Turd of the Week #16

Tom Presthus, DC United goalkeeper Tom Presthus
GK, DC United
Separated at Birth?
Reverend Jim Ignatowski cab-driving burnout Reverend Jim Ignatowski
cab-driving burnout

Columbus Crew Stadium
Columbus Crew Stadium, Grand Opening Crowd (15 May 99)


Hero of the Week: Lamar Hunt, the only MLS mover & shaker who isn’t a complete schmuck, for unveiling his beautiful, soccer-specific stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The only thing the facility is missing is a roof over the stands to increase the volume and keep fans dry during rainy games, but who’s complaining? I’m sure as hell not. For one, because I live too far away to attend Columbus Crew games, but more importantly because Lamar — along with late NFL owners Joe Robbie & Jack Kent Cooke — is one of the few billionaires left in pro sports to actually use his own money to build his own stadium. (As opposed to sicking their butt-buddies in local, state & federal government on Joe Sixpack, the machinist, and his wife Jane, the hairdresser, to hand over their paltry hard-earned shekels to the IRSS, so the revenuers can launder the money, then kick it back to said billionaires in the form of ‘reserve accounts’, ‘equipment leases’, ‘infrastructure improvements’ and other stadium sweetheart deals.) Free enterprise, what a concept!

Question: What’s the difference between a tax collector and a mugger?
Steve Sampson as Idiot Savant: In spin worthy of the master, Doug “The Centrifuge” Logan, Soccer Spot columnist Alex Gorman claims Sampson’s classic hash of America’s 1998 World Cup effort was actually part of a secret Sampson plan to prepare for future international honors:

“It can be argued quite effectively that lack of experience and team unity caused our great nation’s horrible showing in France. Ditching the old guard certainly played a part in the tragedy, but did Steve Sampson do the wrong thing? If his goal was World Cup success, he most definitely screwed up. But I (having received secret signals from Steve Sampson via the receiver implanted in my teeth) think that moment, the clearing out of the dead wood and creating real competition for starting spots, will be regarded in the future as the turning point for American soccer. A lot of young players got their first caps in the run up to the World Cup and even more players have been tested since then. (Because Steve Sampson also sends signals to Bruce Arena’s teeth.) The US National team may now be stronger than ever simply because Steve Sampson had the courage to say no more ‘business as usual’.”

How could I be so blind!? *head slap*

Is it a lie, or is it memory? The May 24 issue of Soccer America contained the following gem: “Valderrama was cut loose by Miami.” Pardone? Valderrama was not cut loose, he was kidnapped by Doug “The Centrifuge” Logan, who gave woeful Miami nothing in return, not even the courtesy of a ransom note or one of Valderrama’s severed ears. I don’t know who writes their “Winners & Losers” column, but I doubt it is Senior Editor Ridge Mahoney, who dedicates half a page later in the issue to ripping The Centrifuge a new orifice:

Tracking the trends, good and bad

Dip in crowds and scoring, plague of shootouts mar first two months

Crowds in San Jose and New England, two bastions of support for teams ranging from poor to putrid, have dropped despite those teams “not losing in regulation.” A run of shootout wins for the Clash yielded crowds of 10,071 and 9,831. Those savvy fans are not fooled, and the league is fooling itself if it thinks a postgame dog-and-pony show show entices the average sports consumer to seek out MLS entertainment. Such a fan either ignores the league regardless, or chortles as he reads and hears about a carnival sideshow being used to decide official games. Those fans — Anglo, Hispanic, Second-Generation Euro, whatever — who enjoy and care about the sport chafe at the MLS version. The shootout is yet another reason to stay away. And they do.Starting with the Vasco fiasco in November, Logan has blundered his way through several embarassing situations in the past six months. And the league can only blame itself … Logan is bilingual, which carried the league in good stead the first few years despite his scant knowledge of the sport. But with the ouster of Gulati, and a scarce supply of high-profile players, Logan has been trotted out this season as some sort of soccer icon. In that role he has been horribly miscast.

Logan’s intrusion into the Carlos Caper has helped the Mutiny, but if the league wanted to impose martial law by jacking up a team ailing at the gate and on the field, it would have sent Valderrama to New York (with a foreigner slot open) and decreed to the team this is payback for MLS lifting the maximum salary carcass of Marcelo Vega and the troublesome Sunil Gulati off your hands. Would GM Charlie Stillitano and supremo Stuart Subotnick have switched a chunky, listless blob (Vega, not Gulati) for the lion-maned maestro to sell tickets and spark a lifeless, colorless team? I do believe so. But the league wouldn’t buck the wishes of Valderrama and his wife to return to Tampa.

The commissioner’s handling of D.C. United GM Kevin Payne’s blistering criticism of Scottish exchange student, er, referee Stuart Dougal is another black eye for the league. Days after announcing a $15,000 fine, Logan smugly tells the world Payne has called to apologize. When queried as to whether or not the fine was reduced, Logan says “it’s a private matter.” No, it isn’t. If a $15,000 fine is public, how can a reduced fine not be? Logan painted himself into a corner by announcing the figure . When the apology was made public, it raised the specter of the fine levied upon Revolution midfielder Edwin Gorter last season. Gorter publicly apologized — was his fine reduced? More to the point, was either fine actually paid? Or is the league throwing out big numbers for publicity?

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Did you know? AltaVista’s Babel Fish web page translation site renders the April 16, 1999, citation for TotW dishonoree Doug Logan as “Präsident Crapshoot Doug Logan MLS”. *rolfgo*

Woeful ignorance of the international money market: Lazio chairman Sergio Cragnotti, in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, said referee Fiorenzo Treossi’s failure to award an “obvious” penalty to Lazio in their 1-1 draw with Fiorentina last Saturday had unfairly influenced the outcome of the Serie A season. The draw knocked the Rome club off the title perch for the first time in three months, leaving them one point behind new front-runner AC Milan with one match remaining. Cragnotti sparked a controversy by claiming Treossi’s decision may have cost Lazio shareholders billions of lire.(Why get your panties in a bunch over losing what the average mumu-clad, bonbon-popping American hausfrau drops on one pull of the slot machine?)

Answer: The mugger takes an entrepeneurial risk.


Teetering tobacco giant Phillip Morris was strong-armed by the ominously titled “National Association of Attorneys General Tobacco Advertising and Marketing Enforcement Committee” into withdrawing its ad from the program published by the Columbus Crew for the opening of their new stadium. (NAAGTAMEC? What kind of acronym is that anyway? Obviously, some bureaucrats flunked their comic book backpage correspondence course in Acronyms 101. They should of taken lawnmower repair instead.)

Ohio Attorney General, überstürmbannführer Betty Montgomery, announced the “decision” by MLS, its publishing company and woebegone Philip Morris: “Several provisions in the tobacco settlement protects minors from tobacco advertising, and we intend to ensure they are followed. We will continue to review tobacco advertising in publications geared for kids.” The road to tyranny is paved with the late 90’s mantra, “for the kids”.

The advertisement already has appeared in the league program, Freekick, in other MLS stadiums. So why would the überstürmbannführer choose this particular moment in time to make her play? Gee, you don’t suppose it might have to do with the convergence of naked political ambition and intense media focus on the most important event in U.S. soccer in decades? Nah, I’m just too cyncical. Politicians really are selfless public servants.

Doug “The Centrifuge” Logan, nose planted so firmly between Montgomery’s buttocks that he was breathing clean air at the other end, cravenly announced that “We fully support the efforts of the enforcement committee.”

And it came to pass that The Centrifuge sent forth his loyal lap dog Catherine Philbin, who, after happily piddling all over Logan’s shoes, proceeded to piddle all over the Crew’s program: “A lot of people will be at the game and it is drawing attention,” said Philbin, MLS commissar of corporate communications. (Communicating to Phillip Morris that MLS is happy to take tobacco money as long as no one really notices.) “The Columbus attorney general’s office is using this game as a starting point with Philip Morris. Philip Morris has very cooperatively decided to undo the violation and change the advertising in the publication.” And all is sunshine and frolic in the land of the People’s Tobacco-Free Paradise.

So Philip Morris, government gun to its corporate head and sticky MLS fingers on its wallet, “agreed” to pay for the printing and free distribution of 5,000 programs with its Marlboro cigarette ad removed.

Added The Centrifuge, “We are pleased to have facilitated this mutually acceptable agreement, and are happy that Philip Morris will work to change its message in future Freekick publications.”

The Centrifuge is happy because he effectively picked Phillip Morris’ rapidly emptying pockets, while getting in tight with the Ohio Anti-Tobacco Nazis; the überstürmbannführer is happy because she got to trample all over our rights; Philbin is happy because she got to piddle all over; and Phillip Morris is happy because it didn’t get a billion dollar government baloney shoved between it’s buttocks.

The Centrifuge is such a nimrod that it would be boring dishonoring him every week, so instead we enshrine his ho’s:

Betty Montgomery & Catherine Philbin

Co-Turds of the Week

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