Obscure Athletes

Where the 15 Minutes of Fame Never End

Monthly Archives: November 2010

Obscure Spotlight: Otis Nixon

A friend of mine and I were having a discussion the other day about the best baseball players never to make an All-Star game, and a name I haven’t heard in far too long came up: Otis Nixon. The 17-year Major Leaguer may never have made it to the Summer Classic, but stuck around because throughout his career offered two scarce Steroid Era commodities: good outfield defense and base stealing ability.

Otis Nixon is 16th all-time in stolen bases with 620, even despite never leading either

Tony Graffanino thinks he's got Otis Nixon, but nobody gets Otis Nixon out on the basepaths!

league in steals, and his .270/.343/.658 line is wholly unimpressive, even for a leadoff hitter. In 5800 career plate appearances, Otis Nixon hit 11 home runs, and had just over half as many RBI (318) as stolen bases in his career.

A well-documented cocaine addict, Nixon was infamously suspended for the 1991 World Series after he tested positive for the substance. But his flashy defense and flair for the dramatic kept him in the Majors for a good while, highlighted in 1999 while Nixon was playing for Atlanta. Down 8-7 in the eighth inning of game 6 of the NL Championship Series, Nixon pinch ran, and with one out, stole second and advanced to third on a wayward throw into center field. He would go on to score the tying run in the game, and Atlanta eventually won both the game and the series.

Otis Nixon played for nine teams in his Major League career, including two stints in Atlanta from 1991-93 and then back with the Braves in 1999, his final season in the Big Leagues. Nixon’s career high in home runs came in 1985 for Cleveland. He hit three. Base-stealing ability may make you a 17-year major leaguer, but we all know chicks dig the long ball, and that’s why Otis Nixon lives on today only as an obscure athlete.

And I heard he doesn’t blow coke on the reg anymore, so that’s good. Good for Otis.


Mediocrity on Monday Night?

NFL, come on, what are we doing here? It’s WEEK 12, and you’re giving us Niners-Cardinals on Monday Night Football? These two

I don't care what Suzy Kolber tells me about Troy Smith or the Niners, they still suck. A lot.

 teams that, combined, have fewer wins than 11 NFL teams? Going into the season any moron could have pinned this NFC West matchup as a dumb one to showcase for the world on ESPN, but now that it’s finally happening, I’m in disbelief. How, in the era of Flex games and everybody making a shitload of money, could anyone in the NFL have let this happen?

In fact, most in the media are disregarding tonight’s game in favor of week-away analysis of next Monday’s Pats-Jets primetime showdown. Except the Worldwide Leader, who, if you watched their network’s pregame show this weekend, spent ample time ripping on the NFC West. Sorry guys, ya can’t say “The NFC West blows” all weekend and then Monday look into the camera and say “But it’s on our network, so watch it!” Sorry, Worldwide Leader, this game sucks, and I’m not gonna watch it. And I suggest you don’t either. It’ll be bad enough come January when an 8-8 team out of that division will be hosting a playoff game. Until then, I’m boycotting the NFC west. And the AFC West while I’m at it.

Obscure Polling Time

Hey, believe it or not, I’m kind of making up all of this shit as I go. We need guidance, vote in our poll, and help me help you!

Steve Johnson and Kyle Brotzman have a Rough Go of It; I Have a Hearty Laugh

It’s Monday, we’re back to work and school and whatever else it is we do when we’re not having fun.  I’ve been slacking over the weekend a little bit; let’s start off the work week by letting off a little steam about a couple things I watched on television over the weekend with a letter from the editor.

So, Boise State. This is how you repay me? Everyone said “Boise State doesn’t play an SEC or Pac-10 Schedule!” And I’d say “Hey! They beat Oklahoma in the big one, they win all the games on their schedule!” I was there to defend them at every turn, EVERY time

Brotzman, seen here warming up before the game, thinking "I'm feelin good today!"

someone ripped on Boise State. I once woke up in a hospital bed with three broken ribs and a catheter in me after getting into an argument over their BCS credentials. And then they go and do something like what they did on Saturday.

Here’s how ya know you just got famous–when literally overnight you can just type in the first three letters of your name into Google and it’ll finish typing your name for you. That’s what happened on Saturday when Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman missed two field goals–one at the end of regulation for the win, one in overtime, both inside 27 yards, and the Broncos of Boise State lost their first game since president Obama’s been in office. To Nevada. Cmann, Nevada?

I’m sure Kyle Brotzman is more famous than he ever intended on being in his career at Boise State, but since everyone’s Googling  his name, I’ll mention it one more time: KYLE BROTZMAN KICKER MISSED FIELD GOALS BOISE STATE LOSES. That should cover most of the relevant keywords. Anyway, fuck Boise State. The big mean BCS wins again, just like it always does. There’s a reason for that– It’s always right. Knock the BCS all ya want, but more often than not, the two best teams are on the field for the National Championship Game. And now the discussion about those two National Championship teams now won’t have to include Boise State. They can’t beat Oregon or Auburn. They can’t even beat Nevada.

Speaking of getting screwed by missed field goals, how much of a black hole is Buffalo within the seemingly infinitely expanding universe of the NFL? And not the impressive kind that come from a supernova dying in a gloriously destructive explosion, but that which comes from a dwarf–a vacuum of nothingness born of a mini-star that never really got going, and instead lost four Super Bowls in a row. Yeah, that kind of black hole. And with a chance to win their third straight game and move to 3-8 on the season, in overtime, at home against a heavily favored Steelers team,

God seemed to like ya against the Ravens, It makes sense, GOD MUST BE A STEELERS FAN!

Ryan Fitzpatrick took the snap from the Pittsburgh 40. He threw it long for Stevie Johnson in the end zone who, wide open, dropped the would-be game winner. The Bills later punted and the Steelers eventually won on a field goal by NFL journeyman kicker Shaun Suisham–Pittsburgh’s replacement for a job previously held by Jeff Reed.

I find it somewhat off-putting when athletes thank their personal savior for their superhuman athletic ability in interviews and news conferences. But have a look at what Steve Johnson tweeted after the game (Follow us on twitter, as well as Steve Johnson)

It’s like right from a joke oft-ripped off by amateur comics first done by Jeff Stilson:

I’m trying to wean myself off sports, it’s too time consuming. I don’t watch   football anymore, I gave that up. I got tired of the interviews after the games, because the winning players always give credit to God, and the losers blame themselves. You know, just once I’d like to hear a player say, ‘Yeah, we were in the game, until Jesus made me fumble. He hates our team.’

Except God doesn’t hate the Bills. The Bills suck because of any number of reasons, reasons I don’t even have time to delve into now. (Though it would probably make a fun multi-part series…We’ll keep it in mind) It’s the least risky and most arrogant way to not say “I fucked up, it’s on me. I’m gonna work harder and make sure it doesn’t happen again” which is what he should have done. Not only does God not give a shit that he dropped the game-winning touchdown, he must have decided that he was to play in Buffalo, the NFL’s version of Hell. Go fuck yourself, Steve Johnson.

-The opinions expressed in the preceding editorial are those of Christopher Smith only, and not those of Obscure Athletes.

I think I figured out how not to have a lockout in my sleep last night.

Let me tell you about the dream I had last night. First off, as most of us are aware, the future of the NFL’s labor situation is unclear.

This guy doesn't fuck around.

 The threat of a lockout looms over next season, and leaguewide sources say the Players’ Association and owners are far apart in negotiations. We’re investigative journalists here at Obscure Athletes, which is why we’re  following Roger Goodell on Twitter. Shit, that’s just like being at the bargaining table! Although, after a bit of searching, I couldn’t find a DeMaurice Smith Twitter account. C’mon DeMo, get with the program, it’s 2010. How can you be the head of the NFLPA and not even have a Twitter account? That just says to me that the man isn’t a professional. But I digress.

The point is, I had a dream last night. One of the key sticking points in these ongoing negotiations is the treatment of former players–that is, their pension, health insurance, ya know, old people shit. In my dream, I was on a sub way train in Boston, headed toward Fenway Park, and I saw a well-dressed Roger Goodell sitting across from me on a more or less empty train. I looked over and said “You’re Roger Goodell.” He made a shushing motion at me, and nodded yes, almost cracking a smile. I lowered my voice, and nearly whispering, said “Dude, you’re rich, why would you use public transportation?” to which he simply responded “I dunno, I guess I just like the way the light changes so abruptly when you enter and exit tunnels.” I nodded in understanding, and handed him an Obscure Athletes business card.

A few minutes later my phone went off, with a message saying that Roger Goodell is now following Obscure Athletes on Twitter. The Players’ Association, touched by what they see as an olive branch from Goodell, in supporting obscure, retired NFL players, comes back to the bargaining table with an offer that both sides are happy to agree to, and the mega happy ending ensues. Lockout prevented, and it’s all because of us. You can thank me later, when it happens, or now if ya want.

ROGER GOODELL: if you read this, you should Follow Obscure Athletes. And you should even if you’re not Roger Goodell. But especially if you are. Glad we could solve your labor issue. We’re just your friendly neighborhood Spider Ma-   Obscure Athletes.

Obscure Spotlight: John Wasdin

The Tokyo Dome is thundering as Wasdin takes the mound!

A quick look at John Wasdin’s career numbers will tell you why the 38-year old last pitched in the majors in 2007. His 39-39 record to go with a 5.28 career ERA make Wasdin, without a doubt, one of the most marginally talented pitchers ever to dawn a major league uniform. Seven major league uniforms in fact, starting with the A’s, by whom he was drafted in 1993. Wasdin debuted in the majors in August of 1995, and played a full season on the Major League roster in 1996, going 9-8 with an era of 5.96.

In January of that offseason, Wasdin was sent to Boston in exchange for Jose Canseco, where he earned the nickname “Way Back Wasdin” for his propensity to give up home runs, both numerous and untimely. Wasdin spent parts of four seasons in a Red Sox uniform, going 19-16 in 170 appearances, mostly out of the bullpen.

Five days before the trade deadline in 2000, the Red Sox and Rockies pulled off a much ballyhooed blockbuster that ended the Way Back Wasdin era in Boston. The Sox sent Wasdin along with Jeff Frye and Brian Rose to Colorado in the deal that brought Rolando Arrojo and Mike Lansing to Boston. Safe to say everybody was a winner that day. Wasdin was traded again mid-season, this time to Baltimore, where he achieved limited success.

Wasdin spent the ’02 season with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, and the 2003 campaign mostly in the Blue Jays’ organization. I went on John’s Wikipedia page, and found this hilarious bit of Wasdin lore:

On April 7, 2003, Wasdin pitched a perfect game for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds against theAlbuquerque Isotopes at Herschel Greer Stadium in Nashville. Fewer than 750 fans witnessed the perfect game, as it was the same night as the 2003 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship Game, plus unseasonably cold weather dissuaded some from coming to the ballpark.

I love minor league records and achievements, because they evoke the ‘tallest midget’

Getting it done for the Rangers

line of thinking.  I’ll say this– I would have been in the front row of that game were I in the area– especially if I were of drinking age in 2003.

Wasdin returned once again to the majors in 2004, this time with the Rangers. After a promising June 18 outing for Texas, the bottom fell out on Wasdin’s season, bottoming out on July 25, when he gave up 11 hits and 7 runs, including four homers, in 4 1/3 innings.

Way Back Wasdin would make 40 more appearances for the Rangers after the ’04 season, and Texas elected not to bring him back after 2006. He signed a deal with the Pirates that offseason, and in 2007 made 12 appearances, all out of the bullpen for Pittsburgh. Wasdin was last spotted playing for the Seibu Lions in 2009. This time, the Japanese baseball league couldn’t provide a springboard for John Wasdin to get back to the majors. Wasdin now coaches at Christian University. Hopefully he brought in a pitching coach.

Stay tuned for the début of Josh Wilson and Ben Ricker and their weekly hockey segment, later today on Obscure Athletes!

Obscure Spotlight: Bubby Brister

One of the greatest meetings of minds the early 90's NFL could have possibly had to offer

So last week we celebrated our 50th post, in what culminated in one of the more successful days in the history of Obscure Athletes. We responded by doing what God would want us to if he were real, by observing not only the sabbath in the Christian faith, but making sure to blow off Friday and Saturday too. So naturally we’re looking to avoid the post-50th-post hangover this Thanksgiving week by announcing that in addition to all the great musings you’ve come to expect from Obscure Athletes, we’ll have simply an all-star cast of Obscure Spotlights to bring to you this week. And that starts with legendary obscure quarterback Walter Andrew “Don’t call me Bubba” Bubby Brister.

Brister was a star at then-named Northeast Louisiana University, before the school changed its name to Louisiana-Monroe–I suppose it rolls off the tongue just a bit better. Out of college he was drafted in the third round in 1986 by the Steelers, for whom he would see the vast majority of his actual playing time over his 14-year career. Bubby’s best season came in 1990 for Pittsburgh, when, as the starter all season, Brister threw for 2,725 yards to go with 20 touchdown passes. It would be his last year of full-time action. Brister’s run as the starting quarterback of the Steelers ended with the regime of Chuck Noll, and Bill

How much mediocrity CAN you fit on the back of a single football card?

 Cowher wanted nothing to do with a Bubby Brister-run offense, and instead Neil O’Donnel became the next in a string of obscure quarterbacks employed by the Pittsburgh Steelers during their semi-successful 90’s years.

Brister’s next two stops, in Philadelphia and New York, saw Brister start just fourteen games over three seasons, and in 1997 Brister signed on with the Broncos as a firm second-stringer to future Hall of Famer John Elway. Brister won both of his Super Bowl rings as a backup for Denver, though he did start four games during the ’98 season. Broncos owner Pat Bowlen was famously quoted after the Super Bowl that year as saying “This one’s for John.” Pat Bowlen may think so, but fans of obscure athletes know who it was really for.

Childress Out in Minnesota, I Wonder what Bret Favre Thinks

And how does that make you feel, Brad?

Just kidding, I don’t give a shit about what Bret Favre thinks. That’s what separates Obscure Athletes from “real” media outlets that happen to be “worldwide leaders” in things–outlets with things like “access” and “actual reporters,” and “revenue.” Luckily, since we’re none of those things here at OA, Mr. Favre, this song ain’t about you.

Around midway through this NFL season, there was a triumvirate of NFL head coaches that, looking around the league, all I could think was “What the hell is this guy still doing with a job?” The three were Wade Phillips, Marvin Lewis, and Brad Childress. It’s now week 12 and two of the three have been axed, in this season of unmatched parity and no clear-cut favorites in either conference.

Brad Childress looks like a therapist. According to most accounts he had already lost the Minnesota locker room by the time this regular season started. Make no mistake, however–Childress is unemployed this afternoon because the sacrificial lamb in Minneapolis was NOT going to be Bret, even despite the multi-year extension Childress was given late last season. I’d imagine Brad Childress is sprinting out of Minnesota now, making sure that no one in the Vikings organization, particularly Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson, and Ryan Longwell, have any clue where he is.
Stay tuned later on today for an Obscure Spotlight that you won’t wanna miss!

Obscure Spotlight: Todd Zeile

Todd Zeile's patented war face.

Well, folks. It’s been 50 posts here at Obscure Athletes. We’ve covered a good many athletes, we’ve had more than a few editorials, and we’ve recruited a handful of readers and added a hockey writer. I guess it’s all downhill from here, all that’s left to do now is sit back and wait until we’re the greatest Deadspin/Barstool hybrid ripoff ever and millions in advertising revenue is just pouring in. Leave a comment on the site,  tell your friends about Obscure Athletes, and send any and all site suggestions to obscureathletes@gmail.com. And as always, Subscribe to the RSS feed to the right of your screen, Follow Us on Twitter, and Join our page on Facebook!

Given that this is our 50th post, I wanted to make sure that it was dedicated to someone who really helped shape my socialization into the world of Obscure Athletes. As a kid I remember seeing a marginally talented third baseman named Todd Zeile; A player who was always alright, so he stuck around for a good while, but never with the same team for too long. After Zeile left the Mets in 2001, I thought he was finally gone, only to see him resurface in Colorado the following season.

Zeile’s pro baseball journey began in 1986 when he was picked in the second round by the Cardinals out of UCLA. In August of 1989 he made his Major League début as a 23-year old catcher. The following season Zeile was moved to third base and in his first full season in the Bigs he hit 15 homers and drove in 57, finishing 6th in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting.

Todd Zeile played sixteen seasons in the majors, gathering over 100 RBI just once, in 1993 for St. Louis. He hit 31 home runs for the Dodgers in 1997, his highest total as a Major Leaguer. Zeile never played in an all-star game. He also led the league in errors by a third baseman four times in his lengthy career–one in which he played on 11 teams, and switched between the American and National leagues seven times.

Oft-forgotten about Zeile, however, is what a beast he was for the O’s during the 1996 ALCS.

Todd Zeile and Robin Ventura? Yeah, they'll give the 2000 Yankees a real series for sure...

He was the best hitter Baltimore had to offer, hitting .364 in the series, with three home runs and a 1.189 OPS–a series the Orioles lost in five to the eventual World Series champion Yankees.

Zeile finished his career with a .265 average, .346 on-base percentage, and a final home run count of 253. He played his last game on October 3, 2004, hitting number 253 in his last ever at-bat. Todd Zeile: known for very little, but always around. One of the foremost obscure athletes of the 1990s. We love ya, Todd!

Obscure Spotlight: David Terrell

I was a ten-year-old Christopher when my Patriots passed on drafting wide receiver David

Terrell during his 'Star on the Rise' days

Terrell with the sixth pick in the 2000 draft, and I thought first-year coach Bill Belichick had no idea what he was doing. Instead Belichick and the Pats took future five-time Pro-Bowler Richard Seymour. Terrell fell to the Bears at 8, and Chicago snagged the Michigan University star.

Good thing I wasn’t ten years old and running the Patriots, though if I were, the team would have had far more problems than deciding who to pick sixth overall. Terrell had all the physical makeup of a future NFL great, but in the end proved to be a highly uncoachable player who couldn’t get out of his own way. After floundering for three seasons in Chicago and spending little time in the starting lineup, the Bears released Terrell after the ’04 season.

Looking for work, however, proved a tough task for the wide receiver, and Terrell’s post-Bears career was even more dismal. The Patriots took a flyer on Terrell in 2005, but David couldn’t cement a spot on the New England roster, and was released during training camp. The Broncos signed Terrell off the scrap heap, though he would appear in only one regular-season game for Denver. He would never play a game in the NFL again, despite going to training camp, again with the Broncos in 2007.


Terrell during his painful descent in Chicago.

Maybe he was the malcontent he was painted as in Chicago, and maybe it was the pressure of being the supposed next great wide receiver in the NFL. And maybe it’s that Dick Jauron’s a big schmuck. Nonetheless, for whatever reason, David Terrell went from top ten pick to NFL bust in a damn hurry, and I hope now he appreciates having his fifteen minutes of fame preserved forever,  right here at Obscure Athletes. Today’s Obscure Spotlight, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. David Terrell.

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