C13

Hm. Slow news weekend.

Boy, that was a great interview Ollie had with Gazidis.

Let's see what Beau has cooking in the Netminder.

*spit-take*

Aw, crap! I gotta write something? Yikes! Gotta get my writing gear ready.

*change diaper* - check
*change baby's diaper* - check
*SoCo on the rocks* - check
*"Free to Be, You and Me" on the MP3 player* - check

Okay. Let's see how it shook out.

AEG

Ha! Stupid chumps! They sure were schooled! AC Milan has been doing this for a hundred years! They know football! They always get what they want.

Besides, why would they want Beckham back for only half a season? Huh? Why would they let Beckham play until the end of the season for Milan?

Well, gosh, those are awfully good questions, but you think the answer might possibly be, I don't know, money?

People think AEG didn't make out like bandits here? Tim negotiated like his job was on the line, which it probably was. He got millionaires to write checks to a billionaire. According to my math, AEG is very close to having gotten Beckham's services the past couple of years - and more important, a big taste of his merchandising - for, effectively, free. If Beckham does buy out in November, it will have been pure profit - Beckham's salary pretty much would have gone into getting out of the contract.

Remember, Tim said David paid for himself before he set foot on the field. (He probably didn't factor in the lost revenue of missed playoff games, but still.) He mollified the sponsors who demanded Beckham for one more year. Yeah, they're not happy, but ITTET Beckham-only sponsors are kinda iffy anyway, especially after Beckham said he wanted to leave.

Also, the Beckham fad in LA? Done. Grahame L. Jones owned this story. Just owned it. You know what page the LA Times put his story on Saturday? Go on, guess. You'll never guess, never ever.

All anyone cares about in this town is Manny Ramirez. If you don't know who Manny Ramirez is, find a person wearing a navy blue baseball cap with an ornate red "B" on the front, and ask him, "Do you think Manny is a first ballot Hall of Famer?" You'll be glad you did.

AEG got milk out of a dead cow. You can criticize Phil and Tim for a lot of things, but this deal? ITTET? In the words of Sam Kinison - much like a neutered dog, I don't get it.

Looking at the Galaxy schedule, Beckham's extended vacation doesn't do too much damage. Phoenix loses out, but they have Blanco as a draw so it shouldn't hurt. Colorado, Dallas and Salt Lake don't get him in their new or newish stadiums, and San Jose misses him twice. Awkward, but all of those towns have seen him already. Toronto doesn't need Beckham's help. Nor, honestly, will Seattle. ESPN has already made plans to "celebrate" his "return" in July. They'll get the ratings they were hoping for, being able to bill this as an event rather than him going through the motions, even though the latter is far more accurate.

MILAN

Welp, I owe Jim Litke an apology. "Milan playing a friendly in Carson?" I thought. "What a terrible idea. Their high profile players will beg off, their low profile but good players will resent it, Bruce will play the bench and Galaxy fans will be on their worst behavior. All that for one player? Madness."

You know what, it's still a terrible idea. That Milan gave in show how badly they handled this. This game is, effectively, a testimonial for a man who hasn't officially signed yet. The precedent is horrible to contemplate. Scheduling friendlies to raise funds for a contract puts a terrible imposition on the team. Why, really, should Kaka or Ronaldinho or Maldini care? It's just as out of the way, if not more so, as Qatar or Scotland, and can't even be justified as helping the club financially. Otherwise, Milan would have scheduled a West Coast game in the first place.

I think this is Galliani paying the price for having said this in front of an open microphone back in February, when MLS threw the $3 million offer back in his face:

Apart from "In the United States they look at the commercial aspect", none of this was true.

Which isn't a crime, not on this subject - everyone's been telling meat pies on this. But it was certainly annoyed Team Beckham, reading in the paper that the exchange rate for Brand Beckham was 1.17 to the Heskey, 2 to the N'Zogbia and 3.3 to the Altidore.

Otherwise, Milan returned to the table out of the goodness of their hearts, in order to help their loyal player Beckham and their close friends Phil and Tim. I'm guessing it was the commercial aspect of Beckham that brought Milan to heel.

Sadly, it worked perfectly, based on Sunday's result. Thanks a pantload, Atalanta. If I wasn't certain Serie A had cleaned up its act after the match-fixing scandal, I'd say that result was questionable. But fortunately, everyone involved with Milan is above reproach. Also funny how when Beckham gets what he wants, all of a sudden his passes don't end up bouncing into the seats.

The only thing Milan was interested in was selling a few shirts without costing themselves a Champions League place. Mission accomplished.

BECKHAM

Sure, he got what he wanted. In exchange for money. Keeping Beckham happy for the sake of keeping Beckham happy? Phil and Tim would make me pretty happy too, if I wrote them a check with that many zeroes (and a digit in front. The digit in front, it turns out, is not optional).

He apparently didn't have enough money to bail out of the MLS season entirely, though, which raises all sorts of questions. Let's take it as read that AEG or MLS or Alan Gordon or whoever annoyed Beckham enough that he wanted to leave LA permanently.

Remember, he didn't say anything about wanting to come back to Los Angeles.

Wait, yes, he did. He said it would be "difficult." Self-fulfilling prophecy? Your table is ready. Four months of dodging $20,000 a year jobbers sounds like something that Team Beckham would have avoided if possible.

Galliani is quoted in the Times article as saying Beckham renounced a mountain of money, but one wonders. If Beckham buys out his contract, he will after all be a free agent, and then Galliani will have to tender an offer. Wonder if it'll be more than $3 million.

In retrospect, he should have kept his mouth shut. Better still, Beckham should have declared his desire to ditch MLS at the beginning of January, instead of the end. By reducing the pool of suitors to one, Beckham ended up costing himself a great deal of time and money. Now, we might have to wait until 2010 to see the amusing Manchester City outcome.

Well, that's it. Looks like everyone got more or less what they thought they wanted, and everyone can point to at least some benefit, so I guess

LA GALAXY

Hm? Oh, right, us. We're boned.

But you know what, we've been boned for a while. Probably from the minute Beckham signed the deal in January 2007; certainly from the minute Beckham decided he wanted to play in Italy. AEG made the best out of a bad situation. Beckham was clearly going to pout his way through the season, and I think an actual player on the field during the majority of the season is a better option. It's a shame they couldn't get Beckham to buy out his contract and throw in enough to satiate the sponsors, but AEG got their bait back and then some. For those wondering how AEG could put the Galaxy behind Mammon, consider the kind of quality and effort the Galaxy experience would have been in 2010 going forward if AEG had lost money on all this. AEG turned 2009 straw into, literally, gold. It's easier to clean up if you can actually afford soap and water.

This is where I part company from most of my fellow Galaxy fans, and maybe you guys can help me out when I talk to them. They're blaming Phil and Tim, and I say Phil and Tim made lemonade out of AIDS (per Sarah Silverman).

They then point out that it was Phil and Tim who brought Beckham to Los Angeles to begin with, and it worked out like it did with Bo and Luis and Hermosillo, and it's a sign that AEG puts money ahead of soccer. I try to explain that putting money behind soccer is a great way to end up with the LA Aztecs, but I can't get anywhere.

How will Galaxy fans react to Beckham? Badly enough that you wonder why he wants to put up with it. He's heard worse than what we'll come up with, but not from his home fans. (England fans who support teams like Liverpool weren't really his "home" fans, cf., Cobi and Landon in RFK.) He's probably even been in less friendly locker rooms, knowing the kind of egomaniacs Real Madrid and AC Milan tend to attract. Although I hope Dema Kovalenko is keeping in shape, if you get my drift. (Has Bruce written to Sir Alex for boot-throwing tips?)

Had Beckham pulled a similar stunt to an Italian team, well, let's just say I don't think we're going to take it out on Metrolink trains. Burn his jersey, hang his effigy, the usual. I don't think we'll see anything out of the ordinary.

The problem isn't so much being booed by Galaxy fans, the problem is apathy from the LA general population. Beckham has faced a lot in his career - name another player who was individually targeted by Osama Freaking Bin Laden himself! - but he's never had to deal with C13. This is David Beckham's Contractual Obligation Album, and it will be performed and received as well as such things usually are.

EDIT - oh, yeah, forgot. Ten percent off the price of tickets, and that announcement being made simultaneously with Beckham's deal? Doesn't sound like the front office thinks LA fans want him back, otherwise prices would have stayed level. I guess that's more to do with running a team ITTET, though.

Let's light a candle for Bruce Arena. Having complete control of Galaxy soccer affairs, apart from Beckham, is like having complete control of the car radio as it barrels off the cliff. "Aw, crap, Jonesy's Jukebox isn't on anymore" *CRASH* Really makes you think John Calvin had the right idea about this whole "free will" nonsense.

Welcome to Los Angeles, Bruce! Enjoy what looks to be a real brief-ass stay! Say, you met my man Tim? He's the one who's gonna let you do whatever you want!

So where does Bruce go? If Kansas City, New York or DC get off to horrible starts, do you think he jumps in mid-season? Or do you think he waits all the way until next year to start the Philadelphia team? "But he'd be working under Nick Sakiewicz." Please. After Gulati, De Grandpre and Leiweke, Arena could probably work for the Steinbrenners.

Besides, the Galaxy weren't going to be a good team anyway. Here's the starting lineup for the Oita game:

Wicks; Franklin, Sanneh, Gonzalez, Lewis; Klein, Kovalenko, Tudela, Kirovski; Buddle, Gordon.

Ricketts in for Wicks, Beckham in for Tudela, Donovan in for Gordon. Great! Now all we need are Pele, Jesus and Superman.

Is Beckham going to help? Of course not. He's going to play "Don't Get Injured." Arena should only play him in road games as a second-half substitute. (It's not like by the time the second half rolls around, the outcome of Galaxy games are going to be in doubt.) For all I know, that's part of the settlement deal. He's got other priorities.

Speaking of which, I'm not entirely sure this all benefits

ENGLAND

There's keeping in match fitness, then there's a 33 year old man, newly injury-prone, playing competitive club matches pretty much non-stop through World Cup qualifying. If Beckham had bought out his entire contract, I would honestly have written something like "Wow. He really is putting England first." I'm not coming from an objective place, fine, but I really don't see this deal as Beckham putting his main emphasis on England. There are simply too many demands. Demands which, coincidentally, fulfill all of his existing promotional and commercial commitments.

There's also the England record book to think of. Allow me to paraphrase that Youtube video of Johnny Rotten's "Order of Death" put together with scenes making fun of white supremacists.

This is what you want

This is what you get

Bad life, indeed.