A-Rod Schadenfreude, Writ Large

When my local TV news station ran an item on Alex Rodriguez’s marital discord, I knew the story had struck enough chords and brain receptors in the minds of editors and executive producers across the country for the perfect story. Combine the highest-paid baseball player (and the game’s most talented) with a washed up pop star like Madonna (quibble all you want, but she is riding on her 80s output like a greatest hits show), toss in possible Kabbalah crap and rumors of Lenny Kravitz joining the jilted Cynthia Rodriguez in Paris, and these are the things that crack local newscasts and papers across the country, not just in New York, where the Post and the Daily News are the closest thing we have to semi-legit tabloids.

These are the stories that give license to Deadspin’s A.J. Daulerio to create tags of genius such as “Justify My Glove” to encompass the entire scandal (part baseball reference, part Madonna reference, and part Kravitz, as he penned “Justify My Love” for the Material Girl years ago.)

But the question that always pops up with me is: why do we care so much? Michael Jordan’s divorce from wife Juanita did not receive this much play outside of Chicago and he’s worth more than A-Rod could ever hope to be at this point. Obviously, there is the inevitable celebrity factor involved with Madonna, which will get shows like Entertainment Tonight, Extra, and their ilk all over it, but as far as sports fans go, well, what’s the explanation?

I sense that, more than any athlete around right now, we want to see Rodriguez fail at things.

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By Kanye’s Standard, Kobe’s a Punk.

Brooks clues me in to the apparent reality that Kobe Bryant’s apology jewelry fund was not enough to keep his marriage to Vanessa going, pointing to a report from KCBS that they may be doing the old Tammy Wynette fairly soon (and most of that report is cribbed from Media Takeout):

The source close to the couple has stated, “There’s very little for [Kobe and Vanessa] to fight over. Since there was no pre-nuptial agreement, Vanessa’s entitled to half the marital assets … Besides, Kobe stands to make a lot more money in the years to come – and that will be all his (MediaTakeOut.com).”

Kobe Bryant has had a very lucrative basketball career, to say the least, and is estimated to have earned nearly $200 million.

This is, of course, community property and subject to the conditions of the settlement. However, at this point in Kobe’s career the best may yet to come.

I’m not sure quite how that last sentence pans out. How is the best yet to come for Kobe — that is, unless he’s dealt somewhere else? He’s still at his physical game peak — he’s nowhere close to leaving that for another few years. As far as endorsements and pop cultural cache go for athletes, there’s no going back to the potential status he had prior to the rape accusations and the very public dissolution of his relationship with Shaq, so we have to assume that the concept of making a lot more has to do with his contract with the Lakers and his shoe deal (even at his peak with Sprite and all that, Kobe was never what LeBron could be and is, endorsement-wise).

But, as far as his actual career goes, he will either need to be traded or sign on with a team that has a shot at winning, because that isn’t the Lakers with Mitch Kupchak at the helm, who couldn’t or wouldn’t give up the chips necessary for Kevin Garnett, and isn’t likely to do it for Jermaine O’Neal. Likely scenario: opt out in ’08 and then engineer a sign-and-trade, but who will mortgage their future to get him? Trading to equal out would require way too much. Right now, it’s tough to imagine Kobe ever winning another championship ring, and if he does, it’s not happening in Los Angeles.

That said, how did #24 get married without a pre-nup? He’d already been in the League four years and didn’t get the real-world equivalent of the Miles Massey* pre-nup when he got hitched?

(*I’m pretty sure I was one of the few people who liked Intolerable Cruelty a lot.)

UPDATE: KCBS has taken the report down, according to Brooks.

Who Calls His Wife “Dawg?”

Devil Rays outfielder Elijah Dukes is feeling the heat from his documented personal life again, this time with a big, presumably front-page piece in the St. Pete Times about his wife seeking another restraining order and accusing him of threatening her life while in court last week:

Dukes’ wife, NiShea Gilbert, 26, a teacher at Beth Shields Middle School in Ruskin, told the court in another filing Thursday that her husband threatened to kill her and sent a photo of a handgun to her cell phone.

She played the St. Petersburg Times a voice mail message she said was from Dukes:

“You dead, dawg,” says an angry voice. “I ain’t even bulls——-. Your kids, too.”

Yikes. Dukes is also accused of sending picture messages of guns and more threats via voice mail. Reserving full judgment for now, though, because you always need to wait and see what develops in cases of domestic violence, but sometimes, when you read this passage in the newspaper about a couple’s marriage, let’s just say it sets off all the triggers for not ending well:

Gilbert met Dukes when she was a student in 2003 at the University of South Florida. She filed for child support in March 2004 after the couple’s first child was born. He was ordered to pay $222.26 a month.

During her second pregnancy, she sought and won a yearlong restraining order against him. A judge ordered him to attend a certified batterers’ intervention program and substance abuse evaluation.

She noticed little improvement in his behavior, she said.

After the child was born, Dukes proposed. The couple married Feb. 27, 2006. They have a 3-year-old son and a daughter nearly 2.

If that was anyone you knew, you’d probably say it was an ill-advised union.

Yankee Family Matters.

George Steinbrenner, the leader of the team we all love to hate, will be looking for a new heir apparent to run the Yankees when he shuffles off this mortal coil. Back in 2005, he said son-in-law and partial owner Steve Swindal (married to daughter Jennifer) would probably take over, but that’s off the books, because Steve and Jennifer are on the bus to Splitsville after 23 years.

Those irreconcilable differences may have something to do with Swindal’s recent DUI arrest in St. Petersburg, Florida, last month. And despite probably not running the Yankees, he’ll probably come out okay from the whole thing. It’s just hard to imagine the Yanks without George — he’s such a convenient and good target for all the hate, with his obnoxious, arrogant self. Any public face of the front office for the Yankees after him won’t quite measure up to the high expectations.

marriage, pro sports-style.

Given the recent news of Amani Toomer’s impending nasty divorce following on the heels of teammate Michael Strahan getting taken to the cleaners and Nets guard Jason Kidd likely suffering the same fate, I feel a need to offer unqualified and out of my league advice to all athletes preparing for marriage, despite terminal single-hood and lack of a legal background.

1) Know what you’re looking for.

Mr. Toomer is making his particular claim because he feels he was lied to; his wife allegedly aborted his children, wouldn’t change her name, etc. Again, the couple were married in Vegas. I doubt there was that much consideration. As the Head Chick notes, you can get a wife or you can get a chickenhead. Know what you have.

2) Make sure you know the difference between devotion and worship.

Pro athletes, by nature, seem to have a need to feed the ego — they’ve had most things given to them on a platter due to freakish athletic talent, and sex is one of them. Before you go through with this, if you want her to wait on you hand and foot, make that clear. No need to give up half because you didn’t define the terms in advance? Unromantic? Yes. But we’re here to protect YOU. We advise devotion — less likely to ditch you after the first few years and cry for half. Something about that, isn’t it?

Today’s worshipful groupie is tomorrow’s gold-digger.

3) Come to terms with various indiscretions.

You’re gonna have groupies throwing themselves at you left and right. Either work into an agreement a number of indiscretions per year, or keep a side account that can be agreed on for a faux “Honey, I’m sorry” gift — Kobe Bryant keeps a spare couple mil on hand just in case, and it worked for him. Mr. Kidd, however, apparently played cheapskate with the apology jewelry. The sincerity of your apology as a star athlete is measured by how much you spend.

Or, do it the Andrei Kirilenko way — remember, his wife gives him one indiscretion per year, but we suspect it only lasts as long as he keeps playing well, and he’s never used it yet (Would you? This isn’t the best picture, but I wouldn’t.)

4) Get the Massey Pre-Nup.

Or its real-world equivalent. You want something so iron-clad a whole semester could be taught on it at Harvard Law. Of course, unlike Mr. Strahan, you want to make sure that Massey is written in your favor.

If you really want to be thorough, spell out every possible expectation: sex, kids, housework — anything you can think of. Weeds out the unqualified applicants. Again, unromantic, but best for your interests, and it keeps you from having to come back to see us in five years for less pleasant experiences.

(Side note: Intolerable Cruelty is really one of those movies that is gang-busters, laugh out loud funny for the first half-hour and then falls completely off the rails.)

interesting grounds for a split.

Giants WR Amani Toomer looks like he’s going to get laid out in divorce court, if the New York Post is any indication. He’s suing to annul his marriage because, he claims, his wife backslid on the agreement to have his children and a big family. She, naturally, wants the Eddie Murphy special (“I WANT HALF, EDDIE!”)

Toomer, 32, alleges his wife refused to have the “big family” they had discussed before getting hitched in a Las Vegas civil ceremony in October 2002.

“This false promise was never delivered,” he charges in documents filed in court.

Instead, Dabrowski “had up to four” abortions “against Toomer’s wishes [and] without his consent,” the Giant claims.

Now, if true, there’s usually a reason for up to four abortions; women don’t even go for one all willy-nilly and stuff. And boy, do we get it:

In her filings for divorce, [wife Yola Dabrowski] alleges “extreme cruelty,” accusing Toomer of being “relentlessly demanding . . . insecure and paranoid.”

The grid great insisted Dabrowski “cater to his every whim and need,” she claims.

And when she didn’t want to have sex, Toomer acted “irrationally and outrageously” – once urinating on her clothes, and another time tossing her BlackBerry into the Hudson River.

Think of it this way — you want to be knocked up and bearing the children of someone allegedly immature enough to pull an R. Kelly on your clothing, never mind getting irrationally pissed off about not taking his last name? If you have half a brain and this happens to you, you’ll be running to the clinic, too.

I surmise neither party actually knew what they were getting into before the marriage — they did get hitched in Vegas.

Heads up: The FanHouse.

yeah, that messy divorce was worth it.

Per ESPN, Giants DE Michael Strahan has to pay his ex-wife the multi-millions she was due in the pre-nup plus the hundreds of thousands in child support owed. So, Michael, you just went through the public wringer of a New York messy divorce, including the accusations of an “alternative lifestyle” by the missus, and you still wind up having to pay the same money written into the paper? Clearly, you hired a hack for a divorce lawyer — ask for the retainer back; he was about as useful as T.O.’s publicist.

I don’t think you helped on the “alternative lifestyle” rumors by pulling the “MORE MEAT!” with Jared on those Subway ads, either. Rule #1 for all athletes in divorce cases, especially if you’ve got a pre-nup: PAY THE WOMAN.