You've heard the rumors that it exists and the tantalizing teases at the end of the Champions League games on our ESPN back home. You know those ones: "Coming up for our international viewers only, every Champions League game you could ever want to watch, plus we're going to send you one thousand dollars." Okay, that second part is never in there, but it's basically how you feel anyway when you hear the first part, isn't it?
So, to kind-of-quote Teri Hatcher from that old "Seinfeld" episode, it is real, and it is spectacular.
It seems like every other time I turn the network on, there is some great old Champions League match or highlight show on. And then there is what I like to call "Bizarro SportsCenter." You know how soccer fans in The States complain that there is no soccer on SportsCenter? This is the exact opposite.
Imagine watching the opening tease to SportsCenter, same graphics and everything, and every single story is soccer. That's what it is, and that's why I call it "Bizarro SportsCenter" -- everything is the exact opposite of what we are used to.
And while there is plenty of footie on the tele to keep you happy, if you do need a break you can switch to one of the international channels, on which there will invariably be a team handball match going on. Quick aside -- who is demonstrating more self-destructive behavior: a team handball goalkeeper or a Fire fan? Discuss ...
My final note about football in paradise comes from a recent shopping trip that you-know-who dragged me on through downtown Oranjestad (that's apparently in Aruba). While she was off blowing my hard-earned MLSnet.com money, I went in search of a jersey for the collection, either a national team or local club top.
Didn't happen. I found out from the owner of a large sports apparel shop that they don't sell replicas for either here, not much of a market for 'em. Want a throwback Minneapolis Lakers NBA jersey? No problem. How about a Minnesota Twins fitted baseball hat? Good use of your money, and if you have the Florins on you, you can buy them here. But an Aruban soccer jersey ... no dice. Maybe if they had beaten that pesky Surinam.
My luck did change however when the Queen Of The Palace hauled me into some dingy-looking department store (you know, because the 412 other shops we stopped in didn't have the absolute perfect pair of flip-flops, or whatever she absolutely needed that day). Anyway, the place had sale signs everywhere and suddenly a rack caught my eye -- it was filled with national team replica jerseys from several countries ... for three dollars each. Literally.
I asked the storekeeper if that was really the price and she said yes, they were closing this week and she had to get rid of everything. Well, you didn't have to tell me twice, so suddenly for the price of a Balashi Beer each, I walked away with a bunch of new jerseys, ranging from Holland to Italy. I literally bought one of every single country they had, except for two: France and Germany.
Even for three bucks, I just could not bring myself to buy a France or Germany top ... and of myself I have never been more proud.
So with that, I bid you adieu from another terribly-grinding MLSnet.com assignment. If you'd like to learn more about Aruba, just jump on the internet and find one of the Aruba bulletin boards. People who come here get addicted, and they spread the word like a cult. The zealots on the Aruba bulletin boards make the Big Soccer regulars look downright disinterested.
It is time for me to go, because as we say in the local tongue of Papiamento, "Mi kier un serbes bon friew" -- or -- "I want a cold beer."
The Clean Sheet runs each Thursday on MLSnet.com. Send any questions and comments to email@example.com. Views and opinions expressed in this column views and opinions are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or its clubs.