Weekly SportsPod – Colin Talks to Sow and Rass About the Red Sox and the Sports Movie Character Hall of Fame

 

The Red Sox surprised everyone by swooping Carl Crawford.

With the Boston Red Sox making some serious power plays in the last couple weeks, I had to bring on Northeast baseball expert Eric Rasmussen to get some insight. We’re also joined by Josh Sowers, and all three of us discuss which sports movie characters would have a shot at the Hall of Fame in their respective sports.

Finally we conclude with a little college hoops talk, where Rass gives us his Final Four picks and Cinderella Upset Alert. You don’t want to miss it, believe me. Enjoy.

Weekly SportsPod – Colin Talks To Rass and Sow 120910

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Which Fictional Sports Characters Belong In the Hall of Fame?

 

Sly Stallone's election created a slippery slope.

When the International Boxing Hall of Fame elected Sylvester Stallone to the Hall of Fame, they were essentially putting his fictional character, Rocky, alongside greats like Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson. I’m sure many other sports writers in the country had the same reaction, but I immediately thought that this created quite a slippery slope when it comes to the idea of a “Hall of Fame.”

So when I heard the news yesterday I decided to come up with a list of fictional characters that belong in their sports’ respective Hall of Fames. Sure enough, when I checked out my buddy Larry Brown’s site, larrybrownsports.com, this morning, I saw that he already came up with a few: Happy Gilmore in golf, Bobby Boucher in football, Jake Taylor in baseball, Butch McRae in basketball, and Forrest Gump in table tennis.

While that’s a good start, I think we should take the list a little further and make it a bit more realistic. We have to take the caveat that we only get a glimpse of a career in most films, so we’ll have to project what we think could happen over the course of a full career given talent, work ethic, family situation, etc. I’ve come up with three nominees for each of the major sports, and Sow and I will come up with the winners in this week’s podcast. Enjoy.

National Baseball Hall of Fame (Cooperstown, NY):

  • Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, Major League, Major League II. After a troubled past, Vaughn took the league by storm with his electric fastball and intimidating eyewear. In his second season, Vaughn experimented with various offspeed pitches when he realized he wouldn’t have his 95+ fastball forever. While the changes led to a significant sophomore slump, Vaughn picked it up in the playoffs when he led the Cleveland Indians to the World Series. It’s reasonable to think that Vaughn would have figured out how to combine his velocity with offspeed like many before him (Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Josh Beckett) and had a long and illustrious career. Hall of Fame Moment: Striking out Clue Haywood of the Yankees to give the Indians their first playoff berth in 35 years.
  • Billy Heywood, Little Big League. Heywood made baseball history in 1994 when he, as a 12-year old boy, took the reigns as manager of the lowly Minnesota Twins. Heywood was able to turn the team around through various Little League gimmick plays and his mantra “remember, this game is fun.” Though he retired due to emotional immaturity (including benching future Hall of Famer and step-father Lou Collins for personal reasons) after narrowly missing the playoffs in the ’94 campaign, it is hard to imagine that would be Heywood’s last shot at managing in the Big Leagues. If nothing else, he would still be owner of the Twins for the duration of his life, and being the youngest manager in the history of the game would definitely get him some votes. Hall of Fame Moment: Tipping his cap to a capacity crowd chanting “Billy! Billy!” after nearly leading the Twins to the playoffs.
  • Steve Nebraska, The Scout. No doubt that Nebraska has the talent to be a Hall of Famer. His unthinkable 112 mph fastball led him to pitch a “true” perfect game in 1994 against Ozzie Smith and the Cardinals: 27 up, 27 down, 81 pitches, all of ’em strikes. The only question is, would the unreachable mark that he set in his first Major League game create impossible expectations for the young right-hander? We already know that he was working through significant psychological issues, and it’s hard for me to imagine that he could overcome them to have a full career. But still, given his talent level I couldn’t leave him off the nomination list. Hall of Fame Moment: Beating his chest like King Kong on the mound at Yankee Stadium after his immortal performance.

Honorable Mention: Dottie Hinson (A League of Their Own), Kelly Leak (The Bad News Bears), Roy Hobbs (The Natural)

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (Springfield, Mass.):

  • Neon Bodeaux, Blue Chips. The virtually unrecruited Bodeaux made a huge splash on the college basketball scene when the “7-foot-4” center began his career at Western University in 1994 under the tutelage of the polarizing Pete Bell. Although Bodeaux went pro after his freshman year amid allegations that he received illegal benefits, Bodeaux was as close to a sure thing as they come. A strong, mobile, 7-footer can have a long and illustrious career in the NBA, so I’m going to have to give him the nod. Hall of Fame Moment: Slamming home the game winning basket against Bobby KnightCalbert Chaney, and #1 Indiana University in is freshman year.
  • Jesus Shuttlesworth, He Got Game. Despite a trying recruiting process, there is no doubt that Jesus would have had a tremendous college career. Often those spurned by their loved ones early in their lives go on to do great things just to spite them. A pure shooter always has a place in the NBA, and Jesus’s flawless form and picture-perfect NBA body surely would have taken him a long way. Hall of Fame Moment: Beating his father in a game of one-on-one for much higher stakes than just basketball.
  • Saleh, The Air Up There. After being discovered in his native Africa by down-on-his-luck assistant coach and former college hoops great Jimmy Dolan, Saleh elects to suit up for St. Joseph’s. A 6-8 raw athlete with incredible jumping ability and ball-handling skills, it is presumable that Saleh would spend at least three years in college honing his game, where he would probably put up big numbers. A prince in his native land, Saleh would show tremendous leadership skills on and off the court and not be lured out of college early by the temptation of a large contract. Having already won a game for his tribe’s land, Saleh would have no problem handling the pressure of big games in the NBA. The whole “one-name” thing would also be an incredible marketing tool for whatever franchise ended up drafting him. Hall of Fame Moment: Saving his tribe from ruin by executing the famous “Jimmy Dolan Shake and Bake” to perfection to win the game.

Honorable Mention: Jimmy Chitwood (Hoosiers), Monica Wright (Love and Basketball), Billy Hoyle (White Men Can’t Jump)

Pro Football Hall of Fame (Canton, OH):

  • Wendell BrownVarsity Blues. Overlooked on a team full of high-profile talent like Lance Harbor, Johnny Moxon, and Charlie Tweeder, Wendell was the self-proclaimed “black work horse” that led the West Canaan Coyotes to back-to-back-to-back district championships. Wendell had his mom do his recruiting and earned himself a scholarship to Grambling, where he no doubt would have been a big fish in a small pond. Probably a late pick in the draft, Brown seems like the type whose grit and work ethic would prove all the naysayers wrong and lead him to a prolific career in the NFL. Hall of Fame Moment: Exposing the inherent racism of the West Canaan football program to his friend Johnny Moxon. (It may expose the inherent racism of YouTube users that I can’t find a clip for this…).
  • Rod TidwellJerry Maguire. The former ASU Sun Devil had a breakout 1996 season for the Arizona Cardinals and earned himself a lucrative long-term deal. Many may say that the flashy Tidwell was just playing for “the quan” and would have regressed into his “me-first” attitude in the coming years, but all signs indicate thatTidwell turned an emotional corner and was ready to take his place as one of the NFL’s elite receivers. Hall of Fame Moment: Endearing himself to fans after a scary hit, Tidwell put on a performance that will go down in football television history.
  • Joe Kane, The Program. “Kane is Able” had a tough junior season in 1993, marred by an embarrassing DUI-induced stint in rehab and a sub-par performance from his ESU Timberwolves. Before the setbacks, Kane came into the season as a Heisman favorite so clearly the talent is there. He cleaned up his act and went into his senior season clean and sober, which surely would have propelled him to be a top selection in the draft. He may not have the size of a prototypical NFL QB, but his struggles early in life could give him the strength to persevere against the odds. Hall of Fame Moment: Putting the women and children to bed and going looking for dinner, then finding Darnell Jefferson in the end zone to defeat Georgia Tech in his final game of the regular season.

Honorable Mention: Billy Bob (Varsity Blues), Shane Falco (The Replacements), Lucy Draper (Necessary Roughness)

Well that’s a good start, but I’m sure there are a number that I have forgotten. Who knew 1994 was such a great year for sports movies? Feel free to make additions in the comments field and maybe your suggestions will make it into the podcast.

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YouTube Clip of the Day: Boom Goes the Dynamite

With the Sweet Sixteen starting tonight, we are sure to see some fantastic finishes. Along with those great finishes come legendary calls that will echo in our minds for sports eternity. Costas, Packer, Scully. These are the greats we associate with the great moments in sports history.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is Brian Collins, also known as “The Dynamite Kid” (not to be confused with the second half of the 80s wrestling tandem, The British Bulldogs…easy mistake I know). I would hate to see him trying to order chinese food over the phone.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the clip, so pay attention to the following for some extra entertainment:

  • 0:20 – Collins realizes the train has come off the tracks and lets us know we’re in for a treat with the simplest of phrases: “Oh no.”
  • 0:44 – 1:00 – Collins going with the “less is more” approach, uttering nothing but a few stutters and moans for 16 seconds.
  • 2:16 – After finally seeing a player that he recognizes, Collins gives us the generic, “Reggie Miller lookin’ good”.
  • 2:25 – The now-legendary catchphrase spoken for the first time: “Passes it to the man, shoots it…and boom goes the dynamite.”
  • 3:05 – Collins pronounces “Wayne Simien” as “Wayne Summers”. Of all the things that go wrong for some reason I find this one the funniest.

Don’t Draft Russell Westbrook!

If the NBA had a haircut draft, you\'d be number 1!

***If you’re coming from Bruins Nation…please read my rebuttal on TheSportSpin.com (yes, I was wrong…)***

The NBA draft is arguably my favorite day of the year. I love seeing the start of what are promising careers for some and landmark disappointments for others (Nikoloz Tskitishvili 5th overall in 2002).

Every analyst on earth is putting up their mock drafts, so I will spare you that formality (they’re always wrong after the first 3 picks anyway). Instead I will extend a warning to NBA GM’s, particularly those in the 4-9 position in the lottery:

DO NOT DRAFT RUSSELL WESTBROOK!

I know it sounds harsh, but over the past few weeks I’ve seen Westbrook’s stock rise faster than gas prices, and I cannot figure out why. He was a mediocre college player on a team that was basically left to him and Kevin Love when Darren Collison was injured for a chunk of the season.

Yes, he’s a freak athlete and supposedly a ‘lock down’ defender with a huge wingspan (according to Jay Bilas, nobody in the draft has a wingspan under 7 feet). But I have inside information that should be good enough reason for teams to steer clear of Westbrook until the late first round:

My friend Roger, a 6-foot-3 small forward who played for two different Division III schools, LOCKED UP Russell Westbrook in a pick-up game at UCLA last summer.

Yes, I’m serious. I was there. I was on his team. It was me (former high school division V California All-State player, thank you very much), Roger, and three scrubs against Westbrook, Lorenzo Mata, James Keefe, DeAndre Robinson, and a former UCLA football player.

First of all, I have no idea why four UCLA basketball players decided to hone their skills and prepare for the season by dismantling players that couldn’t even make the B-Division championship in intramurals.

But, after the Wooden Center Dream Team had won a couple of games, we had next so I figured it would be fun to say that we played against them. So I, 6-3 with shoes on, guarded the 6-8 (and hideously ugly) Lorenzo Mata, and Roger took Westbrook.

They started off joking around and throwing alley oops that went out of bounds over the basket. Westbrook got a steal and a fast break dunk where he clearly displayed his ‘plus’ athleticism.

Then a funny thing happened, we started winning.

You could see their body language getting a little more serious and MUCH more physical.

Soon enough it deteriorated into a regular old pickup game, complete with arguments, threatened violence, and three-minute long possessions.

Now, as much as I respect my friend’s game, he’s no Bruce Bowen when it comes to defense. His lateral quickness is, let’s just say, lacking. But he certainly is what we call a smart (otherwise known as white) defender.

But in a game to 11 by ones, Roger held soon-to-be top 10 NBA draft pick Russell Westbrook scoreless for the last 6 points or so, and it’s not like he wasn’t trying. Westbrook couldn’t make a jumper, and when he tried to get by Roger he couldn’t, pulling up for a crappy jumper or giving one of his patented ‘jump in the air for five seconds while I figure out what to do’ passes.

We ended up winning the game, and Lorenzo Mata tried to punch Roger in the face before the whole squad stormed off the court in disgust.

I think we lost the next game to five senior citizens but it didn’t really matter. We had our story to tell. By the time we’re in our 60s Russell Westbrook will turn into Baron Davis and Lorenzo Mata will be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

So, that’s my cautionary tale for any team that wants to take Westbrook. In any case Roger can always say that he shut down an NBA player (no matter how bad he turns out) and if Westbrook ends up an all-star we can tell everyone that Roger’s tough love caused Westbrook to work harder and take his game to the next level.

In either case, Roger just has one thing to say: “Russell, tell me how my ass taste!”

Alex Kotlowitz Ruined My Career

Cheating is no Slam Dunk

I am amazed at the several levels of stupidity that University at Buffalo point guard Andy Robinson displayed when he posted a written request for plagiarism on the Facebook. For those of you that didn’t see it, here is the post. I swear I have not made any changes to this.

 

“I am paying anybody who have read the book ‘there are no children here’ by Alex Kotlowitz $30-40 which in some classes you have to read at UB (even more money if you have to read the book a little more!!) to write a 3-4 page paper, on a couple questions which was assigned.”

 

Let’s examine the mistakes here, one by one.

1. Making the decision to cheat (Really? You couldn’t come up with 3-4 pages, don’t you know the ‘change the margins’ trick????)

2. Posting that decision on a website visible to anyone in the world for free

3. Offering $30-40 for the paper (see if you can get it for free first, you’re the team’s leading scorer, Andy!)

4. Writing the request in “English” that makes Borat look like Shakespeare

 

The sad thing is, I feel somewhat bad for this kid. He’s not the first college basketball player (probably not the first on his own team) to attempt to cheat in a class. He just did it in such a moronic and hilarious way.

According to the report, after the post was discovered he completed the assignment on his own (I’d sure like to read that paper) and his facebook account was removed.

As a former student athlete I should be steaming that Robinson tried to cheat the system and sully the ‘scholar-athlete’ title by attempting to cheat. But I’m not. It’s not just student athletes that cheat, but you never see a member of the pep band or ultimate frisbee team on the front page of the newspaper after being busted.

There will probably be a heavy demand for Robinson to be kicked off the team or even booted from school. That would be unfair treatment (a special benefit, if you will) based on the fact that he is an athlete. Suspend him for a couple games, assign him a tutor and make sure he goes to every class for the rest of his academic career.

Robinson made a mistake, and his punishment is a lifetime of embarrassment and Facebook jokes. Let him have one more year of basketball so he can have something to tell his grandchildren besides, “I could have been somebody, if not for that damn Alex Kotlowitz.”

Your book is just too hard to crack, Alex

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