Across the Atlantic, why do we set our alarm clocks and spring out of bed to watch Manchester United play West Brom? Granted, expats with childhood affections and personal ties can claim a strong emotional stake. But notoriously fickle American consumers? Is it the lingering anglo ties to the mother land? The quality of the competition. I concede these factors play a part. But I have another explanation in mind.
Rocky. Bullwinkle. Bugs Bunny. Garfield & friends. X-Men. Yes. Cartoons. No, I am not implying that the EPL has a cartoonish quality. I would never do that, not even in subtle extended metaphor that punches you in the face. Rather, Americans for generations have grown up with Saturday morning cartoons to start the day. As we grow older, the time slot remains open, yet the animated antics do not elicit the same laughter.
Yes, I know that the timing of EPL matches means that football does not compete with other American ventures, like baseball, granting the English version (compared to MLS) a distinct advantage. Plus, in the coastal cities, a strong collection of childless young professionals latches onto any excuse to sit and drink in a pub, regardless of the hour. Brunch on Sunday morning? Bloody Mary time! Early happy hour on Tuesday afternoon? Patroooon! Saturday morning and still hung-over? Sunderland vs. Newcastle!
Aside from those factors, the comparisons between Saturday morning cartoon characters and current EPL stars simply cannot be ignored. For example, take a close look at Dudley Do right of the famed Rocky & Bullwinkle.
Once you get over the no longer blonde air, it's obvious to the naked eye that Fernando Torres is Dudley Do Right. Not only did he stay at Liverpool, a very heroic feat beyond the likes of Masch and Xabi, but he also galloped to their rescue yesterday - valiantly bagging a brace to sink top of the table Chelsea.
And Boris? Who is Boris from Rocky & Bullwinkle? I think that you know. And you know that I know that you know.
No, Boris is not Abramovic. Cold war associations are so passe. Instead, think of a slow-footed schemer known for timely interceptions, physical play, and occasionally skirting the law on fouls. Yes, sans the moustache, Boris is none other than Jamie Carragher.
Roadrunner should be obvious for anyone that's caught recent Tottenham games. His name has skipped around the blogosphere as pundits sing his praises, despite poor EPL performances by Spurs.
Everybody talks about Gareth Bale's "final ball." Oh, John, he just ran forty meters passed Maicon but it's his final ball that makes the difference. Yes, his cross was lovely. But, for some reason, I think some championship players could whip in that ball. However, passing the ball twenty feet beyond Maicon and then beating him to it? Only one person. Gareth "Road runner" Bale.
And Elmer Fudd. Notorious tax evader. The association is obvious. Elmer Fudd does not believe in tactics. Neither does this man.
'Arry Redknapp. The stealthy stalker of points in the Premiership. Tactics? Ha. Just sneak around a field with your Bale, err gun, and hope things work out. Taxes? Ha. Just skip from club to club once your bad buys catch up with you and they find themselves mired in debt or administration. And always clearly and cleverly express your coherent thoughts.
X-men, the most recent of Saturday morning cartoon phenomenons, had a certain Beast character known for his physical presence and cerebral approach. And he now plays for Manchester United. And no, I am not referring to Johnny Evans. Guess again.
As a United fan, I am biased. But is there a centerback more beastly than Nemanja Vidic? Ferdinand keeps his knees a bit too clean, Carra is a step slow nowadays, and Terry is Terry is not Vidic. Although John Terry does wear blue, the same color as Beast, we must move beyond such shallow, superficial comparisons. In terms of beastocity, Vidic is clearly the man. Debate over.
Forget that Magnet dude, the best X-men villain was Apocalypse. A mega powerful entity that traveled through time, was a million years old, and only did his dirty work via henchman? Who possibly could that be?
Sir Alex's steely gaze would freeze Magneto in his tracks. Despite Magneto's manipulation of metals, Sir Alex's ability to extend time to his own advantage renders him the Alpha Male villain of EPL managers. Case in point - fielding a B side vs. Wolves last weekend, how did the Red Devils win? A goal in injury time. By Park Ji Sung. Obviously, some evil nefarious villain scheme was behind the events. There's no other explanation.
Garfield & Friends also rued the Saturday morning roost, with many of his friend stealing the spotlight. In particular, one not-yet-hatched egg named Sheldon always drew laughter for his awkward social skills. What French striker on Chelsea could he be?
What's that? You moved to Madrid as a young man and are really, really shy. You poor, unfortunate soul. What's that? Your national team coach wants you to play as a target forward, with your back to goal? Does he not know who you are? Okay, so maybe Anelka is not an obvious Sheldon in terms of personality. But, but....his head looks like an egg. And I stand by that.
So there you have it - the EPL is only successful in the US because of alcoholic twenty-something yuppies and old hippes like me vicariously reliving our cartoon filled youths. (Bows) No, I cannot hear your applause via the internet. Either record it, email me it, or clap louder. I will be hear until my server fees are up.....