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Yeah, I jumped, so what? I liked it

June 25, 2002|by AL DITZEL

Years ago, when I used to read Mike Lupica's column on a daily basis, he wrote one of the funniest things.

It was in the middle of the New Jersey Devils' first run to playoffs back in the 1980s and Lupica, as only he can, wrote with great resolve, "OK, I'm gonna come right out and say it. I'm thinking of going to a Devils game."

In that particular day's mix of Lupica-isms, that line was the best.

Those words ran through my head last week, when I realized I was going to watch the U.S. World Cup game. Apparently, some of you had that thought, too, on Friday as the U.S.-Germany game was the ESPN's biggest soccer rating event ever.

I have to admit, it was fun watching and even more fun going over what I had watched with others here on the sports staff. Maybe it's because two of our staff are complete maniacs when it comes to World Cup soccer, and I just wanted to be part of the mix.

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Yeah, that's the ticket. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

It was only for that reason did I somehow get up at 7:30 a.m. (usually, that's when I get my best sleep) and watch this U.S.-Germany thing.

It was only that reason that I yelled, "Yes!" when I thought the U.S. had scored.

It was only that reason that I felt disappointment and anger when Germany scored on a header. (By the way, did any of you notice that player from Germany gaining extra height by pushing a U.S. player?)

It was only that reason that I felt more anger when a handball was not called against Germany (I don't care what the rule is) and the tying goal did not happen. And didn't that ball cross the goalline anyway?

It was only that reason that I felt relief when another Germany header found the post.

It was only that reason that I began to count the clock and remember what the U.S. had done in the game before that I didn't give up.

And, it was only that reason that, when the game ended, I felt a little empty and disappointed.

I'll admit, that before the U.S.'s first game in the second round, I had probably watched only about 20 minutes of soccer in my life, not counting highlights that sometimes make it to the sports news shows.

That first game of the second round, I watched all 90-plus minutes of action. Maybe I knew this before, but soccer games don't really take 90 minutes. They take longer because time, not timed by those watching, is added to the clock in some dead ball situations (I needed to ask one of our soccer enthusiasts to confirm that issue).

I had been up already for that game because it started at 2:30 a.m. and I'm never asleep at that time. But, instead of tuning into some late night talk show or reruns of some of my favorite sitcoms (Chrissy Snow still cracks me up), I watched soccer.

Now, will I watch other soccer?

I doubt it, unless it's World Cup. The professional game being played outdoors and indoors nowadays does little for me. I don't know what World Cup players compete in those leagues and honestly, I don't care.

But, for a couple of days last week, I was a soccer junkie, even if it was only to be part of the "in" crowd.

Al Ditzel is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at alfredd@herald-mail.com or 301-733-5131 ext. 7520.

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