No PK Zone


Aim for the massive amount of net. Avoid the helpless guy in the middle. 


Never been a fan of penalty shoot outs. The gimmick of PKs dispense any pretense of representative football. A mentally and physically well-trained Huddersfield Town is now equal to Pele-era Brazil. And the principal drama is only negative: will the shooter screw up. There are no great saves really, just lucky dives or quick reactions on bad shots. Lesser teams know this and pack the box, killing any late-game flow. It descends into throw-ins and passes around the perimeter that culminate in blocked shots from outside the box.

The corollary is that good teams should just good team themselves into a regulation win. It’s their own fault if it goes to a PK coin flip.


Here’s an alternative.

  1. Golden Goal. How is this not already a rule? It doesn’t change anything about the sport and ends the game. There aren’t that many games under the current rule where both teams score in extra time, but that’s also a function of one team’s ability to park the bus and know they still may have a chance to equalize if the worst happens. There is no argument against Golden Goal. Why???

  2. Fresh subs. In addition to Golden Goal, each team gets a fresh three substitutes after regulation. The catch is that for every player entering the field in extra time, two players from each team must come off. This adds coaching strategy to the skill on the field. A more talented, high-flying team may choose to sub all three players at the beginning of extra time, forcing a Seven-on-seven outfield configuration with fresh legs on almost half the team.

  3. Regular removals. Continuous 15-minute halves until the game is decided by a goal scored. The brief break between halves would also see both teams reduced by one player. You would probably have a six on six outfield player setup by the end of the current 120 periods we see now. During the time you are now watching the shootout, there would be five-on-five striving for a goal. It would be amazingly entertaining, exciting, and no longer than current set up. 

Day 18: The Games
Many minutes of football. I lost the extra time when my DVR failed to comply with the FIFA World Cup™ rules for overtime. I’ve adjusted, and just in time because Game Two had bonus footy as well.

I’m ambivalent about the Spain-Russia result. I’m always up for an upset but the Russians? I’m now hoping for a Croatia-England Semi. Croatia-Denmark: I was hoping for a cracking 5-4 game after the first four minutes. Who knew even a Luka Modric penalty attempt wouldn’t ruffle the netting the rest of the way.


On to the beer:
It’s a beautiful game and a wonderful day for beer: Belgium, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Belgium.

You can do worse than starting your day with a Kirin Ichiban This is a “First pressed” beer, akin to Miller’s triple hopping it doesn’t mean anything. By first pressing they are referring to the practice of collecting the early, sugar-rich wort without as much dilution of sparge water. Usually this is to create a stronger beer. In Kirin’s case it is a marketing rather than brewing procedure as they obviously water it down considerably to get to the 5% abv. As it is an all-malt (no rice) beer, I was expecting a light European lager. It is light and clean but I would have guessed some mild adjunct character in a blind tasting.


Food pairing:
Typically, a traditional Japanese breakfast consists of steamed rice, miso soup, a protein such as grilled fish, and various side dishes. They don’t play until afternoon? Oops. An unexpected good start to the day.


Brazil 2 Mexico 1
Belgium 2 Japan 0
No Shootout!


 Чумачечая Весна (Crazy Spring)

Artist: Potap and Nastya

Nation: Ukraine

Album: Все пучком (2013)


I loathe penalty kicks for determining extra-time winners.

I say play. Play the game 27 hours if you have to, but play until someone wins. This business of penalties, after 120 minutes of world-class players leaving it out there, is anticlimactic, ignoble, embarrassing and silly. And Sunday, I think it helped two lesser squads advance – although neither of them were slouches by any means.


All that said, I was glad to see Luka Modric get another shot after he was mauled while en route to a 100 percent chance of advancing Croatia the proper way. And the Russian keeper’s foot save was a thing of divine grace.


But still. Abolish the PK, I say, and play, play, play.


Now then. I recognize there are about 3 billion football minds on the planet that can claim more elite status than mine can. There are primary-school children on every continent that could school me on it. I expect there are very good reasons for PKs of which I have not yet been enlightened. I grant this as possible. But for now, I herald my ignorance. And insofar as the World Cup is a giant platform for uninformed football commentary worldwide, I'm gonna claim my piece of it.

Watching Russia and Croatia win on Sunday, and recognizing how little I know about current music in those countries, I thought about time I’ve spent in recent years exploring 60s-80s pop and jazz music of the former Eastern Bloc, mostly by wandering around on YouTube. Yes, Croatia was part of Yugoslavia, which was technically non-aligned, but we didn’t draw much nuance over here about that back then.

Anyway, most of it I’d never heard of, which isn’t surprising seeing as pop music exchanges weren’t exactly huge Cold War priorities for either side. And, of course, the East tried to keep a lot of the Western stuff out.


But there's tons of catching up possible. The enterprising (aka “nerdy”) music lover who grew up on this side of the curtain can do virtual time travel and border crossings easily now. And a lot of it is great, despite (or perhaps because of) whatever clampdowns artists had to deal with from their various governments.


You'll find a good deal of attempts to get as far West as they could -- to the Beatles or sensitive singer-songwriter or psychedelia or disco or synth-pop or whatever Western thing was happening at the time -- as they could get away with. But most of it infuses regional styles deeply too. Although language and alphabet variations can slow you up some, it’s rewarding and surprising. I’ve found things freakier, more daring, and harder rocking than I’d have expected. Yes, a lot of it looks kitschy, as evidenced by the viral popularity of videos like the Trololo guy etc. But come on -- have you looked at 70s American television lately? Kitsch knew no borders. 


Of course, most of the old access barriers are just fading memories now, consigned to the same history that Ronaldo’s four-goals-only performance has already headed. The pop charts across the word today, with some variation, show a lot of homogeneity from one part of the world to another. I think that’s boring. Like PKs to close a match. 


Today’s track is a bit of a bridge. It’s Ukrainian and, no, Ukraine isn’t playing in the World Cup this year. But the visual aesthetic of this video is a terrific and fun evocation of the kinds of stuff you’ll see from the 60s-80s Eastern Bloc era, mostly from TV variety shows. So here you go. The song, video and duo are contemporary, from about 2012. I first heard the song by Shazam-ing it as it was playing on the house PA at the Moscow on the Hill bar and restaurant in St, Paul. Great pop single, And the homage the director pays here is so spot on, when I first saw the video I didn’t get the period riff until I was pretty far into it. Got me on that one. Chumachechaya!



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