Thursday, October 25, 2012

LOLO JONES: SHE'S BAAAAAAACK


After watching Lolo Jones cry on the set of NBC after failing to medal in the Olympics,
I wrote that the American Hurdler wouldn't go away any time soon. She's a reality show
waiting to happen and the female version of Bobby Valentine, who is addicted to
everything and anything that concerns himself. When Jones touched down in the
United States after her performance in London, I expected there to be a sex tape,
Playboy pictorial, or a spot in celebrity re-hab. I firmly believed that she'd become
like Jose Canseco, who tried anything to stay relevant, no matter how embarrassing
it was for him.

As Canseco plans his next venture and Valentine adjusts to life without being a
lightening rod in Boston, Jones has discovered a new sport and a way to re-capture
the spotlight she so desperately craves. Jones tried out and made the U.S. Bobsled
team as a pusher. That's right, Jones, who probably never saw snow or ice in her
home state of Louisiana, will be pushing a big sled on one big sheet of ice. This is
nothing new in the sport, football legend Herschel Walker made the 1992 Olympic
team as a bobsledder. If you have speed and power, then bobsledding might just
be the sport for you.

Many have criticized Jones for her love of the spotlight, me included. Her two Olympic
teammates who finished ahead of her, complained loudly why Jones was getting all
the attention and they were getting none. Jones hogged the spotlight because she is
beautiful and is rather exotic looking.. As we all know, sex appeal sells, even if the
person  has never experienced sex. Jones burst into our consciousness last spring
when she  tweeted that she was a 20-something virgin. That's right, she told the
world that she had never had sex. Bill Clinton's definition of it, anyway.

The media  picked up her story  and Jones appeared on nearly every news
channel, talk show, and appeared on the cover of a lot of magazines.Of course,
that will make a lot of people jealous. That's just how most of American  deals with stuff
like that. And there were more than a few eyeballs rolled when people read that Jones
is now a bobsledder.



Jones was on top of the world in September and then crashed hard when she
finished fourth in her event in London. She failed badly. All the hype and she
couldn't even medal. Unfortunately, for her two teammates, who actually DID
medal, Jones gained most of the attention, even though she left the games with
nothing hanging around her neck but failure.

Now, she's back. And you know what, I applaud her. She should be commended
for getting off the mat and pursuing her dream of winning an Olympic medal. So
what if it comes in a sport nobody really cares about but once every four years for
about 30 seconds. A track athlete has an extremely short shelf life. They train every
day for the chance at Olympic glory. If they don't get it, they are quickly forgotten.
Heck, even if an athlete does win a medal, the attention fades away after the Olympic
flame is doused. The only thing I saw on television with Michael Phelps was the
185-foot putt he sank on the golf course.


People will hate on Jones, I was guilty of that. But good for her. She's branching
out and doing something different if life. Nothing wrong with that and is a lot better
than saying, "What if?" and living with regret. Life is a bobsledding event, drink it up.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

BOBBY VALENTINE'S BLAME GAME

Leave it to Bobby Valentine to grant his first national interview since being fired
by the Boston Red Sox on the very same day, John Farrell, was introduced as the
new Red Sox manager. Instead of talking about the breath of fresh air that is blowing
through Red Sox nation today, the entire region will now be consumed with the guy
who was blowing hot air to Bob Costas on the NBC Sports Network on Tuesday night.


Self-centered and self-absorbed, Valentine made sure all the talk today would be
all about him. He's not just trying to rain on Farrell's and the Red Sox parade, Valentine
is hoping to flood it with a tsunami. In his interview with Costas, Valentine said David
Ortiz had all but gone to U.S. Post Office, licked a stamp, and mailed his season in
after the Sox traded its heavy baggage (Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl
Crawford) to the the Los Angeles Dodgers. Valentine learned nothing after trashing
fan favorite, Kevin Youkilis during the season, so it's hardly surprising that the mouth
without a filter fired a scud missile at Big Papi after it.


I'm sure Curt Schilling is just chomping at the bit to rail against Valentine on "Baseball
Tonight", and just might morph into "Curt from the car" again and blast Bobby V for
making one of the greatest players in franchise history the scapegoat for one of their
worst seasons in the history of it. That won't play well with Schilling and it most certainly
won't go over well in Red Sox nation. Any road that Valentines rides his bike on in
Boston is now bound to be littered with spikes and nails.


As Valentine was shooting darts at Ortiz with his forced, disingenuous smile,  it became
easy for everyone to see why nobody likes playing for Valentine. He grates on you like
sandpaper and is the gum on the bottom of your shoe that you can't get off. Instead of
trying to clean it because it's peppered with pebbles and glass, you just rid of the shoe,
even if it's Kenneth Cole's top of the line.

Valentine also revealed a conversation he had with former Dallas Cowboys legendary
coach, Tom Landry. When he was a 35-year old rookie manager with the Texas Rangers,
Valentine was told by Landry to get coaches who "speak your language", meaning ones
that he could trust, which Valentine said he didn't have on his staff in Boston. Bobby V
said he wished he had taken Landry's advice, but it's apparent that he's never taken anyone's
advice because Bobby V thinks he's the smartest man in the room.


It continues to amaze me how baseball experts and analysts label Valentine a baseball
"genius" as if the game is akin to drawing up the blueprint and constructing the atom bomb.
It's baseball. As the manager in "Bull Durham" said, "You throw the ball, hit the ball, and catch
the ball." It's not rocket science. Nobody has ever called Terry Francona a baseball
intellect, but he has two World Series titles to Valentine's none. The difference is, Francona
gets it. He knows that success doesn't come with the greatest baseball knowledge, but
rather in how you "manage" players and personalities.

It's clear that Valentine doesn't get it, and the man who often tells people that he invented
the sandwich wrap, just wrapped up one of the biggest nightmares in franchise history with
that interview with Bob Costas on Tuesday night.




Monday, October 22, 2012

NFL IS PRETTY (AND RICH) IN PINK


If you've watched an NFL game in the month of October, then you might've wondered
if the league has Pepto Bismol as one its sponsor. There is hot pink everywhere. Sweatbands,
mouthpieces, sleeves, cleats, shoelaces, hats, and chinstraps all seemed to have been dipped
in the fluid that coats, soothes, and relieves.

In support of breast cancer awareness, the NFL, which protects its dress code the way
Michael Jackson once guarded his privacy, let the players get all pretty in pink, if they
chose to. Many of them have and some have gone beyond the field to support the cause.


I saw a player on the Denver Broncos (It wasn't Peyton Manning) arriving to a Sunday
Night game against San Diego in an ALL pink suit. NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp wore
bright pink shoes on the set. (I'm sure Sapp, who recently filed for bankruptcy, autographed
the shoes and sold them on eBay to help pay off creditors.) Washington Redskins QB Robert
Griffin III wears a sleeve opposite his golden arm that is hot pink which even Felix Baumgartner
must have noticed it before jump out of his capsule from 23 miles above the earth.


I often think if players got the green light to wear pink for the entire year, they most
certainly would. Oh, most of them wouldn't be caught dead wearing a pink suit out in
public if they didn't have the shield of breast cancer awareness protecting them from taunts
and ridicule, but since the NFL says it's OK, then it must be OK to really express yourself.
But I sometimes wonder if the players splash pink all over themselves just to gain attention
and a thousand more Twitter followers, or are they doing it to really help the cause. Do
they want to be noticed for the color they wear or the cause they are supporting?


The NFL gets major points for making people aware the cause, but I'm just not sure how
much theyare really donating to it. According to the Business Insider, only 5% of the sales
from the NFL Shop on-line, are being donated to the American Cancer Society. The Business Insider states that, "If the pink products have a typical 100% mark-up at retail, that means
the NFL is keeping 90% of the profit from the sale of Breast Cancer Awareness gear."That
means, the NFL is getting fatter off all the sales of the pink gear that the NFL has allowed
the players to wear this month. Hmmmm. Interesting. Seems to me the NFL should be
donating a lot more of the proceeds to cancer research. Perhaps, they're going to put all
that cash in reserve so they can pay the referees the next time their contracts come up.


I applaud the NFL for supporting the cause by allowing the players to wear pink and I
think it's great the players are bold enough to be seen wearing the color. I'm just not sure
both are doing enough themselves to being making a difference for breast cancer research and recovery. Sure, they are helping make people more aware of breast cancer, but are they
really helping in the fight against it? I'm not so sure. And once the calendar rolls over to
November and the pink fades away, what will they do to help out in the fight against breast
cancer?

Friday, October 19, 2012

WHY WE SHOULD LOVE THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS


St. Louis is a pure baseball town and arguably the best in the entire country. It has
a genuine love affair with the Cardinals but doesn't come with all the drama of New
York or the vitriol in Boston. They aren't addicted to sports radio and would never
get consumed by the antics of A-Rod or be obsessed about a chicken wing eating,
beer drinking scandal like the good folks of New England were. They don't live
in the past with Buckner or Bucky "Effin" Dent, for that matter.

The franchise is steeped in tradition with "The Gas House Gang", Rogers Hornsby,
and Stan "The Man" Musial stitched into it's fabric forever. Their classic bird on bat
logo has never changed, neither have their rich uniforms. They've been void of scandal
for the most part, Mark McGwire's steroid-enhanced magical run to a home run record,
nicked their otherwise pristine record.

The Cardinals have raised 11 World Series banners and have a good chance of making
it an even dozen. They are on the verge of going to the Fall Classic despite losing the
game's best player and arguably, the best manager, which makes this team and this
franchise more easy to love.

St. Louis could've opened the vault and signed Albert Pujols to a record-
setting contract, but they didn't. They could've locked up a player who had already
cemented a place in the Hall of Fame and was as popular and well-loved as Musial,
but they didn't.

It would've been easy for them to get emotional about it like the Steinbrenner
brothers were with A-Rod, and lavish Pujols with a monster contract, but they
didn't. The Cardinals showed remarkable restraint and did what was best for the
organization, not Albert Pujols.  Oh, they showed the fans  they really tried to
sign King Albert, but that was really, um, for show.

Their baseball people took the emotion out of it and surmised that giving Pujols, no
matter how great a player he was, a 10-year contract, would hamstring the organization
for a long time. They saw what the Yankees didn't. They knew in this Steroid-less era
that players no longer get better when they hit age 36, and just like in the old days,
they usually go into a rapid decline. (See A-Rod).


The Yankees are on the hook with A-Rod for five more years and a whopping
$114 million and because of it, don't have many options. Pujols is still a great player,
but is no longer the best hitter in the game. The Angels have him for nine more years.
He is more likely to end up as  A-Rod than Barry Bonds, who hit 271 home runs
AFTER the age of 38.

Albert Pujols took God's advice and followed the money to Anaheim, which came
shortly after Tony LaRussa took the road to retirement. Considered a Hall of Fame lock,
LaRussa led the Cardinals to a pair of World Series titles, earning a special place in
franchise history. So management had to replace a guy who had managed 5,097 games
and did it by choosing someone who had not even managed one. Zero. Mike Matheny
never managed anywhere. Not a Little League team or even a minor-league one.

Management could've chosen Terry Francona, a manager with two World Series titles
on his resume, but they decided to go with a former Cardinal who had never even made
out a line-up card in his life. It was bold to let Pujols walk, it might've been even bolder
to give the keys to the team to a person who had never driven.

So, here the Cardinals are now, just one game away from going to the World Series
with a new manager and without Albert Pujols. (I wonder what Albert is thinking)
They have a team that plays the right way and one that doesn't have a game-changing superstar
like Pujols. There are Motte's, Kozma's, and one of the eight Molina brothers. Their
best player, Matt Holiday, has the personality of Bobby Valentine's bike helmet. But
it doesn't matter. This team plays hard and doesn't attract any drama. Carlos Beltran
isn't scanning the stands for his next hook-up and Mike Matheny doesn't make the
game all about him. (See Bobby V).


I couldn't name 10 guys on the Cardinals, but I really don't care. These guys are
passionate about the game and make EVERYTHING about baseball, and that's
refreshing.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

LANCE ARMSTRONG ENTERS HALL OF SHAME


Marion Jones. Cheater. Mark McGwire. Cheater. Ben Johnson. Cheater. Like those
disgraced athletes and many others who pumped cheat into their bodies to set
records, earn millions, and gain the adoration of the sports population, Lance Armstrong,
too, will forever have the word, "cheater", follow his name. Oh, he never failed a drug
test, but then again, neither did Jones or McGwire. He never admitted that he used
chemistry to help him reach heights never seen before in his sport. But most of them
never do, until there is overwhelming evidence against them and everybody but their
mother saw them stick needles in their bodies.


On Wednesday, Armstrong officially entered the Hall of Shame, joining the long list
of athletes who have been outed as performance-enhanced frauds. Nike, which named
a building after him on its campus and supported his cancer foundation, cut ties with him
swifter than Elin's farewell to Tiger Woods. Armstrong stepped down as chairman of
Livestrong, the very foundation he put on the map by raising millions of dollars for
cancer research. That foundation will now fall like a house of cards, because really,
nobody wants to give money to anything associated with cheating. It'd be akin to
pumping your hard earned cash into Bernie Madoff's firm shortly after he was caught
miking his investors out of billions. It's not wise, and it's certainly not good to be
associated with someone who is pariah.


When Armstrong bowed out of his fight against the USADA last month, many of
Armstrong's supporters said that a man can only take so much. After all, they said,
it's a witch hunt that's gone on for 10 years. Many still gave Armstrong a pass. However,
after the USDA released a massive amount of evidence against Armstrong, Nike said
good-bye and so did a lot of the support for Sir Lance.

There will be millions of people in this country who will still look past the transgressions
of Armstrong and point to all the good he did for cancer research. That's how many of
us are with celebrity, so intoxicated by it we can't see reality and the facts. We see
Armstrong smile and say all the right things on a 15-second soundbite on "SportsCenter"
and feel like we really know the man. He signs autographs, kisses babies, and poses for
a picture that you can post on Facebook. Oh, he looks like such a nice guy, we say,
and believe him just because of the image he portrays.

We said a lot of the same things about McGwire, didn't we? He'd sit in press conferences
with his cute, little kid sitting in his lap. He started a foundation for abused children
and made generous donations to it. We saw him as a great guy. Honest, dignified, and
even humble. He fooled us all, didn't he? McGwire broke the single-season home run
record, a mark that many thought was untouchable. And he didn't just break the record,
he shattered it with 70 home runs. 70! Are you kidding me?


Then Barry Bonds took a syringe to that standard  and obliterated it with 73. Oh, and
Bonds never failed a drug test, either, but all one has  to do is take a look at how he
turned into Arnold Schwarzneggar, another steroid user,  at the age of 38, to know that
he wasn't just downing Flintstone vitamins. Heck, Alex Rodriquez looked Katie
Couric straight in the eye after being asked whether or not he used PED's, and the
Yankees lothario, flatly said, "no".  How'd that turn out? A-Rod turned into A-Fraud.

The cheaters get caught eventually, they almost always do. They lie and deny for years,
but in the end, they get exposed for the frauds  they are. Tyler Hamilton, a cyclist,
who medaled in the 2004 Olympic Games, failed multiple tests and always said  the
results were wrong. His excuse was that the positive result came from the blood of an
embryo of his twin that was lost before birth. Seriously, that was the excuse he gave to
investigators. He gets extra points for creativity. Hamilton eventually fessed up, lost
his medal, not to mention his reputation. Then he wrote a book about how Armstrong was
cheating. Floyd Landis failed, lied, denied, and then admitted what everybody knew,
that he was a cheat. Roger Clemens? We all know the story.


Armstrong's story pretty much ends like all the others who felt the need to get a little
extra something to achieve or sustain greatness. He is no longer a special athlete, but just
another one who tried to fool us all. There will be no more commercials, speaking
engagements, or even appearances on "The View". The view that Americans had of
Lance Armstrong changed forever on Wednesday. He is just another self-absorbed
athlete who tried to convince us that he was different. Lance Armstrong is not. He
has been branded as a cheater and all the "good" that he did for others will get lost
in the smear job that he did to himself. It may take a while, but in the end, the liars
and cheaters always get caught.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A-ROD TO FAN: 'CALL YOU, MAYBE'


If Sigmund Freud were alive today, he'd have a pretty tough time figuring out what's
going on inside the mind of Alex Rodriguez. During Game 1 of the ALCS, the Yankees
third baseman, whose in the midst of another dreadful post-season slump, was scanning
the stands and his radar locked on to a pair of woman in the stands. He sent a ball via
a team ball boy and asked to have it returned with their numbers. One of the woman did.
Here are the Top 10 things she probably wrote on the ball to A-Rod.

10.  "I'd rather give my number to a guy who gets it done in the clutch, like 
        Raul Ibanez. Not you."

     
     9.  "By the way, how did Jason Varitek's glove taste?"

   
  8.  "Do you have Jeter envy?"

   
 7.  "After all those steroids, do you have major shrinkage and man boobs?"

   
  6.  "Ur a loser."
 
  5.  "Do you still have that picture of you as a centaur hanging in your bedroom?"

 

  4.  "Why would you let some take a picture of you kissing a mirror?"


  3.  0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handers is not good, is it?

 
 2.  Does Madonna have stretch marks?

     
 1. "Tiger Woods has a better chance of getting my number!"

   

Monday, October 15, 2012

A-ROD IS YANKEES ALBATROSS


$324, 416, 252. That's how much Alex Rodriquez has put into his bank account during
his 19-year Major League Career. He is owed another $114 million by the New York
Yankees over the next five years. A-Rod is now to the Yankees what Carl Crawford was to
the Boston Red Sox: an Albatross.

But there are two big differences. One, Crawford at 31, still has some life in his baseball
body while A-Rod has been breaking down for the last two years and his bat speed
is slower than molasses in the winter. Two, the Yankees will never be able to find a
team dumb enough like the Dodgers to eat the remaining $114 million on his contract.

In short, the Yankees are screwed. And so is A-Rod. For the next five years, the Yankees
will have to deal with mega-star who has broken down before their very eyes. He is aging
faster than Benjamin Button, only problem, he's not going in reverse. A-Rod has missed
more than 100 games over the last two years due to a variety of injuries, many of which
could be the result of prolonged steriod use. During the Steroid Era, players would pump
cheat into their bodies to extend their career and compile their stats. Barry Bonds hit 278
home runs AFTER the age of 37. Roger Clemens won 101 games and two Cy Young
Awards after the age of 38. That's insane and since tougher steroid testing, stats like
those in the latter part of a player's career will most likely never be seen again.

Trouble for the Yankees, they re-upped with A-Rod for another $275 million without adding
the whole steriod thing into the equation. General Manager Brian Cashman had it all figured
out and didn't want to re-sign A-Rod, but he was overruled by overzealous owners (Hank and
Hal Steinbrenner) who had dollar signs in their eyes, thinking A-Rod's run to the home run
record would mean more ticket sales, higher ratings, and more merchandise dollars. Sad
thing is, the home run record means absolutely nothing these days. Once the most hallowed
mark in all of sports, it has become meaningless, thanks to PED's. The re-signing of A-Rod
makes the Red Sox acquisition of Crawford look like a prudent move.

When it's all said and done, A-Rod will have made nearly a half-a-billion dollars playing
baseball. Think about that. $500 million. Antonie Walker would have trouble blowing that
fortune. However, with his remarkably quick decline, A-Rod's baseball life that he once
knew, is over. Playing under the world's most intense microscope, every move will be
analyzed and criticized. Fans have unloaded on his inability to come through in the
post-season where he has become an automatic out. In the past week, A-Rod has been
pinch-hit for and benched in favor of Eric Chavez. Once the best player in the game, 
A-Rod was riding the pine as some guy name Chavez batted ninth in his place.

The intensity and criticism increases with every weak swing and at-bat, where he is
clearly overmatched. If the Yankees make a quick exit from the ALCS, it will be A-Rod
who will get blamed. The burning question in the off-season will be, "What can the
Yankees do with A-Rod?" The answer is absolutely nothing. He is the albatross hanging
around their necks. They can't trade him, release him, or eat the last $114 million on
his contract.

Can A-Rod rebound next year? Absolutely. David Ortiz of the Red Sox somehow
rejuvenated his career at the age of the 35, or whatever age he truly is. A-Rod may
go to his good friend in the Dominican in the off-season to get some of the same
"vitamins" that helped Big Papi somehow regain his bat speed. It can happen. But
A-Rod is going to need more than a new workout regime or some high-performance
supplements.

He could use some good therapy from Dr. Phil. The guy is so twisted
mentally that a high school pitcher can throw three 85-mile hour fastballs down the
middle of the plate and A-Rod wouldn't be able to touch them. His confidence is broken
and so is his body. And things will only get worse as A-Rod tries to justify the remaining
$114 million on his contract with younger players coming up who are trying to take
his job. It will get ugly, that's for sure.

Babe Ruth couldn't ride off into the sunset at the end of his spectacular career. He got
booed and criticized as he tried to stretch out his time in the game. A-Rod appears
headed for the same fate. At least, he'll have $500 million to help soothe the pain.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

DEBATES IN SPORTS I'D LIKE TO SEE



 RYAN LOCHTE VS JEFF SPICOLI

This much anticipated debate would feature two
of the most intellectually deficient athletes on the planet
and the real value of education in our country.

                TALE OF THE TAPE

 LOCHTE                                  SPICOLI     

 Swimmer       OCCUPATION      Surfer
                                                                        
 Florida              SCHOOL          Ridgemont H.S.

 Medals              CRAVES           Marijuana

 0.57                     GPA                0.00
Dumbest Answer: When quizzed by a reporter on the value
of 7 x 4, Lochte answered, "21". When asked by Professor
Hand if he had a job, Spicoli said, "What for? All I need
are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine."



TIM TEBOW VS TIGER WOODS

Tebow and Tiger are two of the most popular
and polarizing athletes on the planet who've taken
very different paths to get where they are. This debate
would center on the benefits of being of virgin as
opposed to those of being a serial philanderer.

              TALE OF THE TAPE

TIGER                                            TEBOW

        1,287               NUMBER                   0

        Porn stars       LINKED TO        Mark Sanchez

        Sexting             HOBBY             Reading Bible

        Ron Jeremy        IDOL                Jesus Christ

        Destroyed      REPUTATION         Pristine
   


                                        BOBBY VALENTINE VS CURT SCHILLING
                        

Let's face it, Bobby Valentine and Curt Schilling just can't stand each other. Schilling
has criticized the Red Sox manager since spring training saying the situation with Valentine
and the team was like "oil and water." Valentine fired back saying Schilling's  not
in uniform, in the clubhouse or on the team, so he doesn't know what is going on. Both men
know the game and have strong opinions on just about everything in life. Forget about civil,
this debate would hostile, volatile, and very memorable.

                                                     TALE OF THE TAPE

                          VALENTINE                                                  SCHILLING

                                  0                   WORLD SERIES RINGS            3

                         SANDWICH WRAP    INVENTED                 BLOODY SOCK

                         HIMSELF                   IN LOVE WITH          Shonda, Lou Gerhig, mircophones

                         EX-RED SOX          COMMON THING          EX-RED SOX



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

ALBERT BELLE WANTS TO MANAGE INDIANS! LOL!


Even in this OMG, LOL text-crazed world, there are very few things that genuinely make
me laugh out loud. Oh, sure, there will be an occasional skit on "SNL" that will cause me to
roar, (That one about "50 Shades of Gray" was pretty hysterical) but there isn't a whole lot
of funny going on in our society, especially with the state of the economy  and the way our
country is being run today.

However, I got a big laugh out of reading that Albert Belle wants a shot at managing the
Cleveland Indians. It was so funny, I had to read it again. I mean, everybody in baseball knows
how ludicrous this scenario is. This has absolutely no chance of happening and would be a
bigger disaster than Bobby Valentine's one-year stint with the Red Sox.

Oh, I'm sure Albert Belle really knows baseball (Just like Bobby V) and what he
accomplished in the game is truly impressive. In his 12-year career with the Indians, Orioles,
and White Sox, Belle's average season was .295 40 HR's and 130 RBI's. That should
equal a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but Belle has as much of a chance of being immortalized in
Cooperstown as I do. He was the most hated and loathed man in baseball during his career.
The media couldn't stand him, teammates were scared of him, and children in the Cleveland
who ventured out to trick-or-treat on Halloween were never safe.  You remember the time
when he tried to run over a bunch of kids who were trying to hawk some candy, don't you?
In short,  Albert Belle was a bad, bad guy.


Belle asking the Indians to interview for their managing position is akin to Tiger Woods
running seminars on how to stay faithful in your marriage or New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie being named to the Presidential Council of Fitness. Flat out hilarious. Can you imagine
the interview between Belle and Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti? I bet it'd go
something like this:

ANTONETTI: So Albert, can you give me an example of your communication skills
and how they would be employed when managing a baseball team?

BELLE: Well, Chris, I prefer to walk tall and carry a  big stick. You remember the time
when I smashed the thermostat in the clubhouse? I liked the clubhouse ice cold and Carlos
Baerga kept turning the thermostat up to 78 degrees. I kept turning it back to down 62.
I was really just trying to save the organization some money. Well, after about the third time
Baerga fooled with it, I just took my Louisville Slugger and went all postal on it. I didn't
confront Carlos, I just sent him and the rest of the team a message without a confrontation.
I guess they got the picture. That's leadership, that's real communication.


ANTONETTI: I see. Very interesting. How would you deal with the media if you were
the manager of Indians, Albert?

BELLE: I would take the pressure off my players by putting the attention on myself, just
like I did when I was in the major leagues. Remember when Hannah Storm tried to interview
me in the dugout before a playoff game one year? I almost shoved that microphone down her
throat. It was a trip. But I was trying to take the pressure off my teammates who were so
tight, you couldn't squeeze a greased wire into any orifice on their bodies. That was all planned
by me. I wanted to be the bad guy so my teammates could just go out and play. It'd be the
same way if I were the manager. If we're struggling and Buster Olney tries to ask me a stupid
question, I'll rip the little dude in half. That's how it works. Are you down with that?

ANTONETTI: Albert, there are going to be a lot of tough times as we rebuild the organization.
The fans are angry and they could be tough on you. They could call you names and heckle you.
In 1991, you threw a ball at a fan and hit him in the chest. Would you act differently if you
were the manager of the Indians?


BELLE: Hell, yeah! I'd aim higher and hit that sucker right between the eyes. Screw him.
He thinks just because he pays for a ticket, he thinks he can rip me apart. All fans are fair
game. I've been working with throwing specialist Tom House on my accuracy. Next time that
happens, the guy is a dead man."

ANTONETTI: OK, Albert, that about covers it for the day. You can go back to Shreveport,
stalk your girlfriend, and get ready for Halloween as it's just around the corner. And that gray
is coming in fast, "Just for Men" is an option. And remember, don't call us, we will call you.
Thanks, Joey, um, I mean, Albert.

So go ahead, LOL, this one's on Albert Belle.

Monday, October 1, 2012

ADAM GREENBERG'S SECOND CHANCE: STUNT OR LEGIT?


Life isn't fair. The sports world seems to remind us of that every so often. On Monday,
the Indianapolis Colts revealed their head coach, Chuch Pagano, has been diagnosed
with leukemia and will miss a significant portion of the season while he undergoes
treatment.

Pagano, 52, spent 27 years of his life criss-crossing the country pursuing his goal
of being a head coach. He worked at six different colleges and for three NFL teams
as an assistant before the Colts selected him to lead their team in January. Just three
games into his dream job, Pagano's life has been changed forever.

Doctors have called Pagano's form of leukemia "treatable", but really, when it comes
beating this disease, there are no guarantees and a return to coaching is hardly set in
stone, no matter how optimistic doctors say they are in curing it.

Seven years ago, a disease didn't derail Adam Greenberg, a 92-mile an hour fastball did.
Playing for the Chicago Cubs in July of 2005, Greenberg fulfilled a lifelong dream
of making it to the Major Leagues. Recently promoted from AA, Greenberg was called
on to pinch-hit against Marlins reliever Valerio de los Santos. On the first pitch of
his first plate appearance, the former UNC outfielder was drilled in the back of the head.
Dazed and incoherent, Greenberg left the game and would never make it back to the
big leagues. That was until Tuesday.


After dealing with nausea, vertigo, headaches, rejection, and long minor-league bus rides,
Greenberg will be back in Miami, the place where his major league career seemingly
ended seven years ago, to play for the Marlins on a one-day contract. The Marlins,
who suffered through a highly disappointing season, gave Greenberg a chance after
a filmmaker who produced "One At-Bat", created an on-line petition to get Greenberg
an "official" at-bat in the Major Leagues. Commissioner Bud Selig approved the
transaction and Greenberg will be in uniform when the Marlins battle the Mets in the
second to last game of the season.

This will be Greenberg's second chance to make a good first impression in a Major
League game. But is this just a stunt that's smearing the integrity of the game? Or
is this "one at-bat" thing really legitimate?


In 2005, Greenberg earned a promotion the the Major Leagues after mild success as a
minor-league outfielder in the Cubs farm system. Short on god-gifted talent and size (5'9")
Greenberg was hitting .269 when he was promoted to the big leagues. The Cubs liked
his defense, speed, and labeled him a good "character guy." Which in baseball, means
he keeps his mouth shut, doesn't cause waves, and plays hard.

This time around, it's hard to say that Greenberg did very much to warrant another shot
in the Major Leagues. He's been bouncing around the minor-leagues for the last several
years and hit the depths of them playing for the Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish in an
Independent League with cast-offs, rejects, and players well past their prime. Talent
rules every professional league and if you have it, some team will find a spot for you.
Every Major League team had passed on Greenberg and many players have long since
passed him by on the road to the show.


But those players may never make it to the promised land and fulfill their own dreams.
Whether it's lack of talent, need, or the game of politics, the journey ends for a lot
of great players before they ever get a sniff of making it to "The Show." Greenberg
is getting a second chance mainly because 20,000 people signed the  petition to get
Greenberg his official at-bat. He's also getting a second chance because the Marlins
needed something to go right for them in a season that went so terribly wrong.

The Marlins pumped up the payroll with the additions of Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle,
Heath Bell and opened the doors to a new stadium. But after owner Jeff Loria and
Muhammad Ali came in from centerfield riding a golf cart on opening day in a terribly


uncomfortable moment for those at the new park and viewers at home, things went
south in South Beach for the Fish. Ozzie Guillen offended Cuban-Americans in the
city after professing his admiration for Fidel Castro, Hanley Ramirez' lackadaisical
attitude earned him a one-way ticket out of town, and the team played with the passion
of the Chinese table tennis team in the Olympics. If the Red Sox weren't around,
the Marlins season would be considered the biggest disaster in the game.

The Marlins needed some good publicity and something positive to go into the
off-season and the gift to Greenberg accomplishes both. But while Guillen is saying
all the right things, you can bet there a number of players on the Marlins who aren't
thrilled with this one-day, one at-bat thing. They've endured a brutal season that
started in February and will mercifully end on Wednesday.


Greenberg has already gained more national and positive attention in the past week
than they've had all year. Trust me, this one at-bat thing isn't sitting well with a lot
of them. Oh, sure,  they'll put on the happy face and give a few great soundbites
for the media, but inside,  most of them won't be asking for Greenberg's autograph
or taking pictures to mark the occasion or post on their Facebook pages. They have
been through hell this season and a Johnny come-lately player is making national
headlines? You saw how petty the players on the Red Sox were this season, you can
imagine how some of the Marlins are taking this.

Most fans, hardcore and even the non-baseball ones will see this as the exclamation
point on a feel good story. The kid is getting another chance to get an official at-bat
after that frightening moment seven years ago altered his life and career. But what
will it really mean if Greenberg does get an official at-bat? Will it change anything other
than the record books? Greenberg beat the odds in 2005 to make it to the Major
Leagues. He earned his promotion to the big leagues. Nobody could question it
or take it away from him. Greenberg did it all on his own.


This time around, that's not the case. He got help from 20,000 fans who put their
name on an on-line petition. Greenberg got help from a Marlins franchise that has
their own agenda. Greenberg really didn't need this. He already made it to the Major
Leagues once. There have been other players who have been promoted to the
big leagues who sat on the bench, didn't get into a game, and were returned to the
minors after being so close to their dream, they could taste it. Nobody put together
on-line campaigns to get them into a real Major League game. Nobody offered
them a one-day contract just so they could fulfill their dream. The "Today" show
didn't call them up to be interviewed by Matt Lauer on national television.
 

And what if Greenberg gets drilled again in his plate appearance? Will the Marlins
sign him to another one-day contract and do this entire thing all over again? Don't
laugh, it could happen. What will this mean to the next player who gets drilled in
the head in his only Major League at-bat and wants to return nearly ten years later?

Where does Commissioner Selig draw the line? How can he do it for one player
and not another? Is Greenberg's one-day contract good for the game? Is it smudging
the integrity of it? It's a great debate, but one thing is certain. Life is not fair and it
certainly can be cruel. Just ask Chuck Pagano and his family.