We rank 'em. You react. That's how the Daily List rolls.
5/24/2007 11:24:00 PM
The five worst things in sports
Michael Vick seems to often be in the news for the wrong reasons.
Photo by Heinz Kluetmeier, SI
By Jimmy Traina, SI.com
In Wednesday's edition of Hot Clicks, we linked to a story from the San Diego Union Tribune's Nick Canepa, who listed the 10 worst things in sports. Outside of the BCS, I didn't agree with any of Canepa's choices. So I thought I'd offer mine and give you guys a chance to send in yours. Without further ado, the five worst things in sports ...
5. The blotter has overtaken the box score: People much smarter than me are trying to figure out why athletes are getting in trouble at a ridiculous pace, so I’ll leave the psychology aspect of this phenomenon to them. But as a fan, it’s just depressing that we don’t discuss the games and the players' on-field talents as much as we discuss how many times someone has been arrested. Just over the past several weeks, this is what sports fans have to hear about: Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson, Josh Hancock, Elijah Dukes and Michael Vick. One hard-to-fathom story after another.
4. Two weeks off between conference title games and the Super Bowl: Not much to say here. It’s painful not to have football for a week and it’s even more painful to listen to the never-ending hype for the big game. It's one of the worst weeks on the sports calendar.
3. NFL, MLB can’t get TV deals done right: I’m fortunate enough to have DirecTV, so I’m all set with the NFL package. But whenever I talk to an NFL fan who doesn’t have DirecTV, they’re always quick to complain about the fact that the Sunday Ticket isn’t offered on cable. And while MLB barely avoided that scenario at the beginning of this season, there are still way too many games, for a variety of reasons (blackout rules, teams that have exclusive deals with cable companies in their home market) that don’t get shown on Extra Innings. It would make sense, that if you pay for the Extra Innings package, you should get EVERY game. Would Fox’s 3:55 Saturday afternoon ratings really be affected that much if there were a couple of 1 o’clock games on Extra Innings?
2. The media’s obsession with Barry Bonds: I’m well aware of Bonds’ faults. I’m reminded of them approximately every two seconds. But guess what? Bonds is not responsible for every problem in the free world. And guess what else? If he did use steroids (gotta put in “if” for the Time Inc. lawyers), he wasn’t the only one. But since he’s breaking the home run record (and has a big head -- have you heard that knee-slapper?), he’s the one who has to be taken down. Or is it because he’s always been a jerk to the media? Hmmm. Either way, the vendetta seems a tad over the top and the story never changes, even the part where Major League Baseball still can’t prove that Bonds did anything illegal. Yet, Bonds and steroids has been the No. 1 storyline for about three seasons now. I know he’s about to break sports’ most revered record, but do we really need constant analysis of where Bud Selig and Hank Aaron should be when Bonds hits No. 756? Does anyone really care that much, especially since we’ve been told over and over that Bonds’ record is tainted? If it’s so tainted and fake, why discuss it ad nauseum?.
1. Cost of going to a game: No matter what sport you want to see live, be prepared to break the bank. The regular, Average Joe, middle class person doesn't get any breaks. And if you’re a parent with a couple of kids, good luck. Sure, some teams hold discount nights, and seats in the worst possible part of stadiums and arena can be had for cheap, but if you want to sit in a decent seat -- not great, decent --, you’re gonna pay. Everytime I go to a game, I think of that memorable scene in Goodfellas when Henry described how things worked with the guy who sold Paulie the restauant. "Business bad? F--- you, pay me. Had a fire? F--- you, pay me." "The place got hit by lightning? F--- you, pay me." That's exactly how being at a game is these days, just add "a totally unfair and exhorbitant amout" after "pay me." You hear the owners says, "Need a ticket? F--- you, pay me.” Want a beer or soda? F--- you, pay me.” Need to park your car? F--- you, pay me. This site (albeit with 2006 figures), details exactly how much it costs to see a game in various sports. The numbers, like the previous four items I mentioned on this list, are depressing.
Those are my worst things in sports. What are yours?
The Beach Boys "Fun, fun, fun" is a summer classic.
By John Rolfe, SI.com
Memorial Day Weekend is the traditional home of the Indy 500 and the start of the summer driving season. What better time to put the top or windows down, crank the tunes, and head out to the highway?
Check that. With fuel prices on a rocket ride, an appropriate driving anthem is NRBQ's Get That Gasoline Blues. Best known for the song Ridin' In My Car, the Q produced this obscure -- but screaming for mainstream exposure -- gem on their album Workshop. Sample lyrics: I tried to come over last night but my car ain't got no fuel/The way things are going, I might as well get me a mule. By the way, the song first appeared in 1973, when gas was, as keyboardist Terry Adams exclaims, "Forty cents a gallon!"
Even if you've got gas pains and are going nowhere fast, there are still plenty of rippin' good songs about cars, driving and racing to be had for, well, a song. Here are my top five:
5. Jerry Was a Racecar Driver (Primus): Les Claypool's loopy tale of a 22-year old kid who drove so goddamned fast/He never did win no checkered flag, but he never did come in last. Kind of like Robby Gordon. The pummeling car-crash guitar-bass-drums assault sets up our hero Jerry's tragic demise: Had too many cold beers one night/And wrapped himself around a telephone pole.
4. Fun Fun Fun (Beach Boys): Brian Wilson and Co. delivered a truckload of classic car songs -- Little Deuce Coupe, 409 and Shut Down among them, but I'll go with this ode to joyriding in a Ford Thunderbird. It even references this weekend's main event: Well the girls can't stand her 'cause she walks, looks and drives like an ace now/She makes the Indy 500 look like a Roman chariot race now...
3. Voodoo Cadillac (Southern Culture on the Skids): If you've ever taken your honey to one of those dusty, half-mile ovals for a lustrous evening of watching the junker stocks fly, you're bound to get misty listening to this band's epic album Dirt Track Date. Pure high crass. Fried Chicken and Gasoline is recommended, but Voodoo Cadillac is a brilliantly sleazy, swamp-guitar-driven celebration of drivin' down to Naw'luns with the FM stereo on. Coolsville, mannnn.
2. '65 Mustang (Five For Fighting): John Ondrasik's infectious salute to the car in which his father drove him home from the hospital as a newborn and that later became his own ride. Besides the nod to family history, Ondrasik nails the liberating thrill of driving fast on hot wheels: She's been four colors/We've broken forty laws/She goes where she wants/No matter what the cost.
1. Highway Star (Deep Purple): No trip's complete without old school metal. The opening track on Purple's milestone Machine Head is all dizzying acceleration from the chug of the opening rhythm to Ian Gillan's multi-tracked banshee scream to the whirlwind guitar and organ breaks by Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord respectively. Nobody gonna take my car/I’m gonna race it to the ground/Nobody gonna beat my car/It's gonna break the speed of sound/Oooh its a killing machine/It's got everything... Guaranteed to nudge you and your loved one well past the 55 mph limit as the cherry tops come on behind you.
Okay. Gentlemen -- and ladies -- start your lists. What are your favorites?
Back in the 1970s, Joltin' Joe DiMaggio became the nation's most recognizable coffee salesman.
By James Quintong, SI.com
Athletes have been spokesmen for products for years and some guys have made an art of appearing in many commercials, like Michael Jordan and Peyton Manning. While there seems to be more athlete pitchmen, they're also doing a good job of picking out the products they want to endorse without looking too silly -- fast food restaurants, soft drinks, athletic gear, video games, cell phones, TVs, cars, grooming products, etc. You want to believe an athlete would actually use the product he's endorsing or at least add legitimacy to an established company.
But sometimes athletes make decisions that definitely don't look that way, and that's where this list comes from. For a variety of reasons (from the product being pitched to the ad campaign used) athletes make endorsement decisions that have you wondering who needed the money more -- the athlete or the company.
Here are five of the most bizarre athlete product endorsements ever:
5. Michael Vick for AirTran. Promoting a major airline shouldn't make this list, but Vick found a way to do it. When Vick failed to show at a Capitol Hill function last month, he blamed the airline for a late flight that caused him to miss a connection. AirTran fired back at its spokesman, saying that it rebooked him on a later flight that he never showed up for. And that was after his incident earlier this offseason over a confiscated water bottle at the Miami airport. It is interesting that AirTran, the "discount" airline, was able to get Vick as its celebrity spokesman, while long-established competitor Delta went for Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur, an up-and-coming player but nowhere near as big a star as Vick.
4. Bill Clement for Deep Woods Off! Employing a shirtless, middle-aged guy sitting in a tent to encourage using a certain mosquito repellent to prevent West Nile virus is odd. Even stranger is the realization that the guy is Clement, the former NHL All-Star and well-traveled hockey announcer. Because when I think about bug spray, I'm thinking about a shirtless hockey announcer.
3. Phil Rizzuto for The Money Store. By the time The Scooter was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994, he was better known to younger people as the long-time voice of the Yankees, the announcer in Meat Loaf's classic Paradise by the Dashboard Light and the spokesman for The Money Store, a mortgage lending firm. The very low-tech ads plus Rizzuto's distinctive voice made them a major part of the New York TV landscape in the 1970s and '80s. "Holy Cow! Do you need a second mortgage? Don't be a huckleberry. Call the Money Store!"
2. Joe DiMaggio for Mr. Coffee. Before George Foreman made a fortune with his namesake grills, DiMaggio put Mr. Coffee on the map in the '70s as the pitchman for the then-revolutionary coffee machine. A new generation of fans now looked at DiMaggio through a much different lens. He wasn't the Yankees legend with the 56-game hitting streak or even the guy who married Marilyn Monroe. He was the older gentleman extolling the virtues of drip coffee. So while DiMaggio insisted on being introduced as "The Greatest Living Ballplayer" at baseball-related events for the last 30 years of his life, it was inevitable that at least a couple of younger fans would call him Mr. Coffee, whether he liked it or not.
1. Muhammad Ali for d-Con. If Ali were an active boxer today, he might've challenged Jordan's endorsement power with his charisma. But back in the day, his brash, outspoken personality scared away many companies from hiring him as a spokesman. One of the few to take a chance on him was d-Con, a manufacturer of pest control products (mouse traps, roach sprays, etc). Ali was practically synonymous with d-Con during the late '70s and early '80s with his image gracing boxes of the product, supermarket ads and those gloriously cheesy television ads.
Those are my top five, but there are plenty of others out there. What are your picks for strangest athlete endorsements?