Anyway, this event was just like it sounds — a 10-minute, 15-on-15 soccer game played by local media types. When I got recruited by the Wizards' PR people, I was a little nervous, mainly because orchestra was my sport back in high school.
But it sounded like a cheesy fun time, so I signed up and immediately started training. My regimen consisted of drinking beer, eating ice cream and, most important of all, watching the new season of Footballers' Wives on BBC America. Hey, Tanya's back, and Joan Collins is now on the show, so I figured that I'd pick up tips on trash-talking during the game.
Before I got to that point, though, I had to be "drafted." That took place on the upper level of the Plaza Granfalloon on a Tuesday afternoon. That's when I got to see who else was participating in this spectacle. Surprisingly, the Kansas City Star's Hearne Christopher Jr. wasn't there, even though he frequently quotes Wizards "spokesdude" Rob Thomson. All talk and no rock, Hearne?
Other persons of interest included Dos Mundos' Ed Reyes, Mix 93.3's Rocket, the Star's Bob Luder, Star 102.1's Dave Fogel and KSHB's Meredith "Heinous" Hoenes.
They divided us into two teams, Blue vs. White. I got drafted in the eighth round for White, and I think I was heckled by some radio jockholes. "Drafted for a bad attitude: the Pitch!" said one. Oooh! Good one! Sadly, I couldn't muster a Tanya-style response.
We got our uniforms, and I met a couple of my teammates. Juan Ramirez from Univision said he's been playing soccer since he was a kid. I offered up the fact that I don't play. "Then why are you doing this? For the media coverage?" he joked. Uh, no. I got even more nervous that this game wasn't going to be played with a beer in one hand.
On the morning of the game, I made Erik, the Significant Other, kick a soccer ball around with me. Then, around 6 p.m., we went to Arrowhead. The parking lot atmosphere seemed pretty cool. We saw a good number of tailgaters as well as a live band on a stage near the gates. We headed for the Arrowhead offices, and we were then taken to the Springfield Box. I envisioned that we'd be in an enclosed, air-conditioned private box on the second level, but it turned out that we were housed in one of those open-air areas located at the top of the first-level seats. The long, narrow space was crowded with people.
As KCTV's Matt Stewart squeezed by us to get to his seat, he said, totally unironically: "It's tight in the box."
"That's what she said!" Erik responded.
The Wizards gave us food and beer. I was drinking my can of Bud Light when, 10 minutes into the game, tragedy struck: The box ran out of beer. How was I supposed to play soccer on just half a can?
In the meantime, the real game seemed to be fairly exciting, but I was too distracted to watch. Especially when I heard someone behind us proclaim, "I have the immune system of a 7-year-old water buffalo." I turned around, and the water buffalo was Metro Sports' Mick Shaffer.
"What does that mean?" I whispered to Erik.
"I don't know. He has the reference skills of a nocturnal wombat," he answered.
Hoenes turned out to be a no-show for the game. Her absence reduced the female contingent to me and two other women, not including our "coaches," Darcy Blake and Jenny Matthews.
At the 30-minute mark, we were summoned out of the box and taken en masse into the bowels of Arrowhead. Along the way, I met Gary Lezak, who gave me a hug. Warm front coming on! As we streamed out onto the field, the crowd thankfully didn't heckle us.
The game started pretty quickly, and someone should have cued the Benny Hill music or Ted Nugent's "Free for All." The two goalies were the only pre-assigned positions, so we all basically just ran around. I decided to play defense, and I ran my ass off. Then I got winded and decided I had to stop running. My one shining moment was when I put myself in front of two Blue guys who had the ball and were advancing toward my goal. One of the guys, Carlos Chicas from Univision-Arkansas, was probably the best player on his team. They blew past me, but my friends in the stands said it looked like I kicked the ball. I did not.
Another amazing player was our goalie, WHB's Jake Gutierrez, who ended up getting the MVP award from the Wizards. We were all impressed that he could kick the ball almost the length of the field. Gary Lezak seemed fairly aggressive, too. But by this point, I was panting and wasn't paying much attention to our offense. Apparently, I should have guarded the Wizards' lizard mascot. He stood in the middle of the field and kicked the ball for the Blue team toward our goal. He also periodically shook his head sadly at our soccer skills.
The Blue team scored, but the goal didn't count because someone was offside. The game ended — rather quickly, I thought — with a final score of nil all. After that, 610 Sports' Damon Amendolara (aka D.A.) ran across the field, slid on his knees and tore off his shirt, Brandi Chastain-style. We all gathered for a group picture. In the elevator heading back upstairs, seer Gary Lezak told us that it was going to rain in 40 minutes. Gary knows his shit — it started raining at 8:43 p.m.
All that exertion still has me beat. I'm hobbling around like an arthritic octopod.
Oh, and the Wizards beat Real Salt Lake, 1-0. After the game, my friends and I met up at McCoy's where, in celebration of the game, I drank more than half a can of beer.