Things I have been thinking about since Thursday, December 15th: 1. Prior to December 15, 2005, when I read news about MLS, I did so as someone who believed in the league and wanted it to succeed. Even when the league was saying or doing things that were dumb or counterproductive, I made up excuses for it in my mind. I’m done with that now. In the December 16th, 2005 world, when I read about MLS, I read about its stupidity as someone who has absolutely nothing vested in it and someone who couldn’t care less about its foibles. Case in point: There is currently an article on ESPN.com decrying MLS for wanting to play through the World Cup. In the past, I would have reflexively defended the league and its decisions. Now I just find it amusing. It’s pretty simple, I guess: MLS doesn’t care about me and now I don’t care about it. 2. My feelings of antipathy about MLS are not totally based on bitterness (although I will admit to a healthy dose of that). To me, the big problem with MLS abandoning the Bay Area market is that, for all intents and purposes, MLS no longer offers me a product that I am willing to consume. I went to MLS games because I enjoyed watching soccer played live and in-person. As live entertainment, MLS delivers what it promises: very reasonably priced competitive soccer played at as high a level possible given the status of the game in this country. I thoroughly enjoyed MLS’s live product for ten years and would have continued doing so had it been made available to me. MLS’s other product offering- televised games- leaves a lot to be desired. MLS’s television product—judged standing on its own or as compared to other televised soccer offered in the Bay Area—is simply not sufficient to retain my interest. In the past, I have watched ESPN2 games, ABC games, and FSC games to feed my interest in the live product. Without live games to attend, my interest will quickly wither. The production values for MLS broadcasts are so amateurish as to make them virtually unmatchable. How anyone without a rooting interest in one of the teams on the field could suffer through even 45 minutes of Rob Stone is beyond me. I’ve done it while rooting for the Quakes—or against a division rival—but I don’t see myself doing so just because I’m curious about a game between FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake. MLS’s television product does even worse when compared with the other soccer that is readily available to me. Between FSC and GOLTV, I can watch high quality soccer (and, occasionally, hear high quality commentary) virtually around the clock. Simply put, if the only way I can watch soccer is on TV, why bother with MLS? When I had a team to go watch in person, I took that hands down over clearly superior games from foreign countries. Now, however, if the choice is between watching a Direct Kick feed from Houston that I have to pay for or an EPL game on FSC, the choice is an easy one. 3. I would have called Garber a liar to his face during his press conference had I been given the opportunity. Two things upset me more than anything else: The first is Garber’s self-congratulatory point that Mark Abbot has been appointed by MLS to look for a stadium solution in Kansas City. That’s nice for KC and I wish those fans the best, but why didn’t Garber give SJ a stadium deputy somewhere along the line? Garber says that MLS looked for solutions in SJ but I really have a hard time believing that given that there appears to be no evidence to support the assertion. The second item that upset me was the Lew Wolff comments. For all I know, Mr. Wolff is serious about investing in MLS and has every intention of forging a stadium deal in SJ, but Garber was insulting our intelligence by bringing up Wolff’s name as proof that MLS remained committed to the Bay Area market. If the League was truly having legitimate conversations with Lew Wolff and the A's, it would not have moved the team. Garber should just have been honest and said “AEG wanted to leave, so we're leaving. There is nothing in the works, but if someone steps forward, we’ll listen to what they have to say. The truth is, AEG didn't get or see getting a concert deal in the Bay Area so it wanted out. Neither I nor the league are in any position to say no to AEG.” 4. From where I sit, Greg Jamison is really no better than Tony Amapour. From what I can glean, he strung SSV along for more than a year and then failed to pull the trigger because he couldn’t get a guarantee from the City in the event that MLS folds. Did he every seriously think he could get such a guarantee? If it is true that the Sharks turned down a deal that looks pretty close to the reported item in the LOI, than one has to question Jamison’s good faith. SSV is too classy / professional to say so, but my guess is that those guys are feeling more than a little hung out to dry. At least Amapour helped get us an extra season. 5. In the big picture, what does it say about MLS that it and its investors were unwilling to fight for the Bay Area market? When teams in other sports leave town, they do so because they have been wooed to do so. In this case, Houston didn’t do a lot of wooing. Oliver Luck lobbied pretty hard but apparently it was because he was looking for a job. Glenn Davis was a supporter, presumably because it gives him something to write and talk about. The City of Houston didn’t, to my knowledge, offer any sort of package to convince MLS to come to town. The most I heard from MLS is that Houston was a good destination because it has the best TV ratings of all non-MLS cities (although I am sure those are still immeasurably low) and because the fans turn up when Mexico plays. It’s odd to me and should be more than a little disturbing to MLS fans that the League appears to have made no effort to sell itself to the Bay Area or convince people in the Bay Area that MLS is product worth buying and keeping. Maybe Jamison was right to worry about what happens if the League folds . . . 6. SSV and others have intimated that one potential problem with an investment from Wolff and the A’s is that MLS might try to charge an expansion fee. If the League turns down a new investor and a soccer specific stadium over an expansion fee in a market that it just left, then we’ll have our proof that they really do hate us.