Feeling smug on Sunday evening, I worked on a project that was due. (Retirement is hell.) I came down at 10 PM and, doggone, the Super Bowl was still on. What did I miss?
Thanks to the blackout, I got to see most of the last quarter, and came to this conclusion: the officials were quite right not to call pass interference on the last desperate play.
Not that any sport wants situational officiating, but interference would have to be blatant to be called on the last fling downfield – arms being yanked out of their sockets, a kung-fu kick to the ankle, stuff like that.
Of course, the receiver and defender are going to be getting physical with each other in that spot, but that was no time to over-react.
All day Sunday, I was looking forward, as I always do around the Super Bowl, to an outbreak of pitchers and catchers to make me feel warm all over. This week there is something even more immediate – the U.S.-Honduras World Cup qualifying match in San Pedro Sula on Wednesday at 4 PM, eastern time.
The match is being carried on something called BeIN which is not included by my carrier. Looks like I am going to have to find a pub that carries this BeIN.
Some friends are upset because the U.S. looked so miserable in that 0-0 draw with Canada in Houston last week. I can only say that match had nothing to do with World Cup qualifying. It was the equivalent of a baseball spring training game, when the regulars don’t quite make the bus ride. In other words, it was a scam on paying customers. Michael Bradley is in Honduras. One Keano glare from him, and intensity will rise.
In the meantime, there are reports of hundreds of matches being influenced in recent years by a gambling ring out of Singapore.
Soccer is a tricky sport to fix, in that scoring is so random. If you want to get to a player, try the keeper – there have been a few with a gambling jones over the years.
But the person you really want is the ref, that solitary figure running around in the midst of 22 players.
The prominent clubs in Italy were penalized after the 2006 World Cup for a long pattern of influencing matches. Juve spent a year in Serie B. Officials from the richest clubs were able to request friendly refs for their matches. What did friendly mean? Unclear. But all it takes is one friendly call.
Talk about situational refereeing. When I first started to follow Serie A back in the late ‘80’s, lesser teams would play their hearts out for 70 or 80 minutes against Juventus or AC Milan or Inter Milan, but near the end of the match something would happen. A Juve player would become entangled with an opponent in the penalty area. The two would go down, both writhing. The ref would come a-running, suddenly energized, point to the little disk 12 yards from the goal. Rigore! Penalty kick!
It happened so often that I accepted it as a fact of life in Serie A. I’m looking forward to Wednesday’s match. Officiating in the Caribbean can get pretty situational, too.
Your comments always welcome. GV
2/5/2013 04:50:20 am
George, greetings from Castellammare del golfo. I'm a friend of Pino's and former L'angolo NYC customer. Great piece on calcio. As I tweeted yesterday: "MLB has its problems, but no match-fixing since 1919". By the way, I'm new to tweeter. I'll be tweeting my (others say) wry MLB baseball commentary from my Sicilian terrace. Check me out of you want. Tweeter handle is: Forza Gemelli. In any event, keep out the good work and I'll see you when you are here on the island!!!
2/5/2013 05:35:22 am
Ciao, Gary. I know your name through Pino. Where is L'Angolo now that we need it Wed for a match? I hope to get to Castellamare one of these days. GV
2/6/2013 01:28:41 am
Sure is an interesting exercise...ranking suspicious judging/reffing in order. Here's mine:
2/6/2013 01:07:07 pm
Apparently in soccer it's easier to fix the awarding of the hosting of the World Cup than it is to fix and individual match.
2/7/2013 01:32:50 am
John, I missed the match because this mysterious BeIN could not deliver the match. Otis Livingston on the local CBS last night showed a snippet of that 2-1 goal. You could have driven the cable car through that hole. The US defense has been fading for years. Cherundolo was/is their best. Boca is a great guy, not a straw boss, but still a leader by example and persona. First match in the Hex is no time for experiments. Not impressive, at all. GV
2/7/2013 10:15:48 am
Next two games are v. Costa Rica in Denver and v. Mexico at the Azteca. I can easily see the US ending up with a total of one point...or none. I bet that would provoke some panic, but it's more than possible. If I'm completely honest, part of me would not be unhappy if it went that way because I think US Soccer needs a serious jolt and the realistic possibility of failing to qualify for Brazil, or qualifying in an embarrassing and unconvincing fashion, might provide such a stimulus.
2/6/2013 04:24:43 pm
George: You say “Not that any sport wants situational officiating,” but then, it appears to me, you immediately say that situational officiating WAS called for on that play. But why? Why raise the bar simply because, as you put it, it’s “the last fling downfield?” What does that have to do with anything?
2/7/2013 12:18:45 am
Actually, Gene, Crabtree pretty much admitted the ball was overthrown. He said if he had had a play, he thinks the penalty call would have been made. I think Crabtree is exactly right. So the question, to me, is this: If the purpose of the rules is to prevent unfair interference with plays that could be made, would calling the penalty on a play that very likely couldn't be made at the determinative point of the game be just as wrong and even contrary to the purpose of having rules? Refs call penalties on plays that can't be made earlier in games for a lot of reasons, because of the severity of the infraction, or to ensure the game doesn't get out of control. Indeed, even on that play in question, if Crabtree had been assaulted, I think it would have been called. But the actuality was that both players were pushing and shoving each other, as the TV commentators noted. For me, I think the purpose of having rules was honored on that call. I think Crabtree had it right in not faulting the refs there.
2/7/2013 06:52:27 pm
Thanks for your reply, Brian. Here’s what’s not clear to me: is Crabtree saying that after being held, and thus slowed down, he didn’t have a play? Or is he saying that he wouldn’t have had a play even if he hadn’t been held? If it’s the second, then I’d agree with you. If it’s the first, I wouldn’t agree. When I look at the film and the still pictures, and see how little he missed it by even after being held, it seems clear to me that, had he not been held, and thus not lost the time that was eaten up while he was being held, he would have been able to get in position to catch it or, at the very least, to have a very good shot at catching it.
2/8/2013 02:43:52 am
My reading of Crabtree is the second. He said something like, "if the ball had been thrown lower...." he thought they would have thrown the flag. He also said he was pushed and shoved but in the final analysis had no gripe with the refs. So, he seems to be right in line with your analysis and our bottom line conclusion.
2/7/2013 01:19:11 am
Gene, I think my point is that refs shouldn't over-ref just because the game is on the line. They shouldn't raise their game to see things they wouldn't see earlier, even within the gray area.
2/7/2013 12:37:56 am
It's not just the judges, because the teams themselves and the governing organization factor in too, but pro cycling is the biggest boat race ever.
2/7/2013 01:22:35 am
Cycling is a strange sport, with the code of the peloton often hard to decipher -- like Hamilton chasing down Ulrich to tell him to stop when Lance went off the course. And rivals drafting for each other, just because....GV
2/7/2013 05:38:04 am
Here's a trivia question of distant "relation" to the NFL: Roger Goodell's father was possibly more controversial in a place than Roger is in New Orleans. Can you name his father, or the state in which he was involved? Hint: I just read an ESPN Grantland story about him and remember Roger's father very well.
2/7/2013 09:20:18 am
Is it cheating if I wrote a column about it two years ago?
2/7/2013 02:10:12 pm
Not in the least. I'm sorry I missed your 2010 because until I read this latest I hadn't realized the family connection. I remember the old man well, and the 1970 Senate race, including the NYT endorsement that had made me deliriously happy but didn't make a difference. A friend of mine said Charlie would have made Honest Abe proud. I agree. Ottinger never should have run; a thin reed in comparison.
2/10/2013 04:48:49 am
I agree with George that an interference call on the last play of the game would have been a penalty that did not fit the crime.
2/11/2013 02:22:26 am
Alan, I did not know that about caution for second yellows.
2/10/2013 06:18:30 am
Has anyone ever seen a Metropolitan Collegiate Hockey Conference game around the NYC area? I haven't but I think I might like to go to one next year. Fordham, Hofstra and Columbia are among the members. Enough local connection to warrant NY media coverage (which doesn't exist). No NCAA, no semi-pro "students," no bribed refs, no win-at-all-cost coaches. Sounds kind of pure and fun.
2/11/2013 09:49:35 am
2/11/2013 01:12:36 pm
10/28/2013 07:09:52 pm
Thanks to the blackout, I got to see most of the last quarter, and came to this conclusion
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.