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Mixed feelings

I support my boys in green. I stand with them. I sing for them. I wear a scarf in the dog days of summer. I drag a giant Scotland flag around with me to support my two surviving Scots.

I don’t tell you this to paint myself as some sort of superfan. I just love my club. I want to see them succeed. I want better for them than what’s happening this season.

Not for me. For them.

I’ve been ranting for a week straight now. Perkins to Montreal. Chabala to DC. Gavin being Gavin. John Strong and Timbers in 30 toeing the company line. That horrifying “interview” with Merritt. The Willamette Week interview with Troy Perkins that was far more telling than anything coming from the FO.

There’s this feeling I’m having a hard time describing. I have all these things I want to say and am struggling to put them into words.

People are talking about a boycott.

My head hurts. My heart hurts.

What does this boycott look like? Is it really a boycott if we all still show up at Jeld-Wen on gameday?

I’m currently landing pretty solidly in the concessions boycott camp. I cannot fathom not being in the stadium to cheer for my boys, but I can certainly do it without a beer and a hot dog. Money speaks.

We’re in the middle of discussing this on Twitter, as we have been for a week. “So, I’ll spend $20 to support the boys, but not $7.25 for a beer? I guess I don’t understand the logic,” a fellow RCTIDer tweets to me. Sigh.

I’m not sure I’m the one to explain it, but here goes.

I’m a season ticket holder. I see those tickets as an agreement with the team that I will be there, that I will show up and support them, win, lose or draw, in all weather, against any opponent.

An agreement with the team that I will support them.

This does not mean that I will offer my undying support for every ill-advised, poorly-timed, absolutely ludicrous decision made by the front office nor will I stand idly by as the FO attempts to spin the story to make those decisions look less ill-advised, poorly-timed and ludicrous.

Yes, I’ve contacted my ticket rep. At this point, I’m stunned that he even responds. I’m sure, when he opens his email in the morning and sees my name, there is a deep sigh as he reaches for his coffee. I know that ranting at him (venting to him?) isn’t going to change the course of the season. It isn’t going to unseat Gavin. It isn’t going to stop the ridiculous spin.

But we have to take any opportunity to express our frustration, don’t we?

How far are we willing to go?

My guy in the FO, when I asked him a month ago, said that the normal rules still apply. Distasteful and/or offensive displays might get you a talking-to. Yet the rumor is still circulating that any anti-Gavin display is going to earn you a ban.

Again, how far are we willing to go?

I’m trying to understand all of this. I’m trying to get a handle on how and what I feel.

It comes down to this: Gavin has got to go. If a GWOut t-shirt gets me hauled out of the North End, so be it. I’ll be with a hundred others in the same situation. If a GWOut two-stick gets others kicked out, they can stand with us on the sidewalk.

A moment (or several moments) of silence during the match? This is where we are divided.

What message does it send? What does it say to our boys?

It says we care.

It does not say we do not support them. Quite the contrary. It says we care enough to make a statement. It says we are united in our passion for this club.

Aside from that, through the magic of Twitter and Facebook, we have the ability to alert them to any protest ahead of time. A few words of explanation and I’m sure they’d understand.

But are we there yet?

Are we willing to stand silently, to hush those around us who may not understand, to spread the word beforehand not just among fellow supporters, but also to those members of the team who are most accessible to us? Are we willing to do this?

Some of us are. But collectively? I’m not so sure.

What will it take?

I’m not an organizer. I’m not normally a protestor. I’m barely a blogger.

But I’m ready for whatever happens. And something needs to happen.

I’ve been warned of the repercussions, the possibility of ejections and bans. I’ve been offered advice, as though I were going to step in and be the protest organizer. I’m not, but I’ll pass along the advice.

Stay sober. Stay serious. If it’s important enough for you to launch a formal protest, it’s important enough for you to keep your wits about you.

Have photographers present. You can’t swing a scarf in the North End without hitting a camera or a smartyphone, but those wielding them need know the whens and wheres in order to properly capture not just the protest, but whatever aftermath there may be.

If you’re ejected, go with dignity. We’ll meet you at BE afterward and Chris Cooper will probably buy you a beer. If you’re banned, shout about it long and loud to anyone who will listen. Social media is your friend. No one should be denied access to their club because they have expressed an opinion.

I sincerely doubt that it will come to this. Any sort of protest, organized or otherwise, should cause the FO some frustration but I would hope that, even in turbulent times such as these, an expression of opinion would not bring down the ban-hammer. But this is the same FO that sent out a survey about reserved seating in the North End and was shocked when the response was swift and harsh. They appear, at the moment, to be tone deaf.

As I am wont to do, I’ve talked to some of our TA elders about the current situation with the club. I keep hearing the same things over and over. We’ve been in some pretty crappy places before. We’ve had some difficult, wrenching seasons. The difference now is the scale of things. Bigger stage. More at stake. Many, many more people involved. This is a much harder ship to steer but we can hardly expect it to right itself now that it’s been taking on water for so long.

Again, I’m not an organizer. I can’t encourage you to participate in whatever protest happens. But I’ll keep you up to date if there seems to be a consensus on what that protest will be.

Make your own choice.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Timbers

 

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The other shoe drops. We’re running out of shoes.

I’m full of conspiracy theories today. All sorts of “Gavin is trading all the players who’ve really connected with fans” and “Gavin is ridding himself of those most likely to speak up when they see the train leaving the rails” and “Gavin is now feeding sound bites to others in an effort to make himself look like less of a douche” conspiracy theories.

I guess you probably see the pattern here.

I consider myself lucky in that, in the midst of this mess, I’ve been able to talk through things with some of our wise TA elders. I ask questions and they answer. They discuss and I listen. They ask my opinion and I have absolutely no idea what to say.

Well, that was yesterday, anyway.

Today, one of them is replying to emails entirely in Latin. Others have gone silent.

There’s a sense of shock. Not even shock, but shell shock.

I wasn’t sure if that was really the term to describe what I’m feeling, what I think a lot of us are feeling, but a quick look at Wikipedia confirms it.

It has been described as a reaction to the intensity of the bombardment and fighting that produced a helplessness appearing variously as panic, or flight, an inability to reason, sleep, walk or talk.

Oh, yes. That’s totally it. We’ve all been waiting for the other shoe to drop since Spenny was shown the door. We’re down two shoes this week. How many more shoes do we have?

We all knew another trade was coming. I was certain that it would (heartbreakingly) be Eric Alexander but, as it turned out, the next former Timber with a plane ticket was Mike Chabala.

There are some who will point to his recent play and assure me this is a good move both for the team and for Mike. I get it, but there are still others I’d rather had gone first. And I’m not keen on spinning this as a mercy trade. Poor, poor Mike gets to go to DC! He’ll see some playing time now! They were just gonna release him at the end of the season anyway, right?

Whatever. Maybe that’s the reality, but it sounds like something a shadowy, GW-flavored version of James Carville might craft. If there’s a quote from Mike that confirms the story, I’ll happily retract the previous statement. And if it’s out there, I’m guessing someone will soon point it out to me.

Mike came to us midway through last season and immediately showed himself to be someone who understood what it meant to play in the Rose City. It’s not enough to play and play hard. It’s not enough to just wear the badge. You have to have passion. You have to have fire. You have to become one of us.

Mike found a way to do that immediately.

I will add him to the list of players I will miss. And I will wish him the best with his new team.

***

I made my pilgrimage to the stadium today, spurred by sentimentality or insanity or something else I can’t quite identify. I looked out over the field. I reached out to touch gates and the walls. I imagined a better time, a happier time.

And it worked for a minute. The ghostly echo of a chant, a hint of smoke, laughter, love, pride, passion….

***

The pod will be out sometime Friday. I probably said something stupid that people will laugh openly about, but at this point it’s all just a blur. With any luck at all, the stupid stuff I said will be difficult to hear as I think I was holding my mic somewhere near my right ear. Regardless, I’m honored to have been invited and thankful that I finally got to meet Roberto and Nevets. I still haven’t bought Nevets a beer, but I did leave some cider in Merritt’s basement for him.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Timbers

 

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Love is a battlefield

I love my Timbers. I do not just love them, I am in love with them.

Being in love is tough.

In sickness and in health, right? Through every triumph and tribulation. In torrential downpours and sweltering summer nights. Through the preseason and the offseason and the mid-season offseason.

Before, during and after CalFC, LAG and Dallas. Before, during and, looking to the future, after Gavin.

Through scoring droughts and and dodgy defending. Through threats of bans for dissension and reserved seating in the North End.

Through all of this.

As I write, less than seventeen hours from game time, the dread I was feeling earlier in the week is fading. Yeah, I said it. I was looking toward this game with dread.

I’ve been waiting all week for the next bit of bad news, waiting for some other ridiculous and/or terrible Timbers story to break. Instead, we had a quiet night Tuesday with Aston Villa and then radio silence.

Sure, there were a couple blips on the radar today: Eric Brunner back at practice after his most recent concussion and the possibility of seeing Trencito at training as early as September. And then we spent the rest of the day looking for Jake Gleeson at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.

The sun will rise in a few hours here in Cascadia. The sun will rise and we will prepare ourselves for battle as we always do.

I want to see Boyd start. I expect to see Boyd start. Without him, the fire is lessened, the intensity lost. I want to see Alexander in the middle again. The wheels came off in Dallas, but I still think this is the best option for him. I’ll choose Smith over Chabala with apologies to Chewy. You show heart, Chewy, something I wish we saw more of from every player on the squad.

I’ll take Futty and Mosco and Horst and I’ll expect Horst to step up his game because I know he has it in him. It was about this time last year that I thought he really came into his own. I’m hoping for a repeat performance.

And here’s one I’ve never uttered aloud before: give me Rod Wallace. Painful to even see the words there, but there they are. Put him next to Franck.

And, to further illustrate the point that I should never be put in charge of choosing the starting eleven, put Dike and Richards up with Boyd.

Just this once, give Boyd the armband. That’s another thing you won’t hear me call for very often, but that’s where it should be right now: wrapped tightly around one of those inexplicably long-sleeved arms. We need his fire. We need his leadership. We need his experience. We need him to kick ass and not even bother to take names.

I’m leaving out players I want to see play. I would like to put fourteen, maybe sixteen guys out there. Zizzo and Fucito and Mwanga all deserve time. Can I play six forwards at once? This is just one of the myriad of reasons Gavin is the interim coach and I’m not.

Regardless of who starts, we will be there in full battle dress and in full voice. Win or lose, this is our team. We will not fail them. Ever.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Timbers

 

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