Tuesday, June 24, 2014

America's Sweetbitter Match with Portugal and Remembering Jack Lanzillotti

By Bob Lobel (@boblobel)

Bittersweet doesn’t really cover it. 

Try sweetbitter. Now we're onto something.

With the largest American television audience ever for a soccer game watching, and happily being captives to unfolding history, the USA stumbled into infamy. At least we think they did. 

Leading 2-1 over Portugal, the tying goal was a present from us to them. Please next time offer them financial aid for something. Don’t ever do that again! EVER! 

How can good become bad so quickly with so little time left on the clock?  How can sweet become so bitter with a kick in a tick of a second? Thus sweetbitter. 

New words happen all the time so why not this? For the moment the USA has a chance to make good for the gaff, like the Red Sox had the chance to do after Buckner. Game six was not the last. Neither was Portugal. It could have been, but alas, the Germans are waiting.

We've actually had pretty good luck against the Germans, but that was last century. Especially after they bombed Pearl Harbor, according to Animal House. 

Facts are simple: The US put itself in a position of having to at least tie Germany later this week to make sure their World Cup hopes remain alive. Should they be successful, bitter and sweet take their rightful place as bittersweet. Who knows what psychological damage needs to be repaired after that awful tie. 

There are many who are satisfied with the 2-2 result with Portugal. These are not people from around here. We are so familiar with moments of joy turned inside out that this is just one more lesson the rest of the country needs to learn. Many say soccer has made many inroads into popularity. We won't know until after this all is over. 

One thing this does illustrate is that sports fans are fans of big time, world class events rather than teams involved. Events dictate our interest, for better or worse. The US can still make up for that unforgivable sin of the final tying goal during extra time. They can save themselves from the humiliation that will follow them everywhere, just like the 1986 Red Sox will never be erased from our memory, no matter how many world championships they win.   

My final word today is for my late colleague, Jack Lanzillotti. He and his girl friend, Jessica Campbell, died in a terrible tragedy in Boston's Back Bay. When it was my day to do the Fenway Park public address duty, I sat right next to Jack. In the dictionary next to the word "multitasking" should be Jack's picture. 

He pretty much controlled everything that enhanced the fans' enjoyment of the game from the smallest detail to the biggest big league moments.  God, I'm so sad about this, as are many others that worked with him.  He was a perfectionist of the first order, remembering at all times that this was the big leagues, and we were part of it. 

He was really good at what he did. From an hour before the first pitch we would go through the whole pregame script and get every pronunciation, I mean every one, right. 

If I screwed up the reading of it, then it's on me. Period. 

It's not like we didn’t go over it. We both worked the last game of the past home stand when there were no walks, no one reaching first base, and no runs until the 10th. Then the Twins got one and the Red Sox went back-to-back. 

It was the best moment of the year so far. Hearing the news about Jack and Jessica has been the worst. My love and sympathy goes to their families and friends.  

Comprehending something like this is just not possible.

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