Monday, October 29, 2012


They stand in line on the red carpet.  Everybody will be watching.  They're given their queue.  In five it's their turn to walk in front of the cameras.

Shrine Auditorium, mid way between USC and the Staples Center.  Jefferson and Figueroa.   It's the 33rd Annual Emmy Awards.
Metta World Peace and Nancy Grace, rub shoulders.  Or, more precisely, Metta's hand rubs up against Nancy's shoulder.   It's nearing  4 p.m., time to begin taping, for the 'Live' presentation on the East Coast.
She looks him up and down.  "Maybe you didn't get the memo, Metta, were supposed to dress a tux, or know, designer.   You're wearing the detective clothes.  They were just for the movie?"

"Well, I like being a cop.  You said I looked the part."

"Yeah, when we were on the set. But...everybody knows who you are.  It's okay."  She smiles up at his tallness, his largeness, his presence. 

"Today," says Metta, "I'm  Garlan Fincher, Georgia detective.  Got the season opener against the Mavs next Tuesday, so I'll be him...Detective Fincher... until then. Why not?"

A young man holds up two fingers.  "You're up in two," he says.

Metta's hands shake.  He sways, on one foot then the other.  Grace can feel it.  She elbows him.  "Metta, don't be nervous . Nothing to be nervous about."

"Garlan.  Remember?"

"Okay, Garlan.  Let me hold your hand.  Just relax.  You're not nervous before a basketball game are you?"

"I am, but once it starts, I'm good to go."

"Remember, these questions, they're all fluff.  Let me do the talking." She looks at his compact abs, his large biceps, and strong hands. She takes a deep breath.

Together they move out on the red carpet.

An interviewer whispers to his cameraman.  "Watch me.  I'll make sure my interviews get on the 11 o'clock news.  You'll see."  He snickers.

And as Metta and Nancy arrive, the interviewer jams his microphone in Nancy's face.  She pulls back.

"Hey, it's Nancy Grace...along with...Metta World know, Ron Artest...from the Lakers.  Grace is nominated for Best News Commentator, and Lakers Metta World Peace is here to advertise Grace's Lifetime Movie.  'The Eleventh Victim.'  It shows November 3rd.  Metta plays a police detective.

"Hello. Nancy Grace, and Metta World Peace.  Jimmy Twit, WDUD TV, Buffalo.  Wow, what a night, huh?"

"It's wonderful," says Grace.  "It's always exciting to be nominated for what I do.  I fight for the rights of those who don't have a voice when they are screwed over by..."

"And World Peace," says Twit. "How do you feel about acting.  Are you going to say good bye to the Lakers?"

"He's not there yet," says Grace, "but Metta is just beginning a new profession.  He was very good..."

"Didn't you two meet on Dancing with the Stars?  Metta, you going to be a dancer now...quit the Lakers?"

Metta looks down at the man.  He losses his smile.  "I'm not much of a dancer.  I'm better under the basket.  Why would you ask that?"

Grace squeezes his hand.  "Metta put supreme effort into his dancing.  For a non-professional he did very well.  He certainly put maximum effort..."

"You're telling me," says Twit.  "I saw you on the show...Rhythm you ain't got, Metta.  Guess that's the reason you were the first one cut." He giggles toward the camera, shaking his head.

Metta's hands became fists.

Grace's eyes turn red.  "He was excellent for someone who is not a dancer."  She moves into the man's face, waving away the microphone.  "He was a lot better than anyone thought he'd be.  I saw his potential in front of the camera.  That's the reason we chose him for the part."

"But Grace, as a cop?  From his crazy stunts on the court, running into the stands, that elbow shot...I don't know?"

Metta eyes get big.  He breathes heavily.  He starts shaking again.

"But a cop, dealing with criminals and all?  Come on. Nobody'll ever believe it."

Metta moves forward.  Twit moves back a step.  "Now that you're a novelist, Nancy, are you going to concentrate on writing books?  I'm guessing you won't get sued as much.  I bet that gets pretty old?"

"They're all nuisance cases.  I beat most of them.  People who can't stand the heat, they just sue me.  If they'd just come clean, they'd feel a whole lot better.  The truth will set them free."

"Now, Metta,  this cop outfit.  Who's your designer?  Columbo?"    He looks up at Metta, looking for a smile.

Metta stares down. His eyes are black.   "What's your name again?"  He steps on the man's foot, and presses down hard, his chest an inch form the man's nose. 

Grace moves in between.  "It's his character in the Movie ," she says.  "He doesn't need an Armani original.  You don't think Metta is so unsophisticated..."

Twit looks down. They are still holding hands. He points.

"Is there a connection here? Grace? Metta?  Beyond Producer and Actor?"  Then he points at her stomach, and his cameraman moves in for a close up. "Is there something going on you're not telling...?"

She squints at him. "Just what the hell are you trying to say?  That I'm pregnant?  I produced a movie, so I must be sleeping with all the actors?"

Metta's fist is a blur.  Twit's jaw, teeth, nose. Crushed.  Blood gushes through his fingers.  Metta certainly doesn't need it all spelled out.

Twit lurches back, his mouth opens, his head twists.  He drops to one knee, and flops over. 

"What... is your... problem?" says Twit.  His voice cracks. He kicks wildly at the camera as it comes in for another close up.  "Get that thing..."

"What is my problem?  What is MY problem?" says Metta.  He leans over the man, his foot ready to kick him hard high in the ribs.  "I don't like you." 

Grace pulls him away.  "These guys are no different than paparazzi."  She checks the crowd. "We gotta get out of here. Follow me." They push through, off the red carpet and out toward the parking lot, running, Metta flashing his badge the whole way.

Twit's groans are loud.  Everyone hears the commotion.  The other cameramen stop, and turn.  They too can see a good story.  They are on the move.

Security rushes up.  They see Twit's face planted in the plywood.  They can't miss all the blood.  They look toward Metta World Peace, hand in hand with Nancy Grace on their way to the streets.

"What the hell did you say to them, to make them react like that?" asks security. 

"What?  I didn't say anything...well...I just asked if they were...seeing each other.  And...HEY, get that stupid camera out of my face..."

 "And that's when you got slugged?"

"Go after them.  He hit me.  I want to press charges."  He tries to get up, but falls forward.   His face is a mess.

"Press charges?  Against Metta World Peace, and Nancy Grace?  Exactly who are you again?"

Without looking back, they sprint out the front door, across the street, and into her limousine.  "Drive, Billy Ray,  Drive."

"Oh boy." says Nancy.  She puts her hand on Metta's knee.  "I was watching that guy.  I think, matter of fact, I'm sure of it, he had a knife in his hand.  He was going to stab you."

She pats his knee.  "All he wanted was to get big TV ratings.  These small-time Blogger guys doing the red carpet interviews.  I saw it.  No wait...a gun.  Yes, a gun.  I'll tell them that's what I saw.  No way he's getting away with this."
"Man," says Metta.  "I'm so stupid.  I'm going to get suspended for this...again.  I know it."

"Guy had it coming.  You're the only one with the guts to fight back.  That's the way little men are.  You wait, I'll make you a hero."

"You'd do that for me?" He grabs her hand. His eyes big.

She looks again at his large bicep's.

"Cops know where to find us.  Come on, you saved my life."

With a wave of her hand, and a 'Take us home, Billy Ray,' the limo shoots up Out Post Drive, and into the Hollywood Hills.
"I like you, you know," says Metta.  He looks out the window, as he rubs her leg, high on the thigh.  "Girl, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."  He puts his head back.  "I remember that from an old movie I saw once."

"I like you too, Metta, and remember, we'll always have the Red Carpet."  She laughs and puts her head on his shoulder.

HELP COME FROM:   Google Images/ 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


The Exercise Building, Lovelock Correctional Center, Lovelock, Nevada.  Just north of Reno.

Two men walk toward the weight lifters in the far corner.  Both have shaven heads.  Both have facial tattoos.

"I bitched about losing my toothbrush so much they just gave me a new one.  They didn't check.  They never do."

"You ready?"

"The plastic handle's sharper than a straight razor.  Work of art."  He moves his arm.  It is under his sleeve.

They approach O.J. Simpson, who is sitting on a bench watching guys clean and jerk. 

They sit on both sides of him.

O.J. sits up straight.  "Hi, guys." He does not make eye contact.  He looks out toward the far basketball court.

"Been reading the National Enquirer," says the tall one, Tom.

"One with your picture on the front." says the other, the shorter one, Erik.

"You guys saw the Enquirer?" says O.J.  "So, you know I'm selling some stuff.  I'm getting out of here real soon so I'll need the money."

"Getting out?"

"Got a new lady lawyer.  She's getting me a new robbery trial.  Seems my last attorney, Galantner...I paid him $525,000, but the guy who was actually in court with me got only $5 Grand.  Strange.  She says it's negligent representation, conflict of interest, some such, so it'll be time served and I'm out of here."

"You're doing 33 years for armed robbery, Simpson?" says Tom.

"I'm not a robber.  Getting back my own stuff's not robbery.  Most guys do what I did, it's three to five, not eight to 33?  It's unfair."

"Says in the Enquirer you're selling the bloody knife? The one you killed Nicole with.  You still got that knife?"

"It was my knife, so I can sell it if I want.  I kept it."  O.J. glances at Tom. "I got two severely injured knees.  How can I kill 2 people in the middle of the night, and nobody hears nothing?  And they said I scaled a wall to get back home, and nobody saw me?  Come on.  It wasn't me guys?" 

"Enquirer says you want $5 Million for that knife?"

"Yup," says O.J.  "I need the cash when I get out.

"But, $5 Million?" says Erik.

"Look," says O.J. "that's what it's worth.  It's probably the most famous murder weapon since the gun that shot Lincoln.  Come on, worth every penny."


"I got other stuff," says O.J.  "I saved it all. I figured after the trial I needed some kind of retirement plan, so I saved some stuff that I knew would be valuable in the future."

"Kind of stuff?" asks Tom.

O.J. rubs his knees. "You know, stuff."

"Okay," says Tom. "$5 million, we can always come down on the price.  We can negotiate."

"What?" says O.J.  He blinks.

"Go on, Simpson," says Tom.  "What else did you save?"

"Okay.  The glove.  Remember, the one that didn't fit."

"The bloody glove?  You got that too?"

"I bought it back.  I was found 100% not guilty, so...I sent it all to my place in the know, to keep it all safe.  The glove, I'm putting that up for $3 million.  You know, that glove fits Kato."  O.J. snickers.

"$3 Million?" says Tom.

"At least.  And for the car guys out there, my White Ford Bronco.  It's down there in a garage just outside of Nassau.  I'm thinking, $20 Million.  Does that seem high?  There's people who'll pay that, come on.  It's O.J's Bronco. I'll get that.  I'm O.J."

"Well, I got to say, Simpson," says Tom, "you're probably the best running back I've ever seen play, when you were with the Bills...well...Bo Jackson, he was really good..and on defense there was Michael Strahan... He was real..."

All right already.  Guys, there's been more written about me in sports than anybody since Babe Ruth." 

"Will people really buy this stuff, at that kind of money?" asks Erik.

"I have the bloody socks, they found in my room.  I'm thinking $500 Grand."

"Half a mil?" says Tom.  He looks over at Erik, and rubs his hands together.

"And believe it or not I got the glasses that that kid Goldman was returning to Nicole.  Now those are really valuable.  $2 Million easy. 


"All my stuff.  It's worth millions now.  Like my jogging suit.  That's gotta be at least $4 Million.

"I've even got Fung's rubber gloves.  They said he contaminated everything.  They were an important part of the evidence against me.  I'm putting $1 million on them.   I got a family to support, you know.  My daughter Khole Kardashian.  Who knows what's in my future."

Tom looks at Erik.  "I'll tell you what's in your immediate future."  Erik pulls back his shirt sleeve.

"Simpson, we're here to take our cut."

"What?  Your cut?" says O.J.

"We were thinking 30%, but we'll take 25.  We gotta a right to it."

"What right?  You can't do this. It's outright robbery.  I got friends who'll track you..."

"What friends, Simpson?  The public?  The police?  Your football buddies?"

"You can't..."

Erik pushes the toothbrush handle into O.J.'s ribs, just far enough.  O.J. lets out a moan, and jumps up.  But Erik yanks him back down.

"Sit down," says Tom.  "Guards will be over here.  Look, it's 25%."

"There's no way..." says O.J.

"Protection," says Erik.  "We've been protecting you since you got here.  There's guys in here who'll mess you up bad, just to get their picture in the papers, or on Dateline of something."  He shows O.J. the shiv again.  "Trust us, you need our protection."

"It's called, 'The New Order,'" says Tom.  "Maybe you'd like to join?"  He looks at  Erik, who is shaking his head, 'NO.' 

"Well, maybe not, but just remember the money will be going to a real good cause.  We help people see the light.  Very important work, you ask me."

"25%?" says O.J.

This time the plastic shiv draws blood.  O.J. looks down, and starts to shake. He grabs his side.

"So, it's a deal."  Tom and Erik move away.  "It's pay back Simpson for keeping you safe."

O.J. looks down at the blood on his hands.  He looks up and nods.  He tries not to, but he slumps over, and groans loudly.

His distress compels lifters to stop in mid clean, guards to turn and look, and other nearby cons to raise their eyebrows.

O.J. hears,  "We'll be waiting for our cut, Simpson."  as Tom and Erik disappear.

"I'll sell my stuff, and live in the Bahamas.  All cash.  No banks."

But nobody's gaze follows Tom and Erik.  They hold their eyes on him.

He tries to stare back, but can't.  He puts his head down.  He wants to cry, but won't.

This is not the way it was supposed to be.

"What's going to happen to me?" he mumbles, his hand holding back the pain in his side. 

What's going to happen to me?

HELP COMES FROM:,  Google Images

Friday, October 19, 2012


It's one on a Saturday.  Jim aims the TV remote.  Knicks Nets game is in progress. 

"...rejected by Jason Kidd...Camby has it...pushing it...takes it hard all the way to the basket...foul...he'll get to the free throw line..."

Toward the kitchen, "Hey, games already started.  Got any beers?"

"Too expensive," says Jeff from the kitchen.  "We got Brandy.  Just as good.  Mix it with the Pepsi that's out there."

Jim mixes fifty-fifty.  "Yikes, this stuff is strong."

"Take it easy.  That stuff's 80 proof."

"...that's the right idea...little up fake...get to the free throw line...Camby makes the first one..."

"Come on," says Jim.  "It's already the second half."

We hear the horn.

"...Time out with the score...Brooklyn Nets 60, New York Knicks 40...Be back..."

 A man holds his back.  "Do you have annoying back pain?  Can't bend over to tie your shoes, play with your grand kids, pick up a penny off the sidewalk?  Then you need BenGay to relieve that back and joint pain."  (Yada, yada, yada.)  "But wait, there's more.  Call today, we'll double the offer.  Two tubes for the price of one, you pay only shipping and handling."

We hear the horn.

"...We're back.  The Knicks made some off  season trades, filling  their roster with playoff warhorses.  Guys are older.  Jason Kidd, he's 39, Marcus Camby, 38, Kurt Thomas, 40,  and Rasheed Wallace who's 38.  Some say they're just too old, all these youngsters in the NBA.  We'll just have to see..."

"They're saying the Knicks are a bunch of old men, can you believe?  Not much older than the Lakers, come on."  Jim gulps down his Brandy, and mixes a second.  Strong, but tasty.

"...Knicks will have to get down the court a little faster...well, a lot faster if they are going to keep up with the Nets today...70-45 Nets..."

"Hey, this Brandy tastes real good, you know.  Come on, Jeff.  What're you doing?  You'll mizzz the whole game."

"Breakfast. I'm making Pigs in Blankets. Found some hot dogs in the freezer...expired 2003, but hey, they look okay."

"Now what?"  Jim points at the TV.

Jeff sticks his head around the corner.  "Looks like he lost something on the floor?"

"'s Marcus Camby...looking for something...Oh, it's his bifocals, they got flipped off, banged up against the official's table...right under...okay, he's got them..."

Camera pans to Coach Woodsen, who's filling his cup from a large orange barrel.  Duct tape covers the old Gatorade name.  Stenciled below it is, 'Sunsweet Prune Juice.'

"Remember," says Jeff.  "Easy on the Brandy.  I'd like some with my P's in B's."

Jim empties the glass.  "I can hardly taste it," he says, as he mixes number three.

...and a floater by Kurt Thomas...nice shot...very impressive...but what this?  Time out?  Rasheed has dropped something, must be his lower dentures. Yup, see them?  There... skidding under the bench.  Okay, a quick wipe off, and their back in his mouth.  No problem, didn't even stop for a time out.  Okay..."

Jim smells the Pigs coming from the kitchen.  "That smellzz Real gooood." He flops onto the sofa, his head back against the cushion.  "You're mizzing this whole game."  He half closes his eyes.

We hear the horn.

"...Time out, we'll take it.  One fifty seven left third quarter...Reggie Evans 20 second quarter points for the's a 23 point right back..."

"Do you have those embarrassing, ugly, sickening age spots?  You need Porcelana.  It helps remove those nasty..." (Yada, yada, yada), "Money back guarantee if you don't look 60 years younger after just one application.  Don't wait.  Buy it now.  Don't look old."

We hear the horn.

"...We're back...Tickets for all Knicks home games, visit us on the web...19% shooting for the Knicks...1 for 15 from 3 point land...they'll have to do better..."

Eyes partially open, "What is that?" says Jim.  "It looks like a...cane?"

Jeff looks in at the TV.  "Kurt Thomas is watching from the bench, his chin on a...cane?"

"Whazzz going on here?" says Jim.  "They said they were old, but come on guyz?"

"Maybe he's got some kind of injury," says Jeff.  "But, wasn't' he just out on the court.  Makes no sense."

Jeff sticks his hand in the oven.  It feels about 350 degrees.  Good.  And in slides the tray of P's in B's.
The TV camera pans the Knicks' bench.  Some rub their eyes. Others yawn. All look haggard.  Then down at their shoes.

"...There see?  Right there.  Marcus Camby's new autograph shoes...Kinda like Air Jordans...I gotta get me a pair of them...M.C.'s Hush Puppies...with the Nike Swoooosh...look real smart, you know... and...there goes Rasheed, running off, another of his five minute bathroom breaks..."

Jim lurches up, and hits his forehead with the heel of his hand.  Then laughs.  "The Hell?"   He watches, confused, as Jason Kidd slowly pushes out onto the court in a...walker?  Kidd tries to dribble, but it's stolen, Jerry Stackhouse of the Nets, who slam dunks for an easy, real easy, two for Brooklyn.

" what...oh boy.  Kurt Thomas...It didn't look like anything happened...he just fell...and...what's this?...He can't get up?  Maybe because he' should I say it...beyond his years? There's two cheerleaders out there...lifting him by both arms..and pulling him over to the bench.  He seems out of it.  Real groggy..."

Jeff from the kitchen, "And the other cheerleader has an oxygen mask on him...and there's one on Camby.  They must really be out of breath.  Man, what a game." 

He stares through the oven window at his P's in B's.  They sizzle.  "Yes," and pulls them out.

Jim downs his drink. Number four.  "Thiz iz crazzzy."

All set, Jeff enters, holding the platter of P's in B's.  Along with a large jar of peanut butter, he sets it down on the coffee table in front of Jim, who lies there mouth open, eyes closed.  Figuring the amount of 80 proof Brandy in him, Jeff smiles, knowing the Pigs are all his.
And we hear the horn.

"...And that's it.  Game over..."

Oh boy," Jeff says."

Then he smells his P's in B's.

"OH BOY, " he says.

They have that old, godawful, greenish meat odor.  But because he's spent an hour screwing around with them, he figures enough peanut butter will kill the taste. Hard to make stuff that old taste good again. 

  "...Brooklyn Nets 109, New York Knicks 70.   It was a tough game to watch.  The Knicks have problems way beyond shooting and defense.  Just being able to stay on the court...they have to really work on that.  They simply ran out of steam about half way through the first quarter..."

As the Knicks depart, the camera follows them into the parking lot.  Still in their uniforms, they hobble onto the team bus. The one that has, 'Sunset Retirement Community,  Home of  Your New York Knicks.'  painted on the side.

And as the doors begin to close, the entire TV audience overhears Rasheed Wallace groan,  "Man, do I need a nap.  I'm sure glad tonight's Bingo night."

HELP COMES FROM:  Google Images/ 

Monday, October 15, 2012


Come to find out that they raised the price of my tall glass of buttermilk.  It's now $2.95, up from $2.65.  Something about increase delivery cost due to higher gas prices.  Why am I surprised?

So, when gas prices go back to 'normal,' the price of my tall buttermilk will go back down? Right?  Like beer, worldwide hops shortage, prices rises.  Now that hops are plentiful again, I'm waiting for the price to drop.  But it never seems to ever get back to that original price.

While I bemoan this price increase automatically being passed on to the customer, I look up. Is that David Stern, Commission of the NBA, walking through the front door? Along with two husky guys in dark glasses?  

What is he doing in here at the Montana Galley, and who exactly are his two friends?

This has to be the most famous person in here since Al Pacino came in to see his agent, a week or so ago.*

I should introduce myself.  This would make an interesting Post for my Blog.  But as I move to get up, he turns toward me, and walks back.  He stops at my booth for a second, taps the table, then slides in next to me.  His friends, still wearing their shades, also slide in.  There are no smiles.

A bit befuddled, I push back in the seat.  "Hello, guys,"  I say.

This is a mistake. He wants to meet me?  Maybe he reads my Sports Blog?  He wants my autograph?  But...This is David Stern?

"Mr Belair.  How are you today?"  He puts out his hand.  "Commissioner Stern."

I look at his two companions, but they are silent.  They simply stare at me.  (X and Y)?

I look at each. "Okay," I say.  And how are you Mr. Stern."  I'm shocked he even knows my name.  I hold my buttermilk with both hands.   "This is certainly a surprise.  What brings you here?"

"Well," says Stern.  "I got this thing out in Burbank, doing the Leno Show, and thought I'd just drop in here and see you."

"You know where I..."

"We know where you are most of the time.  We read your Blog.  You're usually sitting in this restaurant, just to be close to the blond in the kitchen, Helena.  I saw her.  Not bad.  Keep trying, scout.  One day, maybe you two'll be an item." He laughs.  X nods his head and continue to eyeballs me. 

"She heard you talking like that..."

A waitress comes over, but Stern waves her off. "We won't be here long."

He adjusts his jacket.  "Reason I came by.  You've probably read about cry baby Stan Van Gundy saying I screwed him over at ESPN.  That I told them not to hire him for ESPN’s 'NBA Countdown.'  Because I don't like him. Guy's a fool. He compares me to Gadhafi.  Says I'm  a dictator.  What'd he expect? That kind of guy does not belong on ESPN, I don't care who it is."

"Yeah, I think I did read something..."

"ESPN is partners with the NBA," he says.  "$930 million contract.  So any significant hires have to be cleared through know, the NBA."

Stern  waves his hand in the air.  "We figured he was just too mouthy about me to be good on the air."

"But," I say. "isn't that really what ESPN needs.  Exciting, mouthy guys.  You want ratings, right?  Wouldn't he be more exciting than Shaq?  Someone should build a fire under Shaq, you know."

I get the 'We'll grind you into the ground' stare from X and Y.  Guess you don't interrupt the Commissioner.
"Mouthy and smart, that's okay," says Stern. "Anyway, here's the reason we dropped by."

He folds his hands, looks at both associates, (the word Gorillas comes to mind), then at me.  "We want should I say it...good writing from you in your Blog."

"Only good writing?  You mean only Responsible Writing?"

"Yeah, you know, " he says.  "Do I have to spell it out?  Look, Belair, you want to go the way of Van Gundy?   Good writing means good posts about me, the NBA, and ESPN.  Believe it or not, people actually read your stuff."

"But what if...?"

X and Y clench their fists.  Oops, again an interruption.

"I remember reading a Post about one of my cab rides from LAX.  Your friend, Diego Garcia, guy who owns the Fresh Air Taxi Company.  I thought he was a stand up guy.  But my conversation mysteriously ends up in your Blog.  I don't remember any call from you, asking me if it was all right?"

"So if you say something that I think is Sports worthy..."

"I command a presence.  It's not going to be tarnished by the likes of some blogger.  Better yet, Mr. Belair.  I don't want you writing anything about me or the NBA."

X and Y lean over toward me, breathing heavily through their noses.

There are flashes of men sitting in dark corners waiting for me when I get home, baseball bats in cornfields, horse heads in beds.  This could get out of hand.

"You sure I'm the guy you want?  I hate to say it, but I really don't have the worldwide audience you seem to think."

Again I spoke. Not good.   X shows his teeth,  pushes his glasses up on his forehead, and glares at me.  Then he looks down and opens his coat.  I'm shown a gun in his waistband.  He had that, 'Your a dead man if you mess with us,' look in his black eyes. 

"Van Gundy claiming I was some sort of tyrant, cost him his job. I'm in charge and it you don't like it, find some other place to go."

My face is hot.  Was there something in the Buttermilk?  This is a bad episode of Gangland, Vito Corleone, Tony Soprano, the ghost of George Raft.

Then The Commissioner smiles, sticks out his hand.  "Gotta go.  Been real, Belair.  You're a smart guy.  So.  Write about Cricket, or Soccer, Riding Bicycles.  Something other than basketball.  Be a lot healthier."

The three rise together, turn and head for the door.  As X holds the door for Stern, he look back at me, lowers his head, and pats his pocket.

I get it, you're tough guys. 

And they're gone.

What the hell just happened?  Commissioner David Stern sits down, and demands happy thoughts about ESPN, the NBA, and about himself.  Or else?   What?  I'm going to start a fire storm against the NBA?  With StiffLeftJab?

The romantic notion of the 'responsible journalist'' taking a bullet for his reader, I get it, but, those guns look really real.  I'm not dealing here with the manager of the Studio City Little Dribblers.  Bullets hurt, hurt bad, you know.

I lean over the table, my head on my fist. I rub my forehead, never imagining this day would ever come.  I sip my buttermilk, but I know I'll need to buy something a lot stronger on my way home.  I have to learn all I can now about Cricket.  Damn.

HELP COMESFROM:,0,5261071.column/,  Google/Images, 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Sitting in the back booth of the Montana Galley, nursing my usual afternoon glass of buttermilk, I spin my iPhone on the table.  I have to make a decision.  Should I call Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks?

Or not? 

Will he even take my call?  TV says the guy's a Billionaire.  Hey, who am I to say he isn't.  But if he hasn't heard about this, I'm sure he'll want to know.  I should call.

So I do.

It rings.

"Mr. Cuban's Office.  Press 1,  if you're calling about Season Mav Tickets.  Press 2, if you have a super profitable business and you'd like to be featured on Shark Tank.  Press 3, if you'd like to find the nearest ultra stylish Sketchers Shoe Store.  Press 4, if you'd like to say something real nice about Mr. Cuban.  Otherwise hold on for the next available operator."

I get Corporate not Personal.  Be nice to schmooze with him poolside, maybe over cocktails, much more comfortable, but I guess not.  Then again this is Mark Cuban.

"Mark Cuban's office.  How can I help you?"  Her voice is maple syrup, with just a touch of jalapeno.

"Hi," I say. "My name is Brentwood Belair.  I've got some very important information..."

"Well, Mr Cuban is in a meeting right now.  Give me your number..."

(Being forceful), "I could put this in writing," I say, "but every second we let this would be ...

"...Like I say Mr Cuban is in a..."

" unmitigated disaster.  It has to do with Mikhail Prokhorov."

"The Russian?" she says.

"The owner of the New York Nets.  They're the Brooklyn Nets, sort of, now."

"You say the Russian?"

(Not taking a breath), "And as you well know, Mr. Prokhorov and Mr. Cuban are like the Hatfields and the McCoys.  He would be tragically disappointed.   Give me five minutes?"

"The Russian, huh?  Hold on. Be right back."

It was in the NY Daily News.  Mikhail said he is ready for a 'throwdown' with Cuban over the free agency of Deron Williams.  'Let the best [sic] man win,' Prokhorov said. 'If he wins, I will crush him with the kickboxing throwdown.'  Guy's treading on thin ice, if he thinks he can...

"Hello, this is Mark.  Something about Prokhorov?  Who's this?"

"Mr. Cuban. Thanks for leaving your meeting.  Brentwood Belair.  I'm a Sports Blogger out her in Calif..."

"Yeah, I've heard of you...out there in enemy territory, Clippers, Lakers.  So?   What's this about Prokhorov?  The Crazy Russian.  What's he want now?  He's threatened to kick my ass. Now what?"

"Well here's the thing,"  I say. "The other day I was checking facts for a Blog Post about the Jets, and well,  I typed in Nets instead., and guess what?"


"The site shows up, and it kinda looks official, but it's your picture on the home page.  And it's not all that flattering a picture, you ask me."

"Wait...What did you do?  Type in...Hold on, let me do this...My picture?  Okay,"

His voice jumps three octaves.  "What the hell is this?  Prokhorov?  No, no, this isn't right.  My picture on the Nets web site?  I'm going to sue the son of a bitch.  I can't believe this."

"Well, that's not the half of it, Mark."

"I'll sue him for everything he's got. He thinks this is some kind of game. I'll get him deported so quick.  The guy comes over here, starts spreading his money around.  Thinks he can buy what ever..."

"Mark, Mark, Mark," I say.

"The Son of a BITCH!"

"Mark,' I say. "It's not his site.


"Here's the thing.  See at the bottom of the page.  The Russian stuff.


"I got a guy, Nizhny Novgorod.  He translated it for me. The Russian text is to embarrass Prokhorov. It's the name of a prostitute he was arrested with back in 2007. Of course the charges were later dropped."


"The domain, is owned by a company called, CyberMesa. Not the N.Y. NETS."

"CyberMesa?  What?  You mean the N.Y. NETS don't own their own web site?"

"So, I gave them a call, and guess what?"

"I'm listening?"

"I get a Jane on the phone.  She says she owns the site.  Nice lady.  She told me that the Nets have been calling her, wanting to buy the domain, but she says she's not ready to sell.  She said she's got plenty of money.  She made it selling another domain name, to TimeWarner."

"You're kidding.  The Nets don't own their own domain name?  Incredible.  Jane, huh?  And, not ready to sell, just means she wants more money." 

I actually hear him rubbing his hands together.

"Hold on," he says.  "You got a number for this Jane?  You said you called her?"

"Sure did," I say. "In my undying effort to check every fact for my readers..."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, the number."

I give him the number and we do a three-way.

"Hello," I say. "Is this Jane, the lady I spoke with the other day?  This is Brentwood Belair. Remember?  We spoke about your domain,  I've got Mark..."

"Hello, this is Mark Cuban. Please to meet you, Jane?  You own the domain"

"Actually it's owned by CyberMesa, and I own CyberMesa." 

"Well," says Mark. "If I owned the site, it would sure be a thorn in the side of my arch enemy, Mikhail Prokhorov.  Would you ever consider selling it.  I might like to buy it."

"Not a problem," she says.  "You'd be the guy who'd really have fun with it, knowing how you feel about the NETS.  $20 million, and it's yours."

I jerk back, an uncontrollable spasm. $20 mil?  But not Mark. 

"That's quite a price," he says.  He's in his element.  "I was hoping you'd take a little less than that.  You're right, it would be nice to own that domain.  How about this. $15 million, not a penny more.  You know, I could sue you for putting that crazy picture of me on your site.  It's defamation.  My legal team..."

"You're a public figure, Mr Cuban, and it's not pornographic.  Really it's not all that bad a picture.  I have others much more...frightful.  Hey, I watch TV.  They say you're a Billionaire."

"...maybe on paper..."

"So, I think you can easily afford $20 million.  Come on, that's what? Two percent of your net worth.  You only live once, my friend."

"You're good  Okay.  $18 mil.  And that's final.  Look, no name is really worth that much. Now that I know about this site, my Tech Team could crash the entire thing.  We have ways.  Then what's it worth?"

"I don't think you want that made public.  You have a real nice guy reputation.  Mr. Prokhorov has already tried to threatened me.  You know, I got a feeling you really want this domain. Think what you can do with it.  I changed my mind.  I'm asking $22 million."

"Hey, you can't do that..."

"So, it's been nice talking with both of you gentlemen. Something like this doesn't come around every day.  You'll kick yourself tomorrow if you let this go."

"All right  Already! You got it.  $20 million.  Okay?"

"Deal." she says.  "I knew you'd come around." 

"So."  He laughs.  "You're good.  Real good.  Okay, Mikhail Prokhorov, you're mine now.  I got your web site.  Am I going to screw with you, you Crazy Russian.  Jane, you're a doll."

"I don't know about that."

"Oh boy, okay.  This is great.  Okay, okay. So...I'll have my Tech Team get in touch with you."

"Any time."

"You heard it, right Brentwood.  I'm the owner, right?"

"That you are, Mark," I say.

"My Finance Team will call you, too,  and do the money transfer."

"So," says Jane.  "I guess I gotta get back to work.  Nice doing business with you Mark.  Next time your over here in New Mexico, stop by.  We'll do some tequila shots."

"I like this lady.  You're on.  Okay. We'll be in touch."

"See ya, Mark.  Brentwood."


"Bentwood," he says.  He's out of breath.  "Thank you, my man.  I got it.  $20 million.  I'll sell some stock or something, but YES I got it."

"My pleasure," I say  "I'm glad I was able..."

"Thanks so much.   This is awesome.  So, I'll see you.  I'll send you some Mav tickets."

"When they play the Lakers?"

"You got it."

And that was my call to Mark 'The Shark' Cuban.  An NBA web site not owned by the owner?  Who knew?

I sip my buttermilk.  This is a good day.  It's always nice to have a Billionaire who owes you.  And for this, he owes me big time.

HELP COME FROM:  Google/Images,

Sunday, October 7, 2012


"...the Jets are up against it again...third and sixteen...Sanchez in the shotgun...he's got it...looks left...looks right...he throws over the middle...Hill, he's got, it's off his fingertips...incomplete..." 

"Come on, guys," says Plaxico Burress.  "You gotta catch the ball. Stickem.'  You gotta get some Stickem on your hands, Dummy.  What am I?  Watching some kind of high school game?"

It's Friday afternoon, around one.  Plaxico Burress lounges on his couch, bare feet on his coffee table, one full, three empty Doritos' bags on the floor.  His iPhone sits on the table, set on vibrate, blink, and loud ring.  No way he's missing the call.

He points an empty Red Bull can at his 100 inch LED Flatscreen.  "How can this be happening.  This is beyond just lame, guys.  I can't keep watching this." 

He grabs the remote, and replays the play.

"...the Jets are up against it again...third and sixteen...Sanchez in the shotgun...he's got it...looks left...looks right...he throws over the middle...Hill, he's got, it's off his fingertips...incomplete..." 

He pitches the Red Bull can.  It hits the wall and banks into the plastic trash can in the corner.  He pops another.  Eight or is this number nine?

"Come on, where's Tebow?  Something.  Sanchez ain't hackin' it.  What's going on?  Ryan, hello?  I'm sitting here. Your next wide receiver. Waiting.  By the phone."

His iPhone sits silently on the table.  He looks at it just as it rings.  He leaps.

"Plaxico?  That you?"

"It's me, who's this?  Coach Ryan?  Rex Ryan, that you?" says Plaxico.

"No no, no.  OchoCinco.  The Chadster.  Mister Chad Johnson.  I'm Just hangin.'  Been watching the Jets.  They need somebody like me back on the team, you know.   One of the best and they've forgot about me already, can you believe it?  Me, the Chadman."

"The Jets?  They're looking for young, my friend.  What are you?  Thirty-four?  Kinda old.  Come on, of course they'll take me first.  And after that thing you did on Dancing with the Stars, it's a wonder you can still show your face..."

"Plaxico, you'd be out there playing for free, they ever gave you another chance."

"What?  Look,  I'm not waiting by the phone if that's what you want to know.  So...Hey I got a call coming through, so...I'll see you Chad."

"It's me they really want, Burress.  Me, Chad Johnson.  I'll always be the real star."

"I don't know?  Didn't you do some pistachio commercials?  And race a thoroughbred?  You do weird stuff, Chad. They aren't looking for weird.  I'm down to 225 pounds and I'm faster and more explosive today than I ever been.  Hey, gotta go.  Real nice talking with you, Chad."

He drops the phone on the coffee table, and kicks it away with his foot.  "Play for free?  Guy's crazy.  Thinks I want to play that bad?"  He gulps Red Bull, sits back and looks at the can.  "This stuff ain't good for me."

He picks up his iPhone, and thumbs a number.

"New Jersey Discount Liquor."

"I'd like somethin' delivered.  I usually get drinks already made, so..."

"We got some Mount Gay Rum?"

"I don't know?  Mount Gay?"

"It's excellent rum. Or how about a bottle of Old Grand Dad?"

"I don't know.  Old?, not really."

"Got just the thing.  Ten High Whiskey.  It has a unique, (code for taste like kerosene), bold taste, (code for peels the paint off the hood of your F-150) you won't forget (code for you're in for one really hideous hangover).

"I'll take it. Two bottles."

"Okay, that'll be...let's see...with tax and tip...$100.  That's cheap, trust me."

Plaxico clicks replay.

"...the Jets are up against it again...third and sixteen...Sanchez in the shotgun...he's got it...looks left...looks right...he throws over the middle...Hill, he's got, it's off his fingertips...incomplete..." 

"I should be the one catching that...I'm sorry, okay two bottles, twenty minutes...that'll be fine."

Back at the LED.  "What the hell?  This guy Hill is nothing..."

His phone vibrates.  "Hello..Hello?  This is Plaxico.  Is this Rex?  Coach Ryan?"

"'s me T.O."

"T.O?  Oh, yeah. Terrell Owens."

"Yeah, T.O.  Who'd you think I was?  Coach Ryan?  You've been watching too many Jets games."
"No...Well yeah," says Plaxico.  "They sure need help."

"They need somebody like me," says T.O.  "No problem catchin' passes from Sanchez.   And Tebow?  He's still green.  One season with me makin' touchdowns..."

"You?" says Plaxico.  "How old are you, T.O?  Close to 50?"

"...39, if you have to know...

"...and with your Hydrocodone problems....

"...a long time ago...

"...and that stint last year with the Allen Texas Wranglers?  What the hell was that?"

"...I can still bring it, Buddy."

"I gotta much better chance than you, T.O.  I'm faster, stronger, and a whole lot younger."

"What about you, Burress?" says T.O.  "You're no prize.  You go to a stripper bar, a 9 mm in your pocket, and while you're getting a lap dance..."

"That was an accident...

"You end up shot in the leg.  No NFL teams wants somebody so Flaky, man."

"End of conversation, T.O.  And I'm no Flake, my friend."

Again he replays the play.

"...the Jets are up against it again...third and sixteen...Sanchez in the shotgun...he's got it...looks left...looks right...he throws over the middle...Hill, he's got, it's off his fingertips...incomplete..."

There's a knock on the door.  A young man carries in a brown paper bag.  Plaxico points toward the kitchen.  The young man sets down the bag, grabs the C-Note off the counter, giggles, and darts out the door.

Plaxico finds a milk glass and fills it to the rim with Ten High.  Three gulps, his eyes water, as he points the remote.  Another replay.

"...the Jets are up against it again...third and sixteen...Sanchez in the shotgun...he's got it...looks left...looks right...he throws over the middle...Hill, he's got, it's off his fingertips...incomplete..."
"I can't watch this any more."  He flops down on the couch.  His face is hot.  "This is crazy."  Another large gulp.

"What am I going to do?"   He  breathes heavily as he watches Hall drop the ball again and again, and again.   He stares at the screen, '  his fingertips...incomplete...'  '  his fingertips... incomplete...' '  his fingertips...incomplete...'

He lifts up, walks over to a desk, pulls out a 9 mm, walks back to the couch.  He takes another gulp, slowly sits down on the couch and blasts three large holes in the 100 inch screen. 

Just as the phone rings.

He jumps up and lurches for the iPhone. "Hello...Hello. This is Plaxico.  Plaxico Burress."

"Oh, I'm sorry.  It's Rex Ryan.  How are you doing Plaxico?  I'm sorry, but I guess your number was in here...and I dialed it by mistake.  Sorry.  You take care Plaxico."

Plaxico's knees buckle.  He falls into the couch, his face into the cushion.  Slowly, he sits up, gulps from the glass, and reaches for the remote.  But instead he picks up the 9 mm.  He looks at it, holds it out in front of him, and as he begins to cry,  he fires...


Thursday, October 4, 2012


Isiah Thomas sits and waits at a large conference table.  He's ready.  Armani, Florsheim, and a Gucci power  tie.   People, heads down, pass by the glass windows.  They text, pour over scripts, squint at incomprehensible pay stubs. 

A young lady enters.

 "Hello...sir.  Sara Walsh." 

They shake hands.

"So," says Sara. "You're hear for...?"

"It's me, Isiah Thomas.  I'm looking for a position as an on the air commentator." 

Sara giggles.  "Okay, Mr. Thomas.  Those kind of jobs are...well...You have to be a real somebody in sports."

She stares at Isiah.  A blank stare. "  Do you have a resume?" she says.  "Something, you know, I could follow along...while we talk about this.  But, I'll be honest, we have a pretty full roster of on air talent right now."

"But...I'm Isiah Thomas.  Here's the reason I'm here.  I was out at LAX last week, getting my bags.  Guy points at me, and snaps his fingers.  You know what he says to me?  Hey, I know you. You're Jerome Bettis, the Bus.  I felt about this high."  He puts his hand not too high in the air.  "He thinks I'm some old football player.  I need to get back in front of the public, so they know who I am again."

"Well, " says Sara. "You didn't bring a"  She opens her lap top, and types in Isiah Thomas/Wikipedia.  She stares into the monitor.  "Oh, yes.  Here you are.  Mr. Isiah Thomas, NBA Basketball player.  Okay.  We'll just use this as your resume."

She turns the monitor screen so they can both see it.

"Your last employment..?"

"You don't know me, do you?  Everyone calls me Zeke.  Lady, I'm in the Basket Ball Hall of Fame, come on."

"Yes," she says.  "I see it here."  She points at the screen.  "Okay, lets go backwards, the way we do interviews here.  Probably won't need any references...Hall of Fame and  You're last employment was...?"

"Maybe it'd be better if I get interviewed by some guy who knows me.  You think?"

"Mr. Thomas.   We're crazy busy around here. This is how it works.  I do the first interview.  If you're able to get past me,  I'm sure you'll get someone who knows who you are."

She pulls her lap top back, toward her, and leans in, closer to the screen.  "Now, your last employment?"
Isiah clenches his fists under the table.  A deep breath, "Last three years I've been the basketball coach for the Florida International University, 2009 to 2012."

"And how did that go?" 

"Well, young got it right in front of you.  FIU had five losing season, so I wanted to help them out.  But, at the same time I took a consulting job with the New York Knicks. Holding both jobs violated NBA by-laws. So..."

 " got fired..?  The University went 26–65 in those three seasons."

Isiah blinks.  His jaw tightens.  "Look, I was stretched real thin, so I had a problem focusing on the University."

"Could not focus...Okay?"  Sara makes a note on a note pad. Then stares at the screen. "Says here, you had a problem with Michael Jordan?  Now, there's a name I know.  He's around here a lot.  If there's a problem with Mr. Jordan...I don't think we can hire..."

"No problem, never was," says Isiah.  He laughs.  "He says we froze him out of an All Star Game once when he was a young player.  But it's all good now."  His voice rises.  "There never really was a problem, whatever he says."  He rubs the side of his face.

"  Oh boy."  She looks Isiah in the eye.  "I see here a law suit.  Sexual Harassment?  This is not good.  Not good at all."

"Oh that," says Isiah.  He waves his hand in the air.  "It never went to court.  Complete misunderstanding."  Again his voice rises.  "Nothing to it."

"But...Sexual Harassment is a very..."

"Okay, we made a deal...we paid her."

"Says here $11.5 million dollars?"

"She had no case.  To get her to go away, we simply paid her off." 

Sweat forms on his forehead. He gets up and begins to pace, flexing his fingers.

"And, there's an attempted overdose?"  She looks up at him, and shakes her head.  "This just gets better and better.  Drugs are pretty much a deal breaker here, Mr. Thompson."

"Thomas.  Isiah Thomas."  His voice is very loud.  "Damn,  girl.  It's Thomas.  It was Lunestta, a sleeping pill.  Back in 2008, come on.  I was tired and took too many, okay?"

"Not necessary to raise you voice, sir.  And wow, you bought the CBA...ten million dollars?"

He paces.  "I was an NBA All Star, so why not buy a B-Ball League?  So I did, the CBA.

"But the League collapsed?  Bankruptcy?"

"I gotta explain all this?  I was also the head coach of the Indiana Pacers at the same the CBA didn't do so well."

"Lack of focus again, Mr. Thomas?  Being able to focus is very big around here..."

Sara looks up.  A lady waves, and comes into the room.  A pretty lady in a tight blue skirt, and a wiley smile.

"Well, hello. It's Hannah."  Sara leans in close to Isiah, and whispers,  "It's Hannah Storm."

"Thanks Sara. I'll show Isiah around.  I've been listening in."

"Listening in?" says Isiah.

"Well, it's important we get a good idea..."

"That's not right," say Isiah.  "You treat everybody comes in here like this?"

Hannah takes Isiah to a small cubicle down a long aisle.

"If you get a position here, this is where you'll be working.  Just put your stuff on the table there.  Fix it up anyway you like.  You get your own computer."

Isiah takes a deep breath.  "This is it?  But...I was thinking more own office.  I used to have a huge office...with a window looking out over Detroit...a view of Belle Isle..."

"Your own office?" says Hannah.  "Please.  I have an office, sure, but, you'll be starting with graveyard shift stuff...if you're hired..and well..."

Isiah freezes at the sight of the cubicle.  No windows, no views, no freedom, "No, no way.  This isn't going to work.  A small, thin, sticky notes on the wall, cubicle.  Not for me.  No.  I'm the one in charge.  I do the telling."

"Well, as a matter of fact, I'd be your handler here. Your marching orders, you know, would come from me, until you're ready to go on the air."

"No, this isn't going to work out.  Nobody's going to put me in a little box...and working for a woman? I'm sorry."

"I don't like your tone, Mr Thomas.  You came to us, remember?"

He turns and strides toward the front door.  "No body knows who I am anymore."  As he pushes out the door, the lobby elevators open and two older ladies walk out. 

In his haste, Isiah throws an elbow as he passes them.  (A holdover from his playing days?)

"What the hell, ladies," he says.  "I'm walking here."

The ladies look at each other, grab Thomas by the back of his coat, each taking a leg.  They carry him outside, flip up a manhole cover, and drop him in.  They smile and punch fists at his agonizing screams.

"Some kind of old football player?"

"Beats the hell out of me."


Isiah Thomas/WikiPedia,,,, Google/Images,

Tuesday, October 2, 2012



"Just call me Oakley.  All you need to know.  Fifty Grand before and Fifty after.  You got my account, in the Seychelles.  It'll be safe there.  Once I get confirmation, it's a go.  So?  Anything else?"

"We need to put a rush on this. You know, like tonight, against the Mariners, at Angel Stadium.  We can't wait."

"I'm good at this. So, no problem.  Anything else?"

"Well, no.  I guess..."


Leaving the Starbucks on Sunset Boulevard, she drops her phone on the sidewalk, stomps on it, then kicks the pieces into the storm drain.  Glancing at her watch,  she sets her jaw.  The Game starts at 7:05. Time to go.


"...So here we go everybody.  It's the bottom of the ninth, Mariners up nine eight, Trout's on third, there's one out and a 2 and 0 count on Albert Pujols.   The outfielder's are playing way back, on the warning track.  A check of Trout, the's a Suicide Squeeze...Pujols bunts it right in front of the plate...and...Trout, is...on the ground.  He fell down...He's holding his left shoulder and is writhing in pain.  He's tagged out, the throw to first.  Double Play.  Wait...What? There's blood shooting out of Trout's shoulder.  Something is really wrong with Mike Trout." 

"Did you hear the bang?  See...on the replay.  There...look, right there.  Lady in the Green Polka-Dotted Dress...She's got a gun.  See it?"

"Yeah, right behind the dugout...Oh My GOD. But where is she?...She's  gone...there...see her going up the stairs...?  Somebody should stop her?"

After taking her shot, Oakley strides quickly toward the 'Ladies.'  Seven seconds, she's in and out.  Green Polka-Dotted dress going in, a Red Jump Suit coming out, just as Security rushes in past her.  Hungry, she stops, grabs a corn dog, then melts into the crowd.

Ten minutes later she ditches the gun, in another storm drain on Katella, over near Los Alamitos Race Track.  Like she said, she's good at this.


Trout's eyes flicker, then open wide to an IV, to four white walls, and to a man sitting on the bed.

"What?  The?  Hell?"

"Mike, you're awake.  You've been out for about two hours.  You got shot."

"I got what?"  He looks at his left arm.  It hangs in a sling tied to a pulley. 

"Mike, don't worry.  Couple of months you'll be as good a new.  Come on, you're only 21.  You'll heal quick.  It's not like it's your throwing arm."

Trout looks around the room.  "This is crazy.  Scioscia calls for a Suicide Squeeze, I'm running, and then...this Horrendous my shoulder?  Now I wake up with my Agent sitting on the bed?"  He lifts up on his right elbow.  "Sammy, what the hell is going on.  And why are you smiling?"

     Sammy's phone rings.  "Yeah, this is Sammy...It's horrible.  Right near third base, can you believe?...Shot...It's been touch and go...but he's awake now... He may never play another game..." 

"Mike, you can't tell anyone about this,  but there's a bonus clause in your contract.  We...You...get a bonus if you're the MVP.  Everybody thought no way MVP, you're only a Rookie.  But I got it in there anyway, thank you very much.  Ten Million Dollar bonus.  A rookie, they said.  Never happen, they said.  No problem, ten million, they said."

Trout stares at his Agent.  A 'WTF' stare.

"It's a bunch of sports writers who vote on MVP.  Sports writers, don't you love them.  And since it's so close this year, we needed an edge."

"An edge?"

"Yeah, we need these Sports Writer's sympathy.  I hired Oakley, that's her name, to shoot you while you were on the field."  He jumps off the bed, and punches the air, left, right, uppercut.  "Yes, and we did it."

"You...What?  You hired somebody to...Shoot me?"

"Hey, she only winged you.  In the left shoulder.  Like a bad spider bite.  You'll live, Mike, you'll live." 

     Sammy's phone again.  "The doctor's aren't's so sad.  You're one of the voters for MVP, right?   It's so crazy.  He might never play another game..."

"I could've been killed.  What were you thinking?"

"Mike, trust me, I...we...had to take that chance." says Sammy.  "We're talking Ten Mil here, buddy."

Trout's face is red.  He flops back in the bed, and toward the ceiling, "Get out of here.  And don't ever come back."  In a voice heard throughout the Hospital, if not all of Anaheim.

"Okay, I'm going, but Mike, it's all good. I had to do it.  We need their sympathy. You'll thank me later, my friend."

At the door he turns back. "You know it was worth the risk.  Hey, MVP, and Ten Million Dollars?  Come on.  We'll look back on this in two, three years, and laugh like hell."

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