The World Cup is finally over, and I have a few more thoughts. (See my earlier post here.)
We were rooting for Argentina yesterday, mostly because of Lionel Messi, who is Pete's favorite player by far and who is really amazing to watch. Another reason, I'm sorry to admit, is that when you grow up in a Jewish home in the post-WWII years, you just can't cheer for Germans. It's been decades, I know, but that's just how it goes. (And I'm fully aware that Argentina isn't exactly innocent on that front either.) But Germany played beautifully and Messi did not, and that was that. (But at least he won the Golden Ball!)
Most of all, I'm thrilled it didn't go to penalty kicks, which is always a nightmare. That is no way to decide a game! PKs do not tell you which team played better, and it's an insult to everyone. Perhaps they could use the PKs only for the Groups round, since a loss there doesn't mean you're out. But then in the knock-out rounds, they should just keep adding on 30-minute overtimes until someone wins fair and square. You'd have to let them have an additional sub or two, but that could easily be figured out. Anyone with me?
And, I'll repeat myself, something has to be done about the diving. It's an epidemic. At the very least, they have to start giving out yellow cards for really blatant dives. I'm sure there must be a video montage somewhere of Robben making that same agonized face every time he trips over the sight of someone's outstretched foot, 50 times a game. He's such a talented player, but all I can think of when I see him is "FLOP!" Adam Gopnick (or, more accurately, Adam Gopnick's son) came up with an idea for policing real vs. manufactured fouls in the penalty area: "Award a penalty only for a foul that removes an authentic chance on goal, and award a direct free kick for all other fouls in the area that don’t." That would help, no?
I was so glad that Ian Darke and Steve McManaman were announcing yesterday's game. Over the course of the last month, I got to know many of the announcers by voice, and they are by far the best. They tell it like it is, and I actually learned from them every time they did a game! I don't have a solid understanding of the strategic and technical ins and outs of the game, but their insights went a long way toward helping me appreciate the finer points of each match. There were other announcers who were useless—the play-by-play guy would just name which player had the ball (duh), and the color guy would spit out random statistics that had no bearing on the day's game.
Well, in two years there will be more fútbol at the Summer Olympics, so hopefully I'll get to see some of my (now) favorite players again there: James Rodriguez, Ochoa, David Luiz, and the rest. (No, I'm not going to become a club fan—I like international games only!)