MLB All-Star Game Talk Highlight of Podcast #14

Sports Microscope PodcastNow that the MLB All-Star Game actually means something, the composition of the roster becomes a little more important. While the fans have the say-so in the starting lineup, the players have a vote for some of the reserves and pitchers, and the respective managers get to round them out.

The American League roster is led six Royals and skippered by KC manager Ned Yost. The Cardinals placed five players on the NL roster, and manager Bruce Bochy made a couple of questionable choices and left off at least one huge name.

Also in this episode:

  • Talk about the US Women’s World Cup title
  • Why soccer will never surpass football’s popularity
  • Bryce Harper‘s decision not to participate in the Home Run Derby
  • Rick Porcello‘s do-or-die start on Wednesday for the Red Sox
  • Mike Scioscia‘s KO of former GM Jerry Dipoto
  • Is Justin Verlander‘s career on the wane?
  • My pick for team of the week

You can listen to the latest episode here or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices. Feel free to leave feedback and ideas for topics for further episodes. Enjoy!

Women’s World Cup Title Nice End to Holiday Weekend

uswnt logoPerhaps the only thing better than the US Women’s World Cup team beating Japan 5-2 in the final today, would have been if an own goal hadn’t sunk the English team and it could have been a Fourth of July rematch 239 years in the making.

Having said that, Carli Lloyd’s 15-minute hat trick was something to watch as the US blitzed the Japanese and made the rest of the game rather anti-climactic. What was even more amazing was watching her third sail in after being launched from just inside midfield. The stunned look on the face of Japanese goalie Ayumi Kahori told you all you needed to know.

Japan did try to make a game of it – helped by yet another own goal, this one from America’s Julie Johnston in the 52nd minute – but Tobin Heath quickly dispelled any thoughts of a Japanese miracle comeback with (as my fiancee put it) an F-you goal two minutes later on a pass from Morgan Brian. (Her words not mine, folks!)

While the first 15 minutes or so were exciting to watch, the majority of the rest of the match was simply a case of watching the Americans try not to make a glaring mistakes. With the exception of the own goal, mission accomplished.

One my other favorite things was the inclusion of Connecticut native and former USWNT coach Tony DiCicco on the broadcast team. In my mind, the best women’s national soccer coach ever in this country, he guided the US to an Olympic championship in 1996 and the 1999 women’s World Cup. DiCicco was professional in his commentary, though you could hear the pride in his voice that he had helped build the program. In fact, he made comment that he believed his 1999 team would be proud of what the 2015 team accomplished.

With the 2016 Olympic Summer Games coming up in Rio, perhaps head coach Jill Ellis can duplicate DiCicco’s accomplishment and bring home a gold medal and a World Cup title. Here’s hoping so.



Why Not an FA Cup for Baseball?

FA_Cup_logo_(2014)Ok, I know this idea is WAY out there, but I would love to see Major League Baseball start a version of the British soccer FA Cup. I got to thinking about it on Sunday when I was watching Yoevil Town take on legendary Manchester United on Fox Sports 1. The game was scoreless for the first sixty minutes or so, before United woke up and finally won 2-0. It was the equivalent of a AA team from the Midwest somewhere taking on the Boston Red Sox. David vs. Goliath. Who doesn’t like watching something like that and rooting for the underdog?

For those not up on the FA Cup, it is essentially a 14-round, one-and-done tournament open to professional soccer clubs of all levels. What that means is teams from the lowest levels of the “minor leagues” have the chance to take on the giants like Arsenal and Liverpool. It starts with preliminary qualifying for all the lowest-level teams and progressing on from there. In each new round, a higher-level league that got a bye in the previous round is inserted into the draw. The Premier League teams don’t enter the fray until the ninth round.

Just imagine the baseball rookie leagues playing off against each other for one to advance to the next round. The winners advance to the next round where the independent leagues join the tournament. They next round could add low A, the next high A, etc. What a blast!

I know the baseball collective bargaining agreement and the egos of some of the sport’s prima donnas would make something like this virtually impossible. People will scream about doing that while the regular season is going on. Umm, guess what? The FA Cup is played during the seasons of their leagues – and soccer is a much more physically demanding sport. So, it could be done.

While many would debate it these days, baseball is our national sport the way soccer is to England. The FA Cup has history going back to 1871. Tradition and passion are wonderful things, and something the British have in spades when it comes to soccer.

A man can dream, can’t he?