Tag Archives: MLS

A simple proposal to normalize fact-checking

Here’s a simple rule reputable media publications should follow, with absolutely no exceptions: If you’re going to reproduce a third party’s factual assertion, you must provide immediate clarification whenever said factual assertion is false.  The alternative – that is, current practice – makes it far too easy for the subject of a news story to hijack the vehicle you provide for his or her own ends.

Because I don’t want to turn the hunt for truth into a partisan issue, I’ll give an innocuous example of how this ought to be done. On Saturday morning, the Seattle Times published an editorial by columnist Larry Stone that touched on what a potential Sounders victory in the MLS Cup could do for the franchise in its home city:

Continue reading A simple proposal to normalize fact-checking


Setting the record straight on BART’s updated color scheme

In its article describing the new trains designed for Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), a Bay Area Publication (BAP) felt the need to assure its readers that any similarity between the cars’ interior color scheme and Santa Clara‘s erstwhile nemesis from the north was purely incidental: “This is no homage to Russell Wilson and gang.”

But this should have gone without saying. Not because deliberate homage would have garnered few fans, or because — as BART marketing and research manager Aaron Weinstein told WIRED — “any combination of hues would run into sports allegiances,” but simply because the magazine mixed up its Seattle sports teams.

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Some free legal advice for Hope Solo

I should probably start this post with a disclaimer.

The first time Hope Solo was involved in an episode of domestic violence, I did my very best to write about the incident while not making light of the situation. I noted that if the allegations against then-fiance, now-husband Jerramy Stevens were true, they were obviously serious and not the proper subject of discussion on this blog.

And then I wrote about it anyway.

Now that Solo herself is the alleged perpetrator of the latest incident against her sister and nephew, I hope to similarly avoid any real discussion of the specific nature of her purported infraction. Domestic violence is not a joke. Millions of families suffer every year. I in no way intend to make light of its tragic reality.

Continue reading Some free legal advice for Hope Solo

The New York-Seattle rivalry: the tale of a truce violated

Flash back to 1847. The Donner party set out along the Oregon Trail to reach California, but was trapped in the Wasatch range of Utah. Its members resorted to cannibalism in order to survive the harsh winter.

Just four years later, and perhaps wary of meating [sic] the Donner party’s fate, the Denny party arrived at the future site of Seattle — sensibly, by boat. They named their landing site “New York alki” — alki being the native word for “by the by” or “someday.” And so, precisely coincident with the founding of the City of Seattle, a good-natured (and perhaps one-sided) rivalry was born.

After a century and a half, Seattle has yet to live up to its aspirational name, and in no place is the discrepancy more apparent than on the field of play. New York is home to eleven* major league sports franchises, while the Emerald City boasts only three.

*I’m counting soccer only because it gives New York a bigger lead. Go Sounders!

Seattle would be home to four, but the Sonics absconded to Oklahoma City, taking with them “the city’s first and only major men’s sports championship.”

Or so the narrative goes — a narrative that is totally wrong.

In fact, Seattle once hosted a major league hockey team, which just so happened to become the first American team to ever win the Stanley Cup in 1917. Despite its early success, that team ceased to exist after 1924, but no worries: its name lives on courtesy of — read: it was adopted by — the New York Mets.*

*OK, technically there were also New York Metropolitans in the 1800s, well before there were Seattle Metropolitans, but I’m not going to let facts get in the way of my history.

Today, Seattle still dreams of landing a team in the NHL — but if the city is successful, we’d be happy to call it the Thunderbirds. You can have “Mets.” Let’s keep this a civil, good-natured rivalry: We pretend to steal your city’s name. You steal our hockey team’s name in retribution. We’ll all bury the hatchet and drink some coffee.

And so, despite occasional outbreaks of violence in the MLB playoffs, on former industrial sites, and on Seinfeld — in case you don’t recall: Seattle, George says, is “the pesto of cities” — the peace has largely held for years.

But it’s all starting to come apart. Witness what Jimmy Fallon coaxed Mets RHP Matt Harvey into doing before he started the All-Star Game:

Continue reading The New York-Seattle rivalry: the tale of a truce violated

Malcolm Gladwell thinks the end of football is near. How the NFL and Microsoft could prove him wrong.

Two weeks ago, Microsoft announced a partnership with the NFL to “upgrade interactive TV viewing of pro football games”:

Fans will get new television viewing innovations, including the ability to watch games, Skype video chat with other fans, view statistics, access highlights in real time and gather fantasy information about players and teams — all on a single screen. For those who prefer multiple screens, fans can get an even deeper experience on mobile devices and tablets with SmartGlass technology.

The agreement was announced at Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal, which allowed day one reviewers to gush about how the new device can be so much more than just a video game console — you can also use it to experience football, or more excitingly, fantasy football [emphasis mine]:

The company is also working with the National Football League to develop an app for Xbox that lets players interact with their fantasy football teams while watching a live game. – NYTimes

Microsoft is clearly determined to sew up some of the best content for the Xbox One: it just revealed a special, multi-year partnership with the NFL. The two are working on an optimized experience that better integrates fantasy football, including score displays, onscreen updates and Skype. – Engadget

Xbox and NFL Will Bring Fantasy Football to Life – Mashable headline

Xbox and the NFL even got in on the act. In a promotional video featuring a conversation between Roger Goodell and Xbox President Don Mattrick, the NFL Commissioner asks, “So Don, how will this experience be better on the Xbox for NFL fans?”

Mattrick replies, “With Xbox, we’re gonna have exclusive content that we will use with smart glass, with Kinect, with some of the innovations our creative teams are doing, to bring fantasy football to life, to be able to interact with others, to do things using all the devices in your living room as you’re participating with your friends.”

But don’t let the emphasis on fantasy fool you: the partnership’s impact will not just be felt on Season 5 of The League. Microsoft is also coming to the sidelines of real games, as they happen:

The next step after that, perhaps as early as 2014, will be bringing technology to the sidelines on tablets.

“When you think about the sidelines, what is most important for us is how you make the game of football better, make what the coaches and players do better, using technology but preserving the competition,” said Brian Rolapp, chief operating officer of NFL Media. “The challenge is how to bring technology to make it a better experience for them and for the fans.

“You can start with how we communicate with each other, whether it’s game officials or coaches. Coaches can look at formations as they develop. We’ll look at how do you do the still photos better, get more into real time? Is there a more efficient way to give replay officials a way of doing reviews better through technology?”

So pretty soon, Microsoft technology is going to be helping coaches call plays and referees review calls. How much is the NFL paying Microsoft for all this helpful technological wizardry?

The deal is worth $400 million over five years for the NFL, according to a person familiar with the agreement. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because financial details have not been made public.

In other words, the NFL isn’t paying Microsoft for its technological expertise — rather, Microsoft is paying about three teams’ worth of salary cap to the NFL for the privilege of providing this service. So what does Microsoft get out of the deal? Well, the exclusive Xbox content, and of course, publicity:

Branding of Microsoft products on the hoods of the referee’s on-field instant replay station and other sideline areas will begin this season.

On the one hand, the entire NFL will look more like Sounders FC. On the other hand, NFL replay booths and the league’s referees in general are definitely the sort of associations Microsoft should be paying big money to establish…? What’s the over/under on how long before some play-by-play guy blames a badly-reviewed call on the blue screen of death? [As I’ve noted before: the infamous Seahawks-Packers MNF game that brought back the original refs was supposed to be backstopped by a replay booth manned by a non-striking replay official. But go ahead, keep blaming it on the replacement refs.]

Questionable as this last call may be from Microsoft’s perspective, I thought the NFL’s decision not to take the agreement even farther was possibly even more puzzling. The NFL, as you know, is deeply worried about its potential liability to former players who suffered head injuries while playing in the league. It has been desperately changing rules left and right to shield itself from that liability, most recently banning running backs from contacting defensive players with the crowns of their helmets. But that won’t be the last rule change you’ll see in the NFL, and I believe the league’s partnership with Microsoft points in the direction of the future: now that every Xbox will come with built-in Kinect, why expose your players to actual hits when you could always just make the entire league look like this:

Continue reading Malcolm Gladwell thinks the end of football is near. How the NFL and Microsoft could prove him wrong.

Now that Jason Collins is out, which major league sports league is next?

Earlier this week, Jason Collins came out as the first gay male athlete playing professionally in a major American sport. Some sort of announcement of this sort had been expected for some time, but the details — who, where, when, how (,why)? — were the topic of a certain amount of blind speculation.

As it turns out, Collins chose to come out in the pages of Sports Illustrated, and while his announcement caused a minor sensation when it hit the nation’s newsstands, I imagine one distinct group of people — who knew exactly what was going to happen — managed to take the news in stride. I speak, of course, of the staff over at Sports Illustrated.

Meanwhile, Collins may have broken the rainbow barrier in the NBA, but the NFL, MLB, MLS, and NHL still haven’t seen anyone come out of the closet. As we’ve seen, it’s only a matter of time — but that leaves open the question who, and when? And again, I think there’s one group of people with all the answers.

That’s why I’ve been scouring sports coverage across the nation — for the off chance that one has a scoop and accidentally tips its hand. And I think I’ve finally got something — in the pages of Yahoo! Sports. As you can see, one of these headlines is not like the others:

Continue reading Now that Jason Collins is out, which major league sports league is next?