Your Athlete of the Month - July (yes, July 2009), And Athletes of the Year 1990-2008

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'm in the process of shifting the blogs from the old place back over to the new/old place; so if you've stumbled over here via general search and are unfamiliar with the deal, you'd find it curious to read my prediction about the 2008 election, for example (hey, I didn't say the revelations would come before the events.  You think I'm some sort of Nostrprognosticator or somethin'?)

Since January of 1990, I've recorded an Athlete of the Month (actually, I started about 10 years before, but the records I've manged to keep from my misspent, largley solitary youth, only go back to January 10 1990).  I'm sort of systematic - I pick an athlete each week (48 weeks in the year, I fudge a little when needed) an athlete each month (never repeating the same athlete in the same year) and then an athlete of the year.

For July - your Athlete of the Month is Mark Buehrle (is Wise's catch the greatest defensive play in a perfect game in MLB history?)

Runners Up - Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Georges St. Pierre

Previous Winners for 2009:
January - Larry Fitzgerald
February - Santonio Holmes
March - Maya Moore
April - LeBron James
May - Lionel Messi
June - Roger Federer

Previous Winners:
1990 - Joe Montana
1991 - Michael Jordan
1992 - Mario Lemieux
1993 - Michael Jordan
1994 - George Foreman
1995 - Hakeem Olajuwon
1996 - Michael Jordan
1997 - Tiger Woods
1998 - Mark McGwire
1999 - Tiger Woods
2000 - Tiger Woods
2001 - Barry Bonds
2002 - Barry Bonds
2003 - Lance Armstrong
2004 - Peyton Manning
2005 - Reggie Bush
2006 - Roger Federer
2007 - Tom Brady
2008 - Usain Bolt

I haven't posted the monthly/weekly breakdowns for previous years, but I suppose they are available upon request.  Please call before you stop by.

Lebron James = Kurt Angle

No, not because Jeff Jarrett is shacking up with one of LeBron's ex's. But don't give them any ideas.

LeBron James got dunked on a couple of weeks ago; perhaps you heard about it. The clip is here.

You don't need to see it; it's an ordinary dunk. Nike's burial of the video until now is what gave it any sort of traction at all; from all appearances, Nike attempted to protect the reputation of the greatest basketball player on the planet by making what would otherwise have been a 30 second midshow Pardon the Interruption story into the 13 1/2 minute gap in the Nixon tapes.

And what it brought to my mind was this.

In November of '04, an absolute no one, a blank slate, a kid without a contract named Daniel Puder locked up Kurt Angle on Smackdown. It was a singular confluence of events; Angle still had the veneer of credibility that came with his being a gold medal winning amateur wrestler; UFC had penetrated the WWF/E fanbase just enough that Puder's submission maneuver wasn't inherently obvious to more than a handful but could have been framed in a potentially explosive way.

In an increasingly corporatized, whitewashed, pre-planned, wrinkle-free entertainment landscape - what you live for is the wildcard - it's something that isn't like everything else - something that feels different. For the WWF/E, that would be something that feels real. What is it that UFC has that the WWE clearly doesn't have that would cause its audience to have spent the 4 1/2 years since Puder/Angle bleeding away? It feels more real. It feels more alive. It feels more raw (pun intended). If I'm Dana White, there's nothing more I love than the actual, real human animosity generated toward Brock Lesnar after UFC 100. He's not like everyone else; he's a live wire and people will pay to see what happens next. And if I'm Vince McMahon, when handed the opportunity to tell a story I've never told before, with exactly the right types of people at exactly the right time - a story that feels fresh and new and real - it's the best thing that's happened in years.

Except it wasn't.

WWF/E pretended it didn't happen. Made it go away.

Nike didn't. It took a couple of weeks of bad press, but now it's out and it's fine (apparently, TMZ bought a tape). Fast forward five years, Nike will be fine; James will be fine; UFC will be fine; and hopefully WWE will still be around and occasionally I'll get to pop for Steve Regal.

The last time I saw something raw - moneymaking - on television it was Artie Lange's appearance on the Joe Buck show, which, as I've written previously, was instantly reminiscent of Lange's boss, Howard Stern's, infamous spot on Arsenio. Lange also had a wrestling connection that I wrote about previously - and that gives me the opportunity to close this with a brief repost:

Mad TV has never been funny. I'm a bit of a sketch comedy snob; if there's ever been a worse long running sketch program than Mad TV its existence eludes me.

That said, I watched it last evening. I watch final episodes of shows. I watched the last Nanny despite never having seen even a second of it prior to that. This tells you all you need to know about me.

Mad TV is taped and had a pretty mediocre bit by former cast member Artie Lange.

I like Artie Lange. I listen to Stern every day. Actually, I listen to all of the Sterns on one day, 'cause I own a computer and it's easier to do that way.

I watch SNL every week; clicking the label would lead you to my all time cast.

SNL (which is also not to be confused with state of the art sketch comedy - really, you're comparing really good fast food with really crappy fast food when thinking about the two shows...maybe SNL is Arbys and Fox is Checkers; there's a qualitative difference but if you were to say they're both largely nutritionless and there's no point in drawing that line, I wouldn't put up a tremendous defense) had its season ending show last night. Lots of people stopped by in one form or another - Tom Hanks (who maybe has lost his funny...developing) Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Anne Hathaway (Mmmmm), Fred Armisen's supercool fiance or maybe now wife Elisabeth Moss (I'm not hatin' on Armisten, but this is a Lyle and Julia situation) Norm MacDonald and Norm's good buddy Artie Lange.

I can't be the only person who saw that and immediately thought of Rick Rude appearing on the taped RAW and the live Nitro the same night.

Lange even shaved his beard! On Mad TV he had a beard and then was clean shaven on

It's too bad Mad TV is gone now, 'cause what would be good is if they brought out Harvey Whippleman next week (or was it a lookalike midget? Vince only has a couple of go-to moves and I've forgotten which one he pulled out) dressed in a fat suit to show how easy Artie would be to replace.

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