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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Every now and then a story comes up that makes you wonder what planet we are living on and if grown men, professional athletes (some have even called them role models) can be any more idiotic.
Take Dodgers pitcher Brad Penny, 27 going on 12. The starter recently dared a Marlins batboy to drink a gallon of milk in an hour without throwing up. The reward: $500.
Now the permutations:
The batboy apparently drank the gallon but not in the time frame to win. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that Penny, a former Marlin who is working under a new $26-million contract, didn't give the still unidentified kid any money, though the Miami Herald reported he now intends to do so.
The Marlins, in an obvious attempt to keep dares from becoming really absurd - imagine what can be done with dirty, sweaty jock straps? - suspended the batboy for six games for accepting the challenge.
The Herald reported the Fort Myers Miracle, a Twins' Class A affiliate, wants to give the kid a job at Monday's game against the Tampa Yankees.
Here's the best part. As part of the promotion, all kids 14 and under will get a pint of milk, and a cow will be stationed at the front gate.
The Miracle is owned by a group that includes Mike Veeck, who used to be senior VP sales and marketing for the Devil Rays, and actor Bill Murray.
"Similar to a rehab stint, we want to help this kid stay on top of his game," Miracle GM Steve Gliner told the Herald. "Instead of crying over spilt milk, we decided to offer him an honorary post."
And ESPN.com reported that the Milk Processor Education Program offered the batboy $500 if he promises to drink three glasses of milk a day.
How does Penny feel about all this?
He told the Herald, "It's kind of ridiculous that you get a 10-game suspension for steroids and a six-game suspension for milk. It's ridiculous they worry about stuff like that. It shows (the Marlins) don't know anything about the game. That kind of stuff goes on everywhere. It didn't affect the way we worked, the way he did his job."
Penny is being paid $5.1-million. He is 6-8. Perhaps it is he who should be more worried about the way he does his job.
ON THE ATTACK: Red Sox pitcher David Wells told a Providence, R.I., radio station he believes there are plenty of major-league players using steroids.
"There is no question in my mind there's a lot of guys out there still that are probably on them," Wells said in an interview on WSKO.
"I mean, they're playing Russian roulette."
Wells said Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro should take a lie-detector test. If he fails, Wells said, Palmeiro's stats should be erased.
"I like him as a person," Wells said. "He's a great guy but he cheated and that doesn't sit well with me."
SPEAKING OF STEROIDS: Former Phillies great and Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt said he is resigned to keeping all records intact.
"A lot of needles went into butts at times when there wasn't testing," Schmidt said on the Tony Bruno show on Sporting News Radio.
"It's all part of an era that the players played in. Surely it's probably unethical ... surely illegal. I just don't know how in the hell baseball could ever go to war with that and wipe them out because you only wipe out the guys who tested positive. What about the guys who got away with it?"
MORE BAD TV: ESPN Hollywood is the latest bit of sad programming from a network that has badly lost its way. The Yankees are mad at an ad that apparently insinuates the show's cameras accompanied shortstop Derek Jeter's night on the town with a female companion.
Of course, they didn't and Yankees spokesman Rick Cerone called the effort "low-rent tabloid." ESPN said it was merely promoting a show on eligible bachelors.
Cerone told the Journal-News of White Plains, N.Y., "I've already had guys tell me, "Don't ask me to do anything for them.' "
BONDS' FUTURE: Giants managing general partner Peter Magowan told the Sacramento Bee he would explore the possibility of trading Barry Bonds if he asked to conclude his career as an AL designated hitter. That led to some speculation in the Angels clubhouse that Anaheim could make a move.
Said pitcher Jarrod Washburn: "It would be a good reason to go to the National League."
YES, IT'S TRUE: Since the 2003 season, Twins starter Johan Santana, who pitches today, is 27-2 with a 1.96 ERA after the break.
ET CETERA: Rockies first baseman Todd Helton was batting .391 (50-for-128) since July 1 and through Friday raised his average 40 points to .305. ... The Padres play 33 of their final 36 games against (as of Saturday) below .500 teams, which means they might actually win the NL West with a winning record. ... Houston's Jeff Bagwell, on the DL since May after right shoulder surgery, is scheduled for a rehab start Tuesday with Double-A Corpus Christi. ... Freddy Garcia's one-hitter Tuesday was the 60th in White Sox history and the first they lost. ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Grady Sizemore and Robbie Alomar in 2001 are the only Indians since 1953 to reach double figures in doubles, triples and home runs.