Thursday, August 7, 2008


It's not that I really expect consistency from Marcelo Balboa, who is doing color commentary on the matches in the Olympics.

However, I am curious, and perhaps someone has an explanation. In the Japan/U.S. match, there was a point where Freddy Adu was clearly pushed (not a bone-jarring shove, but a push all the same) and went down in the box. He didn't get a call, and Balboa praised the ref for not going whistle-happy over what he, "as a defender" considered strong defensive contact, apparently. Balboa contended that Freddy should have tried harder to stay on his feet instead of looking for the penalty call by going down with the contact.

Later on in the match, Maurice Edu pulled at a Japanese attacker's shirt in the box (a brief tug, but a pull all the same). In this case, though, Balboa argued immediately for the penalty call, "for me, that's a penalty" while failing to disclose any distinction between the two cases. The Japanese player, like Adu, didn't look like he was trying to stay on his feet, instead tumbling to make the contact more obvious. To me, it seemed the ref was being fairly consistent (in the Abbe Okulaja I'm-only-calling-a-bone-crunching-tackle-penalty way).

Balboa wasn't as reliable, which left me wondering, other than the obvious push versus pull, what would make one play "a good non-call" and the other "should be a penalty"? Thoughts?


JkR said...

I thought the ref was pretty consistent, as you mention, in a whistle-if-it-bleeds sort of way. The US was fortunate, but I wasn't surprised he didn't call it, as hadn't called much to that point.

I also thought Balboa was quite consistent: consistently wrong and consistently boorish.

Cameron Banga (mobile) said...

Funny that you write about this because I thought the exact same thing while watching this morning. All the push/pulls in the box were questionable, but I applaud the ref for keeping consistent. Balboa on the other hand needs to maybe take a referee class or two.

Anonymous said...

Amen. I said it a lot less cordially while sitting in front of my TV this morning, but I found the inconsistency irritating. While I don't necessarily want my Olympic commentators to be blatantly pro-American-athletes, basically declaring that the referee had robbed Japan of a point because of two missed penalties went a bit far in the other direction.

Dave Lifton said...

There's a very simple explanation: Marcelo Balboa hates America.

Steve said...

Dave: agreed.

Toddzilla said...

God bless Marcelo, he seems to really try, but at some point, they're going to have to end his internship at ESPN. He's just one of these guys who doesn't let the facts get in the way of the analysis. The Japanese defender clearly pushed Freddy down with two outstretched arms, and the replay showed it, but Balboa just couldn't let that affect him. Mind you, I don't blame the ref for not making that call - it would have been a so-so penalty situation, but for Balboa to ask like Freddy just flopped was ridiculous.

I also think he was also wrong about the two fouls that Edu had in the box - the second one was just ridiculous - Edu barely had the shirt of the Japanese player. Again, could have been called, but he just goes on about how it was definitely a penalty, which is a joke. And on the first one, we never even saw a decent replay of it, and since we know that he's watching the exact same thing that we are, I don't know what he was thinking.

You're right, AC - the ref was of the "no severed limbs, no foul" mentality (except for that phantom Michael Bradley yellow - what the hell was that?), so at least he was consistently mediocre. 'Celo is just consistently bad.

Anonymous said...

Well, according to Balboa, the following things are true:

The US played the Chinese team today.

The Sydney Olympics were held in 2002.

Anonymous said...

Smacks to me of Balboa being terrified of being labeled a "homer" announcer.

Anonymous said...

(Here's the thing)

I thought the ref did a pretty good job considering he was moonlighting from his day job as the Lt. Daniels on The Wire.