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Thursday, December 31, 2009

The 2009 Korkie Awards

2009 is over. Wow. I feel like it just started... twelve months ago. But still. It went by fast... Not any faster than any other year (excluding leap years). But still.

Our blog has seen a lot of changes since January 1st. We used to be Corked Bats and changed to Korked Bats. We used to have 2 writers and now have 5. With help from our readers we were able to get our very own Korked Bats Radio Show. And to cap off a great year, ESPN's SportsNation named us their Site Of The Day on December 11th. It was fun. But we expect 2010 to be even better. We have been talking about it for a long time, but are finally starting to take strides towards moving our site to (stay tuned).

But enough of us tooting our own horn, we want to focus on the best (and worst) of 2009. Which is why we are introducing the first annual Korkie Awards. Leave us a comment below if you agree of disagree with any of the awards or if you feel like we forgot one. Or if you have a category that should be added, comment and let us know!

So here they are, the first annual Korkie Awards!

Best Patriotic Moment We Forgot About

Joey Chestnut Winning Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest
Nothing says America more than obesity. Nothing says obesity more than eating contests. Thank you, Joey Chestnut for showing us how to become obese faster.

Best Scandal That
We Forgot About
The Rick Pitino Fiasco
Rick Pitino should send Tiger Woods a thank you card. Before Tiger wrecked his car pulling out of his driveway, Rick had the craziest sex scandal in the sports world (and that's saying a lot due to how many sex scandals we had this year in sports.)

Fattest Unemployed Coach
Mark Mangino
Another example of coaches mistreating their players. Mike Leach got fired for putting one of his players in a closet for a few hours. kU's Mark Mangino got fired for EATING one of his players.

Oldest Unemployed Coach
Bobby Bowden
At least Bobby Bowden has one thing to look forward to... early retirement! Errr, well, late early retirement, I guess? He's older than most people.

Ugliest Son of an
Unemployed Coach
Charlie Weis Jr.
Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for recently fired Notre Dame head coach, Charlie Weis, he has to come home to this.

Best Looking Tiger Woods Mistress
#9 Loredana Jolie
Number Nine, Loredana Jolie, is by far the most, only attractive mistress Tiger had. However, anyone is a step up from the work of his father. YIKES!

Best "What the?!" Moment
Brett Favre Comes Out Of Retirement... Again
When Brett Favre retired back in February, I refused to write a tribute post about him until August when it would be made official that he was retired. Good thing I didn't waste my time. He has since sparked other people to do the same.

Best "Heavyweights"
Movie Moment
This F-1 Road Race
"Wow, go karts! How many times can you go on the go karts?"
"As much as you want, Gerry. But be careful, they can be addicting. Ha!"
(Gerry shows a grinning smirk while being squeezed by his dad who looks a lot like Dr. Phil.)
This shot is from an F-1 Road Race earlier this year and it eerily resembles the scene at the end of Heavyweights when Gerry truly believed he could fly.

Second Best "Heavyweights"
Movie Moment
These Girls Running On The Boise State Of Tracks
It's nearly impossible to beat the kids from Camp MVP. "They can keep their washboard stomachs AND their oily muscles I don't want 'em!"

Highest Career Moment
Michael Phelps Smoking Weed
Michael Phelps' bong extravaganza ended getting him suspended from the US Swimming Team for 3 months. That's 3 months of relaxation from swimming for him. I'm sure he enjoyed it.

Karate Fighter Who
Looks Most Like
Shawn William Scott
This Guy
Who knew Stiffler was good at karate? Although, maybe that's a girl in blue.

Most Embarrassing
GQ Photoshoot
Tim Tebow's GQ Photoshoot
I wouldn't be surprised if Tebow actually practiced like this, in football pants and no shirt. This photo shoot helps to explain why Urban Meyer is so sad that he is leaving. Tebow won this Korkie, barely beating Mark Sanchez.

Most Embarrassing
Tila Teqila and Shawne Merriman
You'd be lying if you said you didn't say, "Wait... Shawne Merriman is dating Tila Tequila?!" when news broke that she was allegedly choked by her then boyfriend Shawne. This helped to solidify the fact that Shawne's Shot at Love had ended.

Most Secondary
NCAA Violations
Lane Kiffin
What would a Korked Bats post be without an easy shot at Lane Kiffin? Numerous rookie mistakes by the Volunteer's head coach has given us a lot to talk about on our site this year.

Most Severe
Case of PMS

Worst Cartoon
Character Name
Foghorn Leghorn
I wish I was at the Loony Toons pitch meeting for this character: "Ok, I've drawn this human sized chicken that has a stuttering problem. I have narrowed my choices for a name down to Foghorn Leghorn or Figlip Biglip."

Best Dog Fighting
Criminal To Get A
Second Chance In The NFL
Michael Vick
There really isn't anyone else who could have won this Korkie.

Fastest Name Usain Bolt
The guys name is Usain Bolt. Usain sounds like Insane. Bolt is like lightning. So basically his name is American for Insane Lightning. That is one. Fast. Name.

Fastest Person Usain Bolt
This picture says it all. He can run 100 meters in under 9.6 seconds. I can't even get off the sofa in under 9.6 seconds.

Lowest I.Q. To
Rushing Yards Ratio
Chris Johnson
As of December 31st, 2009, Chris Johnson is 128 yards away from becoming only the 6th player in NFL history and he'll be the 1st player in NFL history to have an I.Q. lower than his yards per carry. (5.8 yards per carry this season)

Most Deceiving Tattoo The Tattoo On This Girl
Words aren't necessary for this award/picture combo.

Best Game UConn vs. Syracuse in the Big East Tournamnet
Last year the Big East had by far the best college basketball in the country and two of it's top teams faced off in an instant classic. Tied at the end of regulation, the game went on to go to 6 overtimes! Each team had numerous players foul out and the only option left was walk ons. To read our post about this epic battle click here.

Most Random
Championship MVP
Hideki Matsui
With a lineup that includes Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Johnny Damon and a pitching rotation that includes C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte. The guy who wins World Series MVP is Hideki Matsui?!

Most Hated Kid On
A College Campus
Adam James
The son of ESPN College Football Analyst Craig James, is the player who was allegedly locked in a dark electric closet for 3 hours after being ruled out of practice with a concussion which eventually led to the firing of Texas Tech's head coach Mike Leach, who was without question the most successful coach Texas Tech has EVER had. Next time you get locked in a closet by your successful head coach, just keep it to yourself.

Best Sports
YouTube Video

Best Movie
Ok, I'll admit, this wasn't the BEST movie of the year, but it was pretty gosh darn funny! This movie flew under the radar big time. This movie also taught me it's time to nut up or shut up!

Best Movie You
Probably Haven't Seen
This movie had it all... Well, all but action and adventure. And musical. And foreign film. Ok, it didn't have it all, but it DID have comedy, romance, comedy, and "Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco.

Best Movie According
To Everyone Else
I haven't seen this movie yet. But from what everyone has Tweeted, it's amazing. I was also told to see it in IMAX 3-D. So, if you're like me and haven't seen it yet, come see it with me in IMAX 3-D.

Best Sports Blog That Nobody Reads
Korked Bats
We're honored to win this award... We think.

Thank you all for reading Korked Bats. We honestly do appreciate it. Nothing we have accomplished in 2009 could have been possible with out our readers. We honestly appreciate it more than we can type. We look forward to making 2010 an even better year with more great accomplishments.

Have a
Happy New Year
and Be Safe!

Korked Bats' Athletes of the Decade - Part 2

Here's the feedback I received after my first post about sportsmen of the decade:

"" -Anonymous

"" -Nobody

"" -Unattributed

Judging by everybody's responses, I think it's safe to say yesterday's post was a bit lengthy. And that's fine. I knew it was too long. But it was either break yesterday's posts into two parts and release this thing in way too many installments, or do what we did.

We opted for the latter because, well, it was easier. So there.

Best Athlete in
a Team Sport

I briefly touched on this in yesterday's post, but this group of athletes refers to the best athletes this decade that not only excelled individually, but also as a member of a team, whatever that really means. The first group that we ran through yesterday was the best athletes this decade that were not such great teammates, but still individually outstanding.

Yesterday's list was probably the most lesser of the three, but the last two are, to me, essentially in the same tier.

I did everything I could to narrow this list down, but I couldn't find any way to have less than six. Also, with the exception of player number one, the argument could be made that any player belongs in any of the five remaining slots.

At any rate, here we go.

6. Martin Brodeur
No NHL goalie has started more games between the posts than Brodeur. No goalie has ever had more shutouts, either. Now, I don't claim to know much about hockey. Really, I know nothing. But people that know far more about hockey than me seem to think that those are two pretty incredible records to hold, and I tend to agree with them.

He also won two Stanley Cups this decade and, although I've made it quite clear that championships don't carry as much weight with me as some other thinkers, he had a lot to do with that. Again, according to people that know a lot more about hockey than me, a great goaltender in hockey might be the most effective position in any team sport in terms of winning games by themselves. And that makes sense to me.

*I forgot to mention on yesterday's post that the whole substituting a '3' for the 'E' in NUMB3RS was intentionally lame and done, really, just because I find it funny. I don't really think it's clever or cool or really likable.

I felt like it would've been a bit near-sighted of me to only take players from the NBA, NHL and MLB and I really do believe that Brodeur belongs on this list. I put him at six because, unfortunately, I just don't know enough about hockey to argue that he belongs in front of any of the next five guys.

I'm sure there are plenty of smart people out there that could argue that he belongs at number one, but I just don't know enough.

That's called transparency, friends, and according to some old, dated journalists called Kovach and Rosenstiel, every journalist needs it.

*I considered putting a soccer player in this spot, but no footballer dominated the decade like Brodeur. Ronaldo dominated the start, Ronaldihno the middle part, and Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo have split the last third.

5. Tom Brady
I've never been super-wooed by Tom Brady the way the rest of the world has. I understand the draw to revering him. He's set some single-season passing records. He's won three Super Bowls and played in four. He's stupidly handsome and married to one of the most coveted women in the world.

The fun thing about sports, though, is that sometimes you'll take to some people, and sometimes you don't. I found ways to defend Kobe Bryant, even when he was indefensible, and I've just never taken to Brady.

I guess the numbers are a good place to start as to why he doesn't do it for me. A lot of people will tell you that the most important statistic for a starting quarterback is wins. I'm just not the type to always follow dated logic. I happen to think that some of those numbers that are often discounted are more telling than just how many games a QB wins. I could be wrong but, again, this is my post. If you disagree, that's what we have the comments section for.

Anyway, Brady has only had 3 seasons of 4,000+ passing yards and 25+ passing TDs. You may think those numbers are shallow. That's fine. Again, I don't. At any rate, when there have been QBs out there that have won nearly as many, or more, games than Brady while posting better passing numbers, I feel obligated to put them in front of him.

And you can't really blame those numbers on the Pats being a run oriented team, as they've only had a 1,000 yard rusher twice since he took over in 2001, and only a 1,200+ yard rusher once.*

At any rate, I view the regular season to be more statistically significant than the postseason, as there are far more games to sample from. Also, to those that love to make the 'Big Game Tom' argument, Brady has lost the Super Bowl and lost to the team everyone argues he owns in his last two trips to the playoffs, respectively.

*Not coincidentally, the year that Corey Dillon ran for over 1,600 yards was the Pats' second best regular season, behind only the one when they had three receivers that would've been a number one option on most teams, plus an offensive line that didn't let anyone get to Brady...until the Super Bowl.

Brady definitely belongs in this group. Even if his numbers don't completely jump off of the page, they are still rather impressive. And there is something to be said for those drives he set up in the Super Bowl.

I just can't shake the modest statistics from five of his eight seasons as a starter, and the fact that he shouldn't have even made it to his first Super Bowl, coughtuckplaycough. If the Raiders had made it to the Super Bowl in '01 like they deserved to,* Brady would've only won two of three Super Bowls.**

Now I realize that 'only' two Super Bowls sounds outlandish, but who knows where things go if the refs had made the right call on the Tuck Play. Maybe the Pats go back to Bledsoe. Keep in mind that, although the Pats had a fantastic season with Brady at QB, Bledsoe was still a top-tier NFL QB and Brady, while impressive in winning all of those game, wasn't individually incredible. Maybe the Pats trade him if the fumble stands? I'm not sure.

Also, the coach argument can't be overlooked, as Belichick might be one of the best ever, note the fact that Brady had great defenses in his Super Bowl winning years.

I guess I just can't shake all of this stuff. The sum of the parts add up to put Brady behind some truly incredible athletes. There really isn't any shame in that. Really.

And if that really does upset you, Tom, I'll direct you over your right shoulder where your lingerie supermodel wife is waiting to jump your bones.

*It's crazy that the Tuck play happened almost eight years ago, isn't it? I feel like it's been forgotten, but you can really play the 'What-if' game for hours if the tuck call goes the other way. I would like to see Spock about some red matter to figure all of this out.

**You'll have to forgive me for all the random musing, but I need to vent something really quick: If you ever hear a Pats fan complain that Eli Manning's escape and the ensuing helmet catch by David Tyree was a fluke play, and thus the Pats should've won Super Bowl XLII, feel free to slap them from me. The Tuck Play was nothing less than divine intervention, so the Pats were owed a bit of bad luck. Plus, at least the helmet catch was a legal play made on the field. The Tuck Play was decided by a clueless referee and a fuzzy issue in the rule book. The Raiders deserved the win.

4. Tim Duncan
No doubt, Tim Duncan will go down as the greatest power forward of all time. He was actually ahead of the next guy on the list for most of the decade, and I can explain why he's recently fallen behind when we get there.

Anyway, Timmy's 21.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per contest this decade are impressive enough before you figure in how dynamic Duncan's post game was, the fact that he invented post moves, the way he made the 15-foot bank shot cool again,* and the way he was able to command and pass out of double teams.

Duncan was also, along with Kevin Garnett, the most consistent post defender of the decade, and averaged at least 2 blocks a game each season except for two- and he posted totals of 1.9 and 1.7 blocks a contest in those seasons.

I should also point out Duncan's back to back MVPs in '01-'02 and '02-'03, his three rings this decade, and his two Finals MVP trophies. Also, for all of you PER buffs out there, Duncan has been incredibly efficient this decade, especially given his terrible free throw shooting.

*A lot of people find Duncan to be boring, and I see where they are coming from, even if I disagree. Jordan has forever put an end to mainstream sports culture's ability to find enjoyment in watching an incredibly fundamental big man get 22 points a night by exercising 1,234,098 different post moves. I suppose his calm voice and chill demeanor on the floor don't help. I can't help but love the guy, but I get it. He's kind of boring compared to high-flying wing players.

If such a thing as 'being a great winner' exists, Duncan is a 100 on NBA live in that attribute. He's so dynamic as a power forward that he can help his team when in a billion different ways. Again, I could easily argue that he belongs at number two on this list, but the fun in this stuff is creating arguments.

At any rate, Duncan's team-first attitude coupled with his individual brilliance should make him one of the most memorable athletes of the decade. But, for some reason, he kind of gets lost in the shuffle with all the Kobes and Shaqs and LeBrons out there.

As an aspiring journalist, it's infinitely interesting to me to see how an athlete's interaction with the media shapes his (or her) public persona. By all accounts, Duncan is a lovely guy to chat with and interview, and I would wager that you could have some fascinating basketball conversations with him.

But I would almost say that Duncan is too far on the other side of the media-friendly spectrum. He's so non-controversial that he's just a little too forgettable. If you look at the NBAers that most people discuss as the players of the decade, you'll notice a recurring theme with all of them: an edge.

Duncan has been so non-controversial, so well-behaved, and so business-oriented (I just set a record for hyphenated-style words in a sentence. Ah, there's another!) that he's just become lost to the average fan.

I love the guy and, again, he was ahead of the next guy on our list for most of the decade. I hope I get the opportunity to meet him someday because, damn, he's smart.

3. Kobe Bryant
Ok, can we all agree that I'm showing a fair amount of non-bias in putting him at three?
With the exception of LeBron James,* no player this decade has filled up the stat sheet like Kobe Bean Bryant. He's currently averaging over 30 points per game, something he's doing for the fourth time this decade. Despite playing most of the decade in the Triangle offense (an offense not conducive to really high assist totals for any individual players), Kobe averaged 5 or more assists a game eight seasons, and at least 5 rebounds each year.

In NBA history, only four players other than Kobe have averaged at least 25 points, 5 rebounds and 4.5 assists a game for their career: one is LeBron, one is the best ever, one is the NBA logo, and the other remains the only player in NBA history to average a triple double for an entire NBA season. Pretty good company.

Then there's all that six-NBA-Finals-appearances-four-rings-Finals-MVP-and-regular-season-MVP business.

*You might wonder where LeBron is on this list. I felt it best to leave him off altogether, not because I disrespect him, but because he missed the first three seasons of the decade. I realize I put Barry Bonds on my other list, but he's only missed the last two seasons, and I just like writing about him. Sorry. Again, transparency, friend, has got to be worth something.

No player has vacillated more times this decade from yesterday's list to today's list than number 8, er, 24, but I ultimately decided that Kobe spent more time this decade helping his team than sabotaging it, and that's good enough for me.

Now, I mentioned earlier that I had Duncan ahead of Bryant most of the decade, but what pushed Kobe ahead was his ability to adapt. He's gone from an athletic wing that dominated games with his length, quickness and hops, to a perimeter player with an improved three-point touch and devastating foot work to essentially a power forward playing shooting guard in the last chunk, punishing guards down on the block.

And the incredible thing is that with each new innovation, Kobe was still one of the top two or three players in the NBA. He's just as effective now at age 31 as he was as a 21 year old.* Duncan spent most of the decade as one of the top two or three players in the league, but has faded over the last three or so years. He hasn't reinvented himself to stay at the top of his game.

All the while, Kobe's remained one of the best perimeter defensive players in the league, and should go down as one of the best ever in that category as well.

Was peak Duncan better than peak Kobe? Maybe, but Kobe has been able to stretch his peak out for so much longer that I couldn't, in good conscience, leave Duncan in front.

*A fun debate I like to have in my head because, well, I'm as big a nerd about sports as someone else may be about comic books -- who would you take in a game of 1-on-1: 21 year old Kobe or 31 year old Kobe? Do 31 year old Kobe's smarts outdo 21 year old Kobe's sheer athleticism? I don't know the answer, but how many players in NBA history could we have this argument about? The short list is Jordan, Bird, Russell, Chamberlain, West and, bizarrely, Steve Nash. Discuss amongst yourselves.

2. Peyton Manning
You might think that Tom Brady's NUMB3RS section earlier left a bit to be desired. That was intentional, because I wanted to compare the numbers of these two guys.

Peyton: 11.5
Tom: 10.25

Those are the wins per season for each QBs team with them as the starter. Now, again, I'm not as in love with QB wins as other thinkers, but I'm going to break down the argument that Brady is a better winner.

Look, I get it. Tom has three rings, Peyton one. Tom has 14 playoff wins, Peyton seven. But, look a little closer and you'll notice a few things.

For one, throw out the tuck game. Tom lost that game and was gift-wrapped a win. Then, the 2003 Pats were the tops in the NFL in points per game allowed, and the 2004 Pats were second.

As a matter of fact, the two years that the Pats finished outside of the top 10 in scoring defense- 2002 and 2005- the Pats missed the playoffs, and lost by two possessions to the Jake Plummer-lead Broncos, respectively.

Peyton, on the other hand, didn't get such defensive help earlier in the decade. For the fist five years (00-04), you know, when everyone was saying the Pats OWNED Peyton, the Colts had ZERO top 10 scoring defenses.

Since 2005, when the Pats' defense started going south and the Colts' defense started improving, Tom is 5-3 in the playoffs and Peyton 4-3. Not a ton of difference, especially when you figure in the fact that the Colts beat the Pats in their only match-up since the Colts have actually had a defense.

All of this, and I neglected to mention that the Patriots' most notable win over the Colts, the AFC Championship Game in '03 in which Peyton was picked four times, featured the Pats' secondary frisking Colts receivers so aggressively that the NFL changed it's downfield contact rules following the game.

So, even if Tom had more postseason success than Peyton, a lot of that can be explained by terrible defense and, as much as I hate to call on stuff like this, poor refereeing.

We won't quite call it a wash, but it's way closer than it's made out to be. Then you figure this in:

Peyton: 31.4
Tom: 28.1

Those are the touchdown totals per season. Then there's that one thin where Peyton has passed for over 4,000 yards nine times to Brady's three.

So, Tom has been the better 'winner' (again, if that really exists) but by a fairly slim margin, while Peyton has won far more regular season games and is definitively better at doing stuff like scoring touchdowns for his team, and moving them down the field. You know, that stupid stuff that no one really thinks matters.

Ok, so if you're head doesn't hurt and your eyes aren't crossed from reading all that, read on!

I'll try to keep this short, because I feel like the statistics argument was pretty comprehensive.

The bottom line is, Peyton could go down as the greatest QB of all time. He's been remarkably consistent in not missing a start all decade (whereas Brady missed an entire season due to injury- thanks Bernard Pollard!- and didn't play in '01. I don't penalize him for that, necessarily, but the fact that Peyton has been so consistent all decade can't be overlooked), and, let's face it, Tony Dungy doesn't really stack up very well with the Hoodie.

Don't get me wrong. Tony is a great guy and all that, but comparing him to Belichick is like comparing Drexler to Magic.

I'm a Peyton guy. Love watching him audible. Loved him on SNL. Love his commercials. Love him. As long as its pertinent, I'll continue to bring it up- I try to keep bias out, but I'm really partial to Peyton. I'd like to think my argument is sound, though.

1. Tim Tebow
Nah, I'm just messin' with you. I'm just never going to stop making jokes about him.

1. Albert Pujols
...stack up with the all-time greats. His career OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) is 1.72 times the league average, and it ranks him behind only Ruth, Williams, Bonds, Gehrig, Hornsby and Mantle. And, unlike any of those guys, he's done it all in our little decade.

If you like more traditional stats, Pujols has posted a line of .310+/30+/100+ each year of his career. He's won three MVPs and probably should've won more.

Then there's this -- of the 23 players in baseball history to post a better career batting average than Pujols' .333, only Gehrig, Ruth and Williams posted better career slugging percentages. Basically, that tells us that Pujols is one of the greatest EVER power/contact combo guys, and the greatest in some 50 years. So yeah, he probably belongs at the top

Look, I'm a Royals fan. Inherently, I am to despise Pujols because everyone knows that the Royals hate the Cardinals and the Cardinals don't know that the Royals exist. So understand that a fan like myself thinking Pujols is the unequivocal team sports player of the decade must mean something.

I don't know how else to spell how how consistent his dominance it's been, but understand that Pujols, like it or not, is probably the best pure hitter since Ted Williams. And he plays for the team I hate most in sports.

The hell will never end.

*I don't know that any particular credit is due to Pujols for never being linked to performance-enhancers, but I suppose it is worth mentioning.

For the sake of humanity, we'll end this post here and get our final list- athletes in individual sports- out in the next day or two.

Again, feel free to comment- no really, feel free, you don't have to have a log-in name- and we'll be back to finish this fight.*

**I figured I'd work a Halo reference in, as this is a decade review blog, of sorts.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Korked Bats' Athletes of the Decade

Consider this: I want you to tell me which is more comedically entertaining to you: Mike "The Situation" from MTV's Jersey Shore (arguably the seminal reality TV personality of the decade) doing his, uh, thing, or, say, Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy (arguably the seminal comedic film character of the decade) lamenting the loss of his dog Baxter over the telephone in a public phone booth.

We could argue about this for hours. The easy answer is, of course, to say that it's Burgundy. He's being intentionally funny, right? His character was honed, shaped and contrived. A lot of brilliant writing goes into his comedy, along with some of the more outlandish improv to ever hit film.* His comedy takes actual talent, and comedy of talent is always better than comedy of unfortunate irony, right?

*I mean, come on, do you really think that 'Sweet Lincoln's Mullet' was actually written into a script? Really?

But I could make an incredibly compelling argument that The Situation is far more funny than Ron Burgundy. His character is, sadly, just as contrived as a fictional character. And there's something, to me, disturbingly hilarious about watching a real person as contrived as The Situation interact in a (somewhat) real world setting.* And, dang, I can't stop watching Jersey Shore because whether it's intentional (the exception) or unintentional (the norm), The Situation makes me laugh at least ten times an episode.

Then there are other arguments to be made for reality characters in general. It's something new every week, right? Instead of one character serving one script in a two hour film, we get 18 or so episodes of reality characters. So, you continue to get new material from that person for four months.

*As contrived as reality TV has become, The Situation transcends its attempted control because, well, he was a contrived character long before he went on Jersey Shore. Watching him is truly fascinating.

Obviously, there is no right answer here. The bottom line is, because the contexts of those two separate mediums are so vastly different, it's like comparing apples to oranges, or rather guidos to aimless journalists. The criterion for rating these two characters are almost counterintuitive in some ways, so it's terribly difficult to truly define which is truly funnier.

Now, with that line of thought in mind, answer this for me: which male athlete was more dominant this decade: Albert Pujols or Roger Federer? Which individual sportsmen was the most incredible to watch: Tiger Woods or Kobe Bryant? Who was the best "winner" of the 00's*: Tim Duncan or Lance Armstrong? Who was the better performer: Petyton Manning or Michael Phelps?

*Everybody has their own opinion on what we should call this decade, and honestly, I have zero input. You might think this aside is, thus, pointless (and you are probably right), but I spent at least five minutes trying to come up with a good name for the decade, and I'm absolutely dumbfounded. I've got nothing. Honestly, though, doesn't that make sense for such a weird decade?

Odds are, your initial inclinations were to opt toward the guys in individual sports. It's human nature to do so. We are taught growing up that the most important measuring stick of an athlete is the number of championships they have to their credit, and how much they win.* Naturally, Tiger, Lance, Roger and Mike** stand out because of their excellence in those fields, right? They're winners, pure and simple, and ergo the best four athletes of the decade- in some order.

*Well, second, of course, to how much fun they look like they are having, and how much they look like a kid out there.

**I know I've got to stop with all of these asides before I turn this thing into a novel, but when you group those four names together, they could easily pass for a boy band, right? Someone call Lou Pearlman!

Let's see -- Tiger is the player, naturally. Lance is the one that has overcome adversity. Roger is the international one, and Mike is the one with a drug problem. Let's fire up the band!

But rule me this- if football was comprised solely of throwing a football through moving tires- rudimentary, I know, but just go with me here- wouldn't Peyton likely win every year? Or at least most years? I obviously don't know, but it illustrates how much of this stuff is based on context.

Sure, Tiger won a gazillion majors this decade*, but imagine if it was only his role to hit iron shots, and he was on a team with John Daly (who handles the driver) and, say, Anthony Kim (who handles the putter). Well then what?

*I wonder how many times he won the Players Championship. Zing! Alright, sorry, that'll be my last aside for a while.

I really hope you guys see where I'm going here. If not, I'd probably be best off retiring my laptop right now and going to visit my adviser about a change in major.

Athletes in individual sports are put at such a high advantage in terms of performance, wins, and championships because, except with a few rare exceptions, those athletes are responsible only for themselves. That's it. They perform capably, and more often than not they'll walk away winners.

Tiger Woods has never had to drag Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, Luke Walton and Lamar Odom into Augusta to play the Masters. Roger Federer hasn't ever had to rely on production from Edgar Renteria to win the Aussie Open. Lance Armstrong has never worried about spacing on the court, and how he fits into the offense, and getting his teammates involved, and playing both sides of the ball, and so on.

I realize that I'm probably putting a bit too much thought into this. After all, sportsmen of the decade lists are put together for fun, generally, but as a blogger it's inherent in me to pick harmless things apart needlessly. Plus this is fun, right?

In that spirit, I've broken the whole sportsmen of the decade debate down into several categories. Mainly, because it makes things easier on me, but also because it organizes the athletes well enough so that they're being compared to athletes of a similar ilk.

At any rate, I've broken down the best male athletes of the decade into three categories: Male Athlete in Individual Sport, Individually Talented Male Athlete in a Team Sport and Male Athlete in a Team Sport.

I realize that those last two categories are confusing, but my rationale is basically this: Individually Talented Male Athlete in a Team Sport refers to those guys that are great individual talents, but haven't necessarily meshed well with that whole team thing.*

Male Athlete in a Team Sport refers to guys that have performed incredibly well as a cohesive part of a team.

*A lot of people will argue that this sect of athlete deserves no merit, and I definitely understand and respect that viewpoint. But I very politely disagree. I don't necessarily think that you have to be a great teammate to be a great athlete and performer. Others do, and that's fine. This is just my opinion.

So, now that I've burnt a solid 1,200 words (but you barely noticed, right?!) introducing them, let's delve into the lists.

Introducing, the Convoluted But Definitive Lists of the Best Male* Athletes of the As Yet Unnamed Decade!

*Given the length of this post, I'm going to stop using the term 'male' to identify the athletes. I realize this isn't politically correct, but this post is already far too lengthy the way it is, you know? And I've already wasted SOOOO much needless space with stupid asides and quips and comments about things that are so totally and completely irrelevant to the content of this post, so it's clearly time that I take the necessary steps to stop wasting space, right? I mean, you guys just want to read a 500 word blog post filled with some jokes, and now you're stuck reading some cocky, untrained college kid that thinks people will read his 2,000 word blog post. So, in that frame of mind, we'll go forward- and hopefully stop wasting so much space- by leaving out the word 'male' to identify the athletes. I respect ladies sports, but this one is just about the male ones. If I were to include the ladies, I would be using even MORE space, and I'm sure it'd annoy everyone that I wrote so much. So sorry if that offends anyone, and we'll go forward saving some space.

• • •

Individually Talented
Athlete in a Team Sport

I don't think this category takes much explanation. You guys know the type of guy I'm referring too. Those great talents that do great things, but are quite often referred to as 'selfish.' Again, I do think these guys deserve some recognition, but this list is definitely the least distinguished of the three, and the one most athletes would likely not want to be a part of.

I start with the fifth best, then work my way down to number one.

5. Allen Iverson
Among all NBA players to have averaged 26 ppg for their career, Iverson's 6.2 assists per game trail only Jerry West (a top 10 all-time NBAer) and LeBron James (could go down as a top 5 all-time NBAer). He was the '00-01 MVP, and carried the Sixers by himself* to the '01 Finals, and won a game against the Shaq-Kobe Lakers to boot.

For his career, he's 23rd in NBA history in FG made, 13th in FT attempted (Keep in mind that the guy is shorter than 6-feet tall. Of the players in front of him on the list, seven were post players, and the other six were at lest 6-4. Iverson is tough as nails. Ugh, I should've just made this an aside. Alas!). He's 12th in career steals, and 36th in assists.

His 26.95 ppg rank him 6th all time, and he's 17th in career points. He did most of this damage in the decade, and those per game totals were better before he fell apart in 2008.

*Philly's starting line-up for the series: Iverson, Aaron McKie, Dikembe Mutombo, Tyrone and Jurmaine Jones. Uh, yeah, Iverson was stupidly good that year.

Like every player on this first list, Iverson has gaudy career statistics. Also, like every player on this list, he was individually outstanding this decade. And, like every player on this list except- except one- he never won any championships.

Now, I'm not typically a proponent of blaming one player in a team sport for his team never winning a championship. There are so many factors that figure into a world championship (especially luck) that it's unfair to hold one player completely responsible.

No, what lands Iverson on this list isn't the fact that he's never won a ring, it's the way he's always put himself first, at the expense of his teammates, his coach, the trainer, whatever. But again, this list isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sure it's not ideal, but Allen Iverson is right there with Isaiah Thomas and Tiny Archibald as the greatest 6-feet tall (or shorter) players to ever come through the NBA.

But then there's this.

4a and 4b: Randy Moss and Terrell Owens
Two of the most talented and productive receivers in NFL history, I had a hard time separating these guys. Moss has 11,664 yards and 120 TDs this decade, and Owens has 11,579 and 113. All at the top of the 00's.

They are both right up there in most of the all-time receiving categories, and the were the definitive first and second best (in some order) receivers of the decade. Owens was more consistent, I suppose, but Moss' best seasons definitely trump TO's best seasons. That's why I didn't bother trying to distinguish them.

Just as obvious as their talent for catching footballs and scoring them are their talents for upsetting teammates, leaving teams on bad terms, and getting fined by the league for touchdown celebrations.

It's fitting that these guys were the two best wideouts of the decade, because they both symbolize the modern wide receiver- both the good and the bad. I know a lot of people argue that both guys are very misunderstood, and I would certainly buy that if their issues had only come up once or twice. But we have a decade's worth of evidence that both guys are great at both scoring touchdowns and finding the doors out of town.

2. Shaquille O'Neal
Finally, some controversy!
22.6 points a game. 10.4 rebounds a game. A gaudy 58% from the floor for the decade. Of course, those numbers are drug down by the seasons after 2006. For the first half of the decade, there was nothing (beside the charity strip) that Shaq couldn't overpower. We won three rings with the Lakers and one with the Heat.

He's Shaq. He's the man. We know it. But...

You'll remember earlier that I don't weight championships as heavily. It's just my own personal thing, and you're 100% fine in thinking that I'm wrong, because I very well could be.

But as gregarious and lovable and agreeable as Shaq comes off, I've long thought that he was masking a darker side. Part of this probably comes from the fact that I've always defended Kobe following the break-up after the '04 finals. I used a fruitless 5 trillion words trying to explain that, once.

But when you look back at the decade in retrospect, you'll notice that Shaq has been traded three times. Two of those teams, in my opinion, have been better without him,* and there have been whispers that his TV show, "Shaq Vs.", was originally Steve Nash's idea, and Shaq stole it from him.

Then couple in the fact that his four championships have all come with one of the top three guards in the NBA playing beside him, and that the Suns had their worst year since pre-D'Antoni in Shaq's only full year there, and we're on to something.

This very well could be an emotion pick. I don't claim to be completely despondent of that business. But even if he doesn't completely belong on this list, I feel like the argument needs to be made.

*The '07 Heat obviously don't count because they were without D-Wade as well, but the 08-09 Heat were pretty good without Shaq.

1. Barry Bonds
...are freaking terrifying. I'm leaving the steroids business out of this for a few reasons. Mainly, there has been no definitive study showing exactly how steroids (or PEDs, or whatever) improve performance, and I would wager a fairly strong guess that they don't make make strike zone knowledge any better, nor do they improve hand-eye coordination.

Having said that, Bonds put together one of the great statistical stretches in baseball history earlier in the decade, when he posted a four year stretch (01-04) where his OPS (on base plus slugging) was DOUBLE the league average each year. Four straight years! Unfortunately, I don't have access to some of the better statistical websites- so this would be terribly difficult to verify- but that has to be one of the top two or three four-year stretches in baseball history.

You guys know the rest of the numbers.

I nearly include baseball as an individual sport, because it really is. There is nowhere near as much gamesmanship involved as other team sports.* But, alas, you do have to have production from your teammates to win championships (although Bonds nearly won the 2002 World Series by himself).

Now, to remind you, I'm not discounting Bonds because he didn't win championships. Baseball is the team sport where one player's effect can best be minimized, and some of the all-time greats never won a ring.**

It's more just because he's just such a deplorable, unlikeable fellow. I truly believe that the way an athlete interacts with the media goes a long way for his reception. They are, after all, the ones that control how he is portrayed in a lot of ways. And Barry despises the media. Now, is that fair? Probably not.

I think we can all probably agree, though, that if Barry Bonds played in a free-flowing team sport, you wouldn't like to play with him, would you? Sometimes, that's all you need to know.

*You may think otherwise. Again, that's fine. We're just ideologically different, and there's no problem with that.

** Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Dick Allen and Ty Cobb just to name a few.

• • •

Naturally, this post needs to be broken up. If you made it to the end of this, please feel free to comment with your thoughts. I'm incredibly curious as to what everyone else thinks about this stuff, and it's all terribly fun to argue about.

Lists two and three will be out tomorrow, so be sure to come back!

Let Me Be Frank With You...

Dogs aren't humans.
Watching the Independence Bowl two nights ago (whew, what a nail-biter) I heard the announcers reveal that Russ, the interim UGA mascot (R.I.P. Uga VII), had his own room in the team's hotel. Dumb. Good thing Michael Vick chose to play his college ball at Virginia Tech and not Georgia. If not we would probably be on Uga XXVII by now.

Adam Morrison serves
good purpose.
I would first like to apologize for posting this picture because, if you are like me, you feel like you need to take a shower every time you look at this guy. There is no way he wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror, and says "Ok, I look presentable today." At least he has shaved the dry, cobweb-like nest on his head since entering the league, but make no mistake about it, he is still repulsive. If you remember, Adam was selected THIRD in the 2006 NBA Draft. THIRD! Good idea with the draft pick MJ (Morrison was the first player drafted by Michael Jordan with the Charlotte Bobcats). Here's what he is averaging this season for the Lakers: 2.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg, & 0.5 apg. This look was accepted when he was good in college, but now it should just be illegal. The saying "look good, feel good, play good" must work with opposite effects also!

I hope the Colts
lose their first
playoff game.

Not that I have anything against them, but I am about sick of teams pulling starters in competitive games, especially when your first playoff game isn't happening for another three weeks. Add that to the fact that the Colts had a GREAT shot at a perfect regular season and the move just doesn't make much sense to me. And c'mon now, keep us fantasy owners in mind when you decide to pull some of the top scorers in the league. I don't like you right now, Jim Caldwell.

U93ivddvBmzbgzio2CU9Qu30o1_500.jpg image by cjdalg
No one touches
the Shaqtus.

Enough said.

Car turning at from major road onto minor. Car is indicating and waiting. Arrow shows path to ensure corner is not cut
If you are a slow turner,
we can't be friends.

There's nothing that grinds my gears quite as much as having to slam my breaks because the car in front of me decides to come to a complete stop followed by a total lack of acceleration in an attempt to pull of a drivers-ed-esque turn. This whole process usually takes upwards 9 seconds. How inconsiderate. It's almost as bad as those people who don't wave when you let them go or those pedestrians than show zero hustle while you wait for them to cross the road. People these days...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Texas Tech Player Comes Out Of The Closet

It will be hard for Texas Tech Head Coach Mike Leach to remember the Alamo (Bowl) this year.


Because he has been suspended from coaching in it.

As many of you have heard by now, Mike Leach totally got Mangino-ed by one of his players. Adam James, a redshirt sophomore wide receiver, came forward stating that he was mistreated after an injury.

So basically, Mike Leach is getting suspended for adding insult to injury.

I mean, what's next?! A coach getting fired because he weighs too much?!

Oh wait... Oops. Sorry. I forgot.

To make a long story short, James, who is the son of ESPN College Football Analyst Craig James, got a concussion in practice on December 16th. The next day, he was instructed not to practice because of the concussion and an elevated heart rate. So Leach did what any regular collegiate head coach would do and get him to rub some dirt on it, walk it off, and make him sit in a dark empty electrical closet for three hours.

Which seems completely logical.

I mean, the kid had a concussion. What do you do when someone's brain slams into their skull hard enough to concuss them? You move them "to the darkest place, to clean out the equipment and to make sure that he could not sit or lean." Yes, that's an actual quote from a source close to the James family. That same source said that two days later, Leach said to "put [James] in the darkest, tightest spot. It was in an electrical closet, again, with a guard posted outside."

Forget Tom Emanski, these coaching techniques GET RESULTS!

However, if you think Mike Leach is just going to take this suspension lying down, then you're wrong. The James family went barking up the wrong Crabtree, because Leach is going to fight this.

His lawyer has already come forward with a rebuttal saying James "was placed in an equipment room as it was much cooler and darker" than the practice field "after a doctor had examined him and returned him to the field." His lawyer also said that a trainer was posted outside the door and that James was given ice in the one to two hours in which he was secluded.

Who does Mike Leach and his lawyer think they are? Happy Gilmore?

Virginia Venit:
What's this I hear about you breaking a rake and throwing it in the woods?

Happy Gilmore:
Whaaaat?! I didn't break it. I was just testing it's durability. And then I placed it in the woods because it's made of wood and I just thought he should be with its family.

Only Leach's movie script goes a little more like this:

James Family:
What's this we hear about you throwing our concussed son in an electrical closet for three hours and putting a guard outside so he wouldn't escape?

Mike Leach via his Lawyer:
Whaaaat?! He didn't throw him in there for three hours. He placed him in the electrical closet for one to two hours and placed a trainer outside for convenience. Adam James is such an electic athlete that Mike felt he would feel more at home in an electric closet.

Do we think Mike Leach will be fired? No. Or at least he shouldn't. I mean Mike Leach has done incredible things. For one, he has put Lubbock, Texas on the map. I don't know if any of you have been to Lubbock's website, but that is saying a lot!

So what if he put some half brain dead kid in a closet for a few hours? The kid was probably destined to ride the bench just like his old man anyway. Heck, at lease he didn't break countless NCAA secondary recruiting violations. Or at least he didn't tell his players to go play intermurals brother! Or at least he didn't choke one of his players. Or at least he didn't manipulate his players into taking cortisone shots in their injured knees only to have their knees give out on a sack and after being rushed to the hospital telling the doctor you knew nothing about the knee problems and eventually later on in the season when the team rebeled against him he freaks out and tackles the wide receiver in the locker room only to stand up embarrassed and walk out, never to be heard of again. Ya know, at least he didn't do that.

Not to mention, Leach just signed a five-year, $12.7 million deal in February keeping him at Tech until 2013. That contract includes incentives of a $250,000 bonus if Leach and Tech win the national championship, a $75,000 bonus if Tech participates in a BCS Bowl, a $50,000 bonus if Leach is picked as national coach of the year, and an extra $15 if he can actually get one of his players to sit in a dark closet for over 2 hours.

So, Texas Tech obviously likes Leach.

And if not, at least the state's monthly magazine obviously likes Leach.

And if not, at least these ladies obviously like Leach.

Although, only time will tell. Or maybe ironically Adam's father, Craig, will tell, when the news breaks, what Texas Tech is going to do with head coach Vince Gill. But until that time comes, go concuss yourself and sit in an electrical closet.