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July 7, 2010 5:00 AM

World Cup Inspires Pride, then Punishment

agerman flag.jpgWell, we picked a fine time to reopen the Grill Room, let me tell ya ...

As I type away on this glorious Wednesday morning in the hills of SW Germany, the staff is still scraping orange-clad Nederlanders off the floor.
It was the damnedest thing: if you just brushed elbows with one of 'em last night as they watched their team's semifinal tilt with Uruguay, they dropped to the deck like they'd been shot, and then rolled around grimacing in pain.

Speaking of which, Germany could well be next for the Orange Mush when the World Cup 2010 plays its final game Sunday. This has me and others very, very nervous. Wars -- world wars, even -- have been started over less.

But, first, welcome back to the Grill Room ...

I guarantee you it was never our intent to re-introduce ourselves at Real Clear Sports by spinning World Cup copy. The nuances of soccer are lost on me, so an expert I am not. I do appreciate, however, that these fellas can get more done with two feet than Bill Clinton ever did with his hands.

So putting the finer points of the game aside for good, what has me concerned is the nationalistic nature of the whole thing.

Slowly but surely, the flag-flying here in Germany has been building. Every other car is adorned with one -- or two. Kids walk German Shepherds that have German flags attached to their tails. Old ladies have one sticking out of their hats and another attached to their bicycle spokes. Even the brooms they use to sweep their streets each day have a flag protruding out of the butt end.

Pride in your team is one thing, but when it starts to look condescending and threatening it's time to take notice.

And I don't mean to be insensitive here, but let's face it, if a two-bit moron with a bad mustache can inspire a country to war during tough economic times, who's to say a guy named Podolski born with dynamite in his foot couldn't do the same?

And the economy does stink over here, folks. The Yanks aren't the only ones feeling the pain. It's gotten so bad, the dollar is actually worth something in these parts.
And this: It's so, so bad that everybody has put aside their collective hate for France, and turned menacingly toward Greece.

These are uneasy times, and this World Cup isn't helping.

So now I am wondering if it's better that the Germans just lose to Spain tonight and get it all out of their systems, so they can get back to their self-loathing, or if it's better that they win, and the war starts and ends just as quickly as possible.

Dangerous times, indeed.

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