Conned by an ex-con
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2

My Cooler runneth over.

Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson has your pay-per-view cash to fall back on.
Seriously, fellow-dwellers. Where do we begin after one of the most memorable weekends in the history of sports, second only to that weekend back in '60 when Cassius Clay composed his first rhyme, Arnold Palmer hitched his pants for the 1,000th time, and Mickey Mantle passed Babe Ruth on the all-time Cocktails Consumed list?

Wait a minute. That weekend never happened. This one did.

So, where to start?

Paris? Japan? The Bronx? Belmont Park? At Mike Tyson's Chateau de Fraud?

That's where we should start. In Memphis, Tennessee, where Aluminum Mike fleeced us all.

Let's get this out of the way, Cooler-dwellers. Let's all reach into our back pockets together. Let's all take 55 bucks out of our wallets, and let's all, collectively, set fire to it.

Then let's tip our Shaq-styled Fat Albert caps to Tyson, who deked us all, and is still busy counting cash. When he's done counting it, he's going to spread it out in a room, take off his shoes and socks, and wade in it.

I guess it's time to take off the full MLB-issued catcher's gear I had on a few weeks ago at The Cooler, the protective armor I had worn for fear of a Tyson appearance. Scared of Tyson? Please. This cat proved softer than Chris Webber. I haven't seen an affair so wrought with fraudulence since Ryan Leaf invited Todd Marinovich and Yinka Dare over to eat pizza and watch a Corey Feldman film fest.

Or something like that.

Tyson came in to DMX, then turned up DOA.

I swear, that Memphis cop who was regulating the walkway into the ring put up a better fight than Aluminum Mike. Did you see that cat? As Tyson's posse tried to roll in, that cop was laying down the law like a bus driver scolding elementary school kids.

I don't care who you are! I'm only letting two at a time in! Don't give me no lip, either. I've been doing this for 45 years, I've got a pension in six months, and I'm not about to let some dude with a towel over his head think he can show me how to do my job!

I loved that cop. He was the best part of that circus.

Tyson's fight was a disgrace. His only strategy appeared to be the Rob Deer Offense, in which he wildly threw a few roundhouses in the first, hoping to land one of those Deeresque blasts after which the outfielders never move.

Then again, Rob Deer struck out 186 times in 1987.

After the fight Tyson looked like Chuck Wepner, but it was the postfight interview that had me nearly choked on my $4 stogie. (Only the finest at The Cooler.)

Tyson, breaking out with the love for Lennox Lewis! Tyson, tenderly wiping Lewis' cheek! Tyson, kissing Lewis' mom!

Hey, what happened to the testicles thing? I thought he was supposed to crush them. Now he's kissing Lewis' Mom?

Then, Tyson salutes Lewis "for a great payday."

A great payday.

We resemble that remark.

We paid him, and he smoked us like that $4 stogie.

He wins. We lose.

Now repeat after me, dwellers: I will not pay for a Tyson fight again ... I will not pay for a Tyson fight again ... I will not pay for a Tyson fight again ...

Against that low murmur of chants, on to the Weekend List of Five:

1. On A much brighter note: Yankee Stadium
Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds checks his arm after being hit by a Roger Clemens' pitch Sunday.
The electricity in the big ballpark in the Bronx was as genuine as Tyson was fake.

Caught two of the three Giants-Yanks showdowns this weekend, and I am here to report: Nowhere in America, nowhere -- Wrigley, Fenway, Lambeau, Bank One Ballpark -- can touch the intensity of Yankee fans when their squad is winning.

(Oh, by the way, I was sorta jiving you about the Bank One Ballpark thing.)

I don't care what you think about the Bombers, but you must respect the intensity of their ball fandom. It was almost enough to make me forgive their unforgivable booing of Jason Giambi in April. But that was unforgivable, so I won't forgive.

Let me just give you this vignette: Friday night in June. Fourth inning. Mussina on the hill. Bonds at the plate. 55 large in the Stadium.

And the place was vibing.

I mean, seriously vibing.

If you could harness the energy, it would have lit a midsized city in India.

Two strikes on Bonds, and the place rose as one. 55K up, roaring. 55K up, screaming. Moose to Bonds.

Goosebump City.

The pitch.

Bonds fanned.

The Yank crowd erupted.

For a ballgame in June!

These guys bring it. The guys sitting around me were dissecting every pitch, every tendency, every ballplayer. I pay them the highest compliment when I say: They would have fit right in on a 45-degree Tuesday night at Candlestick, when the Giants were 23 games out in mid-August.

That's high praise, people.

Thanks for the memories, Yankee Stadium.

2. The other great thing about New York: the celebrity sighting
Now, understand. I am no stalker. I went to school in L.A., as I may or may have mentioned once or twice, and the Celebrity Sighting Thing became routine. Timothy Hutton at the pizza joint. Loni Anderson at the movies. Gary Coleman at the yogurt stand.

Hey, cut me a break -- it was the '80s.

Anyway, I'm rolling down 47th street after the game, marveling at how sweet it looked on the Yankee Stadium scoreboard to simply see the words "Giants" and "Yankees" on the same scoreboard, when a big man ambled by.

I barked out immediately: "Excuse me! Aren't you Ronan Tynan?"

"I am," the big Irish tenor answered.

I offered my hand.

"Best 'God Bless America' I ever heard," I said.

The big Mick beamed.

I continued my strut down the street.

You're welcome, baseball fans.

3. Quien es mas macho: Venus? Serena?
Here's the answer: Richard.

How many of us wrote this guy off as a clown? How many of us wrote the Williams sisters off as bound for substance abuse, career failure and other life tragedies that would one day make a compelling feature in Sports Illustrated? How many of us wrote Richard off as the Marv Marinovich of tennis? (Man, two Marinovich references in one column. I am low on material.)

Now look who's here -- straight outta Compton.

Six majors in the last three years, by my count, for the lasses.

Richard Williams: My man, you are the Earl Woods of tennis.

4. Jim Gray in the house!
Did they clone that dude? Or was he at Game 2 Friday night in L.A., at the Tyson fight in Memphis on Saturday, then in Jersey for Game 3 on Sunday?

I got out of the shower this morning and was stunned he wasn't there with the mike, and the pallid complexion, firing out with: "Murph, you've showered now two days in a row. Are you trying to make a statement?"

If only I had the energy of that man. I'd be king of the world!

(Side note: Once, during a viewing of "The Magnificent Seven" with pals, my boy Roberts suggested -- as the epic theme song soared through the living room -- that if he could jerry-rig an alarm clock to play "The Theme to the Magnificent Seven" every morning, he'd have no choice but to roll out 50 push-ups each morn, then scale the Fortune 500 with impunity. A surefire plan for success)

5. Don't think we forgot about Copa Mondial!
The Cup rolls on, amigos!

I'm still on board. It's just that my squads laid low this weekend: Ireland, still enjoying the three-day bender after stunning the Huns with the 1-1 draw; Italy, still in a daze after the Don Denkinger job they got from the refs vs. Croatia; and Team USA, readying itself for the big tilt against South Korea.

Are you still with it, Cup fans? I won't lie: It's a grind.

These start times will test the best. I've got toothpicks keeping eyelids open during Costa Rica-Turkey. I've got cases of Jolt! Cola by my bed for Mexico-Ecuador. And after a night of revelry in Manhattan, at 5 a.m., as Italy and Croatia headed to halftime, I said to myself: "I'll just close my eyes for a few minutes and watch the second half."

I then woke up at noon.

And on that note ... I file this Cooler for another Monday.

Let's be honest. It's 1 a.m. in New York, and I'm off to meet pals for the 2:30 a.m. Team USA tilt.


Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Weekend Water Cooler" every Monday for Page 2.



Brian Murphy Archive

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