Good Evening TES Friends!
Monday evening, that is! Which means, the Monday is over! And we even have Monday Night Football now, albeit the pre-season variety, where the starters took a seat after 15 minutes. Still, it was good to hear that MNF theme in 5.1 surround sound.
My plans for an afternoon jog today were wrecked by the ever-present rain, but it allowed me to watch an interesting soccer game from England. There, Manchester City, a team expected to challenge ManU and the London powers for the top of the table this season, met Swansea City, a Welsh team making their debut in the Barclay's Premiership Division. For those that don't follow international soccer, many countries use the promotion/relegation system - they have multiple levels of teams like in Major League Baseball (A, Double A, etc), and the worst teams in each division are demoted to the next lower league, while the best teams below the top level are promoted up a level for finishing atop their division. Here, we would send the Royals and Mariners down to Triple A if we had such a system.
What was most interesting, aside from Swansea being the first Welsh team to make it into the top level under the current format (which dates to 1992), was how bad this team was just 6 years ago. They were one loss from being demoted out of the lowest level of the soccer system - as if a team could be dumped from Class A ball to something like the Florida Coast League in baseball. Well, they have improved, and last season, by finishing 3rd in their group, they met the 4th place team for a one game showdown to see who would join the first two teams in moving on up. They won that game, and today made their debut on the big stage. They held ManCity scoreless in the 1st half, but then the superior skill took over (ManCity has a few players whose annual salary tops the payroll of the entire Swansea team) and fell 4-nil. But, they get their next two games at home, in their cute little 20,000+ seat stadium, where visiting English teams will have to face a crowd from another country when they come to town. Not that playing in Wales would be like playing in say, Italy or Brazil, but still, it will be a new experience, and maybe the little team can make a go of it.
Why my interest in soccer? Well, I played it from age 6 through 8th grade. Back in the day, soccer was not a varsity sport at Ames High, and the club season was in the fall, when I had decided that I would run cross country. So my career ended at age 14; in my final game, I had 4 goals. A good way to go out. Since then, I have always paid attention to Team USA, to the teams of my homelands, England and Norway, but that was really about it. But now that ESPN is covering a lot more soccer, along with Fox Soccer Channel, there are far more live games on American tv than ever before, from all across the globe. When you consider that the foreign leagues start now, and end in May (with tournaments during the summer, no real off-season), soccer is a sport that nicely fits in with the Eternal Season - it's pretty much always there, and when some of our other seasons aren't going so well (i.e. Dodgers), it's nice to have something you can watch to help fill the void until the next season is in play.
That season, now at 16 days, and counting. All's quiet on the expansion front today, so we should just be talking about on-the-field things until it arrives. Though tonight there is news that the U could be in trouble for players/gifts/etc. More on that as details emerge.
I even watched some rain-delayed NASCAR today - Watkins Glen, a road course. Exciting finish, though at what could have been a steep price, with the spectacular crash on the final lap. Everyone ok, but a few drivers took issue with the safety set up of the old track. It's been through several changes over the years, so I'm sure they will make any improvements needed to keep the good ol' boys coming every summer.
Mid to late August - the true dog days are here now. Bout all we got on tv tomorrow are your local MLB broadcasts and more international soccer. But soon enough the lull will be filled by the sounds of screaming fans, and helmets and pads slamming into each other. We'll get there, I promise!
Where To Find Live Sports On TV:
NFL Scores - Pre Season
MLB Games - Regular Season:
Soccer aka Football:
The love of sports is shared across the generations, and there are few things as fun as debating the merits of certain players, strategies, and team histories with other, opposing sports nuts. If you are an all around sports fan, feel free to join the ride, and please comment/vent whenever you feel you need to.