I’ve never been a soccer fan, nor did I ever play it in an organized setting. Soccer was always played in the spring/summer months when I was a kid, which is when the rest of us were playing baseball. America’s pastime. I never knew a kid that played both sports. With the two seasons falling on top of each other, baseball and AYSO went together like oil and water.
Perhaps unfairly, I always regarded the soccer crowd as a bunch of hyperactive kids with bad hands who needed to burn off some steam while everybody else played baseball. I do appreciate the athleticism required to run around like a chicken with your head cut off for hours on end though. They’ve got me on that.
That said, I admittedly haven’t been investing the hundreds of hours over the last billion weeks following the World Cup spectacle, so I’m by far one of the more uninformed people on the game. I did, however, turn it on to watch the last two minutes to see Italy win it.
After that whole charade, it comes down to penalty kicks? What kind of sport is that? Something tells me I didn’t miss much.
An analogy comes to mind. Consider this:
You’re a professional baseball player. You’ve played out your 162 game season, battling it out with your division rival to nab the Wild Card despite injuries, trades, and clubhouse personal dramas.
With your well-deserved playoff spot, you go to the LDS, play a best-of-five against another team who boasts a remarkable season of their own, and win three of ’em in dramatic fashion. Nice job.
The LCS. Here we go. Best-of-seven, against a worthy team who just crushed their own opponent in their respective LDS series. Playing for the Pennant, it arguably doesn’t get better than this.
A great series. We go to Game 7 tied 3-3, and you win in a come-from-behind victory. You’ve won the Pennant! Congratulations! Pop the champagne and soak your buddies.
But wait. There’s more!
The World Series begins a few days later. Your pitching aces are rested, and you’re now going to face the champs of the other league. The Big Event. The Whole Enchilada. Best of seven, and you start with home field advantage. What a contest. This is what dreams are made of.
You split the first two games at home, go on the road and lose two of three on the road. You come back home down, but not out. You win Game 6 with authority. Series is tied. It comes down to the deciding game.
We go to Game 7 with your ace on the mound, rested and rearing to go, at home. Looking good. The opponent gets an early lead in the second inning, but your bats come through to tie it in the ninth! We go to extra innings!
Crowd’s on their feet all across the country. Even people who hate baseball are glued to the TV set in their neighborhood sports bar. The fate of the two teams — a true microcosm of our Dualistic society — hangs in the balance.
We play another nail-biting nine innings, no score. Wow! We go to the nineteenth inning. For the World Championship! It doesn’t get better than this.
How do you suppose we decide who wins? Here’s an idea, inspired by the World Cup:
Let’s get a game of pickle going. Winner take all.