Monday, April 6, 2009

Bad boys, bad boys

From fraudulent misdeeds to blowing a gasket, nobody takes a backseat to Little Rhody in the bad behavior department. Last month’s news that Rhode Island ranked No. 1 in the nation for mortgage fraud was met with a collective yawn in a state where scandal is the only recession-proof industry.

According to a report from the Mortgage Asset Research Institute, Rhode Island had a Mortgage Fraud Index of 315. That of course means nothing to you or me, but to the folks at MARI it means that the level of fraud in the state’s residential mortgage market was more than three times what anyone expected. The breakdown: Fraudulent application (31 percent); appraisal or valuation fraud (38 percent); false financial documents (23 percent); verification of deposit fraud (15 percent); closing documents (8 percent) and false credit report (8 percent). That’s the whole 123 percent ball of wax right there. In other words, here in the Ocean State, even the numbers refuting the numbers don’t add up.

Pulling a nutty
There must be something in the water. What else explains not one but two professional athletes in Rhode Island becoming popular YouTube fodder for going ballistic?

A couple of weeks ago, Providence Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask went crazy at The Dunk after a referee blew not one but two calls during a shootout, costing the Baby B’s the game. The first shot Rask poke-checked. By rule, the puck should’ve been dead, but the shooter followed it up with a wrist shot into the net and the referee allowed the goal. During the second blown call, the puck hit the crossbar but the ref thought it went into the net first. Mount Tuukka then exploded.

Maybe Rask is just getting ready for his Boston call-up. The unofficial theme song for the Big Bad Bruins is a version of “The Nutcracker Suite” (from the ballet performed annually at Christmas in Boston), re-dubbed “Nutty” and played by 1960s surf-rockers The Ventures. (An earlier version was called “The Nut Rocker.”)

Rask’s antic rant supplanted the histrionics of former Pawtucket Red Sox outfielder Izzy Alcantara, who in a 2001 game objected to a high, hard inside pitch and decided to charge the mound at McCoy Stadium. Most of the time batters never get to the pitcher, because the catcher grabs the player from behind before he can leave the batter’s box. Izzy came up with a novel way to solve that problem, by taking care of the catcher before moving on to the pitcher.

Just another day in the Rhody Universe, where English is a second language, just behind slapstick. Where else could a guy named Tuukka and a guy named Izzy – a hockey player from Finland and a baseball player from the Dominican Republic – earn beers for life from locals who can say they were there when Tuukka went bazooka and Izzy had a tizzy?

What is the biggest meltdown you have ever witnessed?