Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hopscotching the Sports World

It's another fine morning here in New York, full of sunlight and breeze and the promise of a hot hot day. The doldrums of summer are almost upon us, and I'm completely wiped out already. I gave a pint of blood yesterday (condescending stare around the room), and I may be totally imagining this, but I feel like I'm actually depleted. As a lifelong hypochondriac, though, it's probably all mental. My girlfriend told me yesterday that it takes 6 weeks for the body to make up the entire pint, and I found that little factoid totally horrifying. I thought it took a day! I never would've given blood if I'd know I'd be out of commission until fucking August. That's bullshit.

World Cup!

New Zealand and Alovakia are going toe to toe at the moment, and it's a 0-0 tie at the half. At the bagel shop this morning, I caught the national anthems. The Slovak tune was predictably morose and full of minor chords, reflecting the dark character of Eastern Europe. But the New Zealand anthem, "God Defend New Zealand," seemed kinda awesome. Check it out:

Not bad for a national anthem, right? Plus, those rugby players look fucking scary. You wouldn't want to tangle with a New Zealander on a Saturday, believe you me.

The match of the day will be Ivory Coast vs. Portugal, two strong teams with high-profile superstars (Didier Drogba and Cristiano Ronaldo). But the really compelling game comes at 2:30, when Brazil meets North Korea. Here are some things you can expect from that match:

1) Brazil will win handily. North Korea qualified in some weird region that apparently isn't too legit, and most experts predict that they'll be rough around the edges. They don't know for sure, though, since the team is highly secretive. They haven't even worn their jerseys in public yet. This is a really great article about the byzantine negotiating process that apparel companies underwent while trying to get a contract with the North Korean Soccer Federation. Random line that caught my attention:

The jerseys aren't available anywhere online yet. Legea will charge €45 ($56) to €50 ($62) for the shirts.

Yikes, I guess the Euro really has taken a hit. Wasn't its value almost double the dollar not too long ago?

2) You'll feel a dark sort of satisfaction while Brazil kicks their ass. North Korea is the short, swaggering bully of the world, a cruel little Napoleonic-complex of a nation that commits random acts of staggering aggression and starves its own people.

3) After Brazil goes up 5-0, you'll remember that the North Korean players have nothing to do with the country's insane political practices, that they're just commoners with more athletic talent than the average citizen, and you'll start to feel bad.

That's a lot of emotions in a single soccer match! Get on board the roller coaster, and learn something about the weirder side of human nature. Plus, after a ton of draws and boring soccer, this World Cup badly needs the Brazilians.


Wow! After going down 1-0 in the second half, New Zealand waited until the 92nd minute (the ref awarded 3 minutes of extra time) before tying things up with a sweet cross-and-header combo. The game ended shortly thereafter, and the islanders earned a 1-1 draw. Talk about drama. Pretty heartbreaking for Slovakia, though.


More on this later, but CC Sabathia and Roy Halladay face off tonight at the stadium. It's been a while since we've seen old Roy, and I have not missed him. I predict Robbie will hit a second-inning home run against the Doc, while CC starts getting into mid-summer form and the Yanks win 2-0.

I hope you're all pleased with the installment of: Yankees

Other baseball: you have to scroll down about halfway, but here's an interesting article about how Yuniesky Betancourt cost the Mariners Stephen Strasburg. I mostly include this to taunt my friend Spike, the only Ms fan I know personally. Hey Spike, imagine Lee-Hernandez-Strasburg! Crazy, right?!

More later. Keep an eye on the Cote D'Ivoire. I'm calling a 2-0 win, Africa's second in this World Cup.

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