For those of you who do other sports once in a while, you may have noticed that Major League Baseball has this clickbait/fanservice nonsense going on called Franchise Four. Basically, fans are asked to pick their own team's Mount Rushmore. Other names for this game are "Needlessly Annoy Reggie Jackson" and "Name Four Tampa Bay Rays Ever." All this serves no remotely useful purpose, of course, except to keep commercials apart on talk radio and massacre yet more electrons that could have gone towards cat pictures.
So naturally I would have loved to steal the idea for MLS teams. Major League Soccer will complete its twentieth season this year, and presumably celebrate its anniversary next year - there are dumber, more expensive ways to kill time than by having such a thing for its fans.
Except the Miami Marlins are older than the oldest MLS team, and the newest MLS teams make dandelions look like redwoods. Filling out four spaces for some of these clubs would be pretty much a matter of checking this week's fantasy standings. The comedy potential of putting Frank Lampard on NYCFC's Mount Rushmore is completely irresistible, so I will resist it.
And...well, let's face it. Even though some people feel parity casts its dread shadow over a bleak and hedgehog-ridden landscape, it's pretty clear that some teams have been SLIGHTLY MORE SUCCESSFUL than others over the past twenty years. Besides, you know a bunch of smartasses would write in votes for "Allocation Money."
The other problem is all those teams who date their histories to the 70's. It's been fairly well established at this point that the NASL heritage of MLS teams is as plausible as the family trees of the Duke and the Dolphin in "Huckleberry Finn." There's also the problem that, broadly speaking, American soccer fans are sort of a New Thing. We are also not QUITE as connected to our traditions as our baseball friends. We all celebrate how popular the Sounders are in this millennium, but how many among them would vote for Mike England?
The new NASL would also seem to be a fairly good candidate for this, but how would it help the Cosmos to (a) have their current roster not even nominated for the final 20 candidates or (b) rig the vote like SCTV did in the People's Golden Global Choice Awards?
....how many times do I have to tell you? I don't CARE if nobody gets SCTV references! Any more carping out of you people, I'll start with the Laugh-In catchphrases. Just try me, punks.
Lastly, and this is me speaking from a space of personal vulnerability but...I know, in the darkness where I'm afraid to look but where I must live, that David Goddamn Beckham would make the cut for the Galaxy. I'd burn the world first, laughing as I did it. And I'd be right. Terminators have been sent back in time to prevent greater tragedies.
Baseball is also soliciting votes for its four greatest living players. MLS could do this, as well, I suppose. Beckham might even sneak into THAT, though. Also, there's...look, I'll just say this. What if, during such a vote, Landon Donovan gets hit by a peach truck? "Sorry, he's ineligible now."
Speaking of history - warm on the heels of Steven Goff's article about the 2015 Hall of Fame voting totals, the Hall of Fame/USSF was kind enough to indulge a lowlife comedy blogger and hand out the 2014 percentages. If these had been previously available, well, I wasn't aware of it.
No, this isn't news. This is technically research, and if you don't think it's interesting, well, I've got mill- er, thou- er, hun- er, doz- er, I think I've got other readers, I'll have to get back to you with those numbers.
2014 SOCCER HALL OF FAME VOTING PERCENTAGES
Brian McBride: 95 (first year of eligibility) (elected) (duh)
Kristine Lilly: 91.6667 (first year of eligibility) (elected) (also duh)
Briana Scurry: 64.1667 (first year of eligibility) (not elected)
Marco Etcheverry: 52.5
Shannon MacMillan: 45
Jaime Moreno: 41.6667
Taylor Twellman: 34.1667
Kate Markgraf: 32.5
Cindy Parlow: 32.5
Jason Kreis: 31.667
Chris Armas: 27.5
Clint Mathis: 27.5
Chris Henderson: 22.5
Steve Ralston: 22.5
Robin Fraser: 17.5
Victor Nogueria: 16.6667
Ben Olsen: 16.6667
Tony Sanneh: 13.3333
Raul Diaz Arce: 11.6667
John O'Brien 11.667
Chris Klein: 10
Tiffany Roberts: 8.33333
Ante Razov: 6.16667
Lorrie Fair: 2.5
Zoran Karic: 2.5
Bob Bradley: 55.932 (elected)
Sigi Schmid: 50.8475 (NOT elected - only one Builder per year is elected. Schmid sent into the wilderness. How long would he have to wait? How long, O Lord?!)
Don Garber: 47.4576
Francisco Marcos: 45.7627
Chuck Blazer: 37.2881 (this was back before anyone suspected he was involved in criminal activities)
Bob Contiguglia: 37.2881
Fritz Marth: 25.4237
Burton Haimes: 22.0339
Gianfranco Borroni: 13.5593
Steve Zungul: 43.3962 (not elected - gotta get 50%)
Glenn Myernick: 41.5094
Shep Messing: 35.8491
Tisha Venturini-Hoch: 33.9623
Mike Burns: 32.0755
Linda Hamilton: 30.1887
Dominic Kinnear: 30.1887
John Doyle: 28.3019
Mary Harvey: 20.7547
Kevin Crown: 18.8679
David Brcic: 16.9811
Frank Klopas: 15.0943
Mike Sorber: 11.3208
Bill McPherson: 7.54717
Now, go back and compare to the 2015 vote. Couple of things jump out.
The Hall/the USSF told me they don't officially release the number of voters or votes, so speculation is just that. However, unless I'm way the hell off, there were a lot fewer voters in 2015 than 2014. Like, twenty-four fewer. I can explain my methodology for concluding this, but it's painful, and there was probably a faster way to figure it out, and who the hell knows, there might have been 192 voters in 2015 instead of 96.
Second - there's some movement in the player's side of the ballot, but it's pretty gradual. Especially given the swing in total number of voters (whether down to 96, or up to 192). And the more votes you're getting, the harder it is to get more. I suppose that's obvious, but it seems like the voters are not open to changing their minds. Here's how the returning nominees did:
Some weird shifts. Former MLS players generally went up, and Olsen and Ralston went WAY up. So why did Moreno, Kreis and Fraser lose ground? And I really can't explain Tiffany Roberts' sudden popularity, unless people thought Tiffeny Milbrett got married and changed both her names.
Also - for the second year in a row, Chris Armas and Clint Mathis received the same number of votes. I have no idea what to do with this information.
The real weirdness in the Hall voting comes from the Hall members themselves. See the 2014 Veterans voting up there, where no one made it? Here, as a reminder, were the top six for 2015:
Mooch: 63.4%, up 21.8906% and elected in a landslide
Cindy Parlow: 53.7% (her first year on the Vets ballot, so, okay, looks like she's your favorite next year...maybe? Keep reading)
Marco Etcheverry: 46.3% (also first year on the ballot)
John Doyle: 41.5%, up 13.1981%
Shep Messing: 39%, up 3.1509%
Mike Burns: 39%, up 6.9245%
You will notice that Steve Zungul, the leading vote-getter on the Vets ballot last year, fell out of the top six. So while Parlow and Etcheverry might have good chances, they might as easily disappear from the face of the earth. Although maybe this is just the Veterans deciding they didn't like indoor players after all.
If anything, the Builders ballot is more baffling. Sigi got in with more votes than Bob Bradley did last year - 62.7%, up over 13%. Bradley and Blazer were replaced in the top six not by men on the previous ballot, but by Kevin Payne and Tim Leiweke. Say what you want about Fritz Marth, Burton Haimes and Gianfranco Borroni, but none of them were responsible for Toronto FC at any point.
(Yeah, I didn't know who they were, sorry. Google tells us that Marth served with the USASA until his death in 2002. Borroni is a longtime member of the US Soccer Foundation Board of Directors. Haimes served on the FIFA Ethics Committee, so a Hall of Fame induction would help what I assume is horrible post-traumatic stress.)