BRONX, NY – As was well-documented here – when Short Matt finally woke up, looked at the site and realized I wasn’t here—I was in Europe last week. It was a bit of a whirlwind tour, as four adults and two kids hit three countries in eight days. Luckily Clark Griswold and Co. had already proven that it could be done. Anyway, during our travels, I did my best to keep up with what was going on in sports while trying not to offend the natives. Here’s a quick recap.
LONDON. Subways, people who sometimes speak unintelligible English, and pubs often manned by surly miscreants, London has always been a seamless entry point for me. And so it was again. There was virtually no buzz concerning the Yanks/Sox game that was coming, though my good friend Erik was going because, why not? He had also attended a dreadful Vikings/Browns game in London two years ago that definitely set NFL expansion there back at least 5 years. We saw Hamilton and took in a bunch of sights, but not once did I hear sports stadium classics like “We are the Champions” or “Another One Bites the Dust” or “We Will Rock You.” Guess they save those for Wimbledon.
AMSTERDAM. “Let’s go Dutch!” How many times did Short Matt say this during his swinging single dating days? The world, thankfully, lost count. This was my first trip into the land of windmills, wooden shoes, and pancakes. We took a blink-and-you-missed-it flight over and got to watch the waning minutes of the US Women’s win over Spain in an airport bar. It was also on the way to Amsterdam that I found out about the Mickey Callaway/Jason Vargas dust-up with that reporter from Newsday. A friend texted me that article, and I admit that it made me laugh. I mean, c’mon, Mickey Callaway, Jason Vargas and a reporter from Newsday? It sounds like the set-up to a hilarious joke. In this case the punchline was “I will knock you the f**k out, bro!” I felt a little sad that I was missing the beginning of another Mets meltdown, but there would be plenty of melting down to come.
PARIS. Drinking wine on bullet train to Paris was cool, but the weather upon our arrival was très f**king hot. We stayed on the outskirts our first night in a funky little apartment where I located a manual typewriter, of all things. I did my best to dash off a column, Oscar Madison style, but there was nary a Fedex office or Western Union in sight. Anyway, we made it into Paris the next day and, aside from getting an Eiffel of pretty French women, from this point on it was all about the World Cup Quarterfinal game between the US and France. FIFA reps were staying in our hotel, so I immediately checked for bed bugs. We were in the clear, but what Paris was swarming with was Americans. Prior to the game we went to an outdoor meet-up and drink-up hosted by a US National Team fan group called American Outlaws. It was pretty cool. My daughter even played in a pick-up game with kids from across the country and got insta-cred from at least one kid when she mentioned she was from the Bronx.
THE GAME. The entire experience was fairly incredible. From the US fans’ march to the game to the sheer spectacle of seeing two countries pack a stadium to support their women’s teams to the game itself, you couldn’t ask for more. And yes, it also helped that the #USWNT won. It’s worth mentioning that one of my favorite moments came before the game, during the playing of the national anthems of both countries. Perhaps not by accident, the playing of the US National Anthem was one of the fastest I’ve ever heard. In fact it definitely was the fastest. Whether it was meant to be a slight or not, after years of hearing drawn-out renditions, I kinda liked the fast-forward version. Then they played the French Anthem, “La Marseillaise,” which was awesome and conjured visions of my favorite scene in Casablanca.
Anyway, it was a fun trip. I’m glad they planned it without me and then made me come.
Come back tomorrow for Buddy Diaz, who is sure to put a seriously positive spin on, and maybe even help identify, the Knicks’ latest free agency signings.