"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." It was ALL at the same time! (Am I now an official writer that I have started a piece out by ripping off Dickens?).
I included a note in my last blog that due to me being a groomsman in Ohio over the weekend, posting blog updates would be difficult. Proved impossible, as I only had one free hour from Friday morning till, well, right now. In a twist (Oliver perhaps?) the wedding was the best of times and the soccer the worst.
The wedding was a blast, I even dusted off some old dance moves (apparently I should have kept them put away?) Celebrities, birdies, smiles, laughs, fun and love- it was the best of times. With my three fantasy World Cup teams and my country losing in the knockout rounds, my World Cup was the worst of times. Here's how it went down:
Worst of Times(10:00AM Friday): A nearly 8 hour drive to the furthest reaches of northeastern Ohio makes me miss the excitement of the last day of group stage. Brazil and Portugal play to the draw to advance, Spain beats up on Chile to advance. Would you rather have the US World Cup or Chile's? Chile looked great for two games, then got pasted by the top 2 teams in the world. US led for two minutes the entire World Cup, but were gritty and gutty enough to keep their head above water. I take USA's.
Best of Times(4:30PM Friday): After driving all day, I arrive just in time for the 4:30 rehearsal and am greeted by an old friend Tim. Haven't seen Tim in 10 years, now he's a doorman at the Hard rock in Vegas. Immediately I hear about the Vegas bachelor party I missed last month. i knew they were going to tell me the story. Long rehearsal followed by a late night trading stories, and trading jokes. Lots of people compliment my blog from last week about watching the game with my son. I spend A LOT of time defending soccer from this football/baseball/basketball crowd. Head hits pillow at 2:30am.
Best of Times(7:00AM Saturday): Alarm goes off and out the door for a 7:30am tee time. I chip in for birdie at five and shoot a middling 43 for our wedding morning classic. The real highlight followed the round. Most of the group had left, and I was carrying my borrowed clubs back to a buddy's car. They say, "that was John Cena" (for those outside the know, he is the current biggest star in pro wrestling and has also made movies) I didn't see him, so I when I returned to find my ride home, I find the remaining guys posing for pictures with this gargantuan man. The guy is massive and lean, he must do P90X. That's John Cena alright, and the groom had a wedding day memory.
Worst of Times(11:00AM Saturday): Now I have my one free hour all weekend, and I head over to pick up some pizza for my mom, wife, son and niece. It is here waiting for my 1/2 plain, 1/2 sausage pie, where I see my 30 minutes of uninterrupted World Cup as Uruguay is battling South Korea. I see South Korea tie, then watch on as Uruguay striker Suarez scores a peach of a goal on a 20 yard curler off the far post. This Suarez guy...wow.. Anyhow, Uruguay moves on, and one of my fantasy teams, South Korea is eliminated. Alright, they were "house money" anyhow as I got them in the fourth round and they were unexpected to advance.
Best of Times and Worst of Times(2:30 PM Saturday): The wedding gets hectic. A flurry of roses and cards and ushering and smiles and prayers and music. During a break I peer down at my phone, like the ESPN Mobile ads taught me to. Ghana 1-USA 0. I spread the word down the line to the other groomsmen. Before the ceremony is over we get the word- 1 to 1. We should find a TV. The bridesmaids not as thrilled with the idea, we head for pictures. On the way we find out the ugly awful truth. 2-1
At the time I am writing this I have reviewed the USA game via DVR. Man what a tough way to go out. I am certain I would have been going nuts on the PK. and the entire match thereafter. This USA team is better than Ghana, but at the same time they are so much worse in spurts.
Clark gives away the ball and now nobody seems keen to defend too aggressively. A shot avoids Howard. Clark should have had it. DeMerritt should have stopped it. Howard should have had it. Ugh an awful goal and early again. The USA gets even on a clear PK, real nice little play by Dempsey. Then the extra time goal for Ghana where the only guy who hustled takes what should have been a harmless half-clear by the Ghana mid-fielder and turns it into a goal. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Oh well. My full USA world Cup post-mortem tomorrow, for now back to the story.
Best of Times (8:00PM Saturday): A killer reception. We get these chocolate covered strawberries. Wow! (The common wedding goers not at the wedding missed out on these, but we didn't). Where do you people learn all these line dances? Are there classes I miss out on? Cupid's something or other. This is the second time i am a t a party and a group of 20+ people know some dance I didn't even know existed.
Before I continue bragging about what a great time we had and the wonderful cigars that capped the night, a word to all the brides who read this blog(a healthy number I am sure). Do NOT embarrass us guys please. She did this dance off for the groomsmen, and I, who by all accounts was a party favorite, totally bombed the contest. What do you expect? I didn't have time to choreograph! So I tried some goofy foot-slide that didn't work, and never got to the split at the finish. I came in last. I deserved it too.
Finally near the end of the night I encounter an old friend who played high school soccer. Finally someone I don't have to convince about the game. We have a nice conversation and he asks why I never played in school. It was a mistake I tell you. We all light some nice cigars and finish a couple of bottles of wine and the night was over. Head hits the pillow at 2:15AM. I met some great people at the wedding and had a fantastic time dancing with my wife.
Best of Times (6:56 AM Sunday): My 16-month old's internal clock does not match my wife and mine's as he awakens way too early for a couple who got home just 4 hours ago. I missed the little bugger yesterday though. We stop at brunch to say good-bye to old friends and new and we are on our way, another all day car trip we take turns sleeping and debate the "hokey pokey vs. the chicken dance" (I say neither, but if I had to choose-chicken dance)
Worst of Times (5PM Sunday): We stop at Chipotle in Florence (the superior of the giant burrito joints IMO). I catch a little bit about the games on my phone. England and Mexico out. There goes my Fantasy World Cup.
Both games featured bad calls that went against "my" teams, bringing the total of goals stolen from me to 4 in this tournament. I have no doubt that Germany and Argentina were the superior teams however, and I think entire blogs can be written about the overratedness of the English side.
Mexico gave the game away. Sets up a thrilling quarterfinal match between Argentina and Germany on side. Ghana and Uruguay meet on the other, and one of these teams will likely be the underdog darling in the semis.
Thus ends my story of my weekend. "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known"—The End.
Look for a more soccer-centric read tomorrow with my thoughts on the knockout round, the officiating, the reasons why USA is out and what to look forward to in the 2014 WC cycle.