will Michelle Wie ever qualify for the U.S. Open?
Just over 10 percent claim to have a strong interest in the best college and high school baseball players in the nation while roughly two-thirds of SN has never even heard of No. 1 overall pick Luke Hochevar, now a member of the Royals organization. And he's in the draft for the second year after failing to come to terms with the Dodgers last season. That lack of name value is part of the reason SportsNation says the MLB draft will never be televised.
46% Not at all
23% Somewhat closely
19% Only the first round
12% Very closely
Why the baseball draft will never be televised: what good is it if the players selected don't make the league for another three years and only have a 50-60 percent chance to make it at all?
Don Mattingly's kid got drafted in the first round by the Dodgers!! He wasn't even rated in the top 200 prospects.
Luke who? You know things are bad when no one has any idea who the first pick of the entire draft is.
Dave (St. Johns, MI)
Tigers drafted Andrew Miller No. 6. Wasn't he the consensus No. 1? Works for me!
Matt (Grand Rapids)
Someone please tell me that Texas is drafting some pitchers!
The kid who stole the HR for the Yanks in the '96 playoffs got a workout with the Yanks ahead of the draft. Think the Orioles will draft him?
Ty Conklin, who had not played in the postseason prior to Monday night, was forced into action with just under six minutes remaining and committed a clumsy turnover behind his own net that led directly to the game-winning goal. Whether coach Craig MacTavish puts Conklin back on the ice for Game 2 or turns to the untested Jussi Markkanen doesn't matter in the eyes of SportsNation. Three-fourths of voters think the Oilers are toast.
The loss of Roloson was completely demoralizing. The Oilers just lost it (figuratively and literally) after he went out.
I'm sure Hartford is going to love seeing Carolina carry around that Cup. No Roloson, no Cup for the Oilers.
Even though Edmonton lost, I loved seeing the defenseman, Pronger, take the penalty shot and beat Ward like a rented mule. Big Dud to Conklin: Stay in your net!
Roloson is not out for the rest of the series. The Oilers are just playing mind games. Seeing the way Conklin played, MacTavish decided to give the Hurricanes something they wanted to hear to get their hopes up. Roly will be back for Game 4.
Knock the NHL all you want, but second-for-second, the Stanley Cup playoffs are the most exciting playoffs in sport. Every possession can swing a game one way or the other. Basketball, on the other hand, is only exciting for the last 3 minutes.
That result no doubt pleases those who say Wie does not belong on a course with men, but they might also want to think about the fact that she finished ahead of more than half of the 135 pros taking part in the qualifier. With a showing that strong a large portion of SportsNation expects that Wie will eventually tee it up against the men in the U.S. Open.
Wie should be proud of herself. It's quite remarkable that any person at that age came so close to qualifying. She'll get there soon.
Greg (Baton Rouge)
She will qualify for an Open within five-to-seven, and will make the cut at some point.
Enough with Michelle Wie. Why doesn't she win an LPGA tournament before trying to make men's tournaments. She's a great golfer, don't get me wrong, but she should have to win a tournament before she gets all of this attention.
Jay (Sayreville, NJ)
I think the Wie phenomenon is exactly what sports, especially a "gentleman's game" like golf, needs. There is still talk today about Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, so why not the gender barrier? Granted, Wie isn't the first, but she sure seems to be the most consistent and effective.
She was doing it on par with the men -- same rules, same course. It would have been cool to see her qualify without the sponsor's exemptions she has gotten in the past.
JT (Lynchburg, VA)
1. How will the absence of Albert Pujols affect the Cardinals?
2. How excited are you about the Mavs-Heat NBA Finals matchup?
It's nearly 50-50 with SportsNation if the Cards will suffer through a Derrek Lee-less, Cubs-like slide without Pujols in the lineup.
While St. Louis was gasping for unfortunate reasons, Dallas was gasping - and jumping - with joy over the weekend as the Mavericks reached the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. Miami, a fellow first-time finalist, joins Dallas to make a series where both teams are making their Finals debut for the first time since 1971. The Finals will also be with quality star presence in the form of Shaquille O'Neal, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Pat Riley, Jerry Stackhouse, '05-'06 Coach of the Year Avery Johnson will all be around to entertain us through the Finals.
Both teams making Finals debuts and the quality of the teams in general is creating some extra buzz around the 'Nation, as much of SN thinks these two factors will create one of the better Finals in recent memory.
One more thing about Pujols: NL Central is wide open again.
At least we can put the kabosh on the single season HR record for now ... unless Pujols goes on a rampage when he gets back.
Jay (Sayreville, NJ)
Here's my question: even if Pujols is out until, say, the all star break, how many players in the MAJORS will exceed his current stats by then? Not many, I'm guessing.
Troy (Gainesville, FL)
Pujols injury + Clemens return = Fun atop the NL Central.
I'm sad. Pujols is on the DL. Everyone should be sad. This sucks.
Cara (New York)
Mavs and Heat will be a great season. Josh Howard is the X-factor. He isn't a "franchise" guy, but he could end up being like Scottie Pippen - a great #2.
This Finals doesn't excite me ... mainly cause I don't think it will live up to the Mavs/Spurs series.
Chris (New York)
Will the Mavs be able to get the fast break going the way the Heat have been shooting the ball? Kind of hard to run the floor when you're taking it out of the net.
Nick (Gainesville, FL)
The Miami Heat all the way. Alonzo and Gary deserve a ring.
Carlos (Tamapa, FL)
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