Giant Killing 19 – Big Game Pre-Show
I like how Emperor J writes about the perspective of the ETU vs. Osaka match in the comments of his post on Giant Killing‘s latest episode: To a neutral party, this really is not a big match; it only feels like a big match, because ETU and its fans are approaching it like a big match. Osaka, on the other hand, sees it as just another game, even if they might be wary of Tatsumi’s style of adjusting his team’s play depending on the opponent.
That look at different perspectives between the teams is kind of cool. Not too many fans are lucky enough to root for a team that is so consistently great that to watch them against an inferior team is a relatively “ho-hum” experience, whereas to other fans it is a genuine event. It’s like a homeless man’s version of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls teams in the NBA during the late ’90s, where everyone got excited when MJ rolled into town. It could have been some meaningless January game against the Vancouver Grizzlies (trust me, nobody ever said, “Man, I can’t wait to go out and watch Bryant Reeves and Shareef Abdur-Rahim play tonight!”), but against the Bulls, no game was meaningless, because there was always the potential that they would pull out some kind of magic that night.
Osaka represents that kind of seemingly unstoppable team that beating makes the winner and the fans feel like a million bucks. If ETU wins, then the buzz with their crowd is insane. “Man, we just beat that team that scored eight goals against Kofu!” Not even I’m immune to this: My Lakers were pretty damn good after the Shaq trade, and with Kobe Bryant in the mix as the most exciting bench player in the league, they were going places but couldn’t quite get over the hump . . . meanwhile, the Bulls were aging but were going through what would be their final championship run. They were on fumes, but the fumes of a champion.
My dad and I went to a February regular season game where the Lakers roughed up the Bulls 112-87, and I bragged to one of my friends (a huge Jordan fan) for a solid week. (I was in middle school at the time, which explains my assholery. :p) In the long run it was a meaningless win (the Lakers were swept by Utah in the Western Conference Finals, while the Bulls won the title), but you beat a team like that, and you feel pretty damn good. For Osaka, it would probably just be one loss among a hoard of winning.
Maybe I’ll eat my words later if the Gunners end up imploding during the game with ETU (which could certainly be possible; we don’t know, after all, how they would handle adversity, since it seems as if the team is built to score as much as possible and keep the pressure constantly on the opponent), but I kind of like the make-up of the team. Any group with a bunch of dudes is going to have a certain amount of ball-busting and a certain amount of gamesmanship. They want to win, but they’re competitive as well.
When Katayama and Hatake are pleading to get the ball sent their way so that they can stay one up on each other stats-wise, it does not come off to me as malicious or something that could potentially wreck team chemistry. They’re just competing; nothing particularly mean-spirited about what they are doing. And when they have a go at Bauer’s hair, they’re just busting his chops a bit. He’s annoyed a bit right now, but when Bauer is one the field, that will probably be the last thing on his mind, unless he’s fairly obsessive and petty.
You don’t win a shit ton of games and score eight goals in one contest with a team that’s fractured and at each other’s throats. All said, Osaka seems to be together to me.
Not a bad way to waste 20 minutes before the beginning of the match. I’m raring to get some more exciting soccer, though. Go, ETU!