The tao of ‘Mike’
There’s one coach at this World Cup that has galvanized a languishing squad and transformed them into a formidable opponent now capable of going deep into the tournament. And along the way, he has captured our imagination.
Mike Herrera. You may know him as Miguel, but, to me, it’s Mike. Everything about his spirit says Mike. The endearing lug you knew in college who was never really in college, but showed up to all the parties. The guy who was always game for another shot, only if cheered on with shouts of “Mike! Mike! Mike!” The guy who doesn’t know when to stop, but regrets whatever consequences flow from his failure to stop. He feels remorse. He wants to be part of the gang. That’s all he really has.
Mike. The human incarnation of your older, under-walked yet tenacious lab mix, who so sweetly and awkwardly barges into the room when you arrive and then CAN’T SETTLE DOWN. That tank of a mutt whose pudge seems to be bursting through his short, wiry fur. That 100-pound lapdog that spontaneously gets excited by the presence of other beings. As his owner, he’s frustrating, but when he’s on a roll his antics make you break out in an uncontrollable, slow-building belly laugh.
Mike. The chunky underdog that goes to high school football games his whole life. The Mexican Rudy Ruettiger meets Chris Farley in Tommy Boy, except without a script—after all, he’s not acting. Rob Ford without the sinister, sociopathic side. Just a volcano of uninhibited joy and anger and disbelief and dreams, thrashing from one to the other—oblivious to notions of caution or occasion or etiquette.
Mike. I don’t know his politics or religion. I don’t know his real views on issues of race, gender, or sexual orientation, though he defended the “puto” chant. I don’t know if he speaks English or grants many interviews. I don’t even really know his coaching philosophy or tactics. All I know is I want a camera on Mike at all times. And if Mike Herrera is going to be on television, even if only for a few seconds over two hours, I’m going to watch every minute.