Hail The Clay-footed Heroes

January17/ 2000

..  I have abstained from saying much about the brouhaha over “STEROIDS IN BASEBALL” because quite frankly (1) I did not share the national outrage … and (2) I wanted to see how over-inflated the whole issue would become.  Whoever bet “yes” that Rafael Palmeiro would one day appear on TV with Henry Waxman wins.  I wish Ric Flair and Susan Lucci had been on that “show”.

   Google Palmeiro, Flair, Lucci and Henry Waxman and find any other artlcle EVER linking those four except this one.  Lets go ahead and get rid of Goofy Henry Waxman.  I had him in here strictly for comic relief.  He is a grandstanding Congressional clown who gives Charles Rangeal and Robert Byrd credibility by comparison.  Enough about him.

   Mark McGwire was known for (1) being a big white lug who hit big home runs, and (2) revealing very little/nothing about himself.  During his Home Run Race with Sammy in 1998 we learned he was divorced, had a young son and took “Andro”.  “Andro” is some supplement Mark took to “make himself bigger”.  Krispy Kremes and Haagen Daz are supplements some people take to make themselves bigger.

   I enjoy watching “sports” especially baseball, college basketball, football, and golf.  The only hockey I’ve ever watched for more than 10 minutes were The Miracle On Ice and a multiple OT Stanley Cup game between the Hurricanes and Red Wings.  I used to love watching pro wrestling before Vince McMahon took over the industry. And I used to love TV “soap operas”.  Mother Swagger had “her shows” that she watched religiously. “Days of Our Lives” and “Another World” were her faves.  I was more into “Dallas”, “Dynasty”, and “Falcon Crest”.  What does this have to do with Mark McGwire and steroids?

   Lewis Grizzard had a line “my mother thought professional wrestling was real and they faked the moon shot …”  I was never “confused” about pro wrestling but I was always entertained by it.  Same with “soap operas”.  The “scripting” of both “dramas” was so well done with cliff-hangers and morality plays that becoming “addicted” was easy.  I approach “sports” that same way.

   The Sports locker room is no “purer” than Enron’s boardroom or a traveling salesman’s motel room.  Savvy fans, stockholders, and wives of traveling salesmen should know that.

   Now, I do not gamble on sports (other than March Madness brackets of course).  I never have anything riding on the outcome of any “game” except anxious anticipation.  If you “gamble” on sports then my approach to the steroids issue won’t work for you.  I have never met anyone who gambles on pro wrestling or whether Susan “Erica Kane” Lucci’s next marriage will succeed.

   Certainly using a corked bat, or steroids, or playing an “illegal player” can affect the outcome of a “game”; but that only matters if the outcome of the “game” matters.  See “sports” as a temporary escape from bills, high cholesterol, noisy neighbors, bad bosses, leaky roofs, excessive government regulations, and that funny sound in your transmission.  None of those issues are contingent on who “wins a game”.  

   So Baseball players have used medical science to give themselves a competitive advantage. In “show business” physical appearances are the competitive arena.  Seeking advantages via cosmetic surgery is commonplace.  Ergo Pam Anderson’s breasts are no different from Mark McGwire’s biceps.  Silicon, botox, “andro” are all foreign substances used to change your body. Is Pam Anderson a good “role model” for flat-chested girls who want to “be noticed” and think silicon implants are a shortcut to that objective.  Pam accepts the personal risks to her body with her decision … McGwire and his pumped-up pals did the same.  As their audience, we just pay to see the show.

   Major League Baseball “looked the other way” ignoring what was going on because turnstiles were spinning.  DUH! … like NCAA member institutions do with recruiting of “student athletes” for Division 1-A Football and basketball?  Fans demand wins and glorify individuals they would not allow within 100’ of their daughters or hire for the lowest position in their businesses … but go ga-ga over their “recruiting” and ongoing eligibility issues.  

   Mark McGwire takes steroids … Billy BlueChip has someone take his SAT for him.  Both rely upon the “nobody will find out” or the “everybody is doing it” justifications. Mark McGwire is retired now so no one really cares what happens to him.  He is not on anyone’s “team” any more.  If he has screwed his chances for The Hall of Fame, do we really care … naaaah!

   McGwire received terrible advice about testifying before Waxman and his fellow camera hogs in Congress.  McGwire, unlike Bonds, was universally popular among the rank and file of baseball fans.  He had a Boy Scout image, avoiding libelous gossip with sexual escapades or gambling or conspicuous thuggeryl.  Fans were ready to believe whatever he was going to say UNTIL he actually said something! The cries of “Don’t say it so, Mark” had Shoeless Joe Jackson spinning in his grave.

   Thanks to free agency, players and team ownership (and fans) have no real loyalty to each other any more.  If Sammy Sosa gets busted now, Cubs fans will say “good riddance” he’s Baltimore’s problem.  In “the old days” if some scandal arose about George Brett or Cal Ripken, the hometown fans in KC or “Balmer” would circle their wagons and protect “their guys” in the same way that college fans rally to support “their own” caught in the act miscreants.  “Our guys” are always Boy Scouts … “their guys” are always thugs.

   I can thoroughly enjoy a Red Sox vs Yankees ALCS series or a nail-biter Super Bow, or Wrestle-Mania, and certainly a weekend of incredible basketball as we just witnessed, with no illusions that I am watching Jack Armstrong or Chip Hilton in some pristine pure environment.  My jaded cynicism aside … part of my enjoyment of March Madness this year is the lack of a UNLV gangsta team.  

   UNC fans “hate” Rick Pitino and Mike Krzyzewski conjuring up insane urban legends of alleged nefariousness to augment the faux drama of it all.  The lunatic fringe aside, the spirit and level of the competition this year has nullified the clay-footed sham that might lie just beneath the surface.  As long as I don’t have to see Jerry Tarkanian or Steve Fisher on the sidelines, I can watch without throwing up.

   College Football is lagging behind.  Pick up today’s paper and see a USC Trojan arrested for sexual assault and an Arizona State running back arrested for murder.  It could be that the NBA now sucks up the 18 y/o phenoms who have ABSOLUTELY no business whatsoever setting foot on a college campus.  The NFL still requires a 3 year waiting period for overly aggressive young thugs to season.

   The MLB owners and the Players Union have implemented “stricter” penalties for illegal steroid usage … but it is structured so that only the incredibly stoopid will pay any price.  Five strikes and “Yer Out”!  

   You might laugh that I applaud Ric Flair, Wahoo McDaniel, Freddie Blaisse, Gorgeous George, Dusty Rhodes, and their buddies.  They were fine athletes and their sole purpose was to give me my money’s worth of entertainment.  They never failed to deliver.  Nor did Larry Hagman and Joan Collins. 

   I used to enjoy NASCAR and even had “pit row privileges” for many years.  One day all the noise and race-day hassle just became “too much”.  NASCAR fans take tons of abuse from puckered butts but they have “spectatoring” figured out.  They cheer wildly for their favorite but come more for the event than for who wins.  NASCAR fans never leave a race cussin’ and fussin’ that their guy got screwed.  Being sunburned and drunk helps. NASCAR teams are quite matter of fact about “bending the rules” and hoping they don’t get caught.  They get caught and fined one week so next week they try a different trick to gain one mph advantage.   

   Of all the sports I have been around, I rate PGA Tour golfers as the purest.  There are strict “rules” governing the game but the integrity of the sport seems to actually police itself.  Referees aren’t blamed for bogeys and Fred Funk can beat “The Big Four” and no one makes Fred pee in a cup before he gets his check.  Think about that … what other sport has that aura of sanctity from interfering refs, umpires, head linesmen, reincarnated or otherwise.  A player caught with a “hot ball” or a corked driver or Odd Job as his caddy would be lonelier on tour than a Maytag repairman with halitosis. 

   Ken Lay and Bernie Ebbers are criminals and should be locked up and do “hard time”.  Mark McGwire will spend the next 30+ years as “one of the guys that took steroids”.  He probably wishes now that he hadn’t.  What would you try to get away with for a lot of money if losing your reputation was the penalty for being caught?

BobLee’s Simple Rules for Heroes:

  1. In Wrestling, “Good Guys” don’t wear masks (except for Mr Wrestling and Mr Wrestling II of course). 
  2. In Soap Operas, “Good Guys” wear white hats.  “Bad Guys” have mustaches and “black hats”.  “Bad girls” are “bad girls”. 
  3. In Sports, “Good Guys” play for “our team” and “Bad Guys” don’t.  


Swagger’s Stumper

A Trivia All-Pro Question:

“Dallas” – first episode … 

who/what was Lucy “doing” in the hayloft?


Eddie Sutton and Guy Lewis join Ol’ Roy atop the list of most Final Fours without an NC.

   Are you tired of Paris Hilton (and who isn’t?) … I have a new No-Talent Mega Hottie for you … Brittany Gastineau.  Yes, Mark’s daughter.  Brittany and her mom, the lovely Lisa, have their own TV “reality show” called (ta-daaa) The Gastineau Girls.  Keep your eyes on Brittany as you ponder “how come these vapid floosies live like really rich people?”  Check it out.

   BobLee’s favorite TV soap opera these days is Las Vegas.  Think Love Boat or Hotel set “on the strip” at the mythical “Montecito”.  I saw James Caan right after the show started last season and told him I thought it was a hit.  Totally predictable story lines add to its charm. Of the show’s four “hotties” my fave is Samantha Jane the whale babysitter.

   UNC howler monkeys are enjoying “the week before the Final Four” in predictable fashion … dissecting every single media utterance for the slightest “anti-Carolina” sentiment secretly  encoded in every column or report.  Woo Hoo … Gotta luv’em!

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