Take No Prisoners

First of all, I apologize that I'm managing the Rise and Shine contest so poorly.  I'm having trouble getting in touch with winners, which is annoying as all hell.  And if another day or so goes by, then I'm going to start private messaging some runners-up. On the bright side, I've been told that the movie itself got very good reviews.  I'm glad my incompetence isn't hindering the movie's groundswell.

Besides, it's January.  What the hell else are you going to watch, freaking "Joyful Noise"?

Second of all, I completely zoned out of my first Twitter fight.  It was soccer-related, which is why I can tell you about it here, but mostly this is about me not knowing how some of the functions worked.  See, I thought what happened was, if someone makes a post with "@" and then your name in it, you see it on the main page...along with the people you're following and such.  So I'm two days or more responding to a guy who just went off on me, and now if I answer back I look like it took me nearly half a week to come up with 144 characters.  As it is, I'm the guy in the Onion's "Kelly" cartoons ranting about "Some Gizmo" because I don't understand a web program that literally asks you to do nothing except keep it under 144 characters.

The subject of the argument was (deep, heavy sigh that makes Eeyore look like Tigger) promotion and relegation in MLS.  I've long since forgotten my own advice - saying there should be promotion and relegation in MLS is like saying we should change the national anthem to "Daddy Wants a Cold Beer" by the A-Bones.  Maybe it's a good idea, or maybe it's not such a good idea, but it's never ever going to happen, so there's no point arguing about it.

Among the literally thousands of people who did not take my advice was Eric Wynalda.

Now, I love Eric Wynalda and always will.  He doesn't know or care who I am, nor should he, because he's Eric Wynalda.  Anyway, sometime among the MLS Superdraft and the WPS Superdraft at the (what are the odds WPS survives long enough for me to do a five-years-earlier draft review, anyway?), Eric gave a speech which was transcribed here.

OF COURSE it was a controversial fustercluck.  That's just Waldo being Waldo.  Ground zero for the reaction was at this very site.  Wynalda fired back, and while I hate to turn against Our Fellow Posters, a couple of those cracks were way the hell out of line.  (Specifically, if you're going to accuse someone of making a profit off the Mexican drug violence, you'd better source that pretty damn well.  My Google research didn't turn up much of anything after Murcielagos hired him initially, let alone that it was anything as sketchy as, say, Ruud Gullit in Chechnya.)

But we're arguing about this as if Wynalda is a professional soccer analyst.  Yeah, he is, but only technically.  Like when Paris Hilton calls herself an author.  Wynalda is, in the kindest and most complimentary sense of the word, a demagogue.  His job is to get you to shake your fist at the screen.  The fact that he believes what he's saying, at least when he's saying it, is just part of the show.  That, as much as his playing resume, makes him tolerable when he's saying stuff that is completely divorced from reality.

Okay, it's like this.  Go read that transcript.  Really picture it, what he's saying and how he's saying it.

Finished?  Okay, now go to this Youtube page.

I know, "Pale Blue Eyes" and "Coney Island Baby" were fantastic.  Now, listen to "Walk on the Wild Side."

THAT is Eric Wynalda.  Soccer's answer to Lou Reed ranting about the Village Voice in mid-song, while the band and the audience and Lou himself wonders what on earth is happening.

I appreciate MLS' attempts to engage, but Wynalda can't even decide what the most important issue is.  Incentives in players' contracts?  Promotion and relegation?  Playoffs in May?  All of the above?  None of the above?  Depends on when you ask, I suppose.  Like with so many people, there's this inexplicable unwillingness to believe that Major League Soccer actually studies these issues.  As if there's piles of - or any - evidence that the league wouldn't make some - or all - of Wynalda's suggested changes if they thought it would be profitable.  The league could go point by point explaining in excruciating detail why they don't, say, relegate markets they literally just expanded to - but it wouldn't make a difference.

I mean, sure, a soccer league in the United States not only survived a horrible recession, but thrived - yet the premise is they don't do basic market research about things like when to hold games, and are stupidly playing in the summer because they don't understand the soccer business.  Possible...but highly unlikely.

There's a lot to criticize about MLS, and that's why it's nice to have people like Wynalda around - for when his criticism is accurate.  He's American soccer's chronic malcontent - and when you compare him to similar figures in other walks of life, he looks positively charming.  (Or perhaps you'd rather have Jose Canseco?)