>>> Balls to the Wall
By staff writer Dan Opp
April 12, 2006

ESPN recently began airing “Bonds on Bonds,” a 10-hour series featuring the beleaguered outfielder, potential home run king, and probable steroid user in candid interviews about himself. I’m glad that a wholesome guy like Barry finally got the chance to ink a production contract and tell his side of the story, since, you know, in the twenty years since Bonds has been in the majors, he’s never had a reporter approach him for an interview. I guess this just goes to show that, despite the advances of this country, prejudices still exist for black, multi-millionaire superstars with self-imposed media gag orders.

Having seen Bonds finally get the chance to publicly air his point of view for millions of dollars of compensation, I got to thinking: What about the guys who never had the chance to rectify the misconceptions of their character? What about the guys who faded into oblivion after nothing more than a felony drug charge? What about Bob? So, to do my part for the extraordinarily wealthy pariahs of the world, I sat down with several other substance-abusing athletes, both past and present, to discover the truth once and for all.

“Hey Strawberry! You need to start acting like a professional! Quit rubbing the rosin bag on your gums!”

McGwire on McGwire

Balls to the Wall: When you muscled that 62nd home run over the left field wall in Busch Stadium to make break Roger Maris’ record, it created one of the most lasting sports memories I’ve had to date. Coming off the bat, the ball had the trajectory of a shallow liner, but it was almost as if you had some invisible power inside you giving you that extra boost to get it over the wall. Would you mind giving me some of the juice…on what it was like to break one of baseball’s most storied records?

Mark McGwire: I’m not here to talk about the past.

BttW: Okay, I can see that it’s a touchy subject considering Bonds out-drugged—excuse me, out-slugged your record only three years later. Taking into account the current public perception of you in contrast to everything you’ve accomplished in your career, how do you like your chances for the Hall of Fame when you become eligible for voting later this year?

MM: I’m not here to talk about the past. I’m here to be positive about this subject.

BttW: I admire your positive outlook, Mark, but as it stands, your entire baseball career is in the past. Certainly, you won’t be voted in to the HOF based on your future contributions to baseball. Speaking of which, have you done anything to follow up on your promise to educate youths about the harms of steroids?

MM: My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family, and myself.

BTTW: Alright, this isn’t going anywhere.

Irvin on Irvin

Balls to the Wall: Michael, don’t you find it odd that, after being caught with cocaine and hookers, you were hired by ESPN to be a football analyst, a job that thrives on image?

Michael Irvin: Well, yoo know dat da hookaz wuz jus’ strippaz and da blow wa’n’t mines, it wuz mah cousin’s. Plus, da po-leece di’n’t bring dey A-game an’ I got off wit’ fo’ yeez probation becau’ e’erbody know I wuz da greates’ receiva dey eva wuz.

BttW: Well, I don’t about “greatest receiver there ever was,” but I agree that you would’ve been receiving like a champ if you had to do hard time. However, your unintelligible banter reminded me of another point. How the hell did you find gainful employment as an analyst, a job that also thrives on speaking clearly, when you can barely speak discernable English?

MI: I’m da pimp o’ da worl’, baby.

BttW: Riiiiight. I must’ve overlooked that on your criminal record, here.

Gooden on Gooden + Strawberry on Strawberry

Balls to the Wall: First, I want to thank you guys for taking time out of your hectic arraignment schedules so we could meet at the ballpark today. *Looks down at notepad* After you guys first broke into the majors, you promptly won back-to-back Rookie of the Year awards followed only a couple of years later by a World Series championship. People were hailing the Mets as the next great New York dynasty. Where did it all go wrong? *Looks up from notepad* Gooden! Gooden, what are you doing? Could you please stop trying to snort the batters’ box and sit down? Goddammit….Strawberry! Hey Strawberry! You need to start acting like a professional! Quit rubbing the rosin bag on your gums! What’s that, Gooden? No, there’s no way you could possibly snort the entire 3rd base line.

(20 minutes later)

BttW: I stand corrected.

Ricky on Ricky

Balls to the Wall: Ricky, I’ve got to be honest with you, I punched myself in the nads until they were the size of potatoes when I heard you were walking away from an NFL contract in order to wander around Asia and smoke opium. What made you want to come back to football?

Ricky Williams: Well, I realized I have the rest of my life to ruin myself with drugs, but only a short window of time to play in the NFL. I really missed the competition. Also, the green fairy told me that football was my destiny. I started to believe him once I ran out of money and drugs.

BttW: Well, you’re back now and other than the giant, matted beard, you come off as only slightly crazy. While we’re on the topic of crazy, Dolphins fans have to be going bonkers over the acquisition of Daunte Culpepper…

RW: Yeah, Daunte’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Any time you can get a player of his caliber, you have to go for it. Plus, the women of south Florida are much hotter than in Minnesota, so I think he’ll be pleased with what our sex cruises have to offer.

BttW: Right on, my man, right on. Give me a pound. Oh that’s right, I forgot. No touching.

‘Sheed on ‘Sheed

Balls to the Wall: Thanks for not killing me when I told you I wanted to interview you about your past drug suspensions.

Rasheed Wallace: It’s coo, man. It’s coo.

BttW: Anyway, Rasheed, I may be the only one who noticed the irony of this, but prior to playing for Detroit, you had a bad rap for being a pothead AND being the angriest player in the league. To me, that seems contradictory. What gives?

‘Sheed: Well, I got that skunk patch on my head, so I like to smoke that skunk. Know what I’m sayin’? When David Stern roll up and try to snatch my crops, I just get lit up. Don’t he know not to touch a brother’s weed? Damn.

BttW: Despite your checkered past, your reputation has changed for the better since the Pistons traded for you. Your teammates rave about you and you’re becoming known around the league as the winner.

‘Sheed: That’s ‘cause I got that breakfast of champions right here, homeboy.

(20 minutes later)

BttW: Dude, so let me get this straight. The key to winning an NBA championship is guarded by a dragon…and kept in a cave…that can only be accessed by a secret door?

‘Sheed: Yup.

BttW: And the door weighs 10,000 pounds…is 50 feet off the ground…and the only man alive who’s athletic enough to reach the door…and strong enough to open the door…and crazy enough to fight a dragon…is Ben Wallace?

‘Sheed: Yeah, man. That’s what I’m sayin’.

BttW: Dude.