Saturday, November 26, 2011

Somebody left a pretty amazing comment the other day

Apparently I really irked somebody with my "soccer will never make it in the U.S." blog, because this was posted in the comments section shortly after I wrote it:

Yes there are mountains of data to contradict your misinformed "opinion". Don't worry you are not alone the sports media, mostly for selfish or nostalgia driven reasons repeat the same garbage. What has changed... The league and specific franchises are now profitable. Their is a greater diversity in ownership and an actual and immense widening of the talent pool to sustain a bigger league. Soaring television revenues. More and more outlets bidding on domestic (MLS and lower division) soccer rights. On and on and on... Chose your indice or metric and it's probably met. Btw, most NBA and NFL athletes are ill equipped to be successful in soccer. Don't worry your "theory" is another junk claim the mainstream media purports as fact that isn't supported by evidence, too so you are also not alone in thinking it. Soccer is a blend of long distance and short distance athletecism, where immense stature can be more of a hinderance than a benefit. Take a guy like Steve Nash who was a very good soccer player but nowhere near ever being one of the best players in the world like he was in the NBA (and he's relatively short). MMA athletes share more in common with soccer players than soccer players do with basketball players or NFL players. Though it's not like that sport is exactly stealing all the best players. For soccer to succeed in America, certainly it'd be better if guys like Chris Paul or Darren Sproles were drawn to the game (though they represent only a small cross over with mainstream American athletes), but really it is just getting a system in place to train young players. Our coaches, tactically are crap. They are getting better, but it takes time. Things are miles better than when Beckham landed here (just look at the coverage ESPN now gives to the sport), and light years better than when the MLS started. Before accepting someone else's opinion as your own or repeating the same jokes about the sport do a little research. You'd be surprise, your headline would be vastly different if you took the time to educate yourself. Cue jokes about soccer not being worth your while to do just that...

Wow.  Anytime I can inspire somebody to leave a comment twice as long as the original blog, that makes me proud.  I would like to make two brief points in rebuttal:

1.  I did admit there was statistical evidence that contradicted my opinion.
2.  Check back with me in 20 years.  I bet I'm right. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ok, now it's Christmas season.

I bought a laptop from Best Buy at 6 am on "Black Friday" several years ago.  I saved a couple hundred bucks so it seemed worth it.  Now most of the stores open at 5 am, or even midnight the night before.  If I was going to go I think I'd go at 3 am.  I figure the crowds who went at midnight are long gone, and the people who go at sunrise aren't there yet.

Yeah this is mostly sarcastic, but I did entertain the notion.  I'm always up at 3 am anyway.  But the point I'm getting at is this: My one and only goal this holiday season is to not once step foot inside a mall.  Every year I end up panicking and going to one just before Christmas to try to find some last minute ideas.  And every year it's terrible and there's nothing there I ever want to buy.  So this year I'm not doing it.  No matter what.

And on a somewhat random but slightly related note: since I started hearing Christmas music and seeing decorations in stores the day after Halloween, I'm going to create the 55 day advent calender that begins November 1st.  Patent pending.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Live Thanksgiving Day Football: Concord-Carlisle 34, Bedford 7

Since I just went to my first high school football game in 15 years, I figured I might as well write about it.  CCHS looked as good as advertised, completely dominating the game on both ends and holding Bedford scoreless until a garbage time TD in the last few minutes vs. guys who's names and numbers didn't appear in the program.  Concord-Carlisle is now heading to the playoffs undefeated (for the first time since 1978) and ranked # 4, 5, or 6 in Massachusetts depending on what poll you look at.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Newsflash: soccer isn't gonna happen here

The MLS Cup took place last Sunday afternoon (MLS is an American professional soccer league, and the "Cup" is it's championship game), and it was won by the L.A. Galaxy.  The next day I saw a Sportscenter interview with David Beckham on the subject of what winning the Cup meant to him.  He was also asked what needed to happen for soccer to become as popular here as it is in the rest of the world.  Beckham's response was that it just "needs to be around for a few more years."  Well I've got some news for you you silly Brit: It's not gonna happen here.

When I was a kid EVERYONE my age played soccer.  So I figured that meant by the time I was a grownup soccer would definitely become popular in the U.S.  I was wrong.  When I was in college MLS was formed, and I thought that would be the thing that got American soccer going.  I was wrong again.  If you watch the clip of that interview, you kind of get the feeling that Beckham thinks MLS began when he came here 5 years ago.  But the league started play in 1996.  I'm sure there's some statistical data to contradict this, but I don't really get the feeling that MLS is any more popular now than it was 15 years ago.

There is one fundamental thing that just isn't ever going to change: In other countries all over the world their best athletes play soccer.  Here our best athletes play football, basketball, and baseball.  I'd be willing to bet U.S.A. soccer would be #1 in the world year in and year out if all the stars of the NFL, NBA, and MLB had decided long ago to play soccer instead.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

This "New Year's Eve" movie is "Valentine's Day 2"

It's got some of the same cast.  It's the same director.  It's obviously the same premise: lots of different characters and plot lines that all intertwine together around one holiday.  Even the posters are the same.

But you know what?  I think "New Year's Eve" should really be called "Love Actually 3."  That movie did everything "Valentine's Day" did, but a long time ago, and way better.  And it was centered around Christmas.  Same poster too.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I love the Maui Invitational

It's played in that tiny gym.  You get to see coaches and announcers in ridiculous Hawaiian shirts and leis.  They always put on ukulele music going in and out from commercial breaks.  And it's the only time of year when you hear about Chaminade, a Division II team that gets to host the tournament by default because they happen to be in paradise.  It's always hilarious to see the bracket full of schools like Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, etc; and Chaminade.  They do often hold their own in Maui though, just last year they beat Oklahoma, and in '03 Chaminade knocked off Villanova.

But my absolute favorite part of this tournament (going back to when I was in college) is that every year it's good for a random weekday afternoon in November when you flip on ESPN expecting to see a 9th re-run of Sportscenter, but get a great college hoops game instead.  Today I got to see #15 Michigan (I've always been a fan of the Wolverines, and they're coached by John Beilein, who was the Spiders' head coach when I was at Richmond) led by Tim Hardaway Jr. upset #8 Memphis.  Thanks Maui Invitational.

ADDENDUM: Chaminade upset #1 Virginia (who was led by Ralph Sampson) in 1982, which was actually the impetus for the creation of this tournament.  I was aware of that when I wrote the blog, but I didn't think it really fit the context and I was trying to keep it short.  I got an angry comment from Hawaii though, so I felt obligated to add this now and defend myself.  Here's Tom Brokaw 29 years ago:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What if every MLB team that won 90 games made the playoffs?

Last week Major League Baseball announced that the Houston Astros will be moving to the American League West (giving each division 5 teams), and that another Wild Card playoff team will be added to each league.  Back in April when rumors of this first came about, I wrote that I didn't like it because of the small sample size of the playoffs.  St. Louis has managed to win the World Series twice in the last five years despite being the worst team in the playoffs both times.  One of my favorite quotes from the book Moneyball is "the average difference in baseball due to skill is about one run a game, while the average difference due to luck is about four runs a game."  And now it looks like the new Wild Card round may be just one single game.  Here's my hypothetical nightmare: an 84 win Seattle team knocking off a 97 win Red Sox team behind one great start from Felix Hernandez.

So what if every team that won 90 games made the playoffs?  There would always be dramatic finishes to the regular season.  No team would be out of it until they lost their 73rd game.  Not only would all the teams trying to get to 90 wins play hard until the end, but so would the teams who'd already clinched, because the seeding would become extremely important.  The playoff format would be different every year, and there would be no way to know for sure what it would be until the very end of the season.

For example, last year the Cardinals won the last game of the year for their 90th win, while the Braves lost theirs and finished with only 89.  So under this format, going into the last day of the season, there would have been the possibility of only 3 playoff teams in the NL, or as many as 5.  The top seeded Phillies might have had a bye while the 2 and 3 seeds played each other, or while the 2 played 5 and 3 played 4.  Or they might have had to play in the first round vs the 4 seed while the 2 and 3 played each other.  Some years maybe only 2 or 3 teams might make the playoffs in one league, while other years it might be as many as 6 or 7.  Obviously this will never happen.  But imagine how exciting it would be?  Chaos is fun.

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