|Jeff Kent disguised as Superman|
By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist
When Jeff Kent reported to practice with a broken left wrist a couple weeks ago, the San Francisco Giants second baseman claimed he injured himself when he fell while washing his truck. There are rumors, however, that Kent might have broken the wrist in a motorcycle accident, and that he simply made up the truck story, because his contract specifically bars him from riding motorcycles.
How did Kent really injure his wrist? Page 2's moles in the Bush shadow government offer this scenario ...
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge studied the Ralph Lauren paint samples, wondering which shade of red would best depict the heightened state of emergency in the cafeteria, when his secretary buzzed.
"Secret Patriot Kent is here to see you, sir."
"Send him in," Ridge said, slipping the paint samples into his desk drawer next to the 64-color box of Crayola Crayons.
Jeff Kent entered the office, wearing a confident expression and a cast on his left wrist.
"Kent, it's good to see you," Ridge said, motioning the 2000 NL MVP to sit down. "That looks like a nasty wrist injury there. Those al-Qaeda agents are rough bastards, aren't they?"
Ridge nodded. "Couldn't put it better myself. And Gov. Gray Davis wanted me to extend his personal appreciation for your work last week in securing the Bay Area bridges from al-Qaeda attack."
"Nothing to it, sir. Just doing my duty as an American," Kent said and began to smile. "Besides, it will make a great story in the clubhouse."
Ridge looked up, frowning. He looked sternly at Kent. "I hope you're joking, boy."
"You can't breathe a word of this to anyone, do you understand? This is a matter of national security. Don't you know we're at security level Burnt Sienna?"
"Yes, sir. I do. As an act of patriotism, Major League Baseball is coordinating the color of all its alternate batting practice jerseys with the Homeland Security Advisory System. The Commissioner says it's our way to educate Americans and boost merchandise sales."
Ridge leaned forward and gestured to the chart showing the Homeland Security Advisory System color code. "Then you should know how serious all this is. Those aren't just colors, Kent. They represent the danger and threat to this nation's security posed by evildoers who hate us for our freedom and for the teams who sign players to expensive long-term contracts that violate baseball's 60-40 rule.
Kent swallowed slowly. He had heard only whispers about "Operation Shutdown," but it was enough to curdle his blood. Remorseless, driven terrorists filled with hatred for Americans and armed with explosives were one thing, but a ticked-off Derek Bell? Kent shuddered at the thought and vowed he would maintain his silence no matter the tortures employed by a Baseball Weekly writer.
Still, one thing bothered him.
"How will I explain my injury, sir? Surely, the team and the writers will want to know."
"I don't care. Just make something up. Tell them whatever you want. Tell them anything. Tell them you broke it washing your truck."
"Washing my truck, sir? How could I break my wrist washing a truck?"
"Good God, do I have to think of everything? I don't know ... say you slipped on a soapy sponge and broke it falling down or some such thing. Use your imagination, man."
"For crissakes, have you never dealt with the media before? They'll believe anything. The more improbable the story, the more reporters eat it up. Just remember how they fell for that story about the President choking on a pretzel."
"You mean that didn't really happen?"
Ridge took a deep breath and shook his head with disgust. "Frankly, Kent, sometimes I wonder whether you're government material."
The rebuke stung, but Kent realized he had been naive. In the current state of growing terrorist risk and mounting tensions between ownership and Gene Orza, mistakes like that could prove deadly. Or, as Ridge frequently said, "Maybe not." It was hard to tell.
"You can count on me, sir," Kent said, rising from his chair. "I better get back to Scottsdale."
"Good. You're one of our best agents, Kent. Your nation depends on you. So keep your eyes and ears open, your guns loaded and be prepared for the unspeakable evil that might happen before Opening Day, although I'm not saying it will."
"And remember. Not a word of this to anyone. Not even Barry."
Kent smiled as he opened the office door to leave. "No need to worry about that, sir."
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.