Monday, January 30, 2012


"Who'd a thunk? Making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Knife just slipped."

"Three stitches, only a scratch, my friend."

"Easy for you to say. It really hurts, Doc."

A young man yells from another room.

"And while you're here, let me give you a quick physical. Check you out."

I stand up. There is a breeze, so I hold the gown in back.

"Okay," he says."  His hand is cold. "Now, turn your head and cough, please." 

"Cough, cough."


"Cough, cough."

"Seems okay," says Dr. Norway.

"Seems?" I say.

"Well, you're not 18 anymore, Mr. Belair.  Things wear out.  Sag.  You know."

"Thanks a lot, Doc. I needed that."

There is a flash of light. We both turn, step back, our hands up.

Believe it or not, Lou Gehrig stands in front of us by the table.  He wears a sloppy Yankee cotton uniform, unbuttoned at the neck.

We do not breathe. 

"Hi guys," says Lou. "Had some time off, my left wing was acting up, and while I was sitting on this cloud, taking a break, I heard these rumors.  Maybe I didn't die of Lou Gehrig's disease, after all?  Brentwood, you're a sports writer, and Oslo, you're a Doctor.  Figured who better.  You must have heard something about this?"

"This is indeed an honor, Mr. Gehrig. Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to play first base for the LA Dodgers."

"Dodgers, huh?  I heard they said good-bye to Ebbets Field.  Flatbush will never be the same." 

He shakes his head.  "Anyway," he says. "I was thinking. Could I have maybe prevented catching this ALS?  Rumors it was me getting hit by pitches too many times, and playing through the pain?" 

You might be right, Lou," I say.  "It might have been the bean balls. Too many concussions.  They added up.".

"Sure, there were broken bones but I kept batting.  I was nearly unconscious sometimes, I know, but I had this reputation for playing through all the injuries. I was always out there."

"Yep," says Dr. Norway.  "2,130 consecutive games over 14 years -

A nurse sticks her head in.  "Oslo?...Dr. Norway?  We need you out here.  There's a football player
yelling at us. Says he must get back on the field for the second half."

"Be right back," says Dr. Norway..

"I played football too, you know," says Lou.

"You're the symbol of commitment for playing every day, especially through the pain.  And you know that NFL players are eight times more likely to get ALS than normal."

I thumb Google into my iPod and read from a website.  Lou looks down at my cell phone and shakes his head.

"It's repeated head trauma, which produces toxic proteins that migrate to the spinal cord. The result is a disease that mimics ALS.

"The ALS Association in the US says that about 30,000 people have this incurable fatal disease that mostly kills men aged 40 and older by wasting away their muscles."

"That's what happened to me," he says

The doctor is back.  "Young player, furious with me.  I won't sign off so he can get back for the second half.  We need more tests.  Young players want to play, that's all."

"I remember," I say. " Ryan Grant, Packers running back.  He collapsed on his way off the field after getting hit.  Doctors immediately checked him out. A concussion. And when they took him out of the game he said, he should have kept his mouth shut, he'd still be in the game."

The nurse again.  "Doctor?  The boy says he's going to play anyway.  He doesn't care."

"These players need to understand the risks. A poster in the locker room isn't going to cut it."

I say, "Maybe players should see former Raider Steve Smith wasting away from the disease, his muscles shutting down one by one." I look at Dr. Norway.  "Remember Wally Hilgenberg, another player no longer with us."

"Athletes are stubborn," says Dr. Norway. "Young men in general think they're indestructible. They need to see what concussions can lead to.  It's much worse than just dizziness.  It's something worse than even dementia or Alzheimer's."

"Baseball, and football," I say. "What about rugby.  I see it is being televised here in the USA.  They don't wear any helmets at all." 

"Too bad I can no long have my head frozen. I followed the career of Ted Williams, but they didn't have freezing back in 1941.  A lot of things we didn't know about back then.

"At the time I was endorsing Cigarettes.  I remember the ad: 
  'Another time, he was knocked out by a ‘bean ball,’ yet next day walloped 3 triples in 5 innings,” the ad read. “Gehrig’s ‘Iron-Man’ record is proof of his splendid physical condition. As Lou says: ‘All the years I’ve been playing, I’ve been careful about my physical condition. Smoke? I smoke and enjoy it. My cigarette is Camel.’ ”

He looked down, and rubbed his hands. "I said I was the luckiest man on the face of the earth.  I was more like the stubbornist man on the face of the earth."

He take a deep breath.

Then he said, "Now that we know about this, we need to let  everybody know.  I have to talk with that young man."

And he is gone.

We are both dumbfounded. We sit motionless on the table. 

"Wow. What a day.," I say.. "Three stitches, I get a free physical, and I meet none other than Lou Gehrig.  Well, thank you, Dr. Norway, for a day I won't soon forget." 

And as I rise to leave, the good Doctor says, "Wait, there's one last test to perform."  He snaps on a rubber glove, smiles, and wiggles his index finger. 

"Wait, Doctor." I say. "Maybe that blond nurse I saw in the waiting room.  Maybe she could.....

"No such luck, Mr. Belair.  Now, bend over. This should only take a minute."

"A minute," I say. Oh boy.

*Help came from Barry Petchesky: CNN
Chris McGreal: The Guardian
Rob Neyer: (Sweetpot) ESPN
Wikipedia and Google Images  Also see:  NY Post-Medical group PAST (Feb 1, 2012)

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I sit at my usual spot in the back.  Lunch at the Montana Galley,  A poached smelt on rye, Mayo and mustard, tall glass of buttermilk. 

I look up.

"Woody. What is happening?"  .

"Well, as I live and breath. " I say,.  As I chew my fish,  he slides into the booth.  "If it isn't Palermo Sicily.  How goes the Fresh Air Taxi Company?  Perfect, sunny day to have a job driving a cab."

"A fine day to have any kind of job.  Sun or no sun.  And today you should be referring to me as Mr. Sicily, since I am just adding a new Fresh Air taxi cab to my fleet."

He smiles, and waves to Helena, the owner, her eye on us form the kitchen. The food brings them in.  Helena keeps them coming back, she being so bubbly with the clientele.

"Hey, reason I am here, please put me down for $100 on the Giants. They are certainly looking like winners"

"$100?  So, you're saying you want me to extend you credit?"

"Come on.  You know I am good for it.  I am needing all my available funds for the expansion of my growing  business,  Do you know how competitive the independent taxi business is in LA?" 

I'm reading the Racing Form, so I have to shift gears. I won't find Super Bowl odds in the Form,  not even in the back, not even after the long lists of scratches.

"Well," I say. "For Super Bowl odd, I'll have to make a call, Pauly."

He raises his eyebrows.

"Upps." I say. "Sorry, Mr. Sicily.  Let me phone a friend, get the current odds." 

He smiles, and is out of the booth, on his way toward the kitchen and Helena.

I thumb my iPod.


"This Key West?"

"Who wants to know?"

"Key, it me.  Brentwood."

"Oh, hey," says Key.  "Woody.  Okay., okay  I know.  Probably looking for that $50 on that Laker Heat game."

"Yeah, 2008."

"Well, it's been real tight down here. I claimed this $1000 maiden about a week ago at Hialeah."

"$1000, huh?"

"Woody, okay, okay, what with expenses, stable rental, feed, oh my God, you know how much straw costs these days? Entry fees, jock has to get something...I'm flat..." 

"Relax, Key," I say.  "Guy wants to bet on the Super Bowl, so instantly I thought who else to call but Key West."

"Woody, okay, sure, but hey, while I got you on the phone. I got this jock, he says this horse in the fifth at Belmont..."

"No thanks, Key.  I'm not paying for any more of your hot tips.  I'm looking for Super Bowl odds. Remember, Moos Jaw, couldn't lose, guaranteed?  Jumped the fence and ran around in the infield. Everybody was in hysterics, while I'm tearing up a handful of losing tickets.  Moose Jaw, last seen headed north for Saskatoon."

"Okay, okay. He was homesick.  How'd I know?"

"Just the odds, Key.  Just the odds."  

I look over at Pauly.  He sits with Helena, and they are laughing.  Should I be jealous?

"Okay, okay.  Odds.  Everything points to New England. Big money will come in on the Pats. Brady, Bilachek have a national following, but mostly it's faith in Brady. 

"Pats by 3 1/2.  Overs is 53.  $115 to win $100, and  $100 to win $120.  This is currently from the Cosmopolitan, Hard Rock, and Palazzo Books in Vegas.  So, here's what I'd do,  Give your mark Patriots by 3, with overs of 55. You'll probably be safe."

"Perfect. Thanks Key."

"Remember, the 49ers almost beat New York, even with Alex Smith.  Brady will take charge. Take the unders. Manning will not be able to overcome New England's defense. Money'll be made betting on New England.  That's my take." 

"Thanks Key. I knew you'd have good advice.  Just send me $25 and we're even."

"Good as in the mail, Woody.  Hey, this horse I've been watching at Hialeah. Durango.  Maybe you could, you know, front me....?"

"So long, Key."

Pauly continues to chews the fat with Helena, who, as I say, is very bubbly with the customers.

I wave and he is back. He slides into the booth.  "I am thinking the Giants have a good offense."

"How come you know so much about football?  I thought you were all about soccer?"

"Here is how it is.  I am seeing this story on KLUK TV news last night. Man has a camel who is able to see into the future. A camel, can you believe,  It can pick winners, so I says to myself, why not Shanghai?"


"My cat.  Long story.  Fare into Chinatown, this Chinese lady,  forgets her cat. Don't ask.  Anyway.  This camel I am watching on TV picks NFL games, as good as the guys in Vegas, if not better."

He nods his head,

"Cat has nine lives, right, so I am thinking Shanghai is nine times smarter that some guy's camel. Anyway, I get these pictures of Eli Manning, and Tom Brady, put them down on the floor..."

"And Shanghai goes to the picture of Eli."

"How did you know?"

I shrug.

"Ok smarty," says Mr. Sicily, "How is Shanghai coming up with the score?"

"You took some paper, and you wrote some numbers..."

"No, NO.  You gotta listen to this, it is kinda tricky.  I take this deck of cards, put them out on the floor.  Then I turn Shanghai around so he is dizzy and say. GO.  Nine of diamonds."

"So?  Giants by 9?  That's your bet?"

"Shanghai knows, I am telling you.   If ground hogs are predicting the weather. Shanghai can pick Super Bowls."

He pulls out his phone. "Got a pick up at LAX.  So, I am down for New York, and 3 points, and over 55.  One hundred dollar?" 

"Deal," I say.

He stands up. "Woody, " he says. "I am reading your column in the Valley Post Picayune.  What are you thinking?  49ers in the Super Bowl, with Terrell Owens being their wide receiver?  My friend, stick to race horses."  He laughs.  "Ariva Derchi."

"Drive real careful, there Mr. Sicily."

I'm ready to leave when, to my good fortune, Helena slides into the booth.  "Stick around.  I want some of this action."

I breathe deeply.  "Say what?  You want action?"

"I was listening."  She pushes $10 bill toward me. "I'll take New York to win."

I pat her hand and push it back. "Tell you what. You win, I'll be your slave for a day."

Silence.  She blinks. "And if I lose?"

I look into her large brown eyes, and just smile. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012


It's an overcast Saturday afternoon, lunch time.  I am at my usual spot, the Montana Galley, on Ventura, near Laurel Canyon,  I  walk in and wave to Helena, owner, who is very bubbly with the customers.  I order my usual, a grilled smelt on rye, with Mayo and cheese, and a tall buttermilk.

As I sit in a small booth in the back, who walks in but Jose Canseco.  He sits in the round booth near me in the back, and orders a T-Bone steak, two baked potatoes, Caesar salad, and coffee.

With an idea, I thumb my iPod.

A low voice says, "Hello?"

"Abilene Austin, please.  This Abilene?"

"Woody? Yeah, it's me.  Brentwood Belair, what a pleasant surprise. Been a while."

I slide out, move toward the door, and out onto the sidewalk.

"Remember, I sleep in on Saturdays.  Wait.  Let me gets some coffee, hold on."

"No, no. You haven't got time. Your first big story here in LA."

"Big story, huh?"

"I'm at the Montana Galley.  Jose Canseco.  He's here"

"Jose?  Canseco?  Who?  Well, I know who he is, but..."

"Seems he's trying to get back with the Red Sox.  DH.  It's an exclusive, my dear. He's right hear, sitting in the round booth in the back, all alone. Put on something nice and get over here."

"Canseco?" she says. There is silence.  "I know this guy. Better wear a tight sweater.  Do my hair. Give me  half an hour.  But I get the story first, then you can put it in your paper.  What is it? Valley Post Picayune."

"Deal. And welcome to LA.  I knew you'd be back."

As I sit back down, Jose is pushing his Caesar salad around with his fork. 

Twenty minutes, Abilene walks in, orders coffee, and walks directly toward the round booth in the back, a stand out, in her red sweater, I must say.    

Jose is served a T-Bone steak, medium rare, two baked potatoes, with chives and butter.  He squeezes a tennis ball in his left hand. 

"I can help you, Jose," she says.

His right eye twitches. "Do I know you?"

"Abilene Austin, KLUK-TV.  I interviewed you once after you fought Sikahema."

"Yes, I used to be a boxer.  Vai Sikahema.  Atlantic City.  Boxing, a rough and tumble sport.  Should have fought him inside."

"Can I sit?"

"Sure, why not." 

He looks at her.  "Yeah I remember. You were the only lady there."

"That was me."

"TV,  Yeah, I've seen you.  How did you ever get into sports."  He cuts his steak, and pokes at the baked potato.

"Wanted to be on TV.  Sports desk was available. Being Miss Congeniality in the 2005 Cajun National Chili Cook-Off , and a short skirt, probably the main reasons they hired me."

He tries to put the tennis ball in his pocket but his pants are too tight.  Instead, he drops it on the seat.

"Enough about me." she says..

"You know, you look better in person." he says.

Their eyes meet.  Then, "Pu-Shaw," she says, giggles, and slaps his hand.

She sees pills on the table. Two red ones, three capsules, and a round one, half red, half blue?

"Vitamins," he says,  "Yup. I try to keep in shape."

"I've heard you trying to get back into baseball.  Your only what,  40? 42?"

"47," he says. He breathes deeply.

"No?" she says, raising her eyebrows. 

He looks down at his plate, and stabs at the steak with his fork.  "I saw they were thinking about Tony Ramirez, so I said why not me?   What's he, hundred year old?

"So I tweet. I got almost 400,000 followers.    Somebody knows somebody, and maybe I can get a try out.   Maybe with the Red Sox.  Thought about the A's, but they're not looking so good. But the Red Sox got a real chance."

"You've kept in terrific shape. Why not?"

"Yeah," he says.  His right eye twitches.  "I'm hoping."

She reaches over and squeezes his forearm.  "Wow, pretty strong."

She scooches closer to him in the booth.  He doesn't move.

"Going to be tough," he says. "I'm not dumb.  Probably never get a pitch to hit.  They'll all be throwing at my head." A quick laugh.

He takes a deep breath, and shakes his head.  "Still in the game, though. I've been the manager, outfielder and designated hitter for the Yuma Scorpions of the North American League since last April."

He looks at her.  "Off the record, all of this?"

"Just two people talking over lunch." She reaches into her purse and clicks on her tape recorder

"Sad part is I'd be a pretty good player for a lot of teams."  He leans over his T-Bone, and two baked potatoes.  "I was MVP,  Rookie of the Year, had a 40-40 season, and I'm 32nd all-time with 462 homers."

"And 200 stolen bases."

He squints.  "How do you know all this?"

"You're Jose Canseco."  They bumps shoulders and she smiles.

He breathes deeply.  Again his right eye twitches. "Being out front with the drugs.  That's what's did me in."  His head bows, and he starts to sniffle.

"Hey, lots of guys came back. Mcgwire, he's now the Cards hitting coach. What about Darryl Strawberry. How many chances did they give him?"

"All I wanted to do was give the fans what they wanted.  I didn't hurt anybody."  His eyes are watery.

"How about Don King, Iron Mike,  Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress. They came back.  Come on, even Martha Stewart's back doing her thing on TV."

She holds his arm and shakes him.  "Anyone, you deserve a second chance."

"I should of just lied about it to Congress. A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville!  I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody.  Which I was.  Instead of a bum, which is what I am.  Let's face it.  That's what baseball thinks of me."  He puts his hands over his face.  "This is probably my last real chance." 

Large tears drop into the chives and butter of the baked potatoes.  "I'm not usually this way."

"Sweetheart," says Abilene. "Once again you'll be on top."

He wipes his eyes, "You really think so?"

"Guaranteed," she says. "Guaranteed."

He sits up straight, scoops up the pills on the table, and downs them with two gulps of coffee. 

It's Monday evening, Jose Canseco is sitting on the edge of a bed in a room at the Bonaventure.  He aims the remote.

"You're watching the KLUK Six o'clock Eyewitness News.  Here's Mr. News himself, Roswell Hobbs."

"Good evening everyone.  We begin with breaking news in sports.  Let's call in our new Miss Sports here at KLUK, none other than  Abilene Austin. Tell us Aby, a key figure in Major League Baseball is making a come back. And you have an exclusive."

"Thanks Roz. Yes, former major league slugger and admitted steroid user Jose Canseco wants to get back into baseball.  With the Boston Red Sox.  Through a usually reliable source, I was able to get an exclusive interview with him Saturday afternoon.

Jose's teeth clench.  "That was off the record.  What is she going to say?  I was in tears?  You weren't supposed..." says Jose.

"He's now 47. He's been serving as manager, outfielder and designated hitter for the Yuma Scorpions of the North American League since last April.

"Well, why not Jose?" says Abilene. "Stranger thing have perhaps happened, but, remember, it's not over...that's right... 'til it's over.  Winston Churchill had seven words for success:  Never, never, never, never, never, give up.  I spoke with him at the Montana Galley, over in the Valley.  We spoke over lunch, and what I can say is this: If he can pull this off, it will be one of the best comeback stories of the decade.  Good Luck Jose. Now, back to you Roswell."

"First of all, " says Roswell.  "Welcome to our News Team here at KLUK-TV.  So, Abilene, your first day and you already have an exclusive.  Wonderful. And sure, why not Jose?"

Jose clicks off the TV.  He laughs, opens a brown pill bottle, takes out a green pill, and drinks it down with half a glass of Gatoraide, and says, "Yeah, why not me?"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Man in a terry cloth robe sits on the roof, beside the Casino's pool.  He looks toward the sky, and blows smoke from a cigar.

Another man waves and walks onto the deck. "Hampton, you look comfortable."

"Newport. Come. Sit. Get some sun."

The man hobbles over to a nearby chair.

"Just get some steam?" says Hampton,

"Yeah, the closest I get to hot nowadays is that steam room."

They both laugh, their bellies jiggle.

Hampton watches two young ladies, naked, swim in the pool. He sighs heavily.  Well, they're almost naked.

"Yeah," he says. "It's been boring ever since my daddy gave me my first office building 40 years ago. Now I've got too many to count."

"Me too," says Newport. "Real estate's been good for both of us, yeah?" 

"We gotta find something exciting to do, you know.  We gotta get lives." says Hampton

"All I got to look forward to is another hip replacement. Uggg.  My Doctor, young guy, says
he wants to put me on marijuana treatment for my glaucoma.  Smoke a joint twice a day,
he says.  What the hell is this world coming to?  Doctor's now your drug dealer?"

They shake their heads.

"You're right, we gotta get some life into our lives. Here, watch this."

They both move over to the side of the roof.

Hampton takes out his wallet, picks out two one dollar bills, then puts one back and throws the other over the side.  They watch it the street.

"Look at those people running for that dollar."

They both laugh, their bellies jiggle.

"I got some money stashed,  Caymans, real money, off the books."

"Yeah," says Newport. "I got some too, a lot really, nobody knows about."  He pulls out his cell phone.  "My guy, Boston, takes care of my money.  Everything hand written in a book.  Nothing is on the computer, so nobody can hack into it."  He whispers to Hampton .  "About hundred twenty million."

Hampton raises his eyes brows. "I could probably come up with about that."

They sit back down and look at each other. 

"Why not?  Lets spend it.  Doing us no good in somebody's book.  Something exciting."

"Let's buy a football team," says Hampton "I like it when the TV shows the owners in their box, all excited about the game and their team, announcers talking about them, all proud to know them."

"Boston?" says Newport into his phone.  "Newport here. We want to buy a football team. Me and Hampton.  What's for sale?"


"Yeah, no joke. It's me.  No, I'm sober."  They both laugh, their bellies jiggle. "Looking for some excitement.  You got my real money, so, how much for some NFL team. We want to go big. Let's buy the Redskins."

Newport's face turns pink.

"Washington Redskins...WHAT?  $1.2 billion.  BILLION?  What?"

The both blink, and breath deeply.  Billion?  And blink again. 

"The Cowboys, $1.8 billion?  New York Jets are what? $1.1 billion.  The Chargers?  Only $907 million?"    

More blinking.

Hampton watches the two young girls, naked, swim past on their backs. They smile; lots of teeth.  Hampton sighs heavily.  Well, they're almost naked. 

"Maybe, some team like the Raiders, little less? They're real exciting, right?  $761 million?  YIKES.  That much?"

Hampton gulps at his Martini.

"No, Boston. It's been a while since I've actually been to a game.  WHAT?"  He turns to Hampton,  "Average cost to take the family of four to an NFL game is, get this, $450. Good seats, beers, hot dogs, couple of foam fingers, parking.  Average $450,  That's the average."

Hampton waves his empty martini glass in the air. GQ in a tux trots over.

"What about Major League Baseball?  Maybe a little less?  Yankees? $1.7 billion?   Hey, the Pittsburgh Pirates are only about $400 million."

Hampton watches the two young ladies, naked, climb out of the pool, and shake out their long hair.  Hampton sighs heavily.  Well, they're almost naked.

"The Quad City River Bandits might still be for sale.  Minor league baseball in Davenport Iowa.
I don't know.?  I don't feel the excitement, Boston.  Really?

"Ice Hockey?" says Newport. "Hampton, we got it, the Ducks.  Ice Hockey.  $260 million.  That's close."

"Too cold," says Hampton.  "All that ice.  Warmth, that's why I live here in Vegas, come on."

"Milwaukee Bucks, basketball, $258 million.  It's a small market.  That might be fun.  We can do that."

"Cold, Newport.  Don't like cold.  Get something cheaper, a lot warmer, and I don't want to do any work.  I've done my heavy lifting, collecting rents all my life.  Excitement, Newport, and not too far from this chair, and my martinis."

He blows smoke.

"Remember, we want TV where they show the owners in the owners box."

"What about soccer?  A growing sport. There's excitement there, right?  Probably get one of them English teams cheap, gotta be round $200 million."

"WHAT?" says Newport.

"Manchester United,  $1.8 billion?  BILLION?  Liverpool, $822 million. New Castle United?  Never heard of them.  Hey, they're only $315 million?"

Then to Hampton, "You like soccer?" says Newport.

Hampton shrugs. "There's a ball and they kick it around, right. How come they're so expensive?"

GQ in a tux drops off  his Martini.

"Chennai Super Kings, part of the Indian Premier Cricket League, in the $50 million range.  Indian cricket? That could be fun, no?" 

"Newport, we're two really rich old guys, and you're telling me all we can afford is some cricket team in the middle of India. India?  Isn't that close to Afghanistan?  Oh boy."

"You'd think $250 million would get us on TV. We're poor, Hampton.  Boston, we got all this money and we can't find anything exciting.  Sorry, my man.  Call me if you find something cheap, and please, don't lose that book."

Newton hangs up.  "Know what he said? Go over to Santa Anita and pick up a $10,00 claimer, probably a lot more exciting than some Billion dollar football team."

Hampton watches the two young ladies, naked, wave from the other side of the pool. Matter of fact they are naked.  He sighs very very heavily.

Then he slowly gets up, gulps downs the martini, and walks toward the door. "Come on, Newport."

"See you later, guys." say the naked ladies, real friendly.  

Where we going?" says Newport.

"We're going to Santa Anita, to see a man about a horse, but first I gotta see if I can get my dollar bill back."

Sunday, January 22, 2012


"Welcome back," says Duluth. "This is 2012 Super Bowl XLVI. I'm Duluth St Paul, along with All-Pro Tackle Dayton Toledo, with Madison Fond du Lac down on the side lines."

"Two minute warning. What a game. What a game.  It's 31 to 27 Patriots."

"That's right, Duluth, 27 unanswered points by the 49ers." 

"Well, Duluth," says Dayton. "We're down to the last 2 minutes."

"With Alex Smith out, taken off on a stretcher, hit low, a knee put him out.  It's Kaepernick, Colin Kaepernick, now at quarterback, rookie out of Nevada-Reno.  It'll be 3rd down and 12 for the 49ers, on their own 33. Field goal's not going to do it.

"Okay, here we go.  Kaepernick all alone in the back field, he's got it, looks right and passes. Kyle Crabtree...he has it...caught at the 50,  in bounds...a gain'S HE DOING? He's pitched it off to Vernon Davis... a terrific block from Daniel Kilgore...50 yard line... Davis brought down...good tackle by Christian Cox the Patriot's 45.  A gain of 22, for the 49ers."

"What a risky play," says Dayton. "A hand off like that.  Anything can go wrong.  But a Super Bowl play."  

"First and ten for the 49ers. Now, neither team has a time out left.  But a field goal is not going to do it, anyway.  They need a score."

"Too many bad challenges by Jim Harbaugh, used up their time outs. Yep, 49ers need to score."

"And look...there goes T.O. again on the side lines, pacing at the far end of the sideline, arms out, begging to be sent into the game.  Holding his head.  He was added to the team, so he could bolster the 49ers offense.  Got a last minute reprieve from his contract with the Allen Texas Wranglers."

"But Harbaugh hasn't used him yet." said Dayton.  "T.O. sure seems ready.  He's always kept himself in shape." 

"OK. First and ten for the 49ers, with the clock ticking 1:30, 29, 28. 
Kaepernick, shotgun, has it, in the pocket, looks left.  He moves left out of the pocket, and is caught...sacked...sacked...HE'S DOWN,  Shaun Ellis coming from the right side, unblocked. 
It's hared to get up after a hit like that.  He has to shake it off. There was nobody open.  Loss of four.  Patriots had everyone covered.  Everyone."

"And there goes Terrell Owens again. Waving at the coach. I can hear him up here."

T.O. yells,  "I'm ready Coach. I gotta play."

"49ers are quickly up to the line, with 1.03 left.  Second down and 14 from the Patriots 49.  Play action, hand off to Gore, pounding up the middle, breaks a tackle, down to the Patriot's 41.  A gain of 8. 

The clock ticks.

"Running the ball," says Dayton. "What are the 49ers thinking?   Field goal's no good.  Maybe the element of surprise?  I don't know.  They got to get something down the field. Time is of the essence, guys."

"Okay, second down and 2 from the the New England 41.  Kaepernick under center, Frank Gore  behind him. Play action.  Roll out...looking,  looking...throws...intercepted...INTERCEPTED.  Anderson, Mark Anderson at the 20.  He's running, slips a tackle, spins...still on his feet, stiff arm, he's sprinting toward the far side line...and is pushed out of bounds."

"No.  NO," says Dayton.  "Fumble."

"There's a fumble. Anderson's fumbles the ball.  49ers have it back. Tavares Gooden fell on it.  49ers have it on the Patriots 40 yard line.  First and ten, 49ers with 58 seconds to go."

"HOLY COW.  What a game.  Time out.  49ers have the ball.  Chance to take a breath."

"Patriots 31,  49ers 27.  39 seconds left.  49ers have it on the Patriot's 40. Time out. Don't go away, we'll be right back.

     'Man in a 1938 LaSalle two door coupe wants to trade it in for a new Ford Fiesta.  Funny
conversation ensues...

"We're back. Duluth St Paul, along with All-Pro Tackle Dayton Toledo, with Madison Fond du Lac reporting from down on the side lines.

"Madison, what's the feeling down there on the field?" 

"Duluth, it's all adrenalin.  The 49er bench went crazy when they recovered the ball.  But Terrell Owens, he's been screaming, wants to be sent in."

We see her mic in his face.  "I didn't come this far, to be left out. Coach. Come on!"

"Thanks Madison. They might need him.  49ers have no time outs. They need some kind of Hail Mary."

"Yep," said Dayton. "T.O.'s had a rather checkered NFL career, and to be left out...NO...there he goes...Look, Harbaugh is sending him in." 

T.O. runs out on the field. 

"Okay, 39 seconds on the clock. 49ers, first and ten on the Patriot's 40 yard line. Shotgun. . Kaepernick is all alone in the backfield.

"He's got it. He's looking toward the end zone, and throws...Joe Hastings is out there... he's got a step on Mayo,...and he's got it...on the, NO...its in the air, off his finger's intercepted...Jerod Mayo.  INTERCEPTED.on the 10.yard line ..and he's coming back, 15,  20,  he's got blocking, 30...35...40, and out of bounds, out of bounds on the 49ers  48 yard line.  This isn't happening."

"What a play.  He took it right out of Hastings' hands.  Patriots have the ball with only 22 seconds left. The New England bench has erupted.  22 seconds they'll be Super Bowl Champions."

Brady trots out on the field.

"All he has to do is kneel down and the games over, up by 4 points."

"Without a huddle, Brady is over the ball. He's got it, ...and...he goes over right guard.  What's he doing? He's through the line, still running, he's, NO...the's loose...bouncing...and it's kicked...49ers...49ers recover...The 49ers have it...49ers...49er's recover.  Ian Williams, defensive tackle fell on it.  49ers have it."

"I'm going to have a heart attack," says Dayton. "Again, it's 49er ball on the Patriots 42 yard line."  

"This is incredible.  All they needed to do was hold onto the ball for 22 seconds."

"Time out.  13 seconds left.  49ers'll have it first and ten on New England's 42 yard line.  We'll be right back."

     'A man in a lab coat watches pictures from a camera on the Mars Explorer, and to his surprise, sees a Bud Lite can.  A funny commercial ensues...

"We're back. I'm Duluth St Paul, along with All-Pro Tackle Dayton Toledo, with Madison Fond du Lac down on the side line.  This could be the last play of the game."

Kaepernick runs onto the field.

"First and ten...or should I say goal to go...the 49ers have the ball on the New England 42 yard line, with 8 seconds left on the clock.

"They're set, with Terrell Owens lining up far to the left.  Kaepernick's got it, looking long...and he throws.  It's the Hail Marry...they're in the end zone...but it's way under way it'll...but it's O.T., crossing behind, stumbles, he fell down...but...WAIT...O.T.'s got it...Right to T.O.  He's got it...HE'S GOT IT....on the five.  He's going in...T.O. T.O....touchdown 49ers  Terrell Owens...Touch down 49ers"

"I didn't see what I just seen.  THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE." says Dayton.

"It's over.  49ers WIN. Terrell Owens caught the ball. He falls down, so he's in position to catch
the way under thrown pass.  What a play.  What a way to win the game."

It's over.  49ers win  33-31.  49ers are Super Bowl Champions."

Fireworks.  Canons explode.  Confetti everywhere.  We see T.O. dance in the end zone. Players jump on him, bump his chest, run in circles. Head Coach Harbaugh all smiles in the crowd.    

"Madison? MADISON?  Can you get anywhere near Terrell Owens?"

We see Madison chase across the field toward O.T.  She wiggles through the team, and grabs him by his shoulder pads

"Terrell, you did it."

"Madison. The TV lady!   I told you.  I told everybody.  You send me in and I'll win the game.
I'm the ultimate football player. I showed everybody.  Quarterback's a rookie, so I knew he'd be real tired by now, wouldn't have the arm to get the ball into the end zone, so I held back. Had it figured.

"Tried to tell the coach, get me into the game.  I was screaming at him.  Isn't this great?  This is great.

"Homies say I'm all drama. Well, what now.  I'm going to look pretty showing off my new ring.  38 years old, so what.  My knee is perfect, you saw me run.

"Nobody can stop T.O. Hey, I've always been a humble guy, but who won the game?  ME.  O.T." 

We see a woman run onto the field.

"Terrell honey.  It's me."

"My ex-wife?" says Terrell.

Another lady pulls at his arm  "Terrell, come with me. You be owing me..."

"But, wait, what are you two doing out here?"

Then a little boy.  "Daddy."

Then another,  "Daddy."

And another,  "Daddy."

"Look Terrell, this is a summons. It's about the child support."

T.O. yells toward the sky, "“I don’t have no friends.  I don’t want no friends. Everybody stay away from me.”

"Terrell, honey..Daddy...Daddy...Daddy

"I gotta get out of here.  Catch a cab.  I'm so broke.  Madison, you got maybe $100 for cab fare?"

"Terrell, honey....Daddy....Daddy...Daddy

"I'm so broke....anything?  $50, maybe?  Again, I'm in hell."

We see T.O. run toward the stands, knock people down, his face contorted, helter skelter.

"Where he's going?" says Duluth.

"He's paying like half a million dollars a year in child support," says Madison. "I'd probably be running too."

"Well, that's T.O." says Dayton Toledo .

"Gotta love it, " says Madison Fond du Lac.

"T.O.?  Who'd a thunk?" says Duluth St Paul. "Until next year, 49ers and Terrell Owens win Super Bowl LXVI,  33-31.

Brentwood Belair
A Parallel Sports Universe

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


"WEED-TV Eyewitness News at 11.  Here's Mr. News himself, Denton Del Rio."

"Good evening everyone.  We begin with breaking news in sports.  Let's call in Miss Sports at WEED-TV, Abilene Austin. Tell us Aby, a key figure in the upcoming NFL Draft.  What's going on?"

"Yes, Denton.  This just in.  Former Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was arrested for marijuana possession in Bradenton, Fla., on Tuesday. 

"He was arrested after officers found marijuana under the front seat, then charged with possession and released on bond.  Kirkpatrick announced last Thursday he was leaving Alabama to enter the NFL draft. 

"He's rated 8th overall by ESPN in the upcoming Draft.  I wonder how this will effect his status now in the eyes of the NFL?" 

With a stern stare into the camera, "Back to you. Denton."

"Thank you, Abilene."  He squints at the teleprompter. "We must always be on guard against Marijuana.  It can double a teen’s risk of depression and anxiety..

"Eight percent of depressed teens abuse or became dependent on marijuana during the year they experience depression compared with only three percent of non-depressed teens."

He smiles.  "Now, in other news..."  There are other news stories, commercials, weather, more commercials, then time is up. 

"Thank you for watching Eyewitness News at 11.  And don't turn that channel, next up a real funny 30 Rock rerun."

"And we're out.  Thank you everyone."

Sitting together in the coffee room.  "I'm a morning person." says Abilene. "I can't keep doing this 11 o'clock crap. I want mornings."

"Aby, come on." says Denton. "You get to sleep in."  As he reaches for a yogurt in the fridge, a joint falls out of his shirt pocket.  He freezes.

Abilene quickly turns in her chair and scoops it up.  "Well well.  What is this, Denny?  You got Glaucoma?  Bad Joints?  Bad appetite and need to eat?"  She looks at him, wide eyes, waving it in his face. "You got a prescription for this?" 

"Bad back...can't see it on an M.R.I....but it's very painful.  Very."

"I'll bet."

They both look around, look at each other, "The janitor's room," she says.  He winks, they sneak in, and lock the door.

"Why was that lead story such a big deal?" says Abilene. "Actually this kid Dre was riding in the back seat of a friends car, the pot was found under the other guys front seat, and only after dogs were sent in.  He has no criminal background.  A non-story you ask me. $120 bond is all."

Denton lights up, smiling.

"Does anybody care about pot nowadays? Its only illegal cause Uncle Sam can't make any money off it, and big pharma, big beer, big cigarettes, big cotton don't like pot.  Cuts into their profits."

Puff, puff

"I shouldn't be saying this," says Abilene. "But I was  a pothead in college.

"Aby, no."

"Yup. I got though mostly on, Cup-A-Soup, mac-and-cheese, and pot.  Big deal war on drugs, I turned out OK."

"Better'n okay, ask me." says Denton.  "We're the perfect team."

"The Anchor and the Sports Girl. I like it."  She takes a hit, and pats her stomach.  "In college, I didn't drink beer, it was pot. Kept my figure down. Hell, you wouldn't believe the things I did for a joint."


"Yeah, things. Don't ask. You look surprised. Come on,  I was broke most of the time."

They begin giggling.

They puff and a large cloud of smoke drifts into the air.

There is a knock at the door.

Denton opens the little window.  Man in a top coat and gray fedora stands outside.  Man
says, "Franklin for President."

"Come right in Mayor." 

"Thank you."

Another rap on the door.  Little window.  Man and a lady.  "Franklin for President?  I think that's the word."

"It is Senator.  Nice to see you both."

Another knock.  "Franklin for President."

"Police Chief.  You're alone I hope?"

"This time, yes.  It is nice," says the Chief. "To be able to have a drink, after work, without police interference."

"You are so right, Chief." They both nod. "You're so right."

Smoke drifts back through the room.

Puff puff, giggle giggle.

"Two weeks,"  says Abilene. "Dre's arrest will be totally forgotten, come on.  Who cares? Its not drugs, its pot." 

"What kind of world are we living in when a star player on 'Bama's National Championship team is hassled by the local smokies over a little weed? Let the young man celebrate."

"Maybe Dre is a genius," says Abilene.  "He doesn't want to play for anybody picking in the top 10.  Maybe after the Combine testing, he'll get picked by the 49er's or Green Bay, a forward looking young man."

"Just do a better job avoiding 5-0." says Denton

"It's just weed. Legalize it so the authorities can spend more time dehumanizing undocumented Mexicans, if they need somebody to hassle."

Puff puff, giggle, giggle, more talk, more giggling.

Denton looks at his watch.  "Holy smoke. It's 1 o'clock, we gotta go. If I can even stand up."  He gets to his feet, off balance, hugging on to Abilene.

"This is awkward...since...I can't stand up either."  More laughing.

"But, I'm still wondering.  Those things?"  He looks down at her. "Those things you used to do for a joint."

"All right already. I was a kid, away from home for the first time." More giggling. "Shush, somebody'll hear us."

They wobble, almost fall, then lean together against the wall.

"So, tomorrow's Saturday," giggling. "Two days off.  We can't drive like this.  We gotta get
a cab."  She fumbles dialing her cell.

Together they wave at the smoke, and quietly stumble out the door, thorough the News Room, and stand by the curb.

Both still hugging each other. 

"You can stay at my place, " says Abilene. "Sleep on my couch.  Anybody sees us now, it's our jobs, you know.  We can't get caught like Dre did.  Who's going to post my bond?"

Holding him, she puts her head on his chest.  He feels real warm.

"Screw it," she says. "Come over to my place and I'll show you some of the things I did for a joint."

He looks at her and blinks.  "Well, well. All of a sudden my back feels a lot better."

Giggle, giggle.

They are still giggling when the cab drives up.   

Monday, January 16, 2012


My cell vibrated on the table.

"Woody, sweetheart. How you doing, baby?"

"Well, as I live and breath, Olympia Washington," I said.

"It's my voice, right?"

"So low, so smooth. Real sexy. This is a nice surprise."

"My customers love it too, over the phone.  At $4.99 a minute,
life is wonderful, baby.  Well, it was."  

"But, my dear, it's 5 am.  Is it not about your quitting time?"

"Matter of fact, yes it is.  Hey, I'm off the clock."  Her voice changed. Higher, sharper.
"I got something for you, for your sports column.  I'm looking for that $250
reward. You wanted something from the horse's mouth.  A scoop. So I got you a scoop."

"I'll pay, but, depends.  What do you  have?" I said.

"Sweet Jimmy, calls me every Wednesday night. Usually takes him about fifteen minutes. But not this time. He just cried for a good 45 minutes.  At $4.99 an minute, it was a dream call, wasn't for all that crying. He just wanted to talked.  He didn't want to listen to me."

"How could that be?" I said.

"Yeah, you know.? Usually a lot of loud noises, but no, he was crying on his own, and it was all about that football coach at Penn State, the sex stuff with the little kids." 

"Penn State football, sounds promising." I said.

"I felt so bad.  Said he worked close with the athletic department at Penn State.  It was about sports, so I though of you.  We got a deal?"

"I'll admit. This does sound intriguing. Please, go on."

"We tape everything here, so we can practice our delivery, you know, hone our art, talking to guys.  Anyway, just listen to this.  It's Sweet Jimmy.  He cries all the way through this."

She clicked on the recorder.

     'Little boys in the locker sick.  Olympia, I  just had to tell somebody..

     'Joe saying it was just a way for the University to get him fired, and coach McQuery, trying to cover himself saying later he broke it up in the shower...after he though about his story that he "did the right thing'" by just telling Joe.  If he walked away, he's just as bad. I would've taken a tire-iron to the perverts knees, then call the cops instead of waiting till the next day to tell somebody.

     'Students going crazy for Joe...What about those little kids being screwed up for life...where's the outrage...what is going on...for years and years...The hell with Joe's legacy.

     'Everybody trying to cover their ass.  Joe saying, I did what I thought was best...he's lost his humanity...his soul.  Fire the son on a bitch on the spot...then call the police,...That's the right thing to do, come on Joe.  Tell some trustee or somebody, then forget about it?  It went on for years.  I was around it all too. I heard rumors, but...what's best for the University.  That's crap.  How come no one broke in and stopped it?  So Sick.

      'And what is Franko doing now?... trying to defending Joe?'

The man, Sweet Jimmy, stopped crying, and took a deep breath.

      'Paterno is no better than the other scumbags who look the other way...can't have any bad publicity for their school and the football team.

     'Unless Joe was deaf, dumb and blind for nine years he saw Sandusky slinking around campus, and still did nothing... because he told the athletic director, so he was in the clear?

     'Are we completely lost?  University too big to fail?  A man recruiting little kids from his own charity...then taking them on the road...meeting with other coaches...all around the country...
kids for sick are these people?'

She clicked off the recorder.

"There's more on the tape. Sweet Jimmy just kept on, and on.  So,  I just let him talk, 45 minutes, at least, at $4.99 a minute."

"Quite a story," I said.

"You're telling me. The coach should have fired the guy on the spot.  Scumbags.  Why didn't anyone put a stop to it?"

"I think you can feel how it was." I said.

"I can?"

"As I see it, your job, over the phone, is to get guys excited, right?  Take maybe ten minutes, work your vocal magic, to create satisfied customers, so they'll hurry back for another happy ending?  Am I close?"

"You make it sound so ...technical. Okay, sure, but with Sweet Jimmy, I just let him talk. Why stop him, all that money.  Woody, $4.99 a minute."

"Shouldn't you tell your supervisor.  Don't you have rules?"

"Woody, what rules, make as much money as you can talking to guys."

"You didn't want to stop him. You were making too much money."


"I see what you're saying.  Big university making so much money from football.  Fire the guy and word gets out. Then the University looks bad. Okay, you're right, $4.99 came first. Come on, I felt kinda bad for the guy, really, like I was robbing him, but, hey, I didn't want to lose the money by telling him to stop....But Woody,  little kids."


"You're right.  It was hard to stop him.  You feel kinda trapped."

"So, for $250," I said. "I'll have to have his name  His real name.  Interview him myself."

"Woody, Come on.  I can't do that.  He'll never call me again."

I thought for a minute.

"OK...$250. It's a good story.  Send me the tape"

"Thank you, Woody."

"Talk to you again soon.  Olympia, tell me, you really that sexy?"

"Oh, baby, you don't know!"