What I know about soccer can pretty much fit into a thimble. Not even a real thimble; a thimble like you see on a Monopoly board.
I used to hate the sport, now I’m indifferent to it, and like millions of American sports fans, I pay attention at World Cup time. I fully appreciate and understand why soccer has gotten huge in the U.S. over the last 20-25 years, and no longer mock those who love it.
But I don’t pay much attention to it.
Except in the last few weeks, I’ve seen headline after headline about this little city in England and their improbable, impossible accomplishment: Winning the title in the English Premier League, the most famous league in the sport.
Leicester City, which a few years ago was bankrupt, which last year was almost relegated to the “minors,” is about to win the championship (They didn’t clinch Sunday, but have several more chances). My cousin Rob, who I love dearly, is an enormous futbol fan, so I asked him to put Leicester’s incredible accomplishment into terms American sports fans may understand.
“It’s a AA baseball team in 2012 finishing in first and deciding they want to play in AAA. After two years, without getting any new players, they purchase a MLB franchise and play in the majors and finish last. The next year, they win the World Series, beating the Yanks, Red Sox and Royals in the playoffs, then the Mets in the World Series, with basically the same team they used in AA.”
Alrighty then. Pretty freaking huge. Rob wasn’t satisfied with that analogy, though.
“Or it’s like a D-League team winning the NBA title and beating Cleveland, San Antonio and Golden State in the playoffs. It’s incredible. Never happens.”
I think the odds on Leicester were something like 5,000 to 1 this year. And in the next few days, they’re going to win the title.
This is why we watch sports: To watch the impossible, become possible. Never heard of Leicester City until a few months ago. Now, I think they’re most unlikely team sport champion ever.
**Next up, every year around this time I tell you how ridiculous, unprofessional and silly it is for a roomful of journalists who cover the White House and a roomful of politicians the journalists cover to sit at a glamorous dinner for 4 hours and act as best buddies. It’s the worst of “clubby insider Washington” and I think it’s a terrible idea for “impartial” reporters.
But every year since 2009 I’ve watched the headliner’s routine, because whatever else you want to say about the man, Barack Obama is damn funny. I know he’s got speechwriters but delivery is part of it too, and the man is terrific.
Saturday night he was on fire, with a literal mic-dropping performance. Some of this best lines (I encourage you to watch the whole speech, above):
—On the next president: “Next year at this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot. And it’s anyone’s guess who she will be.”
— On getting old: “Eight years ago, I was a young man full of idealism and vigor. And look at me now, I am gray, grizzled and just counting down the days to my death panel. Hillary once questioned whether I would be up ready for a 3 a.m. phone call. Now, I’m awake anyway because I have to go to the bathroom.”
—On Bernie Sanders: “Bernie Sanders is here! You look like a million bucks. Or to put it in terms you’ll understand, you look like 37,000 donations of $27 each.” (Editor’s note: I was stunned, stunned that Bernie was there. SO not his scene, so at odds with everything he stands for.)
—Making a pot joke: “In my final year, my approval ratings keep going up. The last time I was this high, I was trying to decide on my major.”
— On Trump: “They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president, but in fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world — Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan.”
**Finally today, blog sleuth and good friend Will S. always sends me crazy crime stories, and because I’m old and forgetful I often forget to use them.
But when he sent me this one over the weekend, I immediately knew it was going in the blog today.
The lede: “An Oregon man is accused of robbing his own pet store and using a stolen primate to tip a prostitute.”
I mean … come on, you are totally reading the rest of that story!
“Girl Scout cookie money and a laptop were also taken from the Zany Zoo Pet Store.
“Authorities arrested the owner in the parking lot of a state police office. They say he walked out of a porn shop next door and was high on drugs. (You don’t say!):
Through interviews with Nathan McClain, police say they found out he robbed his own store.
Police add they learned he paid for sex with a prostitute using the Girl Scout money and then gave her the primate named “Gooey” as a tip.”
Thankfully, “Gooey” is OK.
Now, there are a LOT of jokes to be made about sex with a prostitute and a primate named “Gooey,”… but your humble blogger is too classy to make them.
(Or, actually, I thought of way too many to choose just one.)