Pitching in
By Patrick Hruby
Special to Page 2

Michael Vick can really pitch it -- on and off the field.

Michael Vick
"Hmm, did I remember to call Chipper Jones?"
According to a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Vick taped the following promotional phone message, which went out to all Atlanta Falcons season ticketholders last week:

"Hi, this is Mike Vick, quarterback of your Atlanta Falcons. As I'm sure you know, we've got a big game this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. We already beat them once in their house, and I'm sure my cousin, (New Orleans quarterback) Aaron Brooks, is going to be looking for revenge. That's why we need the 12th man out there making some noise at the Georgia Dome, cheering us on."

After working our own phones, Page 2 discovered that Vick wasn't the only sports figure who took the telemarketing plunge last week:

Jon Kitna
"Hi, this Jon Kitna, the embattled quarterback of your Cincinnati Bengals. As you may or may not know, we've got a completely meaningless game this Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. We already took a whuppin' once in their house, but if we win this one, we'll double our victory total for the season. How many other teams can make that claim? That's why we need the 12th man out there making some noise at Paul Brown Stadium, cheering on Corey Dillon and hoping I don't add to my team-leading 10 interceptions. Good seats are still available. Remember, beer is plentiful!"

John Mackovic
"Hi, this is John Mackovic, coach of your Arizona Wildcats. As I'm sure you know, the 'Cats are 0-6 in the Pac-10. And I'm fighting off a player mutiny. But only a total idiot wouldn't show up for our game against California this weekend. Check that. Only a complete disgrace to their family wouldn't show up. Oh, God, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that. I'm really, really sorry. Can we talk about this? Can we work this out? Did I mention that I'm sorry? 'Cause I am. No, it's okay. I'll be all right. I just need a few tissues. Hold me."

Marat Safin
"My friends, this is Marat Safin. Perhaps you do not know me. I am the No. 3 ranked tennis player in the world. I am a former U.S. Open champion. You are familiar with Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, no? I have played both. I have beaten both. I have beaten many more worthy opponents you have never heard of, most of them Spanish or South American. Perhaps you were watching Tiger Woods instead. It is understandable. You like racket smashing, yes? I smash many rackets. You like Bridgette Wilson, no? My friends, I often have three or more blondes in my friends box. All of them are very buxom. You do not know the pleasure you are missing."

Barry Bonds
"Hi, this is Barry Bonds, superstar slugger for your San Francisco Giants. Do you realize that season tickets are already available? Do you realize how good I am? Can you comprehend the magnitude of me? Of course you do. Of course you can. My greatness is obvious. Especially to me. It's not like Jeff Kent drew eight-billion freaking walks last year. It's not like I could have done anything else in the World Series. It's not like I'm so muscled-up that I can't even bend over to field a shallow fly ball. So come out to Pac Bell Park next spring. Or don't. Honestly, I really don't care, one way or the other. It's not like I'm going to talk to you, anyway."

Julius Peppers
"Hi, this is Julius Peppers, defensive end for your Carolina Panthers. You've probably heard that I've been suspended for four games after testing positive for a banned substance in a dietary supplement. The good news? I'll still be playing in this Sunday's game against Tampa Bay. That's the magic of the appeal process. So come on out, and catch me while you still can. Also, it saddens me to announce that my scheduled Tuesday appearance at the GNC in downtown Charlotte has been canceled. I hope there are no hard feelings."

Jon Wauford
We're guessing Jon had to use a hands-free phone.
Jon Wauford
"Hi, this is Jon Wauford, defensive coordinator for the Miami of Ohio football team. As you may have heard, I've already been released from jail on $5,000 bail after I shoved a celebrating fan to the ground in our loss to Marshall this week. Well, if you have any reservations about attending our game next weekend against Central Florida, don't worry. I've been suspended by university officials, which means I probably won't be there. So don't spend the night at home just because you'd rather not be clotheslined. Oh, and since assistant coach Taver Johnson also was suspended, the coaches' box should be safe, too. Just in case you were wondering."

Vladimir Guerrero
"!Hola amigos! Es Vladimir Guerrero, un gran jugador de los Expos de Montreal. ?Como estas? ?Quieras un speakerphone de beisbol? Venido a Hiram Bithorn Stadium en San Juan. !Vamos hacer un repardo!"

Patrick Hruby is a sportswriter for the Washington Times. You can reach him at phrub@yahoo.com.


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