You’ll notice some things changing, format-wise around here for the next few days while I play around with a new theme. Bear with us.
While doing some research on baseball in the early part of the 20th century, I came across a story about Babe Ruth that I thought might have been apocryphal (as many probably are). The story checked out, but in searching for proof, I found this, even better story, as told by Fred Lieb in his 1977 memoir, Baseball As I Have Known It.
The Baltimore Blast shut out the Detroit Waza last night, 26-0, in a Major Arena Soccer League game. (Detroit was delayed getting to the arena, as their bus broke down, which can happen when you leave the day of the game and try to drive 500+ miles.) In the high-scoring world of indoor/arena soccer, shutouts aren’t common, as you might expect. In fact, last night’s game was only the
110th 118th shutout in more than 9,300 9,600 regular-season games across 36 years and 10 different leagues. UPDATE: I have found eight more regular-season shutouts and have added all the playoff shutouts I could find that weren’t in a mini-game or golden goal situation. Here’s the list, for you history buffs (* denotes overtime periods):
|3/7/1979||MISL1||Houston Summit||9||Cleveland Force||0|
|12/14/1979||NASL||Memphis Rogues||8||Tulsa Roughnecks||0|
|2/20/1980||MISL1||New York Arrows||7||Cleveland Force||0|
|3/9/1980||MISL1||Houston Summit||4||Cleveland Force||0|
|12/16/1980||MISL1||Philadelphia Fever||3||Wichita Wings||0|
|12/28/1980||MISL1||Wichita Wings||8||San Francisco Fog||0|
|1/2/1981||MISL1||Wichita Wings||10||Cleveland Force||0|
|1/8/1981||NASL||Atlanta Chiefs||6||Fort Lauderdale Strikers||0|
|1/24/1981||MISL1||Buffalo Stallions||5||Philadelphia Fever||0|
|12/10/1981||NASL||Portland Timbers||5||San Jose Earthquakes||0|
|12/13/1981||MISL1||Wichita Wings||1||Denver Avalanche||0|
|1/31/1982||MISL1||Pittsburgh Spirit||11||Philadelphia Fever||0|
|2/7/1982||MISL1||St. Louis Steamers||7||Kansas City Comets||0|
|3/27/1982||MISL1||Phoenix Inferno||3||Denver Avalanche||0|
|1/12/1983||MISL1||New York Arrows||5||Memphis Americans||0|
|1/14/1983||MISL1||St. Louis Steamers||6||Chicago Sting||0|
|3/31/1983||MISL1||Pittsburgh Spirit||6||Cleveland Force||0|
|4/10/1983||MISL1||St. Louis Steamers||2||Kansas City Comets||0|
|12/20/1983||MISL1||Tacoma Stars||3||Pittsburgh Spirit||0|
|1/4/1984||MISL1||Kansas City Comets||4||Memphis Americans||0|
|3/2/1984||MISL1||St. Louis Steamers||3||Wichita Wings||0|
|11/2/1984||MISL1||St. Louis Steamers||2||Chicago Sting||0|
|12/4/1984||MISL1||Tacoma Stars||3||Dallas Sidekicks||0|
|12/4/1984||MISL1||Wichita Wings||1||Kansas City Comets||0|
|12/9/1984||AISA||Canton Invaders||5||Louisville Thunder||0|
|1/18/1985||AISA||Columbus Capitals||8||Chicago Vultures||0|
|1/27/1985||MISL1||Chicago Sting||3||Kansas City Comets||0|
|2/3/1985||MISL1||Las Vegas Americans||7||Tacoma Stars||0|
|3/3/1985||MISL1||Las Vegas Americans||5||Minnesota Strikers||0|
|3/16/1985||MISL1||Los Angeles Lazers||3||Tacoma Stars||0|
|3/17/1985||MISL1||Minnesota Strikers||3||Kansas City Comets||0|
|3/23/1985||MISL1||Las Vegas Americans||4||Chicago Sting||0|
|4/5/1985||MISL1||Chicago Sting||2||Las Vegas Americans||0|
|12/14/1985||MISL1||Wichita Wings||1||Tacoma Stars||*0|
|1/3/1986||MISL1||San Diego Sockers||9||Wichita Wings||0|
|1/9/1986||MISL1||Pittsburgh Spirit||2||Kansas City Comets||0|
|1/10/1986||AISA||Louisville Thunder||5||Kalamazoo Kangaroos||0|
|1/11/1986||AISA||Canton Invaders||7||Chicago Shoccers||0|
|1/12/1986||MISL1||Baltimore Blast||3||Chicago Sting||0|
|1/17/1986||MISL1||Pittsburgh Spirit||1||Chicago Sting||**0|
|1/18/1986||AISA||Milwaukee Wave||2||Chicago Shoccers||0|
|2/8/1986||AISA||Kalamazoo Kangaroos||7||Chicago Shoccers||0|
|3/14/1986||MISL1||St. Louis Steamers||1||Baltimore Blast||0|
|10/31/1986||AISA||Fort Wayne Flames||3||Toledo Pride||0|
|11/30/1986||MISL1||Baltimore Blast||2||Dallas Sidekicks||0|
|12/5/1986||AISA||Tampa Bay Rowdies||3||Toledo Pride||0|
|12/13/1986||AISA||Chicago Shoccers||3||Fort Wayne Flames||0|
|1/23/1987||MISL1||Dallas Sidekicks||2||Los Angeles Lazers||0|
|2/6/1987||MISL1||San Diego Sockers||8||Los Angeles Lazers||0|
|3/15/1987||AISA||Canton Invaders||10||Tampa Bay Rowdies||0|
|3/18/1987||MISL1||Minnesota Strikers||7||Cleveland Force||0|
|3/21/1987||AISA||Toledo Pride||2||Tampa Bay Rowdies||0|
|3/24/1987||MISL1||Minnesota Strikers||8||Dallas Sidekicks||0|
|4/10/1987||MISL1||Wichita Wings||8||Los Angeles Lazers||0|
|4/26/1987||MISL1||Tacoma Stars||6||St. Louis Steamers||0|
|4/30/1987||MISL1||Minnesota Strikers||0||Baltimore Blast||3|
|12/9/1987||MISL1||Minnesota Strikers||2||St. Louis Steamers||0|
|12/12/1987||MISL1||Dallas Sidekicks||3||San Diego Sockers||0|
|12/13/1987||AISA||Canton Invaders||3||Milwaukee Wave||0|
|12/19/1987||MISL1||Dallas Sidekicks||2||Wichita Wings||0|
|12/2/1988||AISA||Canton Invaders||13||Memphis Storm||0|
|2/8/1989||MISL1||San Diego Sockers||4||Dallas Sidekicks||0|
|4/6/1989||MISL1||Tacoma Stars||1||Dallas Sidekicks||0|
|4/7/1989||MISL1||San Diego Sockers||4||Tacoma Stars||0|
|11/10/1989||MISL1||Cleveland Crunch||5||Tacoma Stars||0|
|11/17/1989||MISL1||Dallas Sidekicks||3||Wichita Wings||0|
|11/21/1989||AISA||Canton Invaders||8||Atlanta Attack||0|
|12/1/1989||MISL1||San Diego Sockers||4||St. Louis Storm||0|
|12/8/1989||AISA||Canton Invaders||11||Hershey Impact||0|
|2/18/1990||MISL1||Dallas Sidekicks||8||Cleveland Crunch||0|
|3/11/1990||AISA||Dayton Dynamo||8||Indiana Kick||0|
|3/24/1990||MISL1||Baltimore Blast||6||Tacoma Stars||0|
|1/6/1991||NPSL||Atlanta Attack||14||Milwaukee Wave||0|
|1/12/1991||MISL1||San Diego Sockers||7||Dallas Sidekicks||0|
|2/3/1991||NPSL||Atlanta Attack||11||Hershey Impact||0|
|2/18/1991||MISL1||Baltimore Blast||6||Tacoma Stars||0|
|3/3/1991||MISL1||San Diego Sockers||4||Cleveland Crunch||0|
|1/24/1993||NPSL||Harrisburg Heat||13||Wichita Wings||0|
|2/5/1993||NPSL||Chicago Power||17||Milwaukee Wave||0|
|3/6/1993||NPSL||Milwaukee Wave||14||Denver Thunder||0|
|1/20/1995||NPSL||Cleveland Crunch||20||Canton Invaders||0|
|1/28/1995||NPSL||Milwaukee Wave||16||Chicago Power||0|
|1/28/1995||NPSL||Buffalo Blizzard||23||Dayton Dynamo||0|
|8/25/1995||CISL||Portland Pride||10||Pittsburgh Stingers||0|
|12/8/1996||NPSL||St. Louis Ambush||13||Toronto Shooting Stars||0|
|8/17/1997||CISL||Seattle Seadogs||6||Sacramento Knights||0|
|11/30/1997||NPSL||St. Louis Ambush||17||Kansas City Attack||0|
|2/8/1998||NPSL||St. Louis Ambush||13||Edmonton Drillers||0|
|2/28/1999||NPSL||Montreal Impact||14||Florida Thundercats||0|
|3/27/1999||NPSL||Philadelphia Kixx||16||Florida Thundercats||0|
|3/28/1999||NPSL||Kansas City Attack||21||Florida Thundercats||0|
|4/2/1999||NPSL||Philadelphia Kixx||12||Florida Thundercats||0|
|9/2/2000||WISL||Arizona Thunder||6||St. Louis Steamers||0|
|9/16/2000||WISL||Arizona Thunder||3||Houston Hotshots||0|
|10/30/2000||WISL||Utah Freezz||6||Monterrey La Raza||0|
|9/8/2001||WISL||Utah Freezz||3||St. Louis Steamers||0|
|10/7/2001||WISL||Dallas Sidekicks||3||St. Louis Steamers||0|
|11/23/2001||WISL||Dallas Sidekicks||6||Sacramento Knights||0|
|12/2/2001||WISL||San Diego Sockers||5||Dallas Sidekicks||0|
|1/17/2004||MISL2||Philadelphia Kixx||5||San Diego Sockers||0|
|1/25/2004||MISL2||Dallas Sidekicks||1||Philadelphia Kixx||0|
|3/14/2004||MISL2||Cleveland Force||4||Dallas Sidekicks||0|
|4/2/2004||MISL2||Monterrey Fury||3||San Diego Sockers||0|
|2/19/2005||MISL2||Kansas City Comets||4||Philadelphia Kixx||0|
|2/4/2006||MISL2||St. Louis Steamers||4||Chicago Storm||0|
|1/5/2008||MISL2||Philadelphia Kixx||4||Baltimore Blast||0|
|3/22/2008||MISL2||Baltimore Blast||13||Chicago Storm||0|
|12/27/2008||NISL||Rockford Rampage||43||Mass. Twisters||0|
|11/22/2009||MISL3||Milwaukee Wave||15||Monterrey La Raza||0|
|2/21/2010||MISL3||Baltimore Blast||9||Rockford Rampage||0|
|3/4/2011||MISL3||Milwaukee Wave||21||Omaha Vipers||0|
|1/4/2013||MISL3||Chicago Soul||11||Syracuse Silver Knights||0|
|11/23/2013||MISL3||Milwaukee Wave||8||Baltimore Blast||0|
|12/13/2013||MISL3||Baltimore Blast||12||Rochester Lancers||0|
|12/21/2013||MISL3||Baltimore Blast||29||Pennsylvania Roar||0|
|12/31/2013||MISL3||Baltimore Blast||24||Pennsylvania Roar||0|
|1/19/2014||MISL3||Pennsylvania Roar||16||St. Louis Ambush||0|
|11/14/2014||MASL||Baltimore Blast||26||Detroit Waza||0|
|2/18/1981||NASL||California Surf||3||Vancouver Whitecaps||0|
|5/13/1983||MISL1||San Diego Sockers||6||Baltimore Blast||0|
|5/15/1983||MISL1||San Diego Sockers||7||Baltimore Blast||0|
|4/5/1985||AISA||Louisville Thunder||11||Columbus Capitals||0|
|5/14/1985||MISL1||San Diego Sockers||7||Minnesota Strikers||0|
|5/8/1988||MISL1||Minnesota Strikers||7||Cleveland Force||0|
|4/9/1989||AISA||Canton Invaders||5||Hershey Impact||0|
|5/19/1989||MISL1||San Diego Sockers||1||Dallas Sidekicks||0|
|6/8/1989||MISL1||Baltimore Blast||7||San Diego Sockers||0|
|5/22/1990||MISL1||San Diego Sockers||4||Dallas Sidekicks||0|
|4/17/1991||NPSL||Chicago Power||12||Dayton Dynamo||0|
|10/8/1995||CISL||Sacramento Knights||4||San Jose Grizzlies||0|
|4/24/1999||NPSL||Cleveland Crunch||15||Philadelphia KiXX||0|
|12/7/2001||WISL||St. Louis Steamers||1||San Diego Sockers||0|
The Blast’s margin of victory last night was the third-highest in the sport’s history for a shutout game. Rockford defeated Massachusetts 43-0 on December 27, 2008 (the Twisters went on to finish 1-17), and Baltimore beat Pennsylvania 29-0 last December 21. Obviously, those were under multi-point scoring. The largest single-point scoring shutout I see is Pittsburgh over Philadelphia 11-0 on January 31, 1982.
Baltimore (in its two iterations) has 10 lifetime shutouts to lead everybody, while the Dallas Sidekicks were shut out the most times (eight).
I’d have to dig deeper to create a list of goalkeepers who have pitched shutouts, but that will have to wait for another day. If you have additions or corrections to the above list, send them my way.
For many years, baseball’s only clock was the sun, and that worked pretty well. But with average game times in the major leagues creeping ever upward, there’s a move afoot to try and rein in how much time passes in the National Pastime. But the major culprit contributing to the length of baseball games doesn’t appear to have anything to do with anything the players do.
The Arizona Fall League has instituted a number of game pace initiatives, including installing clocks like the one you see above at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick (the spring home of the Rockies and Diamondbacks and fall home of the Salt River Rafters). Pitchers have 20 seconds to deliver the ball to the batter, who is supposed to keep one foot in the box most of the time. The changeover between half-innings has been limited to 2:05 (and often takes even less time than that) and pitching changes are limited to 2:30. (As Keith Olbermann rightly pointed out when this plan was announced, baseball has tried this before – in the AFL, even – and nothing has really changed.)
While there are many factors contributing to the increased length of games, I decided, just for comparison’s sake, to look at one set of data points from two World Series twenty-two years apart. The results are after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »
Failure or not, depending on who’s doing the remembering, Chivas USA wasn’t going to be a help to anyone going forward, and with a well-financed ownership group with plans for its own stadium, the switch makes sense for all concerned. Original co-owners Antonio Cue and Jorge Vergara got out with more than they paid (though probably not more than they lost), MLS made money on the flip and there’s no more attendance-dragging stepchild club at the soon-to-be-renovated StubHub Center.
A couple of things I’m skeptical about, though, include the idea that a new stadium somewhere in Greater Los Angeles will be ready by spring 2017 and this whole “LAFC” nonsense. While I’m not as curmudgeonly about it as Paul Gardner, I’m on record as being against “FC” as a sole team name (only partially because of its Europosing-ness, mostly because it’s lazy). The new owners have hinted that might not be the final name when the club kicks off (somewhere) in 2017, but I remain unconvinced.
I’m also skeptical about MLS’ insistence on second teams in New York and Los Angeles in general. I know the other sports leagues have multiple teams in those markets, but MLS’ addition of them (especially in New York) just smacks of desperation and overreach. Don Garber has done a lot of good in his 15+ years as MLS commissioner (much more than some thought when he was appointed back in 1999), but the ramrodding of a team into New York City, co-owned by the Yankees (of all people) that will have to play its first three years (at least) in Yankee Stadium when its current New York-area team has had a checkered past, at best seems silly and counterproductive.
Television (as it almost always does) likely factored into this. The league has new TV deals about to kick in that will pay it more than ever before, and the idea of more potential eyeballs in the two biggest markets may have helped grease the skids for that.
I understood the Chivas USA experiment at the time: an all-in effort to try to attract a demographic that had largely ignored MLS for much of its first nine years, at a time when talk of expansion was met with laughter and rolled eyes. And I understand why the time had come to pull the plug. I hope the “new strategy for the Los Angeles market” is successful. Because for all of its recent wins, MLS can’t afford these two high-profile additions to fail.
We are truly living in a golden age for professional outdoor soccer in this country. All three men’s professional levels of the game set new average attendance records this season, with Major League Soccer drawing 19,149 a game, USL Pro breaking the 3,000-a-game mark and now, the North American Soccer League setting a new record for Division II attendance in the modern era. The fourth-year NASL broke the former record of 5,164 per game set by the USL First Division in 2008 by averaging 5,521 a game.
First, the numbers:
|San Antonio Scorpions||14||94,562||6,754||6,721||8,313||5,594|
|New York Cosmos||14||69,469||4,962||4,457||8,565||3,091|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||14||63,700||4,550||4,322||7,003||2,565|
|Ft. Lauderdale Strikers||13||47,138||3,626||3,109||5,756||2,409|
Now, some context: A large part of this gain is from the expansion club in Indianapolis, which became only the fifth lower-division organization in modern history to average more than 10,000 fans per game. Selling out every home game, Indy Eleven averaged 10,465, the highest Division II average since Montreal’s swan song in the second flight in 2011. Without Indianapolis, the NASL average was 4,948 – still an improvement over last year’s 4,670 average, but not a record. Still, there is cause for optimism in the second division, as, outside of Edmonton and the nascent Oklahoma City and Virginia clubs, there don’t appear to be a lot of organizations teetering on the brink of disappearing.
Compared to last year’s numbers, Minnesota was way up (82%, thanks in part to a big doubleheader, but they did draw consistently well all year for their other games as well), Edmonton had the benefit of its expanded stadium for the full year and was up 39% (still not good enough) and Tampa Bay was up 12.5%. That’s the good news. San Antonio and Carolina dropped slightly (2.6% and 3.3%, respectively), but Atlanta (where the Silverbacks may be on their way out) was off 13% and Ft. Lauderdale (despite making it to the league semifinals) was off 15%.
And then there’s the vaunted New York Cosmos. Drawing a season-high 8,565 to their home finale on October 25 helped keep their second-year drop from being worse, but their average announced attendance was off an alarming 28% from their maiden season. They may be counting on 2015 signing Raul to boost the numbers next season, but he turns 38 next June and will be playing a lot of games on turf before and after that. We’ll see.
The split-season format (in which teams played 1/3 of their games before the World Cup and 2/3 after) saw six of the ten teams draw worse in the Fall Championship than they had in the Spring, with only Indy (identical averages), San Antonio (up 7%), Minnesota (up 65%) and Ottawa (up 105%) seeing gains in the second stanza. Southeastern teams Carolina (-22%), Atlanta (-21%), Tampa Bay (-14%) and Fort Lauderdale (-8%) all dropped in the fall. Overall, the league averaged 5,346 in the spring (4,913 median) and 5,608 in the fall (4,513 median).
There was a bit of a World Cup bump (the league averaged 5,346 before Brazil and 5,732 after it), but the two major events in the fall accounted for a lot of that.
Besides November’s small sample of five games, the best month for average attendance was August (6,153, thanks to Man City and Olympiakos), while the rest of the months were pretty steady (June’s 5,150 was the lowest).
With the league scheduling the vast majority of its matches on weekends (127 of the 134 matches were on Saturday or Sunday), days of the week comparisons are hard to make, but Saturday games averaged 5,620 and Sunday matches 4,831.
Jacksonville (which recently finalized its lease at the local baseball stadium) will join the ranks in 2015, with Oklahoma City’s final disposition still up in the air. Assuming Edmonton sticks around (and they appear to be), there will be either 11 or 12 clubs in the NASL next season. Still to be determined is how a split season format would work and what playoff format they will choose this time.
But the overall takeaway from the 2014 season at all three levels of the pro game should be an optimistic one. Never have so many enjoyed so much for so long.
The 1981 World Series is memorable for coming at the end of a season interrupted by a 59-day players’ strike, George Steinbrenner‘s bizarre maybe-it-happened-maybe-it-didn’t encounter with Dodger fans in an elevator and Dave Winfield’s 1-for-22 performance that set the stage for his owner later calling him “Mr. March.” My APBA replay of the 1981 World Series has been a memorable one, too. You can catch up on Games One, Two, Three and Four before you read all about how it wraps up after the jump.
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The 19th Major League Soccer season ended Sunday with a new record for total (6,184,980) and average (19,149) attendance, poising the league to potentially average 20k in its 20th season in 2015.
First the numbers:
Now, some notes and such:
- Seattle led the league in attendance for the fifth straight year, though their average actually dropped slightly (less than 1%, nothing to be concerned about) for the first time. Overall, eight of the league’s 19 teams averaged over 20k, the first time that’s ever happened.
- DC United was the biggest gainer from a year ago, as their average in 2014 was almost 25% ahead of 2013’s numbers. Toronto (up 22%), San Jose (up 17% thanks to a couple of marquee off-site games) and New England (up 12%) showed significant growth. Most of the other clubs were within a few percentage points of their performance of a year ago (we’re getting close to capacity in most of these places), but Chivas USA (who is no longer with us) dropped about 16% in their swan song season and Montreal was off 15%.
- My number for Portland doesn’t match the league’s, because I believe they have a transposition error somewhere. The Timbers announced – to my knowledge, anyway – a capacity crowd of 20,814 for each of their 17 home league matches. That should result in a total of 353,838, but the league has them at 353,208. The error – 630 – is common when someone enters a number incorrectly. (My guess is someone entered one of Portland’s games as 20,184 instead of 20,814. The error is – wait for it – 630.) I have alerted the league, but they don’t usually listen to me, so we’ll see what happens.
- With San Jose moving into its new stadium next year, Chivas going to the Great Beyond and New York and Orlando coming on board, there would seem to be a very good chance the league can draw 6,800,000 for its 340 matches in 2015. That would give it an average of 20,000 in its twentieth season. Not bad considering where we were 10 or 12 years ago.
- October was the best average month (20,365), but they were all good (the low was April at 17,242).
- Weekdays used to be scary. And there was great angst when the Friday night TV package was unveiled a few years ago. Now Monday-through-Thursday games averaged 16,269, while Friday through Sunday games averaged 19,579. And Friday was the best night of the week at 22,012 in a small sample (25 games). The real takeaway is that even Wednesdays aren’t a big problem anymore. And the difference between weekends and weekdays, once huge, has narrowed. (Just as a comparison, weekday games averaged under 10k from 1997-1999.)
- The first 161 games averaged 18,524, while the last 162 averaged 19,970.
- Home openers averaged 19,610. Home finales averaged 20,979.
- National TV games – which were also scary, once, averaged 21,623.
- As for the World Cup Effect, MLS averaged 18,497 before the World Cup (18,068 median), 20,338 during its knockout stages (19,633 median) and 19,492 after it (18,989 median). A mild statistical bump that we don’t usually see, but which could be attributed to many things.
- Without Chivas USA as a drag, the league would still have drawn 6 million (6,064,917), but wouldn’t have averaged 20k (close, though – 19,820).
The Yankees and Dodgers were meeting in the World Series for the third time in five years when they decided the champions of the strangest baseball season in memory in late October of 1981. A midseason strike that wiped out a third of the season resulted in a Frankensteinian playoff format that saw the Dodgers – who had the second-best overall record in the NL West – and Yankees – the fourth-best team overall in the AL East – emerge to play on the game’s biggest stage. With the outcome still up for grabs, we resume the story of my APBA replay of the 1981 Fall Classic with Game Four, which you can read about after the jump.
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