One year ago I made a plea to schedule MLS Cup 2011 the Day After Thanksgiving. My mind hasn't changed.
Looking at the TV schedule in prime time tonight, all I see on the major networks are crappy movies. ESPN has a pretty good college football game in the Backyard Brawl between West Virginia vs. Pittsburgh, while ESPN2 has a game between the two stellar college basketball programs of Wake Forest and Arizona State, which just yesterday lost respectively to Dayton and Fairfield, which might just be a high school for all I know. You can't tell me that MLS Cup wouldn't be a better option for sports fans than seeing a crappy early-season tournament college basketball game.
Instead, MLS did this year what it has done every year. Rather than scheduling their Final on a day with very little sports competition, and a day that they could OWN on the sports calendar, they scheduled MLS Cup on a Sunday night, opposite a big NFL game between the Eagles and Giants, and the same day as the final race of NASCAR's Sprint Cup. If MLS Cup 2011 was being held today, it would make the first segment of SportsCenter tomorrow morning. But being held on the same day as a full slate of NFL games and one of NASCAR's biggest events of the year, MLS Cup was a total afterthought.
MLS Cup 2011 earned a fairly modest TV rating of 0.8. For comparison, that Sunday Night Football game earned a 14. There's no doubt in my mind that the ratings would be higher on the Day After Thanksgiving.
That's not my only complaint this year though.I'm really disappointed in the condensed nature of the MLS offseason. The Los Angeles Galaxy had about 18 hours to celebrate their victory before it suddenly became an afterthought. The attention of every MLS fan turned away from Landon Donovan and David Beckham, and turned instead towards the expansion draft. And even then, we fans and media members only get two days to study, break down, and discuss the lists of available players.
Hey MLS, what the hell is the rush?
No less than 14 players have already changed teams, and 30 more have been waived. And all the champagne hasn't even been mopped up in the Home Depot Center locker room yet.
Relative to other sports leagues in the U.S., the MLS season is a long one. Its nine months. But that doesn't mean that so much offseason activity needs to be crammed into the first three days following the championship game. No other league does anything similar. Contrast that with baseball, where the World Series ended Oct. 28 and MLB just finished announcing their 2011 individual awards this week.
And this is just the beginning. The 2011 MLS Re-Entry Draft schedule begins in just over a week. The first round is Dec. 5 and the second round is Dec. 12. Expect lots of trades and lots of discussions between now and then.
I just don't understand the rapidity of the MLS offseason. It's just so unnecessary. It's not like training camp starts before Christmas. You've got the entire month of December, guys! Slow down, why don't ya!
Oh yeah, and schedule MLS Cup 2012 on Friday Nov. 23 please.