Thursday, June 25, 2009

What a Sports Nut, Huh?

So, last night was the third game in the College World Series. Texas (the University I attended) was in the game against LSU. I had been following the run they were making, mostly thanks to my Pa, who was updating me about their progress. I´m not really a huge baseball fan, and in fact never attended a game in five years as a student. However, I think being so far away made this game and this possible championship take on an air of importance that quite surprised me.

After dinner last night, I ran around the streets of Loja, searching for an internet place that was open, fiending like a wino or a crackhead for another swig, another hit. My search proved fruitless, and I went to bed with sports on the brain. Each time I woke up in the night, I would think of the game, which had surely ended, and send hopes out into the darkness that the good guys had pulled it out.

This morning at about 7:15, I was unable to get back to sleep. I began thinking about why I was so consumed by the outcome of this game, so distant, and yet so magnetic. I began to think about the last few months, and the sporting events that I´d been involved with in one way or another. I came up with a list of the nicest sports moments so far of my time in Ecuador, and I thought I´d share. By the way, the Longhorns lost 11-4. I´m okay with that now. I can relax.

Top 8, from the bottom.

8. Orlando Magic sweep the LA Lakers to win NBA Championship. This didn´t really happen, which is why it drops to eighth position. If it really had happened, rest assured it would be higher on the list. I don´t like the Lakers. Sorry, Billy and Jack Nicholson.
7. Damion James stays for his senior season. Damion James plays forward for the UT basketball team. Since he arrived, I have like him as a player. He is very intense and powerful. Maybe in another year he´ll have harnessed that energy and become a little more smooth and skilled. I sort of expected this, so it wasn´t huge news.
6. US fútbol topples number 1 Spain. I really don´t care much for the US fútbol squad, never have. I´ve always, until recently, supported Mexico. However, I really dislike the Spanish team, and I don´t mind rooting for the good old USA against them. Huge win.
5. Texas takes LSU to a third game in the CWS. Although we weren´t able to close the deal, I think coming up 7 runs short of a seventh national championship is a pretty nice accomplishment. This is compounded by the fact that the season began shrouded in controversy with Augie Garrido´s DWI arrest before the start of the year.
4. Ecuador ties Brazil in Conmebol qualifiers. This would be higher, but for the number of chances Ecuador had versus those of Brazil. I think the final tally was like 11 shots to 2, 70-30% possession, both in favor of El Tri. In the end, Brazil took advantage of their scant chances with their storied precision, but we still came away with a big tie.
3. Deportiva Cuenca beats Boca Juniors. I was in Cuenca for this game, and found a coffee shop and bar to watch at. Unfortunately, my friends Dario and Ji didn´t make it out, but we just met Cuencans who were more than willing to share space with a gringo fan of Dep Cuenca. I loved the faces of the Boca fans walking all around town. Final tally, 2-0.
2. Comuna Rhiannon comes out of nowhere to challenge Malchingui Camioneta Coop. The farm on which I lived for a month was full of a mix of people. We were estadounidenses, British, Australian, Belgian, Colombian, Mexican, Austrian, and others...One thing we weren´t was a group of well oiled fútbol machines, which showed in the first match between these two powerhouses, which ended up somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-5. The second match, played on grass in Malchingui´s concrete stadium (capacity 5,000), was much closer, much to the surprise of all those in attendance, which, though it sometimes felt like it, wasn´t near capacity. After taking a lead early in the second half at 4-3 on the goals of the Mexican Pancho, Rhiannon lost a bit of steam along with the momentum, and allowed three more second half notches, unanswered. Final score, 6-4. Followed by choclo, beans, and beers with both teams at a local comedor. Really unbelievable experience, and fantastic sports moment.
1. Argentina offered clinic in Atahualpa by Ecuador. This was by far the best sporting experience of my time here, maybe of the last few years. Top five ever. Argentina comes in, feared, ominous, precise, heavily favored. Beautiful weather. Beers and falafel beforehand. Photos, interviews, chanting, etc...really a perfect atmosphere. Entering the stadium there is an electrical charge captivating the beings present. First half is slow, not many chances. Ecuador´s keeper makes a save on a PK, along with some other really clutch saves across the entire match. Second half, the rains came. This didn´t slow anyone, especially not the Ecuador selección. Pulled away with an amazing goal followed by a dinker that put the good guys up 2-0, which was too deep a hole for the Argentines to climb out of. The crowd ends the game with the chant, "Y llora, llora, llora Maradona." Beautiful.

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