Anyone else notice how it's way more fun to cheer in Spanish than English? Tennis gives us an instructive example. I used to go watch the Duke team play now and again (college tennis is surprisingly fun to watch), and there were plenty of Hispanic players on our team and the opposition. The Spanish players and fans would shout "Vamos!" before key points, or after big shots, and it sounded great. The US players would say either "Let's go!" or "Come on!", which sounded weirdly petulant or angry, depending on the pitch of the voice. "Vamos!" was inspirational, while the Americans might as well have been cursing.
I find myself cheering in Spanish whenever the person involved is even vaguely associated with a Spanish-speaking nation. When Robinson Cano comes to bat, for example, I even use a Dominican accent. "Vamos, Robeethon!" I can only imagine an actual Dominican would be horrified, until I explained that I felt a weird association with the player when I spoke his language. But I'm not sure I would make it safely to that point of clarification.
Regardless. Paraguay is taking on Italy at the moment, and I'm pulling hard for the South Americans. If you've never seen Italy play soccer before, here's everything you need to know:
The Italian team is a bunch of floppers. It's almost an art form, the same way that smearing bodily excrement on paper is an art form in certain modern circles. It's incredibly aggravating to watch, it inevitably suckers the referees into making bad calls, and it ruined the last World Cup. As if that wasn't bad enough, they also typically play a boring, defensive style. It's one they pioneered, actually. And it's miserable to watch.
They flopped their way to the World Cup last year, and the growing hatred of their team is why Zidane's headbutt was secretly* greeted with great enthusiasm before the scribes of the world condemned it.
*Or not so secretly, in the bar where I watched the match. Granted, there were many French fans, but they all erupted when Zidane put his cranium to use.
The Italians had been instigating and flailing and crying for a full month, and in some ways they deserved what they got. Zidane got his just deserts as well; he was sent off, ended his international career in ignominy, and maybe cost his team the penalty shoot-out that followed.
Anyway, it's the 25th minute currently. 0-0. Let's hope for a miracle, and that Italy doesn't make it out of group play.
I just bought another soccer book: Brilliant Orange, by David Winner. It's a study of 'Total Football,' an attacking style developed by the Dutch, and the antithesis to Italy's catenaccio. I'll let you know if it's good. In the meantime, I highly recommend "Among the Thugs" by Bill Buford. I've pimped it twice before, and now one final time. It's a study of Britain's hooligan culture, and one of the better nonfiction books I've read.
No Yankees tonight. We take on the hated Phillies starting Tuesday, when Sabathia and Halladay go head-to-head. That should be fantastic.
Now it's time to sit back, pretend to work, and watch Italy-Paraguay on my computer screen. Buenos Dias.