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  1. a fine piece of writing alex, if only lebron would announce he’d be willing to take headers for $20 million a year i don’t think America has a chance.

    Comment by verd14 — July 8, 2010 @ 4:44 pm

  2. I think you meant to say National Basketball Association

    Comment by Ryan — July 8, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

  3. I haven’t seen US soccer much, but looking at their game in the World Cup, it seemed that their game is much more about hustle than having sublime ball skills that you get to see from Latin American and European players, even Africans. And in a game where there is lack of scoring, what you really try to appreciate are the individual skills: a great run of dribbling that sets up a nice chance, a very good set piece where the free kick is very well executed, a very good save by the goalkeeper etc. If you are fixated on when the score occurs, then soccer will be a very boring game. It is the process that leads to the goal that is more enjoyable most of the time than the goal itself. If I were to compare to baseball, a 10 pitch AB where the pitcher makes some terrific pitches, but the hitter keeps fouling off and finally works a walk is a great thing to watch for someone who appreciates the skill of the hitter, but for someone who is fixated on seeing either a hit or a run, it is a very boring process.

    Comment by Sam — July 8, 2010 @ 4:55 pm

  4. If only Baseball had a relegation system like european soccer, where there would be consequences for bottoming out your team year after year to save a buck like the Pirates or Padres.

    Comment by Chops — July 8, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

  5. Funny that I find the NBA and NHL completely unwatchable and the NFL mostly unwatchable since the early 90’s.

    Baseball and soccer? Love them. Basically for the reasons you stated. I will put it a different way though: baseball is science and soccer is music. And science and music fulfill the different parts of my personality.

    Nice article.

    Comment by Elliot — July 8, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

  6. I was really enjoying the World Cup this year, but there are too many flaws in soccer that show up too frequently for me to become a serious fan.

    I wrote a post/rant about it last week, but it mostly regards to the fact that the clock never stops in soccer.

    Comment by rmlumley — July 8, 2010 @ 5:04 pm


    Comment by Steve — July 8, 2010 @ 5:07 pm

  8. This is the best article ever.

    Comment by Jeffrey Gross — July 8, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

  9. Hup Holland hup!

    I never watch the NFL or NBA, but the truly retched of “sports” to watch is NASCAR. I don’t get why it is interesting to watch cars drive around in circles.

    Comment by Theron — July 8, 2010 @ 5:19 pm

  10. Yeah. Stupid Padres. They aren’t even TRYING to win anymore. I haven’t been paying attention. I assume they’ve traded away Bell and Gonzalez by now?

    Comment by Thomas — July 8, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

  11. One of the annoying things about soccer, as many people have pointed out, is the lack of a countdown clock. Even though it’s a timed game, with injury time and the refs’ hidden stopwatch, you don’t actually know when the game is going to end. So, you don’t get the excitement of the last-second play.

    I mentioned this to a euro-friend of mine and they said, “well, you don’t have a clock in baseball, either.” At first it seemed aptly interesting. Despite the differences you point out, there is that timelessness in both.

    But, the more I thought about it, the more it made no sense. There is a known ending to a baseball game, it just uses different units of measures (27 outs) than other sports (48, 60 or ~90 minutes). Soccer uses minutes, but you don’t know how many there will be.

    Just thought I’d share that.
    Great article… I posted it on FB.

    Comment by Marc — July 8, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

  12. The lack of scoring really kills it for me. The single elimination doesn’t help either with a game that involves a lot of luck, especially a match involving two good teams. That’s why I can’t bother with Olympic baseball or WBC either.

    Comment by Franco — July 8, 2010 @ 5:46 pm

  13. That goal was such a signal event I had to click on the link to remember what you were referencing. Just like olympic hockey this is an exciting international event that will create very few fans, bump up interest for a brief period of time, then return to baseline.

    Comment by MikeS — July 8, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

  14. if you think you could never watch MLS after the World Cup, you should try watching a good English Premier League or Bundesliga match. the World Cup is like watching paint dry compared to those leagues… incidentally, the Bundesliga (along with the Serie A, La Liga, and a couple of other leagues – note the English Championship is actually the 2nd tier league) is available on ESPN 3. they still have replays of some of last year’s matches.

    Comment by David — July 8, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

  15. “I don’t get why it is interesting to watch cars drive around in circles.”

    Clearly you’re missing the point. NASCAR is an enormous party.

    Comment by B — July 8, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

  16. NASCAR doesn’t use WAR. It uses xPLOSION

    Comment by Jeffrey Gross — July 8, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

  17. “Baseball is science and soccer is music. And science and music fulfill the different parts of my personality.”

    Amazing quote. Long-time reader of Fangraphs and this is my first post only because I was so impressed by this metaphor.

    Good words, sir.

    Comment by Asher — July 8, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

  18. I haven’t had time to catch any games this go-round, but watched some Footy during the last (head-butt befouled) World Cup.

    I basically enjoy watching the sport…even the MLS version…but have a few serious issues with some of the specifics of how soccer is played internationally.

    First of all there’s the flopping. Plenty of people have complained about this, and you see it in the NBA as well, but in soccer it’s a freaking epidemic. Solution: more yellow cards for flops. If you’re caught obviously flopping more than once — you’re out. Same for fake injuries. If you stop play to roll around holding your shin…you sit for five minutes. Which will make more sense after my next point.

    Second is substitutions. Nobody wants to watch a bunch of worn-out players trying to drag their butts through their ninetieth consecutive minute of play. We want to see the best players at their best. Imagine the NBA if players couldn’t come out. Solution: open substitutions just like when I played soccer.

    Third is shootouts. I haven’t looked at the stats, but it stands to reason that a relatively low-scoring sport like soccer will have more ties at the end of regulation than other sports. So why should soccer have the lamest tie-breaking method in all the world?? Let them play until someone scores. Since we now have open substitutions (yay!) this will be more feasible. And after each fifteen or thirty minute extra period…remove a player. Thus you’ll have more subs, and a more open field. Eventually a goal will be scored. Or the players will die. Either way…great TV!

    Fourth is goal review. In no other major sport is a single score so vital as in soccer. You HAVE to stop the clock and review controversial calls for goals or penalties in the box. Screw tradition, it’s just the right thing to do.

    Fifth is letting everyone know when the game ends. The most dramatic moments in sports typically occur with the clock running down, or at the end of the game. This vague notion of “extra time” deflates that drama.

    Soccer just feels like it’s run by people who haven’t learned some of the basic things Americans take for granted about drama in sport. Ties are boring. Playing for a tie is communist. Tired players are boring. Countdowns are dramatic. Acting is not sports.

    Americanize Soccer and Americans will watch. And the world will eventually learn.

    Comment by Short — July 8, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

  19. I hate to say this but if a woman can compete with men in the sport, it definitely is not a sport in my mind for example Danica Patrick can compete in NASCAR. I also cant believe women do not compete with Men in bowling wtf.

    Comment by oompaloopma — July 8, 2010 @ 6:06 pm

  20. Nope, still sucks.

    Comment by oompaloopma — July 8, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

  21. Interesting article, but you’re forgetting one crucial point:

    Baseball game ~3 hours (potentially endless)
    Soccer game 1:50 (about 2:45 with extra time and PKs)

    I love watching both, but as many (Joe West) have already said, something needs to be done about the length of baseball games.

    Comment by jmulvey — July 8, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

  22. good post

    Comment by hurr — July 8, 2010 @ 6:31 pm

  23. 100% agree. Those are the two for me, too. The seasons even match up so there’s no downtime (well, soccer is 10 months a year in Europe anyway…).

    Excited to combine them: Sporting Lisbon is playing Celtic Glasgow at Fenway Park in two weeks and I have tickets…

    I can’t stand the NFL… though I do watch. You want to talk about slow? Nothing is as slow as a NFL game to me. 6 seconds of men running, most not involved in the play and then a minute off. NFL games have the least live action time of any sport. IMO the NFL is dumbed down sports for people without attention spans. Yeah, I watch and follow it and play fantasy football… each year I lose interest.

    What will really help soccer take off is when the NFL goes on strike next year. MLS should already be planning to play a August-May schedule, if you ask me.

    Comment by alskor — July 8, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

  24. I never understand why Americans are always concerned with what’s “wrong” with soccer. Its fine the way it is… you just need to follow it more closely. Stop worrying about how to improve it.

    Comment by alskor — July 8, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

  25. There is a known ending though… They announce the injury time. It works great because it punishes teams for wasting time.

    Yeah, you may not know to the second when it will end, but who cares? The flow of play is more important and trumps everything.

    Comment by alskor — July 8, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

  26. Ha!

    What would it take? Female goalies in lingerie? Katana-wielding players riding jaguars? Ties broken by rap-off?

    Comment by Short — July 8, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

  27. It’s comical how many times Major League Baseball got MLB into that address. You’d think would suffice.

    Comment by Will — July 8, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

  28. But even if you find the NHL unwatchable, would you consider it boring?

    Comment by Laura — July 8, 2010 @ 7:10 pm

  29. As for the notion of statistical analysis and soccer, some folks here may be interested in checking out this paper in which scientists apply social-network analysis methodologies to Euro Cup 2008 tournament games to help measure team and individual performance:

    Here’s a brief news article about the research paper that sums up the jist of the research and the findings:

    Comment by snydeq — July 8, 2010 @ 7:26 pm

  30. I have very few sports watching friends and most of them tell me how boring baseball is all the time. I personally find the mental chess match between the pitcher and the batter, as well as the execution, particularly by the pitcher (see Chris Carpenter curveball) to be quite fascinating and can become rather excited at a skilled matchup whether the game be 1-0, 8-9 or even a 12-0 blowout.

    But I just can’t get excited about guys running past other guys but not quite past all the other guys and then having the ball kicked away from them so the other guys can run past them, but not quite all of them, repeat. My point in this though is not to say one game is better, or less boring than the other, but just that we all have our different views on what makes for entertaining sport. I think a lot of Americans find the lack of scoring in soccer to make the game more boring. Where as a lot of Europeans may find the lack of “action” on the diamond to be quite snooze inducing themselves.

    I think you have to leave beauty in the eye of the beholder. If someone asks me my personal opinion, I think soccer is boring. If someone wants to say that soccer is a hugely popular sport and millions upon of millions of people who watch it can’t all be wrong, I’m not going to argue. Just restate that my personal enjoyment level is much higher with baseball, or in my case American football, than it ever will be soccer. To each their own, and at least we can join together with soccer fans in that fans of other sports find both our sports rather dull.

    Comment by SpokaneMsFan — July 8, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

  31. I think the thing that draws me to football and baseball as opposed to continuous sports like soccer and basketball is the opportunity for potential. Soccer and basketball are overwhelmingly about kinetic energy. Sure there are inbounds in basketball and set plays in soccer, but to me that doesn’t even begin to compare the potential that seeps out of every pitch or every play. Sure some people find all the waiting boring, but I think that waiting is essential for both. It builds drama.

    Comment by levnclf — July 8, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

  32. There’s alot to love about both. I also like to hear how baseball is a perfect game (90′, 66′ 6″, etc), and alot of sports claim that (the Tao of Cricket).


    Baseball is now family entertainment. Bigger market share. Something for everyone. So watching baseball is now ingesting as much commercial as baseball. I wish I could filter everything out and extract the game itself but we are decades away from that kind of technology.

    Soccer? Low scoring, ties, penalty kicks. Otherwise great game.

    Comment by tylerv — July 8, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

  33. i like that it goes on all day and i can check it periodically

    Comment by tylerv — July 8, 2010 @ 7:52 pm

  34. Americanize Soccer and Americans will watch. And the world will eventually learn.

    You will be shocked to learn how little the world cares about how much Americans love soccer. The market for soccer is all continents except North America. And all continents except North America is a pretty darn huge market that does not need North America.

    So soccer will never be Americanized. If America needs soccer, they will have to follow the rest of the world. The Americans can have their NFL.

    Comment by Sam — July 8, 2010 @ 7:55 pm

  35. I love baseball and football. Luckily, their seasons do not overlap TOO much so I can pretty much enjoy them both to the fullest. I like the NHL, but it’s never on TV. I only watch select NCAA basketball games and NBA playoff games. I think most of these sports are exciting, but league management, matchups, and other factors all contribute to my enjoyment. MLB and NFL really capitalize on their sports’ natural advantages (to me). Of course all of this is my opinion.

    Comment by Graham — July 8, 2010 @ 8:15 pm

  36. I didn’t mean to imply the rest of the world cares what we think about soccer…though some Europeans I’ve met did seem to…just that I think it would behoove anyone trying to popularize the sport here to go ahead and innovate with the sport. If soccer were tweaked around the edges I really think it would appeal to people in this country.

    Or maybe all it will take is some hooligans. Some good, rowdy, drunken, violent hooligans could really be the ticket.

    Comment by Short — July 8, 2010 @ 8:22 pm

  37. I think the reason I love baseball is because of the ways it differs from all other sports. For instance, soccer, basketball, football, hockey and even lacrosse are similar. They all involve the control of a ball and scoring that ball in an enzone, goal or basket. Sure, the rules differ, but the main idea is still the same. The same cannot be said of baseball. The defense controls the ball and it consists of multiple one on one encounters where anything can happen. Many may disagree but I find this extremely more entertaining.

    Comment by Mike — July 8, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

  38. must love cricket then

    Comment by tylerv — July 8, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

  39. “you don’t get the excitement of the last-second play.”

    Exactly the opposite, from my understanding of it. The ref sticks to the allotted extra time for the most part, but will allow the in-progress play to come to a conclusion before he blows the final whistle. So, except in games with a 2+ goal difference, there’s ALWAYS a last-second play.

    Comment by Xave — July 8, 2010 @ 8:47 pm

  40. who cares if there is no clock left…have you watched a close game go down to the wire?

    the clock keeps ticking and you don’t know when the game is gonna end, you have an idea, but you keep hoping the team will put that equalizing goal in the back of the net as each second counts down.

    soccer is great because there are no breaks. no commercials for 45 minutes. its wonderful

    Comment by Swo — July 8, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

  41. Actually, the Padres have been leading the NLWest all season by beating up all the other divisions.

    You’re missing some good baseball.

    I say this while being highly irritated that they are ahead of my own team.

    Comment by Katran Miller — July 8, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

  42. I watched about half of the US/England game (the 2nd half). Gotta say, I don’t like sitting on my bum for 45 minutes watching two teams not score (I swear, 40 of those minutes were with everyone on the US side, can’t believe England didn’t make some noise). The only plays that I’d probably remember 4 years from now were the scoring goals. All two of them. From my first soccer game. However, for me, soccer has been one of those sports that’s fun to play. It’s not a bad sport to play, it’s not hockey, but, it’ll make you sweat.

    What I always hated about most sports was the selfishness. Basketball is the most selfish one that I can think of. There’s always one guy that sticks out, thinks he’s hot shit, and I don’t like that. Basketball doesn’t even take that much to be great. Tall, fast, aim (don’t even need to aim if you’re tall enough). More of a game dependent of nature’s blessings than talent. Same with football, although, you need to aim. Hockey is interesting considering the pain to the face as well as the grace of skating on the ice.

    All of those sports are the same thing to me. Left, right, back and forth, yada yada. Each has a goal or boundary that must be breached/passed to score. Baseball is truly a team sport, a unique sport, as well as the one that you can almost instantly tell by looking if someone sucks (wild pitches, missed throws, holding the bat upside down, running the bases backwards, etc.). I think that I’ll stop now because I’m tired of thinking. However, I will say that I respect anyone’s favourite sport whether it be baseball, futbol, football, hockey, or even curling. I don’t get much out of anything that’s not baseball, but, everyone has different upbringings, experiences, tastes, gym class, etc.

    Comment by AnoNymousJ — July 8, 2010 @ 10:00 pm

  43. Would you be open to tweaking baseball so that it would be popular among, say, Indians and Chinese? That would, by far, be the largest market imaginable.

    Most of the changes you propose won’t find much support. It is a 90 minute game, and playing on indefinitely as long as a goal doesn’t score could lead to fatalities on the field. It has happened quite a few times. It is extremely strenuous on the body to keep playing a game that does not allow interruptions.

    Really, to love soccer, you have to love continuity of a game (not the concept of timeout so that you can strategize the shit out of the game), and also learn to accept sometimes teams don’t deserve to lose.

    Comment by Sam — July 8, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

  44. I don’t care what they do in India and China with their sports. Want to play baseball with a clock? Knock yourselves out.

    Yeah, if the length of the game and running clock are really core to your concept of what soccer is then my ideas would be out of the question. I just don’t think that’s going way overboard…I’m not suggesting having a bunch of long breaks for TV.

    If you could sub players in at any out-of-bounds or penalty nobody would die of exhaustion. Hasn’t ever happened in the NBA and there have been games go to six overtimes, as have games in the NHL.

    Comment by Short — July 8, 2010 @ 10:29 pm

  45. So…your saying that if a woman is good enough to compete with a man, in a sport, then the activity she is playing is not a real sport?

    What about the Japanese kuckleballer in the Independent leagues? Does that mean that baseball is not a sport because a woman is playing with the “real men”?

    This is probably the most sexist comment I’ve ever read of Fangraphs. Shame on you, sir.

    Comment by TFINY — July 8, 2010 @ 10:41 pm

  46. Soccer should be boring but fan chants are just amazing and atmosphere.
    I’m european, had the opportunity to watch some baseball games in Chicago, SF and NY… Wrigley Field was really nice (against the Cards…) but that was just nothing compare to soccer stadiums in Europe.
    Seriously, if you came to assist a soccer game in europe, you can’t wake up every time to buy some tacos, eat and drink all the game and read some news on your iphone like you will in a baseball park. You’re here to live the game and participate.

    Comment by Jules — July 8, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

  47. Nice finds.

    One of the difficulties of statistical analysis in soccer is that there’s no “Retrosheet” equivalent for their statistics, nor does FIFA allow access to its base data like MLB does. FIFA keeps track of stats like distance ran, pass completion %, and even differentiates the range of the passes from short (think little pass on the ground) to long (switching sides). The problem is the base data that FIFA use to calculate these and other metrics are behind an iron curtain that the common fan cannot breach. However, it does enable ESPN to show pretty gamecasts.

    Comment by Matt Mitchell — July 8, 2010 @ 10:54 pm

  48. Soccer and Baseball are two sports are very entertaining once you understand what is going on.

    Comment by Monty — July 8, 2010 @ 11:20 pm

  49. I have always been a huge fan of baseball but never much of a soccer fan. I am considering abandoning basketball and football altogether to follow soccer and baseball solely because Americans with short attention spans love football and basketball so much.

    Comment by John Robbins — July 8, 2010 @ 11:35 pm

  50. I think your sarcasm detector misfired.

    Comment by Jason B — July 9, 2010 @ 12:00 am

  51. You must not be from around here…bitchin’ and moanin’ about things of little to no consequence is what we DO!!

    Comment by Jason B — July 9, 2010 @ 12:02 am

  52. Yeah, I tend to agree with the above – I think the suspense of not knowing how many seconds you have left makes it more exciting, rather than less.

    Comment by Jason B — July 9, 2010 @ 12:04 am

  53. I think that’s quite likely, too. Despite Simmons’ arguments, I think soccer will pretty quickly pass out of sight and out of mind for most American sports fans. LeBron is signing! Football training camp is starting! Pennat races and trade deadlines! Landon…who?

    Comment by Jason B — July 9, 2010 @ 12:05 am

  54. No, but I knew somebody would try to pull that. I should have used the would ‘popular’ to describe the sports in my post, with the exception of Lacrosse.

    Actually, if it were televised, I might like Cricket. I really don’t know how it is played though. Which is unsurprising. No one really cares about it.

    Comment by Mike — July 9, 2010 @ 12:29 am

  55. Atleast baseball isn’t Cricket

    Comment by James — July 9, 2010 @ 12:45 am

  56. And then there’s cricket, a sport which can be measured in geological time.

    Comment by kenshabby — July 9, 2010 @ 2:51 am

  57. And yet, more people follow Cricket than follow Baseball (which is what happens when it’s the national obsession of a country with a billion people)

    Comment by Schlist — July 9, 2010 @ 7:05 am

  58. Sorry, I don’t consider actually calling goals correctly “Americanizing soccer”, because everybody wants that.

    Comment by Bill — July 9, 2010 @ 8:12 am

  59. “Americanize Soccer and Americans will watch. And the world will eventually learn.”

    Football is popular because the supporters enjoy watching the game as it is. Every single football fan I know would hate the majority of the suggestions you have put forward. It is just arrogance to think that the most successful and popular sport needs to be “Americanized” for Americans to watch it. Either accept it as it is or don’t both. The rest of the world wouldn’t care either way.

    Comment by Dan — July 9, 2010 @ 8:21 am

  60. The best team on the day normally wins. Sure there is an element of luck and results can go the other way, but the best team does not always win a short series. I would guess that the ratios are the same in both sports.

    Comment by Dan — July 9, 2010 @ 8:24 am

  61. Exactly – the not knowing makes the end of the game all the more tense and edge of your seat. You lose count how many goals are scored in the death of the injury time throughout a season. The referee knows how long he is adding on (and this is relayed to the crowd) but it also always the referees discretion for allowing additional time for any time wasting antics the winning team may try.

    Comment by Dan — July 9, 2010 @ 8:32 am

  62. I actually kind of agree. When it comes to the skills involved, auto-racing has always struck me as somewhat similar to video games (racing is much more dangerous, of course, but danger does not make something a sport). Ask yourself: what would be the difference between winning a real life auto-race, and winning a very good race simulation game? Then think about the difference between winning at video game baseball and real baseball.

    Ultimately, that women like Danica Patrick can go toe-to-toe with men might suggest that racing is not predicated on the kind of physical prowess ordinarily associated with other sports. (Of course, some people have an expanded idea of “sport” which includes things like chess and Starcraft; but I take it that this is a minority view.)

    Comment by Andy — July 9, 2010 @ 9:00 am

  63. Yeah I find that soccer and hockey actually have a lot in common. For both the main complaint is lack of scoring, but fans of both sports point to all the little battles that build up to those goals as what excites them.

    Hockey to me is kind of a cross between soccer and baseball in a way. The players are moving much more than in baseball, but not continually like they do in soccer, but they score more.

    Also I would like to point out the post-lockout NHL is MUCH faster, fluid, and entertaining than pre-lockout NHL games were. If you haven’t watched hockey since the 90s, give it a try. I don’t know a single person who gave hockey a chance and didn’t come away surprised at how much they enjoyed the game.

    Comment by jackweiland — July 9, 2010 @ 9:13 am

  64. It’s not the lack of scoring that kills me, it’s the lack of scoring chances. In baseball, most guys could hit a homer on any given pitch, if the pitcher makes a mistake. In hockey, there are 60-100 shots on goal per game. In basketball, they score 100 points. In football, most any play could break for a TD. In soccer, I can watch 15 minutes and not see a single shot on goal. Defense is interesting. Defense is exciting. Defense that’s not stopping anyone because they’re not shooting is boring. I listen to golf on the radio, and soccer bores me to tears.

    Comment by drmagoo — July 9, 2010 @ 9:57 am

  65. We’re constantly told that we need to watch soccer because it’s the best sport in the world. It’s not the best sport in the world, it’s just the most popular. We have very interesting sports that the world doesn’t see on a professional level and soccer isn’t popular as a result. Some people try to rationalize it, which will never win an argument.

    Comment by bc2208 — July 9, 2010 @ 9:58 am

  66. I believe one game between Australia and New Zealand actually straddled the Pliocene and Pleistocene Epochs.

    Comment by Alex Remington — July 9, 2010 @ 10:21 am

  67. “It’s not the best sport in the world…”

    How on earth could you possibly try to definitively state which is the “best” sport in the world? Without a way to quantify “best”, it’s most definitely in the eye of the beholder.

    Comment by Jason B — July 9, 2010 @ 10:26 am

  68. If you think football is a dumbed down sport, you don’t understand the game. There’s orders of magnitude more strategy in football than in Baseball.

    Comment by Rich — July 9, 2010 @ 10:41 am

  69. Yeah, I’m American and I agree. Soccer doesn’t need to “change” to suit us. We can either get with the program, or not. The rest of the world couldn’t care less either way.

    Comment by Jason B — July 9, 2010 @ 10:53 am

  70. The real difference between soccer and baseball is best encapsulated by the win expectancy graphs on this website.

    Just because human beings are in movement doesn’t mean “something is happening.” Just because human beings are not moving doesn’t mean “nothing is happening.”

    SOMETHING happens in a game, whenever the win expectancy changes appreciably. That could be a goal, or a home run, or a big strike out with the bases loaded. Tension occurs when you know before that moment happens, that the win expectancy will change based on the outcome of a particular play.

    Penalty kicks in soccer are extremely exciting and tense, even though the players barely move. It’s exciting because a.) the win expectancy changes appreciably, and b.) because the game stops, we know in advance that it’s a high leverage situation.

    Soccer is probably incapable of producing a game with as many swings in win expectancy as say, the Tigers-Twins one game playoff last year. Soccer also rarely has high leverage moments, because there isn’t much time for the tension to build (PKs being a huge exception though.) In soccer, we have an ordinary possession, which flows to a good scoring chance, which produces a goal. But all of that happens in a matter of seconds. There just isn’t time to bite your fingernails in that tiny window.

    I doubt any soccer fan would claim that PKs are boring, even though no one is moving. In fact, soccer fans would probably say PKs are some of the most tense and exciting moments in soccer, especially PK shootouts to determine the winner of a big match.

    The beauty of baseball is that it’s built ENTIRELY around those kinds of moments. The beauty is that people stand still, which allows us fans to appreciate that the game will turn on THIS ONE PITCH. Baseball is a game of dramatic pauses. No game I’m familiar with can come close to matching that tension and drama.

    Comment by jp — July 9, 2010 @ 11:13 am

  71. Well. American soccer sucks. Here’s the reason why I don’t like the major sports in America (except baseball):

    Playoff and divsion format for basketball and hockey. Salary caps in the NFL, NHL, NBA (because the game feels like a gimmick). Too short of a schedule in the NFL (the whole season can tilt on one or two lucky plays).

    My biggest beef with the MLS is that they have the idiot NBA/NHL style of playoffs. Why watch the regular season if everyone gets into the tournament at the end? Blows my mind that they’d do that. What’s the point of having divisions to “win” when you’re going to make the playoffs anyway through a wildcard? It makes the regular season so pointless.

    I can live without relegation and promotion in the US because we simply don’t have enough leagues and teams. But I really can’t watch pointless regular seasons. It takes all the fun and stress out of the sport.

    Comment by Mike Savino — July 9, 2010 @ 11:32 am

  72. Race cars don’t have A/C or power steering, so it’s certainly more physically demanding than a sim. I’m actually surprised that more women don’t compete, though – if the cars are so similar it aught to help a lot to take 40 pounds out of the driver. Maybe there’s something in the rules I don’t know.

    It bores me too, though.

    Comment by don — July 9, 2010 @ 12:45 pm

  73. The Indian Premier League tournament was streamed live on youtube fyi, and all the matches are still up. Some parts of it were frankly bizarre (stadium music and “cheerleaders” rank the highest on that list), but it was remarkably fun to watch and I give them major kudos for taking advantage of teh interwebz (something that MLB can’t seem to understand … Gameday wtf?).

    Comment by sautedman — July 9, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

  74. Oh, and the IPL is based on a Twenty20 format, making the games last about as long as a baseball game.

    Comment by sautedman — July 9, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

  75. See, those Baltimore Padres do stink.

    Comment by Salt-n-Pepitone Loc — July 9, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

  76. “I don’t care what they do in India and China with their sports.”

    Precisely. That is exactly why Americanizing soccer will not happen, and neither would you change baseball to suit the fancies of people who don’t have an understanding of the nuances and history of baseball.

    Comment by Sam — July 9, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

  77. “I doubt any soccer fan would claim that PKs are boring, even though no one is moving. In fact, soccer fans would probably say PKs are some of the most tense and exciting moments in soccer, especially PK shootouts to determine the winner of a big match. ”

    If you think soccer’s best moments are penalty kicks, then you have never played the game. Or understood it.

    Like I said, Americans don’t understand the concept of a flow game. They understand discrete sets of events, so they can start and stop the flow whenever convenient. That is not a bad thing, but that is not the essence of soccer.

    Comment by Sam — July 9, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

  78. “Baseball is science and soccer is music. And science and music fulfill the different parts of my personality.”

    I think I just puked in my mouth a little.

    Comment by Salt-n-Pepitone Loc — July 9, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

  79. “MLS should already be planning to play a August-May schedule, if you ask me.”

    Only if they take December-February off. Unless you can talk them into running around in shorts during a Toronto cold snap or Chicago snowstorm.

    Comment by Tracy — July 9, 2010 @ 2:16 pm

  80. The thing with hockey is while there might be a lack of scoring, there’s not a lack of opportunities. It’s exciting and dramatic quite often because there are often good scoring opportunities, even if most times it doesn’t result in a goal. So it’s not really likes occer in that regard since soccer just doesn’t come close to the sheer number of scoring opportunities a game that hockey has.

    Comment by B — July 9, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

  81. Baseball is about matchups, but soccer is about matchups too. Soccer is fluid and there aren’t nearly as many rules as baseball but matchups play a huge part in the flow of a game. The biggest reason that Germany failed to handle Spain’s midfield pressure is that one of their most adept attacking midfielders was ineligible for the game. Without Muller, Schweinsteiger had to almost cover line to line and couldn’t help with advances at all. The first sub was to replace the guy who replaced Muller, who was almost completely ineffective. It was as if your starting pitcher goes ahead and walks 6 in 5 innings..

    Goals in soccer are like runs in baseball, you need to pile up the scoring chances and eventually you’ll get one in. The biggest difference is that there’s no equivalent to the home run. Soccer is like baseball played by a power deficient team – gotta pile good play on top of good play to have a chance to score.

    Comment by fergie348 — July 9, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

  82. However you want to define “sport” isn’t particularly relevant to whether or not it’s an entertaining event. Also, if you really think video game auto-racing is the same as real life auto-racing…I guess I’m just going to suggest you’re just not that into auto-racing overall? Whether you want to call it a sport or not….it does take “skill”.

    Comment by B — July 9, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

  83. Of course we understand the concept of flow games. Lacross was invented here, hockey and basketball are both popular. Most games are not about set pieces, soccer and basketball sometimes are and baseball and football always are. The essence of soccer is exactly the same as the essence of lacross or hockey or basketball. Get the ball/puck, move it around, pass it around and try to score. If you lose it, get back and play d. What about this don’t Americans understand?

    Comment by fergie348 — July 9, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

  84. “I would guess that the ratios are the same in both sports.”

    I see no reason to guess that, and plenty to guess the opposite. The ratios simply are not the same across sports, and it isn’t unique to soccer. It’s because of varying sample sizes, and just the difference in the games. Getting 100 possessions in basketball is not going to involve the same number of luck as 27 outs in baseball, there’s no reason it should (other than coincidence), nor 90 minutes of soccer. Then you have different series lengths (whether it’s 1 game, 3 games, 4 games, 5 games, 7 games, or whatever), different regular season lengths…..yeah, there’s going to be varying degrees of “luck” associated with who wins across sports. That’s not to say there’s a “right” or “wrong” amount, just “different” amounts.

    Comment by B — July 9, 2010 @ 2:54 pm

  85. Using spectator sports to combat creeping ADHD – I love it. I’ll take my baseball, soccer, bike racing and cricket any way I can! Football and basketball offer better marketing opportunities, however..

    Comment by fergie348 — July 9, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

  86. [1] There is nothing wrong with soccer. Just because you don’t like it, doesn;t mean it needs to change to fit your preferences. It’s the most popular sport in the world.

    To quote Suicidal Tendencies (pardon me, I’m going from memory from my HS days) “Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it don’t make sense …. just because you don’t like it, don’t mean in ain’t no good.”

    American fans are pretty darn arrogant when it comes to soccer, as if the soccer world needed to cater to us so the sport can thrive. It’s been doing rather well without us, and all of our “this is the moment that will propel US soccer forward” situations.

    [2] Baseball is fine too. If you like it, great. If you don’t, there are other things that you can do with your time.

    I’m always amazed at the mindset that if one doesn’t like something (or someone), it is up to that something (or someone) to change to fit their preferences. When you think about it, it’s amazing.

    I agree with the poster that said baseball is like science, soccer is like art. Both appeal to different aspects. Even two people watching the sprt can see 2 different things. As one with 30 years experience in baseball I tend to watch minute details that others could care less about. That’s fine. When i watch the NFL with my former LB buddy, he says things like “Did you see the NT let his blocker get inside position so the OL could force him into the B-Gap, so the RB had to take the A-Gap where Urlacher was crashing? The NT did that on purpose.” … and I say “Yeah, uh sure, of course I saw that.” (Note: actual terms may or may not be accurate, my buddy talks all sorts of NFL jargon).

    Different strokes for different folks. having everyone like and dislike the same things makes for a boring planet. I never understood how people could willingly choose to hang out with a group of people that are “just like them”. No fun.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — July 9, 2010 @ 2:58 pm

  87. “Either accept it as it is or don’t both. The rest of the world wouldn’t care either way.”

    Ok, but do you really think there aren’t at least some changes that could be made that the world would accept? I mean, we change American sports all the time to satisfy the fans, I would guess that soccer fans do have some suggestions of changes they’d like to see. Something like more yellowcards on diving and doing more to prevent players from faking injury seem to me like reasonable enough suggestions that maybe soccer fans could get on board with them. Why would they want to see those things to the ridiculous degree they happen? I like the open substitutions idea (or at least increase substitutions in some way), though it does seem a little more extreme than those other two. Maybe there’s at least some idea out there that can keep players fresher that might actually improve soccer in a way everyone wants to see, not just Americans? Seems like some decent ideas got lost in the “Americanize it” quote….

    Comment by B — July 9, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

  88. I’m under the impression beyond FIFA, there are private companies that collect TONS of soccer information, but it’s all proprietary and for use to sell to soccer clubs. Basically, there’s no way any useful stats are going to get out to the average fan, even though there’s tons of interesting stuff out there that exists.

    Comment by B — July 9, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

  89. I honestly don’t think lumping basketball in with soccer as a “continuous” sport is really an accurate way to categorize it. I’d actually say basketball is a lot like football in that each possession is similar to a play in football – it just doesn’t have the huddle in between possessions.

    Comment by B — July 9, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

  90. “What I always hated about most sports was the selfishness. Basketball is the most selfish one that I can think of. There’s always one guy that sticks out, thinks he’s hot shit, and I don’t like that. Basketball doesn’t even take that much to be great. Tall, fast, aim (don’t even need to aim if you’re tall enough). More of a game dependent of nature’s blessings than talent.”

    Well, sounds to me like you’ve only really played pickup basketball, then. When you play organized basketball on a competitive level (and most players have a similar amount of “nature’s blessings”….most of this doesn’t really apply, and it becomes a lot less of a selfish game when it’s organized and everyone has clear responsibilities and such, as opposed to one guy standing around trying to go 1 on 1 pickup style (and by the way, the NBA is not like that, contrary to what many people seem to believe)….

    Anyways, in the end, I like to give things a chance, and in my experiences, from watching rugby in Australia to NASCAR in the South to the traditional US sports to watching the World Cup – there’s a reason so many people get into them (at least in regions that they’re popular). They all have their positives, and if you grow up in an environment that supports it, chances are you will, too.

    Comment by B — July 9, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

  91. That’s a great point, it would be incredibly interesting if somewhere out there, someone had a win probability chart for soccer (and various other sports) and we could compare them…

    Comment by B — July 9, 2010 @ 3:18 pm

  92. Most football fans want to see goal line technology brought in, and have done for a while. This World Cup has just made FIFA take their blinkers off. Most fans hate the diving and feigning injury to try and get players booked. Some players like Didier Drogba have a notorious reputation for it and as such referees will not award them free kicks for legitimate fouls because their tendancies make them skeptical and I think that is only fair. Referees do book players straight off for diving – there are no warnings – but sometimes a dive looks like a foul and vice versa so they have to be careful.

    Your other suggestions just take away from what many fans love about the game. A little while ago in international friendlies teams were allowed to basically substitute the whole team and people lost interest as it was basically like two different teams each half. Footballers are fantastically fit and most can run around for 90 minutes no problem. Teams are allowed three substitutes to replace those who are short of fitness. If you ever watch a close Premier League match you will see that the quality of football and pace of the game does not diminish towards the end – if anything it picks as teams realise the urgency to get a result. And the way games are timed with referees adding on injury time also adds to the drama and the tension of a match.

    Comment by Dan — July 9, 2010 @ 4:12 pm

  93. I’m just saying that saying the best team does not always win over one match as a point against football is not fair when the best team in baseball doesn’t always win over a short series. The most important competitions in football are the leagues and there is a common saying that you finish in the league where you deserve to by the end of the season.

    Comment by Dan — July 9, 2010 @ 4:15 pm

  94. My favorite Suicidal Tendencies song is “Institutionalized,” from the Repo Man soundtrack.

    I was in my room and I was just like staring at the wall thinking about everything, but then again I was thinking about nothing. And then my mom came in, and I didn’t even know she was there.
    She called my name and I didn’t hear her and then she started screaming, “Mike, Mike!”
    And I go, “What? What’s the matter?”
    She goes, “What’s the matter with you?”
    I go, “There’s nothing wrong, Mom.”
    She’s all, “Don’t tell me that! You’re on drugs!”
    I go, “No, Mom, I’m not on drugs. I’m okay, I’m just thinking, you know? Why don’t you get me a Pepsi?”
    She goes, “No! You’re on drugs!”
    I go, “Mom, I’m okay. I’m just thinking.”
    She goes “No! You’re not thinking, you’re on drugs! Normal people don’t act that way!”
    I go, “Mom, just get me a Pepsi! Please, all I want is a Pepsi!”
    And she wouldn’t give it to me! All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me! Just a Pepsi!

    Comment by Alex Remington — July 9, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

  95. Then again, on the other hand of the selfishness debate, there was “The Decision.”

    Comment by Alex Remington — July 9, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

  96. My favorite is “Go’N Breakdown”.

    “I don’t need no PhD to be a doctor of f—ing misery”. Literary genius. *big grin*

    Also from ST, “You wouldn;t know what crazy was if Charles Manson was eating Fruit Loops on your front porch.”

    You either like ST or you don’t … obviously I do.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — July 9, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

  97. Ha, true on a personal level, but kind of ironic since Lebron is one of the better passers out there and does a tremendous job getting teammates involved offensively….

    Comment by B — July 9, 2010 @ 5:51 pm

  98. I claim ignorance on the issue, but I’d love some actual data on how effective soccer players can be when they’re less worn out – like if they only play 30 minutes a game instead of 90, if it actually makes a difference in how much ground they can cover and such. Maybe they really can play all 90 minutes without it affecting their performance, I just wonder whether they might be able to go harder if there were more substitutions, and as I said, full substitutions might not be the answer, but maybe at least expanding subs to some degree (maybe it’s as little as 1 extra sub) can positively affect the game? I don’t know, just suggesting the possibility. I’ll also point out that people do sometimes come around to changes they don’t initially like….

    Comment by B — July 9, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

  99. Thanks you’ve just made a good point.
    Yes, soccer can be improved but how …?

    First, if you try to “americanize soccer”, you will kill the sport and there will be no more World Cup. Soccer is a game who prioritize the flow of the game. Why stop the clock when the refereee adds injury time in the eng of the game ? You have 90minutes to do everything its take to win the match. If you stop the clock then the TV will introduice commercials. But soccer a game that never sleeps.
    Do you think the whole world will watch every game in the world cup if you put ads every 3 minutes ?
    Soccer is one of the few sport in wich fans enjoy a full non-stop action, without commercials. We said: TIME IS MONEY. Thats right for me, for everybody not only for TV.

    Ties: it’s not as boring as you think. If your team play in a group wich include Brazil and Germany, a tie is like a “victory” because if you keep plaing, your team will loose for sure. A tie gives your team 1 point, a defeat 0. And if you are lucky to tie both power, you will get 2 points: a great VICTORY. All you need is to win the last game and you will advance.

    And yes, flopping is one of the big probleme in soccer but referee is trying his best. There is yellow card if you get acting for no reason.
    I support your idea for the substitution. FIFA should even modifie the point system (why not 3 for a good goal, 2 for penalty and 1 for own-goal).

    Comment by NOmena — July 13, 2012 @ 12:51 am

  100. Hi.
    I dont think you can compare baseball with football ( soccer). With respect to our brothers and sisters fans of both games, dont say its boring.
    Like any entertainment, a better understanding and knowledge of the game help you to get excited. Golf was like a boring thing for me before someone explain me and then i start to watch it on TV.
    I love Football cause i grew up with it, play and watch the game routinery. its my favorite sport alongside rugby.
    I dont understand baseball but i respect its players and its fans.
    All i know are my brothers hitters and pitchers. They are amazing.
    But still i watch some highlite in the news on TV. I would love to understand or play it someday but my city dont have a professional team.

    More and more americans especially the new generation play football now but for the neophyte, its pretty hard to understand. I invite them to enjoy the experience: go to the park and play it. You will get a better understanding of the game. Just kicking the ball give you a wonderful feelings.

    If football and baseball are music: football is jazz, maybe baseball rap ?.

    To my fellow americans who want to introduice any changes in football to better suit it to them. Those are the thing you cannot change for this game:

    1-The flow of the game, you just cant stop it every time, no time-out.
    2-Hand ball rule. Playing the ball with both foot is FOOTBALL. Thats it.
    3-The offside rule. An offside build up wich lead to a goal is a cheap one.
    Footballers like challenge. Every players know that.
    4-Stop the clock. Football is part of our life. You get older while you sleep.
    A 90 year old is a 90 year old. He cant pretend to be 60y because he sleeps during one third of his time.

    The following are very football. You can change but …

    4-Penalty shoot-out. Its add drama, suspense and excitment. You will have a better idea about each player”s strenght and psychological state.
    5-Ties. If this year your income is $70K, next year you could exactly make the same amount of money. Next year, try to make more.

    Comment by Nomena — July 13, 2012 @ 11:32 pm

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