Thursday, July 3, 2014

Bulletins From BA #31

Bulletins From BA #31
03 julio 2014

¡Hola! there… Rodger French here.

World Cup Report #4 - Más half-baked opinions and debatable observations.

Helpful Suggestions to Improve the Sport - Is it possible to do something about players who habitually flop? It’s not like they’re always stealthy about it. Hell, the powers that be know the identities of recidivists whose default mode is to chew up the scenery whenever they feel a passing breeze. True, a yellow card is occasionally given; but refs still continue to be taken in, often with catastrophic results. Just ask Mexico.

Fútbol is played on something like 2.5 acres of real estate, with only a single referee. Purists will howl in disagreement (as they should), but I think the game, especially as played at the highest levels, is often just too fast-paced for one referee to manage. (Case in point, the ref in the Uruguay/Italy game totally missed “The Bite.”) In my opinion, adding a second “zebra” (as they’re known in the States) merits consideration.

Speaking of aiding referees, it is worth noting that new goal-line technology being employed for the first time in World Cup competition seems to be working well. I have one further suggestion. If a player uses his hands to block an opponent’s goal, treat it like goaltending in basketball: The shot automatically counts, with no ensuing penalty kick. In addition, the defender is issued a red card, with all attendant bad mojo. I call this “The Hand of Suárez Rule.”

Do I Have To Say His Name? - Sí, sí, Lionel Messi, aka “La Pulga” (“The Flea”). The best passer in the world and our next Argentine candidate for sainthood.

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S… Oh. - “The Yanks” (unofficial nickname) gave it their best, but fell victim to one of the immutable truths of fútbol: No goalie, no matter how good (and Tim Howard is brilliant), can compensate indefinitely for lack of offense.

International Relations - An Argentine friend asked me to explain what’s with FOX News and assorted right-wing idiots (Sí, redundante), and their fatuous blather about how fútbol and the World Cup are “un-American.” I posited that this phenomenon was simply an example of bad - make that pathetic - performance art, designed to troll for attention and gull any rubes stupid enough to buy into it. That clarified the matter to his satisfaction.

Unsolicited Conjecture - Fun Fact: For the first time ever, all eight group winners have made it through to the Quarter-Finals. Alrighty, here we go.

- France vs. Germany
Preference: I find myself agnostic about this match. I like the way the Germans play, but have no particular animus toward “Les Bleus.”
Prediction: Sticking with Germany, aka “Die Mannschaft.”

- Brazil vs. Columbia
Preference: The Columbians are called “Los Cafeteros,” which means, más o menos, “one who makes or drinks coffee.” How cool is that.
Prediction: Although Brazil has the host country edge, I rate this match a toss-up (like I know what I’m talking about) and pick Columbia for the upset.

- Argentina vs. Belgium
Preference: I quite like the Belgians, but I have to root for Messi and the home boyz.
Prediction: Close, but Argentina should win. They had better.

- Netherlands vs. Costa Rica
Preference: Costa Rica is everyone’s Cinderella team, including mine.
Prediction: The Netherlands “Oranje” are big, bad, and prone to engage in thuggish behavior. And I am seriously considering transferring my curse from the head of Luis Suárez to that of Dutch winger and überflopmeister Arjen Robben. But even that probably wouldn’t be enough.

Predicted Semi-Finals Matchups
Columbia vs. Germany
Argentina vs. The Netherlands

Vamos a ver. ¡Adelante!


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