World Cup

Posted: Jul 12, 2006 12:01 AM
World Cup

  • Tell the truth. You took a peek at the FIFA World Cup final yesterday from Berlin, just so you could go to the office today and agree with every other American that, while the World Cup may the world's biggest sporting event, that does nothing to detract from its standing as the world's most boring sporting event.

  • I watched the first half from Landini's Restaurant in Old Town. When I walked in France was leading one-nil …


    I had this one-nil, two-nil discussion with someone the other day. He was whining about why American sportscasters insisted on saying a "match" had been won by a something-nil score. "It's a game and the score is something to zero."

    I said I had been following sports for a long time and I had never heard anyone talk about someone winning a tennis game six-zero. One wins a set six-love.


    … and I asked if the French restaurant on North Lee Street was still open.

  • When the Italian team scored on a header off a corner kick a few minutes later, I decided to have another Peroni Birra.

  • A guy walked in and asked what the over/under was. I said, "Two."

  • All the men laughed, and then explained to their wives what the "over/under" means, and how it is they know this.

  • Having been in Europe and the Middle East for the past two weeks I watched many of the quarterfinal matches and both of the semifinals. If you are outside the US during the World Cup and you don't watch, you have nothing to talk about during the day because that is all everyone else is talking about.

  • England used only one striker? I saw that. I was shocked!

  • I said that for three straight days and people nodded and looked at me admiringly.

  • I can do that with Cricket, too: "Oh, my. I would have sworn that was a leg-before-wicket foul."

  • In fact, I can do that with almost any subject, which is how I get through most of my TV appearances:
    The chances of the Democrats taking control of the House? They'll get no closer than half the seats they need.

    The Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum? I can run circles around that one.

    The dark art of Edvard Munch? So easy I could scream.

  • So me and about a billion other people watched for the next hour and thirty minutes with no goals being scored, and only one or two shots to show for all the running up and down the pitch.

  • Then, with about ten minutes to go in the second overtime period, the French star Zinedine Zidane (who had scored France's only goal) deliberately delivered a head butt into the chest of Italy's Marco Materazzi (who had scored Italy's only goal) knocking Materazzi flat on his estremità posteriore.

  • Zidane was given a red card and sent off. In international soccer if a player is ejected, the team can't replace him, so France had to do for the rest of the game with only 10 players.

  • The game and the overtimes ended in the one-one tie, so the whole think was decided on penalty kicks. Each side gets five chances. One player puts the ball on a mark about 12 yards in front of the goal and tries to knock it past the goalkeeper.

  • The French kicker missed on the third try. Italy hit all five of theirs and the deed was done.

  • Now, you can go to Europe this summer and discuss the World Cup. And, if you're anywhere other than France you can ask when the last time 30,000 Frenchmen sat in the Berlin Olympic Stadium and sang La Marseillaise.

  • Answer? Never.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring Page today: An explanation of the over/under thing, a short discussion of the red card thing, and a link to an English translation of the French national anthem which surprised me. Also a Mullfoto from a French bookstore the other day and a Catchy Caption of the Day appropriate to today's subject.