Friday, July 13, 2007

Soccer Finally Has A Chance

It always seems strange when I write about soccer. I guess that is because I have never liked soccer. I suppose it goes back to when I was in high school and I didn’t think the players on the soccer team were nearly the caliber of athletes as the players on our football team. Anybody who was any good, I figured, played football. I had seen the Detroit Express play when they had Trevor Francis. It was just OK. I hadn’t gotten into World Cup soccer - even when it was at the Silverdome. Hardly followed it in Europe. I especially liked to scoff at those who would say baseball is dying and soccer is about to rule America because every little kid seems to play soccer. It never happened. The world is as it should be. With baseball and football as king. And basketball and hockey.
But my view of soccer started to change last summer. I did spent a lot of time watching the World Cup. And I did find it fascinating. Of course, the game at that level is a lot different than college soccer or the MLS or even elite games in Europe. I have tried watching all three levels since last summer’s World Cup and haven’t had nearly the same interest. I don’t think English star David Beckham playing in Los Angeles will change that, either.
But the Americans are starting to build a really good program. There is starting to be a group of young Americans that some day may threaten to win the World Cup.
The key is Freddy Adu. Remember the kid who was such a talent he was playing professionally when he was 14? Well, he is 18 now and just dominated the 20 and under world tournament. He had a hat trick against Poland and set up both goals beautifully in a 2-1 victory over Brazil. He might be the best 18-year-old player in the world.
Adu has taken a lot of criticism for not living up to the hype at first. He was just OK in the MLS. But he is starting to develop into something special. He will likely have to play in Europe to fully develop, but it does seem like America finally may have that truly great player to hang its hat on.
Developing a truly great American player - not Pele in the past or Beckham now coming from other countries - is what it will take to finally get soccer really going in this nation. Can you imagine if the United States ever wins the World Cup? Nobody really can. But if Freddy Adu, and the younger Americans continue to progress, it won’t be as far-fetched. And it would be huge.


Note

- I had computer issues while in San Francisco at the All Star game that prevented from posting my blog Wednesday or replying to comments. Things are back to normal and I did reply to the comments. Thanks for your patience and support of this blog. Also, voting closes July 15 in the greatest Oakland County athletes of all-time poll. You can vote by clicking onto Contests/Events at theoaklandpress.com


Random Thoughts

- I don’t blame Pudge for being upset at the umpire Thursday night. That was interference. I can understand him getting ejected. He did touch the guy. What I don’t understand is bad umpiring. Seems like we’re seeing more and more of it lately. And umpires with quick triggers that cause more problems than they solve.

- I get asked all the time about Craig Monroe’s trade value. I don’t believe he is the key to getting the Tigers’ bullpen help. Teams that are selling are looking for prospects. Really good ones. They are not looking to rebuild with arbitration-eligible players nearing free agency. Knowing Jim Leyland, he will ride out Marcus Thames while he remains hot. Then he will turn back to Monroe, who may get hot at some point. I think some fans are of the impression if Thames plays every day for awhile, Monroe has no value to the Tigers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

- Macay McBride looks pretty good to me. Better than I thought. Heard he has some command issues with the Braves. That hasn’t been a problem so far with the Tigers. Having said that, the Tigers bullpen is still the worst of any of the primary American League contenders.

- With Neifi Perez suspended, it’s time for Omar Infante to step up and be counted. This is not the time for him to be slumping.

22 Comments:

Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, I don't know if it is me just watching more baseball or if there are more bad calls now, but the Pudge interference thing was really obvious to anyone (followed by the bizarro inning which seemed like a Little League scenario).

What IS with the fielding? Comes in bunches. Miller ended up giving them 16 outs the first 4 innings. Not all official errors but "shoulda been outs". Even Guillen inexplicably seems to nonchalant easy plays from time to time. Weird.

McBride does look a lot better -interesting to watch his next two or three outings in close games in the 7th or 8th. Looks like Leyland put in against lefties, but leaves him in if he gets one righty out.

Is Infante one of those players like Thames that does better when playing less?

Cheers,

Danny

1:20 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Danny,
It's a long season, and the Tigers do far more good than bad, but it does seem like they lose their concentration in the field sometimes. And it's when they lose close game. Thursday was an example. So was one of those home losses to Texas. Guillen is strange that way. He makes some great plays at crucial times, but too many errors on routine plays. I don't see Infante and Thames equating. Thames gets everything out of what he has. He performs to the best of his ability at all times. It's just he is limited in a way. Infante isn't as limited. He can do much more defensively and he shouldn't struggle as much with consistency at the plate. Thames is a gamer regardless. I am not sure if the same can be said for Infante. Seems like he gets complacent if he is not fighting for a job.
Caputo

1:33 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Beckham is the most over-rated athelete of the 20th/21st century and should not even be mentioned in the same breath as Pele. He lost England at least 1 World Cup by kicking a shoot-out penalty kick over the cross bar. Great players don't do that. Bums do.

Hate soccer if you will - the World cup is the worlds biggest sporting stage with the Olympics.

Nice looking wife though. Tell her what you want, what you really really want.

I'm with Danny, that was 2 Bizarro situations in last nights game.

In Pudge's case, the ump got the call wrong - it was definitly interference - but pudge bumped him (I counted two times) before the ump could rectify it. Pudge - you know better than that.

The Guillen play at second, I am positive he tagged him behind second base. The ump blew the call, Leyand contests - the ump says "why don't you protest?" - they do - and he is out. But he did touch second.

And then nobody cared anymore?

Let's be glad you can't challenge calls with instant replay (is instant replay still considered instant?).

As for Infante - sometimes slumps aren't convenient. Like calling in sick - sometimes you're really sick on the Friday before a long-weekend. It doesn't look good, but it is what it is.

Welcome home Book. We missed ya.

2:02 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
I hate to sound naive here, but I don't know that much about Beckham's history. I did see "Bend It Like Beckham" and I did see him score a goal doing that in the World Cup last summer. My soccer knowledge is spotty. I know about Brazil in 1970, England in '66, about Mardonna and Argentina in the 80s, about Holland and West Germany in the 70s and Hungry in the 1950s. But I am not very good at filling in the gaps. I don't understand the nuance of the game like I should. I just know that for it to really hit big here, it will take Americans getting behind Americans. Adu and his buddies may give the U.S. a chance.
Caputo

6:05 PM 
Anonymous lennyw1971 said...

Pat, I hate to come off like "the ugly American", but American fans' distaste for soccer probably is due to the fact that we've invented better sports than soccer. Hockey, which is seen as a stepchild here, is still much better than sitting through a soccer telecast or possibly getting murdered by a hooligan at a match in Europe or South America. Our attention span and tolerance is too low for 1-0 or 2-1 matches in which players feign death when they been knocked down or lightly touched. I see the sport for what it is... great exercise for the youngsters.

Pudge deserved the hook, but you're right about the fragility of some of these umps. With Bruce Froehming's pair of gaffes, I began to clammer for some type of replay system. Then my senses came back to me and I realized that games would stretch out to 4 hours on a regular basis and fans would be chased away. On the other hand, why do the umps behave as if their very careers would be on the line if they decided to change a bad call.... where's the solution?

I see that they backed up the truck for Ichiro. He deserves the dough. His swing will never be taught in a textbook, but the AL pitchers still haven't figured him out. I wish he started here at 21 or 22 years old... he'd already be close to 3,000 hits and only a few can match his glove in centerfield. We've gotta find out who Seattle's scouts are... what a steal!!

8:50 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Book.
I think Infante is snakebit. He has hit five or six liners (including at least one hard-hit grounder that should have been a hit Sunday) and can't seem to find a hole.
I believe Inge followed up Omar on Sunday with a cheap hit. Baseball can be cruel, as you often say!
Take care.

9:06 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

You're right book, I went off topic - Beckham does that to me. Adu is an amazing player.

That sport needs something amazing to pump it up - but frankly I don't care if it does catch on. It would always be an import - kinda like me.

9:33 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Lennyw1971,
Go ahead Lenny. Be the Ugly American. I laughed my head off with your "we invented better sports" line. I couldn't agree more. As a matter of fact, that's exactly how I feel. Couldn't have put it better myself.
Caputo

5:09 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Anonymous,
Baseball is fickle. Hitting especially. Infante could use a cheap hit or two, Maybe it would get him going. I have always liked him as a player. There are a lot of tools there. But he needs to shine now he is on the big stage more. It's what separates backup players from regulars on a good team.
Caputo

5:11 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
I hear Lacrosse is Canada's national sport. And to be honest, I know 10 times more about soccer than I do about curling.
Caputo

5:13 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Boyz,

There seems to be some confusion.

There is growing evidence to support that baseball - a derivative of the English rounders - and slightly simpler to understand than Cricket - was invented in southwestern Ontario.

Basketball is of course invented by a Canadian while teaching in "da states" - as we call y'all.

Hockey is a derivative of lacrosse - as it needed to be playable in the cold.

Football obviously comes from Rugby. I'd much rather piss off a football player. Rugby players have less teeth than hockey players.

We didn't invent football though - we made it better with 3 downs.

So check the "we invented it ..." crap at the door my friend.

Really, I mean that in the nicest way. Did I sound bitter?

The polite Canadian.

6:11 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't ever talk about soccer again.

7:19 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

Soccer may have a chance. If it can some how get into the main stream and be exposed a little bit more. Right now I just don't see it being hip here in the U.S. like the other 3 major sports. I'd include hockey but I don't think it is that big of a deal through out the country.

You know lets talk tigers and upgrading. I think the tigers are fine if they don't upgrade I still think they can compete. But with all great teams you worry about the now. I think the Key here for the Tiger is more like Upgrade. Defensively I think we are solid at the corners. Offensively though I think our corner infield spots could be upgraded. Now I like Inge, but one guy I like even more and will be a free agent next year is a guy in Florida. I am thinking outside the box nor do I think we have a chance but its summer and why not have some fun with the rumor mill. How about the tigers swinging a deal to get MIguel Cabrera. He'd be an awesome addition. He is good at the bag and can swing a ten times better stick then Inge. You can unload inge, monroe and one of our highly touted Minor league guys for maybe Cabrera and maybe have them throw in a guy like Henry Owens. What do you think of that scenerio. Having Cabrera, Guillen, and Polonco for the next 4 or five years. Not bad.

10:34 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
I thought Canadians invented beer. Keep at it, Fred. You're making Lester Pearson, The Friendly Giant and Ward Cornell proud.
Caputo

12:39 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Anonymous,
LOL
Caputo

12:40 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Maddog52,
Cabrera is clearly a better player than Inge or Casey, but it would cost a special prospect (Maybin) to get him. Also, as good as he is offensively, he is suspect defensively. Everytime I watch him play, he gets bigger. It makes me wonder about his longevity. And to get him, you have to sign him long-term to make it a worthwhile deal.
Caputo

12:43 AM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Thanks Book
just "standing on guard for thee".

As for beer, check out the Blue line at Comerica.

Sorry for my rant, it's a Canadian flaw.

10:11 AM 
Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Pat the Book,

Who'd a thunk it? All this banter over world football? I'm truly amazed.

But seriously, can Verlander stop the Tigers from losing two in row?Bonderman sure looked good on Friday night after a wacky loss on Thursday night.

And who the heck is Wade Cornell?

11:30 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
Verlander and Bonderman are 20-4 this season, the rest of their staff about .500. So I like their chances in this series finale. As for Ward Cornell, he was the Ron MacLean of "Hockey Night in Canada" during the 1960s.
Caputo

12:30 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
Understandable. Canada is the land of Don Cherry.
Caputo

12:31 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Book,

I too never "got" the angry umpire bit. When did they get such a seemingly huge chip on their collective shoulders? They should be above that sort of nonsense.

Allan

4:20 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Allan,
It was really bad during the 1980s and 90s before their union got shot down. It had been better in recent years, but has been reverting to the way it used to be lately. I think that is bad for baseball. The umpires should take too much guff, but they should cause any, either.
Caputo

4:31 PM 

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