UPDATE* Jeff Carlisle says the vote, conducted March 1, was 383-2 in favor and gave the union strike authority.
I have some questions: particularly about only 2 players in the entire league being unwilling to strike, but read an judge for yourself.
I spent Thursday in Greensboro at the ACC Basketball Tournament so, gloriously, I was not privy to the big "MLS Players Vote to Strike" kerfuffle.
So we got back to the Outer Banks around four AM and as hard as it is to believe I didn't hop right on a computer, electing instead to collapse for a few hours.
Imagine my chagrin when I crawled out of the sack this morning, fired up the netbook and found myself face to face with the Apocalypse before the coffee was even ready:
MLS PLAYERS SAY THEY'LL STRIKE says the Kansas City Star
MLS PLAYERS VOTE TO STRIKE says the L.A. Times
And just so you don't miss the point,STEVEN GOFF - reverting to his habit of referring to himself in the third person - gives us this, which is typical of comments across the soccersphere this morning:
"MLS players have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike if a collective bargaining agreement with the league is not reached in time for the season openers in two weeks, the Insider has learned."
The problem that I kept seeing however was that none of these alarming headlines were followed by anything like a definitive statement of fact, explicitly spelling out just what it was happened.
For example, Goff - a highly skilled and precise wordsmith if ever there was one - chose some curious phraseology:
In a written vote, more than 350 players supported a strike and only two opposed it, a source close to the situation said.
Did you catch it? They "supported a strike". Not, "they authorized a strike". Odd.
The AP story included what appears to be a caveat:
"The union did not detail the strike authorization vote"
Beyond the odd choices of language that kept popping up, I was also struck by the reported vote count: 350 in favor, 2 opposed.
Excuse me? Those are Fidel Castro/Saddam Hussein caliber numbers, aren't they? I mean, either the union is more united and determined than almost any negotiating unit in the history of mankind or there's something more here.
Or perhaps something less.
Now I know I'm a league shill - which apparently, unlike being a blatant union shill like Michael Arace, is considered socially unacceptable - but this just doesn't pass the smell test.
What in the name of Samuel Gompers could be going on here?
So, like any other MLS observer searching for truth, I turned south to Dallas and Buzz Carrick.
And in response to Goff's doomsday proclamation stating that MLS players have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike if a collective bargaining agreement with the league is not reached in time for the season openers in two weeks, Carrick responds, simply:
That’s not what the union voted to do.
Basically, the union did not authorize a strike, and the players who are now running around claiming they did are, frankly, not telling the truth although it's hard to say whether they don't know any better or are outright lying.
I'm not going to venture a guess on that one.
In fact, indications are that, as has been speculated here and elsewhere, the foreign players are not on board at all.
Even if they're coming around, the unions' claim that of the 100 or so international players in MLS only two won't vote to strike is simply preposterous on the face of it.
Where does this lead us? Hard to say for sure.
The league is expressing understandable irritation over the fact that the players have chosen to turn the heat up right after everyone agreed in good faith to accept mediation, and it's hard to blame them.
It's very peculiar timing at best and, at worst, smacks of bad faith.
As shocking as it is to believe, it's beginning to appear at least possible that a group of senior American players is trying hard to poison the well, prevent an agreement and force a strike.
Up until now, everyone has agreed that "nobody wants a strike", but it's becoming inncreasingly tough to make that claim with anything like confidence.
Are they worried that the mediator will rob them of their long-cherished dream and so they tossed this grenade out there in the hopes that it will cause the talks to break down?
Impossible to say but almost anyone would admit that the timing of this announcement, which consists of a vote count from a couple weeks ago, smells awfully fishy.
The union can very easily prove that we're wrong about this by the simple expedient of releasing the actual question they had the members vote on.
If they continue to refuse, we are left to guess why that is.