Angel Hernandez keeps blowing calls while Messi keeps scoring

If you haven’t been following the touring artist exhibition that is Angel Hernandez attempting to call balls and strikes, or simply trying to disprove the utility of rules and conventions in society at all, in various Major League parks this summer, you’re missing one of the truly great examples of dadaism going. To last night in DC:

This one had both Nationals and Red Sox broadcasters laughing in disbelief, which is when you know an ump has created something truly special. The goal of any artist is to elicit a reaction. So mission accomplished. This follows earlier in the month:

And then the Florida swing:

It’s quite the show. We’d suggest catching it when it comes to a town near you, except it won’t be exactly what you paid for, as the game of baseball becomes warped and bent into some unidentifiable form that is decidedly un-Doubleday-esque. But maybe that’s your bag.

Next time someone tells you about how they love the human element, point all this out to them as a perfect example of the “human element.” Because they surely aren’t talking about the abstract creation that Hernandez is accidentally creating that makes us wonder about the futility of trying to define and control life. “Human element” only comes out when they’ve run out of other answers.

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Messi scores 9 goals in 6 games

Lionel Messi has apparently broken MLS goalkeepers.

For a second, marvel at the defending from the Philadelphia Union here, as they neither pressure the ball, nor track Josef Martinez dropping off the front line, nor get anyone close to Messi for a good 20 yards before he shoots from 30 yards. Somehow, keeper Andre Blake — one of the best keepers in the league, mind — loses all feeling in his feet when this shot is launched, because it’s hardly a rocket. Messi’s aura is simply knocking guys away from him at this point. A forcefield that won’t allow anyone near him.

KC Current fined for taking charter flight

If the charter flight fight in the WNBA wasn’t enough for you, and it certainly wasn’t, then the NWSL is going to jump into the pool as well.

To sum up, the KC Current were playing their third straight road game, after having to visit Orlando and then Portland, not exactly down the street from each other. They were due to head to Louisville, so instead of trying to find commercial flights that involved connections and layovers and having to leave a night earlier than they normally would, their ownership stepped up and just chartered them a plane.

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This is against league rules, which is asinine in any real sense. As Meg Linehan points out in that Athletic article, charter flights is not something players have pushed for in the CBA, knowing it would be something that the owners would horse-trade out of the salary cap and players’ wallets.

Still, just like in the WNBA, the rule is in place to protect owners who simply don’t want to pay for it against owners who do, to maintain parity and not make players look longingly at other clubs where they might wish to play. It’s certainly a look for a league that has been rife with stories about how players have been mistreated in various and appalling manners to also appear cheap when it comes to pretty standard comforts.

The NWSL is still getting by on the margins of course, and the $2 million or so per team that is estimated it would cost to charter every flight might be the difference between profit and loss and such. It’s also an amount that most owners definitely have and wouldn’t miss, especially as the NWSL expands.

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That expansion is only going to mean more games, which means more midweek games, which means more travel in a tighter space of time, which will necessitate more charter flights. We can get into the discussion of whether or not NWSL expansion is the same Ponzi scheme it’s always been suspected MLS’s expansion is another time.

Still, it’s all connected, and the NWSL’s quest for parity is just one thing that should be looked at when it comes to studying how the rest of the world has caught up with US Soccer on the women’s side. Is keeping teams level, and keeping them level in some cases to what the cheapest owners want, really the best way to develop players and the league beyond what it is now? The WSL doesn’t care about that. Liga F doesn’t. Neither does Frauen-Bundesliga. Teams are just expected to catch up to the powers. It’s worth asking.

Luis Robert Jr. silences the crowd

We began with art, so let’s end with another piece:

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