The next rant…

Here’s another one where I don’t even know where to start.

The beginning, I suppose. Always best to start at the beginning.

I’m amazed at the connections that link us. Sure, the most basic is that we come together once a week or so, eight or nine months out of the year, to cheer on a soccer team we all follow. But our net is cast much wider than that.

That guy I ran into pre-match? I know he and his mother-in-law from a writing group we’re all involved in that causes much gnashing of teeth each November. That capo over there? She went to high school with one of my best friends. They were on dance team together. This blogger I just met? He learned to play bass from a guy whose band I used to follow around in high school a very, very long time ago.

We are a community. We are a community of artists and writers and winemakers and IT guys and teachers and students and doctors and political activists on both sides of the aisle.

At the center of our community is our gathering place, our place of worship, our cathedral.

If Jeld-Wen Field is our cathedral, we are her congregation. Her rowdy, loud, passionately invested congregation.

And, like any thinking congregation, we sometimes find fault with our clergy.

And sometimes the church protects her clergy to the detriment of her congregation.

Well, guess what? Portland, though often touted as one of the “least churched” areas in the country, is home to a pretty fair number of Lutherans.

You know what that means?

We have a tendency to rant, write treatises and address the wrongdoings of those who lead our church. We make lists and nail them to doors.*

Yeah. I just tied Martin Luther to the Timbers. I. Just. Did. That.

So, last night, minutes before the game, I got a tip from a tweet that this had happened:

I wanted to communicate that there were several sings/banners at the last match they we felt crossed the line that will not be allowed up at this match. Our policy is that signage will not be allowed if they represent a personal attack on any of our players or staff. Any signage in the stadium that does make a personal (as opposed to professional) attack on our staff will be removed. Any resistance from fans regarding this will also result in those fans being asked to leave the stadium. We will continue respect the right of our fans to voice their opinions and appreciate the dialogue that we’ve had so far on this issue. Please share this with your membership as you see fit before tonight’s match. (Email sent from Chris Wilson, Timbers Director of Ticket Services, to the Timbers Army 107ist board)

Dare I switch metaphors mid-post? Our FO has fired a warning shot over the bow.

I know several folks have asked for clarification as to which banners crossed the line from professional to personal but, as yet, being a holiday weekend, no such clarification has been forthcoming. From my vantage point, I didn’t see anything that I thought was egregious. Perhaps I’m not as sensitive as the ginger on the sidelines.

Here’s the thing: Gavin is controversial. He says things that are inappropriate for a man in his position. His reputation for tossing his players under the proverbial bus is well-documented. He has, in the past, taken aim at the TA and knows the backlash that results from such a move.

But, somehow, a few banners in the North End are too much for him to handle? Spare me.

If we miss out on a playoff spot (we’re not officially out yet, you know), will it because the #GWout banners were so incredibly distracting to the coaching staff and the players? Nope.

Will it be because we’ve recruited a bunch of really good players and haven’t figured out how to slot them together into a consistent, winning side? Yup.

And whose fault is that? Gavin. Let’s remember one more time that this is the guy who, as interim coach, said he’d done all the coaching he could do. If I remember correctly, that was about two games into his tenure as interim. So, #GWin folks, please turn your attention to Sean McAuley. #McAuleyIN.

But, beyond this, we all need to be paying more attention. There’s something afoot in MLS: The Fort, Teddy Montoya’s lifetime ban in Colorado, the crackdown on the Texian Army in the spring, rumors of bans from other stadiums for minor infractions. That our own front office, the FO whose relationship with its team’s supporters group is a model for the rest of the league, would threaten us in such a way is unacceptable.

I’m becoming increasingly suspicious of every single word that comes from anyone in the FO. Is this another attempt to spin the story? Maybe, but I have absolutely no idea which story they’d be spinning. It was a fun week of Timbers news capped off by a win. What’s to spin? Or was it the other way around? Does all of this week’s good will make us more likely to settle down and play nice?

Cleats up, Timbers fans. And eyes open.

*Please do not interpret this as my suggestion that you actually nail something to a door at the field. Don’t. Do. That. That’s what email is for.

You can read more from Kristen at her blog.


30 thoughts on “The next rant…

  1. Some of you might not thing this is a big of a deal as it is. It’s a shot against your constitutional right of free speech and might not be legal as I believe Jeld-Wen is classified as a city park.

  2. I am not GWOUT or GWIN, but I would say that many in the GWOUT crowd seems more interested in being part of the meme than having coherent arguments for it. I think he could have been let go with Spencer, and that the Timbers could have easily started all over again from scratch. But MP made the decision that the talent were pretty much there, but the system was wrong. After a transition period, the Timbers are now playing much better as seen by decent road performances and two wins at home. Does that make everything better? Of course not, but I am at least willing to wait and see.

    As far as GW’s plight against the TA. I have heard this referenced to many times, but I still have not heard any details on what he did. Maybe someone can chronicle ways in which GW has battled the TA and I would be more sympathetic.

    I agree that the PR could have been better. And I was as big a Perkins fan as anyone, but I do not feel that he was traded away to spite the TA. In my opinion, Perkins is a bit better than Ricketts at protecting the goal and Ricketts is better at distribution at a cheaper cost. Maybe this is to set up an offseason acquisition? We do not know all the details, so though I was not thrilled with the trade, I do not think it it was as one sided as others seem to.

    I think that message from the FO was troubling, but do we know of anyone who was kicked out? If so, that should be a huge deal. Who got that message? I never saw it. Was it sent out by email? To the TA board?

    I respect everyones opinion and definitely see some logic on letting GW go, but the fact that there were more signs for his sacking than supporting any player or for the team was, to me, an embarrassment. Why are we there? To support the team. Do you think they do not know about GWOUT? Of course they do, MP already stuck his foot in his twitter mouth trying to defend him.

    Be GWOUT if you want or GWIN, but on game day, just be RCTID.

    1. I believe there have been plenty of documented attacks on the TA from Gavin. One of them was documented on this very website detailing his attempt to form a family friendly supporters group and slagging off the TA in the media at the time. Personally I don’t feel that’s an actual reason to fire GW.

      Ian Joy, Chris Brown, Byron Alvarez, Ryan Pore and I know I’m missing a player or two in there have also publicly called out Gavin as the problem. That’s your 2010 captain, 2008 leading scorer, franchise leading scorer, and 2009/2010 leading scorers right there who shat on Gavin in public. Sorry but that’s not us window starers. Those are people who played for the guy and were leading the team who are saying Gavin needs to go. Shit even Troy Perkins slagged him off after he’d been traded. Do you think anyone wants to play for him?

      If Spencer was building the team we have now why was Gavin getting the credit? If Gavin was building the team Spencer had to play with then why is he not getting the blame? Why are Merritt and Gavin complaining about the system when John Spencer showed up and went to meet and greets and told everyone the system he was going to play. It happened. The upstairs of Kells. He told 150 people he was going to play a 4-4-2 attacking up the wings. If that wasn’t what Merritt and Gavin wanted then why did they hire him?

      If Gavin doesn’t deserve what he’s getting it’s their own fault for overstating his position. If he was just the dude telling Spencer how much money he had to spend they should have made that clear. Instead they touted him as the genius finding all the talent who was making shrewd moves to lead us to success. So which is it?

      Here’s the deal. Gavin taught Merritt everything he thinks he knows about football and he’s scared to get rid of him because he thinks he has the Johan Cruyff of North America employed. You may be embarrassed a lot of anti-gavin banners were made more so than pro-player banners. Most people care about the direction of the club which is why its an embarrassment Gavin still has a leadership position in this club.

      1. The family-friendly supporters group was not Gavin’s idea. In his first year as GM, and in his first year as an employee under Merritt Paulson, he was following the orders of Paulson. Paulson now pays lip-service to the TA and will never admit that he was on the wrong side of that issue when he first became owner, and it content to let Gavin be the fall guy.

  3. There is not a ton that I disagree with there. As I stated earlier, I am not completely defending Gavin. Though I will say that Shaun Levy on twitter a few days ago refuted the story that he tried to start a family friendly supporter group, but since I was living overseas at the time, I cannot say I know the real story first hand.

    I guess my main point is that getting GW fired seems like the only focus of a number of TA these days. The t-shirts, stickers, two sticks, etc are the biggest mobilization of resources I have seen outside a Seattle match. And I think that people may be missing some serious improvement on the pitch.

    If we continue to improve, to the end of the year. If the play gets better and we start winning consistently and playing a confidant brand of football, will people still focus on GWOUT? I could care less what he thinks about the TA–truly. If he produces results, I am fine with it. If he doesn’t, then I am not fine with it. To date, he has not produced, so I would not quibble if he was sacked, but since I am seeing improvement, I think the focus should be on hoping for more improvement, not making more t-shirts.

    1. Shawn didn’t refute that. Gavin allowed Kurt “Drumman” Schubothe to start the Portland Timbers Official Supporters Club, gave them a table by the front door to promote themselves, and gave them exclusive access to players. Then he slagged off the TA in the press.

      Here were Gavin’s first actions in control of the team.

      Does that really sound like a guy in love with the TA?

      Who cares really? He’s still a bad GM with no MLS experience and a bad coach. Since he’s Merritt’s chief adviser it would sure be nice if they had a guy who knew what he was doing.

      1. “…GM with no MLS experience…” Factually false. He has almost two years of MLS experience.

      2. In 2 years he’s still acquiring players the same way he did in the USL. He has no idea what he’s doing. Various writers around the league have also mentioned that he’s in over his head. They’re hearing these things from their sources in their towns who are other team’s executives making fun of him over beers. According to the new line from the FO Spencer was calling the shots on player acquisitions and Gavin had nothing to do with it. So even your argument that Gavin has experience through the last 2 years doesn’t hold water.

      3. We can hope that another strong personality like Caleb will put him to the test. I agree that GW probably will not grow from this experience until he is separated from it.

  4. I read the #rctid hashtag daily, as I’m sure many of the readers here do. So, we all know the @timberssuck guy. The guy who everyone hates for complaining over and over again about the same thing. Everyone calls him pathetic and a troll. He sees himself in the right, with statistics on his side.

    It occurred to me last night that the #gwout folks sound a lot like him.

    This is not to say I’m #gwin, but I’m certainly not #gwout.

    I was embarrassed by the signage at the Vancouver game and was happy to see the signs gone this Friday. I wrongly assumed people realized how tacky it was and made the decision to leave it at home. I’m disappointed to learn that the decision had to be made for you.

    1. “wrongly assumed people realized how tacky it was and made the decision to leave it at home. I’m disappointed to learn that the decision had to be made for you.”

      Well then you assumed wrongly again. I only can speak for those that I know that didn’t bring them and that is because the display earlier made their point, for now. The letter was posted late and most hadn’t had the time to read the contents or didn’t know of its existence to have it affect their choices.

      Also, it may help to remember that perhaps the signs are only tacky to you, and not to many others that attend and watch the game around the world. Perspective is key. Neither my perspective nor your perspective are what the rest of the TA or PTFC fanbase sees.

      If I could ask those involved with the “I’m embarrassed for the TA” people…

      “Please stop acting as though there is some kind of general convention of thought that presumes being involved in wanting the General Manager out of a team is somehow a form of etiquette breach.”

      Certainly there are any number of issues that people can argue about, but there has been a small minority of “I’m embarrassed to be TA” responses to the signs and displays against Gavin.

      Meanwhile, many of the GW Out individuals are involved in a community level with resurfacing goal posts for OPIPDX, breaking up concrete for Harpers Playground, donating thousands of dollars to the same, volunteering at the Oregon Food Bank as TA, making tifo and signs, and helping around this wonderful town. None of these items are embarrassing, but the focus by a vocal few is on the “sheep” at the game as being somehow representative of horrifying entitlement.

      Anyone who thinks that Gavin Wilkinson is a good steward for the club and a fantastic general manager is welcome to make a two stick representing their opinion, just like all those who call for his head.

      I would rather have an engaged fanbase that demonstrates for their ideals, than those who just accept what is given to them.

      I may not always agree with what is displayed, said or worded, but passion and commitment are better IN MY OPINION <—- (That being key) than blind acceptance of the norm and general apathy.

    2. Timberssuck’s “facts” are delusional representations of his own idea of how things should be. His statements have more misrepresentations of facts than Paul Ryan’s speech at the RNC.

      So how are those who feel Gavin should be fired delusional? Did he build the team we have now or not?

  5. If you were embarrassed by the visual display of club over staff loyalty you should probably reconsider your own involvement/role as a supporter. It’s okay if you don’t get it yet, but people touting that dissent in the terraces is somehow “inappropriate” or “classless” is the true embarrassment.

  6. I think we all need to work to keep things in perspective here. It’s absolutely true that Gavin needs to work on his people skills and stop throwing people under the bus. Some of the other recent TA dramas — MP’s “idiots and morons” tweet (not directed at the whole TA), becoming convinced that a non-binding survey was an attempt to get rid of gen admission — is a bunch of ado about nothing.

    Merritt is a savvy guy and he knows alienating the TA would solve nothing. It’s easy to lose perspective given the high standards we hold our club too, but I’ll still take this FO over New England’s or Columbus’s any day of the week. It’s up to the supporters to hold the club accountable, but we need to know what the problems are and what’s just smoke.

    The team is looking much improved these last few weeks — I expect them to pass Chivas in the table by the time my summer vacation’s over. And I’m very excited to see what will happen when we have a real coach installed next year. If GW manages to fix the problems of his own creation, it looks a little brighter.

    1. “Bunch ado about nothing.”

      It’s easy to say that now with the benefit of hindsight. Why do the survey if the FO wasn’t seriously considering reserved seats in the TA? And if they weren’t seriously considering it, then they were just f*cking with the TA and in my opinion that is just as bad. Also, one reason it could be much ado about nothing now is because of the TA pressure, e.g. “drama”. If we were a lazy, complacent group who just took whatever the FO gave us then reserved seating would be a reality in my opinion and if that happened you can say good bye to the atmosphere and the community would not be the same.

      1. There’s slightly more to it than that.

        The FO discussed reserved seating with the 107ist in an informal manner and were asked to hold off on sending the survey until a face-to-face between FO and 107ist could happen. One was scheduled, but canceled last minute by the FO who then sent the survey. Seemed shifty at the time.

        My interpretation was that the FO knew they weren’t going to get the support of the 107ist and gambled that they could raise support for reserved seating by bypassing the TA entirely. The FO may never truly understand our grasp of the power of social media.

      2. I don’t think the FO should have to have the TA’s blessing for each survey. I actually thought they handled it well. They released the results, made a decision and we all went on our way. It is good to stay vigilant, but if the TA erupts at every turn, there is a potential of all the yelling turning into white noise

      3. @Pete The FO shouldn’t have to have a blessing but what they were doing wasn’t trying to get a blessing. They were trying to elicit a response from the TA who were pissed off people cut in line in front of them so they could justify going to reserved seating.

        You should really talk to 107ist board members about that situation. I did and the conversation was very enlightening. The TA hasn’t reacted in that way since 2009 when the new cartoon badge was originally released. In that ame instance the FO was warned the response would be poor and were repeatedly offered help to which the FO said no. If you look on SCUSA you can probably find the thread where Merritt originally said, “trust us we will not get this wrong.”

        For myself I’ve come to realize that the 107ist board has the pulse of the TA and every once in a while the FO thinks they know better despite being told it’s a bad idea. Usually this is what happens.

  7. If the FO tries to dictate this too much it will blowup in their face. I thought it was a great way to express the TA feelings and that we are holding the FO accountable. This years performance deserves plenty of signs that may not be liked by the FO. The TA is saying we are loud, passionate, want to win and are going to hold the team accountable. I wouldn’t change a thing! RCTID!

    1. Amen. And I’d much rather focus the negativity on Gavin than on our boys in green. If it’s been a rough season for us, imagine what it’s been for them.

      (There. You caught me. I’m a big sap when it comes to my boys.)

  8. Couple of thoughts.

    I can’t say this surprises me at all. Remember the “Fire Whitsitt” business over at the big house on Winning Way and how that played out? All sports ownerships want the fans to pay up and shut up (other than cheer). This doesn’t change my opinions of the Front Office because I honestly never thought that they were any “better” or enlightened than any other FO, just a little more wary of the organization of the supporters. It’s about the money, and they want the soccer dads from Beaverton to see the shiny happy people. It’s all about the money.

    This brings home the reality that for all that we want to feel like part of the club, when it’s nut-cutting time the power is all on the other side. The only power we have is the power of the purse – we can boycott the club (no tickets, no merch, no spendy JWF beer) and try and hit them in the wallet. That’s a pretty scorched earth strategy.

    So the protests in the stands are pretty much where we’re left, and this message from the FO suggests that they are willing to be pretty ruthless about suppressing anything significant. I can’t see the City of Portland as willing to fight Paulson on his excluding protestors from JWF, and that’s what it would take.

    Again, the power here is in the wallet; look at Portsmouth FC; the supporters have actually set up a trust to buy the club ( Short of that, when it comes down to cases, what do you think is going to happen?

    I’d love to see an upgrade at GM. But I can’t really see how – short of a full-on wallet fight with Paulson – the supporters can make that happen.

  9. obviously we need more clarification on exactly what was inappropriate. #gwout, everyone is replaceable, and even a bus running over gavin all seem fine. how can you ask someone to correct an action if you aren’t specific in the request?

    1. That was my thought when I read the email from Chris Wilson. Coincidentally, he’s my season ticket rep. I’ve sent him a surprisingly level-headed email asking for clarification. I’d be shocked if I didn’t have some sort of response sometime in the next couple of days.

  10. Kevin, I love your blog, but these discussions are going nowhere. I’d let twitter maintain the corner on GWout without your interference for a while. The first one was interesting if a little dubious in parts, and very valuable for some of the background to the movement. But at this point it’s just really, really tiresome.

    1. For the record, the above are my words, not Kevin’s. He was kind enough to offer space here for me to shout at the clouds. Feel free to skip my posts if they’re not your cup of tea, but I’ve rather enjoyed the discussion that’s come from this.

      Everyone’s entitled to their opinions. So long as Kevin seems to see some value to it, I’ll continue to share mine here.


    2. You’re more than welcome to not read things that don’t interest you. That’s what I do and it works a charm. For example, I’ve read precisely one training/stalking report before I realised I didn’t give a toss, so I don’t read them now. I’ll continue to post things that I find interesting.

      There’s enough variety here – match reports, the post about our (slim) play-off hopes, Caleb Porter – that you shouldn’t have to find yourself enduring anything this tiresome. Clearly, judging by the response, there are still plenty of fans who do have something to say about the ongoing situation. I’m sorry it’s not your thing, but so long as I find it interesting or worth talking about then I’ll keep posting it up. That goes for #GWOut (or #GWIn if anyone was brave enough to stick their head above the parapet), the latest FO news, or the history of Timbers kits told in the form of iambic pentameter. I think there’s enough room for it all, and not everything is going to be interest to everyone. I’m sure there are plenty who tired of my match reports, or whose eye’s practically rolled out their heads at my dreaming of making the play-offs yet. You can’t please everyone.

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