Tuesday, July 17, 2018

N'Golo Kanté

The Ringer – "The Biggest Key to France’s World Cup Run Was Their Smallest, Most Unassuming Player"

"N’Golo KantĂ© doesn’t jump off the screen in the same way as his teammates—neither for France nor for his club team Chelsea. His diminutive stature (he’s listed at a generous 5-foot-6) compared with the majority of the players surrounding him on the pitch is often jarring, like a fourth grader playing streetball with a bunch of grown men. He is naturally shy, quiet, and unassuming—the “OK” meme guy in the form of a world-class player."

"KantĂ©’s presence on the pitch is itself a paradox: The 27-year-old defensive midfielder is self-effacing to the point of anonymity, but also omnipresent; a common refrain is that he’s got a secret twin, because there’s no way one single player can cover that much ground. The dude does not stop hustling, and I wouldn’t bat an eye if his pregame warm-up was secretly a half-marathon."

"The KantĂ©-specific celebrations continued on the French team bus, with a chant breaking out that praised his ability to shut down Lionel Messi, arguably the best player on the planet, in the round of 16 (“He’s short, he’s nice, he’s the one that stopped Leo Messi,” the KantĂ© ode goes, translated from French)."

"It’s why it makes sense for KantĂ©’s French teammates to dole out so much praise. KantĂ© isn’t one to do it for himself, so they might as well become his chorus of hype. In the World Cup, he had 52 recoveries, which led all players and was the most by a Frenchman since 1966, and was also tied for the tournament lead with 20 interceptions. Put simply, KantĂ© was as integral to France’s World Cup success as Griezmann, MbappĂ©, and Paul Pogba—and his teammates know it."

"After France won Sunday—a game in which KantĂ© underperformed and was subbed early in the second half, though it was later reported he tried to play through a stomach bug—KantĂ© was reportedly too shy to ask his teammates to hold the World Cup trophy, so Steven N’Zonzi had to ask them on his behalf. (My heart!) Every aspect of KantĂ©’s life is just one wholesome meme. Former teammates in France said he’s not interested in nightlife, preferring to go home and rest before more training and matches. He looks happy—even when he’s waiting at an airport."

The New York Yankees Are The Worst

New York Times – "The New York Yankees Are a Moral Abomination"

"Major League Baseball, like America, is in decline. A faint air of doom hangs about this most exquisite of games. The median age of its fans rises each year; the young increasingly prefer other diversions; some savants predict a contraction of the National and American Leagues in the near future. Meanwhile, the only solutions the owners can contrive are trivial measures for shortening time of play, and never with appreciable effect. Yet the real cause of the problem is obvious. Though there has always been an immense inequality of resources between the richest and poorest franchises, the division has widened to catastrophic proportions in recent decades. It is hard to persuade children to invest their love in teams that cannot plausibly hope for a championship any time within, oh, the first 30 years of their lives.

Yet M.L.B. would never consider the wisdom of creating a real system of shared revenues and salary caps. The richest franchises — among which the Yankees enjoy archetypal pre-eminence — are content to let the poorest wither in a laissez-faire desert rather than make any reasonable sacrifices for the common good. Thus the business of baseball — through greed, profligacy, shortsightedness and an insatiable appetite for immediate gratification — consumes itself by relentlessly allowing its own communal basis to disintegrate beneath it, and by ignoring the needs of future generations.

The analogy is imperfect, but irresistible. America — with its decaying infrastructure, its third-world public transit, its shrinking labor market, its evaporating middle class, its expanding gulf between rich and poor, its heartless health insurance system, its mindless indifference to a dying ecology, its predatory credit agencies, its looming Social Security collapse, its interminable war, its metastasizing national debt and all the social pathologies that gave it a degenerate imbecile and child-abducting sadist as its president — remains the only developed economy in the world that believes it wrong to use civic wealth for civic goods. Its absurdly engorged military budget diverts hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the public weal to those who profit from the military-industrial complex. Its plutocratic policies and libertarian ethos are immune to all appeals of human solidarity. It towers over the world, but promises secure shelter only to the fortunate few.

And so, of course, the Yankees cannot help but be emblematic of everything that characterizes us as a nation and as an idea: a thing gargantuan and heedless, invincible and yet bizarrely fragile and self-destructive. Still, I suppose one must be fair. M.L.B.’s decline, America’s — the Yankees may contribute mightily to the former, but they only epitomize the latter.

Though, truth be told, I would blame them for both if I could."