Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mario Gomez: I GO TO SLEEP

Does anyone care about Mario Gomez? There is so little to distinguish him, let alone recommend him, among Bundesliga strikers. Heck, despite being Bayern's chief goalscorer his place in the squad is marked by its anonymity. He lacks the youth and famous name of Muller, the industry and fun name of Schweinsteiger, the pace and horrible facial features of "Scarface" Franck Ribery and Arjen "The 2,000 Year Old Man Who's Actually Only 25" Robben. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, a defensive midfielder usually found on the substitute list, is vibrant and has a cool name and jazzy hair. Ivica Olic has barely played for two years, yet the memories of the 2009-2010 campaign and his drive therein are instantly more compelling than Gomez.

Many football squads are compared to the New York Yankees. Yet more than Real Madrid or Manchester United or either of the two Milanese giants Bayern fit the image of the pinstripe horde. You watch Bayern or the Yankees and you know they'll find some annoying way to win. Those other teams surely possess the air of predestined winners, but none manifest this fate as mechanically and consistently as these two organizations. Announcers say that they "find a way to win". Observers simply remark, "Fucking Yankees". Fucking Bayern. Watching them at Frankfurt last season: on the back foot the whole match, surviving only for the grace of Theofanis Gekas's resolute shittiness with the goal open before him, practically being toyed with by a side that wound up going down. But it was frustratingly clear they wouldn't lose. Their lack of personality compels them to succeed. Just as you knew that the Mariners of the late '90s wouldn't unseat the Yankees, that oddballs and extremes like Edgar Martinez, Joey Cora, Jay Buhner, Tino Martinez Luis Sojo and Randy Johnson. They came back in the 1995 Division Series but that upset was just that.

The Yankees are expected to win. They do it all the time with a roster of unspectacular but eminently hate-able players, offensive in their lack of personality. Their sheer Yankee-ness. Paul O'Neill. Jim Leyritz. Bernie Williams. And Mario Gomez might as well have played third for Buck Showalter. They win, for sure, but they do not achieve. Where's the heart? Where is Gomez's heart, not to mention his artistry and creativity?

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