Not Exactly Letting the Cat out of the Bag

Since not much of anyone was likely to fall on the floor in gobsmacked disbelief when they handed the MVP trophy to Guillermo Barros-Schelotto today at 1:50 on ESPN, it's just as well that Sports Illustrated hit the streets this week with AN AD CONGRATULATING HIM for the award before he actually got it.

If nothing else, MLS fans can take a bit of smug satisfaction in this, considering that we - the great unwashed - voted GBS onto the All Star Team (again) this year and the people whose votes actually count - MLS types, media and so forth - bounced him off. If you were looking for proof that you're smarter than they are, well, there you go.

He didn't make the All Star Team last year either, (even though he did make the MLS Best XI) but that was pretty much OK since he had to have some teammates explain to him what an All Star Team is. This year, in what is possibly the first time in the history of sport (that being the kind fo statement that generates 20 or 30 "Archer, you ignorant slut" responses) a league MVP can't make the league All Star Team.

And although he now has the concept figured out, he still doesn't much care.

GBS is an EXTREMELY COMPLEX GUY, who is so focused on winning a championship that when he says he's really not interested in individual awards, you honestly believe him. Other athletes say the same thing and then go home and build a new wing on their home to showcase their trophies. With Guille, you get the feeling that in about two weeks the trophy is going to be a doorstop in his family room.

He's been an integral part of teams that have won 17 professional championships, and it's not an accident.

They say the ultimate test of any great athlete is whether he makes the players around him better. And it's easy to see when he's out there wheeling and dealing and waving and pointing and cajoling and - God forbid - glaring at you because you did the wrong thing, that this is his team, that everything revolves around him.

But what was really fascinating was back a couple months ago when Sigi took what everyone thought was a huge gamble and sat the guy down for several games with an injury that he could have played through. Sigi was willing to take the chance in return for getting Guille some rest heading into the playoffs.

And when the team kept winning, it made some people think that maybe GBS wasn't that important after all, a logical conclusion perhaps but dead wrong.

What was fascinating was that they kept right on playing his game without him even being out there.