Let's get one thing clear - I had no problem with the Cosmos update. Neil deGrasse Tyson was amazing, Seth MacFarlane should be proud of himself. I'm sure Carl Sagan would have approved.
The New York Cosmos update, on the other hand....
Well, you've heard me rant about the New York Cosplay and the Necrophiliac-American Soccer League. Maybe if I lived in an NASL market, I'd feel differently. And maybe if I were in the Cosmos catchment area, I'd feel differently as well. But probably not. The Cosmos catchment area, to go by their marketing, is the entire world.
So when I read about the Cosmos trying to make themselves into a TV show - I assume it would be a miniseries, unless they want to do for the NASL what M*A*S*H did for the Korean War - well, naturally I reacted poorly.
Set in the chaotic ’70s in a nearly bankrupt New York City of blackouts, riots, the Son of Sam serial killer case and the dawn of Studio 54, the drama centers on the world’s first soccer dream team.
Overnight, a ragtag team of locals playing on dirt fields in front of a few hundred fans was transformed into a powerhouse of global talent, a Harlem Globetrotters-like road showbreaking attendance records in massive stadiums around the country and the world and culminating in a dramatic quest to win the 1977 championship of the North American Soccer League.
Now, finally, I can put into words why I'm annoyed by this besides "Jesus, enough of the damned 70's Cosmos."
For those of you just joining us, the 70's stunk. Although some of the movies were really good. And Studio 54 pretty much summed up the 70's. Studio 54 should have been weighed down with pet rocks, stuffed into the trunk of a Pinto and thrown into the flaming Cuyahoga.
Do you have an aging relative or acquaintance who was at Woodstock, or who knew someone who was there? How often do you find yourself saying "Tell that story again!"? Right. And that was when Jimi Hendrix played for two hours. The Cosmos are trying, again, to get us interested in That Time They Met Mick Jagger. Do you think Jagger ever tells the story of the time he met the New York Cosmos? Do you think Jagger even remembers the 1970's?
Also, one thing has gotten lost amidst all the celebration of Pele in America. The Cosmos were the bad guys.
A rag-tag group of underdogs playing in front of hundreds of fans...are systematically replaced by a series of semi-retired celebrities who dance and party with other millionaires as they win the Soccer Bowl anyway. The touching story of a bought title. At least the contemporary Yankees, living out a parallel story, realized they were the villains.
If the NASL would really like to tell a story from ye olden times, they should cut Shep Messing and David Hirshey a check and dramatize "Education of an American Soccer Player." There's someone whose perspective would draw in a lot of 70's and soccer culture, good and bad, triumphant and literally tragic.
Or, even better, they should tell the stories of Kaizer Motaung and Ace Ntsoelengoe and Jomo Sono. The NASL was the cute and fun part of their careers, but I don't think people today realize how important and famous they were in their home country. They didn't just remake the sporting map of South Africa. These were men who were literally icons against apartheid. It's the best NASL legacy, as close to unmatched in American sports outside of people like Jackie Robinson. And Sono isn't even listed as one of the interesting people on the 1977 Cosmos team, which tells me someone wouldn't know a good story if it was snorted up their nose.
But by all means, tell the story again of how ragamuffins like Beckenbauer and Chinaglia overcame the odds to defeat the big, bad Seattle Sounders.
LAST MINUTE ADDITION - thoughts go out to the friends and family of Johan Cruyff. We as American soccer fans should be proud to claim even the least of his legacy.