Break out the quesadillas, mamacita! This weekend marks the triumphal reprise of Mexico's most explosive sports rivalry, El Super Clasico, pitting the Goats of Guadalajara against the Eagles of Club America in a grudge match which makes the Michigan-Ohio state rivalry seem like a placid boat ride through the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco.
As befitting a country that enjoys washing down 100 varieties of spicy hot peppers with 50 brands of tequila, where being a good neighbor means not shooting off your guns after 4 AM, where sessions of the Chamber of Deputies sometimes resemble chair-throwing Lucha Libre matches, replete with masked bandidos screaming "We don't got to show you no stinking badges!" and where Saturday Night qualifies as a national emergency, the matchup taking place this Sunday night before 115,000 hysterical partisans at the Estadio Azteca will evoke the pre-Columbian football matches of the Mayan empire, where the post-game award ceremony consisted of priests ripping out the still-beating hearts of losing team members and drop-kicking them into the ravenous mouths of anticipating schools of piranha fish that inhabited the sacred lagoon for the extra point.
This rule no longer applies, and I'm not advocating its restoration. That honor I would reserve for politicians. But regardless, Mexican players continue to play as though their lives depend on it, zooming around like Speedy Gonzalez for ninety-plus minutes at an altitude of a mile and a half above sea level.
The beauty of the Super Clasico, which dates back to the dark age of 1943, is that while the America team is composed of the finest players to be found throughout Latin America, the Goats, who derive their name from a derisive 1916 newspaper sports column, pride themselves for fielding only the finest Mexican-born players, so that it frames it in terms of Mexico against the rest of the world on a yearly basis.
Since the results over the last 70 years break down to almost exactly 50-50%, it doesn't exactly scream in favor of the parochial, nationalistic approach for fielding a team, and I don't recommend it for our country, but it certainly has emotional appeal for a screaming mob of frenzied fanatics hungry for glory.
Now, you're prob'ly asking yourselves, "Why is this guy, whose previously favorite activity was in trying to convince Red Sox/Patriots fans to drink Clorox and commit mass suicide, why is he all-of-a-sudden so hot on Mexican soccer?"
Well, I'll tell you why! Because in their infinite tequila-soaked wisdom, the Chivas of Guadalajara have decided to break into North American soccer by establishing a Texas branch, called the Texas Chivas, to compete in the MLS against New York, San Jose, Chicago, et al. This could be the big breakthrough that MLS is shooting for! Who cares about Beckham and the boring European game anyway? With 50 million Hispanic people living in this country, the natural marketing approach screams for bringing the exploding firecracker of the Latin American game to the American market.
It's a winner! With Spanish-speaking Univision and Tele-Mundo ready to break through with the Texas Chivas to an already rich and established North American market with all the already pre-fabricated excitement that goes along with the Mexican game, it's only a matter of time before the rest of us are swept into the excitement.
Whatever you think about NAFTA blah-blah-blah, we are all one American people - English, Spanish, French and Portuguese-speaking - from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego (except for Boston). We don't need no stoopid Juventus or Tottenham Hotspurs to ring our chimes. We got Pele and Maradona, Argentina and Brazil, the Chivas and the Eagles. This is America! We got all the soccer we need right here!