Ageism: 65 Mundial years added to my life
Forecast: Oh geez, again? Yup, it’s hot
The needle is on empty. Good thing we’re almost at the finish to this thing. Berlin this morning was rockin’. I was halfway through a walking tour when we hit the wall – no, not that wall, either the metaphoric one, or the real thing that’s still up in some small parts to mark that chapter of history here – a wall of people. They were all jammed down near the Brandenburg Gate, waiting for the arrival of Team Germany, six-deep on the sidewalks, even if it just meant a fleeting wave and a blast of exhaust as the team bus rolled by. And just like that, our tour group dissolved, two of us making it through the throng and across the street just before the buses arrived, and the rest marooned somewhere in the vicinity of Unter den Linden Street. Never did finish the tour.
What a transformation in the last 4 ½ weeks. When I arrived here there was intense concern over the fate of the Mannschaft and rookie coach Juergen Klinsmann. He was derisively dubbed “Grinsi Klinsi” by the tabloid Bild for his sunny optimism and his laid-back manner. In Bild this morning, they printed a card for people to clip and send in, a petition asking him to stay on after a third-place finish in the tournament.
Oh yes, the third-place game. Here’s JABS' limerick laureate Ray Skyrme on that:
GER 3 v POR 1
Deutschland hammered home Third Place, by golly.
To have not bet on that would be folly.
Schweinsteiger struck twice,
One for Nuno, that’s nice,
But the Man of the Match? Why not Oli?
Why not indeed. Oliver Khan was warring with Klinsmann a few months back, after he was demoted to backup. Saturday, Klinsi gave him the start. Beckenbauer questioned Klinsi’s methods before this tournament – Saturday, he hugged him and urged him to stay on.
No matter what happens tonight, there’s already been one big winner at this World Cup: Klinsmann. Along with Beckenbauer and Germany, of course.
And for something completely different, e-mailer D'arcy Palmer sends in this one, on a South Korean TV commentator sent home from the World Cup after he said on air that he agreed with a crticial referee's decision that went against South Korea in their final group match against Switzerland:
Commentator Shin argued, “The Korean players stopped their play after watching the linesman’s action and then rushed towards the referee to complain after the goal was approved. Judging the situation coolly from a commentator’s point of view, it was not an offside. I just said what I saw and thought.”
Three days later, on July 27, he received a phone call from his broadcasting station. They told him that given the circumstances in which he was being criticized by the public as a traitor, they couldn’t entrust their microphone in his hands anymore.
Italy 1 (Materazzi 19th minute), France 1 (Zidane pen. 7th minute) aet (Italy 5-3 on penalties). Teams: Italy: Buffon; Grosso, Cannavaro, Materazzi, Zambrotta; Gattuso, Perotta (Iaquinta 61), Pirlo, Camoranesi (Del Piero 87), Totti (De Rossi 61); Toni. France: Barthez; Abidal, Gallas, Thuram, Sagnol; Makelele, Malouda, Ribery (Trezeguet 100), Vieira (Diarra 55), Zidane; Henry (Wiltord 108).
Yellow cards: Zambrotta, Sagnol, Makelele.
Red card: Zidane 109.
Yes, a red card to Zidane in his final international, for turning on Materazzi and head-butting him with some conviction in the chest. Materazzi went down and then off, jawing with French coach Domenech and Vieira had to be restrained from going after him by a teammate. Strange -- I still don't know what precipitated it. This was a tense, but patchy game played mostly in the midfield. Malouda gained the penalty that led to the first goal, but he seemed to go down a little too easily and didn't appear to be touched. Materazzi leveled it with a smart header off a Pirlo corner. Italy were most dangerous on set pieces and seemed aimless otherwise -- while France got a lot from the Henry-Ribery linkup, but both were subbed off the field before penalties. Trezeguet the hard-luck guy, hitting the crossbar with France's second spot kick when Buffon was going the other way. Italy made all five of theirs, Fabio Grosso striking the final one. Lots of singing and cheering from the Italia supporters, and the Azzurri in the corner hopping up and down. But Zidane's red card is as much a part of this story. Amazing.