You know what I always say about conspiracy theories: You get five people in a room and they can barely agree on what to have for lunch. And if they do, they certainly couldn’t keep it a secret.
So this notion that a small cabal of folks can pull the strings on an honest to goodness, old-fashioned, buttoned up conspiracy just doesn’t fly with me. Most of the time, anyway.
During Wednesday’s Revolution-FC Dallas contest, I was truly surprised at how many people pulled me aside, leaned in close and quietly said something along the lines of: you think the league is behind Thierry Henry’s mysteriously gimpy knee?
The fab Frenchman, increasingly notorious for mischievous deeds, turned up with a previously undisclosed knee injury this week. It was just days after his silly, needless punctuation mark on a goal accidentally put FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman on the shelf for a few weeks.
Honestly, it would never have crossed my mind, this notion of high-level league tinkering, if three different people hadn’t mentioned it that night. (I’m talking about people around the teams, or at least close to the game – not just folks who wear those funny No. 1 foam fingers and scream “No way!” on an offside call 120 yards away and at an impossible angle of view.)
I dismissed the first one. After all, folks do love them a good conspiracy tale. The movie and TV industry lives off it. Well, that and vampire crap.
By the second whispered mention, I had recalled an MLS coach who once told me it had been “suggested” that he withhold a player from the lineup in somewhat similar circumstances. Hmmm.
By the third one, I was peaking over my shoulder and asking myself about the plain white van parked across the street.
In all honesty, I just can’t see a reason MLS HQ would withhold Henry from this one. After all, they are treating Friday’s marquee matchup (Galaxy-Red Bulls) as the best thing since the invention of nachos, truly one of mankind’s crowning achievements.
(I write a little bit about why that is in this week’s Friday piece at SI.com. Check it out. It’s even got a smidge of a conspiratorial bent.)
Why have four DPs on the field when you could have five? Plus, MLS took a back alley beating in some circles for failing to suspend Henry – or at least fine him a consequential figure.
(I did a little arithmetic and concluded that Henry’s $2,000 fine is roughly equivalent to a $22 fine for folks making $50,000 a year. That’s not even a parking ticket in most places.)
So, if MLS officials were going to suspend him, I think they would just suspend the man and get the credit for doing so. Hell, it would even serve to send a valuable message. Players around MLS would perk up at the news and quite possibly think to themselves, “If they’ll suspend the show dog of the pack, they’ll damn sure suspend a mutt like me!”
Then again, I’ve been wrong before. Spectacularly so in a couple of instances. “What could possibly go wrong?” I asked myself five years back when I dumped everything I had into Blockbuster stock.
So, let me know if you have a different opinion on this one.