Today was all about English football. For two hours, all the EPL football clubs played their final games at the same time, which meant lots of channel switching and internet checking. The U.S. has come a long way; I could find 5 games on tv without leaving my living room. On the line–Manchester City can win the title at home by defeating a horrible QPR team that was itself on the verge of relegation.
Tangent: Why in capitalist America do we let the teams that finish last get rewarded with the first pick of the next year’s draft? And why in supposedly socialist Europe do they banish such teams out of the league, only allowed back if they ship up and finish in the top 3 in their minor league division? And why in capitalist America do we have salary caps, whereas in England, Man City has about a dozen players who individually make more money than the QPR team combined.
Man City had put themselves in position to win by beating Man U twice, and then taking out Newcastle last week. QPR made things worse for itself when its own version of Ron Artest, Joey Barton, got a red card for elbowing Carlos Teves to the face, and then (after already being ejected) kicking Sergio Aguero. He’s an old-school British punk with a Morrissey haircut and fists ready to throw. He completely came unhinged in a critical moment. I haven’t seen this since Ron Artest, and even Artest wasn’t in a big game. Who has melted down like this with so much on the line (QPR relegation)? The guy needs a serious therapist for anger-management.
So, now QPR is down to 10 men. But, on a counter-attack, they incredibly score a goal to go up 2-1. And, the next 30 minutes had the kind of tension that only a one-off soccer match can provide. Clock ticking, fans crying, the coach looking so despairing that you’d think he was about to lose his job (and he probably was). This was potentially one of the biggest chokes in history (by which we define as times I remember off the top of my head–so think Boston Red Sox against Tampa Bay last year, except QPR was more like this year’s Charlotte Bobcats). Then, when it looked entirely over, and Man U. was celebrating another championship on another channel (FOX; this one was on ESPN2), Man City scores two goals in the final moments of stoppage time to miraculously win. The commentator, Steve McManaman, completely lost his voice. Alexi Lalas responded by calling the British, “nutty.”
Why isn’t Steve McManaman commenting on the NBA? He’s great. Having commentators who played the sport is way over-rated. He’s got a good sense of humor and his voice rises with the level of drama. That’s what you want–someone who knows how to handle gravitas.
Prior to this, I was going to write about violence in the NFL. It’s still coming, and it’s going to be epic when it leaves my brain and arrives on your screen. In the meantime, the NBA playoffs continue. The Celtics and Heat don’t seem like they are playing hard until the 4th quarter. I didn’t even realize today that Bosh was hurt, that’s how important he is to the Heat. And I missed the Clippers-Grizzlies game 7 because I needed a breather after the Man City game. This is why Chris Broussard is where he is and I’ve been fired from every network and sports journalism job I’ve had in the last five years and am now writing to an audience of me and my cat.