This year, for the first time since 1970, I won’t be attending a game at Dodger Stadium. At least I assume I won’t in September or October.
I’ve been doing my best to follow the team, but the cable carriage dispute between DirecTV and Time Warner, was something that I could never get past. The daily rhythm of following the Dodgers was disrupted.
And there were other things on TV to watch. I could watch the World Cup (and I watched a lot of it.) The English Premier League has started up again and that will keep me happy for a good chunk of the time. The Kings run in the Stanley Cup playoffs kept me occupied and happy.
Also, circumstances in life have just made it hard for me to go to a game by myself. When I was a single guy, I liked going to Dodgers games by myself because they were fun. Now that I’m married, well, going by yourself isn’t all that much fun.
There have been times when I can see the Dodgers propaganda channel. I’m not sure why I would be wanting to watch it outside of the time when a game was on. But the whole situation has made following the Dodgers not a matter of liking the team, but liking a pay TV carrier.
Overall, following a sports team is a mostly pointless endeavor. But it seems twice as pointless when you have to pledge allegiance to a cable company as well.
But I’ve complained and whined about this a lot here. And I should stop. Things will probably be back to normal in a year or two. But this whole matter has made me dislike the Dodgers organization far more than any labor action ever did.
I read this article this morning and it left me in a sour mood. It is a puff piece column in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, about the Cardinals honoring Jim Edmonds.
It’s so full of idiotic descriptions of how Edmonds left a shallow, empty Southern California (which is called “La La”) and goes to a place with “depth” like St. Louis.
The column asserts that the Edmonds was traded by the Los Angeles Angels (who were called the Anaheim Angels in Edmonds last year with them in 1999) because the media had hounded him out of town.
The local media really didn’t care that much about Edmonds and the Angels at the time. There were stories in 1995 when the Angels choked away the division lead, but the story line at the time then was that the Angels lost their inspirational leader in Gary DiSarcina. (Note Gary DiSarcina was terrible.)
The Angels players didn’t seem to like Edmonds. And it’s likely that Mike Scioscia didn’t care for him. So the Angels’ GM at the time, Bill Stoneman, made a deal to get rid of him. Edmonds had been hurt in 1999 and the team had a lot of outfielders.
But what difference is there between people in California and people in Missouri? Is there really that much? There are unpleasant people in both places. No place in the country has some monopoly on “depth.” Or moral high ground.
And in light of recent events in the St. Louis area, this article made me angry.
Maybe I will just order a pizza. And open the door for the guy.
pizza man knocked on the door at 10:35pm, family asleep. when he saw the 9mm pistol in my hand, he said “wrong house?” #badtiming#STL
If one were able to go back in time to 1924, most people would be stunned by a lot of things. Communications that seemed glacial in pace, medical care that wouldn’t be very good, and also that the United States was dominated by people who believed that the country should be run by people who were white, who didn’t drink any alcohol, and, for good measure, had only a passing acquaintance with…
We view with pride and satisfaction this bright picture of our country’s growth and prosperity, while only a closer scrutiny develops a somber shading. Upon more careful inspection we find the wealth and luxury of our cities mingled with poverty and wretchedness and unremunerative toil. A crowded and constantly increasing urban population suggests the impoverishment of rural sections and discontent with agricultural pursuits. The farmer’s son, not satisfied with his father’s simple and laborious life, joins the eager chase for easily acquired wealth.
We discover that the fortunes realized by our manufacturers are no longer solely the reward of sturdy industry and enlightened foresight, but that they result from the discriminating favor of the Government and are largely built upon undue exactions from the masses of our people. The gulf between employers and the employed is constantly widening, and classes are rapidly forming, one comprising the very rich and powerful, while in another are found the toiling poor.
As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel. Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.
In honor of the Dodgers acquiring Roberto Hernandez, who started his professional baseball career under the name of Fausto Carmona, I’m trying to come up with a list of Dodgers who started off life with a different name than they used when they played. I’m not going to use Spanish surnames where players switch between patronyms and matronyms however. Because then there would be a lot.
My list is pretty much trial and error with a lot of clicking at Baseball-Reference.
CARDINALS 3RD: McCarver singled to second; Shannon singled to
right [McCarver to third]; Don Nottebart decked Julian
Javier; Javier reached on a fielder's choice [McCarver out
at home (second to catcher), Shannon to second]; Maxvill flied
out to right; Gibson flied out to center; 0 R, 2 H, 0 E, 2 LOB.
Reds 0, Cardinals 7.
CARDINALS 4TH: Brock was hit by a pitch; Flood reached on an error by Perez [Brock to second]; Maris struck out; Cepeda grounded into a double play (second to shortstop to first) [Flood out at second]; Bob Gibson decked Tony Perez; 0 R, 0 H, 1 E, 1 LOB. Reds 0, Cardinals 7.
The end of the World Cup will have seen fans discussing what went wrong (or right!) for their teams, including those ever controversial refereeing decisions. This letter from W. Pickford of the Hampshire Football Association explains that he has found an early reference to the offside rule in the Sheffield Football Association Rules of 1867 although he suspects that the term is earlier still. It turns out that even the origins of the offside rule are up for debate!
I read about FDR's relations with Hoover and Wilkie thanks to you, but what where his views on Landon and Dewey?
Alf Landon is either completely forgotten or used as a punchline because FDR destroyed him by an ungodly margin in the 1936 election, but Landon, who was Governor of Kansas, was a highly-respected leader by politicians on both sides of the aisle. FDR liked him and even offered Landon a spot in his Cabinet later in his Presidency. Landon liked FDR, too, supported him on numerous issues (including a lot of the New Deal) and really wasn’t that distant from Roosevelt ideologically. Unfortunately for Landon, he faced FDR in 1936 when Roosevelt was really at the top of his game, as popular as he would be during his 12-year-long Presidency, and also as healthy as he would be during his Presidency.
All of that turned FDR into a steamroller and poor Governor Landon just happened to be the opposition. It must not have eaten at Landon too much because he lived until 1987. That’s right — the second person to run against Franklin Delano Roosevelt didn’t pass away until 1987 when he was 100 years old.
The campaign between FDR and Thomas E. Dewey in 1944 was significantly different because it took place in the midst of World War II and because FDR was obviously dying. In 1944, FDR didn’t quite have the energy that he used to have on the campaign trail. Dewey, on the other hand, was only 42 years old and had all of the energy in the world. Instead of hammering Roosevelt’s policies, Dewey took a ton of shots at FDR’s fitness for continuing as President when his health was failing and his physical appearance was deteriorating frighteningly. Roosevelt didn’t know Dewey as well as he had known Hoover (a former friend), Landon (whom FDR respected and liked personally), or Willkie, who ended up being close to Roosevelt and serve as a special envoy to war-torn Europe. FDR’s campaign focused on what Roosevelt had accomplished and how close the Allies were to bringing World War II to an end. Roosevelt really didn’t run against Dewey in 1944, he ran (as much as FDR could run — get it? because he was crippled — too soon?) on his own record and on the always-effective argument that you don’t swap horses in the middle of the stream, particularly when that stream is the deadliest and most horrific war in the history of the world.
Incidentally, the best quote about Thomas E. Dewey during the 1944 campaign came from a Roosevelt, but not from Franklin. FDR’s cousin and Theodore Roosevelt’s oldest daughter, the acid-tongued Alice Roosevelt Longworth — described Dewey as the little groom figurine on the top of a wedding cake because his mustache made him look like that was exactly where he belonged.
Of course, the worries that Governor Dewey expressed throughout the 1944 campaign about FDR’s fitness to remain in the White House and the President’s failing health were completely accurate. Five months after Roosevelt defeated Dewey, FDR was dead. Dewey was nominated once again by the GOP four years later, in 1948, against FDR’s successor, Harry S. Truman. And as even casual readers of history know, some newspaper editors jumped the gun with the morning edition that was being published for the day after Election Day because Dewey did not defeat Truman.
As I always suspected about Delaware, it's not real
From my workplace’s internal newsletter:
Each state on the map display is represented by a book set in that state. Most of the states are represented by books for adults but also included are some notable books for young adults and children to make the map more inviting for everyone. Branch staff reported that while it was easy to select books set in states like California, Florida and New York, it was a bit more challenging to find the literature of Idaho, Delaware and Rhode Island. The display features several books available for checkout that represent each state. In addition to the map, there are custom made bookmarks in each book showing the state flag, capitol, fun facts and books set in the state. Amazing undertaking! Nice work!
That is because the only writers in Delaware are people drafting corporate charters.
It’s July 13. Back on June 13, we got excited about the World Cup starting. Brazil gave up an own goal early to Croatia, but bounced back, thanks to a dubious penalty call, to win 3-1. And that may have been the highlight of the tournament for the hosts.
After that, there was a scoreless tie against Mexico, an easy win over Cameroon, the worst team in the tournament, a win on penalties against Chile, a brutal win over Colombia, followed by horrific losses to Germany and the Netherlands. The Brazilians hadn’t lost two straight matches at home since 1940, when they lost the last game of the Roca Cup to Argentina 5-1 and then lost a Copa Rio Branco match to Uruguay 4-3.
But enough about Brazil. On to the teams playing for the championship.
There haven’t been two sets of countries that have played each other more than once in a World Cup final: Brazil and Italy squared off in 1970 and 1994. And Argentina and Germany did it in 1986 and 1990. So today is the third matchup, provided you don’t think West Germany is not the same as today’s Germany. (If you do, you’re wrong. The country didn’t change names. It was the Federal Republic of Germany in 1986 and 1990 and it still is today.)
Both countries have female heads of government. German chancellor Angela Merkel is supposed to come to the game. Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is not planning to attend, although she did meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Saturday. Kirchner says she has a very sore throat and she also wants to celebrate her grandson’s first birthday. But, she will be in Brasilia next week for a conference. Go figure.
Kirchner has had a rough few years. Her husband, who also had been President of Argentina, died in 2010. In 2011, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Then, doctors checked again and said she didn’t. She was reelected in 2013, but later that year doctors found bleeding in her brain from a head injury and she had to rest up. Now, her Vice-President is charged with corruption. Along with a lot of other people in Argentina. And the economy there might go into recession.
So, the end result is that Germany is likely going to win Sunday no matter what happens on the field. Because Argentina is going to need a loan. So they better be nice to Angela Merkel.
As for the action on the field, Germany looks unbeatable. Which hasn’t meant much in this tournament. Appearances have been deceptive. Argentina’s defense is too well organized to give up seven goals. The only team to score more than one in a game this tournament against Argentina was Nigeria, who managed to get to two.
The Germans probably have a good plan in place to neutralize Lionel Messi. They seem so well prepared and have been playing better as a unit than any other team. Brazil was hoping to beat Germany in the semis on emotion. Germany used talent and tactics. The latter won.
Argentina leads the all time series with 9 wins. Germany has 6 wins. There have been 5 ties.
I am predicting a 2-0 German win, preventing Brazilian fans from the humiliation of watching their noisy neighbors raise the World Cup in front of them.
The world’s biggest sporting event still has one of the more depressing events contested: a third place match.
As a kid, I remember the NCAA basketball tournament having a third place game. It was usually played early in the day before the championship game. This happened from 1946 to 1981. Until 1975, there were consolation games in the NCAA regionals. The reason for these was that the competing schools wanted as much revenue as they could get for making a trip out to some distant locale. But once the TV money got big enough.
The NFL had a third place game called The Playoff Bowl in the 1960s. The last one was played on January 3, 1970. The Los Angeles Rams beat the Dallas Cowboys, 31-0. The Detroit Lions won this game three times. The St. Louis Cardinals won it once.
The World Cup though clings to the third place game. The only time there wasn’t one was in 1930 (when the tournament was beginning and nobody thought about setting one up. If it had existed it would have matched the USA versus Yugoslavia) and in 1950, when the final round was set up as a round robin.
The Dutch are pissed off about playing this game. The Brazilians are not, even though they were humiliated in their semifinal loss. There should be a lot of reserves on the field. It’s time for everyone to get a certificate for participation.
Just hope that this match doesn’t end tied after 90 minutes. Because they’ll play extra time. And go to penalties if necessary.
The Golden Boot, given to the top goal scorer in the tournament, is still at stake. James Rodriguez of Colombia leads with six. It’s doubtful anyone in this match will make a run at it. The leading Dutch scorer is Arjen Robben with three and I have a feeling he won’t play. The leading Brazilian scorers who could play Saturday are Oscar and David Luiz who have two goals each.
The Dutch and Brazilians have beaten each other three times with five draws. They last played each other in a friendly in Goiania in 2011 and that was a scoreless draw. The Netherlands beat Brazil in the 2010 quarterfinals in Port Elizabeth by a 2-1 score. Brazil beat the Netherlands in World Cup matches in 1994 (but only on penalties) and 1998. The Dutch won in a World Cup match in 1974.
Brazil is 2-1 in third place matches. They beat Sweden 4-2 in 1938 and Italy 2-1 in 1978. They lost to Poland in 1974 by a 1-0 score. The Netherlands have played for third place once, in 1998, and they lost to Croatia 2-1.
(This was supposed to post in the morning, but I hit the wrong thing. This makes up for the one that I posted after a match was over.)
So we all saw that 7-1 win by Germany coming didn’t we? I know I did. (Tries to go back and change prediction.) Likely no one except diehard German supporters thought they would see that. And they probably thought that Germany would win 3-0.
Today, Germany’s opponent in the Sunday final will be determined. Also, Brazil’s opponent in the Saturday consolation game will be determined. And I love me some consolation game action.
The Dutch have been dominant in this series, winning four of the eight matchups. The Argentines have won only one. Unfortunately for the Dutch, that was a 3-1 win in extra time in the 1978 Final in Buenos Aires.
In the past, I’ve actively rooted against Argentina. Even though Maradona was unbelievable in his prime, he was the most annoying superstar in soccer’s history. And soccer has had a lot of annoying superstars.
Argentina now has the supposed successor to Maradona in Lionel Messi. Messi has a lot less baggage than Maradona and is easily the most popular active soccer player. (If you like Cristiano Ronaldo more than Messi, what is the matter with you?)
Argentina is the only team left in the World Cup that has no losses or ties on its record. Argentina hasn’t needed much scoring to win its first two knockout round matches, beating Switzerland and Belgium by 1-0 scores each time.
The Dutch needed two late goals (including a dubious penalty) to beat Mexico 2-1 and then played 120 scoreless minutes against the offside trap masters of Costa Rica before winning on penalties 4-3.
The big story in the Costa Rica match was Dutch manager Louis van Gaal removing his starting goalie, Jasper Cillessen, right before time ran out and replacing him with Tim Krul. It is hard to tell whether this move was some brilliant tactical maneuver by van Gaal or simple mind games. But, it worked.
I can’t believe that van Gaal thought Krul was better. I’ve seen Krul play a lot with Newcastle. He’s not that great.
I don’t think you’ll be seeing such shenanigans again from the Dutch. They could pick a designated penalty stopper against Costa Rica because they had a fairly good idea that the Ticos were going to play for penalties. (Playing for penalties does not seem to sit well with the American cognoscenti. Not manly enough I guess.) The Dutch could hold back their final sub for the goalie.
Against Argentina, the Dutch are going to be facing an opponent who is going to go toe to toe with them. The Dutch will likely need all three subs for outfield players.
I really don’t think this match will be a rout. I don’t see either team falling apart after conceding a goal like Brazil did. The Dutch have come from behind in three of their wins (Spain, Australia, and Mexico). Argentina has never trailed in its first five matches.
Argentina will be without Angel de Maria because of injury. Robin van Persie is questionable for the Dutch because of a stomach ailment.
Although I own an orange Dutch jersey, I would like to see Argentina win just to see how Messi would fare against Germany. The Germans will likely be huge favorites in the final. But, this World Cup has taught us that we really don’t know anything even when the great teams win.
It’s time for the final four. But unlike the Final Four (TM), the two semifinals of the World Cup on different days in different cities. And Jim Nantz isn’t there. Which is nice. And the players are getting paid.
Two teams with eight combined World Cups are meeting in the World Cup for just the second time ever. Their only previous meeting was in the 2002 Final in Yokohama, which Brazil won 2-0, on a pair of goals by Ronaldo.
In the all-time series, Brazil has won 12 times, Germany 4 times, and there have been 5 draws. Their last meeting was in 2011 friendly in Stuttgart, which Germany won 3-2. (You can watch the goals here.) They haven’t met in Brazil since when Brazil won 3-1 in Porto Alegre.
Germany’s Miroslav Klose comes into the match with a total of 15 World Cup goals in his career. If he gets one today, he surpasses for Ronaldo for the most in tournament history.
The biggest story of this match though will be about someone who isn’t there: Neymar. Brazil’s top scorer is out with a back injury. Brazil will also be without captain Tiago Silva, but he is just out because of a suspension for two yellows and he can play in the final or consolation match.
Brazil has not been the Brazil that people expect. They are not a team dashing up and down the field pouring goals in. This team grinds out goals (except for Neymar, and he’s not playing, see above). Brazil was whistled for 31 fouls in its quarterfinal win over Colombia. For comparison purposes, Germany committed 15 fouls against France in its quarterfinal.
The Germans scored a lot early, scoring six in its first two matches, but since then, the goals have dried up. Germany won 1-0 in its final group match against the USA. They needed 120 minutes to finally get two goals against Algeria in the round of 16. The Germans scored early against France and held on for a 1-0 win.
The goalkeepers are an interesting contrast. Brazil’s Julio Cesar plays for FC Toronto, after his English club team, Queens Park Rangers, stopped playing him. It’s possible that QPR may take him back after the World Cup, especially after his performance in the penalty shootout win against Chile. Or maybe not. QPR is a weird team. Also, Brazil’s defense has only required Julio Cesar to make six saves in five matches.
Germany’s keeper is Manuel Neuer, who starts for one of the best teams in the world, Bayern Munich. Neuer loves to come off his line and wander out of the penalty area to function as a sweeper. He is among the best in the world. He’s only had to make 17 saves in the whole tournament
(Unsurprisingly, Tim Howard has made the most total saves in the tournament, with 27 in four matches.)
The Germans are slight betting favorites. But, Brazil has one of the most formidable home field advantages in the world. Their last loss at home in a competitive match (not a friendly) was in 1975. 1975! They lost to Peru, 3-1, in the first leg of a Copa America semifinal in Belo Horizonte. Brazil won the second leg 2-0 to finish 3-3 on aggregate. Peru advanced to the final by drawing lots.
It’s not unprecedented for a host country to lose in the semifinals. The Germans lost to Italy in the 2006 semifinals in Dortmund. South Korea lost to Germany in the 2002 semis in Seoul. Italy lost to Argentina at home in the 1990 semis.
Germany looks to have enough to win this match. Except I don’t think they will. I think Brazil will find a way through to the final. I wish I could explain why. The margins at this point are so narrow, that it won’t take much to catch a break and get a winning goal.
This time, I think I have the right time on the post. It’s the last quarterfinals. And yesterday, the royalty of soccer was served as Germany and Brazil advanced to the semifinals, although Brazil lost Neymar for the rest of the tournament with an injury.
Today’s matches are “countries where people (at least some of them) speak Dutch against countries where people speak Spanish)
These two countries have faced each other just four times and Argentina has won three times, losing only in the 1982 World Cup opener in Barcelona, 1-0.. Their first meeting was in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. Argentina won that 6-3. They last played in the 1986 World Cup semifinals in Mexico City and Argentina won 2-0. So these two countries tend to play just when it’s important. (They played one friendly in Brussels in 1984 which Argentina won 2-0.)
Like just about all the teams expected to be great in this World Cup, these teams have won, but have never overwhelmed anybody. But, if you’ve watched their matches, you’ve never really thought they were going to lose. (Unless you are a member of the Steve Wondolowski Marching and Chowder Society.)
Argentina is considered by many to still be Leonel Messi and ten other guys. But, that’s quite unfair to that roster, which is loaded. The oddsmakers have Argentina as a slight favorite.
Since most people here have now watched Belgium (for two full hours), you know that they are incredibly good. The Belgians are technically skilled and loaded with speed. They should be able to run with Argentina.
Do they have a defense that can contain Messi? The Belgian goalie, Thibaut Courtois, was just as good as Tim Howard on Tuesday, but he didn’t have to work as hard. But he’s awesome. And very big.
The Belgians strength is their youth, but others will think that it’s a weakness. Will the younger Belgian players fall apart if they fall behind early? Probably not, as they came from behind in their first two matches. Belgium has scored all of its goals late.
I would hope that this is the best match of the quarterfinals. But I only know that I know very little.
This is the first ever matchup between the two nations. Which is not too surprising. Costa Rica is the last Cinderella team left in the World Cup and nearly everyone expect that there will be a lot of pumpkins on the pitch at the end of this match. Costa Rica is around +600 to win. The Dutch are around -190 to win.
Costa Rica does not have the talent to go directly at Netherlands and must hope that they can sit back and pray for a counterattack chance. The Dutch have actually been giving those up as they are not an overwhelmingly disciplined side.
The Dutch do have a lot of talent. They may have annoying talent, like Arjen Robben, but that’s still way more than Costa Rica. The Dutch should win this easily.
They probably won’t. So far (not knowing the Argentina-Belgium result) no match from the Round of 16 on has been decided by more than two goals.
I would love to see Costa Rica win. I really don’t think that will happen. But I have a jersey for both countries. So I’m covered.
Today’s winners play on Tuesday in a semifinal at Sao Paulo.
World Cup Preview, Day 20 (Did I have the gift of prophecy)
(The timer to post this was wrong. But I will run it anyway. I didn’t edit it except to tell you that it was at the wrong time.)
What a better way to celebrate Independence Day than to watch a pair of soccer matches from Brazil featuring four countries that are not the USA, although one of them does wear red, white, and blue. But, that team’s fans don’t like us. So go figure.
These teams have played each other 25 times dating back to 1931. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t play each other from 1937 through 1952. France has won 11 times, Germany 8 times, and there have been 6 draws. Germany has three World Cup wins and the French have one.
The weight of history on this matchup is great. But, in this day, the French are likely to be more upset about the events of 1982 rather than World Wars I and II. (Or hipsters who are still mad about the Franco-Prussian War.)
Germany needed extra time to beat Algeria in its second round match 2-1. France scored twice late against Nigeria for a 2-0 win. The oddsmakers have Germany as a slight favorite, mostly because of its pedigree.
The Germans, if they are healthy, have the depth to adapt to any other style. They can keep throwing scoring threat after scoring threat on to the field. (Well, they have to stop after three subs.) France, with the exception of a scoreless draw against Ecuador, haven’t had much trouble to deal with in this tournament.
There will be trouble for the French on Friday morning. The Germans are not going to make the defensive mistakes that Nigeria made. The French will have to go out and take the initiative.
I would expect the Brazilian crowd to be pulling for the French because: 1) the Germans aren’t overly popular and 2) the Brazilians would probably rather not have to play Germany in the semifinals (if they make it.)
I think Germany will have enough to win this one. But no one will be happy about it.
This should be the match of the day. The host country, the tournament favorite, will have their hands full with the tournament’s darlings. the relative upstarts from Colombia.
Brazil has slogged its way through to the quarterfinals, but has yet to really catch fire. The Brazilian attack has looked slow and somewhat ponderous. Aside from Neymar, the Brazilians have been struggling to find any attacking creativity. The Brazilians had to survive a penalty tiebreaker against Chile.
Colombia, which wasn’t expected to do much without Radamel Falcao, has looked dazzling, winning all three of its group games and then beating a semifinalist from 2010, Uruguay, in the second round. The big man for Colombia has been James Rodriguez. Or as his jersey says “James.” (And again, pronounce it with an H.)
Brazil and Colombia have played each other 25 times. Colombia has won … twice. Neither of those wins were in Brazil either. Colombia beat Brazil in Vina del Mar, Chile in 1991 (2-0) and in Bogota in 1985 (1-0). Brazil has 18 wins. The last four matches between the two teams have been draws, three of them scoreless. They last played in November 2012 at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, a 1-1 tie.
It was almost exactly 20 years ago when Colombian defender Andres Escobar was murdered back home in Medellin, after Colombia was eliminated from the 1994 World Cup. Escobar gave up an own goal in a 2-1 loss to the United States, but the actual reason for his murder is likely more complicated and probably even more stupid.
Colombia today has shed much of its image as a home to drug cartels and pointless murders and kidnappings, although they still happen. But, it’s not quite as bad. And perhaps people associate Colombia with Shakira or Sofia Vergara now instead of Pablo Escobar more.
Brazil is favored by the oddsmakers, but I will be pulling for Los Cafeteros. History is not on Colombia’s side in this match. But I can dream.
Today’s winners play each other in a semifinal in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.
In the summer of 1982, I watched the World Cup live for the first time. As I was in between my junior and senior years of high school, I had a lot of time on my hands during the day to watch matches.
The only way to watch them for free was to watch in Spanish on Channel 34. This turned out to be a great way to build my Spanish skills. I watched a lot of matches.
By the time the tournament got to the semifinals, I was only home to see one of them: Germany (aka West Germany at the time) against France. (I couldn’t see Italy’s win over Poland and this was in a day when recording TV programs was something only the six richest princes of Europe did.)
The Germans had weaseled their way into the second round, which was a three-team round robin. The Germans tied England and beat host Spain and got a semifinal berth against the French. France had advanced with wins over Austria and Northern Ireland. (Northern Ireland had a 17-year old phenom named Norman Whiteside, but little else. Austria was forgettable.)
The two teams met in Sevilla on July 8. A crowd listed at 70,000 attended. (The official report says exactly 70,000. I would say that was an estimate.)
France had a great team led by Michel Platini, who is now the head of the European Football Federation, UEFA. They also had a guy with the very cool name of Didier Six.
The Germans best player was Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, but he was nursing an injury and didn’t start. But the Germans still had a lot of talent. And in goal, they had the very 1980’s looking, Harald (Toni) Schumacher.
The Germans scored first from Pierre Littbarski. France got a penalty in the 26th minute and Platini converted it. It was 1-1 at halftime.
France brought on Patrick Battiston in the 50th minute to replace the much more aurally pleasing Patrick Genghini. (The latter sounded really cool in Spanish.)
In the 60th minute, a long ball bounced into the German half. Battiston chased after it. Scumacher came out to try to snare it as well. Except, Schumacher pretty much just slammed his arm into Battiston’s face. Battiston fell to the ground unconscious, with a broken jaw and a neck injury. The ball bounded harmlessly past both of them wide of the net.
The referee, who was Dutch, signaled “goal kick.” The French were both livid and terrified. One of their teammates was badly injured. Schumacher’s actions could have easily earned him a red card.
But there was nothing. Another sub came in to replace Battiston. The rules at the time allowed just two subs so the French had no hope of reinforcements if the game went to extra time.
It went to extra time.
But, the French scored early in extra time. Marius Tresor scored in the 92nd minute. Allez les blues! Six minutes later Alain Giresse scored another. It was 3-1 France. Rummenigge, who come on in the 97th minute made it 3-2, with a goal in the 102nd minute.Once the time ticked up to the 105th minute, I figured the match was over. Because I had never seen a soccer match go this long.
But the teams switched side and the game continued. In the 108th minute, Klaus Fischer scored on a beautifully executed overhead kick to tie it up at 3-3.
The match went to penalties. I wasn’t sure how many there were would be. I guessed five. I was right!
The French went first. They made it. The Germans made theirs. Both teams made their second. 2-2.
Then, Uli Stielke then had his penalty saved by Jean-Luc Ettori. Schumacher picked up the weeping German player and tossed him aside. He had business to attend to. Or possibly someone to kill. Or both.
Schumacher evened things in the fourth round, when he stopped Didier Six. Schumacher saved the ball and carried it off with like he had picked up a trophy on a hunt. He didn’t get it mounted. It was 3-3 after four rounds.
Platini buried home the fifth one. Rummenigge did the same for Germany. It was 4-4 after five rounds. Now it was … sudden death.
Maxime Bossis took the sixth kick for France. Saved! Bossis crouched down, looking befuddled. Schumacher strode off with a clenched fist in the air.
Horst Hrubesch scored the next one. Germany had moved on to the final.
And I thought to myself, “Wow, that was nerve wracking and thrilling and emotionally draining. And I barely understood what was going on. I need more!”
I really enjoy watching the World Cup. I enjoy watching club soccer too, especially my beloved Everton. I’m not a huge MLS fan, but I appreciate it and I know that the teams in Portland and Seattle have huge fan bases.
But even with the stupid Ann Coulter columns, there are other, presumably well-meaning and less polemic writers who want to dissect or belittle the fact that I just happen to like a sport that they don’t.
This LA Weekly blog post by Dennis Romero was pretty bad. Christine Brennan was less so, but still thinks it was more patriotism than people liking soccer. There are even more columns this I could link to. I unfriended people on Facebook who relentlessly filled my timeline with anti-soccer screeds.
The main theory is that the USA will never embrace a sport its never won in. Which seems idiotic to me. There are hundreds of countries that have never won a World Cup. It’s not easy to win it! All of the countries that have won, with the exception of Uruguay, have all been fairly large countries with strong football traditions. It’s tough to get into that group.
But some other very large countries don’t do well in soccer either. China has only played in one World Cup final. India turned down its only invitation in 1950. Russia has a pretty unimpressive record in soccer.
Sports aren’t supposed to be your nation’s character. They’re just sports. And I don’t even know what America’s character is to begin with.
Just leave me alone on Friday to watch the quarterfinals! If you think the NFL Draft Combine is more exciting than the World Cup, good for you. We’ll still get along. Just leave me alone.