Deadblogging the latest Garber teleconference

CIENFUEGOS VERSION OF THIS POST:
Details on CBA still being hashed out. They'll be on Major League Soccer Soccer soon, if not already. Montreal's a lot better bet to play next year than DC United. Half the league or more doesn't have one Designated Player, so we'll let the other half have more. The Canadian dollar is still pretty strong, so we're going to make loonies while the sun shines. Those of you still staying up at night worrying about the salaries of guys who never see the field can relax.

I didn't miss the call Saturday, I just didn't liveblog about it. Bill and Aaron did very well. I did think Steven Goff's question was much, much dumber than Beau Dure's.

This one is open to literally everyone, so...yeah, I'm being redundant again. The league sent out a bit of detail in an e-mail, and presumably on the site...one second.

Nope, couldn't find it.

Wait, maybe this is about the beginning of the season? Anyway, I'm sure the questions will be all about the CBA.

Don Speaks:

By the way, this is all heavily paraphrased and interpreted. Celebrity voices impersonated. You've been warned.

Apology for short notice. Oh, this is the annual call, and they want to get the idiotic CBA questions out of the way.

He's happy about Red Bull Park, Philly, and the Thursday sellout.

Please ask me about SOMETHING besides the CBA.

Press release has the details (hint: well, it does, but it's not a big old pdf). Garber says it's on MLSnet - I couldn't find it. Wait, the union has always put the CBA on its website - but they'll have the full thing up.

It was apparently a difficult process. WHY WEREN'T WE TOLD THIS WAS DIFFICULT?! Garber speaks darkly about a "third party" "helping" with negotiations - the NFLPA, maybe, except they can't even get their own guaranteed contracts. SUM?

Anyway, that was taken care of early. Players had real issues. League needed to keep the framework. Leagues' objectives: have a plan that would allow us to reduce losses and become profitable, grow attendance, grow ratings.

No free agency. Keep single entity. EVERYTHING ELSE ON THE TABLE. He sounds a little miffed, I'm guessing the players weren't thrilled about no free single agency entity.

If cliches were elephants, Garber would be a Kenyan ivory poacher.

Salaries guaranteed to grow each year. Minimums and maximums and developmental wages grow each year. Major improvements of quality of life - things that took the league a long time to understand. Travel, relocations, meals, player appearances, bonuses for internationals. Wow, the owners didn't realize these were issues?

Player movement. No bidding for players. Will work on final details of re-entry draft. xzxx

Sorry, toddler wanted to type. If Garber announced that the Galaxy would disband in the last five minutes, well, I missed it.

CBA provided league the opportunity to sit down and deal with the union directly. Oh, come on, you had these guys' numbers. "How smart they are, how fully committed they are to the league..." In the words of LL Cool J, that's a lie.

Management council will be formed so the players will be heard. I'm sure that will solve everything.

Oh, the reserve league. I'll get to that in a future post, but to Cienfuegos it here...the reserve league should have zero priority in the thinking of fans and owners.

Developmental players - the union was really concerned with that. Didn't "sell out" the young guys. Hell, developmental guys rarely last long enough to compete.

Believes the players feel good about this. Yeah, and I'm a Kenyan elephant.

Oh, great, MLS had a conference call with ESPN's on-air talent and production. No wonder the union seemed smart in comparison.

Clubs will take a two-week break during the World Cup. Unprecedented, except for what the NHL did during the Olympics (I know that's not what he meant). Expects big ratings. US-England will be heavily promoted. Landon Donovan, Greatest American Player, and David Beckham...will not be competing, Don! Don't you read BigSoccer?

Yeah, uh, it will be a little optimistic for him to make it! Update your notes!

American fans bought more tickets than anyone. Good for the World Cup bid, he doesn't say.

Philadelphia is apparently being considered for an expansion team. 10,000 season tickets sold. Will redevelop blighted urban area - tactful, Don.

Red Bull Arena - spectacular. He sounds more like Don Trump than Don Garber at this point. Surprisingly, Garber thinks Red Bull Arena is acceptable.

Other stories...RSL will defend their Cup title, and sold more tickets. Don Garber talks up small expansion teams winning the title. What a towering lie. Yeah, thank God Landon and Beckham didn't win.

Toronto sold out every game, and is on grass this year. Instead of crack. Seattle has fans. Carlos de los Cobos had a lifelong dream to coach in MLS, apparently.

Youth academies announcement shortly, especially getting homegrown players onto the clubs that developed them. Will skip the draft? Verry interesting, as Arte Johnson will say.

Sponsorships. Continental Tires, AT&T, Degree. Okay ITTET, if you ask me.

Major League Soccer Soccer website launching soon. Each club will launch in the next 30-60 days. Most important development since SUM. Hey, he said it, not me! Not just a mouthpiece for MLS - Greg Lalas and Jonah Freedman and the other person (sorry, other person, slow typing) won't be muzzled. Yeahright.

Vancouver something something. Sorry, it's only news if Garber says Vancouver and Portland were huge mistakes and will set the sport back half a century.

Montreal and Saputos namechecked. Careful what you wish for. Montreal si, Saputo however....

Questions?

Ron Blum, Steve Goff, Beau Dure, Jeff Carlisle, Stefan Bondy are your starting rotation.

Ron: What is your projection for 2010 for what the median and mean salary will be?

DG: I dunno. How the ******** would he know off the top of his head? Okay, he's the commissioner, but...anyway, the answer is "up."

Ron: Full coverage for health and 401(k). Is that new?

Don: Didn't overplay this in discussions, all players and families get 100% medical and dental at no cost. Was true before, too. Not true in other leagues. Really? Baseball players are getting dicked?

I have a health insurance metaphor on all this, but it would just get political. Eh, I'll save it for a later post.

Ron: What was the match?

Dan Courtemanche?: Just a contribution.

Steve Goff: Guaranteed contracts - 24 yrs. old, 3 yrs. experience. If a foreign player comes in, is it at discretion of club?

Don: Not required, but team can decide to guarantee it. He doesn't mention Ali Gerba. Besides, foreign players have to be recruited, and are much more likely to have negotiated their own guaranteed contracts anyway, Garber doesn't add. I think the Galaxy only recently stopped paying Abel Xavier.

Goff: Minimum salary for senior players - do developmental contract start at 40,000?

Mark Abbott: Players in 1st 24 slots: 40,000 min. Expanded roster minimum: classification to be named later - 31-50K.

Developmental term not going to be used.

Beau Dure: Can MLS compete with players in global market, specifically Scandinavia? If not, won't that hurt ratings and CONCACAF competition?

Don: I'm going to duck this question, if you don't mind. I'm going to speak much more slowly to organize my thoughts. Then I'm going to say a platitude to say we'll try to keep our players. Did you know that some MLS players make as much as $200,000?

Do they even get out of bed in Sweden for $200,000? C'mon.

CBA doesn't prevent league from making decisions on which players to keep. Oh, come on, just say that Clarence Goodson doesn't sell tickets.

Beau: Do GA salaries count against cap?

Don: Nope.

Jeff Carlisle: Jon Busch waived! Whatever shall we do?! Is the CBA responsible?

Mark Abbott: We don't care.

You could ask Sigi Schmid how easy it is to live with Jon Busch.

Jeff: Aren't you worried that veteran salaries won't be squeezed?

Don: Not worried.

Stefan Bondy: Designated Player rule question, because Bill Archer didn't smack the Toronto guy hard enough.

Don: I'll tease some potential changes.

Bondy: Changes this year?

Don: Yup.

Bondy: What kind of changes?

Don: All things are possible in this, the best of all possible worlds.

Bondy: More than one per team?

Don: Who knows?

Michael Lewis: Why wouldn't league put MLS Cup in Red Bull Arena, and what about ESPN having no American voice for the World Cup?

Don: There will be US talent. Don, you know damn well that Lewis is talking about the lead coverage, especially for the US games. Nice dodge, Don.

MLS Cup - there is no doubt that MLS Cup will be at Red Bull Arena soon, but first year? There are growing pains! When has a new stadium ever hosted MLS Cup? (Blame Pizza Hut Park taking two tries to get finished, basically.) Not likely for 2010.

Brian Strauss: Did players mention more or less DP cap hit?

Don: Yes. They mentioned it. Not a big issue.

Brian: Two profitable clubs? The ********?

Don: Soccer stadiums aren't the end-all and be-all after all. Interesting reversal. Staff, marketing, ownership, "clear ability to connect with diverse audiences." Looking at YOU, Colorado, he doesn't say but could and should.

Brian: Who's turning the corner next?

Don: Dunno.

Jerry Dobson: Toronto hosting MLS Cup?

Don: Weather not so good for Tron, but it was bad in Seattle, and that was on fake grass. Real grass increases Tron's chances of hosting.

Jerry: Montreal?

Don: CBA discussions slowed down expansion negotiations.

Jerry: Any outstanding issues, or just procedures?

Don: The latter. Talking with community, government, regulations - huh. Montreal closer than we thought, I guess.

Mark Narducci: Does the league get broadcast money?

Don: Yes. Every BigSoccer poster knows this.

Mark: Is it a lot? Would you like to see more?

Don: No, Mark. We want fewer games on the air, and fewer viewers. Lord, deliver us from reporters in expansion markets.

Ridge Mahoney: What do foreigners think of us?

Don: Manchester was nice, and I'm doing a great job compared to Premiership teams. You all thought I'd be lost without Gazidis, but who's laughing now? Me. On the inside. Don't let this monotone fool you. I clank so much when I walk I set off the metal detector at Heathrow.

Ridge: DC United stadium?

Don: Houston and Kansas City got it done. Can't understand why there's a problem in Washington.

He's PISSED, by the way. Wow. Raises his voice and everything. I'm serious - and I agree - but it looks bad for Washington D.C. United. Sick of meetings with DC politicians. Wow. This was after week after week of agonizing CBA issues, and he's still mad about DC politicians. Yikes. YIKES. I don't think he's acting, guys.

Simon Evans: What do DPs bring to franchises? Specifically, what has David Beckham done for MLS?

Dan Loney: Simon Evans, I want to reach through this monitor and slap your Adam's apple straight through your neck. You're a bad reporter and a bad person.

Don: We're looking for a DP that could increase buzz.

Christ, what do you hope he says? Denilson and Davino have made this league what it is today? I hate you, Simon Evans.

Don: Phil and AEG will figure out what to do with David Beckham. Unfortunately, "harvest his organs" doesn't seem to be an option.

Elliott Almond: San Jose Earthquakes?

Don: Didn't they move?

Elliott Almond: How come Toronto and Sounders are popular, and no one likes us?

Dan Loney: Maybe it's you, Elliott. You and your long boring questions.

Don: I just blasted the living crap out of every politician in DC, but I'm going to be very...what the hell? "Tell him I'm on a conference call"? You need to tell your secretary what's going on, Don.

Anyway, Don isn't nearly as mad about San Jose. Spartan Stadium was rocking in 2001. Well, yeah...against the Galaxy. Which to me is reason enough to keep them in the league, because fans DO show up when motivated.

Elliott: Cut my mike before I ask another question.

Don: No timeline for a team to be profitable. Up to each owner. By the way, Bob Johnson sold the Bobcats at a loss. HA HA HA! This has nothing to do with the Quakes, I just wanted to gloat about what a great job we're all doing. "Passionate business endeavor" - Tim Leiweke wasn't off script after all.

Steven Sandor: If Montreal comes in, three Canadian teams. Will there be more Canadian-centric promotions, to engage Canadian fans?

Don: When I say "good question"? I'm kidding. Canadians LOVE soccer! They understand the game! It's connected to their roots! These are all, as of 2010, lies.

Sandor: What about French language marketing?

Don: That's going to be Saputo's problem. What, you think we're going to teach John Harkes to do play-by-play in French?

Robert Wagman! I LOVE THAT GUY! SOCCERTIMES.COM STILL EXISTS!: No longer a distinction between 1st 24 and next 4 players?

Don: Still working on roster size. "Apprentice players" on smaller team will get the senior salary. But, no more distinction.

Robert: Homegrown players?

Don: Yeah, we need to figure that out too.

Shawn Mitchell: Who will count against salary budget?

Don: Everyone, except GA players. Remember when I said that e-mail had details? Yeah, enjoy the buffet.

Doug (sorry, Atlanta reporter): Atlanta? Arthur Blank?

Don: Nope.

Liz Mullen: "Pardon me if this is a dumb question" has me expecting the worst, and I am not disappointed. What's the difference between Designated Players and Generation Adidas players. Christ. Christ, Christ, Christ. Her question about whether they are part of the bargaining and negotiations is extremely valid, but she could not possibly have asked this more stupidly.

Don: Every player is part of bargaining. Not clear whether that means they are all covered by CBA, or whether they all had input in the bargaining. If only Liz had asked THAT question.

Next person who asks a DP question gets punched in the middle toe. (Roast beef.)

Liz: Did you need union's permission for DP adjustments?

Don: Aren't you late for a car fire you should be dying in?

Brian Lewis: Re-entry draft. Will there be one this year?

Don: Nope.

Brian: So Busch and Van Den Bergh are screwed?

Don: Utterly.

Brian: Something something oranges something

Don: Dan Loney didn't understand that question, could you ask it again?

Brian: Do homegrown players count against cap? Do teams have right/obligation to sign homegrown players?

Don: Four players will be off the budget. Two of those can be GA. Two can be homegrown players. Could conceivably be other categories.

Bruce Constantineau: Teams having to play in two different facilities in one season, like Philly and Vancouver. Is that somehow amazingly difficult to overcome?

Don: Good question. (HA! Of course, this has been done many times before, from Columbus onwards. And then there were the different stadiums for the Beckham tour. Never mind Open Cup games. Nice research, Bruce.)

Dan Courtemanche (again, I assume): Thanks for listening. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.