Posted on: February 11, 2009 1:35 pm

Michael Phelps......Will We Get Fooled Again?

Then I'll get on my knees and prayWe don't get fooled againDon't get fooled again- The Who

As George Bush so eloquently said, "There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again."

So what does that have to do with Michael Phelps showing up on the internet with his suck hole planted firmly on the end of an orange THC delivery system?

Three letters—DUI.

On November 4, 2004 a then 19-year-old Michael Phelps was stopped for rolling through a stop sign and making an improper right hand turn.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Not a big deal, I’ve got a couple minor things on my driving record. Hey at 19, I wasn’t the most caution or alert driver either.

Fair enough, but when the officer approached the car that night he suspected something beyond your youthful mistakes. The officer had determined that Phelps had in fact been drinking.

A suspicion confirmed as the officer stated in court Phelps after a series of sobriety tests, "The defendant responded, 'I know I'm sorry. I was just scared because I have a lot to lose."

Maryland drinking laws require you to be 21 years of age to consume adult beverages—but Phelps was not only drinking, he was driving as well.

Wicomico County District Court Judge Lloyd O. Whitehead said after Phelps accepted and 18-month probation recommendation as part of a plea bargain, "We learn from our mistakes, and this was a mistake."
Defence attorney Steve Allen described Phelps as a "remarkably decent young man." "Michael knows he's a role model and he knows he made a mistake," said Allen, who said Phelps' arrest occurred during "a brief period of decompression after the Olympics."

But he followed that up with an Olympic performance for the ages. We raked the rock garden of our minds clean. We left not a single footprint in our collective conscious
in reference to what may or may not have been the case against a then 19-year-old professional athlete.

Now before I begin to write what looks like to be an indictment of Michael Phelps, I have no personal issue with him. He didn’t take that Range Rover he was driving that night and use it to take up two parking spots at the Mall around Christmas; he’s never visited my house and put the milk back empty.

We were awfully quick to forgive and forget in the case of young Michael Phelps. But now at 23 years old, with 16 Olympic Medals—14 of them gold—we are outraged at this display of youthful indiscretion. In December of 2008 he was one of Barbara Walters’s most interesting people of 2008, and had told the Today Show's Matt Lauer that 2004 was an "isolated incident" and that he had "definitely let myself down and my family down. I think I let a lot of people in the country down."

Then, after learning from the mistakes of this “isolated incident,” Phelps proceeded to admit to "behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment." In the form of taking a big fat haul off a piece of plastic that I am sure had been given a clever nickname of some sort.

Now in a sport where unlike baseball, or basketball or any other major sport for that matter, Phelps the swimmer doesn’t collect salary per say, his worth, his income is generated through endorsements. My interest lies in how does this impact his earning potential?

Will McDonalds, Wheaties, Nike and Speedo walk away from Michael Phelps? They certainly didn’t four years ago when a then-19-year-old Michael Phelps picked up an underaged DUI in what he himself said was an isolated incident.

Most people are all for the deconstruction of a hero. What they seem to so easily forget is that this strike number two. When Kobe Bryant committed a crime, it was so despicable that both McDonalds and Nutella walked away from Bryant afraid that we would no longer sell the image associated with him. But here we are in 2009, and Bryant is back pushing everything from Coca-Cola, Nike to Spalding.

I guess at the end of the day, I am more disappointed in fans than I am in athletes. Our two-faced ability to call someone a criminals and a cheat, a liar and scum bag is then promptly followed by us buying their jersey, their McDonalds breakfast sandwich, or a ticket to see them hit home run number 756.

We love to create heroes, simply so that we can later tare them apart for our amusement and to the delight of others. Whether it be because of performance enhancing drugs or young acts of indiscretion, we look for our chance to build superman, and then to step on his cape.

We do it all so just so that we can act surprised and indignant. When we see a 23-year old smoking some pot we act like Chicken Little and proclaim the sky is falling.

We are the problem as I see it, not Kobe Bryant, Barry Bonds, or Michael Phelps. The problem I as see it is we are so stupid that we want to get fooled again. That the average sports fan wants to believe enough that they can throw their palms to sky ever time a prominent figure makes a mistake.
Even though the Bush administration has left for Crawford it doesn’t mean those words from Tennessee or Texas—or where ever the heck they are from—ring any less true.

So you’ve got two options, sports fan—either except these guys are human and they are going to screw up. Or convince yourself they’re not and turn a blind eye to their stupidity.

Because right now the hyperbole with which you’re going after this Michael Phelps story—well, it’s simply looks like you getting fooled again.

Category: General
Posted on: April 27, 2008 10:47 am
Edited on: April 28, 2008 6:40 pm

A Rose by Any Other name would smell as sweet...

“A rose by any of name would smell as sweet.” Even if he is Charlie Hustle. What is the construction of a great nickname? What is at the heart of a truly “Great One”? No I don’t mean Wayne Gretzky, although if we are starting with “Legends”, how about Larry Bird? I mean the “Hick from French Lick” was so good that he has two? In both those cases the players were great but the nick names were just very good. I’d like to develop a list of my top five nicknames of all time. Before I do, I would like to give an acknowledgement to the group that started this discussion for me. Lindros, Leclair, Renburg, were truly as their name suggested, <st1:city><st1:place>Philadelphia</st1:place></st1:city>’s Legion of Doom. Hockey has had a it’s share of creative line nicknames, Colourful names like The Rocket, Mr. Hockey, The Flower, Little Beaver, The Chief, The Screamin’ Scotsman, The Big Train, Grapes, The Road Runner, The Tazmanian Devil , The Grim Reaper, Killer, The Rat, The Magnificent, The Moose, Mr. Zero, Stevie Wonder, Boom Boom, Tiger, The Hammer and if you didn’t have a nickname it seems like we called you Red, there are about 10 guys named after that colour. We even nicknamed you if you sucked ala Andre “Red Light” Racicot. Units were nicknamed, The Kid Line, The Brat Line, The Century Line, The Hound Line, The BBC, The Russian Five, The West Coat Express, The Punch line, The Production Line were some of the tag given to dominate or feisty units over the years. Now we’ve got a league full of Y’s, S’s and ER’s. Healtey becomes Heats, instead of a creative play on the name like, The Fireman, or The Inferno, although he does play on the CASH line with two other brutal tags, Alfy, and Spezs. Instead of being the <st1:city><st1:place>Calgary</st1:place></st1:city> Cannon, Al McInnis was just Al. But I digress, this wasn’t supposed to be a rant on a how bad nick names had gotten, nor do I want to pick square on hockey. As we have seen all sports have gone down hill in this respect. The coach gets on the bullpen phone he is now call Timlin, Ryan, Papelbon, Rivera, Wood, he isn’t calling for The Mad Hungarian, The Nasty Boys, the Dragon slayer, Oil Can or the Octopus. But what makes a nick name truly great? Is it, its origin? Like the day child hood friend Bobby Hoffman, that his buddy <st1:city><st1:place>Lawrence</st1:place></st1:city> looked like a Hindu Holy Man he’d seen recently in a movie. On that day, Yogi Berra was born; one of the most recognized nicknames in all of sport. Or The Babe, another name so entrenched in our popular culture you never here anyone refer to him as George. Football tends to be known for its units, The <st1:place>Orange</st1:place> Crush, the Steel Curtan, The Purple People Eaters, The Electric company. And in basketball the kiss of death for nick names is when they start, “The Big…” cause it can only go down hill after that. Kobe is the Mamba, Lebron is King James, but real great nicknames sound like The Glove, The Rash, and The Answer. But a great nickname is more about more than it’s popularity, or creativity, it is the nicknames ability to capture essence. I mean Paul Pierce is The Truth. First of all I am pretty sure he gave that to himself, which automatically disqualifies it from consideration, but number two, The Truth about what? I mean at first glance it seems like a great tag, but really it make absolutely no sense what so ever. As I’ve researched, debated and argued, there are many nicknames that have tried to climb there way to the top of my nickname <st1:place>Olympus</st1:place>. But for me 5 stand alone in the world of second Baptization, the Hall of Designation, in the Pantheon of Nickname. <o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>

5. The Wizard – Every time Ozzie came to the ballpark you expected magic. In a world where Hall of Fame worth is measured by 500 homeruns, 3000 hits, 300 wins, 3000 strike outs, Ozzie turned in his own resume 580 stolen bases, but more importantly 621 assists more than any shortstop, and 13 consecutive gold gloves. <o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>

4. Prime Time – Maybe the most colourful athlete in the history of Football. But it wasn’t just about flash and flair he delivered. Drafted in 1988 by the Yankees, and 1989 by the Falcons, he became the first man to hit a MLB Home Run and score an NFL Touchdown in the same week. In 1992 he led the National League in triples with 14. With there was something that could be done to get you out of your seat, Deion was doing it, 558 base hits, 154 for extra bases, 53 Int and 10 of them returned for TD’s, but unlike the ability to stop throwing at Deion, you had to kick to him, 9 combined TD’s on punt and kickoff returns. Imagine if coaches had let him return kicks his entire career instead worrying he’d get hurt?<o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>

3. The Dominator – People will tell you Gretzky was the greatest ever. But I have never in my life seen a player single handedly dominate the game like Hasek. At the <st1:city><st1:place>Nagano</st1:place></st1:city> Olympics he single handedly sent hockey’s version of the Dream Team home while carrying the Czech’s to a gold medal. He didn’t get his first NHL start until he was 25, and didn’t get his first starting job in the NHL until he was 28. Yet still he ranks first for starts by a European Goalie, 6<sup>rd</sup> all time in shut outs, 10<sup>th</sup> in all time wins, 8<sup>th</sup> in all time lowest GAA. Two Harts, with Five Nominations, that’s like a pitcher winning the MVP and the Cy Young. It simply doesn’t happen, but he was simply that good. Six Vezina Trophy’s for best goalie, and was named Czech Hockey player on the 20<sup>th</sup> Century. <o:p></o:p>

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2. Sweetness – It just rolls off the tongue. Was it hard and tough, it was when it had to be. Was it finesse? He could deliver that too. But when it all was said and done. He had rushed for more yards than anyone else in NFL history. He was speed, agility and power. Poetry in Motion was the order of the day when Walter Payton. His Motto was never Die Easy. There is certainly a wake of NFL defenders what would agree the Sweetness lived up to that year after year. <o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>

1. Magic – He simply was. A 6’9 Guard from <st1:state><st1:place>Michigan</st1:place></st1:state>, he lead his home town, home state Spartans to an NCAA time in 1979 and never looked back. He won 5 titles, played in 9 Finals series, was the NBA and Finals MVP 3 times each. Over 17,000 points and 10,000 assists in his career speak to his ability to score and involve team mates without a second though. But if I was to sum up Magic it came in the 1979-80 trailing 3-2 in the finals and headed to <st1:city><st1:place>Philadelphia</st1:place></st1:city> the Lakers were going to be without their all star center. Kareem had gone down with sprained ankle. Westhead decided to move Johnson a guard to the center position. In an elimination game he came up with performance that totaled 42 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals. That in a word my friend is pure Magic.

(Honorable Mention: Charlie Hustle, The Say Hey Kid, The Galloping Ghost, The Mailman, The Straw the Stirs the Drink, Mr. October, The Kid.)

Am I right? Am I wrong? Let me know, post your top five, tell me what you think....
Posted on: April 13, 2008 1:35 pm

We are building a religion.....

In major league Eddie Harris once had a conversation with Pedro Cerrano that went:<o:p></o:p>

“You know you might think about taking Jesus Christ as your savior, instead of fooling around with all this stuff.” – Harris<o:p></o:p>

“$h*% Harris” – Dorn<o:p></o:p>

“AAHHHH Jesus, I like him very much, but he no help with curve ball.” – Cerrano<o:p></o:p>

“Are you trying saying Jesus Christ can’t hit a curve ball?” – Harris<o:p></o:p>

“Ok Harris, lets not start a holy war.” – <st1:city><st1:place>Taylor</st1:place></st1:city><o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>

I pledge my Allegiance to the Black and Gold…..<o:p></o:p>

I bleed blue and white….<o:p></o:p>

I think that Navy Pin stripes are next to god….<o:p></o:p>

I scream my lung out for a group of men that wear White and Red….<o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>

Sometimes, like the rest of you I wonder if I’ve got a problem. I funnel with the thousands of others into our Churches, our Mosques, our Synagogues, our <st1:city><st1:place>Temples</st1:place></st1:city>. I turn on the TV and I flip through the channels to fellowships on Sunday morning singing glory halleluiah and wonder what it’s all about. I wonder how people devote such time, such passion to sometimes they have so little control over. Then at <st1:time minute="0" hour="19">7pm</st1:time> I turn “the game”. They sing to hosanna in the highest, they speak of choirs of angels. I see the retired numbers of Jackie Robinson, Wayne Gretzky, Teddy Ballgame, Jim Brown, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and sing songs composed not by Joseph Mohr, but by Dropkick Murphy, Fuel and Gary Glitter. <o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>

So who is really crazy? They have there religion, I guess I have mine. But are they really that different? Ok, so the old Anglican Church my parents ask me to attend doesn’t have private boxes with pretty girls serving me cold beer in my seat. But it does have a new sound system, and video board. No it’s not showing the latest Cubs score, or Nicklas Backstrom save, it’s more designed that people old and new alike can keep up with the service. You know like at Roger’s Centre when the jumbotron, tells you that Marcum has thrown 46 pitches 30 strikes, 16 balls, that the batter Maggilo Ordonez is 1 for 3 today with a double, is batting .312 on the year, the count is 2-1, there is 1 out in the 6<sup>th</sup> in a 3 to 1 ball game. So I guess once again, I’d have to ask who’s crazier. The people that get together on my local fox affiliate every Sunday morning? Or is it the ones that gather together on that same channel Sunday’s at 1 and <st1:time minute="0" hour="16">4pm</st1:time> starting September. As they files into there church? I often wonder do we give too much to those teams we love. People tell me all the time, I spent too much of my time, energy and money on it. But I don’t see anyone telling a southern Baptist they are wasting their time. So going forward, evangelist or power play specialist I guess we are all just as crazy. I am participating in my own religion. In the immortal words of Steve Perry, “Don’t stop believin’!” Even if you’re team takes a bad penalty in overtime and lose to the Canadiens again. <o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>

“We are building a religion,<o:p></o:p>

We are building it bigger,"<o:p></o:p>


Posted on: April 6, 2008 10:42 pm

The Istand of Misfit Toys.....

Welcome to the Bullpen, baseball’s island of misfit toys. Quick which Major League Pitcher won 20 games last year? Beckett. Or how about who had the top three strikeout totals? That’s right Peavy, Kazmir, and Santana. Can you name the top three save totals in order? Ok it’s a slightly more difficult question, but I am sure there was some of you saying it was Velverde, Borowski, and Cordero, was I right? But who led the major leagues in holds? I am sure it was only a true baseball junkie that came up with the name Brandon Lyons. What did we find out? The bullpen is baseballs special teams, like a tackler on an NFL kickoff they have the potential to make the play in unspectacular fashion, or blow it and turn it into a highlight reel. Like special teams in football it is a group guys just filling out the roster. In 2007 Red Sox starters combined to pitcher 1006 1/3 innings. In the same year we saw the <st1:state><st1:place>Arizona</st1:place></st1:state> Diamondbacks starters combine for 899.7 innings of work. Now in the case of the Diamondbacks starter account for about 62.5% of all innings logged. In the case of the Red Sox the starting pitchers put in 70% of innings thrown over the course of the regular season. So I know what you are asking yourself, what the hell does this have to do with anything? Well I think it has everything to do with the teams that win year in and year out in the major leagues. To me it’s less about how good your starters are and how long they stay in the game; because both these teams were among the 8 playoff participants in 2007. What is more telling is that between 30 and 40% of innings pitched in the majors these days are by relief pitchers. The collective groups of quiet and unheralded seed chewers that enter in the worst possible situation to earth shaking rock anthems are often the forgotten link in the team. When do relievers pitcher? In the most critical innings of a game, coming and pitching out of jams where they are protecting leads and inheriting runners. And who do we put in these all important rolls? Japanese imports that we know little or nothing about like Okajima, a move that obviously paid dividends for the Red Sox last year, but who could have seen that coming? He is coupled with other casts off like former, Jays, Red Sox castoff Brandon Lyons. Or guys like Julian Tavarez that have proven time and time again with Colorado, Cleveland, St. Louis, Giants, Cubs, Marlins and Pirates, with a career ERA of 4.50 and WHIP of 1.47. Joba Chamberlin and Jonathan Papelbon have shown promise and in the case of Papelbon the plan to make him a starter has been scrapped, but it was there at the start of 2007, and as the rumblings that Joba “Justin” Chamberlin will one day start in pin stripes. Why does filling the pen seem to be a game of trial and error? Especially when the error in the bottom of the 8<sup>th</sup> can be so critical? A perfect example of critical times in the game, came with Josh Beckett leaving the Sox vs Jays game on Sunday. The bases were loaded, a veteran with power was coming to the plate in Frank Thomas, and out of the pen comes, not Papelbon but Delcarmen? I mean in a 2-2 game with a Dangerous hitter and the bases loaded isn’t this the most critical juncture in the game? I would think so, instead of sending out Papelbon to get one out, they decide to save him, send out Manny and by the time Jonathan entered the game in the 9<sup>th</sup> his appearance and three strikes out did nothing. Nothing but show us, why he was a better choice to try to get Thomas out. <o:p></o:p>

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or