Commentary

Power Rankings: Tour Edition

Originally Published: July 25, 2011
By Greg Hardy | Special to Page 2

Make sure your baseball cards are snug in the spokes of your 10-speed as we cycle through the ESPN.com Page 2 Power Rankings! Our formula combines the results of two surveys: a human poll concocted by ESPN Page 2's Greg Hardy and a scientifically calibrated poll generated by computer analysis. Unfortunately, our computer spent the weekend trying to forecast a Final Four for the Arena Football League playoffs (it came up with the Shock, Rush, Sharks and Force, whose city locations we're sure can be gleaned easily via Google search). To the results!

1. Scandal-Free Cycling

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.4 9.6 19.0

Credentials: In case you were wondering if it's possible to hold a Tour de France where the winner is from Australia, wonder no more. Cadel Evans, your Outback Steakhouse endorsement deal is ready when you are! But we're still reeling from the fact that it's possible to hold a Tour de France without a major doping scandal. Just to show we really try to put together investigative journalism and aren't just armchair jokers who riff off the reporting of others, we sketched out an exposé that proves Andy and Frank Schleck aren't just genetically talented brothers but the result of a manic cycling cloning experiment gone awry. Well, if there is cloning going on, at least the masterminds behind it were wise enough to give the other clones different last names to throw us off the scent.


2. NFL Lockout

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.5 9.0 18.5

Credentials: Just to show there are a mind-boggling number of details that must be ironed out now that the agreements are being put down on paper, reports indicate one of the final hurdles that prevented both sides from signing on the dotted line is finalizing the winning bid in awarding the designation of "The Official Pen Manufacturer of the NFL." But wait'll you see the Peyton Manning pen commercials!


3. Favre's back?

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.8 8.2 17.0

Credentials: One thing you've got to admire about the 41-year-old quarterback: Despite all the insurmountable records he owns, he's clearly hell-bent on owning the NFL streak of "consecutive comeback attempt rumors that make everyone want to drive off a cliff." And NFL owners, shame on you. You have no trouble of banding together for a months-long lockout, but in the blink of an eye some of you will break your necks rushing to end an NFL-wide Favre-out.


4. Bronze Phelps

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.7 7.2 14.9

Credentials: We were shocked to see the U.S. relay team open the world championships in Shanghai by finishing third in the 400 relay. We figured the next "Bronze Phelps" we'd hear of is if he went into the tanning spray business with The Situation.


5. Mustache-less Mariners

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.1 7.4 14.5

Credentials: Seattle manager Eric Wedge thought he could prevent a losing streak from hitting 15 games by shaving his mustache. Didn't work. Doesn't surprise us. That's the lamest sacrificial offering to the baseball gods we've ever heard of since A-Rod promised he'd stop kissing himself in the mirror to get out of a 3-for-21 slump.


6. Super Pirates

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.2 6.3 12.5

Credentials: Right now, one of the few things that could derail the above-.500 bliss atop the NL Central is if Pittsburgh's institutional muscle memory kicks in at the trade deadline and they dump Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen. Pirates fans, you're filling the ballpark now, someone start a letter-writing campaign to fend that off.


7. We Hate The Heat

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.4 5.1 10.5

Credentials: Does this mean we hate the summer's triple-digit temperatures that make it too hot to go outside and kiss our air conditioner to show it how much we love it ... or that we still hate the idea of the Miami Heat basketball team even if the NBA is in shutdown lockout mode and is therefore out of sight and out of mind? Well, one idea we're considering to make it cooler around here is to stop starting bonfires of Miami Heat jerseys and knickknacks. But that's been a fun way to make the slow summer days go by, so, no.


8. Fantasy football draft

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.2 4.8 10.0

Credentials: Just as the NFL's frenzied free-agent free-for-all will be entertaining for its disorganization, you've now got to scramble to get your own house in order. Quick! Does anyone know where to find: any fantasy draft magazines that will contain any useful information? where to rush-order giant wall posters to track everyone's draft picks? and someone to be in charge of that 12th and final team, because the guy we always tap as a last resort to be our 12th team manager still hasn't developed enough social skills over the past seven years that we'd want to be his friend for any reason other than he can run our 12th team and we don't have to kick out the guy running the 11th team? Just askin'.


9. Trick shot fail

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.1 4.2 9.3

Credentials: Futball fans, players and coaches were not amused after Manchester City's Mario Balotelli tried to glamour shot his way with a behind-his-back pivot tap of the ball that went wide of the L.A. Galaxy's net when he had a clear shot. Just a warning to you kids out there that harmless showboating will never be tolerated at any level. Keep international soccer classy, by continuing honorable traditions like injury flopping and accepting World Cup bribes. Or paying bribes for players to injury flop.


10. Supplemental draft

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.0 4.2 9.2

Credentials: Evidently, Terrelle Pryor is in danger of being left out of the NFL's supplemental draft ... because the former Ohio State quarterback might not fit the definition of someone eligible for the NFL's supplemental draft. The rules get obscure and technical, but it might be because he's over the rookie cap for the number of ill-gotten tattoos. Like any 21st-century job interview, it's all about making sure your tats aren't visible to future employers.


11. James Harrison, wedding guest

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.2 4.0 8.2

Credentials: Much of Ben Roethlisberger's wedding was shrouded in secrecy, but one of the biggest surprises was that the always-speaks-his-mind Steelers linebacker apparently scored an invite. Which means there must be no hard feelings after Harrison spoke his mind to Men's Health magazine about Big Ben's Super Bowl shortcomings. Still, we wouldn't be surprised if Harrison's wedding gift was a free subscription to every magazine in which he'll talk smack about his quarterback.


12. Dayton Dragons

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.0 3.2 7.2

Credentials: The Class-A baseball team has an 815-game sellout record, which breaks the pro record of the Portland Trail Blazers. The amazing thing about the sellout streak in this small Ohio town is that it never relied on drawing in fans with endless reruns of "LeBron James Voodoo Doll" nights.


13. "Hard Knocks" death watch

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
3.1 2.3 5.4

Credentials: At this point, good luck finding HBO's training camp reality show on your programming grid. We heard a last-minute bid was extended to the Oakland Raiders, but they decided to abstain. (Editor's note: Be forewarned that for the rest of the NFL season, the word "abstain" will be the go-to comedic reference used in association for whatever the Raiders screw up. Kind of like how we just rode out that wave of the word "Winning!" being associated with Charlie Sheen.)


Also receiving votes
• The polka-dot jersey: It's the most underappreciated piece of laundry in sports: Who cares about the Tour de France's yellow jersey for the overall leader, give us the polka-dot jersey that goes to the "King of the Mountains," which in this case was nabbed by Spain's ever-climbing Samuel Sanchez. Congrats! Next time you're in the mall in the Alps, find a group of 14-year-old girls who can help you coordinate an entire outfit at Forever 21.

Never receiving votes
• Any other Tour de France jerseys: There's a green jersey for top sprinter, which went to Britain's Mark Cavendish. A white jersey for top young rider went to France's Pierre Rolland. And there's a red jersey for the rider who got into the most crashes. Oh wait, that's not a red jersey, that's actually soaked with blood! Someone call an ambulance and get some mega-nasty-strength laundry detergent, pronto!

Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at Twitter.com/HardyVision.


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Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at Twitter.com/HardyVision.

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