How Does My Friday Taste?

Some quick notes for the last workday of the week:

  • The Uniwatch blog has graciously run a column I wrote about the late, barely-lamented Senior Professional Baseball Association, which completed its one and only full season twenty years ago this weekend. Many thanks to Paul Lukas for that.
  • Women’s Professional Soccer lost its Los Angeles franchise after just one season. This once again proves that winning doesn’t always mean financial success, and apparently robust attendance figures (LA led the league by averaging 6,298 per game) don’t always tell the whole story.
  • I’m told the Chicago Fire will be training here in Phoenix for two weeks in February, at the same time that the San Jose Earthquakes will also be here. Real Salt Lake is supposed to be in Casa Grande (south of here, the only thing between here and Tucson) the 13th through the 27th and play two unnamed opponents on the 20th and 26th. Supposedly Chivas USA will be around during that time frame, so there may be an RSL/Chivas game around these parts. I know this: if it’s in Casa Grande, I ain’t going.
  • Oh, goody, TIME Magazine knows how to fix football. Let me guess, change the overtime rule?
  • New twitter feed: @kendovision. It’s for those of you who aren’t interested in what I had for lunch. Kind of the “edited for television” version.
  • Apparently as of today I’m going to be the sole breadwinner in my household. It’s the economy, stupid. And, as I have to write (almost) an entire magazine today, I’d better get cracking.

No Lockout Monday…If You Can Believe That!

Huh. That’s strange. Per Goff, MLS and the players’ union have agreed to extend negotiations for almost two weeks.

Now I suppose those who’ve been overreacting will parse this as doomsday and blah blah blah blah. But a dozen extra days takes off some of the external pressure. The two sides have been apparently talking quite a bit. And this shows both sides’ willingness to do things other than go right to the nuclear option.

Apparently We Do Need Stinkin’ Badges

They haven’t played a game yet, but the new Tampa Bay Rowdies FC Tampa Bay are already on their second logo. The one above left was revealed September 25, 2008. Yesterday, when they revealed they’d be playing at a baseball stadium for a year or two, they quietly replaced that one (which had lasted 16 months and was never put on a t-shirt or a jersey, though does apparently appear on the nifty new NASL scarves you can see in this photo as well as on the front page of the NASL’s website) with the one you see at right, above.

Why the change? They didn’t say. They’re still calling themselves the Rowdies (though FC Tampa Bay Rowdies is, again, beyond stupid), but perhaps it had something to do with the (apparently ongoing) litigation with a Texas company1 about who owns the trademark to the name “Tampa Bay Rowdies.”

As for the badge itself, the green and gold colors and stripes remain, as does the star (for some reason – it’s supposed to symbolize the original Rowdies’ 1975 Soccer Bowl championship), but the “1975” notation is gone (good move). The old-school soccer ball (more obvious in the older badge than the new one) remains, but now “FC Tampa Bay” is emphasized. The badge appears slightly thinner and the top edges are straight rather than beveled in the new rendering.

The bottom line? Meh. This one, designed by a fan in Miami, was miles ahead of either of the two above2.

EDIT: Inside Minnesota Soccer has an interview with Rowdies (yes, they’re still the Rowdies, you just can’t buy anything with that name on it if you’re a fan) CEO Andrew Nestor, in which he addresses the badge/lawsuit issue.

1 – The company in question once used as its website, but now the URL is and you don’t appear to be able to order online anymore. I have a Rowdies t-shirt I bought from them, it’s nice.
2 – And this one is still the best wordmark.

Can You Fit A Soccer Field In Steinbrenner Field? (Updated)

Warning: Completely rough math and guesstimates ahead.

Today’s announcement that the Tampa Bay Rowdies FC Tampa Bay will play at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, the spring home of the New York Yankees, made me wonder if you could actually get a soccer field in there (it’s been done, putting a soccer field in a baseball stadium).

Using Google Maps, Photoshop and some very rudimentary math and eyeball design, here are some mockups of how the field might have to go.

First, a normal-size, 120 yard x 75 yard field. That ain’t gonna fit.

It seems like you can maybe fit a field approximately 109 yards x 66 yards if you move it out a little, tilt it and avoid foul territory. Still, that’s small.

But this article on the St. Pete Times‘ website says, “The field will run across Steinbrenner’s outfield.” That would be amazingly counterproductive, because there aren’t any outfield bleachers there are only outfield seats in right, and the main grandstand would be very far away from the touchline. Even if you brought stands in (which are not cheap), you’re still rendering the bulk of the (good) seats undesirable. You can get more width on this layout, but it’s going to be shorter.

Now, of all the options, Steinbrenner may have been the best from a location and amenities standpoint (other options apparently included the soccer stadiums at the University of Tampa and the University of South Florida). From a field/playing standpoint, it might not have been. I would presume that they checked it out, or somebody told them, “Yeah, we can put a soccer field in there.”

Again, I’m still waiting for actual news coverage of today’s press conference, or an official release. We’ll know more at that point.

EDIT: Okay, here’s the Tampa Tribune story. It says “the playing surface will be stripped across the outfield and over a portion of the infield around first base.” I’m guessing maybe they angle it some more, give up some width to get some length. Obviously, there’s going to be infield dirt on part of it, which doesn’t seem to concern coach Paul Dalglish:

“No concern whatsoever,” Dalglish said. “I think it’s a small price to pay for the standard of the grass that we’ve got. As you can see, it’s absolutely immaculate. There’s no team going to play on better grass this year and that’s for sure.”

I think he’s going to find out that it’s not a small price to pay, regardless of how immaculate the grass is. Rochester played on a baseball field for years, but it’s far from optimal. Hopefully it’s not a long-term thing, and they’ll get their own stadium before too long.

“No concern whatsoever,” Dalglish said. “I think it’s a small price to pay for the standard of the grass that we’ve got. As you can see, it’s absolutely immaculate. There’s no team going to play on better grass this year and that’s for sure.”

Based on the Trib‘s description, the field could be laid out something like this, which is a little longer and wider. Still, you have to have space for benches and for players to take corner kicks, etc.

And you’re still left with the fact that your main grandstand (home plate area) seating is more than 35-40 yards from the near side touchline.

ONE MORE EDIT: And I go through all that, and here’s the rendering from the Rowdies from the actual release. There’s a lot more dirt there. We’ll see how it looks when it’s actually laid out.

Oh, and FC Tampa Bay is still stupid. With “Rowdies,” it’s even moreso.

The Rowdies Will Run Here (Well, Maybe Not…)

As I get most of my news from Twitter nowadays, I’ve just been informed that the new Tampa Bay Rowdies will play their home games in 2010 at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.1

And now, attempting to go to their website, I find that redirects to

FC Tampa Bay?

They were the Rowdies the other day. Actually, they’ve been “FC Tampa Bay Rowdies” in various references (which I hated). Now they’ve gone and changed their badge as well – keeping the green and gold colors, but removing the Rowdies reference and the 1975 notation2. There was a legal dispute over the trademark, but the team has been assuring everybody they’d be able to use the name. Maybe it didn’t go as well as they hoped.

Quick digression: “FC” is stupid, Europosing and counterproductive if your team plays in North America. That is all.

Anyway, as for Steinbrenner Field, there are a couple of interesting historical nods here:

  • The site on which Steinbrenner Field (formerly Legends Field) sits is directly across Dale Mabry Highway from the site of the former Tampa Stadium (which is now a parking lot for Raymond James Stadium). It’s the general footprint of a lot of great moments in Tampa Bay sports history.
  • Steinbrenner himself was a great admirer of the original Rowdies organization, saying in a 1977 Sports Illustrated story, “If someone asked me how to start and operate any kind of franchise, I’d tell them to study the (Tampa Bay) Rowdies. It is simply the best marketing in sports. From the top down, it’s a group of geniuses that have put it together. They have done the one thing that most teams fail at in all sports – in Tampa, they’ve made going to the soccer game the thing to do.”
  • The original Rowdies played at Tampa Stadium while the Florida State League’s Tampa Tarpons played at Al Lopez Field right next door. The Tarpons are long gone (as are Lopez Field and Tampa Stadium), but now the Rowdies whatever the hell they’re going to be called will share the baseball stadium (splitting the schedule, which runs in the exact same timeframe) with the FSL’s Tampa Yankees.

Now, those of you who know me and pay attention to this blog know that I loved the original Rowdies. One of the all-time great joys of my life. I’ve been less than optimistic about how they have been living up to the legacy3, but, to be honest…if they’re not going to use the name, I actually feel a bit better about supporting them (the whole FC Tampa Bay thing notwithstanding). That’s odd, but that’s how I feel. Go figure.

I’m sure we’ll find out more later today, as soon as they figure out how to put today’s news on that newfangled thing called a website.

1 – Actually, I was informed they’d be playing at Steinbrenner Stadum, so don’t believe everything you read on Twitter from citizen PR people.
2 – Which was stupid to begin with. This club isn’t that club, no matter how much you tried to say it was.
3 – As in, their outsourced PR firm not knowing the history of the original club…even though said firm is owned by one of the guys who played for the original club.

For Those Expecting A Lockout Monday

(Repeating a comment I posed on Tom Dunmore‘s Pitch Invasion blog about the impending expiration of the collective bargaining agreement between Major League Soccer players and league management. Too many seem to think that as of the CBA’s expiration, there’s automatically a lockout, or that that’s what MLS’ intent is. Ridge Mahoney reports that they’re at least talking – and talking and talking – and maybe you should take that as a good sign.)

My buddy the labor lawyer1 says, and I paraphrase: work stoppages happen only when there’s an impasse – when one side or the other says “That’s it, I’m not giving in on this.” Strikes and lockouts are “economic weapons” in this type of game, but they’re (seemingly in this case) weapons of Mutually Assured Destruction sometimes.

There is no legal requirement that one side or the other use that weapon after the expiration of a CBA, and many times, parties continue to work past the expiration. Most of the expired terms of the CBA apparently survive its expiration (meaning the league goes on doing business as it has, in this case). Obviously, players still have contracts, but they can work under the terms of an expired CBA while bargaining is still going on.

This particular CBA does contain a no strike/no lockout clause, which is fairly standard, which apparently does NOT survive the expiration of the CBA (makes sense). That’s probably where some of the hysteria comes from – MLS players are bound by the terms of the agreement NOT to strike (and management not to lock them out) until Monday. But just because the no strike/no lockout clause doesn’t extend past midnight Monday doesn’t mean a strike or a lockout automatically kicks in.

Could things get contentious today or tomorrow? Could somebody get really pissed off and blow the whole deal? Sure. Happens a lot. But there have not been – to my knowledge, anyway – any actual public statements that the players will get locked out on Monday or that the players will strike on Monday. Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday.

We have Jimmy Conrad saying they’ve been threatened with a lockout. We have Freddie Ljungberg saying there won’t be a work stoppage. The classic He Said/Swede Said if I ever saw one.2

1 – I think if I use his name, I have to pay him.
2 – I’ll be here all week. If Dan Loney doesn’t laugh at that one, eff him. :)

Fan-demonium (Warning: NSFW Language)

I don’t often stray into PG-13 territory on this blog, but this video so perfectly encapsulated a phenomenon that I’ve become more and more puzzled by as I get older. (Warning: there be three massive f-bombs there.)

See, I will rarely do that. Rarely does the outcome of a sporting event color my mood in such a way. People who know me know that I reserve that level of outrage for traffic, computers that don’t work, misplacing things, and people who are stupid on the Internet.

But a game? That I didn’t play in? I just can’t get to that level anymore. Maybe it’s because, as I’ve aged, I’ve come to realize a few things:

  1. When your favorite team wins, you, yourself, don’t actually win. Yeah it’s nice, but in a virtual way. You really didn’t do anything. And whatever happened would have happened with or without you being there/wearing your jersey/cheering/getting drunk.
  2. On the flip side, when your favorite team loses, that’s not a referendum on you as a person. It’s just not. If my favorite team beats your favorite team, that doesn’t mean I beat you or my city of residence is better than your city of residence. It just doesn’t.
  3. It’s a cliche´, but it’s true: There really is always next year. Always. No game that you’re watching is the ultimate game1, the be-all, end-all. You really will survive if your team loses, and if they win, your life will not substantially change2.
  4. No matter how much they love you, the people around you look at you funny when you do things like this (at best) and think you’re a tool (at worst). You’re looking at that video right now and saying one (or both) of two things: “Wow. What a moron” or “I know how he feels.” Chances are that whichever one you’re saying breaks along age and gender lines.

Am I too old for this? Have I forgotten what it means to be a fan? Probably yes on both counts. I just can’t get that worked up anymore. Tying your mood to the fortunes of 53 people you’ve never met just requires way more bandwidth than just saying, “Well, that sucks. What’s for dinner?”

1 – Duane Thomas, Dallas Cowboys, 1972: “If it (the Super Bowl)’s the ultimate [game], how come they’re playing it again next year?”
2 – And, yes, if you have enough money bet on said game that winning it will substantially change your life, you have all sorts of other problems.

What It Comes Down To, Really

Look, here’s the deal…

Building stuff with LEGOS doesn’t make you a “citizen architect.”

Watching courtroom dramas and reading John Grisham novels and then dispensing legal advice to your friends doesn’t make you a “citizen attorney.”

Bandaging a boo-boo doesn’t make you a “citizen paramedic.”

So, no, having your own blog or website, re-writing press releases and occasionally interviewing people doesn’t make you a “citizen journalist.”

It’s not jealousy at all. There’s an emotion here, but it’s not envy. People are aghast. Those with training and experience who try to follow the code of ethics of journalism just have a problem with people with neither training nor experience and who think ethics are for fuddy-duddies calling themselves “citizen journalists.”

Whatever your profession is – lawyer, realtor, educator, plumber – you can’t tell me you wouldn’t feel the same way about someone with no actual experience in your field claiming to be on equal footing with you.

Also, the Federal Trade Commission issued revised guidelines not long ago that govern bloggers who review or endorse products:

The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.

Is it a stretch to say that if you’re either being paid by or angling for a job with an entity you’re ostensibly “covering” in your role as “citizen journalist,” you have an obligation to disclose that?

“Citizen reporter,” fine. Be a citizen reporter. Everybody can report.

But the bottom line, as simply as I can put it, is this: a journalist seeks the truth. A blogger seeks page views.

Crunching Some Draft Numbers

What are the chances that someone taken in last week’s Major League Soccer SuperDraft will play in MLS? Better than 50/50, looking at the history of the league’s various drafts.

Through 2009 (the 2010 draft class hasn’t had a chance to play a league match yet, obviously), 568 of the 993 players drafted1 by MLS teams played at least one regular-season or playoff match, either for the team that drafted them or another team or teams.

(Quick history before we move on: from 1996-1999, MLS had a College Draft and a Supplemental Draft – and in 1996 they had an Inaugural Draft to stock teams – before combining everything into a SuperDraft in 2000.)

What draft had the most players actually play in the league? Not a real surprise, the 160-player Inaugural Draft of 1996 saw 108 (67.5%) of its draftees actually play in the Everybody-Into-The-Pool-Party that was early MLS. The 1996 College Draft had the highest percentage of its selections make it on the field (again, not surprisingly), with 76% (22 of 29) playing at least one game.

Draftees played an average of 42.5 MLS games. Those who actually played managed to not quite double that (which also makes sense, mathematically) to an average of 74.4-game careers. The 2006 SuperDraft had 75% (36 of 48) players play in at least one game, while only 34.4% of those in the 1998 Supplemental Draft ever played a game in MLS.

Obviously, the closer we get to the present day, the lower the number of average games played by a draftee and a player gets smaller simply because the 2007 class, for example, hasn’t had the opportunity to play in 100 games yet. But here’s a chart showing what percentage of each draft’s selections played in the league, how many total games all draftees played, the average number of games in the careers of draftees and the total and average number of games played by those who played at least one. The end of each year’s line shows the player from that draft class who played the most games in the league.

Year Draft # Ply Pct. GP Avg GPA Leader GP
1996 Inaug 160 108 67.5% 8,655 54.1 80.1 Kreis 327
1996 Coll. 29 22 75.9% 3,072 105.9 139.6 Ralston 412
1996 Supp. 29 17 58.6% 1,478 51.0 86.9 Armas 301
1997 Coll. 29 13 44.8% 1,406 48.5 108.2 Hartman 377
1997 Supp. 30 18 60.0% 1,253 41.8 69.6 Hendrickson 298
1998 Coll. 36 25 69.4% 3,982 110.6 159.3 Klein 341
1998 Supp. 32 11 34.4% 503 15.7 45.7 Brown 305
1999 Coll. 35 18 51.4% 1,789 51.1 99.4 Heaps 342
1999 Supp. 24 13 54.2% 626 26.1 48.2 Prideaux 272
2000 Super 70 41 58.6% 3,626 51.8 88.4 Garcia 296
2001 Super 72 33 45.8% 2,659 36.9 80.6 Mullan 257
2002 Super 65 32 49.2% 2,512 38.6 78.5 Moreno 220
2003 Super 58 34 58.6% 2,648 45.7 77.9 Clark 195
2004 Super 60 33 55.0% 2,089 34.8 63.3 Marshall/
2005 Super 48 32 66.7% 1,919 40.0 60.0 Rolfe 137
2006 Super 48 36 75.0% 1,666 34.7 46.3 Kljestan 112
2007 Super 52 25 48.1% 1,163 22.4 46.5 Harrington 91
2008 Super 56 30 53.6% 746 13.3 24.9 Salinas 46
2009 Super 60 27 45.0% 447 7.5 16.6 Gonzales 33
  TOTAL 993 568 57.2% 42,239 42.5 74.3  

MLS clubs drafted 64 players last week. If history’s any guide, about 36 of them will play in the league at some point.

More later, including a look at which teams have done the best at drafting.

1 – Because of changing draft rules and Supplemental Drafts and things, a handful of players were drafted more than once by MLS teams. Each time they were drafted, they count as a “new” draftee for purposes of that math.
2 – There is no second footnote, but the first one seemed lonely.