Beckham Gets Lei'd

David Beckham arrived in Hawaii yesterday, greeted by SCREAMING FLIGHT ATTENDANTS, hysterical fans, US magazine, 9,000 Japanese reporters and Miss Honolulu.

He pronounced the beaches "something to be admired" before being whisked away to his oceanside Waikiki accommodations.

Some other guys, who wear uniforms and play some sport or other, have arrived as well, but not much of anybody has noticed or - honestly- really cares.

In the spirit of world soccers' new promotional campaign: "You Want Cups? We Got Cups!", Soccer United Marketing, which is Major League Soccer's ludicrously profitable sister company, is giving us what virtually no one has been clamoring for: a Pan-Pacific-a-Palooza of a soccer spectacular, featuring Houston representing MLS, Gamba Osaka representing the J-League, Sydney FC representing the A-League and Los Angeles Galaxy, representing the lengths to which SUM will go to line the owner's pockets.

If that simpleminded twit at the LA Times honestly doesn't understand what Beckham is here to do, all he needs to do is run a quick search using his engine of choice. Half the publications on the planet have already run at least a brief piece about a competition which never existed before this year, won't kick a ball in anger until late Wednesday and is being played between teams from, shall we say, less than fashionable leagues.

You don't get every paper from the LAWRENCE, KANSAS JOURNAL to the LANCASHIRE EVENING POST talking MLS soccer in February by featuring Edson Buddle.

Three years ago, DC United and the Galaxy traveled to this very same place for an exhibition match right around this time of year. They cleverly dubbed it the Aloha Soccer Cup and it drew a respectable 15,000 fans. They didn't hear much about it in Lawrence.

The tournament is even overshadowing the fact that the Galaxy has major cap problems, with three players (Donovan, Beckham and Ruiz) gobbling up $2.2 million worth of the cap. But then if you're going to get cut, Hawaii ain't too bad a place to be unemployed.

But all that is lost in the rush of major, big-dollar HEAVYWEIGHT SPONSORS including Japan Airlines, Onkyo and others, along with the sale of TV rights all over Asia and the Pacific Rim. The only thing missing is Jack Warner's bag man.

And while the organizers try to convince you that the REAL STORY IS BRIAN CHING returning in triumph to his home state, nobody much is fooled.

(Although one interesting side note is that World Renowned T-Shirt Collector Steven Cohen has said that "the A-League has a hundred players better than Landon Donovan", which - assuming even distribution in an 8-team league - means that Sydney FC will be starting 11 of them.)

However all that may be, it's pretty easy to be cynical about this little extravaganza (although Sydney is taking it seriously enough that they were trying to get permission to bring in a half-dozen or so ringers, all of whom, presumably, would also be better than Donovan) and the whole Beckham circus, but I think that would be a mistake.

Because, in the immortal words of the immortal Jack Edwards: "That's why he's here"