Friday Funblast: Enjoying the (lack of) Stream
Another Friday has arrived as we all endlessly wait to find out if The FC is planning to add that attacking midfielder we all so desperately crave. So, without further ado:
ENJOYING THE (LACK OF) STREAM
FC Cincinnati announced their slate of pre-season games on Wednesday. On the agenda for the FC will be a closed-door match in Milford followed by three matches in Orlando against Chicago, Orlando and Minnesota. Unfortunately, that list of opponent names is about all the coverage you’re going to get for these matches, because the team also announced that none of these matches will be televised or streamed in any way.
It’s 2021. We’re living in the fucking future (a dystopian future, really – we just don’t notice it because we’re used to our dystopias having slightly more neon and happening exclusively at night after a heavy rainstorm) and an intern can literally stream a soccer match on iPhone with a tripod and a WiFi connection. The days of needing to buy satellite time and a three-camera Sony Betamax setup are over. And you can’t claim “Oh, we had no idea the fans wanted to see this stuff,” since this issue of “Hey, can we get a stream of the match?” seems to come up every goddamn preseason. There are teams around MLS that would kill to have a fanbase so invested that they’d sit around and watch a commentary-less match stream out of sheer excitement for the upcoming year. And, year after year, we get into this same bullshit discussion.
Other sports have this figured out. Earlier this week, everyone got to watch Reds phenom-turned-Tommy John recipient Hunter Greene make his big league debut on the MLB Network (and, in true Reds fashion, he got the everliving shit beat out of him for 2/3 of an inning before the teams both agreed to just pack it in and forget about that final out). The National Football League not only televises all of its preseason games, it forces the fans to buy tickets to them as part of their season ticket packages. Hell, I have a friend who watches, bets on, and once flew out to Vegas to be present for the fucking NBA Summer League. Do you know how deep down the fucking rabbit hole you need to be for a sport to watch the NBA Summer League? The bigger point here is that fans *will* consume preseason content if it’s offered to them. And if the bigger leagues have this as part of their business model, it’s fucking time for MLS and FC Cincinnati to get with the goddamn program and make that intern to get his iPhone out and fucking film.
Of course it could be worse…
GIVING LAST RITES TO SACRAMENTO
News broke in the late-Friday news dump last week that the “Failed MLS Expansion Candidates” Wikipedia page would be getting a new entry, as lead investor Ron Burkle stepped away from Sacramento Republic FC bid. The “story,” if you can even call it that, came in the form of a short statement from MLS’s PR department at 7:46PM, announcing Burkle’s departure and making vague statements about the future of the Sacramento bid. Before the body had even hit the fucking ground, Taylor Twellman (who I’m convinced has a chip directly connecting his brain at all times to Twitter) had already fired off a tweet speculating about different cities this bid could go to. This is newsworthy because Twellman, despite getting a paycheck from ESPN and ostensibly being a “journalist,” is a fucking stooge and mouthpiece for talking points the league wants out in the public discourse. If he’s talking up Las Vegas and Phoenix potentially swooping the Sacramento bid, it means he’s been told by someone (who probably has a name that rhymes with “Gone Harbor”) that the league is, in fact, considering allowing Vegas and Phoenix to swoop said bid.
This is all a story because we live in America, and in America, getting a billionaire to support what you’re doing is the only way to get something done (at least, this was my main take away from years of watching “Shark Tank”). The billionaire at the center of the Sacrodrama is Ron Burkle. Burkle, like seemingly everyone else in the MLS Expansion Candidates Club, is an investment-fund / equity-firm dickhead who specializes in leveraged buyouts, industry consolidations, and being friends with noted terrible humans Bill Clinton and Jeffrey Epstein. Burkle’s name, in fact, appears in Epstein’s black book and as a passenger on Epstein’s infamous “Lolita Express” 747. The good news here though is that, at 171 years old, the city of Sacramento is at least legally old enough to be fucked by this guy.
To make all of this even more ridiculous, it appears Burkle is going to be able to walk away from this deal completely unscathed because the dumb fucks at MLS apparently never got a dime of the “expansion fee” up-front. Seriously? I’m a total moron when it comes to business and even I know that escrow accounts fucking exist. Though, really, is there anything more on-brand for MLS than accepting a “sure fam, I got you” in lieu of an actual $300+ million-dollar check that was promised?
There are so many angles to this story that suck and more villains than a goddamn Spider-Man movie (looking your way, Spider-Man 3). The ghouls like Twellman and others, swooping in to add another knife in the back of Scaramento fans by immediately assuming the league would move on from their city, deserve a special “fuck you” here, though. Would it kill any of these motherfuckers to at least make sympathy noises towards Republic FC fans? Or rightly attack the final boss in this cavalcade of assholes, Ron Burkle, for bailing on his agreement in such a way that it completely fucks over the city’s chance to keep its expansion spot? How about a moment of real journalistic integrity to ask some questions about why MLS isn’t committing to at least SOME effort to salvage this bid in what has been a fantastic soccer town and fantastically supported lower division side? None of that happened because, again, we don’t have soccer journalists in this country – we have toadies and stooges who lick the boot (in the truest American sense, and not the Eurosnob-who-refuses-to-say-“cleats” sense) of this fucking league because the single-entity business model makes it really easy to freeze out people who exercise an ounce of independent thought.
Also, a word to our frenemies up I-71: It’s time for you motherfuckers to “pay it forward” for all the goodwill you received around the league when YOUR city was fucked over by some dickhead billionaire (also, ironically, from Sacramento). You all whined endlessly about wanting solidarity and made everyone turn their profile pictures some gaudy shade of yellow to help “Save” your club. Well, there’s another club out west – one that draws nearly as many fans as you do – that is in the process of getting absolutely fucked by MLS, and it’s been fucking crickets from the people who were attention-whoring themselves around social media just a few years ago. What? Did the internet run out of all of those great white shark memes? Everyone around the league rallied to your cause, despite all of us rolling our eyes behind your backs because, deep down, we knew Precourt had every justification in the fucking world to leave behind his half-filled stadium and generally apathetic fanbase. But we still did it. Now it’s your turn to fucking stand up, and thus far you’re being shown up by dudes in New York with a rat for a logo.
KITBASHING IN COLUMBUS
Speaking of our Hard Hat buddies: Columbus unveiled their new 2021 kit this week to a collective yawn / chuckle from the internet. The greyish-white kit redefines the phrase “aggressively mediocre” and continues the long tradition of Adidas absolutely not giving a fuck about MLS products. Everything about this kit screams “intern forgot the design was due and threw this together at 3:55 on a Friday before punching out to hit the bar.” As we wrote about last week, at least a bad jersey will eventually generate some level of nostalgia or collectability as people look at old photos and say “man, can you believe we wore THAT shit?” This, though? This generates no feelings. It’s almost too boring to burn on an old grill. You get the sense that even if you doused the fucker in lighter fluid and lit a match, the flame would refuse to burn and just say “Eh, why bother?”
When you look at the landscape of athletic wear / team apparel out there, it’s amazing that MLS doesn’t invest more money in making sure they’re on the absolute cutting edge of kit designs. They can’t (and will probably never) compete with Europe for quality of play, but at least they can design and market some cool threads to get the internet buzzing and possibly increase brand awareness around the world just by giving people cool shit to wear. But, instead, you end up with this dull, low-effort bullshit in Columbus (where the team with Yellow as a primary color will be wearing black and white kits this season) or where fucking Miami hasn’t worn a pink kit yet. It’s arguably worth taking a bit less money on their kit deal to make sure they just get better shit, because every person walking around in an MLS kit is a walking advertisement for the league. As it stands, who the fuck is going to buy this in Columbus, other than the same hardcore fans who buy the kit year after year?
MAKING A MESS IN TEXAS
To the shock of absolutely no one, Texas governor Greg Abbot announced on Tuesday that – pandemic be damned – the state of Texas was going to be ending all COVID restrictions, including capacity restrictions on gatherings and mask mandates. One would be forgiven for thinking “Wait, shouldn’t you all be worried about fixing your fucking power grid?” after what went down in the state a few weeks ago, but attempting to apply logic to Texas is like trying to understand the mechanics of time travel in a David Tenannt-era Doctor Who episode (which is to say: infuriating, and a waste of your goddamn time). On the bright side, it’s not like there’s a history of Texans prematurely declaring “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” and things going horribly wrong in the immediate aftermath.
Because the base of the Republican party is filled with mouth-breathers who are all jockeying to be anointed the next leader of the MAGA Movement, the governor of Mississippi immediately followed with his own declaration ending all COVID restrictions. It’s a good bet that other GOP controlled states will soon follow – possibly including Ohio, where your average member of the General Assembly is basically the comment section of a Newsmax article wearing a suit and tie. So, while for now the capacity at the early FC Cincinnati matches is going to be restricted to 30% (with word still to come on exactly how that 30% will be selected), that number could creep higher at literally any minute now or during the season.
Now, I haven’t taken a science class since AP Bio, and even I could dedicate the rest of this column as to why this is the dumbest fucking idea imaginable. We’re at the goddam finish line for this disease, and literally the ONLY thing that could derail everything is if – oh, I don’t know, the virus started spread more rapidly in these last few weeks and one goddamn RNA copying error leads to a mutation that makes the vaccines ineffective. I literally don’t give a shit if you’re pro-mask, anti-mask, democrat, republican, whatever – we did the hard work here. We all sat at home bored out of our fucking minds for a full year. And I’ll be fucking damned if this gets fucked up in the homestretch because some all-hat, no-cattle asshole in Texas or elsewhere decides their polling numbers for 2024 could use a boost.
It’s my sincere hope that FC Cincinnati recognizes that, no matter what the elected officials do, that A.) This pandemic isn’t fucking over and B.) Their most dedicated fanbase is a lot younger and a lot more COVID aware than the idiots in charge of this State. Masks should remain a thing at matches until the actual scientists and experts say otherwise, and capacity shouldn’t be “asses to elbows” unless everyone attending is vaccinated. Period.
The alternative is a beautiful stadium in the West End that might never see a 20,000 person crowd.
THEY MADE A MOVIE ABOUT FCC’S SEARCH FOR A #10
It’s called “Waiting…”
Alright, that’s it for this week. We’ll be back next week hopefully with more shit to talk about and (maybe) a player signing to break the silence. Acosta forever. Adi never. See you motherfuckers in the Thunderdome.