The Hope Solo Suspension

Julie Foudy played in 4 Women’s World Cup Tournaments – winning two of them – with the US Women’s National Team. She is in the National Soccer Hall of Fame and she has been a reporter/commentator with ESPN for about 10 years now. When it comes to soccer – and particularly women’s soccer – she is very much like the old E.F. Hutton commercials. You remember them:

    In a noisy restaurant setting two people are sitting at the table and one is telling the other about some stock tip he just got. Then the other person says, “Well, my broker is E.F. Hutton and E.F. Hutton says …”

    At that point, the entire restaurant is silent and all the other diners are leaning toward the E. F. Hutton client to hear what comes next.

    The slogan was:

    “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

So, when I heard Julie Foudy say that the US Women’s National Team will likely move on without Hope Solo even after her 6-month suspension is over, I had to take note of that and wonder if this would be one of the rare situations in sport where talent is set aside because of some personal/character/controversial incident. Hope Solo is 35 years old; I believe that the next Women’s World Cup will be held in the summer of 2019 when Solo will be 38 years old.
There is no denying that at age 35, she is still a top-shelf talent as a goalkeeper and I have no basis for projecting what her capacity in that job might be three years hence. However, if Julie Foudy’s declaration is on target, then the folks who run the US Women’s National Team need to start to find Solo’s replacement very quickly.

The US Women’s National Team is a dominant presence in the world of women’s soccer and the position of goalkeeper is hugely important to the success of any soccer team. Hope Solo has been with the Women’s National Team since 2000; she holds the US record for the most shutouts by a goalkeeper; at one point she was the goalkeeper for a string of 55 games where the team went undefeated. Replacing the talent will be difficult; the soccer mavens ought to start now. Are there any standout women’s goalkeepers playing collegiate soccer these days? I surely do not have an answer to that but I sure hope the soccer mavens do…

Here is Bob Molinaro’s position on the Hope Solo situation and suspension from his column in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Life sentence: Though no fan of Hope Solo, I don’t think U.S. Soccer should have suspended her for six months – a period of time, incidentally, when the U.S. plays no significant games – after she called the Swedish soccer players “cowards.” It’s not a free speech issue with me. I just think that it’s punishment enough for the boorish goalkeeper that she has to go through life as Hope Solo.”

Here is another item from Bob Molinaro’s column last week:

“In passing: The Washington Nationals have a pitching prospect on the Hagerstown Suns by the name of Joan Baez.”

Since the Nats are in the National League, that would mean that Joan Baez would have to hit for himself should he make it to the majors. And that would mean that he would need “walk-up music”. So, what might his namesake – the musician – provide as possible choices:

    Diamonds and Rust – – after all he is a pitcher not a position player

    No Expectations – – after all he is a pitcher and not a position player

    Oh, Happy Day – – for his first plate appearance in MLB

    East Virginia – – after all, that is where Washington DC is

The Hagerstown Suns are in the South Atlantic League which is A level minor league baseball. Baez is only 21 years old; and so far this year, he has an ERA of 4.08 in 114.2 innings pitched. That may not look overly impressive but he does have 115 strikeouts with only 57 walks. That says to me that he is still worth the coaching effort that a pitching coach has to do to develop a young arm.

I have commented on the need for MLB to find ways to increase the pace of play and have offered suggestions to accomplish some of that in the past. Not nearly as frequently have I mentioned the most annoying pace of play by some of the PGA Tour golfers. I think I might be able to build an entire Lego city in the time it takes some of them to line up a chip shot that will land on the green. It is maddening.

I ran across a report recently about how one amateur golfer came to address the slow pace of play of others on the course with him. Lee Johnson and his wife caught up to the foursome ahead of them and asked to play through. The foursome said no. So what did Johnson do?

According to the police in Payson, UT, a fight broke out between Johnson and someone – some ones – in the foursome and officials from the club house had to come out and break up the fight and restore order. What the club house officials did not do, however, was to convince the foursome to let Johnson and his wife play through.

Later in the round, Johnson and his wife again caught up to part of the foursome ahead and obviously they were still playing slower than Johnson thought they should. Once again, Johnson asked to play through; once again, the request was denied. This time, Johnson took out a pocket knife and stabbed one of the slow players in the group ahead of him. Johnson was “wrestled to the ground” by the other golfer in the foursome present at the time.

The injury from the knife was not life threatening; he was taken to a local hospital and the injury was described as “a small cut”. Johnson was arrested; his wife was not arrested since she was not part of the attack.

    [Aside: That left the foursome one short and it left Mrs. Johnson playing alone. I wonder if she just joined the foursome to help alleviate the course blockage that must have occurred as the police were called to the scene. No report on that…]

I do not want to advocate golfer-on-golfer violence, but perhaps the PGA Tour officials might find a way to use this event as a way to speed thing sup a bit?

Finally, since I have quoted Bob Molinaro twice above, let me go for the trifecta here with one more of his observations:

“Time zone issues: If you think NBC’s tape-delayed coverage from Brazil was annoying, remember that the next three Olympics are in Korea, Japan and China.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………