Musings on Fernando Torres, MLS draft

February, 4, 2011

So, Fernando Torres said he won't celebrate if he scores against Liverpool this weekend, and folks are acting like that's "respectful" and "classy." Chalk this up as one thing this American sports writer just doesn't get.

I go back to my story on Giuseppe Rossi before last year's World Cup, and I remember reading message-board rants from fans who felt it was "disrespectful" that Rossi celebrated his wonder goal against the U.S. in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. I went back and watched the goal again and again, and all I saw was Rossi running, pumping his fists and jumping into the arms of his teammates. I didn't see him flip off the U.S. bench or anything. What ticked people off about that?

Honestly, were I fan of Liverpool, I would probably find it more disrespectful if Torres scored and simply trotted back to the middle of the park like it was nothing. If I'm sitting in the Kop, I'm more ticked off if he treats a goal against my club like it's no big deal.

MLS draft revisited

Opinions are like…

In the early days of ESPN The Magazine, we were handed T-shirts with those words on the back. The message we were trying to send to our readers was, sure, we've got opinions, you've got opinions, doesn't make either one of us right.

Of course, the opinions of sports fans are typically fueled by passion, so it's not realistic to think there won't be heated disagreements from time to time.

But I'm here this week to confess, when I offer up an opinion on what's right and what's wrong with Major League Soccer, it always should be read with a disclaimer: "I'm not claiming to have all the answers."

Take, for example, my blog a few weeks ago that I want the see the MLS SuperDraft abandoned. I tried to let you all know that's my feeling across all sports. Well, maybe not the NBA, where one player can change a franchise completely around. But, in general, I do not like the idea of players being told where they have to play. I especially do not like the idea in baseball, where I think a good college pitcher should be able to find a major league team in need of a pitcher, rather than be at the mercy of the draft.

This also goes for MLS, where entry-level salaries are so low that it seems to make sense that players should be able to choose the team that best suits them, as opposed to the team that may want them, or may just want to keep them from another team. It's my opinion that the system would balance itself out over time. That a free and open market would clear the way for teams to seek what they need and players to seek what they want.

What I failed to point out in that post, however, was that MLS has taken a great step with its homegrown players initiative, where clubs are allowed to sign a player to his first professional contract if he has played at least one year in their youth system. I think this could well be the first step toward eliminating the need for a draft.



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