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Giving year-end awards to single individuals is so five minutes ago. Look around: Sports Illustrated tabs Mark & Sammy. Time goes for Bill & Kenny. (Good thing Lindbergh didn’t have a big year.) Even the Jack Kent Cooke trophy for Redskins’ MVP went to Darrell & Brian. In the news biz, we call that a trend. Hate’s pretty in right now, too. So here’s a quick kick at some local and particularly terrible twosomes who got together to make an ass of themselves in 1998:
Peter & Albert
Like Michael Jordan and Saddam, Peter Angelos can’t be stoppedhe can only be contained. So let’s contain him outside of our city. The Baron of Baltimore got his first half-billion thanks to asbestos; now he’s on the verge of a second, equally sizable, equally wheeze-induced windfall, courtesy of Maryland’s settlement with Big Tobacco. Angelos was handed the case by state politicians who just happen to belong to the same political party he’s pumped six figures’ worth of lung money into. Settlement talks started earlyall that class-action experience came in handy when he was arguing over how big his slice of the 10-figure pie should be. Now, he wants to use that money to buy up Raljon, the same way that he used the asbestos funds to buy up so much of his hometown. It’s been pointed out that if Peter Angelos does acquire the Redskins, the stadium’s nickname would go from “the Big Jack” to “the Big Peter.” But the good news stops there: If his Orioles tenure provides any clues, as owner of the Skins, he’ll only keep a coach who can’t make the playoffs, he’ll fire even the most beloved radio announcers, and he’ll fill the roster with louses and thugs.
With guys, in other words, like Albert Belle. A thumbnail of the team’s new centerpiece: Belle once punished young trick-or-treaters he regarded as belligerent by running one over in his truck. Belle doesn’t do interviews, but he does bully reporters. He tried to intimidate a female network reporter into leaving her assigned perch inside the dugout because he didn’t like having her so close. He threw baseballs, with bad intentions, at a Sports Illustrated photographer for the crime of taking his picture. He broke the jaw of a Brewers second baseman with a vicious, well-aimed elbow, earning one of the amazing five suspensions he’s been hit with in the last six seasons. When announcing Belle’s signing last month, O’s officials basically painted him as Mother Teresa in cleats, ignoring the volatile relationship he had with a Chicago woman, Stephanie Bugusky. Belle claimed that their violent spats, which had led to assault charges being filed, were the result of her calling him up too much. (Those charges were dropped after Belle agreed to pay for a phone to replace the one he busted.)
Riddick & Mike
Mike Tyson had a food fight in Georgetown and ball-busted some elderly gents in Montgomery County. Big deal. The real out-of-control ex-heavyweight champion in the area this year was Riddick Bowe. Fort Washington’s most famous ex-Marine and the world’s last undisputed champ retired two years ago with a 40-1 record (the lone loss coming to Evander Holyfield, whom Bowe whupped twice), with 32 knockouts. Even after hanging up the gloves, Bowe has gotten into several scuffles inside his family compound. Only now he’s fighting women. Police reports indicate that he scored heavily to the face and back of wife Judy in an allegedly one-sided slugfest, but gained only a split decision, and a split lip, in a lively tussle with sister Velma Melton. But Bowe’s feature bout in 1998 came in Cornelius, N.C., where he flashed a knife, duct tape, pepper spray, and handcuffs while forcing his estranged wife and five children into his car and taking them on a 200-mile tour before surrendering to authorities. Bowe pleaded guilty to federal kidnaping charges, and, after getting fitted by U.S. Marshals with a nice new bracelet, was allowed to walk around his spacious P.G. County palace as much as he wanted. All by himself.
Susan & Cathy
As president of the Mystics, Susan O’Malley proved that a woman can be every bit the Unsportsman. Her miserable Mistakes went 3-27 last seasonthe worst record of any team, not just in the fledgling Layup League, but in the history of professional basketball. Amazingly, the Mystics led the WNBA in attendance despite their inferiority, and a huge portion of those big crowds, night after night, was lesbian. O’Malley’s organization showed its gratitude to the die-hard loyalists by changing a staple promotion, “Couple of the Game,” to “Fan of the Game” rather than making same-sex partners eligible for the prize. Bush league, indeed. And at the end of the year, fans of every orientation got slapped with a hilariously undeserved ticket price increase.
Cathy Parsons, who couldn’t spot humility in a dictionary, trashed her humble, competent predecessor, Jim Lewis, after he was dumped as coach in midseason. And though the record book showed her to be as unsuccessful in the job as Lewis, Parsons patted herself on the back so frequently, she may need some physical therapy for hubris elbow.
Shep & Mike
Leslie Shepherd, a very underrated Unsportsman, had a big year. In the past, Shepherd had been in fights with teammates, including shouting matches with Gus Frerotte in the huddle of regular season games and a real scrap with Tom Carter at training camp. But he generally saved his best work for civilians. Shepherd beat up and broke the nose of a woman in his car in Frostburg, Md., during Redskins training camp in August 1995. He pleaded guilty to a battery charge in that incident. More recently, he whupped on a customer outside LuLu’s after accusing him of shining a laser beam on Brian Mitchell. In court in June to face charges stemming from that incident, Shepherd admitted responsibility for his victim’s cheekbone wound, but blamed the head, ear, throat, eye, and temple contusions on police brutality. A judge pronounced Shepherd “probably guilty” but acquitted him anyway, saying prosecutors had failed to disprove the defendant’s version of events. A month after beating that rap, Shepherd was at it again, allegedly threatening the life and well-being of a young water-park lifeguard who’d informed the receiver that his son was too small for the wave pool.
Shepherd’s battery mate on the Redskins, Michael Westbrook, had the fishy stomach virus, the suspension and fine for missing a team meeting without notifying anybody, tons of stupid penalties and incorrectly run pass routes, and, best of all, that incredibly naive and self-unaware interview on Brian Mitchell’s radio show. In his one and only press event of the year, and his first public words since the first game of last season, Westbrook went on and on about how talented and misunderstood by coaches and fans he was. Few coaches and fewer fans were sorry to see him bulldogged headfirst into the turf against San Diego. But even if Westbrook, who really, really called himself “Michael Jordan with a football” when he showed up four years ago, doesn’t play another down in this town, we’ll never forget him. Hard as we may try…Dave McKenna