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Monday, November 6, 2006
Pee is only a wee bit gross

By Jim Caple
Page 2

Moises Alou says he urinates on his hands to alleviate calluses. So does Jorge Posada. "In spring training only," Posada told the Newark Star-Ledger. "You don't want to shake my hand in spring training before the game. After the game, it's OK."

Ummm, on second thought, maybe just a friendly nod will do then, too, Jorge.

John Belushi
John Belushi, an inspiration to all.
Is there anything more disgusting in sports than an athlete urinating on his own hands? Yes. And not all of them involve Schottzie or David Wells.

10. Reporters eating in the press room. Remember John Belushi going through the Faber College cafeteria in "Animal House"? Multiply that by 30 and you have a slight idea of the scene in the pressroom before a game. It's not just the amount of food that reporters can put into their mouths -- and that is considerable -- it's the amount that falls out of their mouths. Some reporters' shirts still carry Roquefort dressing stains from the Tyson-Douglass fight.

9. Blowing chunks. Two-a-days in football and intense training in other sports can lead to the very ugly picture of athletes vomiting. (It has to do with the flow of blood to the muscles and the jarring effect on the stomach.) It's even worse when this happens during actual games. The ground may not be able to cause a fumble, but groundchuck can when it's regurgitated. Last year, Clemson center Tommy Sharpe, who says he vomits almost every game, threw up on the football during a snap. And after Sharpe lost his breakfast, the quarterback lost the ball.

Then there's U.S. marathoner Bob Kempainen. He pushed himself so hard during the Olympic trials in 1996 that he vomited during the 24th mile. But he still won the race, earning a trip to the Olympics along with the nickname, "The Vomit Comet."

8. Ballplayers scratching themselves and adjusting their cups. And if you see Wells do it in the middle of chewing and spitting, you'll be lucky if you don't still need counseling when you're on social security.

7. Donning a mascot's costume. Mascots, who sweat as much as Lance Armstrong during a mountain stage, can only clean their uniforms every so often. The Famous Chicken says his costume gets so hot and sweaty, "it's like wearing a rain forest."

Famous Chicken
The Famous Chicken marinates in its own sweat. Yum.
At least the Chicken can afford multiple costumes. Most mascots can't; and by the middle of hot summer in the minors, the inside of their costumes wouldn't smell worse if they were inside actual animals.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, the stench (was) about a 50," Paul Pierson, a mascot for the Harlem Globetrotters, told Page 2's Patrick Hruby. "The stench (was) horrible. I'll tell you what: You can wash a costume, get it from the dry cleaners, use Bounce, Snuggles, whatever. But the moment you put it on and go out there for five minutes, that clean smell is gone. And that stench just comes straight through."

6. Interviewing players and managers/coaches as they dress (and undress). There is just something demeaning, both for the player and the reporter, about posing questions to a man sitting around in his underwear.

Especially if he's in the middle of a streak and he's refusing to change his lucky skivvies for fear of jinxing it.

5. Sumo stewards. Sure, there are some unpleasant responsibilities for a clubhouse attendant -- picking up sweaty jerseys, dirty jockstraps, etc. -- but it could be much, much worse. They could be responsible for the hygiene of sumo wrestlers, who can grow so large that they cannot, ahem, properly clean themselves. And we'll just leave it at that.

4. Jockeys and wrestlers cutting weight. It's not enough these guys starve themselves leading up to the weigh-in. Or run laps in rubber suits to sweat off extra weight. But when they kneel before the porcelain god and make like a bulimic supermodel, that's when you have to ratchet up the rating from PG-13 to NR-17.

"Jockey," the recent HBO documentary in its "America Undercover" series, showed just how far jockeys will go to lose weight. The show didn't include footage of anyone vomiting, but it showed the "heaving bowl" next to the toilet stalls at Churchill Downs. And it quoted jockey Shane Sellers as saying he made himself vomit so often that the stomach acid wore the enamel off his teeth. "It sounds gross, and it is gross; but it's reality," Sellers said.

Yeah, it's gross. But it took a lot of practice and talent.
3. Ballplayers chewing and spitting. Given the choice, I would much rather have tobacco than steroids banned from baseball. Tobacco is addictive and the cancer risks are well documented; but the worst part is the way players cram a thick wad of chew in their cheeks and then spit the viscous mixture of chew, sunflower seeds and saliva onto the grass, the dugout floor, teammates' shoes, etc. By the end of a doubleheader, the dugout looks like Wells' kitchen floor.

2. Thoroughbred horses relieving themselves. Say what you will about Moises. He may urinate on his hands, but at least he does it in private. He doesn't suddenly drop his pants and ... ummm, void while he's stepping into the batters box. Horses, however, have no such qualms while they walk around the paddock on their way to the starting gate.

1. Players urinating in their uniforms. Everyone had a good laugh at minor leaguer Jeff Liefer's expense recently when he accidentally got locked in the dugout bathroom. But at least baseball has bathrooms available for those occasions when a player must answer the call of nature before he answers the call to the bullpen. Alas, football fields, hockey rinks, race courses, etc., do not. So on those occasions when an athlete has to go -- and go right now -- but can't leave the field (think two-minute drills and really long drives), they will relieve themselves in their uniforms.

You think it's intimidating to tackle an NFL fullback? Think about wrapping your arms around him and dragging him to the ground when his pants are soaked with urine. Eeeeyyeewwww!

But it gets worse than just urinating in your uniform. In one game, Seahawks center Robbie Tobeck had an intestinal virus that left him with an unfortunate bit of -- how shall we put this? -- severe incontinence.

"I tried going to the shotgun, but we couldn't because of the crowd noise," Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck told the (Tacoma) Morning News Tribune. "It was a bad one."

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com