Once again, too good to go down

When Rocket Man isn’t live-blogging congressional hearings, obsessing over President Bush’s election prospects, or covering beauty pageants, he worres about whether my favorite English soccer team, Everton FC, will avoid being relegated from the Premier League. I am happy to assure him that Everton will not be relegated this year, thanks to today’s 3-1 victory over the equally mediocre Tottenham Hotspur side.
By way of background, European football has embraced an idea that apparently is too American for American sports — at the end of the season, the bottom teams (three in England) are demoted to a lower division and replaced by the top teams from the lower division. Everton has survived this dreaded drop for more than 50 years, but for the past ten or so seasons they generally have done so only just. One year, it took the last kick of the last match to score the goal that kept us up. Another year, we would have gone down if the last kick in either of two matches had gone against us.
But today’s victory over Spurs gives us 37 points (you get three for a win and one for a tie) with six matches to go. 40 points virtually guarantees survival and 38 (an average of one per match) is often enough. This year, three teams (the probable relegatees) are averaging less than a point per match; two others are on exactly that pace; and three more trail Everton. So I figure we’re safe, and weeks early at that.
For years after Everton’s slide began, I regarded nearly every season as a failure. But now I realize that, by surviving, we succeed. This may be a defeatist mentality, an outgrowth, Rocket Man would say, of my youth as a Washington Senators fan. But with real success these days going almost exclusively to the richest five or so clubs, it’s the attitude I choose to adopt.
Here’s to another successful season.
HINDROCKET adds: I can sympathize; there have been a few seasons where, if major league baseball had relegation, my Twins probably would have been relegated. On the other hand, in soccer you don’t have to worry that your team’s owner may agree with Bud Selig to have your team “contracted”!


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