How big a deal is the World Cup? Well, when Costa Rica won their first game or “match” as the pinko commie Hilary Rodham Stalin types would want you to call it, the British announcer- possibly Ian Darke or Steve McManamanananananananman declared that it was the greatest moment in Costa Rica’s history. Not their soccer (or “football” as it’s known in poor deprived nations where they don’t have real Football) history or even sports history- but the history of the whole damn country. Now, admittedly, this is Costa Rica’s history we’re talking about, and moments 2 – 10 are all House Hunters International episodes. In fact, the win vs Uruguay displaced the episode with the retired fireman and his family who lost their home in Southern California and had to move to Costa Rica so they could live on his pension. You know the one- it’s the episode where they wanted a place that had historic charm and character but was also fully renovated with brand new appliances and that was right on the beach but also had a pool and an amazing view. Remember- there was that CRAZY twist where- get this- SHE had super high standards and wanted to make sure she got everything she wanted regardless of cost but HE – and this is the crazy part- HE was all obsessed with the budget and making the numbers work. Wild right? I bet you never saw THAT coming.
Later on, Costa Rica played Greece in the “knockout round”, after beating soccer powerhouse Italy (Mamma Mia! That’s a spicy upset!) and playing England to a 0-0 tie. Yeah, that’s right- a 0-0 tie- (or “nil-nil” as they say in poor deprived nations where they don’t have the word “zero”) . That’s like, a thing, in soccer. No wonder Ann Coulter says this sport is un-American – I mean- two teams beating up on each other under the sweltering sun for an interminable length of time with nothing to show for it??? We expect that kind of futility from our wars but NOT from our sporting events. Anyhow, the fact that Costa Rica and Greece had to play each other is one of the things I love about the World Cup. Isn’t it amazing that the World Cup can take two countries, thousands of miles apart, who’ve had almost no historical contact with each other (Google Greece- Costa Rica relations and you’ll go straight to Tindr) unite them on a global stage through the majesty of sport and teach them to loathe and despise each other? Yes! It is amazing! Thank you for asking! It’s like some crazy zoo, where the giraffes and penguins have to wrestle for food while thousands of fans cheer them on. (I oppose cruelty to animals in all its forms. Except, I mean, for eating them cause let’s not go nuts here.)
Just think about how much these two countries learned about each other. Why, I bet you that two weeks ago, the Costa Ricans had no idea that the Greeks were a bunch of lazy, obnoxious, chain smoking mamma’s boys (according to Google, anyhow) and the Greeks couldn’t begin to guess that the Costa Ricans were a bunch of…highly literate, extremely polite, lovely individuals (don’t look at me- ask Google). I know this may not seem weird to you – I mean, learning to hate far away countries for no reason is nothing new to us Americans- hell, it’s the corner stone of our foreign policy. At least in sports, we don’t have to spend a fortune rebuilding the countries we beat, cause if we did, we’d buy Team Iraq the best cleats in the world and they’d use them to run off the field as soon as ISIS got the ball.
And of course, for the Greeks, being hated is no big deal. Everybody seems to hate them. Don’t believe me? Well- here are the some of the search results for “reasons to hate the Greeks”:
Why do Turkish People hate the Greeks?
Do Germans really hate the Greeks?
Why do Albanians hate the Greeks?
Jews hate Greeks
The Dutch hate Greeks even more than Germans
Why do so many people hate the Greeks?
Why do I hate the Greeks?
I hate Greeks
And can you blame them? Greece is Europe’s drunken uncle. You know – the one who pretty much invented Western Civilization back in high school, like 4,000 years ago, but now he’s just a ruin of his former self, showing up late at night reeking of smoke, in that old Varsity toga that doesn’t fit over his gut anymore, to borrow money that you just know he’s never gonna pay back. And sure, you think he’s fun at first because he’s always sunny and stays up all night, but then you catch him in the kitchen drinking vanilla extract (or, worse yet, ouzo) and you realize what a mess he’s become.
But Costa Rica? Nobody hates Costa Rica. They’re like the Jimmy Fallon of Latin America. If ever there was a country that could “Mom Dance” with Michelle Obama one day and “Dad Dance” with Chris Christie the next- it would be Costa Rica. Seriously, Jimmy – you can’t love EVERYBODY “This next guy, I just love him so much. He’s a good friend of the show, from the Khmer Rouge-we’ve got the architect of the Cultural Revolution himself- – POL POT (Roots play funky version of Holiday in Cambodia. Jimmy and Pol play “Counterrevolutionary Beer Pong” and the winner guns down everyone in the audience who wears glasses).
Still- despite their disgusting likability- the Greeks still managed to work up a frothing, violent, seething hatred for Costa Rica. And why? Seriously-have you not been paying attention? CAUSE IT’S THE MOTHERFUCKING WORLD CUP, PENDEJO! It’s the SUPERBOWL of sporting events….that aren’t, you know, already the Superbowl! It’s like the Winter Olympics if they just did biathalon and the whole world was Norway and wouldn’t that make an awesome Will Farrell movie?? (no) It’s games without frontiers, war without tears- and if looks could kill- THEY PROBABLY WILL!! It’s like a gigantic QUIDDICH tournament if I actually knew what the fuck that meant and wasn’t just saying it to suck up to the millenials I lost with a RANDOM AND SLIGHTLY OBSCURE PETER GABRIEL REFERENCE!!! It’s the love child of World War Three and March Madness with Brazil as Kentucky, Germany as Duke and the US AS FLORIDA GULF COAST UNIVERSITY! IT’S THE PINCHE WORLD CUP, MOTHERFUCKER!!!!! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!
Now, for those of you that still have no idea what I’m talking about- and if you think the word above is pronounced “ghoul” – than you’re who I’m talking about- here’s a breakdown of why this is the world’s greatest sporting event. Or, at least, the best one in June & July.
It’s the most dramatic
A couple of weeks ago, I watched the U.S. – Belgium game with a bunch of co-workers as part of a Work Approved Morale Building Activity. It was awesome. We prayed and screamed and gasped and sighed. For 90 terrifying minutes we held our breath as our boys withstood wave after wave of attacks from the ferocious Belgians (wow- nobody has said that sentence since the reign of King Leopold II- or at least since Bloodsport) and we screamed in frustration as the US came within INCHES (or “millimeters” as they say in poor deprived nations where they have to use the metric system. Shudder. Twitch. Shudder.) Throughout the game, our viewing party grew and grew as co-workers would stop in to see what all the hubbub was about and find themselves transfixed by the action, unable to move, frozen in place like ancient Greeks in the glare of Medusa or the Greek goalie trying to stop a Costa Rican penalty kick DAMN! OH NO I DIDN’T! The company ground to a halt- for 90 minutes phones went to voicemail, emails went unanswered, meetings were missed (on the other hand – morale surged by 8.6% – up to its highest level since Proposition 8 was overturned. We are a theatre company after all.) And as the clock wound down- or, up whatever on the game, and it became clear we had survived the worst the Belgians had to throw at us (at least, the worst since Universal Soldier: Regeneration) we sat back, untwisted our guts and prepared for Extra Time. Oh- and what was the score at the end of Regular Time? 0 – 0. That’s right. Nil-Nil, Zilch-Zilch, Bupkiss-Bupkiss, The Number of Valid Scientific Reasons for Not Vaccinating Your Children vs the Number of Seconds I Would Respectfully Wait before Laughing my ASS Off if You Told me Jenny McCarthy had Polio. Like the audience of a Beckett play, we had just sat mesmerized for 90 minutes watching some weird foreign drama we didn’t understand in which nothing actually happened. Unlike, Beckett, though, in the knockout round of the World Cup, they do keep playing until the game is decided- and wouldn’t Waiting for Godot be like a million times more satisfying if it was resolved with penalty kicks?
Is Godot a metaphor for God? GOAL!
Is he ever going to come? NO GOAL!
Is the world simply a meaningless void of despair where hope is an illusion, human endeavor is doomed, and life is a pointless, undignified, agonizing interlude between cradle and grave? GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLL!!!! Also you should hang yourself now with your belt.
Of course, some of the drama and excitement of World Cup soccer, (or futbol as it’s called in Spanish speaking countries because evidently there’s no Spanish word for “foot” or “ball” so they have to come over here and take our words which is just so typical) is due to the announcers. Now I know everybody loves to talk about the histrionic GOOOOOOL screaming dramatic flair of the Telemundo commentators- but I’ve grown very fond of the British announcers with their bizarre Cockney rhyming slang bastadizations of 1940’s American tough guy lingo and the rat tat tat Tommy Gun “live from the front” delivery of a Wold War II radio broadcaster commenting on the Blitz. These guys could make anything sound amazing:
Ian Darke: And the blue paint on the living room wall is starting to be a little less shiny. This is a critical point here. If anything goes wrong here we could have a crack in the paint and have to start all over again and that would spell CURTAINS for our living room renovation. And- wait- I see a bubble. Is that a bubble? That could be a bubble. A bubble could be trying to pull of a daring flood light robbery the new blue paint. This could be the end RIGHT HERE. THIS COULD BE IT. No. Just a bump in the wall. It looks like the blue is getting dry around the edges. This is a critical time. Just a few more minutes. Anything could happen here. A piece of dust. An unsupervised dog. A kid with peanut butter on his fingers walks by and IT’S LAST CALL AT THE LAST CHANCE SALOON FOR THE LIVING ROOM WALL. But no. it’s almost dry. We’re into stoppage time now. It’s drying. It’s drying. We have a result. It’s… (change channel to Telemundo)
Telemundo Announcer: DRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!”
But you can’t blame the announcers for being dramatic- the game is relentless – they don’t even stop for commercials- and with the stakes as high as they are in the World Cup at every second of play- it’s bound to make you a little crazy. It’s like a horror movie with only one killing but dozens of cats that wait until the perfect moment when everything is quiet and you let your guard down and then JUMP OUT OF THE BUSHES AND SCARE THE CRAP OUT OF YOU FOR NO GOOD REASON. Or creepy, laconic stringy haired janitors who sneak up behind you in absolute silence and then, when you least expect it TAP YOU ON THE SHOULDER AND ASK YOU IF EVERYTHING’S OK CAUSE THEY SAY THEY HEARD A NOISE.
So- go ahead. Grab a snack. Take a leak. Check your email. I dare you. I double dare you. Cause, you just know, you just know that the SECOND you look away KER-SLASHO the hockey mask wearing serial killer will come leaping out of nowhere and BRUTALLY CHOP UP THE OVERSEXED TEENAGER WHO SAID “I’LL BE RIGHT BACK” WITH A CHAINSAW INTO TINY LITTLE BLOODY BITS. Or- you know, somebody’ll score a goal. Either way- you missed it. And now- it’s nothing but cats for the rest of the game.- or “match”. Whatever, HILLARY.
Plus- like any good horror movie- it’s never over when you think it is. Just when you see the clock hit 90 and you think- ok, it’s fine, we made it, we’re through, we beat Portugal- BAM! The referee puts 3 extra minutes on the clock, Renaldo scores a last second goal to tie the game and the SERIAL KILLER JUMPS OUT OF NOWHERE COVERED IN BLOOD right behind the idiot policeman who never believed the kids who said they were being chased by a killer and thought they were all whacked out on Angel Dust and KER-SLASHO!!!! THE SERIAL KILLER HACKS THE POLICEMAN TO PIECES before somebody inexplicably blows him up with an oxygen tank and a lighter. Now THAT’S SOCCER! Or “football”. Whatever HILLARY.
It’s a great time to be an American!
Look, it’s not easy being an American. Wait- sorry, let me rephrase that- it’s absurdly, disgustingly obscenely easy to be an American- it’s just hard not to feel like a dick about it – except during the World Cup. Aside from the aftermath of a terrorist attack- there’s simply no better time than the World Cup to feel great about America! Because, while the US is way ahead of the world in pretty much every area, we’re still not great at soccer. Sure- we’ve got super goalie Tim “The Congressional Republican” Howard (he never lets anything pass) but in the grand scheme of things- we’re pretty much on par with Ghana. How exciting is that? We’re neck and neck with a nation with the GDP of Tulsa. Awesome, right? What fun to slum as a scrappy underdog! We’re that bloated record executive in the mosh pit at Coachella with fake hair on his head and real hair on his ears whooping it up with all the kids, losing ourselves in the exuberance of the young nation we once were and not the purple faced sclerotic ruin we’ve become. Plus, come on- nobody chants like the American fans. We may be middle of the pack in soccer- but – when it comes to chest-thumping face-painting hat-wearing jingoism- WE BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! WE BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!
It’s actually been a lot more fun to be the US at the World Cup than to be Brazil. This time, we get to be the wacky upstart BRIC style nation celebrating after a 1-0 LOSS to Germany and they have to be the aging superpower in shocking decline. It’s a glimpse into the future of American mediocrity and it’s glorious. Let somebody else solve all the world’s idiot problems for a change- time for us to be the Jamaican bobsled team- just happy to be here – enjoying the world’s ride downhill!!! Weeeeeeee!!!!
Of course, the other possibility, is that soccer is yet another thing the US is getting progressively better at and that pretty soon we’ll be the same domineering douchebags at the World Cup that we are at everything else. So- hey- Win-Win or us! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN-WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN-WIN!
And the US isn’t the only country whose fans paint their faces and wear stupid costumes. Why, every participating nation from Argentina to Uruguay had fiercely proud contingents of fans decked out in their nation’s colors looking like idiots. And this is another great thing about this tournament – no matter how powerful a nation or dignified it’s history- the World Cup makes Oakland Raiders fans of us all. I’d say more about how awesome it is when teams lose and their costumed fans look sad, but Mandy Ratliff already rocked that subject here– so I’ll just include what is perhaps the greatest sad fan photo of all time.
Hug that trophy, my friend. Maybe if you hugged your children that way, they’d still be talking to you and you wouldn’t have to face defeat so alone. Maybe not.
Have you seen Baseball?
Let’s keep it real for a second- the World Cup takes place in June & July. All of the real sports are over by June. After that, it’s pretty much just World Cup or Baseball- and have you seen baseball?? If World Cup soccer is a thrilling horror movie that you watch through your fingers at the edge of your seat then baseball is a Kevin Costner movie- corny, sentimental, earnest and agonizingly dull (and I’m not just saying that because Kevin Costner actually made a movie about baseball that was corny, sentimental, earnest and agonizingly dull but because everything Kevin Costner makes is corny, sentimental, earnest and agonizingly dull.) Hell, baseball’s not even a sport- it’s a “pastime”- it’s like stamp collecting for steroid enthusiasts. I mean, the average soccer player runs like 7.5 kilometers (or “a bunch of miles”) over the course of a game. Prince Fielder’s barely run 5 kilometers in his entire career, and most of that was chasing the ice cream truck. I mean, sure, Yasiel Puig looks like he works out –but that’s just so he can fight off those Mexican smugglers he owes money to. I sure hope those guys don’t decapitate him- or, if they do, at least they can wait til after Bobblehead night.
And the baseball announcers don’t help matters any. If soccer announcers can make boring stuff interesting, baseball announcers can make even the most exciting events seem painfully dull:
Old White Man Baseball Announcer #1: And it’s a beautiful night here over Tokyo. The stars are out, the moon is bright, and Godzilla is stomping through the Shibuya neighborhood crushing cars and buildings and devouring train cars full of tourists. Heh heh. He sure is a big fella, isn’t he Ralph?
Old White Man Baseball Announcer Who’s Evidently Named Ralph: You got that right!
Old White Man Baseball Announcer #1: And now – I think we’re starting to see just a little bit of fire come out of his mouth. Yup. That’s fire alright. And there goes the American embassy. Up in flames. How about that?
Old White Man Baseball Announcer Who’s Evidently Named Ralph: That sure is something.
Old White Man Baseball Announcer #1: And this is the most damage done to a City by an artificially enlarged mutant lizard since Jose Canseco left Oakland in 1992. Of course most of the damage he did was to the game of baseball.
Old White Man Baseball Announcer Who’s Evidently Named Ralph: Heh heh. You said it.
Old White Man Baseball Announcer #1: Oh- it looks like Godzilla is headed for the heavily populated Shinkuju neighborhood. And we’ll be right back to see what kind of destruction he perpetrates after this message from Pep Boys.
It’s like death- except death comes with suspense of wondering what’s going to happen after death and the only suspense in baseball is wondering WHEN IS IT GOING TO END ALREADY? And the other summer sports aren’t much better- here’s a post I wrote about just how much I hate all of them. Read it, if you want, or just take my word for it that the World Cup is soooo much better than all of them combined. Actually, forget that- definitely read it. I need the validation.
Well, the World Cup is over. Germany beat Argentina 1 – “nil” in the final game. It was a match up that would prove extremely difficult- both for the players and fugitive Nazi war criminals trying to figure out who to cheer for. Like the product in his hair, Lionel Messi worked hard right up until the end- but unlike his hair, Messi’s efforts fell flat. Still- Messi was awarded the “Golden Ball” for his efforts as the best player, the German goalie received the Golden “I’m Grabbing My Own Tit” Award,
and the German team was presented with the surprisingly teeny World Cup Trophy by the flight attendants of Emirates Air.
Oh, that’s not a joke BTW- those are actually the flight attendants from Emirates Air, one of the primary sponsors of the World Cup, presenting the trophy. I know. It’s disgusting. Roger Goodell is already on the phone with Southwest about Superbowl XLIX as we speak, though I don’t think it’ll be quite the same:
God help us all.
Anyhow, it’s over now. And I’m terrified. I’m not really sure how I’m gonna make it until August 3rd when Pre-Season Real Football begins. Still, it was great to see so many Americans getting wrapped up in the World Cup and learning what the rest of the world calls “football”. And I think that we all learned that we’re not so different after all. They had 11 men on the field and we have 11 men on the field. They have passionate fans who paint their faces to show pride in their nation’s colors and we wear Styrofoam cheese on our heads. FIFA doesn’t give a crap about concussions and the NFL just pretends like it does. We’re all so similar! We’re like one big happy brain damaged family!
But maybe the next few weeks won’t be so bad. Hey- I can use this time to catch up on important world affairs- like- oh I know- the war in Gaza, or- maybe the war in Iraq, or….hey- maybe the immigration and deportation crisis – that’s a good one- or the catastrophic drought right here in Southern California! That could be…..fun? Huh. Hey- wait- isn’t the Home Run Derby on tonight? Alright! Let’s hit some dingers! Or…you know, whatever they say in poor, deprived areas of the world where they only have baseball. Maybe this baseball thing isn’t so bad- better than dealing with reality, anyhow. Maybe they just need the right announcers:
Ian Darke: Yasiel Puig steps up to the plate. It’s a critical time here. This could be last call at the last chance saloon for the National League team. Here’s the pitch. Here’s the swing. It’s going, it’s going it’s
Telemundo Announcer: GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONE!!!!!!!!!
And so is the World Cup. See you in Russia for the first game in 2018. Or, “match” WHATEVER, HILLARY.