Wednesday, July 9, 2014


If you watched the Germany-Brazil World Cup semifinal game yesterday, you were probably expecting a tight, dramatic, one-goal-either-way struggle.

What you got was perhaps the most shocking sporting event played on a stage that big. Not shocking like a major upset, Miracle on Ice style.

No, shocking as in a total blowout of epic, never-to-be-seen-again proportions. It's impossible to fathom a World Cup semifinal game could be so one-sided, and yet there it was. Germany 7, Brazil 1.

It was shocking, and the world noticed. A record 35.7 million tweets about the game were sent, the most ever for any single sporting event. 

Soccer games aren't supposed to end up 7-1. Certainly World Cup games aren't.

Hey, NCAA men's soccer championship games aren't even blowouts like that. The last 12 NCAA finals have all been one-goal games (or tie games that were decided by penalty kicks), and the largest margin of victory in the 55-year history of the event is three goals, something that has happened three times.

So why would anyone expect the World Cup to have a semifinal game with a margin of victory twice that?

And why would anyone think it would be Brazil who would be on the humiliating end of the score, on its home field? It made no sense.

Certainly TigerBlog didn't get it. As he watched the carnage unfold in the first 29 minutes, when Germany scored five times. Five times? How does that happen in the World Cup?

And it's not just that Germany scored five goals in less than 30 minutes, including four of them in six minutes. It's how effortless it was. It was like the Germans were doing a warmup skeleton drill with no defense on the field.

That's how the ESPN announcers saw it. While play-by-play man Ian Darke (he's the best, by the way; TB would love to see him do NFL football) was trying to be polite about it, color man Steve McManaman cut right to the chase, using words like "amateur hour" and "embarrassing."

McManaman's best comment came when Brazilian sub Willian went into the game with the score 6-0 Germany, when the former English national team player said: "He looks thrilled to be going in. What did they tell him? 'Willian, it's 6-0, go score seven?'"

The most stunning part was that this was Brazil at home in the World Cup semifinals. TigerBlog has seen blowouts before; he just can't remember one of this magnitude at this significant an event with a team that might actually have been the favorite the one that got blown out. Yes, Brazil was missing Neymar, its best player.

But 7-1? Wow.

The average blowout gets out of control early. Perhaps the team getting blown out makes a little noise, but then another spurt puts the game way out of reach.

After that comes lots of garbage time. The team losing plays with a sense of frustration. The team winning has everything going its way. The refs just hope nobody does anything dumb.

Most times, a blowout falls under one of three circumstances - a total mismatch of talent, a nearly perfect performance by the winning team or a losing team that barely shows up. TB would put the Germany-Brazil game more on the last one than the second one.

When he thinks about Princeton and blowouts, most would fall into the first category. And usually they're easy to anticipate.

As for the ones that weren't necessarily obvious beforehand, TB was trying to think during the game yesterday as to which the most unexpected ones he's seen at Princeton were, on both ends of the coin. Luckily, by the way, he's seen way more blowout wins than losses.

Anyway, he came up with two.

First, on the losing end, he'll go with the last game of the 1999 men's basketball regular season. Princeton (11-2) trailed Penn (12-1) by a game when the teams met at Jadwin Gym, and in fact Penn's only loss in the league to that point was the 50-49 Princeton win at the Palestra after the Tigers had trailed 40-13 with 15 minutes left.

TB thought this game would be close, but he also figured on a Princeton win and a playoff for the NCAA tournament bid. Instead, Penn turned a three-point halftime lead into a 25-point win, 73-48.

It worked out okay for Princeton, though. That was the year the Tigers knocked off Georgetown (five guys played the whole game) and North Carolina State in the NIT before falling in the quarterfinals to Xavier.

As for a win? How about the 1997 NCAA men's lacrosse final?

Princeton had won three NCAA titles before that, and all three had come in overtime. This time, Princeton was unbeaten and the top seed, and the Tigers were playing Maryland, the No. 7 seed, who had beaten No. 2 UVa in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Syracuse 18-17 in the semifinal.

Princeton and Maryland were scoreless after seven minutes. It was 8-0 Princeton at the end of the first quarter.

That was somewhat stunning. It was eight perfect minutes for the Tigers, and it came in the NCAA final.

By the end it was 19-7, and Princeton spent the last five minutes passing the ball around rather than shooting. And again, this was the NCAA final.

Anyway, like he said, TigerBlog has seen plenty of blowouts involving Princeton teams, and he's seen the Tigers on both sides of them.

What has he concluded?

It's way better to be on the winning end than the losing end.

Just ask Brazil and Germany.

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