While flipping through channels on an unusually quiet July 4 but a particularly interesting day of sports, I caught the tail end of the 2006 Nathan's hot dog eating contest. This year saw another win for Japanese juggernaut Takeru Kobayashi, who is being hailed as the Babe Ruth of competitive eating for dominating, popularizing, and legitimizing it as a "sport." As Kobayashi lofted the coveted Mustard Belt, one of the enraptured commentators proclaimed Kobayashi "the greatest athlete on the planet right now in any sport."
I'm with you, man. Wait. No I'm not!
Let us gaze upon his visage.
You're telling me that if an alien race came down to planet Earth right now and said that one athlete must represent humanity in a mystery sporting contest with the fate of the world in the balance, you would choose the Japanese hot dog guy? Well, pardon me for saying so, and I don't know quite how to put this, but I think you're a crazy fucktard. Kobayashi is an eating machine - I've never seen anything quite like it. (Did you see his turn on True Life where he ate like 100 Sushi rolls in one sitting as he BEGAN training for the Nathan's contest?) But would I even put him in the same ballpark - the same league, the same fuckin sport - with LeBron James, Lance Armstrong, Marion Jones? No way. Screw Marion Jones, not even Damon Jones. But maybe Velvet Jones. But not Dwight Stones. Not Dwight Evans. Not Evander Holyfield. Not Holly McPeak. Not Picabo Street. Not Road Warrior Hawk. Okay, maybe. MAYBE I would choose Kobayashi over Road Warrior Hawk. You know, since the guy's been dead for ten years.
But Hyperbolooza doesn't end here. Oh no. On last night's SportsCenter -- the stronghold of sports hyperbole, where every winning coach is a "genius," every underdog story "shocks the world," and every great play is "a miracle" -- Sean Salisbury called Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger "the Derek Jeter of the NFL."
Lemme tell ya somethin. I am The Michael Jordan of stuffed-suit hyperbole.
Okay. Let's take a nice deep breath and move back from the brink, Sean. Derek Jeter has won four championships with the Yankees. Big Ben has been in the NFL two years. Yes, his team won the Super Bowl last year, but he was was not exactly a prime contributor. Other than the Super Bowl, he's best known for coming up lame in the 2004 AFC title game and breaking his face in a reckless motorcycle crash. I like Big Ben just fine, but one coattail ride to an NFL title does not a Derek Jeter create.
It's just annoying to follow something for whom the so-called experts are so often morons. Thank goodness for The Big Redhead, man. That genius is the next Howard Cosell.
- Washington Post story on Nathan's contest
- Official NFL recap of Big Ben's Jeteresque Super Bowl
- CBS Sportsline recap of Big Ben's Jeteresque playoff egg-laying
- Deadspin recap of Big Ben's Jeteresque face-breaking
- The Big Redhead is a columnist here
- Bill Walton's personal home page
Technorati tags: Sports, media, sports media, competitive eating, NFL, Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl, Derek Jeter, Bill Walton, ESPN, Kobayashi, hot dogs