Because of the heat and because it was only a “friendly,” as they call exhibition games in soccer, I did not go to the match between the two Mexican sides the other night.
Normally, I would have gone. But there was a lot to choose from Wednesday evening, what with fireworks and baseball at Cashman Field, and fireworks and waterless boat races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Bullring. Plus the “Twilight Zone” marathon on the Syfy channel. The one where Agnes Moorehead is tormented by little spacemen was among the first they showed.
I saw the soccer lowlights on TV, the photo of the fan’s bloodied face, the Guadalajara and America players red-carding one another in the 18-yard box, the flares being hurled onto the field, the temporary grass pitch at Sam Boyd Stadium being hydrated with plastic water bottles.
Despicable. Disturbing. Disgusting.
The next day ESPN showed the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest from Coney Island. I suppose if spelling bee is a sport, and Telly Savalas throwing passes to Adrienne Barbeau — football passes — on “Battle of the Network Stars” is a sport, then wolfing down hot dogs can be classified as sport, too.
And so perhaps you are wondering what correlation could there possibly be between the El Super Clasico soccer match debauching into a “West Side Story” rumble and Joey Chestnut stuffing his face with 69 hot dogs?
Well, before this year’s contest of gastronomical proportions, there was 2007, when Takeru Kobayashi threw up on stage and just kept on going. And 2010, when Kobayashi, who was sitting out due to a contract dispute (!?!), rushed the stage to protest Chestnut’s victory, and was roughed up and taken away in handcuffs by four Andy Sipowicz types in NYPD blue.
That was sort of despicable and disturbing, too. And the footage of Kobayashi tossing his sausage was totally disgusting.
But nobody called for a ban on the hot dog eating contest. At least not very earnestly.
And so the next year they had another one after adjustments were made, such as moving the Pepto-Bismol truck and the mop and pail a little closer to the stage.
Because many people believe sports are a metaphor for life, and a microcosm of life, and probably a lot of other “M” words for life, bad things occasionally transpire when they are performed. This is doubly true at UNR-UNLV football games and Pop Warner games in the southern states.
Most times, cooler heads prevail over knee-jerk reactions. Life’s more fun that way.
Last month, after Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks and Zack Greinke of the Dodgers began firing high hard ones at noggins, 14 players and coaches — including two guys on the disabled list — were suspended, fined or both.
Nobody called for baseball to be banned at Dodger Stadium.
Not this time. Not the time the guy was attacked in the parking lot on Opening Day for wearing a Giants cap. And not the time Juan Marichal cracked Johnny Roseboro upside the head with a Louisville Slugger, right there in the middle of the diamond at Candlestick Park.
When Dan Wheldon was killed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, nearly all of the drivers said they would not return. And so there probably never will be another IndyCar race at LVMS, though LVMS would love to have the IndyCars back, though the “perfect storm” (dammit, Clooney) that contributed to Dan Wheldon’s death has been addressed. New rules and cars have put Indy-style racing back within the parameters of acceptable risk.
Now, judging by the headlines and the message boards, people question whether top-flight soccer, or even Major League Soccer, should return to Las Vegas.
My opinion remains resolute: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
That if the stadium security folks would have read multiple stories in this newspaper about the intensity of the Mexican soccer rivalry, that if the racing officials would have listened to the drivers speak ominously of the perfect storm before the cars even got on the track ... well, then perhaps faces don’t get bloodied, and flares don’t get hurled onto the field, and race cars don’t go cartwheeling into the catch fence at ridiculous angles.
(Good thing racecar drivers don’t feel the same way about Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where 38 of their brethren have been killed, or Jim Nabors wouldn’t have anything to do on Memorial Day weekend.)
On Friday night, ABC’s “20/20” was devoted to road rage fisticuffs, a surgeon beating up on multiple ex-wives, people attacking people in courtrooms and ballplayers attacking ballplayers on the field.
Some things never change. Film at 11.
So once the NBA Summer League tips off and people move on and reaction from this thoughtless knee-jerking subsides — and somebody thinks they can make another buck on exhibition soccer — then the New York Red Bulls might play Sporting Kansas City at Sam Boyd Stadium.
I might even buy a ticket to “El Mediocre Clasico” if the weather’s not too hot.
And I will cross my fingers and pray that nobody in attendance goes ballistic, just as I do at Buffalo Wild Wings during happy hour.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.