The SPORTS PHILOSOPHER says: “Stand up and be counted, LaVerne!”

June 26, 2011
Share this story:

     I’ve got two items from the Sports Philosopher Grab Bag for you to chew on today.   One funny, one serious.

     Let’s dispose of the funny one first.   Ready?   Ron Artest.  

     See?   I can hear you laughing already.

meet Peace….that’s Mister Peace to you.

meet Peace….that’s Mister Peace to you.

     Ron Artest, of course, has always been a delightfully comical individual.   Always good for a ridiculous quote or a side-splitting sound bite.   Always a threat to provide amusing late-night ESPN video entertainment.   Even when he was charging into the stands to beat up some fans (the famous Pacers/Pistons brawl at The Palace in Auburn Hills, in 2004) there was a humorous side to the ugliness; you just knew that if anyone in the NBA lacked the discipline and self-control to keep himself from charging into the stands and hammering away on people half his size and twice his age (the people who pay his inflated salary) it was Ron.   He was suspended for the entire season.   In fact, Ron has been suspended more times than the current NFL labor talks.   And now that he’s a Laker, we get to laugh at him up close.   But Ron benefits too.   He no longer has to get carved up by Kobe as payment for his trash-talking….

     Ron, of course, has authored other hysterical episodes where he divorced himself from Reason.   He once destroyed two TV monitors during a game in New York.   He once asked his head coach for time off during the season, so he could go on the road to promote his new ‘rap’ music album.   He was suspended by his coach for two games for asking such a dumb question.   No, I’m not kidding.

     Ron, to be fair, has rehabilitated himself somewhat in recent years.   He recently testified before the United States Congress on behalf of mental health. (Presumably his own.)    

     But seriously, folks, I believe this time Ron has outdone himself in the humor department.   I wanted to break it to you myself, in case you didn’t hear.   Brace yourself.  

     Ron wants to change his name.

     A moronic athlete wanting to legally change his name is not, in and of itself, news.   Chad Johnson changed his name to Chad Ochocinco (he’s number 85, get it?), and then changed it back.   I think.   Ex-UCLA running back Sharmon Shah changed his name to Karim Abdul-Jabbar, and then got into a boatload of legal trouble when the real Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, also a UCLA graduate who also wore #33, came a-lookin’ for him.   True, the first names were a letter or two different.   But big Kareem still made little Karim change his name from Karim Abdul-Jabbar to Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar.   Are you following all this?   And don’t forget, big Kareem used to be named Lew Alcindor before he changed it.   Oh, brother.   Oh, and ex NBA-er Lloyd Free changed his name to “World B. Free”.   ‘Nuff said.

     But I think Ron’s new handle (if the courts approve it) will set a new athletic standard in hilarity.   Because he wants to change his name to Metta World Peace.

     Anybody know what the word “Metta” stands for?   (I think its some Buddhist thing.)

    But the World Peace part is what kills me.   Remember, this is the guy who charged into the stands throwing haymakers.   Ron has started more fights than a schoolyard bully.   He talks more trash than a Romance novelist.   He’s in your face more than Helena Rubinstein.   And now he wants to change his name to something as kind and gentle and ridiculous as Metta World Peace???   (He must be campaigning for next year’s Plaxico Burress Award, which as you know is the Sports Philosopher’s own creation to honor general athletic dumbness….can you name the last three winners?)

     And get this: Ron wants the back of his jersey to read, simply, PEACE.

     What’s next?  Kobe Bean Bryant having his jersey read, simply, BEAN?

     Deep breath.   Part of being a good writer is knowing when to step back and let the previous prose speak for itself, especially when there’s top-drawer humor involved, and knowing when to let the reader chew on things and do the rest of the work is a delicate, acquired skill.   Sometimes the prosecution just needs to rest.   Which is what I am going to do now.




      —cut to the Sports Philosopher sauntering into the kitchen to do some laughing at Ron while he makes a sandwich.…’recommend you do the same—




     The second part of this column (the serious part) has to do with Jim Riggleman.   Yes, that’s his name, go ahead and get your giggles out of the way now….done?   Good.

     Riggleman resigned as manager of the Washington Nationals the other day.   He’s taking a lot of criticism for it.   Already, every sports writer I have read on the subject has declared that it is a virtual foregone conclusion that Riggleman will never again manage in the big leagues.   Blackballed for life.   Y’see in sports, if you’re a manager or a coach, they can fire you any time they want and that’s supposed to be O.K.; early in the season, mid-season, while you’re in the shower or on the can, any time; but if you have the audacity to quit the team mid-season you’re an instant pariah (more on that in a moment).  

     What makes Riggleman’s resignation so surprising is that the Nats had won 11 of their last 12 games, the hottest team in the league, and he had thus guided this most pathetic of all big-league franchises to a won-loss record of over .500; unheard of in the nation’s Capital.   The Nats and Riggleman were the twin toasts of baseball.

     So then why the hell did he do it?

     Principle.   He quit on principle.   The 58-year-old Riggleman was hired in 2009 (when the previous manager got the mid-season axe), and, despite his regular, oft-repeated protestations, had been given one-year contracts in 2010 and 2011.  He had become sort of a permanent interim manager, to employ a little irony.   He knew they didn’t really want him long term.   And he was getting tired of being a placeholder.   He practically begged the brass for at least a 2-year deal, as a gesture of good faith, confidence in him, and job security.   Managing a big-league ballclub gives a guy about as much job security as being a button-man for a Columbia drug cartel.   That’s why most managers ask for—and usually get—guaranteed, multi-year deals.  That way, if they’re fired, they can play golf every day for a year or two while some wealthy big-league club pays them a couple million dollars to do so.  

     But Riggleman didn’t wanna play golf.   He just wanted to know he had a job.   He figured that after managing many years at the big-league level, and after doing, obviously, such an especially good job for the lowly Nats, that he was entitled, in his words, quote, “to a longer leash”.   unquote

     He didn’t get it.   He wound up giving his GM an ultimatum, ‘said he wouldn’t even get on the bus after the next game if something wasn’t done, the Nats won again in dramatic 9th-inning, walk-off fashion, nothing was done about Riggleman’s contract, the GM wouldn’t even schedule a meeting with him to hash it out, and so, at some point during the post-game celebration, everyone looked around the bus and suddenly realized they no longer had a manager.   He resigned, effective immediately.

     Jim Riggleman was making about $600,000 a year when he quit.   Six hundred grand?!?, I can hear you wailing.  Right now, this second, I bet none of you are feeling sorry for him.   But everything is relative.   Jim was the lowest-paid manager in MLB at the time of his athletic Hegira (attention!  Islamic history metaphor alert!  Look it up and learn something.).   In other words, Jim was being paid the big-league manager’s equivalent of minimum wage.   But Jim didn’t mind.   So what if he was already being disrespected on an annual basis?   All he wanted was to know that he would get to be disrespected for several years in a row.   Or at least safely disrespected through 2012.

     Personally, I think what Riggleman did was terrific.   He stood for something.   He stood naked on principle.   I mean what do you suppose the chances are that his next job will pay him anywhere close to $600-large?   Can you spell z-e-r-o?   Plus he had already been picked by the champion San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy to be one of Bruce’s coaches for the National League in the upcoming All-Star game.   Which is quite an honor.   So Riggleman knew he’d be waving good-bye to both $600-large and a chance to coach in the All-Star Game.   Not to mention saying Sayonara to a possible 2011 National League Manager Of The Year trophy.   But he quit anyway.   He quit anyway!   On principle alone.   That’s a man.   To me it almost doesn’t even matter if he was right or not.   The point is that he had a beef, and had the balls to stand up and be counted.   He would not be ignored.   That’s a man.

     I’m proud to say I’ve stood on principle more than a few times in my life.   Doesn’t matter for what.   But I can tell you it has always felt good.   Even though doing so has almost never actually improved my life, and in fact has usually cost me.   But I love people who go against the flow.   I hope I am that kind of person.   So bully for you, Riggleman.   Way to go Riggleman.    Best of luck getting another job, Riggleman.  

     Riggleman….now there’s a guy who should change his name.

     Anyway, you now have more than a rough idea of what I think.   But in the writing of over 100 columns for this paper it has always astounded me how few of you LVO-ers take a moment to type in a response as to what YOU think, even with the handy comment-card electronically at-the-ready, right there at the bottom of the column.   Heck, I know you’re busy.   But I’m asking you to respond now.   Just to shake up the planet a bit.   Ron….noble global humanitarian or comically cruel jock-clad joke???   Riggleman….beacon of character & wisdom or short-sighted, self-worth-inflated, overpaid brain-dead prima donna???  

     Whaddaya think?   Let me hear ya, LaVerne!!!  

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0024

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered fictioneer, and a charter member of the silent but loyal Jim Riggleman Fan Club.   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…it’s easy!




     Anybody know what the word “Metta” stands for?   (I think its some Buddhist thing.)

Leave a Reply