The winner of the 23rd Annual Jeff Pearlman Book Contest

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If you’re a journalist, writing a story with 43 pages on transcribed interviews and hundreds of additional pages of notes, nothing is worse than the blank screen that is now staring me down. Sometimes I enjoy starting a story—but usually I loathe it. The blank screen taunts me; telling me, “Ha, ha, you ain’t written nothing.” It speaks in a very grating voice—Dee Snyder, with a swath a sandpaper wedged in his throat. Damn, damn, damn.

Anyhow, that’s my long way of saying we have a winner in the 23rd Annual Jeff Pearlman Book Contest, and it is … Alex LaPiana. Why, you ask. Because while 99.9% of entrants would rather be Dan Pasqua than Levi Johnston, Alex had the wisdom to recognize that there is only one correct answer: Levi, Levi, Levi.

Why? Because few things in this world are worse than being an ex-professional athlete. You are forever trying to recapture the glory of your youth; anxious to be asked to sign autographs and make appearances at the local Lions Club rubber-chicken lunch. You tasted caviar, and you will forever furiously flail away to try it once again.

Sure, Levi doesn’t seem to have a whole lot going on. An ex-girlfriend; a kid he can’t see; a certifiably crazy (sorry, Republican readers. But it’s true) ex-almost-mother-in-law. But according to the kid’s MySpace page, he “kicks ass.” And anyone who kicks ass is OK with me.

Plus, the fishin’ is good.

Mazel Tov, Alex. Well done.

PS: Here are the answers:

1. Nixon—Yankees; Whitt—Red Sox; Heep—Astros; Fasano—Royals; Holman—Expos; Cotto—Cubs; Gibbons—Mets; Fariss—Rangers

2. “So thank you all for being part of our family. To happy days!”

3. No KO. Leonard won the split decision.

4. Emmanuel Lewis (he was in the first season)

5. Johnston

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