The SPORTS PHILOSOPHER says: “Don’t let the door hit you (or your ‘Plaxico’) on your way out.” by Brad Eastland

April 10, 2011
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     I know it’s only April.   But we already have a winner in the race for the 2011 “Plaxico”.

     Who (or what) is Plaxico, you ask?   Only a non sports fan could ask that question.   And so, to all of you non sports fans out there reading this, thank you so much for reading my little ol’ Philosophy column that merely uses Sports as a vehicle for distributing entertainment and wisdom.   You’re obviously seeking to expand your minds, broaden your horizons.   I appreciate it.

What me, worry???

What me, worry???

     Plaxico (oh, by the way, Burress is his last name, but you don’t really need to know that when you’re talking about a guy actually named Plaxico, do you?) is the New York Giants wide receiver, or rather the comically former New York Giants wide receiver, who, a couple years ago, cleverly brought a loaded unlicensed pistol into a New York City nightclub and then cleverly shot himself in the leg, thereby revealing to police investigators that he had, indeed, cleverly brought a loaded unlicensed pistol into a New York City nightclub with which to cleverly shoot himself in the leg, which is a felony (the bringing it into the nightclub part, not the shooting himself in the leg part), thereby costing him his job, his career, tens of millions of dollars, his reputation, and ultimately his freedom.   For this amusing departure from even the bottom rungs of reason and intellect, Plaxico was awarded the inaugural 2009 PLAXICO BURRESS I’M SO STUPID IT’S IMPOSSIBLE FOR EVEN SMART PEOPLE TO FIGURE ME OUT AWARD, or the “Plaxico” for short, an award which shall forever bear his name and that was given to him for, well, mind-numbing stupidity in Sports.   By me.

     Here’s my column in 2009 wherein I first talked to you about Plaxico, as well as the hard-to-believe misadventures of various other really dumb athletes and politicians: .   (*here’s a pause to give you time to read it*)   Okay, did you like that?   ‘Might be my best column ever, certainly in the top-5, and if I do say so myself I always find myself laughing out loud at my own lyrical marriage of comedy and useful information whenever I read it.   I guess I’m a really amusing writer, huh.   Wait….wait a minute….maybe it’s not me….maybe I’m just laughing at Plaxico.   Could that be it?   Maybe.   Who knows.   Anyway, Plaxico himself was the winner of the inaugural 2009 Plaxico.

     The 2010 winner of the Plaxico was basketball player Gilbert Arenas.   Here’s my column explaining why Gilbert won:

     Which brings us to the 2011 award.

     Yes yes yes, I know it’s only April.   We have eight more months of Sports dumbness still ahead of us.   But I just can’t help myself.   The winner of the 2011 “Plaxico” is that dunce of dunces, that dunderhead of dunderheads, the one and thank-god only Manuel Aristides Ramirez.   Manny to you.

     Perhaps you’ve already heard the news.   Manny retired from baseball on Friday.   Quite suddenly.   Right in the middle of the young season.   Way to stick with your struggling new team, Manny.   That struggling new team, the Tampa Bay Rays, was 0 and 6 at the moment he quit.   They same day he quit, without him, they won their first game.   And at the moment he called it a season, Manny (who belted 555 home runs in his colorful career) was 1 for 17 at the plate.   That’s a batting average of .059, folks.   I could almost hit .059, and I’m in my 50s….with bad knees.

     But as ridiculous as all that is none of that is the point, and none of that is why Manny wins the 2011 Plaxico unopposed.

     Manny gulped Steroids.   Again.   Underscore again.

     To be clear, Manny Ramirez just became the first and only baseball player—in the six years that Steroids have been illegal in baseball and when, accordingly, they have finally been handing down penalties for getting caught taking them—to get caught twice.  

     The first time he was caught, with the Dodgers in 2009, he served a 50-game suspension.   This time, facing a 100-game suspension, and rather than serve that suspension he so richly deserved, he just said screw it.   He bailed.   He retired.   Effective immediately.

     Here’s the column I wrote for this paper two years ago saying how utterly phony Manny’s 2009 apology was, and how much I hate sports apologies:  .   Guess I was right about what a miserable two-faced bad teammate and irredeemable phony Manny Ramirez is, huh folks?   Yep, as both a sportswriter and an oracle, I’m pretty damn proud of myself.

     But enough of me; back to Manny.   Exactly how dumb is he?   Is there any scientific instrument on this planet yet invented capable of measuring this man’s level of stupidity?   Hall of Fame voters might have forgiven his first Steroids gaffe (after all he “apologized”, and most lame-ass sportswriters love apologies), but now?   No; there will be no Hall of Fame for Manny and his 555 home runs, I’m afraid.   What about money?   How many tens of millions of dollars have his two suspensions and self-forced retirement cost him?   How about his rep?   Won’t he always—more than ever after Friday—be looked upon as both the biggest phony and goofiest brain-dead embarrassment in baseball history?   This is the “fine teammate” who, in 2008 while playing for the Red-Sox, the at-the-time defending World Champion Boston Red-Sox for crying out loud, as part of his plan to get more money in the free agent market pretended he was injured and intentionally got himself run right out of Boston, where he was a by-god local cult hero.    Someone like me should invent a whole new word for that kind of dumb.   And ya gotta love his quote on Friday, once he once again got caught and quit:  I’m at ease.   God knows what’s best for me.   He does???   That’s great!   But maybe God should let the rest of us in on it.   Or at least let Manny in on it.

     Plaxico himself will always be the dumbest athlete ever, at least in my mind.   After all, he’s still in jail, he put a hole in his own leg, and he gave up everything for nothing.   At least Manny was secretly gulping down illegal drugs to get better at baseball and stay better longer, to put up better stats and earn more dollars.   At least he had a plan designed to feather his own nest, something to gain.   Plaxico had zilch to gain by taking that hidden Glock pistol into that nightclub.  (Unless, of course, there was somebody in there that night he really wanted to shoot.   Besides himself, I mean.)

     That said, Manny is a close second.   If the definition of stupidity is doing the same dumb thing again and again and again, well, you get the idea.

     But what burns me up is this.   Obviously Manny is not my favorite baseball player on the planet.   My favorite baseball player on the planet has a batting average of .000, which is even worse than Manny’s.   He hasn’t gotten a hit all year.   In fact, he hasn’t gotten up to bat all year.   He hasn’t fielded a single ball all year either, because he hasn’t gotten into a single game yet.   Yet he rarely complains, and when he does he does it respectfully and humbly, and doesn’t swear or cry or rant or rave.   In fact, he clearly enjoys hanging around with his teammates, and when I watch him in the dugout he always has a smile on his face.   Well, almost always.

     I’m talking about my son.   He’s on the Frosh/Soph team at his high school.   He’s not a bad player, just not good enough to start because he took some time off from the game the last couple years.   He’s actually one of the better hitters on his team, but the coaches never put him in because his defense hasn’t kept pace with his bat during his period of inactivity; he’s rusty.   Still, you’d think they’d give him the occasional at-bat.   All he wants is to play a little bit and to contribute.   Or rather to feel like he’s contributing….   

     It got really bad last week.   One of his coaches meant to finally have him pinch-hit the other day, but said the wrong kid’s name and some other benchwarming kid who had no chance on Earth to get a hit got to bat instead and he struck out on three pitches.    That’s right.    I want to make sure you get this.   The coach meant for my kid to bat, but lost his mind and told another kid to go up to the plate.  (I know this to be true because the next day the coach told my son so.   I actually give the guy credit for admitting it.   But still.   I mean, good grief.)

     Conversely, on the far other side of the great and slimy sliding scale of life, there are immensely talented players like Manny Ramirez who have everything and throw it all away, and stain the game with their conduct in the process, while all the while smiling sarcastically and maintaining everything is perfectly all right, because “God knows what’s best for me.”

     You want to know what I really think of Manny Ramirez?   Do you?

     Buy me a beer sometime at a place not within earshot of little kids and I’ll tell you.

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0021

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered fictioneer, and a lover of almost everything that has to do with baseball except Manny Ramirez.   Brad’s other recent columns for LaVerneOnline can be found in Sports under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.    Brad has also written 4 novels* and over 20 short-stories.   

*To pick up a copy of his recently published novel of life at the racetrack, WHERE GODS GAMBLE, a tale of American mythology, simply search for it on,, or….



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