Friday, July 23, 2010

John Quinn Ain't Gonna Like This...

Know what I don't like? Soccer. Some people don't like it because it's not "American." I think for me it's because I just don't like kickin' stuff. Or being told I can't use my hands! Can you imagine a word without hands? You couldn't play whack-a-mole, or make guacamole. Pie-eating contests would remain the same--I'll grant you that. But how would we masturbate? And then imagine while desperately trying to whack moles without any hands that the person trying to stop you WAS allowed to use his hands. That ain't no kinda life for me, Royal.

If I could change soccer, I'd cut the field in half. Then in half again. I'd disallow kicking. No feet! The game would stop when the clock runs out. The sidelines would matter. The ball would be softball-sized. No offsides, if they have that. No goal keepers. Then I'd give up and play baseball.

Now recently you may have noticed this thing called the World Cup, along with a soccer game at Fenway Park. I'm not gonna tell you I gave the sport an honest chance--but I did watch a little. A verrrry little. I ignored the WC as much as I could, shit-eating-grinning when the U.S. tied that anticipated game against the Brits (are their backup players called the UK Subs?), because it meant all the people that got suckered in to the thing ended up with what soccer games always seem to end in--a tie. Then I rooted against the U.S. some more just so it would go away. But they lost and it didn't go away. Now obviously I rooted for my mom and dad's respective Peace Corps countries. Cameroon fell short and Uruguay almost went all the way...but, still, I wasn't watching at all. Not one second. My dad told me that one match was one of the greatest sporting events of all time---this coming from the man who raised me to hate soccer. So maybe there was this amazing stuff going on, but to me it looked like nothing more than a surveillance camera of the Great Lawn in the summer: a bunch of humans on grass, some occasionally moving, and a sphere rolling slowly along the ground. Well, it would have if I had watched.

Then the final game came. It was a weekend day, and I was sitting at home. It was the second half, and I thought, Okay, I'll put it on the TV and do other stuff, and at the very least, I'll get to see a team become a world champion, and it could be a last-second (but we wouldn't know when that last second is because soccer is so incredibly stupid) win. And that might be cool, because I kinda like sports and games after all.

And it really did come down to the final moments! And finally, with almost (we presume) no time left, a goal! But guess what?! I was completely unmoved! I don't even think the crowd noticed! I sat there with a straight face like I was watching a documentary on Nothing.

So you might say I didn't gave soccer a fair chance, but if "world championship-winning goal in final seconds" didn't do it for me, I don't know what would.

Then Wednesday night, I had to tune in to NESN to see what Fenway looked like with a soccer field on it. I hated that our infield was green! And the mound was gone! But hey, it would still be cool to see, I thought--you could put the camera on the right field roof by first base, get that exact high angle you need, and the backdrop of the Green Monster would be awesome. But what does NESN do? The use the center field camera-well! Facing the first base dugout! So the average person wouldn't even know it was Fenway at all! I guess they decided they'd rather have fans in the background--but I'm thinkin' their main reasoning was the convenience of using the cameras where they already were. But you know what? They still could have given us stunning views of Fenway. But no. It was almost as if they were trying to avoid showing us anything that might let the viewer know the game was being played at Fenway Park. The thing started with the ref and players ceremoniously walking onto the field. Yet the angle showed the home plate field boxes in the background--the whole time as they slowwwly walked out. Get that goddamn camera behind them so we can see them walking toward the Green Monster! So that's not soccer's fault, it's NESN's. It should have been their job to make people try to like soccer, but with me having just gone through a World Cup that did nothing but solidly reinforce my pure indifference to this boring sport, they only completely slammed the door shut on it. And I quickly switched to Sanford and Son. And I don't even like Sanford and Son.

So, yeah, soccer fans might tell me I'm threatened by it, I don't understand all the intricacies of a 0-0 tie, or that I'm somehow xenophobic (I'm the type of guy who wears a CCCP jersey on the 4th of July so let's not walk down that boulevard), but I think in the end, I just happen not to like it. And I'm fine with it existing, I just won't watch. As usual.

To each his own, Jere. If soccer's not your bag, that's fine. I've been a fan since I was a kid, but baseball still is number one with me.

I was still fascinated to see Fenway as a soccer field, no matter what angle it came from.

And I am truly honored to be the title of one of your blog posts.
Always tolerant of others, that's why we love John Quinn!
I also watched a verrry little of the World Cup, and you know what reinforced *my* indifference to it? The universally terrible level of sportsmanship. I saw the end of the US-Ghana game that went into overtime and was supposed to be a thrilling nailbiter. Ghana went up by one goal around the beginning of the extra-time period and then spent the rest of the game intentionally wasting time in the most dishonest ways possible. Falling down *near* opponents, taking forever to line up kicks, bringing out medics to look at guys who are perfectly fine a minute later, randomly kicking it out of bounds on purpose. And the clock never stops while all this is happening. Instead of respecting them for being underdogs, or pulling out this big victory for their poor impoverished country it made me HATE GHANA. I simply do not understand how you can ever be proud of your team when their primary tactic in overtime situations is to cheat.
I've always been a big "to each his own" kinda guy. For example, there are many people who inexplicably believe that Sally's Apizza is superior to Frank Pepe's. These folks are, of course, misguided, but I have no desire to enlighten them; the line to get into Pepe's is long enough already. So if you don't like futbol, that's perfectly fine.

I love the World Cup; I first got hooked on it back when Italia won in '82, but I really enjoyed it much more than ever this year. Part of this is because I'm on a roll, as my two teams, Italia and Espana, have won the last two Cups, but I found myself checking in on most of the first-round games, and getting engrossed in matches between countries I normally don't think about. Most nights it was more enjoyable to watch than the AAAA lineups the Sox have been forced to trot out there for the past month; I'd rather sit through the most boring soccer match than be forced to watch Niuman Romero or Kevin Cash "hit" ever again.

I wish I understood the nuances of strategy and style of play much better; I probably pick up on only about 10% of what die-hard soccer fans see when they watch a match. I was just happy that I was able to appreciate Espana's ball-control style this year.

My wife and I attended a big match by Argentina's top team, Boca Jrs, four years ago in Buenos Aires; it was as electric an atmosphere as any sporting event I've ever attended, Sox playoff games included. I wanted to watch that Celtic/Sporting match at Fenway, but I don't get NESN. And Fever Pitch, which was about as awful a movie as can be made about as great a subject as the Sox winning the World Series, was a remake of a far superior British movie about a diehard Arsenal fan. THAT movie was based on an excellent memoir by Nick Hornby of growing up following Arsenal in the UK back in the 70's; anyone looking for a great primer on UK soccer culture (yes, I realize that won't be you) should check it out. The Farrelly brothers made the US version featuring the Sox in part because there have been comparisons between the passion of the Arsenal/Sox fanbases over the was a good idea, too bad they went and ruined it by casting Jimmy Fallon, the Niuman Romero of actors.

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