Baseline Shorks

June 20, 2010 1:40 PM

English commentators are a trip at World Cup (and then the French...!)

Typical conversation between announcers while watching the progress of several passes and a brief run by a lightly-regarded member of one team before the ball is tackled from his control:

"Well there's a bit of bravery by Wilbon-Chattney, but given up quickly with the challenge from Tsonga. His making the team was considered a surprise, as he's had several lean years as a goalscorer."
"Lean years would be generous. Last year he only scored just twice in 19 matches for Levinstaadny in the Ukranian league, which professionally speaking is squarely in Dante's 4th circle of Hell ."
"Quite right about how far he's fallen. Seem's just yesteryear he was a 22 yr. old tyro, commanding a $1.7 million pound transfer fee after leading Hottenspur United to the FA title..."

I finally figured out what I like so much about the commentators these last 10 days. It's not just the accents--it's actually not knowing whats going to be said. Most sports I have the background to be doing my own soundtrack, but with soccer I'm eager to hear all the nitty-gritty extra information. (Speaking of background, how about those HORNS!) While I've got a clue about Messi (Argentina), Kaka (Brazil) and Ronaldo (Portugal), getting asides that sketch in the importance about many others, or historical perspective between nations, is ripping good stuff. There's usually plenty of time to fill between any dramatic moments, sort of like an Orioles or Marlins baseball game, and getting the lowdown (minus gasbaggery, thank you Mr. Harkes) has been great.

While it floored me the last two days to hear that *anyone* hadn't watched the replays that showed the US team was definitely screwed on a game-winning goal that meant they only tied Slovenia 2-2, I guess some people will just NEVER follow soccer. If you like soap operas of course, NOBODY really knows what to say about the French, who played like zombies in their first match (0-0 vs. Uruguay), got pasted 2-0 by Mexico in their second, and then went super-nova bad, a training ground argument between French captain Patrice Evra and fitness coach Robert Duverne having to be broken up by manager Raymond Domenech. This was followed by the team's refusal to train and the resignation of team director Jean-Louis Valentinso, who tossed his ID pass, got in a car and drove away.

Alexi Lalas, doing marvelously for ESPN's broadcast central with Steve McManaman and several others, just shrugged Gaellic-ly about the French being the French and seemed surprisingly blase about the (choose any two explecitives) officiating by the Mali official, which I found ridiculous. Saying "well, the referee made a bad call in front of a billion pairs of eyes" simply doesn't cut it. Someone will undoubtedly make this reference in the near future, but I equate it with the hum job the US basketball team got in Munich in '72, when the Ruskies got *three chances* on a length-of-the-floor inbounds play to make a basket that became the first loss ever for the mens Olympic team. That Lalas invoked the Irish, who were denied entry to the World Cup when the French scored off an uncalled hand ball and goal, as gaining revenge through the French teams blow up was good though.

"Ahhh, Totofu should be ashamed of himself, rolling around on the ground like he's been skewered. Kaka's elbow was raised in defense as he ran close, certainly never, never struck him in the face."
"Appalling and pathetic might be used as well Trevor. No one is giving prizes for such questionable acting."

Language-wise I'd say refreshing in the Bigger Picture, and while we were accustomed to getting screwed by the Russian judges for many years, that non-goal situation adds a twist to what's generally been an entertaining sports event. Tally-ho! into the knock off round for the US should they best Algeria however.

Glenn S.

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