A.J. Daulerio's Cultural Oddsmaker runs every Friday. Send him all kinds of fan mail.
Plenty of people have trouble staying away from work and "retiring." It's commonplace these days to stop the career job and embark on a second one soon after. Whether for money, boredom or a spiritual quest for inner peace, there seems to be a number of people who just have a real hard time staying retired. Except for coal miners. They seem pretty content to stay put once they're done.
Jose Canseco's return to semi-professional baseball inspired hope. Not just in former steroid users/authors/reality stars everywhere, but former athletes as well. If you stuck an ear to the ground during the not-so-unceremonious return and subsequent trade of America's favorite lunkheaded Cuban eunuch, you could hear the wistful longing of players whom may have retired/re-retired too quickly.
Lucky for you, I've sat down with my handy magical handicapping aggregator, a crystal ball and a box of Fig Newtons to give you a crop of athletes who might make a comeback and their subsequent odds of return. Please, jump with me.
Rickey Henderson: 1/1
After semi-officially "retiring" from the Surf Dawgs last year, the Rickeycanstillplay drum started to beat a little louder after the Subway Series. The close-up shot of a mumbling Rickey in the stands, dressed in cabana wear, sporting a tastefully subtle 1,406 diamond necklace was just the build up — the interview is what really mattered: He still insists he can play in the major leagues. A couple more Yankee outfielders go down, and we'll see what happens. Regardless, it's a strong bet that he'll show up on a roster somewhere in 2007, back to analyzing his swing in the nude and gushing over his love of fine cuisine.
Mike Tyson : 2/1
Tyson is the Guns 'N Roses of professional athletes. Those who grew up during his dominance in the ring (and on NES) still have a soft spot Iron Mike's lunacy and sheer power. And regardless of what shape he's in, what comes out of his mouth, how despicable and odd his behavior may be, if you put Tyson in the ring with anybody, it's a pay-per-view event and a lot of people are buying. Regardless of whether or not he can throw a punch or not, there's always the sense that something is going to go terribly, terribly wrong when he fights. With a heavyweight division that is still in search of personality and life, throw enough money at Iron Mike and he'll step back into the ring. Even if he has to fight a black bear, a baby elephant or Buckethead.
Dennis Rodman: 3/1
He's on the back end of 40 and boozes it up like a young Hollywood starlet (then subsequently bangs them), but, if anything, his body has displayed a remarkable ability to bounce back regardless of how much he incrementally abuses it. And, regardless of what people think of him personally, there's still a small section of the population willing to pay to see him play. So, every day is an opportunity for Rodman to latch on to a small market professional basketball team somewhere on the planet — or other sport where his services could be put to use, like, say, the UFC. Tell me you wouldn't pay to see Rodzilla take on Tim Sylvia in the Octagon? Or Vlade Divac even? Actually, that fight should totally happen ...
Michael Jordan: 6/1
Don't be fooled by the suit. We've seen it before. And the Charlotte Bobcats are a perfect place for Jordan 4.0 to launch. Up-and-coming team, little visibility, the lack of a true gamebreaker — and the same exact facial hair as Adam Morrison. It's a long shot, but not for lack of shape or cigar lungs; it's the pride thing. After the not-so-heroic return to the NBA court with the Wizards and the realization that he turned Kwame Brown into his personal Private Pyle, he may be a little more hesitant to hop back into the Nikes this season. But if the Bobcats start losing close games, this line bumps a bit.
Barry Sanders 8/1
Although he's a little chubbier, close to 40 and still has the demeanor of a man who's been de-programmed, Sanders may still have a little juke left in him. His stature could be an advantage at this stage, given that his elusiveness was what made him so tricky to take down as opposed to his speed. Plus, he's heavily vested in an Oklahoma bank. Interest rate hikes will probably put a damper on the wallet, and there are mouths to feed. A quick one-year contract as a back-up on a team searching for running back depth is not plausible, but not impossible.