Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Super Bowl of Football, Rather Futbol, I mean Soccer

On Wednesday one of the most watched sporting events will take place and the great majority of Americans will not notice. The UEFA Champions League final will be played tomorrow pitting Premiership powerhouses Chelsea and Manchester United against each other. This will mark the first time that two English teams will meet in the final match. The past couple years have audiences for the match rivaling and in some cases surpassing the Super Bowl.

However, while most of the world is bathing jubilantly in beer, Americans will be caught up in heated debates over which David is a better karaoke singer. Where did we go wrong? How have we, a nation in love with sports, not embraced the most beautiful of sports?

Well, we are also a nation in love with stuff. Lots of stuff. We have 30-packs of beer for sale and jumbo size bags of chips and super size fries and extra strength Tylenol and so on. We have forgotten to take a step back and look at the journey of things. We are captivated too many times by the score rather than the method the athlete took to score.

Therein lies the conundrum for soccer fans in the U.S. How do you prove to Americans that soccer can live and thrive here in the states.? How do you illustrate the awe that is inspired by a ball kicked 50 yards pleasantly curving through the air to finish precisely on the chest of a teammate? How can you make it seem relevant to an NBA fan who watches players perform the same slam dunks year in and year out at the Slam Dunk Contest? How do you explain the exhilaration one feels from watching goals almost scored at the post? This will prove difficult, especially to a nation that has had to change their favorite game of NFL football several times through the ages precisely to incite higher scores.

Soccer is a game of hope and patience. Two teams step on the pitch for ninety minutes and methodically pick and choose their chances to strike. There are no commercial breaks and no timeouts. One would be foolish to leave for a beer run during the half, for a goal can come in an instant. And then it is gone. The goal has passed. It is on to the journey again. That is where soccer fans truly live. I hope American fans can someday appreciate the nuances that make "the beautiful game" so much fun.

Bits of Tid II

Farewell to a Former Florida Marlin
Mike Piazza announced his retirement today. I, like many of you, exclaimed, "was Mike Piazza still playing?" Well the answer was and shall now remain a resounding no. It seems Piazza was floating in the murky waters of this year's free agent pool hoping to be picked up. I guess it took a little over a month for Mike to take the hint. His announcement, though unsurprising, does allow us ample opportunity to honor one of the game's more prolific offensive catchers.

Jose Canseco proved once again that he probably shouldn't be raising himself. News surfaced that the one time Oakland A's outfielder is now considering a life as a boxer. In fact he will not be training as an up and comer but will instead take the path less traveled and become an instant washed up has been. The fight is scheduled for July 21st with the challenger picking up a purse of $5,000. With the fight taking place in an Atlantic City Independent baseball stadium, it is a shame no one will see the event. I do enjoy uncomfortable social situations.

News surfaced today that Charles Barkley paid the $400,000 he owed the Wynn Casino. The prosecutor's fee of $40,000 was still outstanding. Barkley assured he would pay the fee immediately and admitted he was caught unaware of the charge.

In other news it was a really slow sports news day.

Friday, May 16, 2008

What To Look For This Weekend

Lakers vs. Jazz - Game 6
NBA PLAYOFFS DAY 164 - This series has been marked by the emergence of Deron Williams as a major player in the NBA. After a very quiet 14 and 9 in game one, Williams has given the Jazz a very real chance to send this series to a seventh game. They will need a lot more out of Boozer who has been relatively harmless most of this series.

The real story for game six is how, if at all, the Lakers can diminish the home court advantage. This series has really brought to light just how bad Jazz fans can be at times. In fact, Raider fans think Jazz fans are out of line. The one thing I have taken from this series is never get thousands of Mormons together. It usually ends in vile racist cheering and unexpected polygamy.

Celtics vs. Cavaliers
How dare you insinuate that the Boston Celtics were over marketed as the second coming of the Larry Bird era. A great team has to win on the road. Look for Boston to win tonight though as Boobie Gibson is out with a separated shoulder. When a team with only a few weapons is missing their biggest perimeter weapon, it's uh, it's bad.

Spurs vs. Hornets
This game should really be on Sunday, but instead it's on Monday. It's on Monday because more people will watch a game 7 on Monday than Sunday. Also the NBA will not rest until it eats itself alive.

Look for Hornets fans to whine about the hard foul David West received from Tim Duncan. The constant crying from NBA fans about these hard fouls their stars receive begs the question, when did the NBA cease as a contact sport?

MLB officially gets a semi every year around this time. Yes, it's time for inter-league play. Heated rivals will play this weekend. Look for exciting match ups like Yankees/Mets or Dodgers/Angels or better yet, Nationals/Orioles. WOO HOO!

On second thought, this time of year is more a glaring slap in the pecker of how outdated the DH rule is. I think it is completely fair that the Yankees will DH the likes of Hideki Matsui and the Mets are left with Endy Chavez. But at least I can die now and say I saw the Padres and Mariners play.

Horsin' Around
See what I did there. Well, I am obviously talking Preakness. The second leg of the Triple Crown is this Saturday. I can't wait to watch little Latin men ride horses for two minutes. If this is anything like the Kentucky Derby and you love horses, please do not stick around after the race. Things get...a little weird.