Let's say it were someone else. If it were Landon Donovan, or Edson Buddle, or Donovan Ricketts. If one of those players were out for months, and their projected return date is November, then the Galaxy would be silly to keep them off the field simply because their replacement helped get the Galaxy to the playoffs. Whoever gives the Galaxy the best chance to win on the day of the game - that's the player who should start.
Therefore, there's nothing that says David Beckham couldn't stroll back into training on November 20 and play the next evening's game, were the Galaxy to make it that far.
The only problem is, the Galaxy would lose that next evening's game.
I've waxed wroth about how badly Beckham's on-field play has hurt the Galaxy over the past couple of years, so let's go further back in Galaxy history. As every school child knows, the 1998 Galaxy were the greatest team in the history of the sport. They made the Real Madrid of di Stefano and Puskas look like the land mammal ancestors of whales and dolphins who said "Waah, it's too tough out here being an animal with legs, I'm going to run like a bitch back into the ocean where it's safe, and those mean bears and lions can't get me."
You heard me. Whales are crybabies. And if they don't like it, well, they can just waddle their fat asses up onto dry land and do something about it, if they've got the rocks. Yeah, didn't think so.
What a productive tangent. So anyway, the 1998 Galaxy were obliterating all who stood in their path, until one day someone had the bright idea to sign Carlos Hermosillo away from Cruz Azul.
That someone was Peter Bridgewater, general manager of the San Jose Clash, and WOW was he ticked off when the Galaxy nabbed Hermosillo instead. Bridgewater put a gypsy curse on Hermosillo, and the Galaxy were so ineffective that they lost to an expansion team in the playoffs.
Thus we see how the pursuit of celebrity marketing turns great teams into a basket of crap. The Galaxy went into a tailspin that lasted the next ten years, except for a couple of Shields, a couple of Open Cups, a couple of MLS Cups and a CONCACAF championship. Without what you'd call superstars, the Galaxy have won MLS Cup twice. With big names like Campos, Hermosillo, Hernandez, Bo and Beckham, the Galaxy have won nothing, except the 1998 Shield, which was pretty much clinched before Hermosillo joined.
...unless you think of Donovan as a superstar. I guess he is. Sort of defeats my point, though.
But if the Galaxy bring back Beckham at all, let alone at a crucial part of the season, they're also bringing in Team Beckham, and the rest of the circus. November's the worst possible time to deal with that. If Beckham comes back, let him show up for the Galaxy preseason. The Galaxy have a chance to win something this year, and they don't need David Beckham screwing that up.
Speaking of guys disappearing, Frank Dell'Appa tells us Shalrie Joseph is taking an indefinite leave of absence for reasons that have nothing to do with soccer, his contract, or injury. Oh, and New England can't replace him on the roster, either.
Okay, then. One assumes it's a legitimate reason, because Nicol and the Krafts aren't handing down a fine and suspension that would defy our puny human understanding. On the other hand, "Star player leaves team, feel free to speculate why" never turns out well.
I feel depressingly certain that we will find out the reason for Joseph's absence, and none of us will be better for knowing.
As I think about it, and this pains me because I am a huge, huge fan of personal privacy, but this was the worst way the Revolution and Joseph could have gone about it. If they didn't want a bunch of yahoos speculating about alcohol, drugs, or Cadbury creme eggs, then some sort of cover story should have been in order. "Family illness" would have covered a lot of useful ground here, for example. "Existential blues" would have been slightly less helpful, but it would have slowed down blogger and message board theoreticians.
Yes, I know - his excuse was good enough for Nicol and the Krafts, and said excuse wasn't deemed fit to share with the general public. That should be the end of it. For you or me, it would be.
Unfortunately, pro athlete, like movie star, is one of those jobs where people feel like your personal business isn't. Ask whatshisname, the golfer...rich guy...Tiger Ali Singh, I think his name was.
Unfair? Pathetic? A sign of the decline of our decadent, worthless society? Hey, Western civilization was dead when I got here, man. The best thing the Revolution could have done for Joseph, their fans, and American soccer? Lie about a long-term injury. So what if MLS Rumors stumbles on the real reason? They've cried "Wolf!" so many times...hell, they've cried "Unicorn!" and "Bigfoot!" so many times, the Revolution might as well leak the real story to them directly.
So here's another Beckham test for us - what would happen if New England made MLS Cup, and Joseph decided to pick that time to return to the team? Starter? Sub? Make him buy a ticket?
Hell, at least Shalrie has contributed to New England on the field over the years. But it would still be a little tough to welcome him back at that time, no questions asked, wouldn't it?
Probably moot, since I think the Revolution will solve this potential problem by missing the playoffs.