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Welcome to another edition of Page 2's weekly Power Rankings, where the confusion of a world in which the Boston Red Sox actually fire two employees for using steroids -- note: not the two you're thinking of -- is replaced by the clarity of making a list:
Steroids in baseball? Get out!
Credentials: Beloved Boston Red Sox sluggers David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez reportedly among the 104 major league players listed as having tested positive for performance-enhancing substances in 2003, a revelation as shocking and innocence-shattering as: (a) claims that "American Idol" is rigged and saddles contestants with unfair contracts; (b) the day the Surgeon General got around to putting warning labels on cigarette packs; (c) Sammy Sosa being on the same list.
Lost wages, decreased production, public censure, etc.
Credentials: Joint steroid taint forces Major League Baseball to void 2004 postseason victories for New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, award World Series title to runner-up St. Louis Cardinals. Oh, wait. That will never happen. Bobby Bowden picked the wrong sport. Remember, kids -- winners don't do drugs!
Prophet of Doofus told you so. Really, he did
Credentials: Reality show vagabond/celebrity boxer/steroid Diogenes reacts to Ortiz news by stating that he's not surprised, that he knows the other names on the positive test list, that he also knows of a Hall of Fame member who has juiced and that "what I speak out of my mouth is the truth. It burns like fire." As opposed to burning like Vai Sikahema's left hook.
He's back! (Probably)
Credentials: Former quarterback/convict partially reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the conditions that he: (1) receive counseling; (2) work with mentor Tony Dungy; (3) inform Goodell about his living and financial arrangements; (4) not create himself in "Madden 10" before Week 6 of the season; (5) wave good night to overhead league Predator drones before going to sleep.
He's gone! (Possibly)
Credentials: Flip-flopping quarterback finally -- mercifully -- makes up his mind, deciding to forgo comeback with Minnesota Vikings and remain retired. Why believe him? Let's look at the empirical evidence:
Reasons Brett Favre Will Play Football Again
Nobody loves football more
Tarvaris Jackson knee injury
Stick it to Green Bay Packers
No stake driven through heart
Not crushed in hydraulic press
Not blown out an airlock
Not subject to line-item veto
Not banished to Friday night time slot
Not hit with tactical nukes from orbit, just to be sure
Reasons Brett Favre Will NOT Play Football Again
Because he says so
Is it London yet?
Credentials: After suffering his first major individual loss in four years in the 200-meter freestyle at the world swimming championships in Rome, America's most-decorated inhaler bounces back with a convincing 100-meter butterfly win over mouthy Olympic rival Milorad Cavic. U-S-A! And with the start of NFL training camp, that's 42 more words about swimming than you'll read in the next six months.
Credentials:OK, pop quiz -- Which of the following did Phelps' coach, Bob Bowman, complain about?
(a) The new, highest-tech polyurethane swimming bodysuit that helped Germany's Paul Beidermann defeat Phelps
(b) The older, previously high-tech bodysuit that helped Phelps win eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics
(c) Just A
Wardrobe malfunction, please
Credentials: Actress discusses stunt work, strength training needed to wear skintight Lycra catsuit for upcoming "Iron Man II." Meanwhile, "Iron Man II" set to become greatest film of all time. Sorry, "Citizen Kane."
Credentials: Former (and likely to remain that way) NBA guard gets a bit, um, wacky on his shirtless webcasts, babbling and crying and eating Vaseline. The really crazy part? The prime-time network landscape that brought you "Flavor of Love," "The Littlest Groom" and "Britney & Kevin: Chaotic" has yet to pick Marbury up.
Credentials: Injury-riddled ballclub flounders on the diamond; off the field, GM Omar Minaya fires shirt-doffing, wanna-be-startin'-something executive Tony Bernazard, then accuses New York Daily News reporter Adam Rubin of undermining Bernazard in order to score a job in the Mets' front office. Sigh. Looking back, who knew the Anna Benson era would seem so halcyon and drama-free?
A well-intentioned mess
Credentials: Michelle Obama's much-publicized organic vegetable garden reportedly dogged by toxic, lead-contaminated sludge, the result of Clinton-era lawn fertilization via sewage dumping. Note: The preceding is an actual news item, and not a carefully constructed metaphor for President Obama's floundering health-care reform effort.
On second thought, DO fear him
Credentials: A Virginia Tech study finds that texting while driving causes a 23-fold increase in accident risk. The World Health Organization announces that tanning beds are "definitely carcinogenic." Former Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen proclaims total faith in University of Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez. Cold, lifeless kisses all around.
Head-first slide to nowhere
Credentials: Hank Aaron says he would like to see Rose in the Hall of Fame. In a signature flourish of do-nothing doublethink, MLB commissioner Bud Selig reportedly is considering reinstating Rose, and also reportedly has not changed his thinking on the matter. In the interim, Rose continues to suffer -- after all, balls autographed "PETE ROSE HOF" figure to fetch more than ones reading "I BET ON BASEBALL."
Not just for cats
Credentials: Tour de France winner Alberto Contador snipes at Lance Armstrong in interview, stating he has no personal admiration for his former teammate. Armstrong fires back on Twitter, telling Contador to "drop the drivel" and "there is no 'I' in 'team.'" To review: One guy wins a race with the other guy's help, then airs his dirty emotional laundry, while the other guy uses Twitter to fight back with a cheesy cliché contradicted by every aspect of his existence on Earth. Is it possible to have a double TKO on account of sheer lameness?
Now even more unrecognizable
Credentials: En route to record 17th consecutive losing season, roster-dumping team has just one remaining position player from its 2008 opening-day lineup. In totally unrelated news, federal government's $1 billion "cash for clunkers" automotive trade-in program proves so popular it runs out of money.
Wondering why no one makes tinfoil American flags
Credentials: Conspiracy-minded Lou Dobbs-wing movement demands that President Obama produce his birth certificate in order to prove that he's actually an American citizen, and not some sort of Kenyachurian Candidate sent to destroy the country one White House beer at a time. All of which sounds a bit too convenient, almost like a distraction, as if some powerful hidden hand wants us to forget that the 1985 NBA draft lottery ever happened ...
Credentials: The good news? Washington Nationals outfielder becomes 13th player in major league history to hit two grand slams in a game. The bad news? Following the trade deadline, Willingham remains a National. (The awful news? He probably isn't on your fantasy roster.)
Charter member of He-Man Playoff Hater's Club
Credentials: Dallas Cowboys quarterback reportedly bans former girlfriend Jessica Simpson from his home with a sign reading, "RED ALERT!!! TONY ROMO HAS MADE SOME CHANGES TO HIS LIST OF PEOPLE ALLOWED IN .... JESSICA IS NO LONGER ON THE LIST AND NOT APPROVED FOR ACCESS." In related news, Tony Romo finally heard Simpson's cover of "Take My Breath Away."
Why ask why?
Credentials: Reality TV starlet reportedly splits with New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush, creating a net impact of zero on anyone reading this. Enjoy the picture.
Credentials: According to scientists, evolution is driving females to become increasingly more beautiful; in the same week, former NFL quarterback Jeff George insists he can still play, demonstrating that males remain incorrigibly dumb.
Also receiving votes: Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson barking at actor Jonah Hill for changing his seats near the team bench in order to allow the crew of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" to shoot, a case of life imitating art, specifically the show's previous "Shaq" episode; Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo reportedly getting liposuction -- new rule: Any professional athlete who gets lipo automatically gives up known-by-one-name status; the Venezuelan national men's basketball team showing up in Alabama for a phony tournament, sure to improve already-stellar U.S.-Venezuela relations; Delaware planning to offer some form of sports gambling despite an injunction filed by the four major pro leagues, marking the first time local government has put its money-making needs ahead of those of professional sports; Ponzi artiste Bernard Madoff telling attorneys that there were several times he mistakenly thought he was about to be busted by the SEC, which is apparently run by Chief Wiggum. Nice work, boys!
Never receiving votes: Arena football's Albany Firebirds reaching the playoffs after the eighth-seeded Florida Firecats are disqualified for owing the league $200,000; Arizona state lawmakers reportedly pondering selling their House and Senate buildings, then leasing them back over several years to cover huge budget deficits, which is one way to avoid getting bounced from the Arena league playoffs, and also sounds like the governing equivalent of an ARM and/or Cash-4-Gold; headlines declaring that increasingly rotund Kevin Federline "Shocks Fans Over New Size." Shock No. 2: Kevin Federline has fans.
Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2.