Monday, July 31, 2006

Quick Hits: Deadline passes, United loses, football still hasn't started

Well that was anti-climactic. Alfonso Soriano AND Miguel Tejada are still with their respective teams.

Tejada told The Sun he wasn't surprised despite all the deadline rumors. Perhaps more importantly, he told Sun reporter Roch Kubatko, "This team, we can win ... I want to play baseball here."

The O's also will be sticking with Jeff Conine, Rodrigo Lopez, Javy Lopez, Latroy Hawkins and Kevin Millar, all of whom had at least some trade talks surrounding them. They can still be dealt until August 31 if they pass through waivers.

There's still some speculation that Tejada will be traded in the winter, but my feeling has always been the same. Why sign Melvin Mora and Jay Gibbons to extended deals if you were looking to rebuild? They need to keep Tejada and go out and buy up a couple big name free agents with all that MASN money that Peter Angelos will supposedly be rolling in once he gets the network on Comcast.

As for Soriano, I don't think too many people thought that he would still be with Washington after 4 p.m. Earlier in the week ESPN even reported that Soriano to the White Sox was as good as done, but no deal ever materialized. Team President Stan Kasten told The Washington Post that the Nats would attempt to re-sign Soriano in the off-season but "if it doesn't get done it doesn't get done."

That's optimism.

I know GM Jim Bowden was adamant about getting top dollar back, but when it's pretty clear that the team's not going to be able/willing to throw a competitive offer at Soriano after the season's over, don't you have to get something in return, even if it's not full value?

Of course, as soon as I mention D.C. United in this blog for the first time in probably 10 months, they decide to end their own unbeaten streak by tripping two Real Salt Lake players in the penalty area (not at the same time), resulting in a pair of late penalty shots that turned a 1-0 United lead into a 2-1 loss. The most frustrating part was that the second trip occurred on the end line where the offenseman had no angle to shoot and seemingly no passing options.

The second most frustrating part is that the loss and a New England Revolution tie cut United's lead in the East down to 19 points with 11 games to play. How will they ever hold on?...

D.C. United is back playing Tuesday night at 7:30 against the Columbus Crew, but not on TV and it doesn't count in the standings. It's a U.S. Open Cup match, which, as far as I can tell, is just an excuse for MLS teams to kick the crap out of a bunch of amateurs.

More exciting is this Saturday's MLS All-Star Game, in which the best of the MLS will face off against last year's English Premier League champs, Chelsea F.C., in Chicago. The game is at 5:30 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN.

There are seven D.C. United players on the MLS All-Star team (forwards Jaime Moreno and Alecko Eskandarian, midfielders Christian Gomez and Freddy Adu, defenders Bobby Boswell and Joshua Gros, and goalkeeper Troy Perkins). Chelsea is chock full of familiar faces from the World Cup, including Ukraine's Andriy Shevchenko, Germany's Michael Ballack, Ghana's Michael Essien, Portugal's Ricardo Carvalho, and England's Joe Cole, Frank Lampard and John Terry.

One of my loyal readers (hi mom!) e-mailed me today wanting to know what the deal is with soccer refereeing, since it seems to be more uneven than the other popular American sports.

I haven't watched a ton of soccer and I'm no expert, but it seems to me to be pretty similar to basketball in that there are some things that you know are likely to get called no matter who is refereeing (like slide tackling someone in the box, D.C. United), and other things you have to feel out early in the game. Just like in basketball, refs establish early on what kind of contact will be allowed and as long as they are consistent there shouldn't be any complaints. It's probably just more noticeable in soccer because if a foul is called it could result in a goal in a low-scoring game (and in the case of a penalty kick, an easy goal in a low-scoring game) , whereas in basketball it means you go to the free-throw line for a chance at two points in a game where both teams are probably going to score at least 80.

There. Now you're informed and have no excuse not to watch the MLS All-Star Game.

That means you, mom.

No comments: