Russell Teibert: The Whitecaps Unexpected Item

For the last two years (maybe a little longer) there’s been a plastic shopping bag hanging from the tree that sits directly outside the window from which this very blog is written.

And for all that time it’s taunted me.

During the Fall and Winter it’s dangled there as a constant reminder of the folly of humanity. A damp and dirty piece of plastic wrapping itself around one of nature’s finest creations.

And in the Spring and Summer when the tree is in full bloom it remains visible. Peaking through the blossoms like the spectre of death at Prom Night. A constant reminder that the only permanent and inevitable aspects of our lives are the ones we prefer not to contemplate.

But then, last week, it was gone.

Perhaps somebody else had grown tired of it’s presence and had finally taken action? But the more likely explanation is that two years (maybe a little longer) of Vancouver rainfall had filled it to bursting point and it had splashed to the ground in the night, unnoticed and unmourned.

Except, to my surprise, it’s not completely unmourned because now that it’s no longer there my contempt has been replaced by a kind of melancholy.

After all, if I can project so much feeling onto an inanimate object when it’s there then why not do the same in it’s absence?

If that scrap of plastic can represent the folly of humanity when I can see it, then why can’t it represent our transience when I can’t?

This is all incredibly (and mundanely) human of me of course. It’s what we do. We make up stories about just about everybody and everything in a desperate attempt to somehow explain the inexplicable.

And that’s very much what we do with sports and the players who play them. Turn them into characters in our personal fictionalized version of the world.

But every now and then one of those players does the exact same thing to themselves.

So say “hello” to the new Russell Teibert.

The Canadian is almost the very definition of a limited player. He’s not especially fast, not exceptionally skillful and his range of passing mostly falls within an arc of about twenty metres behind and beside him.

But this season, the season when it seemed the overall calibre of the squad would finally see him eased out of the picture altogether, Teibert has stepped his game up a notch.

It’s a small sample size to be sure but he has at least thought about playing the ball forward this year. And not in the “I’ll hit this in the general direction of Kei Kamara” kind of a way but in the “I’ve seen a breaking player in space and I’m going to find him” kind of a way.

Maybe that change is a reaction to the increased competition, maybe it’s a reaction to instructions from the coach or maybe having better players around him makes Teibert a better player?

But it could just be that he took a good look at where his career was heading during the post-season and decided the narrative needed to change before it petered out in a banal series of increasingly low level moves.

So right now seeing Teibert’s name in the starting eleven isn’t quite the sigh inducing news it used to be because, at the very least, he will offer just a little bit more than safety first, second and third.

It’s still a long shot to suggest he will become a regular starter as the season progresses and as the higher quality players begin to find their feet and their groove, but that’s no longer an impossibility.

Teibert has had the presence of mind to bring his own bags with him and he’s been rewarded by not having to try and explain to a computer screen that he can’t remove the item because the item isn’t even there! (sorry, the whole metaphor got a bit lost at the end) .



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