Even while the San Diego Sockers were celebrating their fifth consecutive Major Soccer League championship last night, Blast owner Ed Hale was lamenting the playoff format that cost him money and voiced proposals for improvement.
With last night's 8-2 victory over the Dallas Sidekicks in Game 6 of their best-of-seven series, the Sockers became the first team in pro sports history to twice win five straight championships.
The New York Yankees won five World Series from 1949 through 1953. The Montreal Canadians won six Stanley Cups from 1955 through 1960. And the Boston Celtics won eight straight NBA titles from 1959 through 1966.
But the Sockers have managed the feat twice -- 1982-86 and the current streak that began in 1988. San Diego also has won eight MSL titles and 10 indoor soccer titles overall, including two in the North American Soccer League.
Thompson Usiyan led the Sockers with a hat trick last night and was named the series MVP. Paul Wright contributed two goals. David Doyle and Kevin Smith each scored for Dallas.
Back in Baltimore, the news was not so happy. Though Hale will not have the specific figures on the ledger sheet until June 30, he said yesterday he anticipates losing possibly more than $100,000, thanks to the MSL playoffs.
The Blast had been in the black for the first time in MSL history after the regular season, due to a regular-season attendance average of 8,000. But three home playoff games with the Sockers in the best-of-seven semifinal series attracted only 13,000 customers.
"It's safe to say the playoff cost us money," Hale said. "As chairman of the executive committee, I'm going to recommend we start the season Oct. 3 and end it by March 7; that we play a semifinal two-of-three series and a championship series that is three-of-five and have everything finished by the first week of April. That way we have no conflicts with baseball."
Hale will suggest a regular season of 44 games, making it possible to have a week between the end of the regular season and the first playoff games in which to sell tickets.
"I've spoken to George Hoffman in Cleveland and Oscar [Ancira] in San Diego, and they've both said they at least will listen," Hale said. "I know some owners won't like it, but I'm going to present it."
* NICE WHILE IT LASTED: Former Blast goalkeeper Scott Manning, who has seen his share of championship series against the San Diego Sockers, got another shot at them this week. But San Diego showed it doesn't play favorites, ousting the Sidekicks from the championships the same way it has ousted the Blast in the past.
"Still, it's been really good," said Manning, who was in net for Dallas' two victories in the series and last night's 8-2 loss. "There are a lot of good, hard-working guys here. The key for us was . . . to get Tatu and Goose [Jan Goossens] going early."
Manning's two victories give him 36 career playoff wins, tying him with former San Diego and St. Louis keeper Zoltan Toth for the most wins in MSL playoff history.
"I don't know where I'll be playing next season," Manning said. "Despite what some people think, I haven't retired and I haven't closed any doors here in Dallas. We'll just see what develops."
* SERIOUS PLAY: No one came through bigger throughout the postseason than former Blast midfielder Richard Chinapoo and former Kansas City Comet David Doyle, who both now play for Dallas.
Doyle led all scorers in the postseason with 19 goals and 10 assists, and Chinapoo was right on his heels with 16 goals, seven assists.
* MSL-LANEOUS: The Wichita Wings have re-signed All-Star defender Kim Roentved . . . San Diego defender Kevin Crow, who all but shut out Tatu, was named the series Unsung Hero . . . Baltimorean Tim Wittman had six goals, three assists in the championship series . . . The Sidekicks are 3-31 in San Diego and have now lost 13 straight there.