Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2010: The year I quit smoking and/or support Lucas

As you can see, I'm really going for it with my New Year's resolutions this time around. It's going to be a hard dollar to do the double, but the time has come to go for it. I'm in an ambitious mood after yesterday's Torres (late, late, late) winner at Villa Park.

Adding to all this is over the last couple days of my holiday vacation, I've been watching bits and pieces of Liverpool 2 - United 0 from October. First, it was just for the nostalgia of a consistent Liverpool performance. Then today – to be more precise, five minutes ago – I finished watching the last half hour plus stoppage time. Golly that was fun. Other than the simple thrill of the victory, repeat viewings of it keep leading me to see that match as the last great marauding show of defiance from Jaime Carragher. He had somewhere between 20 and 4,357 headed clearances in the match. I'm not sure about the exact number, but it seems closer to the latter number the more I watch that performance. Age will take him sooner than later – as it will for all of us – so let's appreciate things while we can.

That brings me back to the resolutions. I've got my Liverpool moaning out of the way, as you can read in this post, where I all but hump an 8" x 10" glossy photo of Xabi Alonso. That's OK. Sometimes reactions like that are unavoidable, particularly after losing to Portsmouth in this of all seasons. From this point forward, it's time to appreciate what I have.

So Lucas, you're in luck in 2010. RJ Reynolds, not so much. There's 18 matches left in Liverpool's season, and the team is four points out of fourth. That's the goal now, and there probably isn't a "Jim kvetching" level I can reach that will affect whether Liverpool finishes there or lower, which is why I'm throwing my support to you, Lucas. I was irrationally harsh toward you at the start of 2009, and I'm going in the other direction to end the year. It's not your fault the term "favorite son" is an understated way of describing how Rafa treats you. Lately, I've come to appreciate your more subtle gifts, such as how you play well against United – which always counts for a lot in our world – and you've shown a gift for falling down when slightly challenged outside the box in a way that consistently convinces the referee just enough that there's been a foul committed.

See, we're off to a good start.

The whole coming year feels like a countdown. We're 162 days from the World Cup. We're however many days from this potentially life-altering, paradigm-shifting, future-wrecking, Leeds-inducing change in the course of Liverpool Football Club. And on July 5, 2010, all of the city of Milwaukee goes smoke free. Many of my friends, along with my Match Pricks co-writer Colin, cannot wait for that ban to take effect. I've come to accept it and realize people I care about want it to happen now, though they're just glad it will become law soon. Plus, it's as good an incentive as you can find to get on with dropping the habit. It's going to be odd handling my typical match day nervousness when it's 0-0 in the 86th minute and I can't chase my shot and a beer with the full, rich taste of a delicious cigarette. Then again, it would be much more difficult to handle those moments next season with Torres playing for Barcelona, so there's no point in worrying about my own struggles while watching these things transpire.

I got your back, Lucas. After all, if things don't go well, maybe Liverpool won't even be able to entice you back for another year. I don't want to live in a world where your blond pompadour isn't adorned in red. Kick some ass in 2010, buddy.

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