Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Viva Vuvuzelas and other thoughts

(Andy Rain/EPA)

I'm ashamed to say that it’s Day 6 of the World Cup, and I haven’t posted a single syllable since Day 1. And God knows a heck of a lot has transpired since.

So, for your benefit and my conscience, I’m just going to wildly spray some random thoughts on some random matches (USA-England, maybe) here. After this, I plan to stay more current with a nightly recap each night hereon out.

Let me start off with the musical instrument of the moment: the vuvuzela.

I, for one, love the vuvuzelas. I really do. I think they really bring a playfully chaotic atmosphere to this tournament. Some have compared the sound of 30,000 vuvuzelas to that of a beehive, which to me, isn’t a horrible reference. You know what a beehive has a lot of? Movement. Things are in constant motion within the hive (or so I’ve read). Something’s happening, and something’s happening here, and something’s there, and something’s also happening behind that first happening. To me, it’s a wonderful metaphor for exactly what takes place on the pitch.

As an aside, I’ll take the horde of horns over the echoes that bounce around the walls of Gillette (and a few other unnamed stadiums within the States). Horns vs. crickets. Crickets vs. horns. Yeah, I’ll take the horns for $200, Alex.

The USA-England game was an extremely fortunate result for the Yanks. Extremely fortunate in the sense that Linsday Lohan is extremely fortunate not to be behind bars. Clint Dempsey’s goal was a gift our grandkids will be writing thank you notes for.

But while Robert Green wasn’t busy attending to charity, England ran all over the Yanks like it was the Battle of Charleston. There’s no doubt in my mind that England still passes eons better than the U.S. The Yanks will get there someday. That day just won’t occur this year. Of course, I’m happy – actually, thrilled - with the result. It’s not everyday that the Americans get a point against a superpower. But, it was also a reminder that the Yanks still have a bit of distance to cover before they become a legit Top 10 superpower.

I love how Ruud Gullit keeps referring to the Netherlands in the first person plural, and Bob Ley (who has done a wonderful job managing all of the egos parked beside him) constantly has to remind the audience “we being the Dutch.” Little things like that, things that are just blatantly unprofessional, make me thankful that this whole production isn’t as polished as it should be.

I hate how the superpowers – you know, Italy, Portugal, and Brazil – are playing like a bunch of pussycats. Don’t get me wrong: I love cats. I just don’t want to see strong clubs play like a family house pet. Did I enjoy seeing Paraguay claim a point against the defending champs? Yeah, definitely. Italian football is not my favorite brand. Was it fun to watch North Korea nearly outplay Brazil? You bet. Brazil is slowly becoming another South American Italy. Or another Argentina, if you will. Take your pick. Meanwhile, I was absolutely disgusted, especially as a Luso-Americano, to see Portugal play the way they did against a quality Cote d’Ivoire side. I expected the Africans to play for the draw, especially without a fully healthy Didier Drogba. Portugal must have stolen the idea. It was pitiful to watch a team with so much talent simply backpass the match away.

Speaking of ugly football, this World Cup has waaaay too much of it. At times, it’s been more torturous than a half hour of Celebrity Housewives of Orange County. Trust me, I know. The only sides that have played with any hint of grace have been the Southern folk: South Africa and South Korea. Almost everyone else has played like their grandmothers just died.

My girlfriend, who, bless her heart, has taken to watching a few matches with me, cannot stand Diego Maradona. She calls him an “evil oompa loompa.” You know what? I can’t say that statement’s too far removed from reality.

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