Author's note: This is about soccer. If you find the subject-matter distasteful, please move along. But if you are a SPORTS fan, even if you don't follow soccer, you SHOULD read this.
With the Tottenham Hotspurs (at home) "drawing" (=tying) West Brom Albion 1-1 today, England's Premier League is now on the verge of the MOST AMAZING sports championship just about EVER.
First-place Leicester City Foxes are 7 points clear with only 3 games remaining in the season. At 3 points for a win and 1 for a draw (=tie), the only way Tottenham can catch LC is if LC loses at least one and either loses or draws (=ties) the other two, AND Tottenham wins all three.
In other words -- Leicester needs only ONE WIN in its last 3 games to win the title.
THIS IS JUST ABOUT UNPRECEDENTED. Consider:
- With 9 games to go last year, LC was in last place, facing "relegation" to the next-lower division (confusingly called the Championship) (although that's not as confusing as the next-next-lower tier, the 3d tier in England called--wait for it--the First Division). LC went on to win 7 of their last 9 to stave off relegation, and they just didn't stop winning.
- They were famously 5000-to-1 at the start of this year to win the Premier League. That's the same odds you can get for Christmas being the warmest day in the UK of the year, or Chloe Kardashian being elected president in 2020. (Although...)
- No team outside of five has won the Premier League since its inception just over 20 years ago. IIRC no team outside of a cabal of six teams has gotten close, for that matter. And by "close" I mean top 5.
- The cost to LC to assemble its ENTIRE team (through "transfer fees") is about $50 million -- which is less than the cost of the transfer fees for some INDIVIDUAL PLAYERS on their heavyweight competitors like Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, etc. The entire salary base of LC is a small fraction of the top teams.
- None of LC's top players this year were on any major team's radar -- ever. Their top goal scorer, James Vardy, is 29 and was in much lower divisions until the last couple of years. Their best player (and just voted this year's POTY for the entire League), Mahrez, was plucked out of a 2d-tier French team. Their captain, Morgan (see what I did there), was considered a washed-up never-has-been. Now -- Vardy, Mahrez, and their top defensive midfielder Kante will all command "massive" transfer fees this summer. (Although Vardy's age could be an issue for him.)
- European soccer is not designed to ensure parity -- it's designed to ensure the Haves keep what they have. No draft (it's a free-for-all to sign and develop players.) No mandatory minimum on salaries. No maximum on salaries (although recently you can't spend more than you earn...but when you earn 30X as much as another team....)
There is literally no equivalent in the US pro leagues, for sure. Mandatory salary minimums, the draft, etc. make even unlikely champions not all that totally unlikely -- the moneyball A's, the 'Greatest Show on Turf' Rams, etc.
TUNE IN if you can. Just watch the spectacle of LC possibly winning the most unlikely, unpredictable championship, EVER.
But while they need just one win, LC's 3 games remaining aren't joke-easy games. Next up is an away game at Manchester United, who while not their best ever team, is in 5th place. Then comes a home game against Everton, who again isn't having their best season but they have plenty of ability to score (defending is their problem). Finally they'd be on the road at defending champ Chelsea, who is having a VERY sub-par season. But if LC were to lose the next two and have to win at Chelsea, the pressure will be unbelievable.
Chelsea might still have something to say beforehand, however. Chelea and Tottenham are both London teams, and thus arch rivals. Tottenham plays Chelsea this weekend. So even if Man United beats LC... if Chelsea beats Tottenham, it's OVER. Chelsea players are already quoted as saying they want to stop their rival from winning the title, so this weekend's Chelsea-Spurs game could be a bloodbath. In a good-to-watch sort of way.
Seriously -- if you made a movie about this, nobody would have believed it. Except Cubs fans like myself, possibly.
Sad note to Gunners fans: Frankly, I don't care about Arsenal either way. (I would point out, though, you do have a Frenchman for a manager.) Anyway, it's fun to tease Arsenal fans, and once again, we can point out, a year in which Man United, and Man City, and Chelsea all SUCK... you STILL can't win the title.