I'd like to extend my personal thanks to Atlanta, Georgia sports impresario Arthur Blank, who saved me a bunch of heavy lifting this past week by announcing that he was not going forward with his MLS bid, at least for the next couple of years.
As hopefully at least a few people have noticed by now, I've been taking a look at each MLS expansion bid, doing one every week or so. I generally don't do the "series" kind of a thing because that locks you into stuff that, come time to write about them, I may not feel like doing and/or may not have anything particularly new to say.
This week I had planned to write about the Atlanta bid, and when I got into it I was instantly reminded why I avoid this kind of thing: there was just nothing to say. It seemed like Blank responded to the call for bids and then disappeared down a black hole. No news conference, no website, no stadium drawings, no progress reports, no public hearings, no nothing.
The only way you'd know there even WAS an Atlanta bid was that whenever someone would list the bidders "Atlanta" was included. Otherwise, it was a phantom bid. There just didn't seem to be anything there.
Maybe his bid was a sort of placeholder, keeping his options open (which is why it's usually a good idea to ask for a little earnest money up front, but the league doesn't seem to have done this.) but otherwise not getting too serious about it. Then, as the credit markets tightened and the economic situation became less and less predictable, he simply rang up Don Garber and said "nevermind".
So we're officially down another one, leaving five active bids.
Except, of course, when the commissioner was in St. Louis this past week he was asked to comment on the local bid and, after the obligatory "this is a great, great market with great, great fans" babble that he repeats whenever you pull the little string on his back, he added - to no one's surprise - that bid honcho Jeff Cooper still hasn't come up with the "deep pockets" guy who can sit at the table with the big boys.
As I noted last week, 20 or 30 little fish don't add up to one big fish, and Cooper simply doesn't have one. And until he does - which seems unlikely at best - the St. Louis bid is, frankly, not going to fly.
Does that mean we're down to four? Almost certainly. Sorry guys. Go ring up Augie Busch VIII or IX or whatever number they're up to now and see if you can interest him in dropping some spare change on an MLS team. Beyond that, sadly, you're in big trouble.
On the bright side, the bonding proposal for Chester sailed through last week.
The one councilman who has been opposed all along spent the last couple of weeks demanding that MLS open up their books for him so he could judge for himself just what kind of shape they're in. Unfortunately for him, there being a real paucity of pigs in the trees, MLS refused, so he went ahead and voted no but he was all alone in that regard.
Andy Mead has carved out a particularly cool niche for himself taking photos at various MLS and USSF events. I hope he dresses warmly on Feb 11.
Still, as good a job as he does, when I was perusing his pix from the MLS draft on Thursday, I felt that he really needed to add some explanatory information to some of them, and being the kind of guy I am, I decided to help him out. Don't thank me.
I have never in my life seen anyone as uncomfortable in front of a camera as Sigi Schmid. The guy always looks like he'd rather have you stick a hot poker in his eye than take his picture.
In a piece of planning all too typical of them, Toronto apparently only brought one scarf.
In a piece of planning all too typical of them, DC brought two scarves AND a jersey.
Guys, I'm with you all the way. Really. But isn't calling the guy "Garber" just a bit, I dunno, disrespectful? You're trying to get him on your side, not piss him off.
And you do know, I hope, that the MLS Board of Governors decides who gets in, not the Commissioner. Please tell me that you get this.
I take it then that Lahoud was not your first choice?
"I swear, it's nothing but protein shakes and weights"
Um, guys? The camera is over here.
I'm Bruce Arena, and I don't need no stinking badge around my neck. Go ahead. Try and stop me from entering the room. I'll have your job, you insignificant worm. In fact, I think I'll have you fired just for fun.
Finally, I want to add another comment about the estimable Mr. Mead.
I was greatly impressed by his inclusion of Mauricio Cienfuegos on his HoF ballot. I never saw Andy as the Don Quixote type, but I admire his pluck.
When Frankie Hejduk hit the third goal at MLS Cup off of that delicately lofted ball from Barros-Schelotto, I turned to the guy next to me and said "that's a Cienfuegos assist". Those of you who saw him with LA know what I'm talking about. It was vintage.
Now, I happen to agree that Cien deserves a spot in the Hall, and I also know how totally unlikely it is.
On the other hand, a guy who is a stone cold lock to get a place in Oneonta, Sigi Schmid, won the Cup in 2002 with Cienfuegos doing pretty much exactly what Guille did for him in 2008 when he won it again, and GBS won't be getting in either.
The only question is how long it will take for the Round One to find that same guy a third time.
However long that is, one thing is for certain:
He knows exactly what he's looking for.