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Welcome to another edition of Page 2's weekly Power Rankings, where the
confusion cosmic injustice of a world in which the robbery and murder of two Mexican midget wrestlers by fake prostitutes gets one-billionth the attention of Michael Jackson is replaced by the clarity of making a list:
Credentials: Posing as mixed-martial arts champ "Brock Lesnar," performance satirist/comic provocateur Sacha Baron Cohen shakes up UFC 100 by making obscene gestures in victory, taunting defeated opponent Frank Mir, blasting event beer sponsor and telling audience about upcoming intimate relations with his wife. Er, hold up. "Brock Lesnar" is actually a real guy?
Off by only 25 years
Credentials: According to reports, Xavier's Jordan Crawford dunks hard on LeBron James during a basketball camp scrimmage, leading a representative of his shoe sponsor to confiscate video of the slam. Dear sneaker overlords: What's the big deal? R. Kelly had an embarrassing tape go public, and he's just fine.
Sitting on marketing gold
Credentials: FADE IN. JAMES is sitting on a recliner, remote control in hand, a white towel over his head. He plays and replays grainy footage of Jordan Crawford dunking on him. We see the carnage. JAMES turns to the camera, shaking his head. JAMES: "Everyone gets dunked on." BEGIN MONTAGE of JAMES dunking on various NBA players, hard. CUT to JAMES standing in front of a wall-size bulletin board. Along the top are names like YAO, HOWARD, GARNETT, THABEET and GRIFFIN. Below each name is a box; some of the boxes are check-marked. JAMES holds a large magic marker. He is smiling ever so slightly. JAMES: "Everyone." FADE TO SWOOSH.
Somehow this is all Isiah's fault
Credentials: Official NBA memo warns that the league salary cap and luxury-tax thresholds are expected to decline in 2010-11 -- likely by enough to prevent New York from signing more than one max-salary player, significantly reducing the franchise's ability to add James. Not to worry, Knicks fans: When it comes to posterized pro basketball players, you'll always have Frederic Weis.
Where's the love?
Credentials: Michael Jackson's "Thriller," greatest hits compilations top album sales charts; pundits and celebrity peers dub Jackson the greatest entertainer in the history of human entertaining; ignoring obvious video evidence (i.e., "Jam") to the contrary, Magic Johnson credits Jackson with making him a better point guard. And yet: no one has a single nice thing to say about Jackson's 1995 collection of nonclassics, which may as well come packaged with a Michael Jordan Bullets throwback jersey and Woody Allen's "Curse of the Jade Scorpion." Look, it's one thing to gloss over Jackson's child molestation allegations; it's quite another to pretend sonic atrocities like "Stranger in Moscow," "D.S." and "2 Bad" -- featuring Shaquille O'Neal! -- never happened. Dear America: Stop cherry-picking!
Going one glove up on Corey Haim, Rockwell
Credentials: Actor best remembered for "The Goonies" shows up to Jackson memorial service in full MJ costume; surprisingly, Al Sharpton's address to Jackson's children -- "there wasn't nothing strange about your daddy, it was strange what your daddy had to deal with!" -- was not a reference to Feldman's sartorial homage.
Needs more sequins
Credentials: Seattle slugger eschews customary black batting gloves for a single white glove and "Billie Jean" introduction music while hitting against Baltimore; in related news, Ken Griffey Jr. makes national headlines for the first time since 2004.
Now with 15 percent more wacky
Credentials: Newest Los Angeles Laker selects uniform No. 37 to commemorate "Thriller's" 37 weeks atop the charts, also releases a rap tribute to Jackson which demonstrates that: (a) Artest really loved the King of Pop; (b) Artest totally misunderstands the word "tribute."
Credentials: European futbol star draws 80,000 fans to his Real Madrid introduction, which does not include: (a) a game; (b) a practice; (c) anyone wearing a sequined white glove; (d) Manny Ramirez; (e) Brett Favre. No wonder ESPN continues to expand into European soccer.
Roll out the TARP
Credentials: Ex-ballplayer-turned-purported-financial-whiz files for bankruptcy protection, citing no more than $50,000 of assets and between $10 million and $50 million of liabilities. Relevant point No. 1: Not even Lehman Brothers was that overleveraged. Relevant point No. 2: If, after the careful bookkeeping that goes into a Chapter 11 filing, you're not sure if your liabilities are closer to $10 million or $50 million ... that might be why you're bankrupt.
Not gonna make a ... CHANGE
Credentials: In a long, rambling statement posted on his Web site and entitled "Just the Facts," Dykstra contends that he is simply the victim of meritless claims; that he is pursuing a number of lawful claims against thieves and bad actors; that he will emerge from Chapter 11 "free from the attacks of those who have attempted to extort" him; that his glossy magazine aimed at pro athletes will continue to publish; that he is 111-0 in either stock picks or court cases; that he should have invested in his own stock picks even though that would be illegal; that he remains a "humbled servant" devoted to helping YOU make money; that he stands shoulder to shoulder with Henry Ford, Thomas Jefferson and Burt Reynolds; that there are no American tanks at the Baghdad Airport; and that on Dec. 21, 2012, the world will end and we will return to our natural states as beings of pure light.
@ZOD: no, you kneel before me
Credentials: Chad Ochocinco says he wants to Twitter during games, sending the NFL into a reflexive spasm of frumpiness; tennis player Justin Gimelstob Twitters during a doubles match, thereby getting Justin Gimelstob noticed; Tony La Russa drops his dubious lawsuit against Twitter, even though he HAS A LAW DEGREE IN CASE YOU'VE NEVER HEARD. Three up, three down, another winning week for the greatest invention since the Ginzu knife. Imagine if Twitter actually made money!
What becomes of a dream deferred?
Credentials: Anna Kournikova shows up to World Team Tennis matches wearing a gargantuan diamond on her left finger -- probably signifying her engagement to longtime beau Enrique Iglesias, definitely dashing the hopes of millions of guys who never had a chance, anyway.
First runner-up receives her dignity
Credentials: Jose Canseco scheduled to fight competitive eater Bill "Wingador" Simmons in celebrity boxing match on July 24; afterward, Canseco will appear at an after-fight party to pick the winner of a "Win a Date With Jose Canseco" contest. Conrad's Marlow had an easier assignment.
Resistance is futile
Credentials: Mountain West Conference signs on to the four-year contract between the BCS and ESPN, ending its six-month war to change the BCS method of selecting a college football national champion (no playoff) and divvying up bowl spoils (big fish eat the little ones). Meanwhile, BCS antitrust hearings led by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, produced zilch -- probably because voters are more concerned about unemployment than the plight of Utah football, possibly because the BCS threatened to send a cybernetic killing machine back in time to assassinate Hatch's PAC donors.
No longer needed at Yankee Stadium
Credentials: New York City, Yankees reach $10K settlement with Queens man who was detained and booted from old Yankee Stadium for attempting to leave his seat and use the bathroom during "God Bless America." In related news: Somebody willingly wanted to use the bathrooms at old Yankee Stadium.
Your next Supreme Court justice
Credentials: MLB umpire ejects Manny Ramirez after Dodgers slugger reacts to called strike three by dropping bat, tossing helmet and flipping elbow pad to the ground in disgust. Explains Hirschbeck: "I didn't have a problem with the bat and the helmet. The elbow pad, tossing it in the air, that's a bit far." Whatever you say, Solomon.
Still trailing matadors 958-1
Credentials: Glass half-empty: 27-year-old Spanish man gored to death during the annual Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. Glass half-full: 27-year-old Spanish man no longer has to worry about getting gored at next year's annual Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.
Free at last
Credentials: Washington Nationals address root cause of status as worst team in baseball by firing
entire bullpen a middle-aged guy who wears a uniform, but doesn't actually pitch or hit.
Swift, not so terrible
Credentials: Hirschbeck-ian French cycling officials fine Lance Armstrong's Astana team a whopping $92 -- enough to fund five minutes of cancer research, or buy Ashley Olsen a half-dozen drinks -- for arriving late for pre-stage registration during Tour de France. Robespierre would not be impressed.
Is, in fact, still alive
Credentials: According to US Weekly, turned down Heather Graham role in box office hit "The Hangover" because she thought the screenplay "had no potential"; instead currently starring in made-for-cable fake-pregnancy knee-slapper "Labor Pains." Put Lohan in charge of an NBA franchise, and she's Kevin McHale.
Biggest national menace since Y2K bug
Credentials: ESPN's own Erin Andrews struck in the chin by a foul ball during a New York Mets-Los Angeles Dodgers game. The horror. America can't become a curling nation soon enough.
Also receiving votes: Ozzie Guillen speculating that Bartolo Colon's short-lived disappearance may have been due to grief over Michael Jackson; Justin Timberlake's plans to write a memoir about his favorite golf holes, which figures to be at least as interesting as Tiger Woods' upcoming compilation of album reviews; North Korean cyber attacks disabling the Treasury Department's Web site, yet leaving Perez Hilton untouched; a video game collector paying $17,000 for a rare NES title that doesn't make use of R.O.B.; New Zealand taekwondo athlete Logan Campbell opening a brothel to help fund his bid for the 2012 Olympics, possibly because he didn't hold on to his old NES game collection; Erik Estrada's seventh-inning Chicago Cubs broadcast chat, in which he praised Ron Jeremy's equipment and said, "I've seen my fair share of child pornography and I want to do something about it." Where's Officer Jon when you really need him?
Never receiving votes: Anonymous sources close to the situation who are 100 percent sure that James said he's staying in Cleveland, unless he didn't; Brettfavrebrettfavre throwing footballs for Minnesota Vikings coaches, reportedly putting down a deposit on a Minnesota condo -- wake us up when September starts; Lisa Leslie, who couldn't hit a basket to save the WNBA's life on "The Superstars"; Aussie rugby player Nate Myles, who drunkenly defecated in a hotel hallway after being locked out of his room, and probably has never even heard of Najeh Davenport; Formula One mogul Bernie Ecclestone blaming the global financial crisis on Jews while apologizing for previous comments praising Hitler, which is like taking your foot out of your mouth in order to insert an entire gangrenous leg.
Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2.