Ah, yes, the “jockocracy”–a phenomena that Howard Cosell spoke so critically about–rears it ugly head once again as former NFL linebacker Antonio Pierce retires from the game and immediately joins ESPN as an analyst. If you recall, Pierce was with gun-toting teammate Plaxico Burress back in 2008 when an unlicensed firearm went off in a nightclub; Pierce then drove home with the gun in his glove compartment and arranged for it to be returned to Burress’ home in New Jersey. Oh–and Pierce’s journalistic background? Ummm, perhaps it was his weekly appearances (as a player) on WFAN Radio during past NFL seasons–where his “stand-offish” personality was quite apparent while his answers to hosts’ questions were usually curt in nature. Yes–a “brilliant” hire, ESPN; meanwhile, Howard groans once again from his resting place………TRIVIA QUESTION: Name the last member of the Los Angeles Dodgers to lead the National League in runs scored; answer to follow……….Regarding Lebron James/”The Decision”: Initially, I promised myself I wouldn’t insult my intelligence by watching this televised piece of garbage, but–as a columnist–thought I’d later be asked to comment about it. So I vowed to have fun with it; using the letters E-S-P-N, I decided to think of the first four adjectives that popped into my head as I viewed this farce. The result? Egotistical, Staged, Pathetic, Narcissistic……….Column reader David Kramer submits yet another reason for yours truly to someday interview hot dog-eating champion Joey Chestnut on “Monday Night Sports Talk” via telephone instead of in-studio: There simply would be no need to “beef up” security when talking to Chestnut over the phone lines……….ITEM: University of Georgia athletic director Damon Evans is arrested on a drunken driving charge; the arresting officer said the married Evans had a pair of red panties between his legs at the time that belonged to a 28-year-old female passenger who was NOT his wife. Sheesh–gives a whole new meaning to the expression “being caught red-handed”, huh?……….Answer to trivia question: BRETT BUTLER–who led the NL by scoring 112 times for Tommy Lasorda’s second-place club back in 1991……….Happy birthday wishes go out to former big league outfielder Mickey Stanley–who blows out 68 candles on July 20th. Stanley spent his entire 15-year career with the Tigers between 1964 and 1978–appearing in 1,516 games. Used mostly as a center-fielder, Stanley hit only .248 lifetime; however, he left his mark on the game with his exceptional glove. Stanley won Gold Gloves in 1968, ’69, ’70, and ’73; in ’68 and ’70, Mickey did not make a SINGLE ERROR while patrolling the outfield. He also had six hits in the 1968 World Series–helping the Tigers to a world championship. Best wishes, Mickey……….Condolences go out to the family of former NBA player/All-American center Melvin Turpin–who died recently in Kentucky of a self-inflicted gunshot wound; he was 49. Nicknamed “The Big Dipper”, Turpin helped the Kentucky Wildcats to three consecutive regular season SEC titles during his college days; he was the sixth player taken in the 1984 NBA draft–which featured players such as Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, and Hakeem Olajuwon. Turpin spent five seasons in the NBA between 1984 and 1990 with the Cavs, Jazz, and Bullets–averaging 8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Turpin often struggled with weight problems during his professional playing days–perhaps an explanation for his brief career. Most recently, he had been working as a security guard at UK. Melvin and his ex-wife, Lisa, were divorced in the mid-90’s; his current wife, Kerry, had been dealing with various health problems over the past few years. Sadly, Turpin never had a relationship with his three children–ages 24, 20 and 18. May Melvin Turpin rest in peace……….And what can one really say about the passing of longtime Yankees P.A. announcer Bob Sheppard? When you’re coined with the nickname “The Voice of God,” a few simple words in this type of forum seems inadequate and won’t do the man justice. Let’s just say that Sheppard’s voice was simply the background of my youth; when I entered Yankee Stadium for the first time as an eight-year-old, it was Sheppard’s unique/resounding diction that convinced me I was in a special place. Yeah, I had heard it on television before, but to have experienced it in-person was truly special. Something about his voice made you want to follow AND play baseball; it was THAT powerful. And he sounded EXACTLY the same when I’d take the subway to all Yankee home games while in college–and years later when gray hairs started appearing. How ’bout “The Voice of a Few Generations” due to his longevity? It may sound corny, but when I heard his comforting voice for the first time every April, all was right with the world once again. Yes–a special voice—and a man who can now be mentioned in the same breath with the great “Yankees” of all-time. A special part of MANY of us is now gone–but the fond memories will go nowhere. We’ll miss you, Mr. Sheppard.