By Jim Caple
Page 2

The news about Deep Throat's real identity might have caught most of the world off guard, but here at ESPN.com we weren't surprised – we already knew Mark Felt had the inside skinny on everyone.

Felt has been providing the 411 as our lead columnist on ESPN.com Insider for the past year – and, quite honestly, he puts Peter Gammons, Andy Katz and John Clayton to shame. Unfortunately, most readers aren't even aware of his amazing scoops because his monthly "Clearing My Deep Throat" column is considered Double-Secret Platinum Premium content, and to get it you have to subscribe to ESPN The Magazine and put a flag in a flower pot on your balcony in the morning. And even then, you can access it only inside underground parking garages.

But in honor of this week's big revelation, Page 2 has been given permission to print his most recent column at no extra charge. Enjoy...

*****

Barry Bonds
AP Photo/Ben Margot
C'mon Barry, you can put the crutches away. We know the real deal now.

It's amazing how baseball writers are still buying into the old "Knee Surgeries Are Keeping Me on the Disabled List" routine that Barry Bonds is spreading on his Internet site. Do they need a secret source in the attorney general's office to explain to them the orchestrated plan to bring Bonds down for getting too uppity? The IRS has the goods on Bonds for not reporting memorabilia income, but Bud Selig used his ties with President Bush to work out a deal. In exchange for the Commish's getting the IRS to ease up on Bonds, Barry has agreed to sit out until the steroids controversy cools down. That way, he won't have enough time left in his career to break Hank Aaron's record and baseball can avoid an ugly controversy. This is all very similar to when David Stern forced Michael Jordan to retire in 1993 to avoid a gambling scandal. But you didn't hear any of that from me ...

Unless Bonds comes back, don't expect the Giants to be a factor in the NL West this summer. Without Barry, they're dead in the water and might as well be buried with Jimmy Hoffa in the end zone of the Meadowlands. (By the way, Hoffa is buried standing up, with his arms raised as if to signal a touchdown. That's the sort of dedication to detail that you just don't see from the mob these days, what with everyone ratting out each other under the RICO act.) ...

Wait a second – did you hear a car squealing? No, I guess it was just a cat ...

By the way, Stern was way out of line for fining Jeff Van Gundy $100,000. Van Gundy was right. You don't need a source in the Chinese embassy to figure out that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was influencing NBA referees to call more fouls against Yao Ming. It was the old 'scratch my back, scratch your back' thing – the Chinese don't want Yao to be too successful too quickly in the United States, and Cuban wants to get a chunk of the rapidly expanding technology market in China. All you have to do is follow the money. This is just like in 2003 when Stern boosted ratings by ordering referees to make sure the Lakers beat the Kings in the playoffs, and in 2001 when he ordered them to make sure that the Sixers beat the Bucks in the playoffs. Ralph Nader tried to blow the whistle, but Stern is way too powerful – or do I need to draw you a map to show why Nader couldn't get on the ballot in all the states in the 2004 election? Just keep my name out of the paper on this ...

Ken Griffey Jr.
Crazy things continue to happen in Ohio ...

Why are so many people surprised that Ken Griffey Jr. is third among outfielders in the first batch of All-Star ballots even though the outfielder has only five home runs? What, do you need The Washington Post to launch an investigation to show that more than 80,000 of Junior's votes were cast in Ohio by electronic voting machines that leave no paper trail? Wake up, people. These are the same machines the Republicans used to steal the Ohio vote in November. And that was strictly off the record ...

It's no fluke – the Orioles and Brian Roberts are for real this season. No one in Baltimore's lineup has shown this kind of punch since Selig ordered Chan Ho Park to groove Cal Ripken Jr. a fastball so he could homer in his final All-Star Game and direct attention away from how big the players were getting on steroids. It would have worked, too, if Ken Caminiti hadn't spilled his guts to a reporter. But Caminiti learned what happens when you cross one of the Big Three sports. That's why I'm only telling you this on deep background ...

Speaking of the steroids controversy, why is it that Paul Tagliabue and the NFL got off so easy during the congressional hearings? I'll tell you why, but this is strictly between us boys. Everyone knows the NFL is full of juicers, but members of Congress won't mess with Tagliabue because they're afraid he will cut off their free season tickets to the Redskins. It doesn't really matter, anyway. The hearings were just designed to divert public attention from the war in Iraq and rising gas prices ...

I think I saw someone in the shadows. Yeah, I'm sure of it. Look, do you have enough? I'm getting out of here before I'm seen with you. I'll slip a note inside your newspaper telling you where to meet me when I have some more information. But before I go, here's my Tip of the Day: Take the Heat and the points in Game 6. Just don't ask me how I know.

Jim Caple is a senior writer at ESPN.com. His first book, "The Devil Wears Pinstripes," is on sale now at bookstores nationwide. It can also be ordered through his Web site, Jimcaple.com.



        Paginated view

Jim_Caple
Jim
Caple
DEEP THOUGHTS