Tag Archives: Barry Bonds

The nursing home that hired a male stripper. A powerful anti-drone message. And Henry Aaron, still the home run king

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I don’t anticipate living in a nursing home for a long, long while, but if I do end up in one, I hope it’s as much fun as the East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, in West Babylon, N.Y.
East Neck was in the news this week because of a lawsuit filed by the family of a former patient there, an 85-year-old woman was “subjected” to an unwanted performance by a male stripper in 2013.

That’s right, it was “Magic Mike” time for the octogenerian set! Bernice Youngblood’s son found a photo in January, 2013 of the stripper gyrating in front of his mom.
According to this story, the image also shows Youngblood shoving dollar bills into the dancer’s underwear.
So, you know, it doesn’t sound to me like Bernice was hating the show so much, eh?

An attorney for the nursing home said the event was organized by a 16-member planning council of residents who decided to have the strippers, and that Bernice willingly attended.

So many jokes to be made here. Was the stripper paid in dollar bills, or in hard candy? Did the women compare the hunk to Humphrey Bogart or Gary Cooper?  And for the love of God, did the women take off their bras and throw them at the guy, because that could just be classified as unsafe working conditions.

Strippers in a nursing home. Hell, it sure beats BINGO night.

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**If there’s one reason above all others America is hated in Pakistan these days, it’s the unceasing drone attacks from our military that has been going on for years.
Whether you favor drone strikes as a necessary evil (as I do), or deem them inhumane and unnecessarily dangerous to civilians, they don’t seem to be going anywhere. President Obama has escalated their use and, quite frankly, turned into much more of a hawkish President than any of us thought he’d become.

The Pakistanis can’t fight back against the drones, not in any real military way. But this ought to be pretty powerful on its own: A group of artists have created an enormous poster featuring the face of one of the victims of a drone attack. The poster is large enough to be seen by aircraft flying overhead, and it’s pretty haunting.

Since unmanned drone strikes began in earnest in 2008, the attacks have killed more than 3000 Pakistanis

**Finally today, Tuesday was a great anniversary in baseball, for it was on April 8, 1973 that Henry Aaron passed Babe Ruth on the all-time career home run list, by smashing his 715th in Atlanta’s Fulton-County Stadium.

To me, and I’m sure millions of others, Aaron’s career total of 755 is still the all-time record: What Barry Bonds achieved with the aid of steroids disgraced the game, and his 762 ought to be stricken from the record book. But alas, that’s not the way baseball works, sadly.
It’s amazing the pressure Aaron was under that 1972 season, and the winter leading up to ’73. The racism he faced, from fans and others around the game, was unlike anything a player has had to face since. Death threats to him and his family, constant police protection; it was all what he had to endure. He held up through it all, showing grace and humility, and he’s still living his life that way, too.

Truly, a (home run) King among men.

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The Baseball Hall of Fame properly elects no one. Celebrities reading mean Tweets. And Jon Stewart, pissed off about guns

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There are lots of issues in sports that I can see both sides on.
The idea of baseball players who used steroids being elected and inducted into the Hall of Fame is not one of them.

This is a very, very simple thing in my eyes, and apparently in the eyes of a majority of baseball writers who on Wednesday declined to elect Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa or any other members of the “Steroid Generation” to the Hall of Fame.

I don’t want to hear any of the ridiculous arguments friends of mine, and many baseball writers (including my beloved Joe Posnanski) make to say that Bonds, et. al should be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Don’t tell me “everyone was doing it,” don’t tell me “it wasn’t against the rules at the time,” and most insultingly, don’t try to tell me that steroids “don’t help you hit a baseball.”

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and their juiced-up brethren knew they were cheating to get an unfair advantage. They took steroids, they were either caught, implicated or presented SO much physical evidence of steroid use (Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell, I’m looking at you, and those are two photos of Barry Bonds, above, notice the huge difference in head size), and now they will suffer the consequences.

Of course the Hall of Fame has cheaters in it. So we should excuse the 1990s stars because of past misdeeds.

These guys cheated, prospered, and were never truly punished. Well you know what? They don’t belong in the Hall of Fame.

And I’ll feel that way until I’ve watched my last-ever game.

Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated says it much better than I could here.

**And now, one of my favorite features of the “Jimmy Kimmel Show,” which oh by the way has now moved to 11:30 p.m., to go head-to-head with Letterman and Leno.
In this bit, Kimmel got celebrities to read, out loud, some of the meanest Tweets they’ve received lately. Warning: Language NSFW (Not Safe For Work).

Pretty darn funny, especially the Tenacious D one.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

**Finally, Jon Stewart and the brilliant “Daily Show” team have been on vacation for a few weeks, so they hadn’t had a chance to weigh in on the Newtown massacre and the gun control debate we (hopefully) are about to have; one positive step was New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (who I believe will be the Dem. nominee for President in 2016) announcing strict new proposals on Wednesday).

Stewart took a very strong but reasoned approach on his show last night, keeping the humor to a minimum but laying things out very plainly and simply. I couldn’t embed the clip but please watch it here.

A reason to like Barry Bonds (seriously). Amy Poehler wows ’em at Harvard. And a tribute on Memorial Day

It’s a holiday Monday and you’re thinking: Give me a reason to like Barry Bonds.
Sure, he’s a total ass, and a surly jerk, and he lied about using steroids to break the most hallowed record in all of sports (Hank Aaron’s 755 career home runs) and he kicks dogs and knocks down old ladies who are crossing the street.

But besides all that, he’s a big lovable fella, right?

Well, it’s taken about 25 years since he first got famous, but Barry Bonds has finally done something worth praising. Remember the story a few months ago of the San Francisco Giants fan named Bryan Stow who was savagely beaten into a coma by two L.A. Dodgers fans in the parking lot?
Well, Mr. Barry Bonds has offered to pay the college tuition of Stow’s two young children.
A wonderful gesture by Bonds, and one he should be applauded for.
Even if it feels strange for us to cheer the man.

**The very funny Amy Poehler was the commencement speaker at Harvard last week. Just about all of her speech here is really, really funny. Poehler seems like one of those celebrities who doesn’t take themselves too seriously, and realizes how odd it is that she’s speaking to the finest minds of this generation.

Her advice is fantastic. Enjoy:

**Finally, for Memorial Day, something I never get tired of seeing: A wonderful video of soldiers returning home and surprising their loved ones.

To all men and women who have served, I salute you.

My new hero

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So my heroes used to be Don Mattingly, John McEnroe, Wesley Walker and Mark Messier.

I’d say with the exception of McEnroe, I chose pretty wisely as a kid. I thought Johnny Mac was so cool for the way he blew up at umpires and humiliated them, until I grew up and learned that for all his remarkable talent, he was just a big baby and remarkably immature. I outgrew McEnroe and was sort of ashamed that I used to love him.

But I’ve got a new hero now, and he’s kinda different from any other role model I’ve ever liked.

His name is Lance Allred, and he’s a 6-foot-11, deaf, OCD sufferer who’s a former Fundamentalist Mormon and grew up on polygamous compounds in Montana and Utah. He’s been battling in basketball his whole life, and for three shining games in 2008, finally made the NBA.

He just wrote an astonishingly honest, hilarious, forthcoming and tragic book about his life called “Longshot,” and I finished reading it last night.

To say it’s one of the best sports books I’ve ever read would be an insult, like calling Rembrandt just one of the 17th century’s best painters. Allred’s book is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in my life.

Unlikely, you say? Wait till you hear his story. He was an awkward, gangly child who was seen as a bit of an outcast since his father “only” had one wife. He became deaf immediately after being born but was undiagnosed for years.  He was told by a Sunday School teacher that he couldn’t hear because of sins he’d committed in a previous life (I hope that teacher got fired immediately, but I’m sure he didn’t.)

Eventually, his parents broke away from the compound and moved to Utah, before another family split made them homeless for a short while.

As a kid, Allred struggled to find his place (you know how kind kids can be to children who are different), and he finally did on the basketball court. Of course, that only brought more suffering. A much-beloved coach at the University of Utah named Rick Majerus treated Allred unconscionably while he was there, humiliating and destroying Allred’s confidence and once telling him he “was a disgrace to cripples.” (Majerus was eventually investigated for his behavior, and resigned from Utah shortly after Allred transferred).

Allred became a star at a smaller school, but then found himself battling through the bizarre and highly unpredictable world of minor league basketball in Turkey, France, and the United States (if for no other reason, buy the book to hear Allred’s wickedly funny description of travel life in the NBA Developmental League). 

There were so many times Allred wanted to quit, and so many times coaches and others gave up on him. But he finally made it to the NBA, if only for a few days, and when you get to that point in the book, you almost feel like cheering.

In his beautiful writing style, Allred weaves metaphors about life and basketball together with meditations on religion, the monotony of practice, and too many other topics to count. He refused to blame others for his failures, and is quick to credit others for his success. He’s funny, smart and had me looking at some things in a whole new light.

I got to meet Allred last month at an NBA summer league camp, after having heard about him on this NPR podcast, “Only A Game“. I wrote this column about him for my newspaper, and I was so impressed with his intelligence and humility that I knew I had to read his book. It blew me away.

Lance Allred will not become a major superstar, of  that I’m pretty certain. But he’s why I love sports; proof that beyond the reprehensible reputations of Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress and Barry Bonds there are good guys with amazing stories to tell of will and determination.

I defy you to read this book and not become a fan of Lance Allred. If money’s tight and you’re not able to buy “Longshot,” you can probably find it at your local library.

“I do not care about the money, or the fame,” Allred writes in a letter to God in the book. “I just want to say that I set an “unreachable” goal and I made it.”

He certainly did.