There's about 57 hours Mike Magee gets to enjoy this whole MLS Most Valuable Player thing: From 8:30 yesterday morning when the league leaked it, until the end of the final around 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Magee is the Harvest King. His money's no good here. He's seven feet tall. He's bulletproof. He's - I don't know - titanium.*
At some point, though, Grajeda is going to tweet his whistle three times, and the whole thing's gonna be over, and Magee's going to be a guy who scored 21 goals and whose teams put 59 points on the league board who makes less than $200,000 a year. He's the league MVP, at the absolutely peak of his powers, in professional sports - a field with an inevitably short duration and often calamitous exit path - and he makes about the same money as a general manager of your local Olive Garden. Mike Magee has whole sections of a large message-board community devoted to inventing hyperbole about the size and mass of his junk, and he makes regional-manager money. Mike Magee was paid less for each precious, miraculous goal in 2013 than Andrew Hauptman pays himself for a 20-minute phone call.**
Somewhere, a small group of attorneys - planning on Magee's behalf - will decide exactly what size speculum to insert in the representatives of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, and the Club's reaction to the shock will tell us a lot about their intentions going forward. Let us be absolutely clear: In the world of professional sports, Magee has earned a much more lucrative deal than the one he now enjoys. Certainly, he is bound by contract to honor the final two years of a three-year deal he signed a year ago, as the journeyman second fiddle on the most successful team in the league; that is a fact, and it is undisputed. In the real world, though, letting the league MVP play out his contract - at 30, when he has a few years left to play - is either the coldest, most lizard-brain calculation of future value or it is completely batshit insane.
In a sport filled to bursting with almosts and nearlys and glimmers of something never quite seen, Magee had the kind of season in 2013 that makes believers. He healed the lame and the blind, and fed the feast of 5,000. Now what? What should the Fire do with their dramatically underpaid league MVP who publically asked to come home to Chicago? It seems to me there's only a couple of options: They can Go Big, or they can Go Home. Or, I suppose, they could let Mike Magee play out his contract, at which point they can Go F**k Themselves.
Make Mike Magee the face of the Fire. Hook him up with your PR people. Offer him $600k and a Designated Player slot; be ready to go to $800k. Don't flinch at some performance bonuses. Mention a 'taper,' a deal that scales down as his role shifts off-field. Talk about life after football - will there be life after football? Spin the idea of a guy who came home and started a dynasty. Get him thinking about the long term. "You're figuring the game out, Mike; now it's time to share it."
Keep that DP slot for another guy; Magee's had his Wondolowski explosion, and now he'll revert to the mean in a really harsh way. You want to be the guy who paid 800 grand for 6 goals, 4 assists (or something)? Not me. Didn't we learn anything from Rolfe? It's time to make a reasonable offer - say, $250k for four years - and if his representatives stomp and shout and turn themselves red, we let Mike either play his ass off for a new deal, or we portray him as turncoat who doesn't appreciate how good he's got it in these difficult times we've created. Either way we win! Unless, I guess, he tells us to stick our offer, than goes out and really plays lights-out ... but how often does that happen?
Go F**k Themselves
B-b-b-b-but what if he gets hurt? What if he's lost it during the winter, shows up unshowered, unshaven, maybe about 230, smelling like cough syrup, talking about ‘meeting deer, like, really meeting them,' sleeping during tactics talks? What if his legs are severed in a freak lumberjacking accident? What if he's probed by aliens and they realize, dude, this guy's MIKE F**KING MAGEE, and they won't let us have him back, and we find out that the only way we can live through this is to pretend we don't remember him at all, even that panenka we saw live in the home final against Toronto, we have to forget it all? Maybe we should just stand pat, let it ride, and hope for the best. Fingers crossed!
*Shout out to my daughters, with special reference to a pair of five-hour journeys to Indiana in the very recent past. (There's only five hits. We heard them a lot.)
**Actual data not disclosed. No warranty either expressed or implied. DO NOT taunt Happy Fun Ball. Andy, seriously, there's gotta be something better for the intern to do than read this and report back.