A few days ago, I talked about the bewildering tale ofof former Revolution hitter Pat Noonan and while I don't like repeating myself, there's been so much confusion and, well, just plain puzzlement about what's really going on here that I'm once again linking to The Columbus Dispatch and SHAWN MITCHELL WHO HAS BEEN WORKING ON UNRAVELING THE MYSTERY
The situation is difficult to untangle for several reasons, primary among them being that MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis simply refuses to answer questions about it, to which I can only comment that if MLS wants people to think of them as "Big Time" and "Major League" then their officials have to stop hiding under their desks when reporters have tough questions.
If this is how Gazidis chooses to exhibit the "transparency" he proudly boasts of, then Orwells' vision is alive and well at 420 Fifth Avenue.
Be that as it may, it appears the sticking point is that MLS is throwing a hissy fit in one of their typical, revenge-motivated efforts to show the players they are not to be trifled with.
Noonan had the audacity to turn down a pay cut from the Revs and sign a deal in Norway without MLS getting any money in return, and now MLS wants to stick it to him as an object lesson for any other players who might be considering the same thing.
Sigi Schmid confirms that the Crew has the money, the salary cap space, the roster space and deals in place with both NE (a "high draft choice") and AaK ("a modest fee").
In short, they have everything they need except a "yes" from the Sports Marketing geniuses in New York.
The prevailing theory amongst MLS fans is that centralized control of team personnel moves over the last few years has been gradually moving away from the strict, hands-on, single-entity dictatorship we've known and loved lo these many years.
MLS' role has been simply to verify whether a given acquisition or trade follows league rules and guidelines and involves the appropriate use of funds the team in question is entitled to.
In this case, it is almost certain that all league rules have been followed, all the "i's" dotted and all the "t's" crossed. All the parties involved are satisfied with their end of the deal and every dime of the money is within what the league says the Crew may spend on whomever they choose to spend it on.
But Major League Soccer is saying no.
For years now, we've all been complaining that MLS made up the rules as they went along, and for years Garber and Gazidis have been insisting that it was simply a matter of interpretation; they would point to a rule, twist it up into knots and say "Here's how we can justify this"
In this case, it's no wonder that Gazidis refuses to speak to reporters: not even MLS can find a rational sounding way to say "Because we're mad at this guy" as a reason to veto a deal.
(And if you're looking for reasons why the players are increasingly not just disgruntled but downright pissed off at MLS, why the relationship has reached a level that could reasonably be described as "hatred" this is a prime example: the league nakedly attempting to beat down a veteran player as an object lesson to everybody else.)
Back in 1999, the owners broke the iron grip of MLS control over personnel when Gazidis' predecessor, Sunil Gulati, signed his friend Tab Ramos to a contract extension and a big raise on behalf of a New York team who was planning on dumping him.
It was the straw that broke the camel's back, the catalyzing moment when the owners, in the face of what was clearly high-handed abuse of league authority, said "We've had enough of this" and revolted against the iron-fisted control of MLS HQ over every facet of team roster policy.
With the influx of new ownership groups there's been a concurrent rumbling about how maybe the individual teams were ready to wrest a bunch more control for themselves. Guys who plunk down $30 million for a team nowadays aren't all that interested in how Ivan Gazidis thinks they should spend their money.
This is just the kind of incident which will precipitate that inevitable insurrection: a completely unreasonable league decision based on nothing more than pique.
One can only hope so. It's well past time for this kind of unjustifiable nonsense from MLS HQ to become a quaint old part of league history.