A Sobering Experience
Yankees pitcher David Wells figured that by being outrageous he
could sell a heap of books. He just didn't expect people to
actually read the darn thing
For the first time since Ball Four was published in 1970, the
biggest news in baseball is about a book. In David Wells's prose
debut, Perfect I'm Not! Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches and
Baseball, the Yankees' lefty claims he was "half drunk" when he
threw a perfect game against the Twins in 1998. He also states
that up to 40% of major leaguers are on steroids and that
teammates Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina, as well as former Mets
manager Bobby Valentine, are, to put it more politely than Wells
By the end of last week players from Fort Myers to Phoenix were
weighing in on Boomer's bashings, Wells's publisher had pushed up
the release date to benefit from the brouhaha, and Wells was
taken to the woodshed by manager Joe Torre and G.M. Brian
Cashman, who reprimanded him for "tarnishing the Yankees' image."
Said Wells of their meeting, "It was not pleasant." It's nice to
see that the pen can still stir things up in the world of sports.
It would be even nicer if the book weren't so hard to believe.
Start with Wells's most eye-catching claim. Mets pitcher David
Cone--a former Yankee who is portrayed throughout the book as a
Prince Hal to Wells's Falstaff--scoffs at the notion that Wells
pitched perfectly while plowed. "He maybe had a few drinks the
night before, and maybe he was hungover," said Cone, who was with
Wells that evening in New York. "But he was not drunk." Consider,
too, Wells's claim that he was on the mound for the Blue Jays in
1999 when Valentine was ejected, then returned to the dugout in
disguise. "I can say he's a liar," Valentine told The New York
Times, "because he wasn't on the mound when I was thrown out of
Clemens, though not as upset as Valentine, has similar feelings
about Wells's veracity. Last week he revealed that he calls Wells
"Eli" because "'e lies" constantly. "If a story goes over 30
seconds," Clemens added, "he's lying."
Wells wrote his book with one Chris Kreski, whose previous gigs
include Beavis and Butt-head. This may explain why Perfect reads
like Beavis and Boomer: "Trust me," Wells writes, "if I were Mike
Piazza, that broken bat would still be shoved up Roger's ass." A
shoddy attempt to sell books, you say? Wells, who reportedly got
a mid-six-figure advance, wouldn't disagree. He has boasted that
Perfect will put his kids through college.
Still, it's possible that Wells will need to scrape by on the
$3-million-plus incentives he gets from the team he just
embarrassed. Why, you have to wonder, would anyone shell out
$25.95 for Perfect? There is already ample evidence that Wells
stays out too late and drinks too much--his beer belly, his
late-night brawls, his 7.15 daytime (read: morning after) ERA in
2002--available for free. What's more, Wells has lately been
backtracking faster than Bernie Williams on a drive to deep
center. What about 40% of his peers using steroids? "I don't know
who's juicing," he said last week. "I couldn't tell you."
(Co-author Kreski said that the figure might be revised downward
by the March 14 publication date.) And being in the bag for his
perfect game? Nah, Wells now says, "I wasn't drunk.... I took
some aspirin and had a headache the next day." Not as big as the
one he's gotten from his first foray into literature. --M.B.
HIV ended boxer Tommy Morrison's career. Now a new life is about
It's been more than six years since heavyweight Tommy Morrison's
last fight, a 98-second knockout of a last-minute stand-in named
Marcus Rhode. The bout was held in Tokyo because nine months
earlier, in February 1996, Morrison had tested positive for HIV
and no sanctioning body in the U.S. would license him. The
disease turned the man who had beaten George Foreman and appeared
as Tommy (Machine) Gunn in Rocky V into a virtual outcast,
scotching a potential bout with Mike Tyson. In retirement
Morrison's tale worsened: He spent 14 months in prison on
Now 34, Morrison is making a comeback worthy of the Italian
Stallion. The former contender has remarried his high school
sweetheart, Dawn, and they're living in sleepy Sparta, Tenn.
Morrison, who's just over his fighting weight of 227 pounds,
trains regularly and says the HIV virus, which he treats daily
with antiviral medication, has been undetectable in his blood for
three years. But the most striking thing about his rebirth is
that thanks to a rare medical procedure that enables HIV-infected
fathers to conceive, Dawn is pregnant with their second child.
(The Morrisons won't say how their three-year-old son was
conceived.) "This seemed so out of reach a few years ago," says
It still seemed impossible in early 2001 when Morrison called Dr.
Ann Kiessling, a specialist at the Bedford Research Foundation
outside Boston. "Tommy said he wanted to have a child," Kiessling
says. "He just had two problems: He'd had a vasectomy, and he was
HIV-positive." Morrison underwent a testicular biopsy to retrieve
sperm; then doctors separated those cells from the seminal fluid,
which is more likely to contain HIV. They fertilized Dawn's eggs,
and after two tries the Morrisons learned in December that she
was pregnant. The process cost about $20,000, which the couple
financed through a loan.
Morrison, who is 4631, says he won't fight again but wants to
return to acting. He's contacted Sylvester Stallone about a role
in the planned Rocky VI. Until then Morrison is writing his
autobiography and is happy playing house in Sparta, where he and
Dawn moved 10 months ago. "We wanted to start over," he says. "We
had to go someplace where neither of us knew a soul." If all goes
well, there will be one more soul to get to know this fall.
1,354 Basketball games coached by the retiring Jim Phelan of
Mount St. Mary's, an NCAA record.
100 Miles added to the previously 1,100-mile Iditarod course
after the starting point was moved 300 miles north of the
traditional site, Wasilla, Alaska, which didn't have enough snow.
6 Teams in six seasons for outfielder Reggie Sanders, who signed
with the Pirates last week.
392 Games coached, and counting, by the Predators' Barry Trotz,
an NHL record for the longest stint by an expansion team's first
1,057 Career catches for Hamilton Tiger Cats receiver Darren
Flutie--the younger brother of Chargers quarterback Doug--who
retired last week, ending his 12year career as the CFL's alltime
0 Votes that Pete Rose--one of 46 nominees on the
ballot--received for induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of
1,096 Offspring born to 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew,
who died last May and whose final foal, an as-yet unnamed filly,
was born last week at Swifty Farms in Indiana to dam May Day
Ninety, a daughter of Alydar.
FOR THE RECORD
DIED Of cancer, British runner Chris Brasher, 74, who paced the
first half mile when Roger Bannister broke the four-minute
barrier (3:59.4) in 1954. Brasher, who got his countryman to the
mid-point in 1:58.2, later won Olympic gold in the steeplechase
at the 1956 Melbourne Games. That was his final race. He later
became the sports editor of the London Observer, and he was once
thrown into the Thames by a group of Cambridge oarsmen who took
umbrage at his writings. Brasher also organized the first London
Marathon, in 1981. Chris Chataway, who paced Bannister for the
second half of his historic run, once said of Brasher: "He is
five percent ability and 95 percent guts."
EARNED A place in an April Fool's Day runoff for alderman in
Chicago's 15th Ward, former Bulls AllStar forward Bob Love. On
Feb. 25 Love, 60, received 28% of the vote to finish second in a
field of seven behind incumbent Theodore Thomas, who received
38%. Since Thomas didn't win a majority of the total vote, he now
faces Love--who overcame a severe stutter to become the Bulls'
director of community affairs (SI, Feb. 24)--in a one-on-one
WON By Colorado's Johnny Spillane, the Nordic combined sprint at
the world championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy. Spillane, 22,
the first U.S. Nordic skier to win gold at the world
championships or Olympics, triumphed by jumping 124 meters on the
120meter hill, then finishing the 7.5km cross-country race in
18:19.8 to edge Germany's Ronny Ackerman. "With about 100 meters
left, I was pretty sure I had it," Spillane said. "I had so much
adrenaline flowing, I just had to make sure I didn't put a pole
between my legs."
RESIGNED U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Lloyd Ward, after 16 months
on the $550,000-per-year job, amid multiplying charges of ethics
violations and mismanagement. Ward, a former CEO of Maytag and
iMotors, was the USOC's fourth CEO since 2000. His problems began
last year when the USOC executive committee learned he had tried
to help a company with ties to his brother land a lucrative
contract to provide backup energy sources for the Pan Am Games.
Ward also drew criticism for his extravagantly remodeled office
and excessive travel expenses, including a trip to watch a
heavyweight fight in Atlantic City and unauthorized trips for his
wife. Ward fought to keep his job but gave up after two U.S.
senators suggested there may be criminal charges as a result of
their investigation of USOC activities. No successor has been
Who's winning the battle, Hootie Johnson or Martha Burk? SI's
Hootometer tells all.
In The New Yorker, Burk makes sexist, and downright odd, charge
that "when men get together, denigrating women is often a part of
the social interaction." Advantage, Hootie. The Suburban Women's
Club of Augusta calls on women across the U.S. to withhold
support of Burk's National Council of Women's Organizations.
Advantage, Hootie. Hootie gets an unwanted ally: the Ku Klux
Klan, which announces plans to demonstrate in favor of his
men-only policy. Huge advantage, Burk.
Where Ted Lives Now
VISITED By Ted Williams's longtime friend Arthur (Buzz) Hamon,
Alcor, the Scottsdale, Ariz., facility where the Splendid
Splinter's body is cryogenically frozen at the behest of his son,
John Henry. "I went out there for closure," says Hamon, 57. "But
what I saw horrified me."
Accompanied by his friend Bobbie Sgrillo, 57, a former funeral
home owner, Hamon, who ran the Ted Williams Museum in Hernando,
Fla., from 1995 through '99, gained access to Alcor's
high-security facility after Sgrillo claimed she had a
professional interest in cryonics. Both visitors say they were
unsettled by the operating room, which was cluttered with boxes,
papers and other debris and where the absence of stainless steel
on the work surfaces struck Sgrillo as "unsanitary." They were
alarmed upon seeing the room in which Alcor's 55 "patients" (some
are bodies, some simply heads) are kept in six 10-by-6-foot and
two mini-fridge-sized tanks. Sgrillo claims the gauges on the
larger vessels, each of which can hold four bodies and five
heads, indicated nitrogen levels below what is needed to keep
bodies intact. One of those windowless tanks contains Williams.
"How do we know if the body is in fact preserved?" Sgrillo asks.
Alcor president Jerry Lemler, who says the tanks' nitrogen
quantities are adequate, attributes the clutter to renovations
and says that Hamon and Sgrillo are ignorant of the accepted
guidelines in the cryonics industry. "We operate under strict,
universally accepted precautions," says Lemler. Hamon says a
group of Williams's friends (he won't reveal their names) last
week filed a request asking the Arizona attorney general to
investigate Alcor's practices. "I hope something comes of it,"
says Hamon. "Ted was a man of enormous self-respect. His legacy
is being compromised." --Kelley King
A trainer and owner are setting records at Gulfstream--and
Last Saturday afternoon in his spacious second-floor office at
Gulfstream Park, in Hallandale Beach, Fla., track president Scott
Savin paused in mid-sentence and turned to the television monitor
behind him. Tasty Caberneigh, a 5year-old gelding trained by Mark
Shuman, was rallying in the deep stretch to take a race. "Shuman
just wins," said Savin, laughing and shaking his head, "but it's
like Mark McGwire. People thought, He must be on steroids.
Anytime somebody's doing something that's never been done before,
it's a source of conspiracy theories."
Shuman's unprecedented success--with 52 winners through Sunday,
he has trampled the Gulfstream meet record of 39--has intensified
the suspicion and envy surrounding him and the brash owner for
whom he exclusively works, Mike Gill. While there's no direct
evidence of wrongdoing by Shuman, 32, or Gill, circumstantial
factors (horses improving dramatically after entering Shuman's
stable; the banning of one of Shuman's vets for improperly
storing medications; past drug suspensions for Shuman and Gill)
have created speculation. As trainer Peter Walder said, "Am I
suspicious? Yeah. Everybody is."
Shuman and Gill, 47, a New Hampshire mortgage broker, insist
they're on the level. Says Gill, "If I come up with one bad test,
I'll get out of the business." He's too late for that. In 1995
Gill was banned for three years by the New Hampshire Parimutuel
Commission after one of his horses tested positive for a
performance enhancer. Shuman got a 15day suspension in Maryland
last April after two of his entries tested positive for a banned
muscle relaxant. Then there was the bizarre event of Feb. 3 when
Shuman's 9year-old Casual Conflict broke down on the Gulfstream
track and was euthanized immediately. Shuman vet Philip Aleong
ran out and sawed off part of the right foreleg before it could
be inspected by track vets. Later Aleong surrendered the leg, and
it was sent along with the body for a necropsy, the results of
which have not been released.
Shuman and Gill say they're being targeted not for any of those
incidents but because peers don't like Gill's aggressive claiming
tactics. Horses entered in claiming races may be purchased for a
price ranging from $5,000 to $100,000, commensurate with the
caliber of the race. Because Gill has a large bankroll and a huge
stable, he can buy and sell horses with rapid turnover. The
approach allows Shuman to run horses below value--a $40,000
claimer, say, may run at $25,000, a level at which he's more
likely to succeed. The size of Gill's stable mitigates fear of
having one of his horses claimed because he can absorb the loss;
conversely, Gill's willingness to claim from anybody else forces
rivals to run horses at or above value to protect their property.
"It's a poker game," says Shuman, "and we've got the biggest
stack." Gill is unrepentant. "I don't care. I'll run these guys
out of business," he says. "I'll win 100 races at Gulfstream;
I'll set a record that will never be broken. Then every time
these knuckleheads come to the track, they'll have to think of
me." --Daniel G. Habib
Brooks Kieschnick, 30, is trying to make the Brewers as an
outfielder and a pitcher. How's he doing? SI's Kieschometer tells
After throwing a scoreless inning in his mound debut, Kieschnick
gave up a run in two innings in his next outing. (The Brewers
lost 14--8 that day, so allowing only one run practically made
Kieschnick the staff ace.) At the plate he's 1 for 2 with a
line-drive single. With first cuts not expected until early next
week, the team is looking harder at his arm than at his bat.
"He's doing just fine," says manager Ned Yost. "He's right on
WHAT IS... SportsPickle.com
Why we relish it The 16-month-old website serves up a blatantly
false and often highly amusing take on the sports world. For
example: "Archaeological Dig Turns Up World's First Bengals Joke"
and "Buddha Seeks to Distance Himself from Phil Jackson."
Recipe for success SportsPickle's creator and sole writer,
Baltimore's D.J. Gallo, 24, modeled his brainchild on the
satirical newspaper and website The Onion. Gallo, a marketing
associate by day, earns about $25 per month in ad revenue from
Sportspickle. Stories such as "U.N. Resolution Declares Huskers
No. 1" draw about 500 visitors a day, including some who don't
quite get it. The Pickle exclusive "Americans Eagerly
Anticipating When They'll Begin to Love Soccer" was cited in a
sober article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Who gets pickled Everybody. Recent stories include "Bob Knight
Lightly Kicks Player in the Crotch," "Serena Williams Wins
Australian Singles, Butt Takes Doubles" and "Phil Mickelson to
Take up Horseshoes, Hand Grenade." Not even the Greatest ("Ali
Bobblehead Doll Seen As Inappropriate") is spared. "As long as
athletes take themselves too seriously," says Gallo, "there will
be no shortage of funny things to write about."
THE WEEK IN TELEVISION
SATURDAY 3/8 > ESPN2 NOON > Tournament Finals: Atlantic Sun, Big
South (2 PM), Ohio Valley (4 PM), Southern Conference (6 PM)
Shall we dance? Four automatic NCAA tournament bids are up for
grabs in this allday orgy of college basketball.
SATURDAY 3/8 > HBO 9:45 PM > Wladimir Klitschko (40-1) vs.
Corrie Sanders (38-2)
The better of the two Ukrainian heavyweight brothers defends his
WBO title against South Africa's Sanders, who has lost just once
in the last nine years.
SUNDAY 3/9 > ABC 3:30 PM > 76ers vs. Lakers
Kobe Bryant versus Allen Iverson makes for a dream showdown;
Shaquille O'Neal versus Derrick Coleman makes for a Sixers
MONDAY 3/10 > THE GOLF CHANNEL 9 PM > Playing Lessons from the
LPGA legend Nancy Lopez takes viewers through the paces of a
MONDAY 3/10 > OUTDOOR LIFE NETWORK 10 PM > Global Extremes: Mount
Everest-4Runners of Adventure
Welcome to the jungle. We got fun and games. This outstanding
adventure series travels to Costa Rica, where extreme athletes
trek through rivers and rain forests, kayak in rough waters, and
battle against leeches, snakes and torrential rains.
>> DON'T MISS
ALL MARCH ON PBS > (CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS)
John Wooden: Values, Victory and Peace of Mind
Goose bumps will be raised by this heartfelt portrait of the
basketball coaching Wizard and all-around wise man, who teaches
lasting aphorisms such as "Reputation is what others perceive you
to be. Character is what you are."
Former Spur Sean Elliott has shone in his first season as an ESPN
hoops analyst, thanks largely to his candor. But that quality has
irked some players, including Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal, who
during an interview on KLAC radio in L.A. last week ripped
Elliott (as well as analyst Bill Walton) for what Shaq perceived
to be negative comments Elliott made about his dedication to the
game. "They won't say it to my face," said Shaq. "That's because
I'm a man, and they're a mouse." In fact Elliott and Shaq did air
some differences in a face-to-face, off-camera meeting before a
Lakers-Wizards game in November. Elliott says many coaches,
general managers and players have confronted him about his frank
comments--his dismissal of the Hawks' playoff chances early this
season led to angry responses from several Atlanta players--which
he finds curious since he feels he often pulls his punches. "I
try not to come across as someone who is condescending toward
other players," says Elliott, 35. "There are guys I talk about
every night on the air that I may have not liked as a player or
person, but I don't go after someone out of malice or for
When NBC airs pro boxing for the first time since 1992, it will
also build a bridge between cultures. On three Saturdays this
May, Jessi Losada, one of the star sportscasters on
Spanish-language TV, will host the first hour of a boxing
telecast on NBC-owned Telemundo, then cross over to NBC Sports
and host the final hour and a half in English. "We look at it as
one 2 1/2-hour show," says Losada, 47. "It just happens that one
hour is on one network and another hour and a half is on another
network in a different language." --Richard Deitsch
Triple Threat LeBron James may be a phenom in his sport--but
there's more to high school than hoops. Which athlete's high
school career included a 72-point performance in football, a
47point game in basketball and a perfect game in which he struck
out 20 of the 21 batters he faced?
a. Scott Burrell c. Dan Marino
b. Don Gullett d. Deion Sanders
Couldn't Miss One high school baseball player who spawned
LeBronesque attention was a pitcher in the 1970s who finished his
prep career as the alltime leader in wins, shutouts and
strikeouts. Who is he?
This Week's Matchup Pair the NFL running back with the national
high school rushing record he set.
1. Travis Henry a. career 100-yard games
2. Ronney Jenkins b. 100-yard-games streak
3. Billy Sims c. yards in a game
4. Emmitt Smith d. yards in a season
Call to Order LeBron scored 2,463 high school points. Put these
NBA players, each of whom had more than 3,000 points in his prep
career, in order of his output.
a. Mike Bibby c. Othella Harrington
b. Tony Delk d. Dajuan Wagner
TRIPLE THREAT: b. The three-sport phenom was Don Gullett. Now the
Reds' pitching coach, Gullett starred at McKell High in South
Shore, Ky. He was 109--50 over his nine-year career with the Reds
and the Yankees.
COULDN'T MISS: In 1973 David Clyde went directly from Houston's
Westchester High to the Texas Rangers. Clyde went 18--33 in five
big league seasons.
THIS WEEK'S MATCHUP: 1. d (4,087); 2. c (619); 3. b (38); 4. a
CALL TO ORDER: Wagner (3,462 points at Camden [N.J.] High);
Harrington (3,178 at Jackson Murrah, in Jackson, Miss.); Delk
(3,093 at Haywood County, in Brownsville, Tenn.); Bibby (3,002 at
Phoenix Shadow Mountain, in Phoenix)
--POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT, PAGE 20