I love whenever there’s a big soccer match on ESPN, because the network busts out my favorite commentator and lets him talk on a nonstop firing spree for ninety minutes before they lock him away until next year.
I believe that ESPN keeps Tommy Smyth – “That’s Tommy Smyth with a ‘Y'” – in a cage in Bristol, Connecticut, where he refines his obscure accent to sound something like a cross between Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins and every Charles Dickens character.
Maybe I’m such a fan because I feel so bad for the guy. He is a genius with football history, strategy and analysis, yet whenever he gets his chance to shine on SportsCenter the question he’s always asked is, “Today’s Champions League final is monumental…” And he looks real happy, like he’ll finally get a question he can thrive with. But then it’s topped off with, “…How would you compare it to baseball?”
And Tommy Smyth – who I think might legally qualify for a passport to a Leprechaun colony – has to suck it up and lower the bar so American audiences can understand football– sorry, soccer. The guy is awesome. He refers to a goal as a bulge in the old onion bag. He has translated modern soccer to people who only understand expressions from the Irish Potato Famine.
They let him run around for ninety minutes talking about what he loves. Then the game ends and they push him back in his cage and we’ll see him again next year.