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Monday, May 16, 2011
Power Rankings: Chicago hope

By Greg Hardy
Special to Page 2

It's time to tip-toe around the hibernating (and locked out) Monsters of the Midway for the 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 couldn't stop itself from projecting exactly what type of character Ashton Kutcher will play on "Two and a Half Men." Its best four guesses: ex-bartender, aspiring astronaut, jazz saxophone instructor or professional Demi Moore paparazzo stalker. To the results!

1. Showtime for Chicago

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.4 9.7 19.1

Credentials: Yeah, we've heard the excuses from Chicago basketball fans for years. "Best-case scenario, how are we supposed to get excited about a Bulls title run post-MJ?" Well, now you've got a bona fide NBA playoff run going, so you better get excited. Because what else do you have to root for? Your Bears are giving you the silent treatment. The White Sox and Cubs are so underwater that Lake Michigan is threatening to sue for copyright infringement. And if you're trying to impress us with that anomaly Blackhawks NHL title from last season, why don't you show us where that winning puck ended up? You better hurry up and decide who to root for, because even though Oprah Winfrey says she's taking over the United Center this week to tape her show's finale, we wouldn't put it past her that she's trying to embed herself as the Windy City's new WNBA franchise owner and have the Chicago Sky win the hearts and minds of sports fans from the North to South side. Why not catch Joakim Noah fever? Or at least try to talk Lovie Smith into copying Joakim's wardrobe for postgame interviews.


2. Heat party time

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.2 9.1 18.3

Credentials: Aww gee, look who forgot how to celebrate. Yup, that's quite an emotional swing for the Heatles from Celtics Game 5 to Chicago Game 1. We're not one to challenge the maturity of Dwyane and LeBron, but the difference in their body language is the same as a high school junior at midnight Friday, when she's throwing a killer house party because her parents are out of town, and 1 a.m. Saturday, when mom and dad show up in the driveway because they realize they left behind the keys to the beach house on top of the refrigerator. A refrigerator that had just 10 minutes before been thrown in the Jacuzzi.


3. Jorge Posada

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.8 8.4 17.2

Credentials: Look at the bright side, Jorge. At least you're not penciled in ninth in this week's Power Rankings. Of course, the interesting angle here isn't how quickly the storyline blew over in the Yankees dugout, which we knew it would in the grand scheme of things. But this will be the blueprint of how Jeter and A-Rod will eventually be delivering the news that their highly paid skills are savagely diminishing. Speaking of delivering, is it too early for those guys to lay plans for "Core Four Five Boroughs Pizza Delivery"? Andy Pettitte could start sampling sauce recipes.


4. "O-K-C! O-K-C!"

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.7 7.4 15.1

Credentials: The ballad of Memphis' surprising run through the second round of the NBA playoffs was drowned out Sunday by a Thunder home crowd that spelled out its allegiance. As far as "spelling bee" chants go, it still trails New York's "J-E-T-S!" and college football's "S-E-C!" But they've definitely overtaken Cameron Indoor Stadium's short-lived "Gimme a K! Gimme a ... wait, what?" salute to Coach Krzyzewski in the mid-1990s.


5. Dirk Nowitzki

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.1 7.5 14.6

Credentials: We're not saying the Mavericks' power forward is being overlooked in these playoffs. But hopefully if he brings home a Larry O'Brien Trophy to Dallas, he will get more and longer attention in the heart of Texas than Chad Ochocinco riding a bull for 1.5 seconds.


6. New "Apprentice" boss

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.2 6.4 12.6

Credentials: NBC has cast its vote for Donald Trump: They've said that if he ever decides to run for president, he can't host "The Apprentice" but the show would go on. So who would we nominate to throw his or her hat or hairpiece into the ring? Our hunch tells us Ozzie Guillen has the leadership credentials and salty vocal stylings to give Trump a run for his money. Start Ozzie with a pilot of "MLB Ex-Owners Apprentice" so we can hear him tell Frank McCourt, "You're #$%&@n' Fired!"


7. Gold Pants delayed

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.3 5.4 10.7

Credentials: It's a tradition! Since the 1930s, if you're an Ohio State football player, the only thing sweeter than free tattoos is your "gold pants" -- a small golden charm in the shape of the leggings of hated Michigan you earn if your squad beats the Wolverines that year. And while the Buckeyes did win the rivalry game in 2010, the group that hands out the trinkets is sitting on the golden pants to see if the win gets vacated by the NCAA. C'mon, Gold Pants Club. First of all, we're sorry that your organization sounds more like a Tampa, Fla., gentleman's club than a Columbus, Ohio, booster club. But hand out the Gold Pants, and if the victory is later rescinded, just take a cue from youth soccer and call them "Participation Pants." There's no shame in anyone putting on their Participation Pants one leg at a time.


8. Three-putting fail

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.0 5.0 10.0

Credentials: Pro golfers can't hear "Ponte Vedra Beach" without thinking, "Island Green." And now David Toms, at 44, won't be able to hear "Island Green" without thinking, "I can't believe I missed from 3 feet." He can't blame it on pressure from Tiger Woods, who withdrew from The Players Championship on the first day because now he can't hear himself warm up without thinking, "Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch."


9. Lightning power

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.8 4.4 9.2

Credentials: Tampa Bay is storming through the NHL Eastern Conference playoffs with eight wins in a row and outscoring the Penguins, Capitals and Bruins 34-16 in the span. It's still a long way to lifting Lord Stanley's trophy, but they're making the electrical rainy day run by the Bishop in "Caddyshack" look like he got grazed by an extra-staticy dryer sheet.


10. Professional Lacrosse Champs!!!

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.0 4.2 8.2

Credentials: Congratulations to the Toronto Rock on winning the National Lacrosse League title game! Sorry that we haven't monitored your entire postseason run -- or even knew you existed until we read the briefs headline in USA Today -- but we can only assume your road to playoff glory included triumphs over the Buffalo Paper and the Minnesota Scissors.


11. Diego Maradona

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.2 3.1 7.3

Credentials: Argentina's huge soccer legend has been hired by the United Arab Emirates club Al Wasl in a two-year deal. Uh, to coach or in hopes he'll beef up and provide shade for the stadium on those 120 degree days?


12. San Jose Sharks

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
3.0 3.2 6.2

Credentials: Maybe you're a peripheral NHL fan and not sure if the Stanley Cup finals have started. Well, here's a simple test: Check the TV listings. If the San Jose Sharks are playing tonight, the Stanley Cup finals haven't started, yet.


13. NFL lockout blues

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
2.1 2.4 4.5

Credentials: Welcome back to Mediation Madness in Minneapolis! The NFL players have been so busy Twittering about how they're getting screwed in the negotiations that they almost missed it when the owners tried to slip in a clause that forced players to contribute money to a pool the owners could withdraw from when players typed disparaging things about the owners on Twitter. This is what's called hardball, folks.


Also receiving votes
• Michael Vick, commencement speaker: Kudos to the Eagles quarterback for stepping up to dole out words of wisdom to the at-risk teens of Philadelphia's Camelot Schools who have conquered the odds and are ready to tackle the job market. This is not only an important showcase for Vick in restoring his luster as a role model, it will give him a chance to test some material that could prove inspirational in telling Donovan McNabb things he'll need to hear to keep his chin up once the Redskins cut him.

Never receiving votes
• Chad Ochocinco's 1.5-second bull ride: No, this was not a deleted scene from "Bridesmaids." But that would have been funny, too.

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


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