I’ve watched a lot of ESPN over the past two weeks and I’ve come away with some insights; first and foremost, as shocking as it is, Alexi Lalas isn’t that bad. Yes, he’s American and tries to work MLS organically into any conversation, yes he’s a pretentious ginger, yes he formed a rock band called the Gypsies and produced the “hit” single titled “Kicking Balls” for the movie “The Big Green”, but compared to anything else the U.S. has to offer…I’ll take it.
When the Euro kicked off roughly two weeks ago and I found myself sitting on the couch tuning into the pre-match analysis for the Greece-Poland match. I moaned and grumbled at the thought of putting up with Lalas for a whole 16 days; that was before I saw what else ESPN had to offer. Before I get into the plethora of analysts ESPN dug up from the bowels of hell I want to give out three gold stars.
Gold Star #1 – Alexi Lalas. Reason-You didn’t completely suck. Between the fact that he cut back on the MLS talk and his witty banter with Michael Ballack, Lalas didn’t necessarily impress but not once did I throw something at the TV. To be honest, the guy’s come a long way. He states his opinion and isn’t scared to be challenged by another analyst, he’s gotten off the England-bashing bandwagon and knows that Lionel Messi will not be playing in this tournament. (fast forward to 1:05)
Gold Star #2 – Michael Ballack. Reason-You didn’t kill another analyst. I thought for sure the our boy Michael here was either going to head-butt Alexi for a stupid comment/mention of Phillipp Lahm or storm off stage in a fit. The ex-captain of Deutschland didn’t disappoint; the witty repartee between him and Lalas was incredible. You could cut the tension between the two with a warm stick of butter. I for one hope they pair these two together again in Brazil.
Gold Star #3 – Roberto Martinez. Reason-You were just…great. We didn’t get enough of the Wigan manager this summer, especially seeing as though he made more insightful comments than anyone. His commentary in Poland/Ukraine has been top notch especially when he gives insight into the managerial decision making including the Spanish front/false line.
Three guys go home with gold stars, another three go home with F’s that need to be signed by their parents.
F #1 – Giuseppe Rossi. I’m not even going to get into the dual-nationality irony here. The guy looked like paranoid schizophrenic in a mental hospital. Did he not know where the cameras were? Did he not know where the analyst’s were?
F #2 – Tyler Twellman. Tyler who-now? (I know who he is, but for the purpose of this post who cares). He literally sat there and agreed with whichever analyst looked back at him the most when he spoke (90% Lalas).
F #3 – Casey Keller. C’mon. It’s Casey fucking Keller.