An Open Letter To The American Sports Media

After a weekend full of media coverage of the arrival of Team Beckham (a nice round up of which can be found at That's On Point) I can safely say that a lot of columnists and talking heads don't care about soccer. And if you don't, that's fine. The problem here is your insistence on letting us know how little you care.

I understand that I missed the pseudo-soccer-boom of the late 1970s, where "they" tried to convince America that it was The Next Big Thing. And I also understand that it happened again in 1994 when the U.S. hosted the World Cup. What I don't understand is your insistence that it will never happen, that soccer will never matter in America. Soccer doesn't have to win you over to succeed in the United States, in fact, it's doing very well.

The Los Angeles Times' Bill Plaschke took the lack of "buzz" in Southern California as proof that this is all a waste of our time. Plaschke fails to mention how very little in the L.A. sports world (outside of the Lakers and Kobe) creates any "buzz" without a playoff run. He is also a bit generous with the word "dude" and includes a quote from entertainment blogger "Perez Hilton", who to my understanding in one of the top soccer journalists in the country. What Plaschke doesn't understand is that the jaded, L.A. transplant might not be talking soccer, but what about the huge Latin-American population that can support not one, but two MLS teams. That's pretty impressive when you consider that Los Angeles can't support a single NFL team. Plaschke downplays the importance of Beckham's arrival to the U.S. and to the MLS, but you can count on him being there to cover his first game for the L.A. Times. And of course, for him to tell us how little the whole thing mattered to him and to America.

Plaschke's Around The Horn cohort and all-around pleasant guy, Jay Mariotti isn’t impressed either. He's seen it before, and wants the American public to know that we're all being brain washed by the "American Idol"-loving, Anglo-centric media. And he somehow, as only Jay can, ties this all back to Michael Jordan. Well done. Where Plaschke can’t find the “buzz,” or where Beckham has been over the last few months (Dude, he was busy winning La Liga), Mariotti is insisting that it's all hype. That's right Jay, "they" are trying to trick us all. It's all one big long con that's been going on since the days of Pele and the Cosmos. This Beckham character can’t play at all, and once they get us watching this soccer we’re all going to look like fools.

Plaschke, Mariotti, and anyone else who has mailed in yet another "America Doesn't Care About Soccer" column are using the same, tired arguments over and over again. Soccer can't possibly be as boring to you, American Sports Media, as these articles are to us.

So many of you have such ridiculous go-to arguments: "We've seen this all before." Have you? I don't believe soccer has ever been this popular in America, and its popularity is still growing. But in your defense, many sports writers have the rare ability to see into the future. "We have our own football." Umm, we also have soccer. This isn't a one-or-the-other type situation. You can have both. Just because Beckham has arrived in America doesn't mean anyone is taking away your nine hours of NFL Live per day. "It's a boring sport, and America just doesn't 'get' it." Just because you can't follow a game doesn't mean it's "boring" and no one else "gets" it. Auto racing is a "sport" in which a few dozen cars turn left for several hours. But you trash soccer as "boring" or "low scoring.” Anyone catch the score of that last NASCAR race? You know what? I find auto racing to be one of the most boring things on the planet, but I don't let it frighten me. I don't bitch about "getting" it. I don't talk about how it will never be as big as football or baseball. I just don't watch it. It's pretty simple.

We've seen these arguments so many times, American Sports Media. But this time, you've brought out what might possibly be my favorite of all: "Beckham will not save soccer." To be honest, and it might be that I'm not on the middle-aged-white-guy e-mail list, but I didn't know that soccer needed saving. Is an entire sport at risk for going under? If Beckham isn't a roaring success in the MLS will the we be forced to sell off our soccer posts as scrap metal? In fact, I was under the impression that soccer and the MLS were doing fine in the United States. Major League Soccer has proven itself to be a stable league, far superior to the NASL to which you consistently compare it. In fact it just keeps expanding. In addition to that, just recently, some of the younger American soccer stars showed us a glimpse of the future in the Under-20 World Cup. That Freddy Adu kid (yeah, he's only 18) that you wrote off on the basis that you simply hadn't heard his name around the water cooler in a while, yeah, he's doing fine. Soccer is doing fine. And us soccer fans are doing alright too.

In fact, the only real problem we face, is you, American Sports Media. We're just fine watching soccer, even if you're not fine with us watching soccer. You don't like soccer. We get it. You don't seem to care if we watch football, or baseball, or basketball, or even hockey (a lot of us have no problem following soccer and “American” sports - GASP!), but for some reason anyone caring about soccer seems to get to you. Personally, I don't understand it. Why must you try to one-up each other in this Battle of Who Could Care Less? What happens if, in some crazy and unlikely twist, that Beckham does "sell" soccer to America? Is that the end of the America as we know it? Will the terrorists finally win? Probably not, considering this is just a game and all.

To your credit, your often miserly and bitter observation that Beckham won’t get America crazy about soccer is probably right. It’s not about selling soccer to America, it’s about bringing attention to the MLS. But if you were to tell people that watching soccer might bring us closer to finally seeing Jim Rome's head explode, well then, we might just have a full-blown soccer frenzy on our hands.

Do You Believe In Magic?

In an off-season where several teams made very good moves (a shocking turn of events in the NBA), it has been one franchise that has gone in the complete opposite direction: The Orlando Magic. Granted, this is a team that made the playoffs last season, but they were still two games under .500. This was a team that needed some serious improvement.

They needed to get a point guard. They needed to get Dr. Thunder, Dwight Howard some help in the frontcourt. They needed another scorer. They needed some defense. Basically they need to tweak everything that wasn't Dwight Howard.

Sure enough, they signed Howard to a 5-year extension, effectively keeping one of the best young talents in the game locked up for what will become some of this best years. Then they made sure that was all they could do for the next five years.

Coming into this off-season, Seattle's Rashard Lewis was considered one of the biggest names in the free agent market. Averaging 22 points per game, and six boards in 2006-2007, Lewis was projected to be making somewhere in the $70 million range. He was looking like a fine pick-up for the Magic, a solid scorer who could take some of the defensive pressure off of Doc Thunder.

Then his contract was announced: $126 Million over six years. What once looked to be a wise signing has now turned into an awful contract. After being saddled with Grant Hill's deal over the last several years, the Magic will be paying out a max contract the same year Hill's contract came off the books. Great move. Way to tie up all that cap space.

Following the Lewis deal, the Magic saw it fit to let Darko Milicic walk. He has underachieved his entire (short) career, but that isn't to say that the 22-year old can't improve. Never the less, the Magic made no attempt to re-sign him or get anything back for him. And so, letting Darko go without trying to move him via sign-and-trade (like Seattle did with Lewis) dropped Orlando slightly under the cap.

This means they no longer have a mid-level exception with which they can sign anyone else. They can now only sign players to minimum-salary contracts. So, in essence, because of the Dwight Howard extension, the RIDICULOUS Rashard Lewis contract, and stupidly getting nothing for Darko, the Orlando Magic have added one player to their unimpressive roster of talent and are pretty much stuck with this same team for the next five years. Sure they've got Dwight Howard, but they've also got the likes of J.J. Redick coming off the bench.

Hats off to you, Orlando. You have a franchise player in Howard that is already on his way to becoming a force in the East and in the span of about two weeks you bury your franchise for the next five seasons. Well done, indeed. Even Isaiah is impressed.

Things that Really Annoy Me #1: The Hawkeye Replay System

If you aren't familiar with what is known as the 'Hawkeye Replay System', please enlighten yourself with the wikipedia entry here: .

And after that, if you're feelin' game enough, why not figure out how the hell they decided to use it in Wimbledon, one of professional tennis' PREMIERE championships, here:

Roger Federer won Wimbledon for the 5th time in a row this weekend, and he played Rafael Nadal in the final for the 87th major in a row. Somehow, I decided it would be a good idea to watch this match.

I was wrong.

Not only was this match the same exact thing (except slightly closer) as I've seen every damn time they play, but for the first time I got to experience the relatively new Hawkeye system and understand what a trainwreck it is. I mean seriously, who thought it would be a good idea to put a robot thats only 90% accurate in charge of line calls? A CMU Grad? Wouldn't surprise me.

But honestly, this thing needs to die. And not a slow, painful death, a quick painful one. It is ridiculous how bad this thing is. I watched Roger Federer, the girly girl that he is, get legitimately angry over a call that was overturned by the hawkeye. I have never see Ole' Roger Rabbit angry before, but I don't blame him. Players get UNLIMITED CHALLENGES until they are overturned three times! For the love of all that is holy! All the other sports that have a challenge system at least have some boundaries, but not tennis. You could legitimately challenge every line call, and as long as you continued being correct, you could continue challenging every point.


I thought I'd had enough when basketball decided to incorporate an 'Official Review' or 'Challenge' or whatever 'The-Refs-Suck-So-We'd-Better-Let-Technology-Decide-This-One' system they have, but no, NOW I have officially had enough.

Seriously people. I have even grown to tolerate the obnoxious advertising on literally everything, but this is just too much. Let the people get paid to do their jobs. Let 'em play, as they say.

Federer nearly lost the championship over this stupid call. He lost the fourth set 6-2 after his confidence was rattled due to the controversial call being overturned. Tennis is a mental game, lets leave it up to people, not machines, to decide a winner.

Get Yo' Brooms Out

The Detroit Tigers completed the weekend sweep of the Boston Red Sox today. This is news for two reasons: 1.) These might be the best two teams in the American League and could very well meet in October and 2.) This ridiculous catch. Wily Mo goes yard and Curtis Granderson takes it back. One of the best catches of the year. A fine way to close out the first half of the season.

[Via With Leather]

It's Only 1:00, Let the Man Juice!

Post number one hundred, bitches!
Anyways, it turns out
Neifi Perez is on the muscle sauce. Not only that, he wants you to know he's not stupid, or in his words, "I say to my fans I am not stupid." Come on, Neifi, let's be serious. You have no fans. Not only are you bad, you're not quite bad enough for you to have ironic fans like this man (note: Hideki Irabu fans most likely limited to me and me. I once purchased a XXL Irabu Rangers T-shirt jersey at the Ballpark in Arlington. Sadly, I wear a medium. It was not meant to be). Anyways, what I'm driving at in the same way that a drunk man drives down the highway, which is to say, through a couple of frontyards and over a few literary guardrails, is that anyone batting below the Mendoza line should be allowed to take all the goddamn 'roids they want. Do you really want to see what Neifi is capable of when he's not on the juice? What if he's so atrocious his average dips into the negative? Then we're not talking baseball problem, we're talking astro-physical space-time mathematical conundrum.


If we continue to let Bud Selig handle this situation, we're triple-jumping towards the dead walking the earth, craving the sweer succor of human flesh, and frankly, I don't think any city outside of Pittsburgh is equipped to handle a zombie and/or ghoul infestation.

Nevertheless, I bought some new shoes today, so when the Neifopalyse comes a callin, at least I'll be lookin spiffy. Or rolling large, quite large, if you will. If you won't, then you can fuck yourself. Just let the man take all the performance enhancers he wants, laughably small testicles be damned.

National Voice Is Muttering

(Writer's Note: In an effort to centralize my anger towards the American sports media, I have decided to write a rebuttal article to every incorrect David Beckham article I find or Brendan sends to me. Today is the great Gene Wojciechowski and his ever brilliant and insightful national voice column.)

The central idea to yesterday's National Voice column is Wojciechowski takes the mainstream role to the David Beckham transfer to the LA Galaxy of the MLS. Firstly, Gene is nice enough to tell us that he wouldn't know "David Beckham if he put a corner kick into his jaw". Well thanks, I'm glad that you wrote an article for the biggest sports outlet in the United States while having no idea about perhaps the most famous athlete in the world. Am I crazy to expect people to have a knowledge of a player they are writing a column about? Also how do you not know who David Beckham is? My next column on Forty Minutes of Hell who is this LeBron James guy and why is he important to me.

I think the worst part of the article is that Gene decides the only way to gain a knowledge of the new LA Galaxy man is to talk to his expert friend, who coincidentally knows nothing about him or football.

"He's best at outside mid because he has a great right foot," says Daniels. "He's great at setting up teammates, when he has time. He's not great at setting up his own shot. But on set pieces, dead-ball pieces, he has a great, special talent for putting it on a head, curving it around the wall. That translates to [TV] highlights" (says writer for the LA Times Christine Daniels).

Well good job Christine you understand the position that David Beckham plays on the soccer field, thats quite suprising. I thought I would give you some credit before I tear you apart. You realize what being a right midfielder entails, great.

"The MLS is Triple-A baseball compared to the major leagues," she says. "It used to be Double-A."

What the fuck does that mean? The MLS consistently beats teams from the Coca Cola Championship in friendly matches. I would bet that the MLS All Stars can beat Celtic in the MLS All-Star game. Quality-wise the MLS has no correlation to minor league baseball. The MLS is the professional league of this country. While not on the level of the elite leagues in the world La Liga, Serie A, and the EPL its still a great league that is getting better and better. Being an anglophile is the best way to be when it comes to being a football fan. Look at me I would rather watch Blackburn play Sunderland than any MLS game, the atmosphere is so much better blah blah blah. Fuck all your American TV and give me some Vicar of Diably or some other stuff English comedy. Look at that its hilarious a man is wearing women's clothes, but I digress.

"So let me get this straight: he won't have Gretzky's impact, he's not one of the top 50 players in the world anymore, and the MLS isn't an elite league," I say (Thats Gene not me I'm not retarded). "This sounds like Michael Jordan going over to England to play hoops -- now."

"That's a good way of putting it," she says

Go fuck yourself. Seriously, you couldn't possibly understand this situation any less. I hate you.

But I've got a bad feeling that six months from now we're going to be asking, "Beckham who?" and "Beckham why?" (says the illustrious Gene Wojo).

You know what you Gene, thats what your going to be writing because you can't and won't understand. Don't try though there is no reason let the football fans have their stupid little league. Go back to writing about what TO should do in June or how great Tony Romo is. Is it too much for me to expect people to actually try when they write articles about a sport. If you don't know what your talking about don't try. Just leave the writing of football columns to some with a funny accent. I hate so many things about the way you are Gene.

Get Some Knowledge on This Beckham Fella

Like Father Like Son: Bad Mangement = Badly Managed Walkout

An Open Letter To the Braintrust Behind the Pirates Walkout:

Congrats, you suck. All this hype (Which, by the way, I didn't know about until about 10 minutes started), trying to get all Bucco fans ANGRY and RILED UP about how bad the organization is, and you get a measly 100 people to walkout? And then return to their seats later the next inning? Come on man, we talkin' bout PRAC-tice.

It was April 2006, just a year and change ago, when I remember watching Michael Keaton, lifelong Pirates fan and shitty actor (though I haven't seen him as Batman, which I hear is great), bitching on opening day about how bad the Pirates organization is. Well guess what...I don't care! Quit complaining!

You guys are the public. You can stop coming to games, and that will make the organization lose some money, but you don't own the team and can't make other Pirates fans just magically stop coming.

Listen, I'm a man who enjoys a good Bucco's game, and I think that College Night is an amazing deal. Your team plays in the best park in the league, and this coming from someone whose been to a lot of parks. But honestly, you plan a walkout on a day when your team's best pitcher is pitching? Dumb bastards. Gorzelanny is the only Pirates pitcher worth a shit, but sure, that sounds like a great idea, walk out when he starts.

Also, though I know you may not have been able to plan who was pitching, you could plan who they were playing. The Nationals? The fucking lowly, shit of the Earth, used to be the Expos Washington Nationals? Couldn't you have picked a rivalry game or something? Though in the Michael Vick dogfight that is the NL Central, I can understand it may be hard to find a rival.

This letter is in no way shitting on the Pirates. As I said, I love the Pirates, and I'm a Philly sports fan. Come on, how can you hate on a team where you can see a AAA team with an average age of 17 (I still swear Gorzelanny is 14) play an MLB team for $8? Plus, you get to see 'Professor' Xavier Nady play, and he's awesome.

I just don't see the logic behind this walkout. YOU ALREADY PAID FOR TICKETS!!! And you honestly think that your average WASP family of four is going to walk out with their kids 3 innings into the game? Yeah, I understand your organization sucks, but at least Pat Gillick isn't your GM and your team doesn't have a chance each season. Being a Phils fan, I know they won't make the playoffs, but they keep my hopes up all season. You guys know you aren't going anywhere from day one.

Enjoy your beautiful ballpark, and enjoy a nice game of baseball. One day, ownership will change, but small market teams have a seriously bad chance of winning ever. Hell, I still don't know how the Florida Marlins have won multiple championships. Maybe you guys should compare notes.

Kind Regards,

P.S. I think this picture is of Tim Bagatti during the Steelers Riot. Which is awesome. I'll get back to you on whether or not that is him.



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