The Baltimore Blast can’t be stopped.
Baltimore’s professional indoor soccer team, under head coach Danny Kelly, is headed to the Major Arena Soccer League championship after defeating the Milwaukee Wave 2-1 in a mini game on Tuesday night. The Blast are eight-time champions with seven consecutive winning seasons making them Baltimore’s highest winning franchise—Orioles have three World Series under their belt and the Ravens have just two Super Bowl wins. It begs the question: Why isn’t the city more pumped?
“The ‘80s was big for soccer in Baltimore,” says Blast general manager Kevin Healey. “But we have to compete with all types of entertainment now.”
But that being said, loyal followers do turn out for games.
“We lead the league in attendance,” Healey says. “We averaged over 6,000 fans per game this year.” This seems like a lot until you consider that Ravens and Orioles games averaged over 70,000 and 26,000 fans per game last season, respectively. Could it be caused by the stigma that indoor soccer lacks physicality and excitement? According to Healey, any sports fan can get into a Blast game.
“This is a very physical game,” he says. “Anybody that comes to a game can see that.”
Up next, the Blast will play the victor of the Soles de Sonora vs. San Diego Sockers series to decide in the championship. Though the dates haven’t yet been announced, the first game will be played at home.
Adam Jones robs Manny Machado.
There was some bird-on-bird crime last Sunday when center fielder Adam Jones robbed third baseman Manny Machado of a seventh-inning home run in a World Baseball Classic game at Petco Park in San Diego. Jones, a San Diego native, ran to the center-field wall and flew through the air into the stands to steal Machado’s hopes for a possible home run. After being totally robbed, Machado tipped his cap to Jones in respect—you can’t help but love the camaraderie of these O’s players.
Even manager Buck Showalter got in on the action, telling The Sun, “the thing I loved about it the most is that there was a Yankee fan trying to get into the field of play that he took it away from. That was probably the highlight for me.”
USA defeated the Dominican Republic 6-3 and went on to conquer Puerto Rico in the final, 8-0, to become the World Baseball Classic champions. U-S-A! U-S-A!
Keeping up with the Ravens.
With all the recent changes to the Ravens roster, let’s make sure we are all up to speed:
Hello: Running back Danny Woodhead, safety Tony Jefferson, and cornerback Brandon Carr.
Bye-Bye: Fullback Kyle Juszczyk and center Jeremy Zuttah are heading to San Francisco. Receiver Kamar Aiken is headed to Indianapolis. Defensive backs Shareece Wright and Kendrick Lewis were waived and safety Ladarius Webb was released.
Welcome Back: Quarterback Ryan Mallet, receiver Mike Wallace, linebacker Anthony Levine Sr., and defensive tackle Brandon Williams. (We’re particularly excited about Williams, both for his on-field performance and his killer dance moves.)
Good news for the Flacco-Pitta bromance fans: Tight end Dennis Pitta—Flacco’s favorite target and BFF—is staying in Baltimore. Pitta restructured his contract taking a pay cut for both the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Last year, Pitta led the league in tight end receptions (86) after being forced to take a two-year hiatus due to a hip injury. According to Ravens salary-cap expert Brian McFarland, Pitta’s cut will save the Ravens $2.5 million in cap space.
Lady Terps headed to the Sweet Sixteen.
Fear the Turtle! Despite receiving a lower than expected third seed, Maryland women’s basketball team continues to shine as they clinched their 13th NCAA Sweet Sixteen spot after defeating West Virginia 83-56 on March 19. West Virginia had a five-game winning streak going into the contest but the Maryland squad proved the Mountaineers were no match. At the end of the first half, freshman guard Destiny Slocum lands a buzzer-beating, three-point shot from beyond half court.
This marks the Terrapins 25th appearance in the NCAA tournament. Since 2002, coach Frese has led the team to eight Sweet Sixteens, six Elite Eights, three Final Fours and in 2006, the NCAA title. The Terps are set to face off against the Oregon Ducks in Bridgeport, CT on Saturday, March 25.