Sports Comment: American influence would boost World Cup

A little of this and a little of that:

What the World Cup needs now is a little more American influence.

While I’ll admit I’ve come around to the world’s brand of football and have thoroughly enjoyed the spirit and competition of this year’s tournament in Brazil, a few minor tweaks would make the game much more appealing.

There’s no getting around it; quite a few things about soccer are just downright un-American.

Here are few suggestions for improving the World Cup:

  • All of these Greg Louganis wannabes could take a cue from baseball players. I understand the gamesmanship involved with the dive. It’s no different than most of the flops you see in a Duke basketball game. However, we could all do without the rolling-on-the-turf-as-if-I’m-going-to-die routine. After a trip, hard foul or collision, soccer players need act like a baseball player who walks stoically to first base after getting plunked with a pitch. Don’t rub the injury and most of all don’t thrash around on the ground like a baby squirrel that just dropped out of the nest for the first time.
  • Get the clock turned around correctly. There are few more basics things in a timed sport than letting fans know precisely how much time is remaining in a contest. Try counting down instead of up like just about every other sport. And what on earth is the point of stoppage time anyway? If you want to stop the clock, go ahead and stop it.
  • European announcers should stop mixing their tenses if they are going to call games for American television. A country is a singular entity. Therefore it is: Brazil is playing well. Not: Brazil are playing well. Watching a World Cup broadcast makes me feel as if Sister Margaret is going to emerge and smack someone with her ruler every time I hear it.
  • Teams should never be able to benefit from a tie. This isn’t seven-a-side pee-wee soccer where no score is kept. You keep score to declare to a winner; keep playing until there is one.

This year’s World Cup did come at a perfect time in the American sports schedule. But with NFL training camps getting back in full swing in a couple weeks, American sports fans will put soccer on the back burner once again.

FABULOUS FALL: Area college football fans are in for a real treat this fall. There are more than a few fantastic matchups right here in our own backyard.

In addition to its five-game home schedule, Navy is book-ending its regular season with games at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium, opening with Ohio State on Aug. 30 and closing with Army on Dec. 13. The Mids also are hosting Notre Dame at FedEx Field in Landover on Nov. 1.

Maryland, meanwhile, thanks to its move to the Big Ten, has games at Byrd Stadium with Ohio State (Oct. 4) and Michigan State (Nov. 15).

If that weren’t enough, Annapolis gets to host the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 for the second straight year, featuring teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference and American Athletic Conference. Festivities will once again include a parade through downtown.

O’S BENCH: For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Ryan Flaherty (.214) still has a roster spot with the Orioles. I understood a few years ago when he was promising Rule 5 selection and had to remain on the big-league roster for the entire season or be returned to his original team. But the past two seasons, the guy has shown that he just flat-out can’t get it done with any consistency at the plate. Yeah, he can play a lot of different positions well defensively and he homered on Wednesday, but his offense is usually a detriment.

With two light-hitting catchers and no-hitting David Lough (.191) on the roster, the Birds could use a competent late-inning bat on the bench. That’s why it makes even less sense that Orioles designated Nolan Reimold for assignment on Tuesday. He’s struggled with injuries, but even in limited at-bats, Reimold would hit better than .191.

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