|Making the call|
By Eric Neel
Page 2 columnist
The assignment is easy: Choose one from each of the following pairings.
The criteria aren't so easy: There aren't any, except the ones I provide.
The stakes are the usual: Humiliation and scorn.
The pairs, dropped in my inbox by dotcom editor-extraordinaire David Schoenfield over the weekend, look like this:
NBA: Iverson or J-Kidd?
I love Kidd. I love his think pass first, and then making passes only maybe one or two other guys in the history of the league could have thought of and pulled off. He flings passes and the game hovers between five guys like a collective vision, a shared feeling. The way the ball comes off his fingertips -- never lingering too long, never coming to rest -- it's the way Naismith imagined things, I think.
But for all that, if I have to choose just one, I'll take Iverson. What he does night in and night out, at the size, and from the angles, and with the snarl? Un-freakin-believable is what it is. Mi-freakin-raculous. I'm with Willie Nelson on this: My heroes have always been cowboys.
NFL: Randy Moss or Jamal Lewis?
Unstoppable jets and lift on the one hand and a relentless hammer on the other. One drops your jaw. The other inspires a steady, admiring nod of the head. One stretches the field so the running game can breathe. The other pulls the center of defensive gravity to the middle so his receivers can break free one-on-one. Tight race. Let's go off the board; let's go to aesthetics: Moss wears that sweet Viking horn on his helmet, the horn of Frantastic and Justice Page, that's good. But Lewis has that poetic bird on his, complete with old-school echoes of Poe's feel for inspiring fear and staring down damnation, that's tit for tat.
Let's go further off the board; let's go to extra-history: Let's see, says here one guy tried to run a meter maid over with his hood ornament a while back. The other? Not so much. Judges? Jamal it is.
MLB: A-Rod (+$96 million) or Manny (-$96 million)?
But I can't say any of that because I don't think like a GM, I think like a fan. I want to see the bold stroke. I want magic time. I want Schil and A-Rod on the cover of the Boston media guide under the heading "Armed and Dangerous." I tend to believe most of what I hear about Manny's attitude and I tend to think Richy Alex should be willing to give up a bit of green to make the Boston deal work, but that's not the point. The point is, it's going to take something grand, something as grand as Rodriguez's quick, long, smile-of-the-gods swing, to knock George out. So call me reckless and give me A-Rod, whatever the price.
College Football: Eli Manning or Larry Fitzgerald?
But Eli, Eli's got it worse. His first name is solid and true; it means faithful. But his last name is "Manning." Manning means high expectations. It means blessed by the gods but cursed by the fates. It means close but no cigar. It means are you as good as your dad? Can you play like your brother? And when are any of you going to be good enough to win it all? Larry's rock is a pebble compared to the weight Eli's got stitched across his back. I'm with Larry. (As I finished writing this, I suddenly thought maybe it was supposed to be a Heisman comparision/pick, and I thought I'd have to start over. Then I realized: Yeah, right, like anybody cares about the Heisman any more ...)
Pop Culture: Catherine Zeta-Jones or Nicole Kidman?
Until the next five, these are my calls and I'm sticking with 'em.
Eric Neel is a regular columnist for Page 2.