The vindication of Matthew Berry
Pumping my fist in the air with a "Hells yeah!" was the last thing I expected.
I write about it every year and I anticipated to once again be dismayed, disgusted and annoyed. And yet, at the end ... vindication!
Make no mistake, when I read the 2011 edition of Maxim's Hot 100 list, I had my share of head-scratchers. Like, where's Marisa Miller? She was No. 10 on last year's list and now she doesn't make the top 100? Was she in a grease fire I didn't hear about? Look, you want to drop Kristin Cavallari (last year's No. 76) from the list? I got no issue with that. Bears fans will tell you the addition of Jay Cutler drops anyone from contention.
But no Angelina Jolie (last year's 38), Jessica Biel (last year's 32) or Eliza Dushku (26 in 2010) on this list? Did they suddenly change appearance in a significant way? Or worse, fire their publicists?
I don't understand why Carly Foulkes isn't on this list, and there's no explanation for "Jersey Shore" cast member Jenni "JWoww" Farley at 78. The prettiest girl on that show is clearly DJ Pauly D. And shouldn't the Maxim Hot 100 be the one place in which we don't have to deal with the royal wedding? Kate Middleton somehow shows up at 26, and I got news for the gang at Maxim: We don't need to suck up to England anymore. We won.
Who needs to work on her hotness? Well, Brooklyn Decker (fell from No. 2 last year to 36 this year), Arianny Celeste (23 to 70), Joanna Krupa (37 to 55) and Zoe Saldana (3 to 37) apparently had down seasons and should work on getting back to fundamentals and stop doing all the non-hot things they did last year. At least I understand Kim Kardashian's fall (9 to 35) since she traded in a Saint for a Net. Sure, you're courtside, but it's courtside in New Jersey. Just saying ...
Not everyone fell. January Jones (33 in 2010 to 12 this year), Stacy Keibler (82 to 72) and Mila Kunis (22 to 5) are among the women who clearly spent long hours getting back to basics, rededicated themselves to hotness and came in with the kind of season that takes someone to the next level. And it should be noted that Scarlett Johansson (14 last year, 14 this year) managed the amazing feat of staying the exact same level of hotness. It's that kind of Ichiro-like consistency that makes her an All-Star.
They almost lost me with Cameron Diaz at No. 4. You feed popcorn to A-Rod, you go the other way on my ranks, but here's my biggest issue with it: If they published this list without Diaz on it (as they did last year), no one would have said anything. There would not have been outrage at the omission. "No Cameron Diaz? I can't take this list seriously anymore!" is the kind of thing that would not be heard. But, if I published my preseason baseball ranks without Evan Longoria (this year's No. 4 on our draft results), everyone would have said "No Longoria? What a terrible list. I can't take these ranks seriously." But hey, that's just me. And in fairness, "There's Something About Mary" was just released in 1998, which, in model years, is only 70 years ago.
So I was just about to toss it when I started noticing a lot of things I liked. Lindsay Lohan at 38. Apparently, I'm not the only one attracted to crazy. Hope Dworaczyk should be higher than 97, but I'm glad she made the list. Love that the underrated Sarah Shahi is representing Texas well and showed up at 24.
But none of that compares to what I noticed next.
Megan Fox, listed at No. 17.
And at No. 7? As in, 10 spots higher than Megan Fox? As in Megan Fox is 10 percent less hot than this person, according to the people at Maxim, who have been doing this for 11 years now?
That's right, chumps. Anne Hathaway.
"Sexual Chocolate!" (drops mic, walks off the stage).
You see, on March 25, 2008, I published one of my preseason baseball articles called "You Heard Me." I made many bold predictions and statements in that piece, including this one: "Anne Hathaway is hotter than Megan Fox. You heard me."
Reaction to that was swift, strong and continues to this day. Readers went bananas over it and let me know via Twitter, email, message board, carrier pigeon. A typical comment was like the one "JazzGP" wrote in the conversation pages after that article.
"Dude anyone who thinks Anne Hathaway is hotter then Megan Fox can't be trusted with any of his other predictions ... at all! Not only that but on your way out you're gonna have to turn in your man card. Silly Boy!"
Well, who's laughing now, JazzGP? Oh, it took almost three years, but I am finally not alone on that island. I merely landed here first and planted my flag, and you must now all pay homage to me! I have been proven right. We now have definitive evidence than Anne Hathaway is hotter than Megan Fox.
As I basked in the glory, it started me thinking about this year's "You Heard Me" piece.
Some predictions, such as Jordan Walden leading the Angels in saves, are off to good starts. Some, such as my bold prediction that I might succumb to public pressure and finally admit Megan Fox is hotter than Anne Hathaway, are clearly not going to happen. And there are many that are too soon to call either way.
But I'm not going to lie, there are some bold predictions that aren't looking too good. But instead of just bailing on them, I'm hanging tough. Here are eight of my bold predictions that I believe in and on which, much like Anne over Megan, I will ultimately be proven right.
1. Dan Uggla hits .300 with 40 home runs
Yeah. Look, they were called bold predictions for a reason, you know? I realize Uggla's been brutal so far, but I'm staying the course. You know the power will be there. Even with Uggla being horrific and hovering around the Mendoza line, he's still on pace for 25 home runs (and he's hit at least 31 for four straight years). Uggla has a career batting average on balls in play of .298 and is currently at .213, so he's gotten a bit unlucky so far. Not to mention 23 of the Braves' first 31 games have come against teams with staff ERAs ranked in the upper half of the National League. Seeing Uggla's lower walk rate makes me wonder if he's pressing a bit to justify the contract or impress the new teammates or something, but regardless I expect some hits to start falling and for Uggla to relax and for him to be the stud fantasy second basemen you drafted. Or are about to buy low from some worried owner.
2. Tyler Colvin hits 40 home runs.
3. Anibal Sanchez strikes out 200.
Honestly, I'm looking good on this one if we just left it at strikeouts. He's currently on pace for 185 strikeouts and, if he can go longer in games (six innings pitched in just two of five games so far), he'll get there. But I bring him up because strikeouts or no, you don't want a guy with a 4.15 ERA and 1.56 WHIP, and all of my bold predictions were more about steering you in one direction or another for a specific player than it was about actually hitting the target number. So is Sanchez going to be good or not? Well, he needs to limit the walks and home runs but he's striking out better than eight batters per nine innings (which would be a career high) and he's a slow starter. The last three seasons, his April ERA is 4.16, then he warms up with the weather: May, 3.52; June, 3.71; July, 3.86; August, 3.39; September, 5.20. Much better days are ahead, especially with that strikeout rate. And then on Aug. 31, you drop him like it's hot.
4. Ted Lilly has an ERA under 3.00 and 200 strikeouts.
I know. I know. I know, OK? I know. If you wanted to drop him after Wednesday's start, I'd understand. Totally. But given Lilly's track record and home stadium, I'm staying the course. Heading into that start, his ERA was 4.45 but his FIP (fielding-independent ERA) was 3.30, according to Fangraphs.com, and not surprisingly he also surrendered a very high BABIP to opposing hitters (.349, career .273). His 25-to-8 strikeout-to-walk rate in 38 innings gives me hope as well. I'm concerned about the low K/9 (currently under six, which would be lowest in his career) but he started slow last year, too (4.91 ERA in March/April) ...
This prediction is all about Howard, as Utley remains a question mark and Rollins is not expected to have significant power this year. Well, for as hot as Howard started out this year, he's currently on pace for just 34 home runs, which would be his second-worst total for a full season. It's all a small sample size, of course, but his underlying numbers all look like last year (which was a disappointment by his standards) and not like, say, 2009. Although he's currently hitting .283, that average would stand as a five-year high for him, so what you really need is the power, and so far this year, it's not quite where you want it to be.
6. Fourteen wins, 175 strikeouts and an ERA under 4.00 for James McDonald.
Off to a poor start, but remember he was banged up during spring training and missed some time. The last two starts have looked like the McDonald I expected coming into the year: 12 innings, only two earned runs, eight strikeouts to five walks and went 2-0. He also stopped using the sinker he'd been (ineffectively) playing with earlier in the year. Wish the walks were a little lower, but as he continues to round into shape, he'll be an asset in NL-only leagues and a good matchup start in mix leagues.
7. Erik Bedard gets 15 wins and 175 strikeouts.
Same thing as McDonald here, as after being injured (for much longer than McDonald, of course) it's taken a while for him to round into form. I'm hanging my hat on two things regarding Bedard: his two most recent starts -- 14 innings, three earned runs and six strikeouts to just two walks -- and his strikeout-to-walk rate -- currently 23 to 13 -- is improving. I love the home park, of course, and assuming Bedard gets his K/9 rate to its career average of 8.6, I've got a shot at getting this one right. That he has now gone back-to-back seven-inning starts for the first time since 2008 is encouraging, as is the fact that, as he told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he's throwing his curve for strikes. He's a decent spot starter right now with potential for more.
A speed guy with a career .326 BABIP; his is currently at .265. Hitting just .191 so far and yet ... he's on pace for 52 steals. And, uh, no home runs. I have to believe the power will come: he had 25 in 685 at-bats in 2009 and 2010 combined. But even if it doesn't, the average will come up and the speed makes him valuable.
Matthew Berry -- THE TMR -- doesn't understand how Rachel Bilson didn't make this year's list, either. Berry is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. He is a charter member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his cyberfriend
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