By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media
Morning, Lunatics …
>> The main event begins today in Brazil. All else, even the Olympics, is no better than second. That’s not opinion. That’s fact, at least as it applies to popularity. If not a solitary soul in the United States watched, it would still be fact. Every nation on every continent and every island larger than a pebble has a team. Everyone competes. And yes, most everyone watches.
I’m not making any kind of case here. Unlike an unfortunately large chunk of the soccer community, I don’t care to spread the gospel. I don’t see it as a religion to grow. It’s a game I enjoy watching, and it’s a game I appreciate for its overwhelming scope, and that’s that.
If you don’t like it, I don’t care.
Really, that’s my main point. Because it always seems to be the case that, when the subject of soccer arises, it’s never enough to just let slide that you don’t care or don’t watch. It’s got to be brought up. And it’s got to be brought up, often with a peculiar bite, something like: I hate soccer!
I get these pretty much every time I tweet, type or breathe a word about the Hounds, and my response invariably is this: Who asked?
No, seriously. I mean, I don’t watch the NBA, but I also don’t rip it or say I hate it. Because I don’t. I just happen to not watch. I have choices in my life about what to watch or not, and I choose to spend my free time doing things other than watching the NBA. And big whoop. In Pittsburgh, I hardly stand out in that regard.
So why is soccer different?
Why the anger, especially among older sports fans?
What is that, like some Cold War remnant where we’re worried that if we say we like soccer, we’re secretly inviting the Commies to come and take over our schools?
Why not just relax and let those who want to enjoy it do so?
Here’s something that’s universally fun, maybe the best commercial of any kind I’ve seen in years, a beauty for McDonald’s that’s showing the world over right now:
I plan to watch Brazil v. Croatia today — 4 p.m., ESPN — in what promises to be an entertaining match between two creative sides, each characteristically built with personalities to match their nations, the host nation particularly blessed with the brilliant Neymar. And I’ll enjoy it. And I won’t knock on doors around my neighborhood urging others to join me.
If you do likewise, I’d love to hear from you. If not, no biggie.
Collins John and the rest of the Riverhounds have their own connections to the World Cup, by beat man Matt Grubba at Highmark Stadium.
The Riverhounds still can’t connect on much else in losing again to Harrisburg, by Grubba.
Here’s TribLIVE’s Riverhounds page.
Here’s the official World Cup 2014 page.
Here’s official U.S. Soccer page.
>> The Pirates overcame some boneheaded baserunning and the Cubs, by beat man Rob Biertempfel at PNC Park.
Bob Nutting talks about all the hype for Gregory Polanco, by Bob Cohn.
Francisco Liriano to the DL, by Karen Price.
Here’s Cubs news from the Chicago Tribune.
Here are official game highlights on MLB.com.
>> Jim Rutherford already has heard trade offers for some of the Penguins’ players at the NHL’s GM meetings in New York, by beat man Rob Rossi.
Columnist Joe Starkey rewinds on the five-year anniversary of the Penguins’ triumph in Detroit.
Twenty-five questions facing the Penguins, by Josh Yohe.
Here are official Stanley Cup final highlights on NHL.com, including the Rangers barely avoiding a sweep in Game 4 last night at the Garden.
>> Ryan Shazier is lighting up the Steelers’ OTAs, by beat man Alan Robinson.
Mike Mitchell is eager to hook up with Troy Polamalu, by Mark Kaboly.
The full training camp schedule is released.
>> I’ll be with the football team today for the final OTA session, aiming toward a Friday column. Thank you, as always, for reading.