December 4, 2009:
1996 Upper Deck/Bandai Alexi Lalas
The dude running the Central American sweatshop that mass produces these Card-vent Calendars really does his homework. I go so far as to say that it wasn't a coincidence that we are getting a soccer card on the day of the 2010 World Cup draw.
For those interested, you can review the entire field here. For those with just a passing interest in the game, I'll take the jingoist route here and take a look at the group the United States finds themselves in for next summer.
Arguably, things could not have gone much better for the U.S. today. (Yesterday, actually. Work Christmas parties get in the way of things like opening little doors on calendars. Sorry. But hey, you get two today.) The opening match against England will be a lot of fun to watch no matter who comes out on top. The U.S. also avoided Pot 4 entrants like France and Portugal. No match will be easy, but I expect a much smoother road than 2006's "Group of Death" in which the Americans could only manage a tie with Italy.
Today's Alexi Lalas card actually comes from his Bandai MLS action figure, very much akin to a Starting Lineup figure. Alexi was seen as a commentator during the marathon World Cup Draw Television Event. That thing was three hours long! Are you fucking kidding me? I think I wore out the FF button on my DVR remote. Damn. I know there's a place and time for in-depth analyses of the Soweto riots and the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, but this ping-pong fishbowl dog and pony show is not it. Twenty minutes tops next time, FIFA, and Charlize Theron does not get to speak.