17 May 2006

The News Hole

I seem to recall a short-lived Harry Shearer TV show by that name, which I enjoyed even if no one else did. The news about DC United over the offseason was fairly constant, usually an interesting story a day. Now it seems like everyone holds the stories until right before or after a match date. Removing from game recaps, there is pretty much the same amount of content, just spaced differently.

QUIZ TIME! If nothing else, you should be able to answer Question #6.

WHY I DON'T LIKE THE NEW GATORADE COMMERCIAL: I suddenly realized two things over the weekend. First, while I admit that the Gatorade ad is well done, I'm not entirely sure that I agree with the use of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." It's been my feeling that MLS will never replace a major league in the American Media Sports Diet, but it can join the other major sports. The solution is to expand the pie-chart, make the market bigger, so that more people have a piece. Our sports attention is not a zero-sum game where one can only receive more attention at the expense of another. So the undercurrent that soccer replaces baseball is one that I am uncomfortable with. Similarly, when writing previously about MLS vs. NHL media coverage, the point isn't to replace the NHL, but rather to join with it as a media option. Ditto baseball. "It's a whole new ballgame" is a bit confrontational for my preference. Basic rule - Soccer Supremacy will not win over America, but Soccer Rights might.

STEVE SAMPSON OUT...LATER: I'm still not comfortable with the idea that Steve Sampson should be fired only 8 regular season games removed from winning a championship. Yes, it's clear he's an awful head coach. Yes, it might even be best for the team. But isn't there a certain amount of space earned for winning a title, and shouldn't it at least be a year? Not sure about this, and I'll think about it. I just don't think you can fire Sampson until he has completely failed to defend the title. Which, if LA continues to play as they did against RSL, could be just after the all-star break when they are eliminated from playoff contention.


At 17 May, 2006 09:47, Blogger I-66 said...

Sigi got the axe when he was at the top of the table though, didn't he? Granted, "winning" is not the same as "won" but I wouldn't be surprised to see Sampson done by the all star break.

Now, John Ellinger on the other hand...

At 17 May, 2006 10:04, Blogger D said...

Ellinger should definately be fired. And did you really think Sigi should have been axed?

At 17 May, 2006 10:23, Anonymous Oscar said...

Wow, I totally didn't interpret the commercial in the same way. I liked it cause it definitely said "This game is as American as any other" which was really well underscored by the reuse of the baseball song. I enjoy how it plays up the "Look what we have to put up with" angle as well.

At 17 May, 2006 10:49, Blogger D said...

Oscar: I agree that's what they were going for, but combining the song with "It's a whole new ballgame" as the tagline was a bit much, even if unintended. Now, this is ultimately a minor quibble, and Gatorade's heart is in the right place.

At 17 May, 2006 11:03, Anonymous Joe said...

I love baseball. I love soccer. I dig the ad.

At 17 May, 2006 11:14, Blogger I-66 said...

No, I don't think Sigi should have been fired, and I don't think Sampson should go, but I think Sigi set some precedent for success not exactly equating to job security.

Having Alexi Lalas looking over his shoulder can't be the best thing for Sampson's security either. I hope Sampson stays, it means LA will continue to suck - and who can argue with that?

At 17 May, 2006 11:25, Blogger D said...

Joe / Oscar: Yeah, I'm probably in the minority on this one. But it wouldn't be the DCenters without a little dissent now and then.

I-66: I guess I'm not saying that there is job security with success, but that there should be. If nothing else, it sends a good message to players (Hey, you did good work for us for a year, the organization rewards that with breathing room. If you suck, you won't immediately be waived.) It a classy organization thing, I think.

At 17 May, 2006 11:27, Blogger Brian said...

Sigi should not have been fired last season. Sampson should not be fired this season, the guy lead LA to the Domestic Double last season, one thing US sports fans still fail to understand. American sports fans, (yes, soccer fans too) are extremely fickle and we have "What have You Done for Me Lately" both Stamped on our Foreheads and in our genetic code. Steve Sampson should be allowed 1 season at the very least. He needs better players though.

At 17 May, 2006 12:09, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure LA sucking is such a good thing. (realize it wasn't a serious comment but it got me thinking) I'm a fan of DCU but I'm also a fan of MLS. I want the league to succeed and the higher level of play across the board. Quality-wise, the team that really has me cringing is RBNY. They don't seem to be very cohesive and they're going to be playing European powerhouses. I'll be rooting for them to at least put on a good showing like DCU did last year against Chelsea. I look forward to the day when RSL takes down Real Madrid or the Crew takes down Arsenal. I'd like to see more games with Mexican teams as well.

On the Gatorade ad, I think using the baseball song contrasted the pastoral calm of baseball with the raucus (and at times dangerous)atmosphere that the MNT deals with. Its a little in your face but so was the "Go tell the world" ad with the sportscaster dissing soccer. Overall, its a nice ad and I'd like to see it on TV more often.

At 17 May, 2006 12:23, Anonymous Matt said...

Can anyone put to words why...in the US Soccer world...it's assumed by most that Sampson is a terrible head coach?

I dunno...if you wipe off 98' from his record...where has he failed?

Costa Rica?? They fire coaches like Real Madrid...

Now Thomas Rongen...everyone thinks he's great...and he's won NOTHING (don't count babysitting DC United to a title as his doing..he ran DC into the ground shortly thereafter)

Is soccer really like politics...perception is reality?

At 17 May, 2006 13:41, Anonymous MEL said...

"Can anyone put to words why...in the US Soccer world...it's assumed by most that Sampson is a terrible head coach?

I dunno...if you wipe off 98' from his record...where has he failed?"

Sampson did a horrid job of both selecting and preparing players for the most important tournament of his life. You can't wipe '98 off his record. It outshadows anything he did before or is likely to do after.

He's the Scott Norwood of soccer.

At 17 May, 2006 13:47, Anonymous joe said...

Steve Sampson won the US Open Cup and the MLS Cup last year. You don't fire that early this season. Maybe later, if things look truly bleak.

At 17 May, 2006 14:04, Blogger D said...

Matt: I applaud you for being willing to step out of the typical american soccer groupthink on Steve Sampson. A decent question.

Now, as for Sampson, let's look at his resume since 1998:

World Cup - USA: Disaster

World Cup Qualifying - Costa Rica: Failure (you have to qualify, especially with that game against Cuba)

LA Galaxy Regular Season, 2004: 2-3-4 (10 points over 9 games... ick)

LA 2004 Playoffs: Conference Final. Decent.

LA 2005 Regular Season: Awful.

LA 2005 Playoffs: Total Success.

That's two good results, all in the MLS playoffs, against a whole lot of bad. So I think, on the whole, he is not a particularly good coach. But, I agree with Joe, you can't fire him

At 17 May, 2006 15:30, Blogger Kinney said...

Words??? Hell I can do it in numbers.


At 17 May, 2006 17:25, Blogger David Lifton said...

I doubt Sampson is going to get fired until after the World Cup. My take (and fear) is that Lalas will try to get Bruce when his contract expires after the tournament.


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