SOur friends at The Good Men Project have compiled a list of the top 10 good guys in sports. This is not that list.
Donald Sterling: Clippers owner, human abomination
I lost my power for four nights last week. This is because my power company, Pepco, eats a massive bag of shit and always has. I'm not alone in this opinion. Virtually everyone where I live agrees that Pepco is awful, and yet nothing is ever done about it. Their shittiness is firmly embedded in the landscape, impossible to dig out.
There are certain people and entities in this world that have remained permanent fixtures over the years despite everyone hating their fucking guts. My power company is one. The BCS is another. And Donald Sterling is a third. Every time one of these entities fucks up, it's both expected and enraging. I know Donald Sterling will somehow fuck up Blake Griffin. It's as plain as day. But that won't make it any better when it eventually happens. In fact, it'll only make it worse. Because over the past three decades, Sterling has proven himself to be a cheapskate, a liar, a bigot, a lecher, an Indian giver, a loser, and a generally monstrous human being. Everyone knows this, and yet here he remains. He'll always own this team, he'll always fuck it up, and he'll probably find a way to fuck it in the ass from the grave.
It's this remarkable resilience that makes Sterling so maddening. Every year he sticks around makes those who despise him (everyone) angrier and angrier. Like the BCS, he blissfully ignores naysayers while putting a torch to everything he touches. And no one can do much about it. It's one thing to feel victimized. It's another to feel both victimized and powerless, which is how Donald Sterling tends to make people feel.
In a way, I kind of admire the guy. I mean, really. Imagine being an asshole for THAT long, to THAT many people, and getting away with it. Imagine having enough money to be able to live inside your own self-delusion, to hire lawyers to make virtually any problem go away. Imagine being an asshole for so long that you feel more emboldened every year to be an even worse human being. Donald Sterling has FUCK YOU money, and very few people in history have gotten that much FUCK YOU out of FUCK YOU money. That man is using all of his FUCK YOU capital. I bet that feels fucking sweet.
It's the American Dream, really. And Donald Sterling and my power company get to live it every day. We should learn from these people. We should figure out the secret to becoming so rich and boorish that no one can ever touch you. I'm sure the consumption of puppy blood is somehow involved. (Drew Magary)
Ben Roethlisberger: Steelers quarterback, dick
A brief story, related to us by a trusted source: Our scene is the annual celebrity golf tournament on the shores of Lake Tahoe, the American Century Championship. The year is uncertain. Our principals are a security guard, Ben Roethlisberger, and a handful of professional football types, among them one former safety who by the end of this story will be so disgusted with Ben Roethlisberger that he will want to do to him what he once did to so many slot receivers on a crossing pattern. We are out on the golf course, somewhere among the tall pines in the shadow of the High Sierras. Imagine sunlight glinting off the lake, a whitecap or two breaking in the distance, Charles Barkley slicing a one-iron into Truckee. And now imagine Roethlisberger approaching our guard and tapping the man on his shoulder. The guard turns. He smiles. He recognizes the quarterback and extends a hand in greeting. How do you do, Mr. Roethlisberger? This is a celebrity golf tournament, after all, where the swells mingle with the commoners, where in fact the whole purpose is for the swells to mingle with the commoners, to give some real-estate broker in the gallery a nice story about Greg Maddux to embellish for the boys back in Walnut Creek. It is a safe bet that the guard has shaken a great many hands today.
How do you do, Mr. Roethlisberger?
Our quarterback reaches into his mouth and, right there in front of God and John Lynch, presses something into the guard's offered palm. The guard looks down. It's a moist little wad of chewing gum. (Tommy Craggs)
Sepp Blatter: FIFA president, crook
Anyone can turn a blind eye to FIFA's legendary corruption, but it takes special cojones to reply to a damning BBC investigation by maintaining at least they're not as bad as the IOC (which Blatter is a member of). Maybe we should have seen this coming 12 years ago, when Blatter ran for FIFA head against Lennart Johansson, who was considered the favorite thanks to his anti-corruption platform. At the last minute, the African federations switched their votes to Blatter, allegedly for money. The shadowy figure who distributed those bribes: a FIFA official from Qatar.
Blatter's gift is being as personally odious as he is professionally. Racist, sexist, homophobic: you name it. Blatter's of the mind that John Terry's team-destroying adultery would have been applauded in the Latin countries. That female players should wear skimpy outfits. That gays should stop being gay if they want to go to Qatar.
And let's not forget his resistance to change, to accuracy. He won't even consider the trial use of any goal line technologies or extra officials. In his mind, getting crucial calls wrong in the world's biggest sporting event is better than hiring a couple extra people. No wonder a prankster at the South African government's website appended a middle name to Blatter's profile, one that's local slang for "dickhead."(Barry Petchesky)
Tony La Russa: Cardinals manager, George Will's human binky
God, it was inevitable that George Will and Tony La Russa would find each other, wasn't it?
Situations are shaped in innumerable ways by managers, by what they do to prepare for a game and what they do during a game. La Russa says, with a fine sense of semantic tidiness, that what are called baseball "instincts" involve much more than instinctual behavior. These instincts are actually the result, he says, "of an accumulation of baseball information." [...]
The accumulated information is evident when La Russa examines elements of strategy, such as playing for the big inning. It is an old baseball joke that big-inning baseball is affirmed in the Book of Genesis: "In the big inning, God created...." La Russa knows well the key to creating big innings: "First and third, nobody out—you're talking about a big inning," he says. "To me, the secret of scoring a lot of runs is getting guys into scoring position as many times as you can."
That's stupid. Shit, Tim McCarver thinks that's stupid. That's like saying, "The secret of scoring touchdowns in getting close to the end zone." It isn't the slightest bit profound, and yet George Will starts humping that quote as if Disraeli had said it.
There are few things in baseball worse than the cult of the manager, and there no manager cults more head-slappingly pretentious than the one that has sprung up around Tony La Russa. I have a theory that La Russa is so exalted by the George Wills of the world because he is more or less one of them — an observer who has little to no impact on what's transpiring in front of him, who spends his nine innings investing tiny fluke moments with galactic significance and stamping them with the mark of his own genius. Will and La Russa are perfect for one another — where Will has a bow tie to evoke a sort of out-of-step erudition, La Russa has a ballet t-shirt — and it was only natural that they'd spend a few happy days wiggling their toy intellect at each other:
A wit once said it was not true that Gladstone lacked a sense of humor, Gladstone just was not often in a mood to be amused. La Russa is no stranger to laughter, but he does not often laugh when he is within a fly ball's distance of a ballpark. He has ample dark hair and thick eyebrows and wears his cap with the bill pulled low, keeping his eyes in perpetual shadow. His watchfulness has an aspect of brooding. La Russa spends the hours of each game giving signs in response to what he sees on the field, and in response to what he sees—or thinks he sees or thinks he would see if he could decipher the evidence—in the dugout across the field.
La Russa is a guy playing Chutes and Ladders who thinks it's actually chess. He is a manager, nothing more, and he has been blessed with a lot of great players over the years, and he has been smart enough and sober enough not to fuck them up too horribly. That's it. That's his genius. This constant need on La Russa's part to prove it's somehow more than that is entirely a function of baseball's epic self-mythologizing. And it is with a fine sense of semantic tidiness that I say, "Fuck that." (Tommy Craggs)
Jim Nantz: Sportscaster, dumb WASP
Whenever the subject of Jim Nantz comes up, I always bring up this interview he did with SI five years ago, in which he said this when asked about steroids in golf:
I would be shocked if there's anybody in professional golf doing that. Shocked. You hear, "They're hitting it so far." But golfers are not cheats. The guys up on the pedestal in our sport play by the rules. That's unusual in our society. It's beautiful… there's not a scandal and there's not going to be one. We should not even breathe a hint of suspicion; it's a nonissue.
It's worth bringing up this quote repeatedly because IT'S FUCKING INSANE. Jim Nantz is not merely a bland individual. He is a herald for blandness. He believes the mere act of playing golf actually makes you a more honorable human being than someone who does not. Do you see any golfer pantomime sleeping in the end zone, as Shonn Greene did? Of course not. Because golfers are good and pure and the game itself will save us from the savagery of those outside Jim's precious country club walls. And when you hear him talk about Augusta… HOLY SHIT. This man wants to spend the rest of his life inside the rectum of Billy Payne. He really does think that club — despite its history of racism and general assholery — is somehow an enchanted piece of land. It's nauseating. In a perfect world, Jim would never have to leave Augusta. He'd never have to encounter anyone but HIS people — wonderful, rich, bland white people, who play golf and drink Chablis and never breathe a hint of suspicion about each other because they're all so fucking perfect. (Drew Magary)
Larry Jacobson: Super Bowl superfan, moral cripple
A company spends millions of ad dollars so you'll Buy! Buy! Buy! with hundreds of millions for the slimmest chance to join the cloying stumblebum gang at a big football game. Maybe you can even sit next to a droopy-eyed dickbag of a pawn who champions the skipping of weddings and births of children for all this!
Moral myopia. Here is its face.
Retired junior-high math teacher who went to Burbank for Super Bowl I to impress a chick who, of course, didn't bite. From there, he got hand-me-downs from an NFL game official friend and then, the league.
Seventy-one-year-old father of two who refuses to miss a play to go to the bathroom. Makes sense for a Niners fan against Cincinnati, Montana driving, in Miami. Poor hygiene for a Niners fan when a Lin Elliott kick put Dallas up 35 on the Bills in Pasadena, just for a bragging point.
A not-as-wry-as-presented opportunist who settled, sometime after getting dumped in ‘67, on "an opener for conversations, an opener to make friendships" explanation. Actually, it is a good opener.
Mr. Excitement (Brought to you by Visa): I've been to every Super Bowl.
Anybody Else On Earth: My family doesn't make a point of planning weddings and births for when I'm out of town.
Frig off, Larry Jacobson. (Brian Hickey)
Mike Krzyzewski: Duke coach, vermin
It would be easy enough to be repelled by someone with the most human characteristics of a rat, but it is much easier to hate a rat-like person if he also happens to be an elitist scumbag. Mike Krzyzewski has the double crown. Coach K is superbly awful. He has developed a practiced rhetoric about creating scholar-athletes at his private university, which, he seems to believe, is the sacred ground for all that is holy in college athletics, and the result is the worst possible kind of elitism. It is elitism that pretends to have perspective.
It is saying just how truly remarkable it is to have two private institutions in the national championship game ("It's a pretty cool thing"). It is not understanding that there is a reason the referees called more fouls on Maryland in the 2001 semifinals. It is having a court, a plaza, and a practice facility named in your honor and not understanding, really, that this happens only at private institutions with the most loaded of wealthy donors — and then still claiming that 1.) all this would be possible in a public-school setting, and that 2.) it is only because of private-school envy that people begrudge him his success. "Let's say at Ohio State that we did what we have done at Duke," he told Will Blythe in his 2007 book To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever. "There would be statues. There would never be anybody looking for anything wrong with what you did."
Coach K, who has the second most wins in the history of men's college basketball, will probably have a statue in the next decade. He is, after all, 63 years old. The sculptor will soften the rat qualities and he will look imposing and in control and ready to curse you out, and we won't even have to look for anything that is exactly "wrong" with what he did, because his awfulness is just consummate — it is, really, an elite kind of awful. (Emma Carmichael)
Frank McCourt: Dodgers co-owner, train wreck
The Dodgers were a great franchise once. But on the eve of the 2009 NLCS, Frank McCourt filed for divorce from his wife Jamie, who he had made CEO of the team for some reason that must seem inconceivable to him now. Not content with a simple firing, he sent her a public letter blaming her "insubordination, non-responsiveness, failure to follow procedures, and inappropriate behavior with regard to a direct subordinate." That last one: an alleged affair with her chauffeur. Oh, and he changed the locks on her office.
The weirdness was only starting. It came out the pair had hired a faith healer to watch games on TV in Boston, and send "positive vibes" their way. Jamie, refusing to accept her firing, sent her chauffeur/boyfriend as an official Dodger ambassador to Taiwan. Frank, who owns Dodger Stadium, charged his own team exorbitant rent, in order to move the money where Jamie can't touch it.
So now the Dodgers desperately slash payroll, in an attempt to horde funds in advance of a court ruling. Los Angeles, a city that's like a flame to moths for professional athletes, can't sign anyone to prevent their freefall. And we still don't know who owns the team, nor do we know why anyone would want to. The Dodgers were a great franchise. Once. (Barry Petchesky)
Colin Cowherd: Radio host, race-baiting huckster
This fall, Colin Cowherd went on ESPN Radio and called John Wall a nigger. A few days later, amid great hue and cry, he went on the air and called him a nigger again. I don't use this word lightly, but what else could Cowherd have wanted us to hear? He talked about "IQ judgment" and Wall's "wild, out-of-control style" and said something about robbing a bank and used the phrase "Yo, dawg, look at me" and referred to Wall's fans as "the wrong people," and I swear, in the sneering way he said "the wrong people," in the little bit of English he put on that middle word, you could read the whole damn history of redlining in America, and then a little later he busted on the kid for not having a dad.
I don't believe Colin Cowherd is a racist. I think he is a radio huckster who understands that there is awesome profit in stopping just short of saying "nigger" on national radio, in letting his audience make all the foul connections for themselves. And because this is America — where Nothing Is Ever About Race, where anything can be justified so long as it moves the needle, and where our media culture operates on the premise that we are all slackjawed morons — he is absolutely untouchable. He is critic-proof. Just think about that: One of the foremost media personalities in one of the most tight-assed, image-conscious, PG-rated media companies in the land — an outfit that suspended Tony Kornheiser in part for talking about Hannah Storm's skirt, that went into spasms of pretend conscience over airing ads for a slasher movie during a college football game — goes on national radio and whispers "nigger" and no one in Bristol feels obliged to say anything. And of course no one does. Colin Cowherd moves the needle, they'd only point out. Colin Cowherd speaks his mind. Colin Cowherd gets people talking. (So did Ted Bundy. What's your point?)
The media marketplace will always find room for demagogues and controversialists and crypto-bigots, even for especially dumb ones likes Cowherd. They've been around for so long that hatred is virtually the grammar of radio. For many years, mass culture kept up an uneasy detente with these figures. They were given their margins, and they kept to them, and there was an understanding on both sides that they spoke to a very devoted fraction — a large one, in some instances, but a fraction nonetheless. I don't want to give Cowherd too much credit, because I think he's a stupid man, and I don't pretend that he's doing anything appreciably different from whatever goes down during Skippy and Goatface's Morning Sports Holocaust on your local FM dial, but Cowherd, to my mind, represents the collapse of that cultural consensus. Something in the culture is irreparably fucked when its purveyors of mass entertainment look at a guy whispering "nigger" on his margin and think he trades in common coin. That he's just like everyone else, an everyman with an everyman's frustrations about the world. Colin Cowherd has a CBS sitcom. Something is fucked. (Tommy Craggs)
A.J. Daulerio: Deadspin editor, antichrist
A.J. Daulerio is an asshole, a child, an embarrassment, a character assassin, a piece of human garbage, a binge drinker, a blow fiend, a giant fag, an asswipe, a scumbag, the most annoying guy in the room, an overtanned dwarf with the child-molester mustache, and a douchecanoe. Daulerio is a tool who has turned the site into TMZ Sports. He's no better than Perez Hilton when it comes to utter classlessness and douchebaggery. Daulerio has made Deadspin as boring as TMZ or Perez Hilton. Yep. Every few months or so, A.J. Daulerio is guilty of killing journalism. Daulerio's brand of journalism can be superficial and shallow. Deadspin's self-admitted rumor mongering is despicable behavior by any standard and shows callous disregard for its impact on people's lives. A.J. Daulerio is a hack and makes me want to change my name. He's obsessed with cocks.. Nick Denton and A.J. Daulerio both can go eat a bowl of fuck. Fuck Daulerio. Fuck Deadspin. (The Internet)
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Top image by Jim Cooke.