Yes, I love soccer.
That has been established for a long time and I gave up trying to convert people to the sport almost as long ago. It’s just not worth it. If you don’t like soccer now, odds are you never will.
But I do think I can convince you that the sport of soccer has the right idea when it comes to commentary and how it should be done.
At least Ray Hudson does.
Ray Hudson is a former player with Newcastle United in England, and some of the old NASL teams here in the states. He was the coach of the now defunct MLS team, the Miami Fusion. But what Ray is most famous for is his unbridled passion for the sport and how it erupts during the games he is doing color commentary. Ray is the color guy for GolTV, a soccer only channel that owns the US rights for La Liga, the top division of soccer in Spain. That is the league that has Real Madrid and Barcelona, the only two teams that ever win the league and have all the star players.
Barcelona, in particular, have the sport’s best player, Leonel Messi. He’s amazing, and may end up establishing himself as the sport’s best ever player if his young career continues like this (he’s only 23). Watching him play is like watching Jordan play basketball in his prime.
Now back to Hudson…. When he calls matches the verbage he uses is unlike anything you will ever hear in a NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL broadcast. I don’t know if he pre-writes these or what, but he’s gotten so popular that people have created websites and blogs to reprint his crazy quotes.
“More often than not, you’re coming into the lion’s den, men, you gotta put your shield up and you’ve gotta defend yourself with some long spears.”
“ Barcelona were like a three pound chicken trying to lay a four pound egg …. just constipated in front of goal.”
“Matador. Look at him, so languid, look at him walking. He’s like a big, beautiful zombie, Riquelme, like a big, beautiful zombie. He just strolls around languid like, like smoke off a cigarette, you know. And then he jump out and just draw your blood.”
“It’s chameleon eyes I believe that strikes it with just enough technique to take it towards goal but it takes a wicked deflection, and the saints ain’t smilin’ on Saint Iker now. This is a gangster goal from Barcelona and it’s Xavi that’s holding the revolver.”
But my favorite thing about Ray is how when something magical happens, he just. can. not. contain. himself. A goal is scored and he well emit a shrek or scream like a 11 year old girl spotting Justin Bieber at the mall. Here is what happened this past weekend when Messi finished off a hat trick. Phil Schoen is his play-by-play guy and the perfect setup partner for Ray. And yes, Ray does say after the goal that Messi is, “running like he’s got a food mixer down his shorts”.
…and if you really want a full sample of Ray, check out this edited collection from a recent clash between Real Madrid and Barcelone (El Clasicio is it called in Spain, the biggest and baddest rivalry there is). It’s 11 minutes of color commentary perfection.
You may never love soccer, but you just have to love listening to Ray explode with joy. Could you just imagine Troy Aikman shrieking with delight as Tom Brady throws a winning touchdown? no, me either… *sigh*