Archive for July 2010

A Galaxy Without Stars

July 31, 2010

Hold still, this will only hurt for 1500 words.

MLL fans, I need to ask you a question.

Why don’t you like your MLL team?

No, not you Boston.

Not even you, Denver.

I mean, everyone else.  Why don’t you like your team?  Why don’t you care?  There are 19 guys killing themselves on the field to entertain you every weekend and you don’t even go see them?  The attendance of four teams has not only dropped from 2009-2010 – it has plummeted.

(Allow me at this juncture to reiterate my appreciation, admiration and affection for Major League Lacrosse; I’m not going where you think I’m going.)

Numbers wise you have to rule out Chicago.  They have played their “home” games at rotating locales and their crowds depend almost exclusively on their [inappropriate adjective] local advertising.  We’ll come back to them at the end. Average 2009 attendance: 2,569.  2010 attendance: 2,364

Toronto is now officially the most woeful defending champions in the history of not only the MLL but all secondary sports franchises in the history of the world.  They make the 2005 Florida Marlins look competitive. But it’s cool because they tanked this MLL season on purpose to rest the Canadians for the world championships.  They were totally strong enough to walk to the podium and snag their silver medals.  Good plan.  Average 2009 attendance: 3,846. 2010 attendance: 2,372.

Boomer? Is that you? You push me over at a game again and I'll crack your other eyesocket. Just sayin.

The Bayhawks are in complete chaos.  They have BEEN in a perpetual state of said chaos ever since what’s his name decided to go play guitar and Gary Gait decided that the MLL just wasn’t for him.  No hard feelings for Gary, but when he left that franchise had no identity and was made up of the carcasses of other MLL teams and local hangers on that wanted to pick up chicks at the Greene Turtle by telling them that they were pro lacrosse players.  I’m not even going to bring up the name change because it’s just too easy to bag on.  Average 2009 attendance: 4,419. 2010 attendance: 3,835.

The Long Island Lizards are easily the most tragic of all MLL teams.  The storied tradition of “Strong Island” and all of it’s pseudo-Jersey shore/Manhattan beach club opulence combined with the allure of playing lacrosse in culturally landmarked locations should make LI the biggest and baddest club in the league.  But they’re not.  They’re a defensive team that struggles to score and finds a way to effectively kill the shot clock and their fans enjoyment by running a one on one enterprising offense of futility.  Average 2009 attendance: 4,303. 2010 attendance: 2,996.

That was fun.  You took your beating like a man and I respect that. Now listen up, because I’m going to tell you why you lost your fans.

First, I’m going to tell you why attendance is a problem that Boston and Denver have never had.  Oh sure back in the day the Cannons were more Scrappy-Don’t than Scooby-Do like they are now, but the blue collar attitude and playing style of the team drew fans that respected their hard work.  Meanwhile, Denver has never met a fast break it didn’t like.  Naturally people that have never seen lacrosse before like it when their team scores a lot.  No one ever said lacrosse fans were complicated.

The difference between the rest of the league and Boston and Denver is not location.  It’s application.  Both of those teams have made consistent efforts to grow their fan base and improve their team.  Whether it’s trading up to draft Paul Rabil or rolling the dice on Ryan Powell, both teams have made moves for big name players.  Newsflash: fans dig that.  Fans don’t dig an entire team made up from two local colleges.  Fans also do not dig trading away all of their draft picks.  Fans certainly don’t dig it when you constantly draft defensemen like you’re the Detroit Lions pick receivers.  Fans also don’t like it when your entire team is comprised of only one nationality.

Neither Denver nor Boston has moved just for the sake of moving.  The Cannons moved twice (Cawley to Nickerson to Harvard) to accommodate their fans, each time going to a larger and/or friendlier stadium.  Denver has never moved.  Long Island and the Bayhawks have moved more times than I can count, Toronto has played at two different venues in two years and even managed to relocate a few times when they were the Rochester Rattlers.  Chicago doesn’t even HAVE a home stadium.

Red herrings.  All of these arguments are Red Herrings.  One of the Herrings even has a maple leaf on it.  The real reason the four misfits can’t draw crowds is because they don’t have any stars.

Look closer for the leaf. It's like one of those paintings with the hidden image. Relax your eyes. A scooner IS a sailboat, stupidhead.

This is more applicable some teams than it is with others, of course, but basically the absence of true star power put a hex on each seat in each team’s arena.  Only those fans powered by nostalgia and lacrosse addiction have the ability to sit through games on the Island, the Bay, the wherever and the Canada.

You disagree.  Good.  I like it when you fight back; it occurs so rarely nowadays.

Toronto: You have one of the best players in the world on your team, as evidenced by his place at #6 on the scoring list with 32 points in nine games.  You also have two of the most charismatic players at their respective positions in Geoff Snider and Brett Queener.  The problem is that you have surrounded these players with a cast of characters more sordid than a Todd Solondz movie.  Jordan Hall is your only other scorer in the top 25 and he only has 19 points.  No one knows who plays defense for you.  You let your coach bail on you to go to England in the middle of the season.

Chesapeake: Kyle Dixon, Peet Poillon and Danny Glading have all had great seasons.  Problem is, no one would know it.  You had nine guys playing in the All Star game.  Can you name them all?  I covered that game for Inside Lacrosse and I can’t name them all.  Chris Garrity had one of the best starts in MLL history, but no one wrote about it.  You fired John Tucker on a busy news day and replaced him with a youth coach.

Chicago: It would seem that my theory would fall apart with Chicago since you have some of the best offensive players in the league with the Leveille brothers, Matt Striebel and Chris Rotelli.  But then I remembered that you wasted a pick on Casey Powell in the supplemental draft and can’t find a goalie who will play for you.

Long Island: Tim Goettelmann is ready to break the all time MLL goals record.  That’s awesome.  He’s averaged a goal and decimals a game for ten years.  Matt Danowski is your best player and goes to the net every time he touches the ball like he’s Allen Iverson, and shoots 24% from the field like the Answer as well.  Your goalie has the worst save percentage in the league aside from Machine-washed-up Mike Gabel.  Your defense is your most marketable asset in a lacrosse league with a shot clock.  But…you have this on your website:

THIS is the first picture that pops up on the internet of the best all-around midfielder in the history of the game? Seriously?

I – I like that?  No…I LOVE that.  Those are three of my favourite players in the HISTORY of lacrosse.  Not the MLL – lacrosse as a sport.  Jay Jalbert, Greg Cattrano and Pat McCabe?  Seriously?  Three of the best at their positions, no doubt.  That’s the single smartest thing any MLL team has done this year.  Throwback shirts.  I don’t know what I would do for a Conor Gill throwback Cannons shirt, but I’m pretty sure it would be quite depraved and looked down upon by society.  Yes, folks – all it takes to end one of my tirades is a T-shirt.  I’m emotionally strapped and have a hair trigger, what can I say?

Long Island knows something that the rest of the franchises don’t – People come to see players, not teams.  Denver and Boston have the following players on their rosters: 9 of the top 20 scorers.  Two of the top three goalies (statistically) in the league.  The top goal scorer and overall scorer in the league.  The overall assists leader.  I could go on and on.  There’s also Rabil, Mundorf, Boyle, Westervelt, Poskay, Schwartzman, Seibald, Kippie, Reid, Bocklett – every one of them STARS in the MLL.  Statistical, marketable and recognizeable stars at almost every position.  That’s what it takes to win games and win fans in the 2010 version of Major League Lacrosse.

See you all think I write these articles to just straight murder players, coaches and teams.  I don’t.  I love the league more than anyone and I’m being betrayed by four of its six teams that clearly don’t care enough to run their franchises with any seriousness.  I’m sick of the mistakes.  I’m sick of the excuses.  I’m alone in my criticism?

I’m not the MLL apologist you are; I’m the MLL champion you aren’t.

King amongst Nerds. Nerd amongst Kings.


Clip of the Day

July 28, 2010

Despite what the song says, I’m not so sure this video is amazing, but I love the creativity and getting out there and shooting the vid. The Powell’s had to start somewhere right?

Clip of the Day

July 27, 2010

Behind the scenes of the MLL All-Star Game with Cannons Coach Bill Daye…

Cannons vs. Nationals Video Blog

July 26, 2010

Last year another lacrosse…journalist and I embarked upon a wonderful adventure for Major League Lacrosse.  We decided it would be a good idea to film our conversations and exploits on the sidelines of Cannons games.  I mean, if you had a field pass wouldn’t you do that?  Over time it developed into some sort of skit show, which is sort of hilarious considering I’m a terrible actor and Freshman is even worse.  This year our shenanagins were shut down, but with the help of some prodigious emailing and begging we procured our field passes and helped out a friend in the process.  Speaking of which, for all of your equipment needs check out the Brine/Warrior Outlet store at 38 Everett street in Allston, MA.  They have great gear at closeout prices.  Tell them Kyle and Dan sent you and you will get free stuff.  Usually I write a disclaimer here, but I really don’t care about getting in trouble any more.  If people REALLY want to take this seriously then go right ahead.  Jokes on you. Err, us.  All of us?


July 23, 2010

So you’re going to wake up Saturday morning, that is if you’re even able to go to sleep Friday night what with the excitement of looking forward to tomorrows Cannons game and all, and you’re probably going to be crawling up the walls looking for ways to pass the time until the huge game at 7 at Harvard Stadium.

Have no fear, there is no better way to fill your lacrosse fix in the morning than by watching Team USA take on Canada at 11am EST live on ESPNU. Don’t get ESPNU? You can watch it on your computer live here but note that it does cost around 10 bucks. Well worth it if the Championship is anything like the two teams first meeting.

In that meeting Canada squeaked past the US 10-9, the American’s first defeat in pool play…ever. And of course Canada upset the US at the last World Championship in 2006, in the gold medal game.

Canada is coming off a 15-6 win over Australia while the US beat Japan in their semi-final match 20-5. The Yanks were led by the Cannons Paul Rabil who contributed 4 goals and 2 assists, Ryan Boyle’s 2 goals and Kyle Sweeney who has continued to find the back of the net, his 5th in 6 games.

The United States is the historically dominant international lacrosse super power, but they have lost to Canada the last two times they’ve played. This begs the question, who do you think should be favored?

Clip of the Day

July 23, 2010

Check out the behind the scenes of the 2010 World Games with Drew Westervelt

The Case for Poskay

July 21, 2010

You know him as the titular goal-poaching cherub that patrols the crease for the Cannons.  I know him as the guy in the MLL that really sucks at making fun of me.  Yes, folks whether you call him by his self-imposed nickname “Country” or by my nickname “The Barn Cat” he is the league’s leading scorer – Matt Poskay.

Yes, with 39 points (34 goals, 1 two-point goal and 4 assists), Poskay is at the top of the league all by his lonesome.  Its all the more impressive considering that he switched positions this year and is playing his first season at attack.   See you thought I was going to say something else there, didn’t you?  If you want sensationalism you can look elsewhere, good sir.  This column was not born out of assignment or desperation.  It was birthed by a singular, significant and superb question.

Who is the MLL MVP?

It’s the sort of inquiry that makes me realize that I’m the only media member who actually thinks about the MLL with the World Games going on.  Although I did vow to pose nude with the Canadian flag and be painted like Kate Winslet in Titanic if the Canucks win.  I’ll do it.  You think I won’t do it?  BECAUSE I WILL! My sexual napalm aside, the MLL MVP is one of the things that defines an MLL season. Think about it.  Past MVP’s include Jay Jalbert, Gary Gait, Mark Millon, Conor Gill, Ryan Powell, John Grant Junior.  Are those the best payers in the history of lacrosse?  With a few exceptions and limitations (no defenseman have ever won the MLL MVP for instance) I’d have to say yes.

So does scoring a metric ton of goals get you the MVP this year?  In the last six years every MLL MVP has lead the league in scoring – save one.  Ryan Powell’s second MVP award is sullied, nay – tainted, by Conor Gill leading the league in scoring with 24 goals, 5 two-pointers, and 33 assists.  Sure, Powell had a strong season with 34 goals and 24 assists, leading his team to a 7-5 record, but Gill had four more points and the Cannons rocked 8 wins and four losses.  Travesty?  Clearly. A conspiracy to prevent the Cannons from having yet another MVP award and rewarding an expansion franchise that would eventually flame out.  Poor form.

So we’ve established that the leading scorer doesn’t always get the MVP.  It’s just accepted that unless you’re a Cannon you do. That’s fine.  And yes, I’m aware that Rabil won the MVP last year.  Not even the league could deny his machismo.  It’s irrelevant.  What is relevant is the prospect of Matt Poskay getting his own hardware.  Now it wouldn’t be fair play if I didn’t explore the advocacy of devil’s as they relate to this argument.

Razor Ramon ALSO oozes machismo.

Sure, Poskay has 34 goals, but how many of them did he create?  Uhm. By dodging?  Probably four or five of them.  Maybe three.  But does every great player have to be a great dodger?  John Grant junior is one of the best players in the history of the league, but the only thing I’ve ever seen him do is the bull dodge.  Poskay has a different skillset.  He’s sneaky.  Like small forest animals, Poskay will find a way into your campsite.  You cannot prevent it.  If you man-mark him, you lose your crease slide.  If you zone up, he can backdoor cut you like your/my prom date with an exact-o knife.  How do you stop a cutting finisher in lacrosse?  You kill his feeder.

Yes, the naysayers will attribute all of Poskay’s goals to the exploits of Ryan Boyle operating the Cannons offense behind the cage.  It’s the easiest argument to make.  A crease monkey without a feeder is just a monkey with a stick.  Well, I suppose that would be funny to see, a monkey with a stick and all, but its not entirely accurate.  Take a look at Boyle’s numbers.  He only has 23 assists.  I say only ironically as he leads the MLL in assist with ease, but he doesn’t have 34 assists.  He didn’t assist on every single one of Poskay’s tallies.  And even if he did, The Country/Barn Cat apparently put in 11 goals without him.  When Mark Millon won the co-MVP in 2005, shared with Gary Gait, he was playing with Conor Gill – the best feeder in the history of the game. All due respect, but suck it Jon Hess and Darren Lowe – Gill was the best ever.  Millon had 38 goals and Gill had 34 assists in the ’05.  Curiouser and curiouser.  It appears that now we have a precedent.

For those of you skimming this at home I totally just compared Mark Millon to Matt Poskay.  The only difference really being that Poskay talks to his fans and doesn’t request final cut on his interviews.  A story for another time, perhaps.

So after establishing that a top goal scorer playing with the best feeder in the league can win an MVP, where else is there to go?  Well I suppose we can look at other candidates but it will only take a paragraph or two.  Honestly, there aren’t many challengers for the MVP award, folks.

There are no goalies on fire (although I wish there were, a few of them could lose some pounds burn unit style) No dominant defensemen (even if there were none of them would be even close to MVP status) and only a handful of high scoring midfielders and attackmen (Only two of them are playing this weekend – the rest are USA/Canada National team members; thus their points will drop).

The two players not selected as the best their country has to offer?

Peet Poillon (20 goals, 2 two-pointers, 15 assists) and Matt Danowski (20 goals, 4 two-pointers, 11 assists).  The first thing I notice there – only 20 goals each; fourteen less than Matty P-game.  Peet Poillon is the focal point of his team’s attack. The offense runs through the midfield in Chesapeake and Peeteeiee is the first option.  He has to be; Kyle Dixon is too busy knitting on the sidelines after taking the first check of the game.  Matt Danowski leads the Long Island Lizards in all statistical categories.  Unfortunately his team has THE WORST OFFENSE IN THE LEAGUE.  What happens when you’re the best player on the worst team?  Do you know what happens to a toad when it’s struck by lightning?  The same thing that happens to everything else!

Oh, and those Team USA/Team Canada guys?  Child, please.  Only Mundorf plays on a winning team, (the Outlaws) had a WAY better year statistically in 2009, (34g, 10a) and didn’t even get to sniff Rabil’s MVP because Jesse Schwartzman was eating it.

It’s not done and dusted for Poskay, though.  He has three games left to prove that he can be the 2010 MLL MVP.  The first game is this weekend’s contest against the Nationals, a team currently comprised of street toughs, angry Iroquois Nationals and two dynamic (re: American) goalies.  I don’t even think they have a coach.  Regardless of the opposition, Poskay will have to put up some goals without his remora fish to cement his MVP candidacy.  In my mind it’s just a matter of time before the Barn Cat gets what’s coming to him.

Mr. Ryan Boyle, please get off my back.