DeadAir 2012: Oh. The humanity.

"Now boarding..." This Week's DeadAir 2012 Nominees

This Week - Monday, August 29, 2005

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? These are dark times we live in, American sports fans. Steriods and other performance-enhancing drugs, labor disputes, anger management issues, contract holdouts, spousal abuse, the hot dogs are too expensive, buy the apparel and you'll get shot in the wrong neighborhood, and the cheerleaders all have fake breasts. Somewhere Ty Cobb is weeping softly with shame.

Oh, probably not. Cobb was a mean, antisocial bully who deliberately cleated basemen and once pummeled a handicapped New York fan who called him a "half-nigger" Just about everyone hated him--fans and players alike. He didn't have an endorsement deal, but he had plenty of business deals on the side, and still he would have been the first on ESPN complaining the he couldn't feed his family on his $20,000 a year salary in 1919. Granted, that's a relatively modest $225,000 in 2005 dollars, so his complaints would have been a littie more plausible than T.O. or Latrell Sprewell lamenting that their babies need their medicine and they're going to have to take an extra job as a greeter at WalMart or stuffing envelopes from home in the offseason if they don't get their $21 million fourth-year balloon payment and a platinum Escalade to drive to autograph sessions.

Outrageous and petulant behavior isn't unique to the 21st Century athlete, but their sense of entitlement and their decibel level are. Thirty years ago if athletes felt any sense of entitlement it was for free amphetamines in the locker room and at least two blow jobs from any woman they bought drinks for in taverns.

Their outbursts and tantrums have become sports unto themselves in 2005. Sports fans could spend most of August getting a steady stream of news on T.O.'s contract holdout as if it were 9/11 coverage. And why not? It is great sport. Part of the joy of sports is seeing new trails blazed; seeing something new and completely out of the ordinary. Ninety-yard touchdown passes? Entertaining, yes, but we've seen that so many times before. A quarterback and his wide receiver sitting on opposite ends of an empty cafeteria while still having to get in the huddle together? An overpaid pitcher bullying a cameraman? Now that's something we really want to watch. It's like grade school when the vice principal would come in with the paddle and escort one of our fellow students out of the room. Unfortunate, for sure, and the result of bad behavior we shouldn't mimic, but try distracting our attention from it.



Name: Kenny Rogers

Transgression(s): What not to do when lobbying for a new contract.

Evaluation: I can't say I blame Kenny Rogers. I know I've had that itch before. Sitting at my desk, just trying to do my job, and in walks some jackass trying to sell me cleaning products, or office supplies, or his custodial services. I've got a pile of reports in front of me, I'm probably going to have to skip lunch anyway, and this swarthy little man wants to talk to me about how we wax our office floors. You can imagine how much I wanted to throw my coffee in his face, bounce his head off the time clock, and chase him out of there, throwing cans of his stainless steel cleaner at him as he fled.

The only problem there is, I'm a member of society, where we have things like rules and decorum that we have to follow. And we're expected to practice basic impulse control. And I probably would have lost my job.

This is why rules exist in the first place--to keep us inside the lines. It's the same reason it's not okay to vent your traffic frustrations by ramming the Subaru with the blonde putting on her makeup. It's the same reason that you can't whip out your lighter at the theater and torch the hair of the a-hole in front of you whose cell phone has gone off twice already. It's the same reason you can't go to the park and strangle a mime with your dog's leash, even though every fiber of your being tells you you should. All of these are very understandable urges, and will probably win you sympathy in some quarters, but they are also actions society considers wrong, and for which there should be consequences.

This was all lost on Texas Rangers pitcher Kenny Rogers on June 29, when, fed up with media speculation that he was using an alleged broken pinky to get out of a game he didn't want to pitch, attacked a Fox Sports Southwest cameraman, after telling him, "I told you to get those camera out of my face." He wrestled the camera away from photographer David Mammeli, and threw it to the ground, and then headed for two other cameramen, who wisely backed off lest Kenny tear a play out of Woody Hayes' playbook and leave them with an upended shot of the catwalk between the center field lights.

Rogers was contrite for all of about nine seconds the following week, but then promptly whipped out his johnson and evacuated his bladder all over that little bit of goodwill he'd restored when, appearing at the courthouse to be booked for the Mammeli incident, he glowered and mumbled sweet menacings to another cameraman. "You're getting really close, you hear me?...You must be real proud of yourself." If you're being arrested for abusing a cameraman, you check your cameraman rancor at the door. That would be like Seahawks wide receiver Koren Robinson showing up drunk to serve his jail sentence for drunk driving. Oh, wait, he did. Never mind. Anyway, you get the point.

But clearly it didn't matter for Kenny anyway. He was suspended for 20 games, only a handful of which he would have started anyway, and eventually had that reduced by an independent arbitrator. He's having a little trouble finding his groove since his reinstatement, though, going 0-3 with a 7.8 ERA as of this writing. That might be a little carmic justice, or he might just be rusty. I'd rather believe that his escaping his abhorrent behavior with a slap on the wrist portends hope for the rest of us who feel that these trivial rules of order are an unfair restraint on our spirits and our rights to channel our anger any way we see fit, so long as no one gets killed, or hurt severely anyway. If that's the case, I'd like to know, because my mailman's overdue for a little come-to-Jesus meeting for the letters I keep getting from the IRS. I'll even take the suspension--my ERA's not very good anyway.

Nominated by Bill Kelter, 8.25.05

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Name: Terrell Owens

Transgression(s):The children...won't someone think about the children???

Transgression(s): As anyone who's punched a clock can tell you, it's a hell of a time making ends meet in today's America, especially if you've got a family. You think that signing bonus will give you some breathing room--you know, a new pair of jeans for the boy because the kids have been making fun of the threadbare ones he's been wearing; a winter coat for each of them, because it's going to be cold this year; and maybe a new Saturday go-to-supper dress for your wife, for the saint that she's been. Then you get into work and find out that your first year's pay is one-third of that signing bonus. How the hell is that fair??? Then you sit down and add it all up, and, well.....I don't know what world you're living in if you can provide for a family on $49 million, but I want to know if I can move there.

Eagles owners would apparently rather see Owens' children's lives degenerate into Dickensian hardship. They've pointedly reminded him that the signature on his contract is his, and if he wants to get paid at all he should probably report to work and do his job, which he's done. That doesn't mean he has to like anyone, though. Near the end of training camp, Donovan McNabb and Hugh Douglas were the last players in the camp cafeteria when Owens came in. He sat on the opposite end of the cafeteria. (Was this a junior high cafeteria?) Yet, on the first play of Owens' first game back, McNabb hit Owens for a 61-yard touchdown reception. This may be the first instance in NFL history where a quarterback and wide receiver make it an entire season communicating by memo and press conference. It may work. But Owens' children will still be eating dogfood.

Nominated by Bill Kelter, 8.22.05

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Night Vision Paris


Name: Svetlana Khorkina

Transgression(s): No, it's not because you're Russian. It's because you're crazier than the tapeworm in Mary Kate Olsen's stomach.

Evaluation: I was a little nervous in adding this nominee. She certainly deserves inclusion, after graciously accepting her silver medal in the 2004 Olympics, calling it "the best day of my life"--and then icily whipping out her knife and burying it between the shoulder blades of her competitors and the Olympic judges, saying, "I'm just furious.....I knew well in advance, even before I stepped on the stage for my first event, that I was going to lose"; calling the competition "decided in advance" and saying "I practically did everything right, still they just set me up and fleeced me." She said it was "because I'm from Russia, not from America!" She then skinned winner Carly Patterson, acidly concluding her withering critique, "No, well, you better write that Patterson is a great champion and she has a great future."

No, she belongs on the plane, but I'm not sure I want to have any part in putting her there. I'm afraid that I'm going to wind up losing my penis, or worse. She's nine time zones away, but just looking into those eyes on an Internet photo, I'm bracing for the piano wire to tighten around my neck before I kick and flail and put my foot through my computer monitor, and then drop to the floor, my eyes frozen wide open in terror and bloody foam pooling between my lips. No one's penetrating eyes have put that kind of fear into me since I saw "Damien: Omen II" when I was 12.

She's the kind of woman who will seduce you with swift and demoralizing ease into a courtship that you know is wrong, wrong, wrong, and will only end with your job gone and bank account empty--if you're lucky. If you're not lucky, you'll wind up tangled in bloody sheets being tended to by paramedics, your genitals taken off with a carving knife, and a tearful Svetlana being consoled by police as she tells them how you were raping her and it was all she could do to defend herself.

I was transfixed and more than a little uneasy when I watched her in last year's Olympic games at Athens. I expected her to dismount from the uneven bars triumphantly holding a bloody, skinned, still-twitching rabbit, as she held her arms high and cast her come hither look at the world.

So, that's why I'm happy to say this was Lori's pick. Lori S. 20402 Dalrimple Lane, Portland, Oregon, 97226. Her side door is usually unlocked, and she gets home from work at 6.

Nominated by Lori S., 8.22.05

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Nominator comments: "What a whiny little loser. Oh poor little Svetlana. The one thing that eluded her her the whole of her life was the Olympic gold medal (not to mention a sandwich) and the only thing she can do (instead of being a gracious loser like Michelle Kwan) she has to lash out and say that the reason she didn't win was because she wasn't an American. really, it just needs to be done. I mean really, her in Playboy??? uuuusshhhhhhh..."


Virtually condemn your most-loathed celebrity, relative, or backstabbing weasel ex-friend!

Try it--it's a scream, and very cathartic!


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