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kenn.com blog

Soccer, mostly, but some other stuff, too

The Original Beast Mode

Jimmie Foxx and a telephone pole
Long before Marshawn Lynch, Philadelphia Athletics slugger Jimmie Foxx was known as “The Beast,” and it’s easy to see why. The 6-foot-tall, 190-pound infielder seemed far larger than that, and his exploits were huge. He didn’t actually swing a telephone pole at the plate, but he did hit 534 career home runs for the A’s, Red Sox, Cubs and Phillies, and in 1932 (the season I am currently replaying with the APBA Baseball game), he challenged Babe Ruth‘s 11-year-old record of 60 home runs in a single season.

Foxx had swatted 48 homers through the end of August, then only managed five more in the next 18 games. “Double X” did finish with a flurry, hitting five out in his final 20 at bats of the season (against the Yankees and Senators) but finished two shy of Ruth’s mark. Still, his 58 home runs and 169 RBI led the league (and his .364 average should have been recognized as that of the AL batting champion, but Dale Alexander of the Red Sox hit .367 in 248 fewer plate appearances and, under modern rules, would not have qualified for the batting title). Foxx did win the AL Most Valuable Player award in 1932 and did win the Triple Crown in 1933 with .356-48-163, earning his second straight MVP.

By 1935, the A’s – who had won the American League pennant from 1929-1931 and the World Series the first two of those years – had slid back into the second division and A’s manager Connie Mack was – as often happened – strapped for cash. So he traded Foxx – then just 27 years old – to the Red Sox along with Johnny Marcum (who’d won 17 games for Philadelphia in 1935) on December 10, 1935 for minor-league catcher George Savino and pitcher Gordon Rhodes (who’d gone 2-10 for the Red Sox and would go 9-20 for Philadelphia in the final year of his career in 1936). Oh, and the Red Sox threw in $100,000, which was no small consideration during the Depression. (It would be worth about $1.7 million today.)

Foxx played seven seasons in Boston, hit 222 more home runs there and wound up his career with the Cubs and back in Philadelphia (though with the Phillies), where he hit the final seven of his home runs at age 37. He died in 1967 at the age of 60. (Foxx’s life and career are far more colorful than I can do justice two in a blog post, so I encourage you to read more about him here.)

In my replay, Foxx is crushing the ball, hitting .486 (third in the league to the Yankees’ Tony Lazzeri and Foxx’s teammate, Doc Cramer) and has hit a league-leading seven home runs. Against the Tigers on May 28, he went 3-for-4 with 5 RBI, but the Tigers beat the A’s 7-6 to tie Philadelphia for second place in the AL, a game and a half behind the Yankees.

In other games leading up to Memorial Day (then more commonly referred to as Decoration Day), the Browns rallied to send the Red Sox to yet another defeat, the Indians kept the White Sox tied with Boston in the AL basement and the Yankees stayed on top by beating the Senators. In the National League, the first meeting between the two New York teams was a thriller, the Cardinals dealt the Reds their seventh consecutive defeat, the Phillies broke the Cubs’ six-game win streak and a pitcher’s duel in Boston saw the Braves beat the Pirates.

Results, standings and notes after the jump.

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Rolling The Dice In The Draft (UPDATED)

Tampa Tampa TarponsFor the first time in 30 years, I’m in an APBA Baseball league. My team, the Tampa Tampa Tarpons, plays in TSL, which has been around for…well, seemingly forever, since the early days of play-by-mail leagues. I inherited a team that went 81-77 last season and missed the playoffs, and the draft (which started last Friday) has been a good chance to re-tool the club.

(Those of you who know me may know of my love for the original Tampa Tampa Tarpons, a minor-league club in the Florida State League whose games my best friend and I used to attend as teenagers. This is an homage to that club, whose loss in five games in the 1982 FSL Championship Series to the Fort Lauderdale Yankees still stings.)

Anyway, we’re halfway through the draft’s scheduled 10 rounds, and here are the selections through the first five here are all the selections:

2015 TSL ROOKIE DRAFT
Rd Pk # Club Player Pos MLB14
1 1 1 Park City Pickers Jose Abreu 1B CWS
1 2 2 Whalers George Springer OF HOU
1 3 3 Park City Pickers Corey Dickerson OF COL
1 4 4 Henderson Warthogs Josh Harrison 3B PIT
1 5 5 Whitesboro Wizards Masahiro Tanaka P NYY
1 6 6 Tampa Tarpons Dee Gordon 2B LAD
1 7 7 Jersey Slammers Charlie Blackmon OF COL
1 8 8 California Strokers Xander Bogaerts SS BOS
1 9 9 Carolina Speerits Dellin Betances P NYY
1 10 10 Whitesboro Wizards Yordano Ventura P KCR
1 11 11 Roseville Devils Danny Santana OF MIN
1 12 12 Illinois Polecats Billy Hamilton OF CIN
2 1 13 Illinois Polecats Matt Shoemaker P LAA
2 2 14 Whalers Jake deGrom P NYM
2 3 15 Park City Pickers Steve Pearce 1B BAL
2 4 16 Roseville Devils Chris Carter 1B HOU
2 5 17 Whitesboro Wizards Andrew Miller P NYM
2 6 18 Tampa Tarpons Danny Duffy P KCR
2 7 19 Carolina Speerits Rougned Odor 2B TEX
2 8 20 Park City Pickers Kyle Hendricks P CHC
2 9 21 Carolina Speerits Brandon Belt 1B SFG
2 10 22 California Strokers Javier Baez 2B CHC
2 11 23 Roseville Devils Joe Panik 2B SFG
2 12 24 Carolina Speerits Collin McHugh P HOU
3 1 25 The Superbas Jeurys Familia P NYM
3 2 26 California Strokers Yasmani Grandal C SD
3 3 27 Park City Pickers Francisco Cerevelli C NYY
3 4 28 Henderson Warthogs Marcus Stroman P TOR
3 5 29 The Superbas Brandon Moss OF OAK
3 6 30 Tampa Tarpons Al Alburquerque P DET
3 7 31 California Strokers Pedro Strop P CHC
3 8 32 Whalers Mike Zunino C SEA
3 9 33 Jersey Slammers Casey McGehee 3B MIA
3 10 34 The Superbas Brandon League P LAD
3 11 35 Roseville Devils Robinson Chirinos C TEX
3 12 36 The Superbas Travis Snyder OF PIT
4 1 37 Henderson Warthogs Dan Otero P OAK
4 2 38 Whalers Jonathan Schoop 2B BAL
4 3 39 Illinois Polecats Gregory Polanco OF PIT
4 4 40 Henderson Warthogs Jake Odorizzi P TBR
4 5 41 Whitesboro Wizards Nick Castellanos 3B DET
4 6 42 Tampa Tarpons Kevin Kiermaier OF TBR
4 7 43 Henderson Warthogs Kennys Vargas 1B MIN
4 8 44 Whitesboro Wizards Scott Van Slyke OF LAD
4 9 45 Carolina Speerits Jean Machi P SFG
4 10 46 The Superbas Jenrry Mejia P NYM
4 11   Roseville Devils PASS    
4 12 47 Jersey Slammers Oswaldo Arcia OF MIN
5 1 48 Henderson Warthogs Trevor Bauer P CLE
5 2 49 Whalers Drew Hutchison P TOR
5 3 50 Illinois Polecats Brock Holt OF BOS
5 4 51 Jersey Slammers Neftali Feliz P TEX
5 5 52 Whitesboro Wizards Logan Morrison 1B SEA
5 6 53 Tampa Tarpons Yangervis Solarte 3B SD
5 7 54 Henderson Warthogs AJ Ramos P MIA
5 8 55 Tampa Tarpons Logan Forsythe IF TBR
5 9 56 Tampa Tarpons Miguel A. Gonzalez P BAL
5 10 57 The Superbas Chris Owings SS ARZ
5 11   Roseville Devils PASS    
5 12   Illinois Polecats PASS    
6 1 58 Jersey Slammers Joba Chamberlain P DET
6 2 59 Whalers Jake Petricka P CWS
6 3   Jersey Slammers PASS    
6 4   Jersey Slammers PASS    
6 5 60 Whitesboro Wizards David Carpenter P ATL
6 6 61 Tampa Tarpons Shawn Tolleson P TEX
6 7 63 Tampa Tarpons James Russell P ATL
6 8   California Strokers PASS    
6 9 63 Illinois Polecats Jose Ramirez SS CLE
6 10 64 The Superbas Marwin Gonzalez SS HOU
6 11   Roseville Devils PASS    
6 12   Jersey Slammers PASS    
7 1   Park City Pickers PASS    
7 2 65 Whalers Jon Singleton 1B HOU
7 3   Jersey Slammers PASS    
7 4   Henderson Warthogs PASS    
7 5   Whitesboro Wizards PASS    
7 6   Park City Pickers PASS    
7 7   Park City Pickers PASS    
7 8   California Strokers PASS    
7 9   Carolina Speerits PASS    
7 10   California Strokers PASS    
7 11   Roseville Devils PASS    
7 12 66 Whalers Tony Sipp P HOU
8 1   Park City Pickers PASS    
8 2 67 Whalers Carlos Torres P NYM
8 3   Jersey Slammers PASS    
8 4   Henderson Warthogs PASS    
8 5   Whitesboro Wizards PASS    
8 6 68 Tampa Tarpons Cody Asche 3B PHI
8 7 69 Tampa Tarpons Rene Rivera C SD
8 8   California Strokers PASS    
8 9   Carolina Speerits PASS    
8 10   The Superbas PASS    
8 11   Roseville Devils PASS    
8 12   Illinois Polecats PASS    
9 1   Park City Pickers PASS    
9 2   Whalers PASS    
9 3   Jersey Slammers PASS    
9 4   Henderson Warthogs PASS    
9 5   Whitesboro Wizards PASS    
9 6 70 Tampa Tarpons Gregor Blanco OF SFG
9 7   Tennessee Rednexx PASS    
9 8   California Strokers PASS    
9 9   Carolina Speerits PASS    
9 10   The Superbas PASS    
9 11   Roseville Devils PASS    
9 12   Illinois Polecats PASS    
10 1   Park City Pickers PASS    
10 2   Whalers PASS    
10 3   Jersey Slammers PASS    
10 4   Henderson Warthogs PASS    
10 5   Whitesboro Wizards PASS    
10 6 71 Tampa Tarpons Brandon Guyer OF TBR
10 7   Tennessee Rednexx PASS    
10 8   California Strokers PASS    
10 9   Carolina Speerits PASS    
10 10   The Superbas PASS    
10 11   Roseville Devils PASS    
10 12   Illinois Polecats PASS    

I’ve traded a couple of next year’s picks for selections this year, and dealt Joe Mauer of the Twins (who was a spare firstbaseman now that he doesn’t catch anymore) for OF Jason Heyward, who immediately supplanted Gerardo Parra as my left fielder. (UPDATE: Looks like Trader Jack traded one of next year’s picks twice. Oops. That’s been sorted now.)

You can follow @Tampa TarponsTSL on Twitter to see how it all went down and to get updates during the exhibition season and regular season.

Taking Attendance: Down The Stretch In The MASL

The first Major Arena Soccer League season has just over a week to run, and here’s the latest look at its attendance figures (with 8 games not reported):

Team G Total Average Median High Low
Baltimore 8 50,105 6,263 6,426 7,812 4,911
Rochester 8 50,061 6,258 6,025 8,214 5,004
St. Louis 9 54,050 6,006 6,486 7,360 4,207
Missouri 9 40,034 4,448 4,414 5,812 3,369
San Diego 9 35,047 3,894 3,254 7,311 1,922
Dallas 9 31,645 3,516 3,768 4,008 2,344
Monterrey 9 27,310 3,034 2,622 6,339 1,328
Syracuse *6 17,730 2,955 2,904 3,814 2,237
Milwaukee 9 24,480 2,720 2,874 3,370 1,888
Harrisburg 8 20,493 2,562 2,298 4,455 1,339
Ontario 10 24,988 2,499 2,031 4,627 1,572
Chicago 10 16,725 1,673 1,640 2,483 991
Las Vegas 9 13,898 1,544 1,555 2,311 675
Wichita %7 10,245 1,464 1,510 2,116 885
Texas *9 9,478 1,053 1,078 1,388 740
Tacoma 3 3,023 1,008 1,015 1,123 885
Hidalgo 2 1,718 859 859 1,468 250
Seattle 7 5,022 717 723 1,348 204
Detroit 10 6,188 619 598 756 521
Saltillo #4 2,015 504 418 980 200
Turlock 10 5,025 503 504 570 385
Brownsville 10 4,915 492 463 850 225
Tulsa *6 2,860 477 484 562 372
Sacramento 10 4,171 417 414 525 358
MASL TOTAL 191 461,226 2,415 1,864 8,214 200
*Missing one game
%Missing two games
#Missing three games

NOTES:

  • Baltimore and Rochester – two former MISL clubs – are neck-and-neck for the announced average attendance championship. The last time one of those two didn’t lead its league in attendance (Rochester’s only been around since 2011, obviously) was 2003-2004, when Monterrey led the second MISL at 8,937. The Blast will finish its home schedule with back-to-back games this Friday and Saturday, while the Lancers have a Thursday (tonight) and a Sunday (the final game of the season).1
  • Teams that have completed their home schedules (and for which I have all their data) are Ontario (2,499 per game, up from 2,147 in the PASL a year ago), Chicago (1,673, more than double what they drew a year ago), Detroit (619, up slightly), Turlock (503, about the same), Brownsville (492, didn’t exist last year) and Sacramento (417, actually up about 33% from last season). Texas has also finished its home schedule, but I’m missing a data point.2
  • The league projects to finish at about 2,372 overall (give or take, missing data points skew that a bit), which would be the lowest for a supposed top indoor soccer league since….well, forever, basically. You’d have to go back to the AISA in 1985-86 (1,944), but no one considered them a top indoor league as they were only in their second year and wouldn’t become the NPSL for a while yet. The PASL last year averaged an announced 1,349 and the former PASL teams are averaging 1,642 per game this season. (The former MISL teams are at 4,826 combined.)
  • The MASL finally got around to finalizing its playoff format, and just in the nick of time. I almost thought it would be a “When’s the game?” “What time can you be there?” type thing, but, no, with three weeks to spare, they made it official. As with everything else surrounding this league, it’s more inconsistency, with some playoff matchups being contested over two legs and some in a one-game format (because of “arena availability”). Rumor has it the final four could be played in San Diego, which would be a big advantage for the Sockers, but given the response when the Blast came to town recently, it might actually feel like the old days3 if it’s the Blast, Comets, Sockers and Sidekicks. I might even go if that happens.

In a couple of weeks, it’ll surely be lights out for a few of these franchises. And now, oddly, there seems to be a new league on the horizon, the National Indoor Soccer Association.4 They claim to be having a league meeting in Las Vegas on April 16th and 17th. I don’t know who these people are (the registrant of niasoccer.com is anonymous), but they haven’t registered trademarks as part of whatever passes for their preparation. As of last night, the US Patent & Trade Office showed a dead trademark for National Indoor Soccer Association, one cancelled nearly 10 years ago after being registered in 1996 by a group in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Some things never, ever change.

APBA32: King Carl Puts Dizzy In His Place

Dizzy Dean and Carl Hubbell

Dizzy Dean chuckled first, but Carl Hubell had the last laugh.

Dean, the brash St. Louis recruit, laughed when he struck out King Carl in the third while the Cardinals were building a 4-0 lead on Thursday afternoon, May 19 during my APBA mini-replay of the 1932 baseball season. But Hubbell had his revenge, homering off Dean in the seventh1 to break a 4-4 tie and going on to record a 9-4 win in front of 20,000 fans at the Polo Grounds.

Frankie Frisch tripled home Sparky Adams in the first and then scored on a fly ball, and Dean and the Cardinals sailed through the first five frames without a care in the world. But the Giants scored four times in the sixth – a double by Bill Terry and a triple by Mel Ott were the big blows – and Hubbell and Terry both homered in a four-run seventh that sent Dean to the showers.

The Giants’ win, their second dramatic victory in as many days, put them into the four-way first place tie atop the National League standings and reminded everyone – especially Mr. Dean – that Hubbell and the Giants are no laughing matter.

(In reality, Dean and Hubbell faced each other just once in 1932. On August 26 of that year in St. Louis, Dean beat Hubbell 4-2, but King Carl did hit a home run off the Cardinal rookie. Ol’ Diz went 5-2 with a 3.60 ERA in eight appearances against the Giants that season, including beating them twice with complete games in just over 48 hours in late August.)

Elsewhere in the replay, the Cubs won their sixth straight, the Tigers/Yankees series finale was a blowout, the Browns staged a big comeback and only a game separates the top five teams in the National League standings. Results, standings and notes after the jump.

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Deja U

New USL logoWhen Major League Soccer went through its MLS NEXT re-branding last September, I thought it was both the nadir of soccer design and the zenith of soccer pretentiousness.

Apparently not. (Warning: video and audio launch automatically, which I hate on any website. If you do, too, beware.)

United Soccer Leagues unveiled the new look for its professional division Tuesday morning. What had been USL PRO since 2011 is now simply “USL,” the “United Soccer League.”1 And, my Lord, is it…just meh.

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APBA32: Tigers Claw Within A Game Of First

Jo-Jo White and Vic Sorrell Vic Sorrell and Jo-Jo White were the stars as the Detroit Tigers handed the New York Yankees their first defeat of my APBA 1932 mini-replay on Wednesday, May 18 at Navin Field.

The Yanks came in undefeated and looking like a juggernaut, with a league-leading 12 home runs in seven games, but Sorrell kept them off the scoreboard until Tony Lazzeri hit a two-run home run in the ninth. Meanwhile, White’s three-run homer off Red Ruffing in the sixth and Harry Davis’ RBI triple an inning later gave the Tigers the runs they would need to make things interesting atop the American League standings. With the A’s beating Cleveland, Philadelphia and New York are tied for the top, with Detroit just a game behind and holding a chance to win the series and potentially tie for the top spot in the third and final game of the set on Thursday. Earl Whitehill will pitch against Lefty Gomez in the rubber match.

All the scores, stats and standings are after the jump.

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football+alt+delete

A11FL Press Conference on February 6, 2014
You may have missed an anniversary a few days ago (I did). February 6, 2014 was the day the nascent A11 Football League held an introductory press conference, becoming (supposedly) the latest outfit to try to fill the (supposed) great need for spring professional outdoor football in America.

They said they had six of their eight teams, a contract with ESPN, plans for two “showcase games” in Dallas and Tampa and a twist: a Frankenstein football format cooked up by a high school coach from California that would (again, supposedly) make all eleven offensive players potential eligible receivers, depending on where they lined up. They had logos and helmet designs and everything. Their first season was supposed to begin next month.

Hasn’t happened, has it?

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Build-A-Ballpark Workshop

A box ballpark

I just recently built a ballpark out of a cardboard box and some craft materials because I got tired of rolling my APBA baseball dice in the top of a shoebox with a little felt in it. It took a couple of hours and cost maybe $25, and if you have any of the materials lying about the house (as I did), you can re-purpose them and make your own ballpark, be it for APBA or any other reason. After the jump, I’ll show you how I created the ballpark you see above, which might inspire/help you to build your own.
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Worst. League. Ever.

I should probably write something soccer-related, as most of you are used to that and probably don’t care about me replaying the 1932 baseball season with a card-and-dice game. Fair enough.

As one of only a handful of American indoor soccer historians, I feel confident and justified in saying that the new Major Arena Soccer League is the single worst league in the 36-year history of the indoor game in this country.

(No, it’s not because of fights like the one you see above, which happened in December in Beaumont, Texas. There have been fights in indoor soccer for years. The number of people watching said fight could fairly be said to be a large part of the problem, though.)

The MASL is the worst-organized, worst-led, worst-executed league with the biggest disparity between haves and have-nots and the largest number of ridiculous incidents and face palms I have ever seen, and I’ve been following, working in and covering this sport almost since the beginning.

I’ve written before about the kerfuffle between single-point scoring and multi-point scoring, but that’s only one of the reasons this league is the worst ever. The rest are after the jump.

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APBA32: Ring Leaders

Cardinals get World Series rings
The St. Louis Cardinals were coming off back-to-back National League pennants and a World Series title when the 1932 season began, and early on in my APBA mini-replay of the 1932 season, Gabby Street’s men are on top in the National League standings. On May 15, 1932, the Cardinals officially raised the 1931 NL pennant and received their World Series rings from Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis (above) in what was surely nothing like the elaborate ceremonies we see today.

Despite trading holdout NL batting champion Chick Hafey to the Cincinnati Reds on the eve of the season, the Cardinals got off to a good start in the replay. After sweeping a three-game, season-opening set from the Chicago Cubs, the Redbirds took two out of three in Pittsburgh and then made their way to the Polo Grounds for a series with the New York Giants, who were just a game back of the Cardinals and Phillies. The most highly anticipated matchup of the series is the third game, in which brash Cardinal rookie Dizzy Dean will face Giant lefthander Carl Hubbell. For the opener on Tuesday, May 17, 1932, though, it’s Bill Hallahan for the Cards and Hal Schumacher for the Giants.

All the scores, standings and stuff are after the jump.

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