The Perfect Ending

So the storybook tournament concluded with, appropriately, a storybook ending and most of the Iberian peninsula was transformed into the world's biggest party.

For Germany, there surely will be other days, other finals and other spotlights. Although if I were them I'd seriously consider leaving Michael Ballack at home. The guy has a closet full of ugly bridesmaid dresses but as yesterday's game wound down it was guys like Schweinsteiger and Lahm who seemed most affected by the impending loss.

Ballack had been there too many times before. He's learned how to lose.

Still, right up until the end, despite Spain's evident mastery on the ball, you could see an ending where Germany scored in stoppage time, won in PK's and left the pitch strewn with sobbing Spanish players. It was how the whole 22 days had gone.

It was inevitable. It was Germany. Teutonic determination rising up to smite Spanish passion.

But when Loew inexplicable removed Klose late in the game, the one man you were certain could score, you sensed that Germany was finally hitting some sour notes.

And as the last minutes ticked away, as you could almost palpably feel the whole Spanish nation holding their breath, the Germans seemed oddly passive.

The Spaniards finally began showing their nervousness, coughing up the ball on passes a 9 year old could make with his eyes closed, but the Germans could think of little better to do than backpass to Lehmann and mill around as if they were the ones with the lead.

Only Schweinsteiger's impassioned pleading with the referee over an obvious German foul in the final seconds betrayed the kind of emotion that you would have expected.

Afterwards, in the wake of Spain's euphoria, it was left to churlish clowns like Jens Lehmann to BLAME THE LOSS ON THE REFEREE, although the rest of the world thought that it was he and Lahm who blew the Torres goal, not the Italian with the whistle.

What FIFA called a "nine strong panel of technical experts" has named Spain midfielder Xavi Hernandez "Player of the Tournament", and named the rest of the all tournament team BUT FELT OBLIGATED TO EXPLAIN WHY RONALDO WAS NOT INCLUDED

See, I would have thought it was because he didn't do anything, but apparently it was just because Portugal didn't advance.

Which facts, come to think of it, may be somehow related.

The rest of the squad contains few surprises, although van der Saar is quite a stretch considering the brilliance - and the success - of Iker Casillas of Spain, and Fernando Torres seems an odd choice considering that he had a miserable tournament in which Aragones kept subbing him out right up until scoring the winning goal in the final.

I guess that's the point, but Villa had far and away the better tournament.

Beyond that, will someone please explain what a "nine strong panel" is?

In other world football news, it was announced today that Castrol has handed over some absurd amount of money and has become the Official Lubricant of the 2010 World Cup.

I thought K-Y already had that deal.

FIFA Emperor for Life Sepp "Leaky" Blatter told Austrian TV yesterday that, while he's "certain" that the WC will go on in South Africa as scheduled, "concerns" over some minor petty details like security and infrastructure (ie. whether fans are likely to get home alive and whether there will be actual stadiums with electricity) have caused FIFA to come up with a "Plan B"

No word on what that plan entails, but I understand Jack Warner is reserving thousands of hotel rooms in Pasadena.

Finally, in what surely will come as very bad news to Paulo Nagamura, Atiba Harris and the rest of the Cobra Kai Dojo, some really strange "scientists" have developed SHORTS THAT CHANGE COLOR WHEN YOU COMMIT A FOUL, shirts that turn green when you're offside along with boots with sensors, color-changing goalposts and a host of other snazzy inventions.

There's just nothing I can say here that adds to the humor.