A Tale of Two Tomes

Yesterday, everybody and their cousin from every corner of the soccersphere linked to the exerpt from Grant Wahl's new book.

On the off chance that you missed it, HERE'S DAN'S TAKE, complete with exerpts that more or less prove what we all more or less were saying, ie. that a) Beckham's people were calling the shots in LA and b) Beckham wasn't exactly busting his hump out there.

Perhaps coinicidentally, USSF's Overhead-in-Chief, Sunil Gulati, was quoted yesterday advising Stupid Spice that he ISN'T LIKELY TO BE WELCOMED BACK TO MLS WITH WILD ENTHUSIASM, about which I can only add that if Beckham needed someone to tell him that then the much-vaunted collection of flacks, PR gurus and ad men collectively referred to as "Team Beckham" isn't worth the money Posh pays them.

Anyway, the reason for the SI tease is of course to generate pre-publication buzz for Wahl's book, and more power to him. I'll buy a copy if I can't steal one, and I bet a lot of other people in and out of the soccer world will as well, and good for Grant. It'd be nice if somebody was getting rich off of soccer in the US.

(Of course I have no idea how much loot he stands to clear on this but I have a sister-in-law who writes soft porn - excuse me, I meant to say "Romance Novels" - and she makes an absolute killing, so imagine what an actually, you know, worthwhile book that has some value beyond getting bored housewives all hot and bothered must be worth. Or not.)

In any case, this book has been in the works for a while and it almost qualifies as "long-awaited". Wahl is one of the very best and most widely respected soccer writers in the US (an admittedly slim list to be sure but that doesn't diminish his talent one bit.) and as a straight reporter there's nobody better.

Somewhat less highly anticipated - in fact I'd never heard of it until some kind soul sent me a link last week - is THIS TOME BY THE SOMEWHAT LESS DISTINGUISHED Andrea Canales (and, apparently, Luis Bueno; his name appears first on the cover but Amazon lists it under her name only).

Now as many of you know I'm not a huge fan of Andrea's (and to complete the perfecta Dan isn't exactly swapping spit with Luis, either) but that has more to do with the ugly incident in the Crew locker room which caused Marco Gonzalez to go back to Chile than with her actual work which is passable in a pedestrian sort of a way.

But here's the thing: this book was scheduled for release in May while Amazon has been taking preorders for Wahl's book for a while now and promising a July 15 shipping date.

Now you could take the cynical approach and say that the publishers of the Canales/Bueno book wanted to shove theirs out to the shelves before Wahl's book got put next to it, at which point I'd expect that it should just move straight to the remainders bin.

But for some reason the book hasn't been released and, frankly, at this point if I were them I'd think twice about releasing it at all.

Consider, for example, the [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Beckham-Experiment-Athlete-Conquer-America/dp/030740787X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246460773&sr=1-1"]REVIEWERS FOR WAHL'S BOOK[/ame]: they include Jef Pearlman, Will Leitch, Franklin Foer, Dave Barry, Rick Reilly, Selena ROberts and - of all people - Frank DeFord.

The page for The Beckham Invasion, conversely, contains no reviewers comments of any kind and a publisher's note that makes it sound a lot like one big blog entry, tarted up in book form.

On Canale's website, THERE ARE SOME GENERAL COMMENTS that don't seem directed towards the book but look unfortunately like someone trying to validate themselves.

Particularly the one from a "reader response" who, apparently, doesn't like her very much. If it were me, I think I might have left that one out.

And is that "Steven Smith" as in "Steven A. Smith" or is there some other Steven Smith in the sports reporting business? I'm hoping it's someone else, since again, having Steven A. call you a great soccer writer is a little like Chastity Bono calling you normal. How the hell would she even know?

However it came about, I don't wish anyone ill. I've never written a book and I really don't think I have the chops for it or, if I did, I doubt I could find anyone crazy ebought to publish it, although the publicity it would get when soccer fans North of the Border burned down their local bookshop in retaliation for displaying it might be good for some business.

But in the real world of competition, I'd sure hate to be releasing a book on exactly the same subject and at exactly the same time as Grant Wahl.

Unless I needed a bunch of kindling.