Watching the Defectives

Grahame L. Jones is wrong, but it's worth pointing out why.

Clever readers should always be concerned when "clearly" or "obviously" or words of that ilk appear. Terry Pratchett calls words like that wallpaper words - meant to cover over a hole or some other flaw.*

In this case, Jones is right, it is more than just the economy - but his conclusion doesn't necessarily fly. Another thing that the Galaxy have been missing are the playoffs. Anecdotal evidence (i.e., something I overheard) suggests that 80% of the people who didn't renew season tickets blamed team performance.

But there's another factor to all this. The Galaxy are making significant advertising buys on sports talk radio, and even television. There was a Galaxy ad up during the Dodger game the other night. There are Galaxy ads during the Jim Rome show. (I hope to God that's part of a larger buy on 570-AM, because I'm pretty sure the crossover between Galaxy fans and Jim Rome listeners is busy typing this sentence.)

Well, heck, ITTET ad rates have probably nosedived, so maybe the Galaxy got a deal. Fairly troubling that it hasn't translated to more, or even sustained, attendances, right?

Except they weren't ads for Galaxy games. They were ads for one game - the AC Milan friendly.

Well, of course, you might think. That's the first home game where Beckham is scheduled to return.

Except, the ads don't mention Beckham. They just mention AC Milan. (They also don't mention Kaka or Ronaldinho or any player, just the AC Milan brand.)

Is it smart business to prioritize one game?

Reckon so.

But it's strange that the Galaxy would miss, or spurn, the opportunity to plug Beckham, even for the games from August to October. They may be saving that ad campaign for later, of course.

It's also a little weird that other MLS teams are giving Beckham the silent treatment. The Red Bulls are billing the July game against "Landon Donovan and the Los Angeles Galaxy." I've heard nothing about the Wizards moving their Galaxy game out of the House of T-Bones. The Galaxy and the league have been so low key about Beckham, in fact, that I wondered whether he in fact was going to return after all - but there's his mug on the Galaxy website over the Milan game, so who knows.

This is all horrible news for Galaxy fans. At the very least, one meaningless game in July (played against an opponent showing up against their will, God help us!) outweighs the league games played up until then. Probably the entire season - the Galaxy, as I said, may have a smash-bang marketing and publicity campaign to catapult the team back into prominence after the Milan game, but it's just as likely at this point that by August the Galaxy will be out of the playoff race. It's no stretch to assume that as far as the Galaxy's marketing is concerned, the season is one game long.

Of course, the negative publicity from the Galaxy getting absolutely crucified by Milan might hurt, but hopefully Tim Leiweke wrote a mercy rule into the contract.

FAKE EDIT - in case it wasn't obvious, the economy is actually playing a pretty big role in why attendances are tasting the curb. The Sol just sent out an e-mail advertising a Wednesday sale - tickets only $4.15. (The Galaxy had a similar offer for the Chivas game, which is sort of horrifying - even though the "midfield" seats in question were in sections next to the Riot Squad, usually those seats sell out for big games - to the horror of fans who have bought the game experience equivalent of moving next door to a crack house.)

*I use words like this ALL THE TIME. In this post, I trot out "actually," "of course," "naturally," and one "at the very least," which is the passive-aggressive equivalent.