Monday, July 16, 2018

Channel Flipping

Talk about genius television programming.

Put the Sylvester Stallone/Michael Caine epic "Victory" against the World Cup third-place game. Which is better? Sly and Michael Caine as Allied POWs who use a soccer game to escape from the Nazis or an actual soccer game that means nothing?

That was Saturday, when the movie was on opposite Belgium's 2-0 win over England in a game that TigerBlog still can't imagine was played in the first place.

He went with the movie instead of the game. Hey, Pele was great in it. 

As for Sunday, well, the TV choice was much tougher. The World Cup final on at the same time as the United States against Canada in the World Lacrosse championships?

What do you think TigerBlog did?

In all seriousness, did nobody at the lacrosse tournament realize that the marquee game of the round-robin stage was being played opposite the second half of the World Cup final? For that matter, he's still not sure why the final is being played at 10 am in Israel, which means 3 am in the Eastern time zone. 

Meanwhile, back at the World Cup, there are very few things in all of sports anywhere in the world like the World Cup final. The intensity of every minute of it is obvious, for the players and their fans. It's like the Super Bowl taken to another level.

TigerBlog's prediction of 2-0 Croatia didn't quite come to pass, though he had the Croatia with two part correct. He just wasn't counting on a 4-2 final, but that's how it turned out, as France outscored Croatia 2-1 in each half to win a second World Cup.

He'd give you more of his take on the game, but hey, he was watching lacrosse for most of the second half of the soccer game. Actually, he did a lot of flipping back and forth, though with way more time spent on lacrosse than soccer.

There are two tournaments within the World Championships. The first one consists of the teams that are playing for the championship or at least to get to the quarterfinals, a group that includes the main group plus teams like the hosts, Israel.

Then other tournament is the one where teams are playing for the experience. Those would be the majority of the 46 countries who are there.

TigerBlog didn't realize that Princeton actually had five players in Israel. He thought it was four - Zach Currier of Canada, Tom Schreiber of the U.S., Alistair Berven of England and Andrew Song of China.

Then, during one of the games on TV, the camera panned throughout the crowd to the other teams, many of whom were watching. And there, in with the Argentina team, was a familiar face, former Tiger captain Austin deButts.

As it turns out, Austin - a 2016 Princeton grad and a shortstick defensive middie - was playing with Argentina. He coached with the team in Denver in 2014, and now he's playing with them in Israel.

In fact, he's having a better summer internationally than Lionel Messi did. Argentina lost its opener to Sweden but then defeated Hungary and the Czech Republic, and deButts has scored four goals, including three yesterday against the Czechs in a 12-8 win.

TigerBlog watched that game on ESPN+ on his computer, by the way, while he flipped between the soccer and US-Canada games. The stick skills aren't quite there in the lower division games, but the effort certainly is.

Andrew Song, a rising sophomore longstick midfielder who has exceptional stick skills, had his first goal for China in Israel, as well as six ground balls, in a 13-12 loss to Turkey earlier yesterday.

The United States defeated Canada 11-10 in the first meeting between the two in what was a great, and very physical, game. They're almost surely headed to a rematch in the finals, and if you remember back to four years ago, the U.S. won the round robin game and then lost to Canada in the championship game.

Currier, by the way, did a lot of everything for Canada, including a big goal in transition and a lot of relentlessness everywhere on the field. Currier did as much as anyone to contribute to the intensity and physicality of the game.

Paul Carcaterra on the ESPN2 broadcast mentioned how it still bothers him that Currier wasn't first-team All-America in 2017; if Carcaterra thinks he's annoyed by that, he ought to ask TB how he feels.

Flipping back to soccer for a second, that game was actually outscoring the lacrosse game for awhile.

You have to give Croatia a lot of credit for not folding when France got up big, but the hole was just too deep. TB made sure he watched the last few minutes of soccer, which was during the second quarter of the lacrosse game.

The French seemed happy, though Croatia had an extraordinary run.

And with that, the World Cup is over.

TigerBlog loved the World Cup, even if he didn't watch much of the second half of the final. He'll miss having a bunch of games on every day during the group stage and then the drama of the knockout round.

He's also very glad that the final didn't come down to PKs.

In the meantime there is still most of a week left of the lacrosse tournament. TB will be surprised if it's not a Currier vs. Schreiber rematch in the final.

In fact, the U.S.-Canada has been the final each of the last five times, and it'll probably stay that way for awhile.

TigerBlog still thinks he'll be watching it live.

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