Friday, October 13, 2006

A Weenie Enema Post Masked As Investigative Journalism. *UPDATED*

I thought about entitling this masterpiece "Investigative Journalism," but I didn't want to send everyone's hopes up - my reporting skills are right up there with Jude Law's in All the King's Men. I'm seriously going to stop bitching about him. Until December 8, when TWO movies come out with him. Jesus. Has everyone forgotten 2004, the year of Jude Law? (I <3 Huckabees, Alfie, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Closer, The Aviator, Lemony Snicket)


I had a sort of point.

Two days ago, I received a DVD I won on ebay - the team finals for the 1996 Women's Gymnastics US Olympic Team. I know. But it was worth the four or five bucks, and I haven't made a smarter purchase in years, probably not since I bought these amazing sneakers at the Laneco closing sale in 1995 that were most likely constructed of roof tiles. Anyway, I was understandably very pumped up about this DVD, and yesterday, I found myself on Wikipedia looking at articles about the members of the gold medal-winning team. I was having a grand old time until I reached Kerri Strug's Wikipedia entry. In the last paragraph of the article, I found this:
In January of 2006, Strug was seen being greeted and hugged by Omaha Royals outfielder Zack Vank after her completion of a charity run for D.C. area schools. This was the first of a number of public sightings for the two, leading to rumors of a romantic relationship.

What? Who the hell is Zack Vank?
I decided it was time to get into full-blown Weenie Enema investigative mode. And THIS is where the plot thickens.
Zack Vank's Wikipedia entry is pretty sedate; we ARE talking about a guy who's been in the minor leagues for five years and has yet to make his major league debut, so there's really no reason to write a blow-by-blow account of this guy's life on the site. That said, the minute capsule about Zack Vank does include the rumors about Kerri Strug, as well as some even more random information that can only be positively served by showing it here for the world to see:
His bizarre story of finding himself mysteriously stranded in Minnesota during the offseason led Sports Illustrated scribe Rick Reilly to call Vank "a surrealist with a bat."

I have NO idea what this bizarre story about Minnesota is, and I'm not exactly sure what sort of stranding adventure one has to have there to be dubbed a surrealist. Any input from the readers would be greatly appreciated. Was there an actual story printed in Sports Illustrated about this? According to Vin, a co-worker with permanent stubble, Rick Reilly is the inspiration for the worst show that has ever aired on television, with the possible exception of Jack and Bobby - Everybody Loves Raymond. That is not going to help us with this increasingly complex mystery, but it's nice to know who we can blame for that cowshizzle forced down our throats for almost a decade.

Kind of looks like an unfunny comedian, too.

THEN, I found something that thoroughly baffled me. After typing in "Zack Vank" on Yahoo, I found an outdated Wikipedia article about Paul Verhoeven, the Dutch director of Total Recall, Showgirls and Starship Troopers, which said:
Paul Verhoeven has, as of September 16th 2006, made no public comment about the bizarre and offensive remarks made about him by baseball player Zack Vank.

WHAT??? This is the second time we've come across Zack Vank making bizzare comments, and once again, we have no context for them whatsoever. What is this?
My first thought is that this is just someone's idea of a joke - vandalize Paul Verhoeven's Wikipedia article with some random outrageous trivial falsehood at the bottom of the page that almost no one is going to see anyway. But why Zack Vank? There is absolutely no other mention of this supposed distribe against Paul Verhoeven anywhere else. Verhoeven's article has been polished up and the Zack Vank statement is long gone. Still. It seemed too coincidental to have this no-name minor leaguer embroiled in ANOTHER bizarre comment incident on Wikipedia, so I emailed Tom Shatel, who's a sports writer for the Omaha World-Herald, which presumably covers the Omaha Royals on a regular basis.

Dear Tom,
My name is Emma Grimshaw, and I've stumbled on to something online that's probably nothing, but I thought I would check with you to see if you knew anything about it. I was looking at a Wikipedia article about Kerri Strug, the Olympic gymnast, and it mentioned at the end that she was rumored to be a relationship with Zack Vank, a player on the Omaha Royals. I don't see him on the official roster, though that by no means he doesn't exist. However, what I find slightly interesting/confusing is that when you type his name into Yahoo, a link shows up of an outdated Wikipedia article for Paul Verhoeven, the film director, in which it claims, "Paul Verhoeven has, as of September 16th 2006, made no public comment about the bizarre and offensive remarks made about him by baseball player Zack Vank." Do you have any idea what this is in reference to, or is this just some weird, random joke by an anonymous poster on the Web? I'm not looking to slander anyone or dig up dirt, but it just seems very strange to me that two incredibly random figures are just thrust together in a sentence that is never formally introduced in the article or given contextual information. Thanks.

Tom Shatel wrote me back pretty quickly:
Interesting. No, I hadn't heard that but I may mention it the next time I'm over at the Royals office. Thanks!

I smell a cover-up.

I will continue updating this as the story progresses.

In the latest random information twist of this saga, it appears that Zack Vank's great aunt is Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.

Update #2
I found another reference to the stranded in Minnesota story on Wikipedia. Apparently, Zack Vank is writing a story called "Minnesota Malt," about how he woke up in the Minnesota woods one morning.
Also, I found Zack Vank's email on the Redwood High School alumni site, and I've penned a missive informing him about this post and asking for comments.


At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This rocks!



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