Category Archives: Football

La Fin

I watched yesterday’s World Cup final with my friend, Bill, my Italian-American friend Bill.  He is also a Yankees fan from New Jersey.  You’re probably asking yourself why I am even friends with this guy.  He’s not obnoxious on either account and he’s married to a Red Sox fan, so he is somewhat tamed.  I’ve watched some classic Sox-Yankees games with him, from the time Manny beat Mariano with a groundball single up the middle in the ninth inning (circa 2002?) to the time Pedro tossed Zimmer to the Fenway turf.  Nonetheless, Swedish Girl asked me why I’d go to the home of an ardent Italy supporter to watch the game, especially since she thought Italy would win.  I justified that if Bill and I could withstand years of Sox-Yankees games, then France-Italy should be a breeze. 

It hasn’t been enough time for me to digest yesterday’s match.  It’s only a game, but I feel like it means more.  Just look at how patriotic Germany became during their team’s run to the semi-finals.  Sales of jerseys and flags skyrocketed and national pride swelled in a country that has struggled with its identity since East unified with West.  Football, namely the World Cup, has the power to halt civil wars in Africa so a poor nation can revel in it’s team’s inclusion on the big stage.

I didn’t mean to get all maudlin there.  As a man who calls France his motherland, I feel let down today.  I won’t go so far as to call Zinedine Zidane my hero.  But my football-playing hero let me down.  I’m glad he didn’t get away with the head-butt.  He deserved the red card and it would have been worse if he had gotten away with it and scored during the Cup-deciding penalty kicks.

Would he have scored in the remaining 20 minutes of overtime?  Would he have taken the PK that Trezeguet missed?  Did his team suffer a collective let-down after their captain did the unthinkable and deserted them?  No one can answer these questions, but we do know for sure that Zidane let his team down, let his country down, and tarnished his legacy, which would have been mythical win or lose.  I just can’t imagine how he’ll cope with that red card being his final moment on the pitch.  It’s not quite the day after Game 7 in 2003, but with national pride on the line, it stings in a different way.  And to Captain Larby, I say congratulazione e schifozo!

The Matchup

Once upon a time in a far away land known as Jamaica Plain, there lived 4 guys in a house on Dunster Road. As history has it, there was a nearly weekly tradition that involved Chinese food, beer and a fantastic game called FIFA 2001 for the Playstation 2.

The rules were simple: The winning team stays on the pitch while the loser would have to pass the controller to the next person in line. All-the-while speaking in a quasi-english/irish/scottish accent to mimick Andy Gray and John Watson, our favorite FIFA commentators. From this time period came several key phrases including (but not limited to): “Scones!”,”The Sixes and Sevens in the Back”,”Rip ‘em doon!”, and who could forget “Up the _ _ _ _”.

The teams were always one of three: France, Italy or Manchester United. All of which were on the same skill level, for the most part. Which brings me to the point of my tirade.. the matchup.

After yesterday’s grueling 120 minute Italian victory over Germany and today’s 1-0 French defeat of Portugal, it sets up for a great game. This Sunday, the two teams will face off in the World Cup Final game — bringing a rivalry that dates back to the days of Dunster to the World Stage. Surely we all have our preferences, you can count on me rooting for the French National team to beat the pants off of the Italians, but I’m sure the Captain would have a different opinion.

So let the battle begin as these two teams converge this Sunday, and vive l’equipe Francais!.

Allez La France!

In support of La France taking on soccer mammoth Brazil this afternoon, I’ve opted to wear “mes bleus.” I think I’ve only busted out the jersey once or twice in the past few years, although after my return from La France I wore it in much more frequent intervals.

In the short 10-minute walk to and from the pharmacy this morning, however, I spotted several other soccer supporters who gave a friendly nod and smile. Three English fans and one smiling fellow in a yellow shirt sporting the Brazillian flag, to be exact. It’s nothing like the overwhelming support that you’d see in Germany or the repsective home countries of these teams, but it’s still nice to see people getting geared up for the World Cup.

So here’s to France — let’s hope it’s a 3-0 victory just like the 1998 World Cup Final. Vive La France!

US Soccer down the tubes

Well, it was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it? The hopes for the U.S. World Cup Soccer Team to advance to the next round ended today with the defeat to Ghana. Italy played their part well, which earned Ghana the ability to pass into the next round leaving the Czech Republic in the dust. This obviously isn’t 2002.

It’s a shame that the US had to lose, but to be honest it’s for the best. Due to the untimely nature of my vacation, I was unable to watch any of the US Games, but I was very excited for the US Team this year. I even considered buying a US Team Jersey to show my support.

If the US had won today, a few more fair-weather fans would have jumped on the soccer band wagon for a few days until the US lost to Brazil in the first game of the next round (most likely). Meanwhile, in the small African Nation of Ghana 22,409,572 people are celebrating today as their team advances.

For some reason, the World’s most popular sport is only admired by those Soccer Mom’s who cheer for their 8-year old kids as they run around the field playing their first team sport. I’ll bet even those very same soccer mom’s could have cared less about the importance of the World Cup. But for the rest of the world it means respect.

Maybe it’s a good thing we don’t take it seriously. Otherwise, we might actually be embarrassed by our team’s extremely poor performance — scoring only one goal in the three matches.

Sigh. I guess it’s time to get back to America’s real pastime, and hope that four years from now more people will appreciate the excitement and thrill of World Cup soccer.

From C to B

It’s a rare occasion that requires a number of factors to be in perfect alingment, but it does happen. The days of going from Coffee to Beer.

It requires staying up so late the night before — in this case 5:00am — in order to sleep in late enough to justify a late afternoon “morning” coffee. I had my morning coffee at around 3:00pm — I’ll refrain from divulging the time I got up.

But then, there has to be some event that would allow someone to have a beer in the late afternoon of a Sunday.. in this case the superbowl.

After getting up, having my coffee, I straightened the house, did my dishes, went grocery shopping, etc.. I then finished my second cup of coffee, and sat down to watch some pre-game with a beer.

It’s a rare set of circumstances, and when it happens it feels so wrong. But today, it just seems right.

— While I’m on the subject of Superbowl Sunday rareties, another one is honey-roasted peanuts. I refrain from buying a lot of junk food — especially peanuts/cashews that are loaded with salt, sugar and honey. But, there’s something about the Superbowl. There’s nothing like these gems on a day when two teams of giants square off in a battle for the best of the NFL. Must have something to do with my youth.

Better Luck Next Season

What was that word I learned back in October, when the Yankees lost to the Angels in the ALDS? I believe it was Schadenfreude. Well, for some reason, I have a great feeling of Schadenfreude for the Colts loss this past weekend to the Steelers. Yes, it was a hard-fought, and poorly-refereed game, but the Steelers did end up the victors. I’m not a steelers fan, but I’m even less of a colts fan. I think it all goes back to the outstanding performance of Peyton and the gang, and how intent they were on defeating the Patriots in the past few years. Well, that didn’t really pan out — did it?

I found this Interesting Story on Editor and Publisher about the Indianapolis Newspaper’s plans for covering the Superbowl. They had the whole thing figure out, and even booked the hotel rooms and had publishing rights to the book entitled “The Superbowl Season” that was set to be released on 2/10/2006. Talk about being cocky. Granted, the team did play well throughout the Season — but to continue to expect them to play the same after Dungy’s son died, and having resting your started for 3 weeks, and losing the last two games of the season. In true GOB fashion… C’MON!

Among the efforts in the works had the Colts gone 16-0 were: a special late edition distributed after the final regular season game via hawkers; a commemorative 32-page magazine for sale the week following that game; and a poster of the Star’s front page reporting on the undefeated season.

If I think back to what the Boston Globe was doing back when the Red Sox finally made it to the World Series in 2004, after defeating the Evil Empire in the most inhumane of ways, it was nothing compared to this. We were all still waiting for the other shoe to fall — why wasn’t Indianapolis? They’ve not won in 35 years — and when that happened, the Colts were stationed in Baltimore. So, it’s unfortunate that the city had to start counting it’s eggs — but thems the breaks my friends.

Weekend Football

So, I’m definitely disappointed with the Patriot’s loss this Saturday. It goes without saying that they did NOT look like the Superbowl team of years past. But, watching yesterday’s Colts-Steelers game was a lot more exciting.

I have to admit, I came in partway into the 4th quarter, but if you watched the game — did the previous three quarters really matter? I mean I was on the edge of my seat for the entire 15 minutes.

Today, while reading the Freaknomics Blog (written by the authors of the Book), there was a very interesting post about “Cheating in the NFL.” And I have to agree that there was something shady going on yesterday. I can’t speak to the first two references that he makes, but the third (the interception ruled incomplete pass) was the most bogus call I’ve ever seen.

Now, I’m not biased. Granted, I want to see the Steelers win, but it wasn’t like it was the Pats or anything. But this call was the most unfair call I’d ever seen. The Steelers are lucky they didn’t go down to lose the game (which nearly happened multiple times), but I mean c’mon.

So, with the remaining teams left in the hunt — I’m thinking that I’d like to see Seattle go all-the-way at this point. Who’s everyone else picking?