Apologies in advance for bringing up the NASL again - it's on my mind lately, I'm afraid - but the league landed on an innovation this year that's working wonderfully. In past years, teams played 28 games in a season. By early July, with the playoffs still months away and the opening-day excitement long since faded, boredom started to set in a little.
This year, though, the league is split up into two halves, including a 12-game season and a 14-game season. Even though it's June 1, this week's games have major playoff implications, if only because there are four games left in the season after today, not 20. Artificial it is, but it feels far more exciting - only thanks to a shorter season.
I'm not saying that the NBA or NHL should split its season into two halves, because that would be ridiculous. But there are 30 teams in both leagues; what if those sports played a 58-game schedule, playing every other team home and away once? Players would love it, owners would hate it, but I think every game would feel like a bigger game for the fans, which might drive more people to the gate and to the television screen - and isn't that what owners really want? If nothing else, it sure seems to work for football.
*On with the links:
*Aaron Gleeman looks at the Twins' choices in next week's MLB Draft, coming up with nine directions the Twins might go with the fourth pick.
*You should be reading A Wolf Among Wolves' offseason recap, which includes wonderful looks back at every player on the roster last year.
*Joe Posnanski writes about Doc Emrick, the voice of American hockey, who by common consent - even among his fellow play-by-play announcers - is the best in the business.
*Why can't Canada win the Stanley Cup? Let's ask Nate Silver!
*Jonathan Mahler has some very European soccer ideas about how to get the insanity out of youth sports in America.
*And finally: NBC is taking over Premier League coverage from ESPN, starting next year, so we wave goodbye to our Saturday morning family, ESPN commentators Ian Darke and Steve McManaman, with this outtake reel.