Cy Old vs. Cy Young

lincecumIt was almost 10 years ago when Pedro Martinez lined up against Roger Clemens in Game 3 of the 1999 ALCS. The hype leading up to that one wasn’t so much that Pedro was starting one of the greatest runs of any pitcher in baseball history, it was that Clemens was going back to Fenway as a member of the hated Yankees.

Of course all that changed before Clemens got his first six outs. After two innings Clemens was roughed up for five runs on six hits and a pair of walks, while Pedro cruised through seven innings of two-hit ball in a 13-1 victory for the Red Sox.

Pedro’s win over Clemens was the high-water mark for the Red Sox until 2004 when they finally broke through against the Yankees and won their first World Series since 1918. More impressive, that game against Clemens and the Yankees came shortly after he came on in relief in the deciding game of the ALDS and no-hit the Indians for six innings.

Wouldn’t it be cool to see him do the same kind of thing this October?

Some say those two games were the best back-to-back outings of a Hall of Fame career and it’s hard to argue with the numbers – 13 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 20 K.

However, that game against Clemens might have been the first time Pedro was matched up with another big-time pitcher. The pair squared off again in the 2003 ALCS where he famously pitched Don Zimmer to the ground during a bench-clearing incident before the old man could rain blows onto the pitcher.

Not saying that Zim had it coming, but, you know, if you want to dance you gotta pay the man… or something like that.

Anyway, Pedro is no stranger to taking the mound in big games and/or against big-time pitchers. He met Clemens three times in the ALCS, beat John Smoltz with a two-hitter in 2005, went head-to-head with one-time Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb in a 0-0 duel in 2006, as well as games against Randy Johnson (and others) scattered along the way.

Tonight at the Bank is a renewal of those big-time matchups. Call it Cy Old vs. Cy Young when Pedro takes on reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, Tim Lincecum.

This one is pretty intriguing simply because the stage of the careers the pitchers are traversing. This very well could be Pedro’s swan song since he made no secret about his desire to return to a team that had a chance to make a run for a ring. If he gets it this year, he just might call it quits… then again, maybe not.

pedroNevertheless, at 37 Pedro is putting the finishing touches on a Hall of Fame career, while Lincecum just might be at the beginning stages of his. The interesting thing is the pair of right-handers are almost carbon copies of each other with a decade-plus difference in age. Pedro is listed at 5-foot-11 and roughly 180 pounds, while Lincecum is also a slight 5-foot-11 and a wispy 170ish. Back when he was the baddest man with a baseball in his right hand, Pedro threw in the high 90s, broke off a nasty curve, and threw a ridiculous, knee-buckling changeup. And oh yeah, he wasn’t afraid to buzz a hitter or three with a fastball.

These days Pedro throws in the low 90s, still has the changeup, but actually has to pitch more with guile and smarts.

Meanwhile, Lincecum, just like the Pedro of old, throws his fastball in the mid-to upper 90s, mixes in a curve and slider and throws an unconventional changeup that dives like a splitter. As a result, Lincecum was the Cy Young Award winner in 2008 during his first full season in the big leagues at just age 24.

Worse for opponents, Lincecum has the same cold-blooded approach that Pedro had.

“I can’t foresee a guy like Timmy going out in a playoff game and being nervous,” Giants’ centerfielder Aaron Rowand said. “That’s not his persona.”

So look at the matchup as a glimpse into the past and the future.

Should be fun.

Looking to go back in time

Reggie BarIf it were possible to go back in time and retroactively edit my favorite childhood baseball player, I would.

But alas, time travel is meant just for Michael J. Fox.

As a kid in the 1970s and ‘80s I was a victim of geography. With no Internet or the proliferation of cable TV, I was stuck in my tiny little realm. That meant when we lived in Washington, D.C. we closely followed the Orioles and even attended a handful of games at Memorial Stadium every season.

But when we moved to Lancaster, Pa., though technically closer to the city limits of Baltimore, we followed the Phillies. Though Lancaster with Harrisburg and York comprises the 41st largest media market in the country, it falls under the umbrella of Philadelphia sports fandom. In fact, it’s not uncommon for traveling Lancastrians to tell strangers that their hometown is “near Philly” despite the fact that Philadelphians believe Lancaster to be in the middle of nowhere, or worse, the other side of the earth.

Having lived in both places, the Philadelphians aren’t wrong about Lancaster… but then again, they’re stuck in Philadelphia.

Just to mix it up a bit, the Red Sox were another team we kept up with, but that was just because they were a team that was a bit exotica. The Red Sox always had good players, always were almost good (but not quite good enough) and always seemed to have a bit of soap opera quality. And since they were on the nationally broadcasted game-of-the-week often and played in that goofy little ballpark, it was difficult to ignore them.

As a result of all of this, Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, Steve Carlton, Pete Rose, Eddie Murray, Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens qualified, at one point or another, as favorite players. Those players had the swings that I copied though my pitching motion was strictly a direct rip-off of Luis Tiant.

Trust me on this one – this skinny kid from The Lanc with a funky pitching motion was never afraid to stick it in a hitter’s ear. Hey, I own the inside part of the plate!

By the way: is there a reason why El Tiante is not in the Hall of Fame?

Anyway, of the group of ballplayers listed above I have had the chance to meet and spend moments in the company of all of them except for Boggs, which is why I want to change who my main guy was.

If I could do it all over again I’d go with Reggie.


Look, I know all about Reggie Jackson, the Cheltenham High grad and Wyncote native (like Ezra Pound and Benjamin Netanyahu) who came to prominence with the Oakland A’s, but turned into a superstar with the New York Yankees. I know how he had an ego as big as all of those home runs and strikeouts piled on top of each other. I also know that he was a bit of a diva who probably didn’t blend well with all of his teammates and/or the press.

Sometimes it seemed as if Reggie could drive everyone crazy. And I mean everyone… especially Billy Martin.

Nevertheless, Reggie got it. He knew it was a show and he had panache. People went to the park to see him homer or whiff and he rarely ever disappointed anyone. Better yet, he went deep and struck out with equal amounts of flair in which he took a huge, powerful cut that came from so deep within that it dropped him down to one knee.

But if he got a hold of one… look out! Not only did it sail far into the seats, but Reggie would stand at home plate and watch it along with everyone else before beginning his static yet stylish trot around the bases.

For some reason, though, the Reggie posturing fell out of favor. Oh no, I doubt the fans disprove, nor does it seem as if certain home run hitters like Barry Bonds or Ken Griffey are opposed to such subtle histrionics. However, when Ryan Howard gave a long home run the Reggie treatment in St. Louis last week, he took one on the right hip the next trip to the plate.

Reggie in furHey, if I were putting together an all-time greats team that spanned my lifetime Reggie probably wouldn’t make the cut (maybe we’d find him a spot as a late-inning pinch hitter), and clearly he was a flawed player. But the best part about Reggie is how he interacted with his audience and the messengers. Reggie was never shy about talking to the press and actually saying something interesting. He also liked to prod writers and challenge them the way a coach would a player. For instance, my old pal Howie Bryant was covering the Yankees for the Bergen County Record, Reggie used to give him a hard time about the location of his employer.

As Howie wrote in his book, Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power, and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball, Reggie used some Jedi-like, passive-aggressive tactics that led to him writing the book.

H.B. wrote on page 403 of the hardcover edition:

Reggie is never easy. He can employ numerous tactics designed to prove one thing: that he’s somebody and you’re not. During my first months covering the Yankees for The Record of Bergen County, New Jersey, he could be funny or condescending. A favorite Jackson ploy was to read my credential, notice I worked for a Jersey paper, and comment, “Hey, how come you don’t work for one of the New York papers?”

Reggie never had a problem with anything written about him as long as it was honest, good and not a cliché. Provocation and ideas were what interested Reggie, anything else was silly.

That’s why Reggie is my favorite and why I’m looking for that time machine.


Speaking of silly, it looks like former Phillies’ GM Lee Thomas finally completed a long-forgotten trade with the Dodgers.

Following the money

Following today’s testimony by Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the notion that members of Congress split along party lines during their questioning was prevalent. The idea that Democrats were tough on Clemens and more apt to find McNamee credible, while Republicans drilled McNamee and were soft on Clemens has some legs.

That got me thinking a little bit – is Roger Clemens a donor to any specific politicians or political groups. It’s well known that Clemens, a Texan, has a relationship with the Bush family, but when it comes to writing checks to politicos Clemens is about as revealing as his today’s testimony.

In other words, there is nothing there.

According to the report on federal campaign contributions filed as of Feb. 11, Clemens has never donated more than $200 to any politician or political special interest group since 1978. The same goes for Brian McNamee.

In fact, amongst active team-sport athletes the political contributions aren’t overwhelming. Shane Battier, Lance Berkman, Peyton Manning, Dikembe Mutombo and Alex Rodriguez are the most notable donors.

Locally, all of the team owners and chairman have made political contributions, with Bill Giles of the Phillies and Jeffrey Lurie of the Eagles giving away the most. According to the filings, Lurie wrote a check for $10,000 to Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee last November and dished out a pair of $2,300 checks to Hillary Clinton for President on Sept. 18, 2007.

But like Giles, who has donated to both Republicans and Democrats, Lurie’s money has no party alliegience.

Meanwhile, Eagles coach Andy Reid recently donated $2,300 to Mitt Romney’s campaign for President.

Anyway, if the reason why Republicans were softer on Clemens than McNamee today and Democrats grilled the pitcher, but were sympathetic to the ex-trainer, it isn’t because of political contributions.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of folks who have wondered why Congress is digging into baseball’s drug problem instead of more pressure issues.

“Don’t they have anything better to do?” people have asked.

No. No they don’t.

For more on who gives money to whom, click here.

To tell the truth: The Clemens, McNamee edition

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) just gaveled closed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s hearing on steroids and baseball. It came a few seconds after he pounded his gavel onto his podium and told Roger Clemens to shut up.

That little moment were just the sprinkles atop of the sundae during the four-plus hours that Roger Clemens and his ex-trainer Brian McNamee met with the Congressional Committee to discuss the Mitchell Report’s investigation in illicit performance-enhancing substance abuse in baseball. Most of the testimony and questions were quite testy and went so far as for several U.S. Representatives to call McNamee a “liar” and a “drug dealer.”

Aside from the final gavel down from Waxman, Clemens was treated much more respectfully than McNamee than members of Congress, though the questions were hardly deferential and the responses were greeted with loads of skepticism.

So after four hours of accusations, anger and the threat of further hearings, here’s what I learned from watching Clemens, McNamee and Congress joust for the better part of the afternoon:

• Andy Pettitte is a problem for Clemens. Actually, it seems almost Shakespearean in that Clemens’ best friend in baseball could be the one guy to bring him down.

• Whether he is telling the truth or not, Brian McNamee did not come out of the hearings looking very good.

• Whether he is telling the truth or not, Roger Clemens does not look good for hiring a trainer/body man like Brian McNamee.

• Athletes like Roger Clemens continue to perpetuate the notion that they do not know what they are taking or have taken. Just the thought of such a thing is such a load of bull—-. Every elite-level athlete knows very well what they take and they sweat over the details. Those who don’t pay attention to such things don’t last very long. So for someone like Roger Clemens to say he was not aware or was duped by a trainer, nutritionist or doctor… well, perhaps they aren’t exercising the best candor.

• Most importantly, Roger Clemens is not a vegetarian. When asked if he was a vegan, Clemens looked confused and said: “I don’t know what that is. I’m sorry.”

So if Clemens is neither a vegetarian nor a vegan, we should assume that he has ingested steroids… sorry, there I go again.

Anyway, the question remains – what was accomplished with having Clemens and McNamee in front of the committee.

“Not as much as we would have liked,” Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) told ESPN, who also chastised Major League Baseball and its players for its “code of silence” in regards to its drug problems.

“I found Clemens almost as believable as Rafael Palmeiro,” Rep. Souder told ESPN.

The problem is that McNamee came off just as believable in a circus of events in which it seems as if the man who was not present came out with his reputation intact. That’s the curious part, especially considering that several Congressman wondered aloud about why Andy Pettitte was not taking questions, too.

Where was he?

Time to stretch

Will & HeidiI’m not an expert on much, but it seems to me that there is much more anticipation about the official opening of spring training this year than in the past. Folks are charged up about baseball and spring training as if the day pitchers and catchers are expected to report to camp has some sort of significance. I don’t know – maybe it is significant. But it’s kind of like the first day of summer or something in that it might be hot for weeks leading up to the “official” day, but it’s not really summer until the third week of June.

Spring training “officially” begins this Thursday, but it’s largely ceremonial – a made-for-TV moment, if you will. The fact is most of the ballplayers have been working out since November and shifted their regimes to Florida or Arizona earlier this month. This Thursday teams like the Phillies will stretch and run formal drills with the wags from the press in attendance. But really, nothing changes for another few weeks when they kick-off the exhibition season.

Still, who doesn’t like the first days of spring training? Watching ballplayers stretch and go through old-timey calisthenics under sun-soaked skies from snowed-in northeastern cities is a way to mark the seasons. TV folks trot out the standard clichés while the newspapermen get to work on the issues facing the club, such as when will the team add another arm to the pitching staff and when will they come to terms on a contract with the top slugger.

New year, same themes.

So while the ballplayers go through their stretches and cover-first drills, I’m going to hang out up here in the snow and cold until Feb. 25. That’s when I’ll go to Clearwater for all the color and pageantry of spring training. Besides, spring training is the best part about baseball.

Until then, it’s back to the ol’ grind.

Here are a few sports-related stories that actually turned my attention away from the stuff I normally read about for a spell:

Bryant GumbelBryant Gumbel’s Real Sports on HBO is easily the best sports show out there. The reasons for that are myriad and too long to get into now, but it’s always enjoyable to watch and listen to topics that get into issues.

One of the issues tackled by Gumbel in the latest episode of the show was the ethics of Roger Clemens’ lobbying of Congressmen ahead of tomorrow’s hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Gumbel questioned whether Clemens’ overt wooing of specific Congressmen would affect the legitimacy of the hearings and closed the show with this:

“Finally tonight, a few words about flattery. Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state and notorious self-promoter, once observed that ‘Those who say flattery doesn’t work have never had it practiced on them.’

“That quote would seem to have registered with Roger Clemens, who, facing congressional hearings this week into his alleged steroid use, suddenly became civic minded last week, and made a number of personal house calls on Capitol Hill. Given Clemens’ well-earned reputation for surliness, his transparent charm offensive was to many— exactly that. Aside from the obvious question about why elected officials would consent to meet with a freshly deposed witness in advance of his testimony, you’ve also got to wonder just how much Roger’s shameless slurping may have compromised the objectivity of those slated to question him.

“Following some face time with the accused, one California Republican came away gushing about how much Clemens was the kind of guy you’d want as a neighbor. Since neither party has a monopoly on bad judgment, a Democratic congressman from Brooklyn named Edolphus Towns, all but fell at Clemens’ feet. Parroting the pitcher’s defense after their meeting, Towns claimed his half hour personal visit had made him a believer in Clemens’ character.

“Now I obviously have no idea if Roger Clemens is guilty of that which he is accused. Maybe he is. Maybe he isn’t. But you do have to wonder why someone who’ll be under oath and claims he’s innocent would engage in what looks like the political equivalent of jury tampering to try to influence his reception before a House committee. You could argue it’s good insurance. Or you could conclude that on the heels of an interview, a press conference, a taped phone call and a deposition…he doth protest too much.”

It makes one wonder not only about the relevancy of Congress tackling the issue of steroids in baseball, but also if the hearings are nothing more than the typical political dog-and-pony show. The New York Times examined the issue, noting Congressmen in charge of questioning the pitcher posed for pictures and got autographs during Clemens’ lobbying jaunt.

According to published reports, The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue was released this week. Hey, who doesn’t like swimsuits? But really, does the SI swimsuit issue really matter anymore? With all the stuff out there on the Internet – swimsuit or not – is the issue just another media anachronism from another tired magazine?

Hey, I’m not telling them to stop…

One of my favorite sporting events takes place this weekend in San Diego where some of the best runners in the country will battle it out over the hills and dales in the U.S. Cross Country Championships. This being an Olympic year with the Trials in Eugene quickly approaching, some runners decided to sit out, like defending champ Alan Culpepper. But the top two finishers in last November’s Marathon Olympic Trials will be there.

Undoubtedly, the 12-kilometer championship race will be hyped as the match-up between tough Dathan Ritzenhein and the American distance running’s great hope, Ryan Hall. Runners Dan Browne, Andrew Carlson, James Carney, Anthony Famiglietti, Jason Lehmkuhle and Jorge Torres will also be in San Diego fighting for both a national championship and a spot on the national team for the World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 30.

Livan HernandezSo who’s going to win? Certainly it’s hard to bet against Ritzenhein and Hall, who clearly are the class of the field. Dan Browne is another Olympian and a veteran of some big-time races, while Torres is an excellent cross runner and Famiglietti has the pedigree, too. But my dark horse is James Carney, a graduate of Millersville University, who won the U.S. championship in the half-marathon last month in Houston.

With the way he has been racing, Carney could make the Olympic team in the 10,000-meters if he isn’t careful.

Speaking of the Olympics, there was an interesting story in The New York Times on how the USOC will supply athletes with American food and chefs while in Beijing for the games. Now we all know that holding the Olympics in China is wrong for thousands of reasons, with pollution, environmental and human-rights concerns right at the top.

But according to the story in The Times, an American delegation traveled to Beijing and tested out the food sold in Chinese supermarkets… let’s just say it didn’t go well.

While in China, USOC caterer Frank Puleo picked up a 14-inch chicken breast and had it tested – the results:

“We had it tested and it was so full of steroids that we never could have given it to athletes. They all would have tested positive.”

That’s really saying something considering how full of hormones and steroids (and other things) meat sold in the U.S. is loaded up with. That is, of course, if author Eric Schlosser is wrong… which he is not.

Finally, it’s interesting to note that the Twins signed Livan Hernandez for $5 million for one year. An innings-eating right-hander, Hernandez hasn’t missed a start in years and routinely piles up 200-plus innings every season. Even last season when his Ks-per nine innings were way, way down, Hernandez still threw close to 220 innings (counting the playoffs).

Knowing that it only took $5 million to get Hernandez, 32, to sign with the depleted Twins, would it have been wise for the Phillies to take a shot at the righty? I say yes because I like sure things. Hernandez is almost guaranteed to turn in another 200-innings season in ’08.

I’ve got nothing…

Tom CruiseHappy belated Super Fat Tuesday, folks! Here’s hoping everything turned out just the way you wanted …

The Super Bowl is over, the start of spring training is just one week away and there really isn’t much else to talk about. Well, there’s the weather… it’s early February and it’s 60 degrees, but the word on the street is that it will be just 10 degrees come Sunday night.

That Mother Nature… she’s just so fickle.

Capriciousness aside, there really isn’t much to say. The Flyers are in first place, which is cool. However, it seems a little too early in the season for the Stanley Cup chatter to heat up. The Sixers are… well, let’s just hope they get the right portion of ping-pong balls.

Since I don’t have anything new to write about (pertaining to Philadelphia and its sports teams), I’ll just do a little hit-and-run on a few items.

  • So trainer Brian McNamee reportedly has physical evidence that Roger Clemens used performance enhancing drugs. What, is this the blue dress of the sporting scene? Did McNamee really save the residue from giving the Rocket a shot in the derriere? Wow.
  • Though I’m no football expert, I suspect the Giants’ victory in the Super Bowl indicts the Eagles’ inability to win the big game in some way. I just don’t know what that is.
  • How come the Giants can win the Super Bowl and the Eagles can’t?
  • After Bill Belichick abandoned his team and left his defense on the field so he could go into the locker room and sulk after the loss in the Super Bowl, it’s fair to say, “Thank God Bill Belichick is a football coach.” After all, the delicate genius that is Bill Belichick could be using all his wisdom and grace to be doing unimportant things like solving poverty, designing programs for world peace or delve into cancer research. But instead – and lucky for us – he’s a football coach. We should all knee down and soak in the aura that such men emit.
  • As Tom Cruise said to Craig T. Nelson in the epic Western Pennsylvania football film, All the Right Moves, “You are just a football coach!” Then he ran away. Fast.

  • Aside from not having updated spy films, perhaps the Patriots lost to the Giants because it was the first time they played a good team twice. All of the other teams the Pats played twice were in the AFC East, who combined for a 12-36 record.
  • Is Kris Benson a low-risk, high-reward possibility or is he simply a potential annoyance for the Phillies? Oh, it’s not Benson who is annoying. By all accounts he’s nothing more than a typical baseball player, which means he’s just like everyone else only more entitled. The “problem” with Benson is the baggage he brings – that stuff is all fine and dandy when it happens somewhere else like Pittsburgh, New York or Baltimore. We have enough to deal with as it is already.
  • I really enjoy eating with chop sticks.
  • Now that Sen. Arlen Specter has decided to take on the Patriots’ alleged spying in his role as de facto commissioner of the NFL, it’s quite interesting how there is quite a bit of bad press. Suddenly, sports media types are indignant and calling upon Congressional leaders to “focus on more important issues.” Well, yeah, Congressional involvement is sports seems more than a bit silly. It’s silly that leagues have antitrust exemption just as it’s ridiculous that government funded agencies can suspend athletes without proper due process.

    But perhaps the biggest reason why sports media/fans don’t want Congress involved in the Patriots’ alleged spying or steroid use in baseball is because they don’t want to know the truth. No, Congress is hardly the beacon of trust or the arbiter of truth and justice, but the fact is they are smart enough to take on cases and issues they know they can’t lose. Congress likes sure things and because it looks like they have one with baseball and maybe even the Patriots, maybe some folks are worried that the curtain will be pulled back for everyone to take a good look.

He yam what he yam

PopeyePoor Roger Clemens. After decades of making baseball fans and the baseball media believe the unbelievable, things have changed. It seems as if people have stopped buying what he’s been selling despite years and years of turning a blind eye and swallowing it whole.

So yeah, poor Roger Clemens.

Clemens, of course, made a much heralded appearance with company man Mike Wallace on “60 Minutes” last night. It was on that show where Clemens admitted that he injected B-12 and lidocaine. He also told Wallace that he would submit to a lie-detector test because we all know that just like a negative drug test, a polygraph reveals everything.

But where Clemens made his mistake isn’t from admitting that he injected B-12 and lidocaine with the help of his ex-trainer turned George Mitchell’s rat, Brian McNamee. He made his mistake by thinking that sporting press was still largely ignorant about performance-enhancing drugs, injections and vitamins. Hey, he figured he had them believing everything he threw out there to begin with, especially the part about how “intense” his workout regime was[1], why not trot out the B-12 line?

Certainly what Clemens didn’t think was going to happen was that there would be a backlash about his revelation. Really, B-12? Was he anemic? If so, why didn’t he eat some spinach? You don’t see Popeye injecting B-12 into his ass, do you?

Look, athletes – especially endurance athletes – get anemia. I would go so far as to call it a common malady for runners and cyclists. In fact, amongst the elite American runners out there working today I can name a bunch who struggled with bouts of anemia. Of the few of those runners that I have talked to about their iron deficiency, not one said anything about getting injections of B-12. Instead, they told me they took multi-vitamins and ate more vegetables.

That’s it.

Unless Clemens was using the B-12 shots for something else, such as masking a urine test, it doesn’t sound like he is being completely forthcoming.

As far as lidocaine goes, a non-anabolic steroid and anti-itch agent, couldn’t Clemens just roll around in some aloe leafs?

Hey, maybe Clemens is telling the truth. Why shouldn’t he? Maybe he learned how to pitch as he entered the “twilight of his career.” It’s not out of the ordinary for a pitcher… come on, it’s not like he re-wrote the record books as came into his late-30s. Greg Maddux is still a standout pitcher in his early 40s. For the Phillies, 45-year old Jamie Moyer is just as good now as he was a decade ago. Tom Glavine shows no signs of slowing down, either. And like Clemens, Maddux, Moyer and Glavine have kept away from injuries by staying fit. The key to consistency, oddly enough, is being consistent.

So now Clemens enters into the always murky waters of public opinion, which always matters more than what a guy can prove. 

[1] Yeah, I remember a time when a few sportswriters were discussing a story about Clemens in Sports Illustrated that detailed his out-of-season and in-season workouts with a curious Phillie. The part that had me on the ground laughing was when a scribe said, “He does a whole bunch of weights stuff and then he runs five miles!”