I know, whenever my special blogging pen (sometimes keyboard) finds itself with no particular place to go, it always meanders back to sport, doesn’t it? Fair is fair, though, I blame the person holding it…
But here’s the irresistible thing: the Sunday just gone was YET ANOTHER great day for sport. And not for the first time (ahem, not even nearly), I find myself unavoidably wondering, ‘how is sport something that anyone could possibly not enjoy?’ Take it away from me and I would feel instantly, eternally, and irretrievably bereft – would be like living in a world where there’s no such thing as lunch.
In any event, maybe (hopefully!) you, like me, had the great good fortune to catch…
I didn’t see any of this, unfortunately, but even the bare bones of this sporting story offer great, booming cover drives of pleasure. Simply put, England captain Strauss scored a century for Somerset against a touring India – even though the team he actually plays for is Middlesex. So… he didn’t just have a super game at a super time to have it (England, India’s next opponent), he did so as a guest in someone else’s team.
It is – you positively MUST agree – a lovely little victory for the cause of not taking sport too seriously. Show up! Have a go! Mix and match! Surely we must always welcome more of the same with wide open arms, ever safer in the knowledge that this thing we’re watching is, essentially, a lark. And if a Vidic or a Rooney would be nice enough to guest star for Arsenal next season, then so much the better…
A man famously fond of fast cars and smoking while he plays – winning the British Open for the first time at the twentieth attempt, and doing it in the teeth of fierce, driving rain: All good! Because only very occasionally is golf even a tiny fraction as compelling. The rest of the time it hovers uneasily between anemic and obnoxious – corporate, sanitized, and sunny, and full of monstrously wealthy, self-satisfied mediocrities called things like Zach and Hunter and (dear God) Boo.
(And don’t even get me started on the Ryder-fucking-Cup… Who else but a golfer could ever get so terribly pleased with himself for playing in a team ONCE every TWO YEARS for a WEEK?!)
Now this was a whole lot of fun, too… Always is, whenever one team somehow refuses to win (this time round, the US) and the other doggedly refuses to lose (this time round, Japan). Did you see the penalty shoot-out (or the “PKs,” as it’s weirdly abbreviated over here)? The first three American ‘efforts’ – all missed – truly were uniquely awful, weren’t they? Kicked like a vegan sipping at a wheatgrass smoothie.
Plus, I must admit, there’s definitely something pleasingly transgressive about watching an American team over here but not wanting it to win. And never mind the jingoistic padding of the TV coverage (flag count: high), I even had the nonchalant temerity to watch most of this game with the sound on mute, while talking to my parents on the phone. Take that Uncle Sam!
…And to cap it all, a really crazy game of baseball… A pitcher’s duel, through and through, I had to stop watching when tiredness got the better of me around 10.50, in the bottom of the ninth with the Red Sox and the Rays still locked together at 0-0. It was only when checking the score in the morning that I found out the rest: a 1-0 win for the Sox, secured after seven extra innings. The game finally finished at 1.54am, by which time the Rays had still only mustered three paltry hits (in 50 at-bats), as against only five for Boston (human spark-plug Jacoby Ellsbury a woozy oh-for-eight).
But how about that second-baseman Dustin Pedroia? Well, as so many times before, he was the difference. While I was watching: two stellar defensive plays (diving, grabbing, stopping, turning, throwing: out!), a hit, and a stolen base; after: the game-winning hit that finally succeeded in sending everybody home. Him, I suggest, sport at is brilliant, extraordinary best – in short, scrappy person form.
***Ok, I’ll stop now.***