Ed. note: This new column is about sports and the law. You can read the introductory installment here.
In June of 2005, my girlfriend asked if we could go see War of the Worlds. Tom Cruise was flying high, engrossed in a love that would last forever, and starring in a blockbuster that was getting okay reviews. While I was never a huge fan of popcorn movies, I relented. After two solid hours of explosions and other loud noises, I walked away surprisingly impressed with the effort. While the Academy may ignore this film, I thought, I had had a damned good time. The very next weekend, I visited home and caught up with my father. I told him that I thought War of the Worlds was pretty enjoyable and, since I knew he had seen it with my mother recently, I asked him if he agreed. His face puckered sourly and he muttered “No…no.” Then I launched into a litany of guesses, all wrapped in a pseudo-intellectual pose, as to why he disliked the film. Well, sure, it was a silly action movie, but you could do far worse. Spielberg may have “grown up”, but he was still a populist director at heart and quite good at directing the kind of movies that Michael Bay was consistently f**king up. And sure, it wasn’t deep and didn’t leave me with anything besides the faint memory of two enjoyable hours. But wasn’t that enough? Dad patiently sat there as his son prattled on for a bit. When I was finally winded, he said “You want to know why I hated that movie? You know that scene in the beginning where Tom Cruise is playing catch with his son?” Sure, I replied. “Well, Tom Cruise throws a baseball like a goddamned girl. He pushes the thing. PUSH. PUSH. How did you not catch that!? It’s plain as day. And I’m supposed to think he’s a hero!?”
LET’S TALK SPORTS!
SPO’ BETTOR BLUES
I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
On Tuesday, Elie brought you news on the latest fight picked by Chris “The Refrigerator” Christie, an attempt to legalize sports gambling in the great state of New Jersey. And yesterday, we learned an invaluable lesson about what sports gambling looks like outside the law. A whole family of Sopranos extras was busted by the feds for allegedly running a wide-ranging and highly lucrative sports book. They’re called the Mastronardos and, if they can beat this rap, they’re coming to a basic cable reality show near you. The operation looked something like this, according to the feds:
In a 23-count indictment unsealed Wednesday, federal authorities allege that Joe Vito Mastronardo, 62, and his brother John, 57, headed an international sports betting business that generated millions of dollars in action over six years beginning in 2005.
The indictment charges that the “Mastronardo Bookmaking Operation” used the Internet, Skype, text messaging and telephones to communicate with thousands of customers who bet millions of dollars.
Joseph “Joe Vito” Mastronardo’s son and wife were also charged and the son, Joseph “Joey” Mastronardo, arrived at the courthouse in a Ron Hextall t-shirt. Philadelphia formal wear.
Now, if you were under the impression that the Mastronardos were running some sort of rough outfit, their lawyer helpfully dispels that notion. Y’see, the gambling empire was run much like JP Morgan. Hell, old Joe Vito wouldn’t take a wager from someone he didn’t trust on all the bonds in Christendom. To wit:
[Defense lawyer Dennis] Cogan said past cases in which his client was targeted show that customers who bet with the Mastronardos were never threatened or intimidated.
“The only punishment,” he said, “was that if you didn’t pay, you couldn’t bet anymore.”
Just try to bet again, you kneecap-less freak.
LIFE OF NANCY
In the last week, we’ve learned that Gabby Douglas’s mom filed for bankruptcy and Ryan Lochte’s parents had a house foreclosed upon. Despite the minor upset caused by spendthrift parents, the two Olympic breakout stars will surely flourish in the fifteen minutes Warhol has allotted them. And when that fifteen minutes is up, may they pray that nothing as tragic as Nancy Kerrigan’s life befalls them. This week, Nancy Kerrigan’s brother appeared in court to request that he be allowed to serve the remainder of his assault sentence in jail rather than comply with the conditions of his probation. The assault conviction? It’s for killing Nancy Kerrigan’s father. Specifically, this:
Prosecutors said Mark Kerrigan caused his father’s death while in a drunken rage on Jan. 24, 2010. They said he put his hands around 70-year-old Daniel Kerrigan’s neck with such force that he broke cartilage in his larynx and triggered his heart failure.
Mark Kerrigan was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter in the death at the family’s home in Stoneham, just north of Boston. He received the maximum prison sentence on the assault and battery charge despite tearful pleas for leniency from relatives including his younger sister, who won a bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics and a silver medal in 1994.
Jeff Gillooly, Tonya Harding and her sex tape, Olympic glory, America’s sweetheart, the vicious killing of her father at the hands of her brother. This is the stuff of bad fiction.
DELMON YOUNG IS CRAY CRAY
The scouting report on Detroit Tiger Delmon Young reads that he’s an average fielder with a cannon for an arm, an average to below-average baserunner, a pull hitter with a tendency to swing at pitches outside the strike zone, and a tremendous hater of Jews. He’s also got some pop in his bat, so you want to make him chase a few balls in the dirt and not leave anything hanging over the plate. He’s equally adept at making contact, so it’ll be important that you work deep into at-bats and he really has a problem with Jewish people. Look for him to take extra bases if they’re available and please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t be Jewish around him.
Last April, Delmon Young is alleged to have done the following:
The $6.7 million-a-year outfielder is accused of shouting “F—ing Jews!” while randomly attacking a businessman from Schaumburg, Ill. The victim was among a group of four tourists in town for a bachelor party, and had been conversing with a panhandler — who was wearing a yarmulke and a Star of David — outside the Hilton Hotel on Sixth Avenue, officials said.
Delmon Young, a group of Midwestern tourists, and a panhandler wearing a yarmulke and a Star of David. God — and I’m explicitly not making any claims on the type of God here or how anyone should go about praying to capital ‘H’ Him — clearly is just messing with us now. This random assemblage of objects is one rendition of Yakety Sax away from a Benny Hill skit.
The viciously bizarre and bizarrely vicious anti-semite Delmon Young is currently attempting to work out a plea deal with prosecutors. When reached for comment, Sandy Koufax said, “Who are you and how did you get my number?”
RAP SHEET ROLL CALL
* Adrian Peterson appeared in court on Monday, along with the surely pseudonymous attorney Rusty Hardin. AP is alleged to have shoved an off-duty policeman who had the gall to draft Chris Johnson first.
* University of Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson pleaded not guilty this week to raping a woman after she invited him into her room to watch a movie. After his plea, Johnson was released on his own recognizance, despite the fact no one in the entire universe knows what the quarterback for the University of Montana looks like.
* Let’s end this on a feel-good note. Elvis Dumervil, of the Denver Dumervils, had charges dropped this week after he was alleged to have flashed his piece down in South Beach. Roger Goodell responded to the news by suspending Jonathan Vilma for eight more games.
The responses to last week’s quiz were dreadful. Not a single person even attempted to solve the riddle of the sphinxter (I think I’m saying that right). No matter. I was chatting up Peter King once and asked him about the first time he mentioned his daughter’s softball team in his column. Everyone ate that s**t up, didn’t they Peter, I asked. I bet the response was overwhelmingly laudatory, wasn’t it you pumpkin-headed freak, I said. Your head is just a container for a smaller, more normal-sized head, isn’t it, I continued. It’s at that point that Peter King started weeping softly into his grande skinny caramel macchiato. This week’s quiz features three quotes by Chocolate Thunder himself, Darryl Dawkins, and one quote by Vanilla Seabreeze, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. It’s your job to guess who said what.
A) “The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam-Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam.”
B) “I didn’t mean to destroy it. It was the power, the Chocolate Thunder. I could feel it surging through my body, fighting to get out. I had no control over it.”
C) “Lovetron was a planet that I even thought about in high school, and everybody’d say, ‘Man, you crazy.’ It was just a planet in my own little mind that I could escape to. And it was a drug-free planet, you know. It was just, ‘you get your girl and you go off and y’all just chill out somewhere.’ And it was Lovetron.”
D) “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
Frank L. Rizzo’s daughter among those charged in gambling [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Skater Kerrigan’s brother cannot voluntarily return to jail [CNNSI]
Plea deal ‘in the works’ for Delmon Young after alleged anti-Semitic assault: lawyer [New York Post]
Darryl Dawkins [Wikipedia]