Monday, June 12, 2006

World Cup Roundup

I’ve survived the first four days of World Cup watching. It has actually been extremely enjoyable and I’ve missed just two early morning games thus far. I’d like to thank Lauren’s brother Taylor for watching the games with me and sharing his knowledge with my unenlightened ass. Here are my observations on what I’ve witnessed so far. Keep in mind I know nothing about the sport besides what I’ve picked up this week.

•They introduced a new ball for World Cup play. As best I can tell the only reason for this was to give the commentators something to talk about for 90 minutes.

•Speaking of announcers, I’ve become quite partial to the international tandem of Adrian Healey and Tommy Smyth. Soccer play-by-play just seems more “authentic” when it is marked by an accent.

•The first thing I noticed while watching was that there is some sort of parallax that causes any shot on goal to look to me like it is headed for the back of net. Is this soccer specific or are my eyes just better trained to overcome this while watching other sports?

•Would it kill ABC/ESPN to provide viewers with a little context about the cities and/or stadiums in which the games are taking place? Call me ethnocentric but everything I know about Germany and its people was learned from watching “Hogan’s Heroes.”

•My first thought upon hearing about the Togo coach and his salary dispute-induced holdout was that “the Drew Rosenhaus effect” is farther-reaching than I had imagined.

•The official U.S. national team supporters are known as “Sam’s Army”. Given our current forays into diplomacy is saddling our enthusiasts with a military moniker, whilst on a world stage really advisable?

•During the U.S. game they kept flashing that we were 0-7 (make that 0-8) in World Cup games played in Europe. I understand that certain teams in sport garner a reputation for playing poorly on the road, but when you take it to the continental level it just seems mean.

•Is somebody really computing the time of possession percentage that is occasionally highlighted during the games? I have no idea how this is calculated but given how frequently the ball changes sides, that guy probably deserves a raise.

•When a player is injured during play they bring out a stretcher to tote him off the field. This wouldn’t be particularly funny except that the stretchers they use appear to have been purchased from the set of M*A*S*H.

•I wonder if there is anyway ESPN2 would consider covering the Ivory Coast vs. Netherlands game in black and white. If not, those contrasting colors of orange are sure to damage our rods and cones.

•And finally, props to ESPN studio analyst Eric Wynalda for his genuine reaction of disdain following the U.S. loss. Seeing him sit stern-faced with arms crossed demonstrated more passion than anyone we had on the field.


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