Sunday, May 31, 2015

1981 World Baseball Cup

Japan was almost a lock for hosting the 1981 tournament. Baseball had grown so much in the previous decade in the Pacific nation. Two stadiums in and around Osaka would be the host of the games. But first, you had to get there. The only new team was Australia, which filled the hole of the automatic bid for Japan. With the Japanese not participating in the Pacific qualifier, that means a new country would make the tournament. South Korea won a tiebreaker against Chinese Taipei after splitting their 2 games. To date, this was the toughest qualifying group. Powers such as the Dominican, Panama, and Canada all were eliminated. The IBF decided that the WBC would expand the tournament to 12 teams, and now look at 3 stadiums per bid to host.

The Japanese played great in front of their home fans. In the classic Koshien Stadium, matched up against the Venezuelans and the Americans in Group A, they survived and lead to the American's first time not advancing into the knockout stage. The South Koreans were put into the group of death, and were eliminated quickly. The other group competed in Osaka. The Puerto Ricans were a tough team all around, and the Cubans had a young Orestes Destrade, both advancing past the Mexicans and Dutch. The absence of the USA made the route to the finals for Japan much easier. The hosts and Puerto Rico both were the favorites to collide in the finals, and they didn't disappoint. In one of the most one sided finals, Japan would go on to lift their first championship in 8 tries.

The only three changes from 1977 was the dropping of maroon from the Venezuelan look. A new yellow and white look would be worn for road games. The Koreans came out wearing white and black for their debut. Simple hats with K on it, the script said KOREA with the ying-yang symbol from the flag in the O. Finally, a more refined look for Mexico, worn by new pitcher Fernando Valenzuela.

Atlanta AFC

The Peaches(or Hammers depending who you talk to) were a club that bounced around regional leagues before the formation of the 2nd tier league in the 50s. Early on, the team was mediocre, not being promoted to the top league until 1967. They were relegated back in 1970. In 1975 they moved back up. During their time in the first tier, they would go on to win the first two trophies in their history. Back to back USOC titles in 82 and 83 made the team the new hot ticket in the town. They moved to a new Soccer Specific Stadium in 1985 on the dime of new owner Ted Turner. They were relegated from 1986 to 89, but the state of the art stadium hosted events for the Olympics in 1996, including the last 4 soccer games. After this period, the team would go on to be one of the strongest teams since. The team won the USOC in 1995, and then 3 championships from 1997 to 2005.

The team has always wore peach and navy. The crest has crossed railroad hammers with the initials of Association Football Club in between. The flame from the Olympic logo is underneath to represent the tie to the Olympics, and a tie into their motto "rising", which stems from the Terminus name and phoenix on the city seal. The clash colors has always rotated among the other teams in the Metro Atlanta area. The idea was that loose fans would buy jerseys if they were attached to another team. Still though, the peach remains iconic in Atlanta.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hudson United

Hudson United is one of the most successful teams to come out of the early years of League 2. Started after a merger between the New York Soccer Club, and the Bronx Field Club, Hudson began playing in lower tiers in 1949. Splitting time with the Giants at the Polo Grounds, the team established a fan base and stole fans away from the powerful Queens Park. With the formation of League 2 from regional leagues, the Cabbies were promoted to the Premier League in 1957, just in time to fill the hole the Giants left. The team began looking for a new stadium location closer to downtown, and built it when the Polo Grounds were demolished in 1962. Hudson's first trophy came in 1965 when they won the US Open Cup. The core of that team would go on to win the 1969 APL title, and CONCACAF Champions Cup the following season. After another Open Cup and League Title in the early 70s, the team experienced some hardship. In 1984, the team was relegated for the first time in their history. This angered many fans, and they demanded a change in ownership, but all was better when they won League 2 the following year. A streak of big spending helped the team find it's footing in the top tier again. The team won 4 trophies in 3 years from 1993 to 1995, attracting many more big European players to come to the States. The star studded team won back to back titles in 2003 and 2004 with a Open Cup and Champions League to boot. Since then, they're constantly making the playoffs, even if that was their last league title. They're the defending champions of the US Open Cup.

All these trophies were worn in their classic white and purple kits. The clashes were once always orange and black to match the Giants. Once they built their stadium down the Hudson River, they switched to yellow and black to match the taxis of the city, and is still the clash the team wears most years.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Boston Irish SC

The Boston Irish, like many teams in the early days, were founded by European immigrants who came to America looking for work. The team started playing at Nickerson Field in 1934, the first year of the reorganized American Premier League. Their classic green and white hoops became a iconic in the 60s with the growth of color TV. Oh, and how good Boston was. The Paddys won their first league title in 1964, then repeated the next year. The same group of players would go on to win 4 of 5 US Open Cups starting in 1968. The team also went on to win the treble in 1972 with the US Open, League title, and CONCACAF Champions Cup. Ten years later, the team won back to back titles in 82 and 83. They got approved to build a new 33k seat stadium on the banks of the Charles River near Boston University and Fenway Park after these titles. This was the last time the team won a trophy for some time with the new playoff format being installed in 1984. In 1996, for the first time in league history, the team was relegated to the American League 2 on a last day goal by Milwaukee United, boosting them out of 17th spot on the final day. The stay was short lived, as they won the promotion playoffs in 1997. The team finally broke the 20 year curse in 2007, on the same night the Red Sox won the World Series over the Rockies. Their clash has been yellow and green for the majority of the last 40 years, inspired by a player from Norwich that they brought over.

American Premier League

I've had this idea for a few weeks. It started when I was playing FIFA 15, as i played in lower tiers of England in Manager mode, and Be A Pro. What if America had storied teams like England does. I love US soccer, but there's something way cooler with a team that was formed a hundred years ago that bounced between top levels compared to 3 new USL teams springing up every year, so I started researching the old American Soccer League, and teams like the Bethlehem Steel. The ASL folded due to fighting between the league and the US Soccer Federation and the US Open Cup. Not to mention the Great Depression. I began planning a 3 tier, 20 team each league with various cities across the US, but with a major focus on the North East, where the main teams would've been located in the 1930s. Since the US started to grow south and west, some teams would've been founded in the 50s and 60s.

Then I made my new template. I wanted to test out how it works through concept. Then next thing I know, I'm 11 teams in. Basically all the following teams will have older sounding names. I'm making a point to not use FC, because hypothetically when the teams started they would need to distinguish between soccer and football.This wont effect my World Baseball Cup series at all, because I have most of those concepts done. I just want to show off my new template, which can be downloaded here.

I have a good idea of who I want where and which leagues, but I'd love some (emphasis on some) ideas for teams. So sit back! I would love a football manager mod if anyone wants to give it a try, I would help provide the stadiums and stuff.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

1977 World Baseball Cup

The hosting privileges came down to Japan and the Dominican Republic, but for the first time the island nation would host the games. This was seen as a "perfect attendance award" to a nation that hasn't fully emerged as a baseball powerhouse yet. The qualifying had some exciting developments. Japan joined South Korea and Chinese Taipei to form an Asian confederation. The move allowed a European team to get an automatic bid into the final tournament. That hole was filled by the Netherlands with the help of Bert Blyleven. Cuba had the most runs in a tiebreaker for the second North American bid, earning the national team a first bid since reorganizing in Miami. Two teams broke up the Super 8 that had been dominating world baseball.

Group A was considered much more even than Group B. The teams in Santo Domingo fought for supremacy with Venezuela and Puerto Rico advancing. Unfortunately for the Dutch, Bert Blyleven couldn't bat and lead to a low of 4 runs. The USA and Japan advanced as many people predicted. The Cuban fans that had fled to the Dominican couldn't help the team win more than one game.

The Venezuelans once again advanced to the finals with a win over Oh and his Japanese teammates. Puerto Rico was rocked by Johnny Bench's 2 home runs leading to another USA-Venezuela match up in the knockout rounds. In this instance, the USA was victorious with a late homer in the 8th by George Brett. That would mark the 4th championship for the nation.

The majority of the teams remained the same. The iconic orange of the Dutch made their debut at this tournament. The Cubans also wore color for this tournament. They went with the softball-looking white top red pants at home and the inverse on the road.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Great Britian Kits

I was looking at some soccer concepts the other day and it made me somewhat self conscious. I know I can make some good concepts, but maybe my template could be better? My template is by far the most used template I've ever made, but it just needed a face lift.

I tried last week to make the template, but got frustrated and quit. Then I was at Ross and found one of my top 5 favorite kits of all time, the USA "Where's Waldo" hooped kits. I immediately bought it with no regrets. Today, I finally decided to take the new jersey and lay it out and try my best to replicate it. I started with my old template and made the following Nike template. Then, I went ahead and used some reference pics from my friend Gus to do the Adidas kits.

I wanted to release the kits, but wanted to test them first. I originally was going to put the 4 teams of Great Britain on a new Nike photoshop template and go from there, but I decided that this would be a great way to do those concepts.

England is really simple. I replaced the blue from the current kit, with red and made it Nike. The rest are various Adidas jersey. Northern Ireland has a chest bar, Wales has pinstripes, and Scotland has a cross. In honor of the EPL finishing today, I put players who I had on my fantasy team at some point this year on the jersey.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

1973 World Baseball Cup

This was a big event for the WBC. Venezuela was the first host in South America, showing a sign of growth for the sport of baseball. Dave Concepcion was the face of Venezuelan baseball, and he did all he could to promote the event. In the 1972 qualifying, two teams were added from the last version. Cuba was once again reinstated, but by a baseball fan in Miami from Cuba. The team would be based out of Miami, and would compete in the North American division from now on. It gave MLB players a chance to play for their country of origin, and the WBC would get another team to compete, and wouldn't have to deal with upsetting any of their democratic allies. The team was weak in 1972 due to the small player pool, and wouldn't qualify for the tournament. Israel began competing in the World division, with a big amount of their players being Jewish minor leaguers. When all said and done, the same 8 teams made the tournament for the 3rd straight time.

Two teams really shocked the world in this tournament. Going into the tournament, The USA and Venezuela were considered favorites. The Venezuelans lost to Japan in the opener, but salvaged group play with 2 wins. But the Canadians went on to beat the Dominicans and Japanese to advance to the knock out round for the first time. The USA and Panama emerged as the two best teams in Group B. The Panamanians were able to beat the USA in the 3rd game of group play, thanks to a big traveling fan base. Puerto Rico had a hard time coping with the loss of Roberto Clemente, and only one the final game against Mexico.

The USA and Venezuela fought in the first round, and the Venezuelans overpowered the Americans and assured that there would be a new champion crowned. Panama played Canada and won, setting up a Concepcion vs Carew final. The hometown Venezuelans won in Caracas, earning their first and only championship.

The 70s marked a new era of uniforms. Pull over shirts and stretchy pants loosened up the jerseys. Some teams carried over the previous look onto a new style, those are Canada, Mexico, and Panama. The rest almost completely rebrand. The Dominicans went to navy from the royal blue they had been wearing. Japan went with pinstripes and new logos. The Puerto Ricans wore their infamous "spoon" uniforms, complete with a tri-color cap. The USA also had tri-color caps with the uniforms they would wear the next 5 tournaments, one of the most iconic looks in WBC history. Finally, the host and champions made their uniforms more colorful and nationalistic with maroon and the flag colors.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

1969 World Baseball Cup

For the first time, the WBC returned to a country for the 2nd time. With the success of the MLB, and the stadium infrastructure, the USA was bound to host another soon. The driving force behind the host cities of Houston and Dallas was the new Astrodome. Climate controlled, and modern. The Arlington stadium had been renovated from 10k to 35k in anticipation for a Major League Baseball l team to move to the Dallas area. The stadium, would host the Texas Rangers starting in 1972.
The USA got the automatic bid for the tournament. The only team added was the United Kingdom, which currently holds the record for most qualifying appearances without a single World Baseball Cup appearance. Japan dominated the World Division, which wasn't good for the game. South Korea, Chinese Taipei, and the Philippines were rumored to starting a Pacific Division for the Japanese, but the IBF said the results for the Japanese would be similar to the ones they experience in Europe. Italy and Nicaragua's attempts to qualify for their first would be thwarted by a dominant Mexico side.

The same 8 teams from Mexico 65 qualified for the 1969 tournament. With the Cubans out of the IBF, the gap between the 8th and 9th best teams was pretty wide. The hosts had Panama, Canada, and Venezuela in their group, and rinsed the competition. Despite future hall of famers Rod Carew and Ferguson Jenkins on their teams, Panama and Canada were eliminated. World Home Run champion Shadharu Oh hit 5 home runs in the group stage. His record of 6 World Baseball Cup home runs in a tournament, and 14 over his career held for almost 30 years. Japan and Puerto Rico advanced past Mexico and the Dominican in Arlington. This was Roberto Clemente's last tournament before he died in 1971. He remained the leading hitter in tournament history until 2009 when Ichiro passed his record. 

The Americans matched up against rival Puerto Rico and won 3-1. Japan ousted the Venezuelans as well. In the final, the Japanese held the United States to 2 runs, but only scored 1 in the 3rd championship for the United States.

No changes, but this was the last tournament before pullovers and elastic pants.