Sunday, July 09, 2006

Thoughts on the World Cup Final

When I started a thread on The Wolverine board a few months back about how soccer is stupid, a bunch of people freaked out and basically said I'm just ignorant and I don't know anything about soccer, blah blah blah. So I figured, alright, the two best teams in the world are playing today, let me watch and see what all the fuss is about.

Still not a fan, still think a lot of aspects of it are stupid.

Don't get me wrong, I respect the hell out of the athletes. You obviously have to be in great shape and be very athletic to play at a high level in that sport. There were some great plays in that game: Henry's spinning run through traffic, Zidane's header that nearly won the thing, Italy's first goal off the corner, the shot off the direct kick that went perfectly over the wall and juuuuust missed the post. But over the course of a 120 minute game, IMO there needs to be more than just a handful of legitimately great plays.

So here are some thoughts on the game, and if you want to call me an ignorant American, go for it. But also understand that there probably aren't a lot of people that have watched more college soccer over the past 2 years than me. No it's not at the same level (or even close) but don't think for a second that I'm just some uninformed yahoo. I know enough about the game at this point to comment on it.

1) Under no circumstance should a game of that magnitude end in penalty kicks. You play what? 63 matches in the World Cup to decide who gets to the championship. You play 120 minutes in the championship. Then you decide the title based on a glorified guessing game? The goalie has no chance in those situations unless he either guesses correctly or the other guy screws up. Italy wins the World Championship because their guys put 5 shots into a huge goal and their goalie didn't even have to make a single save. It seems silly to me. If you insist on a shootout, perhaps backing the players up a few yards would equalize things a little bit? As it is now, they might as well have a shooter-tutor in front of the net and have each of the five players try to hit a different hole on it. Or as John Bacon put it on WTKA today, "It would be like having an extra point contest to decide the Super Bowl."

2) Sticking with my complaining about the OT format, I've always been a big fan of "Golden Goal". Is a thirty-minute overtime, played out even if someone scores, completely necessary? In OT, if someone scores, the game should be over right then. Hell, it essentially is anyway.

3) The diving is embarassing. This is the highest level the game can possibly be played at, and it seems that acting is just as important as dribbling. This, above everything else, is a reason that I will never be a soccer fan. Diving irks me (anyone who has seen my comments about Robbie Earl and Andrew Cogliano knows that) and a sport that heavily rewards it is a sport that I'm probably not watching. Was the France guy even touched on the foul that led to France's first goal? I thought he was, but after seeing the back camera's replay, I'm not so sure. Need a 2 minute rest? Just grab your shin.

I don't doubt that some of those guys were actually in pain--it's a surprisingly rough sport--but I think I counted at least 4 different times the stretcher was brought out onto the field during the game. Unnecessary. Especially since I don't think it was used once.

Henry was injured 30 seconds into the game. You know what it was? It was a PICK! I can't imagine what would've happened to him if Graham Brown every got ahold of him! He sat on the field for like 2 minutes, missed 30 seconds of time and came back in. Hell, when Headbutt McFrenchy hurt his shoulder they brought the damn stretcher out. GET UP AND WALK! It's your goddamn shoulder!

Overall, it was a good game that was decently entertaining. But being that this was the absolute best the sport had to offer, next time I'll probably just stick to watching my Nascar race. And if you tell me that is boring, I'm just going to call you an ignorant Yankee. So there!

Speaking of racing, allow me to indulge on three topics, before I get on to the Red Wings and Stevie Y.

1) Juan Pablo Montoya is coming back to America to race in Nextel Cup next year. Allow me to say, YES! I love Juan Montoya. IMO he immediately becomes the third best pure racecar driver in the series behind Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon. He adds a Hispanic presence to the series, and Nascar will start the hype machine rolling based on him winning the Indy 500. Great driver, thrilled he's coming back.

2) ESPN reported today that Danica Patrick may be headed for Nascar as well. Big mistake. Big, big mistake. Even though they say those cars are easier to handle than IndyCars, I can't see that tiny little girl, physically fit as she may be, being able to handle 500 miles every week for 38 weeks. Frankly, I'm not even sure she's tall enough to drive one of those cars. Plus, she hasn't exactly torn up open-wheel. If she can't beat Ed Carpenter half the time, how is she going to compete with the likes of Casey Mears, let alone Tony Stewart? Stick to open-wheel, Danica.

Plus I'm not sure how the rednecks would take to having a foreigner (Montoya), a girl (Patrick), and a Japanese automaker (Toyota) all enter the series in the same year.

3) Matt Kenseth: I understand you're pissed at Jeff Gordon for spinning you. But if you think about it for 2 seconds, you should be thanking him. You didn't have the fuel to make it to the end anyway. If he didn't spin you, you would've run out of gas under green and lost at least a lap to the field, if not more. Instead of that 21st place finish, we'd be talking more like 37th. So shut your damn mouth. What goes around, comes around bitch. At least he likes the Packers.


Tom said...

If I recall correctly, you are not a Tony Stewart fan (correct me if I'm wrong), but Kenseth has now been spun out by two different drivers while in contention for a NASCAR race. He was also shoved in the pits by Gordon. Although Stewart has been something of a hothead in the past, he seems to have settled down a lot and Kenseth somehow managed to provoke both these guys in the same season. I think that he needs to quit whining about fairness and take a look in the mirror.

Packer487 said...

You are correct. I hate Stewart. He does seem to have matured somewhat, though I don't think I'll ever end up *liking* him like I did Rusty Wallace late in his career. He's a big drama queen.

I really can't stand Kenseth. I agree...the guy's a whiner. He's on my list with Stewart, Biffle, Kurt Busch, Dale Jarrett and Joe Nemechek as guys that I don't want to see win under any circumstance.