Black Maidens will enter the Bayil Stadium in Baku on Wednesday aware that only a win can keep their hopes of a second round berth at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012.Ghana’s U-17 women’s team face newcomers, Uruguay in Group D after either side lost their opening game.For the Black Maidens, who are making their third-time appearance at the competition, they cannot afford to lose, having overcome the heartache of their a 2-1 defeat to Germany on Sunday.Mas-ud Didi Dramani’s side can change their destiny at the competition, a belief held by Ellen Coleman, one of the competition’s veterans and who is making her third appearance following her debut in 2008.“It [defeat to Germany] was our first game and we promise that we’re going to win our next game and get out of the group,” she said.“We have a lot of belief in our team and in our ability. Though we couldn’t get the win in our first game, we need to keep our chins up and believe we can beat Uruguay and China. If we can get out of the group, I think we can make the semis or even the final here.”
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “There was no pressure,” Grandal said. “I got traded. I was happy to get traded. You have to know that they wanted you for a reason.”One reason is most teams love trading with San Diego.Trea Turner, Washington’s rookie leadoff man who might be a monstrous problem for the Dodgers in the Divisional Playoff, was a first-round pick of the Padres. He was involved in a convoluted deal that brought Wil Myers to San Diego.Anthony Rizzo, who will be high on NL MVP ballots, went from the Padres to the Cubs in exchange for scattershot right-hander Andrew Cashner, who is now in Miami.Baltimore’s Brad Brach has become one of the top setup men in baseball, since San Diego dealt him for minor leaguer Devin Jones. There are others.Luck is always nearby. One of Grandal’s uncles had escaped Cuba by boat and began setting up the papers for the family to apply for the Special Cuban Migration Program. That was set up to boost Cuban immigration to 20,000. It was a simple lottery, and the Grandals were among the fortunate. It no longer exists.“Without it, I don’t know what would have happened,” he said. “My parents would have tried to come by boat. It wouldn’t have been the first time.”In Miami, Grandal was a housebound kid for a while, fascinated by all the different TV channels, gaining weight. But when a friend found a baseball team for him, Grandal took off. In one of his first youth games, he slid into second and jammed his cleats hard into the shortstop’s knee. That’s the only way he knew.“It was almost shocking to people,” he said. “They almost had to slow me down. In Cuba they teach you how to do every little thing. I remember going a full day just catching fly balls. Then another full day just bunting. You don’t see 8-year-olds bunting over here. Then another day just baserunning.“For homework, you’d throw the ball against the wall if you were an infielder, learn to backhand balls, learn to use two hands. It’s the way they taught you. You had to be good to make the Cuban national team. If you did, then you had a chance to get out.”Baseball people always wondered how Cubans might jolt the major leagues. Now you see the outline: Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes, Aledmys Diaz, Jose Abreu, Yasmany Tomas, Yasiel Puig.And Yasmani Grandal.Not that they had a choice.Three facts:1. The Dodgers have a .213 average against left-handed pitching, worst in baseball, as is their .627 OPS against lefties.2. The Dodgers went into Saturday’s game 2 1/2 games behind Washington in the battle to get home-field advantage in the Division Series.3. Yasmani Grandal’s .554 slugging percentage is second to Justin Turner among full-time Dodgers after the All-Star break, and he leads the club with 15 homers in that span. LOS ANGELES — On the fields of Yasmani Grandal’s youth, nobody brought juice boxes. Nobody got participation trophies. “Play ball” was merely an expression.“They taught us how to play hard all the time,” Grandal said. “You had to slide hard. If you didn’t, you get screamed at. When I came over here, I felt I was ahead of the game, pretty much.”“Over here” was Miami. Back there was Cuba. They didn’t play for fun, although fun was not prohibited. They played for their lives.Grandal came to the U.S. when he was 10, went to the U. of Miami and was Player of the Year in the ACC. Cincinnati drafted him 12th overall, traded him and Yonder Alonso to San Diego for Mat Latos, and the Padres sent Grandal to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp at the winter meetings of 2014. It was one of Andrew Friedman’s first trades and far from the most popular. Kemp was a prime-time slugger. Grandal was mainly known for his 50-game suspension for PED use in San Diego. Kemp moved on to Atlanta this summer. He has exceeded 100 RBIs for the fourth time. But the Dodgers have fortified their outfield defense without him, and Grandal hit his 26th and 27th home runs of the year Thursday night against Colorado, the second one a grand slam.That’s six more homers than any other National League catcher has hit, and Grandal’s OPS of .825 is second only to Washington’s Wilson Ramos. These particular bombs dissipated any worries over an elbow problem, which brought flashbacks of a 2015 shoulder problem that bit Grandal deeply on every swing.“He’s usually very good about knowing the strike zone, but recently he’d been swinging at pitches outside it,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He had worked some counts tonight until he got a chance to click one.”Grandal has also muted concerns about trading A.J . Ellis, Clayton Kershaw’s sidekick and a clubhouse stabilizer. Kershaw, now healthy, is putting up zeroes for Grandal as he did for Ellis. The tradeoff is a longer lineup card for the Dodgers, maybe the 1-through-8 offensive presence they’ve lacked.