1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown: Dec 27 2009-Jan 2 2010

Sunday, January 3, 2010


This is Issue 8 of the Weekly Tendown, my weekly wrapup of all the best cultural achievements from the past 7 days.  Last Week, I talked about Dwight Clark, the war on Christmas, John Peter Zenger and the Bad Girls Club.  What....what do you suppose we'll cover this week?

First:  Helicopter Dads and the Hot/Crazy Scale.

The year ended with two great sports stories - Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittendon apparently pulled guns on each other in the Washington Wizards locker room; which is a great old-school NBA move.  Somewhere, Quintin Dailey is complaining that there was no tmzsports when he was in the league, "There was this one time that me and Ennis Whatley pulled a train on this bartender from Princess Cruises.  Dude didn't know what hit him."  That's the thing about the new media trafficking in sports gossip; for years, we used to say "How could Babe Ruth (for example) play now?"  Hard to spend as much hooker time as the Babe did in full view of the writers and still be framed in heroic terms.  But what the Tiger Woods coverage forces us to ask is "How could Michael Jordan (for example) play now?"  Tiger didn't invent big league philandering; the best thing that ever happened to #23 is he had Bonds/Woods to take all the juice/strange flak.  If Jordan were two decades younger with the same "If I could be like Mike" heat, the gambling and the women and the (come on, let's get serious) PED use would have turned his life into Lindsay Lohan's.  The coke and upskirt pics and lesbianism would have been a curious addition to MJ's wikipedia entry. 

And - now former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach (who you can see here giving advice on where a young college man should go on a first date) locked Craig James's kid in a shed. 

Craig James, if you're unaware, was Eric Dickerson's other half at SMU a quarter-century ago (their nickname, DickerJames, didn't exactly have the staying power of Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside) and has spent the bulk of his adult life talking about college football on TV.  I don't know, in 2009, how many college football players are locked in sheds, but probably picking the kid of a guy who works for ESPN to so discipline was error.  It's been fun watching the ESPN heads go after Leach, a rare (maybe singular) case of their siding with a college football player over a coach in a he said/he said dispute (the Michigan players offseason Rich Rodriguez complaints come to mind). Those gymnastics aren't what puts this on the Tendown though - the unfurling of my favorite phrase of the week - helicopter dad - to refer to James, is why this is on Tendown (a helicopter dad is a father of a college athlete who flies in for practice to give his unwanted advice to the coaches). 

Mike Leach has always been a bit of a whack job (a few months ago he blamed his players "fat girlfriends" for their lethargic play) but that's what you like from your sports figures, a little color.  Give me Mike Leach over Bob Stoops any day.  Give me Agent Zero jacking Javaris Crittendon during a TV timeout over an unpaid dominoes bet over Jordan Farmar passing to Kobe any day. 

(Kobe's a good guy to remember if you've decided Tiger can't ever get past this bimbo eruption.  A checkbook can get your good name back.)

But Leach was successful, certainly in the context of Texas Tech history - and if you're successful, you get to be a whack job. 

There was an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Barney unveiled the hot/crazy scale.  To wit:

You can date a crazy girl, if she's hot enough. 
If she's just a little crazy, she just has to be an ordinary level of hot.
The crazier she gets, the hotter she has to be to compensate. 
If she's off the chart crazy, she needs to be Scarlett Johansson. 
But even then, some girls are too crazy to date.  You'll put up with Britney until she shaves her head and attacks your car with the umbrella.  Then you move on down the road. 

You knew that already, of course - and you also know you can plug in other variables into the hot/crazy scale and run a similar cost/benefit analysis.  HIMYM is good like that; in a Yadda Yadda Yadda or "not that there's anything wrong with that"  type of way, they've done bits which would catch the cultural zeitgeist if it were a more popular show (and, like Tiger, HIMYM is a victim of the Aughts, in HIMYMs case, it's the fragmentation of the culture - if it's 15 years ago, it gets to be Friends and Cobie Smulders becomes Jennifer Aniston {why can't she find love?  So sad.} but it's not then, it's now, and you don't need to watch a funny enough sitcom with pretty people, you've got eleven hundred channels and can download three different versions of Avatar to your phone). 

One way to apply the hot/crazy scale is at work.  You can be a pain in the ass and get away with it if you're good enough - whereas the guy next to you might only occasionally step out of line but still winds up in the crosshairs because he isn't worth putting up with.  Leach clearly rubbed up against Administration in a weird way for a few years, but he was hot enough that they put up with it.  He has a salary dispute, says a few weird things - that's okay, you're not thrilled with it but check out his ass! 

Then he locks Craig James's kid in a shed.  And now you tell him you think you should take a little break.  You're really focused on your career right now.  It's not him, it's you.  (We're about to find out how hot CBS and Hanes underwear finds Charlie Sheen, 'cause if Tiger Woods, one of the most famous men in the world, bleeds away endorsements for sex - what will happen to Charlie after threatening to kill another woman?)

That's the best thing that happened this week.  After the Jump - the rest of the Tendown!

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