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Soup of This Day #66: The Silicone Chip Inside Her Head Gets Switched To Overload

September 12, 2011

Franz Beckenbauer (left) in 1967
Der Kaiser (left) celebrating the 1967 Cup Winner’s Cup triumph by Bayern Munich – Photo: Detlef Gräfingholt, 1967. Neither Detlef Gräfingholt or the German Federal Archive has any affiliation with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Seeking some good on a day of infamy, I’ve gone back to September 11th 1945. The war in Europe had ended a scant 3 months past when future footballing royalty was born in Munich.

The newborn, Franz Beckenbauer, would grow up to be known as Der Kaiser (The Emperor), as much for the similarity of his name to that of Austrian Emperors past as for his regal and elegant playing style. It was for the latter though that the sobriquet fitted most of all: As a 19 yr old he made his debut for Bayern Munich, who at the time were in the Regional League South division of the German Leagues, against the descriptively named Stuttgarter Kickers. A year later Bayern were promoted to the top flight Bundesliga and with Beckenbauer initially in midfield they began a period of sustained success. They won the German Cup and then the European Cup Winners’ Cup, both in 1967. For the 1968/69 season they installed Der Kaiser as club captain and promptly won the league. Beckenbauer had by then developed the attacking sweeper (or libero) role and over the next 8 years he perfected it at the highest level, helping Bayern to 3 successive Bundesliga titles in 1971/72, 1972/73 and 1973/74.

Higher honours were to follow: In 1973/74, 1974/75 and 1975/76 he captained Bayern to 3 consecutive European Cup wins. 1n 1974 he held aloft the World Cup as captain of the victorious German national team, bettering his runner-up medal from 1966 (where he was FIFA’s Young Player of the Tournament) and 3rd place in 1970. In that 1970 tournament he famously played on with his dislocated arm in a sling after he fractured his clavical and the Germans had used all of their substitutions. His efforts were to no avail as the Germans lost out 4-3 in extra time against the Italians in what became known as The Game Of The Century. He had also captained Germany to victory in the 1972 European Championships and would attain a runner-up medal in 1976. In 1974 and 1975 he was the runner-up in the Ballon d’Or award for Europe’s best player and in 1972 and 1976 he was the winner.

His playing career petered out in the late 70’s, partially assisted by a lucrative move to the New York Cosmos in the lesser North American Soccer League. Even so in 4 years in The Big Apple he helped them to 3 titles. In 1980 he returned to Germany with Hamburger SV, assisting them to the 1981/82 Bundesliga title. Then, after 1 more fling with the Cosmos, he called time on a glittering career.

A subsequent move into management added to his roll of honour: He managed Germany to a runner-up spot in the 1986 World Cup before bettering that in 1990, guiding his country to the top international honour. He then added French, German and UEFA Cup club titles to his resume. In 2006 he chaired the organisational committee for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, held in Germany.

Although Australiam Tennis player Samantha Stosur can’t match that record she does share something with Der Kaiser: Both have won titles in New York. In Slammin’ Sam’s case it occurred last night when at the age of 27 she won her 1st Grand Slam, taking the US Open Final vs Serena Williams in straight sets 6-2 6-3. The rank underdog Stosur played a near perfect 1st set against a sluggish Williams and then overcame controversy early in the 2nd to win through.

Actually, ‘controversy’ is probably the wrong word: Williams yelled ‘Come on!’ on an almost certainly winning forehand. Unfortunately she cried out before Stosur had hit the ball and thus the point was given to the Australian. Serena then proceeded to berate and bully the chair via a bizarre tirade and accompanied by a confused and partizan crowd (Clapping, booing and whistling while Stosur was serving) roared back into the match. Form and class won out though and Serena’s gamesmanship only gained her a temporary boost. Post-game Williams admitted that Stosur ‘deserved to be the US Open champion this year’, praising her as ‘a great player who played really, really well’. She was however less than remorseful when questioned over her poor behaviour towards the umpire:

Q. You’re one of our greatest champions and an elite athlete, a real role model. Do you think it’s important for top level athletes, even in tremendous heat of the moment, to treat refs and officials with respect?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Um, I don’t know. I think that, you know, when you’re an athlete, whether you’re looking at a basketball player or football player or tennis players, these athletes, we train all our lives since I was three — and I lie about my age a lot, but I’m 29. (Smiling). You know, we live for these moments, you know. Everyone lives to be, you know, in the final of Wimbledon or the final at the US Open. Whatever happens in that moment, you live for them and we breathe for them, and hopefully I’ll be back for them.

Q. Wouldn’t that be the moment to be most respectful of all at that moment?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I honestly don’t know the answer. Everyone, we athletes, give 2,000%. I know I do every time.

Putting aside that you can’t give 2,000% effort, that’s a pretty poor response to a moral question. Her tirade was completely lacking in grace, even if the on-court ruling had been incorrect. As it happens it was correct and Serena can have few qualms about the officiating – Technical it was but nonetheless an appropriate ruling for an infraction that Williams can only blame on herself.

Blame is something that the Red Sox organisation should be chucking at themselves right now. In Game 3 of an away series against Tampa Bay they needed to right a ship that has started to list alarmingly over the past few weeks. With Jon Lester on the mound and against a team that is inexorably hunting them down for the wildcard slot the Sox needed to stand and be counted.

They didn’t. Or at least not with adequate numbers.

Lester was poor, a problem given that he is the only fit game winner on the starting rotation. He gave up 8 hits and 4 runs across 4 before being relieved by Bowden. Who then gave up 3 runs over 2 outs before handing the ball to Albers (1 run in 1.1), Doubront (1 in 1) and Morales, who miraculously gave up nothing. For Tampa Bay James Shields had a good outing, 7 hits and 1 run across 8.1. That 1 run he gave up, a solo Scutaro long shot, was all that the Sox could muster. Big Papi, who misfired with 0 from 4 said after the game:

‘At this point you panic. Hell yeah. You’ve got to panic at this point. We’ve got these guys breathing down our necks, and we’re not in first place either. We’ve got to come back and play better.’

Panic generally isn’t great for closing out tight situations but in this case I think we can make an exception and go with the big guy. This slide has an inexorable feel to it and some wild panic might inject some bounce. Maybe ‘panic’ is wrong but ‘urgency’ seems too soft for this slump. Urgency was due last week. Here’s Big Papi again:

‘There’s nobody to blame but everybody.’

Quite, David. Quite.

Mark Webber could try to blame everybody but ultimately he’s the guy who turned in on Felipe Massa and subsequently crashed out of the Italian GP overnight. This is actually ok as this is familiar ground for Mark and fans. Sure, he lulled us into a false sense of security by actually winning races but that also ratchetted up the pre-race tension. This feels more like… home. In fact when I discovered that the rogue had crashed out on lap 4 I even managed a wry chuckle. For the record he had qualified 5th and after his customary slow start was in 6th when he neglected to account for other cars on the same race track as him.

At least though he didn’t drag it out. Liverpool FC on the other hand left me believing for most of the 90 minutes vs Stoke City that they would win 5-1. They dominated the game, both in possession (59% to 41%) and shots on goal (20 to 3) but failed to realise the ambition that really is the benchmark for success in football: Score. A. Goal.

Stoke got that bit right, scoring from 1 of 3 attempts although they were aided in being awarded a penalty. Jamie Carragher got caught for pace and conceded the spot kick which was duly converted. Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the campaign therefore came unstuck with a 1-0 loss.

Which brings us to another 1-0 loss and 1 that is linked to Der Kaiser. The character of Franz Beckenbauer was involved in a comedic game set in Munich (Der Kaiser’s birthplace) in 1972 where Monty Python staged a philosophers football match between the Greeks and the Germans. Beckenbauer was a surprise inclusion for the Germans, being the only actual footballer on the pitch amidst a plethora of famous thinkers.

For the record, Karl Marx was right. That goal does have more than a hint of offside about it.

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