Move Over Lloyd Christmas

In that great cinematic work, Dumb and Dumber, Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) asked Mike Starr’s character, “Wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?” And he proceeded to serenade him with what, at the time, was the most annoying sound in the world. Here’s the clip:

Well, suffice it to say, that sound plays second fiddle to the drone emanating from those ubiquitous South African “stadium horns”, vuvuzelas. That infernal noise was first heard by a worldwide audience during last year’s Confederations’ Cup. They were annoying then, and they are annoying now at the World Cup.

Opinion varies as to whether these horns are “annoying irritants” or “joyful expressions of African culture”, but at the risk of sounding dismissive of other cultures, they simply are annoying and irritating expressions of joyful African culture.

Whether it’s a South African, German or Mexican (below) providing the wind power, the noise produced is equally irritating. So much so that earplugs have become a hot item in South Africa. One might conclude that the vuvuzela was a clever scheme concocted by ear plug vendors, but I digress…

I took this pic after a México win at Reliant Stadium a couple of years ago, a match which proved to be my first exposure to the glorified funnels. As horrible as the noise is, it can’t take away from the beautiful game, especially at an event like the World Cup.

However, it would be a good if somehow Univision or ESPN found a way to filter out the vuvuzela noise, as the BBC is thinking of doing.

Here are a couple of observations from yesterday and today’s action:

  • The Germans have looked the best out of all the teams that have played so far. So effortless do the Krauts look, so crisp and pinpoint their passes are, are they not? They seem to have mastered the troublesome Jabulani (the official match ball), could it be because most of their squad plays in the Bundesliga, which used the Jabulani as its match ball last season?  Things that make you go hmmm…
  • Speaking of ze Germans…  How ’bout that rousing advertisement for globalization that their squad is?  The German National Team, dubbed Die Mannschaft (insert joke here), boasts a naturalized Brazilian, a son of Turkish immigrants, a guy named Gomez (born in Germany, has a Spanish father), 2 naturalized Poles (seems to be a running gag), another guy whose father is Tunisian.  Ol’ Adolf must be turning over in his grave…
  • What is it with Italy allowing headers from Latin American teams at the World Cup?  In ’02 it was México’s Jared Borghetti and today it was Paraguay’s Antolín Alcaraz who did the honors. Like in ’02 against El Tri Italy tied with Paraguay 1-1.
  • ESPN, I know that you learned from the last World Cup and hired good announcers to man your booth but you are still lagging behind Univision’s varsity, Pablo Ramirez and Jésus “El Profe” Bracamontes.  After Italy equalized today, Ramirez sung in Italian.  That is how you do it ESPN.  When a goal is scored don’t call it like it’s a throw-in, call it “with feelin'” as Jon Bon Jovi crooned.

Finally, on a totally unrelated not, you are very welcome Baylor.

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Roberto Baggio, David Beckham, John Terry, Dwayne De Rosario, Brian Ching?

Penalty shoot-outs in fútbol are the bane of many a fan of said sport, but I think it is the haters that have the biggest problem with them.

Personally, I like the drama, the suspense, the finality of the thing. This despite the fact that my childhood was scarred by México’s inability to win a World Cup shootout (whether 1-4 in ’86 against Germany or 1-3 in ’94 against Bulgaria).

I’m guessing El Tri‘s shoot out woes have to do with our succession of vertically-challenged keepers (yes I know the current squad had a couple of “giant” 6-footers).

Back to the title of this post: What do these 5 guys have in common? They all fell prey to the same phenomenon: stars who choked during penalty shoot-outs costing their team the game.

The last 2 add their names to the list after their performance in last night’s SuperLiga final between the Houston Dynamo and New England Revolution. (the hometown Dynamo lost in a shoot-out)

Yes, I know that the 1994 World Cup final (Baggio, Italy), Euro 2004 quarters (Beckham, England), 2008 Champions League final (Terry, Chelsea) are infinitely bigger stages than a contrived tournament like SuperLiga, but why do star players continue to peter out at crunch time?

One of life’s great enigmas…