An Ode To Golf Season: How The U.S. Women's National Team Ruined Summer

Fair warning: I do all of my blogging from my desk. This one's coming from my couch. I'm not sure what that means, either.

It's been about an hour now since the Brazilian women staged one of the most pathetic collapses in sports history (don't worry, 2004 New York Yankees, you're still in the lead by a commanding margin). I have, in the time between, high-fived some strangers on Twitter, engaged in a harmless conversation with a Brasil (native spelling for the natives) fan who was - perhaps remarkably - gracious in defeat, made and consumed a tuna sandwich, thought about having a pomegranate Chobani and decided against it, watched the postgame coverage on ESPN (something I never do, unless it involves LeBron James crying) and, out of options when the coverage ended, switched over to the Red Sox game. 

Apparently, while our beloved ladies were putting on a show in Germany, the Red Sox and Orioles were engaged in a battle of "let's see who can break the will of the rookie starter first" (Boston won, by the way). I know this because I use and sometimes abuse Twitter, which made the game seem fairly exciting. Except that they weren't engaged in anything exciting at all. 

Don't get me wrong - I love baseball. And I love the Red Sox. I'm unabashed in that, despite the fact that I date a Yankee fan (and yes, it's Yankee fan, no "s"). 

I turned over to the Sox for a couple reasons: one, I'm paid to write about them and two, a good friend was spending her last day as NESN stagehand before moving to Florida to chase her dream of being an on-air personality. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather be outside enjoying the weather and sipping eighteen Sam Summers (there's your beer plug, devoted readers) when there's day baseball being played

But what I realized while watching pitch after tedious pitch get thrown was this: while there may be nothing quite like an untarnished baseball diamond, the game that's played upon it delivers nothing when compared to its ball-or-puck-and-net brethren. 

What the U.S. women did today, much like what the Bruins did nearly a month ago, can't be quantified by ERA, isn't affected by WAR (or GVT) and, most notably, leaves a much more lasting impression than a grand slam or no-hitter (no offense, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, D-Lowe or Hideo Nomo) usually do. 

They're all team sports, to be sure, but the "team" part is way more evident on a soccer pitch or hockey rink. Baseball is littered with one-on-one battles; pitcher-versus-hitter, pitcher-versus-catcher, pitcher-and-catcher-versus-umpire, pitcher-versus-statistics, hitter-versus-statistics, whatever. 

With the glaring exception of Phil Kessel's impotence against the Bruins in the games following his trade to Toronto, you don't hear about that kind of stuff in hockey. And you certainly don't hear about that kind of stuff in soccer - Hope Solo shutting out the Brazilians for four-and-a-half-plus games notwithstanding. 

About this time, the Red Sox and Orioles have traded hit batsmen a couple times, with pitchers and managers getting ejected at a record pace - and while I have to feel for Kyle Weiland, who was starting his first career major league game and was unjustly given the hook, it's only too easy to look at a hockey game and be grateful that that type of nonsense doesn't often occur. 

Hockey, it's often said, polices itself; it's one of the main arguments remaining for keeping fighting in the game. Soccer, unfortunately, is at the opposite end of the spectrum - "The Beautiful Game" it may be, but when the pitch is so often littered with jerseys strewn about for hardly any reason, it's tough to give it full credit. 

Not that we'd want to see Abby Wambach fighting Marta, anyway - well, okay, maybe a little.

Maybe a lot. 

Maybe it's the sample size - to win a World Cup, you play six (or seven, in the men's case) games. To win a Stanley Cup, you play at least 98 and no more than 110. A baseball regular season alone is 162 games.

Maybe it's the nature of the competition - apart from acknowledging that the MLS exists, I do fairly little to champion its growth, which is to say that the only soccer I watch with any attachment is the international kind, despite FIFA's best attempts to ruin it. This level of passion (one that drove me, while on vacation in Hawai'i last summer, to wake up at 3 AM just to watch soccer matches) is sometimes matched in hockey, especially in the playoffs where fans get two straight weeks to learn to hate members of the opposing team, city and in some cases, country.

(Credit Twitter for making those last two things much easier to do).

But it isn't matched in baseball. Not in Los Angeles and San Diego, not in Cincinnati and St. Louis and not even in New York and Boston, as much as ESPN might have you believe that it is. In a baseball game, even the most involved players will often spend as much as 70% of the game observing - watching their team bat, watching somebody else make a play, watching as the Philadelphia Police taser anyone and everyone at will. 

It's the nature of the game. In hockey, everyone goes full-tilt at all times. Well, except for Roberto Luongo and Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler's pride. In soccer, everyone on the pitch goes full-tilt for 90 minutes and sometimes more without rest - without rest. In baseball, 70% of the time it's watching others do things and even then, when you're doing something, it's usually only for five or six seconds at a time. Which, to be fair, is about as long as an average Tomas Kaberle shift. 

I say all that to say this - I was planning on being at Ristuccia this morning for the Bruins prospect scrimmages. In the interest of these particular pages, I'm sure that would have been the more appropriate decision. In the interest of needing more content to write about, and moreover in the interest of national pride (but mostly in the interest of not having a car and the train schedules being uncooperative), I stayed home and watched one of the greatest games - in any sport - that I've ever had the pleasure of watching, and I'm thrilled to have made the decision that I did.

That game, in truth, reminded me of so many times in the past ten months when the Bruins weren't supposed to come back, but did anyway. 

Philadelphia in January. Montreal in mid-February. Vancouver later that month. Countless games against Pittsburgh. The Montreal series. Game Two against Philly. Game Two against Tampa. Game Seven against Tampa. And, although they never trailed in a game that they won in the series, the entire Stanley Cup Final. 

When I asked Zane Gothberg on Thursday how it felt to be playing hockey when it was 90 degrees out, he said he loved it, but  wouldn't have minded playing golf. 

We got lucky. For us, golf season only lasts about two months this summer. But after watching that Beautiful comeback in The Beautiful Game, it already feels like it's been too long a wait. 

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