How Not To Be Pope

Look, I’m all for this humility stuff that the new Pope is pushing, but he’s got it all wrong about what it means to be Pope.

Argentina is playing for the World Cup championship, and where is Mr. Argentina?

We’re not sure if he was sitting around with a bunch of his Cardinal friends, or hanging with some old nuns, watching the Argentina-Germany game at some sports bar near the Trevi Fountain. Or if he was at what has somehow become known as a “watch party” at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, watching on a huge TV propped up against St. Peter’s. Leading cheers:  “Give me an A…give me an R…”

Or maybe he let the nuns lead the cheers.

But you have to take advantage of being the world’s No. 1 holy man. Jump into Vatican 1 and fly down to Rio for the game. You’re the Pope. Just make a call and tell some ticket guy to leave a couple in your name. Use the other ticket for one of the old nuns, paint her face blue and white, have some fun.

But, no, you’re worried about the poor people.

That’s why I should have been elected Pope. I would have known how to play the role.

Be Quiet Pinocchio

Yes, we are mourning the death of Dickie Jones, the former child actor who was the voice of Pinocchio in the Disney cartoon of 1940.

Does that mean that the little wooden boy is dead, too? Or just that he has to switch to sign language. (Anyone have the phone number of that guy in South Africa?)

Jiminy Cricket’s been dead for awhile, and we can presume that old Geppetto is gone, too, so cross that family off the books.

At least a fake Pinocchio lives on in Geico commercials.

Mr. Jones was 87 when he died last week. We’re not sure what kind of life he led, but it’s been reported that his nose measured 8 1/2 inches at the time of his death.

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OK, we should be back on the regular weekly schedule for awhile.  I’ll come back with a World Cup wrap later this week.  Hope you read a day or two of the daily stuff from Brazil, South Philly.  I’ve already forgotten who won, but it wasn’t URUGUAY…..

WORLD CUP, some more

BRAZIL, SOUTH PHILLY – I don’t know if this stuff will ever end…

Oh, yeah, it will end on Sunday when Argentina beats Germany. OK…

**Too bad about all those crying Brazilians, but did you really think you guys could beat Germany?  Did you pay any attention at all over the last few years? You didn’t notice that your boys, as a team, suck…

I thought Brazil was the fourth best South American team coming into the tournament, behind, in order, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. I thought, player-for-player, Germany was the best team in the field (but wouldn’t win, and won’t).

But that performance against the Big Germans was hilarious, not horrific, horrendous, horrible or any other “h” word you can use. I was watching the game at a pub so I couldn’t hear the play-by-play call, and when those goals came fast and furious in the first half, I thought they were showing replays…German players standing in front of the goal, Brazilian players standing there, looking at them, the same scene, over and over.

Groundhog Game.

But, hey, citizens of Brazil, look at all the great new stadiums you have. Just think how high those weeds are gong to grow around them.

Yeah, really looking forward to that third-place game against Holland.

**Germany has taken its best shot, now it’s Argentina’s turn.

I was in the press section in the stands for the 1990 World Cup final in the Olympic Stadium in Rome, West Germany 1-0 over Argentina, the goal a penalty kick after the 80th minute. Andreas Bremmer took it, not Jurgen Klinsmann. Argentina finished with nine men after two red cards, one, I think, to Diego Maradona. Considered one of the worst World Cup finals EVER.

Hopefully, this one will be more like the 1986 final in Mexico, Argentina 3-2 over West Germany. The Argentines held a 2-0 lead, Germany tied the score late in regulation, Jorge Burrochaga scored the winning goal even later in the 90 minutes.

And I’ll be back with a “complete” wrap after the final.

 

 

WORLD CUP, cont.

BRAZIL, SOUTH PHILLY — So here we are, heading into to the semifinals, Brazil vs. Germany, Argentina vs. Holland.

Do I take any comfort from the fact that I predicted three of those four (Argentina, Brazil Germany)? No, because everybody in the world had those three. I’m missing my fourth, which was also my choice to win it all, Uruguay.

No teeth in that selection, huh?

Anyway, I said the World Cup champ would come from the Argentina-Belgium quarterfinal, and I’m sticking with that, Argentina to win, over Germany (the Big one).

Germany and Holland can’t win because they never do (West Germany did, Germany has not), Brazil can’t win because the home team rarely does (four times since 1950).

And have you noticed how all the scoring ended as we hit the quarterfinals? Better than 2.7 goals per game through the first and second rounds, down to 5 goals in 4 games in the quarters.

Some quick thoughts:::

**Biggest busts of the tournament: a tie between those Chelsea teammates Eden Hazard and Oscar. Hazard wasn’t that for anybody. Whenever he was substituted for late in games, it was the first I realized he had been in there at all. Same with Oscar, which he won’t receive for his performance.

**Superstars will be superstars: Everyone not named Eden Hazard or Oscar.

**Where were all the protesters? Watching the Brazil games. Let’s see what happens after Tuesday. Or maybe they’re saving up for the Olympic Games in Rio in two years.

**Somebody always comes through to make a great showing on the biggest stage, and this time it was Costa Rica, never backing down from the biggest boys (England, Italy and Uruguay in Round 1, Greece in Round 2, Holland in Round 3). Made us all proud to be CONCACAFers. Better than the little germans.

OK, one last World Cup thing (mid-week after the semifinals), then back to the regular Thoughts next week.

WORLD CUP, WHATEVER #

BRAZIL, SOUTH PHILLY – Yeah, I missed a few days, but that every day stuff was too much work.  So let’s catch up as we head into the quarterfinals …..

**USA, USA, USA … Yes, Tim Howard was great, single-handedly keeping the little germans in the game against Belgium with his 16 saves. Realistically, it could have been 10-1 for the Waffles.

So the U.S. goes home with a 1-2-1 record after being outplayed miserably in all but one game, the 2-2 tie with Portugal. They weren’t good enough. They backed-in to the second round. The definition of “backing-in” is to advance while losing, because another team lost. The 1-0 loss to Germany along with Ghana’s 2-1 loss to Portugal saved the U.S.’ World Cup.

And it turned out that the little germans, those German-born American “citizens,” made the key plays for their new homeland. I never said they weren’t good players, just that they didn’t belong on the team; they made up 25% of the field roster (non-goalkeepers). And I’ll stand by that.

So see you all in four years, when you can renew your interest in soccer.

**Here’s the bracket breakdown from the quarterfinals on: Brazil-Columbia/France-Germany on one side, Argentina-Belgium/Costa Rica-Holland on the other. And with Uruguay out, I have to rearrange my winning pick…..

Watch the Argentina-Belgium game. The winner of the World Cup comes from there.

OK, I’m coming back with my regular Monday edition, still on the World Cup. I promise to have more to say.  **HAPPY 4TH**

WORLD CUP 13, 14

Just catching up….

**So how was lunch anyway?

Goddamn media, especially those British guys, got Luis Suarez in trouble again by photo shopping him biting that Italian player. Got him kicked out of the World Cup, and suspended for four months.

Look, URUGUAY’s in the second round, so I’m satisfied.

As for Luis’ punishment, way too soft. Needed at least 10 international games, and not just friendlies, but the real stuff, and six months off the field. This was strike three, and it was the World Cup, not a Capital One Cup game between Liverpool and Leicester City.

Goddamn press.

**Boy, I’d love to say a word or two about the 76ers draft, but this is time for Frank to Think about the World Cup. I’ll catch up to Hinky-Dink and the gang in awhile. Tickets, anyone?

**USA marches on after sitting back and not trying to score against Germany today. BIG GERMANY over little germany. Of the five German citizens on the U.S. roster, only two play much. So the reason the others are there is …???

**OK, second round winners will be (in order of the schedule of games): Brazil, URUGUAY (without teeth), Holland, Costa Rica, France, Germany (Big), Argentina, Belgium (over the little germans).

And we’ll take a break from this World Cup stuff until after the second round. Tough trying to be funny every day with this material, but we;’ll be back with a special edition on Sunday.

 

WORLD CUP, 12

BRAZIL, SOUTH PHILLY – URUGUAY …..

You get it, right?  Now we’ll have to win the whole thing without our No. 1 because of …

THE ITALIAN HOAGIE

Our boy Luis Suarez did it for the third time in his professional career, bit a guy on the other team. This time it was Giorgio Chiellini, on the shoulder.

It was the World Cup, everybody in the world was watching, but the referees missed it.

So we’ll have to do this without the Player of the Year in England’s Premier League, who scored 33 goals in 31 games last season. He missed eight games while serving a 10-game suspension for biting another guy the season before. They just get tastier and tastier.

He makes enough money to buy lunch for entire stadiums, so there’s some question about the menu he orders from.

He should be suspended for the remainder of the World Cup, and then get at least a 20-game suspension from the Premier League. But this is the FIFA World Cup, so who knows what will happen. Wonder if the hoagie had Swiss Cheese or provolone?

So does he blame the British press for harassment again, or does he blame the world’s press?

Let’s talk about this after lunch.

AND FURTHERMORE…

**Greece slid into the second round, then had gyros in the lockerroom after the game.

**Colombia also advanced, but I don’t know what’s a good Colombian dish.

**Japan and the Ivory Coast are gone, so I guess we blame it on bad sushi, and eels, or whatever is a delicacy in Ivory.

**And Italy and England will sail home. We know about the Italian menu, England obviously fell victim to some bad steak and kidney pie. Yeah, I know you were expecting fish and chips.

WORLD CUP, 11

BRAZIL, SOUTH PHILLY – Brazil and Mexico, Holland and Chile.

That’s two teams on my pool advancing, two strangers.

And I guess you know about Bosnia-Herzegovina already being eliminated. But that’s OK,  we;’re still going to kick off that 100th anniversary of WWI in Sarajevo this coming Saturday, June 28.  Maybe Frank will Think up something special just for that day.

And if you want to know which of my picks are heading home from these first two groups, it’s Croatia and Spain.

Bosnia, Croatia, yeah, I went heavy for those former Yugoslavs.

**Jurgen the German Klinsmann is complaining about Germany having an extra day of rest before the U.S.-Germany game.

As long as I’ve covered World Cups, since 1990, the schedules have always favored Germany and Brazil, from usually weaker first-round groups (how can that be, honest FIFA?) through favorable travel and playing conditions.

I don’t remember Jurgen the German complaining when he was Germany’s head coach.

**Big game tomorrow (Tuesday), URUGUAY vs. Italy. The URUGS win, I’m still alive in my pool.

The important thing in the pool is to get the semifinals right.  My last four are still alive: BIG U, Argentina, Germany and Brazil.  URUGUAY wins tomorrow, I’ll feel real good, even without my B/H-ers.

See ya in Sarajevo …..

 

WORLD CUP 8, 9, 10

BRAZIL, SOUTH PHILLY – Yeah, OK, I missed a few days.  Big deal.  Let’s catch up…..

**USA has just lost a 2-2 tie with Portugal.  Outplayed Portugal as badly as they had been outplayed by Ghana in their first game of the World Cup. Now the little germans that Jurgen Klinsmann loves so much, have to play the BIG GERMANS whom he used to coach, on Thursday.  USA has to win, can’t depend on a tie being good enough (I’m not getting into all the whys).  I said three-and-out at the start, and it will be.  Good try, though.  Clint Dempsey has especially looked like a star equal to all the other World Cup stars.

**Monday, Holland vs. Chile to see who advances as No. 1 from its group.  The Dutch are a big surprise, I had them out in the first round.  Chile was a darkhorse. Loser of this game probably gets Brazil, unless the home country loses to Cameroon, and then the World Cup really gets interesting.

**The big game on Tuesday, URUGUAY vs. Italy, winner moves on, loser heads home.  You all know who I expect to win this one, right?  Luis Suarez owned England, just like he owned the Premier League last season.  Way back in January, I said the surest bet in this World Cup was England losing three games and going home right away.  All they need is a loss to Costa Rica and it’s done.  Book it.

**France is up on Wednesday and has looked like Argentina, while Argentina has looked like Italy.  Karim Benzema, like Clint Dempsey, has stepped out of others’ shadows to show he belongs.  For me, probably the best player in the tournament so far.  Argentina has been dull, but Lionel Messi, as might have been expected, has saved his team.

**Other than  the USA group, the only one where all four teams are realistically still alive, the Thursday games will feature Belgium once again.  Maybe the most loaded team in the tournament, Belgium will explode all over somebody soon.

**The level of play remains far above what you usually get at a World Cup.  94 goals in 32 games so far.  I believe it’s because this tournament is in South America, and everybody is playing South American style, wide-open and goal-scoring.  Of course it could slow way down in later rounds, the knockout stages, but, with Spain out and maybe Italy, you’ll lose two of the kings of the 1-0 / 0-0-shootout games.  Keep those South and Central Americans flying.

AND FURTHERMORE …

**Refereeing remains a problem. Nice gesture to be “inclusive” and let every continent be represented, but they’re not good enough.  Give me nothing but Europeans, who work tough league games every week, and then get the call for Champions or Europa League games a half-dozen or more times a season.  Yeah, they’ll make mistakes, but players recognize and respect pedigree.  Howard Webb from England or the guy from Japan that the Croatian players complained couldn’t speak English?  The guy from the Bundesliga or the guy from the  Mongoliasliga?

WORLD CUP, 7

BRAZIL, SOUTH PHILLY – The first Day of Decision has run through the World Cup like a tornado through Indiana.

SPAIN — OUT!!!!!

So much for defending champs.  The good news is that it will have no effect on the pool I’m in since EVERYBODY had the Spainies going through.  Now nobody does.

Australia — OUT, but after a tremendous game with Holland.

On to Round 2: Holland and Chile.

(Cameroon is out now, too, but who cares.)

This has been, by far, the most exciting World Cup I can remember.  It’s the one you always expect, but all that scoring in all the European leagues is finally paying off in World Cup goals.  It’s got to be that South American air or heat or dance beat, I don’t know.

And the games have been played at Stanley Cup pace.  Everything is fast.  There’s no slowing down.  Score a goal, go after another.  Make a save, get the ball downfield.

And we’re still just in the second round of first-round games.

Tomorrow, URUGUAY should have Luis Suarez back, and my team will begin its World Cup win by knocking out the English.

AND FURTHERMORE …

**One of the best scenes was the two Cameroon guys arguing on the field while Croatia had its 4-0 lead.  One head-butted the other.  My kind of team…Really…

**Iker Casillas is washed up.  Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque blindly keeps Real Madrid’s backup goalie on the field.  Great loyalty, poor results.  Sounds like David Montgomey (Phillies followers will get that)…

**Brazil may score over 10 goals when it plays Cameroon.  Iran and Nigeria may combine for 1 goal against Cameroon.

**Made my first visit of the World Cup, watching the Holland-Australia game at the City Tap Room on the Penn campus.  Penn Campus, kids from around the world, lunch time, World Cup … and NO ONE WAS THERE.  Studying? …