Rip Van Gardner

I take a back seat to no one in my respect for and gratitude to Paul Gardner, a man whose contribution to soccer in America through his work in Soccer America all through the dark ages before Al Rothenberg invented MLS and Al Gore invented the internet is unmatched.

In a just world, Gardner would already be in the Hall of Fame, instead of on the sidelines while the voters put an X in the box for embarrassments like Chuck Blazer.

That said, I find myself increasingly amazed at the level of disconnect Gardner seems to be suffering from. The latest example is THIS PIECE POSTED ON FRIDAY regarding the whole "Cuban defectors" kerfuffle.

Apparently someone there at the home spilled their Prune juice on Pauls' head and he regained consciousness just long enough to notice that - a month ago - some Cuban players walked out of their hotel in Tampa and didn't come back.

And Paul isn't too happy about it.

He's "disturbed" (nope, not touching that one) because CONCACAF should have recognized that the Cuban team was "vulnerable to defections" (although he avoids mentioning why on Earth that might be) and, among other things, provided better "security".

"Security" in this case meaning "CONCACAF employing armed guards to keep the Cuban players prisoners in their hotel and who will beat crap out of any of them who tries to go for a walk". This seems like a rational idea to Paul.

"Going somewhere, Comrade?

He says he's "bewildered" - nope, that one's too easy too - and says that one "can only shake one's head" at Miami FC actually offering free men jobs. I wonder if he'd shake his head at Buzzy's Wash n' Wax letting them towel off cars in order to eat. Perhaps we could ask him.

He then quotes the Cuban coach who called the players actions evidence of "cowardice" and "betrayal", wholeheartedly endorses those sentiments,and proclaims that the thing CONCACAF should do is "punish" these players, apparently as a warning for future Cuban athletes to toe the line.

He concludes:

"In short, it has been a thoroughly sordid episode, a slap in the face of sportsmanship and fair play. An episode that leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. A sour taste that may get worse.

So according to Gardner, CONCACAF - and the host organization, the United States Soccer Federation - needs to spend a lot more time considering ways to help Cuba's secret state police keep these guys locked up. Put the tournament in an unfriendly place, hire some thugs to follow them around, have US police arrest them on the street and haul them back to their team and deny the guys who're already here the right to make a living.

I don't know what they're putting in the lime Jello there at Garden Grove Rest Home, but it sure isn't common sense. These men are our guests, Paul, not our prisoners, not our slaves and not circus dogs who we "punish" for ruining our little show.

Go back to sleep, Paul.