David Hirshey writes regularly about soccer for Deadspin.
It's a beautiful thing when you can show compassion to your fellow man, even better when you can rappel up to the moral high ground, plant your flag near the summit (16 points away, to be precise), gaze down at your most hated rivals, desperately hanging on to their mid-table foothold, and shout, "Still think that selling Michael Carrick was a good piece of business?" That's pretty much how I felt Saturday when I looked at the sweet, guileless face of William Packard at Kinsale Tavern and realized he had no clue to the lifetime of misery that awaited him. After all, he is only two years old and a Spurs fan.
Yet there he was at 7:30 am, the innocent victim of his deluded, pathetic father Michael, who had dragged him out of his crib and wheeled him to a BAR so that he could experience the 87-year-old blood feud that is the Tottenham-Arsenal derby. No wonder that Michael, a regular at the weekly Deadspin Premiership Drunkathlon, had knocked back two Guinnesses by 9 a.m. That's when two things became painfully clear to him:
1) Even allowing for the two dodgy penalty calls that went against them, his beloved Spurs are still crap;
2) His son will need years of therapy to exorcise the memory of the 3-0 Tottenham beatdown that he witnessed.
At least Young Will had no choice as to whom he would support in the Prem. What is the excuse of a certain 36-year-old sports columnist for ESPN.com, who proudly announced to the world that he would be the Spurs' Boswell and take them to same lyrical heights he had the Red Sox, Pats and Celtics. "Maybe I can help the Spurs in the Karma Department," Bill Simmons wrote memorably at the start of the season. I know, I know. Bill has already cashed in his karma, and he's been rather busy, what with the wooing of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tom Brady losing to Peyton Manning and the calls for Doc Rivers' head. But still: Olivia Newton John's missing husband has been keeping a higher profile when it comes to showing his Spurs colors. Is it possible that Bill regrets his choice or has he lost interest in the whole English soccer thing now that he realizes his karma only works on teams to whom he has devoted a lifetime of passion rather than two weeks of research. To put it in terms that Simmons will understand, I'm calling him out, Clubber Lang-style, to either stand up and support his Spurs, or be forced to pick an MLS team.
(more after the jump)
Meanwhile, poor Martin Joll lies awake at night searching for a way to justify selling his one playmaker (Carrick), whose vision and incisive passing could keep the Spurs from being overrun in midfield. Granted, Spurs got a gajillion dollars for Carrick, but did they really need to spend it on a Bulgarian hitman who disappears from games with alarming regularity?
Give Joll this, though: Against a team of pretty ball artists like Arsenal, he could have easily ripped a page out of Bolton's Kick Anything That Moves playbook that has been so successful against the Gunners. Instead, the Spurs opted to try to string a few passes together and were forced to pay for their ambition within 20 minutes. When Adebayour got behind the defense and cooly (for once!) took his chance, Tottenham must have rued its wide-open style
Adebayour, for his part, sprinted deliriously towards the Arsenal dugout and hugged a stylish man in black turtleneck and gray double-breasted jacket. That would be Henry, who was sitting this one out, ostensibly because of a neck injury (the result, perhaps, of suddenly snapping his head back to glimpse Anelka's screamer against Arsenal last week), but, according to reports in the British tabs, had fallen out with Wenger, who just days after declaring with his usual grace that his French meal ticket was cheated out of FIFA's Player of the Year, decided he needed a rest to get back to his swashbuckling best. Wenger got away with his gamble only because Graham Poll, famous for giving THREE yellow cards to one player during a World Cup game, awarded Arsenal two penalty kicks that even to a Gunner homer, looked a tad dubious.
Joll, the granite-faced Spurs boss, would have been forgiven had he sprayed Polonium on the referee's post-match sushi, but, to his credit, he refused to blame Poll for the sins of his players.
"You see, Will, " Michael Packard said to his two-year-old son, reaching for a silver lining as well as another pint of Guinness, "sometimes good sportsmanship is more important than whether you win or lose." Then, he turned away from his boy, toward the bar, and cried, "Those fuckin' Spurs, why do they always have to bottle it?"