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Skimming the fat from the cream

Saturday, July 08, 2000

Who's got short shorts? I've got short shorts. But I'm writing them, not wearing them, thank God:

The Sports Illustrated cover story on Toronto pitcher David Wells is very complimentary. But Wells apparently has his XXXL boxer shorts in a bunch because writer Jeff Pearlman called him fat. Boomer, take some advice from another husky lad: If you don't want to be called fat, drop a couple tons. If you don't want to be known for drinking beer, don't drink beer. Me, I think Wells looks great. I think he should wallow in his corpulence. The Blue Jays list Wells at 235 pounds in their media guide. But just because they lie doesn't mean Pearlman should. As Dean Vernon Wormer said in "Animal House," fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life. Unless you win a Cy Young Award.

Wells' attempt to compare Pearlman's story about him to Pearlman's controversial "I love New York" interview with John Rocker was a bit desperate. I think it's time for Rocker to blast fat people.

Interesting trivia: If you add up Wells' weight and his ERA -- eliminating the decimal point in the latter -- it still doesn't equal the non-decimaled ERA of Jimmy Anderson, the Pirates' balloon-boy lefty. If you add up Anderson's weight and non-decimaled ERA, you get Wells' salary.

Anyone who rips Dennis Miller's appointment to the Monday Night Football broadcast team because it acquiesces to the American public's need to be constantly entertained must not realize how old their complaints make them sound. Howard Cosell is dead. Welcome to the year 2000. ABC is just giving the people what they want. Is it a departure from tradition? Yes. Is it an admission that just the game isn't enough anymore? Sure. But you know what? Just the game isn't enough anymore. Americans have no attention span. With no peripheral hijinks, they quickly lose interest in the main event. It's all about ratings and the accompanying advertising dollars. That's what ABC is going for. If Miller on MNF is a pathetic idea, less people will watch. I think more people will watch. Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Ever see that Nike ad where the disembodied voice of some female sprinter complains that sisters are working just as hard as the men, but making less money? I know why. It's because no one wants to pay to see the sisters, sister. Tennis is the only sport where the citizens are just as interested in the women as they are in the men, and the pay scale is almost equal there. The WNBA? The WNBA plays a short season, tickets are significantly cheaper than NBA tickets, and a lot of the WNBA's success is the result of the NBA piggybacking the women in terms of publicity. Hard work isn't relevant. It's about demand. If you're in demand, you make more money. Women's sports aren't in demand.

When the U.S. women's soccer team won their version of the World Cup last year, the final game sold out the Rose Bowl. Last weekend, the U.S. women won the Gold Cup in Foxboro, Mass., before just 20,000. So much for the women's soccer revolution. Interest in women's soccer was just a fad, a one-shot deal as far as this country is concerned. Brandi Chastain is still extremely hot, though.

I don't think Serena Williams tanked her Wimbledon semifinal against sister Venus, thus giving Venus a chance to win a grand slam event, which Serena already did at the U.S. Open last year. But it wouldn't shock me if that were the case considering nutbar dad, Richard, who clearly manipulates every facet of his daughters' careers. Richard Williams shouldn't be given even one-tenth of the publicity he gets. He's merely a member of the lucky sperm club. You need a mind to be a mastermind.

If the Steelers rebound to have a decent season, luck will have to play a major role. Don't dismiss luck, however, especially in a short, 16-game season. A 16-game lucky streak in baseball means little given the length of the schedule. A similar skein of good fortune means only marginally more in hockey and basketball. But in football, it can get a bad team into the playoffs.

The Penguins have no goalies with NHL experience under contract. Jean-Sebastien Aubin, a restricted free agent, isn't going anywhere unless the Penguins want him to. But the Penguins' initial priority shouldn't be signing Aubin. They should first sign a veteran backup, thus reducing Aubin's leverage and presumably his asking price. Negotiating strategy aside, Aubin is ready to be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL. Given his talent and corresponding cool, he's not that far from being an All-Star.

Ron Tugnutt, good luck. Peter Popovic, good luck. Craig Patrick, good job. The Penguins general manager did the right thing letting free agents Tugnutt and Popovic skate away for big cash. Tugnutt had a great playoff. Popovic is a serviceable defenseman. But they're easily and cheaply replaceable.

As announced on my radio show, I have hired a licensed butcher to slaughter a live calf on the air. It's my response to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which recently petitioned the Green Bay Packers to change their name in light of its meat-packing roots. I am also selling the calf's naming rights prior to the throat-slitting. Someone has already bid $25 to call it "Barrasso."

Like David Wells, I am fat. Feel free to call my show and remind me.

Mark Madden is the host of a sports talk show 4-8 p.m. weekdays on ESPN Radio 1250.

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