My students report their homestay families are out voting so that’s good.  On the other end, the bar my students picked to visit for today’s game was closed. I guess they didn’t feel the need to check that.  I arrived first, because I am oldest and slowest to adapt to the new ways of our adopted home.  When I found the bar closed, I noted that a schwarma place next door was open. There was no crowd. We settled in and had a great meal while we watched Chile dismantle Germany.

No, I know what you’re thinking: “But Germany won, 1-0”.  Yes, but it’s soccer so who plays better is only tangentially involved with the outcome. Chile spent the day on a shooting spree as they moved the ball to within centimeters of pay dirt over and over. Yet they didn’t score. Germany managed only two good offensive sets, failing to score either time.

When I was a 7th grader, I stole a ball from an Eakly guard, I don’t remember who. I took off dribbling and, fortunately, crossed the centerline for a backcourt violation before I could proceed, unabated, to the goal and score for my opponent. In 8th grade, I was standing on third base as my friend Jason awaited a 3-2 pitch with two outs. Being the genius I am, I knew that with a full count and two outs the runners need to go on the pitch.  So I went. The pitch was outside for ball four and a walk to Jason, forcing me home. Except that I was the only one on base and not forced anywhere. The catcher made eye contact and clearly was confused as to what I was doing. If I’d just kept going, I probably would have been safe. Unfortunately, as I realized what I’d done, I stopped cold. The catcher, allowed to collect himself, walked over and tagged me to end the inning.  During the West Central Tournament my sophomore year, I entered the game during a free throw sequence. The ball came off the rim and landed in my hands (I was always really good at rebounding). No one moved, so I assumed that the shooter had another shot and I tossed the ball to the ref under the basket…who moved out of the way as it was a live ball.  On another facet of this jewel, in 8th grade I missed a cue in a variety show by, oh, I don’t know, two minutes. Worse, I kept yelling at a friend that it was his turn and failed to hear him keep yelling at me that he’d gone already, making it my turn.

My point is: if you do enough things, you’ll eventually do some abysmally stupid things that gnaw at you and come as flashbacks over 30 years later. But, fortunately for most of us, these happen on small stages, in front of people we love and who love us or at least know that we’ve seen their stupidity up close and personal and, so, will stay silent.

An aside: For many of you reading, I know your screwups, and, if I don’t, I know you have them. It’s impossible to live in the world and not screw up publicly in shameful fashion.  At least, this is what I tell myself when these memories surface.

Not so for poor Marcelo Diaz.  Today, in the 20th minute, he got turned around and confused and basically handed (footed?) the ball to a German attacker 18 yards from goal.  The Germans executed a spectacularly easy 2 on goalie play for the game’s only goal. Perhaps Chile doesn’t win without this mistake.  One can never know how a game will play out if you change something early. But Chile continued to have the vast majority of the offense in the game and it’s hard to see how the game being tied 0-0 would have changed that. To be sure, someone had to eventually score or it would go to penalty kicks. But, we would all agree, better to go to extra time or the randomness of PKs than to lose straight up 1-0 which is what happened.

I don’t know soccer that well so maybe it wasn’t as bad a gaffe as it looked.  But if it is an order of magnitude less terrible than it looked, I don’t see how Diaz sleeps for the next week. Like I say, screwing up on a huge stage is actually a high level of success. Diaz had to work and fight and claw and scratch to be a starter on his national team, a level of athletic success most of can only dream of. But that success brings the terrible risk of being a fantastic goat. I wish the man some peace.

So, Santiago is its normal Sunday quiet now. Presumably a few stragglers will remember the election after the game and go take out their anger and disappointment on some unsuspecting politician.


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