Archive for August, 2008

More Indoor Intrigue

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Okay, so on the heels of the quasi-announcement of the Xtreme Soccer League, we also have the PASL-Pro, which will start this winter and play 16 games. The PASL-Pro has these teams:

EASTERN DIVISION
1790 Cincinnati
Detroit Waza
St. Louis
Texas Outlaws

WESTERN DIVISION
Colorado Lightning
Denver Dynamite
Stockton Cougars
Wenatchee Fire

And San Diego and Utah are apparently coming in next year. San Diego will be the Sockers (again) and will play at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

We’re now waiting on the announcement of the third “new” pro indoor league, the one that will apparently have Baltimore, Philadelphia, Orlando and possibly Monterrey and Rockford. 

Sarah-ndipity

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Sarah PalinWell, this certainly makes things interesting.

I admit, until about 7 o’clock this morning, I didn’t know Sarah Palin from Michael Palin, but the more I’m finding out, the more I’m intrigued.

First and foremost – yes, she’s quite attractive. She’d be our hottest Veep since Agnew.

Secondly, in an election year that’s been all about the unprecedented, this seems to be par for the course.

I’m guessing that Palin adds the “change factor” that John McCain is being painted as sorely lacking by the Obama campaign. There’s the whole “maybe we can nick some disgruntled Hillary voters” thing. She can also be presented as someone who can help shake things up, even though the Vice President’s actual job doesn’t seem to carry a lot of weight. You’re basically there as a spare (Dick Cheney notwithstanding).

Which, in this campaign, is perhaps a bigger deal than in most. McCain’s age brings questions of succession (regardless of his supposed fine health for a man of 72 – 72 today by the way, meaning Palin, at 44, is just a shade over the “half your age plus seven” rule) . By my count, only 14 of 46 Vice Presidents have ever gone on to become President (one way or another), so some of that may be unfounded.

Naturally, the Democrats are panning the choice just as McCain shredded Obama for his speech in Denver last night. That’s politics as usual (good planning, though, to take the news cycle and move it away from Obama’s speech and put it on the Alaska governor).

As an undecided voter who is more interested in the process as a spectator sport than anything else, this all makes me want to watch the debates and follow the campaigns that much more. I have a feeling it’s going to be Must See TV. Good thing it all takes place before 24 comes back on.

EDIT: Can nobody spell over at CNN? Seriously?

X-Rated

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Oh, boy.

XSL logo apparentlyFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 29, 2008

TO THE XTREME!

Official unveiling of Xtreme Soccer League takes place September 16

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – A new interactive sports lifestyle debuts Sept. 16, 2008, with the formal introduction of the Xtreme Soccer League and the Xtreme Soccer Xperience. More than an indoor soccer league, the XSX is an energetic and innovative 12-month experience built around skilled soccer professionals, entertainment and fan participation – both live and online.

“Soccer played a major role in my life, and those of my partners,” said Viktor Jakovljevic, co-owner of the Chicago Storm. “To be a part of this lifestyle brand is a dream come true.”

“It took us only a short time to fully appreciate the impact this lifestyle brand has, and we are elated to be at the forefront of the Xtreme Soccer platform,” said Jeffrey Vanderbeek, co-owner with Michael Gilfillan of the New Jersey Ironmen.

“We are thrilled to enter our Silver Anniversary season in the new and exciting format of Xtreme Soccer,” said Charles Krause, owner of the Milwaukee Wave.

“Being part of a group that is committed to long-term success and understands the value of such an amazing product is truly special,” said John Hantz, owner of the Detroit Ignition.

All information pertaining to the XSL and XSX will be available on Sept. 16, including markets, schedules and contact information. More details on that event will follow.

An Omen?

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

So, my buddy Dan and his wife were blessed with the birth of their first child, a daughter (Sophia Catherine) on Tuesday, and congrats to them.

Here’s the actual text-message exchange, which points out (a) our sick senses of humor and (b) the fact that he’s way funnier than me:

Me: Congrats! Best to you and the missus. Have they caught the guy yet? ;)

Dan: Thanks! we don’t comment on ongoing investigations.

Those of you who know (or have been skewered by) Dan might ask if Sophia was born with cloven hooves, but I’ve been told that is not, in fact, the case.

YAFFL*

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Tampa Bay Bandits from oursportscentral.com

So, yeah, here comes another set of well-intentioned but ultimately misguided souls who think they’re going to launch another alternative professional football league. Better yet, it’s supposedly going to carry the name of one of my all-time favorites, the USFL.

I loved the United States Football League – warts and all (and there were a lot of them). Lived and died with the Tampa Bay Bandits. Great times for a 17-20 year old.

But people keep trying to do this despite the fact that none of the others ever survive because it’s simply too expensive to launch a pro football league now. The UFL - they’re never going to play a game, no matter what Mark Cuban thinks. The AAFL came close enough to have a draft and unveil uniforms and stuff and then they went away postponed their start (and I doubt we’ll ever see them, either). We all know what happened to the XFL (man, that was seven years ago now).

You can’t do it. It can’t be done. The economics are all off. You can’t generate enough income to offset the incredible startup costs (football’s got to be the most expensive sport to actually pull off) and the ongoing costs of doing business (just player salaries and workman’s comp alone will kill you before you step on an airplane), and you can forget about a pot of gold from television. There’s already too much football bought and paid for on TV.

Sure, there are players out there. The difference between the guys who’ll get released in the NFL’s cutdown to 53 players and the guys who’ll be the last few kept is not that large.

Sure, there are markets out there who would like to have a professional football team – some of them might even embrace it in the spring to the point where they could draw some people.

Sure, there are people like me who like football, and if you put it on television, would probably watch at least a bit. And if we had a team nearby, might even go.

But there’s not enough money to make it work. Not for the UFL, not for the AAFL and not for the new USFL. It’s been 23 years now. The USFL ain’t coming back.

*Yet Another Failed Football League

(Yes, you could substitute another word for “Failed” and it would make just as much sense.)

Uniform Code

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Some discussion over at Uniwatch about the collecting and wearing of jerseys (I’m sure it’s going to get heated now that people have brought up their “rules” for what you can and can’t collect or wear and the proper etiquette, so read at your own risk, but I’m out of the conversation now). But while I was looking for a shot of one of the Tampa Bay Mutiny jerseys that I own (here it is - Roy, nice to meet’cha), I found the shot you see below:

Girl in a Tampa Bay Mutiny Jersey

Which, oddly enough, led me to this, a Flickr group called “Women in a Sports Jersey.” (I would actually like to get that particular Mutiny jersey, which was one of the better ones they ever sported.)

I don’t really have any fetishes per se, but I dig a woman in a sports jersey, so I thought I’d throw that out there in hopes of brightening up your Wednesday. I know that after dealing with Phoenix traffic this morning, my Wednesday needed something. That’ll do quite nicely, thank you.

Ain’t Gonna Be No SEC Network

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Because ESPN has locked up anything that’s worth anything that CBS doesn’t already have with an unprecedented 15-year agreement with the Southeastern Conference worth a reported $2.25 billion. With the recently-announced 15-year deal with CBS that’s worth $55 million a year, the SEC will receive more than $200 million a year in TV rights fees.

ESPN will show (on one of its various platforms) every SEC football game except the one CBS carries each week, as well as the semis and finals of conference basketball and championships in other sports, plus a weekly SEC show. This means the SEC went the other direction from the Big Ten, which launched its own network last year, in hopes of striking its own pot of gold.

Now the swing vote, the rubber match, as it were. What will the Pac 10 do? Arguably the third leg of the troika of bigtime BCS conferences (yes, there’s the Big 12, but the Pac 10 has bigger TV markets), the Pac 10 has a deal with Fox Sports (which they extended two years ago, but this story doesn’t say when it expires), as well as their ABC/ESPN coverage (they’re on Versus as well, apparently).

Does the Pac  10 start its own network? Or do they just float the idea and let ESPN or CBS or somebody shower them with money? It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Back in the Booth

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Richard Broad and me on the Big 10 Network

Well, I certainly didn’t see this coming. I’ll be back on the Big Ten Network this fall, calling men’s college soccer. My man Richard Broad and I will have the season opener on August 31 when Akron plays at Indiana, as well as a few other matches. As they say, check your local listings.

Medal Band

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

US Soccer wins Olympic gold from ussoccer.com

Not bad for a team that not quite 11 months ago crashed out of the Women’s World Cup, in the same country, to the same opponent. The US Women’s National Team won its third Olympic gold medal in four tries Thursday, beating Brazil 1-0 on Carli Lloyd’s overtime strike.

US goalkeeper Hope Solo, banished from the team after her comments following the 4-0 loss to Brazil in the 2007 Women’s World Cup semifinals, made six saves – including one huge one on a toe-poke from Brazil’s superstar, Marta. (Hey, maybe Solo was right after all – that’s all it was, a bad choice of starting goalkeeper.)

I know my man Dan, whose been down on the US women’s program for quite a while, probably will say “favorable draw, didn’t have to play Germany, yadda yadda yadda,” and that’s fair. But they beat the team that had just beaten the team that had won the last two Women’s World Cups, the same team that had spanked them in the WWC semis a year ago. I swear, it looked like Brazil wasn’t going to score if they’d played until the opening ceremonies in London.

So, congrats. Hopefully this bodes well for the re-launch of women’s pro soccer in this country.

Quick thoughts:

  • After cutting the “absolutelys” in half from the quarterfinals to the semifinals, Brandi Chastain set a new personal best with 19 1/2 “absolutelys” in the final (she cut herself off halfway through one 10 minutes into overtime). I think there were even more in the Japan game in group play, but I wasn’t keeping count then. So 19 1/2 (or about one every ten six minutes) is the new Olympic mark. “To be quite honest with you” only made four appearances, while “speaks volumes” is a verbal crutch to keep an eye on for the future.
  • Surely I’m not the only one who thinks that Women’s Professional Soccer has to find a way to get Brazil’s Marta onto their expansion Atlanta franchise in 2010, right? I can see the billboards now.
  • What exactly was that Flava Flav thing around Hope Solo’s neck during her post-match interview with Julie Foudy (you can see it above, too)?
  • I think Christie Rampone is my favorite US player. Yes, Abby Wambach (Miss Not Appearing In These Games) is a great player and a Gator, and Heather Mitts is a Gator and a hottie, but I love the way Rampone plays and approaches the game. I was thinking she was the one player on this team who would have fit right in on the 1999 team, until I remembered – duh – she was on the 1999 team (as Christie Pearce). She’s tough, she’s a great captain – kind of the distaff version of my other favorite player, Jesse Marsch.
  • It was the 1,000th all-time gold medal for the United States in Olympic competition. I did not know that. Thanks to the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Mark Ziegler for that nugget.

Promises in the Dark

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Carlos Bocanegra from US Soccer

Watching the USA’s 1-0 win in Guatemala Wednesday night in a World Cup qualifier really brought home just how hard it is to win on the road in CONCACAF. Back in the day, when not all WCQs were readily available on TV here in the states, I’m not sure fans got the full effect of just what it’s like – all the crap you have to put up with. Last night’s match was a great example of it all – the diving, the faux injuries, the dirty play, the police in riot gear, the horrendous officiating. Anyway, it’s in the books, three points for the US with Cuba and Trinidad & Tobago up next.

Quick thoughts:

  • Because the fences, the track and the police in riot gear weren’t enough, they had to have razor wire separating the fans from the field. I’m sorry – that’s the Third World.
  • Ditto for the lighting. Invest in some halogens, okay, Guatemala?
  • Carlos Ruiz and Amado Guevara are now battling it out for biggest piece of garbage in the Western Hemisphere. And Pando Ramirez is a jackass.
  • It’s possible that was one of the three or four worst officiating performances I’ve ever seen. It’s a good thing Enrico Wijngaarde sent off Gustavo Cabrera for the late and headhunting challenge against Eddie Lewis (I feared he wouldn’t be – the referee didn’t have the benefit of the replay that we saw, but did a good job on that anyway).
  • Tim Howard is the man. Sorry, Brad Guzan. A Mr. Steve Young is on the phone and he would like to speak with you.
  • The AP story of the match has this bit of brilliance from Guatemala’s coach:
  • “Guatemala coach Ramon Maradiaga was angry at referee Enrico Wijngaarde of Suriname, whose foul call when Ruiz kicked Howard nullified Guillermo Rodriguez putting the ball in the net. 

    “They annulled a goal that was ours, and that happens because they name referees that lack the preparation to direct a game of this level. But that is what FIFA does. Their decisions are unappealable,” said Maradiaga, whose team was whistled for 23 fouls.

    “The referee today expelled Gustavo Cabrera as a way to level the game after expelling Cherundolo.”

    I don’t disagree that Wijngaarde was out of his element at this level, but Ruiz kicked Howard in the head. To paraphrase Sam Wyche, “He’s going to live, but that is a foul.” Ditto for the Cabrera headhunting elbow.

  • The return leg against the Guats is the final game of semifinal qualifying November 19 at a site to be named Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver. It could be an important game, or could be meaningless, depending on how the rest of the round-robin goes. If it’s meaningless, it could be a bloodbath.
  • Somebody needs to clarify David Beckham’s status for tonight’s MLS match between Los Angeles and Chicago (10pm, ESPN2). He played for England yesterday and is supposed to be in Beijing for the closing ceremonies at the Olympics to pimp England’s hosting of the 2012 Games. Some have said he’s stopping off in LA, others have said he’s definitely out. But ESPN’s promo copy writers had my man Glenn Davis read (at least twice, maybe three times) a promo that said tonight’s game was “David Beckham against Brian McBride.” Well, McBride should play, at least.