Last week I managed to get my car back from my wife for a few days, and I happily drove it around town with my faithful mutt riding shotgun, just like we used to. Naturally, I turned on the XM radio and just as naturally turned to Sports 2 which is where the soccer programming is.
And as my luck would have it, the first voice I hear is Steven "Weasel Grease" Cohen pontificating on Italian soccer, a topic about which, astonishingly, he seems to know even less than he knows about MLS. I mean, lots of guys simply fake it, but he'd be a lot more believable if he could at least learn a few correct pronunciations.
Anyway, so I'm getting ready to say "Uncle" and turn it over to The Coffee House when Mr.T-Shirt announces that he has Craig Waibel on the phone.
Now I've always been a fan of Craig's; here's a guy who went undrafted out of college, went to USL1, got cut a couple times here and there and yet, somehow, has FOUR MLS Championship rings, gained mostly by being smarter and tougher then the next guy.
Well, OK, and also being in the right place at the right time, but what the hell.
So after a quick, perfunctory "So the Dynamo have won back-to-back championships, is that right Craig" (boy howdy, Stevie, gotta get up pretty early to slip one past you, eh?) he goes straight for the killer: a Beckham question.
And of course the point is not to find out what Waibel thinks; Cohen could care less. Your purpose on his show is to reinforce whatever HE thinks.
So the question Waibel gets is (I'm paraphrasing) "Now, a lot of people (shorthand for "I") think that the Beckham signing is actually the worst thing that could have happened to MLS. Wouldn't you agree?"
Waibel hesitates, trying to come up with an answer of some kind, so Cohen soldiers on: "Many people ("I" again) say that MLS ought to spread that money around rather than pay just one player with it"
Again, nothing from Craig, and I'm beginning to worry that Cohen will start talking again when finally, Craig offers "I see your point (clearly he doesn't, mostly because there isn't one) but on the other hand he sells out MLS stadiums wherever he goes and the hope is that once people come out to see a game they'll want to come back"
Cohen's not having it: "Most people ("I" "I" "I") think that it's a shame though, that a player like Ty Harden, who's only making $24,000 a year, can't get paid some of the money Beckham is getting, wouldn't you agree?"
Waibel isn't getting the message: "We've got contract negotiations coming up with the league next year and salaries are one of the big things the Player's Union wants to address" he says, as if this were a rational discussion.
Cohen doesn't hear him: "MLS clearly has to raise the salary cap to at least 6 or 7 million dollars so that guys like Harden can get paid more than "$24,000 a year" (no idea where that number came from) while Beckham makes millions"
Waibel starts to vocalize some response but Cohen has made his points and has no further use for this guy: "Listen Craig, we're running out of time but I just want to say that Craig Waibel has agreed to call in regularly over the course of the season and let us in on what's going on around the league, isn't that right?"
And they go on to something else.
Note to Craig Waibel: If you really want to be this jackasse's lapdog, and debase yourself by giving him credibility, be my guest. Be forewarned though that there are two and only two things he'll want to let you talk about:
a) Beckham is a useless turd because he doesn't think Cohen is worth talking to
b) MLS sucks.
Why not just put on a little French Maid outfit and wash the guy's car while you're at it? If you're going to be his stooge you might as well dress the part.
Speaking of guys who ended up in USL1 the Carolina Railhawks announced yesterday that former US soccer wunderkind Chris Carrieri is calling it a career. The #1 overall draft pick as a Pro-40 out of North Carolina (Where he lad the nation with 25 goals and 14 assists) in 2001, (Earthquakes) he was widely viewed as a "can't miss" prospect and likely to be a mainstay for the US Men for a decade or more.
San Jose quickly dealt him to the Rapids where he was equally adept at scoring golas and pissing everyone off. In an astonishing 2003 interview with Marc Connelly he complained about where he was being used, how he was being used, his playing time and the coaching staff, and said - as he did repeatedly - that if he ever got the chance to play regularly he would be leading the league in scoring.
Eventually, his arrogance became too much for Tim Hankinson, who declined to re-sign him and he began the usual journey through the nether regions of American soccer: USL1, USL2, indoor, a cup of coffee with the Fire, then back to USL1 again.
Carrieri is a sad tale of million dollar talent with a ten cent head perched on top. Apparently though, he managed to grow up some over the last couple of years and had become a leader with the Railhawks and a solid midfield presence. But like with so many other guys, the "what if's" aren't likely to leave him alone anytime soon.
Here's hoping he finds whatever he's looking for.