|Going, going ... boring|
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2
Rafael Palmeiro ... uh, cool!
You hit your 500th home run.
You became just one of 19 men to do it.
You're absolutely the, uh ... the, uh ... well, one of the best designated hitters I've ever seen!
Dweller, forgive me. The Cooler salutes, of course, Rafael Palmeiro's significant achievement. Dixie cup is raised, Sparkletts is downed and we cue the highlight reel of the latest to join (what was formerly) Baseball's Coolest Club:
Here's Palmeiro ... uh, hitting a home run! Cool. Here's Palmeiro ... uh, having a really good at-bat! Here's Palmeiro ... standing tall in a Viagra ad! Took some stones to pull that off. Well done, my man.
Now. For you Raffy Rabble-rousers, or Palmeiro Palm Fronds, or whatever his Fan Club might be called, there is no need to send heckling e-mails. Five hundred bombs is 500 bombs, and it's his big moment. Fair play, well done, et cetera. And face it: The guy hit 38 home runs in eight consecutive years, and has shown his ability to both be a consistent contact hitter (he led the league in hits early in his career) and a big bopper.
When I covered the A's, Jason Giambi used to praise Palmeiro all the time as one of the most underrated hitters in the bigs. Playing in Texas will do that for you -- make you underrated, that is.
So forgive The Cooler's 500 Dinger Blues.
Really, The Cooler does not wish to be a harbor of bitterness. Bitter's not good. Bitterness goes against The Cooler's whole reason for existence. Maybe Rafael Palmeiro is my If-It's-Too-Loud, You're-Too-Old Moment. Or maybe I've been sleeping on the whole Raffy Palmeiro sensation. Maybe he's a cool, hip Hall of Famer, and I'm the guy wearing a Members Only jacket.
Still, I can't shake the feeling that it's a Delaware Moment. As in that scene in "Wayne's World" where Wayne and Garth are shown in front of various exotic locales, as they ooh and aah. They then are shown in front of a scene from Delaware.
Says Wayne: "Uhhh ... hi, I'm in Delaware."
Rafael Palmeiro: Great underrated slugger, or the Delaware of the 500-Homer Club?
On then, to the Weekend List of Five:
1. Rampaging fans: What's the deal?
(I have heard the rumor that one of Adam Smith's unpublished chapters did deal with how a laissez-faire approach to a free market society would eventually produce a pop culture of wacked-out nut jobs at our sporting events, and it's a crying shame that part got edited out.)
What in the good name of the Chicago Ligue dynasty is going on here?
We've weathered the storming of Comiskey. We've seen cell phones rain from the sky.
Now the latest: Physical contact between a fan at the Fleet Center and Antoine Walker.
Catch is, Walker says this cat has been on his case for seven years.
Seven years, dweller!
Hell, G.W. Bush was only on Saddam's jock for about two years before doing something about it.
I ask thee: What sort of deep, murky neuroses must you have to launch a seven-year targeting of Antoine Walker? The man who targets Antoine Walker for a seven-year itch does not just have demons. He has a veritable Demon Convention in his dome, with keynote speakers, special room rates and no-host cocktails provided.
Seven years on Walker's case? Only 93 more and the guy matches the 100 Years War for history's greatest vendettas.
Tension is high, dwellers. Even Jack Nicholson nearly got run during Game 3 of the Lakers-Spurs tilt at the Staples Center. What in God's name could ever cause Jack to get his 'wear in a bunch? The guy's got multiple Oscars, he's shagging Lara Flynn Boyle and he's been sporting courtside seats for about seven of the Lakers' NBA titles. You could make a case that in the history of Western Civilization, nobody's ever had it better than Jack Nicholson, with the possible exception of Warren Beatty.
People: We must chill.
Of course, I say that having nearly mixed it up with a Cubs fan two weeks ago at Pac Bell, but I ask you: What sort of chump gets chirpy when his squad is the visiting team? Guy had it coming. An abhorrent breach of etiquette. Had a shaved head, too. Dr. Evil-looking, chirpy Cubs guy. Did not dig him.
Not that I'm a Rampaging Fan or anything. Just a self-appointed lieutenant in the Sports Fan Proper Behavior Police. We make up our own rules. Want to join?
2. The Saturday Night Massacre
Torborg also might have been inspired by the uncommon grace displayed by Frankie Pentangeli in "Godfather, Part II," who took his cue from Hagen to do the right thing, and shook Hagen's hand when Hagen dropped the chilling final words "So long, Frankie Five Angels."
(Note to self: Watch "Part II" again, soon.)
But Arnsberg? No dice. He went out as if he channeled the millimeter-long fuse owned by Santino Corleone.
One of the more riveting tidbits to come out of the South Florida Slaughter was Marlins GM Larry Beinfest revealing that the visit to Arnsberg's home lasted all of 90 seconds. The AP report read:
"He was abusive and clearly unprofessional," Beinfest said. "I would say he was bordering on violent."
Bordering on violent?
Who does Arnsberg think he is, a White Sox fan?
Must have been some scene. Then again, it ended for Arnsberg like it did for Sonny at the tollbooth. Torborg could have pulled back the sheet at the morgue and, like Brando, said only: "See how they have massacred my pitching coach."
3. Need hypnosis? There's always Leo
This guy's like a shark: He stops moving, he might die.
Or perhaps when he was a youth, he did one of those Guinness Book of World Record runs on the see-saw with his kid brother, not unlike Cindy and Bobby Brady's all-night effort for immortality. The constant motion must have ingrained in him an unconscious desire to always be rockin' and rollin'.
Is he known in the Braves clubhouse as the Kinetic Kook?
Bobby Cox must have the worst peripheral vision known to man. How he sits next to Movin' Mazzone every day from February to October without breaking out into a violent tackle of his pitching coach, a clothes-lining along the lines of Mike Curtis' take-out of the fan on the field, is beyond comprehension.
Keep on rockin' in the free world, Leo. Your movements are almost a form of peaceful hypnosis, which may be why Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz ruled the world through the 1990s. Opposing hitters must have looked into the Braves dugout from the on-deck circle and were glassy-eyed by the time they reached the plate.
4. Obligatory "Survivor" take: Yes, I watch
It's something of a low point. There's no denying.
And yet, I have to ask: Have you ever seen comedy richer than Jenna, Rob and Matthew dressed as Amazon warriors?
They looked like the Marx Brothers in some sort of wacky spoof on a banana republic in South America: "Amazon Feathers" or "Brazilian Duck Soup." The things we do for a million bucks.
Let's also add: "Survivor" has made it this far because, as many critics have pointed out this year, it relies on the always-riveting drama of fickle human behavior, and keeps gadgetry and nonsense to a minimum. (That said: Jeff Probst's one-take descriptions of most reward or immunity challenges are studies in confusion and muddle. The Survivors, starving and dehydrated, take all that in, in one take? Please. They must have to explain those things, like, eight times, and provide diagrams. In CBS' edited version, it looks smooth. Meanwhile, I'm at home, cross-eyed, trying to figure out if you're supposed to grab the feather before you answer the question about the poisonous Amazon spider; or grab the poisonous Amazon spider before you figure out the question about the feather.)
All this is by way of saying: Probst's James Bond Jet Ski act hit a new low for CBS.
Yeah. Multi-million dollar host is blazing that Jet Ski up the East River.
Right. I'm sure his agent included the tetanus shot in the contract.
That said ... anybody know when the next "Survivor" starts?
5. Roger Clemens: never mind
That he later showed up at Arco Arena's Will Call ticket window to catch the epic Kings-Mavs double OT tilt was an impressive double, and may qualify as one of the great sports days in recent memory.
Try to top: Win career No. 298 over longtime nemesis, then go courtside for the NBA's most exciting game of the year.
I can try: Uhhh ... let's see ... last week I paid $7 a beer at Pac Bell, got into it with a Dr. Evil-looking chirpy Cubs fan, copped an afternoon buzz, watched the Cubs beat the home nine in extras, then stumbled home, disappointed, for a nap at dusk, waking up that same evening with a hangover already installed.
I see where if he beats Texas in his next start, he can go for No. 300 at Fenway Park.
Holy looting mob, that will be an unforgettable experience.
I was at the '99 ALCS Game 3 when Clemens got rocked at Fenway, knocked out in the second inning as the Red Sox destroyed their former hero turned Benedict Arnold. What a day. The Sox fans were maniacal, foaming at the mouth in their desire to take out the Rocket.
(Sudden thought: Was the Antoine Walker-hater there? No. Probably at home, sticking needles in the Walker voodoo doll.)
Anyway, after that game, the fans turned into something straight off the pages of "Frankenstein." Missing only torches, they actually tore down the banner commemorating Clemens' 20-strikeout day in '86.
Rocket winning 300 for the Yanks at Fenway?
Run for your lives, dwellers!
Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Weekend Water Cooler" every Monday for Page 2.