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Clear & Obvious: Papa Garber, tell us the story

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Y’all remember in the Les Mis movie when Amanda Seyfried sang “Papa” over and over again but said it “Puh-Pah” but sang it terribly and everyone left the theater?

“Clear & Obvious” is a new kind of sort of vertical/brand/excuse for us to make fun of the deeply strange and wonderful world of MLS. Please take it very seriously.


*NOTE: This is not written by JSam but by Zach Russell (@Zach_Russell on Twitter). You can also contribute to C&O if you’re as good as Zach.


“Papa, tell us again about that time you saved the world through soccer?”

Don sat back in his soft, plush chair and furrowed his brow, unsure of the origin of his youngest granddaughter’s request.

“Hmmm….” His low, guttural rumble echoed through the den as it woke the sleeping sheepdog, Wilson. “You mean the time I gave an MLS franchise to Atlanta?”

“Nooooo, Papa!” she responded gleefully, playfully tossing the grey throw pillow in his direction. Don flinched and let out a small chuckle. “The OTHER one!” she exclaimed.

“Oh, THAT one.” He hadn’t thought about the incident in forever. During his more than 20 years leading the MLS, Mr. Garber had many memories, but that story? Ohhh, that one was special. Although age had weathered his appearance and gravity pulled on his body with a vengeance, he still had a youthful vigor and the memory of a man half his age. He could remember the smallest details of his greatest triumph. Sure, other write-ups may get more headlines, but THIS one… this was his favorite.

“Well… it was August 2nd, 2019… a Friday, if I’m correct. I remember it being hot, WAY too hot. Way hotter than this…” he said as he gestured broadly towards the outdoors through the floor-to-ceiling windows. His granddaughter folded her arms behind her head and grinned. “But that wasn’t the problem. We’ve played MLS games in hotter temperatures. I mean, we put a team in Houston for crying out loud!” Everyone let out a belly laugh, his granddaughter with her patented rapid-fire snicker. Even Wilson seemed content with the laughter filling the vast space of the living room.

“No, it was something much more troubling.” Don’s voice grew more foreboding. “I was sitting in my office, when I got a phone call… much later in the day than I’m used to. The woman on the other line said she was from the CDC, which is a place that studies bad germs and other things. She called herself Mrs. Renfro… or Mrs. Rondo…or Mrs. ……something.

“She said, ‘Mr. Garber, I have terrible news. We have a problem with one of your MLS games.’ She went on to tell me a story about how a long time ago something so bad hit the world that almost every person in the world DIED. She said some other stuff, too, but I got distracted. My wall mural of Carlos Valderrama sucked me into another daydream. Blah, blah, blah “different strain,” something about fleas, and uhhh… I think some other stuff too, but…”

“Papa, the STORY!” his granddaughter squealed.

“Sorry, hon.” He continued. “Anyways, I had heard everything I needed to hear. All I knew is that a germ so awful to kill every human was coming, and it was making an appearance at one of MY games!” He became more animated, gesticulating more feverishly, a tortured look of worry on his face. The room was silent.

“I knew what I had to do. I called the team, the stadium, the event staff. I told them we couldn’t do it, no matter how much it hurt the attendance…nay, the LEAGUE. We had to SAVE. THE. WORLD.” He reached out and clasped his granddaughters shoulders, holding tightly and driving home the severity of the situation.

“It didn’t take much discussion. I told them there was no other option and that the world needed us to do what was right. We HAD to stop it. The festivities could not go on. Twitter had a FIELD DAY with it and we got made fun of… but we knew that WE were the heroes those fans needed…nay, that the WORLD needed.

“So we did it. We agreed to put a stop to it, knowing that a few brave men had saved the world.” He sat back, loosened his muscles, and sunk into the chair again, more content with himself than ever. A sly smile creeped across his lips. He grabbed and lifted his glass of ice water to his lips and took a sip, condensation rolling off his hand. He exhaled.

“That, my dear, was the day we saved humanity and dodged the Prairie Dog Plague of Colorado.”