By Dan Shanoff
Page 2 columnist

Eight strangers were brought together in New York City, divided into two teams and let loose on a monthlong, cross-country version of a scavenger hunt on steroids. The challenge: Be the first to complete 10 (out of 40) sports-related tasks and get to Alcatraz. And oh by the way, they have nothing but the clothes on their backs and their wits.

That's why it's called "Beg, Borrow & Deal" (Tuesdays on our mothership, ESPN). And that's why Page 2 will be tracking their progress each week.

Episode 5: Playing Catch-up

Team Cobi
Current status: Up 7-5 after they threw out the first pitch at a White Sox game, then hustled up to Milwaukee to beg their way into the singing of the national anthem before a Brewers game, before hustling back to Chicago to try to catch a train to Kansas City. "Try" is the operative word, as their connection plans are failing them.

Ranking the teammate performances this week:

Josh

Josh
Josh

Came up big: The big fella made beating toll-booths look easy as the he drove the team from Chicago to Milwaukee. The best part was that he had a different piece of b.s. for every toll-booth operator. Also hooked team up with tickets to see "Contact" in Chicago. (Was I the only one who chuckled at the irony of the musical's name being the same as their opponent's?)
Could have done better: What's with the hyperbole? He said Juliet has "the worst bedside manner of anyone" he's ever met. Anyone? Oh, OK, maybe.
Overall: Again, Josh had the line of the episode ? "The offices of the Brewers could not have been more friendly. It was like bingo night at the Daughters of the American Revolution."
Big question: Bubba called him "team captain" (to which Juliet made a gagging face); will Josh continue to dominate the team dynamic?

Kelli

Kelli
Kelli

Came up big: Who knew she could dance like that? The montage of her hyperactivity ? dancing in place, doing pushups and otherwise burning excess energy ? was a priceless piece of insight into her.
Could have done better: Now out of Michigan, Kelli seems content to return to "follower" status.
Overall: Kelli continues to be a solid contributor, and the team's No. 1 option when it comes to begging from strange men.
Big question: Given Kelli's mastery of tae bo, when does she kick Juliet's ass?

Bubba

Bubba
Bubba

Came up big: During national anthem-singing, he knew enough to keep his voice to a minimum, unlike the other three, who felt comfortable ruining an otherwise lovely performance by the Kellogg "Bottom Line" singing group.
Could have done better: As the most level-headed teammate, it would seem to be on Bubba to take the lead in corralling Juliet.
Overall: A less-than-impressive value-add to the team this week.
Big question: As the team heads South and West, will it be BubbaTime?

Juliet

Juliet
Juliet

Came up big: Earned task No. 6 for the team by throwing out the first pitch at Comiskey Park for her hometown White Sox. But she got that job from geographic default; otherwise, this was not a great episode for the J-ster.
Could have done better: Where to start? She nearly wrecked the team's chances in Milwaukee by alienating a kindly old front-office gate-keeper. On the ride back to Chicago, she proclaimed to be deserving of the team's affection because of her role in so many of the completed tasks. Back in Chicago, she is dropping the ball in getting her relative to meet the team at the train station to buy them tickets to Kansas City
Overall: It's a good thing this isn't "Survivor"; otherwise, Juliet would have been voted off the island by the end of this episode.
Big question: Will Juliet recognize how much she is bothering her team? Will she step up to fix things, or let the team continue to marginalize her?

Overall team analysis: After Juliet managed to offend a perfectly nice senior-citizen worker at Miller Field, the rest of the team said it best: Kelli ? "She gets on people's nerves."; Bubba ? "She's a handicap."; and Josh ? "She's a total liability everywhere we go." The last three tasks will be the hardest with that type of divisiveness.

***** ***** *****
Team Contact
Current status: Down 5-3 to start the episode ? and having hit their lowest point yet (and that's a long way down!) ? the team rallied in the Southeast to complete two tasks: Working at a minor-league baseball stadium for a game and having their picture taken with an Olympic medal/medalist. Now en route to Knoxville, Tenn., after obtrusively begging for bus fare at a party of some friend of a WUSA soccer player they met in Raleigh, N.C.

Ranking the teammate performances this week:

Tony

Tony
Tony

Came up big: Tony's new "can-do" attitude went well with his performance as Richmond Braves' mascot "Diamond Duck."
Could have done better: His in-your-face style probably went a long way toward alienating his team during their panhandling at the strangers' party.
Overall: We were very impressed to see him up bright and early in Raleigh, looking for tasks the team might accomplish. Aubrey was impressed, too ...
Big question: ... God help us, but is there an Aubrey-Tony tryst in the works?

This week's BBD Likability Ranking
1 Josh: Telling it like it is
2 Kelli: We'd like to see more dancing, please
3 Tony: Is this ranking unlikely or what?
4 Bubba: Let's see some leadership
5 Aubrey: Take back the command from Katie!
6 Julian: Not destructive, but not helpful either
7 Juliet: Shame on you for shabby treatment of old guy
8 Katie: Two weeks in a row at the bottom. Yikes.
Aubrey

Came up big: In yet another argument with Katie, she appeared to be the bigger person and not get baited into a potentially destructive shouting-fighting match.
Could have done better: That said, why didn't she put Katie in her place?
Overall: Continues to be the only one on the team to seem to really care about, say, winning. It's hard to battle 1 against 3, though.
Big question: Can she form a productive alliance with Tony to counteract the despotic Katie and useless Julian?

Julian

Came up big: Really didn't.
Worked concessions at the Braves game, which helped team. Didn't seem to hustle much at bus-fare-begging party.
Could have done better: What, did you expect that Mr. Do-Nothing would volunteer to hop in that nasty mascot suit? (Not that Tony would have let him.)
Overall: He professes to be all about winning this thing. Let's seem him grab the task list, use his head and think of ways this team can climb back into it.
Big question: Will he really quit next week? Wouldn't be the worst thing.

Katie

Katie
Katie

Came up big: Very aggressive during the beg-for-bus-fare party at that random woman's house. Now, that aggressiveness may have gotten them booted from the party, but they needed the money more than they needed to make lasting friends.
Could have done better: The arguments with Aubrey this week? The arguments with Tony last week? With her toady Julian, she's going to create an intractable personality wedge that splits the team evenly; they won't get anywhere that way.
Overall: Earth to Katie ? the world does not revolve around you and what you want. Her "leadership" will sink this squad.
Big question: Can she please just get over her issues with Aubrey?

Overall team analysis: The fact they salvaged two tasks from what seemed to be a terrible trip to Virginia and North Carolina says that this team may yet stumble into a lead. But they are just barely getting off the East Coast, with a whole lot of road to go before Alcatraz.

Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. Check back each week for a review of the latest episode of "Beg, Borrow & Deal."




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