Travel Log: Seattle

Sunday, 22 May 2011, 21:48 | Category : MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL
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Earlier this spring, I spent some time visiting family in the Bay Area.  While site seeing, I drove by six different arenas, stadiums, and/or fields for teams from the four major sports but didn’t stop by to see any of them.  It wasn’t until it was too late that I realized the opportunity I unthinkingly passed up.  So when my wife and I decided to make a trip to Seattle I made sure not to make the same mistake.

Getting into Seattle, we went straight to Safeco Field for a tour.  It was just my wife, me, and another couple on the tour so we got special attention.  It was an hour and a half of a really neat behind-the-scenes look of Safeco Field, and it was only  nine bucks a pop so I strongly recommend you look into a tour of a stadium sometime.  We went into the visitor’s clubhouse and locker room, on the field, into the dugout, the special restaurant and bar for the high rollers, press room, press box, and private suits.

Some of these guys have degrees in groundskeeping.

As if A-Rod doesn't get paid enough, he gets two lockers as well. I know baseball players are really superstitous so I really hope we didn't do anything to throw him off for the series in Seattle this week.

The adjacent room has a keg of beer and other goodies in it. At the union requires that players get $100 per diem. Life must be rough.

Ichiro is very particular about his bats that he has a special holder so they never touch the ground.

Looks like I showed up for the wrong press conference.

 

You might recognize the guy third from the left in the back row.

The tour was great.  I wish the Mariners would’ve been playing while we were in town.  However, the next morning we ate breakfast next to players from Kansas City SC, the MLS team in Pike Place Market.  The next best thing.

That's Quest Arena in the background where the Seahawks and Sounders play.

I made Key Arena, which housed the SuperSonics, my first stop for NBA arenas.

It’s now my goal to visit every arena and stadium from every team in the four major sports (we’ll see if my wife is on board with that).  However, it would make it much easier if teams would stop relocating.

European Imports Hope to Spark Interest in MLS

Monday, 30 August 2010, 4:13 | Category : MLS, Soccer
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In this economy, the “Buy American” mentality has increased almost everywhere, except for in the MLS.  The arrival of Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez has created quite the buzz in the MLS, helping to carry the New York Red Bulls (last year’s worst team) to compete for the top place in the east and a guaranteed spot in the playoffs.

As of this year, the MLS introduced the Designated Player Rule, which allows each team to have up to three players outside of their salary cap.  The third comes at a cost of $250,000, which gets distributed evenly to the remaining 15 teams in the league.  The hope is to bring in more high profile, international players.  It appears to be working.

Both playing the last few seasons together for Real Madrid, Henry and Marquez are looking to wind down their careers on a high note while jump starting American interest in soccer.  In total, seven new designated players signed this season, joining players like Landon Donovan and David Beckham for a grand total of 14.

All the talk after the U.S.’s minor success in this year’s World Cup was about whether or not soccer would begin to gain popularity here.  For me, a major part of why the World Cup is great is because of exposure.  Lack of exposure to the top European soccer leagues in the U.S. makes it difficult to care about them.  I don’t know about the teams, cities, or players.  Why would I care who won?  Bringing in big names and talent not only makes the league more legit, it gives us a reason to care.

Beckham thought he would single-handedly change soccer in the U.S., but quite frankly, I still didn’t care.  The only time I made an effort to watch the MLS was to see Real Salt Lake in the championship.  They won, by the way.  However, Beckham may have been the catalyst for the changes to bring in more big names.  I am now excited to watch one of my favorite players, Rafa.

If more and more big names and talents continue to relocate to the U.S., will the MLS become the fifth major sport?  Will soccer ever become significant in the U.S.?

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