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Monday, August 14, 2006

Previous Editions: 31-40 and 41-50.

21-30: The Deeply Offensive

30. Dick Vitale

I know Vitale is a very, very nice man, but the sad fact is he ruins basketball games. He's totally unlistenable in doses larger than six seconds; his cute nicknames and acronyms spawned countless irritating imitators; the image of Vitale sensuously bathing Coach K's most private, most special tickly bits with his overworked tongue has haunted the dreams of too many Americans.

MJD probably said it best:
mjd : Oh, good, it’s Dick Vitale.
mjd : I want to set him on fire.

29. Marcus Vick

Punks come and go but it takes a special kind of imagined privilege to act like Marcus Vick. Over the course of his Virginia Tech career, Vick
  • was pulled over for speeding, whereupon it was found that what he lacked in driver's license he possessed in marijuana,
  • got his mack on with an underage girl,
  • stomped on Elvis Dumerville's knee,
  • aaaaand everybody's favorite: pulled a gun at McDonald's because they were out of Chicken McNugget happy meals.*
Throughout it all he managed to be insincerely contrite, even objecting to comparisons to Lawrence Phillips because he "wasn't a bad guy like that."


*(okay, okay, it was because his girlfriend told him someone called her a bitch. The substitution stands since it's funnier and no less crazy.)

27. Tony Parker & 28. Manu Ginobli

The Spurs' mighty Backcourt of Foreign Annoyance. Parker is the main offender, being
  • French
  • badly misinformed about his verbal dexterity,
  • the designated railer of Eva Longoria, and
but Ginobli's inexplicable carte blanche to charge whoever he feels like at any time, ass-kicking of the US basketball team, and strong resemblance to a swordfish are grating in precisely the opposite direction. Combined, the two are sandpaper to one's tolerance, eventually wearing away the outer layers until all that's left is the throbbing white hot center of "please blow an ACL, you frogs."

26. Scoop Jackson

Some people -- Simmons, Leitch -- chafe at the strictures imposed by print journalism's miserly rationing of wordcount. These Internets butterflies need the freedom of the Web to emerge from the straightjacket of convention into a style that is uniquely theirs and uniquely effective.

Scoop Jackson is the exact opposite of these people.

For some reason, Scoop was the one drafted to fill Page 2's "Guy Who Talks About Being Black Guy" slot after the tragic death of Ralph Wiley, who was superior to Scoop in the following ways:
  • Wiley wrote in what's generally referred to as "English" instead of the weird combination of street patois and just general jibberish that fills the vast width and breadth of a Scoop column;
  • Wiley occasionally made sense (actually, he did quite frequently, but "occasionally" is enough to best Jackson);
  • Wiley never spent several hundred words spread across more than one column to hit on a sideline reporter;
  • Wiley was not referred to as "Scoop";
  • Wiley didn't tour the country telling young black kids they had a better chance of being an NBA player than a sportswriter;
  • Some of Wiley's paragraphs had more than one sentence;
  • aaaaaaaand Wiley didn't look like a hastily aborted Muppet experiment.
Wiley is spinning so fast in his grave he could probably be used as a supercollider.

25. Bill Wirtz

It's hard to remember now, but the Chicago Blackhawks are one of the most storied teams in NHL history. Growing up in Detroit the newly rejuvenated Red Wings usually ran up against Roenick's Blackhawks at some point; when they did it was time to start planning tee times. Nowadays a trip to the United Center to see a Hawks game is a depressing experience: there's a spectacular video linking past heroes like Tony Esposito to... er... Radim Vrbata? Kyle Calder? The Blackhawks once held an esteemed place in the Chicago sports scene, but now they're a glorified, cold version of the Chicago Fire. Except the Fire televise home games.

Since the Clippers made the second round of the playoffs this year and look like they may just be getting better, Wirtz is the new gold standard for miserly owners who take your money and turn it into crap. In 2004, the 'Hawks were named the worst franchise in sport by ESPN.

24. Steve Spurrier

Vols no likey.
Don't get me wrong, I like Spurrier and think having him college football is great. I hope he never leaves again and root for when South Carolina when they play heavyweights in the hopes one day Phil Fulmer will have a nervous breakdown. But it's a cold hard fact that if I was a fan of an SEC team other than Florida or Carolina I, channeling Zidane's mom, would want his balls on a platter.

In terms of sheer overall hateability Spurrier deserves a place on this list. Even people who like him call him "Evil Genius." He's petulant, childish, temperamental, snarky, and just damn better than your coach. After years of running up the score, then dropping devastating science during post game presser, the only man more widely despised across the south is General Sherman. If he turns South Carolina into anything resembling his Florida juggernauts entire states are going to end up mental. This is a section of the country where coaches skip media days so they don't get served supoenas.

23. Various Columnists From "Around The Horn"

You can't separate them once they pass through Around The Horn's event horizon of suck. Is Mariotti more loathesome than Simers? Simers more loathesome than Woody Paige? Does it matter? Lacking the good nature and charisma of Wilbon and Kornheiser, they all represent the same thing: sportswriting as witless screaming. Invariably, the most repulsive is the one who just got done talking.

22. Johnny Damon

No one's naive enough to believe that professional athletes care about anything but the size of their paycheck, but Damon's defection was a special case. First, the contract sizes in question were both ridiculous, but Damon went with the Yankee offer because it was incrementally more so. This is deeply irritating to those who wish to maintain the fiction that their professional athletes care as much about the fans as the fans to about them.

But in and of itself, that doesn't warrant placement higher than about the 40s, defections of Damon's sort being all too common in the modern-day sports world. He's up here because when Damon decided to take Steinbrenner's blood money and run he gave up not only the adoration of the city but his trademark Chewbacca locks. Shaggy and hirsute, Damon looked like Jesus. Clean-shaven and pinstriped, Yankee Damon is more Judas. Take it from a guy who reads a lot of chick baseball blogs: this is not generally regarded as an improvement.

Johnny Damon killed Unfrozen Caveman Centerfielder and all for what? A few million dollars more? How many solid-gold toilets do you need, Johnny?

21. Larry Brown

This is way better than coaching in the Finals.
Another man in search of yet more precious metals to poop in, Brown didn't even wait until the playoffs were over last year before bolting to the Knicks. To continue a theme: smooth move, Ex-Lax. This year, Brown's morose press conferences were context appropriate as Brown openly wondered whether he should kill Stephon Marbury or himself. And then Steve Francis showed up, a present from Isiah Thomas. If Thomas was not obviously the worst GM in the universe*, you would no doubt assume that this was an attempt to kill Brown and thus escape his onerous six kajillion dollar contract.

But since this is Isiah Thomas we're talking about, Brown got his six kajillion dollars. Now he can consider whether to kill himself on his private helicopter made entirely of diamond replicas of Stephon Marbury's bludgeoned skull.

At least this year Brown has gotten what he richly deserves: comeuppance.

*(Queries have been made as to Thomas' placement on this list. He does not appear, since his presence in the NBA proves without a doubt that anyone reading this could get a job with the Sonics or the Grizzlies or whoever and not be the worst GM in the league, which is something I savor every day when I wake up. I say to myself, "self, you would not be the worst GM in the NBA," and walk off with a pep in my step. That's a gift Isiah Thomas gives us.

Also: he threatened Bill Simmons with physical violence on the radio, prompting Stephen A. Smith to dismissively ask "who?" about a co-worker. And he made Larry Brown want to kill himself, definitively proving that some teams were beyond his power to "HEY! HEY! HEY!" into the playoffs. And he ruined the Knicks. For years. As I've said before, Thomas deserves a medal and we'll all be sorry when he's gone.)