Turd of the Week #30

By way of explanation: TotW has been increasingly distressed in recent weeks as the Milwaukee Rampage’s playoff fortunes waned quicker than the head on a mug of Keystone Light. After the Rampage went belly-up Friday night in Minnesota to thier arch-rival Thunder, 0:3, all seemed lost. But El Paso, one point clear and able to clinch the final playoff spot with any sort of result againt Orange County yakked at home 2:6 on Saturday. Sunday dawned, with the Rampage having a quick return match in Milwaukee against the Thunder, needing only a — God forbid — overtime win to weasel into the playoffs. TotW has no pride, it would have taken the overtime win. Instead the Rampage went down 0:2 before rallying to 1:2, which unfortunately was also the final score. For the first time in their seven year history, the Rampage did not make the playoffs. The main culprit? Coach Cacho Cordoba. TotW was so pissed Saturday morning that Cacho was going to be named Turd of the Week. Now we are just too damn depressed. Thus the black.The Man in Black: As long as TotW is on the subject, we were listening to Johnny Cash’s greatest hits last week. When the song “Cry, Cry, Cry” came on, it struck us how relevant the lyrics are to the current state of professional soccer in the US. So, this here song goes out to Don ‘Shemp’ Garber, MLS and all those past & present who have run professional soccer in the United States:

Cry, Cry, Cry

Everybody knows where you go when the sun goes down,
I think you only live to see the lights up town,
I wasted my time when I would try, try, try,
‘Cause when the lights have lost their glow, you’ll cry, cry, cry.Soon your sugar daddies will all be gone,
You’ll wake up some cold day and find you’re alone,
You’ll call for me, but I’ll tell you bye, bye, bye,
When I turn around and walk away, you’ll cry, cry, cry.You’re gonna cry, cry, cry and you’ll cry alone,
When everyone’s forgotten and you’re left on your own,
You’re gonna cry, cry, cry.I lie awake at night to wait ’til you come in,
You stay a little while then you’re gone again,
Every question that I ask, I get a lie, lie, lie,
For every lie you tell, you’re gonna cry, cry, cry.When you’re pickled up, get so old that no one will care for you,
Then you’ll come back to me for a little love that’s true,
I’ll tell you “No”, and you’ll ask me why, why, why?
When I remind you of all of this, you’ll cry, cry, cry.

You’re gonna cry, cry, cry and you’ll want me then,
It will hurt when you think of the fool you’ve been,
You’re gonna cry, cry, cry.

Quote of the Week: “We have too many people involved in soccer in this country just out for carving out their piece of the pie. They really have no interest in the end result for soccer, just in protecting their little turf.” Bruce Arena (Soccer America, 8/23/99) Okay, TotW lied. The quote was from three weeks ago. Go ahead, sue us. We dare you.

The rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated: It seems that TotW was mistaken in reporting that Sporting News columnist Jerry Trecker had retired last week, but blame Trecker. *point finger* He said it. He has now surfaced at ESPN and appears, temporarily at least, to making some new found sense. Won’t last long …

Do not trust Disney for your soccer news: Mickey Rat’s crap sports site, ESPN.com, reported that Newcastle is “is 0-5-1 so far this season.” See? Told you it wouldn’t last long. Not even the SJ Clash are that draw prone. Newcastle has actually only drawn once, losing five times — thus explaining (former) coach Ruud Gullit’s presence on the dole this week. If the human rodentia that employ sickeningly omnipresent Fatboy Berman can’t get even the most basic soccer statistic correct — wins are listed first, followed by draws, then losses — they ought stick to the arcane obtuseness of the relative batting averages posessed by left-handed batters, on artificial turf, against right-handed long-relief pitchers, with men at the corners, two outs, full count, blah, blah, blah. Btw, did we mention that ESPN, recently bought the rights for SportsLine from under the nose of CBS? Disney über alles!

Whoa, dude, harsh … “Players like Lothar Matthäus, Carlos Hermosillo, Marco Etcheverry, Carlos Valderrama and Walter Zenga are internationally known stars. They give the league ‘street cred.’ A team with lesser known foreign players, such as Chicago, may actually be better off on the field, but few international fans are going to buy a ticket because Jerzy Podbrozny is coming to town.” (Michael Greco, A Clash of Heads)

State Closes Retirement Home, Puts Pensioners on Street: News reports indicate Lothar Matthäus is “interested” in becomming the next coach of the RotMasters. “It could be that Bora gives up — then I could take over,” said Matthäus. Not content to merely express his interest in any, you understand, possible, future coaching vacany, Germany’s answer to Alan Shearer has already begun assembling his squad. “We need to put together a good team, one with the right mix of veterans and hungry players,” Matthäus continued. Good ideas, perhaps, certainly ones the RotMasters have yet to figure out, but who exactly is Methuselah interested in? Why, fellow pensioners Giuseppe Bergomi and Roberto Donadoni who are both a creaking 35-years old — spry young whipper-snappers compared to the 38-year old Matthäus. Apparently fellow ancient Italian Walter Zenga, player-coach of the New England Revolution is ready to get in a bidding war for Bergomi’s ‘services’. Other headlines we can expect to see in the future: “Wortman wants Pele and Garrincha for Miami Fusion”, “Schmid wants Beckenbauer and Müller for LA Galaxy”, “Rongen wants Cruyff and Gullit for DC United” and “Zenga wants Zenga for Revolution”.

Revolution reach out to local youth: “Give me the fuckin’ ball. Jesus!” (Revs player to ball boy, caught by sideline mike.)

Slam of the Week: “If only [Luxembourg’s] national team could combine German efficiency on the pitch with French flair. Too often in the past it has been the other way around with predictably dire and dour results.”

What is in the voda? That’s Slavic for ‘water’. TotW spent some time in Bosnia early in 1996, not reporting on the dynamic local soccer scene, but trying to make people who would rather slit each others’ throats hold hands and sing “Kumbaya”. The thing we found out was that are no virgins in the Balkans. There’s nothing but liars, cheats, crooks and cutthroats. So today we turn to perhaps the most famous Balkan cheat of the past year, Slaven Bilic, erstwhile Croat defender, who was least seen collapsing in a quivering heap after being nudged by French defender Laurent Blanc at World Cup ’98. Blanc, a class act who had never been sent off in his long career, had been provoked by Bilic who was roughly shoving him in the back during a corner. Naturally, the ref red-carded Blanc, who had to miss France’s triumphant final. Bilic took from Blanc something that can never be replaced. Why do we bring this up now? Ah, Bilic, who plays his club ball for Liverpool’s second team, Everton, and was the subject of an aborted transfer to West Ham, says he “will no longer be shoved around” to accommodate the club’s bankers. Is the irony just too much?

Joke of the Week: The biggest game in the savanna is the derby between Ants and Elephants. After 90 minutes the game was a draw, so it went to 30 minutes of golden goal extra time. With time ticking away in extra time, and the ref, a Zebra (of course), carefully scrutinizing his watch, the Ants midfielder split the Elephants’ defense, sending a long ball to the Ants’ forward. The Elephant sweeper ran side-by-side with the Ant until they got inside the penalty area, where the Elephant sweeper suddenly stepped on the Ant, squashing the striker. The referee called the PK and, reaching for his pocket approached the Elephant sweeper. “Before I send you off, tell me. Why did you do that?” “It’s your fault!”, the Elephant answered. “My fault?!” said the astonished ref. “Yeah! He was elbowing me since the midfield line, and you didn’t do a damn thing. I bet that Ant is going to jump up and run as soon as I walk off the field.”

Funny Numbers I: The LA Galaxy say that next season they will magically make 61,000 seats disappear from the cavernous Rose Bowl, to “improve the atmosphere.” Since the Galaxy don’t own the Rose Bowl — the city of Pasadena does — they aren’t going to be ripping out seats like so many Feyenoord fans. How will they make the magic happen, then? Oh wait, we get it. Thousands of square feet of blue plastic sheeting! Sure to fool only the color-blind (insert ref joke here) into believing that what were empty seats are now vapor. The stadium capacity will be “reduced” to 35,000 next season, an attendance figure the formerly well-supported Galaxy exceeded only once this season, on July 4th, when “60,433” showed up. That the opponent was mighty Miami, makes the figure look not just cooked, but fried, basted and broiled. In fact, the Galaxy have otherwise only once approached the future Rose Bowl soccer capacity all season, for the second home match, when 27,000 showed up to watch a scoreless game end in a crapshoot against Dallas. Knock off the zeroes at the end and the Galaxy’s attendance look like lotto numbers: 17, 27, 4, 16, 11, 7, 6, 18, 60, 8, 14, 12 and 8. TotW will eat its butt-stained shorts if MLS’s game report didn’t conveniently forget to mention some high-powered friendly double-header was used to inflate the attendance at that July 4th match. 4,000 fans in a 35,000 capacity stadium two-thirds covered in blue plastic sheeting, or 4,000 fans knocking around a 96,000 capacity stadium, will look just as empty and sound just as faint. The Galaxy fired a popular and productive latin midfielder before the season (Martin Machon), started out crap, fired their latin coach (Octavio Zambrano), and have since recovered quality-wise, if not attendance-wise. Wanna bet that unmentioned other game on July 4th was a couple of latin teams, like Necaxa or UNAM? No, the Galaxy’s attendance woes go beyond performance. Still, hope springs eternal and the magically slimmed Rose Bowl is seen as a “bridge” by MLS marketing czar Randy Bernstein (who should have been the first execution of the Garber junta) until the Galaxy move to a 30,000-seat soccer-only stadium owner Philip Anschutz hopes to complete by the 2002 season. Expect to see more funny figures bandied about as Anschutz has said he is “considering several Los Angeles County sites” for the stadium. (That’s billionaire-speak for playing local politicians against each other; unfortunately MLS does not have the leverage of the NFL or MLB to squeeze a sweetheart deal out of said politicians aiming to dip their greasy fingers in a few more local pockets.)

Funny Numbers II: MLS persists in the idiocy of playing midweek games on TV. Maybe they get a few more filthy short-run shekels out of it, but in the long run it can only harm the league to treat the public to a spectacle like the Galaxy’s rain-drenched encounter with the Columbus Crew. (If you guessed that was the ‘4’, above, you win the Jeopardy Challenge!) TotW watched that game. We ran out of fingers and toes counting heads, but still were not that many digits short of the actual attendance. (If you guessed that ‘4’, above, was inflated, you win Double Jeopardy!) It further does little good to MLS for it to showcase its most inept teams on TV. Nor to switch games from one night to the next at the last minute. Naturally, all these factors came into play this past Tuesday as the bottom-dwelling Wizards and Revolution met. SoccerTimes parroted the MLS party line like good little apparatchik’s, announcing the attendance as “7,260”. Uh, yeah. A large portion of the official attendance must have been disguised as poor marking backs. The crowd was certainly doing their best to create atmosphere, but the Massachusetts crowd would have needed the freakin’ Boston Pops (with fireworks … and cannon) to simulate more than 5,000 non-existant pairs of lungs. Much closer to the truth were the independent reports, which announced the attendance as “2,000”. Tell us, who do you believe?

Speaking of ripoffs, this week’s dishonoree comes courtesy of a dedicated TotW reader!!! MWN Sports Scratch & Help Fund Raising Program offers Valuable Teaching Resources for Coaches at All Levels!!! Tips & Techniques for Improving the Caliber of Your Team’s Play and Increasing Your Coaching Knowledge!!! Sports Specific Coaching Materials to Power Up Your Teams Performance!!! Even a 300% Return on Investment!!! How can they do that?!

Our alert and dedicated reader was obviously suspicious of all the exclamation marks, let alone the stunning profits they offer!!! His inbox no doubt being clogged with many of the same “programs”, he did some research!!! What did he find?!

They are offering an e-mail newsletter, and encouraging signups!!! Part of their form is quoted below:

“Make sure you have filled out the form correctly, then click Join!” (For example: hayseed@turniptruck.com) “E-mail addresses will be used to provide regular updates on site changes, plays of the month, and special offers. We may also send you email on behalf of our valuable sponsors, but we will never release your email address to any other party.”

Wow, what a deal!!! Sign us up now!!! Let’s get our friends to join!!! Send it to the next five inbreds on the list and watch the cash roll in!!! Oh wait, that’s a different scam!!!

Although they promise to never ever release their subscribers’ e-mail addresses, what did TotW’s dedicated researcher find on page 17 in the July 26, 1999, issue of Direct Marketing News?! Why, you don’t suppose it would be MWN Sports selling their list of 22,000 coaches for $150.00 per 1,000 — a cool $3,300.00 per sale — do you?!

MWN Sports !!!

Turd of the Week !!!

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