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The 5 Strangest Stories in Vice and Sports

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No one's saying that drinking, smoking or drugs does an athlete any good, but it sure makes explaining their antics a whole lot easier...

Bill "Spaceman" Lee
Pitcher Bill Lee earned his nickname the Spaceman not because of his lefty environmental politics, or his endorsement of yoga, but for his rampant drug use. Apparently, he regularly sprinkled pot on his pre-game organic pancakes for good luck. Of course, the drugs made him do some strange things. Supposedly during one game, Lee was so out of it that he called the ump to the mound, and asked him, "Can you do anything about those trees over in center field?"
Among the many things Lee's done since retiring, one of them was running for president in 1988. He campaigned with the slogan "No guns. No butter. Both can kill," but failed to appear on the ballot in any state.

DockEllis.jpgDock Ellis in the Sky with Diamonds
Supposedly, pitcher Dock Ellis never played a major league game sober. On May 1, 1974, for instance, Ellis attempted to hit every batter in the Cincinnati Reds' lineup. In the first inning alone, he pelted Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Dan Dreisen. Tony Perez dodged four pitches and walked, but after Johnny Bench was nearly beaned twice, Ellis was removed from the game. By far, Ellis' oddest accomplishment though was on June 12, 1970, when (per his autobiography) he became the only major league player ever to pitch a complete game no-hitter while tripping on acid.

trickle_600px.jpgDick Trickle and Cigarettes
The man with the funniest name in racing was infamous for drilling holes into his safety helmet so he didn't have to stop for cigarette breaks while racing. Instead he simply smoked through his altered headgear. Dick's also famous for having cigarette lighters installed into all of his cars, so he never had to ask his pit crew for a light.

Barret Robbins and his less than Super Bowl
In one of the most infamous pre-game blunders of all time, the former All-Pro center stunned his team (and thrilled bookies) when he went AWOL two days before Super Bowl XXXVII. Apparently, the quest for cheaper alcohol led the depressed Raider all the way to Tijuana, where a sloppy night landed him in a Mexican hospital.

01285_2137.jpgLawrence Taylor, Crack and Hookers
According to Taylor, the football All-Star was turned onto cocaine as a NFL rookie, and within three years he was nose deep in crack. "I'd go through an ounce a day. And at times I'd be standing in the huddle. And instead of thinking what defense we were playing I'd be thinking about smoking crack after the game." Of course, LT countered the effect of drugs with a special tactic: sending hookers with special instructions to wear out his opponents the night before a game. Said Taylor, "Every time they [opposing players] sit there and tell you, "˜Oh, we gotta get some sleep,' that's when the party really starts."

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Pop Culture
The Simpsons's Classic Baseball Episode Gets the Mockumentary Treatment
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Fox Sports, YouTube

Opinions vary widely about the continued existence of The Simpsons, which just began its 29th season. Some believe the show ran out of steam decades ago, while others see no reason why the satirical animated comedy can’t run forever.

Both sides will no doubt have something to say about the episode airing Sunday, October 22, which reframes the premise of the show’s classic “Homer at the Bat” installment from 1992 as a Ken Burns-style mockumentary titled Springfield of Dreams: The Legend of Homer Simpson.

As Mashable reports, “Homer at the Bat” saw Montgomery Burns launch his own baseball team and populate it with real major league players like Wade Boggs, Steve Sax, and Jose Canseco to dominate the competition. In the one-hour special, the players will discuss their (fictional) participation, along with interviews featuring Homer and other members of the animated cast.

It’s not clear how much of the special will break the fourth wall and go into the actual making of the episode, a backstory that involves guest star Ken Griffey Jr. getting increasingly frustrated recording his lines and Canseco’s wife objecting to a scene in which her husband's animated counterpart wakes up in bed with lecherous schoolteacher Edna Krabappel.

Morgan Spurlock (Super-Size Me) directed the special, which is slated to air on Fox at either 3 p.m. EST or 4:30 p.m. EST depending on NFL schedules in local markets. There will also be a new episode of The Simpsons—an annual Halloween-themed "Treehouse of Horror" installment—airing in its regular 8 p.m. time slot.

[h/t Mashable]

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Big Questions
Why Do Baseball Managers Wear Uniforms?
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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Basketball and hockey coaches wear business suits on the sidelines. Football coaches wear team-branded shirts and jackets and often ill-fitting pleated khakis. Why are baseball managers the only guys who wear the same outfit as their players?

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball since 2011, it goes back to the earliest days of the game. Back then, the person known as the manager was the business manager: the guy who kept the books in order and the road trips on schedule. Meanwhile, the guy we call the manager today, the one who arranges the roster and decides when to pull a pitcher, was known as the captain. In addition to managing the team on the field, he was usually also on the team as a player. For many years, the “manager” wore a player’s uniform simply because he was a player. There were also a few captains who didn’t play for the team and stuck to making decisions in the dugout, and they usually wore suits.

With the passing of time, it became less common for the captain to play, and on most teams they took on strictly managerial roles. Instead of suits proliferating throughout America’s dugouts, though, non-playing captains largely hung on to the tradition of wearing a player's uniform. By the early to mid 20th century, wearing the uniform was the norm for managers, with a few notable exceptions. The Philadelphia Athletics’s Connie Mack and the Brooklyn Dodgers’s Burt Shotton continued to wear suits and ties to games long after it fell out of favor (though Shotton sometimes liked to layer a team jacket on top of his street clothes). Once those two retired, it’s been uniforms as far as the eye can see.

The adherence to the uniform among managers in the second half of the 20th century leads some people to think that MLB mandates it, but a look through the official major league rules [PDF] doesn’t turn up much on a manager’s dress. Rule 1.11(a) (1) says that “All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players’ uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs" and rule 2.00 states that a coach is a "team member in uniform appointed by the manager to perform such duties as the manager may designate, such as but not limited to acting as base coach."

While Rule 2.00 gives a rundown of the manager’s role and some rules that apply to them, it doesn’t specify that they’re uniformed. Further down, Rule 3.15 says that "No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club." Again, nothing about the managers being uniformed.

All that said, Rule 2.00 defines the bench or dugout as “the seating facilities reserved for players, substitutes and other team members in uniform when they are not actively engaged on the playing field," and makes no exceptions for managers or anyone else. While the managers’ duds are never addressed anywhere else, this definition does seem to necessitate, in a roundabout way, that managers wear a uniform—at least if they want to have access to the dugout. And, really, where else would they sit?

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