Like dozens of others, I’ll always remember what I was doing the exact moment I heard that David Beckham was coming to America:
Not watching a soccer game.
The news was so shattering, I paused my live TV – I was taking in a 2003 World Series of Poker rerun and already had muted it to drown out the incessant commentary – to consider the implications.
My first reaction was:
What am I supposed to do with my Freddy Adu bobble-head doll?
My second reaction was:
I’ve got to get me some Major League Soccer ducats ASAP.
So I got into my car and headed straight for Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., home of Beckham’s Los Angeles Galaxy. As I passed downtown L.A., adjacent to Staples Center was a huge billboard screaming:
BECKHAM COMES TO AMERICA
1 877 3GALAXY
I’m a moron, I thought to myself; I can just call and order tickets. So I made a beeline back home, got on the horn and bought seats for the Galaxy’s first five home games. When Beckham alighted at Plymouth Rock, I wanted to be the first to greet him!
Well, the MLS season opened during the weekend – the Galaxy played in Houston. Guess what? Beckham did not play. The Galaxy’s home opener is Thursday against FC Dallas. Guess what? Beckham will not play.
Uh, why isn’t Beckham in America yet?
Uh, due to previous obligations, it seems, Beckham won’t be making his MLS debut until after the all-star break in late July.
Who does this guy think he is, Roger Clemens?
The Galaxy sold 2,000 season tickets within hours of Beckham’s signing; of course, some of those sales might’ve been spurred by Bandana Night April 28 against Chivas USA.
The $250 million question remains – that’s right, Beckham supposedly will earn up to $250 million for five years – whether Beckham can catapult MLS above and beyond, say, Arena Football, in the hearts and minds of U.S. sports fans.
The good news is: He already has a massive following in Asia.
The bad news is: America is not in Asia.
And, frankly, I think it helps if Beckham were actually in America when, you know, the American soccer season begins.
Did I mention he’s getting $250 million to bring a 0.6 rating to soccer on TV? Two hundred fifty million dollars? Geez, Ben Stiller gets about $20 million a pop, but unlike MLS games, people actually go to watch his films.
(By the way, I’m tired of hearing about the wonder that is “Bend It Like Beckham.” So many friends touted it, I expected “Citizen Kane II.” Eventually, I relented and went; inside of 20 minutes, I was praying for intermission. It was “Gigli” with corner kicks.)
They call Beckham a “set-piece maestro.”
So was Brahms, and he couldn’t fill a Stuttgart coffeehouse.
I mean, what exactly are we getting for $250 million?
He turns 32 next month. He’s recovering from a knee ligament strain. He can’t run. He can’t move. He couldn’t kick in the side of a barn with his good leg.
On the other hand, he has a great smile, a beautiful wife and his own line of fragrance.
(Incidentally, his wife’s name is tattooed on his back; somewhat similarly, my first ex-wife’s foot is tattooed to my butt.)
Best I can tell, Beckham is just famous for being famous.
Heck, if that”s all it takes to prop up MLS, why didn’t the Galaxy just sign Paris Hilton? Plus, she’s already here!
Ask The Slouch
Q. Hey, Slouch, did Michael Phelps’ supernatural seven gold medals over eight days at the World Swimming Championships pierce the recesses of your dulling mind? (Jim Newton; Seattle)
A. You know, the Tropicana in Las Vegas used to offer “poolside blackjack” – you could bet your cards while you were in the water. To be honest, considering the playing conditions – we’re talking 110-degree heat on some days – I believe it was tougher winning on the Strip than it was for Phelps in Melbourne.
Q. We’ve watched the sons of Patrick Ewing, Mike Conley, John Thompson and Yannick Noah excel in the NCAA tournament. At what activity might your offspring have a genetic advantage? (Chris Cook; Spokane)
A. My Uncle Spoons was part of the first test marketing group for the Original Slinky.
Q. Are you capable of avoiding all references to “The Sopranos” in 2007, or will I need to avoid your column until I get to watch the full season in Asia later in the year? (Steve Okun; Singapore)
A. Mum’s the word, my friend, though who could’ve figured Carmela would knock over a liquor store and Paulie would knock off Artie?
Q. If I made $1.25 from you last year, do I need to report this for tax purposes or is it considered charity for helping you write your column? (Jason Quednow; East Troy, Wis.)
A. You’ll be getting a 1099 in the mail this week, postage due.
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