Thursday, June 8, 2006

Vox in the Box (8)

It's a simple thing--
just a ball and a goal...
But once every four years, that simple thing
drastically changes the world.
Closes the schools.
Closes the shops.
Closes the city.
Stops a War.
A simple ball fuels the passion and pride of nations;
Gives people everywhere something to hope for.
Gives countries respect where respect is in short supply.
And achieves more than the politicians ever could.
Once every four years, a ball does the impossible,
and if history means anything...
the world is about to change.
-- Bono

Don't worry, I'll try not to bore you with too much Cup chatter. I don't even like outdoor soccer. I didn't like playing it and I never watch MLS. I once enjoyed international matches, but defensive strategies (crowding the penalty box a la John Scramling) have ruined the artistry of the game. Nevertheless, the World Cup is the best sporting event thanks to soccer's standing as the world's most loved game, the event's global magnitude, the political implications on an international scale, fanatical fans, and the fact that every country but the U.S. considers a Cup game involving their country a national holiday. Even the U.S. doesn't shut down the country for the Superbowl or World Series. Still, you can bank on Uncle Sam making a quarter-final run-- as long as Kasey Keller is between the pipes. American goal-keeping can't be underestimated. And neither can the Ivory Coast; those cats are the Cup's darkhorse.

My first Cup was 1986 and I was enthralled with the way Diego Maradona dribbled his way through half of Europe, scored a goal with his fist, and then made two ridiculously long passes through German traffic to help Argentina win the tourney. Come 1990, the Germans, still bitter from their loss to Maradona in the '86 final, decided to play 5 defenders. Coach Scramling, of German dissent, actually went to that Cup and came back to South Euclid thinking the wheel had been reinvented and couldn't wait to add another defender to make the game less creative, and more disciplined. Yeah, the Germans play Futbol much like Lt. Tom 'Iceman' Kazanski pilots a fighter jet. Ice mistakes, They wear you down and after enough time, opponents get bored or frustrated and do something stupid. Then the Germans strike. They should make another nice run thanks to the home-field advantage, but an inexperienced offensive-minded coach and an injury to captain Michael Ballack means they are a third-place finish, at best.

I'm picking England as your World Cup Champion, although Paraguay may give them an early scare. The English are young and unflappable and have a very talented midfield, essential for establishing tempo and closing games in FIFA competition. The one-two punch of Beckham and Michael Owen will prove too much for any club to handle, as no country is striker-rich like England. It's difficult to pick against Italy and Brazil, so don't go betting money based on my opinions. Although, if you scroll down to Vox 5, I told you after the first round of the payoffs that Roit would not win the NBA championship. (Miami over Roit was my lock of the century...and it should've been a sweep, but Antoine "I Shoot, therefore I Am" Walker was determined to keep the Pistons in the series during Game 2.)

And speaking of DEEEETROIT BAS-KET-BALLLL, let's talk about their place in history. I think it's safe to assume the run of Billups-Wallace Bros.- Hamilton-Prince is over. They squeaked out a championship in '04 with a swarming, unprecedented brand of D under Larry Brown. But they've taken a step backwards with each subsequent season. Next year, they'll go down in the first or second round. The NBA's recent influx of superstar talent won't allow a team like the Pistons to grind their way to another title. So, these current Pistons have the very interesting distinction of just one championship, which brings me to this incredible statistic- since I've been following the NBGAY (1984), every championship team besides Roit has captured multiple titles. The 2004 Champion Pistons will go down as the only team in 20+ years not to win it again. And since 1980, the only championship team other than Roit to win it only once was the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers. Breaking it down:

Magic Johnson-Pat Riley Lakers: '80, 82, 85, 87,88
Larry Bird Celtics: '81, 84, 86
Isiah-Dumars-Chuck Daly Pistons: '88,89
Jordan-Pippen-Phil Jackson Bulls: '91,92,93, 96,97,98
Olajuwon-Tomjanovich Rockets: '94, 95
Tim Duncan-Popovich Spurs: '99, 03, 05
Shaq-Kobe-Phil Jackson Lakers: '00, 01, 02

Kids, you can't get stats like that on Sportscenter or from the mainstream media. We are working hard for you at Vox. And so are the editors at my favorite mag, Rolling Stone; this week they're running a story: How Bush Stole the 2004 Election. "Stole" is an understatement. I urge every American to read the article. It's a crime that Time and Newsweek didn't follow up on the larceny that occurred at the polls in Warren County, Ohio and some other election sites throughout our corrupt and bigoted state. There's a reason that the exit polls predicted an easy win for Kerry, and then suddenly everything went wrong in the next few hours. Read that article. Please. I'm still filled with rage from it. FUCK THE PRESIDENT. FUCK KEN BLACKWELL. FUCK THE SYSTEM AND OUR FUCKED UP STATE. Man, I hate writing in caps. Makes a person seem uneducated. But I was angry and it was a tension breaker. Had to be done. You never want to go into a Random Top 10 angry. If you're angry, don't make a Random Top 10. No, it won't be songs that Kevin and I sang together because we only had a few. And if you think that was the gayest thing ever, then you must've missed Hasselhoff crying when Taylor Hicks won AmIdol.

SamVox's Top 10 Tortured Geniuses:

1. Wolfgang Amadeus Motzart: The first rock star to flame out early; Wolfie died at 35 from too much partying. He revolutionized popular music, and then farted his talent and his money away on wine and women.
2. Bobby Fisher: True story: Before his championship match against Russian rival Boris Spassky, Fisher had an oral surgeon remove all of the fillings in his teeth, because he was convinced that the KGB had installed radio receivers in his head to brainwash him. His paranoia eventually led to his refusal to defend his title and then turn on his own religion and country.
3. Stu Ungar: Considered the greatest poker player ever. This New York Jew was banned from playing gin-rummy by the time he was 17 because he was unbeatable. Ungar won three World Series titles and blew almost everything he won on sports-gambling and cocaine. He died alone in a Las Vegas hotel room at the age of 45.
4. Srboljub "Stan" (The Magician) Stamenkovich. The Pizza Man did things on an indoor soccer field most watchers regarded as impossible, and dominated a game for the physically fit despite being grossly out of shape and overweight with his breathtaking ball-handling and intuition. Days before his 40th birthday, he slipped on a patch of ice and died after drinking all night in his pub in Yugoslavia.
5. William Butler Yeats. The incomparable Irish poet/playwright was as prolific and versatile as he was sometimes-deranged. Legend says he was transplanted with sex organs from a baboon to increase his vitality.
6. Jim Carroll. You already know from the movie he was a prep basketball star. You know he was a postmodern, mystical and descriptive anti-beat poet. You may even know he's a part time rock star who penned and performed the hit, People That Died. But did you know about Winky and Blinky? 5 minutes.
7. DeSagana Diop. I mean Jason Kapono. Funny, how one of those two will get a ring in a week or so. Diop will actually play meaningful minutes and be a force in limiting Shaq's production. But I like the Heat in 7 games. And I'll be rooting for them, too. For DA. Also, love to see Glove get that well-deserved ring. What up GP, saw you busting craps at Aladdin. Seriously, #7 is Hubie Brown. He invented Basketball, right? There's never been a smarter analyst in the history of pro sports. Hubie is a genius. The original Coach Brown. Now, he may not be tortured. But the make-up artist for ABC Sports probably is these days.
8. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Disillusioned American Jazz Age novelist who authored my favorite classic, The Great Gatsby. I view him as the first writer to really capture the corruption of the American Dream. Fitz suffered from depression, alcoholism and financial trouble due to his fast and reckless lifestyle. Then, he blamed his problems on his wife. That rules.
9. 2Pac Shakur. More than being the embodiment of thug life and a great rapper, Pac was an angry visionary. Actor. Activist. Street Prophet. He was a lot of things to a lot of people. To himself, he was his own worst enemy...unable to see past his own predicted death.
10. Jim Morrison. It's all already been said in some movie, magazine, book, blog, dorm room, term paper, VHI Storytellers, etc. He was the Lizard King. He could do anything.

oh tell me where your freedom lies
the streets are fields that never die
deliver me from
reeeeasons why

you'd rather cry; I'd rather fly

the crystal ship is being filled
a thousand girls, a thousand thrills
a million ways to spend
your time

when we get back, I'll drop a liiiiiiiine

I am Mr. Mojo Risin in the box.

La Corone de Pien!!!...Parting is inevitable.