Sunday, November 30, 2008

2009 MLS Roster Changes

In his 2008 State of the League address, Don Garber announced that in 2009 teams will be able to have between 18 and 20 senior roster spots (today it's 18.) Counteracting this is a reduction of developmental spots from ten to just four, none of which count against the salary cap. He then went on to say:
With fewer developmental players on a given roster, the reserve league has been eliminated, with the savings in salary expected to be applied to other members of the roster, as well as each team's youth academy.

The only problem with this is that developmental players don't count against the current salary cap. So there's really no way to share this money with other members of the roster, unless some of this money somehow ends up in a gym bag in the bottom of someone's locker, you know -- by mistake.

So I guess this means that the reserve league money is being allocated towards the teams' youth setups. This combined with the fact that he said he would hand the MLS Cup trophy to Guillermo Barros Schelotto but gave it to Frankie Hejduk makes me wonder if someone spiked his punch during MLS Cup weekend...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Farewell to Diego Gutierrez

When the season ended, Major League Soccer lost a good player and truly great guy -- Diego Gutierrez. A "fire original" and veteran of 316 games in the league, Diego hung up his boots after 12 seasons. A stalwart with the Chicago Fire, he ended his career with the team fifth in games played, minutes played and assists.

Off the field, Gutierrez was the 2007 MLS Humanitarian of the year, and is heavily involved with Nothing But Nets, which helps purchase and distribute bed nets to curb mosquito-borne malaria in Africa.

For everything, both on and off the field, thank you!

They Wanna Make Me Go To Wii-hab

I'm a fairly avid video game player. I've finished every Resident Evil game. I've finished every Grand Theft Auto game since GTA III. So with all these complicated, violent games in my past, what's my favorite game at the moment? Wii Sports Bowling. I'm horribly addicted. I think I've played every day since we got it nearly two weeks ago. I've already hit pro status, and have a high game of 256.

If fact almost all of the Wii Sports games are fun. There's nothing like smacking a home run, or being knocked out in boxing by your kindergartner. The only game I can't get the hang of is golf, but I've only played it once. There's just no time with so much bowling going on...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

$12 For a Hamburger... You Must Be Crazy...

Gone are the days of the five dollar buffet in Las Vegas. At the strip casinos it's pretty much impossible to find any sort of lunch entree for under $10, and it's even more than that for dinner. Many of the casinos are trying to upscale everything and the proliferation of $12 hamburgers is both impressive and amusing, since exactly the same thing at a regular restaurant will cost you $5 less.

Fortunately there are a couple of pockets of cheap eats on the strip. Casino Royale has a Denny's and Subway inside it, and the little food court between there and Harrah's contains a McDonald's, a Chipotle and a little pizza place with prices like those back home. There's also a McDonald's between the MGM and Planet Hollywood in one of the less-developed parts of the strip. The Fashion Show Mall (yes, that's the real name) across from the Wynn has a food court with various cheap eats as well.

If you enjoy spending $3.75 for a bottle of Mountain Dew, by all means buy one from a kiosk in the Paris. However if you would rather spend your money on video poker and strippers, visit the Walgreen's or CVS between Planet Hollywood and the MGM (they're on opposite sides of the street, so you're set either way) or head down to the ABC Store in the Fashion Show Mall. All three have reasonable souvenirs as well, although the shirts at the ABC store seemed nicer to me.

I'm sure there are other low-priced options that I forgot about. If you know of others, post a comment so others can have a good time without spending an arm and a leg!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Don Garber is My Hero

Jack Bell at the New York Times recently had an excellent Q & A session with Don Garber, Commissioner of Major League Soccer. During the interview Garber basically told the euro-poser community that a couple of things you hear the "traditional" fans complain about will never happen.

On the subject of switching to a European schedule (which would necessitate games in the winter - good luck with that in Toronto) he said:
Basically that decision, if we were to schedule that way, we’d have to fold the league because we couldn’t afford to do it.

He also dismissed the idea of scrapping the playoffs, and more or less dismissed the idea of MLS moving to a single table instead of conferences. With that settled folks can stop creating three of the more annoying threads on Big Soccer. They're just not going to happen.

However, this is my favorite quote from the article:
If the more traditional soccer fan wants us to be like the English Premier League, I’ve got news for them — this is not England and we’re not the E.P.L.; and they remind us of that all the time. We have to manage our business in a way that is about growing the league in the U.S. That’s where we live, that’s where our teams play and that is the core of M.L.S.

Don Garber, you're my hero.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Planet Hollywood Casino

One of the highlights of our Vegas stay was the new Planet Hollywood Casino. Located on the former site of the Aladdin next to the Paris on the strip, the casino has been completely re-done and the Beautiful and Talented Wife and I really enjoyed it. The video poker machines had good pay tables (even some of the penny and nickel machines.) The ventilation was great so you didn't reek of smoke. The new decor was nice, and the cocktail waitresses were snappy with drinks while you were gambling.

Their fun book was very good as well. Fifteen dollars in slot match play (which could also be used on the video poker machines) numerous food and drink deals, and other goodies as well. Joining also gave you the opportunity to take a crack at their gigantic slot machine once each day to win prizes. I happened to win a pair of free tickets to Stomp Out Loud, which was their featured show. I expected to get the Uecker seats, but to my surprise I was about 10 rows from the stage on the aisle.

It also didn't hurt that the cocktail waitresses had some of the best outfits on the strip - boots, fishnets, black shorts or a miniskirt and a red shirt showing as much cleavage as the individual dared... which was quite a bit in some cases.

Image: zuirdj

Oooh That Smell...

Hello again. I just got back from Las Vegas, so I'll be posting a bunch of non-soccer stuff over the next couple of days. One of the oddest experiences I had in Vegas was the horrible odor that assaulted my nose as the Beautiful and Talented Wife and I walked into the Venetian Hotel and Casino.

Immediately upon entering, both of us looked at each other and said "Do you smell that?" After a few steps I realized what it reminded me of. The entire casino smelled like a urinal cake... an overwhelming horrifying urinal cake. It was so bad that we left almost immediately... never to return. We walked past the Venetian another day, and the funk was so bad we could smell it on the sidewalk -- which is roughly 50 yards from the entrance -- over the buses and billions of taxis on Las Vegas Boulevard.

As we continued our tour of casinos on the strip, the Palazzo and the Monte Carlo also smelled like this. I'm not sure if they're all using the same odd-smelling carpet cleaner, but I'm sure these high-end places aren't hoping "men's room" is the lasting impression you have of their property. Ick.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Your 2008 Budweiser Scoring Leader

I realize that this sounds like the person who got the most beer-goggle induced action, but it's a statistic Major League Soccer tracked up until 2004. The league used to award two points for a goal and one point for an assist, and then add these two totals up to declare an overall "scoring winner."

I thought it might be interesting to see who would have won this year. Not surprisingly, Landon Donovan won this by virtue of his 20 goal/9 assist season.

Here's the top ten:

G A total
Donovan 20 9 49
Cooper 18 3 39
Buddle 15 3 33
Schelotto 7 19 33
Angel 14 3 31
Ching 13 5 31
Moreno, J 10 10 30
Emilio 11 5 27
Morales 6 15 27
Barrett, C 9 7 25
Rolfe 9 7 25
Blanco 7 11 25