Well, Jim Thome and Brett Favre decided to go all historical on me this weekend. Jim hit the magic 500 home run milestone with a walk-off of all things, while Brett is now the all time leader in wins after pounding on the Gints in the Meadowlands. Normally I save the Card of the Week for a big event or milestone like this, but how do you choose between Brett and Jim? Answer: I don't. Brandi Chastain's 2006 Allen & Ginter card gets this week's nod.
I can hear the protests now. A female soccer player over two Hall of Famers? (and yes, Thome's a Hall of Famer despite all the hand wringing by douchebags on ESPN) There is a method to my madness. First of all, Brandi is responsible for one of the most indelible images in all of soccer, right behind Maradona's "Hand of God" and the picture of that guy getting kicked right in the nuts. Her big moment was from the 1999 World Cup, where the United States defeated China in the finals on Brandi's penalty kick. Meanwhile the 2007 World Cup is going on right now in China. The US squad plays Nigeria tomorrow morning in Shanghai assuming Typhoon Wipha doesn't wipe out the match. The result can determine whether they play England or cup favorite Germany in the knockout round so it's a pretty critical match. Brandi and Mia Hamm are gone, but Abby Wambach seems to have jumped right in to fill the void and has three goals in two games.
I don't really know why I'm so excited about this. Normally I find soccer boring as hell, but World Cup matches fascinate me. Just like the W-20 cup in Canada earlier this year I didn't have any clue it was going on until I caught a match while randomly flipping through ESPN (the brilliant US-Brazil match). I got up this morning, looked for SportsCenter and inexplicably found myself watching the entire England-Argentina match. I'm certainly not an expert on soccer either. I couldn't explain tactics or strategy, or hell, even what the names of the positions are, but I do appreciate the teamwork and watching scoring opportunities develop is exciting. My ignorance may be part of why I enjoy World Cup matches. Early rounds have a lot of high scoring blowouts that I can enjoy because I don't realize how lousy the play is. Later matches feature the most elite players in the world resulting in great matchups. I do know one thing for sure though, Yellow Card ejections suck. The fact that a player can get a card for a mincy little tackle as long as the opposing player puts on an Oscar performance is bad enough, but to be suspended for a match for getting two of them is crap. A player should have to pull a Kermit Washington in order to get suspended from a World Cup match. Materazzi lived, so no suspension for Zidane in my world.
The other reason I chose Brandi is that she was on the team that won the 1996 Olympic gold medal in Athens, GA. And I was there! Well, not actually in the stadium, I was a semi-poor college student at the time with a full time job and premature college loan payments. No Olympic finals tickets for me. But I was right there on campus outside Sanford Stadium that day and I watched the second half of the game from the brand new Classic Center downtown. There was a really awesome vibe in town that day and the women brought home a championship Between the Hedges which is a hell of a lot more than the Bulldogs ever did when I was there. So if you happen to be up tomorrow morning or if you find one of the elimination round games while flipping through channels, give it a try. You might find it interesting.