A few days ago the LA Kings finished off the NY Rangers in the National Hockey League Stanley Cup Finals. Last night, the San Antonio Spurs dispatched LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the National Basketball Association Finals. NFL training camps are still a ways off.
Ordinarily this would begin the best time of summer for baseball fans like me, because baseball takes the American sporting world’s center stage without distraction. Except, it being 2014, we have something called the World Cup.
I’ll be rooting for the Americans this afternoon against Ghana. (Though I have to say, I feel a little villainous rooting against Ghana in anything.) And I love how the Cup reveals just how much the United States is still a melting pot — folks from other countries are nuts for the World Cup, and at some bars and restaurants here in Chicago, it’s like a United Nations meeting. I know these players are great athletes. And I know that if I’d grown up playing and watching it, I’d see the nuances that keep people watching for 90 minutes of a 1-0 match.
But. I didn’t. Grow up watching and playing soccer, that is. So I’m left to try to appreciate it with, so far, not a lot of luck. I remind myself that some of my best friends love the game. As does my nephew Aaron. Then I look up and see these guys running around endlessly and doing these sort of funky trained seal tricks with their feet and heads but not using their hands. What kind of game/sport doesn’t make hand-eye coordination a central part of the endeavor? Ski jumping?
I tell myself that most of the rest of the world can’t be wrong, but then I look up and see one of these stars take a dramatic fake pratfall in hopes of giving the opponent a penalty, and I think, well, maybe most of the rest of the world does have it wrong.
Then I remember that lots of folks don’t like baseball because they think it’s boring and that I think it’s only because they don’t know enough about the game to know what to watch. And that soccer’s probably the same way. So I’ve made an appointment with Aaron to watch a game with him at my side, so that he can school me on what I’m watching.
Doesn’t matter which one — just as long as the White Sox aren’t playing that day.