Archive for September, 2008

You’re Up, You’re Down

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Now that the 2008 baseball regular season is (nearly) over, here’s a look at who did the best and worst jobs at improving themselves over 2007. Teams are ranked in each league by their number of games improvement (or lack thereof) over their 2007 marks.*

NL Team
2007
2008
Diff
Houston 73 89 .451 86 75 .534 +13.5
Florida 71 91 .438 84 77 .522 +13.5
Chicago 85 77 .525 97 64 .602 +12.5
St. Louis 78 84 .481 86 76 .531 +8
Milwaukee 83 79 .512 90 72 .556 +7
Philadelphia 89 73 .549 92 70 .568 +3
Los Angeles 82 80 .506 84 78 .519 +2
Cincinnati 72 90 .444 74 88 .457 +2
New York 88 74 .543 89 73 .549 +1
San Francisco 71 91 .438 72 90 .444 +1
Pittsburgh 68 94 .420 67 95 .414 -1
Arizona 90 72 .556 82 80 .506 -8
Atlanta 84 78 .519 72 90 .444 -12
Washington 73 89 .451 59 102 .366 -13.5
Colorado 89 73 .549 74 88 .457 -15
San Diego 89 73 .549 63 99 .389 -26
AL Team
2007
2008
Diff
Tampa Bay 66 96 .407 97 65 .599 +31
Chicago 72 90 .444 88 74 .543 +16
Minnesota 79 83 .488 88 74 .543 +9
Los Angeles 94 68 .580 100 62 .617 +6
Kansas City 69 93 .426 75 87 .463 +6
Texas 75 87 .463 79 83 .488 +4
Toronto 83 79 .512 86 76 .531 +3
Oakland 76 86 .469 75 86 .466 -0.5
Baltimore 69 93 .426 68 93 .422 -0.5
Boston 96 66 .593 95 67 .586 -1
New York 94 68 .580 89 73 .549 -5
Detroit 88 74 .543 74 88 .457 -14
Cleveland 96 66 .593 81 81 .500 -15
Seattle 88 74 .543 61 101 .377 -27

Notes: The Rays just missed the biggest one-season improvement in AL history, doing themselves 31 games better from ’07 to ’08 (the AL record is 33, by the 1946 Boston Red Sox and 1989 Baltimore Orioles)…12 of the 30 teams were within 5 games of their record of a year ago…the two teams with the biggest dropoffs, Seattle and San Diego, share a spring training facility in Peoria, Arizona (maybe there’s something in the water?)…regardless of who wins tonight’s one-game playoff, half of the playoff field for 2008 will be different from that of 2007…Boston will be the only team whose record actually dropped from a year ago who managed to make the postseason…also without regard to the White Sox/Twins playoff, three of the top four most-improved teams in the AL will make the playoffs, while only one of the NL’s top four will (but numbers five, six and seven will).

*Yes, the one-game playoff between the Twins and White Sox tonight is technically a regular-season game, the 163rd for each team. Sue me. Do the math tomorrow if you like.

I Remember…Doin’ The Timewarp…

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Rocky Horror Picture Show Time WarpFirst it was the amazing look-into-the-future Real Salt Lake webcam, now there’s this from US Soccer’s Communications folks about the Futsal World Cup:

THE TOURNAMENT BEGINS: The U.S. Futsal National Team kicks off the 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup against Paraguay on Sept. 30 at the Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Kickoff for the Group B clash is slated for 11:30 a.m. ET, and the match can be followed live on the MNT Blog. Galavision will be airing the game on tape delay, with coverage starting at 12:30 a.m. ET/PT on Sept. 31.

This isn’t a leap year, is it? ;)

Anyway, good luck to the futsal guys. I’m not much for futsal, but some guys I know are on the squad, so here’s hoping they do well.

Monday Melange

Monday, September 29th, 2008
  • Future shock: Look at the timestamp in the upper left hand corner of the webcam photo on the website for Real Salt Lake’s new stadium (Rio Tinto Stadium? WTF?) It’s tomorrow’s news today!
  • The 49ers are going to retire Steve Young’s #8. I hear he’s pissed that he had to wait until Joe Montana had his number retired.
  • From Michael Heistand’s column in USA Today today:

    “TBS, carrying all first-round MLB playoff games, filled out its announcer lineup card Sunday. And despite the mediagenic Chicago Cubs playing the Los Angeles Dodgers, TBS figures the Boston Red Sox-Los Angeles Angels series is the TV star and will send its top on-air team — Chip Caray and Buck Martinez — to cover it.”

    All I can say is “Thank God.” Chip Caray is a menace.

10 Things I Learned This Weekend

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Peter Wilt, Kenn and Bruce McGuire at Tenuta's in Milwaukee

1. Cheese curds are good. Real good.
2. Cheese curds also suffer from a marketing/image problem. If anything needs a rebranding, it’s cheese curds. I haven’t eaten them until now because I was skeptical about anything named a curd. I see now what I missed.
3. There’s a major highway between Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin!
4. Peter is right - The stuffed pizza at Tenuta’s is tremendous.
5. Bruce McGuire (of du Nord blogging fame) is a cool guy. That’s him, along with me and Peter at Tenuta’s Saturday night in the photo above.
6. Derrek Lee still sucks. Double play to end the last game of the season? Hold that thought. You may see that again.
7. The aforementioned Madison, Wisconsin seems like a cool town. Didn’t see nearly enough of it.
8. Four jobs is just too much for me, it appears. Something’s got to give because I’m not doing any of these jobs justice.
9. As much as I like Brian Griese (and I like him a lot), he’s a journeyman. At best. Still, the Bucs are 3-0 with him. Go figure.
10. Did I mention cheese curds are really good?

Welcome To Wisconsin

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

I saw a bunch of the Badger State last night. Well, as much as you can see at 1 in the morning.

Turns out Mapquest, for some unknown reason, completely ignored the major highway that runs from Milwaukee to Madison and sent me on a 100-mile tour (complete with two detours!) of Wisconsin’s unincorporated hamlets. I made it to the hotel (recommend the Sheraton highly) at 2:30 this morning and the game is in a few hours (Michigan at Wisconsin, men’s soccer, Big Ten Network, 4:30pm ET, channel 610 on DirecTV, 439 on DISH Network or your local cable system).

I saw a deer! And some possums. A few of whom survived their trips across US-18 and a few who didn’t.

After the game, it’s back to Milwaukee (learned my lesson - I-94, here I come) to have dinner with Peter Wilt and his lovely wife Ann to catch up on old times and talk about some potential future plans.

Back to the desert tomorrow, hopefully just in time for Bucs/Packers at 10 (love Pacific Time) and a lazy Sunday. For once.

It Was…A Very Good Year

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Ray Bentley, first quarter, Michigan State at Indiana on ESPN:

“This is vintage Spartan football…at least in 2008.”

More on USL-1 Attendance

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Here are the all-time average attendance standings (1994-2008) for each of the 47 different clubs in USL-1 (and the A-League/APSL prior to that):

ALL-TIME USL-1 ATTENDANCE BY CLUB
(Active Clubs in Gray)
Club G Total Avg.
Rochester Rhinos 192 1,962,192 10,220
Montreal Impact 191 1,316,637 6,893
Syracuse Salty Dogs 28 185,806 6,636
Portland Timbers 114 712,789 6,253
Puerto Rico Islanders 71 333,802 4,701
Vancouver 86ers/Whitecaps 204 928,634 4,552
Carolina RailHawks 29 129,768 4,475
Colorado Foxes 50 178,703 3,574
Minnesota Thunder 173 591,538 3,419
Los Angeles Salsa 10 33,405 3,341
Charleston Battery 170 566,825 3,334
Seattle Sounders 209 686,989 3,287
Hershey Wildcats 72 229,615 3,189
Pittsburgh Riverhounds 71 216,978 3,056
Milwaukee Rampage 88 264,089 3,001
Long Island Rough Riders 68 180,995 2,662
El Paso Patriots 102 267,218 2,620
Carolina Dynamo 14 36,474 2,605
Richmond Kickers 128 302,244 2,361
Toronto Lynx 139 312,522 2,248
San Diego Flash 60 133,678 2,228
Atlanta Ruckus/Silverbacks 189 408,099 2,159
Indiana Blast 72 147,025 2,042
Connecticut Wolves 72 137,121 1,904
Milwaukee Wave United 28 52,850 1,888
Hampton Rds./Va. Beach Mariners 113 211,672 1,873
Ft.Lauderdale Strikers 10 17,325 1,733
New Orleans Riv.Gamblers/Storm 44 73,432 1,669
Miami FC Blues 43 67,371 1,567
Orlando Sundogs 14 21,196 1,514
Edmonton FC 13 19,216 1,478
NY Centaurs/Fever/SI Vipers 50 73,716 1,474
Toronto Rockets 10 14,305 1,431
Jacksonville Cyclones 42 56,262 1,340
Calgary Storm/Mustangs 42 52,999 1,262
Nashville Metros/TN Rhythm 72 88,610 1,231
Raleigh Flyers/Capital Express 56 67,400 1,204
Charlotte Eagles 43 50,458 1,173
California Victory 14 15,619 1,116
California Jaguars 29 31,194 1,076
Orange County Zodiac/Waves 57 54,367 954
Lehigh Valley Steam 14 13,339 953
Cincinnati Riverhawks 86 72,917 848
Albuquerque/Sacramento Geckos 29 23,008 793
Worcester Wildfire/Boston Bulldogs 56 42,952 767
SF Bay/Bay Area Seals 45 34,156 759
Maryland Mania 14 6,570 469
LEAGUE TOTALS 1994-2008 3,440 11,374,739 3,307

Nine of the top 12 are still around. Only two of the bottom 35 are. There’s a correlation (duh).

I can honestly say I attended a Bay Area Seals match (and not many can). Fewer still can say they saw the Maryland Mania play at home. With any luck, Vancouver might become the third club to draw 1,000,000 total fans in its lifetime next season.

Meanwhile, Elsewhere in Europe…

Friday, September 26th, 2008

England might make changes to its rules on the line of succession to the throne. We are not amused.

And you really couldn’t blame Landon Donovan for wanting to give Germany another try.

It’s a Numbers Game

Friday, September 26th, 2008

UEFA is going to expand the European Championships from 16 teams to 24 in 2016.

“The European Championships will not lose any quality by that,” said Franz Beckenbauer.

Remember, 24 of 53 UEFA members in their championship (45%) are not too many, but 8 of 14 (57% and sure to drop next year and the year after and presumably more after that) MLS teams in their playoffs are too many (by general consensus*).

Just so you know where the line is drawn.

*Of the Bigsoccer ignoscenti.

Final USL-1 Attendance Numbers

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Unofficial, of course.

Montreal leads the league for the fourth straight year. Miami was up almost 100%, but still at the bottom of the league. Atlanta continues to prove that a new stadium alone doesn’t get it done. Minnesota got a bit of a bump moving from St. Paul back to Blaine. Portland had an outstanding year at the gate.

TEAM G Total Average
Montreal 15 190,440 12,696
Portland 15 128,509 8,567
Rochester 15 109,702 7,313
Vancouver 15 74,989 4,999
Puerto Rico 15 66,346 4,423
Charleston 15 59,864 3,991
Carolina 15 58,033 3,869
Minnesota 15 53,599 3,573
Seattle 15 50,789 3,386
Atlanta 15 34,214 2,281
Miami 15 25,516 1,701
USL-1 TOTAL 165 852,001 5,164

Seattle goes away next year and Austin (Tex.) comes in. In 2010, it’s Tampa Bay joining the fold in a yet-to-be-built stadium. They might lose Montreal, Portland and/or Vancouver (or some combination thereof) in the next few years if MLS awards franchises to those markets.

But the league as a whole is over 5,000 for the first time….ever. The old A-League hit 4,946 in 1996, the year before the merger with the USISL. Before that, numbers are a bit sketchy, but I’d take the under.

From 2000 (the last time I worked in USL) to today, average game attendance has risen from 2,684 to 5,164 (and the total attendance is only off slightly despite there being less than half as many teams as in 2000). The league has really come a long way.