26 April 2006

i'm on call this weekend

I'm guessing (because I haven't checked) that we're in for fantastic weather again this weekend. I'll be on call so I can't go too far, and I'm broke. What that probably means is I'll ride my bike down to the canal and back home, and that will be the extent of my weekend activities - if I don't find something better to do. I should probably just volunteer for something. Anyone looking for a volunteer?

Anyway, the writing well is dry right now, so I'm going to repost something I wrote quite a while ago, before anyone was reading. I think it reads well. Enjoy.

* * * * *

In the early months of 2005, I acquired an Indianapolis Public Library card.

The library is quite possibly the greatest of human inventions. A man armed with only the ability to read could step inside its doors and learn almost anything he wanted.

With that thought in mind, my first visit to the library led me directly to the digital card catalog, where I quickly looked up The Best American series of books.

I became familiar with these books when on my quest to read all things David Eggers (not a particulary noble pursuit, I know... but what can I say? I enjoy reading him). He edited the last couple editions of The Best American Non-Required Reading, a series of books I find quite entertaining.

A look through the available titles showed a whole series travel books, so I made the trek upstairs and grabbed 3 at once. The library is quite nice in that you're allowed to take something like 12 books at once, which, while impossible to actually read, makes you feel quite accomplished when you're carrying them out the door.

Hop scotch forward 3 or so months, and I've devoured all three of the books, and the only thing that I've really accomplished is making myself more miserable. Suddenly I know more about Zanzibar, and it sounds like the kind of place I'd like to investigate further.

So I make plans in my head to buy maps, and place pins in them so I can mark all the places I want to see. And I plan to reread all the books, taking notes from each story that interests me, and further researching the locations, and writing page-long papers to file away, all in hopes of someday visiting everywhere.

But in the meantime I'm looking ahead 8 months, checking flights, and putting together my plans for another trip to Japan, a trip I may have to take out a loan to make (but I'm definitely making). And I'm looking ahead to when my car is paid off and I've got $369 in monthly disposible income. And I'm counting down the years until I've reached the milestone that grants me three weeks vacation at work. And I'm trying to figure out how many languages I'll need to learn, and I'm trying to figure out how I can do all this on a middle class salary.

And then I'm looking at the Peace Corps web site, wondering if I could just sell the house and start over. And I'm reading worldhum.com, learning more about even more places, and plotting them on the map in my head.

And I'm working out at the gym so I can look like those people in my travel/adventure magazines, and I'm looking at jeeps and land cruisers and four wheel drive vehicles (goodbye $369 in disposible income), and tents and shoes and walking sticks and camp stoves and....

All this does is make me feel more miserable in my current situation.

What good is the library anyway?

22 April 2006

real salt lake at houston 180

I've spent the day mountain biking in Indiana's fine Brown County, as well as Indianapolis' fine 96th street trails, and followed that up with bangers and mash at Broad Ripple Brew Pub, so there's a good chance I'll fall into a coma at any second... with that...

Go Go (if you don't know Go Go by now, you're dead to me) just fumbled the ball.. no harm done. Ladies and Gentlemen, YOUR REAL SALT LAKE Cavaliers? I'm not sure.

I know Brian Ching lit it up in week one. I'm still not impressed with him and I'm hoping Eddie Pope destroys him tonight. Jeff Cunningham is starting the game off well by fouling anyone in his area. I realize he's had a rough start to the year, but I don't think this is the sort of contribution we need out of him. See that? I used the word "we".

This is my first experience with RSL's white jerseys. They're pretty white. Eddie Robinson just showed Jeff Cunningham a does of real ultimate power. Have I mentioned the TV sponsorship on Houston's broadcast? They've running an add for a safety gate company. FabEnCo. Look it up. Your primary TV sponsor is a safety gate company? Maybe the league isn't doing as well as I had previously thought.

RSL's forwards are practicing a new type of offensive pressure; it's called "Don't". I know it's normal to just walk when the ball is on the other end of the field. I don't recall seeing someone walk when the ball was ten yards from them.

It's more longball crap this week. 18 minutes in and the offensive plan seems to be "throw it up there and hope we signed Thierry Henry when no one was paying attention." In case you haven't seen Theirry Henry lately, the guy is just a monster. . I expect better things from France this World Cup. And that's my "I watch alot of Arsenal games" aside for this RSL match report.

If your offensive is as loaded with "stars" as RSL's, and you still can't seem to string together two passes on the offensive end, who do you blame? It's not like they don't have anyone who knows how to score. But they can't seem to build anything. Everything seems like a desperate plea for a forced own-goal. They're certainly not interested building an attack themselves.

Ok. I'm done writing this. I'm just going to watch in hope that my luck changes.

* * * * *

Revisited: RSL ended up losing 2-1 after taking a 1-0 lead on a very pretty Jeff Cunningham goal. Three minutes later, Houston countered thanks to a bit of bad man marking on a corner kick. Houston scored again in around the 85th minute, and RSL had once again secured the road loss.

It appeared that RSL played the entire game trying not to lose. Even Cunningham's goal wasn't anything that was really a sustained build up on the offensive end, it was just a quick strike (and probably a bit of luck). With the amount of talent RSL has up top (Cunningham and Kreis), they really shouldn't be suffering from a lack of goals.

They seem to insist on getting Andy Williams playing time up top, but his career numbers don't really show that he deserves it. This moves Kreis back to attacking midfield, which he's probably capable of playing, but it's not where he's best suited.

Defensively they've gotten much better since the first game, and considering the lack of offense I think they do quite well. It's very difficult to spend an entire game defening.

Perhaps the thing that stuck out most was that once RSL were tied and halftime rolled around, they started to string things together on the offensive end and pressure Houston's defense. This lead to defensive mistakes and offensive opportunities. Prior to the tying goal the offensive pressure had been horrible, but I'm not sure the players can be put at fault. It seemed pretty obvious that forcing defensive mistakes wasn't a primary goal of the game plan.

All in all it was a pretty lackluster effort, despite the short window where a road victory seemed entirely possible. I think the blame lies more in the gameplanning than in the players on the field. A consistant effort to force errors could have lead to a different result.

Maybe next week.

21 April 2006

i was not forgotten

Mr. Pastorino has gotten back to me:
Hi Mike,

I’ve been swamped all week, but I want to express my humble thanks that you have chosen us. Every fan counts! Send me your physical address and I’ll see what kind of a care package of RSL stuff I can send your way. I’ll try to respond more in-depth before the weekend. We’re working on some big things.



Of course I'm sure everyone wants to know what he's sending me. I figure it's one of two things:

1) A reprint of Scott Garlick's saucy spread in Playgirl
2) A Mormon Tabernacle Choir

If it's neither of those things I don't think I could possibly feel anything but dissapointment.

20 April 2006


I'm afraid I'm turning into a Bike Nazi.

It probably started when I decided that commuting by bike was a good idea. Suddenly I'm hypersensitive to the way people drive, I'm bitter that there are no southside bike trails, I have delusions that the people I pass sitting in traffic on Bluff Road witness my incredible speed (20 mph with a tailwind) and are jealous of me, and Tuesday, while sitting in traffic next to a Prius, I had the urge to ask the driver what kind of gas mileage she was getting.

Then I thought of making up shirts with a picture of a Prius that said "Poseur".

I still think that's kind of funny.

How did this happen? And what's the cure? Where does it end? What aren't bicycle shorts proper work attire? Nevermind, I know the answer to that one.

18 April 2006

you're kidding, right?

So just as I've decided that I'll be pledging my allegiance to Real Salt Lake, I discover this news.
A group of investors is looking at acquiring an expansion team that would begin play in 2008 in the St. Louis area, possibly in the Metro East. The main issue is securing a location and putting together financing to build a soccer-specific stadium. A final decision on a stadium site could come in the next few weeks.
Metro East? That probably means the east side. I'm from the east side of St. Louis!*

Honestly, I don't believe this is going to happen. While St. Louis is well know for producing soccer talent, I can't recall a huge demand for tickets back when the USMNT played Guatemala at the St. Louis Soccer Park. I guess we'll see how it plays out.

It's good news if it does happen, of course. I'll just be rooting for someone else.

*By "east side of St. Louis" I do not mean East St. Louis. I mean more east than East St. Louis. Like 25 miles more east.

and the winner is...

I've made a decision.
Hey Steve,

So I finally got around to watching the game last night. Much better effort all around, especially on the defensive end. NY's goal was pretty unfortunate, but I guess those things happen.

I'm sure you're busy but I've got a few questions if you get a bit of time.

I'm wondering how you're feeling about things so far this year? I get the feeling that the team hasn't really met your expectations. What were your expectations, and have you adjusted them?

What should I look for this weekend against Houston?

And I've got a question about the Alexi Lalas move or maybe a question about being a GM in general (if you can talk about it). Is a job for LA Galaxy necessarily a better than a job for Red Bull NY? I'd assume money comes into any decision, and maybe location as well, but is there a "marquis" GM job in the league? Are there owners that are more likely to spend money? And why has Lalas had three different GM jobs already? Does having a couple really horrible CDs out make you a lock for a job out in LA? I've got a few guitars if you want to borrow one.

You can probably tell by now that I've chosen RSL as my team. I like the idea that there isn't much history there to get caught up on. I like that you have a mazda miata in the corner of your stadium (that's what it looked like, anyway). I like the hippies with drums I saw on the tv broadcast (as long as they're mormon). I like the mountain west conference. I like Scott Garlick's mustache. I feel like I can teach your forwards to tuck in their shirts. I still don't know the names of any of your fullbacks except Eddie Pope. But it's all coming to me.

Congratulations, you've done a fine job of selling your team. Thanks for your hard work. You put a great face on the organization and I'm always happy to read what you have to say.

But most importantly, I feel like you've got the right ideas as far as where to go with the franchise, and I think the future is going to be very rewarding for Real Salt Lake and for me as a fan.

Thanks again,

And here's the consolation emails I sent to Curt Johnson and Mark McCullers. I'm sure they were heartbroken.

Thanks go out to Kansas City Wizards' GM Curt Johnson:

I want to thank you once again for taking the time to respond to my original email. Your argument for Kansas City was very strong and based primarily in the product on the field, and your results so far this year certainly makes for a strong case.

But... I've decided to root for Real Salt Lake. Steve Pastorino has put forth an unbelievable effort in trying to gain my attention, and although you've also done a fine job, his work has been impossible to ignore. I truly believe that RSL are committed to a winning and world class organization, and I like the idea of getting in (as a fan) as close as possible to the beginning of what I believe is going to be fine tradition of excellence.

I want to congratulate you on your success so far this year, and I wish you luck going forward.

Thanks again,

And another round of thanks for Columbus Crew GM Mark McCullers:

I just wanted to thank you again for the effort and time you put forth in trying to convince me to become a Crew fan. You're email was very impressive, and in most cases you would have been more than convincing enough to persuade me to root for the Crew.

But... I've decided to root for Real Salt Lake. Steve Pastorino has put out an unbelievable effort to convince me to root for RSL, and I like the idea of rooting for a team with as little history as possible - that way there's less to catch up on. I also like the direction that RSL's management hopes to go with the team, and I think there's a solid future coming for Real Salt Lake.

I hope (well, I know) that you won't take this news too hard, and I also hope that I can buy you a beer when I get out to Columbus for a game this year. Your efforts were commendable and I know that your time is valuable. The least I can do is offer you a frosty reward.

I wish you the best of luck this year and I hope to get back to you later to let you know when I'm coming out. Perhaps you could even recommend a specific game?

Thanks again.


So what did I get out of this? Well first, a $70 charge on my DirecTV bill. But more importantly, I learned that Major League Soccer is a successful, viable and accessible league, with teams that truly care about their fans. I'm still a bit amazed at the effort that these three gentlemen made, but more so by the effort made by Steve Pastorino.

It's refreshing to easily speak with someone so important to an organization that truly has great aspirations. And while the product on the field certainly played a part in my decision, Steve's work was definitely the strongest factor in winning my support. It's also been good to see the improvements RSL have made in the past three weeks, and I believe they're coming around. At least I hope so. They're my team now.

17 April 2006

red bull new york at real salt lake

Here it is two days after the fact, your RSL match report. This is going to be a little more difficult to do this time, because normally I jump around to the other teams' web sites to get players names right; I don't want to do that now for fear of discovering the score.

We're coming to you live from Utah Uters stadium (remember, I can't check my facts) in downtown Salt Lake. RSL have really done a great job with the field this year... the grass appears to be as full and smooth as any I've ever seen. Surely the groundskeepers at Chelsea have RSL's groundskeepers on call. In addition, they've painted a strange design on the field that teaches children to count by tens all the way up to 50. A very commendable effort.

To the game: Any game with Tony Meola is worth watching, that's what I always say. I really shouldn't give Tony a hard time; he did a commendable job for the national team back in the 60's. It's also good to see that Red Bull have come out wearing the best example of what a cool iron-on can do for a white t-shirt. I've had nicer jerseys in rec league indoor, and we weren't even there to play soccer... we were there to get into fistfights.

It's interesting to watch these guys on turf, I can't see Beckham playing in a league with fake grass. I'd imagine it's also difficult to convince foreign teams to come play on your turf field... Hey there's some people sitting in recliners... You don't see that at Old Trafford.

If RSL don't win this game I'm putting a curse on Scott Garlick's mustache... he'll wake up in the middle of the night choking, only to find out it's crawled down his face and around his neck.

Chris Klien just took a shot from the 10... I guess that's a 25 yard shot? Ballouchy looks good early in the game again. He's been a bright spot for the team so far this year.

Ooh, the broadcast team is promising US/Jamaica highlights at halftime. That should be good for negative 90 minutes of the halftime show.

RSL is already more aggressive this game than they've been in the past two games. I think this might be the first corner kick in team history. Andy Williams with the kick, if you're wanting to keep track for trivia later.

Alot alot alot more creativity out of RSL this game. I wonder if it's the turf field or the home crowd or the the hippies drumming. I saw you, hippies. I know what you're up to. RSL might consider changing their slogan to "REAL SALT LAKE: PUFF PUFF HEEL PASS." Well I thought it was clever.

Have I mentioned how svelte Scott Garlick is?

Is it "Darby" or "Derby"? They're talking about Chivas/Galaxy and I swear they're saying "Darby". Is it really darby?

I think if my name was Edsun Buddle I'd just drop the Buddle part. Then I'd tell everyone I was Brazilian. That's surely a solid strategy to pick up Brazilian women.

If you thought my notes were rough last week, tune in this week!

Watching these teams play on turf is sort of scary. I keep expecting guys' legs to explode. You can kind of see why RSL isn't normally that patient in midfield... the turf field doesn't really play that way. Everything is very quick and everything ends up being a long ball because the ball doesn't slow down.

Jeff Cunningham was just robbed by Tony Meola. Meola should have been carded, he blocked the shot with his walker.


Mo Johnston needs a drink. I don't know anything about Mo Johnston, but I'm pretty sure I'm right.

This half's notes are sparse. Meola just tackled Andy Williams, I think. That wasn't very nice. I bet Tony's got that pool from Cocoon at his house. After the game he's going breakdancing.

Now Jason Kreis is on. RSL has like 14 of Major League Soccer's top 20 all-time scorers, but none of them appear to be too interested in scoring this year. This is going to end up 0-0, isn't it? RSL has had 49 shots to Red Bulls' 3.

AND... Guevara just scored. Same defensive breakdown by the center of RSL's defense that they've been showcasing for the last two games... this was the first time it happened this game and it cost them. They don't deserve this. It isn't fair. I'm putting Go Go's curse on hold.

10 minutes left... let's see what they've got left.

Meola just broke his hip. It was a nice career, but that's what you get when you're using robot legs to support a 327 year old body. Nevermind, he's ok. Behold the power of Meatballs.

JASON KREIS! It's his 93918th career goal off a header from the free kick. Scott Garlick's mustache just ran down the field and punched Tony Meola in the balls.

And now it's end to end and Klien just missed a prime opportunity and now it's a 1-1 final and I'm ok with that because I am aware of the awesome powers of Tony Meola and a point is a point.

welcome to baseball purgatory

Yesterday I celebrated Easter by checking out the St. Louis Cardinals' new home, Busch Stadium 2. The stadium has been widely applauded, so I guess it should come as no surprise that I didn't really like it.

Don't get me wrong, it's a very nice facility. The access to amenities and bathrooms are all top notch. The seats are fairly comfortable. There are almost too many places to stand and watch the game. The building is very pretty and they've done a nice job of incorporating pieces of the old Busch stadium. And it's done wonders for the neighborhood already; there are condos for sale in every old dumpy (but now ready for redevelopment!) warehouse within the 3 block area.

The Cardinals organization has every reason to be proud. They got the stadium up in no time, may have helped save downtown St. Louis (it was already starting to come around from it's previous dangerous ghost town reputation), and gave fans a place they can be proud to call home.


Most Cardinal fans are aware that the building isn't quite done yet. If you saw the highlights from yesterday's game, you probably noticed that Albert Pujhols' three home runs landed in empty seats; those seats aren't open yet.

That's not really a big deal. What is a big deal is that if you're sitting in the 430 section seats, you can't see a scoreboard. Well, you can see part of the big scoreboard; you can see the lineups and everyone's batting averages, as well as who's up. But that's it.

It appears that there will eventually be a scoreboard hanging on the third base side fourth balcony; there's an open section there that is obviously missing something. So that's a forgivable error. In St. Louis someone is always keeping a scorecard, so all you have to do is peek at the guy next to you.

While the scoreboard issue is forgivable, what isn't is the fact that you can't see the whole field from 430. You can see most of the field, but balls hit down the right field line get lost under the 300 sections. And I'm willing to be they couldn't see them either.

To be honest, I don't recall ever sitting so high in the old Busch, but I did walk around a bit up there, and I'm pretty sure you could always see the field. But even if you couldn't see the whole field in Busch I, I would have thought that clear sight lines would a an obvious priority in a new baseball stadium. Maybe not if you're not paying more than $20 for your ticket.

The fan bricks outside the stadium are a nice touch, but something about them seems shoddy... they're hard to read and look rushed, especially the bricks in the straight sections of the sidewalk. Luckily my brick is in a curved section (although my brick isn't placed yet; they haven't finished that corner of the stadium). I've seen the brick idea executed better in Pittsburgh at PNC, and I think it basically comes down to how well placement and mortar.

Of course the Arch in the view of center field is great, it's a strong reinforcement of the idea that you're in St. Louis. But I guess my biggest complaint is that the park doesn't feel like home, though I'm sure that'll come.

And then they'll tear it down and build a new one.

13 April 2006

sudden drastic measures

You might be wondering what just happened, so I'll quickly explain.

Today I opened up my email and found out that I'm at 95% of my traffic allowance for the month of April. I'm not sure how this happened; I've never been anywhere near my limit before, and we're only halfway through the month. I guess the MLS coverage is a traffic generator.

I looked over my options and decided that I just didn't want to have to pay any more in order to fuel what's pretty much a selfish pursuit, and moved the blog over to blogspot. I don't really think this is going to make much of a difference, but I'll just have to play it out.

If I end up hitting the limit for the month anyway, the site is going to dissapear until the month rolls over. There's not much I can do about that (short of paying for it).

In the meantime, it would be best if you could change your links or bookmarks to http://ridehorsey.blogspot.com, because then the ridehorsey.com domain won't get any traffic and we'll all live happily ever after.



12 April 2006

slow news day

I guess I'm mildly excited because I've got St. Louis Cardinals' tickets for Easter. As you may be aware, the Cardinals are playing in a new stadium this year, a stadium that was built in what seems like 4 months. Actually, it was more like 6 months. That's a pretty impressive feat.

I've been a Cardinals fan for some time now, but I think I actually started paying more attention once I left the St. Louis area. Oddly enough, my love affair with the St. Louis Blues Hockey Club worked in the opposite way, and I hardly follow them at all now.

If you want to read about the beauty and timelessness of baseball, you can find that pretty much anywhere. Or you can watch Ken Burns' 4000 dvd set about baseball. Or you can watch Field of Dreams. Or you can have a conversation with Ted Williams' head.

I buy into all of it. There's something fantastic about warm summer days and baseball on the radio, cold beer and cookouts, lawn chairs and green grass. It's all meant to go together. And the Cubs suck.

* * * * *

I don't feel like writing about soccer right now, but the National Team is a whole lot better with our international players. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

* * * * *

Last but not least, the ATF doesn't like ninjas.

09 April 2006

steve stops by

This email came from Steve Pastorino (Real Salt Lake's GM) Friday night. I thought you might enjoy reading it.

Have a good ride if you get out tomorrow. I just arrived in Dallas. I only travel to a few games a year as I have three kids under the age of four years old who I want to watch grow up. For the record, I'm 37 - and lucky enough to have worked 6 years in baseball and 8+ years in MLS (and therefore, never had to get a "real" job) - so maybe that keeps me young.

So, what's going to happen tomorrow? I think you'll see a drastically better effort from RSL. We know we will have our hands full with Ruiz, O'Brien (one of my favorites, by the way) and co. I'm hoping their defense is vulnerable, that Sala is still unproven - and we can strike early and change the momentum. I think Jeff Cunningham has a big game in him. We'll see.

We also play Sunday morning in a reserve game. Some call the Reserve League the best development of the 2005 season. It's a great chance to see our young guys play... so I'm looking forward to it. Then right back to SLC after the game for Monday's kickoff luncheon with Commissioner Don Garber, a party in our office to watch USA-Jamaica on Tuesday (hope our rookie Ryan Johnson gets his first cap for Jamaica), Wednesday's exclusive premiere of GOAL (new adidas/FIFA/Disney movie that opens worldwide next month), a Fan BBQ @ practice on Friday - and then the day we work all winter for... Opening Night.

Hope you're rooting for us...

08 April 2006

real salt lake at fc dallas

First thing... I'm really coming around to these RSL uniforms. I just took a shower and put on yellow and black; I'm truly concerned that my choice of wardrobe is going to have an effect on the league this weekend. We'll see how Columbus fairs.

I've been gone since yesterday and my cat just sat on my keyboard... anyway.. RSL is off to a pretty hot start, especially considering the lack of effort last week. They already look better.

I saw FC Dallas play someone last week, and I'm already happy that Carlos Ruiz just took a kick to the crotch... Did Jeff Cunningham do something to his hair?

The RSL defense is looking porous already. We're like five minutes in. Mehdi Ballouchy is looking pretty positive with the ball..

Horrible breakdown by Cunningham/Ballouchy there, no movement after the pass.. this can't be entertaining reading.

tonight's attendance: 75. I'm sure this is what they had in mind when they build a dedicated soccer stadium in Frisco.

I like the name Kenny Cutler. It reminds me of Six Pack. It's probably the Kenny connection. There's not really any other explanation.

Nice play by Eddie Pope. I hope to be able to say that more.

Kenny Cooper (not to be confused with Kenny Cutler) just ate two guys for lunch. One of them was Eddie Pope. JINX.

RSL seems to be content to move the ball through the midfield as quick as possible, even if it means just kicking the ball forward to no one. There seems to be a lot of "kick and watch" going on here. On the plus side, the announcer is talking about someone named "Edwardo Retardo".

I think I had Carlos Ruiz's haircut in 8th grade; a spike with lines? I think it's affecting his shot accuracy... two shots directly at Scott (Wake Me Up Before You Go Go) Garlick. Go Go Garlick?

Klein-Cunningham looks positive, but it seems like RSL is playing with touch limits.. two touches and watch.

Carlos Ruiz is about due to try a bicycle kick, right?

I've just figured out that I dressed to match Go Go Garlic. This can only be a positive thing.

I don't think Simo Valakari deserved a yellow card there, but he does look like he deserves a punch in the face. He looks like the annoying sidekick character to every 80's high school movie villain. In fact, I'm pretty sure he was a member of Cobra Kai in the first Karate Kid movie.

CHRIS KLIEN FREE KICK GOAL! I just threw my arms up and scared the cat off the couch. 1-0 RSL.

And a Kenny Cooper goal. Nice work by Ruiz there, and you can't blame Eddie Pope. The rest of the team was probably in a shock based coma after taking the league. 1-1.

Nice movement off the ball by Dallas. They just seem to be a lot more creative. Go Go better go thank his goalpost.

This thing is opening up; Cunningham missed a header that should have been put away.


There seems to be a lot more people sitting on the near side of the field. Maybe my attendance estimate was off.

And we're back.. Nice start from RSL... and... off sides.

Let's get Kreis in the game. I haven't seen him play yet, and Andy Williams isn't doing much for me.

First bit of patience by RSL in midfield, they've been alot stronger already this half.

I need to quit writing good things about RSL... Wilson junk goal off Go Go's hands, Dallas 2-1.

Jason Kreis in. Danny Torres isn't doing much to impress me. Nice free kick by Vanney, he just missed. Is he a St. Louis guy? Nope, but he does look remarkably like Will Ferrell. And I'm having a conversation with myself online.

Dallas is starting to look pretty sloppy on the back line, and Ballouchy just got mugged. RSL needs to push here. If you're still reading this leave me a comment, or I'm going to stop writing match notes. Hidden in plain sight.

Ruiz just came out. Stats: Bicycle Kicks, 0; Assists: 1. I guess I was wrong.

It's been an uneventful 10 minutes... we're at 85 minutes.


And he almost just scored. I'm going to berate RSL players to victory.

Go Go is a mess tonight. I don't think he likes his nickname.

Douglas Sequeira just got robbed. A barrage from RSL now, but the game is over.

I'm not happy about this. What does that say about me?

07 April 2006

a shout out from crew nation

Mark McCullers of The Columbus Crew has replied:

Michael – interesting exercise you’re engaged in here. I’m not sure that I received your initial email but am happy to respond although your choice of timing for GM’s in this league is not ideal – give them a break! Why to be a Crew fan ….? 10 good reasons:

1. Crew Soccer Nation – as a Crew fan, you will be part of a knowledgeable and engaged soccer community that is not only based in central Ohio but throughout the region. Crew Soccer Nation members have the ultimate relationship with their club and unparalleled access to the organization. We have plenty of fans in Indy and have a great relationship with the Indiana Youth Soccer Association so our fan base in southern Indiana will grow. Crew fans are the best.
2. Crew Stadium – will always be the first of its kind. A wonderful showcase for the game and a great atmosphere. Come here and you will be hooked.
3. Location – you are less than 3 hours away (2 ¼ if you drive like me). It’s worth the trip.
4. Sigi Schmid – new boss, new attitude. Check it out.
5. Buck –a- Brat Wednesday night games – gain 5 pounds for 5 bucks.
6. Brian McBride – if you’re a Fulham fan and a McBride fan, this is the place for you. McBride’s legacy lives on.
7. Crewzers dance team – now that’s entertainment!
8. USA vs. Mexico – you know the qualifier will be here in 2009 – pick your seats now.
9. Lamar Hunt – he deserves your support for all he’s meant to American soccer.
10. Beer – it’s cold at Crew Stadium and I’ll buy you the first round.

See you at the home opener April 15th!!

Mark McCullers

And here's my response:


Thanks for responding to my email. I didn't realize that this was a particularly busy time for GM's... though after watching a few games last weekend I can understand why it might be.

I know of a few Crew fans in Indianapolis who are trying to convince me to join them. I've been to Crew Stadium twice already (for USMNT matches), and I definitely agree that it's a first class facility, especially when we're beating Mexico.

All in all, you've got a pretty nice list. Back when I was barely paying attention to the league I always paid The Crew a little more attention, just because of your ties to Brian McBride.

Heck, I ever like Frankie Hejduk to start at left back for the national team.

I'm going to attempt to watch your game this week against Colorado (I've already got a committment to watch RSL and Kansas City, but I do have Tivo) and see what the fuss is about. I also have a feeling that I'll end up at Crew Stadium to watch a game some time this season. But I'm still not sure who I'm pulling for. I've gotten emails from Steve Pastorino, Curt Johnson, and yourself.

Only you offered beer.

It's a tough decision, I'm sure you understand.

Thanks for your time, I'll be sure to let you know who I pick.


So I've got a pretty full soccer schedule this weekend. I'm going to attempt to go biking at Kickapoo Saturday, but I should be home in time to juggle the three games I've committed to (Tivo can only do so much, but I could hook a VCR up).

My Premier League watching has completely fallen off, and I didn't watch one game this week. I didn't even watch the Champions League games (and I still don't know who won), but they're on the Tivo yet.

Add to that the fact that I don't know if Fulham's on FSC this week (well I do now, and the answer looks like "No"). I do know they have new home shirt for next year. As do Manchester United (well sort of). I guess I'll own throwback jerseys for both of them soon enough.

06 April 2006

Oh for Christsakes...

Tony Meola?

Nevermind, I guess it's to celebrate his 100th cap. I suppose that's a worthwhile celebration, he was a pretty good kicker.

Also... Ronaldo to Red Bulls?

I get the feeling...

In the post below , Kansas City Wizards' GM Curt Johnson responded to my second email.

I get the feeling that Mr. Johnson is a very serious fellow. Especially when he wrote:
"We want you if you can make a positive contribution."
I went ahead and wrote Mr. Johnson back:
Mr. Johnson,

I want to thank you for taking the time to respond to my email. I'm sure you have a very busy schedule.

To be honest, I wasn't aware that MLS had the same sort of issues with budget and media attention that teams in other leagues have. I also wasn't aware that certain MLS teams are more well known for posturing in the media. Thank you for that information; it's good to know the dynamics of the league.

I can certainly appreciate your desire to put a team on the field that is known for its hard work and desire to win. I think those of the sort of values anyone can appreciate.

I'll be sure to catch your game against Dallas this weekend, and I wish your team well.

Thank You,

There was only one problem with that email... Real Salt Lake is playing Dallas. Kansas City is play Houston. And so:
Mr. Johnson,

I certainly don't want to become a nuisance, but I want to apologize for the mistake in my last email; I've just realized that you're actually playing Houston this weekend. I'd hate for you to think that I wasn't paying attention.

Thank you,

(I actually spelled apologize incorrectly ("apologise") in the email. I'm on fire today.)

Basically, Curt Johnson makes me feel like I should be accountable for mistakes. I like what he has to say. His email seemed to say "you could root for us, but whatever you do, don't be an idiot about it."

Which probably also means "Stop sending me email, there's a reason my address wasn't posted on our website."

I've got to wonder about this comment:
If your desire is to gravitate to a team that is the favorite with lots of posturing in the media and on the field and the most t.v. appearances on ESPN/ABC, we are not your team.
After all, didn't they just acquire the new posterboy for that sort of behavior?

Or maybe this didn't happen:

Real Salt Lake and Kansas City play at the same time this Saturday, but I'm going to write match notes for both games thanks to the amazing power of Tivo. I realize my match notes aren't very informative, but that should be up Saturday or Sunday.

Until then...

05 April 2006

that was quick...

KC Wizards' GM Curt Johnson has weighed in:

I appreciate your interest and message. My question to you is what type of team do you want to root for?

If your desire is to be a fan of a team that is known for winning, consistently high level of performances and effort and a team that goes about their business in a fashion that is respectful of the game, the Kansas City Wizards are a good option for you. There is no team with more offensive weapons in MLS and no team hungrier for success. We are the consummate underdog in that we play in a small market, have a smaller budget and don't get the media attention others do yet we (over the past 6 seasons) consistently outperform our MLS brethren.

If your desire is to gravitate to a team that is the favorite with lots of posturing in the media and on the field and the most t.v. appearances on ESPN/ABC, we are not your team.

We try to let our work speak for itself. Quietly, we have the most players (4) who are being seriously considered for the World Cup (5 counting Scott Sealy). We have the longest tenured head coach in MLS history as well as the longest serving general manager. Consistent excellence in all phases makes a world class organization. We are still a work in progress but we want fans that take pride in where we have been and where we are going. Lots of blood, sweat and tears yet to be spilled. We want you if you can make a positive contribution.

All the best.

Curt Johnson
General Manager
Kansas City Wizards
I'll share my thoughts a bit later...

is the well dry?

After the exciting and enthusiastic response I received from RSL, I was kinda expecting more in my email box than the usual trickle of Viagra spam... but it's been five days, and I've got nothing.

So I've decided to give it another shot, and this time I emailed only team GMs (except in the case of LA Galaxy of course).


On April 1st, I sent an email to your team and every other team in Major League Soccer (except for Red Bull New York, who don't list any email addressed on their website). In the email (which you can read here) I explained the I've been a lifelong soccer fan, and that I follow Fulham FC in the English Premier League. I also explained that although I follow the US Men's National Team, I've never been a fan of Major League Soccer. I explained that I live in Indianapolis and that I have no regional ties to any particular team. I then explained that I am now ready to follow Major League Soccer, and asked why I should be rooting for your team.

I didn't really know what to expect, but not more than twelve hours after sending the email, I received a very thorough and convincing email from Steve Pastorino of Real Salt Lake (which you can read here). Mr. Pastorino has been kind enough to answer more than just that first email, and his enthusiasm convinced me that the MLS DirectKick package was a worthwhile investment. He's also got me rooting for Real Salt Lake, although that may be temporary.

After Mr. Pastorino's email, I received no response from any other team. This was quite discouraging, but because I sent the original email on April Fool's Day, I'm willing to give this another shot. I've gone back to your website and gone through the trouble to try to figure out your email address, and I'm hoping that you could at least forward this on to someone in your office that can answer my questions.

Perhaps I'm not a patient enough person, but it's week 2 already, and I've got a trip to Chicago or Columbus to plan out. I surely wouldn't want to miss my new favorite team when they're in my neck of the woods, would I?

Thanks for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon.


PS. In the interest in full disclosure, I think I should let you know that I'm documenting this entire process on my website (linked here). Anything you email me will probably be posted there unless you specifically ask me not to.

Thanks again.

I don't know... I think it has a tiny bit of "smarmy", but I'm ok with that. I've got a little smarmy vibe going these days. Chicks dig smarmy.

Chicks don't really dig smarmy.

04 April 2006


You may have noticed the links to various comedians' website in the link list to the right. And now I will explain why they are there...

John Garrett, an Indianapolis-based touring comedian, went to Wesclin High School* in Trenton, Illinois, where he was a so-so midfielder (easily overshadowed by his sometime midfield partner... I'll let you figure out who that is on your own). He later attended Notre Dame, took various jobs, and then decided he hated working. Now he lives in my house (like four days a month) when he's not on the road. He's been on Bob and Tom and stuff. He's very good at what he does, and horrible at everything else (including Winning Eleven 8).

Keith Alberstadt is based out of Nashville, or maybe it's New York now. Keith is hilarious, and he's performing at Crackers this week. Here's that info (direct from the email he sent thousands of people):
(I should be headlining the show on Wednesday night. The rest of the week will be with former Saturday Night Live cast member Victoria Jackson) Wed. - Sunday April 5-9
Showtimes: Wed and Thur. 8:30 / Fri and Sat. 8:00 and 10:30 / Sunday 8:00 Crackers in Broad Ripple
6281 N. College Ave.
Web: www.crackerscomedy.com
Keith is a Bob and Tom regular, and he knows my cat/couch personally.

Eric Hunter has slept on my couch and eaten my stuffed chicken. I don't really know him that well, but he was funny on Bob and Tom.

Anyway, I guess I should point out that I'm not a regular Bob and Tom listener (it's not really my thing, I guess), but all these guys are very good at what they do. If you get the chance to catch Keith this week, you should. I personally guarantee it's worth your time. I cannot speak for Victoria Jackson, though I'm sure she's quite lovely.

*Famous Wesclin Alums: um... former Seattle Supersonic Russ Schoene, former Minnesota Twin/Arizona Diamondback and current Wesclin HS basketball coach Brent Brede, former Iowa Hawkeye/Southern Illinois Saluki and current Purdue Basketball assistant coach Paul Lusk)

*Gina, I know you find this hilarious.

a gentleman and a psychic

"I hope I have an advantage - in most cases, the generic email you sent is likely to sit on some intern's cubicle until at least Wednesday. RSL - where the fan comes first - we respond to emails on Saturdays."

Those were the words of Real Salt Lake GM Steve Pastorino in an email reply he sent Saturday. And now it's Tuesday, and the rest of MLS seems to be responding in just the way he foresaw. My email box has remained empty, except for two replies from Steve to answer a few questions I had.

Hi Mike,

I hope, by season’s end, you feel like you get your $69 worth of MLS soccer… it’s a great deal even if some games are unwatchable. Players like Landon, Dempsey, Guevara, Armas and Gomez make it worth it. Hopefully, Pope/Klein/Kreis/Sequeira and company as well at some point.

Rough day around here… we had really high expectations for yesterday for the team. Now we need to right the ship and get on track all over again! Anyway, here are answers to your questions:

"Real" Salt Lake? Why? (and what does Real mean anyway?)
--- Dave Checketts has a long-standing relationship with Real Madrid due to his dealings with them when he chaired NBA International expansion committee. His first introduction to world class soccer was at bernabeu. We only considered names that were true soccer names (Real, United, FC, etc) because this market has a long history of Buzz, Stingers, Blaze, Bees, Trappers and various other typical American nicknames. He wanted no confusion that we were a soccer team first and foremost. “Real” means “regal” – and stands for the aspirations we have – to be a global club, not just another Columbus Crew. People here love the name, the logo and the colors. Now we just need to play to back it up.

Does it bother you to watch soccer played on a field that still has the lines painted on it from football?
--- Absolutely. I hated when the Galaxy playoff games would run through the UCLA script in the Rose Bowl. I hated the Bears’ C at Soldier Field. I hate the way that the Patriots make the Revs shorten their field to 106 yards once football starts… It’s disrespectful to our game. That’s why we will build a stadium that doesn’t have a big red U sewn into the field turf at midfield (and we will have grass, by the way).

Who's your favorite player?
--- Current… DaMarcus Beasley. When he is at his “most explosive”, I think he is more exciting that Donovan. Landon, though, is more consistent. I love Beas’ speed and moves. I have always cheered for both the US and Italian national team, and guys like Paolo Rossi, Causio, Bergomi, Zoff were favorites of mine… along with Balboa, Armas, Dooley, Reyna…

What happened yesterday?
--- Still trying to figure that one out. Who knew that Pope/Talley/Sequeira would yield three goals right though the heart of the defense. Brian Kamler (huge Blues fan – our 10-year-MLS-vet-turned-director-of-soccer) said today that the team looked nothing like the team he saw all preseason. The players didn’t show up to play, frankly… and we have to fix it for Saturday. It looked a lot like last year, unfortunately. I hope you don’t judge us by just one game!



Steve Pastorino
General Manager
Real Salt Lake

Well, I'm not going to judge RSL based on one game, but I'm also not going to just root for them because their GM is in the lead for Coolest GM Ever. If the other teams decide not to respond to my email, I think I'll start sending them taunting emails about how bad their GMs suck.

Hopefully Steve is right and Wednesday is going to be "response day". Stay tuned...

02 April 2006

Chivas USA vs. Real Salt Lake

I went ahead an bought the DirectKick package... that bill doesn't come for a month anyway.

Here's my notes from the game:

I've got one of those horns; I brought it to a National team game in St. Louis many years ago. I didn't blow into it all game, though... how come you never hear those horns in the Premier League? I think maybe they hurt the chances of the fans ever singing. I prefer singing, I think.

RSL's goalie (Scott Garlick) looks like George Michael. I wonder if I'm the first person to notice.

I saw Eddie Pope play against England in Chicago... let's hope it's not the same Eddie Pope in this game.

Looked like someone got tripped behind the play on that first goal...

Nice shot on the second goal... that guy had a ton of space. Who's to blame? Tell me it isn't Eddie Pope.

Mehdi Ballouchy is having an ok game... though he seems to keep dissapearing. That's ok though, Wayne Rooney does that too. Nice almost goal. He gets the 10 shirt as a rookie?

Razov's second goal was a pretty shot. It would be tough to root for Chivas, I'm a little biased against Mexico... it's a national team thing. Did I hear them say something about "The Chivas Girls?" Hmm.

Maybe I haven't been paying attention... is it normal to deluge your own keeper with streamers? Seems a bit backward to me. I'm sure there's an explanation here and I'm just ignorant.

RSL hasn't look together at all... anywhere on the field. I do like the ugly/nice uniforms though... they're sort of brilliantly hideous. I mean that as a compliment, really. I like them for the same reason I like Fernando Alonso's F1 cars. I feel bad because their GM might read this, though. Actually that's kind of funny. HEY I THINK I JUST SAW THE CHIVAS GIRLS IN THE BACKGROUND!

Three touches on a free kick? Put it on goal!

It's the 83rd minute and I think someone just told RSL that they're supposed to try to score. I don't mean for this to be so brutal... I'm starting to feel bad about it... but it's been a pretty brutal game since I've got a rooting interest in RSL... my new favorite GM Steve had me convinced that my support was going to make all the difference in RSL's road performance.

Oh well, I'm a Fulham fan, I'm used to road losses.

I've got the New York/DC game tivo'ed... I'll try to watch that tomorrow. I guess I'm rooting for DC there, since New York doesn't have email.

i'd be lying if i said i wasn't impressed

Real Salt Lake have (has?) fired an impressive opening shot. And their GM pulled the trigger...

Hi Mike,

I'm game. RSL is always up for a battle. Thanks for your email and for putting us on your short list of new favorite teams. I'm thrilled that we may have edged out the Steamers, hyperkinetic/caffeinated Bulls, 10 USL Division 1 teams and IU Hoosier soccer to reach your Final Eleven.

I hope I have an advantage - in most cases, the generic email you sent is likely to sit on some intern's cubicle until at least Wednesday. RSL - where the fan comes first - we respond to emails on Saturdays.

Now, if you can make a decision in the next 22 hours (don't forget - most of the country loses one for Daylight Savings time, except for certain confused parts of Indiana and Arizona)... you can hop on the bandwagon in time for our season opener. Should we beat Chivas USA (not completely unrealistic) tomorrow, you can say you've personally rooted for, screamed for and willed on EVERY road win in RSL history. You haven't missed a road win yet (0-14-2 last year) - no one else can offer you that, although the Dynamo and Red Bulls haven't won on the road in their bright new uniforms.

Second, you can have a dialogue with the GM. We can talk cycling - my wife and I ride Klein Quantum Races, but she's more into triathlons and I'm more into marathons (although we're currently both more into our kids.). We can talk Carlos Bocanegra. You apparently don't think much of him. I still remember him riding an exercise bike at practice while rehabbing with the Fire (where I spent seven years learning how to become a GM and lose 22 games in my rookie GM year) before he ever played a game. We can talk IU soccer a little... Dema, Chris Klein, Lavrinenko, Jay Nolly - I've known a few. You can give me some insight on some new bands I don't know.

But you really need to care about a team, the colors, the wins, the losses... I'll put our players up against anyone for likeability, fascinating backgrounds, honest workers and we're obviously underdogs... We have a guy NO ONE has heard of about to make his debut with Jamaica AGAINST the USA in 10 days; a former national team 400m sprinter; a mean defensive mid you can't help but like to have on your team; the second youngest player in MLS; forwards who are known as "mercurial", "pesky", "home grown" and "classy"; one of the most popular players in his Central American nation; and probably the first player in pro sports history named Mehdi. You want storylines? We got 'em.

We also have 18,000+ passionate fans per game... we're #2 in all of MLS in ticket sales for the second straight year (NY? DC? Chicago? Chivas? - in our rear view mirror)... but we're humble... We have great mountains... Bruce Arena thinks our home-field advantage rocks... We break ground on a new stadium this summer (and it won't be called Big Love Park!)... What's not to like?

Find out more at www.theloyalists.com, www.realsaltlake.com, www.sltrib.com (with a multi-page MLS preview tomorrow - not just one page like most cities) and www.cavaliersbrigade.com.

Demonstrate your loyalty to RSL, and I will reward you with some free stuff to wear around the heartland and tickets when we play in Chicago in June. Just don't tank MLS and spend your Saturdays watching soccer from 3,000 miles away. There's a lot to love about MLS.

Off to watch KC-Columbus (how could anyone choose one of those teams?)... and the LA-NE.

Good luck in your decision-making process,

Steve Pastorino
General Manager
Real Salt Lake

He also left me his direct email and phone number...

I've got to say, that's pretty impressive stuff. He actually read through my blog. He's a bicyclist. He called the New York team the "hyperkinetic/caffeinated Bulls". And he writes a lot better than I do. He offered some free stuff (though that's sort of bribery, and I have morals and cannot be bought... or can I?).

But I've got to wait this thing out. And I don't get why they named the team "Real Salt Lake". I don't know what Real (in the Spanish pronunciation) even means. And I haven't seen them play yet.

After I initially posted this I went to read up on RSL and discovered that they are owned by Dave Checketts, the man who just bought the only team I've ever owned a ticket package for, Your St. Louis Blues Hockey Club. I know that's completely unrelated, but it's also kind of rad. I just used the word rad.

* * * * *

I did watch the Dallas/Chicago game yesterday, and I fell asleep... but just for a little while, until Gina work me back up. Nevertheless, I wasn't impressed with the pace, and the defending was atrocious on both ends.

I also caught the first half of the LA/New England game, and was immediately impressed with the pace and the ball movement of both teams. But they've both got two games under their belts (that's what Marcelo said, anyway) so I'm going to assume I can expect that level of play from everyone else in the league once they get some work in.

Overall, it's already been better than I expected. I'm wondering if I should spring for the MLS package with DirecTV. It's pretty affordable. I'm pretty broke.

I'm going to go watch the second half of that Galaxy/Revs game now. Tivo is a gift from god.

I wonder who'll respond next?

01 April 2006

this is the year

I have a confession to make. Although I'm a big fan of the English Premier League, the US Mens National Team, and a former World Cup attendee, I've never been a fan of Major League Soccer.

But as the Premiership winds down, I'm going to give MLS another shot. It seems as though the level of talent is getting better (an opinion I base entirely on the performance of Taylor Twellman in international play), and I'm starting to feel like maybe it's my duty as an American soccer fan to give my own league a shot.

So here I go again. It's not that I haven't watched MLS games before, it's just that I've never really cared. Given the ridiculous team names, the slow pace, the feeling that I was good enough to play in the league (reality isn't really my strong suit) and not having anyone to root for, it never caught on with me. That all changes today, when I'll watch at least one MLS game, and maybe even both.

There's just one problem... who am I rooting for? Who should I root for? Columbus, who are the former team of Brian McBride, a guy I've been watching since he played his college ball as a St. Louis University Billiken? Chicago, who wear red jerseys? Houston, who are new to the league (or are they just that relocated San Jose team?), like myself?

The Premiership was easy for me. Fulham had two Americans (and one of them was McBride), never really won anything (so I'm not jumping a bandwagon), and can't win a road game (the lovable underdog angle). Man U played more entertaining soccer than anyone else. Arsenal and Liverpool always held my attention. I ended up being a fan of Fulham over anyone else, and enjoying the rest of the teams equally (though I pull for Man U a bit). It all worked out perfectly because Fox Soccer Channel never shows anyone consistantly, and there isn't anyone to call me out on liking everyone ("I like the Rams, and the Colts, and the Patriots, and the Packers, and sometimes the Vikings." That doesn't really work, does it?)

This would all be a whole lot easier if St. Louis had a team. Maybe the Steamers can make the jump and make this whole thing easier on me. But until they do, I guess I'm a free agent.

Remember when Kansas City's team was called "The Wiz"? Maybe that's a good enough reason to root for them. Do you think they'd consider changing the name back if I sent an email and promised to become a fan? I'm going to send them an email and find out. I'll report back when they respond.

In the meantime, what should I be looking out for? Why should I care? Who's good?