Daily Archives: August 28, 2010

The year Jordan played baseball. And a batshit-crazy pastor in Florida

Looking back on it, sports historians are likely to be puzzled.
Wait a minute. You’re telling me that in 1994, the greatest basketball player in the world, the greatest basketball player ever, quit at the height of his ability, to play minor-league baseball in Alabama?

Yep. It doesn’t make any more sense the more you think about it. But 16 years ago Michael Jordan, fresh off his third straight NBA title with the Chicago Bulls, and with his father’s murder fresh in his mind, decided he wanted to be a baseball player.

It didn’t go all that well. The skills don’t exactly translate; Jordan played in Double-A in Birmingham, and hit. 202.
And then, after one mostly failed year, Jordan came back to the NBA and was his old self again. It was a weird, weird story, though I remember I admired Jordan at the time for having the guts to try something at which he might fail.
Jordan’s year in the minors is chronicled in the new ESPN 30 for 30 movie, “Jordan Rides the Bus.” It was directed by legendary sports movie writer/producer Ron Shelton (“White Men Can’t Jump,” “Bull Durham,” etc.), and I had extremely high hopes for it.

And it was … pretty good. There are great interviews with Jordan’s old teammates, a pretty funny scene with his Birmingham real estate agent, and lots of footage of Jordan swinging and missing.
Shelton didn’t get an interview with Jordan for the documentary, but if nothing else he did debunk the long-held conspiracy theory that Jordan was forced to retire by NBA commissioner David Stern, due to Jordan’s serious gambling problem.
What I took out of the movie was how a place like Birmingham can be totally transformed by the spectacle of having Michael Jordan hanging out there for a summer. Everyone in town went nuts, like every other city in America would’ve.

Shelton did a good job with the movie, but I think it could’ve been a little better. He’s set the bar so high with his movies, it’s hard to reach it every time.

**Yep, nothing like a good ole’ crazy pastor to get my blood boiling.
Terry Jones, of the Dove World Outreach Center (sounds like a harmless name, right?) in Gainesville, Fla. has decided to help the world get along.

He and his church recently announced that on 9/11 this year they’ll be holding a “Burn the Koran” day, to, and I quote “bring to awareness to the dangers of Islam and that the Koran is leading people to hell,” adding that, “eternal fire is the only destination the Koran can lead people to so we want to put the Koran in its place – the fire!”

What a disgrace for a human being Jones is. Here he is on Chris Matthews’ show the other day: