Last Saturday the sun came up on schedule, probably, but it was hard to tell. It was raining hard enough to set a guppy back. Most of us here don’t let rain stop us but I was perfectly content to stay inside.
“Hey,” I said to Dave, “did you know the Portland Timbers are playing for the championship today against NYC?”
We haven’t been keeping track. It’s soccer. Dave had season tickets to the Timbers forty-five years ago but has lost interest.
“Where are they playing?”
Here, by golly. We looked out the window. Couldn’t see much. A raft of plankton drifted by. Talk about your home field advantage. “It’s on ESPN. We should watch it.”
Well, we should. After all, “football” is the most popular game in the world. People love soccer everywhere, and they can’t all be drunk. Even in America, it’s gotten traction. Little kids play it all the time. They’re in every park, little packs of mud children slithering around. Meanwhile, the baseball fields stand empty. I don’t get it. What’s next? Universal health care and the metric system? I love baseball. Nothing ever happens in soccer.
Okay, even I see the flaw there. But baseball has a whole different kind of nothing-happening. It’s restful. In soccer, everyone’s moving all at once. Run run run. Wears me out. We settled down to watch the game. I decided maybe I just needed to understand the game better to appreciate it. I looked up the rules.
There aren’t any rules. Apparently, there are Laws. The first Law is the field needs to be rectangular, and green. Well now. That’s about as interesting as the rules get, except for the one about direct free kicks, which may be awarded when a player kicks an opponent, jumps at an opponent, charges strikes pushes or tackles an opponent, slips a shiv in an opponent, removes a kidney from an opponent, or waves a kidney at the referee in a disrespectful manner.
There really wasn’t much to understand. This really did appear to be a matter of watching men run around the field for a couple hours. Run run run! They are running all the time. These men are in terrific shape. They run and they fall down and slide around on their heinies in their little wet shorts with their feet in the air and it’s very clear to even the most passive observer that they all look really good naked. In fact that’s another Law, because it says here if the referee deems a player’s Equipment unsatisfactory, he can be booted off the field. On top of that, they’ve all got really fancy, aggressive haircuts. They look like Death Cockatoos. Or Murder Hoopoes.
So even though nothing else is happening, I am now beginning to enjoy the game on some primal level. Oh wait. Something happened. New York City got a goal. Aww. That’s one goal in something like ninety minutes. Ninety minutes plus four, because evidently—it’s a Law—the referee can add minutes to the game to make up for any number of minutes the men might have quit running and taken a breather.
So, shit. Here we are, the home team, down by one goal, with the end of the now-94 minutes of play bearing down on us, and I will be go to hell if Portland doesn’t score a goal with three seconds to spare! Holy SHIT!
Now I’m screaming at the TV. We’re five miles from the stadium but if we open our windows we can hear the fans screaming too, because sound travels really well through water. The crowd is going completely nuts. There’s a pig-pile of Portland players on the field with the hero on the bottom, which seems unfair. And then someone in the stands hurls a bottle at one of the opposing players and beans him on the head. He goes down. My God! I know what this is!
Portland gots HOOLIGANS! We’re legit, baby! Go PORTLAND! THIS IS IT! Dumpsters gon’ be torched all over town TONIGHT!! YAAAH!
The game, now tied, continues for another thirty minutes. I am now, inexplicably, screaming every time the ball squirts away from Our Team. We’ve got our mascot, Timber Joey, a thick fellow in flannel and suspenders and a chainsaw, all ready to saw off a round of fir in celebration. What’s the NYCFC mascot? It’s a pigeon. What’s it gon’ do? Poop on us? We’ll drop a tree on you. Nyaah.
The overtime period ends with no more goals. Now it goes to a shoot-out. A lineup of players going solo against the opposing goalie. Boom boom boom. And just like that, we’re down by two penalty kicks. NYCFC wins the championship.
It’s okay. We’re Portland, baby! We’re still going to torch dumpsters all over town.
You guys sound like Philadelphia fans (doesn’t matter which sport.) They riot in the streets when they win, they riot when they lose….
We riot when the Nazis come to town…
“red-rag and pink-flag
blackshirt and brown
strut-mince and stink-brag
have all come to town
some like it shot
and some like it hung
and some like it in the twot
nine months young” —E. E. Cummings
Haha!! I feel like one of the other inmates at the asylum while Randle McMurphy gives a play-by-play of the big game! I’ll take this over American football any day, now I have to watch a game for myself! 😄💕👍
I had to think about Randle McMurphy but I got it without looking him up! Yay me! Yeah, I can’t believe it. I’m a fan now.
Watched a match with a friend last weekend, but it was Manchester United playing. It was a good game, but I missed any hooliganism this time. I was expecting some, though. It is a game that goes well with beer, too, so you should try watching one that way. Sadly, the doctor won’t let me play anymore because of my artificial knees. I do miss it.
Um… is there a game that DOESN’T go well with beer (or some other libation?) Even Old Maid, FFS…..
Yes, you are correct. I wasn’t thinking clearly.
“try watching one that way” HA HA HA HA! And I wasn’t drinking beer the last time I played Old Maid. What I do remember is my hands were too little to hold all the cards.
I’m always glad to hear it!
I love futbol. Great story, Murr.
I haven’t watched soccer since that one time we went to watch my dad play and I noticed they were bouncing the ball off their heads as well as many other body parts, knees, shoulders, elbows. I’m really not a sports fan. I especially hate the rioting and brawling that goes on in England during and after matches, sometimes even before. Those fans are rabid!
HOOLIGANS! Always wanted some of my own!
My kids played Little League. My kids played soccer. Little League parents were civilized. Soccer parents were rude, screaming morons.