Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The First Annual Pop Culture/Sports Awards

"First of all, I would like to thank the academy..."

Welcome boys and girls, to my first annual Pop Culture/Sports Award ceremony, looking at the best and the worst from the past year, or however far back I can remember. The categories are in order from the first things on my mind, so don't feel like this are in order of significance. So without further ado...

Best New Show On TV (tie): Rob & Big (MTV): This was a runaway smash from the beginning, and you had to see this coming right from the initial promo. Little white guy + big black guy = ratings bonanza. There is no more infectious character on TV right now than Big Black. Hopefully, this show gets picked up for the next ten years. Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX): This is Curb Your Enthusiasm on acid. I can't even describe how funny this show is. This is something you just have to see for yourself.

Worst New Show On TV: Twenty Four Seven (MTV): If you wonder why the term "player hater" exists, you need look no further than right here. As excrutiating as it may be, attempt to watch about 5-10 minutes of this show to witness the absolute horror this show presents. Honorable mentions (because there were many): Show Me the Money (ABC): Shattner + overused movie catch phrase = you're not gonna have a good time. Rachael Ray Show (some network): She's a cook! What is wrong with you people! What, you think people like her? Now she's on Wheat Thins boxes, like she's the next American sweetheart?...I can't take it! I mean at least give something to look at you know?

Most Even Trade in Sports: Gary Sheffield to the Tigers for 3 Minor Leaguers: The Tigers get the power they were lacking against the Cardinals in the World Series. The Yankees get some minor league help which they desperately needed. Also, the Yanks had no room for him, and got tremendous value for a 39-year old outfielder that was distraught with the Pinstripes.

Most Lobsided Trade in Sports: Joe Thornton to the Shraks for Wayne Primeau, Marco Sturm and Brad Stuart: Ok, completely biased, but totally the right call by me here. There's nothing like trading the MVP of the league in mid-season for three guys that have not panned out yet in the league, and guess what, they won't turn it around either. This, coupled with the Samsonov trade that happened a few weeks later, completely killed the Bruins and set them back about ten years from becoming contenders again. Remember, it wasn't too long ago that the B's were the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but those days are long gone.

Best Show That Just Went Into Syndication: Scrubs (Fox, WGN, Comedy Central, am I missing one?): This show grows on you, because you see that redhead doctor, and you just think, "So what is it, you say, ya do here?" Honorable mention: 24 (Spike): This is a great opportunity to find out about the show's roots because I watched a new one on Fox and was completely lost...I mean I'm still lost, but at least I have some kind of background now.

Worst Show That Just Went Into Syndication: House (USA): What is the deal with this show? Everyone seems to love this show. I mean I gave it a shot, but absolutely could not get into it. But hey, good for that guy, because they are throwing boatloads of cash at him, so why not? Honorable mention: The Sopranos (A&E). Not a good idea. It hasn't even aired on A&E yet, and I can already tell it's gonna suck. This show is great because of the swearing, boobs, and violence, and I'm thinking A&E, who I guess figured that Dog: The Bounty Hunter couldn't continue to carry the network by itself, decided to shake things up. I'm not sold on this at all.

Best Show in Syndication: Seinfeld (Fox, TBS): Well, this used to be a landslide, but now Cartoon Network is putting on the newer Family Guy episodes, so the race has become a little closer.

Worst Show in Syndication: Dharma and Greg (FX): This wins the Lifetime Achievement Award in this category. This is simply the worst show to have ever been on TV, and not only was it on for a long time, it's now on FX for an hour a day! Why?

Best Show Still On The Air: South Park (Comedy Central): This is one of the very few shows in TV history that continues to get better with each year. There is seemingly no end in sight either, as long as there are really idiotic people doing really idiotic things. Honorable mentions: The Simpsons (Fox): This is definitely getting up to a Family Guy/South Park level. Even though this was the original animation conglomarate, it is now taking on a lot more current event parodies, and being more cleaver, for the most part, than what Family Guy has been doing lately. The Shield (FX): The definition of kick-ass, and the main character is from Boston. Can anyone ask for more?

Worst Show Still On The Air: How I Met Your Mother (CBS): I can't take Doogie Howser on this. He is beyond obnoxious, yet they get good ratings, so the show goes on. Honorable mentions: CSI:NY (CBS): Enough is enough. Why can't I just see Gary Sinise in the Tom Hanks movies and let's leave it at that. Any Law & Order that has letter after the words "Law & Order" (NBC): Again, it's just too much. Along with CSI, the original show actually isn't all that bad, but when you start adding on CI and SVU, and I think they just came out with another one, it's just beating a dead horse.

Lifetime Achievement Award: The Price is Right (CBS): Someone said Bob Barker is retiring this year. If this is the case, the Red Sox need to come in, buy this show, and offer Bob $51 million to stay. The greatest game show host in history. It's not even close. Someone's gotta tell Bob that he needs to be like Brett Favre. The only way that Favre will get out of the NFL is if they carry him off and tell him that he has literally no way of competing again. Don't leave Bob!

Athlete You Wish You Knew And Could Hang Out With: David Ortiz. Think about it, here's a guy who's literally done it all. And he's only 30! You could probably get about 200 hours of stories from the 2004 run, and all the clutch moments he's been involved with. And, I mean, he's Big Papi. The guy's the most lovable guy in baseball and maybe all of sports. Plus, he just got a four year, $48 million contract, so he might be able to pick up a check here and there.

Athlete You Want To Belt In The Mouth: Barry Bonds. Again, this could almost be a lifetime achievement award here. You know he did it. This is like Pete Rose. Eventually, in my lifetime, Bonds will wear down, he'll run out of money, and release a tell-all book and start speaking around the country, signing baseballs "I'm sorry I used steroids." And he's just so smug about it, it makes you wince and wish you were taller and bigger (thanks Skee-Lo). Honorable mention: Terrell Owens. He doesn't win this one because he is too predictable, and frankly, no one really cares anymore. Plaxico Burress is battling him tooth and nail for his NFL crybaby title. Also, now that he has a QB who is scared of him, he's starting to get his fair share of catches, so not a lot has come out of Dallas so far. There was that blowup on Bledsoe, but you have to be completely out of it to have not seen that coming.

Someone Sports Related You Want To Chill With: Mark Cuban (Mavs Owner, future Cubs Owner?). This guy has the right mind-set. Just live for the day. He is the most outspoken owner ever, because he is outspoken while the game is happening. He's been ejected from games and fined over a million dollars by the NBA. Al Davis and Jerry Jones were the previous favorites for this, but ever since Cuban took over the Mavs, he may have stamped his name on this award for the near future. Honorable mention: The Maloof Brothers (Kings owners). They now own the Palms, the biggest hot spot in Vegas. They have turned a team in one of the most boring cities in America into one of the bigger attractions in all of sports. Also, they seem to be pretty chill, so there are very good odds you'll be having a good time with these two in Vegas. It definitely won't be in Sac-Town. I mean I don't even think Carmen could make that interesting...actually I'm going to immediately recant on that.

Someone Sports Related You Want To Nudge Cloeser to the Cliff (tie): Drew Rosenhaus (Sports Agent). The most hated man in the NFL. This guy is just dispicable. He goes behind people's backs to get their clients. It would be kind of interesting to see how he operates, but I'll say it now and I'll say it again...I'll buy the bullets. Scott Boras (Sports Agent). Is it any coincidence that there is a tie between two sports agents? Absolutely not. These are suppose to be the most hated guys. Boras is in another class though. This is becoming increasingly personal with me too. Boras drove the price up on Varitek to stay, then, he forced the Sox hand in getting J.D. Drew for 70 mil over five years, now, he is playing dumb about the Dice-K dealings, most likely driving him back to Japan. This guy...this guy is starting to get to me.

Best College Sports Story (tie): George Mason Patriots. Forget about past cinderellas. This is the cinderella. The first double-digit team to make the Final Four, George Mason was not even expected to make the tournament, and when they did, there was public outcry that a team like Florida St. was left out for little George Mason. Not only did they make it to Indianapolis, but they knocked off three past champions who have won in the last decade (UNC, UConn, and Michigan St.) before getting bounced by the eventual champs in Florida. Vince Young (Texas QB). If you were not familiar with Young before the Rose Bowl, you were very quick to realize that this is one of the most special football players to have ever played in college. His performance in that game against the other USC was probably the best single performance I ever witnessed in any game. And to do it in the National Title game was the icing on the cake. Young can now be seen pulling W's out of his backside in the NFL with the Titans.

Best Pro Sports Story: Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat SG). As far as one player who transpires a game that they play, there was no one who did it like Wade. His performance in the playoffs for the Heat was remarkable, and this was only his second year in the league. I don't think anyone could have possibly realized how good Wade would be in the league. If he did, Darko Milicic would not have been a household name in Detroit. Wade teamed up with Shaq to bring Miami their first title. Shaq is the most dominant player in the history of the league, but even the greatest player has always needed a sidekick. This is especially true with Shaq, as he is going through his third right-hand man (Penny, Kobe, Wade). This relationship looks to be even more potent than the first two, and if the Heat get some more youth, could potentially contend again in the near future.

Biggest Choke (3-way tie): New York Yankees: In a year where the last two champions were absent from the postseason (BoSox, ChiSox), the Yanks couldn't make it out of the first round again, proving that whatever formula the boys in the Bronx are running is not panning out in the postseason. They had arguably the easiest road to the World Series that they've ever had, and only managed to win one game against Detroit, who they dominated in the regular season. New York Mets. For basically the same reasons as listed above. This time, the Mets were actually in the NLCS, so they did make it farther than their Bronx counterparts. In the series, the Mets fell quickly to 0-2 after losing two in a row at Shea, then, miraculously won three straight at St. Louis and were in the driver's seat going back to New York with a 3-2 lead in the series. And what do they do? Lose two in a row to the Cardinals, coughing away a trip to the World Series. Finally, what would a choke category be without the Colts? But actually, this award is specifically for Mike Vanderjagt. Peyton Manning and the Colts had the best record of any NFL team in the regular season, winning 13 straight and going 15-1 on the year. Then they face the Steelers. In one of the craziest playoff games in recent history, the Steelers had a hammer-lock on the game. Then the Colts clawed their way back in the game, getting the deficit down to three points, setting up a field goal attempt from 43 yards out. Only problem, their kicker is Mike Vanderjagt. Oh he's the best kicker as far as percentage in NFL history, but this guy is no good in big spots, and it showed in this one. I mean this kick wasn't even in the general range of the uprights, missing everything, even the net behind the posts. This kick, coupled with Vanderjerk's attitude, got him shipped to Dallas, where he just lost his job to Martin Gramatica. That's a bit of a tumble there, from being on the best team, to being a free agent in about 9 months. This one's for you...idiot.

Best Commercial In Regular Rotation: Snicker's. The best song in a commercial since the Busch commercials. Honorable mention: Burger King. Be truthful, the first time you heard it, you thought he said the F word. Then, you wanted to see the commercial again. That's the mark of a great ad.

Worst Commercial In Regualar Rotation (tie): Guitar Hero. Killing VH one play at a time. You know, David Lee Roth did kick ass at one time. Ford. The American Idol guy...that's all I need to say.

Most Predictable Sports Event (tie): Roger Federer at Wimbledon. Oh like you're gonna beat this guy on grass. Please. Tiger Woods at the Masters. It's his tournament to lose every year. They literally try and modify the course every year (this is where the term "Tiger-proofing" came into play) and yet he still wins.

Most Unpredictable Sports Event Besides George Mason: St. Louis Defeating Detroit. No one gave the Cardinals a shot as Detroit reeled off seven straight postseason wins in getting to the Series, beating the Yankees and Oakland, two teams with better records than St. Louis. So what did St. Louis do? How about take out the Tigers in five games. St. Louis used what champs the last few years have used. Incredibly, and I mean incredibly hot pitching, and just enough offense. Do you realize that the World Series has not seen a Game 6 in three years? (Marlins vs. Yanks). Funny considering that these are suppose to be the best two teams in the league. Jeff Suppan is about to get $10 million a year. Enough said.

Lifetime Achievement Award For Most Annoying Announcer: Tim McCarver. Sometimes, you wish you could be Deion and just splash a huge tub of ice water on this guy non-stop...

"There's a world of difference when a batter is looking at a count of two balls and one strike than when the batter is looking at a count of one ball and two strikes."...


Best Sports Coverage In General: NASCAR on Fox. Best announcing crew, best crew of pit road reporters, best technical analysis, best single segment in all of sports (Crank It Up), and to sum it up, the most revolutionary show that has happened in sports since Monday Night Football.

Worst Sports Coverage In General: NFL Network doing NFL Games: I mean I haven't seen it, but I've heard it's bad. I mean Bryant Gumbel on play-by-play. That's like Sudafed on the mic.

Best Movie I Haven't Seen: Departed. This movie was there in a time when I couldn't see it. I mean, here I am, in my last year in college. I'm not going to the movies here. Then along comes this movie, a mob story based in Boston directed by Scorsese, and now I'm clammoring for this DVD release. Mark my words, I will own this movie the first day it comes out. I don't care that I haven't seen it, I know this is good sight un-seen.

Worst Movie I Haven't Seen: Little Man. Wow, were there a lot to choose from here. I just think super-imposing Shawn Wayans is just the last pot-laced brain cell at work for the Wayans brothers. Honorable mention: Literally every movie out in theaters right now.

Best Sports Quote: Dennis Green. The field was wide open, but then the Cardinals played the Bears, and Denny wins this in a runaway. So this is kind of a happy trails award, and if he doesn't get fired, I don't know what to think anymore.

"The Bears are who we thought they were! That's why we took the damn field! The Bears are who we thought they were! (hits microphone) Now if you want to crown them, then crown their ass, but they are who we thought they were, and we let 'em off the hook!"

The Next Big Thing: Greg Oden (Ohio St. Center): Literally, the next big thing. This guy has people wondering if he's 40 and not 18. He will no doubt be the #1 pick in next year's draft, and will have an immediate, almost LeBron-like, impact on whatever team drafts him.

Most Intriguing Sports Story in 2007: Boston Red Sox. This could be it. This could be the year when the Red Sox fade off into the sunset. Two years after winning their first World Series in 86 years, the Sox are about to have their worst year in a long time. They have brought in a bunch of clowns and have given them long-term contracts, something they vowed not to do when the new ownership took over. Now, after the Dice-K massacre that took the heart and patience out of Red Sox Nation for a month, the Sox are left with a sub-par lineup, an even worse pitching staff that includes no closer, and literally millions of people wondering where it all went wrong. Once the Sox started focusing on OBP and not on character, it all started to slip away. There is one or two characters left, but the rest of the championship team has been blown-up and reassembled into a shadow of their former-selves.

Hottest Celebrity Right Now: Scarlett Johansson: And she's 21. They got pictures on that internet there. Good times.

Hottest Trend: White Trash. This one has actually won a number of years in a row, but it now being recognized. Trucker hats, NASCAR, anything country, the white trash has been hot for a while, although we have seemingly peaked on this, with declining NASCAR ratings and the breakup of Britney and K-Fed.

The How Does He Have a Job Award: Charlie Sheen. This guy was an alcoholic and visited prostitutes, and not only was he not totally condemned, he was given a lead role on a sitcom (Spin City). Then, he tries rehab, comes out, and goes back to the same old song and dance. This time, he's married to Denise Richards (think Wild Things, ya know?...???...ok stop it!), he manages to blow that even after she posed for Playboy, which takes away some of the self-esteem edge she had over him. Now, he's on another highly popular sitcom (Two and a Half Men), so we have to round up the boys, get drunk and get a "loosey" from one of Columbia's finest, then we'll be in business.

Bobby Valentine Award: Jack Del Rio's Suit. This award is for best coaching accesory. Think when Bobby V put on the t-shirt and glasses and went all "incognetus" after being tossed out of a game. Normally, this would be Belichick's sweatshirt in a laugher, but lately, you cannot deny the effect the suit has has on the Jags, who now have won two huge games at home while Del Rio rocked out his slick Reebok blazer. So here's to you, o titan of the topcoat, you may be completely uncomfortable, and literally sweating buckets, but you're a few more Maurice Jones-Drew games away from making a playoff run once again.

Most Underrated College Athlete: Al Thornton (Florida St. F/C): I know, you're thinking who is this guy, and probably about Wild Things still, but the fact remains, if you're going to be underrated, you're probably not playing for a great team. Here's the facts, Thornton plays really well against the best teams on the Seminole schedule, especially Duke, who Florida St. knocked off in Talahassee last year and nearly stunned the Dukies at Cameron Indoor. Thornton absolutely dominates games, and leads his team in points, rebounds, and blocks. Look for him to be at least a second round pick in next year's draft. Also, you'll probably be seeing him in the NIT once again this year. Honorable mention: Felix Jones (Arkansas RB): Ok, so you're playing in the same backfield as a Heisman finalist, but when you rush for over 1,000 yards in his true freshman year, now that's special. Jones helped Arkansas to 10 consecutive wins before being bounced in consecutive contests by LSU and Florida in the SEC Championship game. While McFadden will still only be a junior next year, he will have Jones to thank for sharing some of the heavy workload the Razorbacks running game endurred.

Overrated College Athlete: Brady Quinn (Notre Dame QB): This guy has about zero potential. None. He'll probably be the first pick in the draft, becoming the league's next Alex Smith, except at least Alex Smith is a starter in the league, while Brady Quinn could conceivably end up on the Raiders, which would be the absolute last thing that franchise needs, considering they need...everything. Honorable mention: The rest of the Notre Dame team. Ok, so they beat who? I'm thinking, I don't know, Navy, Stanford, Michigan St. in a bizarre comeback, but other than that, no one. However, Notre Dame = ratings. Always remember that formula when you question why exactly Notre Dame continues to get BCS games. Ok, their last two they have played in: 2001 Fiesta Bowl, Oregon St. 41, Notre Dame 9, and last year's Fiesta Bowl, Ohio St. 34, Notre Dame 20, but don't let the score fool you, this game wasn't even close. So, I'm hoping this year, when the Irish take on the Bayou Bengals from LSU, that Notre Dame gets absolutely slaughtered, because I cannot stand how they are able to get an exemption into the BCS, stealing away a bid from a much more deserving team, like Wisconsin or Auburn.

Underrated Pro Athlete (tie): Donald Driver (Green Bay WR): His game-breaking ability has gone largely unnoticed in the past few years up in Green Bay, but Driver has shown that just one catch can turn a game around. He still has amazing speed, and can be seen running across the middle with great frequency, unlike a lot of upper-echelon receivers. With three games to go, Driver has accumulated 73 catches for 1103 yards and 7 TD's. Adam Wainwright (St. Louis RP). After coming on in place of Jason Isringhausen, Wainwright proved to be the difference maker in the postseason for the Cardinals. In 11 appearances as a closer, nine in the postseason, Wainwright posted a robust zero ERA...zero. That's 0.00. He had four postseason saves, including one in the World Series clinching Game 5. Honorable mention: Frank Gore (San Francisco RB). Ok, this guy could have been up for this award ever since he was at Miami, being overshadowed by Edgerrin James and Clinton Portis. Now, he plays for a terrible team, and with teams going in knowing he is basically the only offensive weapon, he has rushed for nearly 1500 yards and 6 TD's. Also, he has come out of the backfield to catch 53 balls for 418 yards and another score. Gore's 5.5 yards per rush is currently leading the NFL. This is only Gore's second season, and already, he has proven to be a big-time impact player.

Overrated Pro Athlete (tie): This award is given to every single free agent from baseball's offseason, except for Alfonso Soriano. If you break it down, this is one of the weakest free agent classes of all time. Yet, this has been the most money that has been thrown at players since the 2000 offseason (A-Rod, Manny). Carlos Lee gets $100 million? And now, reports are that Barry Zito might get the same? Unbelievable. Also, Gil Meche got $55 million over five years...from the Royals! What the hell? This goes to show that pitching is at a premium, and trading prospects for an established starter has become the best option for teams. Unless you trade, or build your staff through the minors, you will ultimately get screwed now-a-days. Hey, good for the players getting paid, but a horrible job done by the GM's and owners allowing this salary influx to happen.

Best Team of 2006: Ohio St. Football. Unless my guess is way off, the Buckeyes will romp the Gators in the National Title game, pulling off the most dominant college football season since the 2000 Miami Hurricanes. With their Heisman-winning quarterback, the Bucks have one of the top playmakers in the nation in Ted Ginn, Jr., a big-time underrated running back option in Antonio Pittman and #2 receiver in Anthony Gonzalez, and a really tough defense, highlighted by the player of the year in James Laurinaitis. They should be able to steamroll Florida, who has barely survived to make it into the #2 spot in the BCS. Honorable mention: San Diego Chargers. This team is banging on all cylinders right now, and is seemingly unstoppable in their quest to reach the Super Bowl. With all-world running back LaDanian Tomlinson, and a stingy defense that has brought back the controversial Shawne Merriman, the Chargers are now the odds on favorite to win the AFC and the Super Bowl.

Well, I may add to this if I think of anything, but for now, I would like to thank you for reading, and I hope 2007 is an even better year for sports and Scarlett Johansson. Take care now. Happy New Year. Peace.


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