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July 13, 2014

"Man vs. Machine"

Brian Phillips does a fine job summarizing what happened this past Tuesday . . . 

The trouble with metaphor, though, is the trouble with any post facto analysis of a phenomenon like Brazil-Germany. It’s selective. If we say a 7-1 win in a World Cup semifinal is the equivalent of a 47-point NFL road playoff victory, we’re emphasizing statistical probabilities at the expense of both culture and atmosphere; if we say that the clouds boiling on the horizon were portents of angry gods, we’re emphasizing drama at the expense of the fact that Brazil’s execution just really sucked. Most matches fall pretty easily into a particular frame of reference, and so that kind of emphasis isn’t debilitating to understanding. But this was — well, it’s at least not crazy to argue that it was the worst defeat in the history of sports. There’s no easy frame of reference for it. It wasn’t only some of the things it was, it was all of the things it was, and I don’t think you can make sense of it without starting from the total loss of sense that it created as it was happening.

. . . and he does an equally fine job discussing what's expected today:

And that’s what we’re playing for on Sunday. Validation for the best team in the tournament or validation for the best player in the world. In a sense, it’s perfect. Germany has the better squad, Argentina has the best player. Germany comes in after a terrifying rampage, Argentina comes in after holding on for dear life. Argentina, thanks to Messi, has a better chance of producing a moment that feels like magic, but Germany has just done something indescribably astonishing and strange.

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Stephen Karlson

A scout of the early 1960s complained of the Green Bay Packers, "How do you scout blocking and tackling?" And Pat Summitt's Tennessee players often got criticized for being system players. There's a reason we call team sports team sports.

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