In the past, I have been accused of being, shall we say, "unduly positive" about our own humble but beloved Major League Soccer.
Put another way, I believe the term most often used has been the rather harsh "shill", a characterization that I completely reject.
I may be a cheerleader but I ain't no holla back girl.
As further evidence that this is a calumny I herewith present a few discouraging words to the Nabobs of MLS HQ.
During the Superdraft, apparently as part of the discussion that Saint Steven of Goff had with Cohiba Don while they both quite rudely ignored me sitting six feet away if you can imagine it, the Commissioner passed along word that they're seriously considering holding an annual "Rivalry Week" during the season (beginning in 2012) so that the entire American sporting media can focus their attention on a one week round robin of games between Seattle, Vancouver and Portland.
Left unanswered was the question of whether the rest of the league will have to go dark so that all true MLS fans can sit undistracted by all those silly Uniteds and RedBulls and Rapids in front of our TVs absorbing the splendor and all around wonderfulness which our Cascadia Cousins will have on display for the edification of us poor excuses for fanhood.
Oh, I'm sorry - did you catch a note of sarcasm in there somewhere? Gosh, I can't understand that. I'm behind it 110%.
In fact, I think we ought to go ahead and shutter the whole goddam league permanently and just let those three teams fight it out for the crown of "Champions of Americas' Mecca of Soccer". Let all the other teams serve as their reserve teams, practice sides and minor league clubs. Now that they're going to reignite the "great great rivalry" that we are all assured was the once greatest competition in world sport (What? You never heard of the Cascadia Cup before? Why, it's historic I tell you. Historic.) is there really any point in continuing this silly Major League Soccer charade?
Don, Don, Don. I stick up for you, I defend you, I have your back when the going gets tough and Canadian imbeciles call you a "caretaker" who needs to be replaced before the league can move forward. Just this week I took down some demented clown who was running around claiming that it was your personal animosity and incompetence that kept Edson Buddles' paperwork from getting to Germany in time for him to play last weekend, almost as if you gave a crap and/or are the keeper of the office rubber stamp.
So please listen to me when I say that this is an utterly awful idea. I understand your love affair with "rivalries" and fan passion (well, except in Columbus, where you wish the Nordecke would sit quietly with their hands in their laps) and I get that you somehow think that the entire country will get tingly between their legs over the prospect of watching the Timbers play the Whitecaps and then JUST THREE DAYS LATER!!!!!! kick off against the Sounders.
I'm getting the vapors just thinking about it. It'll be bigger than Giants-Redskins, Yankees-Red Sox and Bruins-Rangers combined, just as soon as you explain to them that these same teams were hot rivals 30-some years ago.
And of course there's no chance that the other 15 teams, some of which have been around for longer than you have, will find this insulting. I'm certain they'll be wild with excitement.
Please Don. Go lie down until this urge goes away.
One more Superdraft note while we await the start of todays' Supplemental Draft (which I am very reliably informed will be tracked live on Major League Soccer Soccer as well as on "social media", which I believe is PR speak for that Tweetie thing):
It is traditional in all sports for the league commissioner to announce the first round of a draft. Stern, Goodell and Bettman all do it this way and our own Donny the G is no exception and, what's more, he does us proud.
When the second round comes along the big guys always turn the podium over to someone who, while unquestionably significant, is somewhat less distinguished who then emcees the proceedings the rest of they way.
For MLS the taker-over guy was Todd Durbin, League Director of Player Personnel and Something or Other Else. Seems like a sincere guy. I'm certain he's wildly competent at whatever the hell he does. Truly.
But from the beginning he had a great deal of difficulty with any name that was more complicated than Smith or Jones. Now as anyone who has had to sit through the first day of a class someplace while the instructor read down the list of students asking for a raised hand from each knows, this isn't always easy. The wonderful pastiche of ethnicities present in our melting pot nation makes for some real challenges.
In this case however, the leagues' media people had helpfully prepared a draft summary book which contained the phonetic pronunciation of any name about which there might be the slightest question. It was first class work.
Maybe Durbin didn't know this. Maybe he figured he'd just wing it, what the hell. Nobody listening anyway, right?
So as he butchered his way through the proceedings, while it seemed odd that he couldn't seem to take a moment to consult the handy cheat sheet that everybody else had, not much of anybody really minded.
Until he got partway through the third round, when he stepped to the dais and announced that Sporting Kansas City had selected "Kroncracki Wissilissi".
As it happens I was sitting next to Mauceri, who looked at me like he'd just caught a .50 cal slug in the chest. He prides himself on knowing who these kids are. All these kids. And he was clearly at a loss.
Turns out that the name he was struggling with was Ohio State midfielder Konrad Warzycha.
Now your 10th grade math teacher would have had a similar problem, although how you butcher "Konrad" which is, frankly, about as phonetic as you can get, escapes me.
And lots of people would stumble over "Warzycha". Unless of course they were connected somehow with Major League Soccer where another "Warzycha" has been a player, assistant and head coach for 15 freakin years. Even that blithering twit Christian Miles can pronounce the man's name.
The cameraman, knowing a good joke when he heard one, immediately gave us a shot of The Polish Rifle sitting at the Crew table working mightily at not reacting in which effort even his stoic old Eastern European self finally failed and he cracked a brief smile, although it almost seemed like he did it just to get the cameraman out of his face.
Nothing says Bush League quite like an important league official who can't even pronounce one of the coaches' names. It's inconceivable that the NFL, for example, would send someone out there on a wing and a prayer. Surely MLS can do better.
Enjoy the Supplemental.