Monday, June 25, 2012

MARLON BYRD: STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES



During spring training last year, then Chicago Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd said that
he was a big believer in Victor Conte when it came to training and advocating nutritional
supplements. Conte was the mad chemist behind "the clear", "the cream", and everything
else that came out of the BALCO laboratories in San Francisco. Conte had worked with
Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, and just about everybody else who sprinted
for gold or slammed home runs for a living.


Good ole Victor eventually was brought down, sent to prison and considered a pariah by 
every athlete in the sports world. Associating with Conte was akin to going to Bernie Madoff 
after he was arrested and asking him to invest your money. Flat out stupid. And that's what
everybody thought of Bryd after he professed his belief in Conte. Heck, many people
thought that if you so much as talked with Conte on the phone, you could test positive for
performance-enhancing drugs, he was that flammable.


On Monday afternoon, word came down that Bryd, who was released by the Boston Red Sox
earlier this month,had tested positive for something that got him banned for 50-games by Major League. T.J. Quinn of ESPN, who co-authored "Game Of Shadows", the book that delved
into Conte's steroid factory in San Francisco reported that Byrd's urine had an estrogen blocker 
that  dopers use to deal with the side effects from steroids. As Gomer Pyle once said, 
"Suuuuur-prise, Suuuuur-prise!" 




How can anyone be shocked by this development? If you dance with the devil, and Conte is 
clearly the devil, you're bound to get burned, and Byrd is now fried. Career? Shot. Reputation?
Done. He can try to pull the Ryan Braun excuse and say that his urine sample was tainted 
because  some FexEd driver left it in his basement for 48 hours until he could mail it out or 
he can pull a Clemens and "misremember" everything. Perhaps, he can blame it on Miquel 
Tejada and say he thought it was a B-12 shot that turned out to be tainted. I'm sure will hear 
some  fascinating and creative excuses by Byrd or his agents over the next few days.




Bryd is sure to join Rafeal Palmeiro in the dumb ass Hall of Fame. You remember Palmeiro,
don't you. He had his ticket to Cooperstown all but punched before he wagged his finger at
Congress and said, "I have never done steroids." Then a few months later, he gets busted for
a positive test for steroids that will essentially keep him out of the Hall of Fame and make him
the butt of a lot of jokes for the rest of his life. I can still hear Will Clark laughing after finding
out his former teammate, friend, and nemesis got busted for PED's.


Wow. Forrest Gump was right. Stupid is as stupid does and Marlon Byrd is one dumb guy.



Friday, June 22, 2012

CURT SCHILLING'S BIGGEST TEST


In a Los Angeles Times article back in February, Curt Schilling recalled a meeting
with his financial advisor who told him to find a post-season career that he could be
passionate about:


         "Short of my baseball and my family, it was gaming," said Schilling. "And 
          gaming is a $20-million to $200-million effort. It's insane, stupid, and an 
          utterly irresponsible act. But I did it."


Just over three months and one spectacular business implosion later, those words by
Schilling are enough to make Bernie Madoff cringe. On Friday, during an interview on 
WEEI in Boston, the Red Sox legend said he's financially "tapped out." Gone is 
the fortune he amassed during a brilliant 19-year career. $50 million vaporized
quicker than you can say Antoine Walker or Mike Tyson.




Schilling's gaming company, 38 Studios, went belly-up. It laid off nearly 400 workers 
and filed for bankruptcy. Audits and investigations will come, Rhode Island and its 
taxpayers remain on the hook for the $75 million they loaned Schilling's company
for moving to their cash-strapped little state. Forget about the politics, this is a colossal 
failure by an athlete who never experienced anything close to this as a major league 
pitcher. 


Schilling was one of those athletes who lived by the motto, "Failure is not an option." 
Perhaps, it was that same ego and bravado that turned him into one of the best pitchers
in playoff history that also blinded him to the dangers of investing so much in a project 
that had the same chance of succeeding as a Little Leaguer does in making it all the 
way to the Major Leagues.




I can almost hear Allan Iverson responding to a question about someone blowing $50
million on video games, "We're talking about video games, man. Not real estate or 
blue-chip stocks, but video games. We're talking video games, not municipal bonds, 
but video games! 


There are a lot of people who seem delighted with Schilling's demise. Take a look at 
the message boards and the comment sections below the articles about Schilling's
crash and burn. It's not pretty and many suggest that Schilling got what he deserved.
Nobody deserves this kind of pain, pressure, and stress, the kind that's made Schilling
lose almost 40 pounds in about two months. Try telling your family that life as they 
once knew it, is over.




"I sat down with my family and explained about a month ago to them that 38 Studios
was probably going to fail and go bankrupt," Schilling said during the interview. "And that
the money I earned and saved from baseball was probably all gone, and that it was my 
fault."


              "It's insane, stupid, and an utterly irresponsible act. But I did it." 


Schilling went all-in with a gaming venture and, in many ways, went for broke when he
certainly didn't have to. The three-time World Series champion has done a lot of great
things besides helping the Red Sox and Diamondbacks get fitted for rings. He's raised 
and  donated millions of dollars to help find a cure for ALS or Lou Gerhig's disease. His 
wife, Shonda, has done the same in the fight against and the prevention of skin cancer. 


Schilling and I were in the Red Sox minor-league system for a brief time during the late 
80's. He was a star and I was a scrub, but he didn't treat me as such. I had the opportunity 
to cover him as a sportscaster in both Arizona and Boston and saw first hand the strength, character, and desire that helped him become a champion. Schilling is now facing the biggest 
challenge of his life and I'm betting that he'll use those same qualities he exhibited on the 
diamond to become successful once again.































Wednesday, June 20, 2012

THE RED SOX AND THEIR "TOXIC" MIX


Buster Olney doesn't cover the Red Sox beat and I'm sure he's only been around the team
a handful of times while pontificating on ESPN. But earlier this week, he lobbed a dirty
bomb at Boston's beloved team by saying the clubhouse was "toxic." I don't really think this
took anybody in New England by surprise, after all, they've heard their teams in the 1970's
referred to as "25 guys, 25 cabs" for the outright and obvious dislike the players had for each
other.

It is rather comical how the descriptions of bad clubhouses have evolved over the years.
They've gone from "dysfunctional" to "cancerous" to now, "toxic". It seems like it's become
a buzzword for the Facebook generation. Olney's acquisition of the information used to
throw the "toxic" line on the Red Sox came via the gossip chain, much like the way many of
us received it in our high school cafeteria's growing up. We heard it from somebody, who 
heard  it from somebody else, and all of a sudden it grows wildly out of control, you know,
like the whole Richard Gere-Gerbil thing.




I'm sure Olney heard the "toxic" thing from a colleague who thinks he has finger on the
pulse of the Red Sox. The players hate Bobby Valentine, Bobby V hates most of the players,
and so on and so on and so on. It gets blown wildly out of proportion and it feeds the media
monster in Boston for a few days. And so what? Why do people think the players have to
play patty-cake every day and bring each other Latte's from Starbucks? The players spend
more time with each other than they do with their families over the course of seven months.
Playing in Boston, under that intense microscope, and hanging out in a clubhouse that makes
you claustrophobic is not that easy.

Olney and other baseball "experts" talk about the Boston clubhouse like it's the first one that's
ever been less than perfect, but the fact of the matter is, none of them ever are. It's just like
other work environments. There are people who can't stand each other, backstabbers who
destroy chemistry with dangerous gossip, and friction that is palpable. The New York Yankees
of 1977 did not get along and most of them hated Reggie Jackson. He signed as a free-agent
and promptly stated that he was the "straw that stirred the drink" and that teammate and captain
Thurman Munson "stirred it bad."



Things got so bad that Jackson and manager Billy Martin nearly got into a fight after 
Martin pulled Jackson from the outfield during the middle of a game for not hustling. That clubhouse was "toxic" but the Yankees went on to win the World Series.

Incidentally, Jackson was part of the Oakland A's dynasty that won three consecutive World
Series titles in the early 1970's. Those teams hated each other. There were arguments,
skirmishes, and fights. But so what? They put all that aside once the game started and
dominated the game like few teams have over the last 40 years. 




Nobody gets along with everybody and there are teammates who just can't stand each 
other. Shaq and Kobe weren't Facebook friends when they played with the Lakers, but they 
put all the pettiness aside to win a pair of NBA titles together.

The "toxic" tag on the Red Sox is just another thing they've had to deal with in what has
already been a trying season. But if that "toxic" environment doesn't kill them, it just might
make them stronger and strong enough to make a run at the post-season.

Friday, June 15, 2012

GOD IS TALKING TO ATHLETES AGAIN


Is it me or does it seem like God just talks to athletes these days? Last December, He
talked to Albert Pujols and told the All-Star first baseman to take the money and be an
Angel. In March, God spoke to Manny Ramirez and steered him towards the Oakland
A's, "I'm here because God brought me here," said Ramirez. "When God says they're
going to open  the door for you, no matter what anyone says, the door is going to open. 
That's why I'm here." 


Nope, it wasn't because no other team would touch Manny with all his fertility drugs
with a 10-foot pole, it was because God told him that Billy Beane was opening the big
door in Oakland so he and his dreadlocks could walk through it.




I used to talk to God a lot, but all I heard was crickets, nothing but crickets. He never told
me to take the money or tell me I was better off following the Dali Lama. Nothing. Maybe
he's just too busy following athletes on Twitter or just giving them advice. On Thursday,
former USC defensive back Kevin Ellison torched his bed with a big, fat marijuana "cigar" 
(that's how it was described in various media reports) and turned his apartment into the 
towering inferno. 


When asked by authorities upon his arrest for arson why he did it, Ellison said, "God told
me to." Ellison also texted his friends that night saying that he was Jesus and the second 
coming. That must've been after he started puffing on those big Mary Jane's but before 
he torched the bed.


We've heard a lot of crazy things coming out of the mouths of athletes, but this one has
to take the cake. God told Ellison to play burning down the house? This guy is obviously 
on his way to be fitted for a straight-jacket.


Athletes today seem to be using God as some kind of crutch or excuse. For Ellison, it
was about divine intervention telling him to be a fire starter. Fans were getting on Pujols
because he threw loyalty to the wind and sold out for more money. Pujols didn't blame
it on greed, but rather God. In last year's World Series, Josh Hamilton told reporters he
had a conversation with God before hitting a home run. "He said, 'You haven't hit one in
a while and this is the time you're going to," Hamilton recalled. Before his controversial loss
to Timothy Bradley, Manny Pacquio said that God told him to retire in a dream.


How come God never talks to me? I want to retire, I want to hit home runs, and I want
to sign a $300 million contract, too. Hello? G-Man? Can you hear me? Are you hitting the
'like' on Tim Tebow's Facebook page or something? Wake up!


Seriously, God has been a part of my life for a long time. I used to ask him for certain
things like a lot of people, sometimes I received, other times I got the Heisman Trophy
stiff arm. Seriously though, conversations between athletes and The Man should be kept
private, and surely, you can't be blaming him for burning down your apartment.



Thursday, June 14, 2012

CHASING LANCE ARMSTRONG


Our government spent a lot of time and millions of dollars trying to nail Barry Bonds
for saying he didn't "knowingly" use steroids. They brought in all kinds of experts and
witnesses to say that his head got bigger while his genitals got smaller. The Home Run
King had zits on his back and would sometimes yell at people implying that he must've had
'roid rage. Did anybody test Mike Ditka for steroids during his coaching career because
he surely must've had 'roid rage, too.


What did the government get on Bonds for their efforts? Nothing of significance. Oh, sure,
there was an obstruction of justice charge but that's hardly enough to re-open Alcatrez and
put Bonds in solitary confinement. It was all a waste of time, energy, and taxpayer money.

The government spent two years and a whole lot of money trying to nail Lance Armstrong,
but they learned something from their handling of the Bonds case, waved the white flag, and
just packed it in.

Now the United States Anti-Doping Agency is bowing up and going after the 7-time
Tour de France champion. They informed Armstrong this week that they were going to
investigate his alleged doping because they had "witnesses" who saw Armstrong get
needled in the ass or heard Armstrong talk about using PED's. Now, let's keep in mind that
most of these witnesses are former cylcists like Floyd Landis and Todd Hamilton, who are
both convicted liars, deniers, and cheaters. Yeah, that's what you call air-tight, fool-proof
credibility.

The USADA also says they are in possession of blood samples from 2009 and 2010 that
show elevated levels of testosterone in Armstrong's platelets or something. Really? You've
had these samples since 2009 and 2010 and did nothing? You just sat around waiting for
2012 to say, "Gotcha!" USADA, you've got nothing.

Do I think Armstrong used some form of PED's during his reign of cycling? Well, he never
failed a single test, but that just means he was probably smarter than the dopes like Landis
and Hamilton whose levels of testosterone were like that of Arnold Schwartznegger after he
got pricked by Franco Columbu before winning Mr. Olympia seven times in a row.


Just about everyone in baseball was using something during the steroid era, but only the
dumb ones got caught. Same goes for cycling. The Tour de France is flat out insane. If
you bike almost 2,000 miles over 21 days,  you're not getting by on Bananas, Power Bars
and Gu gel packs alone. Cyclists need something a little more powerful to get them through
the challenging endurance test.

Enough is enough. The government failed in trying to bring Armstrong down and so will the
USADA. Just because somebody says they saw Armstrong pump a needle in his buttocks
doesn't mean anybody can actually prove that PED's were in the syringe. I'm not a lawyer,
but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. They have zero chance of hanging anything
on Armstrong. None. Zippo. Nada. The government, backed by a blank check, got nothing.
The USADA will get skunked as well.


Let Armstrong be. He's retired from the sport. It'd be like Major League Baseball going
after Mike Piazza. There are plenty of people from reporters to teammates, to clubhouse
personnel who can tell you about the legendary zits on his back. He went from a below average
minor-league player to a first ballot Hall of Famer. Was it all hard work and "maturity"? No,
but Piazza. although we heard the whispers over the years, never failed a drug test or left a
paper trail that the Mitchell Report posse could discover.

Armstrong has raised millions and millions of dollars for cancer research. He has given many hope
in their fight against the disease. He is doing a lot of good for a lot of people. Forget about taking
him down. It's over. The government had their chance and all this should be over.


During one of his Tour de France wins, Armstrong famously turned back and looked all the
riders who were trying to catch him. They never did. Neither will the USADA.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

TOP 10 'CLOWN QUESTIONS'

On Tuesday night, Nationals 19-year old phenom, Bryce Harper, hit a tape measure
blast against the Toronto Blue Jays. After the game, a reporter asked Harper, who is a
Mormon and doesn't drink, if he was going to go out and take advantage of Toronto's lower
drinking age stands. Harper responded by saying, "That's a clown question, bro."

In honor of Harper, we present the top 10 'Clown questions' by reporters and the best reactions
by the ones who had to answer them.

10. Ron Swoboda, a former New York Met who became famous for his brilliant catch in
      the 1969 World Series, became infamous for asking then New Orleans Saints head coach
      Jim Mora about a "useless game". Good thing he didn't ask him about making the playoffs.


9. WHAT THE HELL KIND OF QUESTION IS THAT? Rangers coach John Tortella
    has become wildly entertaining in his post-game press conference. One night, a reporter
    came out of nowhere and asked a question about having only one assistant coach on the
    bench. as if Tortella might have thrown his assistant in the East River before the game.

 
8. GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT! A news reporter shows up at a UConn post-game
    press conference and decides to ask Jim Calhoun, head coach of the Huskies, how much
    he makes.
 
7. IT'S DEFINITELY NOT FAKE. A reporter asks a professional wrestler if his sport
   is all make believe. Down goes Frazier!


6. TROLL-ING IN THE NBA. Stunned at a reporters question, Thunder guard Russell
    Westbrook calls the dude a "troll".

                                     

5. TURNING THE TABLES. Former Mavericks coach Avery Johnson turns table on
    reporter after hearing question he didn't like.

 
4. KURT BUSCH IS DANGEROUS WHEN YOU ASK A STUPID QUESTION.



3. JIM MORA IS ALSO VERY DANGEROUS WITH DUMB QUESTIONS.


 2. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PRACTICE. Allen Iverson didn't like reporters question
     bout practice. Not a game, but practice.


 1. ROYAL TANTRUM. Former Kansas City manager Hal McRae heard one too
     many dumb questions.

Monday, June 11, 2012

THEATRE OF THE ABSURD

The sports world is filled with some interesting characters that always seem to provide a
silo filled with great material for bloggers, comedians, writers, and sports talk radio hosts. Sometimes it leaves us saying, "You just can't make this stuff up." Over the past weeks,
we've had a few of those moments.

Duane Ford, one of the judges who had blindfolds on when they scored the Manny Pacquiao-
Timothy Bradley boxing match last Saturday night, defended his decision to declare Bradley
the winner of the fight by saying, "I thought Bradley gave Pacquiao and lesson." A lesson? In
what, how to take a punch? CompuScore said that Pacquiao landed 248 punches to Bradley's
159 and everybody who was at the fight, including Stevie Wonder, said that Pacquio won
the fight unanimously, no questions asked. How could Ford and the other judges get it so
wrong? Because it's the corrupt sport of boxing that's why.


Brooklyn Nets guard DeShawn Stevenson revealed that he has an ATM machine located
in the kitchen of his home. He keeps $20,000 in the machine and charges friends withdrawal
fees of $4.50. Well, unlike Mike Tyson, at least Stevenson is letting his "posse" mooch off
him without paying some kind of price. Stevenson did two things by telling the world about
his ATM machine. One, he let every thug and thief know where they can find cold, hard cash,
and two, he took the first step in blowing his fortune quicker than Antoine Walker.


Patriots owner Bob Kraft, whose wife died last July, showed up at a Celtics-Heat game
last week with his new girlfriend, a 32-year old beauty named Ricki Noel Lander. She's
a part-time actress, he's 71-years old and this is totally absurd. Oh, right, she's madly in
love with his height. She could just be trying to pull the end-around and nuzzle up to Tom
Brady when Gisele is not looking. Or she could just be trying to advance her career, you
tell me.


Did you happen to catch Stephen A. Smith-wannabe Michael Collins on ESPN.com lately?
First of all, I'm surprised the World Wide Leader lets this guy anywhere near a camera. He's
got the biggest boiler in sports since Rex Ryan's lap band surgery. The other day, Collins appears
on camera, talking about golf, with a Philadelphia Phillies shirt on. Michael, are you working
for ESPN or the Phillies? Are you cheerleading or reporting. Reporters don't do that in market
200.

We can all sleep better knowing that Terrell Owens is making life changes to help get a return
ticket to the NFL. Owens fired his longtime agent Drew Rosenhaus (next question) and hired
a new one. Boy, that's going to get T.O. back in the league! T.O. should think about firing
his tired act, you know the one that wears out its welcome quicker than an overbearing mother-
in-law. In case you missed it, T.O. got released from some indoor football team you've never
heard of after he didn't show up for charity functions and some practice. Practice, the team was
talking bout practice and he didn't think he need it. The organization offered T.O. a $50
severance package and evicted him from the apartment they let him use and took back the
car they lent him. This could end up in court, so you better getcha popcorn ready.



T.O.'s former reality show buddy, Chad Ochocinco landed on his feet after getting pink-slipped
by the New England Patriots. Ochocinco never gained the trust of Bill Belichick or Tom Brady
because he was more interested in tweeting than studying the playbook. Ochocinco was so
disoriented and confused by the Patriots complex offense that he was writing notes on his
palm to help him figure out which way to go, signed a 1-year deal with the Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins are going to be on HBO's "Hard Knocks" this summer and probably needed
at least one player NFL fans and viewers would be familiar. Seriously, can you name five
games on the Dolphins? Name the coach. You get 100 guesses. I think HBO made a call to
to the Dolphins and suggested they sign Ochocinco to make the series somewhat watchable.

Friday, June 8, 2012

QUIET, PLEASE! PHIL MICKELSON IS TEXTING


By most accounts, Phil Mickelson is a good guy. He's pleasant with the media,
doesn't drop-kick his club after bad shots, and he signs autographs for many of the
fans who come to watch his play. But last week, the man known as Lefty turned
as soft as his physique. After shooting a 79 in the first round of The Memorial
Tournament, he pulled a "No mas", and withdrew from the event, citing "mental fatigue."

Mickelson's had it pretty good in his life, never having to work a real job. He's won $67
million in his career and has another $150 million in the bank from endorsements. Lefty
only plays in 20 events a year and usually flies to them on his private jet. I'm not sure
the mother who has to work two jobs to support five kids can fully appreciate Mickelson's
"mental fatigue."

However, there was another reason for Mickelson's sudden departure: cell phones. A lot
of cell phones and a lot of picture taking with them. PGA Tour policy actually does permit
cell phones at tournaments, they'd just rather not have people taking people's like they are
free-lance photographers for TMZ. Mickelson usually has big crowds that follow him during
tournaments and apparently a lot of people were snapping off photos and sending their lame,
out of focus, looking-like they were shot from the blimp pictures to Facebook. (Isn't that
what everybody does these days? At least a bad picture of Phil is better than the silly ones
of food that seem to be everywhere on the newsfeed.)


Mickelson was distracted by the sounds that come form the cell phones and it really affected
his game. Even Bubba Watson felt sorry for Phil saying, "It's sad when cell phones can make
or break a championship. Bubba, are you kidding me? You're going to blame a bad score on
a cell phone? It's utterly ridiculous that a golf course has to be as quiet as an empty church.
You have to walk around on egg shells or you may incur the wrath of Mickelson or even Tiger
Woods. Tiger's former caddie used to rip cameras out of the patrons hands and chuck them
in the lake even they distracted his gravy train. Quit, quiet, quiet, please!

Let's see, baseball players have to stand in the box against a guy throw 98-miles an hour with
filthy breaking pitches while fans are hurling insults at them and cranking up vuvazelas.
But golfers who have to put a ball in a target that never moves have to have total silence?


18-year old kids can step to the line in the NCAA championship for a crucial free-throw
and 5,000 morons behind the basket are screaming "noonan" and "you suck", but golfers
demand to play in an environment that's as quiet as a morgue?

NFL kickers have to try to nail a game-winning field goal with two seconds on the clock
with the entire stadium going nutso, but silver spoon-fed golfers can't make a three-foot putt
unless God turns down the volume down to nothing?

That's almost as ridiculous as Mickelson taking out his cell phone on the 6th fairway to call
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem to complain about the fans using their cell phones on
the golf course. That's beyond hilarious. It's like Tim Tebow doing a commercial telling people
to quit smoking and then as soon as the director says, "cut, that's a wrap," he lights up a
cigarette and goes on his merry way. OK, so that's little extreme, but you get my point.


This display by Mickelson is beyond ridiculous. It Tiger had complained like this, he would
have been booed for being a big crybaby. Mickelson won't feel that type of wrath because
he's a likable guy, for the most part. But come on, these golfers are getting bent out of shape
because of cell phones? LOL.

I respect golfers and the game, but seriously, it's time to man up and get some thick skin.
These mobile devices are the way of the world and there not going away. Commissioner
Finchem said they are here to stay for fan who go to events. If they take away cell phones,
the suits know that the fans will stay away as well.

Lefty, you are all wrong on this one.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

THE BEAUTY OF BOSTON MAYOR THOMAS MENINO


If Thomas Menino was a cartoon character, he'd be half-Barney Rubble and half-
Baby Huey. If he was a tool in the shed, the mayor of Boston wouldn't be sharp
enough to cut through a stick of butter sitting at room temperature for five hours. He
can butcher the English language with greater aplomb than Roger Clemens while making
Sarah Palin look like an expert in U.S. history. While the  Rocket may "misremember" things
and the woman who went rogue whiffs on everything not jotted down on an index card,
Menino majors in malapropisms and mispronouncing things.

Yet, Menino enjoys high approval ratings and has been in office since 1993, making him
the longest sitting mayor in Boston history, and that's quite an accomplishment. He's
affectionately known as "Mayor Mumbles" because he talks like he has his grandkids
marbles in his mouth. And when he does talk, there' a good chance something
controversial or ridiculously funny comes spewing out.


He once described the shortage of parking in Boston as, "An  Alcatraz around my neck."
Um, no Tom, that would be an "albatross" around your neck. He once referred to former
mayor John Collins as "a man of great statue" instead of stature. But that really pales in
comparison to how he messes up when it comes to Boston sports. Now, keep in mind
that in Boston, everybody loves sports more than politics and even their alcohol and in
that town, that's saying something. Red Sox fans know the astrological sign of the mother
of the back-up second baseman in Pawtucket. They are not only passionate fans, but
extremely knowledgeable ones.

Before the Red Sox met the Yankee in the 2004 playoffs, Menino said, "Much like a
cookie, I predict the Yankee dynasty will crumble and the results will be delicious for
Red Sox fans."


Menino once praised "Varitek for splitting the uprights" to give the Pats their first Super
Bowl title. Only, one problem, Varitek was catching for the Red Sox, while Adam Viniteri
was coming through for the Patriots. Menino also called NBA Commissioner David Stern,
"Donald Sterns" AF-LAAAAAAC!!!!!!

He has called Patriots receiver Wes Welker, "Wes Wekler" and tight end Rob Gronkowski,
"Rob Grabowski".

But Menino's best/worst of Boston, may have come on Thursday morning when he was
talking about the Celtics great run in the post-season, "There's a lot of heart on this team,
let me tell you. K.J. is great...but Hondo's really the inspiration. I mean Hondo drives the
team."

Does the mayor drive a Honda? Did he just have lunch with former Suns great, Kevin
Johnson, who is now the mayor of Sacramento? Perhaps, he was just thinking of Celtics
legend John "Hondo" Havlichek.  I wonder if Menino still thinks the Big Three, Bird,
McHale, and Parrish are coming through that door

K.J instead of K.G, Hondo instead of Rajon Rondo. Man, it's all good. After all, it came
from the mouth of Mayor Menino, a lovable guy whom we can never get mad at for
screwing up the names of Boston sports legends.





Tuesday, June 5, 2012

GOOD, BAD, AND THE UGLY OF A 70.3 MILE RACE.


When my digital clock radio hit 4:00 a.m. and the sounds of The Clash rattled my brain like
a left-right combination from Floyd Mayweather, I could really do nothing but let out a primal
moan and play rope-a-dope with the largest pillows that Bed, Bath, & Beyond had to offer.

"Should I stay or should I go,
 If I go there will be trouble, and If I stay it will be double...."

It would've been easy for me to stay in my cocoon of comfort with the sounds of that hit song
by The Clash in 1981 muffled by 6 inches of down feathers covering both of my ears. But I
paid $275 for the right swim 1.2 miles, bike 56, and then run 13.1 miles with about 1,100
other deranged people who thought that a heavy dose of pain and punishment was a good way
to spend the first Sunday in June.

"So you got to let me know,
Should I stay or should I go?"


I decided to make the 90 minute trek to Middlebury, Connecticut where the Rev3 half-
ironman triathlon was being held in the midst of an amusement park. Little did I know I'd
be going on one of most painful rides of my adult life, which has been all of about ten years.
I had done this race in 2010 and swore that I'd never come back. Biking malicious, steep hill
after steep hill seared my lungs and all but ripped the chicken off my chicken legs. Yet,
here I was at age 47 and weighing a less than svelte 240 lbs, back in spandex trying to
conquer this 70.3 mile beast.


I had gained 17 pounds since my last visit to Lake Quassapaug and my wetsuit didn't quit
fit me. It was akin to trying to put 240 pounds of sausage into a 220 pound bag or casing.
It just wasn't happening. I had tried to use the wetsuit during a swim at my club on the Friday
before the event, but had had difficulty breathing, so I decided that I was going to do the
1.2 mile swim at 7 a.m. in the chilly water without a wetsuit. Polar bear-style. Nothing but
those combo swim-bike-run shorts on. Whoa, you talk about major shrinkage! We're talking
George Costanza shrinkage.


I looked through the mass of humanity at the starting line and noticed that I was the only
person that didn't have a wetsuit. I think I frightened some people because my body is
Beluga whale-white. The only thing that might've been whiter was the face of Mets manager
Terry Collins when he saw Johan Santana's pitch count rise over 130 in his no-hitter last
Friday night. There could've been some shrinkage there, too.

Swimming in open water is like swimming in a blender. It's all choppy and there are legs,
feet, and arms everywhere, and a few usually hit you in the head at one time or another over
the course of the 1.2 miles that you're in the water. I finished in a time of 34.58, which ranked
182nd out of 1,066 "athletes". That was the strongest part of my triathlon...biking and running,
ah, not so much. It seemed like everyone  I had beaten out of the water and those who
started a good 10 minutes after I did,  passed me on the bike. I heard the warning, "on your left",
at least 500 times. The only people I went by were those fixing flat tires or fertilizing the
Connecticut countryside.



After I graduated from youth swimming, I never won anything that had to be timed. When I
used to run anywhere in baseball, people would say, "Hey, Devlin, get the piano off your back."
At 240 pounds, now I feel like somebody hitched an 18-wheeler to my bicycle seat. I thought
event officials were going to put a red flag on me and attach a sign to me that said, "Wide Load."

On this picture-perfect day, my legs were moving, but I wasn't going anywhere very fast. Embarrassment reached its  highest peak for me during the 56-mile bike ride when this little
old lady passed me on  a very steep climb. Everyone has their age marked on their right calf,
and when I looked down to see the number "57", I  just said muttered to myself, "Wow, isn't
that wonderful?" (I omitted what I really said because this is a family blog)

It seems like the only place I have trouble eating is on a bike. There is a right way to do it
and I just haven't figured it out yet. When you're covering 56-miles in three and a half-hours,
you burn some serious calories. The day before the event, I dropped by a sporting goods
store and bought everything that said energy shot on it. 5-hour energy, B-12 energy, Protein
energy. If they said energy, I was buying them and slugging them down during the race. The volunteers on the course provide you with more "energy" in the former of Gu shots. When
it gets  warm and they melt, it seems like they turn into a pack of 12 salamanders who are
in a race to get to the bottom of your stomach for whatever it is that salamanders eat. It's
disgusting.


I rolled into the bike-run transition area celebrating the fact that I went 56 miles without
popping a tire, but also knowing there was trouble ahead for me. I still had to run 13.1
miles on a course that had some brutal hills. I had practiced running up some very big hills
in my hometown, trouble was, I just never did it after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56.
I tried to trick my mind into thinking I was strong and in shape for the final leg of the triathlon,
but my mind laughed at me and laughed at me real hard.

The first three miles were OK, then came the hills and the heat. I was cooked and almost
delirious. I had bonked and there were still 10.1 miles to go. That's not fun. I thought of people
who inspire me to help get me through, from my late father, to Brian Bill, the Navy SEAL
from  Stamford who was killed in action last August, and to a triathlete from New York City
who literally got run over by a 40,000 lb bus and not only lived, but went on to complete
the Ironman in Hawaii.

There were times I felt like quitting, but they didn't last very long. I recalled a conversation I
had with Lou Marinelli, my former football coach, who asked me, "Aren't you too old to be
doing that stuff?", and just then a 59-year old man who was shredded like Terrell Owens ran
by me like I was standing still. You're never too old. For anything. No matter what. Events
like these are for challenging yourself and testing your limits. Was I in great shape for this
event? Absolutely, not. Did I prepare adequately for this half-ironman? My time of 6:52:38
was 26 minutes slower than the one I completed here in 2010, so the answer would be a
resounding no.

But it's not about the bike, the swim, the run, or the time it takes you to complete the race. It's
about finishing and the will to finish. I hadn't felt pain, punishment, or agony like that in a long,
long, time. But you know what? When I crossed that finish line, all that pain and agony actually
felt pretty good, even if it lasted for all of two seconds.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

JUSTIN TURNER: THE HUMAN BUZZ KILL


AJ Burnett's most significant contribution during his time with the New York Yankees was
pie facing teammates during their "hero" post-game interviews on the field. He'd take a towel,
dispense a load of shaving/whipped cream on it, then sneak up on a teammate and wash his
face in it. Another great example of adolescent jockularity. It was funny at first, but like
everything else in this copycat world, the novelty of it wore off because every team in baseball
started to do it after every friggin' game. I might watch "The Departed" or "Shawshank
Redemption" over and over but having to witness millionaire ballplayers run around like
Little Leaguers (on steriods) is enough to make me go, "click". On Friday night, I wanted to
throw my clicker at the television screen because another idiotic, juvenile act of a player.


I had just watched the last three innings of Johan Santana's no-hitter, which made for great
theatre. Despite employing the likes of Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, and Dwight
Gooden, the New York Mets had never produced a no-hitter in more than 50 years and 8,000
games in their franchises history. Some dude named Dallas Braden of the Oakland A's can
throw a perfect game, but nobody in the pitching rich history of the Mets can author a no-hitter?
Unbelievable.

Santana was coming off major arm surgery and the Mets had him on a pitch count of between
110-115 pitches. He surpassed that number in the 7th inning and you could just about see
the cheeks of Mets manager Terry Collins pucker up with every pitch. He was entrusted by
the front office and the ownership group, who is paying Santana $20 million a year, to abide
by that pitch count. Collins was getting so tight, he'd have trouble squeezing a greased wire
through any orifice in his body. But do you think he wanted the entire world hating on him
for the rest of his life for taking Santana in the 8th inning of a no-hitter? Forget that.


Collins let Santana go for his moment and place in Mets history. If his arm blows out in two
weeks, oh, well, at least it'd be worth it if Santana completed the no-hitter. The left-hander
did just that when he struck out Cards third basemen David Freese with a disappearing 3-2
change-up. When you saw Santana shake off catcher Josh Thole just after he started his
wind-up, everybody pretty much knew what pitch was coming, but Freese could do nothing
but flail at it. And there it was, a no-hitter, the first in franchise history, and it was done
in front of the long-suffering Mets fans. It was a beautiful moment.


That moment got screwed up by Justin Turner, the Mets utility infielder with fire-engine
red hair, who obviously doesn't have a flair for the dramatic. He's the kind of guy who could
walk into the Playboy mansion and screw up a party with just him and 100 naked playmates.
The Human Buzz Kill. In the middle of Santana's on-field post-game interview, Turner
decides its time for a face full of whipped cream. Ugh, what an idiot. This was a no-hitter
and Johan Santana, not Anibel Sanchez. The man is a future Hall of Famer, not a journeyman
pitcher like Phil Humber.


Through the Redi-Whip facial, you could sense that Santana wasn't thrilled, but in the
big moment, he played along. Turner should be on the first bus to St. Paul, Minnesota
to play in the independent league. His post-game theatrics were strictly bush league.
That wasn't the time for it, and really, it's time to end these ridiculous post-game pie
face things. They are old, boring, and no longer funny.