Monday, November 6, 2006
Welcome to the Vengeance Scale
By Bill Simmons
As promised, the Vengeance Scale. A few quick primers ...
This column relies heavily on reader input: Nearly 1,500 suggestions over the weekend (some of which were redundant, but still ... ). Since it was impossible to give everyone credit without destroying the flow of the column, let's just call this one a group effort. If the Pulitzer Committee ends up calling, I'll share the award with everybody. And thanks to everyone who took the time to write in.
I shied away from historical examples (like Stalin deporting Trotsky, or Germany's response after World War I), only because that's probably a whole other column. And I'm not the one to write it.
If it seems as if there are too many wrestling examples, that's only because most wrestling story arcs hinge on somebody seeking vengeance. In fact, once we entered the mid-'90s, that was EVERY wrestling story arc. So I concentrated on the classics from the '70s and '80s that set the tone. And if you have something against wrestling ... well, I don't care.
MJ appears on the Vengeance Scale a whopping eight times. If that doesn't tell you why he was the greatest NBA player of all time, I don't know what does.
The Corleone family is represented a whopping five times. If that doesn't tell you why "The Godfather" was the greatest movie of all time, I don't know what does.
I'm sure we missed a couple. So be it.
Onto the Vengeance Scale, from 0.0 (least vengeful) to 10.0 (most vengeful). And remember, the whole reason we're doing this is to figure out where Angry Shaq fits in. Anyway ...
|MJ's got his imprint all over the Vengeance Scale.|
0.0 -- Rocky Balboa beating up Tommy Gunn.
(Note: This was disqualified because "Rocky 5" never happened.)
0.1 -- O.J. Simpson's valiant attempt to find the "real killers."
0.2 -- The rest of the Rockets after Rudy Tomjanovich was clocked by Kermit Washington ... the rest of the Yankees after Pedro threw down Don Zimmer ... the rest of the Dodgers after Juan Marichal swung his bat against John Roseboro's head ... Rangers fans after the Bruins charged into the stands at MSG in 1979.
0.3 -- The immortal Frankie Williams after Roddy Piper cleaned his clock on "Piper's Pit."
0.4 -- KG's reaction to Anthony Peeler's elbow to the stomach in the 2004 Playoffs ... Kurt Rambis' reaction to getting clothes-lined by Kevin McHale in the '84 playoffs.
0.5 -- Marvin Hagler disappearing to Italy after losing the Leonard fight ... the '91 Pistons storming off the court before the end of the Bulls series.
0.6 -- Vin Baker after getting waived by the Celtics ... Shawn Kemp after getting traded from Seattle ... Drew Bledsoe after leaving the Patriots ... Emmitt Smith after getting dumped by the Cowboys ... Dominique Wilkins after getting traded by the Hawks.
0.7 -- Marty Jannetty after being thrown through a plate-glass window by Shawn Michaels ... Robin Ventura charging the mound against Nolan Ryan.
0.8 -- Mike Piazza's reaction after Clemens threw the bat at him in the 2000 World Series.
0.9 -- Shawn Estes' attempted plunking of Clemens the following summer.
1.0 -- The Orphans' response after the Warriors walked through their turf without taking their jackets off. (Bonus points for the Orphan leader with the fish eye.)
1.1 -- Zack and Slater pouring punch on each other (from "Saved By the Bell") ... the Sammy Hagar-David Lee Roth feud.
1.2 -- Al Nipper drilling Darryl Strawberry during an '87 spring-training game. (Note: Maybe the all-time classic example of winning a battle after you lose the war.)
1.3 -- Donna Martin after finding out that Ray Pruit slept with Valerie ... Brenda's reponse after Kelly stole Dylan away from her (both from "90210").
1.4 -- Cameran breaking Charlie's guitar (from "Real World: San Diego") ... Lisa turning Chet into Jabba the Hut (from "Weird Science") ... Moses Malone vowing revenge on the Sixers after they traded him in '86 ... Paul Westphal in the '76 Finals ... Puck sticking his fingers into Pedro's peanut butter.
1.5 -- Tyson resorting to biting Holyfield's ear in their famous rematch.
1.6 -- Buffalo Bill's reaction when he realizes that the Senator's daughter lured Precious into the well: "Don't you hurt my dog, lady! You don't know what pain is!"
1.7 -- The newspaper kid on the bicycle screaming "I want my two dollars!" (from "Better Off Dead") ... Goldie Hawn coaching the kids to football glory in "Wildcats."
1.8 -- George Costanza feeding lobster in an omelete to Jerry's non-lobster-eating girlfriend ... Scottie Pippen's dunk on Ewing's head in the '94 playoffs (the one where he stood over him and glared).
1.9 -- Thelma and Louise.
2.0 -- Big Tom faking out Boston Rob on a handshake, then telling him, "Don't be stupid, stupid."
2.1 -- Malakai slamming Patrick Dempsey against the video machine and screaming, "You s--- on my house! You s--- on my house!" (from "Can't Buy Me Love").
2.2 -- Lennox Lewis knocking out Hasim Rahman (in their rematch) ... Antonio Tarver knocking out Roy Jones Jr. ... Roy Jones Jr. knocking out Montell Griffith ... Latrell Sprewell dropping 31 on the Knicks at MSG, then trash-talking the owners.
2.3 -- Music fans refusing to buy any of Yoko Ono's albums or songs ... Sato's nephew vowing revenge in "Karate Kid 2." (Penalty points because he got his butt handed to him by Daniel-San.)
2.4 -- David Letterman jumping to CBS after getting passed for the "Tonight Show" job ... Sarah's emergence as the "Queen of the Gauntlet" (from the "Real World/Road Rules Challenge").
2.5 -- Roger Clemens's first appearance at Fenway with the Jays (16 K's, staring down the owner's box on his way off the field -- of course, this was the regular season).
2.6 -- Paul Pierce vowing revenge after dropping to 10th in the 1998 Draft. (This would have been four points higher two years ago.)
2.7 -- Pedro Martinez in Game 5 of the '99 ALDS (coming out of the bullpen after the Indians fans had been taunting him, then throwing no-hit ball for six innings).
2.8 -- Brad Pitt killing Kevin Spacey after being handed a box with his girlfriend's head in it (from "Seven" -- penalty points because he deliberated a little too long).
2.9 -- Andre the Giant after Big John Studd and Ken Patera cut his hair ... Andre the Giant after Killer Khan broke his leg.
3.0 -- Stephen running outside and slapping Irene after she called him gay (from "Real World: Seattle" -- bonus points for throwing her stuffed animal into the river).
3.1 -- Nicole Kidman winning an Oscar after splitting up with Tom Cruise ... Aileen Wournos going on a killing spree against men (penalty points because this resulted in a movie that actually led to me not being attracted to Charlize Theron).
3.2 -- Ty Webb deciding to play against Judge Smails in the big "Caddyshack" skins match ("My father never liked you").
3.3 -- Jon Gruden against the Raiders (in the Tampa-Oakland Super Bowl) ... John Elway against Dan Reeves (in the Broncos-Falcons Super Bowl) ... Mike Shanahan every time he plays the Raiders ... Randy Moss every time he goes against the Cowboys ... Nick Van Exel every time he's playing the Lakers ... Carlton Fisk every time he played the Red Sox.
3.4 -- Danny Ocean ripping off three casinos because his wife started dating someone else (from "Ocean's 11").
3.5 -- Larry Bird firing Isiah Thomas as Pacers coach ... Larry Bird toppling Chuck Person and the '91 Pacers in Game 5 ... Wesley Snipes in "Passenger 57" (the "always bet on black" scene).
3.6 -- MJ destroying LaBradford Smith's career (possibly apocryphal).
3.7 -- Babe Ruth vowing revenge against the Red Sox (possibly apocryphal).
|Who'll ever forget Mike Tyson playing Pac-Man with Evander Holyfield?|
3.8 -- Piazza tipping off all of Clemens' pitches in the 2004 All-Star game (possibly apocryphal).
3.9 -- Babe Ruth's ghost sending Pedro to the DL in 2001, just days after Pedro's "Wake up the damn Bambino and have him face me -- maybe I'll drill him in the ass" comment (possibly apocryphal).
4.0 -- Daniel LaRusso somehow toppling all of Cobra Kai in one karate tournament (possibly apocryphal).
4.1 -- Sugar Ray Leonard beating Roberto Duran after the "No Mas" fight ... Larry Bird beating Magic and the Lakers in the '84 Finals ... Patrick Roy demanding a trade from Montreal and winning a Cup in Colorado the following year.
(Note: For the best sports feuds of all time, check out Ralph Wiley's column from two years ago. Similar concept, different examples. I think he would have enjoyed the Vengeance Scale, by the way.)
4.2 -- Robert DeNiro eschewing his post-bank-robbery getaway to go after Wayne Groh (penalty points because he ended up getting caught and killed) ... Tommy Marcano and John Reilly running into Kevin Bacon's character near the end of "Sleepers."
4.3 -- Guido the Killer Pimp taking all of Joel Goodson's profits ... Lance Armstrong vs. the French ... Marvin Hagler against the world (during the Hearns fight) ... Dallas's "We're doin' it for Johnny!" speech (from "The Outsiders").
4.4 -- MJ and Pippen against Toni Kukoc in the '92 Olympics (bonus points because they were taking out their frustrations with the Bulls' front office on the entire country of Croatia).
4.5 -- Larry Bird against the Bucks in the '86 playoffs (four 3s in the fourth quarter of Game 4 to complete the payback sweep) ... the last 15 minutes of "The Last of the Mohicans" (penalty points because I'm almost positive this was a chick flick).
4.6 -- John Kreese and Terry Silva against Daniel-San in "Karate Kid 3" (extra points here because of the premise -- a billionaire businessman taking time out of his busy schedule to destroy an aging local teenage karate champion.)
4.7 -- Alanis Morissette getting back at an ex-boyfriend with the vicious song "You Oughta Know," which turned out to be the biggest hit of her career.
(Note: This should have ranked in the 8s, but there were major penalty points here when it turned out that the song was almost definitely written about former "Full House" star Dave Coulier. 'Nuff said.)
4.8 -- Inigo Montoya vanquishing Count Rugen in "The Princess Bride" -- "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." (Penalty points because this was a kid's movie.)
4.9 -- Kerry Von Erich getting his head slammed in a cage door by the Freebirds (launching the classic Freebirds-Von Erichs feud) ... Hulk Hogan vowing revenge on (fill in the blank: Macho Man Savage, Paul Orndorff, Brutus the Barber, Andre the Giant).
|No wonder The Rocket got shelled in Houston ...|
5.0 -- The blood-feud between Dylan McKay and Anthony Marchette that resulted in Dylan's smoking-hot wife getting killed (from "90210") ... Crazy Joe Davola vs. Kramer and Seinfeld.
5.1 -- Rob Lowe beating up Raki at the end of "Youngblood."
(Note: Penalty points here because this outcome never could have happened in real life. I mean, this NEVER could have happened in real life. For God's sake, Rob Lowe couldn't even skate. Couldn't the movie have ended with Raki knocking him out with one punch, followed by Lowe's head hitting the ice and rendering him a vegetable? Would anyone have been against this?)
5.2 -- Isiah dropping 44 on John Stockton after "Dream Team 1" was announced.
5.3 -- Karl Malone dropping a 50-stitch elbow on Isiah's head the next time they played.
5.4 -- Tommy Vercetti being betrayed by Lance Vance in "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" ... Roddy Piper after Adrian Adonis and Don Muraco jumped him on "Piper's Pit."
5.5 -- Bill Russell and the '69 Celtics against the Lakers (after finding out about their planned post-game celebration following Game 7 of the Finals) ... Delta House vs. Dean Wormer and Omega House ... the Revenge of the Nerds.
5.6 -- Shannon Tweed sleeping with Andrew Stevens' entire family and killing his maid in "Scorned" ... Roger Dorn's wife sleeping with Ricky Vaughn in "Major League" ... Rebecca DeMornay wreaking havoc as the nanny in "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" ... Glenn Close's "I will not be IGNORED" speech in "Fatal Attraction."
5.7 -- Vince McMahon against Ted Turner and WCW ... Sonny Corleone beating up Connie's scumbag husband Carlo in the streets of New York (penalty points for the punch that missed by two feet).
5.8 -- Norman Dale re-deflowering Myra Fleener.
5.9 -- Dr. Kimberly Shaw returning from her car accident with a red wig and a giant alien scar on her head, seeking revenge on the entire "Melrose Place" cast.
6.0 -- MJ against Drexler in the '92 Finals ... MJ against Barkley and Majerle in the '93 Finals ... MJ refusing to play on the original Dream Team unless they left off Isiah.
6.1 -- Van Damme going after Chong Li in "Bloodsport" (penalty points because there's no way he would have won this fight in real life, especially after being blinded).
6.2 -- Tony Montana shooting Manny ... Roger Clemens' career from 1997-2004.
(Note: I'm not sure which one of these events, in retrospect, was more traumatic for me. Let's just move on.)
|Dylan shattered eardrums with his wailing when he found Toni's body in the street.|
6.3 -- Shaq dropping 61 on the Clippers (because they made him pay for extra seats on his birthday) ... MJ dropping 69 on the Cavs (after the Cleveland fans cheered when he took a nasty spill in the first half) ... Charles Barkley dropping 56 on the '94 Warriors (inspired by C-Webb's behind-the-back dunk over him in the regular season).
6.4 -- Wyatt Earp at the end of "Tombstone" ... Todd Bertuzzi's attack on Steve Moore.
6.5 -- Steve Largent's revenge on Mike Harden.
(Reader C. Weaver explains: "In 1988, Harden knocked out two of Largent's teeth with an illegal hit and put him on the IR for a bunch of games. The next time Seattle played Denver, Harden picked off a pass intended for Brian Blades and looked like he was going to score, but Largent scorched his way across the field and just destroyed Harden with a devastating and perfect-form tackle. Largent hit him so hard that the ball came loose and Largent recovered it. The hit was so nasty that it was a part of NFL telecast montages for years afterwards. Later, Largent called it the favorite play of his career. And this guy is in the Hall of Fame. Whenever sports vengeance is mentioned, that hit stands out for me. Totally legal and totally bloodless.")
6.6 -- The entire Fenway crowd during Game 3 of the '99 ALCS (Clemens vs. Pedro) ... the entire Garden crowd calling for Laimbeer's head during Game 5 of the '87 playoffs (and getting it when Parish clocked him).
6.7 -- Michael Corleone coming out of the bathroom at Louis's Restaurant and shooting Solazzo and McCloskey ... Jimmy Snuka's next two months after Roddy Piper rammed the coconuts in his head on "Piper's Pit."
6.8 -- Eric Clapton's entire "August" album ... Conan the Barbarian (once he gets mad in the movie) ... Patrick Swayze cleaning house after Sam Elliott's character is killed in "Road House" ... the Kenneth Starr investigation of President Clinton and Whitewater.
6.9 -- Mel Gibson in every "Lethal Weapon" movie ... George Brett charging the umpire during the Pine Tar Game ... Forrest Whitaker's first football game after his car was trashed (from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High").
7.0 -- Every time Larry Bird played against Kent Benson.
(Note: Back in 1976, the Fledgling Basketball Jesus enrolled at Indiana University and left after a few unhappy weeks, eventually settling down at Indiana State two years later. During his brief I.U. stage, Bird felt that some of the veteran players on the team, including Benson, hadn't been very nice to him. So when he made the NBA, he went out of his way to embarrass Benson -- a mediocre big man for the Pistons -- at every opportunity. This culminated in Kevin McHale's 56-point game in 1985, when Bird kept feeding McHale on the low post because Benson couldn't handle him. The lesson, as always: Don't mess with Larry Bird.)
7.1 -- Snoop and Dre taking shots at Easy E in "Wit' Dre Day" ... Biggie recording "Who Shot Ya?" ... 50 Cent creating the word "Wankster" in a song about Ja Rule.
7.2 -- Darren McCarty beating up Claude Lemeiux (after Lemeiux broke Kris Draper's jaw the previous season) ... Ricky Steamboat learning to speak again after Randy Savage crushed his larynx with the ring bell, then ultimately seeking revenge (bonus points for the comedy of every taped piece where Steamboat pretended he couldn't speak, so he had to make crazy gestures to indicate how angry he was).
7.3 -- MJ's reaction after Karl Malone won the '97 MVP Award ... Hakeem's reaction after David Robinson won the '95 MVP Award ... Sammy Sosa sending approximately 450 hitmen to Tony Montana's Miami compound to have him killed at the end of "Scarface."
7.4 -- Pedro getting charged by leadoff hitter Gerald Williams in Tampa Bay, then promptly throwing 98 mph the rest of the way and retiring the next 24 batters in a row before John Flaherty broke up the pseudo-perfect game.
7.5 -- Cam Neely beating the holy bejeezus out of Ulf Samuelsson.
(Reader Richard Harb explains: "Ulf blew out Cam's knee, leading to the thigh muscle calcification and hip injury that eventually ended his career. I was at the Garden when they first played against each other after that, when Neely went after him after Ulf took a cheapshot after the whistle on one of the B's players after Barrasso had frozen the puck. It was the loudest I had ever heard the Garden, louder than C's championship games, B's Stanley Cup games, anything. I've never seen a man more angry than Neely. My best friend Ted had season tix at the Garden, first balcony, front row, on the blue line above where the scrum was, and Neely was on a mission. Just raw emotion. You couldn't blame him.")
7.6 -- Bruno Sammartino after his WWF apprentice Larry Zbysko busted his head open with a chair, culminating in their famous steel cage match at Shea Stadium ... Bill Simmons's eventual response to ESPN25's "Best 25 Sports Movies List."
7.7 -- Jack Cates shooting Ganz 147 times at the end of "48 Hours" ... Bret Hart decking Vince McMahon after the famous "Montreal Screw-Job" ... Joe Pesci taking out Billy Bats in the "Now go get your shinebox" scene (from "Goodfellas").
7.8 -- Max Cady in "Cape Fear" ... Cartman's revenge on Scott Tenorman (from "South Park") ... Montresor trapping Fortunado in the wall in "The Cask of Amontillado."
7.9 -- Michael Myers against the babysitters in Haddonfield, Illinois ... Jason Voorhees and Mrs. Voorhees against the counselors at Crystal Lake ... Freddie Krueger against everyone on Elm Street.
|Don't mess with Chuck.|
8.0 -- Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River" video.
(Note: The most underrated example of vengeance on this list. After Britney cheated on him, not only did he dump her, he put out a best-selling album fueled by a song about their breakup in which he basically destroys her with the lyrics. Just an unbelievable piece of work. It's devastating. I can't even imagine what she did when she first heard it. And if that wasn't enough, he made a well-received video about the song, starring a Britney look-alike. And if THAT wasn't enough, he immediately started going out with Cameron Diaz. By the time he was done, Britney's career was in the tank -- she was chain-smoking and hanging out with backup dancers and white trash guys from her hometown. Now that, my friends, is vengeance. Bravo, Justin. Bravo.)
8.1 -- Steven Seagal during the "I'm gonna take you to the bank, Trent ... the blood bank" scene (from "Hard to Kill") ... John Rambo against sheriff Brian Dennehy and his deputies from "First Blood" ... Tubbs and Crockett taking down Calderon in "Miami Vice" (in the classic two-part episode, "Calderon's Revenge").
8.2 -- Andy Dufresne escaping from Shawshank through a sewage pipe, setting up the Warden and Hadley on his way out, then escaping to Mexico.
|Well done, Justin. Well done.|
(Reader Red explains: "Andy crawled to freedom through 500 yards of s--- -smelling foulness I can't even imagine. Or maybe I just don't want to. 500 yards. That's the length of five football fields. Just shy of half a mile . . . when I think of him heading south in his own car with the top down, it always makes me laugh. Andy Dufresne, who crawled through a river of s--- and came out clean on the other side. Andy Dufresne, headed for the Pacific.")
8.3 -- The great Gabe Kaplan thrashing Robert Conrad in a 100-yard dash (after being challenged by Conrad in the original "Battle of the Network Stars"). And yes, this deserves its own column.
8.4 -- MJ's performance during the entire '96 season, a direct response to everything that happened with Nick Anderson and the Magic in the '95 playoffs.
8.5 -- The outlaw Josey Wales slaughtering half the Union Army ... John Matrix's paralleled killing spree from "Commando" (penalty points because he's now running the state of California).
8.6 -- Mick O'Brien and Paco Moreno landing in the same juvie prison in "Bad Boys" ... Ali and Frazier fighting for the championship of each other in Manila.
8.7 -- Shaquille O'Neal after finding out that the Lakers were trading him for Odom, Grant and Butler (work in progress).
8.8 -- Charles Bronson in every "Death Wish" movie.
(Seattle reader Monty has more: "In the first one, his wife gets murdered and his daughter gets raped, so he kills a bunch of lowlifes. In the sequel, his daughter gets raped (again) and commits suicide, so he kills a bunch of lowlifes. In the third one, his friend gets killed, so he kills a bunch of lowlifes, but this time it's in Los Angeles, not New York. In the fourth one, his friend's daughter overdoses, which is, again, bad news for lowlifes. And in the final one, his girlfriend gets killed, with predictable results. Well, by this time he's killing people with soccer balls, not bullets, but it's still vengeance.")
8.9 -- Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in Berlin (in front of Adolf Hitler) ... Jackie Robinson's career from 1947-1956.
9.0 -- Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes burning down Andre Rison's house ... the Lorena Bobbit Era.
9.1 -- Tupac Shakur recording "Hit 'Em Up."
(Note: In my book, the most devastating rap song of all-time. And you wonder why Pac was murdered. This made "Who Shot Ya?" look like it was written by James Ingram and Michael McDonald. Every line is crossed: This one has death threats, admissions of sleeping with other people's wives, jokes about sickle cell, mama jokes and at least 100 F-bombs. I'm not kidding. And while we're on the subject, "We ain't singin', we bringin' drama - f--- you and your motherf----- mama!" remains the greatest single moment in 2Pac history. And yes, I know I'm white.)
9.2 -- Michael Corleone settling all family business at the end of "Godfather 1" ... Vito Corleone returning to Sicily to avenge the murders of his mother, father and brother by ripping a knife through Don Ciccio.
9.3 -- Muhammad Ali vs. Ernie Terrell and Floyd Patterson.
(Note: These were the two "What's my name?" fights, when Ali displayed a dark side because they kept calling him Cassius in the weeks leading up to the fight. Big mistake. BIG mistake. The Patterson fight is legitimately depressing to watch -- Ali carries him for about eight rounds longer than he needed, just so he can keep torturing him. Hard to believe this was the same guy who was wobbling around and throwing those painful jabs against Jeter last week.)
9.4 -- Uma Thurman's revenge in "Kill Bill" I and II ... William Wallace in "Braveheart" ... Maximus in "Gladiator" ... Will Munny in "Unforgiven."
9.5 -- Rocky Balboa holding a dying Apollo in his arms as Ivan Drago sneers, "If he dies, he dies."
(Note: This led to Rocky fighting on Christmas Day in Russia for no money; nearly losing his unfeeling wife; climbing a 55,000-foot mountain in snow boots; singlehandedly ending the Cold War; and possibly ending up with brain damage, although we will never know for sure since "Rocky 5" never happened.)
9.6 -- Marcellus Wallace after being raped by two hillbillies and deciding that he needs to get "medieval on their ass" (from "Pulp Fiction") ... Rambo during the "Murdock ... I'm coming to get YOU!" scene (from "First Blood 2").
9.7 -- Edmund Dantes seething in a French prison after being framed for treason in "The Count of Monte Cristo."
(From reader Adam Bloch: "Let me sum that 1,276-page book up: man wrongfully imprisoned for 30 years in hell-hole; has his wife, life, and sanity stolen from him; escapes; gets ridiculously rich; devotes all energy, time, and money to destroying the lives of those who wronged him. I think that qualifies pretty high on the vengeance scale.")
9.8 -- Michael Corleone ordering the death of his brother, Fredo.
(Let's have a moment of silence ... I still haven't gotten over this.)
9.9 -- Sissy Spacek destroying her high school class in a supernatural telekinetic fit of rage (from "Carrie").
10.0 -- Keyser Soze in "The Usual Suspects."
(I'll let reader Verbal Kint explain: "He lets the last Hungarian go, and he goes running. He waits until his wife and kids are in the ground and he goes after the rest of the mob. He kills their kids, he kills their wives, he kills their parents and their parents' friends. He burns down the houses they live in and the stores they work in, he kills people that owe them money. And like that he was gone.")
Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His Sports Guy's World site is updated every day Monday through Friday.
|Rambo scores extremely high on the Vengeance Scale.|