Commentary

Page 2 Power Rankings: Curse edition

Originally Published: September 14, 2009
By Patrick Hruby | Page 2

Welcome to another edition of Page 2's weekly Power Rankings, where the confusion of a world in which Kanye West gets attention by being a yappy lout -- and people act like he's made some sort of terrible mistake -- is replaced by the clarity of making a list:

1. The Madden Curse

Believe

Ubiquity Intrigue Amusement Absurdity Trending
10 8 9 10

Credentials: Garrison Hearst
Barry Sanders
Eddie George
Daunte Culpepper
Marshall Faulk
Michael Vick
Donovan McNabb
Shaun Alexander
Vince Young
Brett Favre
Troy Polamalu
Larry Fitzgerald


2. Serena Williams

Graciously not about to shove an actual apology down anyone's throat

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8 10 5 7

Credentials: Here's the thing about tennis tirades: If you're going to blow your top over a close call, and you're going to wave your racket in menacing fashion, and you're going to drop multiple F-bombs while trying to intimidate and verbally overrun your target, then for the love of superbrat John McEnroe, train your sights on the chair umpire. The chair umpire has actual authority and standing. He/she literally sits above you. Umps are big boys and girls, worldly and experienced. Your infantile eruptions are not their first rodeos. So they'll sometimes take abuse. They'll often let you vent. They want you to self-correct. More to the point, when you tell them, "If I could, I would take this [expletive] ball and shove it down your [expletive] throat," you won't look like an unhinged, unsympathetic, Leona Helmsley-like bully who's picking on the low-level hired help just because you can.

(P.S. When releasing a statement of remorse, it helps if said statement expresses, um, remorse.)


3. LeBron James

Another all-LeBron channel? ESPN/ABC will be jealous

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6 9 7 8

Credentials: The good news? According to the New York Daily News, the New York Knicks might attempt to circumvent the salary cap by having parent company Cablevision offer James his own channel. The bad news? If the G4 channel and the new "Melrose Place" are any indication, having to fill said channel is hardly enticing. (The bad news for the rest of us? Cablevision never gave something similar to Stephon Marbury.)

3a. Derek Jeter

Luckiest man on the face of Manhattan

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6 9 7 8

Credentials: Beloved New York Yankees captain/babe magnet/consummate baseball pro surpasses Lou Gehrig's team record for career hits, then gets mobbed by appreciative teammates and cheered by fans who waited through a 67-minute rain delay. This is usually the space where we crack a joke … only we can't think of anything snarky to say. Damn you, Jeter!


4. The Twitter

Giveth and taketh away

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10 7 6 9

Credentials Allen Iverson breaks the news that he's heading to Memphis. Terrell Owens breaks the news that Brady Quinn is Cleveland's secret starting quarterback. Brandon Jacobs and Albert Haynesworth conduct some good ol'-fashioned trash talk. Oh, Twitter, is there anything your world-transforming mini-paragraphs can't do? Actually, yes: A district attorney dismissed Tila Tequila's accusations that Shawne Merriman choked her and held her to the ground, despite Tequila's tweeting that she's allergic to alcohol, that Merriman was in a 'roid rage, and that the entire judicial system is corrupt. Due process: The one area where whiz-bang social media makes less than a whit of difference. Well, at least until we amend the Constitution to include trial by jury of Facebook peers.


5. Ellen DeGeneres

Judge not, lest ye make millions of dollars

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7 5 5 4

Credentials: Daytime yakker replaces Paula Abdul as fourth "American Idol" judge despite lack of musical experience -- a missing credential that would probably matter if: (A) audience voting wasn't open to the same people who text votes to cable news shows; (B) the show's winner was awarded a scholarship to Juilliard; (C) anyone watched "A.I." for the actual music.


6. The Beatles

Still kind of a big deal

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9 5 8 3

Credentials: A New York Times magazine cover story. Articles in every major magazine and on every big Web site. Ubiquitous segments on national and local newscasts. While the country frets over President Obama indoctrinating defenseless, impressionable children, the Fab Four are doing just that via the newest "Rock Band" video game. When Sir Paul McCartney emerges from a black helicopter atop the smoking ruins of Mount Rushmore to outlaw assault rifles and "Left Behind" books and declare a one-world government of martial-socialist law, don't say we didn't warn you.


7. Oakland Raiders

Why ask why?

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8 6 10 10

Credentials: Never mind that you've had six straight seasons of double-digit losses. Or that you go through coaches the way "Friday Night Lights" goes through time slots. Or that your recent player-acquisition record -- Javon Walker, DeAngelo Hall, Gibril Wilson, Kwame Harris, Michael Huff et al -- leaves a very big something to be desired. If you're the Oakland Raiders, and the New England Patriots are interested in trading you Richard Seymour, why wouldn't you just hang up the phone? Why would you assume that, somehow, some way, you're not about to get horribly fleeced? Did that Randy Moss swap really work out so well?


7a. Bill Belichick

A hungry zombie's best friend

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7 6 5 3

Credentials: In shipping out Seymour while he still has value, Belichick continues the Pats' brilliant, ruthlessly efficient pattern of jettisoning players a little too early (when they can fetch something in return) instead of too late (when they become salary-cap deadweight). Good for Coach Hoodie. And potentially good for the nation. If health care reform becomes a reality, we want Belichick as death panel czar -- after all, how else to contain costs as the baby boomers retire en masse?


8. The Rage Inside

Still boilin' over!

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10 9 10 13

Credentials: A few weeks back, we noted that the nation's Town Hall Criers weren't particularly scary or strange; rather, they were simply acting like sports fans. As such, it was only a matter of time before politicians started getting into the spirit, as Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., did by shouting "You lie!" during President Obama's health care reform address to Congress. And while everyone acted appropriately appalled over Wilson's breach of Capitol Hill decorum -- remember, kids, save the good stuff for your race-baiting, fear-mongering campaign attack ads -- nobody called out the sheer lameness of the put-down. "You lie!"? Really? That's the best heckle Wilson could come up with? Major league baseball players hear stronger, more creative stuff on a nightly basis. So do NHL goalies and ACC basketball coaches. If Wilson really wants to get under Obama's skin, he should stand up and read aloud from "Dreams From My Father," the way D.C.-area uberheckler Robin Ficker once read to then-Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson. Or maybe Wilson and the other disgruntled House Republicans could synchronize their taunts with Cameron Crazies-style preprinted cheat sheets: When Obama mentions "America," chant "Goddamn"; when he says "public option," say "SO-CIAL-IS-M" CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP.

Alternately, Wilson and his ilk could just throw beer. Disruption-wise, that always does the trick.


9. Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre

The only escape is death's icy-sweet embrace

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10 6 9 10

Credentials: The Minnesota quarterback -- remember him? -- is back in the news after saying that he had a torn right biceps tendon last season … an ailment that was never listed on the New York Jets' injury reports, a possible rules violation now being investigated by the NFL. Zoinks! To put BicepsGate into perspective, simply consult the following chart:

Page 2 'Gate' Sub-Power Rankings

1. Water-
2. Nipple-
3. Zipper-
4. Skate-
17. Travel-
29. Trooper-
41. Spy-
44. Blago-
97. Hot Coffee-
211. Biceps-


10. Michael Jordan

Made the Hall of Fame? Seriously?

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8 5 7 9

Credentials: Uses awkwardly bitter and ungracious Hall of Fame acceptance speech to grind axe with Jerry Krause, Isiah Thomas, former high school coach and others on his imaginary, self-motivating enemies list. The truly sad part? MJ forgot to tweak Richard Esquinas, Karla Knafel, Abe Pollin, LaBradford Smith, Kwame Brown, "you guys" in the media, every player ever labeled the "Next Michael Jordan," anyone who ever bought a No. 23 throwback Bullets jersey, the Washington, D.C., dude whose date he stole, a bunch of random blackjack dealers and the coders who programmed "Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City."


11. Spencer Pratt vs. Jon Gosselin

There can be only one!

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8 6 7 9

Credentials: So it was written. So it shall be done. America can harbor -- endure, really -- only one King Doofus (read: feminine hygiene product) at a time. And for decades, we've enjoyed a peaceful, orderly succession: Mid-1980s Geraldo passed the Doofus Matrix of Leadership to Dan Quayle, who passed it to late-1980s Donald Trump, who passed it to Vanilla Ice, who passed it to Dan Cortese of BKTV, who passed it to O.J. Simpson, who passed it to Oasis for all 38 seconds of their North American tour, who passed it to Ross from "Friends," who passed it to Fred Durst, who passed it to Carrot Top, who passed it to Crazy Tom Cruise, who passed it to Drunk Hoff, who passed it to Dane Cook, who passed it to Alberto Gonzalez, who passed it to Kevin Federline, who passed it to Pratt, who ought to be passing it to Gosselin. Only Pratt won't let go, as evidenced by recent news that he's changing his first name to "King." En garde! Clearly, Pratt and Gosselin can't handle this like men -- if they could, they wouldn't be on this list in the first place -- leaving the Page 2 Power Rankings to settle the matter:

Source of fame

Gosselin: DNA replication
Pratt: As mysterious as dark matter
Advantage: Push. Octomom has Gosselin's number, while Pratt shares space with everyone else on "The Hills."

Default facial expression

Gosselin: Puffy and hungover
Pratt: Smug, like Byron Hout right before he got decked
Advantage: Gosselin. How does this guy have multiple girlfriends again?

Hair

Gosselin: Greasy up top
Pratt: Fuzzy-chinned
Advantage: Pratt. Indirectly, a better razor blade pitchman than Tiger Woods and Roger Federer combined.

Preferred accessory

Gosselin: Ed Hardy T-shirts
Pratt: Heidi Montag
Advantage: Gosselin. No. No. A thousand times no.

When cornered, will:

Gosselin: Tell his side of the story to a supermarket tabloid
Pratt: Throw a sucker punch (but only if you're wasted)
Advantage: Push. Both guys end up getting paid; joke's on the rest of us.

Dubious move

Gosselin: Midlife crisis at age 32
Pratt: Calling Montag the "2010 Michael Jackson"
Advantage: Pratt. Though in his defense, he's probably smart enough to have never listened to his wife sing.

True calling

Gosselin: Midlevel office IT dork
Pratt: Pro wrestling heel manager
Advantage: Push. But check back in 18 months.

Metaphoric relationship to pop culture

Gosselin: Barnacle to ship's hull
Pratt: Face-hugger to crew of the U.S.C.S.S. Nostromo
Advantage: Push. They win, we lose.

Verdict: D'oh! A 2-2 tie. The war of succession continues. Is it too soon to involve the Supreme Court?


12. Pittsburgh Pirates

Wait 'til next millennium!

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6 6 5 8

Credentials: To paraphrase Joseph Stalin -- and we swear, it's our first and last time -- a failure to win the World Series in Chicago or Boston is a teeth-gnashing, soul-destroying, purple-prose-inspiring tragedy; 17 straight losing seasons in Pittsburgh is a statistic.


13. Luddites

Vindicated at last

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2 4 7 10

Credentials: Frustrated by slow Internet transmission times, a South African technology company strapped a memory card to a carrier pigeon and completed a data swap between two offices 50 miles apart in just over two hours -- the same amount of time it takes to transfer 4 percent of data via the country's leading ISP. Two thoughts:

A. Who knew they had AOL dial-up service in South Africa?

B. If FIFA wants real-time online scores and match updates for next year's World Cup, it may want to start play now. Like, this afternoon.


14. Jim Riggleman

Stating the obvious

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5 5 10 6

Credentials: In a television interview, the Washington Nationals interim manager said that baseball players aren't "running up and down the court. We're not playing football with equipment on in 100-degree temperature. … My feeling is you ought to be ashamed of yourself if you get physically tired of playing baseball, because it shouldn't be that physically taxing." No kidding. If you're pumped full of stanozolol, HGH, female fertility drugs and enough amphetamines to wake Al Davis -- and you're still tired on the field -- you probably ought to consider a less taxing line of work. Like managing.


14a. John Isner

Also stating the obvious

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6 7 5 7

Credentials: Pressed by wacky morning radio DJs -- is there any other kind? -- American tennis player (reluctantly) said that the top-ranked female player in the world couldn't beat any male player ranked above No. 700-800 in the world. Which sounds mildly chauvinist, except:

A. It's inarguably true.

B. Said truth is simply a matter of size and muscle mass, biology and physics, and shouldn't be considered derogatory or demeaning to female players, any more than a championship high school football team's being no match for the Detroit Lions somehow belittles high school football. Apples and oranges.

C. The No. 1 women's player is Dinara Safina, who struggles enough against female players ranked outside the top 100.


15. The Contra Code

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A B A Select Start

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3 5 9 4

Credentials: Japanese video game maker Konami is set to release the downloadable Nintendo Wii title "Contra Rebirth," a side-scrolling, 2-D, thumb-spraining homage to the NES classic in which -- and we quote from the news release -- "Chief Salamander and his Neo-Salamander Force travel back to 1973 AD to invade Earth. They land in Central America and take control of the Shizuoka ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula. The Galactic President calls on Lance Bean, a member of the elite Contra warriors, to save the planet." Seriously -- we hate it when that happens. Hate it almost as much as when ninjas kidnap the President. Which probably will constitute the plot of the sequel.


Also receiving votes:

• A Texas judge dismissed Roger Clemens' defamation suit against former trainer Brian McNamee. We're not legal scholars, but at this point, what's left to defame?

• Detroit Tigers shortstop Adam Everett's wife, Jennifer, competed as Mrs. Georgia in the Mrs. America Pageant, but did not win. Even though her husband already has.

• John Madden became an unpaid special advisor to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. EA Sports, Ace Hardware should be so lucky.

• Proto-Chris Hansen TV newsman John Stossel left ABC for Fox News, current home of Geraldo. Begun, the mustache wars have.

Never receiving votes:

• Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor's defense of Michael Vick, in which he said, "Everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me." Um, Terrelle? "Halo 3" isn't actually real life.

• The U.S. Department of Transportation banned Air Canada's charter fleet from flying between U.S. cities, forcing Canada's six NHL teams to find alternative travel arrangements. Obvious retaliation for the CFL's rejecting Pacman Jones.

• Boxer Juan Manuel Marquez appeared to drink his own urine on an HBO prefight documentary, then explained that because the body loses vitamins via urination, drinking urine is the best way to replenish those losses. Get punched in the head enough times, and you'll forget your own name; get punched in the head a few fewer times, and you'll only forget the existence of Gatorade.

• Rapper Eve reportedly asked room service at a Las Vegas hotel to bring her "something vegetarian, like grilled cheese or chicken fingers." Or urine!

Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2.