TIME HAS PASSED me by. It's true, for when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, my heroes were athletes of superlative character. Oh, some might have sipped the grape once too often, but their untarnished names were rarely seen in the daily paper.
No, the standard line was about living clean and eating your hearty breakfast cereal and following in the footsteps of your heroes, whether it be football, or hockey, or baseball or even the so-called pseudo-sport, pro wrestling. Even the villains of my day had a sense of honour.
However, something changed in sports as well as our entire civilization in the 1970s or later.
Now, before I continue with this diatribe and you start yelling for this Ol' Fogey to stop pontificating, let's review the topics in recent sports pages:
* Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mark Bell has pleaded no contest to drunk driving with injury and hit-and-run charges in California. Acquired by the Leafs from the San Jose Sharks, Bell, who could have spent three years and eight months in prison, has to serve at least four months behind bars next summer, after the 2007-08 NHL season has ended.
* Carolina Hurricanes star Eric Staal and his brother, Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins, were arrested on disorderly conduct and "obstructing the legal process." It seems the brothers and their pals were celebrating at Eric Staal's bachelor party at a resort in northeastern Minnesota. It was reported that some of the party-goers "gathered on a nearby highway and began harassing motorists."
* Chris Chambers, a former Pro Bowler and Miami Dolphins' top receiver, will plead not guilty to driving while impaired, according to his lawyer. Apparently, Chambers was arrested on July 14 after being pulled over near Charlotte, N.C.
* Adam (Pacman) Jones. The suspended Tennessee Titans cornerback, who has tried his hand as a "wrestler" and now plans to launch a hip-hop career, still has a dubious record of five, or six, different arrests hanging over his head. According to an AP report, Pacman is under indictment in Las Vegas "on two felony counts of coercion stemming from a February fight at a strip club that left a bouncer, a former wrestler himself, paralyzed."
* Jose Offerman, a former MLB all-star infielder with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox, went wild in the minors the other night -- bonking the opposing pitcher and catcher with his bat. The AP story said Offerman, now with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League, was charged with two counts of second-degree assault with Bridgeport Bluefish catcher John Nathans sustaining a concussion while pitcher Matt Beech had a broken middle finger.
* Prince Fielder, the Milwaukee Brewers' top slugger with 37 homers, suspended for three games. It seems the fired-up first baseman had a close encounter with plate ump Wally Bell while arguing a third strike and bench coach Dale Sveum had to restrain him. Incidentally, Fielder's Brewers are smack dab in the middle of the NL Central chase with the Chicago Cubs.
* Breshetta Clark, a former Memphis Grizzlies administrative assistant, is suing the NBA team and the team's engineering director Carl Howard Parker, for $3 million. Clark, according to another AP report, claimed Parker sought "sexual favours while her husband was away on military duty."
* Michael Vick, the starry Atlanta Falcons quarterback, has turned from Sunday's hero into a villain, seemingly, overnight because of federal dogfighting conspiracy charges. While his lawyers and the prosecutors were still wrangling at the time of this writing, Vick faces five years in prison and a fine of up to $250.000, if convicted.
* Tim Donaghy, the former NBA referee, has pleaded guilty to felony charges, for betting on games in which he officiated. He faces 25 years in prison. He was released on a $250,000 bond.
So whatever happened to runs, hits, errors, etc., etc. or passing percentages or ...?
It's my guess those days are over and might never return. That's sad.
THAT'S SO MUCH B.S.: And you thought I was talking about Bud Selig, did you? Thursday, the baseball commissioner patted New York Yankees' Jason Giambi high on the backside when he should have planted a solid kick farther down, and said Giambi didn't deserve any punishment for taking those 'roids of ruin. After all, JG has been acting like a saint with his numerous charitable acts, so let's show him some charity. Now, excuse me, Bud, while I throw up.
ANOTHER GRAPPLING DEATH: The shock hasn't worn off since hearing Brian Adams, aka Demolition Crush, had died earlier this week. While the cause has still to be determined, insider Eric Cohen, on his about.com website, wrote that Adams left the WWE in 1994 after being arrested for possession of steroids and a stun gun. He later retired following a serious spine injury.
BEFORE THEIR TIME: Some well-known names from the wrestling fraternity that have died since 1985 before the age of 50: Chris Von Erich, Mike Von Erich, Louie Spiccoli, Art Barr, Gino Hernandez, Jay Youngblood, Rick McGraw, Joey Marella, Ed Gatner, Buzz Sawyer, Crash Holly, Kerry Von Erich, D.J. Peterson, Eddie Gilbert, The Renegade, Owen Hart, Chris Candido, Adrian Adonis, Gary Albright, Bobby Duncum Jr., Yokozuna, Big Dick Dudley, Brian Pillman, Leroy Brown, Mark Curtis, Eddie Guerrero, John Kronus, Davey Boy Smith, Johnny Grunge, Chris Benoit, Rick Rude, Bruiser Brody, Big Boss Man, Earthquake, Biff Wellington, Dino Bravo, Curt Hennig, Junkyard Dog, Andre The Giant, Bam Bam Bigelow, Big John Studd, Hawk, Sherri Martel.