The All Star Farce

YIPPEE!!

It's here at last!!!

Our chance to select the 2009 MLS All Star Team.

Well, OK, so maybe help select would be more accurate.

No, that's not quite it. How about "have some input into the selection of the All Star team"?

Then again, the only thing fan voting counts towards is the so-called "First XI"; the other 438 selections are made by someone else.

But hey, at least our votes count towards the "First XI", which are the starters, right? I mean, they're the only ones that really matter in the ...oh wait; that's right - the First XI isn't actually the Starting XI. It's just eleven guys who'll get their picture taken wearing snappy uniforms, after which the coach can - and in some cases will - tell them to take a seat.

And of course after the coach picks five more guys for the game roster and then the commissioner picks one or two guys (depending on his mood- what, you think there should be, like, some rule about how many he can pick all by himself? HA! says I)

And then of course somebody or other - Santa? Lindsay Lohan? Bora Milutinovic? - picks a whole bunch of "Reserve players" who won't be anywhere near the field when the game is played.

This is because the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Players Union says that they have to have at least 36 players on the "All Star Team" - representing the number of players who'd be there if this was a normal, East vs. West kind of a game.

After that, the coach will then pick a dozen or so "substitutes" for reasons which defy all explanation. The only way these "substitutes" would get to play is if 36 freakin players simultaneously go down with plague or injury or genital warts or something.

So when they're all done, you - me, them, us, "the fans" - will have had a 25% voice in selecting 11 out of 50 or so players, some of whom won't even start.

Democracy in action.

What's even worse is that, honestly, the league thinks you're all a bunch of morons anyway.

Take, for example, the 2008 All Star team. The fans voted for that funny looking Argentine guy, Guillermo Barros-Schelotto, onto the First XI.

Then the league, the coaches and the media quietly guffawed at your stupidity and he got bumped off. Hey, they're the Experts, right? You're just a bunch of whineyassed fans. They think it's just so cute that you voted for some guys but come on, what do you know?

Then the coach picked the balance of the bench and, once again, no GBS.

Finally, he was picked in one of the "Bunch of Guys We're Mailing Spiffy Certificates Suitable for Framing" groups.

A couple of months later, carrying the MLS MVP trophy AND the MLS Cup MVP trophy, guess who looked stupid?

(Hint: it ain't you)

Still, they tell us, it's not really about picking the best players. Oh noes, you foolish children. Rather, it's about picking THE BEST TEAM so that they can uphold the honor of MLS by beating a major European powerhouse.

Say, Everton. Off season. Out of shape. Sweating out the beer.

So if someone you'd just swear is one of the best 18 or so players in the league doesn't get picked, that's why; it's just that he didn't fit a role with this squad. Or something. Who the hell knows?

Another yearly feature is the "Expansion Team du jour Ballot Box Stuffing" competition. A couple of years ago, it was Toronto: their fans went nuts. Voted their whole damn team into the First XI.

And since the league allows you to vote up to ten times a day between now and July 6, that's roughly 550 votes per day of you're really, really serious about it.

Then Toronto discovered that the league throws all the fan ballots out and picks whoever they want.

This year it'll be Seattle fans who'll be duped. They'll flock to mlsnet.com in droves, wearing out keyboards and following the vote totals with growing glee.

Next year it'll be Philadelphia's turn. I'm sure they get quite a chuckle out of it at MLS World HQ.

So OK then, Archer, if you're so goddam smart then what's YOUR solution to this, huh? Why don't you share it with us?

Well fine, then, as long as you asked, here goes:

Elect two guys captains. This year let's say Barros-Schelotto and Landon Donovan.

Then let them pick teams, like in gym class. Maybe do a little Rock Paper Scissors for the first pick and then alternate. Each team gets 18 players.

Then toss a ball out there and let's play. Screw "MLS Takes on The World". That's just crap. Everton isn't "The World". They're not even Great Britain.

Now that's a game I'd like to see.