Leiweke: "We're Not Going to Play That Game Any More"

The deadline came. The deadline went.

MLS insists that now that that unpleasantness is over, David Beckham will show up on March 9 raring to go.

Everyone in LA is saying the right things:

Arena: "The deadline imposed by Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber regarding a resolution of David Beckham's potential transfer to AC Milan has passed.

Like a kidney stone, only not as pleasant.

"We did not receive an acceptable offer for the player. As a result, David remains an LA Galaxy player and we look forward to having him back with the club starting March 9."

And I also look forward to contracting leprosy, herpes and the plague.

Leiweke: "We don't want to entertain any more conversations now."

Not that it's been all that entertaining up to now.

"It is a distraction to Bruce Arena, the team and the fans and we move on. That's the last we're going to talk about this.

Yeah sure.

"The fans been reading all these stories and we lose credibility by the day. That's not fair. We owe it to Bruce and we owe it to the rest of the team, we're a month away from our season.

I saw your team play several times last year; "credibility" is not a word that leaps to mind.

"They've never been in the ballpark. What they've tried to do is use David and use us.

So you've finally came around to the realization that Beckham Inc. has been playing you like an old ukelele for weeks now? Well, better late than....oh nevermind.

"We're not going to play that game any more"

Sure you are, and you know it.

This has been extremely damaging and distracting for our team."

As if the three ring circus following Beckham ever since he set foot in your locker room hasn't been a "distraction"?

"I've been as courteous and as gracious as I possibly can out of respect for David, but now it's time to move on.

Maybe, in retrospect, being "courteous and gracious" wth a cynical bunch of international sharpers who are publicly hosing you wasn't the best way to play it.

" We need to get David excited about the team we're building here and coming back."

Oh for sure. David can't wait to get into camp with all his old pals.

In fairness to Leiweke, who's frequently guilty of questionable judgement but is decidedly not a fool, it's not his fault that, since the day Becks showed up in LA, it's been the Brit and his handlers who have called every single shot.

Not because that was how Leiweke wanted it, but because he didn't have any choice.

The only guy who ever even hinted at not letting Beckham do whatever the hell he wanted was Panayotis Lalas, who suggested that Beckham wasn't going to be allowed to jet off to England for every pointless freindly and exhibition he wanted.

Lalas got slapped down in about a nanosecond on that one, had to make a very public (and embarassing) about-face, and that was the last anyone ever heard of telling Beckham what to do.

In retrospect, maybe Lalas was on the right track. But what point is there in pretending that one player isn't bigger than the team when, in fact, that player IS bigger than the team.

The only thing that would have prevented this entire PR disaster is if LA had said no to the Milan loan.

Which would have been a PR disaster.

Once he was there, as I wrote a few days ago, the situation was entirely in the hands of the army of flacks, managers and towelholders that follows Beckham around like Pigpen's dirt cloud.

If he stunk the place up, well, the only reason he went was to "stay in shape", right? No problem. He reports back to LA.

If he looks good and Milan wants him, then he says "Gosh, this is great and I'd like to stay"

Brilliant.

So what happens now?

Well, all due respect to Mssrs. Garber and Arena and Leiweke, but they're going to have to let the guy go.

As much as they've enjoyed the weekly "Glamorous International Superstar David Beckham coming to a city near you" headlines, they're now looking at eight months of "Unhappy International Superstar David Beckham, who thinks MLS stinks but they refuse to let him go, coming to a city near you"

I don't know if there's any truth to the story that Milan's negotiators didn't even arrive in LA until Friday afternoon. I am prepared to believe it, however. Commissioner Garber's ultimatum-deadline thingie was never all that hard and fast, and everyone knows it.

In the end, Milan knows that MLS has to let the guy go. It's pretty clear that MLS knows it too.