one day to go

Let’s talk television. ESPN2 is featuring the World Cup all day long and well into the night. I can’t overstate the startling level of commitment ESPN is showing. It’s all about money, of course, and ESPN has decided America’s ready for this. Whatever the reason, the fact that I can turn on ESPN2 at any time today and see soccer coverage is amazing, even if the coverage has its ups and downs.

What will I watch once the matches begin? In the past, it was easy: I watched the Spanish-language channel. In 2006, something changed … hi-def. The English-language channel had it, the Spanish-language channel didn’t. So I set up a hybrid, using two DVRs and pause buttons to sync Spanish sound on one DVR to the HD picture on the other. In 2010, Univision has HD, too, but ESPN has Martin Tyler. So, if I had to guess, I’d say I’ll watch Univision for Mexico matches, Martin Tyler when he’s not doing Mexico, Univision for the “Spanish language teams” (Spain and South America except Brazil) but if Tyler does Spain I’d probably watch him. And then I’ll play it by ear, or by eye … if one of the networks has a better picture, that will matter.

Who am I rooting for? The U.S. over all, obviously. Spain second. Mexico third. And then I root for beautiful soccer, which might include Chile, Argentina, and the Netherlands.

Who do I think will win? I think the final will be Spain and Brazil, my head says Brazil will triumph, my heart says it’s finally Spain’s turn. As of this moment, my fantasy bracket has Brazil meeting England in the semis, Spain meeting Argentina. England may have more problems in the second round than in the quarters … in round two they’ll probably face Serbia or Germany, in the quarters probably France. The USA? Second in their group, then a loss to Germany in the second round, after which they’ll go home, proud but also disappointed. If I had to pick a surprise team, maybe I’d go with South Korea, who could finish second in their group and then meet a less-than-stellar France in the second round, where a win would not be impossible.

If you’re thinking of betting on the winner, the safest bet would be to find the best odds you can get for Spain or Brazil and take the bet … somewhere out there you could probably get 9/2 on Brazil. Long shot lovers might go for Italy, esp. if you can get 16-1. I don’t think they’ll win, but those odds are too high for the defending champs. A more realistic long shot would be Holland at 9-1. England’s odds will be too low, but Germany at 14-1 would be an interesting choice, as well. Me, I’m glad I’m not a betting man, because everything I said in this paragraph is probably a pile of crap.

My plan for this blog is to have a preview and post-mortem for each day’s matches, along with anything else that interests me. My readership so far is up quite a bit from 2006, although that means little, since I only got 5 or 6 hits per post back then. Cross-posting to Facebook seems to help a bit, but I’m still only getting 15 or so. Basically, this is for me, although if I imagine an audience, I’ll think of Charlie, who is so appreciative of what I do here, and Richard, a non-fan who I picture lurking in the background, trying to be convinced.