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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Baseball and Basketball Home-Grown Talent

A not-so-scientific experiment on whether teams have more success with players from the area.

Baseball:

  • San Francisco Giants: 5 players from California – Most notable is infielder Freddy Sanchez from Hollywood. A key player, but won a batting title in Pittsburgh so it’s not like he played better in the comforts of sunny California.
  • Texas Rangers: 5 players from Texas – Most notable is Jorge Cantu, who despite playing for the Mexican team in the WBC was actually born in McAllen, TX. The fact that he was the biggest contributor doesn’t say much for the theory.
  • Philadelphia Phillies: 1 player from Pennsylvania – Jamie Moyer, a reliable member of the staff but certainly not having the best years of his career in Philly.
  • New York Yankees: 4 players from the tri-state area – Most notable, of course, is Mr. Yankee Derek Jeter who was born in Pequannock, NJ. He certainly has thrived in his home surroundings. Little known fact…Alex Rodriguez was actually born in New York before re-locating to Florida. I know he’s not New York’s favorite son, but he did win his only championship with them so it’s got to count for something.

Basketball (last season’s rosters):

  • Los Angeles Lakers: 2 players from California – Jordan Farmar and Luke Walton (noted BFF’s) both grew up in Southern California and helped the Lakers win back-to-back championships. With Farmar now in New Jersey we’ll have a better gauge on whether the hometown crowd gave him an extra boost.
  • Boston Celtics: 0 players from Massachusetts – Ouch! Take that Boston!
  • Phoenix Suns: 1 player from Arizona – Channing Frye, a major contributor and probably having his best years in the NBA while in Phoenix.
  • Orlando Magic: 1 player from Florida – Vince Carter…not much to say about that one.

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @CWARDHENNINGER

MLB Busts Joe Maddon for Wearing Hoodie: Why Stop There?

Makes me sick just looking at it.

ESPN radio personality Colin Cowherd often blasts Major League Baseball for being a backwards, slow-to-progress institution that fails to relate to the youth.

Well, he was certainly proven wrong Monday as Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon was forbidden from wearing his trademark hooded sweatshirt in the dugout during games.

I only have one thing to say: it’s about time.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at Maddon’s classless, ragged hooded sweatshirt and gotten sick to my stomach. It’s bad enough that he parades around in those Buddy Holly glasses. I mean, who does he think he is? No wonder baseball ratings are down. People turn on the television, see a guy like Joe Maddon and think, “who is this clown? what else is on?” Click.

Baseball is a gentleman’s game. There’s no place for this sloppy, casual dress in the dugout. I would much rather look in the dugout and see a 70-year-old man wearing a full baseball uniform. There’s no way you look at that guy and think anything but, “Now there’s a man I want my son to play for.”

Eliminating hoodies (I can’t even type the word without getting angry) from the dugouts is an important first step, but we can’t stop there. Here is a list of rules that need to be implemented if we want baseball to regain the title of “America’s Pastime.”

I’m glad the MLB has taken this all-important first step by banning the hoodie, but these next measures need to be taken in order to ensure the sanctity of the game.

Once that’s taken care of, we can start working on the music at stadiums. It’s like we’ve forgotten how inspiring a great John Philip Sousa march can be for a team.

YouTube Clip of the Day: Soul Glo (and some awesome Jheri Curl pics)

"Just let your Soul Glo"

After watching VH1’s Black to the Future this weekend, I developed an obsession with the greatest genuine American artform: the Jheri Curl.

I suggest you check out the informative and descriptive Wikipedia entry on the hairstyle– here is the opening passage:

The Jheri curl (often incorrectly spelled Jerry curl or Jeri Curl) is a hairstyle that was common and popular in the African American community. Invented by and named for Jheri Redding,[1] the Jheri curl gave the wearer a glossy, loosely curled look. It was touted as a “wash and wear” style that was easier to care for than the other popular chemical treatment of the day, the relaxer.

One of the most iconic and hilarious depictions of the Jheri Curl appears in Eddie Murphy’s 1988 classic, Coming to America:

Just in case you thought it was made up, here are some real-life examples of the vibrant hairstyle:

The Classy Jheri

The Sports Jheri

The Jheri-Fall

The Jheri-Fall

The Jheri 'n tha Hood

 

The King of Jheri

 

The Jock-Jheri

 

The Basket-Jheri

 

Hopefully that gives you a good sense of the awesomeness of the Jheri Curl. High top fades from the early 90s are already coming back in the NBA, so I say it’s only a matter of time before the Jheri Curl makes a resurgence. Although they’d have to figure out a way to get the activator juice off the court. I guess they have mop-boys.

Which Laker would make the best president?

With the election just one day away, I thought I’d take a look at some OTHER possible candidates for the president of the United States. Sure, Obama and McCain are good candidates, but can they run the triangle?

In case you’ve been living in a cave for the past year — actually forget that, even the caves got word of this– you will be tuning in Tuesday to watch one of the greatest contests in our nation’s history. 

No, I’m not talking about Phoenix at New Jersey. I’m talking, of course, about the presidential election. Now while Barack Obama and John McCain are both solid candidates, I thought I’d see how some of our very own Lakers might fare as America’s next president.

Kobe Bryant

Pros: A natural competitor, Kobe has always been known for his tireless work ethic and refusal to accept mediocrity. In the past couple of years, Kobe has also proven that he can put his personal agenda aside and do what is best for the team.

Cons: His competitive fire often causes him to make rash and ill-advised decisions. Also, questionable choices in his personal life leave Kobe open for attacks on his “moral character.”

Electability: 3/10 – Always a polarizing figure, Kobe would easily win California but would lose each of the other 49 states.

Lamar Odom

Pros: Versatile and unselfish, Odom has always been willing to sacrifice personal glory to put the team first. He has also learned to deal with criticism after being chastised mercilessly for the better portion of his career.

Read the rest of the story at Examiner.com…while you’re there subscribe to get email alerts every time there’s a new post!

Wizards of Los Angeles

I just wrote an enthralling allegory comparing the Lakers upcoming season to the classic Wizard of Oz on my Examiner page.  Here’s a clip, but please click on the link so I get paid for it! Thanks!

 

Kobe and the Lakers aren’t in Kansas anymore. Last year they were able to surprise just about everyone by finishing with the best record in the Western Conference. Not a chance this year, as most analysts are picking the Lakers to come out of the West and win the title. They need to realize they have a target on their backs and know that they’re going to get every opponent’s best game.

The Lakers need to get Vladi Radmanovic a brain, Pau Gasol a heart, and Lamar Odom some courage. If the Lakers are going to return to Championship form, they’ll need to be firing on all cylinders. That includesgetting “space cadet” Radmanovic to figure things out. It also means Pau Gasol needs to show some fire and not allow himself to get consistently pushed 15 feet from the basket in the playoffs. Perhaps most importantly, however, they need Lamar Odom to finally realize how good he is. Every Laker fan has been frustrated seeing Odom’s inconsistencies, and a nice bout of confidence (and perhaps a move to the bench), may allow him to finally flourish.

 

See the full story here.

I….Fell Off My Bike

You gotta trust that face

You gotta trust that face

 

Golden State Warriors golden boy Monta Ellis has recently turned more of a bronze color due to abrasions found on his right ankle, which he claims was sprained while playing a pick-up game in his home state of Mississippi.

Instead of preparing to take over as the Warriors number one guy, Ellis will spend the next 3-4 months recovering from his injury and trying to get his story straight. Several sources and sports medicine experts have told ESPN that the cuts and abrasions, along with a torn deltoid ligament, are not typical of a basketball-related high ankle sprain.

The Warriors are investigating the injury and if it’s found that Ellis hurt himself doing something other than basketball (taking out the trash, erratic dancing at the club, burning his hands in hot wax), he may be forced to forefit his contract.

 

It appears that Ellis lied about his injury, which is pretty stupid, but he is just following in the footsteps of professional athletes that lie to weasel their way out of losing money. At least Ellis’ excuse was reasonable, unlike these bozos:

– Lakers forward Vladimir Radmanovic claimed to have separated his shoulder when he slipped on a patch of ice while carrying a cup of coffee. Nobody swallowed this tripe to begin with, since Radmo was at a ski resort in Park City, Utah when the injury happened. He came clean after a few days, admitting that he hurt himself after a nasty snowboarding fall.

– Then-Giants second-baseman Jeff Kent claimed to have broken his wrist when he fell off of his truck while attmepting to give it a thorough cleansing. Reasonably suspicious about how a professional athlete could manage to fall off of his truck, the Giants looked into it and found that two men called 911 about the same time as Kent’s injury. They said that they saw an unidentified rider fall off of his motorcycle while doing a wheelie down the street. Since Jeff Kent was never shy about his love for motorcycles, the Giants continued to look into it, but could never prove that Kent simply couldn’t figure out the appropriate water to soap ratio.

While lying is a despicable act and should never be used to cheat your way out of a fine, it may be a reasonable option for those athletes trying to avoid looking like an idiot. Here is a list of boneheads that probably would have saved some face by lying about their injuries. Some highlights:

  • Astros outfielder Hunter Pence injured himself walking through a sliding glass door at his own apartment.
  • Yankees pitcher David Cone missed a start after being bit on the finger by his mother’s dog. He should have listened to the advice of my college coach (and 1982 World Series Game 6 winner) John Stuper: “Always pet dogs and open blind doors with your non-pitching hand.”
  • Twins outfielder Marty Cordova was benched due to sunburn suffered from forgetting to set the timer while inside the tanning bed.
  • Padres pitcher Adam Eaton stabbed himself in the gut while trying to open a DVD. (Hey, I bet we’ve all done this at least once…or at least wanted to stab ourselves while trying to get the damn thing open!)
  • Brewers pitcher Steve Sparks dislocated his shoulder while trying to rip a phonebook in half during a motivational seminar. Each child in the audience went on to join a gang.

So maybe lying about an injury isn’t the worst thing in the world. Just try to avoid dangerous situations like washing your truck, opening DVD’s, and giving motivational speeches.

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