I stand corrected. Soccer writers can suck too.

>> Sunday

I had stated before that soccer writers don't say as many stupid things because they aren't attempting to reach such a broad audience. Then came Phil Ball, a writer for...you guessed it. ESPN. On their ESPN Soccernet.com site, I found an article ripe with assumptions and absurdities surrounding the past week and a half for Spain and England.

It's been a good(ish) week for Spanish football, the 'ish' part referring to the Villarreal blip and Riquelme's famous penalty miss - destined to go down in footballing legend here along with similarly historic misses by Raúl and Djukic which are now part of the collective folk memory.

The residents of Vila-Real, however, showed that they bore the Argentine no grudges by hanging a large poster across the road from his house the next day with the words 'Ánimo Román' (Cheer up Román) written on it, in touching recognition of the fact that they'd probably never have reached the semi-finals without him anyway.

So the folks will remember his penalty kick miss (which was a grade-A choke job) for years in generational folklore, much like Buckner and Durham and other famous "chokers" who have left their fans embittered for years, but these fans have told him to cheer up and are giving him touching recognition?

Barcelona of course reached the Champions League Final...A couple of nights later Sevilla made it to the UEFA Cup final, which they'll play in Eindhoven against Middlesbrough. The trouble with this is that no Spanish commentator knows how to pronounce 'Middlesbrough'

This is an problem that requires the immediate attention of everyone involved. Who would have thunk that Spanish dialects might be different from English dialects. Probably the same way you thought "Sev-ill-a" instead of "Sev-ee-ya" when you wrote this.

- the word tending to come out as 'Meedles-burrow'. You shouldn't laugh though.

Done and done.

It took the BBC a full ten years to pronounce the golfer 'Ballesteros' correctly, and just when they finally managed it...along came Olazabal to renew the phonetic torture.

What does this have to do with anything?

Whatever, it's tempting to see these two Anglo-Hispanic finals as evidence that the two leagues are currently Europe's best, and it has to be said that the Italian and German challenges this year have been a shade wimpish.

Usually whenever the word "tempting" is used in this context, it's followed by a "but...." and then some reason to not think that the leagues are Europe's best. No such example here. He is quite confidently stating that the English League and the Spanish League are the best simply because they placed their clubs currently standing in 4th, 14th, 1st, and 5th respectively in the finals of knockout competitions. This is just as absurd as the NCAA tournament comparing records of conferences against each other.

But it's been a good week. Even Chelsea's title win had a Spanish flavour to it....the Chelsea players had sung 'Campeones, campeones!' in Cervantes' tongue, as they danced up and down on the Stamford Bridge turf on Saturday. Rather like last season, when Liverpool's Champions League win was regarded as a vicarious Spanish triumph, Chelsea's use of Spanish in their moment of triumph has led the press here to suggest that the plural noun 'campeones' has become associated with the country's football - a nation of winners.

OK, so Chelsea's win in the English League is a statement of how great Spanish football is because of their use of Spanish players. Why then is Barcelona's reaching the final part of a "great week for Spanish football?" FCB only have 4 Spaniards in their starting lineup. Likewise, it is just as absurd to try to tie this in with your claim on Anglo-Spaniard supremacy because only 8 out of 36 players on Arsenal's roster are English.

Asier Del Horno has also become the first Spanish player to win the Premier League title - at least having played for a whole season (Reyes managed it in 2004, but he joined Arsenal half-way through), and Jordi Cruyff (Man Utd) doesn't count. He's half-Dutch, and anyway, he was brought up in Catalonia, and they've just declared themselves a nation.
Come to think of it, Andalucia did the same last week too, so that counts Reyes out as well. And Del Horno's a Basque...erm, perhaps we'd better stop there.

This is a classic example of sportswriters attempting to be worldly/funny and being neither. This entire paragraph could have been summarized by saying "Asier Del Horno is the first 100% Spanish player to win an EPL title while playing 100% of the season." Great. Let's throw him a fucking parade. Vinnie, who owns the record for most strikeouts at the Kingdome against the Cleveland Indians on a Tuesday? I also love how Horn tries to be politically incorrect by discounting the achievements of Cruyff just because he's half Dutch and being brought up in Catalonia, one of many regions of political divisiveness in Spain, but when the item of political divisions in Spain comes along to refute his original point because Del Horno is Basque, he backs off.

Antonio Banderas, long-time supporter of the club (Real Madrid), accused them of being the 'Titanic' this week, sailing over the waves in the guise of a luxury liner, but fatally holed beneath the water-line.

OK, so now you're citing Antonio Banderas for your knowledge of soccer? You're a soccerwriter for christssake!

Then, to set fire to the engine rooms, Zidane announced that he intended to hang up his boots at the end of the season, and that he would not be taking out the option of another year at the Bernabéu.

We're going to continue with this "Titanic" analogy that my good friend Antonio Banderas told me, and I thought was really funny. So wait, Zinedane Zidane is retiring from Real Madrid, and the club itself is the Titanic? Wow. This really isn't that great a week for Spanish football after all. Seeing as how earlier in the article you referred to Real Madrid as "at the centre of the beating heart of the Spanish nation."

Thank you for your pointless article that attempted to link completely unrelated things into a vast umbrella that ended up collapsing anyway. I'd like those minutes of my life back.


Vinnie 4:09 PM  

Mark Langston, who struck out 14 Indians on July 19, 1988.

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