David Beckham played possibly his last game as a professional today (I don’t buy it… Coca Cola Championship player manager, anyone???). If he did, it marks the departure from the professional game of a true legend. As my friend, George Ogier (find him on Twitter at @georgeogier) accurately put, anyone who thinks David Beckham was overrated simply does not understand soccer. That’s paraphrased, but whatever.
I’m not here to convince anyone of his excellence. You either believe it and you are right, or you don’t and you are wrong. But there is one thing that is indisputable; he never failed to represent his country. In a day and age where many international soccer players retire from playing for their country in their mid 20s, Beckham played for England until they no longer wanted him to. Well into his mid 30s, he was still representing. Even after he was no longer being included in the international squad, he still made himself available.
There’s something to be said about that. There is way more money in club play, which is why so many young guys decide they don’t want to play for their country. Where’s the patriotism!?
To this day, when you bring up the name, John McEnroe, more people point to the tantrums than they do his brilliance in tennis. Even fewer, nearly none in fact, will remember that McEnroe always played Davis Cup. It was important for him to represent his country.
So for those of you who may be unenlightened in soccer and David Beckham, if for nothing else than his undying desire to represent his homeland, give him a bit of respect and knock off the overrated nonsense.
Thoughts From Five Beers Deep
It’s now several weeks since NBA center, Jason Collins came out as gay. And, like I’d hoped, nobody gives a sh*t. What Collins did took guts, and he’s had his moments on Oprah to talk about his experiences as a closeted player and why he decided to come out. And that’s great. Know what’s greater? Nobody gives a sh*t. He’ll probably get signed to a contract this offseason, and whichever team (I’m betting the Lakers… yep) signs him will probably have to deal with a brief period of media frenzy and then once again, nobody will give a sh*t. I have said it before and I will say it here, I am proud of how society… well, doesn’t give a sh*t. If you can play, you can be on my team. Gay, straight, bi, I don’t give a sh*t. And by all appearances, the majority of athletes who play in games that actually matter feel the same way.
This is why I’m befuddled by Rick Reilly’s recent article for espn.com about Glenn Burke. Burke was a talented young outfielder for the Dodgers in the 70s, and gay. His story, a sad one, has been told before. And if it’s indeed true that the Dodgers offered him money to marry a woman so talk about him being gay would be quieted, that sucks. But why would Reilly publish this article now? If it’s NOT a dig at Collins, then it should have written differently. As I’ve said plenty of times above, nobody gives a sh*t, but what Collins did was still brave as all getout. And Reilly publishes an article quoting Abudl Jalil al-Hakim (Burke’s agent) attempting to change the direction of the spotlight. Why would you do this? Sure, al-Hakim would say that because he’s as consequential as a bug carcass on your windshield these days, and is probably hoping someone remembers his name. But why would Reilly publish it? A brainfart is all I can think of. Reilly is an excellent journalist but he crapped the bed on this one.
If you’re the Texas Rangers, and Ned Colletti calls you and offers you Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and a couple of spare parts (perhaps Matt Guerrier and Nick Punto, both in the last years of their contracts) for Jurickson Profar, Craig Gentry, and a couple of prospects, you do it, right? You’re instant World Series favorites.
Think I’m overreacting to a poor Dodgers start? This team has problems. And, much to many people’s surprise, it’s not the deal with Boston last year that added gazillions in payroll last year. Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez are pulling their weight easily. Punto has played well. Josh Beckett’s numbers are ugly but his pitching has actually been decent. Any luck whatsoever and he has a few wins and his ERA is two runs lower. The poor start can be laid squarely on the atrocious start by Kemp and patently mediocre play by Ethier, both of whom have newly minted contracts. Think we’re overpaying for Profar? What’s so bad about opening up a spot for your all World prospect, Yasiel Puig, and finally giving an extended look to Scott Van Slyke to see if he can really produce at the big league level. Meanwhile, you also get a potential franchise shortstop, allowing you to move Hanley Ramirez to third base where he’s much better suited. Meanwhile, your staff is still anchored by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, with a solid supporting cast led by Hyun Jin Ryu, a hopefully improved Beckett, and a resurgent Chris Capuano. Telling me that team can’t contend for the playoffs? You’ve had more to drink than I have tonight.