Monday, February 27, 2006

Going for The Gold
By Ben Valentine

So the Olympics have come and now, thankfully, are gone. From what I’ve heard, America didn’t particularly get too up for them. Maybe that’s because the events are not all that exciting. I mean come on, does anyone really need to watch three hours worth of people skiing down the hill, over and over again. Especially when the Americans have a habit of getting disqualified?

Never fear however. As a tribute to the Olympics now past, I have come up with a new set of events guaranteed to generate a lot more interest than Nordic Combined. In this column we award the best of the worst; the people keep us who interested with their crazy off the field antics. Like the Olympic games, I’ve handed out Gold, Silver and Bronze medals to award the participants, who, much to pleasure of Bryant Gumbel, are of all races and creeds. These games are open to all athletes and even a few others. So without further adieu, I present the first Sportszilla “Infamous Games”.

The Space Waste: The athlete whose presence alone does more to hurt his team than sticking just about anyone else you could find there. Some previous winners include Jerome James, Glen Rice and Mo Vaughn.

Bronze: Casper the Friendly Ghost… I mean Justin McCariens, New York Jets: Third place was highly competitive with a solid charge by Nefi Perez. But two of the judges here at Sportszilla were partial to Casper, who is by all accounts a great guy. Unfortunately nobody disappears over the middle, down the sidelines, or… well anywhere on the field than McCariens. He just takes up space on the football field, on the Jets roster and on their bloated cap number. And that space is just a waste.

Silver: Darko Milicic, Orlando Magic: Already more famous as the answer to the trivia question, “What player was drafted #2 behind LeBron James, and ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Kirk Hinrich?”, than he is for his on the court exploits. Now he’s in Orlando, where at least no one will see him fail.

Gold: Cristian Guzman, Washington Nationals: There is no legitimate reason Guzman is on a big league roster, let along starting. He was never very good anyway and last year most of his time was spent trying to get his batting average over the .200 mark. He did, but only because he owned New York Mets starting pitching. By the way his final line: (.219/.260/.314/574). Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

Half Piped Sports Reporting: An event strictly for journalists where the goal is to fire out as many ridiculous, unsubstantiated, biased statements and/or columns as possible to attract attention and scorn from the reading public. Previous winners include Skip Bayless, Pete Prisco and Skip Bayless.

Bronze: Bill Simmons, ESPN:
Simmons' rips on Doc Rivers while not realizing every critique he made of Rivers could be made for Hall of Fame Head Coach Larry Brown as well got him this spot. In honor of Mr. Simmons’ third place finish, I’m going to write this as he would:

So I was randomly blogging the other day and I saw I was named the third most half piped journalist in sports reporting. I asked the Sports Gal if this was good or bad, but she looked at me as if I had too much time on my hands. I wonder if this means I’m hitting the big time. If I get famous enough, you think they’ll let me have a guest spot on “24”? I wish I could be killed on national TV by Jack Bauer. That would almost as good as fighting Doc Rivers on celebrity boxing while Josh Beckett is striking out Johnny Damon in Game 7 of next year’s ALCS. Hey did you know Tom Brady is god? What? The Yankees just signed him to a contract to pitch? Tom Brady is a bastard. This is like when you’re phenomenally hot girlfriend who you’d go down on at the drop of a hat cheats on you with that scummy rich guy or kind of like the episode of Beverly Hills 90210 where Brenda got cheated on by Dillon. All I have to say about that is Isiah Thomas is a moron. Danny Ainge is a national hero, because even though he inherited a playoff team and turned it into one of the worst teams in the NBA, it’s really all Doc Rivers fault! It’s like the Mighty Ducks, if they had a coach like Emilio Estevez on the Celtics, then Wally Sczerbiak and Raef Lafrentz would become all stars. Or Jack Bauer. Imagine him in the huddle during time outs: “WE’VE GOT FOUR SECONDS ON THE SHOT CLOCK. DELONTE I NEED YOU TO GET A GOOD SHOT OFF IN THREE. THE GAME IS ON THE LINE DELONTE! I WILL DO WHATEVER I NEED TO DO TO GET YOU TO HIT THIS SHOT, EVEN IF I HAVE TO THREATEN TO BLOW OFF OF YOUR LEGS TO DO IT!”…
Definitely worthy of bronze.

Silver: Stephen A. Smith, ESPN: I was tempted to write this section entirely in caps but I’m refraining because… HEY THIS IS STEPHEN A. HERE. WHAT GIVES?! ANYONE CAN SEE THAT I DESERVE THE GOLD MEDAL IN THIS “EVENT” I’M THE BIGGEST LOUDMOUTH ON TV AND NO ONE CAN TAKE THAT FROM ME. BAYLESS CAN SKIP TO HIS LOU BACK TO HIS SPOT ON COLD PIZZA. IF THAT GARBAGE IS STILL ON I MEAN. I GOT MY OWN SPOT EVERY DAY FOR A HALF HOUR TO SCREAM MY KNOWLEDGE AT THE WORLD. THIS IS THE BIGGEST JOKE SINCE ANDRE IGUODALA GOT ROBBED IN THE DUNK CONTEST. QUITE FRANKLY, EVERYONE KNOWS PHILLY IS THE GREATEST CITY ON EARTH. ANDRE IS GOING TO THE POSTSEASON. WHERE’S SMALL FRY NATE ROBINSON GOING?! BACK HOME TO THE GOLF COURSE… IF HE’S TALL ENOUGH TO GET IN. HAHAHA. JUST LIKE HOW I’M GOING TO BE ON ESPN PRIMETIME EVERY POSTSEASON GAME WHILE SKIP IS RESTING UP FOR HIS WORTHLESS RECAPS ON COLD “WE GET RATINGS CAUSE DRUNK COLLEGE STUDENTS LEFT THE TV ON AND ARE TOO HUNG OVER TO TURN IT OFF” PIZZA. YO… STEPHEN A. OUT!!...... and that’s why Stephen A. Smith deserves the silver.
Note: Stephen A. Smith didn’t say that. Probably. We can’t know for sure

Gold: Skip Bayless, ESPN: The favorite, Bayless ran away with the gold in the most lopsided event in the competition. The entire sports fan world despises Bayless and no one can quite figure out how he still has a job. It’s actually because he’s so disliked; ESPN will continually get ratings because people love to hate this man. Proof positive any press is good press. I was going to do an impersonation of Bayless but there’s no need to. Just imagine a stupid thing no one could possibly agree with and write it down. Congrats, you’ve just pulled a Skip Bayless!

The Drug Run: AKA “The Whizzinator Challenge”: In this highly competitive event, athletes see who can disgrace themselves the most with the questionable substances they put in their body. Some notable former winners include Darryl Strawberry, Jennifer Capriati, Ontario Smith and Michael Irvin. Irvin came in fifth this year.

Bronze: Austrian Biathlon Team:
You have athletic drug scandals from time to time. But it’s rare you get raids on compounds, high speed chases and suicide attempts. The Austrian team managed all of that in one day. What an effort. Unfortunately nobody cares about Biathlon, so the judges could only award the bronze.

Silver: Ricky Williams, Miami Dolphins: Failed drug test number four is it for Ricky? Pure speculation on my part here, but what if Ricky is intentionally doing this so he can get kicked off the Dolphins? It’s clear the guy doesn’t want to play football any more. But if he just retires, he’s required to pay the Fish back his signing bonus. (A complete and utter joke if you ask me) If Williams gets suspended, he may not get paid, but I doubt he’ll have to pay back that bonus. He’s free to go off and get trashed wherever he likes. In any case, why can’t the Fish just bite the bullet and let Ricky do what he wants?

Gold: Chris Anderson, formerly of the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets: Nobody flies higher than the Birdman. Or lower, considering he’s been kicked out of the league for two years because of substance abuse. It’s too bad, since Anderson was a good story; an un drafted player who managed to make a decent career for himself. Unfortunately for him, while the NBA doesn’t set a limit on how many dunks you can blow on all star weekend, it does limit the number of drug tests you can fail. So long Birdman, you shall be missed.

Short Track D.L.: In this event, competitors see who can field the most questions about their injury problems, completely overshadowing anything else having to do with the rest of the team. Localized to baseball this time of year. Past winners include Jason Giambi, Mark Prior, and Jim Thome.

Bronze: Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants:
A Giant player could probably commit a triple homicide right now while carrying a bag full of HGH and the first question at press conference would be about Bonds. (They’d probably ask if the player was his supplier, but I digress). However, since Bonds is by all accounts healthy, he can only finish so high in this event. The judges loved the media circus he’s created, but didn’t find the substance in his routine. (That’s twice now!) Look for next season to be Barry’s shot at gold.

Silver: Mark Prior, Chicago Cubs: The favorite coming in, it’s Prior’s amazing knack to hurt everything on his body, not just his arm, that makes him such a tough out in this event. This season he had to be hospitalized for a throat infection. Seriously, what’s going to happen next to the guy? Pick up Bird Flu from the Chinese WBC team? Kidnapped by Ugueth Urbina? Hunting accident with Dick Cheney? The sky’s the limit for this star crossed Cubbie. Sadly, he’s a must keep on any fantasy team, even mine.

Gold: Pedro Martinez, New York Mets: Prior felt he was ripped off, since Pedro’s pitching too. However, when you manage to keep two teams in limbo over the arrival of a special shoe, you’ve just gone that extra mile for gold. The Dominican team and the Mets are anxiously awaiting every pitch he throws, just to see how that big toe feels, knowing their chances depend on him being close to healthy. Guess which team I care a little more about?

One Man Burnout: The athlete who is most likely to end up on an awful reality show featuring washed out “B” list celebrities. The athletes usually have to be notable at some point. Some past winners are Refrigerator Perry and incredibly, Jerry Rice. Marcus Vick finished a close fourth, but the judges didn’t feel “Court TV” was trashy enough.

Bronze: Sammy Sosa, Former Chicago Cub, Possible National?:
Sure Slammin’ Sammy was a big name, but he strikes me as the type of guy who in a few years will miss hearing it, and that nice paycheck. It’s ironic; you’ve got to be so desperate for attention to subject yourself to this type of humiliation. Don’t believe me? Google “Greatest WR in NFL History” and “Ball Room Dancing”. (Note: if you leave out the WR part, you might just get Matt Leinart’s class schedule from last fall)

Silver: Sasha Cohen, US Figure Skater: Only because she already knows how to skate; a sport where amateurs make themselves look idiotic. This, if you haven’t figured out by now, is made TV. Combined with the normal chances she ends up on some 2012 version of “Celebrity Survivor: Sri Lanka” makes her a solid silver medalist. And she didn’t even have to fall twice to get this one.

Gold: Rickey Henderson, Best Player In Baseball History (According to Rickey Henderson): If it wasn’t for the fact Rickey’s been hanging around independent minor league teams, Rickey would have probably already have made an appearance. Rickey can’t get enough of Rickey. That’s why Rickey will one day realize Rickey deserves to be beyond baseball and try Rickey’s hand on TV. Rickey will appear on “Celebrity Survivor: Sri Lanka” just to show the world that a 50 something year old Rickey is more in shape than a 27 year old Sasha Cohen. Rickey will tell her Rickey doesn’t fall on the big stage and will show her Rickey’s World Series rings to prove it. Rickey will win because Rickey is patient and will wait out all the competitors. Rickey will lull them to sleep with uninspired play, then turn it on and show them all Rickey’s boss. Then Rickey will do talk shows and say how if Rickey can win on Survivor, Rickey still deserves to be playing major league baseball. And sadly, since multiple teams will probably be starting a guy with on base percentage around .310, Rickey will be right.

The Butcher Marathon: The marquee event, General Managers of sports teams try to routinely kill their franchise by any means necessary. The caveat is that they must do these things while inexplicably keeping their jobs. Some previous winners who surprisingly flopped out this year are Glen Sather and Elgin Baylor.

Bronze: Allan Baird, Kansas City Royals:
The general manager of baseball’s worst franchise. If it wasn’t for the fact they’re the Royals and nobody cares, more people would wonder how he still has a job. As it stands now, I think Rob Neyer is the only media writer outside of KC notices, but then he’s a Royals fan. So how bad is Baird? He acquired Terrance Long (.279/.321/.378/699) and allowed his manager to bat him third. Joe McEwing (.239/.263/.294/557) was on the roster for the entire season last year. Two of his prize signings this year are Mark Grudzalanek and Doug Mientkiewicz. It should be noted however, Baird wouldn’t have made the list had medal lock Mike Milbury of the New York Islanders not disqualified himself by announcing his resignation effective at the end of the year. But have no fear Islander fans, Mike is probably headed to the Butcher Hall of Fame. Ten years worth of ineptitude is hard to top.

Note: Rickey Henderson probably would like the world to know Rickey is a better player than Terrance Long and Joe McEwing put together. Again sadly, Rickey is probably right.

Silver: Isiah Thomas, New York Knicks: An upset! Most people felt for sure Zeke had this locked up. But the judges construed the drafting of Channing Frye, Nate Robinson and David Lee, coupled with the acquisition of a first round pick in the Jalen Rose deal, as positive moves. Isiah made a furious rally by trading for Stevie Franchise, figuring there was no way he could lose if he acquired a carbon copy of his shoot first, no defense point guard, for the second year in a row. Sadly for Thomas, that could only put him on close but not equal footing with the Gold Medalist.


Gold: Matt Millen, Detroit Lions: Unquestionably the WORST front office man in sports, it boggles my mind every day that Millen still has a job. Considering he had no track record coming in, there’s no logical reason Millen’s got to hire and fire three coaches all while accumulating the worst record in the NFL over his tenure. Three top ten picks. Three wide receivers. No idea what to do with Joey Harrington. No offensive line. Drew Brees or not Drew Brees? That’s the question now. But if you were Brees, why would you ever set foot near this train wreck? At least the Knicks have a decent young big man. What do the Lions have? Millen’s not even sure. By the way, he got a five year extension this year. And that’s why Millen deserved the gold.

And that about wraps it up for this year’s Infamous Games. There were a few surprises, a couple of upsets but thankfully no judging controversies. Don’t fret however. Those these games are officially over for this year, athletes, executives and journalists will continue to go for the gold, and give us plenty of non sport related stuff to write about. It’s the entertainment value of sports which goes beyond the thrill of the game itself. The drama of failure is one of the biggest draws. People like to see athletes give it their all and triumph, but they also love the slips, falls and crashes along the way. Don’t believe me? Well ponder this…

Do you really think people watch NASCAR to see thirty grown men drive in a circle for three hours? Or do you think the possibility of a firey car crash might have a little something to do with it?

1 Comments:

Blogger Bryan Koch said...

You summed up what Bill Simmons has become quite well; the only error in your mimicry is that Simmons would have needed about 33,056 words to write it.

2:02 PM  

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