It’s been pretty nice this week having the World Cup on television to allow for at least a bit of a distraction, for part of the day, from, you know, reality. This was a bad enough week that Dealbreaker is going to host a charity fundraiser on Tuesday. So, if you play your cards right and watch the final games of Group C and D, then get ready to head to Caveat, you might be able to go the entire day without looking at the news and whatever fresh horrors have arrived by early next week.
The World Cup has not had anything resembling the issues of the last major sporting event in Russia, the #SochiProblems-plagued 2014 Winter Olympics, but there is an important story brewing. Or not brewing enough, as the case may be. The bars in Moscow are running out of beer.
As Jack Stubbs wrote for Reuters, “Beer sales in Russia have fallen by around a third … as duties have risen and rules been tightened on sales and advertising. Brewers had not been expecting a major reversal of the trend this year.”
It’s pretty astonishing that Russia could mastermind a plot to swing the presidential election of the United States of America, yet could not figure out that hosting an international soccer tournament would mean a lot of visitors coming into the country with an interest in drinking beer. Granted, it isn’t the successor agencies to the KGB in charge of Moscow beer distribution, but still, that’s pretty embarrassing.
An even greater embarrassment came on Thursday, not to Russia itself, but to Argentina, which moved to the brink of an early exit with a 3-0 loss to Croatia. A win on Tuesday over Nigeria – again, come to the fundraiser after that – may not even be enough to save Lionel Messi’s team, depending on the result of Iceland-Croatia, played simultaneously.
“I feel bad for Messi,” Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid tweeted on Thursday, adding a pair of single-tear crying emoji for emphasis.
The crying, though, should have been saved for Thursday night, when the 76ers drafted Mikal Bridges, whose mom Tyneeha Rivers is the global vice president of human resources for the company that owns the team – then traded him to the Phoenix Suns while he was in the middle of a press conference about how happy he was to be joining the Sixers.
This is a very stupid thing that the NBA does for reasons related to the salary cap, and it’s the reason that we have moments like Kobe Bryant getting drafted by the (original) Charlotte Hornets even though he was never going to play for them, or Dirk Nowitzki joining the Milwaukee Bucks.
The way the system is set up in the NBA serves pretty much nobody. It’s obviously bad for the players, who get jerked around to start their lives as professional basketball players. It’s bad for fans, who get excited about a player joining their team, then learn that he was never actually in their plans. It’s bad for television viewers, who wind up getting analysis of how players fit in with teams that drafted them with an understanding that they would be traded within the hour. It’s bad for the media, who wind up wasting energy on that analysis. It may be good for a very specific type of memorabilia collector who specializes in what is basically sports vaporware – things like 2007 World Series tickets for Shea Stadium. That Hornets cap Bryant wore for a few fleeting moments at the 1996 draft should probably be worth something, right?
The NBA could change this easily by amending its rules for the salary cap and trades on draft night, with the understanding that it’s a few hours out of the entire year and would save a lot of trouble for a lot of people.
Because this time, it was a Bridges too far.
Sorry, that joke works better in the original Russian, after you’ve had a beer or six.