Archive for September, 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.*
Notes: The Rays just missed the biggest one-season improvement inÂ 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.
First 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 MaracanÃ£zinho 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.
- 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 waitÂ 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 â€” Chip Caray and Buck Martinez â€” to cover it.”
All I can say is “Thank God.” Chip Caray is a menace.
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 -Â The stuffed pizza at Tenuta’sÂ 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?
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 lessonÂ – 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.
Ray Bentley, first quarter, Michigan State at Indiana on ESPN:
“This is vintage Spartan football…at least in 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):
|Syracuse Salty Dogs||28||185,806||6,636|
|Puerto Rico Islanders||71||333,802||4,701|
|Los Angeles Salsa||10||33,405||3,341|
|Long Island Rough Riders||68||180,995||2,662|
|El Paso Patriots||102||267,218||2,620|
|San Diego Flash||60||133,678||2,228|
|Milwaukee Wave United||28||52,850||1,888|
|Hampton Rds./Va. Beach Mariners||113||211,672||1,873|
|New Orleans Riv.Gamblers/Storm||44||73,432||1,669|
|Miami FC Blues||43||67,371||1,567|
|NY Centaurs/Fever/SI Vipers||50||73,716||1,474|
|Nashville Metros/TN Rhythm||72||88,610||1,231|
|Raleigh Flyers/Capital Express||56||67,400||1,204|
|Orange County Zodiac/Waves||57||54,367||954|
|Lehigh Valley Steam||14||13,339||953|
|Worcester Wildfire/Boston Bulldogs||56||42,952||767|
|SF Bay/Bay Area Seals||45||34,156||759|
|LEAGUE TOTALS 1994-2008||3,440||11,374,739||3,307|
Nine of the top 12 are still around. OnlyÂ 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.
England might make changes to its rules on the line of succession to the throne. We are not amused.
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%)Â 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.
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.
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.