Another View, Mine: July 2017

John Nieman

The older I get, the faster I was.

Part of that thought comes from a delusion that I was once a fantastic athlete that was never given his full appreciation. Most of it comes from a realization that, while I am trying to continue to participate in sport, I must have really been at one time able to do the things that my mind tells me I can and should do now. “Let the thought become the deed” was so much more attainable in my 20’s and 30’s when that phrase was my watchword.

But I can remember my strengths and weaknesses in sport. I think I am being honest.

And so I put to you: Do the players who you admire re­flect YOUR abilities or are they examples of what you admire and wish you could be?

This comes to my mind as I extol the virtues of one of my most favorite soccer players, Dirk Kuyt.

You may not have heard of him. If not, more’s the pity. I first began following him when he joined Liverpool in 2006. His style of play was everything that I was not. He was in constant motion–I relied on occasional bursts of what I liked to refer to as “speed” and a lot of jogging around. His de­meanor on the field was implacable. No matter the situation, he had an almost blank look on his face as he went about his play with skill and determination. I was—and still am—mouthy and antagonistic throughout a match. Think Giorgio Chinaglia without the skill.

Try as I might, I could never emulate Kuyt–except to buy and wear his various jerseys from Liverpool to the Dutch national team to his most recent destination Feyenoord.

I commend him to you. If you look him up now, you will learn that he recently announced his retirement from soccer at the age of 36.This comes after scoring a hat trick in his final game with Feyenoord, scoring all three goals to give his team their first Eredivisie (Dutch First Division) title in 18 years.

Hopefully one day we will have in common the fact that he will play recreational soccer with his son and grandson into his 70’s. Although there will be the difference that he will most likely be the best player on those teams also.

So while I personally find most admirable those athletes who are very different from me, I also recognize the need for a team to have some players who play “angry” and with great passion. This is why I welcome the addition of Dom Dwyer to the USMNT. Two games as I write this, scored a goal in each. Recently became a US citizen by marrying Sidney Le­roux of the USWNT—another passionate, “angry” style of player.

Confidence and drive by the players are a lot of what had been missing from the team under Klinsmann, and so the addition of Pulisic and Dwyer should boost their chances of World Cup qualification. I am mystified as to how the US­MNT dropped so far in the FIFA latest rankings when there has been such obvious improvement under Arena.

We’ve kicked off the Gold Cup with a disappointing tie with Panama, but we are also not playing all of our top players. This is a chance for a lot of younger players to show their mettle. And, except for the back line, many are doing so. It’s also great to see Brad Guzan stepping up.

I truly try to be right when I take a position in this space. A lot of the time, I am right. But often I fall short.

Which brings me to the subject of stage racing in NASCAR. I really raged against the idea when it was first introduced. And while I still believe that Brian France is the Donald Trump of racing, I can only hope that something President Trump does—anything?—-will be as successful as stage racing has become.

The smart teams are taking full advantage of the points awarded in stages and making strategic decisions based on the stage. As a fan, I have come to enjoy the constant racing for position. And if Martin Truex, Jr. was driving a Chev­rolet, I would be over the moon. He has become the king of stage racing and the only Toyota with any wins so far this season. We are closing in on Richmond, and drivers Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin have no wins.

While Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. has managed to do something Stewart-Haas Racing could never do: get Danica Patrick in Victory Lane, albeit as the girlfriend of the winner. Twice!

So kudos to you Mr. France. Could you somehow get your friend Mr. Trump to stumble into a good idea?

Emptied out my mom’s house. Lots of memories and lots of work. Fat Boy Index: 278.