My favorite line in "Splash" occurs when John Candy, having sworn off all his bad habits and promised to take a responsible role in the family produce business, turns to Tom Hanks and says, "Let me get this one thing straight. Is it just fruit we sell, or fruit and vegetables?"
Today, they are playing the final of the World Cup, and like so many of you I can't wait for them to jump it up. You know how a lot of people go to sports events dressed more or less in the fashion of the sport? Golf fans wear those lime green pants with embroidered animals. Tennis fans wear white Euro-shorts and tie pastel sweaters around their necks. I'm not sure about what to wear to a soccer game, but I'm prepared to watch this one on TV because I learned how to hold a beer can between my toes.
Admittedly, I'm still a little shaky on some of the finer points of soccer, like how many halves in a game and if the sweeper does other domestic chores as well. But I'm trying to take a responsible role for the World Cup, so there are just a few things I want to get straight:
What's Madonna doing on the Argentine team? I thought she lived in Malibu. Does this mean she and Sean Penn are already to splitsville?
Of course, many thousands of people in the stands today should be from the Northern Virginia and Montgomery County youth soccer programs, since these are the areas where a new generation of American soccer fans were supposed to come from. Those 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds who started playing soccer when the boomlet began in the mid-1970s were going to be fanatic about the sport by now. So why do I think they're not in Mexico City, but Ocean City, instead?
What does it mean to "mark" somebody? Do you do it with a felt-tip pen, or with a sword, like Zorro?
Where's Kyle Rote Jr. when you need him?
I find it depressing that the United States is so awful in soccer that we couldn't even get into the World Cup. All we needed to do to be one of the 24 nations that qualified was tie Costa Rica in a game played in Torrance, Calif. We had the home ice and lost, 1-0. If Costa Rica is so good, then from now on when we send them military advisers, could they please send us soccer coaches?
This Maradona kid, why does he have his shirt off in all the pictures?
Here's the thing about Maradona: He's 5-5, and he's a star in this sport. He's born here, he's a featherweight or a jockey. On the other hand, if he's born in East Germany, they pump him so full of steroids, by now he looks like The Refrigerator.
Would Michael J. Fox be a good soccer player?
Can Maradona act?
The other day I looked for the NASL standings and couldn't find them. What happened to the Cosmos? They were getting 65,000 fans a game. What do you mean the league folded two years ago? Phil Woosnam, Clive Toye, Henry Kissinger, all those guys said the NASL was going to be the hottest thing since sliced bread. Are the Dips gone, too? Gee, what does Paul Cannell do for a living now?
How do you spell Cruyff?
Does anyone ever win, 7-5, or do the scoreboards implode at any score over 2-1?
Why does it seem like half the soccer players in the world only have one name?
You know how if San Francisco plays Miami in the Super Bowl, the mayors of each city will bet, like a case of wine against a bushel of stone crabs? When England played Argentina what was the bet, the Falklands?
Soccer's never going to make it here until they get rid of this foolishness of not stopping the clock. They don't even stop it for injuries. Players get kicked in the face, fall bleeding to the ground in need of medical help, and the clock ticks on. Soccer is one hardy game. In the NBA you get a 20-second injury timeout each half even if no one is hurt. How does soccer expect to get on TV if it won't make room for Ram-Tough trucks or the Black & Decker Workmate?
Every story I read about France talks about "superstar Michel Platini." Who is this guy? And if he's so good, why isn't he playing for the Baltimore Blast?
When you come right down to it, how many things can you really do better with your feet than with your hands?
Can I be serious for a second with all you bettors? Our man in Mexico City, the redoubtable Norman Chad, says Argentina is a lock over West Germany today. This could be a rout. Give one.