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Monday, July 21, 2008

Playing Commish

At the youth, collegiate, and professional levels, it's clear that the sport of lacrosse has expanded beyond its normal comfort zone in the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States. Lacrosse is booming at the youth and high school levels nationwide. Major League Lacrosse formalized the Western Conference in 2006. Three GWLL teams made the NCAA tournament this past year. Jacksonville U. is adding a D-I team in the coming years. With all these stars aligning, I did some playing commissioner with a mythical expansion of MLL. Actually, I put this together almost a year ago, before such occurrences as the Philadelphia [sic] Barrage's home-away-from-home season revealed a) potential expansion target cities and b) the harsh reality that they are likely goners from the City of Brotherly Love. I'll address that in the post. But for now. My quite-generous expansion (to 16 teams) and explanations behind the teams I've added.

Northern Conference
• Boston Cannons
• Chicago Machine
• Long Island Lizards
• Rochester Rattlers

Southern Conference
• Carolina Crosshairs*
• Dallas Barons*
• Virginia Militia*
• Washington Bayhawks

Eastern Conference
• Cincinnati Copperheads*
• Delaware Riders*
• New Jersey Pride
• Philadelphia Barrage

Western Conference
• Denver Outlaws
• Los Angeles Riptide
• San Francisco Dragons
• St. Louis Archers*

So my expansion teams:

-Carolina Crosshairs:
Why Carolina: OK, so a little is because I'm a shameless homer, but it's a spot that MLL has identified, playing a game this year in Cary. The collegiate success of UNC and Duke only adds to the appeal in the area.
Why the Crosshairs: Carolina's got a rich military history, ranging from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars to Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg. Plus the US Marines are a sponsor of MLL.

-Dallas Barons:
Why Dallas: Another location identified by MLL, who played a gamein Texas Stadium this year.
Why the Barons:The obvious tie-in is oil barons, but it works from a nobility standpoint as well.

-Virginia Militia:
Why Virginia: Specifically Richmond, where my mythical team resides. It's far enough from the Bayhawks in Washington, a growing lacrosse-rich zone, and not far removed from UVA. That said, MLL's match in VA Beach makes the Hampton Roads area an option as well.
Why the Militia: A similar military tradition, specifically with militia organization.

-Cincinnati Copperheads:
Why Cincinnati: Lacrosse is growing in Ohio in general, and a franchise in Cincy could capitalize not only on the home state, but also on Kentucky, which features D-I Bellarmine in the college ranks.
Why the Copperheads: Historically, copperheads were northern--including just over the Ohio River--anti-war symathizers to the confederate cause. More appropriately howerver, a copperhead is a bad-ass venomous snake indigenous to the Eastern United States.

-Delaware Riders:
Why Delaware: I told you I'm a homer! But statriotic motives aside, Delaware is a lacrosse-heavy zone in a state that doesn't currently have any major league teams of its own. Further, with the Bayhawks moving to DC, those in northeastern Maryland were left without a team to call their own--home games in UD's Delaware Stadium could serve this population as well. And with the Barrage on their way out, this team could be the mid-Atlantic's golden boy. In addition to naming the First State, Delaware could double as a reference to the Delaware Valley.
Why the Riders: Commemorating Caesar Rodney's famous ride from Dover to Philadelphia to cast the deciding vote that would lead Delaware to vote for American Independence in July of 1776.

-St. Louis Archers
Why St. Louis: It's a major midwestern metropolis, and another one of the spots identified by MLL.
Why the Archers: C'mon. St. Louis. The Arch. Admit it. You love it.

As I mentioned, Philly leaving gums up the works a bit with the teams I have slated. No matter--let's bring in the Portland Rippers, repping Rip City, for the northwestern crowd. It'll shake up the division a little, but that can be fixed. Besides. It's all in good fun.
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