Off-Base Percentage is a weekly post about the lighter side of sports, mainly baseball. Whether it occurs on the field, in the locker room, or in the media, if it is a little ‘off-base’ then it is fair game. If you are looking for analysis of a player, team, or sport it won’t be found in this post. This is for the sports fan that wants to take a step back and look at sports from a ‘different’ angle. Enjoy.
The Babe hit home runs at Fenway. Garciaparra fielded grounders in the infield. Luis Suarez may score a goal from the outfield.
Wait, who is that last person and how do you score a goal in baseball? Simple. Suarez is a forward for the soccer club Liverpool FC and on July 25 one of the biggest clubs in England will play one of Italy’s biggest, Roma. It was announced last week that Beantown’s own Fenway Park will be one of Liverpool’s stops during its twelve-day preseason North America tour. The game is a part of Boston’s 100th Anniversary festivities for the ballpark.
Many of you may be wondering if the stadium can even hold a soccer field. A normal size of a professional soccer field is one hundred twenty yards long by eighty yards wide. But the field will be ninety-eight yards long and seventy-five yards wide.
So for those of you who would rather watch the grass next to the field grow there should be more action after shrinking the field by so much.
This is not even the first time that Fenway has hosted such an event. In July of 2010 Celtic FC (fitting for the Irish crowd in Boston) and Sporting CP kicked off and more than 30,000 people piled into to watch the international athletes showcase their skills. In fact this will be the twentieth soccer game on Fenway’s field, but the majority happened when Pele was still dominating the game.
So with this high profile of a game being played in one of America’s most recognizable stadium does that mean that soccer has finally made it in the US? The truth is, no. Soccer has been making major strides in the United States’ world of sports in the last few years. After David Beckham and Thierry Henry ventured to the States to play in the MLS and after two successful US World Cups the game has been getting some notoriety. The NFL and NBA lockouts also helped soccer gain some following. But the fact is, the reason this game is at Fenway Park is because the same management group owns the Red Sox and Liverpool FC. Fenway Sports Management bought Liverpool in 2010 and now they are reaping the benefits. Using one organization to benefit another? That’s just smart business. They can say it is to increase the popularity of the sport in America, but it’s all about the money.
I’m not sure who all went to the Celtic v. Sporting match two years ago, but as a soccer fan I can admit that I would not enjoy watching soccer in a baseball stadium as much as you would think. Yes, I can still see the game and watch plays develop. But in all honesty I can do that at home in high definition with cheap drinks and a comfy couch. Watching soccer is about the hooligan atmosphere and being right up on the sideline close enough to touch the players. Just look at the picture above. That is not going to happen with that set up unless they bring in more seating. Though I may not enjoy watching the game I think the event itself would be great to attend with some of the world’s best athletes in America’s pastime’s most famous ballpark playing the beautiful game. So if anybody has an extra ticket if you twist my arm I would be willing to gladly take it off your hands. If not, I’m sure I can find it on television in a bar or in my own living room.
How long until soccer is one of the top three sports in the US? Will it ever be? Let me know on Twitter @Believelander.
Keep your eyes peeled and ears open for the MTAF Podcast too. It’s on iTunes!