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4.19.2004

The Malingerer Revisited 

Remember Chris Brown? A Giants 2nd round draft pick, he was their starting third baseman at the age of 23 and turned in a decent year for such a green kid. But things went downhill fast, and he was included two years later in the trade that brought Kevin "Vapo-Rub" Mitchell to the Giants.

The book on Brown was that he refused to play hurt. He was labeled a malingerer, a tag that's hard to shake once it's applied, as every subsequent injury looks suspect in the eyes of one's teammates and front office.

I just heard an interview with Michael Sokolove, whose new book The Ticket Out chronicles the Crenshaw High School team of Darryl Strawberry, deemed one of the best high school teams ever assembled. The book follows Straw and the other players as they continue in life: some to the big leagues, some to college ball but no farther, others to a wide variety of jobs. Chris Brown was on that team.

Sokolove talks about Brown today on NPR's Fresh Air. Turns out he's currently in Iraq driving a fuel truck for Halliburton, and just in the past few days his convoy came under attack from insurgents--he's reportedly OK. Sounds like he's not a malingerer anymore.

I recommend the interview with Sokolove for insight into Strawberry as well as the factory-farm atmosphere of big-time college and pro athletics.

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