MMA's next true hero

Wednesday July 15th, 2009

After the appalling rantings and ravings of Brock Lesnar at last weekend's UFC 100, it seems to this space that the MMA scene could use a real hero to cheer, one who won't give the crowd the bird and diss sponsors and their fine products after winning a big bout. So this space nominates celebrated author Jose Canseco.

After being knocked loopy in short order by 7-foot 2-inch Hong Man Choi in May, Jose got up off his Canseco, dusted himself off, and will be taking on a USDA Grade A foe in the form of Bill "El Wingador" Simmons, a five-time Wing Bowl (as in chicken wing-eating) champion and Hall of Famer, in Damon Feldman's Celebrity Boxing 10 on July 24 in Aston, PA.

Now, a food fight is a splendid idea, and this space eagerly anticipates the gristle and barbecue sauce that will be slathered on the mat by the time this sucker wheezes to a conclusion. (Simmons is 47 years old, 6-feet 5-inches tall, and weighs in at a stout 330 pounds.) But think about it: what better way for Canseco to redeem his image as a self-serving squealer who would sell-out his very own mother than to become Tomato Canseco -- MMA's version of the Washington Generals?

We're not suggesting that he deliberately throw fights in comedic fashion. MMA must remain legit, after all. But given that the early results from Canseco's career -- losses to Vai Sikahema and that big ol' Korean feller, a draw with Dangerous Danny Bonaduce -- it's quite likely he's going to get the feathers knocked out of him by Simmons. The more Jose keeps coming back to take his licks, the more admiration he earns. Heck, let Lesnar tear him limb from limb. We know who we'd be hailing as they cart his mortal remains from the arena.

No doubt you're despondent that the U.S. came up short at the World Pea Shooting Championships at the village green in Witcham, England. The Brits, however, are beside themselves with glee as native son Jim Collins beat a world class field of more than 100 -- some using high-tech laser-guided shooters -- at the fine art of blowing peas at a target from a distance of 12 feet. And to think that you were probably told that your favorite classroom activity would get you nothing but a trip to the principal's offce. Man, if this space had only known, we'd have insisted to Principal Prusan that we were merely in training (the world championships have been held annually since 1970) and that mean old Mrs. Bongarzone was anti-American for attempting to squash our gold medal dreams.

For those skeptics out there who believe that this space is nothing more than the deluded ravings of a mothball addict -- in our May 27 installment, we noted that sports is just loaded with paranormal hookie-dookie -- we're tempted to present the following as further evidence: Twins outfielder Carlos Gomez has joined the ranks of those who believe that Milwaukee's Pfister Hotel is haunted. He claims to have heard voices and been so spooked by his iPod acting strangely after he got out of the shower that he ran into the lobby without his pants on, no doubt scaring the hell out of everyone in the room.

Now this space loves a good ghost story as much as the next muscatel-swilling stupe on the stoop, but it's not too hard to debunk this one. Wierd voices are often heard in hotels -- whether the voices be in the throes of knockin' boots or heated arguments, or simply because some punk kid is blasting SpongeBob SquarePants on the TV. And iPods will behave strangely, particularly if they've been brought into the shower. (Ours wouldn't stop playing "Yellow Submarine" by The Beatles.) So perhaps a few deep breaths are in order for Mr. Gomez while we look into reports of Bud Selig apparitions floating through the halls while the wind moans in the eaves.

Strange race, we humans. One of the great existential questions is surely: what kind of individual gets his jollies from running wild-eyed down a narrow street in a pack of stampeding bulls? In case you haven't noticed, bulls come factory-equipped with two sharp horns, which they always neglect to blow by way of warning to those in front of them. They also have the bovine equivalent of steel-toed jackboots attached to the ends of their legs.

In this year's annual week-long gore-fest in Spain, one runner was killed -- the 15th to meet his maker in that beefy fashion since 1922. Last Sunday, 11 were carted off to the meathouse in various stages of ventilation and trampled disrepair. Yeah, humans have been taking it in the keister and worse at Pamplona for centuries, and Ernest Hemingway romanticized these bull sessions in a famous novel, but much of this is explained by the hapless souls who insist on running with a load on after a night of drinking. Booze muscles or not, any way you slice it, the bulls get a measure of gleeful revenge for all they're put through in the ring and the human gene pool is spared a few clunkers.

With a flood of injuries and continuing indifferent or circus-worthy play by their swarthy men of virtue in white, blue and orange, Mets fans have become a surly lot these days. Apparently they've taken to booing the big red apple that rises from behind the centerfield wall at Citi Field whenever a Met "hits a dinger" as we say in the sports cliche factory. In this particular case, the fruit failed to materialize on Sunday after Fernando Tatis tattooed a tater and it was lustily serenaded, thus placing Mets fans in the neighborhood of Phillies partisans who were immortalized by former pitcher Bo Belinsky: "Philadelphia fans would boo funerals, an Easter egg hunt, a parade of armless war vets, and the Liberty Bell." Like Philly's bell, the apple is a New York institution, though not quite as old. It's been doing its thing, more or less, since 1980.

Continuing in our vein of stark human drama, we have the report out of Boston about the gentleman who relieved Tom Brady's condominium property of two flower pots valued at $8,000. At that price, those must be some flower pots -- diamond encrusted, no doubt -- and the question is begged why the Patriots QB would leave such valuable items unattended and sitting by the trash where Mr. Dennis Paiva, age 61, could abscond with them.

For those who despair that there is no justice in this world, Paiva -- who is reportedly a convicted bank robber -- was caught by the long arm of the law and forced to pay $4,000 restitution, a lousy return considering he peddled them for $450. But such are the pitfalls of the sports memorabilia biz.

Our "source" with intimate knowledge of the cocktail franks at the "swank" Mandarin Oriental in New York City found it highly interesting that San Antonio Spur Richard Jefferson left his red-hot cheerleader fiancee standin' at the altar on Saturday -- via email no less -- just as news of the Tony Romo - Jessica Simpson split was breaking. "It makes sense in a way," whispered the source, who admittedly was fresh off the midnight screening of Bruno and six gin stingers at the aborted Jefferson nuptials at the Mandarin when two and two added up to a spicy new fun couple. As a thoroughly disreputable, dispicable media outlet, it's this space's duty to pass along all the sketchy details and salacious suggestiveness while clinging to the leg of the public's right to know.

Everyone fancies themselves a writer. Don't lie to us. You do, too. And chances are you're sitting there white-knuckled, your brow creased with rage and determination as you swear that you could put to shame the meathead who churns out this sad excuse for a column.

Well, Buck-O, here's your chance. Merely deposit your pearly prose, bons mots and trenchant commentary in the handy space-time portal on your right (our left) and click Send. We'll be feeling shame in no time and you'll be on your way to seeing your name and words in this space next week. You'll be the envy of your neighborhood and sting from all the backslaps. Community leaders will hail you as a lamp unto everyone's feet. Complete strangers will buy you drinks and offer to take you to potato races. Your life will never be the same.

Just try it and see. We wouldn't steer you wrong. We have a GPS system attached to our keyboard.

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