Ghana’d

A penalty shot is the most dastardly tiebreaker ever devised. There’s no equivalent to it in any other sport. You can’t call it a field-goal contest in the NFL or even a hockey shootout with a net three times as large. It’s 99% mental.

Ghana having an opportunity to make the World Cup semifinals on a penalty shot literally in the final moment of a game in extra time might have been the most stress-filled shot in the history of the sport. Imagine this. You’re playing in your home continent. A team from your home continent has never made the semifinals. A penalty kick is almost impossible to miss. The shot is from so close that the goalie has to dive before the player takes the shot. All a player has to do is hesitate and barely punch the ball through the middle. That’s why it’s so darn brilliant. Players who can do amazing things with their feet suddenly forget how to hit the corner from eight yards out. That’s what happened to Ghana. With their tournament on the line, all their guy had to do was kick the ball straight.

He did, but it went high and hit the bar. After that the penalties were a formality. The Uruguayan goalie smothered one penalty, but Ghana and African fans got another moment of torment as the following Uruguayan kick sailed over the bar. There was one more poorly kicked ball by Ghana and the final Uruguayan penalty was correctly called “cheeky” by the announcer as the guy just pooched it down the middle as the goalie dove to the right.

What a hard, hard, hard way to end your run. The U.S. has to feel fortunate to have missed on an opportunity for this kind of historic misery.

Next on Fantasy Files: I’m trying an experiment. I’m going to do projections. I believe that I tried them in a small way last year to round out my pre-draft rankings, but this year I’m doing it for every team. I’m going to project a total for passing and running for each team and project the fantasy draftables. I will not project how the Cardinals tight ends will do, for example. I will try to sort out who will be their number two wideout, though. After going through all 32 teams, I’ll see if my projections match the very tentative rankings that I have at the moment.

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