June 19, 2006

Thanks, Italy! (and Other Sports Foibles This Weekend)

I MUST SAY I PITY Cristian Zaccardo.

The look on his face after he scored an own goal in the World Cup match between Italy and the USA -- a goal which kept America's tourney hopes alive -- said more than any words could about the gravity of his error. It was a look of both horror and fear, a look that seemed to say, "Oh, dear God, back home the children will laugh at me and the women will mock me and there's a fair chance I'll get garroted in a back alley."

As with all sports, soccer fanatics tend to have memories that are very long, and one can imagine Mr Zaccardo will hear about his blunder until the end of time. So I wish Mr Zaccardo well, and wish Italy the best on Thursday when they take on the Czech Republic -- wait, what? What's that you said? I'm just saying that because we need Italy to beat the Czechs on Thursday to advance ourselves into Stage 2? Dear readers, I can assure you I would never ever sunder my love for Italy due to a tough and hard-fought soccer match, even if Daniele De Rossi is a scoundrel and a cad.

But moving on. Did you notice this weekend was a weird one for sports mishaps? Maybe it's just me, but it seemed like there were plenty of big-time screwups, no matter the sport. Let's review:

GOLF: Phil Mickelson loses the U.S. Open in an 18th hole performance so bad that even he said, "I'm such an idiot." I mean, first the man screws up his drive off the tee so bad he hits the corporate hospitality tent. Then he hits a tree. Then he knocks it into the bunker. Three strokes later, he's handed the entire tournament to Geoff Ogilvy, who was in the clubhouse watching it all on television and, from what I could see, trying mightily to not jump up and down for joy.

BASKETBALL: Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard not only misses two free throws in the clutch, but also calls a time out BETWEEN FOUL SHOTS right at the very end of the game. This meant that Dallas, down by one point with 1.8 seconds left on the clock, had to start with the ball at the far end of the court, instead of being much closer to the basket. As a result, Dallas lost. While this actually wasn't all that bad -- it meant we once again got to see Mark Cuban pitch a fit -- it still is kind of pathetic.

FOOTBALL: The Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos wanted to prove they still "had it" in their first game, despite many changes since they won the Grey Cup last year. Well, they not only lost to Calgary, they had a third quarter in which they scored just one point.

Yes, that's right. ONE point. In the Canadian Football League, it is possible to score just ONE point in regular play. It's hard to describe why, but it's kind of as a consolation prize. Anyway, this was embarrassing.

BASEBALL: On Sunday night, the Boston Red Sox organization allowed Rudy Seanez to travel with the team, enter Turner Field, suit up in a Red Sox uniform, and enter the game as a relief pitcher in the seventh inning. Upon throwing his first pitch, Seanez gave up the Red Sox lead on a three-run homer. The game was only saved due to an improbable eighth-inning comeback which saw the Sox score six runs -- plus the efforts of ace closer Jonathan Papelbon, who rules.

Speaking of Papelbon -- for those of you who were watching the game, did you see Papelbon and Tavarez warming up together in the bullpen? Upon seeing that image, did you -- like me -- think, "Oh, dear God, they're going to put in Tavarez and we'll lose?" That was MY initial thought, anyway.

Fortunately, though, the Red Sox won the game -- and won tonight, as it turned out. Just as nice, the Yankees lost yesterday -- and lost tonight too. I'm really not the type to gloat -- really, I swear it -- but I can't say I mind when the Yankees help out the cause.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at June 19, 2006 11:03 PM | TrackBack
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