Filler Creepy Characters

Here's A List Of People We Can Do Without.
By Tom Danehy

SOME PEOPLE I could do without (not that I wish them harm or anything; I just want them to lose their power, not be found by the spotlight, and/or just go away):

Danehy • Albert Belle. I'm just so tired of ballplayers being coddled because they can play a little bit. Belle is a blight on the game of baseball, which is really saying something considering the blight-ridden nature of the entire game.

His temper tantrums and violent episodes are embarrassing and should have been dealt with harshly a long time ago. But since he can hit 50 home runs in a strike-shortened season, his behavior is explained away, excused or just ignored.

His latest episode involved his body-blocking an opposing player during a routine play that should have been nothing more than Belle's being tagged out on a ground ball hit to the second baseman. Instead, Belle crashed violently into second baseman Fernando Vina (who, by sheer coincidence, happened to be about half Belle's size), knocking Vina to the ground and leading to a bench-clearing brawl, which unfortunately has become one of Baseball's major attractions.

Not only was Belle not ejected, he claimed to be the wounded party in the whole sorry mess, claiming that he'd been hit by a pitch earlier. The last I checked, being hit by a pitch was still just part of the game. Running the bases like you're a rampaging linebacker never was.

Sports Illustrated recently ran a piece on Belle which attempted to explain his behavior. The world could've saved a whole lot of trees if they'd just printed, "Because he's a jerk!" Instead, after six or seven pages, we learned that he's pissed off because some redneck fan called him a racial slur while he was playing at Louisiana State. Racism is always ugly, but was Belle shocked by hearing such a phrase in Louisiana? And why be upset forever?

Major league baseball was apparently afraid there are probably two or three sports fans in the country who actually watch baseball highlights and might get the wrong impression about baseball (although I don't know exactly which impression could possibly be worse than the current reality) and decided to sit Belle down for five whole games.

Of course, according to the non-agreement that baseball is operating under, all suspensions are served with pay. So Belle gets to have a nice five-game paid vacation in the middle of the season and baseball's black eye gets bigger every day.

• That guy who shouts "Gooooalllll!" in the soccer highlights. No reason really; I just hate that.

Um, not that I watch soccer highlights.

• Brent Musberger. The one-time CBS big-shot is now doing broadcasts of the NBA for ESPN Radio. And in those broadcasts, he keeps referring to some guy called "Stevie Kerr." Who the hell is Stevie Kerr?

There was a guy named Steve Kerr who made All-American at Arizona and has carved out a nice little career for himself in the NBA. I don't know if he's related to this Stevie Kerr.

Brent, your attempts at being folksy ain't gettin' it done. Cut it out before you fall even further. Already, your career is the sports journalism equivalent to the Steve Martin book How I Turned A Million In Real Estate Into $100 Cash.

• The guys that do those preseason football magazines. Why is it that when they pick the Arizona Wildcats to do really well, they're always wrong, but when they pick the Cats to suck, they hit it right on the head?

So far this summer, the magazines are hitting the Cats hard, talking about seventh place in the Pac-10. Even worse news is that everyone is touting the Arizona State Sun Devils to make a major resurgence. That I could do without--for life.

• Don King. He took a perfectly corrupt sport like boxing and somehow managed to make it much worse.

• John Calipari. He jumped ship at UMass for the big money of the NBA--after revelations made by NBA-bound star Marcus Camby about accepting illegal gifts focused the harsh light of the NCAA on the Minuteman program.

No one is saying Calipari knew anything about Camby's indiscretions, but the timing is certainly suspect. Besides, Calipari was not well-liked by his college coaching brethren, so it'll be interesting to see what will happen to him when he takes over the New Jersey Nets, a franchise kept afloat by the Los Angeles Clippers just so the Clippers won't be the worst team in the league.

• Special prosecutor Kenneth Starr. After four years and the most expensive FBI investigation in history, he managed to get a questionable guilty verdict in a sideshow Whitewater trial. Now we Americans will be treated to sniper politics instead of an attempt at a discussion of real issues this coming presidential campaign. Thanks, Kenneth, a whole bunch. TW

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