Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I have Seen the World Cup

And I have a few things to say to several of the participants. Line up, please, and take your medicine. To maintain our undisputed reputation for fairness, we will go in alphabetical order. (Under most circumstances, we’d go boy/girl, boy/girl, but we all know where that would land us, right smart.)

Mr. Zack Brown: You’re probably disappointed in your performance, and I wish you’d ridden better for your own sake, but I’m proud of how you handled yourself, sir. You didn’t back down, you didn’t leave anything on the table. At the end of the day, how many people can say that?

Mr. Brendan Clark: Either take some time off and get yourself together, or quit riding. It might be time. I’ve never been a huge fan of yours, but I don’t want to see you get hurt again and I’m worried that your head isn’t where it needs to be. Think about it, please.

Mr. Ryan Dirteater: What a show you put on for us! You are going to be with us for a long, long time, and I for one can’t wait to see what you do the rest of this season.

Mr. Pete Farley: I finally see what all the fuss is about. I’ve been thinking for a couple of years that you need to just quit, but I have to take all that trash talk back. You really showed me what you can do, this time out of the chute.

Ms. Leah Garcia: What a trooper! On the go through the whole event, standing up to the waves of sound rolling through the arena, tucking your head close to the interviewee's so you could both hear yourselves think, fearlessly swallowing down street food and chatting up street performers, and giving us a lesson in Portuguese on the fly, you were the epitome of engaged professionalism. And the top you wore on the last night rocked the Kasbah.

Mr. J.W. Hart: I was pleased to see you looking uncharacteristically sober for a lot of the event, because clearly you recognized what you were up against. Certainly you coached the team to a victory that wasn't unexpected, but it wasn’t in the bag, either, till the last round. But please, don’t compare this team to the 1980 Olympic hockey team. That’s just silly—your team was never the underdog, not for a second and not by a long shot. Your guys are young, but they aren't rookies. No analogy is perfect, but this one was so wrong that all I could do was shake my head.

Mr. J.B. Mauney: I’ve had issues with your behavior in the past, but you’ve grown up a lot this season, and you really showed some class during the World Cup competition. Nobody doubts your talent and now we can’t doubt your dedication, either. Just one tiny suggestion: Please find something new to say besides, “I’m just doing my job.”

Mr. Ryan McConnel: No, the Brazilians didn’t applaud you. Did you really expect them too? You, sir, are the man who took their trophy away. J.B. may have been the anchor, but you were the go-to guy in tight situations, and didn't you step up to the plate? My hat is off to you.

Mr. Rocky McDonald: Talk about determination! I still can hardly believe that I saw you keep climbing on one bull after another, right down to the end. Certainly I wouldn't have blamed you for throwing in the towel when two of your four riders had to drop out late in the game, but you never shirked, you never faltered. Hold your head up high, mister. You’ve earned our applause.

Mr. Justin McKee: Really, Justin. Did you really say that “Leah has mastered the Australian and Canadian languages, too”? I’m damned near speechless, and you have to know what that takes. Montana Barn Cat is so impressed, he may ask you to bottle it so he can shut me up regular-like.

Mr. Austin Meier: I have been a closet fan of yours since your rookie season, and certainly since I saw you eating lunch in the bar at the Sheraton Hotel in Billings in 2006, but it’s time for me to come out of the closet and proclaim my fanhood from the mountain top. I don’t think I have ever seen anybody display so much grit. Those short stubby spurs were giving you fits, we could all tell, but you never gave up, never refused to climb on the back of yet another bull and give it another go. That last ride wasn’t purty, but I was on my feet cheering for you every second. You may have been robbed of a score, but you didn’t lose, not in my book.

Mr. Adriano Moraes: What a fine human being you are--what generosity you showed when you grabbed Austin and consoled him after his re-ride challenge was rejected! I don’t know what you said to him, but I’m sure it made him feel better. I felt better just watching you.

The bulls of Brazil: Yes, I admit it, I really only watched the World Cup to see what you bulls could do. I’m not that big on team sports to begin with and the nationalistic angle of this one sometimes sets my teeth on edge. And I have to say that at the beginning, I was mostly disappointed—you all seemed big, fat, and slow. Then the rank pen showed up, and I, for one, was glad to meet its members. A big salute in particular to Pesadelo and Tambureti. Could you send us some of those straws (you know what I mean) up here to the north country? Did anybody think to save any of Bandito’s, er, contributions?

Whoever designed the World Cup trophy: Even taking into consideration my view that most trophies for professional sporting events are UG-LY, you managed to outdo yourself in the BUTT-UG-LY department. If that’s the prize you wanted to win, hang up your spurs—you can’t possibly do any better, ever again.