We’re only a few days away from the MLL collegiate draft (Friday night at 8:30 EST – follow live on youtube), and when commissioner David Gross steps up to the podium to kick off the evening, he just might have something important to say. Maybe he’ll announce a last-second blockbuster trade. Maybe he’ll announce some league-wide policy changes, or breaking news regarding the still-mysterious Florida Launch. Maybe somebody left their lights on…
Who knows, expect the unexpected. And hey, maybe he won’t say anything of any significance whatsoever. I don’t even know if he’ll give a speech (this puppy is 100% hypothetical), but let’s say he does announce a change to the league: what do you want to hear?
Shortly after the end of the 2013 season, I asked MLL fans on twitter what changes they’d like to see the league make this off-season. Here are the most popular answers, along with a couple I added myself:
Custom uniforms have never been more readily available, yet most every MLL uniform tends to look the same; maybe it’s time to branch out and take some risks. Will people complain about them? Oh, I guarantee it. Granted you’re here right now, but have you seen the internet lately? People love complaining. If done well, however, many more people will enjoy them, and that’s really all you can ask. I don’t think a total revamp is necessary, but how about some alternate jerseys for a few home games?
I haven’t laid eyes on the MLL budget, but one more jersey per team should be reasonable, right? If we’re already talking too crazy, no problem at all. Instead of going with alternate jerseys, how about we add a few more limited edition jerseys (like New York’s camo jerseys last season) for special occasions? The Outlaws host the Cannons in their annual 4th of July game, maybe a patriotic Boston uniform is in order?
While we’re kicking around ideas, the Launch head out to Denver on July 20, which happens to be the 45th anniversary of the moon landing. They don’t necessarily have to go with full space suit-looking uniforms or anything (although maybe that’s their regular jersey – I have no idea what those guys are up to), but unless we’re waiting five years for the big 5-0, maybe something more subtle to commemorate the event? The league can auction the jerseys off after the game, give the money to a good cause, and everybody’s happy.
New Equipment Companies
Last season the MLL finally gave outside companies the chance to get their gear on the field, yet we didn’t see any takers. What scared potential investors away? If it all came down to finances, maybe there’s a way to meet in the middle; the league takes another look at their policies and asking prices, and we get the sponsorship discussion headed back in a positive direction.
Under Armor’s got deep pockets and a solid lineup of young stars; does their NLL work mean MLL sponsorship is off the table? John Grant Jr’s with Gait now, couldn’t they use the added exposure? Come on, it’s Gait; surely the league can cut some sort of alumni discount. How much for Connor Martin to bring out a Boom Town shaft for a few games? Money’s money, people; let’s get everybody back at the table and work something out.
For a system in it’s first year, things went quite well for the instant replay system – it was reasonably smooth, the equipment worked regularly and the review process didn’t halt play for too long, which is pretty much everything you could ask for. Of course, one hiccup in the Boston-Chesapeake game (along with a similar error when the Lizards played the Rattlers) brought the system’s glaring deficiency to light: buzzer-beating shots could not be reviewed to see if they really beat said buzzer, which is one of the first things you’d want from your replay system.
You’ve got to know when a goal’s a goal, and a simple tweak to the replay rules takes care of that nicely. This is the change I’ve pegged as most likely to come to fruition in the off-season, and I assume there will be few complaints, unless you’re specifically opposed to getting things right for some reason.
New All-Star Game Competitions
Much like the NBA’s slam dunk contest and accompanying festivities, the All-Star game halftime competitions are bound to dry up from time to time. As an example, this year’s long-distance contest played well amongst the fans inside the stadium, but appeared to have been largely panned by those watching at home.
We know the fastest shot contest isn’t going anywhere, but it sounds like many of you wouldn’t miss any of the other games if they suddenly came up missing next summer. If the league wants a replacement event, here’s a suggestion: Stick trick demo. We go X-games style, give the Matt Gibsons and Brett Queeners of the world a minute or so to put together their best routine, let the fans or judges decide the winner, then hand out the old jumbo check – sound like something you’d be interested in?
A Universal Pronunciation for “Poillon”
Dear MLL announcers: Over the past four seasons, Peet Poillon’s been a four-time all-star, racked up over 150 points, and has appeared in three championship games on three different teams (Weird, right? Shout out to all my trivia nerds). Can we please, please come together as a society and learn how to pronounce his last name? Poy-yon? Poo-yon? Pool-eon? Pole-eon? This really shouldn’t be up to artistic interpretation, fellas. Ask him, or someone who knows him, write it down, and let’s move on (Note: Is commissioner Gross going to discuss this at the draft? Of course not. It’s just a gigantic pet peeve of mine, and since I’m the one writing this list, there you go. Now, let’s actually move on).
If you’re a trivia nerd (and there’s no shame in being a trivia nerd), you can never have too many statistics. You need to know what percent of Steve Mock’s goals came off of Rob Pannell assists, how many goals Stephen Keogh has scored with his off hand, etc. And so the cycle begins: the more you know, the more you need to know, much to the dismay of your friends and family, all getting mighty tired of nodding politely and pretending to care about Boston’s win-loss record in relation to Ryan Boyle’s point production.
When it comes to stats, the league steadily records goals, assists, ground balls and so forth, but something like caused turnovers has been sadly left by the wayside. Not sure why certain stats aren’t made available (maybe it’s a manpower issue, and there just aren’t enough people at each venue to accurately record everything that take place) but the more there are, the better. The one stat I want ASAP? Two-point attempts. That’s pretty manageable, right? Hardly any grey area there: feet behind the line = two-point attempt. There, that was easy. We can all tell who scores the most two-pointers, but which shooters are the most efficient from downtown and which ones are a bunch of momentum-killing, no-conscience-having fun-ruiners? That’s what I need to know.
So there you have it: six changes we’d like to see in Major League Lacrosse. Some are a bit more attainable than others, but all can be set in motion in time for the upcoming season, which, by the way, is only three months away. Thanks to those who sent over their suggestions, and we’ll see you at the draft.