Every morning on my drive into work I listen to the Proper Gentlemen of Sports, aka Lance Zierlein and Adam Clanton. Their show is never about soccer, but it is where I get my daily fix of the rest of the Houston sports scene. Somehow, they snuck in some soccer talk, specifically the New York Times' piece on Jurgen Klinsmann, and even more specifically a quote from Jurgen about how Kobe Bryant's recent 2-year extension with the Los Angeles Lakers had little do with what he will do for the organization in those 2 years, but about what he had done in the years prior.
Klinsmann talked about how American fans tend to think emotionally, placing their superstars and heroic sports icons on pedestals where no one dare ever touch. It certainly got me thinking, and then I drew some correlations from what Klinsmann was talking about to previous Houston sports icons.
Hakeem Olajuwan in the twilight of his career ended up with the Toronto Raptors in exchange for a couple of first round draft picks. Could the Houston Rockets have netted a larger haul if they traded him at the crest of his ascent instead of trying to force an extra season out of him?
What about the Houston Astros with Lance Berkman? Did the Astros hold onto an aging player because of fans' emotional attachment more than his ability to influence games?
This brings me to the correlation between Klinsmann's comments and the Houston Dynamo. When I look at the roster, I see aging veterans who have neared or even passed the crest of the arc of their careers. I see Omar Cummings who in spite of his play is still an aging veteran player who commands a huge salary hit on the budget. I see Ricardo Clark who is currently battling a concussion eating up a good chunk of the available budget.
If we take emotions out of the equation as fans, are the Houston Dynamo maximizing the value of their salary budget with players like Ricardo Clark and Omar Cummings, or are these the best players available at the salary they command within the structure and confines of MLS?
It begs a long hard look at the questions we as fans have asked Chris Canetti and the Front Office. We want change, especially with the struggles of the team, but at what cost? Losing Brad Davis isn't even a question in most fans' minds, but why not? Especially if Davis has a good showing in the World Cup, his value will never be higher.
This idea I've seen touted regarding how we simply can't replace a Brad Davis or a Boniek Garcia is based on how limited our options are right now due to our salary budget situation. Certainly, we can't get rid of either in this summer transfer window, but if a European team comes calling for Boniek Garcia to the tune of say $1.5 million or more the Dynamo simply can't afford to think with their heart.
Looking back, I now have more faith than ever in this Front Office and ownership group. They didn't hold onto Geoff Cameron in spite of the probability of how talented the player was at the time, and how high his ceiling was even then. They didn't hold onto Stuart Holden in spite of the same and how he held a special place in fans' hearts. The Front Office does a good job of thinking with the business sense the club needs to be successful long term, and we as fans cannot ask for more.