Optimism rises in S.F., pessimism reigns overseas 

click to enlarge Woe is us: England doesn’t deal well with failure. After losing the Euro Cup quarterfinal soccer match against Italy, one writer wrote, “This was a chronicle of death foretold.” - ALEX LIVESEY/GETTY IMAGES
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  • Woe is us: England doesn’t deal well with failure. After losing the Euro Cup quarterfinal soccer match against Italy, one writer wrote, “This was a chronicle of death foretold.”

In only a few days, the season has improved dramatically for the Giants. Baseball joyfully provides for such rapid swings of success and emotion.

As opposed to the sport that matters most here in England, soccer, or as they call it, football.

Yes, Wimbledon is on, a spectacle among the rain drops, a bit of sporting pride for a country desperately searching for some. Especially after the Italy-England quarterfinal match in the European Cup.

They know how to put on a tennis tournament over here. They know how to put on a golf tournament — the British Open, in three weeks, is the one of the oldest sporting events in the world. They know how to queue for buses. They know how to brew tea.

What they don’t know how to do is win.

Remember the gloom after Kyle Williams fumbled in the NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants at Candlestick? But the Niners had all those Super Bowls. The Raiders had those Super Bowls.

We understood figuratively the sun would rise, and it was time to forgive and forget.

That there would be a better day because there had been many better days.

In England however, there is eternal pessimism, derived from eternal defeat. The transcendent feeling is “Woe is us,” and so game reports become personal judgment rather than merely unbiased observation.

“This was a chronicle of death foretold,” Henry Winter of the Daily Telegraph wrote of the Italy-England match. “Of a failure to prepare properly. This deserved defeat on penalties, England’s sixth reverse in seven [major tournament] shoot-outs, highlighted technical deficiencies also painfully apparent during two hours of football.”

A bit over the top, considering the game was a 0-0 tie, then, following a scoreless overtime, decided by the idiotic shootout — like a World Series determined by a home run contest; an NBA final by a free-throw competition.

But indeed, whatever the manner, England was the loser.

“This is not simply the extension of a curse,” the Telegraph story continued, “This was a problem with a footballing culture.”

In the United States, we think differently. Didn’t Venus Williams, limited by that autoimmune disorder which keeps her from playing  the way she could, still insist she always thinks positively? Isn’t baseball’s ultimate bit of advice, “Wait till next year”?

The Giants waited 52 years for their World Series victory. It had nothing to do with culture. The right players create proper results.

It was only a matter of time until this current Giants team made its move. Let them speak of curses in England. In San Francisco, the talk is of a possible division championship.

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. Email him at typoes@aol.com.

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Art Spander

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Monday, Sep 15, 2014

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