Chicago is a town that embraces superstition. There is something deeply suspected here, like the fact that a goat's curse or it's embodiment, some well-meaning kid in head phones, are actually to blame for their beloved Cubs' woes. I grew up here and know this city.
So it was in this spirit, having just defeated our arch nemesis, Chicago (albeit the lesser Chicago, but you have to start somewhere), we mocked and laughed, chiding one of our teammates for choosing for himself a shady Korean joint over Subway or even a somewhat more reliable pizza place that reeked of urinal cakes. And by shady I mean it was a place that didn't even bother to translate the menu, so certain were they no American fool (or, in this case, a German one) would step off the curb and stumble into the place.
Well, that fool was our own Stephan Storch. Apparently, he walked up to the counter, pointed a finger at some block of unintelligible shapes, and took a chance he might strike culinary gold. What he got looked like seven derivations of goat brains, some of which were so foul smelling we wouldn't let him eat it near us.
As teammates are want and apt to do, we teased and harangued, and told him he'd cursed us with his damned foulness, the gray puddles of brain. And then we took to the court against arguably the best team in the tournament, the 12-time national champion New York Athletic Club, and laid a stinker of a half to start the game, only scoring one goal. One stupid, lousy, pathetic goal. It was mortifying to look at that board at halftime, the curse so apparent in that single mark we managed to muster despite our best efforts to lay a big-fat-goose-egg.
The curse was fleeting, thankfully, and we fought goal-for-goal throughout the second half, scoring 13 despite the fact that we were undersized, undermanned, and overwhelmed by a team of current and former MNTers whose bench was as big as our team.
My hate of losing is legendary, and although I feel like putting a fist through a wall for our play, I am proud of my guys, who didn't give up, who didn't give in to what was a most public embarrassment. And this is what makes our game great. This is what makes handball special. It takes strength, speed, and wit, cunning and not a little subterfuge. It is a puzzle that requires you to overcome your own inadequacies and deficiencies in real time in order for you to win, or at least retain some semblance of self-esteem.