Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Footloose Officiating

I am pleased Germany and Argentina won their recent World Cup matches. I am displeased by the widely broadcast assumption that the faulty goal gifted to Argentina and the authentic one stolen from England “didn’t matter” because the final scores were lopsided anyway.

So this means the disputed goals weren't relevant? Really?

What we don’t know is how much differently the teams would have performed had the disputed goals been officiated correctly. Would a Mexico still tied at 0-0 pressed as recklessly, allowing Argentina to control the ball and put corresponding pressure on the Mexicans' already stretched defense?

How much differently might England have tackled the second half if not for the burdensome knowledge that they had to score A THIRD GOAL just to be credited for the two needed to even up with Germany? Might this partly explain their deflated, dispirited play? We don’t know.

It's not as though the blown calls came at insignificant times either, like in the 89th minute of a 3-0 blowout. In the case of Argentina, it was the first goal of the match, and with England, it came at 2-1, so stand-up refereeing would have meant a tie game. All the more reason these botched calls shouldn't get the "all's well that ends well" treatment. To excuse them as "mere lessons for the future" even though they occurred with the outcomes still very much in doubt ignores the precious concept of MOMENTUM that sports commentators spend so much time prattling about.

If we're going to pretend each moment of each match happens in a vacuum, why have rules at all? Coming to a field near you: Anarcho-footie! You thought soccer riots resembled Valhalla before...

In the end, this all winds up sounding like bad string theory. No, we can't go back and magically replay the games to see exactly what would have unfolded had the goals been judged properly. Of course, we wouldn’t even be discussing magic replays if FIFA had instant replay.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Red Wine and Long Walks on the Ledge

Enabling hopeless romantics never goes out of style. As we sit here, someone, somewhere is confessing to being a hopeless romantic, and some enabler is gushing: "Aw, it's so nice in this world of cynics to see someone searching for true love."

First of all, any term with the word "hopeless" in it is not a term of endearment. If someone told you, "Oh my uncle Bill, he's a hopeless drunk," you wouldn't say, "Aw, it's so nice in this world of detox to see someone pickling his liver!"

When you admit to being a hopeless romantic, you’re admitting to the world you're an eager victim. You're saying when you enter a relationship, you're like an old coot with Alzheimer's wandering on to a user car lot. You're letting us know that one day, you and your romantic hijacks will be part of a '60 Minutes' exposé. You're making a promise to be as naïve and helpless as you were before the relationship. What you should be saying is: "Hi, I'm Fred. Experience teaches me nothing."

The reason hopeless romantics don't get the public ridicule they deserve is because countless industries feed on their vice; greeting card companies, florists, divorce lawyers, guard dogs, morning-after pill manufacturers…all the essentials.

It is time to dispense with this "true love" superstition. Love, like everything else in the universe, is largely random. If you were born in Afghanistan, you would find "true love" in Afghanistan. If you took a job in Idaho, you'd find someone to complete you in Boise. Love didn't bring you together. The credit crunch did.

In some cultures, the cause and effect relationhip between intercourse and pregnancy is a relatively new discovery. So was all that previous mating based on celestial romance? Was it star-crossed love? Or were folks just f*cking what was available?

Now look at your own romantic past and consider how different it really is.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Having overheard many fellow countrymen heap generic praise on Brazil’s soccer team, I sense that for Americans who don’t get soccer but feel the need to have “a stake” in the World Cup, Brazil is like the Yankees. In other words, the perfect team for “fans” who want to root for a team liable to make a good run (allowing them to keep “supporting” “their team” late into the tournament and feel like a winner), but who are too lazy to do the homework needed to pick a squad other than the most bleedingly obvious one.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup Drinking Game

Eager to play John Bonham? Try doing a shot each time a commentator makes reference to one of the currently crumbling EU countries (Portugal, Spain, etc.) “needing this win more than ever" thanks to their dire financial straits. Other heavy-handed phrases to listen for; “right now it’s about more than soccer” and “giving people with little to cheer for something to celebrate.”

By the way, I'm surprised Greece lost, as they have so many strikers...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Crying Over Spilled Oil

Since Obama took office, partisan, faux conservative hacks have complained (justifiably) about his micromanagement of the economy and well, everything else. The script has been simple. The Obama Administration says jump, and the hack opposition shouts: “I’ll let the private sector tell me how high, thank you very much!”

Despite loving Bush's centralizations, under Obama, these zombies have gotten states' rights religion.

But when Obama adopts a more decentralized, private sector-heavy approach to the BP spill, these same hacks scream: “What’s taking him so long?! When's he gonna roll up his sleeves and FIX IT? You call this leadership?!”

You can’t claim everything the government does is DMV-caliber while also demanding it CENTRALIZE and outdo the world’s top oil industry minds in MICROMANAGING a disaster of historic proportion and complexity. Or at least you can’t credibly do it. You can however go on TV and sell books and coffee mugs by shrieking this cognitive dissonance and clutching your chest Fred Sanford-style...which is why there’s no hope for humanity.

Friday, June 4, 2010

For a Few Forints More

Hungary Warns of Greek-Style Crisis

Fears that the sovereign debt crisis could migrate to central Europe were stirred Friday after a senior Hungarian government official said the previous government had manipulated budget figures and lied about the state of the economy, but most financial experts dismissed the remarks as a ham-handed negotiating ploy.

So a spokesman for the Hungarian PM is showing his hand by telling the world his country could be the next Greece. Given the steps other debt-sodden nations have taken to mask their insolvency, the Hungarian's candor seems counterintuitive.

Until you consider that what he is probably doing is pulling a Kim Jong-il; i.e., misbehaving to encourage foreign aid so he doesn't have to expressly beg for it. Like the generously foreheaded North Korean dictator, he knows that just acting naughty is reminder enough of the perceived potentially greater cost (further contagion) of not fronting him the cash.

And it pays to be near the front of the bailout line, because like I've said, at least one of these European sovereigns is going to be the Lehman of this bailout cycle, so Hungary is wise to force the Eurocrats' hands now. Look for others in Emerging Europe to soon start making public mea culpas about their inglorious balance sheets.