Why Arizona Sports Remind Me Of Charlie Sheen

Actor Charlie Sheen attends Cleveland Caveliers and Los Angeles Clippers NBA basketball game at Staples Center on January 16, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Charlie Sheen, Channing Frye, Derek Anderson, and how we all might be doing them a disservice.

Derek Anderson's eventual imminent release and Channing Frye's eventual imminent return to Channinghood has me thinking about Charlie Sheen today.  Okay, Charlie Sheen has me thinking about Charlie Sheen today. Bear with me.

Channing Frye's 24 hours of last-second glory reminded everyone briefly of his 2009-2010 triumph, at least early in the season. His two late-and-long game savers gave a frustrated Frye an opportunity to stick out his chest in that cute way little kids do on the playground when imitating their sports idol. (Sorry, Channing; you've got plenty going for you, but chest puffery isn't one of them.)

However, his stats for both games were otherwise Channingesque. In Indiana, he went 5 of 11 from the floor (3-7 from the arc) and took two trips to the free-throw line. He did pull down 10 rebounds but in 43 minutes while also collecting four fouls. In New Jersey, he mustered only three makes out of eight in 29 minutes; his winning three-pointer in overtime was his only successful shot from there all day. 

Video, though, lies to us so very well. We have famously lousy memories as humans. We make lousy witnesses in court proceedings. Our biases form entire fields of research which also have their own biases. For all his ups and significant downs this season, he's essentially the same lovable long-shot who favors farmer's markets over Cheesecake Factory and gets abused in the post more than a tether ball tournament. 

Show us a couple pretty wonderful moments, though, and we sway just a little bit. I remember visiting Dodger Stadium a decade ago to see the Mariners play in interleague play. Ichiro Suzuki had been taking flack for being a singles hitter and perhaps not being a complete major leaguer. 

Sitting in the upper deck, I saw Ichiro dig into the batter's box against Kevin Brown when Kevin Brown was Kevin Brown as the first hitter of the game. A few pitches later, he was mid-trot after a long home run in a place that doesn't exactly favor them. I will swear to this day that Ichiro took just a little more time than normal to round those bases, just that one time.

Of course, there's a rather convincing body of evidence that Ichiro doesn't care if chicks dig him.  Still, I own a lingering doubt that Ichiro chose not to sock 20 home runs each season because of that day.  Which is ridiculous.

But not so ridiculous as the beating Derek Anderson's taken in the local and national media for his failure to possess the proper football skills and the proper body language as determined by the Arizona Republic and others. Paola Boivin called him out for failing to strike the proper pose to raise his mediocre team to, you know, an interesting mediocrity.

Then Kent Somers grabbed the other end of the rail and lashed Anderson to it for being caught on television finding a moment of levity in a crushing time for a relatively young man. Even if you don't care, the implication went, you could at least pretend. We know all about you, Derek Anderson: you suck and you're a lousy actor. So there.

All this brings me back to Charlie Sheen. He's not a lousy actor, exactly. He's got his niche and it's worked out well enough for 30 years. We knew a bit about the strippers and blow for years. We didn't know about the five children and the lost weekends measured by flips of the calendar, but we had ourselves a rapscallion of the first order who made many laugh with his rapscalliousness. I know I laughed at him and not so much with him.

We've seen him on video now, though, and heard him on the radio and it's finally clicked. He's the crazy wacky cocaine guy ruining his career in a truly vainglorious manner. 

Now that he's on his way down, we pull the ropes a bit harder to make sure he smacks with a satisfying splat to make room for another hero on the pop charts. And why not? He's acted the fool and failed to do his job recently.  He's earned it. We're all winning!

After a rough game, I never stopped Frye in the locker room to pat him on the shoulder or tell him he's not really a ham sandwich. I haven't met Derek Anderson, but I've also never sent him a postcard to recommend an acting coach. 

And maybe I should. Not out of favoritism or kissassery but because it's what one human being should do for another. Maybe there's a way to say the critical smartass bits while lifting up with the other typing hand.

But we don't. They're millionaires. We don't feel sorry for millionaires. (Though we seem to be awfully sympathetic about them when we think we might become one someday, facts aside.) And Charlie Sheen sure seems to be a particularly sorry millionaire himself.

In this case, I can't help but feel I should change my approach. He's on Twitter now, apparently, which makes him uniquely reachable. Maybe I could ask to stop by his place and see if he wants to take a private jet to an awesome private island that looks a lot like a hospital. He can bring the hotties.

I don't know these men. I don't know Channing Frye and Derek Anderson because they're functional strangers to me. Despite Sheen's attempts in the last two weeks, I still don't know him because he doesn't even know himself. 

So here goes: Charlie. You're a sports fan. I like sports. That's cool. Did you see Channing Frye hit those two game-winners? Yeah, that was awesome.

I'll get to the point: I have plenty of funny things to say about winning and nanoseconds. I will save them for when you're feeling better. Please get help. Thanks, man.

I'm not sure this lesson's going to stick for Charlie or for me, but hopefully you all can help me save my ire for those who can defend themselves and I'll try to help others like the unlikable from time to time. After all, it's what one human being should do for another.

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