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Tag: sports on earth

Sins of the Preacher


Greg Hanlon is talented reporter and writer. His latest story is for Sports on Earth. It is about former Yankee Chad Curtis:

Chad Curtis didn’t tell his lawyer that he’s doing this interview, he admits with a sly smile. Obviously, she’d be angry, because he’s appealing his conviction, and talking to a reporter is likely not in his best interests. But Curtis is still upset that he didn’t get to take the stand at his trial. He sees himself as a man for whom telling the truth trumps calculated self-interest.

That’s why, he believes, he has sat in prison since October on a seven-to-15-year conviction for molesting three teenage girls at the rural Michigan high school where he volunteered. He says he could have taken a misdemeanor plea, served a year and a half in county, and been home with his wife and six kids by now. But he’s an innocent man in his own mind, so he couldn’t bring himself to swear on the Bible — which he quotes frequently and encyclopedically during our two-hour interview at the Harrison Correctional Facility — and admit to a crime he didn’t commit.

As a major league baseball player, he wore a bracelet that said, “What would Jesus do?” Now that he’s a prisoner, he tells me, “Jesus lived the perfect life, and that got him crucified.” By this, he means there’s historical precedent for the harsh judgments of human beings to be 180 degrees wrong, and that he’s in good company.

He asks if I’m familiar with the show Pretty Little Liars. He says he prays daily for his teenage accusers, all of whom had similar athletic builds and All-American good looks. He says all he was doing in that locked, windowless, dungeon-like training room was helping those girls recover from sports injuries. He says he took the same all-out approach to treating sports injuries as he did to playing baseball — “whether it was running into an outfield wall or breaking up a double play.”

As for why the girls thought otherwise, and accused him of touching their rear ends, breasts and, in one case, genitals, he doesn’t want to speculate: “I’ve been really discouraged by how often and how wrong people have assumed my motivations, so I’ll extend them that same courtesy,” he says.

He doesn’t mention that not a single boy testified to having gone down to the trainer’s room for similar treatment.

Don’t miss this one. It’s really strong.

[Photo Via MLive]

The Man in Me

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Arizona Diamondbacks

Pat Jordan’s latest for Sports on Earth is a profile of Rays’ pitcher, Chris Archer:

I met Chris Archer for dinner at the Outback Steakhouse on my first night in North Carolina. He showed up with a handsome black man in his 40s, whom he introduced as “Ron Walker, my mentor.” The hostess led us to a booth in the far corner of the room. As we sat down, Archer said, “Wow! This is the same table where I met my father last February.” He meant his biological father, Magnum. Walker had helped facilitate that first-ever meeting between father and son. It did not go well. Archer peppered his father with questions. Why had he never tried to contact his son? That sort of thing. Archer did not like the answers.

By the time his father had left, Archer said, he had already decided, “I had no intention of ever seeing him again. The type of person he was. He had three children with three different women. Zero of which he is in their lives. He couldn’t tell what school his kids went to. I had no intention of trying to change a grown man who didn’t want to be in my life.”

I told Archer that I hadn’t planned to ask him about his biological parents until tomorrow, after we’d gotten to know each other a bit. He smiled and said, “Yeah, I came out throwin’ heat right off the bat.”

When the waiter came to take our order, Archer discussed with Walker what he should eat. Walker suggested fish and steamed broccoli, nothing fried or with butter. One night, before Archer was to pitch a minor league game, he had called Walker and told him he was eating a pizza. Walker said, “You’re eating what? Don’t put that in your body. Spend $30 on something healthy.”

Now, at Outback, Archer said, “He didn’t want me to put regular gas in my high-performance engine. We talk all the time.”

“We always dialogue back and forth,” said Walker. “It’s a wonderful thing.”

“He’s like my brother,” said Archer.

Walker looked at him sternly and said, “Uncle.”

[Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports]

Dumb and Dumber


That’d be Tom Seaver and Pat Jordan. Head on over to Sports on Earth and check out Jordan’s nice, long profile on Seaver:

We walked between the rows of vines, up and down the steep terraces in the hot sun. Tom’s three Labrador Retrievers romped around us. Big, playful, doofus dogs with their tongues hanging out. He told me their names. “Major, Bandy, Bricks.” I said, “Bricks, like in chimney bricks?” He said, “No, Brix.” I said, “Bricks?” He said, “No, Brix.” I said, “Who’s on first?” He didn’t get it, so I said, “Spell it.” He spelled, “B-R-I-X. It’s French for the sugar content in grapes.”

We stopped at a vine drooping with clusters of grapes. He snipped off a cluster and handed it to me. I held it over my head, like in one of those old paintings of Roman orgies, and ate the small, black, sweet grapes off the cluster. “Delicious,” I said. Tom explained that each variety of grapes had different characteristics that you could only tell by tasting them. That’s why each row was numbered.

I said, “Very good, Thomas. You always did explain things precise.”

“Ly,” he said. “Precise-ly. You’re supposed to be the fucking writer, and you don’t know your grammar.”

“OK. Precise-ly.”

“Thank you very much. You know I got a journalism degree from USC.” Irony of ironies! Tom Seaver, trying to impress me.

I said, “Yeah, and I had a better fastball than you.”

But he went on. “I was always like that about pitching. I had to be precise. I couldn’t just mail it in!” Then he began to explain more about his vines, about the cordon and proper height for each vine. I tuned him out and ate my grapes, the juices running down my sweatshirt. He looked at me, annoyed, and said, “Pay attention. I’m gonna give you a fucking lesson.”

“I don’t want a fucking lesson.”

“That doesn’t matter. I’m giving you one. Now, if the secondary fruit grows too high, you have to snip it off or else they’ll take energy from the vines.”

I feigned interest. “How high?”

“Each row has to be only to a height of 14.”

“Fourteen what? Inches, feet?”

“I don’t know. It’s just a standard height. Stop asking questions and just listen. This is important, for Chrissakes. If you didn’t talk so much you might learn something. If the vines are too high, you have to trim them.” He reached up with his snips and trimmed a vine.

“Oh, I see. The height of each vine is a template for the row. Your job is to go down the row trimming the tops, to make them conform to the template. I can see how the monotony of this appeals to your precise, fucking methodical nature. It’s therapy for you.”

“Bullshit. You think too much. You always did.”

“I had a better fastball than you.”

“In your dreams.”

“I did.”

“Yeah, and between us we won 311 major league games.”

“Abso-fucking-lutely! I tell everybody that!”

I asked him if he’d still have his vineyards if he hadn’t missed out on today’s big baseball paydays. Tom made more than a million dollars a year only twice in his career. If he were pitching in his prime today, he’d be making $30 million a year.

“I started to lose interest,” he said. “I wanted to go home. I couldn’t do it anymore. I never was pissed I missed the big paydays. Be careful what you wish for, you might get it. If I’d made that $30 million a year, maybe I’d just have bought that huge, finished vineyard and let others do it all. I’d have missed out on the pleasure of being in the vineyards every day. My pleasure has always been in the work, not the ego.”

That’s Me In The Corner

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Peter Richmond on losing his religion and his Yankees.

[Photo Credit: Kathy Willens/AP]

Don’t Make Me…

 Quelle Horreur! Our pal Emma defends Alex Rodriguez:

In the wake of the Biogenesis clinic scandal, Major League Baseball would plainly love to see Alex Rodriguez ride off into the sunset. And lord knows the Yankees would like to get out of the massive payments they owe their injured and PED-tainted albatross. There’s just one small problem: The evidence simply isn’t there, at least not yet. Maybe you believe that’s because it never existed; maybe you believe Rodriguez paid to have it destroyed, as “sources familiar with MLB’s investigation” have told ESPN. Either way, though, that means Rodriguez is probably not going away any time soon. Which means we — me, you, the media, the Yankees, the league — are going to have to make some sort of peace with his continued presence in the game, or risk going completely insane.

Given all that, the battle that Major League Baseball is waging against Alex Rodriguez — its own star, and not so long ago one of its most marketable — is, if not quite unprecedented, still fairly astounding. Some obvious comparisons leap to mind: Pete Rose, of course, and Shoeless Joe Jackson, who were each banned from the game. Yet neither hung around for years being loathed before their sentences were handed down, and both have plenty of defenders, even now. By the end of his career, MLB was none too fond of Barry Bonds, who felt (not without reason) that he was being blacklisted and forced into retirement; other PED users have also gotten a cold shoulder, but some, like Mark McGwire and Jason Giambi, have been forgiven. And Bonds and A-Rod’s fellow Biogenesis-linked bête noir Ryan Braun at least has a home team and fanbase that appreciates and enjoys him.

The same cannot be said of Rodriguez. It has been suggested that he should be banned from baseball, that he should be arrested, that he should be sued — just about everything short of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman killing him and making it look like an accident for the insurance money, and a poll would probably find some fans supporting that, too. There’s so much piling on, it’s almost enough to make you take the unnatural step of defending the guy.

Our Men in Mexico

Our pals Eric Nusbaum and Craig Robinson were on hand for the Caribbean Series championship in Mexico. They’ve got a five-part series over at Sports on Earth.

Don’t miss it.

On the Good Foot

Over at Sports on Earth I recapped last night’s game between the Tigers and A’s. After that, the Reds outlasted the Giants, 5-2.

[Photo Credit:  Damian Strohmeyer, SI]


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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver