The first time I ever saw Troy Hennum, he was following my buddy Phil around. Phil stood 6’7″, played for the University of Washington basketball team, and cast a long shadow over his much more diminutive tagalong. The alignment was symbolic — Phil silently and casually strolling into the IMA (UW’s student gym) with Troy damn near stalking the Husky athlete as he ran behind him, all while talking a million miles a minute. It was the personification of jersey-chasing, and it was awesome to behold.
They say that one of the best ways to find out about a man’s character is to play basketball with him. On that day, I played ball with Phil and Troy, Troy for the first time. Immediately, he bugged the shit out of me. This was a bro’s bro. A headband-wearing frat boy instigator, the ultimate in brodaciousness come to life.
On the court he not only rubbed both his teammates and his opponents the wrong way, he also seemed content to play the role of Kobe Bryant when given the opportunity, despite his unequivocal lack of talent. He was the kind of pickup basketball player that made you roll your eyes and hope to God that you’d never be stuck on his team again. I’m not saying I’m the ultimate teammate or anything — my penchant for taking ill-advised threes and believing I can make any attempt this side of halfcourt is probably my undoing — but I knew my role on the squad, which Troy did not. On top of that, I wasn’t walking around the gym practically begging everyone in shorts to fight me. So yeah, right away I knew this dude had some character issues.
A short time later, my intramural coed softball team, the Athletic Supporters, took on Troy’s team. We were the three-time defending coed champions at UW. We were damn good. But so were they. It was the league semifinals and things got a little heated. Throughout the game, Troy played the role of Earl Weaver, protesting calls, barking at whoever would listen, and just generally being a douchebag.
Tensions flared as the game stayed close all the way to its finish. In the end, Troy’s team beat us and went onto the coed championship. We were upset but weren’t distraught by any means. We’d won three titles in four years — it was a pretty good run. More than anything else, though, everyone was a little chapped over Troy’s behavior. Take away one dickhead and what you had was a well-played, hard-fought contest between two solid teams. Unfortunately, that had all been spoiled by a jerk. Such was Troy.
A few years passed and any memories of Troy Hennum expunged themselves from my brain. That is, until the day the Mariners traded Cliff Lee for Justin Smoak.
On that particular afternoon, I took to Facebook and rejoiced over acquiring a talent like Smoak (how quickly we forget that Smoak was once a talent). Back then, prior to getting Zuckerberged, I happened to be the proprietor of a Seattle Sportsnet Facebook account — later on, that account would be disabled by the Facebook team because Seattle Sportsnet, as it turned out, “wasn’t a real person.” Anyway, on that day my account still existed, and among my 4,000-some-odd friends was one Troy Hennum, who quickly proceeded to shit all over the Mariners’ trade on my Facebook wall.
Troy didn’t like Smoak, nor did he like any of the players acquired. Basically, he thought the trade was crap. His points were valid, but it was the way he issued his complaints that irked me. So to call his bluff, I offered him a bet. I insisted that within five years, Justin Smoak would be an All-Star; Troy obviously felt otherwise. The payoff was a steak dinner or something of the sort. At the time, I felt the bet was a sure thing (now I’m not as confident, but whatever…you can still do it Justin!). More than that, though, I wanted to take this bro’s money, and this was a way to do that. So the bet stood and still stands today, with three years remaining until one of us is forced to pay up. We’ll see how this plays out in time, I suppose.
A year or so later, upon forgetting all about Troy once again, I read a blurb in The Seattle Times that mentioned Troy Hennum as the head softball coach at Lake Washington High School. I could feel my eyebrows arch as I read the words on my computer screen. Troy? That Troy? A softball coach? Really? First of all, the extent of the guy’s softball experience was as an intramural coed player at the University of Washington, which doesn’t exactly lend itself to expertise in one’s field. Second, I had seen this guy and the way he interacted with people in college. Had he changed at all? Because if he hadn’t, there was no way anyone in their right mind would want him around their kids, let alone high school girls. It was intriguing, to say the least.
Time passed yet again. We made it all the way until today, March 8th, 2013, without the name Troy Hennum leasing any space in my consciousness. And then this story broke. Yep. Believe it or not, six days into his (new) coaching gig at Roosevelt High School, Troy had been placed on leave for using his softball players as matchmakers, asking them to find him “cute girls” he could mack on. As it turns out, asking high school girls to find you dates is frowned upon. Who knew?! And yet it took the actions of a bro’s bro to confirm what most of us probably could have guessed on our own.
To make matter worse, minutes after news on Troy’s actions broke locally, Deadspin got a hold of the story. Troy has now gone national. He is famous, although probably not in a way he ever hoped.
This is bad. It looks bad, at least. But if Troy doesn’t find a way out of this, I’ll be shocked. He seems to have that type of escapability about him. And within a few months, once all this blows over, I bet the guy ends up coaching again. These things happen all the time. And then we forget about them and move on.
Thing is, I don’t think Troy Hennum is as bad a dude as he seems to have become. I think he’s just immature, living in that ether between high school, college, and the real world, not quite committing to a path that would lend itself to staying out of trouble.
Despite his issues, I sincerely hope he turns things around. Because in a couple years, when Justin Smoak becomes an All-Star, I need that guy to have the money to pay for my steak dinner. So get your shit together, Troy. We’re going to El Gaucho, son. We’ll get a nice booth. It’ll be lovely.
Filed under: Other Sports
Explaining the Manti Te’o Hoax Through “Saved By the Bell,” a Self-Created Fake Hot Chick Twitter Profile, and My Own Personal Life
Season One, Episode Five of Saved By the Bell. Zack Morris’s best friend, Samuel “Screech” Powers, is feeling down. Zack wants to boost Screech’s ego so he agrees to set him up on a date with a girl named Bambi. The only problem? Bambi doesn’t exist.
Unwittingly ecstatic, Screech so strongly demands a rendezvous with his newfound love interest that Zack is forced to impersonate his feminine creation. After speaking with Screech by phone, Zack adorns himself in a purple dress, trendy spectacles, and a wig and meets his nerdy, smitten counterpart at everyone’s favorite hangout, The Max.
The girl is a figment of my imagination. She is one of three stunning coeds in an image uncovered after a quick Google search. I give her a name, a biography, a persona — she’s Samantha, a recent college graduate who loves sports and has a feisty, fun-loving attitude. She will become my social experiment. I will use her to experience life as an attractive female sports fan.
She takes to Twitter. Like most social media virgins, she gets started by connecting with those she’s closest to. She “follows” her friends — me, my girlfriend, my friends, my girlfriend’s friends. We’ve already built Samantha a network of legitimate individuals. Suddenly, she has credibility. And those credible sources, over time, will vouch for this concoction of mine.
The experiment isn’t borne out of boredom or a need for entertainment. Rather, it’s prompted by those very same friends who have adopted Samantha as their own, females who have been brazenly pursued time and time again by men online. Not just average men, mind you. Thanks to their good looks and an affinity for sports, these ladies have incurred the affections of a number of upstanding college and professional athletes. Beyond commenting on sporting events, and aside from extending a “follow” to some of the men in question, these women have done absolutely nothing to draw in their pursuers. Which makes this study all the more interesting.
Samantha spreads her Twitter wings and begins to follow a number of accounts relevant to her world — news media-types, sports media-types, celebrities, local athletes. She tweets more. She banters with her “friends.” And then it happens.
One night, not a week after her account has come to life, Samantha receives a Direct Message from one of the athletes she follows, a starter on the University of Washington football team. And against all logic, seemingly oblivious to the fact that there are three girls in Samantha’s avatar photo, he bypasses introductions and writes, “Heyy do i know you, I swear u look familiar…”
The first time I ever interacted with the girl who would become my girlfriend, I was suspicious. I issued a tweet about looking for a web design expert who could revamp my website for very little money and she was the first to respond, letting me know that she would gladly pass my request onto a University of Washington department head who worked with students looking for unpaid internships.
My suspicion stemmed from her avatar picture, the only image I could view of this beautiful woman. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t think twice about interacting with anyone on Twitter. But this was different. Her photo was too glamorous. It was too clean. It had all the makings of phoniness. It looked, well, exactly like this:
We exchanged details by email and our interaction was complete. I thought nothing more of our encounter until months later, when this girl, Andrea (or dancerAL, as I had come to know her), responded to a few more of my tweets. I replied back, she re-replied, we became friends on Facebook, and eventually, days later, she suggested we go out for drinks. I jumped at the opportunity and a date was set.
Before our first meetup, I did some recon work. I scoured her Facebook page (some might call it “stalking;” I call it due diligence), I looked her up on Google, I found the reason behind her “glamour shots” (she moonlit as a Sea Gal, dancing at Seahawks games), and even discovered a video that gave me enough reason to believe this was a living, breathing, non-fake person.
We met up. We hit it off. We had a great night. She existed. She was legit. She was everything I had hoped for the moment we met on Twitter.
Manti Te’o is not a victim. He’s been embarrassed, yes, but he has not truly been “victimized.” What has happened to Te’o happens to people every single day on the internet. Only we rarely hear about it. Because most people simply don’t carry the social prominence of a standout Notre Dame football player.
If anything, Te’o may be a victim of his own celebrity. Were he not worth talking about, surely no reporter would ever have published much in the way of details about his personal life. In turn, little would ever have been known about the online relationship — a relationship Te’o led many to believe extended beyond the virtual realm — Te’o held with a young woman by the name of Lennay Kekua.
Kekua, as we found out on Wednesday, does not exist. She did not ever exist. Kekua was made up by someone, somewhere (possibly those individuals alluded to in the linked Deadspin article) as the basis of what seems to be a vicious prank played on one Manti Te’o. Te’o claimed Kekua was his girlfriend. Kekua, through her real-life proprietary liaison, may or may not have corroborated Te’o's affectionate designation of their romantic affair, but Te’o, at least, believed their relationship to be more than platonic.
For a 21-year-old college student, love can be difficult to decipher. At that age, love is often misunderstood, the heart weakened by lust and infatuation and nothing more. Who knows for sure if Manti Te’o really “loved” his imaginary girlfriend; by all accounts he was certainly taken by her. Regardless of his true emotions, when he ultimately found out he had been duped by an imposter, it had to hurt in a number of different ways. Rather than brush his misfortune off as one of life’s little mistakes, however, Te’o let his pride interfere with this crushing news and a story began to spiral out of control.
At this point, Te’o became somewhat of a victim yet again, this time as a result of his own naivety. In a digital age, answers are everywhere; it’s just up to those willing to work hard enough to go look for them. Te’o, himself, was naive enough to not seek out answers. Had he poked around a few places, as the writers at Deadspin did, he would have found inconsistencies in Kekua’s back-story. He would have seen that Kekua wasn’t really who she claimed to be. And he might have had enough evidence to convince himself that this wasn’t a relationship worth pursuing. He did none of that, though. Or at least not enough.
Te’o was further naive in thinking no one else would unearth the mysteries behind his fly-by-night love interest. That naivety, combined with Te’o's unadulterated pride, ultimately cost the NFL prospect a chunk of his dignity when the original article broke.
As Te’o said in his own statement on the matter, he has been embarrassed. In similar situations, we all would be. But most of us wouldn’t let that embarrassment live on in print by building upon its falsehood. Which Te’o did when he continued piecing together a story founded on smoke and mirrors. Someone got the best of Te’o; he was determined to keep the scam from surfacing by continuing with the lie.
This isn’t new, of course. As any late-twenty- or early-thirty-something can tell you, this used to happen EVERY SINGLE DAY on AOL Instant Messenger. It’s just that, even as teenagers, most of us were smart enough to sniff out the imposters and ignore any attempts at what some might call a hoax. We can only speculate as to why Te’o was unable to do that, but suffice it to say he might not be real great at using the internet. Frankly, if I had to choose between being pretty darn good at football and pretty darn good at the internet, I’d probably choose football. So he’s got me there.
We can learn from this. We have learned from this. And not just because Manti Te’o is involved.
Take Zack and Screech, for instance. When Zack met up with his pal under the guise of “Bambi,” he managed to weasel his way out of having to continue any hoax by talking Screech out of pursuing a relationship. Screech, for his part, was painted as the unsuspecting dope that somehow managed to see through the absurdity of Bambi’s personality enough to know that going any further with this love affair was a bad idea.
Then there’s Samantha, my fake hot chick. I never had any intention of hurting anybody. So as each subsequent request for Samantha’s attention rolled in through Direct Message and public mention, I tended to ignore my foolish suitors. I experienced something that most average guys never get to experience. I put myself in the shoes of someone completely different than me and it opened my eyes. If more people did that, well, there’d probably be less dudes making lame attempts at obtaining naked pictures from attractive females on Twitter. Because really, it looks incredibly stupid in print. Especially when you don’t know who’s on the receiving end of your request.
And then there’s me. I’ve been down the same path that Te’o ventured down, albeit with greater success. Unlike Te’o, however, I refused to let myself be fooled. I did my homework. I saved the breadth of the conversation for our initial get-together — in fact, I made it a point not to discuss anything of great importance with Andrea via social media before our first date. I made sure I wasn’t going to get screwed over, basically. And now, almost a year later, I’m happily involved with that same person I once met on Twitter.
I know what you’re thinking. How do we know for sure? All I can offer is a picture.
Filed under: Other Sports
Somewhere in the 8th inning tonight as I was watching Jamie Wright load the bases with walks, my mind began to drift into the much practiced numbness that I have developed over the recent years as a Mariners fan. I was not even particularly upset when another mediocre pitcher of ours in this case David Pauley got shelled for 3 bombs in the 6th to put this one away tonight. Perhaps I have finally begun to accept the fact that our ownership group was ok no matter what happened tonight because 20,545 people had paid to be entertained by tonight’s Mariners mediocre effort in the 5-3 loss to the Angels.
It used to bug me in years past when I would here Howard Lincoln or Chuck Armstrong along with whatever GM or manager was playing the role at the time, talk about being ” Competitive” rather than trying to get to the World Series and win. Now I am beginning to realize that this is the role of our team in MLB today.
It could be worse, we could be the Pittsburgh Pirates where it was revealed recently by documents posted on www.deadspin.com that the Pirates owners actually have no intention of trying to win but rather are just happy to lose and receive enough revenue sharing money to turn a tidy profit.
The owners of the Mariners are sort of in the middle of this racket wherein they are not really supposed to win but just compete and leave winning to clubs like the Yankees or Red Sox who then in turn generate enough money to subsidize teams like Kansas City or Pittsburgh so the whole scheme just keeps rolling.
Of course the Pittsburgh fans have a right to be irate, but hey this is a business as they say and the Pirates owners are playing right along with their assigned role as losers so the owners can get their kick-back every year.
It was interesting to review the financial documents posted for the Mariners:
Though I am no accountant I did read some tidbits regarding the paying back of monies owed for back taxes to the Govt. here and the intricate method that was used to defer payments for the taxes on the stadium over a long period of time.
But as a team destined to be mediocre and only be “Competitive” there is a fine balancing act that must keep Chuck Armstrong up late at night figuring out how to continue the charade year after year. So far it is working quite well with the Mariners actually being a team that has had to pay rather than receive revenue sharing money, and yet still turn a profit.
Of course in order for this to continue the fans will have to continue showing up for drill and watching Hydro Races, Groundskeepers dancing, collecting bobble-heads and just generally behaving as if the Win-Loss record is secondary to the privilege of sitting in a nice stadium and clapping when prompted.
I am not quite there yet but wonder how many more years of mediocre ball I can stomach. I have a hunch guys like Armstrong and Lincoln will try to outsmart me again next year with some big-name manager, or perhaps another not quite right trade for another in a long line of players destined to play the role of mediocre players in Seattle..
I know some of you still have some fire in your bellies and want to win, so take a minute and review these documents and see what you can discover, I’d love to find the smoking gun but think our top brass is to clever for that…..http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Chuck Armstrong, deadspin, Howard Lincoln, Seattle Mariners Finacial records