New Cubs: Part 2 - The Badass

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Cubs: Part 2 - The Badass

. Thursday, January 15, 2009

Miles: Off notice. We're sure he's relieved.

Clearly, I have not been shy in my criticism of Aaron Miles. Part of this is missing DeRo (whose exit interview on WGN-AM's "Sports Central" conveyed all the shock and disappointment his fans in the city have been feeling), and part of it is me feeling that his on-base percentage isn't within a clown fart of acceptable for a team that wants to replace a scoring machine. Also, he used to be a Cardinal. But I'm officially softening my stance on the man, because he's offered something than offense, fielding, and baserunning - a little bit of perspective. Now, before you accuse me of going all Paul Harvey, let me remind you that there's a nice entertaining story here.

Not only did Miles openly admit and profess to understanding the fact that he's seen mostly as a utility player, the man seemed downright ... chipper at the thought of coming to the city that had, until about six seconds after he signed, hated his goldbrickin' Cardinals ass. A fan base, mind you, that can be at times both fickle and wary. Especially for someone who used to play for StL. Then he told a story from his minor league days that I haden't heard before. I'm sure many of you have already heard this, because I'm a bit behind the times, but to hear him tell it in his own words is almost chilling. It's really worth checking out the free podcast, but if you're still rocking the Memorex casette walkman, then we'll throw you a bone.

A shitty Fortress of Solitude. Also a shitty Fortress of Not Getting Held Hostage.

Borrowed somewhat from the S-T, with a re-arrangement their crappy Michael Bay editing:

The attack occurred in March 2000, during spring training. Miles was a 23-year-old minor-leaguer with the Houston Astros organization. He had gone to dinner with his uncle and returned to his motel around 11 p.m. He noticed that the door to his room was open but thought nothing of it, figuring his roommate had stepped out to get something. He got into bed, leaving the door unlocked for his roommate. He wasn't worried for his safety because his teammates occupied all the other rooms on the second floor of the motel. The motel was the kind of place where all the doors open into the parking lot.

As it turned out, five of his teammates in the adjacent room already had been robbed by two masked gunmen. They had been bound with plastic strips, had their mouths taped shut, and had blankets thrown over their heads. The gunmen saw Miles returning to his room and decided to add to their haul. They entered Miles' room, brandished their guns, got Miles out of bed and walked him next door, where they intended to tie him up and leave him with his teammates. But in the time it took for them to grab Miles, one of his teammates in the adjacent room had broken free of his handcuffs, locked the door and called for help.

When the gunman discovered the adjacent room was locked, they returned Miles to his room and threw him face down on his bed. Then they heard police sirens. The second gunman opened the door, saw the cops pulling up and jumped off the second-floor balcony, escaping on foot. The other gunman stayed and took Miles hostage.

Miles stayed cool throughout the crisis, at one point even encouraging the gunman to escape by putting on some of his Astros gear. But the gunman was not the kind of guy to take advice.

The masked gunman had Aaron Miles in a headlock and pressed a semiautomatic against the back of his head. The police and five of Miles' teammates were outside in the parking lot. The police repeatedly yelled for the gunman to surrender. But the gunman wasn't about to go peacefully. After about a half-hour, Miles, the gunman's lone hostage, had had enough.

''I had visions of being shot,'' said Miles, who signed a two-year contract with the Cubs last week. ''Of never seeing my family again. Of being dead. I felt I had to do something. The feeling kept growing. I decided that if he gave me a chance, I was going to turn on him and wrestle the gun away.''

The gunman walked Miles over to the window of the Kissimmee, Fla., motel room where he was being held hostage, and told him to open the curtain. Miles did as he was told. Then the gunman bent over to look through the window, moving the gun from behind Miles' head to his right cheek. And that's when Miles made his move, grabbing the barrel of the gun and holding onto it for dear life. The two men struggled for control, and the gunman didn't play fair. He punched Miles. He bit Miles in the back. He jumped onto Miles' back. But the 5-8 Miles, whose back was bleeding from the bite, wouldn't let go of the gun. Instead, with the gunman still on his back, Miles body slammed him against the wall. The gunman fell to the ground, and Miles fell on top of him. They both were still holding the gun, which now was pointed at the ceiling.

''Get the bleep in here!'' Miles yelled to the police as loud as he could. ''Get the bleep in here!''

Miles yelled those words again and again. The cops heard him. But the gunman had locked the door. The cops busted into the motel room by breaking the window with the butt of a shotgun. One cop pointed his gun at the gunman.

''Drop the gun,'' the cop said to the gunman. ''Drop the gun.''

The gunman refused to let go. Miles was still on top of the gunman, and the gun they held was still pointed at the ceiling. The cop fired at the gunman from point-blank range, putting six shots into him. Finally, the gunman's hand fell off the gun. Miles had prevailed.

Nearly nine years removed from the ordeal, Miles seldom even thinks about it anymore.

''Only when I'm staying in that kind of hotel,'' he said. ''I found out later that guys hit up hotel rooms like that all the time. They wait in the parking lot and watch. So if I'm ever in one of those places, I peek outside my door before I leave to make sure there's no one standing there.''

The gunman survived his injuries and was sentenced to life in prison. His accomplice was captured and sentenced to five years.

So that's basically the same story that Miles told to Dave Kaplan on Sports Central. I'm sure he's asked about it a lot, and probably has a fairly standardized version. What gave me pause were the coments he had after he ran through the series of events. He talked about having to make the decision to physically struggle with an armed man who, in all likelihood, was bigger (Miles is 5'8", and weighs less than the chili dog I get from Portillo's). Not only that, he was cornered and desperate - two things that law enforcement will tell you usually leads to bad decisions and worse resolutions. He talked about visions seeing his family, and of the overwhelming desire to hold own to his own life. These instincts, running through his head all at once, allowed him to make the split second decision to reach for the gun. This set off a chain of events that led to a man getting shot six times while still wrestling with him - which is probably more traumatic than satisfying, despite what Charles Bronson says.

After the incident, Miles just goes ahead and tackles the shit out of everyone.

You know what he didn't mention at all during the hostage crisis portion of the interview? Baseball. In fact, he said that the experience has made it a lot easier for him to accept the up and down realities of putting on a uniform every day. I don't remember the exact phrasing, but what stuck with me was that fighting with an armed hostage taker has left the 5-5 days just as sweet, but has made the 0-5 days not so bad. Understatement of the year, I imagine. So welcome to the Cubs, Aaron Miles. And thanks for reminding us that there are other things that are more important than baseball - namely Thunderdoming in an Arizona motel for the right to see your family again. Well done, sir.

From the Detroit Tigers employee handbook

Other thoughts on the matter:

- If having a gun held to a slightly different part of your head counts as an opening for attack, then I will gladly buy you a beer.

- My college fraternity had chapters whose houses had this outside-facing door style. Mostly, they had to deal with squatters. It seemed a lot funner when I was 19 and full of Southern Comfort. Now, not so much.

- Did the hotel comp the rooms? Or at least offer a voucher for continental breakfast (orange juice refills not included)?

- I wonder how long it took Miles to wonder if he should get tested for hepatitis after getting bitten on the back by someone who has most likely got some prison ink.

- Trying to decide if the line "Miles had prevailed" is melodramatic or bad-ass.

- Also, while I give all credit to Miles for being a brave sumbitch, I wonder if that should have read "The officer's six Glock rounds, fired point-blank, had prevailed."

- Were Jay Mariotti still at the S-T, how would he have attacked Miles for his conduct in this situation? Bonus points: What level of physical threat would case Jay to soil himself?

- Sign that real fights are not like movie fights: people get bit in the back. That's when you know things are really ugly.

- What was that you said about how hard things in the league have been, Milton?


Bree said...

Is it just me, or does Maurice "React With Confidence" Elmalem look kinda like Tommy Lee Jones?

Steve said...

to me, its sort of a combo of Tommy Lee Jones and the leader of the Heavens Gate cult.

Bree said...

Ooh, yeah...
I bet his shoes are Nike.