Pass the Crow

Guest Writer: Tony Felich

I wrote an article entitled “Cause for Alarm” back in February that raised the public ire of many Cauldronites but elicited supportive responses by quite a few others. The article noted three areas of disappointment that put a damper on my desire to buy season tickets: the draft, the schedule, and the first pre-season game.

I remain skeptical about the draft strategy, but appreciate the argument some made about MLS ready offensive talent being rare in college players. Out of the teams control or not, the game schedule is unfortunate with a 2 ½ month gap between games in late Spring. The third area of critique, the first pre-season game, wasn’t so much about the results of that game, but what it communicated concerning team direction for the upcoming season. It was widely reported the Wizards were going with a 3-5-2 that depended heavily on Marinelli’s “creativity”. My legitimate questions were concerning his durability in such a middle sensitive formation and the lack of a legitimate scoring threat without Eddie. Trujillo was rumored to be on the way, however he remained an unknown quantity. Sealy has been productive in the past, but his effectiveness last year was tied heavily to EJ’s presence. Beyond these questions, and more importantly, I wondered about the team’s commitment to win now. Observing the demeanor and style of Vermes and Onalfo seems to indicate they are committed to winning, but winning now was the question in my mind. The EJ money was freed up, transfer money was gained, yet an effort to go after an immediate impact player wasn’t evident. The Wizards seemed to be content with a holding pattern of sorts, probably until the new stadium was done. Rip me for saying all this out loud if you want. Criticize me for voicing what others were thinking but were fearful of being Cauldronized (getting lambasted and called a “phony fan” for daring to question a team decision or action). Call me a jerk, rash, or a know- it -all who thinks of himself as the mayor (as one person did), but to say my observations were without any merit is just plain ignorant. I love the team and have supported them for my entire 10 years living in Kansas City. I just didn’t want to pay for season tickets if the product was only a hopeful prototype until the stadium was done. In response to my article, a gracious representative of the team wrote this-

“The DP is the trickiest thing in sports to find. You have to find someone who has the talent to merit the huge salary, is still young enough to make an impact during our hot summers, is motivated to play hard AND brings extra fans to the gates. This isn’t easy. Sign Denilson and look what happens. If EJ didn’t leave, we would have had a DP this year essentially.”

I didn’t view this response as a sign the team was going after a DP or some other piece that was missing, in fact, it seemed like the team was content to go forward with their roster as it was. As for the pre-season games, results aren’t that important, but it was clear scoring goals would be a problem for the existing line up. Heck, with a defensive line up they were allowing quite a few goals also. While I became more sympathetic for management’s challenges, I felt confirmed in my fear concerning the dreaded “holding pattern”.

NOW, having said all this in preface, my tune has changed over the past couple of weeks. Why? Because I was obviously wrong about the holding pattern. Why do I say this? Claudio Lopez.

Very simply, going after Claudio Lopez proves the team is serious about winning now. Lopez is in the twilight of his career, but can still help us greatly for the next two years. At 33, two productive seasons are all we can legitimately hope for (although Preki would argue against such an assertion), and the Wizards know this. As such, signing Lopez now is a move for the present, not the future. In addition to the Lopez signing, I was happy to see the creativity of Onalfo in these last few pre-season games where he is using the 4-4-2. I’d prefer the 3-5-2 if the personnel is right, but we’re probably one attacking midfielder away from effectively using this formation. With the addition of Lopez, the 4-4-2 is a safe and proven formation.

With the Lopez signing you can pass the crow and a fork my way so I can start eating. I admit it, I was wrong about management’s mindset on this. Will the Wizards improve upon last year’s record? I really don’t know. I hope so. But to be fair, the Wizards are clearly working toward building a championship team sooner than later, and that was my main concern when I wrote “Cause for Alarm“. The Lopez signing will give some time for the current roster to grow up, taste some success, and be ready for even bigger things when the new stadium is finished. This is the kind of progressive pattern I like to see.

Yes, I bought my season tickets this morning and heartily encourage all others to do so also.


26 Responses

  1. One guy is signed and you change your opinion about the whole team? What is Lopez going to do to really help us win? He is here on vacation for a year or two that is it.

  2. As I said- “With the Lopez signing you can pass the crow and a fork my way so I can start eating. I admit it, I was wrong about management’s mindset on this.”

    It’s the mindset that gives me optimism.

  3. Real fans buy season tickets to support the team they love, they don’t just do it when they have big name players. This is the kind of crap that ran the NASL into the league. Old Stars taking all the money and teams being stupid enough to give it to them. I support the Wizards no matter who they put on the field.

  4. Man, this guy can’t win with ya’ll. You criticize him for not buying season tickets, then when he does, you criticize him for that too. Considering how few fans we’ve drawn, you would think we would all get along a little better.

  5. Glad you could step up and eat crow Tony, that’s very dignified of you after the way people bashed your last entry.

  6. Kenny–If AJF hadn’t jumped the gun, maybe he wouldn’t be dining on blackbird about now. He started panicking in January. Basically what Tally says is right….you don’t start supporting the team when they sign a new guy, you support them no matter what. I bought season tickets during the season that OnGoal bought the team to show my support for the team staying in KC. I want them to put a competitive team on the field every season, but I will support no matter who is on the field, not just when they make a big signing.

    Now you watch, if we start the season slowly or Lopez doesn’t start scoring left and right every single game, AJF will start panicking again…..somebody get the guy some chill pills now so he can acclimate to the ups and downs of the MLS season!

  7. CG and Tally are right on. If you act like the sky is falling in january you deserve to get harrassed a bit. Have some patience, if nothing happens by the time the season starts then you can freak out but not in january.

  8. I doubt Lopez will score “left and right”. I don’t expect that. I do think he can help quite a bit though.

    More importantly, and once again, it’s the team mindset revealed by signing Lopez that I appreciate.

    I wasn’t ever panicking, just stating my observations. If a real fan is defined by loyalty no matter what the team does, then by all means, I’m not a real fan. Such loyalty seems rather foolish to me.

  9. OK, I’ll be that OTHER guy. Who’s right, who’s wrong, who cares!? Tony is a true fan and he showed that by how much he cares in the “Cause for Alarm” piece. I also did not agree with his alarm but guess what, Tony admitted he was wrong, fessed up and bought his season tickets like a good supporter should… IT’S OVER! Let’s start the season now.

    C’Mon Wizards!

  10. Saw his last comment, ok maybe he’s a little fair weather. Whatever, let’s go. March 29th!

  11. Glad to see the tune has changed. Cut the guy some slack about his retraction, though. Seems like either way, he was going to get jumped on. We’re happy to have another season ticket holder and excited about this upcoming season. Keep telling your friends about the team, the organization and the future.

    Go Wizards!

  12. Pretty funny, all you guys jumpin on this guy no matter what he says.

    I’m guessing quite a few people agree with him, they just don’t tend to fire off the posts as quickly.

  13. Hey, not to many guys will print a retraction. That’s cool.

  14. He gets bashed because he put something out in writing in a public place. He has the freedom to write whatever he wants and we all have the right to bash him for being fair weather fan. But that is the way all fans in KC are, Royals, Chiefs, etc.

  15. So we going to see you in the Cauldron then?

  16. Trevor, I don’t think holding back on buying season tickets qualifies me as a fair weather fan. I would have gone to plenty of games without having bought them. I love the game of soccer and the Wizards. Nothing fair weather about it. Still, I do agree, if I put something out in public, everyone has freedom to react. I’m fine with that or I wouldn’t have done it.

    Max, no.

  17. “If a real fan is defined by loyalty no matter what the team does, then by all means, I’m not a real fan. Such loyalty seems rather foolish to me.”

    This is what defines you as fair weather in most people’s eyes.

  18. I’ve never been a fair weather fan. I’ve supported the team by attending bunches of games since I moved here 10 years ago. Winning or losing hasn’t swayed my support, I’m purely tuned in to the managements commitment to win. I almost didn’t buy season tickets this year…I still would have gotten to 10-12 games, maybe more…that’s hardly a fair weather fan. As it turns out, I’ll be at all the games.

    The definition of a “real fan” around here sounds mindless, so I’m fine not being called one.

    Instead, I’m just a plain old fan who gets to as many games as he can, buys Wizards gear, talks up the team around the KC area, gets my kids excited about the Wizards and soccer in general. Talks up the Wizards with the players I play with in the over the hill league and among the players I coach (there’s lots of PR work to be done in our area…many more fans to be won to the greatest game on earth). I take road trips to Chicago to see KC play Blanco, I spend too much time reading this and Mike’s blog and the various links these blogs send me to. I check for MLS news daily, read Jimmy Conrad’s hilarious posts, heck, I even listened to that teleconference with Claudio and Co. today.

    yeah, I guess I’m not a real fan, but I’m definitely not “fair weather” either. Just a plain old fan.

  19. As one of Tony’s harshest critics after his “cause for alarm”, I gotta say this. Tony-It takes balls to do what you have just done, and the fact that you used your real name throughout this whole “discussion” is even more impressive. You have been taken to blog-hell and back . In my mind you have earned the right to call yourself a true fan.

    You may be eating crow now, but it sounds like you’ve seen the bigger picture and perhaps gained some insight that will allow you to pass the crow to the next doubter.

    Cheers and Props from…Da Funk

    PS – Now let’s go kick some dc a$$!

  20. I needed some love Kcboy. Thanks dude.

  21. So you would have gone to 10 or 12 games this year that’s all but 5 or 3 games why not buy season tickets? From everything you’ve said you seem like the definition of a fair weather fan to me. You wouldn’t buy season tickets in january but you will now that we have signed a dp, that’s pretty fair weather. Maybe I don’t get the difference, you have the money for season tickets, but you wouldn’t buy them because we didn’t sign a big name player?

    That may come off as pretty harsh but since I live 8 hours away I have a hard time understanding someone who claims to be a fan but won’t buy season tickets (despite having the money to). If you’re a fan and you can afford season tickets you buy them it’s that simple to me.

  22. 10-12 doesn’t equal 18-19. There’s a difference. Also, when I buy season tickets, I buy 2. But thanks.

  23. My bad I forgot you got 3 extra games if you buy season tickets, I was thinking about how there are only 15 home games during the season in the mls schedule. So there are 6 games that you would have boycotted since we didn’t sign a big time player instead of 3.

  24. Tony bought his tickets from me today. We had a delightful conversation; he’s thoughtful and well-informed. Plus, it meant I got to put off going into our sales meeting while we chatted.

    In my professional opinion, he probably spent less money buying two berm STs than he would have buying game-by-game…it’s not an issue of money. Everybody has their hot button…a DP was his. If I remember correctly, he said it was the first time he’s bought season tickets to anything.

    I hope everyone has seen the bleachers on HR. Best seats in the house.


  25. Yep, thanks Sam. I’m looking forward to every game.

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