Commentary

Power Rankings: Pothole edition

Originally Published: February 15, 2010
By Greg Hardy | Special to Page 2

You've run over another edition of the Page 2 Power Rankings! Our formula combines the results of two surveys: A human poll conducted by Page 2's Greg Hardy, and a scientifically calibrated poll generated by computer analysis. Unfortunately, the computer we tapped contained a version of Google Buzz that dialed our privacy settings to "share Vegas bachelor party photos with Human Resources." To the results!

1. Daytona Pothole

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.5 9.7 19.2

Credentials: As far as "embarrassing debacles at your signature sporting event" go, this was nowhere near as bad as, say, a Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in which the entire Texas-sized video board crashes onto the playing field during the coin flip. But where was the creativity in the problem-solving? A hole in the track at Daytona International Speedway should have instantly been met by the creation of a dirt mound for "Dukes of Hazzard"-style leaping to avoid it. Let's just hope that when the hole does get permanently paved over, it's filled with dozens of old VHS copies of "Days of Thunder."


2. NBA All-Star Crowd

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.1 8.7 17.8

Credentials: Well, at least we know the cream of the league's crop doesn't suffer from stage fright. They put on a 141-139 spectacular in front of 108,713 people at Jerry Jones' Texas pleasure palace. That raises an interesting question regarding having that many NBA fans in one place: Could David Stern have pulled 14 random people from that crowd and instantly created a better roster for the New Jersey Nets? Only one way to find out -- let them play 52 games and see if they do worse than 4-48.


3. Canada Appreciation

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.8 8.5 17.3

Credentials: Can we get a golf clap going for the citizens of the Great White North? While practically nothing has gone smoothly in Vancouver at the dawn of these Winter Olympics, it's not for a lack of effort and hospitality on the part of the local populace. In fact, ESPN Books will soon be releasing in stores "Sports and Character in Canada: An Overdue Appreciation" to coincide with the closing ceremonies. The point is to show that Canadians don't deserve to be the butt of jokes about how they're a nation of beer-swillers who love curling and have folksy ways of ending each sentence. Warning: Like practically every other book in existence, the price will end up being slightly higher in Canada, but hey, they're used to it and won't complain. (There. We said something nice about Canada. We hope this prevents us from being transferred to the night shift in Vancouver, where we hear the headquarters of ESPN.com/Canada will soon be based.)


4. Danica Patrick's Crashing Hype

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.1 8.6 16.7

Credentials: Apparently, Nationwide Series debut crashes have a silver lining. The prevailing notion is that getting knocked out of the running at Daytona will help the media keep her learning-curve hype in check. Just so long as word doesn't get out that all the other drivers in that 12-car accident asked her for an autograph afterward, and half of them asked for a free GoDaddy.com domain name. Keep the star power in low gear for now.


5. Women's Hockey Superiority

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.2 7.4 14.6

Credentials: Uh … have you seen some of these scores? Canada 18, Slovakia 0. USA 12, China 1. Right now, there's only one way to institute the smallest shred of parity between the haves and the have-nots: allow the have-nots to have one player pilot a Zamboni the entire game in order to disrupt and corner off the better players on the other teams.


6. "We Are The World" Again

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.3 7.1 14.4

Credentials: People who've heard both editions of the "stars for a cause" anthem will have different ways of telling them apart. Some will remember the original version as something that helped battle starvation in the 1980s, while the modern one is targeted for earthquake relief in Haiti. We're going to tell them apart by referring to one as the "Why is Dan Aykroyd there version" and the other as the "Why is Jeff Bridges there version." If you have complaints about either version of the song, find John Mayer and see if he's still in "apologize for everything" mode.


7. Valentine's Day Gifts

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.5 6.5 13.1

Credentials: This was an actual ad we heard on the radio: "Hey, gals! Want to impress your guy this Valentine's Day? Our TV screens will be showing the Daytona race, the NBA All-Star Game and the Olympics all day! So bring your fella down to [insert sports bar franchise's name here], order some wings and beer, and show him a whole new kinds of Valentine's Day excitement!" Our prediction: Any gal desperate enough to try that on a guy as the only way to get his attention should be reading "He's Just Not That Into You." Any guy stupid enough to think this is how his dream woman would love to spend Valentine's Day is probably too lazy to scrape himself off his own filthy couch.


8. Brooklyn Decker

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.4 6.4 12.8

Credentials: We were going to invite the swimsuit cover gal to be guest editor for this week's power rankings, but we ran out of bikini body paint after our photo shoot with Ndamukong Suh for our upcoming "NFL Combine on the Beach" pictorial.


9. NBA Loses $400 Million

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.9 5.1 11.0

Credentials: Sure, David Stern's announcement that his league is projected to lose $400 million this season seems overwhelming. But as of a week ago, that figure was $400,010.45 in losses. Fortunately, by returning some empty bottles from around the league office for a nickel apiece, the scaled back figure seems a tad more palatable.


10. Rogue Surfing Waves

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.0 3.9 7.9

Credentials: You can make fun of the Daytona pothole all you want, but at least none of the NASCAR spectators broke an ankle tripping over it. At the Mavericks Surf Contest near San Francisco, 50-foot waves knocked over onlookers to the point of breaking some legs here and there. OK, so it was a public menace this year. But maybe next time this "Super Bowl of Surfing" is held, Dr. Pepper can sponsor a contest in which a lucky fan can win a $50,000 college scholarship if he can avoid being swept out to sea.


11. Hurt Kobe

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
3.8 3.4 7.2

Credentials: A sore left ankle kept Bryant out of the All-Star Game for the first time since his rookie season in 1997. Of course, as he sat courtside, a voice deep inside told him 108,713 people showed up in Texas to watch him sit courtside. And he knew they got their money's worth.


12. The NCAA Bubble

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
3.1 3.5 6.6

Credentials: Sure, some day there will be 96 teams in the March Madness field. But wake up to reality. It's February 2010, and you and your friends can think up reasons why 196 teams still have a shot to make it into the field of 65. Of course, this requires many of those 196 teams winning every one of their remaining games. But we can quibble about that come March. Right now, it's all about quality imaginary wins for the rest of February.


13. NHL Olympic Break

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
3.4 2.5 4.9

Credentials: The NHL has shut down until March, thanks to the best of the best hiking up to Vancouver to play for Olympic glory. But what about the overwhelming majority of mediocre players and scrubs, who have nothing to do until then? Just a warning: If some big goon cuts ahead of you in line at a Columbus, Ohio, Burger King, avoid any altercation. It could be one of the Blue Jackets' enforcers, trying to keep in practice for fisticuffs. Warning signs are if he hopped over a short dividing wall, or if he's still wearing ice skates.


Also receiving votes:
• Westminster Kennel Club: Their famous dog show starts Monday night, so get ready for that rare trifecta of "ruined sports events": The Daytona pothole, the Mavericks rogue waves and the Westminster "accident" that one of the judges will step in.

• Snow Country USA: Hey, weather trivia buffs. Did you know that on Friday it snowed in 49 of the 50 states in the U.S., with Hawaii the only exception? And snow actually was forecast for Honolulu that day, but evidently some time warp that was needed to film one of the closing episodes of "Lost" threw the cloud system off.

• Lindsey Vonn's bruised right shin: Looks like weather delays will help her heal in time to compete. That's lucky for NBC, because it would have looked suspicious if it had rigged enough phony delays for her to be competing on St. Patrick's Day.

Never receiving votes:
• Kevin Smith: The "Silent Bob" film director is in a battle with Southwest Airlines after being booted from a flight on the grounds that he was too fat to fit in his seat. Be warned Southwest -- just as politicians used to say of newspaper reporters, "Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel," you should never pick a fight with a filmmaker who buys marshmallow fluff by the barrel.

• Fashion Week: One of the "what not to wear" trends for the upcoming season: a New York Mets uniform. Not for any aesthetic reason, but because you just know something stupid's going to happen to that team all season again. … But Kyle Busch in a pink kitten outfit? Perfectly acceptable.

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

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