Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Random Thoughts – Becks, MLS, and why Real has been out-everythinged by Barca over the last few years.

First, thanks for taking the time to read this. Second, this is a random collection of thoughts that have been kicking around my head as I’ve digested the various media, domestic and international, reports, stories, opinions, etc… that have been tossed around over the last week or so. Any silly mis-spellings, mis-quotes, glaring errors, and made up words like “everythinged” are all me, but at least they are as random as the rest of it. Third, feel free to ignore me, comment (positive or otherwise), or do whatever else floats your boat.

$250 million for Beckham. Damn. Honestly even if he wasn’t sure he wanted to make the move to the States just yet in his career, how do you say no to that kind of money? Even if most if it is endorsement money, and not guaranteed at that. Nick Saban’s interest level in the Alabama job certainly changed once the talk moved to a guaranteed $4 million a year over eight years, and really can you blame him for that?

Does this, as some people have said, mean Beckham’s best days on the pitch are behind him? Maybe, maybe not. By all reports, he could have signed with a number of Premiership teams - Bolton being the one I heard most often, and they are challenging for European competition consistently the last few years. Not ManU ceratinly, but nothing to sniff at either, especially with Davies and Anelka available to get on the end of his crosses. For me, the main thing it indicates is that his priorities have changed. He’s played at the highest level, won everything you can at the club level (at least in England), he’s out of the England set up for Euro08 and the next World Cup, what else is left to do? Moving to Los Angeles is a decision made putting his family, their financial stability and their lifestyle ahead of his soccer career. Can he still bring it on the pitch at the highest level? I do not know. What seems clear to me is that he does not feel he needs to anymore.

Is this a desperate MLS ploy that will bring it to a NASL-like demise? The whole set up of MLS is designed to prevent an implosion and the “Beckham rule” is no different.

Is this a genius-marketing move that will catapult professional soccer into the mainstream of American sports? While it is certainly getting soccer into the discussion held by the talking heads of our national sports talk scene, it doesn’t make the sport viable in their eyes. Soccer will continue to be blasted by those who are threatened by it, don’t understand it, or just prefer football and basketball. It is another small step down the path to grow our game in this country, but not nearly as large as Garber and company would like you to believe.

One thing I think it does accomplish – AEG’s money is buying the MLS more awareness internationally than domestically. It will not bring a sudden influx of “in their prime” international players (and Edgar Davids is definitely past his prime, though he will be just as effective as Beckham if he does sign with FC Dallas), especially when they realize that they are not going to get Beckham like money. It will cause players and fans across the globe though to take a second look at MLS as a legitimate league, and (for the same reason Real sprung for him to begin with) don’t be surprised the next time you are in Asia to see MLS games being broadcast and children wearing Galaxy jerseys.

Finally, on the subject of Real Madrid - Capello has banished Beckham to training only. Calderon has publicly blasted him for going behind Real’s back and claiming he will be nothing more than a “second-rate” star or some such thing. I honestly wonder how much of the anger coming from that camp is really indignation over the $$$$. Seriously, when was the last time someone was able to outspend Real Madrid? Ever? And Calderon, do you think that Beckham is going to complain about getting MORE money to deal with LESS paparazzi. Oh yeah, you get to live in nice, sunny, warm weather too. Though David, I must warn you the traffic is total “pants”.

Beckam signs with another team and finds himself benched by Real. Henrik Larsson signs with another team and not only keeps his place, but manages to break Gunner hearts everywhere by crafting the two goals Barca needed to see off Arsenal in the Champion’s League Final last May.

Real pride, Barca pragmatism. An indicator of why the Catalans have topped their rival in the standings going on four consecutive years and hold the highest honor in European club football right now?

Oh yeah, this is "the other half" blogging, not your regular blogger...but you probalby figured that out...

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