Tuesday, June 19, 2007

And who the fuck drinks tea, anyway? You got the cramps or something, England?


You know who's fucking awesome? Alexi Lalas, that's who! Not only does he have decidedly wacky hair (or at least used to), but he's telling those bad-teeth-havin', no-coffee-drinkin', George Bush-hatin', Underground-ridin', Parliamentary-governed, Monarchy-toleratin', coal-mine-closin', Muslim-riot-fadin', cocksucking British assholes where they can shove their fucking football soccer superiority.

America: Fuck Yeah!

Only problem is that Lalas is wrong. Like, totally fucking, irreconcilably wrong. Wrong like saying, "Islam is Peace."

"In England, our league is considered second class, but I honestly believe if you took a helicopter and grabbed a bunch of MLS players and took them to the perceived best league in the world they wouldn't miss a beat and the fans wouldn't notice any drop in quality.''

This is kind of like saying that if we picked up the Yakult Swallows in a helicopter and flew them into Yankee Stadium, people wouldn't notice a difference in play. Or Maccabi against the Spurs. Or Roddick vs. Federer. Or Barbaro vs. Laminitis. The point is: Just because two people, or groups of people, do the same thing and get paid for it does not mean that the two persons/groups do so at equal levels of ability.

Maybe, Alexi, if the helicopter cherry-picked the very best MLS players left in the league (you know, the ones who aren't good enough to get contract offers from European clubs, which they would invariably jump at the second there's an offer), you could assemble a side that could give one of the better EPL teams a ride. I don't think they win, since the better EPL teams generally include at least one player who is considered the premier talent of his home country (Man-U: Ronaldo; Chelsea: Drogba; Arsenal: Henry; Liverpool: ... Kuyt? Bellamy? ... I should ask the girl who writes You'll Never Blog Alone about this, right after I see if she wants to bear my child, because there are few bigger turn-ons in this world than 20-year-old redheaded law students who love soccer, and all of the alternatives involve Sarah Jessica Parker, an anvil and pneumatic nail gun) and the U.S.'s best players — with the exception of Landycakes — play in Europe as well, which doesn't make any of them available for this supremely awesome and totally ridiculous hypothetical match. Actually, the more I think about it, an MLS All-Star team is probably about a 6-1 dog against any of the top four teams in the EPL. Maybe a little more for Man U and Chelsea, a little less against Arsenal, and pretty much dead-on for Liverpool. Obviously, the closer one gets to the relegation line, the better the odds of MLS team would be, and I have no problem believing that this MLS team could beat some of the lesser EPL teams, perhaps even handily. But that's no different than accepting that a Japanese League All-Star team could beat up on the Royals, or that maybe John Daly's wife had a reason to try stabbing him in the fucking face. But does proving that one league's best could beat another league's worst (or, at best, mediocre) really prove anything? Furthermore, how much fuel would a helicopter big enough to transport an entire soccer team across the Atlantic require? I bet you just positing that question to Sheryl Crow could get that played-out hag to have a seizure.

But getting back to the idiot of the hour, what the fuck is Lalas after here? He gave this interview to a British paper, which must just love another opportunity to pillory an American for not thinking before speaking (or, worse, purposely antagonizing countries that do their best to like us). It's not like his stupidity is going to inspire more British people to care about a sport that is absent from U.K. airwaves. And Lalas' comments are precisely the kind of condescending shit that drives Americans away from fringe leagues like the MLS; instead of being honest and giving us some credit for knowing the difference between the MLS and the EPL in terms of quality of play, he tries to tell us that we only feel the way we do about the league because we're ignorant, which is charming in a Noam Chomsky sorta way. No one likes to be browbeaten, as evidenced by the NBA's failure to guilt people into watching the WNBA despite the former making it clear that our not doing so makes us sexist assholes. Nor does anyone like being lied to, or want to root for whiny pricks whose public comments are dictated by an inferiority complex.

But there's hope yet for American soccer, according to some Brits who caught a L.A.-Salt Lake tilt recently:

"The game was not without moments of quality ... [but] some of the defending from both sides was the type of stuff you watch through your fingers,'' according to The Mirror. "It was the football equivalent of a demolition derby."

Last I checked, people actually attend demolition derbies. It sounds like someone needs to convince Eddie Pope that he's doing work, and shouldn't retire after the season.

17 comments:

Colin E. Laisure-Pool said...

"...Lalas' comments are precisely the kind of condescending shit that drives Americans away from fringe leagues like the MLS..... he tries to tell us that we only feel the way we do about the league because we're ignorant...."

Quite right, you are spot-on on this one, old chap. Disclaimer - none of the following accusations/statements apply directly to you. You've been to Italy, you seem to follow the sport closely, and you've got that whole 'first-hand experience as a spectator in a country absolutely obsessed with the fucking sport' thing going on. You've got Italian calcio cred and get respeck on this one.

But this (the aforementioned quote) is precisely the reason that my former indifference to the sport as developed into an explicitly anti-soccer attitude.
There seems to be a tacit implication that if you do not pretend to be interested in a sport that produces 90-minute, 0-0 ties with significant frequency and that is rife with floppers that make Manu Ginobli look like fucking Rambo, then you are to be immediately identified as some Pabst-swilling, cousin-fucking, NASCAR-loving, xenophobic redneck.
It is tantamount to saying that buying that Bayern Munchen jersey online will metamorphosize one into a worldly and sophisticated human being overnight, regardless of whether or not that person has ever even fucking seen a single game in the Bundesliga.

I've been stepped in soccer culture (futbol culture, to be precise) my entire life. It never fails to amuse/enrage me when some Eto'o jersey-wearing, presumptuous cockholster tries to, in a condescending tone, explain to me that the low scoring in soccer is a blessing because of the added suspense and excitement of being denied the opportunity to watch the ball go in the net.

Yeah, I get it; scoring a goal in soccer is an incredibly difficult task and is one of the most difficult (if not most uncommon) feats in all of sports. It is still boring. You know what else is incredibly difficult to do (and frustrating to watch)? Being one of the thirty identical cars going round and round in circles at governed speeds for three fucking hours in a pointless display of "racing" and somehow ending up in first place. How about sliding a large stone with a handle down a section of ice to a target, and to somehow avoid having that rock knocked out by the other team's subsequent throw? Don't enjoy those sports? Don't find them utterly scintillating? Then it must be because you are a closed-minded twit who does not understand what he is watching. I feel for your children, you feckless pillock! Behold my Team Canada Curling parka and despair!

I know this is a looong comment, but I have one more point to bludgeon with my overstated and undersupported opinion on this issue: I submit that the increasing (spectator) popularity of soccer in this country is due primarily to what I will define as the 'Dave Matthews Effect', and not to a genuine interest in 'il jogo bonito'.

The 'Dave Matthews Effect' is succinctly defined as the propensity of every fucking college freshman to suddenly idolize the Dave Matthews Band during their first two weeks in the dorm despite their, until that point, tepid response to a musical group that has been around for quite some time.

In other words, Johnny got the memo that DMB is now unequivocally the coolest fucking band ever, man. Johnny himself may not understand the appeal of DMB or may even dislike their music personally. But this does not deter him from purchasing the next available DMB shirt at Zia along with every CD of DMB's music availble. The awkward post-adolescents who are more dedicated to the ruse will actually listen to the CDs and even procure a little perfunctory knowledge of the group in order to cover his tracks, but at the core, he is just another one of the dirty-shirt wearing sheeple making a ham-handed attempt at social acceptance into the counter-culture. It is a fucking front.

Enter the Eto'o (Barcelona, not Cameroon) jerseyite. He's never seen a La Liga game and probably pronounces the last name 'EE-too', but rest assured, he is more sophisticated than you are, and his Greenpeace undershirt will support that fact. Case closed.

P.S. - I DO NOT like NASCAR, btw, for very the reasons mentioned above. The reference was purely illustrative. Although I am a big racing fan in general, I consider NASCAR to be auto-racing's answer to the WWF.

P.P.S. - That quote from 'The Mirror' was not at all condescending, was it, kettle?

St said...

As a person who actually went to a Dave Matthews concert my freshman year of college, and owned a PSG jersey my brother bought me in France for years before I could name a single player on their squad, I know exactly the phenomenon of which you speak.

But at least I never told anybody else to like soccer. So there's that.

Uh oh: we're talking DMB and soccer? Paging B ...

b said...

Finally, a post on this board that I can sink my teeth into!

Commenter #1: First off, what's your beef with Eto'o? Be glad you didn’t pick on George Weah or I would have had Mike Stoops give you a Youngstown Tune-up!

Second, I'll set aside your "soccer isn't exciting because there aren't many goals scored!" take alongside arguments such as "George Bush is a bad president" and "How iTunes and the iPod have changed music" and “The best musical acts aren’t the ones you always hear on the radio!” because they are tired and, at this point, thoughtless. I've tried to pass on the minute pleasures of futbol, but don't have the steam for it anymore because whenever soccer is mentioned, the person I’m discussing the matter with simply turns to the lack of goalscoring argument or the “it will never catch on here” argument. Sigh. I get it. A professional basketball player should be good enough to make every single shot he takes; I don't dismiss the sport as a whole when he misses because there is a lot more to it. I also see people wearing Michael Vick jerseys; I don’t expect them to come running up to me explaining the higher meaning of watching two pitbulls rip each others’ throats out.

Furthermore, if Doyle writes something that essentially says, “I know not all of you follow soccer, but check out what this fucking guy said!” and points humorously at a personality, not the game itself, I don’t understand the need to come out blazing with 2,000 words on why the sport as a whole, or people who wear soccer jerseys, suck.

As for the second half of your argument, the part about Dave "ah-ba-ba-ba, yeeaaaaaaah!" Matthews, congratulations: you just passed your Marketing 101 exam. Are you saying Dave Matthews Band (I will refrain from using the acronym DMB because when I see it, I am only reminded of the incomparable DaMarcus Beasley) isn’t the greatest band in the history of the world? I know you didn’t necessarily mean to intertwine the two ideas, but I will. When we were in high school and college, everybody owned one or more of their albums. Maybe some of us (cough…Ry) still really enjoy them, while some of us can remember fondly on a handful of songs and moved on to other groups and impersonate them whilst drunk – but we still listen to music. The same with David Beckham. He may not be the best player in the world, but the lad can still get stuck in, as the Brits might say. Him being here is only good for MLS, especially now given his recent renaissance. I’d talk more of that and how Alexi Lalas is the luckiest S.O.B. in the game today, even though he will still probably get fired because he will have the two most marketable (and best) players in the league but not make the playoffs for the second straight season, but I’m afraid I might get compared to being a redneck who likes nascar or be called “Un-American.” God forbid if we actually talked about the game!

Do I necessarily want MLS/Beckham to become the next Dave Matthews Band? Of course not. But I do want us to win the World Cup, or at least come close, during my lifetime, and if David Beckham has any kind of an effect like Dave Matthews, we might get closer to that. Fuck me for having a dream!

b said...

A fairly accurate link to a message board posting that was up on a blog today: http://www.bigsoccer.com/forum/showpost.php?p=11881005&postcount=1

I can't get too terribly involved with the EPL. I like Arsenal, occasionally root for Man U in the Champions League, tolerate Liverpool and absolutely abhorr Chelsea. In many ways I'm sure I'm being a bitch by complaining which EPL games are shown on Fox Soccer Channel every weekend, because few of them involve the four teams mentioned (the teams a neutral fan would want to watch). I wouldn't hope to get MLB to catch on in England by not showing Yankees-Red Sox but Mariners-Rangers instead. The EPL is painfully predictable, so much so that Lalas' comments on how people like the product because it's packaged so well that it blinds them is spot on.

That said, he's an idiot for saying that the EPL is "inferior." As Doyle asked me earlier, "inferior to what?" But that's not the reason why I think it's stupid; he knows the English media will have a field day with his comments and he's only inviting derision from the English media, who believe MLS teams have names like "Tampa Bay Red Sox Soccerball Kickers."

Funny how, in all of this, the guy who's looked the best is David Beckham himself. For a guy who's always been a product of marketers, he shut up and played the moment he was dropped from Real Madrid and hasn't gone back on his word. Of course, he knows that leaving now, on top, is the best way out of European soccer; not languishing another season away with schizo Real while seeing his value, and popularity, plummet. So while the English media talks about his vacation to retirement in MLS, I have tons of respect for Beckham through all of this.

Alexi Lalas, meanwhile, is an idiot. And it kills me how he has fallen ass-first into this. He's such a moron. Funny at times, but a rockhead.

But maybe not as big of an idiot as my friend Gil from the Galaxy: after years of toiling as a ticket salesman, he left LA to become the Hispanic rep for FC Dallas in December. In January, they signed Beckham and sold out of season tickets within the first week, thus he missed out on huuuge bonuses!

St said...

Hispanic rep? Do they also have black reps? Because me and Doyle know us some black culture, and an n-word needs a job!

Colin E. Laisure-Pool said...

@b:

1. No beef with Eto'o. I like him, actually, and am a little smug over the fact that I know how to correctly pronounce his last name. He was just another illustrative example of my point. It could have easily been a douchebag wearing a Beckham jersey, as far as the argument was concerned.

2. I didn't intend for the comment to sound so vitriolic, I know we only met briefly at the UA/ASU game, but anyone who knows me personally is cognizant of the fact that I am somewhat of a blowhard when it comes to these sorts of things. That is not to imply that I did not mean what I wrote, but that I am not specifically attacking anyone on this blog.

3. What I seem to have left out of the earlier comment is that a big part of the reason that I feel that I can speak to the 'Dave Matthews Effect' and it's soccer analog is the fact that I have been guilty of both phenomena. I was Johnny, you see, and the (now ill-fitting) Roy Keane (team Ireland) jersey that I bought online for $135 during my junior year is sitting just behind the almost completely shredded DMB shirt from my freshman year.
I have never been genuinely enthralled with either Irish international play or DMB, but the former made decent conversation amongst my European co-workers and the latter, well, I was just like any other college freshman trying (unsuccessfully) to get laid. Also, the Greenpeace chick handing out the application forms in front of the Frog and Firken was fucking hot. It cost me $25 to sign up for a year, and, man, was it not worth it.

4. I am going to leave the Michael Vick thing alone for now. I have been a staunch Ron Mexico apologist for years, but that dogfighting shit, if true, is completely indefensible.

5. Finally, as for the EPL versus MLS angle, I have nothing to add as I haven't had much of an opportunity to watch either. Bring Mexican soccer into the mix, however, and it is on. This may be an inaccurate presumption, but my childhood in the barrio (mention basketball or football and you got perplexed looks) and current roommate situation makes me the most informed gabacho ever when it comes to 'el futbol de Los Aztecas' (gender disagreement intentional). I have sat though enough terrible Mexican soccer to last a lifetime, but fuck with Toluca, Alexi, and I'll cut you. Viva los Diablos Rojos!!!

Come on, NFL season!

Anonymous said...

yeah, dogfighting isn't my thing, but then again, that's because i was raised in a cultural situation that said dogfighting isn't morally acceptable. there's a classic Turner essay out there about Indonesian cockfighting (J: YOU should totally check it out before moving to San Francisco) and its cultural importance to the community in which the event is located.

My point is this: just about everyone I know thinks their opinion is more valid than the next person, whether we're talking religion, sports, politics, etc. If you like Nascar, you're a redneck who's against the environment. If you're a christian, you're an idiot who cant think for themselves. What I find most interesting about this doesn't so much concern the particulars of the arguments, but rather the universal degree to which humans trust their opinions closely resemble "the truth".

what would happen in terms of meaning if one took the opposite approach. That is to say, what would epistemology look like if a person stopped believing that any one opinion was more universally "truthy" than another? Oh, wait, that's right, that's what the postmodernists were talking about forty fucking years ago. And still we haven't learned. If I had an opinion right now, which i non-hegemonically don't, I'd say that's pitiful.

D. (the 'd' stands for dogfighter) Suave

Diesel said...

D. Suave,

I realize you think I'm a schmuck, and I suppose I deserve it. But I hope you'll humor me, and answer an earnest question:

Here's my question about post-moderism vs. epistomology; isn't stating that truth is subjective as inflexible a concept as absolute truth? Don't both, potentially, have exactly the same blind spot?

- Diesel

p.s. -- I don't think Christians can't think for themselves. In fact, it's a damn good thing most of them can, otherwise we'd really be fucked; it is the ability of most Christians to sensibly arrive at moral conclusions inconsistent with biblical teachers that allow us to have some semblance of civility in this country.

Colin E. Laisure-Pool said...

In my humble opinion, (should I even have one?) dogfighting is not on the same level as cockfighting. I have actually been to two cockfights out in Tolleson, and, aside from a few lost feathers and scratches, the event is more amusing than violent. Neither rooster died in both fights I saw, and only the natural spurs were permitted, no razor blades or anything like that. And, in most cases, the roosters were rather well cared for (a chicken doesn't exactly require a lot of care).

I do not believe that the same can be said for most dogfights, although it is rare for a dog to die in the fight, the majority of losers either die later from injuries sustained during the fight or are intentionally killed by the sadistic fucks that own them. The rooster is going to be eaten at some time in its life, anyway. Most pits are harshly abused in order to obtain such a violent temperament. Although a certain level of aggression towards other animals is genetic, commonly referred to as 'gameness', dogfighters will often try to give their dog and edge through physical abuse. Roosters will naturally fight anything. They have brains the size of a peanut and are significantly lower on the evolutionary scale than man's best friend.

D Suave is definitely right that cockfighting has very strong roots in the Mexican and apparently Indonesian culture. I can personally attest to the fact that it is kind of a big deal amongst the older generation of paisas in Phoenix.

So, D Suave, nothing that you wrote is wrong. I just believe that most opinions are based in some form of truth, whether it be objective or personal. Either way, opinions have value, or at the very least, give us something to talk about.

Anonymous said...

Diesel,

first off man, i like you a lot. this blog wouldn't be so fun if you weren't so opinionated. rest easy there, amigo.

now, the issue you raise is the same self-referential problem that analytic philosophers have been leveling towards postmodernists for years. it's a smart objection to make, in my opinion, and the response is not likely to satisfy anyone other than postmodernists. but, for the sake of argument, i think the brief version goes something like this:

1. the objection doesn't make sense because there's nothing signified by the concept of 'absolute truth', because it's so vacuous to be meaningless. In other words, you can't intelligibly make this objection as it's similar to saying something like this, "isn't stating that truth is subjective as inflexible a concept as Vinbur Prime" (where Vinbur Prime is obvious nonsense).

2. most postmodernists would say that truth isn't subjective so much as it's socially constructed. So it's not pure relativism. For example, take the following dilemma: if there's no absolute truth, why isn't it morally good or at least neutral to take a gun and shoot a bunch of kids at an elementary school. Well, the postmodernist would say that's bad, not because of any objective, universal morality, but because society deems killing kids to be a moral failure.

The first point is pretty simple; the second could be written about indefinitely. In any event, that's at least a flavoring of the Pomo response. To give it a more concrete example, dog fighting is morally bad in our culture because we view it as abuse. But, in a society that has undergone war, famine, raping, etc., dog fighting might not be morally problematic as fighting and aggression could be so psychologically instilled that nobody questions it. in fact, perhaps the dog fighting alleviates male aggression to an extant that rates of violence might drop. So, the morality of dog fighting in the U.S. would be a negative one, but a potentially positive one somewhere else.

D. Suave

b said...

This soccer debate turned to a debate on postmodern philosophy and the cultural importance of cockfighting in less than 10 comments.

And Colin, you thought soccer jersey-wearers were pompous, worldly, sophisticated assholes....

Anonymous said...

B said, "And Colin, you thought soccer jersey-wearers were pompous, worldly, sophisticated assholes...."

Seeing as how that refers to me, a person you've never met, I'd say you're acting like the asshole. How about you stop acting like a dick.

D. Suave

Diesel said...

D,

Prima facie, it appears your legitimate dismissal (the initial one) of the concept of "absolute truth" is the same as one I often employ in God v. no god arguments; is there a difference I'm missing? It's interesting that I hadn't made that very logical connection between the two beliefs until now.

As for the rest of it, I haven't considered any of it long enough to offer anything except a furrowed brow. Philosophy has never been this simpleton's strong suit, though my curiosity might be piqued enough to go re-read some of the Kierkegaard I pretended to read my freshman year of college. Good stuff.

- Diesel

Pepe B. Secessionist said...

D: I'm pretty sure B is just engaging in good-natured ribbing. He's the last person I'd ever expect to call out people he doesn't know on a blog.

Also, I think you guys might have met.

Diesel: I don't understand the assumption that a belief must be flexible in order to be valid. Why does it matter if subjective truth is inflexible? And what blind spot are you talking about?

I also think it's worth mentioning that the logical extension of subjective truth is to allow questioning of itself. It allows for multiple truths, which I think explains much of its appeal.

Diesel said...

J,

Yeah, "inflexible" wasn't the best word for it. What I meant was this:

"Absolute truth" is an absurd concept because its rigidity invalidates it automatically. However, to state, "truth is subjective" is, as far as I can tell, as unequivocal a statement as "there exists an absolute truth," and thusly makes it equally as absurd.

But my issue is that I've never given any of this stuff much thought, so I'm not really capable of forming any kind of cohesive argument. Thusly, ignore anything I say/ask on this subject.

Also, D, J's right ... B's comment was almost assuredly good-natured. He's a Catholic with a Jewish name; his sense of humor is so necessary that it's indiguishable from the rest of his persona.

- Diesel

Anonymous said...

Diesel,

Nice connection. For the sake of simplicity, I left out a premise, which might clarify the distinction between postmodernists rejection of absolute truth and your rejection of deity. You say that God doesn't exist. The postmodernist simply says that the concept of 'absolute truth' is linguistically meaningless. Perhaps it exists, but if it does, our language(s) will never gain epistemic access to it.

A second distinction though is that some (not all) postmodernists would allow that while the social construction of 'absolute truth' by postmodernist theoreticians deems it meaningless, another group of people, say fundamentalists, might socially construct 'absolute truth' in such a way that it has meaning. After all, if truth is socially constructed, then postmodern truth is also socially constructed and cannot claim insight into any universal situation.

b said...

"He's a Catholic with a Jewish name; his sense of humor is so necessary that it's indiguishable from the rest of his persona."

If I die tomorrow, makes sure this is on my tombstone.