Mar 25, 2017
The Chicago Fire’s decision to bring Bastian Schweinsteiger to MLS was met with a lot of criticism. I think it’s misplaced - and that Schweinsteiger to Chicago is a good thing for both the Fire and the league.
Mar 18, 2017
When Leicester City fired Claudio Ranieri, it looked like the Foxes’ terrible follow-up season would completely tarnish the legacy of 2015-16. Instead, Leicester has gotten up off the mat and is fighting again - and is once again the most interesting thing in European soccer.
Mar 11, 2017
There’s not much exciting in the Big Five title races this year. Chelsea is cruising in England; so too Juventus in Italy. Either Barcelona or Real Madrid will win Spain - again - and Bayern Munich will take home the title in Germany - again. But in France, the least-loved of the Big Five leagues, PSG has been overhauled by both Monaco and Nice, and that makes it the most exciting league in Europe right now.
Mar 8, 2017
- Pitch Clock
I used to be anti-pitch clock, like a lot of people. “Baseball doesn’t have a clock!” I exclaimed, stupidly forgetting the day that I saw Freddy Garcia average (estimating here) fourteen hours between pitches. By the end of the third inning of the first pitch-clocked game I saw, I was a convert, and you will be too.
It moves the game along. I now support the shortest pitch clock possible, as well as a between-innings clock, and also support giving the umpire a BB gun to shoot people who don’t comply.
- Eliminating Mound Visits
Baseball is the only sport that allows coaches, managers, and other players to call unlimited timeouts. This is because every other sport realized that, given this unchecked power, everyone would routinely abuse it. Somehow, baseball sat through Joe Torre’s managerial career without once thinking, “You know, we’re kind of tired of watching him trudge out to the mound at 0.03 mph, twelve times a game.”
Give each team three timeouts, or one, or whatever, but otherwise let the pitch clock rules stand.
- Limiting Pitching Changes
There are about eighteen different ways of doing this. Among them:
- Require pitchers to face a certain number of batters
- Allow teams to make only a certain number of mid-inning pitching changes per game
- Require that pitching changes take place during a timeout (see item #2)
- Limit or eliminate the warmup throws that the reliever gets when he reaches the mound.
- Require bullpen cars that travel at least 45 mph
- Put Tony La Russa in prison
Whatever it takes. Again, no other sport takes five minutes to make a substitution. Let’s get it together, baseball.
- Ten seconds to call for replays, no managers involved
I mean, nothing beats watching a manager stand on the second step of the dugout, staring at the guy who’s on the phone with the upstairs replay coordinator, who is watching TV to decide whether or not a challenge is a good thing, right?
This was never the point of replay; the point was to eliminate the truly awful decision, the one where you know immediately that the umpire (usually Phil Cuzzi) is a moron. We don’t need managers and video coordinators involved in that.
Plus: watching players make challenges is hilarious because they’re always wrong. Every team will have at least two players that cannot believe that they are ever out, and will challenge every call and waste their team’s replay challenges, and we will all get to laugh at them.
- Expand the Strike Zone
I’m a little tired of the fooling with a strike zone; I legitimately cannot tell you what the rule actually is, these days. The high strike / low strike / whatever probably won’t change the game that much; it’ll just change the pitcher’s aiming point. That said, I do think that anything that promotes swinging the bat is probably a decent thing.
- Bunt Foul, You’re Out
Here’s a solution: don’t bunt.
- Limit Pickoff Throws
I don’t think this is a terrible idea, but it seems like it’s pretty far down the list of the things that are slowing down games.
4,893. Automatic Intentional Walks
I mean, it’s fine? We’ve saved ourselves six seconds a week? That’s great?
63,852: Seven-inning Games
Yes, after 120 years, let’s change the length of the game. That’s a great idea.
I mean, I guess we could shorten the games by introducing ties. You finish the ninth inning tied, the hell with it, we’ll try again tomorrow. This is a terrible idea, but at least we’re not deliberately altering how the game is played, we’re just introducing an outcome to the game that hasn’t previously been used unless it’s spring training or Bud Selig is involved in the decision-making.
1,890,293,299: Everyone Starts With A 1-1 Count
1,890,293,300: Starting the 10th Inning With A Runner On Second
Now you’re just being stupid.
Mar 6, 2017
I wrote about the sheer nuttiness of the official MLS Style Guide for FiftyFive.One today.
Mar 4, 2017
Don Garber loves to talk about “competitive balance” in MLS, but the league’s version simply makes good teams worse, not bad teams competitive. Soccer Insider this week thinks there is a better way.
Mar 1, 2017
Just for old times’ sake, I’ve posted a few joke stories in the Twins Daily blog area over the past week.
Feb 25, 2017
Writing a full preview of the CONCACAF Champions League knockout round is tough, doubly so when you’re doing it, in shortened form, for an audience that might not understand the tournament at all. I took my best shot for Soccer Insider this week.
Feb 18, 2017
The Champions League knockout rounds have started, and there are interesting stories - none of which involve Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, or Barcelona winning the title again this year. Soccer Insider covers a few of the potential stories - and hopes against hope for Leicester City to make some waves.
Feb 11, 2017
This week at Soccer Insider, I looked a couple of steps forward in the evolution of MLS. When the league quits expanding, teams will start to move - and there are a few candidates that may end up being first on the list.