Friday, June 09, 2006

Every four years ...

*It happens once every four years. You know they're coming, and yet there's nothing you can do it about, like gypsy moth caterpillars or wisdom tooth removal. The World Cup grabs the entire planet's attention every four years, and with it comes …

… the onslaught of tired, wheezing crap cliché columns from the same old sports columnists lecturing us about why Americans don't like soccer. Complete with snarky references to nil-nil draws and borderline racist jokes about countries that don't often get much ink.

Nevermind the Americans have worked their way into the picture over the past two decades, from the point their inclusion was considered a joke in 1990 but now, you can make a case for the USA reaching the semifinals with a straight face. Nevermind MLS, though I personally don't find it very entertaining, has entrenched itself to the point that in several cities they outdraw the local NBA or NHL entries. Nevermind that everyone I know is talking World Cup today, dwarfing the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup and Sox-Yankees. Nevermind crowds of 50,000 and more in major cities for international friendlies and major foreign club team appearances.

Nope, no matter how much evidence to the contrary, no matter how many people enjoy soccer and how many people turn out for matches, the vanguards from another generation will continue to crack wise and look down on soccer and tell us why Americans allegedly don't enjoy the sport. Then, in their next train of thought, wonder why no one reads newspapers anymore.

*Seems like everyone's doing a big mixed martial arts overview piece these days. Most of them, of course, focus on the "dangers" of the sport and ignore the studies that say MMA is safer than boxing because there are few punches to the head and thus less long-term trauma; and that the sport has a track record of competitor safety that boxing, football and hockey can't match. Anyway, simple request for my fellow reporters: If you use my Growth of UFC piece from March as a template for your own story, as some already have, can you please credit the source of your material? All you have to say is "according to" at some point along the way. Don't even need to use my name. Thanks!

*Awesome night spent at Chavez Ravine with the visiting Bucknell Jared on Tuesday. One of those nights that reminds you why you started watching baseball to begin with. Dodgers vs. Mets. Pedro vs. Lowe. Nomar takes Pedro deep on a first-pitch fastball. Pitcher's duel develops. Until the bottom of the sixth, when the Dodgers strike for 6 runs and 6 hits in the 6th on 6/6/6. Then Grady pulls Grady move No. 1 and yanks a cruising Lowe for Andre Ethier. Then pulls Grady move No. 2 by keeping Ethier in the game and putting him in JD Drew's cleanup spot. Then pulls Grady move No. 3 by leaving Lowe's replacement in long enough to nearly blow the six-run lead without retiring a batter. (In 2003, Chile Hidalgo of Chile's Corner emailed me and said "Who would win a battle of wits, Grady Little or a peach tree?" Score Tuesday night: Peachtree 3, Grady nil). Then the game finishes with Eric Gagne's first save in a year. Great times. All this for $14. I suppose I should break down all the Red Sox-related significance to the evening, but, I'm not in the mood.

*College World Series is on. *PING!*