Courtesy of Gabe Aguilera comes a great work of art courtesy of the Mexican loss to Holland in the World Cup. Great art can come from defeat.
NSFW. Seriously: very Not Safe For Work.
See title and subject. Photo from before the goal. My daughter actually started to cry from our reaction.
And hopes really were that high. Not just for Messi, who sadly botched, what, three attempts? (I guess one was from lack of support.) But the defense as well.
To some extent, this parallels the pain I feel over the 1997 ALDS, where Cleveland beat the Yankees. But that was about a squad, and here my pain is really over Lionel Messi.
Ni modo. Back to Albania next week.
But it was still pretty cool to be watching the game in one of the few countries where Americans are popular. They have blocked off two blocks downtown for outside game viewing. I am here with a bunch of Danes that I met climbing the Pyramid of Tirana. They have all become USA fans based on my ability to spout trivia about the players and videos of my boy in a Team USA uniform.
Still, a win would have been better. Now we have to watch Portugal and Ghana praying for a tie, which is almost as bad as watching Ghana and Germany knowing that a German win would be better for the USA. If my friend Gabe gives me permission, I will publish our texts. They show two Americans trying and failing egregiously to root against the Black Stars. (Playing somebody else, that is. We had no problem wishing them ill when they played the Yanks.)
Anyway, it has been a helluva Cup so far. I am stunned and saddened at the rapid ejection of the Furia Roja. I am thrilled at the way the Yanks keep scrapping. (In that last match with Portugal, we simultaneously played crazy rough and mastered the art of the dive.) I love the way Italy might fall along with Portugal ... ¡Viva Chile, Colombia y Costa Rica!
And seriously, you gotta love that Messi goal against Iran. Almost as much as you hate that last-second Portuguese goal against us.
So I have a cousin, married with children, a professional who lives near the Queens-Nassau border. (Which side and which profession are being kept secret at the request of his wife.) He grew this long beard, which had relatives telling him to shave it off. “You looking like the effing Taliban,” said one.
“Or a Red Sox fan, which is worse,” I added.
Results to follow.
So I’m in Jerusalem, watching el Clásico. The Israelis find my Spanish cursing amusing. The Real fans from Spain, slightly less so, but only slightly. A good is had by all, not least because the good guys win it 4-3, albeit aided by a bullshit call against Real.
Which brought me to a thought. I am opposed to Catalan independence. Barça has become known as a symbol of Catalan independence. But no one descended from fighters on the losing side of the Spanish Civil War can support Real Madrid. Real was not politicized at the beginning of the war (its manager was in fact a Communist) but afterwards it became a symbol of the Francoist regime.
So I am a Barça fan. Regardless of the whole secessionist thing. Lo, lolololololo, lo lo!
A “slatepitch” has become a word for a counterintuitive and probably stupid idea that sounds sexy enough to attract readers, but which upon further analysis is actually just counterintuitive and stupid.
Every so often one makes you think, but usually not.
And every so often one is so stupid that you just want to tell the author to stop hurting himself and America.
This one is in the latter category. It is stupid. It remains stupid among second reading. And you know the author knew it was stupid. I would have suspected a cunning satire of American professional sports loyalties, but any such was buried.
So you know: the author proposes that the Olympics be turned into just another big athletics tournament. Why? Who the hell knows? Every problem the author cites either isn’t a problem (e.g., Dominica granting citizenship to foreigners so they can compete) or is a question for national voters (e.g., Japan’s ban on dual citizenship).
The possible moment of satire: “We don’t require our major-league ballplayers to hail from the cities they play for, so why should we demand anything different of our Olympic athletes? My Philadelphia Flyers count only four native-born Americans on the team roster. (The Canadian Giroux is the team captain.) We still sing the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ before the opening faceoff.”
After that, though, the author drops the reference to pro sports. A take on Jerry Seinfeld’s “You’re rooting for laundry!” routine this is not.
Question: why do people write this kind of thing? The author is a law professor; it isn’t part of the job description. Is it a satire that missed its mark?
U-S-A! U-S-A! Victory in Ohio. The U.S. has been doing really well in Columbus. I think we are going on five consecutive 2-0 victories over Mexico there. (I am too busy to check.) At some point in the not-distant future, my boy and I will go.
I am a Yankees fan but these days I like international soccer a bit more and I root for the U.S. My good friend Gabe Aguilera is a Dodgers fan, but he is also a huge soccer fan and he, like me, supports the American team. If you click the link, you can read a fun NBC story about the soccer loyalties of Mexican-born Americans.
Now, Gabe mentioned to me earlier today that he had some sympathy for the Tri in tonight’s match, considering the trouble that they are in with qualifying for the World Cup. And I agreed with him completely. So I turned on the TV fully expecting to root for Mexico.
Except, well, I couldn’t do it. I love Mexico when they are playing other teams. And I want them in the World Cup. But I couldn’t do it. It was like trying to root against the Jets for strategic reasons in order to aid a team that I did like. (And last year, caray did that happen a lot! What with the Jets being terrible and all.) It was just not possible.
Which is, I suppose, a test of a true sports loyalty. No?
This just in: Edward Snowden finds the perfect place of asylum!
No matter where I move on this great globe, I will be a Jets fan until the very end. And do not be thinking that I might give up the Yankees! Not within the American League at least. That is all.
The cricket test was proof of two things. (1) The U.K. deserved to lose its empire; and (2) the country was going to have trouble with immigration. Basically, it said that if you were an immigrant and you rooted for your country-of-origin in a cricket match, then your loyalties were suspect.
That is as stupid as it sounds. I could understand a “Sign up if the Germans attack” test, or a “Don’t cheat on your taxes” test, but a cricket test? Come on, man. Tens of thousands of Americans have died for this country even though they would fail that. Not in cricket, we don’t play that in America. But other real sports.
Me, I just failed it. I am rooting for Laura Sánchez. You have a problem with that?
I just got back to civilization. I was in Queens. And I was in Queens without the Internet! OK, I occasionally checked email, but that was it. I suspect that such a vacation will be impossible within not too many years. (Click the link for knowledge about the horrifying future to which information technology is inevitably bringing us.)
But this post is not about Queens. It is about sports. I spent much of today watching some awesome Olympic soccer matches. Mexico-Senegal had me biting my nails ... and almost (but not quite) feeling sorry for the way Senegal botched it up in overtime. Then there was that foul-fest between Brazil and Honduras. I am still sad that the little Hondureño underdog lost. And the tight U.K.-ROK game: I admit it, I was rooting for the home team. In between all that, I hoped to see Lithuania beat the U.S. of A. in basketball.
I am currently watching the Czechs defeat poor Brazil in beach volleyball. That is a great sport. One of the people below is of Brazilian descent: my heart goes out to you. The Czechs stole it.
What is it about international basketball? In every other sport, I root for the U.S. of A. above all. But there are exceptions: at the World Baseball Classic, I root for the crazy underdog teams: Australia and the Netherlands and the like. In basketball, the United States is not merely dominant; it is ridiculously dominant. Ludicrously dominant. Stupidly dominant. Yeah, there is 2004 and FIBA, but in both cases we didn’t send our best players. So I get happy when somebody gives the U.S. a run for its money. (I am not a hypocrite: we dominate beach volleyball too, but that is all about Kerri and Misty.)
Which, finally, brings us to the Knicks. I always used to say that the minute the Nets move to Brooklyn, then I switch loyalties. And I am still tempted! But ... well, “Brooklyn” no longer means what it used to mean. I no longer feel it. I mean, dude, if you had proposed Atlantic Yards in 1985 nobody but nobody woulda opposed it! I feel much more at home in Queens, which outside a few parts of LIC and Astoria is still not cool. Although Sunnyside is becoming suspiciously nice.
So I am thinking that I will stay with the Knicks. But I am unsure. After all, there is that wide swath of Kings County, from Bay Ridge to Canarsie to East New York, that is AFAICT pretty much ungentrified and uphip and old-school.
And, well, even the annoying full-of-hipsters and morons-who-hate-new-buildings part of Brooklyn has its charms. Although it would be more charming if there was a 40-story tower on top.
And since the Nets arena is smack in the middle of Atlantic Yards, then rooting for the Nets would be sticking it to the people who don’t like tall buildings! Or it would, if I had the same sorts of emotions that motivated Sarah Palin supporters. Which I just might, at least where Brooklyn is concerned.
Plus, the Knicks let Lin go to Houston. I mean, WTF?
So, Nets or Knicks? Advice wanted.
I recently quit Facebook. I received two types of responses. First, “I will miss your sports updates!” Second, “Thank God you won’t be sports-posting anymore.”
Anyway, since baseball is no longer an Olympic sport, the only thing you had to fear was soccer. So I would like to extend my congratulations to the Canadian team. I love you all for defeating our former imperial overlords today. And I love you for being the part of America that doesn’t pay taxes to Washington. But you will go down on Monday.
Tancredi is a great player. I have to say that I am proud to have somebody with such a good American name is doing so well for America. Sorry, I mean Canada. You know, that really well-run well-organized beautiful wonderful not-united state up north of the Vermont border. I know, intellectually, that Tancredi is not an American name. But when I moved to California at age 18, I was stunned to discover that Italian-Americans did not make up 30% of the U.S. population. That is true, ask Dev Patnaik, a fellow New Yorker from Poughkeepsie. In late 1988, in California, he gently took aside this downstate boy and explained that most of America was not, in fact, Italian.
While I am here talking about nothing (and posting from a public terminal in an undisclosed location, before returning to the world tomorrow) does anyone know why the American team played in white shorts instead of navy-blue ones?
I know. Most people who watch the Olympics focus on track and field. All else is particular. In my case, I follow track and field when one of my family members is running. That happened in 2008, but sadly not in 2012.
Which means that the Olympics for me is all women’s basketball and women’s soccer. (And men’s basketball, but only when Team America is doing badly. Otherwise, it ain’t that interesting.) In soccer, U-S-A! U-S-A!
But in women’s basketball, I’m all about the France. Sorry, Australia.
We know the result in the European Cup! Great game, and a most unexpected blowout. Poor Balotelli.
We won’t know the results of the Mexican election for a few hours yet. Absent a truly earth-shattering surprise, though, the details are for the Congressional vote: did the PRI win a majority or not?
In the meantime, here is some food for thought. Four things. First, Mexican face-to-face polling may be the future, as Americans give up land lines. (And, as importantly, become less eager to answer the calls that do come in.) Second, the Economist argues for political reform, but I encourage you to doubt whether the reforms being mooted will make any noticeable difference to Mexican governance. (If there is interest, I will explain my doubts.) Third, consider that the biggest damn difference that any Mexican government can make regarding any damn issue facing the country is to raise more public revenue. The PRI has floated the idea of higher taxes, and there are reforms afoot that might (might! maybe!) reverse the decline in Mexican oil output.
Finally, though, remember at the end of the day that politics exists for two reasons. First, to give us a way to decide on public issues that don’t involve violence. Second, to make the society a better place for its weakest members. And with that, I give you this picture of a little girl in Iztapalapa, D.F., in front of her home ... a home where the family puts out tarpaulins to capture rainwater, where the streets regularly flood, where wages are tiny, where crime is high, and where this brilliantly smart little girl will attend schools that are barely able to teach her any more than her heroic parents already have. None of that is fair, not by my lights.
It might be cheesy, but f--k that. It’s people like this family that make you remember why all this matters.
Uncertainty involves the game that starts today at 2:45pm EST. My wife pointed out to me that my mother is probably spinning in her grave right now, considering her lack of attachment to the madre patria. (In a European competition, she would be have been more likely to root for the Netherlands than the land of our ancestors.) Me, on the other hand, I revel in the victories won by our distant cousins!
Of course, everyone in America who doesn’t think I’m Puerto Rican thinks I’m Italian-American. (Which, to be brutally frank, I am, if we abstract away from such technicalities as my ancestry.) And how could I not like the pair of Balotelli and Buffon? But I think the furia roja is equipped to keep Pirlo in a box ... and we have Llorente (from Navarra, where my grandfather was born!) and Soldado. Plus, Casillas is an awesome goalie, and Iniesta an awesome striker. (Yes, I know he plays midfield.)
It’ll be a great game no matter what, unless the two sides resort to a defensive fallback like Spain’s last game or that miserable Italy-England soccer Stalingrad. I want the furia roja to win, but it matters not.
Today’s election in Mexico, unlike the soccer match, involves almost no uncertainty at all about the result. Enrique Peña Nieto is going to win. The polls are unanimous on that point. On the other hand, there is a great deal of uncertainty about whether it matters. From looking at campaign ads, it all seems pretty inane.
But it is not inane. How much is at stake hinges on three known unknowns:
Gabriel Aguilera summed up well the dilemma of question (1): does Peña Nieto want to be a great Mexican president, or does he want to be a great Priísta? That is, does he want to leave his country in better shape regardless of the consequences to his party, or does he want to leave his party more powerful regardless of the consequences to his country?
Of course, it isn’t really a dilemma but a continuum ... and sometimes, as it took the Obama administration way too damn long to learn, good policy is good politics. But that aside, the above really is the first question.
Here is a good essay on just how bad it could be if Peña wants to be a great Priísta. Jeffrey Weldon thinks that is his aim. The Economist does not. The writer of this graffiti disagrees with the Economist.
And then there is question (2). The Mexican president, unlike his or her Argentine counterpart, really is a weak figure. Now, that is not true when seen from the North: they have two advantages over their U.S. counterparts and one advantage over their Democratic U.S. counterparts. First, only one two executive positions requires congressional approval: the attorney-general and the treasury secretary. Second, the Senate of Mexico has no filibuster and no holds and none of the other insanity that has accumulated around the Senate of America. In addition, the entire Mexican senate is elected at the same time as the President, which makes it more likely for the President to have a majority, as does the presence of the electoral list senators. Finally, Mexican parties are generally more disciplined than the Democratic Party, although not as disciplined as the Republicans.
(For a description of the Mexican Senate, see here. For those bothered by my use of “America” to mean the United States, go away.)
That said, the Mexican president is nonetheless weak as American presidents go. (For those bothered by the above use of “America” to mean the entire Western Hemisphere, go away. Consistency, hobgoblins, all that.) He or she has no true decree power, and cannot introduce bills into the legislature nor command the legislative agenda. On the margin the Mexican presidency is slightly more powerful than the president of the U.S. of A., but rather less so than most other presidents in this hemisphere. Therefore ...
... It will matter a lot whether the PRI has a congressional majority.
The wrinkle is that the PRI has lost a lot of its national discipline: the Priístas I spoke to over the past week have told me that the party has evolved into a series of state-level fiefdoms, where the governor effectively chooses the congressional candidates, and machines are perpetuated by having the governor switch offices with senators and deputies and then switch back. That means that the congressional PRI will want President Peña to be a great Priísta, and not necessarily a great President. In such a world it might be better for President Peña to lack a PRI majority.
As long as the PAN and PRD decide that they will not be served by a GOP-like strategy of automatic opposition (and I suspect that they will not be so served), a Peña who wants to serve his country could build cross-party majorities. Remember, Mexico has no filibuster; its Senate (unlike ours) functions as an ordinary legislature. In short, it will be good if the PRI does well in Congress, but not quite well enough to secure a majority in both houses.
Finally, there is question (3). The problem with it is that there is no way to tell until we have the answer to questions (1) and (2). In the field of security policy, I am with Patrick Corcoran (see part one and part two): there is unlikely to be much change. But in economic policy, there could be; ditto in political reform.
I will discuss more later about what I think the answers are to the above questions. Right now, I just want to say that every Mexican needs to answer (1), (2), and (3) for themselves, and then go out and vote. After which, root for the madre patria!
UPDATE: I was incorrectly informed that Article 71 of the Mexican constitution had been reformed to remove the Presidential power to introduce bill directly into Congress. That is incorrect. The President of Mexico, unlike his or her American equivalent, can send legislative proposals directly to committee. He or she cannot, however, force them to the top of the agenda in the manner of most other Latin American presidents.
We aren’t quite returning to normal levels of activity here, but we’re getting close. Things have been busy, what with teaching and casewriting and book-finishing. I still need to complete a book manuscript before the blog fully revives, but I do now have some time to breathe.
And so, I present you with four unrelated links. First, listen to Finland’s foreign minister talk a remarkable amount of sense regarding European defense. Time for Europe to “grow up,” says Alexander Stubb. “I don’t believe the US presence in Europe is permanent. The U.S. is starting to flirt with other partners than the Europeans. The E.U. is not as sexy as it once was. We are like a grumpy old couple. We’ve been together for 60 years. We nag at each other. We might have the same values but America is starting to look elsewhere. If the Americans are looking elsewhere then we have to start up coming up with European solutions, we can’t operate in the security field as 27 different entities.”
Well said. Budget-cutting is turning several Europeans forces into almost ceremonial remnants. He didn’t quite come out and call for a single European army, but that’s the implication. In a world of declining defense budgets, Europe has to decide whether to become a giant Costa Rica (with two nuclear-armed provinces) or try to get more bang for the euro by merging their militaries. The U.K. and France have already begun the process. The more direct politicians are about the choices, the better. (And no, I don’t think that the previous statement is always true.)
Second, Doug Muir is in Zambia! As always, he writes good stuff. The World of Warcraft reference goes over my head, which actually makes it funnier. He discusses Zambian English (which seems to be just another accent), trade with the DRC (which seems to suffer from a severe lack of transport infrastructure, if I’m reading it right), and the European presence. (I met several white Zambians in Mexico a few years back; they seemed healthily attached to the new country, although their accents seemed vaguely British.) He also tells us that Zambia tried to acquire nuclear weapons. That last is not something that I ever woulda guessed. Doug still refuses to carry a camera, though, for his own strange reasons and which I am sure he will regret in 20 years. Anyway, read the posts, and encourage him to keep it coming.
Third, we have Jussi Jalonen on the significance of Kaarlo Kurlo, a Finnish soldier who volunteered to fight in the Polish-Soviet war of 1919-21. It is fascinating stuff, which in a time gone by would have appeared on this blog here. (Yes, that makes me sad. But ni modo, progress is progress.)
Finally, baseball! Word, baseball. You might think that the sport expanded from the United States at the point of a bayonet, since the map of serious baseball countries looks a lot like a map of the unofficial American Empire circa 1940. But you would be wrong. Still no explanation of why the sport faded out in the Philippines.
Courtesy of my good friend Helena Lellis, this is one of the most brilliant things I have seen in a long while. Highly entertaining, and almost enough to fill the vasty gap left in my life now that the World Cup is over. Give the two Brazilian guys who came up with it a major movie contract right now.
This plus the Yankees beating Tampa 5-4 on the day the Bleacher Creatures hold off on making the roll call in honor of the death of George Steinbrenner makes for a pretty good weekend. Not last weekend, no, but not bad.
As for the death of the Steinbrenner, see here. It makes being a fan easier. I predict more Yankees dominance in the coming decade. Not that it would be hard to outdo the last one.
Did Suárez cheat when he knocked the Ghanian ball down with his hands? The consensus seems to be no. He fouled, received the penalty, and moved on.
There are three problems here. First, what Suárez did is not standard operating procedure: pro soccer players do not take every do-or-death tactical foul opportunity. Second, as Neddy Merrill points out, the very nature of the game would change if players did in fact take every such opportunity. Finally, society bans many things. In some cases, it is accurate to think of the punishment as a form of toll: you pay it to get whatever advantage you might derive from the rulebreaking. (In most cases, speeding falls into this category.) Others are not tolls. Society tries to keep punishments proportionate, and thus sometimes the penalties may be relatively low, but the idea is to avoid the behavior altogether. (Insider trading and drunk driving come immediately to my mind.)
Some soccer rules, as in all sports, fall into the first category and others fall into the second. A deliberate defensive handball, I think, falls into the second. Whether Suárez would have done the same thing with 5 minutes or 20 minutes left on the clock does not seem relevant.
Counterarguments? I will be watching the game on Saturday, of course.
My wife and I just saw the fireworks from our roof. Wow! The sight, and a lot of hard work trying to nail down the details of the Salvadorean revolt of 1932 and subsequent debt default, have almost been enough to get my mind off the Argentine defeat at the World Cup.
That game really got me down, much more than the U.S. defeat or the Mexican loss. Of course, Mexico lost to Argentina, which might have mitigated things, although the people in the Cambridge bar hearing me lead a chorus of “Mexicanos, a grito de guerra” and shouting “Me-xi-co, Me-xi-co!” probably would not have believed that. Nor would my friend Kerry, or the fellow in the middle, an old Cantabridgian named Mike who stopped us on Massachusetts Avenue to talk about the match and the Cup.
But it’s true! The Argentine defeat feels more like the Yankees’ defeats in 1997 and 2001, while the U.S. loss is more like the Yankees beat-down in 2004 ... or, to be honest, every year between 2001 and last year. The question is: why the difference? The Argentine collapse, in fact, superficially bears more resemblance to the 2004 Yankees. After some reflection, I think I know, but I’d be interested in the thoughts of others from more soccer-mad countries.
Basically, I backed the U.S. from national pride and loyalty. That’s a strong emotion! And to a lesser extent, my loyalties towards Mexico and the madre patria are similar. The line-up of players on the squad, the identity of the coach, those could make me more connected to a U.S. team if they’re very good and they could greatly annoy me if they’re bad, but they aren’t why I’m a fan.
Argentina, though, that’s different. I like the squad. I like the way Messi and Tévez play, not mention Gonzalo Higuaín and (seriously!) Juan Sebastián Verón. I enjoyed watching Maradona’s borderline-insane all-attack strategies. “Permanently on the attack,” is how he described it himself. It was fun! It was, in fact, the complete reverse of the Paraguayan strategy ... which I will also cop to immensely enjoying, an opinion in which I seem to be almost unique. (Note here that I am Furia Roja supporter, madre patria and all that.) I did not care about Argentina in 2006, and I probably will not care much about them in 2014. But this squad I liked, and I am still sad that I will not see them again.
I am a huge Yankees fan, but I loved the squad that played between 1996 and 2002. Of course, the difference between Joe Torre and Diego Maradona is that Torre had style and was very good at his job. Diego, more just the former. But still, it was immensely entertaining. And, well, Maradona is impossible for me to dislike. (Which is not to say that I do not understand why opinions on that may differ.)
On the international level, have any of my readers ever fallen in love with the style of a squad, even if it isn’t conventionally good soccer, or whatever else?
Sorry, I missed it yesterday. Anyway, I once again want to wish our northern neighbors a happy birthday. We’ll be making two trips there this year (both for weddings, actually), including my first-ever visit to Montreal. Toronto, whatever, it’s a nice city, but sort of like combining the North Side of Chicago with Minneapolis ... not all that special. Even the G-20 riots were kind of boring. (Which is in fact a good thing, speaking as a veteran of non-boring riots in Mar de Plata and La Paz.) But Montreal! That sounds different.
Please, suggestions for things to do or see on either trip!
Anyway, my only pity for Canada on this birthday comes from the extreme unlikeliness that the country will ever qualify for a World Cup, let alone have a shot at winning. National teams do well based pretty much on a few variables: population, GDP per capita, and number of years playing at the international level. Canada only does well on the second. Moreover, like the United States, its athletes are quickly diverted into the real national sports: hockey, baseball, basketball, and gridiron football. (13 Canadians play in the NFL, and as most of you know, the country has its own professional league, using slightly different rules.)
Hockey is a good game, but like soccer, it’s an acquired taste. My entire family in Miami seems to have been converted to the sport by the unlikely arrival of the Florida Panthers to the western reaches of Fort Lauderdale. Season tickets, the whole bit. Yet, well, I can barely watch the sport ... I barely managed to pay attention to the Olympic games. That is not because hockey is a bad game! Sit me down with an expert and I would enjoy it; repeat five or six times and I would be a fan. But it is not a game conducive to enjoyment if you don’t understand it. AFAIK, basketball is the only game regularly enjoyed by people with only the foggiest idea of the rules and tactical subtleties. (I would be one of those people.)
Moreover, if Canada does start to generate world-class players, it will face a catch-22: the best of the best will probably qualify for American or European passports and play for those teams rather than hitch themselves to a losing Canadian team. FIFA rules discourage team-swapping, so the current crop of Canadian players is locked in, but future ones may want to keep their options open. As a nationalist myself, I would be stupid to discount national pride in making those decisions ... but if the U.S. was a no-hoper, then I wouldn’t blame an American for pulling out that old passport from grandma.
Yes, I spent a good chunk of the U.S.-Algeria game mocking the Algeria fans across the street for fielding a team full of Frenchmen. No hypocrisy: that sort of thing is the point of international soccer. You should see what Aldo and Jude and I write on each other’s Facebook pages.
In short, given that Canada is a power in an international sport with high barriers to entry (hockey), a very powerful player in an international sport with low barriers (baseball), and is unlikely to host a World Cup in the near-future, it probably won’t be going anywhere in soccer anytime ever.
My advice to Canadians? Root for the U.S., or if pride won’t allow that, Mexico. See picture above. Best victory since 1862, that was!
This is a little late, but I was in Mexico City for the U.S.-England game, and it was awesome. With the quarterfinals coming up, it’s time to relive the glory.
The bar was the Black Horse, a self-styled English pub in the Condesa, a part of Mexico City that was a run-down formerly-Jewish area when I first moved here and is now more hip than Bo Jackson. I got there an hour early, figuring that there’s a big group of English expats in the D.F. The outside seats were already taken, but the inside was pretty empty. It didn’t stay that way. My friends showed about 15 minutes after I got there. (I managed to claim a slew of bar seats.) With a half-hour to go, it was SRO ... with U.S. fans. None of whom knew each other.
Which made it awesome. The U.S., see is not a big soccer nation. So we had to make stuff up as we went along. First thing we did was try to launch into “America the Beautiful” over “God Save the Queen.” That didn’t work, because nobody knew the lyrics — this after nine seasons of singing the damn thing at the seventh inning of every Yankee game — so we switched to “This Land is My Land” That got everyone going.
The drama of the game has been recounted elsewhere. But it was great. We yelled, we screamed, we chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A!” and in the most perfect touch, yelled “The roof! The roof! The roof is on FIRE!” after the U.S. tied.
We drank out the bar’s entire stock of Sam Adams, some midwestern beer I’d never heard of, and Budweiser. The party then moved outside.
I love the world cup!Tomorrow, I hope for the triumphs of Brazil and Uruguay. Go Mercosur!
First, I would like to thank Randy McDonald for the shout-out!
As many of you know, I am a huge baseball fan. Among the baseball-playing parts of the world, you can learn much about a place by attending a game. Consider how much the bleacher creatures say about New York. Or what the fans at el Clásico del Beis told you about Mexico. Not to mention what you can learn about the Bolivarian Republic if you try. In fact, the only better ways to learn about modern Venezuela involve serious risk of physical harm. Well, more serious risk of physical harm.
In short, when Randy and Jerry, two of the principals of Laredo Petroleum, invited me to a minor league game in a stadium right outside the business district, only a serious health crisis could get me to say no.
I was the only guy in a suit in the ballpark. I may have been the only guy wearing a suit in downtown Tulsa. The Sloppy Revolution has taken full hold there, with one female-footwear-related exception that I’ll get to below.
Tulsa’s minor league stadium is brand-spanking-new and very very nice. There’s a great view of downtown’s towers over the first-base line. It has a modern jumbotron, good sightlines, and fences far enough out to make batazos the rare thing that they ought to be. What it doesn’t have is a winning home team. The Drillers are at the bottom of Texas League AA-ball. I have to admit that we left after the ninth when it was still 1-1, only to miss a top-of-the-tenth four-run massacre at the hands of the San Antonio Missions.
The first thing I noticed was that everyone stands up during the national anthem. Now, let me be clear. Most people stand at most MLB games, and those of you who know me will not be surprised to learn that I’m one of the people on my feet with the hand over the heart. (Those of you who have “enjoyed” my company at a game already know this.) That said, I’m pretty sure that far from everyone stands up at Fenway or China Basin or Chávez Ravine or Joe Robbie or the Bronx. Everyone stands up in Oneok Field.
(That is pronounced “Wun-oak,” not “Oh-nay-oak.” I had to be corrected.)
The second thing I noticed were the sponsors, or at least their publicity campaigns. I simply did not know how to react when a fellow in a hot dog costume started chasing two guys dressed as burritos around the near outfield. That was followed by somebody throwing ice cream containers into the crowd followed by another outfield race, this time made up of costumed little kids. All emceed by a wannabe Fred Durst.
Which brings us to the third thing that I wasn’t used to seeing at a ball game: an emcee! He was a chubby fellow with a little beard that I used to identify with Limp Bizkit. (In fact, I briefly grew one for about a month in late 2000.) He also wore a cape, which I did not understand.
The emcee announced a contest around the seventh inning. I wasn’t paying attention to what he said ... so I was bit surprised to watch two young women start crawling into the outfield from the third baseline wearing what looked like wolf masks. Er? What part of popular culture did I miss? That was followed right quick by another pair of teenage girls competing with each other in a dance contest, to the sounds Lady Gaga. The emcee egged them on to be more, well, “provocative.” They resisted his enticements. The winner, in fact, finally revolted against the emcee entirely and launched into the sprinkler, an utterly non-provocative dance move which, if you’re not familiar with it, unsurprisingly looks like the dancer is trying to imitate a sprinkler.
Finally, I did not expect to see so many three and four-inch high-heeled shoes worn by the game’s female attendees. I hadn’t seen so many stilettos since my last visit to Caracas. The footwear really stood out as unexpected at a game, especially given the general level of sartorial sloppiness, including among the wearers of the heels. Once clued-in, however, I began to note that far more women wore heels in Tulsa than in the Northeast or South Florida, at least in upscale strip malls around Utica Avenue and slightly-less-upscale coffee shops in Midtown. It almost seemed that if you were female and not obese, you strapped on heels, regardless of whatever else you chose to wear.
Anyway, it was a fun game, with good conversation, great views and not-entirely-terrible ball play; the only downside was that we couldn’t smoke a couple cigars at the stadium. (But that is true everywhere these days.) It certainly told me something about Oklahoma. Thing is, I’m not smart enough to understand what. And so, I ask you.
I don't do a lot of random observing on this blog. It may be time to start. So here are few. As always, comments and long involved arguments are desired.
(1) The internet and social networking are overrated. (I'm looking at you, Randy.) Way way overrated. Had computer technology been four decades more advanced, we would be pinning all the tumult of the sixties and seventies on the internet. Weather Underground, blame it on Facebook! Had it been six decades more advanced, we would have been bored. You know, like anyone surfing the net in the UAE can get bored. Click the link and tell me why I'm wrong. (That one goes to Charlie Stross. But how the hell did he manage to erase my post about meeting him in a bad bar in Boston?)
(2) Lay off my man from St. Lucia Saint Kitts! Alexander Hamilton is the hero of every muscular patriotic American pinko. He is why you can be a lefty Big Government type (with all respect to Alex Harrowell, I will have to disavow the term socialist, since it's become a curse word in my country) and still evoke the founding fathers. I will give props to libertarians (hey! Guy Tower! Why you don't read this, G?) but I will not let Dick Armey lie about the founding father of the nationalist American left.
(3) Basta with the Massa puns. (Scott? I haven't heard any from you, but I know you thinking 'em.) Seriously, people. Funny once. No more emails, please.
(4) You should all read more Alex Harrowell.
(5) I write this in Paris. Paris has a lot of white people. Really, the city is surprisingly chock full of 'em. But a major figure at a well-funded think tank says it ain't! Am I confused? So I looked up the figures. I was only able to find the 1999 results, which told me that 17.6% of the city's population was foreign born. Of those, 14% were Algerian-born, 13% from Portugal, 10% from Morocco, 6% from Tunisia, 4% from the madre patria, another 4% from the country that I often think really should be the madre patria, and 3% from Turkey. That comes to 54% of the foreign-born. Speaking as somebody who mistook the Moroccan fellow who drove him from the airport for an Eastern European and then asked his equally-Moroccan barber if he was from Italy, I leave any conclusions about Charles Murray's character (or my ability to identify accents in a foreign language) as an exercise for the reader. I do of course assume that Mr. Murray realized that people from Martinique, Guadaloupe, Guyana, Reunion, and (very soon) Mayotte are indeed as French as any blond German-speaking dude from Alsace.
(6) Man, there were a lot of cigarette butts in the gutter this morning when I took the metro in to the office. I ... like that.
I like France. I can't help it.
From a friend:
It is my long- and deeply-held belief not only that baseball is more important than religion, but also that it is an abomination to support the Red Sox. I am not alone, either. In fact I think that is the majority view in the armed forces.
And yet, I still am required to serve with those openly supporting the Red Sox. I have to write their FitReps with a completely blind eye to what I see as a glaring lack of judgment and morals. I am forced to share living quarters and shower facilities with them, even though I find “Red Sox Nation” tattoos to be patently offensive. I don’t want the government to tell my children it’s OK to be a Red Sox fan.
This is a real morale and unit cohesion issue. My beliefs are constantly being steamrolled and ignored to accommodate a slim minority of service members. But I still show the tolerance that I am required to by law.
Don’t try to sweep aside or marginalize my views, or diminish my legitimate faith by saying it doesn’t count or shouldn’t matter. The services were founded on the principles of baseball. Just look at Yankee Stadium on a Sunday.
Or, in fact, not. The first comes from Alex Harrowell. It seems as though Margaret Thatcher quite seriously proposed to the Prime Minister of Australia that the two countries buy or lease an island from Indonesia or the Philippines in order to house Vietnamese refugees. In 1979. Even more astoundingly, Lee Kwan Yew took the idea seriously enough to strenuously oppose it. Alex gives links to the primary source documents, if you’re having as much trouble believing it as I did.
Truly, the mind boggles. Ferdinand Marcos was all kinds of corrupt, but he hid it behind a veneer of nationalism ... it’s impossible to imagine him selling part of the country to the U.K. Leasing, though ... okay, I can’t imagine this.
The second is a commercial currently popular in Mexico, courtesy of Gancho. If you don’t know who the American is, you need to watch more sports. Enjoy!
Apologies for the lack of posting. I’ve been hit hard by something that isn’t quite the flu, and certainly isn’t H1N1, but is one of the worst colds that I’ve had in a very long time. Not as bad as that thing that hit me in Columbus, Georgia, back in 2002, but bad.
Anyway, before I get down to business, let me talk about recreation. You can’t visit Caracas and not go to baseball game, especially if the Magallanes are in town. Leones’ fans hate the Magallanes, which means that there was no way that I was gonna say no when Francisco Sanánez, the head of Venezuela’s IESA business school, invited me to the game.
It’s a surprisingly small stadium, maybe 16,000 seats. In fact, it’s a university ballpark, rather than a true professional stadium. Nothing like the Foro Sol in Mexico, not even as big as the old Seguro Social. That said, the streets around the park manage to be so badly designed that resulting traffic jams make you feel like you’re headed to a much larger forum. The wandering mobs wearing Leones and Magallanes colors add to that feeling.
I couldn’t bring myself to tell my hosts that the raucous atmosphere inside the ballpark really wasn’t all that out-of-line with what you’d find in Yankee Stadium. The cops ejected somebody from the bleachers, but that happens in the Bronx with some regularity. The outside was lined with more and less-formal food and clothing stands than you’d find in the States (or even, as may surprise you, Mexico City) but still, nothing to write home about.
This is not to say that the atmosphere is the same as at home. Oh no. This is Venezuela, my friends. First sign of that happens before the game, where these pneumatic women in very tight jeans stand around flanking home plate. They’re the Magallanes cheerleaders, who won’t cheer; their job is simply to intimidate the opposition fans. And they do that quite well.
Of course, the home team also has its cheerleaders, who come out about three times over the course of the game. Does anyone remember the XFL? They’re like that. Mexican professional ball games also feature cheerleaders, but they’re wholesome in comparison. These, well, could probably get you arrested in some states, although I’m told from that the scenes in those cheerleading movies that I will never ever admit to having seen are about as risqué.
It wasn’t against the Dodgers, so I didn’t spend the bank to get to the Bronx. Instead, I watched the games at the Thirsty Scholar in Somerville, which appears to have (as I’ve mentioned before) become an unofficial Yankees bar. I showed up with my high school buddy Carlo Cerruti; other friends drifted in as the night progressed. Ultimately, there were six of us; but we were there with around fifteen other fans who’d independently discovered that you were unlikely to be assaulted in Yankees regalia at this place. I speak as someone who has been told by one Boston bartender that his cheering was “inappropriate” and by another “I’m going to have to ask you to tone it down, if you’re going to root for them.” And those were in yuppie upscale places that I’d scouted in the Harvard Square area because I thought they’d be more Yankees-friendly. Polite yes, friendly no.
The other good thing about the Scholar is that you can smoke outside in full view of several large vidscreens.
No blow-by-blow of the game. I mean, it was a bar! Nothing interesting, the way there woulda been at an actual game, that you can’t get from the sports pages. There were three Phillies fans in the place, all dressed up with Victorino jerseys and all, but they left in the seventh. What?? The game was by no means over at that point. If they hadn’t dressed for the occasion, okay, but they had. Why put in all that prep work and go to a Yankees-friendly place just to give up and leave before the fat lady has sung?
There was also a bartender from Terry Francona’s favorite bar. He bites his tongue about his true allegiance when on the job. You also had the brother-and-sister team from the Big Apple. I know, the great thing about New York is that nobody looks like they’re from New York. But to this native New Yorker, this pair just looked like they should be from New York. (They were. The Bronx, in fact.)
Bartender gave us victory shots. On top of at least four pints of brown ale and three cigars that proved to be a serious mistake.
Anyway, the Series took my mind off the frightening amount of work I have to do and the depressing sight of the U.S. Senate doing whatever it is that the Senate does. And it brought a ring back to where it belongs. Now all we need to do is repeat the feat in 2010.
... a great time to be a Yankees fan in Roslindale, Massachusetts. You can tell people that you're only dressed like a Yankees fan when they take issue with your shirt.
It didn't work. Having the other much better-looking Yankees fan with me did.
Looking forward to tonight. Off to get some beer, gonna watch this one at home. But for those of you who live in Boston and are looking for right-minded folk to see the next game(s) with, the Thirsty Scholar in Somerville is becoming an unofficial Yankees bar. Don't tell the propietors.
More like 1989, actually. Or even 1984. I’m putting the final touches on two cases (one on Pemex, one on the Iraqi oil industry) with a little blue pen on paper printouts, drinking Busch Light from a can, and switching between MTV Hits (you know, which still plays videos) and the Pittsburgh-Chicago game. Break was eating my wife’s wonderful noodles. After a week where sleep really has been optional, this is the way to work.
One way in which digital technology is inferior to the old is in channel switching. Analog cable televisions would go bam! instantaneously from one channel to another, especially if you had one of those multiswitch remotes that plugged into the set. These new ones take a few annoying seconds to make the change. Strangely, I find myself disappointed to know that said new inconvenience will not be a permanent part of the future’s video experience.
Anyway, I had to turn on the internet and ruin it all. Thus, this post. More on the Canadian oil industry forthwith, but I need to finish these two cases. Sometimes deadlines are hard, even in academia.
Whatcha y’all doin’ on this not-so-lazy Sunday, gentle readers?
Gancho asks about the ambience at the U.S.-Mexico qualifier. Why was I at the U.S.-Mexico qualifer? Wasn’t I just in the Philippines?
Well, yes. But I’ve been a bit busy, and when I haven’t been busy I’ve been jet-lagged, so I haven’t written much. The proximate reason why I needed to go to Mexico was to research a case on Pemex that I’ll be teaching for the first time on September 15th. (Agh! Right before Independence Day, no less.)
That said, the reason that I picked this week instead of some other week is that this was the week of the big game. I went to the stadium with mis amigos Gabo y Carlos y prima Silvia. For those of you who’ve never been, Estadio Azteca is impressive. It feels much larger than similarly-sized stadiums in the United States. We got there on public transit, from which you walk down these concrete elevated walkways filled with hawkers selling Tri-related merchandise, including green-white-and-red Pancho Villa mustaches.
Everyone wore some version of green-and-white; I’m not sure that I’ve ever been to a game anywhere where so many spectators seemed ready to run onto to the field and substitute just in case Javier Aguirre needed them.
Of course, I was a ringer, a U.S.-fan wearing El Águila under the leather jacket. What, you think I was going to drape myself in Old Glory? Not at this game, sir. I would have been the only person in America’s colors. In fact, we couldn’t find the opposition stand. Carlos was certain there was one, but nothing we could see.
The TV-news later showed scenes of people waving Old Glory in what looked to be a stadium of some sort, but we saw nothing. I later discovered that there was in fact a U.S. section, but if you go below the fold you’ll be able to see why I don’t have any sympathy for them.
The atmosphere was … raucous. Not unlike a regular-season professional game in Mexico. Every time Tim Howard tossed or kicked the ball back towards the Mexican side the stands would come alive in a long shout of “puto!” It felt like a Molotov concert. The singing of the traditional “En donde estan en donde estan los pinche gringos que nos iban a ganar” only added to the concert-like atmosphere. As did the fact that Mexican fans threw paper cups at Davies right after he scored the only U.S. goal.
In fact, hurtling beer cups was a motif of the game. Whenever the U.S. tried to set up a corner shot, the fans would pelt the player with cups and bottles. I have been to many sporting events in the U.S. and Canada and Europe, and I’m not sure I’ve ever fans throw stuff at the players outside of Yankee Stadium, and then only in from the bleachers at the far outfield.
Now, I have to say, hurtling beer cups is a motif of Mexican soccer matches in general. But I hadn’t been to one in a while, and so the flying cardboard came as a bit of surprise, as did the fact that most of said flying cardboard still seemed to contain beer. Every time Mexico scored, we got pelted. It made for an interesting time in the lower stands. Below the fold you can see one teenager trying to protect his mother with what appears to be an empty box of Glenfiddich.
I’m all for ethnic solidarity and all that, but Senator Jeff Sessions is taking it to a whole ‘nother level at the Sotomayor hearings.
Anyway, interesting as the linked story is, I just wanted to post a picture of me in this shirt, which I wore to the World Baseball Classic games in Mexico City. (The picture above is at my favorite bistro in the D.F.) I will not be wearing it to the U.S.-Mexico World Cup qualifier in Azteca Stadium on August 12th. In fact, while I will be rooting for the U.S. team, I also want to live, and so will dress in green and red.
Patrick, Mike, Carlos, what think you? Am I wimping out?
I'm in Mexico, for work, but one of the nice things about my line of business is that I have some flexibility to choose when I travel. So I chose this trip to coincide with the first round of the World Baseball Classic, being held at the Foro Sol in Mexico City. You can kind of see the Foro off to the left of the spiky dome thing in the picture below.
The spiky dome is the Palacio de los Deportes. In a sign of the amazing rapidity of Mexico's cultural revolution, it just finished hosting the Expo Sexo 2009, which is exactly what you think it is.
Anyway, we were in the area for el beis. For the Cuba-Mexico final game, I was with three fellow fans: an American, a Venezuelan, and a Canadian. We took Line 9 of the metro, which was much more crowded than I remember it being. On the way, we met an older fellow in a baseball jacket. He was a very talkative guy, who knew a lot about the game. He also happened to be the most foul-mouthed man I've met in a long time, and that's saying a lot. Every other word was a curse. I wish I'd had a tape-recorder; the man was artistic in his use of profanity.
So were the fans. They shouted pretty foul things at the Cuban team. Nothing that you wouldn't hear among the Bleacher Creatures of the Bronx, of course, but good to hear. My favorite was “culero” chanted at anyone who seemed to be, well, a culero. It was raining — hard — and only the hard core were left by the sixth inning. (It wasn't, I have to say, a very good game, as a game, and neither was the previous day's match against Australia.)
At one point a dude dressed as a stuffed Barney came out and started a dance with some other stuffed animal, to loud boos. Until Barney ripped off his head to reveal a wrestling mask, and started tossing the other animal around the sidelines. That was fun.
The Cuban fans were also a lot of fun. They sat in their own blue-white-and-red draped sections, with giant flags and ridiculous wigs, and played music. We didn't a get a chance to talk to any of them, but I have a strong suspiscion that they're mostly Cuban expats, and not people whom the government flew out for the games. They didn't seem organized enough.
Anyway, despite getting soaked to the bone, and having beer poured on me, and having people confuse my Puerto Rico flag shirt with a Cuban banner, it was a great night. ¡Viva el beis!
This comes from the archives. It was posted on another blog on January 21, 2008. Considering that the football postseason is now entering full swing (and that only Philadelphia survives as a team that can grab my interest) I thought it apropro to repost it now.
It was cold yesterday. It was cold in Massachusetts. It was even colder in Green Bay, like negative 17 degrees ... negative 31 with the wind. Third-coldest postseason game in NFL history.
The New England game ended the way I like. The Green Bay game did not. Overtime, Green Bay wins the toss, an interception, and then Lawrence Tynes gets the third field goal attempt after botching the first two. Did anyone catch Giants coach Tom Coughlin's temper tantrum after Tynes messed up the first? I hadn't seen anything like it since basic training. Sadly, though, it seems to have worked as a motivational device.
Anyway, I know Giants fans, and they simply don't deserve the victory. Everyone disenchanted with money-drenched professional sports has to love the plucky little municipally-owned team. And anyone annoyed by fair-weather fans (as a former Bleacher Creature, this often afflicts me at baseball stadiums not located in Boston or the Bronx) has got to love the dedication of those who love the Packers.
“It makes me feel like a sissy,” said Troy Aikman on national television when Fox cut to that shot. I have to agree. Over to you, Carlos.
It seems that a second professional baseball league has opened in Japan. I am not clear on the business reasons for the new league (which seems to be more of a minor-league operation than new competition for the Japanese majors) but one of the teams appears to have identified a major-league-quality knuckleballer. The knuckleball, for those of you who don't know, is one of the trickiest pitches in baseball. Essentially, the pitcher throws a knuckleball with no spin. Since a baseball isn't a smooth sphere, in theory the lack of spin makes the ball's trajectory unpredictable and almost impossible to hit. In practice, the pitcher needs to be very very good to avoid (1) handing the batter an easy hit; (2) throwing a lot of balls; or (3) making life impossible for the catcher and thereby allowing any runners an opportunity to advance.
The curve? The knuckleballer so-identifed appears to be a five-foot-tall 16-year-old girl.
I hope this story pans out. Truly good knuckleballers are rare. So the odds are that Eri Yoshida won't make it to the incumbent major leagues in Japan, let alone the United States. But I hope she does.
I’ve been travelling. More on that later. Before I left, however, I managed to catch the Yankees in a 2-1 victory over Oakland. Great game. Low-scoring fast-moving pitchers’ duel. Oakland’s second-baseman tried to fake a throw to first and wound up looking like a minor-leaguer to the uninformed.
Didn't hurt that I was, for the first time in my life, watching from a luxury box with an Army colonel and a professional opera singer, among others. As the opera singer’s brother said: “It's like having the world’s greatest hi-def television.” Plus Italian sausage and all the beer you could drink.
After all that luxury, we hadda go get some pizza (and more beer) over on 157th Street. And what did we see?
The sign below the green Presidente neon logo reads, literally, “Proper-looking young women needed to work.”
The usual figurative reading of “proper-looking,” however, isn’t “proper-looking.” It’s “white.” Or at the very least, “white enough for the person doing the hiring.”
I must be missing a joke. Right? This is the 21st century.
At least there’s a “For Sale” sign on the door.
Dude. Holy shit. Zac Pelleriti and I are watching the game, and we both seriously thought it was over when Croatia scored. I mean, minute 118, what could happen? And then Turkey ties it with, what, thirty seconds left? Awesome.
By the time penalty kicks started, half the department is my office watching Croatia blow it.
And it's on to watch Ay-Yıldızlılar play the Nationalelf! Man, I'd like to go back to Berlin to see that. I'd say it'd be like watching Mexico play the U.S. in Los Angeles, except that almost no native-born Americans (of Mexican descent or otherwise) could give a f**k.
I'm a happy man. Tomorrow I'll be rooting for the Netherlands, and believe you me, on Sunday I'll be back supporting the madre patria against the sleaze, or whatever they call themselves. Here's to maximizing my cheering confusion: Türkiye v. España for the 2008 European Cup. (My ignorance over the actual chances of that happening is indeed bliss.)
¡Viva Turquía! ¡Viva España!
No, not the sixth game of the NBA final. That was awful. (I wasn't rooting for the Lakers, but I'm not much of a Celtics fan either. So something other than a blowout would have been nice.) Rather, das wunder von Genf, the match between Turkey and the Czech Republic. Down two-to-nothing, one goal with 25 minutes to go ... then two more in the last four minutes. Dude.
I have to admit that we wouldn't have bothered to watch it at all if we hadn't been walking past a Turkish bakery-slash-café-slash-bar in Kreuzberg next to what certainly appeared to be a housing project. I couldn't stop myself from looking in through the window at the giant flat screen. Any kind of team sporting event involving a ball will do that do me.
The people inside spotted us and vigorously motioned us in. In fact, one of the owners came out and insisted (through sign language) that he could find us a seat and we were more than welcome. How could we say no? After all, the game had only just begun. And so, we had the full build-up of frustration that only soccer can produce by the time Ay-Yıldızlılar first scored.
Apparently shouts of gooooooooooooolllll, go-lo-lo-lo-looooooooooooooool!" aren't a common German or Turkish way of expressing appreciation. I judge this from the fact that when Turkey scored its first goal, my reaction attracted looks from some of the women in the place that I can only describe as bemused.
I'll add here that neither high-fives nor fist-bumps appear to be used much either. But the little kids in the place, and there were a lot of them, certainly seemed to appreciate both gestures, especially after Turkey's second goal.
The woman in the above picture who isn't my wife asked me if I was Muslim right after the game. Before I could answer, the fellow on the right barged up and shouted, "In football, there is no religion!"
By the amount of beer-drinking going on, I'd have to say that he was right.
The owners gave us free pastries. (We paid for the beer.) They were great pastries. Very recommended, the next time you're in Berlin.
Anyone know a good place in Boston to watch the Turkey-Croatia match? Y'all know who I'll be rooting for. ¡Viva Turquía!
There's always a bright side, though. First, I'm in the Golden State, rather than the Bay one. That makes it easier. Second, there was a worry that the victory parade might depress turnout for my favored candidate in Tuesday's primary. Guess that's not a worry anymore. Third, Amma's family in Queens are very very happy. (My family in Miami is not.)
Carlos, I thought that football was supposed to be more predictable. This was like watching three starters give up 21 runs in four innings. WTF? It certainly gave meaning to the phrase, "The best defense is a good offense," but still.
Please don't forget to thank Doug for the Friday links. We're all overwhelmed a bit by work-related program activities at the moment. Feel free to discuss the game. Or any other game. I will endeavor (but don't promise) not to delete any "go jints!" or "woooo" comments.
Bostonians don't realize it, but New York also has a serious baseball rivalry with Toronto. (I'm not sure that Torontonians realize it either, to be honest.) The below picture is at a game against the Blue Jays.
I've been to couple of Yankees games at whatever they're calling the Skydome these days, and they're always very well attended by whole families of New Yorkers up for the weekend.
Of course, if the loonie stays around par, that kind of thing might become less attractive. Will the Torontonians care? I have to say, I've always found the kind of Yankee fan who goes to Toronto games to be remarkably well behaved. For Yankees' fans. New Yorkers in general, as we all know, are very polite folks.
(The worst stereotypical big-city rudeness I've ever encountered in my life? Calgary. No foolin'. I think it's because Canadian content laws there have translated into Shania Twain every hour, on the hour.)
Anyway, I think the long slow decline of baseball in Quebec is tragic. Much as I like the Washington Nationals — much as Washingtonians love having their Nationals — something seems to have gone out of the world with the Expos' departure.
So I'm here reading the Congressional debates about the annexation of the Philippines. Man, Senator Hoar really ripped Senator Beveridge a new one. "Have you read the Declaration of Independence, sir? Allow me to remind you." And Carlos will be proud that his people's representative, Senator John Spooner, proceeded to call Beveridge's economic justifications of American rule "base and sordid."
But that's not why I'm here. I'm here to ask a question that I've asked before, but who's answer I've forgotten:
WTF happened to baseball in the Philippines? It's gone, disappeared, nada, se fué, totally driven out by ... basketball. How and why did that happen???
But my football loyalties are shallow. I'm a baseball man, a fan of the once and future dreaded (but always hated) New York Yankees.
I follow them around. That's me at Fenway. I had doffed my hat at the moment that photo was taken, but look at the two guys standing below my right arm. Yankees hats. And look at the fellow seated in front of them. A Derek Jeter jersey. We are there, in the bleachers of Fenway. The opposite would not occur in Yankee Stadium, not unless the Red Sox fan in question wanted humiliation. Or possibly violence.
The Bleacher Creatures of the Bronx are the fellows who learned to chant obscene comments about the sexuality of Dice-K's mother in Japanese. Two senior professors once took me to a Red Sox game against Toronto. They weren't surprised, exactly, at my comportment.
In some ways, Boston and New York are inverses. In NYC, nobody could care less if you wear Red Sox paraphenalia. In fact, Manny Ramírez managed to blow a shot at turning most of Washington Heights and a big chunk of the Bronx into part of Red Sox Nation. (Guess how he blew it. Right.) In Boston, though, people feel free to yell at me in the street for wearing a Yankees hat. (And so I mostly don't, except around Harvard Square.) On the other hand, Yankees fans do fine inside Fenway, even in the bleachers ... and the reverse ain't true in the Bronx. (I wouldn't risk it on the D-train after a game neither, to be honest.)
So why am I a baseball fan? Three reasons. (1) I actually played it back in the day. Sure, now I have trouble throwing a ball ninety feet, but I played the real thing, unlike football. I think I played tackle football maybe, like, twice in my life, and even then it was way way watered-down because we used neither pads nor helmets and I am still here to talk about it. (2) I understand baseball. People who don't understand baseball won't admit this, but the game is actually simpler than football. And (3) ... history. Baseball's just got hella more history than football.
Which brings me to nostalgia. I rarely give Brink Lindsay props. After all, he has no idea what really caused the Great Compression, mistakenly believes that the Democratic Party lost white male votes outside the South during the 1960s and 1970s, and claims that the Great Society contributed to "an explosion of crime, urban riots, family breakdown, and welfare dependency." But he did say one very very clever thing about nostalgia for the 1950s, when baseball ruled supreme, and today's political debates:
"Republicans want to go home to the United States of the 1950s, while Democrats want to work there."
True or false?