Please Send Gin

I hope the view from your back yard this morning was as nice as mine:

As fate would have it, I find myself on the Outer Banks of North Carolina this week, which is not just one of my favorite places on Earth but is also, not coincidentally, the place which engendered a now-infamous Jack Bell/New York Times article which quoted me by name (yeah, sure, I hate the NYT as much as any thinking American but on the other hand when they print your name, well, they're just one hell of a newspaper, aren't they?) and referred to a post on a message board called Big Soccer which was just coming into its own in 2001.

Come to think of it, I never sent Huss a bill for that.

Anyway, the subject of the article was Fox Sports World and how it was beginning to infiltrate and transform the American soccer landscape.

I had brought the family out to this very place - well, OK, it was about a half mile farther up the beach, but close enough - for a long-overdue vacation. The house we rented was right on the beach and included a pool, a hot tub and - well, and the entire Atlantic Ocean just outside the back door.

It also had one other thing: a satellite TV service which included FSW.

Those of you who were over your addiction to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers by then recall only too well those days when the ability to crank up the World Wide Web thingie and see actual soccer scores from far off exotic locations like New Jersey and France came like a gift from the Gods after years of waiting for the always-late Soccer America to hit the mailbox so you could find out if Manchester Untied had won that crucial game three weeks ago.

It was like trying to follow something via Pony Express.

Anyway, so as we were settling into the house in anticipation of a glorious week of sunburn, badly cooked food and trips to the local ER for stitches, I flicked on the TV and there it was: an actual soccer game.

I don't recall any of the games, and frankly it didn't matter. There was probably a lot of South America, maybe something from Italy. Who cared. Other than the World Cup there had almost never been foreign soccer available to anyone who didn't have one of those satellite dishes that made it look like you were trying to contact Saturn from a shortwave in your garage.

As I noted at the time, with the whole Atlantic Ocean literally steps from my door - not to mention Princess Patchouli and the rug rats - I spent almost the entire week flopped on a couch watching soccer. Greatest vacation of my life.

My bride was pretty close to calling a lawyer, but instead she called Direct TV and arranged for home installation in return for me agreeing to, you know, pay attention to the kids or something for a few minutes. Maybe her Spirit Guide told her it was the thing to do.

All of which came to mind earlier this week when I again found myself in a house in Corolla (Whalehead Beach actually, if you know the area) which had a) no access to FSC b) no internet connection and c) a local newspaper whose coverage of the larger world is limited to the weather.

And it occurred to me that it's only been eight years since being able to see soccer almost any time on TV, or check on whatever scores you were interested in anywhere in the world whenever you felt the urge, was still something of a novelty.

I mention this not because this is one of those "You young whippersnappers don't know what it's like to have to chop wood in a blizzard and then walk 20 miles to school while fighting Indians and delivering babies every morning" speeches. Never chopped wood in may life, and blood and screaming makes me nauseous.

Rather, I make the point because we're all guilty of whining and griping about the slow pace of progress the Beautiful Game is making into the American landscape. We all want more, and we want it now.

But sitting here with with a Margarita in my hand it's hard to imagine, based on just the last eight years, how it could have happened any quicker.

On the other hand, when we did finally get an internet connection up, I discovered that - at least in terms of MLS - nothing new had happened anyway: there were four draws, San Jose and NYRB lost and Joey Saputo is saying he'll be in MLS by August.

OK, so I made the last one up. I think.

I blame Chuck