Why Can't We Be Friends?
You know what that is? That’s a very poorly edited picture of Karl Marx’s head on Ron Jans’s body. That was my Twitter picture when I created my account. You may ask yourself, “What kind of person wants to be taken seriously while having that Twitter picture?”
Doesn’t that question answer itself?
Here’s something I wrote in an article about the stadium:
Exhibit D: I once wrote an article reviewing soccer movies that I’ve never seen.
And so on.
By now, a picture should be emerging of what, exactly, this is. And if you think that picture is of something that you need to take at face value and get mad about, then (Jeff Foxworthy voice) you might be these people
There’s been some heat among the fans recently, what some have termed the Pod Wars, and I think we need to take the temperature down. So I’m using this space to try to find some middle ground between the various factions, and maybe we can all remember that we’re all real people who support the same soccer team. Or not, and we can treat each other like Jaap Stam treats rumored FC center backs.
A lot of the most violent disagreement recently has been over how hot Jaap Stam’s seat is. Whether or not we can fry an egg on his forehead.
On one hand, we have Kevin “William” Wallace, begging for “FREEDOM” from Dutch rule. On the other hand, we have this
I have to say (and I’ve said it, repeatedly) that I found local media (no offense guys, I like you guys) to be a bit smug about how it’s way too early and totally irrational to talk about Stam’s job security, and anyone who thinks otherwise is foolish, stupid, hot take artists. (Although after last year, I don't blame Pat for wanting groups of people in blue shirts not to rush to judgment.)
But yeah, it was a bit annoying to hear people ready to dump the entire leadership structure just a few games into the season. I also want to go into each game with hope that things are about to be better, that everything is going to come together, and The FC is going to go on a playoff run.
Maybe the people who were #StamOut should have admitted that we risked setting the team back all the way back to square one, that it’s a terrible look to have five head coaches in three seasons, that we might be building to something, and that there might be actual progress being built toward a future, which would be abandoned entirely by a sudden change. And yes, Stam came in unexpectedly, in a pandemic year, without a preseason (although he did have three weeks before MLS is Back and then three weeks between MLS is Back and the rest of the season, which add up to a six-week MLS preseason) and without any players that he selected (although maybe it would have made sense to name a coach who could work with the players already in the team). So it’s not really fair to treat 2020 as a full season for him, and it’s reasonable to consider the team only 15 real games into the Jaap Stam experiment.
But it goes both ways. The people who violently objected to #StamOut need to recognize the following facts (which I have never seen them acknowledge):
- Stam was fired 11 league games into his tenure at Feyenoord, and that team didn’t lose a single league game the rest of the year after replacing him.
- New England Revolution fired Brad Friedel after a short tenure, added one DP, and immediately became one of the best teams in the league.
- It might not be possible to bring in all of the “right players” for a complicated system under MLS salary/roster restraints, and history shows that coaches/GMs who know MLS tend to perform more reliably.
And anyone claiming progress, who prefaces post-game questions with the statement that this team is getting points when in the past it wasn’t, needs to understand the following:
That’s, uh, not a lot of improvement for tens of millions more dollars (salary and transfer fees) on the roster.
I think we have to keep Stam for the rest of the season, but here’s a list of coaches that I think would have at least a puncher’s chance of achieving better results with this roster, and do so pretty immediately: Dome Torrent, Dom Kinnear, Steve Cherundolo, Ben Olsen, Gonzalo Pineda. And that’s even without going to my dream board. “Who would replace him” is not the Trump card people think it is.
Absolutely, we should root for improvement, and in fact, we should root for so much improvement that we are begging Stam and Nijkamp to have their contracts extended, that we are fighting off big European teams for their signatures. But can we at least admit that those questioning Stam’s status have arguments on their side? Can we agree that everyone wants what’s best for the team, that they have different opinions about what that is, and that we can all co-exist with different opinions? Without calling people anatomical pejoratives?
Speaking of co-existing, I’m the last person you’d expect to sympathize with Geoff Cameron. If we met in person (won’t happen), we would not agree on a single thing, we would get into a big argument, and either he would kick my ass… or we would have a few drinks and laugh at some other bullshit.
Yes, despite my seemingly strong opinions and rhetoric, I live my life surrounded by people who do not see the world the same way that I do. Like, for example, most people I am related to or work with. And we get along just fine.
"By the same token, anyone can wear a shirt to support women, queer, and BIPOC voices in sports, even if they work for a show that does not include a single one of those voices"
I felt bad about it once it was published, because it wasn’t entirely fair. Everyone should be allowed and encouraged to advance diversity, regardless of their status, and regardless of whether they have been perfect. There are a lot of factors for why representation hasn’t been achieved, and the problem is really more systemic than it is attributable to any one person. So yeah, it was a cheap shot.
But I thought it was funny, and I still think it’s funny. And I’m not going to have it removed, because I don’t believe in running away from things I say, and also because The Post editorial staff won't let me.
Look, it wasn’t personal. The point was that when you go out attacking players on social media, you should be able to take a little pushback. For example, Geoff Cameron once had the misfortune of being asked about the Muslim ban and having his statements (in my opinion) misrepresented slightly by a name-searching member of soccer media. But until players are asked their opinions on every single issue, it’s a loser’s game to label some guys sufficiently “woke” and others not.
What does Nick Hagglund think about the Child Tax Credit phase-in, which withholds help from poor kids whose parents don’t earn enough money, and is more evil in my opinion than anything Cameron has spoken about? What does Brenner think about Bolsonaro? Should we do a player-by-player poll on the propriety of a certain chant favored by Mexico fans?
On the other hand, if a guy comes out and says some bullshit on his own initiative, it’s perfectly cool to say he’s wrong. And it’s also fair to point out that you’re kind of letting your team down when you can’t travel to Canada because you (stupidly) wouldn’t get vaccinated.
Anyway, the point is, it’s OK for us to rib each other for things we say and do, but we shouldn’t write anyone off entirely until we have the full picture of the person (or really, we shouldn’t write anyone off ever, but no one’s perfect in that regard – certainly not me).
Why Does FC Twitter Need to Go After National Media?
This post on The Post is about unity within the FC fanbase, the ability for us all to talk about the team without retreating to our own safe spaces and deciding who is Good and who is Bad. No matter how heated a discussion gets, I think that we should all be able to stay cordial and foster a friendly environment.
When national pundits come at the team – especially since we know it’s to farm engagement on social media – they should expect that we will come for them. And I really hope that members of the fanbase won’t simp for state media just for clout. I don’t care how reasonable a take Pablo brings on a particular issue, he will always be the guy who is unreasonably obsessed with Carl Lindner’s religion. Matt Doyle properly breaks down a play? Fuck him. He needlessly attacked a hobbled Geoff Cameron after the Miami game, so he’s dead to me. Jeff Rueter (who also, I think, searches his own name on Twitter) says a nice thing about Nijkamp’s long-term plan? Still not going to forgive him for how he came after our beautiful Brenner.
Obviously, if I met any of these people in public, I would buy them drinks and be perfectly nice. But sports are our opportunity to be irrational in a way that doesn’t matter at all, and that has no real world repercussions. As a professional in a very demanding job (like many of us are), I’m going to take any opportunity to shit post that I can get.
Bright Lights, Big City
I know we’re all a bit snakebit by the old stadium drama, “Announce Newport,” “Built It Here,” and the like, so I get why everyone’s sensitive to stadium criticism.
But can we at least, once, under our breaths, into a pillow, where no one can hear us, admit that it’s not unreasonable that people who live in a beautiful city might need a little time to adjust to a Charmin-branded spaceship outside their windows?
FC fans need the lights because obviously the stadium was going to be a giant billboard all along, and they care deeply about a billionaire maximizing his own profits for some reason, regardless of the effect on others. And the social justice warriors hate the lights because it reminds them that they failed to do anything to help people in the West End for the last 60 years and now the city is run by developers.
Well, I have a compromise. Every night, in between ads, the stadium should look like this:
There. Now no one is happy, but no one can complain.
So Whose Side Do I Take? CST, YAL Stars, KLR, The Post, or the Bailey Facebook Page?
I’m the wrong guy to ask this question. Aside from a few DMs on Twitter, I don’t really know any of the people outside The Post, so I can’t tell you what to do. I can only ask that you give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Assume (unless they cross a line) that they’re just trying to have fun, that they are not trying to insult you personally, and they support the team.
Pick any side you want, as long as it’s not the Bailey Facebook page.
OK, But Did You Really Need to Make an Anne Frank Joke In Your First Article?
Admit it, you laughed. And if I can make you laugh, we can be friends.