Commentary

Power Rankings: Wizard edition

Originally Published: June 7, 2010
By Greg Hardy | Special to Page 2

It's time to climb the pyramid of success known as the latest 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 was dropped overboard during a casino cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. No, the water didn't short out any of the electronics; the keyboard is now too oily and it's impossible to keep our fingers from slipping while typing. To the results!

1. John Wooden, R.I.P.

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
10.0 10.0 20.0

Credentials: The Wizard of Westwood has left us at age 99 having imparted 99 centuries' worth of wisdom to coaches, athletes and educators. Fans will never be lucky enough to see the likes of his leadership return in this lifetime. Then again, he might have been lucky that the Internet hadn't been invented when UCLA fell short of the title in 1974; otherwise a fan with today's mentality surely would have started a "FireJohnWooden.com" website.


2. NBA Finals

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.2 9.1 18.3

Credentials: Now that the series heads to Boston tied at one game apiece, we'd love to break down which team has the edge in all the typical stupid categories that get endlessly analyzed. But since Doc Rivers pulled a Chevy Chase-worthy broad jump onto the court to call a timeout, we've been obsessed with figuring out who'd have the edge between him and Phil Jackson in Feats of Strength trials. E-mail us the contests you'd like to see them go head-to-head in, but we're warning you: No contest is too crazy, but we draw the line at competitive eating.


3. Baseball Replay

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.6 8.3 16.9

Credentials: It's time for Sports Officials Conspiracy Theory No. 3,217: Maybe the reason umpire Joe West began the year complaining about how slow baseball games are was in anticipation of a blown call like Jim Joyce's. That way, when fans and commentators start clamoring about the overdue need for instant replay in baseball, the umpires can fall back on the argument of, "Do you really want these games to be longer?" It's a subtle form of brainwashing, but it's not working. Give us instant replay.


4. Pac-10 Expansion

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.9 7.8 15.7

Credentials: Look, we don't care how many Big 12 teams take heed of the West Coast siren call. We don't care who in the Big 12 jumps aboard the Big Ten Rust Belt Express. But is anyone who's in charge of the Big 12 thinking of doing anything to dispel the perception that the conference is holding a going-out-of-business sale?


5. Fearless Flyers

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.1 7.4 14.5

Credentials: Yes, we know the modern Broad Street Bullies have made a habit of coming from behind with flair this playoff season. But let's be realistic: The Blackhawks need one win in two tries to earn the Stanley Cup. Do the Flyers purposely put themselves in a hole just to increase the "Can you believe we did it?" factor? Because believe us, even with the Phillies' recent World Series win, the people of Philadelphia are not going to believe it when a title comes to town.


6. MTV Movie Awards

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.0 6.7 12.7

Credentials: Finally, an awards show that appreciates the transcendent, cinematic brilliance of the "Twilight" films (then again, if anyone who picked up a trophy connected with that film claimed in an acceptance speech that "we didn't make this movie to win awards," we would believe it). But what was up with Tom Cruise plugging his new spy movie by dressing up as his comedic movie mogul character from a flick that came out two summers ago? Someone talk some sense into the couch jumper, in case he ever makes a "Tropic Thunder" sequel and thinks it would be a good idea to plug it by dressing up as the Nazi from "Valkyrie."


7. World Cup

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.6 5.4 12.0

Credentials: No, we're not ready for the tournament to kick off. Can't you see we have the World Cup ranked No. 7? There are places in the world where no one can afford a soccer ball within 100 miles yet the World Cup is No. 1 on their Power Rankings year-round. Sorry, we're behind the curve on this until we see an actual goal scored by the U.S.


8. Rays are Tripping

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.2 5.6 10.8

Credentials: Yes, the Rays have the best record in baseball, but that doesn't stop them from displaying good old-fashioned retro Devil Rays-style slapstick -- like rookie John Jaso falling over himself while rounding second on an Evan Longoria single. Commissioner Selig, the only way you can keep the Rays honest is to deduct two games from the win column every time they do something stupid -- like trip on the basepaths, be on the wrong side of a perfect game or sign Jose Canseco to a contract.


9. Rafael Nadal

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.0 5.6 10.6

Credentials: He's French Open champion for the fifth time, and back to being the No. 1 men's player in the world. The easy joke would be to say that no one's been as good on clay since Gumby, but no one at Roland Garros has ever seen Gumby get past the semifinals.


10. Channel-Surfing Crybabies

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.8 5.5 10.3

Credentials: OK, it wasn't ideal that the NBA and NHL had games of their league championships completing for our attention Sunday night. But a corollary of the rule "Stuff Happens" is that "Sometimes Stuff Happens at the Same Time." That's why the TV Gods gave us picture-in-picture. That's why the Remote Control Gods gave us the "last" button next to the channel-changer toggle. You've got to have the multitasking skills of a one-armed weight lifter not to pull this off. However, you do earn our admiration if you were able to rotate in TBS's showing of "Old School" during the times when both games were at commercial at the same time.


11. College Baseball Hitting Streak

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
3.8 3.7 7.5

Credentials: Not since Tim Tebow promised he'd return for his senior season for a third national-title attempt has a Sunshine State college athlete gone into an offseason with such a following. Florida International's Garrett Wittels has hit safely in 56 consecutive games, two short of Robin Ventura's Division I record, and since FIU's season is over, the NCAA says it's OK for Wittels' run to continue into next season. Wittels just needs to realize that if he falls short, there's no way "Wittels Tears" will ever have the same Internet following as "Tebow Tears."


12. Up-and-Coming Strasburg

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
3.7 3.5 7.2

Credentials: History arrives Tuesday when the right-hander makes his first big league start. He'll have a Hall of Fame-worthy career if, with a little luck, he can avoid the following: Never have an umpire rob him of a perfect game after 8 2/3 innings ... never be involved in an All-Star Game that ends in a tie ... never see opposing hitters bulk up with banned substances so they can hit 600-foot homers ... never have his Nationals move back to Montreal ... never play a World Series game in 25-degree weather past midnight in November ... and never be the target of a Red Sox-Yankees bidding war. Because even the commissioner of baseball can't retroactively reverse those things.


13. Southern Miss Baseball

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
3.3 2.4 5.7

Credentials: Brett Favre promised he would return to the Minnesota Vikings if his college alma mater advanced to the College World Series. Instead, the Golden Eagles gave up 33 runs in going 1-2 in the first-round regionals. We can officially strike Favre's name off the nominees list for this year's John Wooden Inspiring College Athletes award.


Also receiving votes:
• Yankee Stadium: The new stadium holds the first big-time Bronx boxing match since the old digs had Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton go at it in 1976. No, this was not a publicity stunt -- otherwise, Jose Canseco would have been on the card.

• Elton John: People magazine says he was paid $1 million to perform at Rush Limbaugh's fourth wedding. Adam Sandler, you can stop writing the screenplay for "The Wedding Singer 2," because you'll never come up with anything as far-fetched as that.

Never receiving votes:
• Rickie Fowler: It's one thing for the 21-year-old PGA Tour rookie to salute his Oklahoma State alma mater by dressing head-to-toe in a school color. But ALL-ALL-ALL-orange? Maybe Fowler is pioneering the glow-in-the-dark ensemble in case the PGA starts a golfing-at-night division.

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.