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Sunday, October 29, 2017

USL Lou City v. Rochester Rhinos

This weekend was the second weekend of the USL Playoffs in Louisville. Last weekend was decent temperature and a weak opponent. This Saturday it was cold and a hard fought match which Lou City won when Brian Ownby (midfielder) got the goalie to come out and commit and then dinked it past him. Lou City 1 - Rochester Rhinos 0.

I might have been a little cold

Pregame Huddles

Didn't Quite Get There

Oscar After a Mugging

Oscar After Another Mugging
1.  I know 38 degrees ain't all that cold, but it's the first weekend of such temperatures and it felt like -20.
2.  There were over 6,000 people in the stadium last weekend. I don't think as many were there this Saturday, but it was a respectable crowd and every one of us was dressed like we were above the Arctic Circle.
 3.  Lou City runs its offense up the right side so poor Oscar Jimenenz, rarely got to kick the ball - about half the time he did he got mugged.
4. There were long periods of time where Lou City played ball control and just passed it around from midfielders and defenders.
5.  For about 10-15 minutes toward the end of the 1st half the Rhinos pressed hard and it looked like there was no way Lou City would keep them out of the goal.
6.  Ranjitsingh made a difference at goalie.
7.  Thank God for Brian Ownby. Until he scored, I thought this match would go to overtime and end with a shootout. And I was fairly certain I'd be a popsicle by then.
8.  Next week Lou City faces Red Bull II.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Centre Ladies' Soccer (Homecoming Weekend)

Gotta luv women's soccer - no penalty

Running through the defense - literally

1.  The more I watch women's soccer the more I enjoy it. Less penalty calls. Less flops. When they go down they get up unless they're actually hurt. In other words, they man up better than the men and it makes for better matches.
2.  Centre had control of this match pretty much from the moment the whistle blew.
3.  Of course, the whistle blew an hour after the match was supposed to start. Apparently, they had trouble getting refs for the match. In the end they got a ref and one linesman and everybody just had to live with the fact that they were one short.
4.  I was only able to stay for the first half because the match started so late.
4.  Centre won 5-0- over Sewanee.

USL Playoffs at Lou City

The USL soccer playoffs began yesterday. Out West, the number 8 seed, Sacramento Republic, took out the Real Monarchs in a shootout 1(3) - 1(1). Highlights here. Full match here. In the East, the Lou City Purples absolutely handled Bethlehem Steel 4 - 0. Highlights here. Full match here. As promised, I was at the Lou City match.

The *ahem* more interesting fans line up to march to their seats.

I think we might need to give the Lou City player on the left a cape.

Every goal - much more purple in person.

When you're trying to convince the ref that a red card should be issued because your player is mortally wounded you should at least pretend to be worried about him.
1. For some reason, my gps insisted on taking me to the wrong part of the city when I told it to take me to Louisville FC. When I changed and told it to take me to the baseball stadium it got me there.
2. Decent size crowd - about the size of a typical day when the baseball team is playing.
3.  Considering that this is a baseball stadium converted to a soccer pitch there are actually a fair number of good seats.
4. Louisville had control of the game from the beginning.
5. I'm pretty sure that Lou City imported hockey fans for the match. They were convinced the refs were letting Bethlehem get away with everything short of murder and gave the poor assistant ref near me sheer hell. One guy jumped out of his seats and ran down the stairs to the wall and started yelling at the linesman, "Three of you! Three of you and you missed that! Do your job!"
6. Next week Lou City will face the winner of the Rhinos-Independence match.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Hockey's Insane Fan (Dis)Service

As long as I can remember, hockey has been one of the big four sports in America. However, over time hockey has clearly fallen behind the big two and probably basketball as well in the hearts and minds of everyone south of Canada. As well, as soccer rises in popularity hockey is in danger of losing even the fourth slot - although soccer's rise should be stunted by the fact that our national players and team sucked so badly that they lost to Trinidad & Tobago and therefore will not be in the next World Cup.

Anyway, hockey should be looking to grow its fan base. The positive for hockey in this attempt is the fact that it has an established minor league system which can be used to draw people nearby into local arenas at lower prices and build their loyalty to the NHL teams the minor league teams are affiliated with.

The negative is that since hockey requires an ice rink or an arena where you can freeze the floor for games (and presumptively for practice), it's not as easy for a hockey arena to pop up as a baseball field or a soccer pitch. Hence, they aren't quite as common and traveling to a hockey arena can be a bit of a trip. Personally, I've got an SPHL team (Knoxville Ice Bears) about 90 minutes out and there are teams at a four to six hour distance in the SPHL, FHL, ECHL, AHL, and NHL. As you might imagine, I have to set aside a good portion of a day to go see the Ice Bears and unless its a day game a trip to see the others involves an overnight stay (with the hotel room canceling out any savings from going to a minor league game and making an NHL game even more expensive).

What's the solution to this? Well, I looked for the same solution baseball has come to: multi-media live streaming of MLB ($125 for all teams), the affiliated minors ($50 for all AAA, all AA, and the majority of A+ & A), and unaffiliated baseball (mostly free). Heck, soccer has bettered this with streaming of the MLS going for $80 and the USL streaming its games free of charge on YouTube. So, when I looked to when I looked to hockey's multimedia live streams I had a pretty good idea of what a rational price meant to bolster and grow the fan base looks like.

At $140, the NHL's price for all its games is fine, but Hockey's minor leagues are clinically insane:
AHL (AAA) - - - - - $299
ECHL (AA) - - - - - $199
SPHL (Indy/A) - - -$199
FHL (Indy/A) - - - - Not Yet Posted
Keep in mind as you look at those prices that these are being advertised as their "early-bird specials." At first I thought maybe they were all referencing some sort of giant package like the one MiLB sells for all its AAA, all its AA, and a lot of other teams. However, nothing indicates that in any of their sales pages and the differences in the price for the AHL would tend to disprove it. Also, the discount offered by the AHL is $50, the ECHL is $30, and the SPHL is $20 indicating that when the "specials" go away they will all have different prices.

There's no way that I'm going to pay those prices. Let's compare again: almost all of minor league baseball: $50. The remaining soccer minor league: FREE. Hockey (if all the currently available minor league packages purchased): $500

Yeah, I'm not doing that. And you shouldn't either. If minor league hockey is that dumb about leaving money on the floor and the NHL isn't smart enough to step in and stop a price point that discourages people from becoming engaged at all levels (following players as they rise, following local affiliated teams and thus being drawn into the top team), I can take a hint. Hockey isn't interested in me or my dollars. There are other places I can spend them.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Announcing the Greeneville Reds

The World Series hasn't even come and gone yet and teams are already making off season moves. Multiple reports indicate that the Astros have dropped the Greeneville team in the Appalachian League and the Reds have picked it up. It's an interesting move for the Reds because they technically already have a team in another advanced rookie league. In fact, their affiliation deal with the Billings Mustangs out of the Pioneer League is one of the oldest in baseball. However, if you look closely you realize that the Pioneer League is really more like a short season A league than a rookie league so fitting a team in between the low rookie complex leagues and the Pioneer League and not having a short season A team (the Reds don't) should work. It's just a shame the Reds didn't push the Mets out of Kingsport or the Pirates out of Bristol because I live closer to both (ten minutes to the Mets / 30 to Bristol / 60 to Greeneville).

Anyway, the Appalachian League is the last (outside of the complex leagues) which doesn't have teams with independent names. They all adopt the names of their major league affiliate. Therefore, the Greeneville team will now be the Greeneville Reds. This leads to a logo problem. The teams in the Appalachian League do have their own logos which are variations on the major league logo. Thus you see the Elizabethton Twins with a big E behind the Twins logo and the Danville Braves with a D next to a tomahawk.

As an Astros affiliate Greeneville's logo took care of itself. They took the Astro's star and replaced the H with a G. However, there's nothing quite that simple as a Reds affiliate. The Red's primary logo is a distinctive C, which obviously stands for Cincinnati. A Greenville version of that might be:

It's not exactly the world's most stunning logo. The Red's secondary logo almost always has something to do with Mr. Redlegs and maybe something could be done with that. The problem there is that it might require the Greeneville management to change mascots and I'm not sure they have either the money or the initiative to do that.

We'll see. Maybe since they actually play in Tusculum the name could be changed to the Tusculum Reds. Then at least there'd be a C somewhere in their name which would give them an excuse to use it in their logo.