03 March 2008

Redemption Song, But I Do Not Sing Along

Yes, I am trying to fit in as many business trips as I can before the resumption of the season, which has put me out of the writing business for a bit. Now, I do not flatter myself as the greatest soccer polemicist of our time, but I do find it interesting that as soon as this site goes momentarily silent, United brings Santino Quaranta into camp.

I know that the high road for Tino's return would be let the past be the past, let bygones be bygones, and wish him well. If all he does is score goals, that should be enough, right? We should all forgive, forget, and celebrate that young Santino has decided to put his game and life back together here in DC. Certainly the voices at UnitedMania are talking up the idea of giving him another chance:

...if it does come around for Tino, and I'm talking all the way around, this could be another in a long line of fantastic under the radar type of moves that United and their front office have been pulling off for a number of years now.

BDR likewise tells the Story of How One Player Found Moral Redemption By Scoring Goals for United:

If - if if if - Quaranta understands this may be his last chance to avoid a lifetime of working the pit of a Jiffy Lube, this could be the steal of the year for United.

So allow me to be the bastardly curmudgeon who ruins everyone patting themselves on the back for being such good forgiving people. I'll say it simply: Santino Quaranta has dug himself a hole that will take the entire season for him to climb out of. Make a hole with a gun perpendicular to the name of DC on a desktop globe, and the exit wound is closer to Tino's current depth. (Ha! That's plagarism, that is.) Even these comments (from Goff's story) do not atone:

He made a strong impression for the Galaxy, scoring three goals in 12 league games. He also infuriated some United supporters when, in his return to RFK, he exchanged gestures and taunts. "I really owe them an apology," he said yesterday...Quaranta said that although he has firm offers from other MLS clubs, he wants to prove himself here..."I owe these fans," he said. "I cheated a lot of people in the process, and most of all, myself."

Correct, but the key word here is "owe" and it is a debt that Tino has not yet begun to repay. I have no problem with players going to other clubs and being proud of those clubs when they join them. I expect that, and that's fine with me. And when players are with other teams, I expect them to want to come back and beat D.C. United. Alecko? Facundo? Brandon? Christian? Yeah, I expect them all to want to come back and kick our ass. But when, and if, they do put the ball behind our keeper and into the net, that is the ultimate revenge. And they should take pride in that. It is also contingent that they be the ones to get the ball by us.

When Santino "exchanged gestures and taunts" it wasn't even Santino that had scored the goals. Santino's name is not on the scoresheet of the Free Beer Day debacle. Santino didn't even earn the spot kick that allowed Landon to put one in the goal (that would be, um, hey, Quavas Kirk. Nice to see ya pal.) And yet Tino felt compelled to run over and taunt the fans. Could I have forgiven that if he scored the goal? Probably, but as it was it was not nearly a celebration of revenge, but simply putting the boot in. It had no class. The problem wasn't the gestures, the problem was that he didn't earn it, and simply wanted to stick his fingers in the eyes for the sheer satisfaction of doing it.

Some will say that that once he starts playing, and playing well for United, that all will be forgiven. Not for me. Last year United marketed itself with the word "TRADITION" That word is even now interwoven in our jerseys. When we stole Luciano Emilio from Olimpia, and he rained goals upon them in the 2007 CONCACAF Champions Cup match, he didn't go mad with celebration. His celebration was restrained, dignified, and respectful. He understood that the past is not merely prologue, it is an inherent part of the tapestry that defines our personality. To dishonor his history with Olimpia would have also dishonored his new club United. That was classy. And Santino did not understand that when he behaved as he did.

I can forgive the injuries, the lack of work ethic, and the occasionally combative personality. But I do not forgive easily a lack of respect for not just your old club, but for yourself. Maybe Santino really has put it all back together. And saying he's going to atone is the right thing to do. But I reserve the right to see if he's still got the new attitude in the oppressive heat of August and not just the pre-season practices.

I may be alone in refusing to meet Tino halfway, and that's fine. Everyone else can move on. I certainly would hope his teammates would. But as a fan, I can not. Not yet. Talk to me in September.

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19 Comments:

At 03 March, 2008 10:32, Anonymous bdr said...

Everything sticks until it goes away.

 
At 03 March, 2008 10:51, Blogger D said...

The truth is... we don't know anything.

 
At 03 March, 2008 11:12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the blog, but have to disagree a bit with you here. I have a harder time forgiving the lack of work ethic and the combative nature, then some silly gesture when a teammate scored a goal.

The fact of the matter is that we see and hear things throughout the season by fans that are far worse than what Tino did. What did they do to earn it? I not here to lecture ... but how upset can you get when a player returns the behavior in kind?

 
At 03 March, 2008 11:22, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't there for the event, so the insult and disrespect is second-hand to me.

I'd only gently remind folks that all teenagers do stupid things. It's just that some teenagers get to do them publicly.

Not an excuse, but perhaps a mitigation? Again, I wasn't there...

- rke

 
At 03 March, 2008 11:31, Blogger D said...

Anon and RKE: This is true, and your points about teenagers is well made. And I'm not about to say that the fans are always pure as the snow on this stuff. We are pretty awful with respect to some people (Mr. Donovan for one).

Still, there is a difference between a lack of action creating a problem and a going out of one's way to create an issue. Freddy and Bobby were more criticized for what they didn't do than what they did, and when they did positively screw up I was willing to call them on it (Well, in Freddy's case. This blog wasn't around for Bobby). Santino went out of his way to thumb his nose without having earned it. That is what makes me so down on him right now.

Of course, I'm a bitter old man now...

 
At 03 March, 2008 11:46, Blogger I-66 said...

I'm with you, D.

Apologies are just words.

 
At 03 March, 2008 15:43, Anonymous Jeremy said...

The exchange of gestures is of little note for me. If I was on the fence about wanting Tino on the team, it might sway me to the no side.

However, I personally think that Tino is an overratted never-going-to-be who would be better served brushing up on his fry sales techniques.

I didn't see Tino's rookie season. I only saw him in '05. To my uneducated eyes it seemed that every time Tino touched the field the attack collapsed. He and Gomez could not communicate at all and were never in synch.

I heckled the coaches and Tino every time he touched the field that year. I have no idea why he got called up to the US team, he certainly didn't earn it.

I have never been happier to see anyone leave town, not even Adu and Prideaux. At least they occaisionally accomplished something.

If he finds a way to turn himself around and actually start producing at a pro level I will welcome him back. I'm not holding my breath though.

 
At 03 March, 2008 16:40, Blogger Catherine-Lucia said...

Right on, brotha.

Even so, if he puts one in the net soon, I'll be willing to forgive. Not adore, but forgive at least.

 
At 03 March, 2008 18:09, Blogger The Iconic Midwesterner said...

I heard similar things about fans not "taking back" Cristiano Ronaldo after the World Cup run in with England. Folks at Old Trafford seem to have forgotten all about that.

Granted, CR continues to produce, but if Santino begins to come through on his promise...

 
At 03 March, 2008 18:50, Blogger Catherine-Lucia said...

^ LOL...comparing CR7 to 'Tino...

You put shame to the name of Quaranta comparing him with a crying diver like that!

 
At 03 March, 2008 23:28, Anonymous Nick said...

D,

I am neither with you or against you on this one. To tell you the truth, Quaranta is the farthest thing from my mind right now as a DCU fan, and, to be frank, I could really care less about him or his gestures right now.
Here's what I remember about Santino: He was a solid contributor when he was younger, showed some nice skill, scored that great goal at Dallas, seemed to digress with age and injury, resurfaced out of nowhere with the national team, and faded into oblivion not long after.
Does such a legacy really even warrant a commentary from the fans about the rightness or wrongness of his gesture, as if he were an important part of our team's lore? Tradition? I don't think Santino is a big part of it. A blip on the screen, like Diego Sonora in my opinion...

 
At 04 March, 2008 06:05, Blogger Landru said...

I was there too, D.

You'll never walk alone.

 
At 04 March, 2008 16:23, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting how rude gestures and foul language are just good fun when directed toward players from the fan groups but disrepectful when returned in kind.

Tino is welcome back in my book. If we can learn to accept Petke, no one is beyond redemption.

MEL

 
At 05 March, 2008 13:25, Blogger D said...

MEL: I think you're drawing a line we have never drawn here. We've noted from time to time that while we're all for razzing players, there are lines that can and should be drawn.

What's more, I'd be fine if Tino had earned his celebration (or, rather, at least more fine than I am). But he didn't earn it. Again, I have no problems with some occasions with players taunting the crowd. Landon had earned it when he scored. That's fine, turnabout is fair play. Revenge is sweet. But this is not that kind of case. I think I'm clear on this.

 
At 05 March, 2008 15:26, Blogger elopingcamel said...

So how does a fan "earn" the right to heckle? The fan hasn't passed, defended, or scored; the fan has just watched from the sides.
I scream and yell at players as much as the next guy, so don't take this as anything but me wondering how you qualify the difference between Landon "earning" it, and Tino not. Both got heckled and both responded to fans that never "earned" it (with the exception of someone like Pele coming to a game, getting plastered, and screaming his head off at anyone he pleases).

 
At 05 March, 2008 17:52, Blogger D said...

ElopingCamel: Actually, that's a damn good question. And it's a question that I will...


...dodge until I write a full post about it.

 
At 05 March, 2008 19:16, Blogger Landru said...

Easy question. I earn it when I plunk down money and walk through the gates. It's a product. I can express my pleasure or displeasure with the product, if I'm acting within the rules that I agree to when I buy the ticket (or, in the lowest sense, if I don't get caught breaking those rules).

The distinction between Landycakes earning it and Quaranta not earning it is valid and compelling.

The argument that Quaranta was returning something is a straw man. He wasn't avenging being heckled, he was being a dick. Period.

 
At 05 March, 2008 19:17, Blogger Catherine-Lucia said...

^ Burn.

 
At 06 March, 2008 01:05, Anonymous dug2008 said...

Not to put to fine a point on it...

I just want to say, that was a fine post and discussion. I especially liked your combination of two of my favorite bands in a soccer-related post. Very Goff-esque if I may say so, but edgier.
As for the Quaranta stuff, I can relate to your feelings. But I do think we need to take a step back and see if he can help the team or not. This whole discussion may be moot anyways. I am not, though, screaming my lungs out at games like ya'll are (I live up here in the upper midwest northlands), so I'll have to defer to your heated and informed opinions on what his intent was during the game, or how he performed his first stay in DC. I do feel that this is the nature of the beast, that players switch teams and past indiscretions become magnified, and we just can't seem to forgive what happened before when players were ours (or theirs). I do agree that he may not be worth that much of our brain cell expenditures, considering other important matters like how to get some hardware this season...

 

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