This is a new semi-weekly column from Leitch. It has words, and pictures. It's called Ten Humans Of The Week. It might or might not work. But here it is.
For the first time in my life, I'm heading to spring training this year. Twice, actually. I'm pretty much destined to be disappointed.
This Friday, I'm heading to Jupiter to see my Cardinals (and Chris Carpenter, whose arm is totally not going to fall off) "play" the Nationals, the first spring training trip for both me and Bryan Leitch. I fully expect Dad to wear the same tanktop all weekend. Then, in a couple of weeks, I'm all business baby, heading to Steinbrenner Field for a story for New York. The first trip, I'll enjoy sunshine and warmth and the bathing glow of Cardinals Red. The second, I'll be interviewing a naked C.C. Sabathia — lookin' good! — and trying to find something new to say about one of the most overexposed entities on earth. (I'm making a habit out of this.) I can't imagine which will be more fun.
I'm not really sure what to do at spring training. I have a fear I'm just going to watch a bunch of guys jogging and playing long toss. The appeal, now that I take a closer look at it, is proximity to the players (something I don't care about), a relaxed atmosphere for games that don't really count (which takes half the fun out of the game) and sunshine (which sounds pleasant, I'll confess). It's not like I'm going to be asking players for autographs or screaming obscenities at Adam Dunn, as tempting as that last option might be. (I'm gonna leave Elijah Dukes alone, I think. Seems wise.) Other than sneaking in Ankiel's locker and leaving some azaleas, I'm not sure how I'm going to keep myself occupied. They sell beer at spring training games, right? They'd have to at least sell daiquiris or something. Absinthe, maybe? Nothing like sitting in the stands with your pops and sucking down some Monkey Glands.
This aimless rambling and throat-clearing is my halfass way of introducing my new "column" here on Deadspin, "The Ten Humans Of The Week." I missed dropping by and brain hemorrhaging on a weekly basis, so, you know, here we are. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't, but hey, it's Tuesday, nobody ever works on a Tuesday anyway. (Mondays, Wednesday afternoons and Thursday afternoons are for working. The rest of the time, it's all Brazzers, all the time. Go America!) I'm just going to pick 10 humans from the last week, and talk about them for a paragraph. It's pretty simple, and, all told, eminently skippable. It's my strength. Lest I just yammer on about Woody Allen and the guy from Band Of Horses every week, I'm limiting myself to only one non-sports-related person a week. To start anyway. I'm sure that'll last about a month, tops.
THE TEN HUMANS OF THE WEEK
Charles Barkley. Drunk driving is bad. We can all agree on this, yes? No one here is advocating drunk driving. To be clear.
All right then.
Charles Barkley, in his statement about being sentence to five days in jail for his DUI: "I think that a DUI is unacceptable. That can't happen and I've got to challenge other people, not just celebrities or jocks. You have to really think before getting behind the wheel after you've been drinking."
Charles Barkley, during the DUI arrest: "You want the truth? I was gonna drive around the corner and get a blow job. She gave me a blow job a week ago and it was the best I'd ever had in my life."
As the saying goes ... I know you shouldn't go out drinking all the time, Charles ... but you're a whole lot more fun when you do.
Johnny Damon. It's worth remembering that Johnny Damon (along with Xavier Nady, as if anyone cares about Xavier Nady) isn't actually broke: He just had his credit cards frozen after he was indirectly linked with disgraced adviser R. Allan Stanford. But can you imagine anything worse you could do to a professional athlete than freeze his credit cards? When's the last time Johnny Damon actually touched an actual bill? Assuming he's not a make-it-rainer, by the way. Also worth noting: In a world where this exists, no one should ever, ever make fun of Rod Blagojevich's hair again. That's the absolute worst attempt at hiding male pattern baldness I've ever seen.
Jerry Lewis. Count me among those completely disappointed by the fact that Jerry Lewis didn't do something crazy Sunday night. Because he's batshit insane, and has been so for about 60 years. For enlightenment, I recommend Shawn Levy's biography of Lewis, along with The Trouble With Jerry, in which disability rights groups make their case against Lewis as an empty fundraiser who actually has contempt for his "kids" and just wants his own glory. My favorite is when he calls kids with MD "half a person." Wait, that's not true. Here's my favorite:
In October 2008, while speaking with a journalist from Channel Ten News in Australia, Lewis was asked "What do you think of cricket?" His response was, "Oh cricket is a fag's game! What are you, nuts?" Lewis then proceeded to flounce about, using camp, effeminate gestures, pretending to hold a bat with a limp wrist, squealing in a high pitched voice "Ah! The ball is coming towards me!"
Rick Reilly. It's almost cute, really, how Reilly still wants to keep this blogs vs. mainstream journalists junk going while (most of) the rest of the world has moved on. (The exception of late has been Mitch Albom, of course, whose "I GOT A MASTERS IN JOURNALISM FROM COLUMBIA!" rant on ESPN Radio is the sports journalism equivalent of "I DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS!") I hope he keeps it going: It's like watching Axl Rose standing outside Best Buy wondering why no one stands in line to buy records anymore. At least he has discovered Twitter!
Bud Selig: So I was watching The MLB Network — and honestly, I'm just about the worst shill for that network; this is now the fourth publication in which I've gratuitously kissed their ass — and they were showing highlights from the 1982 World Series. That was the season the Brewers played the Cardinals, and was the first season I ever watched baseball. On the program, we saw the Brewers clinching the American League pennant, and they cut to then-owner Bud Selig ... and he was smoking a cigarette! (And wearing a Members Only jacket, it seemed.) I had no idea Bud Selig ever smoked. It looked like one of those cigarello things too, with the brown paper like he wrapped it himself. For some reason, the fact that Bud Selig was smoking in his seats while his Brewers went to the World Series for the first (and only) time is one of my favorite facts about him. That must be how he stays so thin and virile.
Nate Silver. OK, who else is enjoying the Nate Silver backlash? All right, maybe it's a little early to call it a backlash, but after he bonked two of the top six Academy Awards, it's becoming increasingly clear that, goddammit, Nate Silver has not in fact come from the future. Pi is not about his life. To paraphrase Keith Olbermann in the preface to the new Baseball Prospectus book, he is not Biff Tannen. Because, from all accounts, everyone likes Nate Silver, I'm trying to start a backlash. Let's see ... who out there would hate Nate Silver ... let's go with BP's Joe Sheehan! Yeah! Joe SHEEHAN is the head writer dog at BP! Not you, Nate Silver, with your annoying political moonlighting! Joe Sheehan is the head honcho around here. Hey, look, they're gonna fight down by the creek at 4:30 today!
Emmitt Smith. Oh, admit it: You'll miss him in flantabulously inlandish fashionians. Ishkabibble! I'd take him over Favre, that's for goddamned sure. OK, well, I'll accept Favre on NFL Countdown only if he refuses to do the show unless they let him spend the whole time sitting on a tractor.
Kurt Warner. At some point, the Buzzsaw and Warner are going to come together and figure out a one-year contract, because no one else wants him and the Buzzsaw probably can't live without him. (A little part of me thinks they'd start Brian St. Pierre over Matt Leinart, if forced.) I'm incredibly excited: After everything fell exactly perfect last year, I can't wait for the Buzzsaw to spend $11 million on our tiny-handed concussed hero to get knocked cold in Week 2 and then decide he's better off tending to his 84 children. At least they're not all named George Foreman.
Bruce Weber: I had the good fortune of sitting in the student section of a recent Illini home game for a Sporting News column next week, and good Lord, Bruce Weber screams like a duck the whole freaking game. I have no idea how that man can possibly speak during the 22 hours of the day when his team isn't playing. Maybe the silence is why he can keep up such a gripping Web site.
Ron Wechsler. He's a VP over at ESPN, and he has a Twitter. (Clearly, not a GRADUATE OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY!) His "Tweets" — as the kids say — are pretty entertaining (I, too, would enjoy Kenny Mayne a lot more if he used Auto Tune), off the cuff and destined to get himself in trouble at some point. By the way, if you're looking for a job at ESPN, you're going to have to wait until at least September 2010. That's the year Bill Simmons' contract expires, so, you know, if those guys don't GET OFF HIS JOCK HE'S AN ARTIST SO OPPRESSED, there might be at least one opening. Expect a pay cut, though.