Like a lot of my fellow US Americans, my Sunday focus was on the U.S. women’s soccer team as they battled Japan for the World Cup title. I like soccer. I mean, I like it about every two years. I watch the men’s World Cup, watch the women’s World Cup the next year, then rest for two years, then back to the men’s World Cup, etc.
But when it comes to the female competition, I have an increasingly difficult time following the actual game, mostly because I find ogling the beautiful participants a novel distraction. It even serves as a warm-up to then Googling the beautiful participants, and before long, I am looking at a full computer screen of sweaty, seductive Hope Solos.
Is the game over yet?
I’m wondering this: do female baseball fans have the same problem? I mean, I know that the ladies love their baseballers… I can’t tell ya how many times my cousin Holly has declared her undying love for Jimmy Edmonds with his shirt off and one of my sisters never shuts up about what she’d do to Adam Wainwright; but seriously, do women lose track of what’s actually happening during the game because of that lust?
While I wait for your answer, you can find me on Alex Morgan’s website. I might be there a while.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Mid 80’s Fahrenheit
Average temperature in Doha, Qatar during the month of June:
106 degrees Fahrenheit
Why is this important? It’s important because Qatar just beat out the US to host the 2022 World Cup and that event is usually held in June.
Now, I don’t know about you but I can’t imagine running around for five minutes in that kind of heat, much less over the course of two 45-minute halves. How hot does it get in that area of the world? Well, when world-class swimmers are dying in the water, you can say it’s pretty dang hot.
So, what happens to soccer players who don’t even have the water? I’ve been in a ballpark in the States in June and it’s no joke. If I wasn’t able to continuously replace the water I lost through sweating with beer, I would have been in trouble. And I was only sitting there, not moving around. Add 20 degrees and a lot more physical exertion and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
I know that Qatar has been developing air conditioned stadiums and all that jazz but this just seems like a phenomenally bad idea. Or maybe it’s just that I’m American and can’t understand why you’d ever say no to us. Maybe we forgot to say “Pretty please”?
Yesterday’s World Cup final reinforced a hypothesis I’ve been working on. The final game is always a let down. Yes, Spain did score a nice goal at the end of the overtime but the rest of the game was better avoided. And, in the interest of full disclosure, that’s exactly what I did.
Now, compare that with the previous day’s third place game or even either of the two semi-final games. The final game of a series just never lives up to it’s hype. Even when you think of your favorite World Series memories, usually those are from a game six or maybe an earlier game that helps extend the series. When it’s a final, teams are too careful and it’s the game and the fans who suffer.
If you still aren’t convinced, think about a few of those games. While not a World Series, the Cubs-Marlins series in 2003 featured Bartman and a total breakdown by the Cubs but that disaster was what got the Marlins to a game 7 in which they destroyed the Cubs. Bill Buckner’s infamous boot happened in a game 6 as well. Sure, there have been game 7 heroics but it’s the early games that give us the memorable moments.
Sure, I’m going to keep on watching the finals. Missing a Superbowl or a World Series game 7 would just feel wrong. But, it’s the game 6 I’ll not so secretly be looking forward to.
I proudly retell the story of the time my brothers hassled Manny Ramirez so much at Comerica Park that he finally looked up into the stands and practically begged them to stop. Maybe it runs in the family because even when we were little and sitting way up in the upper deck of old Tiger Stadium, that didn’t stop us from keeping up a steady chant of “Hey batta’ batta’ batta’, swing.” Baseball lets you get close enough to the players that you can actually get inside their heads if they let you.
And this is probably the one area where soccer fails by comparison to baseball. Sure, the fans are up there in the stands cheering on their team. And sometimes they’ll try to get involved by starting racist chants (if you’re in Italy) or throwing objects at the opposing players. They even try to help with the rhythm by singing songs and banging drums.
However, at this point it seems that soccer fans are best known for blowing those goddamn vuvuzelas all game long. Seriously, I’m pretty sure the buzzing is still bouncing around my head from the games I watched this past weekend. This leads me to wonder what the long term effects will be on the players who had to listen to them for the entirety of at least three matches. Will they suffer permanent disabilities?
Well, if animal testing is any proof, the answer is yes:
If the vuvuzela can drive a dog to that, what will it do to the internal wiring of a human? But more importantly, if a plastic toy can have that effect, what happened to Manny after my brothers’ heckling? I’m sure the guy is housebroken but so was that dog.
I hate to pile on the French since this hasn’t been one of the best weeks in their history but I have to add one more thing before we let this go. As you have probably noticed, I have a little thing about sportsmanship. This is somewhat awkward since I tend to be a terrible sport myself and have even been known to throw at opposing batters while playing softball (yeah, seriously). But, knowing this weakness in myself makes it much easier to spot it in others.
For every Armando Galarraga there’s an Alex Rodriguez. For every Nancy Kerrigan there’s a Tonya Harding. And for every Carlos Parreira there’s a Raymond Domenech. Raymond Domenech? Maybe this will refresh your memory:
Refusing to shake the hand of your opposite number on the world’s biggest stage is not exactly the best way to end a career. It’s not like Parreira had insulted Domenech’s mother and sister the way Italian defender, Marco Materazzi, is reputed to have done in the lead up to Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt during the final of the 2006 World Cup.
And you know what, even if he had insulted Domenech’s mother wouldn’t the ultimate payback be shaking the man’s hand and showing that you’re the bigger person?
It has been a rough few weeks for the French. Their retirement age is about to go up to 62 and their World Cup team has become the biggest French snafu since the Maginot Line. However, intractable situations give us all the opportunity to shine and Domenech totally missed his. Me, I just make sure I’m not pitching when I play softball.
And so in this Podcast…
Dear readers galore FINALLY get to meet THE one, the ONLY, Mr. Allen Krause as he joins Jeff and Johanna to discuss all things urgent, all things necessary. And it’s all made possible by science. And hard work. And Skype. Judge for yourself. Among the titillating
topics of discussion: Strasburg as Jesus, the difference between anathema and an enema (it’s important), starting a Pete Rose for US WBC Team Player/Manager petition on Facebook, Gallaraga’s thingy, the Lou Piniella Mailbag and much,
to the RSBS Podcast by clicking *HERE*
via iTunes by clicking *HERE*
thanks to Keith Carmack — our engineer, director, editor and
all-around sound guru. His Undercast
podcast is the bomb shizzy, by the way. It’s available on iTunes and
is posted regularly at Undercard
Recorded Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Say what ya want about the mighty market divas of the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Dodgers. Go ahead and hate on A-Rod, slam Manny, spit on Youk… whatevs. Sometimes they deserve it; sometimes they don’t. It’s all a part of professional sports.
But no matter how infantile and annoying MLB superstars can be (yes, I’m looking at you, Milton Bradley), none of them quite qualify as being as toxically asinine as Nicolas Anelka and his band of busted b!tches that once formed the French national soccer team.
You think Roberto Alomar spitting on John Hirschbeck was bad? Imagine Roberto Alomar spitting on John Hirschbeck during the World Series, with a big nasty particle-filled loogey, and all his teammates joining in.
Yeah. That’s sorta what France’s World Cup was like. But at least it’s over. And now we can think about… things that are worse than France. For instance:
Duh. You knew that was comin’.
Rob Blagojevich’s Image
For all of you who live outside of Illinois, be glad you do; ‘cuz this Blago crap is just now gettin’ started for real. The lego hair, the smarmy and disingenuous smile, the creepy way he talks to every woman as if she were a dumb, money-chasin, cheap-trick-happy cocktail waitress… this dude is going to the joint. Eventually.
You knew that was comin’ too.
It makes me sick that he was in my neighborhood. It makes me even more sick to know that he was at Sox Park. And it makes me Bush-Sr-Throwin-Up-On-Japanese-People sick to know he tossed the first pitch to Mark Buehrle!
You didn’t think this could end with anything worse, did you? I’m pretty sure I heard the Astros’ team on-base-percentage was the worse on-base-percentage in the history of time, including all dimensions — even those we are unaware of yet…
That’s why they’re called the LOLstros.
Hate me. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
More than that, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I started to wonder why baseball fans don’t enjoy it more. Both sports tend to end in low-scoring affairs. There are some matches that get blown wide open but for the most part, there are a lot of near misses and defensive stand-offs.
Both sports require an intelligent caretaker. Yes, you need to have the right personnel to execute the coach’s plan but management is integral to the two games. When a goal is scored in soccer, the ESPN highlight tends to show only the moment itself. But that moment is usually the culmination of several minutes of slowly building action. A good manager notices where the weaknesses are and then has his team exploit those advantages.
It’s not really all that much different than a baseball manager noticing the opposing pitcher taking a little bit longer in his windup and sending a guy who isn’t much of a base stealer because that extra half second might be all he needs. We all know that a guy at second base is a much bigger threat than a guy on first and a soccer player knows that a corner kick is a much bigger threat than a throw in from the sideline.
So much of baseball and soccer is based on a patient strategy being slowly implemented. Pitchers set up batters during early at-bats just like strikers set up defenders during early runs.
I’m amazed when people tell me how they think baseball is boring. They tell me they don’t understand the rules and they don’t know how people can sit there and watch it. Any baseball fan will tell you that every game has a hundred different little dramatic moments. And likewise I’m amazed when a baseball fan tells me they don’t understand soccer and that it’s boring to watch. The rules may be different but the drama and the intensity are completely on par.
With the exception of Mexico, the baseball playing world and the soccer playing world exist in two very different spheres. But it’s time we move beyond that silliness. Who knows, maybe I’ll even wear my team USA jersey this weekend when I go watch Strasburg pitch. USA! USA! USA!!!
Well, it seems that once again my erudite co-blogger and myself have found something on which we can agree. As right as the Tigers were to hold the line on the start of their Good Friday game, the Yankees and MLB are wrong in caving to the Yom Kippur lobby.
Now, I understand the concern. As I’ve mentioned before, I lived in NYC and that place is a ghost town on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. But moving up the start time so a few people can get their fast on? Sorry, no. Even in Saudi Arabia World Cup qualifiers are still taking place despite the fact that it’s smack dab in the middle of the fasting month of Ramadan. If the Saudis aren’t changing that up, maybe MLB should take note.
However, it’s nice that Mr. Lung and myself can agree on something. After all the hyperbolic excesses of the past couple weeks, I find it reassuring that there are still areas where we are sympatico.
But, since it is Labor Day and on this day of rest it is only natural that we should turn to questions of labor, I wonder what his thoughts are on the place of labor and collective bargaining in baseball today. I ask this because there is a law in the Federal government that even though employees may unionize, they do not have the right to strike. Should baseball consider setting up some sort of similar agreement? Since it is America’s past time, shouldn’t it be considered just as essential?
After scoring a devastating own goal during the 1994 World Cup, Andrés Escobar returned home and found out the hard way that leaving drug lords on the wrong side of a huge gambling debt does not help your own life expectancy. As if to add insult to injury, the killer supposedly yelled “Goooooooooooooooooooool” after each one of the twelve shots. Of course, this is right around the corner from where a disputed soccer match led to an all-out war so I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised.
The Chinese Olympic Baseball Team
No team likes to be showed up on its own turf and it didn’t help when the US team used a couple hard-nosed plays to take it to the Chinese team. However, even though throwing high and tight is a time-honored part of the game, beaning someone is not something you usually expect to see in the Olympics. Thanks China. It’s not like you already won more gold medals than us anyway, Sheesh.
Hm, maybe the prize should actually go to Castro and his clan for their ability to blame the yanquis for every Cuban misstep since 1959. Now, if it were the Yankees he blamed instead, I could get behind that.