A.J. Daulerio's Cultural Oddsmaker runs every Friday. Send him all kinds of email.
Pro sports have always had its share of lunatics. From T.O., to Tyson, to O.J., to Demetrius Underwood, to everybody's favorite freakout artist, Joe Mikulik, crazy comes in all shapes and sizes. Handicapping the next implosion should be easy, but I've made it tougher on myself to keep things a little less obvious.
There are so many different permutations of crazy. For example, Clinton Portis' brand of batshit lunacy almost falls on the side of genius, more so than say, Albert Belle running over Trick-or-Treaters. For the sake of these odds, all those with a longstanding history of nutjobbery are exempt, given that it'll be tough to differentiate between playful banter and bipolar disorder/sociopathy for those people in the near future.
But I'm donning the handicapping strait jacket anyway to pull together a short list of athletes that haven't completely derailed up to this point, but are a great bet to do so in the near future. Off the rocker we go, after the jump.
Michelle Wie: 2/1
That one shot of her being wheeled away from the Open said so much: This is a young girl on the brink of a breakdown. Pressure from parents, publicists and sponsors has Wie primed for a Capriattiville. Yes, it'll be couched as "exhaustion," but pretty soon she'll be ditching tournaments and public appearances, hanging around with the cast of Wassup Rockers at Chateau Marmount and using her ball markers to clean out her tin foil bowl. But, come to think of it, that would make her totally hot. I can't wait.
Carmelo Anthony: 3/1
This is a very strong play. His propensity for weed and moonlighting in gangster films raised a few eyebrows, but there's still the babyface (and babyfat) that kind of keeps Melo on the safe side of crazy. However, the ball-in-the-stands tantrum of last year is a tell-tale signs that there's a blow-up of Artestian proportions on the horizon. I'm thinking Melo's a few more spliffs away from going Last Boy Scout on the court next year.
Todd Helton: 4/1
Don't let his public embracing of Christianity fool you: there's a diabolical mind at work behind that kind-hearted grin. The "prayer meetings," his personable nature and his gentleness toward handicapped children are all fronts. Pretty soon, Helton will take the Jesus-speak to the next level and become MLB's version of Kirk Cameron. Have you seen Left Behind? I'm convinced Helton has a secret door in the Rockies dugout that'll serve as a fallout shelter for the coming apocalypse.
Roger Federer: 7/1
Federer is probably the closest thing to Ivan Drago in professional sports right now. His effortless dominance is not what's worrisome, but more so his girlfriend and manager Mirka Vavrinec. She has a very steely-eyed, domineering presence (cough, Bridgette Nielsen, cough), who seems to have a mesmerizing power over Federer beyond girlfriend/managerial. If Federer loses his number one ranking, Vavrinec will completely drive him insane, most likely resulting in a month-long bender and some spousal abuse allegations. He's probably too nice of a guy to close-fisted on Mirka, but a rough shove, some property damage and walking aimlessly through busy intersections seems very likely.