ESPN takes an unholy pounding in the sports blogging world. Much of it is probably deserved but they came through yesterday big time. The Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea went to penalties. In the olden days, I used to set my VCR for 3 or so hours but now with DVRs, you choose the programming block and record it. ESPN set a 2 hour and 25 minute programming block for the Final which would have been fine IF extra time wasn’t required. Of course, you can always select the ensuing program on the DVR to make sure you get extra time and penalties but I’m an idiot.
Sure enough, my DVR recording conked out just after the end of the first period of extra time. Lovely. So at 9 PM EDT, I decided to check ESPN classic to see if they would be rebroadcasting the match later that evening. Sure enough, they were so I set my DVR to catch the rebroadcast. Then I switched over to ESPN2 HD just to see if they would rebroadcast in HD. I tuned in just at the beginning of the second period of extra time. I guess they rebroadcast the match immediately afterwards and delayed their scheduled programming. I didn’t miss anything. Thanks ESPN. And I’m sincere about it.
The match was excellent with an agonizing penalty session deciding the cup. I’m not a supporter of either side so it was a fun to watch. What wasn’t too fun was the performance of the Slovakian officiating team. Lubos Michel is supposedly one of the top referees in UEFA. He had plenty to do and lots of decisions to make but I wasn’t too impressed with his match control and discipline decision making. Of course, he may have had specific pre-match instructions from the governing body that I am not privy to but I thought he was uneven. Thank goodness there weren’t too many offside decisions because the assistants were incorrect more often than not on balls simply going into touch. The scene where all three field officials came onto the pitch when Drogba was sent off was almost comical. Clearly, AR1 was more worried about finding something that fell off his flag than he was in observing and assisting the referee during this incident. Next time I am an AR and I feel the need to come all the way across the field for an incident, perhaps I should leave my flag with the 4th. I don’t want to look like that poor fellow on any videotape.