Benson Never Hedges Taking the bait from a desperate baseball wife

Sports wives have trouble getting the sort of ink their husbands get. The easiest way is to be bad: Janet Gretzky allegedly risked five grand on a coin toss. Kendra Davis started a melée in the stands with Chicago Bulls fans. Tawny Kitaen, long past her days as a Whitesnake groupie, whupped Chuck Finley’s ass.

But Anna Benson, the newest Orioles wife, has been able to out-ink her jock spouse without the law’s involvement. She’s learned she only has to open her blouse or her mouth.

For those who don’t listen to Howard Stern or gawk at magazine stands—she’s this month’s FHM cover girl—Anna is a former stripper who has been married for seven years to journeyman pitcher Kris Benson. Despite a decent 2005 (10-8 with a 4.13 ERA) in a league starving for starters, he was traded to the O’s in the offseason by the Mets for what the wife calls “a bag of balls.” (New York got reliever Jorge Julio—3-5, 5.90 ERA—and a minor leaguer in the deal.) Anna, who showed up at the Mets’ latest Christmas party wearing little more than a smile, probably caused her husband’s giveaway.

Anna, who claims to have a reality TV show in development, hasn’t yet adjusted to having her meal ticket shipped from New York to Baltimore. Or, as she would look at it, from the nation’s No. 1 media market to its No. 24 media market.

Perhaps as a result of the sudden loss of millions of potential Nielsen households and tabloid readers, or maybe just to get some attention, Anna filed for divorce on March 31 on the grounds that the seven-year union was “irretrievably broken.” For better or for worse, the divorce lasted only slightly longer than Britney’s first marriage, with Anna retracting the petition five days later.

Baseball wives have never been a big deal in Baltimore. The last Oriole with a more famous spouse was Ray Knight, who was married to golfer Nancy Lopez in 1987, when he came over from the Mets. But the 2006 O’s roster doesn’t give the team’s marketing staff much to work with. And in PR terms, Anna would seem a nice replacement for departed publicity magnet Sammy Sosa, who in his year in Baltimore also flaunted an inflated chest and sense of worth. The team’s media office, however, says there’s no plan to use Anna in any promotions this season. That’s probably a mistake: An announced crowd of 13,194, what the team called the lowest attendance in Camden Yards history, came to see Kris lose to Tampa Bay in his O’s debut last week. Tickets to the game were being unloaded for less than half face value outside the stadium.

The starter’s wife, according to the Baltimore Sun, wasn’t among the record-breaking turnout. She has laid low since the divorce petition’s filing and unfiling.

“Anna’s not doing any interviews because of the current situation,” says Jules Feiler, who represents her for 5W Public Relations, a New York firm. “She’s put everything on hold, and there’s no date on when she’ll go back to work on anything.”

That means, horror of horrors, that the world might have heard the last of Anna, whom 5W hails for her “passion for human rights, women’s issues and children’s issues.”

Good news for anybody disturbed by that possibility: She’s left a paper trail detailing her thoughts on these and other matters. Anna started her own Web site in 2002, when Kris was with the Pirates, and it includes confessions about her stripping past and her breast implants, along with an explanation of why she had to augment her “real fun-bags”: “After breastfeeding three kids, I was constantly tripping over my jugs whenever I tried to walk anywhere. So, I got a much deserved boobie job. If anyone has a problem with it, they just might get slapped in the face with one of my ripe melons.”

Athletes no longer publicly divulge anything more thoughtful than giving 110 percent. And with good reason: Last year’s Nats’ tyro, Ryan Church, told a reporter that the team chaplain told him Jews were “doomed” and then was bullied into apologizing for quoting the man of the cloth. Steve Nash helped punch his ticket out of Dallas by wearing a T-shirt that said “No War” during warm-ups in the months leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

And into this vacuum steps Anna Benson. She’s gotten famous by providing folks with material—visual and verbal—that can be used against her. So even those who would argue that, in Benson’s case, double-D stands for “dumb and dumber” can find her blabbiness to be equal parts revolting and refreshing.

Well, maybe not equal parts.

Alongside a Web page detailing the family’s roster of pets, Anna gives her take on animal rights: “I love a really big, really rare steak that’s still mooing on my plate. Moooo—yum. I like fish too. I especially like to catch fish, cut off their little heads, and eat them. And I guess Chickens are okay....I liked that movie Chicken Run, but I would ring one of their little chicken necks in about two seconds if I was hungry....My alpaca will be a great pet, but he’ll also make a great new pair of UGG boots when his time is up. And my lambs will graze to their hearts are content, but they will also make a delicious holiday meal that we will give thanks for. Thank you lamb...thank you from the bottom of my stomach. And we can’t forget about my chickens. They’ll live in a posh chicken house, and I’ll eat all of their yummy chicken babies every morning for breakfast. That’s right; my chef will crack those eggs and watch those chicken babies fry.”

And her views on filmmaker Michael Moore: “You are a pariah to our nation....the fat kid who got beat up by the jocks at school, and this has formulated your hatred of America. If I didn’t know any better, I would think that George W. himself went to school with you and kicked the shit out of your pie-hole everyday for being such a candy-ass....You are a selfish, pathetic excuse for an American, and you can take your formerly big, fat ass over to Iraq and get your pig head cut off and stuck on a pig pole.”

And her thoughts on Operation Iraqi Freedom: “I bet the people of Iraq are very happy to be liberated from a man who is a criminal and was a detriment to the World—not just the USA. Ask them if they are happy to be liberated. Furthermore, Iraq got what they deserved when they refused to allow UN inspections.”

Given Anna’s self-imposed hiatus, FHM’s baseball issue might provide the last word on the Bensons. Beside several photos of a barely clad Anna lounging around with and without a uniformed Kris, there’s an alleged transcript of an interview the baseball wife conducted with her husband. In it, she presses the six-year veteran about having never won a Cy Young Award.

Anna: If you win one, you can do anything you want to me. I’ll do anything.

Kris: You made that promise to me, what, a year-and-a-half ago?

Anna: That’s 50 free times up the ass for real. I’m just saying.

Kris: Jesus.

Check, please?—Dave McKenna

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