If you've ever taken a peek through trembling fingers at mixed martial arts, ultimate fighting, ice hockey and other forms of family entertainment where gore and gristle is king, you probably suspect that the participants are tougher than the proverbial bus station porterhouse. So it's a little disorienting to learn that lightweight Josh "The Punk" Thomson has pulled out of his title defense in the main event of Strikeforce "Destruction" in San Jose on Nov. 21 due to a broken toe. Now, a doughy pointyheaded penpusher like me who couldn't beat an egg in a pillowfight is hardly qualified to say that a finely-tuned athletic machine like The Punk would not be hindered and jeopardized by a barking dog, but we can't help noticing that defensive tackle Fred Robbins of the New York Giants is playing -- and playing rather well -- with a fracture in each paw. NHL lore is littered with legends such as Bob Baun of the Maple Leafs leaving the ice on a stretcher only to return and complete a 1964 Stanley Cup final game on a broken ankle loaded with painkillers. For some reason, a toe scratching The Punk just brought to mind Red Sox hurler Clay Buchholz going on the 15-day DL with a torn fingernail last May.
The Most Dangerous Game
Partisans in a passion pit
It's no military secret that being a sports fan can be hazardous to your health. Wearing the wrong cap in the wrong arena or city can get your skull tenderized, and while soccer still has the market on mortal peril cornered and trembling, college football is carving out a formidable reputation as the home office for psychos. Last year, we had the charming incident of an Oklahoma Sooners partisan literally ripping the cohones off a Texas Longhorns rooter who had the brass to waltz into an Oklahoma City watering hole while wearing his team's attire. The entire male population of the United States crossed its collective legs at that one. Now we have the equally heartwarming incident of a couple being gunned down after last Saturday's Alabama-LSU tilt when one of the victims reportedly opined, "Alabama just got lucky and LSU should have won." Though the slain man's family and the cops maintain that the shooting wasn't solely the byproduct of partisan zeal gone terribly awry, it's now easy to imagine that it at least figured in the mix. All this space can say is that if the human race must resort to mindless violence, killing and maiming, at least it's doing so over stuff that truly matters and not frivilous things.
An innocent victim
If you need further proof that an emotional investment in sports can unhinge even those in lofty positions of power and responsibility, consider the case of Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo who pulverized his TV set in a fit of rage after watching his team lose the Formula One championship to McLaren's Lewis Hamilton last weekend in the final lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix. "When a television breaks it makes a terrible bang," Montezemolo noted. "My daughter in the other room was given an awful fright." Amazingly, there were no similar reports that NASCAR prez Brian France had done likewise after ABC abruptly switched off the final laps of the Checker O?Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway to ESPN2 so the viewing audience could enjoy America's Funniest Home Videos.
Sweet Smell of Excess
No dame can resist eau de Walnuts
One of the truly great blessings of living in this century is that we, the great unwashed, can smell like our heroes if we so desire. Thus, Sopranos aficionados are atwit with excitement at the news that Tony Sirico aka Paulie Walnuts has brewed up a new cologne called Paolo Per Uomo. (Italian for "sleeping with the prosciutto.") "It's a man's cologne," boasts Sirico, although some women disagree, with one apparently revolted New York Post reviewer declaring that "Paolo Per Umo smells like every lasagna-loving, spaghetti-slurping mob-boss wannabe or cheap imitation consigliere." Sports fans, of course, have been bathing in and guzzling Derek Jeter's Driven ("a subtle yet insouciant offering of new car smell, pine tar, peanuts and chardonnay" according to Aftershave and Toilet Water Review) and [Michael] Jordan Cologne for Men ("a bracing blast of sweat socks, cigar smoke, steak sauce and cotton briefs.") Yep, it's hard to go wrong these days if you're out to turn a woman's head or stomach.
Unfounded Rumor of the Week
Just awful on the field and off
With so many media voices pelting you with information, it can be awfully hard to believe anyone, so that's why when the walls are closing in and the dog is laughing too loud, this space always heads for the shoeshine stand in the lobby here at the Time & Strife Building, the Midtown Manhattan HQ of SI.com. While having a liberal dollop of goosegrease applied to the old Chuck Taylors this morning, our source mentioned that in the wake of last week's finding that Derek Jeter is the worst fielder in baseball bar none, another blue ribbon panel headed by Bill James is now feverishly working to prove that Jeter is the worst person on the planet. "They analyzed his vast wealth, his commercials, the outcomes of all of his canoodling with models, and his bland utterances to the media," whispered our source, "and they determined that Jeter is most worthy of every human being's scorn." As always, you read it here first ... and more'n likely last.