LOCKER ROOM CONFIDENTIAL
A former big leaguer and author of the groundbreaking Ball Four
explains what the Ruben Rivera incident was really about
There is a sign in many baseball clubhouses that says, WHAT WE
SAY HERE, WHAT YOU SEE HERE, LET IT STAY HERE WHEN YOU LEAVE
HERE. It's not about keeping the opposing team from learning the
game plan. It's about avoiding embarrassment over the foolish
things that go on in a clubhouse.
The kind of thing that reserve outfielder Ruben Rivera did, for
example. In a Winona Ryder moment, Rivera stole Derek Jeter's
game glove and a bat and sold them to a memorabilia dealer for
$2,500. After the theft was discovered, Rivera fessed up and
returned the items. A few days later he was released from the
So why did the story get beyond the locker room? If there really
was such a thing as the sanctity of the clubhouse it should have
protected Rivera. But it didn't, for the simple reason that
Rivera is a marginal player. Imagine if Jeter had taken Rivera's
glove and sold it. Would we have heard about it? Would Jeter
have been kicked off the team? Fuhgeddaboudit. Some player or
coach would have pointed up and said, "Boys, that's why we have
March 25, 2002
Some years back I wrote a book that revealed what went on in a
clubhouse, mentioning, among other things, that Mickey Mantle
had hit a home run with a hangover. The reaction was
interesting. The players said, "Who is Jim Bouton to be saying
that about Mickey Mantle?" The implication was that it would
have been O.K. for Mantle to have said stuff about me, and it
would have been. Call it the sanctity of the star system.
The most furious reaction to my book, however, came from the
sportswriters. That's because the sanctity of the clubhouse
protects them, too--from competition. People who wrote columns
with titles like "Clubhouse Confidential" and "Inside the Locker
Room" called me a Judas and a Benedict Arnold. Today they have
Rivera down there on the list with the terrorists. They said his
career was over, and good riddance. You can always count on
sportswriters to enforce whatever rules baseball wants to enforce.
Or not enforce. Like the very brief story in New York's Daily
News two weeks ago that disclosed that in 1989, in the midst of
the Pete Rose investigation, umpires Rich Garcia and Frank
Pulli, were secretly put on two years' probation for
"associating and doing business with gamblers and bookmakers" in
violation of baseball's most important rule. Pulli is now an
umpire supervisor and Garcia is in line for a similar job.
Why did we just find out about this now? Because the one thing
more important than the sanctity of the clubhouse, besides the
sanctity of the star system, is the sanctity of the
commissioner's office. --Jim Bouton
Rivera isn't the first sports figure who's been connected to
missing objects. Here's a look at two recent examples.
Wide receiver Albert Connell is suspended by the Saints after
removing $4,300 from teammate Deuce McAllister's locker and car.
Connell calls the act a prank and returns the money but is still
cut from the team.
Sixers conditioning coach John Croce--brother of then team
president Pat Croce--is caught on camera taking cash from Allen
Iverson's pants pocket in Philadelphia's locker room. No charges
are pressed, but John subsequently resigns.
SPORTS AND GENETIC ENGINEERING
Last May, SI recounted the story of a mouse that was genetically
altered by a team of researchers at Penn's Department of
Physiology (SI, May 14, 2001). He-man, as we dubbed him, had
been injected with a synthetic gene that instructed his body to
produce more of a protein that makes muscles grow and also helps
them repair themselves when they've been damaged. As a result,
He-man's muscle mass was 60% greater than that of a normal mouse.
We're sorry to report that He-man died of old age in January. He
was the human equivalent of 80 to 90. When H. Lee Sweeney, the
head of the research team, did an autopsy he found that He-man
had maintained almost all of his muscle mass, even though his
daily workouts had been stopped six months earlier. "It would be
like an NFL star keeping his physique and his ability to run,
jump and lift until he died of old age," says Sweeney.
That result was one of many startling pieces of data presented
this week at a groundbreaking symposium on the genetic
enhancement of athletes. Organized by the World Anti-Doping
Agency (WADA), the conference, held in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.,
brought together genetic researchers and sports leaders,
including Norwegian speed skater Johann Olav Koss. "WADA wanted
to gain an understanding of the potential of this science and of
what the problems are going to be," says Sweeney. "They ought to
be scared of where this is going."
Sweeney predicts a human will be genetically manipulated, most
likely to cure a muscular disease, within four years. After that
it's a short step to athletes' secretly seeking the treatment, a
prospect that has WADA chairman Dick Pound on alert. "We want to
be ahead of the curve on this, rather than play catch-up as with
doping," he says. "We have to do more than declare it unethical.
We're going to have to reach out to governments to tame this
brave new world."
Theodore Friedmann, the director of a UC San Diego program that
studies gene therapy and a speaker at the symposium, hopes
meetings such as this one will result in a ban on the use of
genetic engineering for anything but medical need. "Our aim needs
to be not at the athletes but at the scientists who would give
them access," says Friedmann. "We can't stop everybody, but maybe
we can label this so outrageous that people won't try."
That's an unlikely scenario. "Every time one of these articles
runs, my phone rings off the hook with athletes--mostly
weightlifters--looking for an edge," says Sweeney. "The sports
world has reason to be nervous." --Don Yaeger
A Sporting View
In anticipation of Sunday's Oscars ceremony, we handicap some of
the top categories according to an important criterion that
Academy members fail to take into account: What's the best
choice for a sports fan? And the Oscars go to....
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Gosford Park had hunting scenes, A Beautiful Mind had games of
go, and baseball plays a role in In the Bedroom. But only Lord
of the Rings starred Notre Dame's gridiron underdog Rudy as a
Halle Berry (Monster's Ball) Though we were disappointed to find
out Monster's Ball isn't about Mike Tyson's hoops game, we can't
help but root for someone who used to be married to A's
outfielder David Justice.
Denzel Washington (Training Day)
Will Smith in Ali is the obvious choice, but Washington has the
better sports pedigree. He's played a boxer (The Hurricane) a
football coach (Remember the Titans) and a basketball player (He
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Marisa Tomei (In the Bedroom)
Mainly because we like all the Red Sox games heard on the radio
in the background during several of the movie's pivotal scenes.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jon Voight (Ali)
He plays Howard Cosell. We like Howard Cosell.
Euros, or about $2,600, the sum that the German Hockey League
fined Berlin Polar Bears forward Scott Levins for calling a
referee a Nazi during an on-ice dispute; Levins, a U.S. citizen,
played for the Ottawa Senators in the mid-1990s.
Years it took the Yale basketball team to win its first game in
a postseason tournament; the Bulldogs defeated Rutgers 67-65
last week in the National Invitational Tournament.
People who have signed a petition protesting Florida's hiring in
January of inexperienced Ron Zook as Gators football coach; the
petition is sponsored by the new website fireronzook.com.
Fans at Cleveland's Gund Arena to watch St. Vincent-St. Mary
High of Akron and its star guard, LeBron James, defeat
Warrensville Heights High 78-49 in a regional playoff, an Ohio
record for a high school basketball game.
Warriors center Adonal Foyle believes more athletes would become
politically active except, he says, "most people who approach
them with a political agenda don't explain the issues. All they
want is a check." In his five years in the NBA, Foyle, 27, has
cut his share of checks, but he's more comfortable rolling up
his sleeves and getting involved--organizing fund-raisers for
AIDS research, working at literacy programs and stumping for his
pet cause, campaign-finance reform.
Last summer Foyle, who grew up on the Caribbean island of
Canouan and earned a history degree at Colgate, launched
Democracy Matters, a nonprofit group that encourages grassroots
political activism on college campuses and focuses on campaign
financing. "It's the issue that unites all others," Foyle says.
"The environment, civil rights--they all tie in with equal
representation in the political system. If 'one person, one
vote' is truly a sacred value, then we have to invest in this,
because people are currently buying access."
In January, Foyle led a workshop on the issue at an economic
development summit at which Alan Greenspan was the keynote
speaker. Last month he oversaw a Democracy Matters conference at
which students heard speakers like Bill Bradley (above, left).
"Young people were at the forefront of the reform movements of
the 1960s," Foyle says. "Now there's a lot of disillusionment.
Young people throw up their hands, tired of the system. I want
them to know, 'No! You can repair the system. You can fight the
fight.'" --Daniel G. Habib
When I was in third grade, I wore my skate key on a red shoelace
around my neck. It was 1976, and a skate key was a badge of
honor: It told the world I'd mastered the knee-skinning,
elbow-bruising skill of roller skating. The key, which I would
suck on absentmindedly in school while practicing my penmanship,
also represented a promise. Soon class would be out, and I would
clamp my skates over my size 3 Keds and tear up the roads. When
the adjustable roller skate gave way to in-lines, a culture
The skate key had a hold on other imaginations as well. In 1971
Melanie's suggestive hit Brand New Key ("I got a brand new pair
of roller skates, you got a brand new key....") topped the
charts. The Peanuts gang was also smitten. I remember our chorus
teacher, Mr. Johnson, handing out the lyrics to Happiness, from
the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown: "Happiness is two
kinds of ice cream, finding your skate key, telling the time."
Sadness, of course, was losing the key, which happened the day
my red shoelace came untied. Usually my key dangled on a row of
nails on the garage wall. One day it was nowhere to be found. I
spent hours glumly watching the other kids roll by until I
explored a pile of old sports equipment in a corner of the
garage. Beneath a tennis racket and a hula hoop I glimpsed
something red. I didn't know how it got there, but I didn't
care. Minutes later I was back on wheels. --Amy Ruth Levine
By hundreds of U.S. companies, employee access to online sports
sites during the NCAA basketball tournament. Companies including
Travelers Insurance and several banks were responding to the
reduction in employee productivity and the heavy stress on
computer networks that has accompanied March Madness in recent
By Hollywood's Saville Productions, the film rights to the life
story of British plasterer cum ski jumper Eddie (the Eagle)
Edwards, who provided comic relief at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Saville is pitching the story as a hybrid of Rocky and The Full
By Calgary radio station CJAY 92FM, an on-air contest in which
listeners attempted to distinguish exclamations recorded during
curling competitions, such as "Hurry, hurry, hard!" and those
from adult films.
The ad slogan "Feel the Power," by Drakkar Noir men's cologne.
For six years the phrase was used by the NFL, which last year
dropped it in pursuit of a kinder, gentler image. The motto is
being used in ads featuring NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
At Nebraska, cheerleader stunts such as flips, tumbles and
pyramids. The school recently agreed to a $2.1 million
settlement with a Cornhuskers cheerleader who was severely
injured while practicing an acrobatic flip in 1996. Nebraska
administrators say their insurance costs are too high to permit
such dangerous stunts.
The appearance of Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi by
24-year-old Toronto infield prospect Orlando Hudson. "He's a
smooth-looking cat," Hudson said. "He looks like he was a pimp
back in the day." Hudson, who said his observation was meant as
a compliment, was subsequently optioned to Triple A.
Forward Chucky Brown, who on Monday signed with the Kings for
the rest of the season, has played for an NBA-record 12 teams in
his 13-year career
What's the biggest drag about the journeyman lifestyle?
Not knowing where you're going to go when. My wife and
one-year-old daughter [who live in North Carolina] didn't
originally come with me to Sacramento. That's tough. The actual
moving is the least of my troubles, because teams give you a
fully furnished apartment with the phone hooked up and dishes in
the cupboards. All I have to do is get groceries and show up to
play. There are times, though, when you forget what city you're
Which city's fans show the most love?
The people of Houston during the 1994-95 championship season
were great, but for years I've said the best fans are in
Sacramento. They're so into the game. Philly is the worst. The
fans only holler crazy, rude stuff at you. Fans in other cities
will at least acknowledge a good play, but in Philly you're
still a bum.
Could you rate your coaches?
Chuck Daly [Nets, 1992-93] and Rudy Tomjanovich [Rockets,
1994-95] were fair, good coaches. They always had the right
thing to say without going off on long stories. Then there was
Chris Ford [Bucks, 1996-97]. He was the angriest. He was just
mad about a lot of stuff. I tried to stay out of his way.
What was your worst experience as a player?
During a three-game stint with Italy's Panna Firenze in 1992, I
got fined because I didn't wave to the president of the team
when he passed me in the hallway. I didn't know who he was, and
I was just minding my own business. The next day I was told that
I was going to be fined $30,000. I was like, what?
What do you think of your Internet devotees?
When I was in Houston, some guy called and asked me if he could
start up a fan club, and I said, "That's cool with me." The guys
on the site came up with a theory that says if you trade me,
something bad's going to happen to you.
What are the most important lessons you've learned along the way?
That there are lots of different personalities in this business,
and that you must always be a professional. Even if you're not
playing, you can't complain, because a lot of people want to be
in your position. A long time ago my mom and dad gave me the best
advice: Play hard to the finish, because you never know when your
last minute might be. --Kelley King
From HBO--the network that has brought you shows about
dysfunctional families (The Sopranos), sexually empowered women
(Sex and the City), and empty-headed sports figures
(Arli$$)--comes Baseball Wives, a series with elements of all
three. Wives, which portrays the trials of being married to a
major leaguer, was created by Michelle Grace, the ex-wife of
Diamondbacks first baseman Mark Grace. Michelle (below, with
current husband, actor Ray Liotta) is an executive producer and
will play one of the wives, as will actress Julie Warner (Family
Law), who stars as Lorraine Bradley. "Lorraine's the queen bee
bitch of the baseball wives," says Warner. "She's very
controlling and very manipulative." Some story lines: a star
rookie is caught by his wife in bed with a female journalist;
the wife of a heartthrob player deals with her insecurities; and
a player gets sent to the minors after his wife chastises the
manager over her husband's lack of playing time. "It's an
interesting culture," says Warner. "There's a lot of hair, a lot
of makeup and a lot of nails going on. But underneath all that,
they're human beings." ... The shakeup at Monday Night Football,
in which Dennis Miller, Dan Fouts and Eric Dickerson got booted,
also claimed the lesser-known Locke Peterseim. For the last two
seasons, Peterseim, a freelance writer from Chicago, has written
the Annotated Dennis Miller, a popular feature that ran on the
Brittanica.com and the Monday Night Football websites. Each week
Peterseim's columns broke down Miller's wide-ranging pop
cultural references, explaining what Miller meant when he
compared the quality of games to "Ripple, Thunderbird and
Boone's Farm" (three cheap wines made by Ernest and Julio
Gallo), or when he said "that hit was later than Godot" (a
reference to Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot). "When I
started, I wasn't a football fan," says Peterseim. "Now it eats
up most of my Sundays. My postmortem on Miller was that he got
people like me interested in football."
This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse
Former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, 52, has agreed to a
10-round bout against onetime Toughman champ and novelty act
"Imagine an NFL star keeping his physique until he died of old
age." PAGE 26
They Said It
Nets center and University of Washington alum, on the 20 friends
who came to watch a New Jersey game in Seattle even though he
sat out with an injury: "It would have been less if I'd been