Sunday, April 24, 2005
Dear Ed Hardin
Dear Ed Hardin of the Greensboro News & Record,

First off let me say that I'm a huge Thomas Davis fan and actually worked in the UGA SID office when I was at school there in the late 1990s. I'm glad he was drafted by my hometown (well, closest to me) Panthers and I enjoyed seeing a picture of him on the front page of the sports section because, even now, I get a bit nostalgic when I see that bright red uniform with the big Georgia 'G' on the helmet.

As I read your article this morning at home at my parents' kitchen table, I pretty much read right through it. There was nothing to complain or argue about, nor was there any major nuggets of information that I was blown-away to read. It's the day after the first day of the draft ... what is there to say, anyway?

But when I got to the last line of your article, I had to stop and do a doubletake. American football is the most unpredictable sport in the world? Really?

Now, I don't know every sport in the world. I can't explain to you how Jai Alai works or how cricketers end up with hundreds of runs in an at-bat. But what I do know is this ... American football is not even close to the most unpredictable sport in the world. You can say anything might happen, but, really, how often can you not see it coming?

How is the Patriots beating the Rams in the Super Bowl more unpredictable than Greece, who had never won a match at a major international men's soccer tournament, winning the European Championships last summer (the second or third most prestigious competition in the world)? How is the Panthers going to the Super Bowl more unpredictable than the Red Sox finally ending the curse against the Yankees last year? I, as a Yankees fan and a current New Yorker, thought that was pretty unpredictable if you ask me.

What I'm saying is that there's a whole world of exciting sporting events out there, such as last night's Chivas USA vs. LA Galaxy MLS derby, the first of its kind in the US, that will lead you to a greater level of excitement and understanding of the culture you live in. And, you won't have to stop watching a lot of these sports for five minutes at a time every time the tv companies want to sell you more beer.

I wish all the best for Thomas Davis and the Panthers ... I'll be rooting them on from a pub in New York while keeping track of all the other unpredictable results from the world of sports.

Friday, April 15, 2005
D.C. vs Columbus
Watching the game tonight in Columbus, a couple of things stuck out.

1. 12,500 fans on a Friday night in Columbus? What's up with that? I know the Crew have their own stadium and therefore aren't a candidate to be relocated to San Antonio under this new deal by the league but how do you not have closer to 20,000 in that stadium on a Friday night when you're the only game in town and the Golden Child is on the visiting team? And starting!

It really bugs me that a team like Columbus has bumbled away as much fan support as they have. Really ... if it's not fall and the Buckeyes aren't playing, what the hell else is there to do in C-bus? I know there have to be 20,000 soccer fans there ... there used to be at least. And to compare that to what Real Salt Lake is doing (and if Steve Pastornio isn't GM of the year, the award shouldn't be handed out) just puts into stark relief how bad a job the front office in C-bus is doing. The team's not bad, either!

After ten years, the average attendance should be going up, not down.

2. Freddy really has improved on the ball. I thought he was by far the most dangerous player on the field tonight (not counting David Stokes being dangerous to his own team) and I was really impressed how he held his own physically. Obviously, he's only 15 but I think he's closer to being the player everyone wanted him to be last year and improvement is all we can ask for.

In the same vein, I think Danny Szetela has really improved. I expected him to be more of a center-half (defensive midfielder) but he really has brough the attacking portion of his game up and I applaud him for that. I also applaud Greg Andrulis for giving the kid a chance.

But, Danny, man, the perm has got to go.

3. ESPN2, God bless 'em, showed a very brief clip of Cleetus warming up at Rice-Eccles (the University of Utah stadium where RSL will be playing home games there) and for a brief, shining moment I got very excited because I didn't see the American football lines on the field. Then as my favorite redneck soccer player bounded around the field, I could see the hash marks "greened out" so that, although they were green, they were obvious as to what the field is designed for. Sacre bleu!

With the crowd that RSL is expecting (and I take a little credit for getting them there), and if they can continue that kind of attendance this year, I cannot figure out why the city would prevent them playing in their own stadium. Money be damned ... these stadiums, when done correctly, can be a real boon to redevelopment of an area (see: Bridgeview, Chicago). Mr. Checketts (who should be executive of the year this year just for what he's done so far) came so close to having the stadium as a done deal but I think he really wants the pitch in SLC proper and not in Murray and that he's going to do what it takes, even if it means waiting a few years.

Although I hate football lines on soccer fields. Ruins it for me.

Thank goodness it's going to be 75 and sunny tomorrow. If there's less than 25,000 people there, and the largest crowd of the year for any MLS team, I'd be shocked.