At the end of April, six teams in MLB were on track to lose 100 games this year. At the end of June, that list had narrowed to three teams. By the end of July, the list of 100-game losers was back up to four teams. And so, we are now at the end of August …
- The Orioles project to lose 114 games this year. They have the worst record so far in MLB and they are in the same division with the Red Sox who have the best record in MLB. As of this morning the Orioles are 52 games out of first place in the AL East.
- The Royals project to lose 111 games this year.
That’s it. That’s the list – – with an asterisk…
- The Padres project to lose 99 games this year. By the end of September – when all the precincts have reported in so to speak – the Padres might sink into that abysmal category.
As I looked at the standings for the various teams in order to do the calculations cited above, I noticed something interesting. I said above that the Red Sox had the best record in MLB and they have a comfortable lead over the Yankees who have the second-best record in MLB. Moreover, the Red Sox winning percentage in road games this year is .647 and that is better than the overall record for every other team in MLB. In fact, as of this morning, only the Yankees home record is better than the Red Sox road record.
Bob Molinaro lamented last week in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“Stat stuff: The Red Sox had their 37th win by the end of May. The Orioles won their 37th last week.”
Somewhere in the cosmos, Earl Weaver weeps…
The FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, was here in the US earlier this week and presented his rosy vision for soccer in the US. He sees the 8-year period between now and 2026 when the World Cup will come to North America as a vehicle to elevate soccer in the US to a much higher plane of existence. Yes, I know; the World Cup has been here before and had little to no lasting impact on soccer in the US. The odds are that will happen again once the 2026 tournament is in the rear-view mirror; I am not suggesting that the US is going to be one of the “futbol blue-bloods” because of the 2026 tournament.
However, if the folks who oversee/promote soccer in the US do some positive things during these 8 years of anticipation and preparation for the World Cup, it could raise interest in soccer and it might produce a more competitive US Men’s National Team for that tournament and ones going forward. The opportunity is there; the problem is that the opportunity has been there before, and the US soccer gurus have done nothing to exploit those opportunities. If soccer is to become a big deal in the US and thereby elevate the USMNT’s stature/ranking in the world, here are a few of the things that need to happen. They cannot happen overnight; but at some point, they have to happen. Is this the springboard to start the process to make them happen?
- The US does not have equivalent “soccer academies” to the ones abroad. Young players in the US do not learn skills to the extent that their foreign counterparts do; young players in the US spend lots of time traveling around to play games; the shortage of time spent on fundamentals and game instincts shows when the US plays one of the “futbol blue-bloods”.
- Somehow there needs to be a relegation/promotion system for MLS and soccer leagues/associations below MLS in the country.
- College soccer needs to throw off the trappings of “conferences” that were constructed to benefit football and the top soccer programs in the country need to coalesce into some sort of association of their own.
Just a note about the 2026 FIFA World Cup tournament. It will be the first one that has 48 teams in the groups instead of the current 32 teams. That means there will be a total of 80 games in the tournament; 60 will be played in the US and 10 will be played in Canada and 10 in Mexico.
FIFA recently took another action that was noteworthy. It suspended the president of the Palestinian Football Association for 12 months and fined him approximately $20K for violating Article 53 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code. That article deals with individuals who might “incite hatred and violence”.
Here is what happened:
- The Argentinian National Team was scheduled to play the Israeli National Team in a “friendly” in early June. The game was to be in Jerusalem.
- The president of the Palestinian Football Association called on people to “target the Argentinian Football Association” (whatever that means) and for them to burn jerseys and pictures of Argentinian star, Lionel Messi.
- Evidently, those exhortations must have gained some traction because the “friendly” was canceled.
- FIFA determined that it was those remarks that precipitated the hatred and violence that caused the match to be canceled. Hence a 12-month banishment from anything associated with a futbol match other than his buying a ticket and sitting in the stands with the rest of the spectators.
When I read about this, I was surprised because:
- I was totally unaware that there was anything like a Palestinian Football Association – – let alone that it had a president.
Finally, here is an observation from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“Giants first baseman Brandon Belt named his newborn son August, in honor of his college coach at Texas, the late Augie Garrido.
“Just be thankful the Longhorns hired Garrido instead of Oil Can Boyd.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………