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Archive for the ‘Mediocre Athletes’ Category

Mediocre Athlete of the Month: March 2010

Posted by hilariousandhandsomesportsguys on April 16, 2010


Name: Duke Blue Devils

Team Motto: “1, 2, 3….WIN IT FOR DUKE LACROSSE!!!” (Coach K nodding approvingly in the background)

Reason for winning award: Toppling that Butler dynasty

Forecast: Coach K: Infomercials, selling those mini stools he so enjoyed during the tourney; Jon Scheyer: 1st pick in the ABA draft (alla Greg MacNamarra); Kyle Singler: A Casey Jacobson-like 4 yr NBA career; Nolan Smith: Career already reached it’s pinnacle; Brian Zoubek: The Lew Alcindor of the 21st century

            Growing up, I always kinda liked Duke. To be honest, I didn’t really get the hatred. Sure Christian Laettner turned out to be a real clown, but name a school that doesn’t have annoying alumni. You honestly find Jerry Stackhouse “likable”, UNC fans? Mateen Cleeves, Rip Hamilton, Kevin Love, Rashad McCants, Eric “House of Pain” Devendorf, TJ Ford, DeMarcus Cousins – all of these guys come from basketball powers and have annoying traits about them that only the blindest of fans would refuse to acknowledge. Yes, Duke contributed to the abominable JJ Redick/Adam Morrison season, but by this point, Duke hatred had been existence for almost 2 decades. So going back to my point, why the hate for Duke?

Maybe it’s the team huddles after fouls. This always reminded me of the Uconn lady Huskies or a volley ball team. Slightly gay but I can’t hate them for it. Maybe it’s the slapping of the floor on D. Maybe it’s Coach K. Recently, Coach K has been getting to me. Him sitting on that little stool on the sidelines during the Final 4 was a little, I don’t know, pretentious. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re predominantly white and they have no problem acting awkwardly white at all times. (For a good example of this, next season watch a Duke game and look for the Brothers Plumlee and you’ll see exactly what I mean). Maybe it’s a combination of all these things…But I really don’t think it is.

I think it’s their fans that cause us to hate them.

            This startling moment of clarity came to me only recently. Like I said, all the way through high school, I never minded Duke. Then I went to college. And it was there, in the sacred dorms of Oral Roberts University, that I met 2 of my favorite people in the entire world who also happen to be 2 of the most annoying Duke fans on the face of the planet. Nate and Matt. Nate is the screamer. He’d be watching Mike Dunleavy dribble the ball off his foot and would scream obscenities about how he should be out there (another problem with Duke fans, they see white guys playing and think “Hey, I’m white, I could probably play with that guy”..No Duke fan, Mike Dunleavy, Jon Scheyer, or Bobby Hurley would murder you…let’s move on). Matt is the more cerebral basketball fan. Can admit team deficiencies. Knows when his Dukies should win and when they got lucky. Non Duke fans hate the Nates of the world because of the Coach K-like whining. We hate the Matts of the world because they know more than us.

            It wasn’t over night. It wasn’t like I saw my 2 buddies cheering on Duke and decided to be a jerk and go against them. No, it was more like a slow turn against Duke like Anakin turning to the dark side. It was gradual. It started off one night when I found myself cheering for the Tar Heels in a Duke/UNC blood bath. I was shocked! I hated UNC. More than any team in college basketball. What could cause me to actually root for the Tar Heels? Oh that’s right, watching Nate do a giddy little Nate P dance as Jay Williams blew by poor Joe Forte like he was nailed to the court. It was seeing tears of rapturous joy flow from Matt’s eyes as Duke dominated an overmatched Arizona team for the 2001 national championship. It was in these moments that I went from “Eh, I wouldn’t mind seeing Duke lose tonight” to “For the love of God, can someone box out Boozer???”.

            And before I continue, I have to go off on a mini-tangent in appreciation for Jay Williams. That 2000-2001 Duke team was the best Blue Devils squad I’ve ever seen. Better than the early 90’s teams. Better than the ’99 team that lost to UConn. (Sorry but this year’s team isn’t even in the debate). They were absolutely loaded with 5 future NBA players and J-Wil was the hands down best player on the team. Jay reminded me of Derrick Rose, just not quite as athletic but with a better J. He had that same body control and level headed vision of the floor. He was clearly the best player in college when he left after his junior year and I really thought he was a no brainer superstar in the making. He was the #1 player in high school, #1 player in college, and would have been the #1 pick in the draft if not for Yao. He had a solid if not amazing rookie year, but truly seemed destined to do amazing things. Then out of no where, he has this freak motor cycle accident where he almost loses his leg. Boom: Career done. Several failed NBA come backs and a bitter dose of reality later, he’s covering NIT games on ESPN. He’s 28. Now, clearly it’s great he has a career, but I NEVER hear Duke fans bring up his name. I find this odd. I’m a Cuse fan through and through. If Melo lost a limb from crashing his new ski doo in some Denver lake, I would be on my soap box, telling the world how we’d all been robbed of one the most amazing basketball players of our time. Duke fans never acknowledge Jay like this and it bothers me. The guy was legit.

            Anyway, so yes, it was these Duke fans, 2 of my best friends, who made me curse the very name Krzyzewski. All of this culminated on our spring break trip in 2002 which some how found Matt, Nate, and myself in a Myrtle Beach hotel room, watching Duke’s Sweet 16 matchup with Indiana. That story alone is a master piece and I’ll tell it some time in the future.

            This brings me to our current Mediocre athlete(s) of the month, the 2009-2010 Duke Blue Devils. I really wanted to give this high honor to Butler or Northern Iowa or Cornell, but I just couldn’t do it. While Northern Iowa (with their rag tag team of balding, mutton chopped, corn fed farmers) beating Kansas is still the biggest shock of the tourney, Duke was simply…the best. I watched Butler beat my Syracuse Orange and Butler looked like the better team that day. I watched Duke beat Butler and even though it was close, Duke was clearly the better team. They were the best team this month. And they did it without any Jay Williams, Elton Brands, or Grant Hills. They really had a bunch of mediocre athletes. They got hot and started playing their best at just the right time. And with all the upsets and Cinderella stories happening, Duke kept rolling over teams, including the Big East Tourney champs, West Virginia and the home town hero Butler Bulldogs.

            And while I would love to pull an ESPN on you and start giving you game analysis (like so many of their non-credible anchors and “experts” enjoy doing) I highly doubt you want to hear any of that. I also don’t believe this blog is the place for any such re-cap.  So please, be the bigger man or woman and just congratulate the Matts and Nates in your work place, neighborhood, and circle of friends. We all have at least one in our life. And even though they’ve ruined your enjoyment of Duke basketball (which can be fun to watch), don’t hold back your pats on their backs. Give them the recognition their due and anticipate 2011when you can rub their round of 32 loss to Sienna in their face.


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Mediocre Athlete of the Month: February 2010

Posted by hilariousandhandsomesportsguys on March 8, 2010


Name: Andrew Bogut

Team: Milwaukee Bucks

Position: Center

Reason for break out: Convinced himself that he does not have to be Darko 2.0 and is playing like it

Forecast: Eastern All-Star reserve Center for the next 2 – 4 seasons. Count on it.

 In 2005, Andrew Bogut was the consensus number 1 pick out of Utah. And while he’s been a nice player, he’s clearly not lived up to the Dream Team level talents of Chris Paul and Deron Williams (pg’s picked 3rd and 4th in the same draft). And somehow, people are ok with that. It seems like after a few seasons, if a player doesn’t improve, people label them a bust or they’re moved into a secondary role and life goes on. This could have easily happened to Bogut. He struggled with the NBA game all the way up until this season, he has a history of back and migraine issues, and he even caused some controversy during international play (Dude’s an Aussie) where he had some awkward quotes about his NBA American teammates. Even more dangerous than all of these, he could have fallen into Darko mode. Now Darko mode is a increasingly more frequent condition that befalls high lottery picks (mostly but not exclusively foreigners and white players) who don’t perform as they think they should. Whether it’s playing time, lack of talent, success of players also drafted in the lottery that year, players who fall into Darko mode can generally be spotted by players growing attention grabbing facial hair, being seen doing derogatory things at the hands of teammates and being openly bitter about it, or having placid, glazed over looks on their faces as they ride the pine.

 Bogut was a perfect candidate to fall into Darko mode. He’s white. He can grow an insatiable beard. He couldn’t really play when he first got into the league. There were superstars drafted after him. But Bogut has done something the others usually don’t. He got better. Have you seen the Bucks play lately? Bogut’s a beast! He’s a legit 7’0″, 265 lbs. He boards like someone his size should. He uses his body well in the post. He doesn’t shoot 3’s. He’s your pro-typical center. He’s amazing. And while  you may think I’m gushing, his numbers for the past month are 18 and almost 11. His numbers on the year are 16 and 10. He’s figuring it out and he knows it. So yes, people watch the Bucks because of Brandon Jennings, but make no mistake, Bogut is the franchise.

Now, humor me. Say you’re starting an NBA team today and you have to pick a center (not counting all the superstar power forwards right now). Even if you’re Andrew Bogut’s mother, you’re taking Dwight Howard with the 1st pick. But if you have the 2nd pick, who are you going with? Andrew Bynum? One of the brothers Gasol? An arguement can be made for Brook Lopez for sure, but my boy Bogut is right there with these guys. Throw in the fact he’s only 25, has a hilarious sense of humor (youtube the video of him giving himself high fives when his teammates leave him hanging), and has single handly carried the Bucks to the 5th spot (as of today) in the Eastern conference standings (ok, Jennings has helped but he’s not that great. Salmons has been an awesome pick up) and we have a Center on the come up.

All Star for the next 2 – 4 years. No doubt about it.

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Mediocre Athlete of the Month: January 2010

Posted by hilariousandhandsomesportsguys on February 10, 2010


Name: Ladanian Tomlinson

Team: San Diego Chargers

Position: Running Back

Reason for mediocrity: Anger at world; Enjoyment of sulking on the sidelines; Realization his TD celebrations are lame

Was it that long ago that Ladanian Tomlinson was breaking records and scolding Bill Belichick during press conferences? It doesn’t seem like it. And guess what? That’s a problem. For all intents and purposes, LT has become a scrub and yet we refuse to acknowledge this. LT went in the 1st round of all my fantasy football drafts this year. LT has more commercials of any NFL player this side of Peyton Manning. LT’s name is one of the prominent one’s I’ve seen/heard during ESPN’s horrendous NFL off season coverage. And while this is a problem for fans because we all see now that he’s lost it,  it’s even WORSE for LT. He doesn’t see it. He still thinks the Chargers are built around him. He refuses to take a pay cut. He can’t see that Darren Sproles can run circles around him. And while I feel pity for aging athletes who can’t quite cut it anymore, is there anything worse than aging athletes who can’t quite it anymore but refuse to believe it? Hardly. Think Nomar bulking up and getting benched in Oakland or the turn-off-the-tv-off-because-it hurts-to-watch-him-run final days of C-Webb.

It’s crazy when the wheels come off superstar athletes. As fans, we want to make excuses for them. Blame it on some injury or contract dispute or wife that left them or the fact that they have more kids all over town than Franklin. I make these excuses when I watch KG get burned baseline by Rashard Lewis or see Steve Nash get blocked by George Hill. I make the most bizarre excuses for them. “Oh well KG just filmed that Adidas commerical and it threw off his sleep schedule so clearly he needs a game or 2 to get back on track. Perfectly understandable” NO. Accept the fact that KG’s knees are worn down to the bone and enjoy the flashes of greatness when he displays them. The average career of an NFL player is 3 years. LT just finished his 9th. There’s no shame in the fact that he’s no longer what he once was. But the next time you watch him run (whether it be for San Diego, Dallas, or whoever) and you’re grimacing at every cut and jook he makes, don’t fall into this thinking pattern. “Well, he’s still upset about the way AJ and the Chargers did him like that. He just needs a few weeks to ‘find his legs’ (what?)”. No. Enjoy the time he’s had as the number 1 back since he took the mantle from Shaun Alexander and understand that it’s now Chris Johnson’s to hold for a few seasons.

And one last tangent….
No matter what you do LT fans, don’t ever talk yourself into that TD celebration of his. I mean EVER. We all accepted it because he was supremely talented, but that took the creativity of a child. It looked like the Karl Malone, hand behind his head, break away dunks. I sure don’t miss either of these displays.

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Mediocre Athlete of the Month: December 2009

Posted by hilariousandhandsomesportsguys on January 7, 2010


Name: Jerome Harrison

Team: Cleveland BrownsPosition: Running Back

Reason for break out: Jamal Lewis injury/age/lack of competitive fire for this pitiful team; Mangini deciding to play him

Forecast: Drafted high in many 2010 fantasy drafts only to wind up being the teams 3rd string back for no explicable reason

While Agent Zero did all he could to win my inaugural award, I checked the Mediocre Athlete bylaws and it just wouldn’t work. According to the rulings in place, “For a super star to receive such a distinguished honor, his level of play ON THE FIELD must be that of or less than Jared Jeffries, Julio Lugo, or Mark Clayton.” Unfortunately for Tiger Woods, Shaq, and yes, even you Gil, no where does it mention off the field conduct. So you guys are ineligible for my award. Well, Shaq, you’re actually an option due to your gut and overall irrelevance. But I’m getting off point.

 Jerome Harrison, a 4th year running back out of Washington State, had done less than nothing with his career. But the opportunity presented itself and Harrison made the most of it in the last 4 games of the season. Harrison was given the starting gig in week 14, and here are the numbers he was able to put up:

week 14          9 yds, 0 TD
week 15:   286 yds, 3 TD
week 16:   148 yds, 1 TD
week 17:   127 yds, 1 TD

That’s right, 5 TD’s in 4 games, including that monster game in Week 15. That’s 5 times as many TD’s as he’s had in his entire career up unto that point (I’ll do the math for you…1 TD in 3 and a half seasons). I was going to make another fantasy complaint but I realized I did that earlier and I’d be reduntant. Regardless, Harrison made a name for himself and for the Browns who wound up winning all 4 games. Winning those games probably  saved his coach’s job (which probably no one but the coach himself is happy about) so Harrison may have himself a starting gig in 2010.

So here’s to you Jerome! The first recipient of my Mediocre award. May you savor this moment for the rest of your life. Your grandkids will thank me for my wisdom and generosity.

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Mediocrity at it’s Finest

Posted by hilariousandhandsomesportsguys on December 26, 2009


I’ve always been intrigued by the mediocre athlete. Not the super duper Kobe Bryant/Albert Pujol stars. Anybody can cheer on those guys.  I’m talking about the 4 other guys that play with LeBron. The guys catching passes from Drew Brees. The MLB players that aren’t on the New York Yankees. Think about it. What’s so fascinating about LeBron having another triple double? Or another A-Rod home run record? Or Peyton Manning throwing 3 TD passes? Nothing. These guys are the best of the best. When they DON’T do these things, now that is interesting. But for the most part, the superstars prove on a weekly basis why they’re the faces of their respective teams and sports.  And whether you’re a lifer and never miss your team’s games or you tune into a sport for the 1st time in your life, the opportunity is there to see someone in action that makes you become a fan. Guys who have something about them that you can instantly identify with. For me, this happened frequently as I was growing up. The 1st was Wally Joyner, the light hitting Angels first baseman who peaked in his 2nd or 3rd year in the league. There was something about his swing and his ’80’s sunglasses that made me become an Angels fan. I was 7 yrs old and I had a hero. He was a scrub. Over the years. I became entrhalled with many mediocre stars: Terry Porter, Billy Owens, Trot Nixon, Calbert Cheaney, Carl Pickens, The immortal (to me) Jim Jackson. Don’t get me wrong, all of these guys had success. You don’t become a fan and they wouldn’t play if they didn’t have some talent. But they never achieved the accolades and numbers of the stars of their day. And I don’t think it’s right if they’re not remembered.

When the Fab 5 were playing for Michigan (illegally, but who cares), people instantly knew talented superstars Chris Webber and Jalen Rose. Sports fans knew who Juwan Howard and Jimmy King were. But NO ONE knew who that last guy was. His name was Ray Jackson, and of the 5, he was the only one that wasn’t a top 50 rectruit coming out of high school. He was the last one to earn a starting gig. The first to be forgotten. But you know who did know who he was? Michigan coach Steve Fisher ‘s Dad. Now Papa Fisher was an ex coach himself so he knew a thing or 2 about basketball. And whenever son Steve would call and talk about the team, Papa 1st wanted to talk about Ray Jackson. “I just like the way he plays, son” was what he would always say about Ray. Mr. Fisher saw something in Ray that he saw in himself and THAT is what makes sports interesting. That’s what I love about sports.

So I’ve decided to write a monthly column, and award a mediocre athlete every month. Now the criteria for winning this prestigious achievement is 2 fold. One, you can win it by being a player who excels in light of being a non-superstar. This is the positive side of the award. Players, like the ones above, who have stood out and shaken off the chains of inferiority and have taken steps to becoming, if not THE man on the team, a solid, relied upon contributor. Think Mike James from a few years back. Before that season in Toronto, the only thing I knew about Mike James was that he showed up a few times in those And 1 Mix tapes (presumably because he had an abundance of free time on his hands). Mr. James has been on 10 teams in 9 seasons. 10!!! Then goes to Toronto and absolutely blows up. He played all 82 games that year and averaged over 20 points per game. Slam magazine gave him amonthly column. He got a fat contract from the T’Wolves the next season (oh Minnesota, you never learn). He ended up not being able to beat out a rookie for the starting gig in Minny and he’s never really been heard from again. Barring that one season, James has averaged just 7ppg….that’s right. 7. He’s currently the 12th man on the Washington Wizards. I want to honor guys like Mike while the going is good for them.

 Now, I amentioned the criteria to win is 2 fold. While the Louis Murphys of the world would be thrilled that I’m acknowledging them,  You do not want to be Dwight Howard or Tom Brady and hear me coming down your street. Why not? Because superstars can also take home the mediocre achievement award…if their play is mediocre. My all seeing eye is currently resting on the San Antonio Spurs. How in the world is this team hovering around .500?? They’re currently behind the Houston Rockets who had a guy named David Andersen playing in the 4th quarter on Wednesday. So superstars, you’ve been warned. You too can achieve mediocrity. Depending on if a mediocre nobody is exceling or if a superstar somebody is atrophying more, I will decide which way the award pendelum will swing. I’ll announce the award winner for December ’09 later in the month.

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