With another round in the books and the numbers cut in half once again, I have to sit back and marvel at something.
Sports without upsets stinks.
That's probably the reason I get fired up when the Pirates beat the Cardinals. That's why I sort of stop watching March Madness after the first weekend. Once things go as planned it's a little disappointing.
In 2002 we were 180 minutes away from South Korea Versus Turkey for the World Cup (180 very long, unlikely minutes, but still). We had Senegal and a shocking run from the U.s. it was fun to watch the unexpected.
So, naturally, it's less fun when "traditional powers" win their way through to the quarterfinals. It's easy to predict that Brazil/France/England/Germany/Argentina/Italy will be in the quarters. Any layman can do that. It's far more entertaining to root for a Ukraine/Ghana final.
The most inspired and entertaining sides I've seen this year are gone (except Argentina). Spain went from five halves of brilliance to toast (again) in 10 minutes. Ecuador started with 4 goals and none allowed and then seemed embarrassed of their success and ran to their own third to hide (only Germany and England wouldn't let them). Australia soared for 11 minutes, and then staggered around like a dingo following a liter of Fosters.
And oh, Ghana. How I love thee. How much Fufu have I eaten? How much Hip-life have I heard? How many times have I remembered cabbies and cops, professors and students yelling and screaming "Black Stars! Black Stars are sooooo Goood!" They out-Braziled Brazil for close to 30 minutes today, winning balls, getting great attacks built up, crossing the ball with authority and playing with a flair that Brazil themselves seem to have left in Rio. Then their coach was tossed, and they spent the second half showing flashes of greatness, but also showing fatigue. They lost by a bigger margin than any other team in this round, and yet they probably played better soccer than several winning teams (England/Portugal/Italy/Ukraine).
It might not be as entertaining or exciting the rest of the way, but we'll always have the memories of the great and exciting sides (and we also still have a chance at getting huckleberry shakes out of Brent, which is certainly something to root for).