Growing up in my neighborhood, a soccer ball was about as useful as the metric system. While the rest of the world understood both, the kids on my block never would – no matter how much the nuns at St. Charles Borromeo in South Sacramento pushed.

Usually the last week of June is a slow time for sports, especially in the Sacramento area, with the NBA draft dominating headlines. Aside from baseball, there usually are few local events to attend or watch on TV.

Dan Snyder still insists he won’t change the name of his NFL team in Washington, even after Wednesday’s decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the trademark registration because it considers the name “disparaging to Native Americans.”

After the United States beat Ghana 2-1 in its opening match at the World Cup on Monday, there’s a reasonable chance that Clint Dempsey and company can advance out of Group G to the knockout round, especially after Portugal was crushed by Germany 4-0.

Imagine all the kids in Northern California who wear their Little League pants above their kneecaps because of Giants right fielder Hunter Pence or how many young Pablo Sandoval fans dream of hitting three home runs in one World Series game like Panda.

If the United States loses to Ghana and fails to earn any points in its World Cup opener Monday, will it be impossible to advance out of a tough Group G?

The World Cup begins today in Brazil, where in a month one national futbol team will stand on a stage and hoist soccer’s most coveted trophy – the FIFA World Cup.

It’s hard to remember the names of all the horses that won the first two legs of the Triple Crown and fell short in the Belmont Stakes. But it will be a long time before Northern California forgets California Chrome.

If the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick is worth $126 million, how much will the Seahawks have to pay Russell Wilson after next season?

SacTown can become TrackTown USA again. Or something pretty close.

Reading time, two minutes ....

Here we go again, two NBA heavyweights throwing down for the championship of the world. Coming out of the Western Conference wearing black and silver with a regular-season record of 62-20, the four-time world champions coached by Gregg Popovich, the San Antonio "Grump Old Men" Spurs.

This could be the year we finally get another Bay Bridge World Series, 25 years after the Loma Prieta earthquake struck Oct. 17, 1989, and turned the Fall Classic into a footnote. Though it’s only the first week of June, enough baseball has been played to separate the contenders from the pretenders.

When former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer completes the deal to buy the Los Angeles Clippers, what happens to Seattle’s hopes of landing an NBA team?

The Sacramento State baseball team heads into its first NCAA Division I playoff appearance as the fourth seed in the four-team Cal Poly Regional that starts today in San Luis Obispo. But, as Rhys Hoskins, the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year, explained this week, the Hornets don’t view this as a challenge but more as “a great opportunity.”

The Internet has been abuzz with reports the Kings are interested in acquiring All-Star power forward Kevin Love from Minnesota.

The Kings, who have the eighth pick in next month’s NBA draft, will select a lottery player for the eighth consecutive year – after missing the playoffs for the eighth straight season.

After winning 28 games in his first season at Kings coach, how many games will Michael Malone need to win next season to keep his job?

Though he’ll never be known as the most famous athlete who has had a piece of his ear bitten off – Evander Holyfield holds that distinction – Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Alex Guerrero could miss five weeks or more after surgery to reattach a piece of his left ear.

Midtown residents and fans of the racehorse have adorned that magnificent11-foot, 2,500-pound chrome horse perched outside Safeway on S and 19th streets with roses and other flowers after the real deal won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

The relationship between the River Cats and A’s was a match made in baseball heaven. The A’s had not reached the playoffs in seven consecutive seasons before Sacramento became Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate in 2000.

If you weren’t at Hughes Stadium or Raley Field on Saturday night, where were you?

Steve Kerr has never coached, so why were the Warriors willing to give him a five-year, $25 million contract?

The NBA should encourage Donald Sterling to do more interviews, to speak from the gut. The more the Clippers’ beleaguered owner opens his mouth and spews hate and disgust, the quicker he seals his fate to the NBA board of governors that wants to oust him.

If the Kings beat very long odds – just 4.3 percent – to win Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery and land the top pick in the June 26 draft, it’s almost certain they’ll get a player who can step into the starting lineup.

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