TAM. DP. MLS has some pretty good acronyms when it comes to toying around with that pillow-soft salary cap. Just over a week ago, NYCFC traded Andrew Jacobson for TAM. In a sense, the trades for TAM are the single entity equivalent of a European transfer fee – one team “trades” a player and gets cash to burn, in this case space outside of that pesky salary cap. Twitter alit with fans pretending that “TAM” was an actual last name, and it took all the restraint of an Odysseus-tied-to-the-mast for me to not order a NYCFC jersey with “TAM” on the back.
Still, I think MLS could raise its acronym game. Here’s how.
SPAM – Specific Player Acquisition Money
Now that MLS is paying transfer fees for players overseas such as, say, Clint Demspey and Michael Bradley, these funds need a name. Owners should be allowed to set aside, say, $5 million per year to buy star foreigners and those funds, if unused, should accumulate. Most importantly, they need an acronym like SPAM.
IMF – International Midfielder Funds
What is the best way to play hardball when negotiating with a South American club or country? Call in the IMF! Imagine how much cheaper attacking midfielders like Guille Schelotto would have been if the IMF had been on board or at least a threatening-sounding acronym in play? These funds will only be used to acquire international midfielders who will bring flare to the field of player. AKA the “Pibe” rule.
STD – Strategic Trade Deficit
Sometimes you get the rub of the green, other times you get a raw deal. Just as MLS teams can currently trade a player for TAM, they also need an ambiguous equivalent to the “future considerations” of other North American leagues. Something akin to options. Thus, STDs – one MLS team trades a player to another team and gets a 50% reduction in the salary cap hit of any single player already on the roster for a single year, at any time for the next three years. I can just imagine a few happy GMs with all the STDs in the world.
BO – Buy Option
I hate the current labyrinth discovery rules of MLS. Why? Because 1) they are somewhat confusing and 2) they do not form a clever acronym. In fact, discovery is but a single word: meaning you can’t even play with initials. Thus, I say MLS teams should get a single year buying option on a player – you see a player you like, you get one year to try and make a deal happen for your club. At the end of that year, you can’t try and go after him for at least four years. Each club will only get so much BO per season.
OBO -Optional Buying Option
But wait, what if you see a player you only kinda like and another team saw him first? In addition to BO, MLS clubs will have the always-popular-on-Craiglist OBO option: Optional Buying Option. Basically, you are second in line and can sign that player if things don’t work out with the first team. Again, OBO is no joke – clubs will only get so many of them per year.
DTF – Down Trodden Funds
As the MLS college draft becomes less and less relevant, fans ask: how can we fulfill our communist dreams of rewarding failure by giving under-performing teams some sort of bonus? The answer is simple: cash. Give them cash. The bottom five clubs should all get money, millions of dollars, that can be used next season as TAM, SPAM, or IMF. Only then can we complete the cycle of competence that is pro sports in the US.
Elsewhere: somewhat more seriously, you can find my latest feature for VICE Sports here. Basically, Orlando City has changed its stadium deal significantly and be skeptical about the “privately financed” press release verbiage.