Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Anything But LeBron

By Tony Mangia


Dallas Braden of the Oakland A's is milking his days in the limelight. The pitcher pitched a perfect game in front of his grandmother on Mother's Day and the final scene on the diamond looked like a fuzzy-warm snapshot from Norman Rockwell gallery. It was only a couple of weeks after the then unknown lefty dissed Yankee superstar, Alex Rodriguez, for crossing in front of the mound. Braden challenged A-Rod to "Get off my mound", but now finds himself on the disabled list and unable to keep the drama with the Yankee third baseman going on the field. Now Braden is challenging his own team for putting those same famous fightin' words on tee-shirts. The Oakland pitcher must commute from Napa Valley because it sounds like he has a lot of whine.

Life on the diamond for Braden hasn't been so kind since his no-no-no in May. He has lost 5 in a row and become a punchline, Robinson Cano caused a ruckus in the Yankee locker room by jokingly hoisting the infamous tee. A-Rod, himself, wondered out loud if he was entitled to a cut of the profits. Braden also told reporters he felt entitled, but called putting the shirts at souvenir stands a "suicide request."

"They're trying generate revenue, get butts in the seats," the angry hurler said, "at what cost do you do that?" Braden said he feels that the tees puts him in a direct Dallas vs. A-Rod situation. The A's organization said they are just fulfilling fans requests and generating interest in the series which continues tonight and tomorrow in Oakland. Oddly, the only thing missing in this three-game set is Braden.

For a guy who doesn't want to raise the Titanic, Braden can't keep his mouth zipped. Asked if he crossed paths with A-Rod since the April 22 incident, the A's version of Niecy Nash, shot back, "No, I must have lost his number."

A-Rod is no new-comer to controversy, and he takes it in stride. Whether its dalliances with strippers, romances with movie stars, PEDs, or just yelling "Hey!" from behind a Toronto infielder settling in to catch a fly pop, the third baseman perseveres underneath the unyielding New York media. A-Rod's stoic facade still hasn't endeared him to opponents and fans. The future Hall-of-Famer isn't even popular on his own team. Braden said he does not regret the way he handled the situation and claimed he was only trying to respect the "fraternity" of baseball players.


It's too bad that Braden won't be playing this week. The Yankees took the first game at the Coliseum. The reeling A's are eight games back and nearly out of contention. A Braden/Rodriguez confrontation would have livened things up and added another 15 minutes of fame to Braden's career. If the A's really want to put fannies in the seats, they should print tee-shirts with the succinct line spoken by Dallas Braden's grandmother, Peggy Lindsey, after his perfect game: "Stick it, A-Rod." Those are words that could sell in all American League stadiums.


Lesnar Not LeBron

What New York really wants is MMA. Brock Lesnar, the UFC behemoth, could be the kind of draw Madison Square Garden should welcome with open arms. On Saturday, over 16 thousand fans filled the MGM Grand Gardens in Vegas to watch the North Dakota wrestler force opponent Shane Carwin into a second round submission after taking a brutal first-round beating himself. Some fans paid thousand of dollars online for tickets to see the heavyweight match-up. New York Governor Paterson is still trying to legalize the sport and help fill tax coffers.

For My Last Meal, I Want 60 Hot Dogs, 300 Wings, Nine Dozen Ribs...

On July Fourth, competitive eater, Takeru Kobayashi, was arrested at the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Competition in Coney Island. In a bizarre---in an arena whrer gluttony is sport---twist, the former champ was lead away in handcuffs after the 128-pounder tried to storm the boardwalk stage. Promoters would not allow Kobayashi to participate unless he agreed to sign a contract which prevented Kobi from entering other contests. Joey Chestnut won his fourth yellow mustard belt in a row by downing 54 dogs. Sadly, some people soberly equate these two competitors to Pacquaio and Mayweather.

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