Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sports pundits hyperbolize more than any other being in the history of the universe

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

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RogueHistorian said...

Well, if you were forced to cover a hot dog eating contest, wouldn't you want to make it seem less like the s**t assignment it really is by talking it up some? Not that I really disagree with you here, sports-casters are usually just full of it - and yet, I find that I watch Sportscenter on a regular basis . . .

MSH said...

Yeah, SportsCenter isn't quite the must-watch for me that it used to be. I can't stand a lot of the anchors *coughstuscottcoughcough* and I really dislike those segments where two ex-ballplayers scream at each other about Terrell Owens/Barry Bonds, etc. I remember when SC used to be, you know, just a lot of highlights from a bunch of different sports. That was sweet.

Town E. Dispatch said...

"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."

you're wrong. flat out wrong.

ben had a shitty super bowl, no doubt, but the steelers don't sniff a title without his cluch play in the playoffs, or in the regular season.

big ben is easily a 'prime contributer' on that team. it was his presence that got them the ring. you have to remember the defense and run game weren't any better than the tommy maddox-era steelers. ben makes plays. plays win games.

ben has a ring. and he earned it.

(tommy maddox also has one. he did NOT earn it.)

Anonymous said...

Dispatch -
Could Ben have had led a team like, say, the Cardinals to the playoffs? Or how about Houston? And by the reverse, do you think that Kurt Warner or David Carr could have taken the Steelers to playoffs?

I think the claim can easily be made that, with the team they had, the Steelers could have taken almost any good quaterback and made a serious run last season. The fact that Ben had such a shitty Superbowl and they still won only helps this claim. It was the team which won the ring, not Big Ben.

Now, don't get me wrong. I link Big Ben and think he has great talent, but when it came down to that last game, he was not the one to win it.

MSH said...

First of all, Big Ben isn't even the fifth best player on his team. Whenever you're in the Super Bowl and you are resorting to trick plays where your receivers are throwing TD passes, then your just isn't at an elite level. Good, okay. Great, no. Would Bill Walsh have ever, EVER had Roger Craig throw to Jerry Rice?

But even if he had thrown for 300 yards and four TDs throughout season and playoffs, he's STILL not "the Derek Jeter of the NFL." I stick by my contention that that is one of the least-well-thought-out statements I've ever heard a sportscaster say.

The sheer magnitude of the stupidity of this statement is the fact that it has forced me to defend a player I don't really like (Jeter) and deride a player I really don't have a problem with (Ben).

Town E. Dispatch said...

look i wouldn't call ben derek jeter yet. he's gotta get a couple more rings.

here's the thing though: your arguement is still short sighted. ben, and the plays he made, (even a tackle) were CRITICAL to the steelers success.

it's like saying walter payton wasn't an important part of the '85 bears because he didn't score in super bowl XX.


Town E. Dispatch said...

ps- i will accept that you guys are just hatin' on the steelers because they are the DEFENDING CHAMPS.

wonder when we'll say that about the skins?

MSH said...

Now, see, that just hurts me, Aaron. Did you have to be so hostile? You know, you can choose to be less hostile...

Acutally, I'm likin the Skins at this admittedly early stage. Not playing FFL has freed me up to follow them more closely this offseason.

Jason Pyke said...

Yeah, the hot-dog eating thing being given two hours on ESPN pisses me off too.

Also, when you think about it, ESPN has no choice but to glamorize everything in the world of sports these days, otherwise they'd go out of business. They don't have Michael Jordans or Wayne Gretzkys to write about, so until LeBron starts winning rings, they'll clutch at anything that they can use as a headline.

btw, I agree with you. Big Ben is no where NEAR Derek Jeter. Hines Ward just had a big game to compensate for Ben's mediocre performance.