Thursday, March 22, 2007

So How Do They Rank

When it comes right down, the only people's who get to have an opinion that is nationally published in a newspaper are those at USA Today. So to call this whole thing a critical deconstruction isn't really so accurate as just a guy killing some time. But if I had to rank the events they chose in my own personal order, I think it would probably shake out something like this:

10. The downhill: Everyone could at least try it. Weather or not it goes well for them remains to be seen.
9. Running a marathon: If they said "Running a competitive time in a marathon" I might think differently. But you could train for it, and at least trot your way through it taking time to walk if you need to. I have admiration for those who do it, but I only give it a 9.

Here is where they get tricky, because in my opinion, these are so close in ranking.
8. Hitting a straight tee shot: Again, incomplete. If you keep swinging, eventually, you'll get one. Do it every single time or include the ability to bend and fade the ball, and maybe.
7. Race car driving: Dangerous, mentally challanging, and physically taxing yes. But you're still sitting down the whole time.
6.Return a serve: Yes the ball moves fast and it's small. But you have a huge surface with which to make contact with that little fuzzy thing. Take a swipe.
5. Hitting a baseball: Like in golf, keep swinging and eventually that learning curve starts to fade away. Eventually, you'll catch up to one of 'em.
4. Save a penalty kick: Total crap-shoot
3. Land a quad: Not necessarily the most exciting thing in all of sports, but it takes a nice combination of know-how and physical training.
2. Tour de France: Long ride, changing altitudes, to chase or not, is Lance coming back again? These are just some of the host of questions facing the massive field of competitors. Yes they too are sitting the whole time, but unlike race car driving, they propel themselves to breakneck speeds. Take that Tony Stewart.
1. Pole Vault: Strong like bull, flexible like gymnast, fast like sprinter. Much love.

So that's what they have to say, and what I have to say about it. But now on a similar note, allow me to present the things that I think are going to be the hardest to achieve in the realm that is pro sports. Or I guess maybe semi-pro and on your way to being pro.

10. Pitch a perfect game: This is a feat so difficult that less than a handful of guys have ever done it. Maybe 5 or 6 in history? Not only do you have to pitch extraordinarily well, but your catcher has to be on his best game, and chances are someone is still going to his the ball at some point. Throwing 9 innings to 27 batters and 81 consecutive strikes would be pretty cool. But it's far more likely someone is going to put the ball in play. So now you enlist the help of the other 8 lads on the field.

9. Run a sub 4.0 40.: In the wide world of sports, speed is always an asset. It never seems to matter what game you are playing. If you can throw faster, move faster, jump faster, drive faster, or in this case run faster, you are a stronger candidate for regards as a better player. More money comes in. You're more famous. So on and so forth. A respectable time in a 40 yard dash is in the mid 4 second range. At this years NFL combine, the top wide receivers ran around 4.3 seconds. That's pretty fast. But there are a rare few people in the world that can cover the same distance in less than 4 seconds. Granted .5 seconds is not a great deal of time. But when we are talking about only 4 seconds or so to start, you're talking about shaving almost 10% off your time. If you were driving 10 hours and made it in 9, I'd say you did well for yourself.

8. Ride an AMA Superbike: Yeah you're sitting down, but there is nothing to protect you from the ground which is incidentally buzzing past you at 150+ mph aside from a helmet. But you are manipulating a 300 pound vehicle requiring you to use both hands and both feet and inconsistant intervals and all in different capacities. A miscue would be disasterous. These guys walk the track to study turns so intensely it would give you a headache. Why? Because at 160 and shifting gears you're in an out of a turn before you can really assess what it is you need to do in order to maintain maximum speed. That ought to make the average joe's eyes bug out a bit.

7. The Ironman: Let's take 112 miles away from the Tour and add it to the Boston Marathon. But before we do those things in consecutive order, let's go ahead and swim 2.4 miles in the open ocean. Oh by the way, we'll also be doing these things under the sun of Hawaii.

6. Tour de France: I totally agree that they original authors got this one right on the money. Now if we can just do something about the annoyed frenchmen who want to whine about steroid use because they can't win their own race. I got you back Floyd.

5. 1-Arm Rewind Cupid: In the insanity that was my collegiate youth, I did have a go at cheerleading. Probably just about the hardest thing I've ever done physically and mentally. A one are rewind cupid means the following: A guy puts one hand in the middle of his sutnt partner's back with her arms down at her sides. She dips to jump and begins to do what looks like a back tuck. When she goes horizontal, the guy uses every muscle in his body to push straight up as hard as possible, allowing her to complete her tuck. Now here's where it gets tricky. She completes her rotation landing with both feet in one hand, incidentally the hand attached to the same arm with which her threw her, above the guy's head. So to review, she goes from standing on the ground, to standing in a guy's hand with her feet being about seven to eight feet off the ground. Oh yeah, there was a flip in there too. A number of physical things have to happen in precise order. But to that, add this; A guy has to say "Hey, let me toss you over my head going upside down and catching you in one hand over my head. Oh yeah, and we're on a hardwood basketball floor in front of 15,000 screaming people." And then the girl has to say "Yeah sure...let's do that."

4. Win the America's Cup: Here's a sport where we are going to put a bunch of guys on a large yacht and cast them off. All of them have to work in perfect order doing a number of things in very specific intervals of time to make the boat go where they want in spite of the ever changing, unrelenting, and unforgiving ocean. Jack Sparrow has nothing on these guys.

3. Pole Vault: Have to agree with the pros on this one again.

T-1. Break the Streak: People always think their records will stand for all time. Well maybe they don't think that, but they'd like too. Shaun Alexander broke and held the single season record for touchdowns just to have Ladanian Tomlinson break it a year later. Barroid Bonds is probably going to catch Hank Aaron, but in doing the math, it took about 30 years. But referred to simply as "The Streak", Cal Ripken played in a record 2,131 consecutive games. Actually, 2,131 simply broke the old streak. His number continued to climb there after. The first game in of his streak was in May of '82, and it wasn't until September of '95 that he his 2,131. That's 13 years at over 100 games a season never missing a game. The man played hurt, sick, tired, on and on. Now a days guys are getting days off "just because".

T-1. Start, play, and finish your career in 1 city: So this is more of a philosophical goal than anything else. But this just doesn't really happen anymore. There are a select few in history that have done so. But even the Ironman Brett Favre got his start in Atlanta, even though Greenbay gave him his home. With the inflating salaries, more inflated egos, agressive agents, salary caps, and free agency all being what they are, it's just does happen very often.

I'm out.


Anonymous CCC said...

As usual, I enjoy not only your writing style but also the thoughts you bring to the table. Very interesting observations.

8:00 PM  

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