Saturday, August 1, 2015

Incredible article from SI on the early days ... with one exception ...

The Birth of a League

A 10-team organization with zero soccer-specific stadiums at the start, Major League Soccer now has 20 franchises, 13 of them playing in homes of their own, with payrolls that have tripled. As the league plays its 20th season, key figures recall the kickoff campaign


Reporting by Grant Wahl and Brian Straus
Compiled by Alexander Abnos

See the whole article here, courtesy of SI.

Kicking Back Comments: This is a spectacular article from many on the ground floor of MLS. It is a worthy read and in fact I may even put this one into "essential."

There is a critical aspect missing in it however ... the referees and the efforts it took to get a group of referees together for these matches. There are heroes that should have been heard from here like Dr. Joe Machnik and Dr. Herb Silva to name a couple. 

You think it was a wild time for the owners and players, I can assure you it was an even wilder ride for us referees in the early days. As one of the referees who worked in MLS from day 1 (I was truly lucky to be the 4th official on the home opener for NE), the above story is incomplete without that view.

Imagine the challenge of getting a group of referees together with experience ranging from FIFA (like Esse Baharmast) all the way through to backyard, barely State referee kids (like me) who were really just starting out. It is a series of experiences I will never forget ... and (in general) should be part of the fabric of the beginning of MLS, as believe me, we were involved ... at times more than we should have been.

Friday, July 31, 2015

We need *more* crying in baseball

My comment is from looking at video of Wilmer Flores here, where he became understandably upset, to the point of tears, when he learned (or thought he did) he was going to be traded. Lets face it, the Mets are an organization he has been with since he was (16) years old and to be forced to up and move from what you knew since you were (literally) a kid is traumatic.

I for one was heartened to see this as far too often we see professional athletes taking their "fame" for granted and not seemingly giving a care to the very thing they are supposed to love. It is clear Flores does.

This goes for referees (of all sports) too. I wish people would take the time and emote as officials. Show you are human and share how you feel (within some bounds) to the players and spectators. Empathy, happiness, anger, even sadness ... it's all fair game.

Try it some time, you may be pleasantly surprised at the reactions you get.

All that said, the scene from A League of Their Own is classic. It also is not lost on me the umpire tried to help the manager there ... to which he was rebuked most ... hilariously. Explicit language warning. =)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

... and good riddance Herr Bach.

As we saw the other day, Boston firmly rejected the USOC and in turn the IOC's opportunity to host the 2022 Summer Olympics. As I wrote earlier, I was thrilled to see this as frankly, the cost overruns would be put on the backs of the citizens of Boston and Massachusetts. Real kudos to No Boston Olympics who lead the charge despite being maligned by one politician as #10peopleontwitter. Secondary kudos to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker for having the courage (in Marty's case) and the forethought to investigate (in Charlie's case) before getting squeezed by the USOC and IOC. As I stated earlier, neither give two hoots about Boston. They are here for the cash and leave a wake of trash behind.

Don't believe me? Take a trip to Atlanta and visit the sites of the 1996 Olympics. They are dormant and weed filled in some cases.

Even better were some of the demands from the IOC. You have to read them to believe them but they included:
  • Separate lanes should be created on all roads where IOC members will travel, which are not to be used by regular people or public transportation.
  • The IOC president shall be welcomed ceremoniously on the runway when he arrives.
  • IOC members shall be greeted with a smile when arriving at their hotel.
  • Meeting rooms shall be kept at exactly 20 degrees Celsius at all times.
  • The hot food offered in the lounges at venues should be replaced at regular intervals, as IOC members might “risk” having to eat several meals at the same lounge during the Olympics.
This is truly pathetic. It reminds me too of one of my very first professional matches. Here I was, a kid at 19 years old as an AR on a 3rd division match. It was a small, cramped locker room, but was fine. In a generous display the home team manager felt bad for the cramped quarters and took the time to lay out warm bottles of water and some chewing gum on a paper plate.

It was awesome.

It was clear these guys did not have much money but did what they could to make us feel as welcome as possible.

It was the best chewing gum I ever had to this day.

I read stuff like separate lanes or this other nonsense and just reflect on what a bunch of self indulging t*atwa##les (n. An elitist; someone unaware of their own limitations and highly critical of others.) these folks are.

Good riddance Herr Bach, you may say it is Boston's fault, but honestly, we're happy to see you go.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I can't believe my earballs

Image Courtesy of FX
For any who do not understand the reference, this is a regular line from a character named Cheryl Tunt from the FX series Archer. Cheryl has a brother Cecil who are the only two surviving members of the Tunt family. She is voiced by Judy Greer and frankly is a bit of a ditz.

I understood what she meant though when I heard Vladimir Putin state Sepp Blatter deserves Nobel Prize for his FIFA work. I'm serious, just take a look here.

Twitter reacted to the nonsense as I expected they would, with a series of clever and demeaning messages for the incident. My personal favorite was a photoshop of Putin and Sepp, joined on stage by the Sith Lord, Sauron, and Lord Voldemort. You can see this and the other images here.

One bright spot in the actual draw was the relative ease the US should qualify ... that is if they get their current act together and play like many believe they can. Let's face it, the Gold Cup was a huge disappointment for them and some soul searching may be in order to get back to business.

That said, I for one have faith the US will qualify for 2018. Once we get there however, I am concerned what we may find. As I have said before however, one teams early exit is another teams good fortune. Should the US exit early, it makes it far easier for a US refereeing crew to progress on. After the stellar performance Mark Geiger put in last year I look forward to another fabulous showing from a US refereeing team.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Good Riddence

A final blow to Boston’s Olympic bid

WHAT CAN YOU say about a $5 billion plan that died? The collapse of the city’s Olympic dream on Monday, less than seven months after the United States Olympic Committee picked Boston as its bid city, comes as a bitter blow to the many people who devoted their energy and time to advocate for the Games. Despite months of effort, the plan fell apart after Mayor Walsh refused to guarantee that taxpayers would cover any cost overruns. The USOC is reportedly seeking to cobble together a last-minute plan with Los Angeles or another city to bid for the 2024 Games. Although the process started vital, far-reaching discussions about the city’s future, ultimately the people of Massachusetts never got a fair chance to weigh in by voting in a referendum. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of the Boston Globe.

Kicking Back Comments:
I for one, and as a resident of Massachusetts, am glad to see this fail. While as the article states and I agree, it is a great starting point for some conversations about how to continue to remake Boston, which is truly an amazing city. Given the realities about hosting an Olympics in the US, which with one exception has been a massive money loss that city, state, and federal tax payers hold the bag for, I don't want anything to do with it.

A reality is as well, the IOC does not give two hoots about the host country, like FIFA, it is a corrupt organization that bilks money from various countries and leaves waste in its path.

What remains so sad is that sport, true sport, is spectacular when acted out by the best in the world. It is a joy to watch. What is so foul however, are the corrupt beggars that put themselves first and sport second.

Good riddance IOC. I am happy to see the bid fail but remain sorry to think of the next country that will be fleeced for bribes and left with nothing when it is done.