1. Top 10 Movie Montages!

    Do you know what’s awesome?  A great montage in a movie.  And because I love movies and because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a list like this before…we’re gonna do this thing.

    So what is a montage exactly?  Let us “go to the glasses”, as Tony Kornheiser would say, and look up a definition.  Here’s what Merriam-Webster has to say:

    “Montage män-ˈtäzh, mōⁿ(n)-\ 1. the production of a rapid succession of images in a motion picture to illustrate an association of ideas.”

    Therefore, by definition, the montage has to accurately portray the idea of something and, to make this list, the montage has to do it awesomely.  One thing that didn’t make it into Merriam-Webster’s definition was that it’s usually set to music and this represents a key element of awesomeness in the montage.  Already good music that was used appropriately was particularly valued in the making of this list but inappropriate use of a good song would get a montage banned quickly.  Sometimes the music takes a background, sometimes not.

    Note that a montage is not a scene but that the lines can blur somewhat.  There may be some debate below over whether or not some are montages or scenes.  Technically, I suppose that that a montage should only include one song but I have included one in the Top 10 that may violate both of these rules…but more on that later.  Most should be fairly obvious. 

    It should also be mentioned that movies about sports lend themselves to montages and, to be honest, a more encompassing list would probably be division of Sports vs non-sports, but I don’t feel like it, so there you go. 

    Jon’s Top 10 Movie Montages

    #10.  Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunn’s Shopping Spree – “Dumb and Dumber” – Music: “Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison

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    Indeed, there are several seminal gross-out moments in “Dumb and Dumber”.  There is the snot on Lloyd’s face after a cross-country trip on a moped.  There is the epic dump Harry takes as a result of Lloyd’s nefarious plot to undermine his friend.  There is, of course, the tongue stuck to the ski-lift.

    Lest we not forget the montage.  We would be remiss if we did not mention Lloyd’s toenails, nose hair, and Lloyd’s prank on the barber giving him a shave.  Cinderella had to get ready for his ball and this made way for the introduction of Lloyd’s orange tuxedo and a general spending spree that involved a delicious mix of opulance and ignorance. 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlI9YEdoA3E

    #9.  The Art Institute of Chicago – “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” – Music:  “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” covered by the Dream Factory

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    Obviously this is movie falls into the pop-culture Hall of Fame and of course this is the scene that starts with Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane going to the Art Institute of Chicago and ends with Cameron staring down a little girl in the painting.  This may not immediately stick in your head as a montage, but it uses all these images to convey several ideas, simple ones like how field trips felt when you were a kid, and more complex ones to the characters like Cameron’s sense of isolation and Sloane and Ferris’ romance.

    One thing that sticks in my head is the first part when all the kids are walking through the museum holding hands, and I always liked that because it reminds me that that’s what you had to do in elementary school and I would have been about that age at the time the movie came out.

    Aside from the scene being particularly good, it’s followed very closely by the Parade Scene which could have been classified as a montage in it’s own right, as it used many different images (the parade crowd, Ferris’ dad, the synchronized dancers coming over the steps, etc) to convey the image of fun.  I have to think that’s universally recognized as the most famous scene in the movie but, based on somewhat of a technicality, I chose the Art Institute Montage for the Top 10 List.

    Either way, it’s a great movie and you should go watch it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubpRcZNJAnE

    Oh, what the hell.  Here’s the parade scene immediately following.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaIjYvIayj0

    #8.  Opening Credits - “The Boondock Saints” - Music:  ”The Blood of Cuchulainn”

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    The opening credits of a very interesting movie about social justice starts out innocently enough, showing Boston at her very finest, showing the two brothers’ loyalty, and even throws in a decent joke (“Perhaps it should have been ‘rule of wrist’?”).

    The music is particularly nice and kind of makes you want to be Irish, in Boston, on Saint Patrick’s Day, more than just about anything in the whole wide world.  

    I thought the movie in general was pretty good and that the opening scene was a really great way to start it out.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuJViUafKQo

    #7.  Aw geez.  Pick one from “Goodfellas” because I can’t.

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    Maybe it’s the steady-cam shot of the Copacabana with Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco walking through the restaurant, showing us the perks of being a mobster and demonstrating how to sweep a lady off her feet, even though everything you do is wildly illegal.  You do what you want.  You’re a union delagate.

    Maybe it’s the steady-cam shot of all your mobster friends…Frankie Carbone, Pete the Killer, or Jimmy Two-Times who got that name because he says everything twice like “I’m gonna go get the papers, get the papers.”

    Maybe it’s your meal in prison…don’t put too much onions in the sauce.  Three small onions?  That’s all?  Well, you need veal, beef, and pork.  Also scotch.

    Maybe it’s the Layla scene where the cracks in the lifestyle start to show through.  You know, getting whacked and stuff.

    Maybe it’s Henry’s busy day, dropping off guns, cutting cocaine, making his baked ziti, and dodging police.  

    Pick one, because I can’t.  Here’s a few:

    Date night:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCYwcObxl78 

    Character intros:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf4EQWag2Aw  

    Dinner in prison:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQhBfRDd6GM 

    Layla scene:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Z6MJIjCJ20 

    Ugg.  Can’t find Henry’s Busy Day.  And I still can’t decide.

    #6.  One Yard Short – “Friday Night Lights” – Music:  “Sonho Dorado” by Daniel Lanois

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     Have you ever lost the last high school football game you’ll ever play?  Well, this is a remarkably accurate depiction of how it feels.  

    I thought “Friday Night Lights” was a very underrated movie.  It was really good acting and I didn’t even that Tim McGraw was actually playing the part he did.  

    The music is an outstanding choice and “Sonho Dorado” is on my all time, top 10 favorite songs list.  Friday Night Lights also had a more classically presented montage - the Thinning of the Heard set to ZZ Top’s “Just Got Paid”.  This almost made my list, but One Yard Short managed to capture the flat out dispair that you feel when a high school game is lost.  

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHJVJ_MEyQI

    #5.  The Vegas Montage – “Rain Man” – Music: “Las Vegas/End Credits” by Hans Zimmer

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    If this montage doesn’t make you want to go to Las Vegas and gamble, probably nothing will.  It makes you want to go buy an awesome suit, drop $500 a hand on blackjack, and card count like a BOSS.  You want to hawk your Rolex (if you had one).  You want to be one of the few people in the world who can count into a six deck chute.  You KNOW that if only you could get to get to Vegas, the High Roller suite is in your imminent and unavoidable future.

    Aside from the music being unassailably cool (Hans Zimmer has cranked out more good instrumental music for movies than anybody, except for maybe John Williams), the montage it’s self takes a break from the serious themes of the movie for Sin City.  It’s really a great montage because not only does it make Vegas seem glamorous and a guarantee for your hopes and dreams, there’s also a few images in there that show you the cracks in the dream – bored people sitting in slot machines, feeding money in with no return at all.

    But no matter.  Charlie and Raymond come down the escalator dressed like a pair of smooth, card-counting pimps and their ultimate destination is Nick at the Blackjack Table who enjoys brilliant and menacing lighting by the director.  And the Babbitt Boys clean out the chip tray and do what we all wish we could do when we go to Las Vegas – win all the money you want, get comped for everything, beat the pit bosses and casino manager and the eye in the sky, and ultimately take the House after Tom Cruise says that famous line:

    “Rain Man…let’s play some cards.”

    (unfortunately in this clip, you can’t hear him say that, because it’s in Italian…I can’t find it in English.  Well, the clip is the best I could do…)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3FhhZYuc1M

    #4.  The Indians Start Winning – “Major League” – Music:  “Pennant Fever” by Unknown

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    “Major League” is unarguably one of the Top 5 Best Sports Movies of All Time.  If you disagree with that, you’re wrong.  Of course, this is the montage that starts out with Lou Brown telling the Indians, “Everytime we win, we peel a section.”

    You always wanted your high school baseball team to have a winning streak like the one depicted here.  If you were on my high school baseball team, you quoted “Major League” incessantly and would watch the scene right before they take the field against the Yankees before you played a big game.  There are lots of montages that depict baseball teams starting to win – “The Natural” and “Bull Durham” immediately spring to mind, as well as a pretty good one in “A League of Their Own”.

    “Major League”, though, is the standard.  Aside from “Pennant Fever” being really good background music and the effective use of freezing an image and using that image in a newspaper photo, they also effectively showed the audience that Cleveland was falling in love with the team by showing the group around the dedicated fans (“Not too high, too hard,” “Who gives a shit?  It’s gone!”) growing and growing with just a few camera shots.  It wasn’t just cool, it actually added – really effectively – to the plot of the movie.

    The thing that puts really sets this montage apart is the cut in the middle of it where the Indians do an American Express advertisement.  I love watching the actors in that scene acting uncomfortable while they do something (get in front of the camera) that their characters (baseball players) are often times uncomfortable doing. 

    “The American Express Card.  Don’t steal home without it.”

    Really great montage, REALLY great movie.  It’s nice of movieclips.com to have this, but not so nice that they cut it off before the montage is done.  Oh well.  I tried.

    http://movieclips.com/isS5-major-league-movie-were-contenders-now/

    #3.  Peter Does Nothing – “Office Space” – Music:  “Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangster” by Geto Boys

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    “Well Peter, what would you do if you had a million dollars, man?”

    “I would do…nothing.  I would sit on my ass and do nothing.”

    “Well hell, you don’t need a million dollars to do nothing, man.  My cousin’s broke, don’t do shit.”

    This movie montage perfectly illustrated exactly what and how you want to do when you don’t want to work.  This came out when I was a sophomore at UNI and I can still remember how “Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta” enjoyed a huge boost in popularity.  I recall it becoming an anthem among white Iowan marketing majors who had just finished their spring finals and felt the need to kick back with a case of Busch Light and sit outside their fraternity house, enjoying the spring weather and relishing in the fact that the only concern in the world was the temperature of said Busch Light.

    Peter Gibbons became our role model, our shining light of apathy and our beacon of blissful indifference.  I couldn’t find a clip of this one, hopefully because people are fittingly too lazy to post it.

    #2.  Rocky’s Training – The Rocky Franchise – Music:  “Gonna Fly Now (Theme from “Rocky”) by Bill Conti

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    Taken as a whole, and taking my #1’s efforts aside (which is coming), Sports Movie Montages are the best montages there are.  Make no mistake, this is the standard for which all sports montages have been set. 

    If these movie clips don’t make you want to go work out, nothing will.  This makes you want to run through Philadelphia, crossover jump-rope, hit a speedbag, and run up stairs with your arms raised.  Admit it – you’ve had the Rocky Theme going through your head when you ran up some similarly designed stairs at some point in your life.

    The Franchise gets the number two spot because the whole thing is iconic.  From the music that everybody knows (which is likely playing in your head right now) to the image of Rocky at the top of the stairs that inspired an actual statue to be placed in Philadelphia.  And they actually managed to equal it in “Rocky III” when Rocky trains with Apollo Creed (that’s when you want to jump-rope like Rocky).  Rocky IV makes you want to go find a bunch of crap in a barn and train with that, while your ‘roided out, communist opponent makes use of the best technology in the mid-80’s.  (incidentally, in order to give credit, Vincent DiCola did the music for that one).

    I will grant you that the kids following Rocky in Rocky II was pretty lame and that “Hearts on Fire” in “Rocky IV” really should have been dropped for the Rocky Theme.

    I admit it, I copped out here and put the whole franchise down, which is sort of lame but it’s hard to pick out the best one.  There’s “Eye of the Tiger” in there too and, with the exception of “Rocky V”, which was the bastard child of the franchise, each one of them was pretty good.  So there you go.  The Rocky Franchise gets to claim the second spot.  Here’s the original, and the last, from “Rocky Balboa” as well as the one in Russia, just for the hell of it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DP3MFBzMH2o

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-8hOKNbtxg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAvhcLkUIi0

    #1.  Adrian Cronauer’s Dedication to Pvt. O’Malley and the Rest of the Boys on the Road to Nha Trang – “Good Morning Vietnam” – Music:  “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

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    Note - I actually wrote this before the deah of Robin Williams and just now got around to posting it.

    I am sorry to end my list with something so sad.  This montage puts a lump in my throat whenever I see it because the world, and people, aren’t supposed to be like this.  

    (Now, even more so because of the death of Robin Williams)

    If you never saw it, “Good Morning Vietnam” starred Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer who was an irreverent and sarcastic Army Radio D.J. in the Vietnam war.  There really was a real-life Adrian Cronauer who said that the movie was “about 45% accurate” and that if he did half the stuff in the movie he would have been court marshaled and locked up in Fort Levenworth. 

    Anyways, the montage.  It uses Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” as an ironic counterpoint to the Vietnam War.  It is artistic and moving and tragic and, ultimately, kind of tough to watch.  It’s tough for me to watch anyways.  I almost didn’t give it the top spot because it makes me too sad.  Fortunately, in the interest of cheering you up, I’d like to point out that the movie also has a bunch of really funny montages involving some classic 60’s Rock and Roll, mixed with images of Vietnam, mixed with some of the funniest work Robin Williams has done on screen (the military intelligence one is probably my favorite…”it’s hard to find a Vietnamese person named ‘Charlie’”).

    To be honest, I almost didn’t put it on the list altogether because, although the montage itself is awesomely done, the subject matter is decidedly not.  Whether or not it’s the best is debatable, but I think that it is the most powerful montage that you can find in cinema.  Obviously, being the age that I am and having never served in the military, my opinion on the feelings the montage encapsulates is not comprehensive.  I suspect, however, that this two and half minutes in the movie did a masterful job of portraying what must have been a horribly conflicted time and a horribly conflicted war.

    At any rate, I think that it’s extra-ordinarily well done.  But, instead of being funny or inspiring me to go work out or just making the audience smile…this one just makes you sad. 

    But after thinking on this one for a while, I have to think that this is the best movie montage that’s ever been done.

    And that’s why I gave it my top spot.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhUrKbKbs5Y

     

  2. Top 10 Pop Culture Years!

    Do you know what’s awesome?  Pop culture.  I like stupid pop culture as much as the next person.  More, probably, because I think movie quotes should really be in everybody’s daily speech.

    So, were there certain years that stood out as particularly awesome in the context of earth shattering pop culture?  There were, and I think we should count them down.  If you’re wondering, no Best of the Rest today because, well, this one’s going to take a while.  While weight is placed on quantity, mucho weight is placed on quality.  If there was a moment that changed the way music, movies, sports, or the way we thought about the world in general happened, well…that’s getting alot of weight put on it.

    You’ll find alot of firsts on this list and you might be wondering why, given my unreasonable obsession with television and movies why the first movies and TV years didn’t make the list.  It’s because I couldn’t find the same type of earth shattering moments in movies and TV that I could in music.  Also, because, well…the early days of radio, TV, and movies were really more dominated by World Wars and actual reality as opposed to popular culture.  

    Hopefully the list will clarify it’s self as you read…

    Let’s do this thing!

    Top 10 Pop Culture Years!

    #10.  1984 - 

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    Goodness Crosbie.  Did you kind of give ‘84 a pretty low spot on the list …considering 1984 inspired the list?  Especially considering all the great stuff that ‘84 had, particularly regarding movies?  Let’s go through them:

    The Karate Kid
    Ghostbusters
    Gremlins
    Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
    The Natural
    Police Academy
    Star Trek III
    Beverly Hills Cop
    Terminator

    THAT’S a pop-culture resume right there.  Or so it would seem.  But why couldn’t 1984 sweep the leg from the other years?  (see what I did there)

    Look, I frigging love movies, so a getting a higher spot is going to take some work if you’re gonna argue movies.

    The crown jewel of that year was Ghostbusters, no DOUBT.  Certainly Terminator is a big gun (see what I did there) but I would argue the second one was better than the first.  The Karate Kid is a seminal pop culture work, the Crane Kick of martial arts movies (see what I did there).  The Natural has the single greatest scene in a sports movie ever.  Beverly Hills Cop caught Eddie Murphy at the height of his comedy powers.  Don’t feed DON’T FEED a Gremlin after midnight.

    But Temple of Doom was, up until the tragedy that was Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the weakest Indiana Jones movie by FAR.  Star Trek III was a sequel and the Police Academy movies, quite frankly, got progressively more annoying.  

    So it is a good year for movies.  But was there anything else that made ‘84 list worthy?  Because, I have to tell you, it didn’t START anything or change the Cinema Landscape.

    What about Music?  

    Well, the the drummer from Def Leppard lost his arm that year and we all lost Marvin Gaye when his father shot him.  Not so awesome.  Prince released Purple Rain - people may argue alot as to whether or not that was awesome.  

    Van Halen released “1984” and Bon Jovi released their self titled debut album.  But there was some thing in music that shifted how music would be listened to for the next 20 years or so…in Terra Haute, Indiana, a manufacturing plant that produced something called “compact discs” was built.  Bruce Springstein’s “Born in the USA” was the first CD considered to be made in the USA, and music turned digital.  

    I actually remember the first year CDs sold LPs (I think it was 1989 but didn’t bother to look it up, and I remember my first CD player.  I remember the first CD I bought - it was The Spin Doctors’ “Pocket Full of Kryptonite” and I couldn’t tell my mom about it because the song “Little Miss” had the word “bitch” in it.  

    What was the first CD you ever bought?

    Well, CDs would eventually be supplanted by other technology, but digital music was here to stay.  But this wasn’t the only pop-culture landmark…in fact there was something that changed on TV that year.  TV enjoyed a high-water mark year.  Wanna know what debuted that year?

    Airwolf
    Murder She Wrote
    Night Court
    Charles in Charge
    Who’s the Boss
    Highway to Heaven
    Punky Brewster
    Voltron
    Miami Vice
    The Transformers

    and…

    The Cosby Show

    The Cosby Show cemented NBC’s Stranglehold on Thursday night television and turned Thursday Nights into a particularly coveted TV ratings target.  I don’t know if changed the way we watched television, but it subtlely changed the days on which we think we should watch it.

    Oh and Tranformers effectively changed my life, for the awesome, forever.  

    Now.  Do you have a problem with that Mr. Lawrence?

    (See what I did there)

    #9.  1992 - 

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    Huh.  1992?  Really?  You really think that ‘92 outranks ‘84 there Crosbie?  Well, let’s take a look…

    1992 did see the formation of the Dream Team, in the Barcelona Olympics, which - to date - remains the finest collection of atheletes on one team, in competition, in history.  Dan and Dave was a particularly clever ad campaign by Reebok for the same olympics, until Dan didn’t make the said olympic team.

    Windows 3.1 was also released in 1992, which was first iteration of the operating system most of us are, in some part, familiar with.  It wasn’t necessarily pop-culture-ish, but Microsoft’s world domination took a major step in 1992, becoming the most popular OS in the world that year.

    1992, musically, was very interesting.  Nevermind by Nirvana hit #1 (it was released in ‘91), and officially marked the end of the Glam Rock Era and the start of the Grunge era, though nobody bothered to tell Guns n’ Roses, as the “November Rain” came out the same year, at 8 minutes and 57 seconds and a video cost to the tune of 1.5 million dollars, a record at that time.

    Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston got married and Ice-T had a track on his “Body Count” Album called “Cop Killa” that ruffled a few feathers.  Speaking of ruffling feathers, Sinead O’Conner ripped up a picture of the Pope on SNL and Madonna also released “Erotica” which was highly controversial.

    The most interesting thing, though, musically was probably work by an Indian man named A.R. Rahman.   A.R. Rahman released his first soundtrack in a movie called “Roja” which would sculpt the way contemporary Indian Music was viewed and made.  Since there’s literally a billion people in India, that matters.  You may remember another soundtrack Rahman did - “Slumdog Millionare”.

    Boy, movies were pretty good:
    A League of Their Own
    Batman Returns
    Wayne’s World
    Lethal Weapon 3
    Alien 3
    Sister Act
    Unforgiven
    White Men Can’t Jump
    The Lawn Mower Man
    Malcolm X
    Resevoir Dogs
    My Cousin Vinny
    A Few Good Men
    Scent of a Woman
    Last of the Mohicans

    I mean…that’s really a hell of a list right there.

    Oh.  Also Captain Ron. 

    From a pop-culture standpoint, though, 1992 saw the first hints of a seismic shift in the way television was presented.  1992 was the year that The Real World debuted on MTV, marking the first televsion show about reality or, put another way, the first reality TV show.  21 years and umpteen “Flavor of Love” spinoffs later, we suddenly wish we could hop in a Delorean, crank that B up to 88 and prevent that from happening…

    The thing was, The Real World really wasn’t that bad of a show initially.  Those of us old enough may remember Puck vs Pedro in the San Francisco season and Pedro was one of the first gay men, openly with HIV/AIDS who’s story was put out to such a wide, impressionable mass.  If reality television had stayed on such a socially responsible path, it might have been really good. 

    But, you know, Honey Boo-Boo is more entertaining to some, I suppose…if you are wondering where the television phenomenon known as “reality TV” really got it’s first foothold, it was the year 1992.  

    #8.  1966 -

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    People who were alive then are already cursing my list, claiming this is too low.  Well, lets start with the not so good, And the not so bad, and the not so ugly.  

    "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" premiered and that famous whistle followed by the harmonica became the Standard for Which All Western Soundtracks Will Ever Be Measured.  Really, though, there wasn’t a whole lot in the way of movies; the highest grossing movie that year only grossed $34 million, which really wasn’t very much.  Probably the most significant thing that happened in movies was that Walt Disney died of complications following a lung cancer surgery.

    Music, though, really had a hell of a year.  

    Simon and Garfunkle’s “Sounds of Silence” hit #1 early in the year, Bob Dylan released “Blonde on Blonde”, and the Original Supergroups, Buffalo Springfield and Cream released their self titled album and “Fresh Cream” the same year.  Simon and Garfunkel released “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme”.  The Troggs came out with “Wild Thing” and Nancy Sinatra released “Boots” which I contend is the nation’s first Girl-Power song.

    Wilson Pickett killed it with “The Exciting Wilson Pickett” that included “Land of a 1000 Dances”, “634-5789, Soulsville, USA”, and “In the Midnight Hour” which established him as a 60’s Soul Man. The Beach Boys released their iconic “Pet Sounds” album and that west coast feel made anybody feel like they were driving with a top down, even if it was the middle of January and you live in Iowa.

    Honestly, you really can’t list them all…get this:  Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Cher, Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, James Brown, The Mamas and the Papas, Joan Baez, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Presley, Tony Bennett and Ray Charles ALL released albums that year.  

    Can you imagine something like that happening today?  

    However…since you may have noticed a pattern forming here, I have one event that ruled them all saved for the end of the segment.  It happened on TV and it spawned movies, merchandising, spin-offs, sub-cultures, even languages.  And a legion of Uber-nerd fans that still exist today…known as Trekkies.

    Sigh.  Yes, Star Trek.  Now, I have to admit, I’m not actually a Star Trek fan.  Honestly, I just don’t get it.  It’s not nearly as interesting to me as another “Star” franchise which (Spoiler Alert!) might just show up later on this list.

    But it would incredibly remiss of me not to acknowlege the impact of Star Trek on popular culture, even if it wasn’t my favorite thing.  The thing is, upon further review, Star Trek was well ahead of it’s time socially.

    The guy who came up with the idea, Gene Roddenberry, actually wrote a whole bunch of stuff into the show that got by the network censors that was entirely intentional, making statements about human rights, equality, feminism, diversity, anti-war, and class-warfare.  Apparently the Vulcans were a people with a particularly violent past who had learned to control their emotions - this was a direct comment on the Vietnam war.

    Roddenberry actually got alot of opposition when he wrote in such a racially diverse crew, but got it by the networks anyways.  Star Trek actually holds the distinction for the first on-air interracial kiss.  It seems sort of laughable now, but consider that in the 50’s, you weren’t even supposed to say a female character was “pregnant”.  Instead, she was “expecting”.

    Star Trek as a show and as a message was ahead of it’s time.  And it was important.  And, to a certain extent, it influenced all of us.

    #7.  1994 - 

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    If you were to sum up 1994’s pop culture contributions into one, I guess, category, it would be a crossing over of pop-culture with sports.  But let’s get to that after knocking out some of the other stuff first.

    In the world of movies, the Lion King came out and was the highest grossing movie of the year.  However, many people might remember 1994 as the year “Forrest Gump” and “Pulp Fiction” came out, two of the most quoted and most remembered movies of all-time.  But do you know who was WINNING in 1994?  Jim Carrey – get this, “Ace Ventura”, “The Mask”, and “Dumb and Dumber” all came out in 1994.  Since the majority of my time in high school Spanish class was spent quoting “Ace Ventura”, I think very fondly of this. 

    Music had an interesting year.  Alice in Chains came out with “Jar of Flies” which was a pretty kick-ass record, but probably the biggest thing to happen that year, that people realized at the time, was Kurt Cobain killing himself.  I say “at the time” because two things happened in music that year that people might not remember – one a band named “Korn” came out and pioneered (in somewhat of a musical misstep) the Nu-Metal sound that tragically gave us Fred Durst. 

    Probably the most significant thing that happened in music that year, only about 10,000 people took advantage of.  Aerosmith released a song called “Head First”.  Don’t remember it?  Don’t worry, the song wasn’t that big of a deal.  The thing is, they released it on the internet and 10,000 people downloaded it for free.  This marked the first time a major band had ever done such a thing.  Turns out that idea sort of caught on…

    But what about that thing up at the top…the “crossing over of sports and pop culture thing”.  What was I talking about there?

    1994 saw a few incidents we’ll probably never see the likes of again, all in one year.  

    For one, Lisa “Lefteye” Lopez from TLC burned down Atlanta Falcons receiver Andre Rison’s house. 

    Meh.  Pretty standard stuff.  I’m sure you’re yawning.  But something more tragic happened…this was the year that the World Cup was awarded to the United States and in a very ugly turn of events, the Colombian midfielder Andres Escobar was murdered upon his return home after accidentally scoring an own-goal.  The Colombian soccer team that year was a particularly beautiful and tragic story captured in the ESPN 30 for 30, “The Two Escobars” which captured all that is wonderful placed right next to everything that could be wrong about sports.  You should watch it.

    The other two major events captivated the nation. 

    1994 was the year Nancy Kerrigan got clubbed on the knee.  And EVERYBODY watched that.

    To date, the Ladies Technical Program in Lillehammer, Norway, was TV’s highest rated event in olympic history.  We all remember why – Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan had themselves a little rivalry, Harding had a melt-down, and my GOD had you ever seen anything so crazy in your LIFE?  It was this bizarre crossing over of sports and media frenzy and just…bizarre crap.  EVERYBODY was talking about this and EVERYBODY watched it. 

    You’d only have to wait about 5 months before it happened again.  O.J. Simpson made a white Bronco somewhat famous in the same year. 

    I don’t ever remember a sports story crossing over into popular culture like either one of those before or since.  I certainly don’t remember a year that contained two stores that captured the attention of America like these two did.   

    In my humble opinion, these two news stories, which happened to involve sports stars, changed the way the news was presented.  Instead of the who, what, when, where, and why of journalism past, the American public demonstrated that we love constant, 24 hour news sensationalization of what was, admittedly, an interesting two stories.  But I believe these two stories turned our news it’s self into popular culture.  

    And not necessarily for the better.

    #6.  1999 –

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    Oh Jon.  You’re just picking years you can remember, aren’t you?  That’s what you’re saying right now, shaking your head.

    The edge of the millennium had some real chops when it came to pop culture.  Let’s have ourselves a look, shall we?

    While the changes in music may not have been filled with quality, there were some shifts in popular music’s direction.  Some might argue that the Grunge era officially ended with the re-introduction of bubble-gum pop.  Christina Aguilara and Brittany Spears both released “Genie in a Bottle” and “Baby One More Time”, respectively, and the Backstreet Boys released “Millenium”.  A young lady named Jennifer Lopez released her debut album, “On the 6”.  Mariah Carey released “Heartbreaker” and sold a bunch of records.

    Somewhat tragically, Limp Bizkit released “Significant Other”.  New douchiness levels were reached by Fred Durst.  The “Thong Song” came out.  I wanted it to stop.

    It wasn’t all bad…unable to stand it, Eminem releases “The Real Slim Shady”.  Even Nu-Metal wasn’t all bad - Korn were much less douchey and released “Issues”.  Blink-182 also had a very respectable effort with “Enema of the State” and The Red Hot Chili Peppers released “Californication”. Dr. Dre released “2001” and introduced a harpsichord into rap music.  Interesting…

    Do you remember the most earth shattering thing that happened in music that year?  Do you? 

    Napster was introduced.  And all of a sudden, you had a much more vested interest in the term “bandwidth”.  Do you remember how earthshattering Napster was?  I mean, do you remember?   You could have whatever music you wanted, right then, for free. 

    Don’t get it twisted…you were stealing it.  Lars was right.  You convinced yourself that it was somehow okay.

    Now, I would argue that Napster changed the way that music was made, because the emphasis was placed on one song and this change in music marked the sharp decline of the album.  Sean Parker, incidentally, went on to be Facebook’s first president, and his success with Napster maybe (maaaaaybe) did more to influence social media than people realize.  

    Hey, speaking of Social Media, wanna know something else that happened in 1999?  The website “Friends Reunited” became the first social networking site to achieve a great deal of prominence.  In subsequent years, Friendster, MySpace, and, of course, Facebook turned this nebulous entity known as “social media” into the latest and greatest marketing target.  And now I have a place to share my blog about Top 10 lists…

    There were some other things that were not so awesome.  On an otherwise normal day in Colorado in April, Columbine happened.  Marilyn Manson got blamed, video games got blamed, guns got blamed and we started a national debate that still rages today. 

    Wanna talk movies?  Oh there were some good ones. 

    We’ll actually ignore the highest grossing one of that year…we’ll get to that franchise a bit lower down on this list.

    Fight Club, The Sixth Sense, American Pie, The Green Mile, and the oddly terrifying Blair Witch Project all came out.  The best of the crop that year, though, in my opinion was The Matrix.  Ignoring Keanu Reeves, and the third movie in that franchise, the special effects were jaw-dropping, and arguably the best pickup line of all time came to existence:

    “Are we in the Matrix?  Because you are The One.”

    Even with all this quality we’ve talked about, I think 1999’s biggest impact was on television.  Wait?  Television? 

    Consider that “Who Wants to be a Millionare” came out and we all started referencing Life-Lines and Phoning Friends.

    Consider that “Family Guy” debuted.  And consider that, in my opinion the best dramatic television show that ever was debuted the same year…

    (try to imagine I’m doing this next paragraph in my best Jersey Mob accent)

    Consider that, in my humble ____ing opinion, there was this…uhhh…show.  With our friend.  You know, the Big Guy. You need something done, you need something taken care of.  The Big Guy is in Waste Management.  You don’t think he’s in Waste Management?  You don’t think he’s in ____ing WASTE MANAGEMENT? Listen you little mudda____er, if you don’t think that the ____ing Sopranos isn’t in da ____ing pop culture Hall of ____ing Fame I’ll crack your ____ing head with this tire iron.  THERE’S THE SISTINE CHAPEL, THE MONA ____ING LISA AND THE SOPRANOS.  THAT’S THE LIST. 

    Hoh!  With the drama!  You love “The Sopranos”?  Oh Madonne…I knew you were were were just breaking my balls…

    While HBO started a trend of making consistantly amazing television in 1999, in my opinion, the most earth shattering event happened on basic cable show that nobody really  paid much attention to.  In 1999, Jon Stewart took over the Daily Show.

    For the last 15 years, Jon Stewart has been making me laugh, and cry, about what happens in our world.  He also began (rightly) skewering everybody else who reported on the news, idiot politicians, and general stupidity.  Ed Helms and Steve Carell found their way to “The Office”, John Oliver started “Last Week Tonight”, Rob Riggle went to “Fox NFL Sunday”, and Rob Cordrey, Wyatt Cenak, Olivia Munn, and other Daily Show Correspondants found their way all over pop culture.

    And, of course, Stephen Colbert got his own show and will make it all the way to “The Late Show” starting in 2015.  And he has his own Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream flavor.  And his own Colbert Nation.  And an interstellar treadmill named after him.  And a bridge in Hungary.  And he taught us all about SuperPACs. 

    And Colbert has said on multiple occations he owes it all to Jon Stewart.  Jon Stewart, who changed the way I’ll watch TV forever, in 1999.  

    #5.  1969 - 

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    Hope I don’t offend people that this one isn’t higher.  

    Yes, I know there was Woodstock.  Yes, I know the moonlanding, which was - at the time - the largest TV audience for any live event ever.  I know, I know, Joe Namath and the New York Jets upset the Baltimore Colts in Superbowl III, changing the way AFL was looked at, and changing the course of the NFL.  I know the Miracle Mets won the World Series the same year, also beating a Baltimore team, paving the way for decades of frustration and disappointment for the Mets’ and Jets’ collective fan bases which oddly seem to cross over.

    I know, Led Zepplin released their first albums. Yes, I’m aware this is when Elvis recorded “Suspicious Minds”.  I know!  The Beatles released “Abbey Road” and that iconic album cover in 1969.

    I’m aware that Mario Puzo published “The Godfather” this year.  I’m also aware that a different type of family debuted - The Brady Bunch.

    Something else interesting happened in 1969 - some people at UCLA and Stanford sent a message across something called the ARPANET.  The ARPANET involved the sharing of data over a data network through interlinked computers.  You’ll know it today as the Internet.

    Now, you might be saying to yourself, Crosbie, wouldn’t the beginning of the Internet garner the #1 spot on your pop-culture list?  I can certainly entertain this idea - here’s the thing.  The Beginning of the Information Age really didn’t affect popular culture all that much.  The ARPANET was decomissioned in 1990 and although it was the progentor to the World Wide Web, it wasn’t the World Wide Web.  Popular Culture wasn’t influenced by the Internet, until the Internet became available to everybody on a daily basis…well…we’ll get to that a few spots down…

    By the way, in 1969, nobody cared about the ARPANET other than a few people at Stanford and UCLA.

    Really, though, my impression of what 1969 must have been like came from reading Dave Barry.  If you don’t know him, Dave Barry is my favorite writer of all time and was alive during all this.  His words describing the tenor and feel of the country at the time made you feel like, if you weren’t alive, you missed something that the country would never see again, culturally.

    Shit, maybe it should have been higher…

    #4.  1985 - 

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    Look.  It’s my list and we’re not going to talk about 1985 without talking about the ’85 Bears.  We could (and have, some of us) debate as to whether or not they were the most dominant defense of all time.  We could (and have, some of us) debate whether or not Walter Payton remains the best running back of all-time.  We could (and have, some of us) debate whether or not Ditka and a thick Chi-caaaag-oh accent remains the best way to BE when you talk about football.

    One thing we will not debate is whether or not the Superbowl Shuffle was a seminal moment in American History. 

    It was.  End of discussion.

    What else happened in 1985…lets see, lets see…

    Wrestlemania debuted.  I could stop writing exactly at this point since the ’85 Bears and Wrestlemania are the only things a year would need on it’s resume to make the Top 5.  But I’ll keep going.

    Speaking of Chicago, something else happened in 1985…Nike released a shoe called “The Air Jordan”.  Turns out this “Air Jordan” caught on.  

    Straight up, the greatest comic strip of all time debuted this year…Calvin and Hobbes.  “Back the Future” came out and was the highest grossing movie that year, paving the way for Delorean references, when you wish you could change something you did.  DNA was first used in a criminal case, paving the way for upwards of 8 different versions of CSI.  The Titanic was found, paving the way for a movie that did fairly well.   New Coke debuted, paving the way for the cancellation of New Coke.  Pete Rose broke the Major League Baseball All-Time Hits record paving the way for his entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  He’s in there, right?

    Wanna know the biggest of the biggest things that happened that year?

    In October, Nintendo Entertainment System hit the US. 

    Oh, I know, Atari and Commedore 64 came out first, but not like Nintendo.  Nintendo was far more wildly successful than the previous two and Nintendo, not the very noble Pole Position, defined your childhood.  You can still hum the theme to Mario Bros.  Easily.  You’ve put that friggin’ dog on Duck Hunt to work more times than you can remember.  You still know the code.  (“say it with me…up up down down left right…

    This is the year that video game consoles blew up.  Everybody knew it at the time, everybody wanted one at the time, everybody still wants one now.

    A few years later, Nintendo also busted out the first “Super” system and showed the world that people will go out and buy a better system when you can make one.  They did it again with the N64.  Nintendo has fallen on hard times recently, and the systems have gotten pretty amazing.  The Master Chief, Ken and Ryu, The Umbrella Corporation, Madden, and Lara Croft may be the current torch bearers, but Mario, Link, Simon Belmont, Megaman, and Bo Jackson guided you through your formative years.  

    You put Nintendo together with the Air Jordan together with the Superbowl Shuffle together with Calvin and Hobbes together with friggin’ Wrestlemania, well that’s why 1985 gets the #4 spot.  At least it does on my list.

    #3.  1964 - 

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    Oh, this is a close one.  I could easily see the argument that 1964 should be #1.  

    For one thing, somewhat unhappily, the Vietnam war would begin to escalate.  A Navy Destroyer was sunk in the Gulf of Tonkin and this really started to elevate tensions.  The congress and senate voted on the Gulf of Tonkin resolution which gave President Lyndon Johnson power to “deal” with North Vietnam.

    Normally, I wouldn’t really want to include something like a war in awesome pop culture references, but since the Vietnam war was sadly such a catalyst for music, movies, and (to a certain extent) a social movement, it’s escalation is important and this gave rise to the anti-war movements and the cultural change that came with it.

    I hate war.  You know what I like?  Awesomeness.  In 1964, Ford debuted the Ford Mustang and introduced an affordable muscle car and it could be argued that such a car paved the way for the glorious muscle car era of the late 60’s and early 70’s.  Win for America.

    America also won the most gold medals in the ‘64 Summer Games in Tokyo, but we were bested by the Ruskies in the ‘64 Winter Games in Innsbruk.  There was a particularly interesting crossover in sports occured - Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali and the nation paused to wonder, and argue about, what that meant to them.  

    And the Civil Rights movement started to take hold.  And got ugly.  The Freedom Summer of 1964 was an attempt to register black voters in the southern states and the KKK murdered three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.  Ultimately, though, the KKK can suck it, because The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law.  It should be noted, for historical context that the most fervent opposition came from, interestingly, Democrats.  Southern Democrats, but democrats none the less.  Richard Russell, a democratic senator from Georgia said the following, which wasn’t that long ago but today seems unthinkable:

    "We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation in our (Southern) states." 

    While the Civil Rights movement in 1964 and the similarly important Equal Pay for Women act the year before in 1963 were highly influencial regarding the direction of the country, it’s not exactly pop-culture, though I suppose both of these had tremendous ramifications on what pop-culture would become.  But we should probably get back to pop-culture in the year it’s self.

    Wanna know who was killing it in 1964?  James Bond.  ”From Russia With Love” was still in theaters (release date was 1963) AND “Goldfinger” came out in ‘64, with the former giving us new uses for periscopes and flareguns, and the latter giving us the best Bond villian (Auric Goldfinger) and arguably the best Bond girl (Pussy Galore) (hey, don’t get mad at me…I didn’t name the character…)

    Clint Eastwood and the Spaghetti Western genre debuted in 1964, with “A Fist Full of Dollars”, though it debuted in Italy - it wouldn’t get to the States until 1967.  Still though, it was ‘64 that the movie first came out.

    Somewhat contrastingly, “My Fair Lady” and “Mary Poppins” came out in ‘64.  Elvis’ Iconic “Viva Las Vegas” was also released in ‘64, starring him and Ann-Margaret.  

    If we are going to talk about music, though, in 1964, we are going to talk about somebody else…

    On a February night in 1964, a band from Liverpool known as the Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan show, and started the British Invasion which included the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who, and the Kinks.  An estimated 35% of the United States watched the Beatles on Ed Sullivan that night, and for an entire generation, this marked a seminal moment in popular culture that has been oft claimed, but never duplicated.  

    Every so often some crap boy band comes along that people claim will be as popular as the Beatles.  I remember when New Kids on the Block were “as popular as the Beatles”.  A few years later, the Backstreet Boys and N’Sync were supposed to be this generations version of The Beatles and the Dave Clark Five.  

    Well, they weren’t.  Nobody will be the Beatles.  Ever.   

    Since the Beatles were, arguably, the most influencial band of the last 20th century, they and their British invasion counterparts garner the #3 spot.  I got this list together and then decided I needed to run it by a few people older than me to make sure I hadn’t missed anything overly earthshattering. Almost everybody immediately brought up the following question:

    "You got the night the Beatles played on Ed Sullivan on there, right?"

    #2.  1954 - 

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    There’s going to be alot of debate as to the ranking of 1954 this highly.  Some would almost certainly say that 1969 and 1964 should have ranked higher.  

    Firstly, there was the first mass polio vaccination in the US.  That one isn’t really a pop culture phenomenon, but it’s near and dear to my heart and it’s my list so there you go. 

    There was some odd conflict happening over in some place nobody had heard of called Vietnam.  Military aid started to increase to the country.  Eisenhower warned this may not be a good idea.

    Do you know who was born this year?  From a pop-culture standpoint, it’s fairly amazing:  Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern, Matt Groening, Jerry Seinfeld, and Ron Howard.  It also saw the births of Ray Liotta and John Travolta.  Also, and this cannot be overstated, my favorite football player of all time, Walter Payton.

    Oh, yeah, and the woman who played Daisy Duke, Katherine Bach.

    The Boyscouts apparently desegregated that year.  That’s pretty awesome.  Sports Illustrated debuted this year, which is also pretty awesome.  If you’re into celebrity weddings, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio got married that year, and were even more awesome because they didn’t apply some dumbass nickname to the relationship.  (I dunno…”Mary-Mag”, “JoeRoe”?  Thank God that happened in 1954 and nobody did this crap).

    The reason I ranked 1954 as #2 was that something fairly amazing happened in the world of music that set the stage for all the years you’ve already read about (in my humble opinion).  Firstly, RCA introduced the first transistor radio that could be easily and affordably purchased.  And secondly, on a hot July night in Memphis, a young man from Tupelo, Mississippi named Elvis Presley recorded a song called “That’s All Right”. 

    This song was played 3 days later on Dewey Phillips’ Radio Show and it was so popular, he played it over and over again for the last 2 hours of his show.  Elvis released “That’s All Right” on record and  soon after, Bill Haley and the Comets released “Rock Around the Clock”.  And then, this something called “rock and roll” which had been simmering down south like gumbo was served up to the entire nation.

    You can still see Sun Studio to this day and stand right where Elvis did when he walked in and said “I don’t sound like nobody”.  You can see and touch the baffling that heard the birth of rock and roll as we know it. You can stand on the same floor tiles and look at the same walls and even see some of the same instruments because they haven’t changed a thing.  The small, unassuming building where Elvis crossed different genres (and different racial influences) into his music still stands, and still records music to this day. 

    As could be imagined by people my age and remembered by people a bit older, this wasn’t exactly a revolution that well received by everybody.  People said that Elvis “The Pelvis” was too hypersexual and that his hip gyrations were immoral and would mark the erosion of all things societal and holy.  

    Well, whatever.  Music and popular culture changed forever when Rock and Roll was born.  And while it might not have gone in a “moral” direction, it did go in an AWESOME direction.

    #1.  1977 -

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    I deem 1977 to be the most amazing of all pop culture years.  It’s a bold strategy Cotton, let’s see if it pays off…

    I will grant you that the music itself wasn’t the strongest this year.  The number one song that year was For one thing, drunken idiots everywhere got an anthem that inspired a Sirius XM station 30 years later, “Margaritaville”.  

    A few good bands formed - INXS, The Police, Dire Straights, and Def Leppard all got together that year.  But the most earth shattering event regarding music that happened in 1977 was in Memphis, on an otherwise normal August day - Elvis Presley died.

    As far as TV goes, the most important that happened was the Roots Miniseries.  It’s impact still persists today, but no really great shows debuted in 1977.  Music was…meh.  The Roots was pretty impactful.  So what about movies?  Oh, it was a year for movies…

    Saturday Night Fever came out and suddently everybody needed a white leisure suit and the BeeGees ruled the world.  Close Encounters of Third Kind also came out.  The first Hobbit cartoon came out, There was a James Bond movie (The Spy Who Loved Me) and the classic hockey movie, Slap Shot.

    All good…but there was something about 1977.  I think, and I’m just spit balling here, the Force was strong with this year.

    That’s right baby, Star Wars came out in 1977 and I reckon it was the most mindblowing thing anybody had ever seen.  People still go nuts for Star Wars and go absolutely ballistic when the original movies are desecrated.  (I do, anyways…by the way, 1999’s highest grossing movie that I didn’t want to talk about at #5 was “The Phantom Menace”, which I’m still pissed about).  Star Wars inspired more amazement and magic at the movies than had been seen before and really, nothing like it sense.  It just seemed like movies changed that year, forever.

    But what was the most significant thing in pop-culture that year?  Could something have happened that was even more important than Star Wars?  Something that managed to affect all aspects of pop-culture, from the internet, to movies, to music, to television.  It’s tough for me to admit this, but there was.

    A few guys named Steve knew they had something special with this thing called a “computer”.  On January 3rd, a company called “Apple” was incorporated and it would change the way we looked at phones, music, movies, pictures…Apple’s impact is kind of amazing when you think about it’s scope.  Apple managed to bring the computer to the homes of millions, unlike it had been done before.  Schools would fill computer labs with Apple IIGSs and with such access to computers, I would argue that Apple’s formation and subsequent success, along with it’s introduction of an entire generation into the information age ultimately did more to influence Pop Culture as we currently know it today. 

    I credit Apple here because my first computer experience was with an Apple IIGS both at home and in school.  And while Windows and Bill Gates have an accounting spreadsheet Top 10 list locked up, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about Apple products…iPods made holding an entire music library in your hand possible.  iPads invented a whole new category of computer.  Look, Apple invented the iPod.  Microsoft invented the Zune.  This is a list about pop culture.  With all due respect, Mr. Gates, this just isn’t your thing.

    And the iPhone…oh the iPhone.  Take pictures, watch a movie, surf the internet…if the iPhone wasn’t the world’s first smartphone, it is undesputedly the most popular.  How many times have you crowded around an iPhone, watching some stupid YouTube video and laughing riotously.  You can show your friend that hilarious SNL clip on monday on your phone.  You check scores, buy music, check the latest news, tell everybody what your doing, all on your phones.  You access all aspects of popular culture, right on something that fits in your pocket.

    I know Samsung has made a fine effort - some may argue that the Galaxy is a better phone.  But it’s still always going to be labeled an iPhone killer and that moniker relegates it to second place.

    Now, I understand that the information age can’t just be put down to Jobs and Wosniack in 1977.  I get it…the story is more complex and amazing than that.  But something special happened in 1977, and we may not see a company impact popular culture in such a way, ever again. 

    And if you’d have shown somebody then an iPhone from now, well, they might have believed you.  After all, when you’ve seen a galaxy far, far away in the same year, I suppose just about anything seems possible.

     

  3. Top 10 Sports Villains!

    Do you know what’s awesome?  A good sports villain.  See, not every game is going to have Your Team in it.  But you have to pick a side.  I mean…you HAVE to pick a side.  Because if you don’t, the game isn’t as interesting.  

    Today, I thought I’d make up a list of the most villainous teams in sports history that you love to hate.  You might be thinking to yourself, Crosbie, you’re supposed to be positive here and a Top 10 List can’t be influenced by such negative things!

    Au contraire, mon frere.  

    See, focusing all your negative energy on a sports team I find to be incredibly healthy because it’s an outlet for your negativity that, well, has to go somewhere.  It’s not like those negative emotions are just going to go away.  Well, they would if you were the Dalai Lama or, like, a monk or something and had complete control over your inner chakras.

    Well, I don’t.  I need to hate something.  Here are 10 of the Best, most easily hateable teams…dude, it’s okay.  You can hate these guys and nothing bad is going to happen in the world.  

    Wanna start with the Worst of the Rest?  Ya, me too.  The Worst of the Rest today is just going to be particularly villainous individuals.  Now, if you’re wondering, I do have some positive standards here.  People like Marge Schott and Donald Stirling don’t make my list because NOBODY likes those people.  See, in sports, a good villain has to be liked by SOMEBODY.  Incidentally, this is why Ty Cobb and A-rod also don’t make my list.  After all, this is supposed to be fun, and people like that just aren’t fun.  So eff them.

    The Worst of the Rest!

    Bill Belichek -

    As will become painfully obvious through most of this list, I actually happen to like most of the villains here.  I like the way Belichek coaches.  Spygate really didn’t bother me because, well, I thought it was creative. As Al Davis and his Raiders might attest, if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.

    Speaking of that…

    Al Davis -

    Oh Al.  What crazy thing will you do in the draft this year?  Again, I’ve actually been rather partial to the Raiders and Al’s quirky antics because it makes everything way more interesting.  But everybody seems to hate him, so…why not.  Admit it Raider Fans, you’d be disappointed if you didn’t get mentioned on a list of villains…

    Bobby Knight - 

    Yeah, I love him too.  He’s funny.  So he threw a chair and joked about whipping one of his players.

    (okay, that last one might be a little out of line)

    They loved him in Indiana and he could coach the hell out of some basketball.

    Muhammad Ali - 

    Oh, he was a villain alright.  Speaking out against the Vietnam War and yapping and yapping…

    The dude was as good as it gets and was swagger before swagger was swagger.  He should get a royalty check when somebody says the word swagger.  

    If you’re talking about Ali, you kind of have to talk about…

    Howard Cosell - 

    A villanious TV broadcaster?  Hell yeah!  I wish I had heard Cosell call games.  It seems that people just hated the guy and I have a suspicion I would have loved him.  But he polarized the people who listened to him, just like a good sports villain should.

    Tiger Woods - 

    Really?  Tiger?  

    Yes.  I’m deeming Tiger a villain.  I don’t want him to win any more and I know a bunch of other people who are sick of him as well.  And a bunch of people who really WANT him to win.

    Do you want Jack’s major record to fall to Tiger?  Of course you don’t.  Not now.  Root against him, like me.

    Barry Bonds -

    So why is Barry on here and A-Rod not?  

    Because Barry was LOVED in San Francisco.  A-Rod ended up being hated by not just Yankee Fans, but the Yankees themselves.  Nobody liked A-Rod.

    Barry, on the other hand, had heaps of fans.  There were people wearing “Pitch to Barry” shirts who didn’t even like the Giants.  People watched, praying wildly that he’d either connect, or titanically whiff.  Great villain.  Point of fact, one I actually disliked.

    Wanna do this thing?  I do…

    Top 10 Sports Villains Who are Awesome to Hate!

    #10.  The New England Patriots - During the Belichek Era

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    I actually like the Patriots just fine because everybody else hates them for one reason or another.   As I already said, the Spygate thing really didn’t bother me that much, but the Colts fans up in that picture did such a clever job that I had to include that photo.  It sort of seems like hating the Pats is the trendy thing to do these days.  But, as with Belichek up there, I think the way they play and the success they have, year in and year out is fascinating and, frankly, I think it’s fun to watch. 

    But, people hate them anyways.  The Patriot Way and Patriot Success is just another depressing chapter for Jets fan, and I have to admit that watching the Jets fans watch the Jets lose is a hell of a lot of fun.  

    (It’ll be fun to watch them watch the Jets win, too…)

    Given the level of vitriole that people apply to the Pats, you might be wondering why they’re not higher.  Well, they haven’t been hateable for tooooo long, though that’s starting to change

    #9.  The Duke Blue Devils - During the Krzyzewski Era

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    I have to be honest, I’m not sure why people hate Duke, but they seem to.  They win all the time, so that might be it, or it might be that Duke has had a nasty habit of ruining everybody’s bracket year after year, either winning when they’re not supposed to, or losing to double-digit seeds.

    It could be the Cameron Crazies (who I like) or it could be Dick Vitale (can’t help it, I like him too).  It could be that Christian Laettner still irritates people, but it’s not just Kentucky fans who hate Duke.  It could be J.J. Reddick knocking down lights-out threes, but It’s not just North Carolina fans who don’t want Duke to win, it seems like everybody doesn’t.

    I root for Duke now, because people seem to dislike them, but I didn’t always.  I thought that Jalen Rose and the Fab Five were the coolest people in America and they didn’t like Duke.  So I didn’t like Duke.  

    So there you go.

    #8.  The Miami Heat - present

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    I know LeBron, it’s so hard.  It is SO HARD to be as good as you.  When Jordan had a fever of 104 and looked like death warmed over, he got carried off the court too.  Wait, no, I misremembered that.  He actually torched the Jazz for like 50 points that game and ended up winning the series.  I know what you’re thinking.  If the Patriots are #10 as a result of being hateable for only a decade, what business do the Heat have being on here?

    Well, 3 reasons:

    1.  The Decision. You are taking your messiah like talents to South Beach?  Shut up LeBron.  Way to cut the heart out of your home state.  Jerk.  Go Spurs.

    2.  The amount of people IN IOWA who all of a sudden claimed the Heat were “their team”.  No they weren’t.  Shut up.  I didn’t see the sharp rise in Patriots fans like I did in Heat fans.

    3.  And because I say so and it’s my list.

    Oh yeah, and this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAy0ASuYr9Y 

    #7.  The Detroit Pistons c. 1989

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    The Bad Boys Era of basketball.

    Again, actually, I liked Detroit.  I thought Bill Laimbeer was funny and I was oddly obsessed with his Super Nintendo Game, Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball.  

    Truth be told, I didn’t really know about the racial controversy started by Dennis Rodman when he said that if Larry Bird was black, he’d be just another good basketball player.  Isaiah Thomas (who has become extremely hateable in his own right as an executive) had the chance to reel Rodman in (see what I did there?) but didn’t.

    And they became more hateable.  But Detroit still LOVED them.

    But those basketball games were fun to watch.  The 30 for 30 series on ESPN did yet another outstanding job telling a story about this - here’s a little taste:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKLJuOlQ8e8

    #6.  The Miami Hurricanes c. 1986

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    I actually like the Hurricanes too.  Oh, they were bad.  Terrible for the game of football I suppose.  Bunch of thugs.  Bunch of unruly thugs that didn’t play the game it was supposed to be played and disrespected everybody.

    Hell, I thought they were fun to watch.  ”The U” was a great 30 for 30 on ESPN and demonstrated the rise of a college powerhouse.  I thought Randall Hill’s pretend shooting in the Cotton Bowl after Miami destroyed the Texas Longhorns was funny:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zeL5yyjqWQ&feature=kp 

    People hate swagger.  I get it.  I think those Hurricanes would be pretty disappointed if they didn’t make this list…

    Wanna know why they were ranked this high?  It’s probably because you don’t remember…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6CELCtl0kk 

    #5.  Manchester United - dates open to suggestion

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    So, I’m taking a guess on this one.  

    As passionate as people are about soccer (sorry, football), there has to be one team that everybody hates.  As near as I can figure it, it’s Manchester United.  They’ve been so good, for so long, that people just have to hate them.  I think Man U is the most valuable franchise in sports and this makes them quite easily despised.  The fans appear to be incredibly arrogant.  

    Very hateable.

    Now, I’d absolutely love it if somebody - anybody - who is a diehard soccer (SORRY!  Football…), came along and told me I was wrong.  Please come and correct me.  I don’t know enough about it…

    #4.  The Dallas Cowboys, 1978-present and likely beyond

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    Oh, you hate Tony Romo.  Yes you do.  You hate him because he’s married to good looking blonde women and he gets paid a lot of money.  But you hate him MORE than Tom Brady because you know, down in your cold, black, jealous heart that Tom could flick you on the back of your head with his three Superbowl rings and shut you up.

    If you are wondering, you started hating them in 1978 when they were given that moniker.  They used to be known as “Next Year’s Champion” because they weren’t very good.  

    But.  

    You are American.  NFL Films said the Cowboys were “America’s Team”.  You never claimed the Cowboys, did you?  Hell no.  You hate that Dallas is in the NFC East, despite being located nowhere near the other NFC East teams.  You hate that Dallas fans get the benefit of East Coast Bias, despite not being on the east coast, and you have to deal with the arrogance of the entire state of Texas REGARDING A TEAM THAT’S ONLY WON 2 PLAYOFF GAMES IN ALMOST 20 YEARS AND WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THEM EVERY DAMN WEEK.

    Oh, do you hate Dallas.  And you know what?  You’re right.  Keep being awesomely right.  

    #3.  The New York Yankees, from their inception to eternity

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    I know, I know, it’s a little obvious.  The thing is, the Yankees claim the second to top spot on my list because of longevity.  The Yankees have been the consistantly hated evil empire for most of the 20th century.  They were hated in 1930, 1960, 1990, and 2010.  It’s impressive, really.

    If you don’t particularly care about who’s in the world series, you can safely root against the Yankees, because they’ll probably be in contention.  

    Oh, you love it when the Yankees lose.  You love it because they spent SO. MUCH. MONEY.  They have the highest payroll in sports and they can’t win.  Makes you feel good, doesn’t it?  

    You love watching players like C.C. Sabathia, Johnny Damon, Randy Johnson, Jason Giambi, and Wade Boggs fail after leaving their first teams for the promise of untold riches and World Series Jewelry.  Yes you do.  You love rooting against that.

    #2.  The Notre Dame Fighting Irish, from their inception to eternity

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    God, I hate Notre Dame.  No, I’m actually typing to God here, not you.  

    I know there are Notre Dame fans who are reading this who are genuinely surprised that their team is villainous.  It is actually the fans who perpetuate this, and their insistance that Notre Dame is relevant.  Oh, I’ll grant you, that 2012 (the National Championship year) was a decent team and that “Rudy” was a good movie.

    And then the Irish got pummeled by Alabama and ruined a National Championship game and Rudy turned out to be a hobbit.  So there.

    Notre Dame is ruining traditional rivalries in the name of TV money and some screwy deal with the ACC.  Now, I understand that’s the name of the game in college football, but it’s particularly offensive in Notre Dame’s case because the program has such a deeply rooted tradition.  

    I hate Notre Dame because they still haven’t realized that only when all the tradition is gone, you realize you can’t buy it back.  And they usually get beat now, so it works out really well for me.

    This incredibly clever parody on the Real Men of Genius ad campaign really sort of sums it all up:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0Y7yjxJVlc

    #1.  Team USA

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    Oh.  Uhhh…

    Oh.

    I’m probably going to take a fair amount of heat for this #1 selection.  But I am trying my very best to look at sports completely objectively.

    Do you really think that when the only Olympian Uzbekistan sends in something like skeet shooting and he or she is going up against the American, that the rest of the world is going for the American?  How many people, around the world, have been cheering against Team USA’s basketball team since 1992’s dream team? 

    Oh they’re going to hate us when we get good at soccer (sorry, dammit, FOOTBALL) and contend seriously for a World Cup.

    You know why? 

    Because we win a lot.  And we’re awesome.  And arrogant.  But really, more friggin’ awesome than arrogant.  And if Barkley tries to rub off a little awesomeness from his elbow on an Angola basketball player, well, that Angola basketball player ought to be thanking his lucky stars…

    I was searching for the perfect sports villain to take the #1 spot and it occurred to me that the perfect sports villain was right under my nose.  And since Team USA is showing no signs of not contending for a top medal count in every Olympics from here on out, well, suck it world.  We’ll be the Number 1 Sports Villain.  It’s just another sports title we win – hey-yo!

    The more and more I think about it Team USA being the #1 Villain, the more and more I like it.  USA, all the way, baby.

     

  4. Top 10 Rarities in Sports That Would Make My Life More Complete If I Saw!

    Do you know what’s awesome?  Seeing something that you’ve always wanted to see in sports.  Something like a record falling or a milestone that hasn’t come along in quite some time.  Full disclosure - this list wasn’t my idea…my friend Jon “Fratter” Froiland came up with this idea and I thought it sounded like fun, so here we go.  

    As to what exactly I’m talking about, these are things that happen with such rarity if at all, that when/if it does happen, it’s really note worthy.  What this isn’t is a list that ends in #1, the Chicago Bears winning a Superbowl.  This isn’t necessarily about specific teams, but can be influenced by specific teams.  I tried to avoid rooting for specific people or specific teams.  Still not clear?  Well, lets just dive right in and see if the list doesn’t clarify it’s self…

    Top 10 Rarities in Sports That Would Make My Life More Complete if I Saw…

    #10.  A Superbowl Go To Overtime

    So this one has never happened.  The picture up there is from the 1958 NFL Championship Game which is, if I’m not mistaking, (and please correct me if I am), the only time an NFL championship - Superbowl or otherwise - has gone to overtime.  Johnny Unitas ran the 2 minute drill like a badass and Alan Ameche plowed over a hole (apparently the size of a truck based on that photo) to win the game for the Colts over the Giants in what was called “The Greatest Game Ever Played”.  Unitas called all his own plays, no stupid green dot on the back of that guy’s helmet, no stupid wrist band…

    It rocketed the NFL’s popularity up closer towards baseball’s and the NFL has been on a stratospheric rise ever since.  

    If a Superbowl goes to overtime, it means it was likely an excellent game.  Now, if I was a Seattle fan, I would have loved last years.  Given that I have neither allegiance to Seattle or Denver, a 44-8 drubbing was a snoozefest.  

    We’ve actually been treated to some decent superbowls in recent years, last year not withstanding.  I hope that trend continues and I’d love to see one go to OT.

    Do it already!

    #9.  An Unassisted Triple Play, Live

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    See, the problem here is that I hardly ever watch baseball, which means that the unassisted triple play has to happen during a world series game, which is awfully unlikely.  Of course you can see the highlights on Sportscenter later, but that doesn’t count.  

    Ideally, you’d see one live in person, but I’d settle for on TV.  Honestly, though, this one’s on me and probably won’t happen because unless the Cubs pull it off in the playoffs (let’s all let that one sink in for a second), I probably won’t see it.  The solution here is to watch more baseball and drink beer…

    So, Jon, do it already!

    #8.  A Goalie Fight, Live

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    The unicorn of hockey fights - a goalie fight.  I’ve never seen one live.  I’ve seen those awesome highlights of Osgood vs Roy, and it just makes me want to see a really good Goalie throwdown even more.  Like, now I REALLY want to see it.  

    This seems like probably the most attainable of my list given that Hockey Players seem to like to fight.  Again, this one doesn’t count unless you see it live on TV as opposed to highlights on YouTube.  In the arena would be fairly epic.

    So, hockey goalies in a game I’m watching…do it already!

    #7.  An Albatross, Live

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    An Albatross is also known as a double eagle and it’s when a golfer shoots 3 under par for one hole.  You can do this by either scoring a 2 on a par 5 or a hole in one on a par 4 (which is way less likely).

    This has happened as recently as 2012 at the Masters (final round, even), which I somehow missed and when I looked up when the most recent albatross was, I was actually really surprised that I missed it.  

    So now I really want to see one because I had a chance and didn’t see it.  Oh, and Happy Gilmore’s ace doesn’t count, I’m afraid.  

    Somebody who’s better at golf than me…do it again already!

    #6.  A World Series Game 7 Walk Off Homerun

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    It’s only happened once, when Bill Mazeroski did it in 1960.  I saw Joe Carter hit is walk-off in Game 6, but that was game 6.  A bases loaded, 2 out, bottom of the 9th, game 7 World Series would just be a hell of a lot of fun to watch, regardless of whether or not there was a walk off dinger or not.

    I realize this is sort of akin to saying “I want to see a Hail Mary to win a Super Bowl”, but walk off bombs are a little different.  I don’t even like baseball that much, but I decided that seeing that would make my life a little more complete.

    So do it already.  When I’m actually watching.

    #5.  Cleveland to Win Something

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    Okay, I lied.  I am rooting for somebody on this list.

    The last time a Cleveland team won a championship in a major US sport was 49 years ago and there cannot be a more snake-bitten sports city in North America.  San Diego and Ottawa’s droughts are longer (50 and 85 years, respectively), but they also have 2 teams in San Diego, and 1 team in Ottawa, vs the Indians, Browns, and Cavaliers in Cleveland.  

    The Indians have been miserable, the Browns have been inept, and the Cavaliers keep getting their hearts cut out by the best player in the league, whether that be Michael Jordan or LeBron James.

    I have always been a Cubs fan and while the Cubs’ futility has lasted over 100 years, Chicago gets championships in other ways.  But Cleveland, poor Cleveland…I just feel sorry for them.  If it wasn’t for bad luck, Cleveland wouldn’t have any luck at all and that’s just not right.  C’mon, Divine Higher Powers in sports.  Throw that city a little love.  Do it already.

    #4.  A 16 Seed Knock Off a 1 Seed

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    It’s only happened once, in 1998, in the Women’s March Madness tournament when Harvard beat Stanford but there’s a HUGE asterick next to that one…Stanford had lost it’s two best players to ACL injuries days before the tournament started and was no where even remotely close to full strength.  It was still a 16 knocking off a 1, but that one is tough.  I wanna see a full strength, no excuses, upset for the ages, hence the picture up there.

    This one is coming in the men’s tournament.  There’s an increase in the popularity of the mid-major teams, the parity of college basketball, and by God, it’s coming.  We’ve seen a rash of 15’s knocking off 2’s and 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast even managed to make the sweet 16 a few years ago…it’s only a matter of time before David finds just the right stone to take down Goliath.

    So do it already!

    #3.  A Triple Crown Winner

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    This is the one that actually inspired the list.  Jon Froiland had mentioned that he was excited about the possibility of California Chrome winning the Triple Crown and suggested that a list comprising this sort of thing be made.

    And I DO want to see a Triple Crown Winner.  I’m glad it wasn’t Big Brown - not that I don’t like the horse, but his trainer, Rick Duttrow was shooting him full of anabolic steroid and has been banned in 10 states.  Going into the Belmont Stakes, the talk was all about Big Brown’s hoof and how it had a repaired crack in it, and that shoe was missing.  But Duttrow had decided he was going to show the world he could win without injecting steroid into an animal.

    Well, he didn’t.  

    I’m not sure if Affirmed (the last Triple Crown Winner) was juicing (or being juiced, I suppose) in 1978.  Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I hope not.  I wasn’t alive to see it, but in my mind, I see Affirmed and his rival Alydar dueling down the back stretch at Belmont, and Alydar falling short for a 3rd and final time in the Triple Crown challenge.  Truth be told, I always kind of wished Alydar would have caught him.  

    I wonder if Alydar recognized his nemesis in the stables and wanted to beat him.  I wonder if Alydar felt contempt for Affirmed the way Joe Frazier felt about Ali, North Carolina feels about Duke, or The Yankees feel about the Red Sox.  Or maybe horses don’t feel that way about each other and we just apply our own emotional constructs to animals.  I want to see a Triple Crown winner, and I want to see it done the right way.  Affirmed and Alydar gave us races for the ages and are (and should be) forever linked in memory.  We need that again.

    We might get a great story this year.  California Chrome comes from entirely unheralded lineage, from an entirely unheralded breeder, and from an entirely unheralded trainer.  In the horse racing world of blood lines, this will likely never happen again, so pull for him

     C’mon California Chrome.  Do it already.  And do it right. 

    #2.  A New Home Run Champion

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    I didn’t watch Barry Bonds break Hank Aaron’s record.  Truth be told, I just wasn’t all that interested but, history is important.  The night Bonds hit the homerun, I was studying - not at all ironically - pharmacology during my second year of med school in somewhat of a protest of Bond’s breaking Aaron’s record.

    Personally, I think the ball should have an asterick drawn on it, and so should the record.  I don’t really care if EVERYBODY was doing it, Hank Aaron wasn’t, and he hit 744.  That means somebody else can too, sans the juice.  

    So do it already.  Do it fair.

    #1.  A Perfect NFL Season, Start to Finish

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    This would be an example of a team influencing this list.  

    I can’t TELL you how much I want somebody to knock the ‘72 Dolphins from their stupid pedestal.  Everytime the ‘72 Dolphins get their annual congratulatory “We’re still the only undefeated team in history” segment on ESPN, I feel my blood pressure rising.

    Let us be clear - the ‘72 Dolphins played a 14 game schedule and also played opponents thoughout the year with one of the lowest collective winning percentages of any Superbowl winner.  It is also often forgotten that the ‘71 Dolphins, which was largely comprised of the same players remain the only Superbowl team to not score a touchdown in the Superbowl.  I am also incredibily irritated by the ‘72 Dolphins insisting that they would still hang with today’s NFL, which they would not.

    The image up there is Garo Yapremian trying to throw a pass in the 1973 Superbowl, which was an unmitigated disaster and resulted in 7 points for Washington, who still ended up losing.  I put that image on here because I’m generally irritated by this whole scenario.  

    I know, I know…I’m supposed to be positive here and the #1 spot shouldn’t be influenced this way.  But….

    Can somebody PLEASE go undefeated so I don’t have to watch these guys get interviewed?

    I wanna see it anyways, just because.  Because it’s a neat thing to see and, given the 16 game season, the parity in the NFL, and the historical significance, it’d be pretty cool.

    SO DO IT ALREADY!

     

  5. Ten Awesome Medical Stories

    Do you know what’s awesome?  A good story.  So I thought I’d tell 10 of them to you today involving medicine.  This might sound a little dry - hopefully it isn’t and you find this as cool as I did when I heard these stories.

    Full disclosure, these stories were told to me by various attendings through out medical school and residency, or I found them in medical journals.  I fact-checked what I could but some of them were somewhat un-fact-checkable so…take them for what they’re worth. 

    Also, a quick disclaimer:  None of what you are about to read will *in any way* substitute for seeing a medical provider if you have a problem or are looking to prevent, treat, or cure a condition.  These are stories and explinations and should not be considered a substitute for medical care.  Do NOT assume that anything read below or a variation of anything below should be tried or taken without speaking with a licenced medical professional first.  This blog, like all my others, is for fun and interest.  Cool?   Cool. 

    Now…since that’s out of the way, I hope you like the stories.  Let’s do this thing!

    Ten Awesome Medical Stories (in no particular order)

    #10.  The Story of the World’s Oldest Antibiotic

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    Silver vies for what might be the oldest antibiotic in recorded human history and is still used today for that purpose.

    The ancient Greeks, even Hippocrates (you know, the Oath guy), himself, wrote about the anti-pyogenic properties of silver.  They didn’t know what bacteria were, but did observe that when a wound became purulent (containing pus) that this was bad.  I’m not sure (and can’t find) the reason why they started putting silver in pus-filled wounds, but it seemed to work, some of the time.  This is why Hippocrates wrote about it.

    As recorded human history progressed, Silver was used as a container.  It wasn’t just pretty - it was functional.  People observed that water contained in silver pitchers would not become “scummy” as quickly as water not in silver pitchers.  I have read that the Catholic Church commissioned church chalices to be made of silver for this reason, though even with the Internet at my disposal, I couldn’t definitively find if they did this for anti-bacterial reasons or asthetic ones.

    Have you ever wondered by silverwear is called “silverware”?  Although these days silverware is rarely made out of silver (plastic silverware…sigh), in earlier centuries the wealthy families would use silver eating utensils and it has been theorized that this was because silver was perceived to be an anti-sickness (anti-bacterial) material.  Again, though, it’s hard to tell whether or not this was for anti-bacterial or aesthetic reasons.

    Silver preparations were used for ear infections in the 19th and early 20th century - and today, silver is still used.  Have you ever been prescribed silvadene cream for a burn?  Know why it’s called “silvadene?”  The US Army also uses silver infused dressings for combat wounds and site a 33% faster healing rate.  An old attending physician of mine swore by them - and had to treat combat wounds himself.

    I wish I could report that silver was, well, an antibiotic silver bullet (sorry).  Recent systematic reviews have suggested that silver dressings and topical preparations don’t improve wound healing.  But there is tentative evidence that silver urinary catheters and endotrachael tubes may prevent nosocomial (hospital acquired) infections. 

    I always found it very interesting that some of the oldest medical treatment in human history finds itself into to the most modern of ICUs. 

    #9.  The Story of the Gin and Tonic

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    Did you think this was a medical thing?  Well, it is and it’s a fairly short one.

    As it was told to me, gin and Tonic was started in India when British soldiers were given quinine water to combat malaria.  Well, nobody wanted to drink it because the quinine was too bitter.  Since they were also given a ration of gin, the rather enterprising Limeys decided to mix the gin and tonic together to improve the taste of the tonic water.

    Seems people still like it.  Especially at Thumbs in Ames, on Thursday nights.  The next time somebody asks you why you’re drinking a gin and tonic at 2 in the afternoon, you can tell them you’re fighting off malaria, just like the British Soldiers.

    #8.  The Story of Rabbits, Cigarettes, and Sinuses

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    So, there’s two things you need to know about the Story of Your Sinuses before you hear the story…

    1.  Cilia continue to work after the organism they exist in dies.

    2.  The guy who figured this out was a chain-smoker.

    The scientist who figured all this out was a chain-smoking Nazi, actually, and because of his political affiliations, his work wasn’t distributed as widely as it could have been.

    Essentially what happened was the scientist was working on rabbits and examinining their sinus cavities (you don’t want to know how he got a good look at the sinus cavities of rabbits).

    So, cilia are these little cells that have tiny little hairs on them that beat in a certain direction.  These cilia line the inside of your lungs sweeping up, up, up, so that all the mucus which has trapped various pathogens and bacteria all gets swept up, up, up, until it gets past your trachea and into your esophagus, where you swallow it and the bacteria is killed by stomach acid.

    So, the same thing happens in in your sinuses.  Here’s how it was discovered:

    The Chain Smoking Scientist (We’ll call him Dr. CSS) was doing his experiments on rabbits and, while doing it, accidentally let some of his cigarette ash fall into the sinus cavity of the rabbit he was working on.  Thinking that the rabbit was of no use to him, Dr. CSS set it aside, and got to working on the next rabbit.  Something about the second rabbit made him go back to the first rabbit where he made an interesting discovery…the cigarette ash was no longer in the sinus cavity.  Upon further investigation, Dr. CSS discovered the cigarette ash had been moved down into the rabbit’s esophagus.  

    This prompted him to do a microscopic examination of the sinus cavities, which discovered the cilia lining the sinuses, which prompted the discovery that the cilia beat in a uniform and direction pattern in both rabbits and humans, which is how your sinuses clear themselves.

    The irony of the whole story is that the very thing that discovered the cilia (cigarette ash) is actually something that inhibits their action.  Cilia are paralyzed by cigarette smoke so they can’t beat in their rhythmic pattern, clearing the sinuses (and the lungs).  This is why smokers have more sinus infections and lung infections.  This is also why children of smokers have similar problems, as well as more ear infections (second hand smoke does the same thing).  If you or anybody you know ever quit smoking, you might know that they coughed like hell for the first week after they quit.  This is because the cilia woke up, looked around, and realized they had a great bit of house keeping to do.

    So don’t smoke.  It is highly unlikely you will make a similar discovery based on cigarette ash.

    #7.  The Story of Clover and Cows

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    My grandfather didn’t want to take a medicine that had been prescribed to him.  He said it was rat poison.  He was right, of course, but there’s a little more to the story to his medicine than it being rat poison.  

    "Grandpa," I asked, "I heard you’re not supposed to let your cows graze in clover fields, isn’t that right?"

    A somewhat incredulous look passed over my grandfather’s face.  

    "Of course that’s right.  Everybody knows that."

    Of course they do.  Except me, until I took pharmacology.  The thing is, Grandpa knew more about his medicine than he realized.  Grandpa was an 85 year old farmer at the time of this conversation and knew a hell of a lot about farming.  

    Because people are a naturally curious and inquisitive species, other farmers like Grandpa had made similar observations about clover and cows and had started to wonder why they die after grazing in clover fields for a long time.  The good people at the Wisconsin Agricultural Research Foundation put some real effort into this questions in the first part of the last century because, well, Wisconsin has a fair amount of cows.  Eventually, they derived a compound that, when purified, inhibits the clotting of blood in animals.  Now we know that it essentially screws up Vitamin K’s action on your clotting factors.  

    A rather clever person surmised that this could be used as rat poison and this was the rat poison that Grandpa was referring to.  You can still find this rat poison - and mole poison - at Earl May to this day.  

    Let us break from the story for a second and talk about blood flow through your heart, so you can appreciate the rest of the story.  It’ll be quick, I promise…

    If you’re a blood cell, here’s how your trip would go.  You would come up from your person’s leg after dropping off your oxygen in a muscle so your person could walk.  You would come up a vein called the vena cava which would drop you off into your person’s heart’s right atrium.  This is the first of four chambers in the heart.  The right atrium would coordinatedly contract and send you down into the right ventricle.  The right ventricle would contract with more force and send you up into the lungs, where you (remember, you’re a blood cell) would find more oxygen.  

    From there, you would go down the pulmonary vein to the left side of the heart, specifically the left atrium.  The left atrium would coordinately contract and you would drop down into the left ventricle.  The left ventricle is the monster and would pump you out into the body where you find somewhere else to drop your oxygen.  The right and left ventricles are responsible for pumping the blood to the lungs and the heart, respectively, so they’re kind of a big deal.  Eventually, you, the blood cell, would find your way back to the vena cava and do it all over again.

    Here’s the thing - when the atria don’t contract with coordination, that’s called atrial fibrillation or a-fib.  When that happens, the blood can sort of sit in the atria.  Think of when stuff sort of collects in a river when a river comes around a bend and the water gets out of the main flow of the river.

    Well, in the right atrium, that’s not a super huge deal because the lungs act as a net and the clot breaks down.  But in the left atrium, it is.  That monster of a left ventricle pumps the clot out into the body and it can plunk right down into the brain.  That’s called an ischemic stroke.

    So people with a-fib would just sit there, wondering if a clot would get thrown to their brain.  If you have a-fib and it’s untreated, your chances of a stroke are 1/10 in 12 months.

    So, back to our story.  An even more clever person built on the idea and questioned whether or not this clover compound they named warfarin could stop clotting that you didn’t want.  Essentially, if people had a-fib, could you stop the clotting within the left atrium that got sent to the brain and caused a stroke?

    Well, it turns out you can.  A person who is properly anti-coagulated (placed on the right dose of warfarin), has a stroke risk of 1/40 in one year.  That’s much better than 1 in 10…

    So that’s the story of how clover, cows, and farmers prevented more strokes than we may ever know.  The good farmers at the Wisconsin Agricultural Research Foundation got a chance to name the compound they derived and that’s where warfarin came from.  And I got a chance to tell my grandpa a story, instead of the other way around.

    #6.  The Story of Putting Your Mouth Where Your Money Is

    Several years ago, a pair of Australian Scientists named Barry Marshall and Robin Warren had been studying gastric ulcers in patients and noticed the presence of  bacteria they called H.Pylori.  They hypothesized that the bacteria was the culprit in actually causing the ulcers, and did (and I can’t keep stressing this enough) real scientific testing to prove it.

    They had the data, and they had the evidence to suggest they were right.  Unfortunately, they were pretty much laughed out of the building by all the other scientists who couldn’t, umm, stomach (sorry, couldn’t help it) the idea of bacteria living in the high acid environment, causing ulcers.  Everybody said Marshall and Warren were FOS (full of ____) .  But they knew they were right.  So what do you think they did?

    They got a bunch of h.pylori and drank it down with a nice Foster’s chaser.

    (In the interest of accuracy, I should mention that I totally made up the part about the Foster’s)

    (But they did ingest the bacteria)

    They then, of course, got some great stomach and GI ulcers and people paid attention to their research.  More studies were done and it turned out they were right.  Ulcers were being caused by h.pylori.  The research extended beyond just ulcers…they found out h.pylori was causing gastric and intestinal cancers, GI bleeds and upsets, and what’s more, could be treated with the right combination of antibiotics. 

    Oh, and don’t feel bad for the Aussies, they got four million dollars and a Nobel Prize for their efforts.

    #5.  The Story of Bones and a Headache

    In the 1800’s a man named Andrew Taylor Still (AT Still) lost three of his kids to spinal meningitis.  He had seen them suffer under the only treatments at the time which were unfortunately quite ineffective and may very well have been worse than the cure.  He himself had been subject to some of the “medical” treatments of the day that came with no scientific basis or evidence at all and didn’t care for them (the “blue mass” suppositories which were mercury suppositories for constipation was pretty high on his list of things he didn’t like).

    AT Still also recalled something else - he used to get headaches as a kid and figured out that if he stretched a rope between two trees at ground level, and then laid down his head down on the rope right underneath where the back of his head met his neck (facing up, of course), he could fall asleep and when he woke up, the headache was gone.

    We can guess today that AT Still got tension headaches and that the rope acted as something called a “suboccipital tension release”.  AT Still had worked with surgeons and had taken courses in medicine and decided that bones and their placement had a lot to do with disease in the body.  He spent the next 30 years researching the idea and the branch of medicine known as Osteopathy was born.

    At the time, given that the scientific method wasn’t being used readily in medicine, un-invasive things like osteopathy were much safer.  I have read some old medical texts based on anectodal evidence and some of the “treatments” are criminal.  Still’s approach was safer and he spend the last part of his life trying to promote the approach he invented. 

    In the early part of the 20th century, a pair of allopathic physicians (MDs) who were brothers approached AT Still about incorporating his ideas into the medicine that was already being practiced - the Little John  brothers thought there was real value to what Still was trying to promote. 

    At some point, there was a falling out between the Littlejohn brothers and AT Still, which was probably a shame because, personally, I think the Littlejohn Brothers had it right – that osteopathic techniques, used in conjunction with allopathic medicine, is an effective way to treat patients. Unfortunately, a big rift formed between the DO (Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine) and the MDs (Doctors of Allopathic Medicine).  Some of the older DOs still hold a real grudge, and some of the older MDs still look down on us humble DOs.

    Fortunately, the newest generation of physicians doesn’t really give a damn.  Now, the MDs have been very accepting of the ideas…even Ivy League schools.  Harvard Medical school did a controlled study (real science!  Jesse Pinkman…YEAH, SCIENCE!) that found that osteopathic techniques aren’t just safe, but in a broad range of cases, more effective than medicine for various pain syndomes.  Today, MDs and DOs hold the same medical privileges throughout the country and the line between the two has become really blurred.  Frankly, nobody really seems to care anymore.  Maybe it’s different on the coasts, but here in the Midwest, we are more concerned about a doctor’s ability to treat a patient, than concerned with the letters after their name.  I work alongside my MD collegues who never question my abilities or skills, and I never question their commitment to humanism because, at the end of the day, we’re a little too busy trying to make a difference to care about letters.

    Some of my DO collegues are surgeons and some are specialists.  Some don’t use their OMM on a regular basis, but I do.  I bust out the osteopathic techniques in my office, including the very first one – the suboccipital tension release that AT Still founded a new branch of medicine with.

    #4.  The Not-Awesome Story of a Pandemic

    Human history has been marked by periods of disease, none more prominent than the Black Plague in Europe which killed nearly ¼ to ½ of the population there. Make no mistake, we are currently witnessing a pandemic at this very moment.

    HIV/AIDS will be remembered in history as our plague.  Because it is.  But humanity’s latest bout with disease has run a different course than plagues in the past.  It is a story we should know and while it is decidedly not awesome, it is important. 

    This story, like all the others on this list has been criminally simplified by myself, in the interest of time and attention span.  The full story of HIV/AIDS is one that would take reams of paper and gigabytes of data to tell.  So forgive the brevity, please.

    The earliest recorded case of HIV/AIDS was in 1959 in Africa.  A man died of an unusual infection and the scientists and doctors at the time had the wherewithal to save the man’s blood plasma, thinking that they may want to save it to test it for something they didn’t know existed.  I still think this is amazing.

    HIV is a variant of SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus).  The eating of monkeys is quite a common practice in certain parts of Africa and the current theory is that a person may have cut him or herself on a knife while skinning the monkey. 

    (No, it wasn’t a sex-with-monkeys thing.  Get your mind out of the gutter.)

    HIV is a retrovirus which means that it stores it’s genetic code in the form of RNA rather than DNA.  Why this is important will be discussed in just a bit.  This type of virus was a footnote in many immunology text books through about 1978, before something very strange started showing up in Emergency Rooms on the Coasts in America, as it has been told to me by some of the older immunologists and various physicians I have bugged for stories…

    They called it the “4-H Club” and it was a group of people that kept showing up with very weird bacterial infections and cancers.  Kaposi’s sarcoma was the one that really had people baffled…Kaposi’s sarcoma manifests as purple spots on the skin and had only previously been seen in people with inherited immune deficiency syndromes.  The “4-H” Club consisted of Homosexuals, Heroin Addicts, Hemophiliacs, and aitian Sex Workers.  These people kept showing up in the ERs with strange infections and Kaposi’s sarcomas. 

    And so HIV/AIDS was discovered.  At first, nobody knew what was happening.  People suspected the disease was blood borne and they were right – an old attending I had was a 3rd year medical student in the late 70s and remembers a surgical resident getting cut by a scalpel in surgery.  My attending said the resident became paralyzed with fear, and broke scrub right in the OR (a huge no-no) and furiously started scrubbing his hands in the sink, looking like he’d just stepped over his own grave.  Because nobody knew.

    But people found out. 

    Never before in human history has a global pandemic been so quickly identified, have there been tests made so quickly available, and treatments invented.  AZT was the fastest drug invented in human history in response to a new disease.  Now, about 30 years later, there’s real treatment for HIV and it’s a disease that can be managed chronically, rather than a death sentence.

    If you’re wondering why a vaccine for HIV has been so difficult it’s because it’s a retrovirus.  Normally, a virus stores it’s genome in DNA, which is turned into RNA to make proteins.  Think of RNA as a copy of the master plans (DNA) and that copy being taken out into the cellular machinery to make proteins.  Well, with HIV, the master plans are in copy format, rather than the more stable master plan format (DNA).  So the virus tries to use a copy of the plans, to make the master plans, to then make another copy of the master plans which is used to make proteins in the cellular machinery.

    Did you get all that?  If you didn’t , that’s okay because it is complicated.  The point is – the RNA to DNA to RNA process is really error prone and it changes the make up the proteins.  In the case of a vaccine, the protein coat of the virus determines what the immune system looks for and targets.  In HIVs case, the protein coat is always changing, so it’s kind of like your immune system always having to look for bad guys wearing a different uniform.

    Here’s the point:  people figured all this out.  How fricking awesome is that?

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to excessively pat science on the back here, nor am I remotely suggesting that HIV/AIDS is “fixed”.  I’m not.  HIV/AIDS is ravaging Africa at the moment.  It’s estimated that ¼ people in some parts of Africa have the disease and it will likely kill them all.  The resources are trying to be sent there, but currently, it’s a losing battle. 

    Incidentally, George W. Bush has somewhat quietly done quite a bit for this cause, and should be commended.

    For the first time, though, we actually have the scientific knowledge to affect a disease so new to a population.  As we now know, curing the disease and helping people extends well beyond just the science. 

    I find myself wondering what would have happened, though, if HIV/AIDS had struck humanity in the 18th or 19th Centuries.  Would it have spread across the world like a wild fire?  How many would it have killed?  How many will it kill now…now that we know how to prevent it, will politics and claimed morality get in the way of prevention as it has in Africa?  Would the same thing have happened in the 1800’s?  Could the disease have spread like it has now, without air-travel?

     I don’t know.  I do know that people managed to recognize, test for, treat, and learn to prevent a brand new disease over the course of about 30 years.

    And that has never been done before in human history.  Which makes it a fascinating story.

    #3.  The Story of Dr. Galvani’s Frog

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    In 1790, a man named Luigi Galvani made a dead frog come back to life.  At least that’s how it looked.

    Galvani connected the bottom half of a frog to a zinc and copper circuit and completed the circuit with a metal (magic) wand…and made the dead frog’s legs dance as if it was alive.  As you can imagine, in 1790, this was considered to be supernatural and shocking feat, but what Galvani likely didn’t realize was that this demonstration would be the basis for diagostic tool most often used by cardiologists to this day.

    Fifty years later, several other scientists named Kollicker and Mueller who had studied Galvani’s work built upon it and noticed that if you isolated a motor nerve in yet another poor frog and put it over the frogs beating heart (don’t ask me how they pulled that off - but they did) the leg would kick with each beat of the heart.  In other words, they realized that there was an electrical signal beating through the heart which was transfering through the nerve.  This was a big deal because it let scientists know that there was electricity flowing through the heart.

    Roughly 25 years later, two more scientists named Ludwig and Waller figured out a way to monitor the electrical impulses from the heart from the patient’s skin.  

    Finally, just a shade over 100 years after Galvani made the frog legs dance, a man named Willem Einthoven put it all together and created the first ElectroKardoGram (EKG).  The EKG uses leads attached to a patient’s chest (like Ludwig and Waller figured out to do) to measure the electrical impulse going through the heart (that Galvani, Kollicker, and Mueller figured out was there).  Einthoven was the first one to figure out how to effectively and practically measure and record the electrical impulse. 

    The EKG is the most used tool in all of cardiology.  It can diagnose heart attacks un-invasively, it predict if someone is at risk for surgery, and it is major jumping off point for all of the diagnostic tests we have.  It is one of the most important tools in medicine.

    And it all started with a frog.

    #2.  Another Chapter in an Ongoing Story

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    Antibiotics are arguably the most successful chemotherapy in the history of medicine.  

    (yes, it’s chemotherapy - you’re using a chemical for therapeutic benefits)

    The complete story of antibiotics is a long one - certainly too long to cover here and, if we recall our history, Alexander Fleming and Paul Ehrlich who found the “magic bullets”.  The reality is that antibiotics existed prior, up to 2000 years prior.  You already know the Story of Silver up there at #10…it wasn’t the only antibiotic in existance.

    There is evidence of tetracycline in the bones of ancient Sudanese tribes dating back before the birth of Christ.  Tetracycline is unique among the antibiotics as it deposits in bones and can therefore be tested in this manner.  There are stories of antibiotic properties of the “red soils of Jordan” as well.

    The first disease to be targeted by an antibotic was syphillis.  Ehrlich made the observation that certain bacteria can take up certain stains and hypothesized that certain bacteria would also take up certain antibacterial compounds.

    As it happens, syphillis can also infect rabbits (those poor rabbits) and so this was the animal test as well as the bacteria of choice.  Ehrlich and and a man named Sahachiro Hata tested compound after compound before they finally arrived at the 6th drug of the 600th series.  This was dubbed formula 606, marketed as a drug called salvosaran, and became world’s first commercially produced, widely available, relatively side-effect free antibiotic.

    Ehrlich’s systematic approach changed the way pharmaceuticals were developed.  This led to the development of antibiotics we know as sulfa drugs by the Bayer company, by the way.  This is the way you’re supposed to do science…systematic, with tests, evidence, controlled trials and real research.

    Interestingly, Ehrlich was of German/Jewish decent and signed a controversial document defending Germany’s militaristic approach in the beginning hours of the first World War.  

    Even more interesting than Ehrlich’s politics were his obstacles.  Because he was working with syphillis, the tenor of politics at the time was that this work would lower the sexual inhibitions of the population and create an immoral culture.  There were also anti-semetic tones to his criticism and the financial success he enjoyed from his discovery.  He was accused of pushing his trials forward, and even had to testify in a criminal court about the fact that some people had died during trials.

    These criticisms, both personal and professional pushed a man who’s work helped save more lives than we’ll likely ever know, into a depression that he never recovered from.  He died in 1915, of a heart attack at age 61.

    The British Scientist Alexander Fleming had bugged people for over 12 years to pay attention the idea of bread mold as an antibiotic and had doggedly pursued the idea of purifiying a certain type of mold known as penicillium.  In 1940, a discovery by an English team of microbial scientists at Oxford allowed Fleming to solve his purification problems and by 1945, penicillin became a mainstream drug.

    One can only wonder what would have happened if the problem had been solved 5 years earlier and penicillin had been available in 1940, instead of 1945.  It’s impossible to know if the tumultuous political climate of Europe in the late 1930’s had any effect in hindering these discoveries.  What if Ehrlich had been able to work with Fleming, perhaps solving the purification problem earlier.  What if penicillin had been widely available in WWII?  How many lives could have been saved then?

    We can’t know, of course.  We can only learn from the pitfalls of that story - I find a huge amount of parallels in that story with the current push against Guardasil vaccine on moral grounds - it is the latest chapter the same story that seems to hold back science.  What would have happened to antibiotics at the time if people had listened to the naysayers who said that the option to treat an STI will result in the total moral break down of society.

    Think if we had lost the work that Ehrlich did to those arguments.  I find it chilling.

    #1.  The Story of How Cows Changed the World

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    In the 17th and 18th centuries it was a very real possibility that you would die a particularly horrible and painful death at the hands of smallpox.  Smallpox killed roughly 400,000 Europeans annually and was feared nearly as much as Bubonic Plague. 

    Edward Jenner is credited with the invention of the vaccine, though this isn’t the first time disease was used to fight disease.  Before Jenner, physicians in China and India practiced something called inoculation or variolation.  It involved (get this) the crushing up of small pox scabs and snorting them.  Cool, right?  Well, maybe not so much, but it worked…kind of.

    Inoculation seemed to kill about 2-3% of the people who did it, vs the 30% that got the real disease.  If there was epidemic sweeping a community, it was probably a good idea, but it wasn’t perfect.  That said, it probably saved more lives than it took.

    (consider, though, that if you get a fever after a flu shot that it used to be a hell of a lot worse)

    In 1796, Dr. Edward Jenner made two observations that would change the course of medicine and, ultimately, the course of human history:  People can’t get Smallpox twice and Milk maids don’t get Smallpox at all.  Whether or not he observed this himself or somebody pointed it out to him is unknown (Jenner ultimately figured out what to do, so I guess he gets to take some liberties).  Milk maids were known to get Cowpox quite often (hence the name) and Cowpox was known to be quite mild.   

    Jenner speculated that Cowpox was a less virulant version of Smallpox and that the body “remembered” what to look for.  As it happens, he was actually closer on the latter thought than the former; Cowpox is a cousin of the Smallpox virus but not the Smallpox virus per se.  This is splitting hairs somewhat - Jenner was close enough.

    The observation that was perhaps more important was that people don’t get Smallpox twice.  Jenner put the two together and decided to try something (as the story goes):  He got a young boy, (maybe) permission from the young boy’s mother, and a milk maid with a nice case of Cowpox.  He got himself a needle, and dug around one of the Coxpox pustules and took said needle in the young boys arm. 

    The young boy (who’s name, unjustly, I have never been able to find in the annals of history) got a great case of Cowpox and recovered nicely.  So then, Jenner led him right down to a Smallpox ward and had him start changing dressings or bedpans or presumably whatever tasks were given to children at that time. 

    And the little boy lived to tell the tale, unscarred and unmarred, unravaged by Smallpox.

    While this seems unthinkable now, that little boy in the story may have been the first vaccinated person in the world.  It worked, vaccination spread, and in 1979, Smallpox was the first disease eradicated from the face of the earth.  In 2011, with somewhat less fanfare, the disease rinderpest was declared eradicated, the second time humans have been able to pull it off.  Rinderpest only occurs livestock, so you probably didn’t hear about it. 

    Make no mistake - Vaccines have saved us from the horrors of Smallpox (g’head, do a Google image search), have kept us out of iron lungs, chased measles to the brink of extinction, have protected the eyes and ears of the unborn (rubella in utero is devastating), and have saved more children’s lives than we will likely every be able to quantify. 

    Of course the debate rages over vaccines.  You may have noticed my bashing of mercury up in story #5…you might saying to yourself, Crosbie, there’s mercury in vaccines.  There isn’t.  It’s been taken out.  And yet the numbers of autistic kids rise.  The numbers of autistic kids are rising in un-vaccinated kids.  And now, diseases that were once thought to be gone are killing kids.

    Let’s make this very clear:  This has been studied EXTENSIVELY through REAL SCIENCE.  Vaccines DO NOT cause autism.

    But you don’t have to listen to me about vaccines.

    Ask those who remember what a case of polio did to a community who shared a neighborhood swimming pool.  Ask a person in the middle of a shingles outbreak how he feels about the chickenpox party 40 years ago.  If you know any, ask an old anesthesiologist or ER doctor  about intubating a kiddo with epiglottitis caused by H.Influenzae, when anything that caused the child to cry would cause that child’s throat to close tighter than a bank and suffocate right there in the ER.  It used to happen - it’s no joke.  Ask somebody who’s kid is in the ICU with whooping cough.  Ask a young man who’s had an orchiectomy (removal of a testicle) as a result of mumps (did you think it was just a swollen neck?).

    Please, please, please don’t ask the internet or seek the counsel of MTV reality stars who are also hawking e-cigarettes.  Ask your Doctor friends or your Nurse friends - the older the better.  Ask a medical friend over coffee or a beer, rather than trolls on a website.  Or ask me.  I don’t mind.   (I especially don’t mind if you bring beer)

    And the word vaccine?  It comes from the word vaccus…it’s the latin word for cow.  And they changed the world.

    And now, as a famous radio personality once said, you know the rest of the story. 

     

  6. Top 10 Team Names!

    Do you know what’s awesome?  When a franchise picks a team name and gets it right.  I absolutely despise bad, trendy team names.  If you are wondering what I deem a “bad” team name, well, it’s totally up to me.  So there.  Let me list off what entails a “good” team name:

    1.  The team name should end in an “s”.  This isn’t entirely a deal breaker, but this obnoxious trend of team names that don’t end in “s” is something that probably need to stop.

    2.  It should be unique.  Well, it needs to be unique to make my list, anyways.  The Bears are a great name.  It’s also not remotely unique.  Names like Tigers and Bears are good, safe bets.  They aren’t unique enough, though, to make my list.

    3.  It should be regionally appropriate.  This is probably the biggest thing that I look for.  This is why a team like The Utah Jazz just drives me crazy.  There’s plenty of awesome stuff in Utah to name a team after when it moves from New Orleans…Keeping Jazz?  Really?

    So, I thought, what the hell, I’m making a list.  Today, I’m keeping the list limited to the 4 major US sports and leaving off the college ranks.

    Wanna start with The Best of the Rest? Well, I do…

    The Dallas Cowboys - 

    As much as it pains me to herald the Cowboys, this was the perfect name for the franchise.  It was Texan enough without actually calling the team “The Texans” and easily embraced by the city.  It misses the top 10 because it’s not particularly unique.  Even though I said that college teams would be left off, the amount of collegiate Cowboys that exist hold this one back.  Still though, it is the perfect name for a football team in Dallas.

    The San Francisco 49ers

    If you don’t know, and you should, the 49ers are a nod to the 1849 Gold Rush in California and the people came out prospecting for gold who were nicknamed 49ers.  

    It’s a great name, for a great franchise, with great uniforms too, by the way, which fantastically include old gold paired nicely with red.  It just missed the list because another “number” team with more significant history managed to userp it…

    The New York Islanders

    Pretty good effort here, given that they were located in Long Island (get it?).  I watched the ESPN 30 for 30 about the guy who almost pulled off buying the Islanders by essentially lying his ass off.  The stugots on this guy…

    Anyways, the Islanders aren’t playing in Long Island any more.  They’re playing in Brooklyn.  So off my top 10 they go…

    The Colorado Rockies

    It fits all my criteria.  I dunno.  It’s just a little too obvious to make my list.  I could definitely entertain an argument they should be on there. Keep reading…

    The Mets, Jets, Nets, and…Devils

    Sort of reminds me of Pac-Man ghosts but it is a little cutesy.  According to a friend of mine from New Jersey, this seems to be the grouping of fan bases where other New Yorkers like the Rangers, Giants, Yankees and Knicks. 

    But, other than the Metropolitans, there’s no real regional appropriateness here…

    Top 10 Best Named Franchises of All-Time (according to Jon)

    #10.  The Minnesota Vikings

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    I fricking hate the Vikings.  I hate Metrodome, I hate the fact that when the Vikings are good suddenly EVERYBODY’S a Vikings fan…I hate that stupid horn sound that plays whenever the Vikings get a first down, make a tackle, don’t spike themselves, etc.

    I hate that the Vikings are on this list.  But they are because it completely fufills all the requirements listed above.  When Minnesota got a franchise in the 60’s, the big population in Minnesota of scandanavian decent loved the franchise name and it totally worked.  This was a great application of a franchise name that worked around not only history of the region but the current make up of the people who would be fans.

    That can’t be ignored.  Even though I hate them.

    It should be mentioned, by the way, that one could make the argument that the Boston Celtics should be on the list for the exact same reason - appealing to Boston’s large Irish population.  I looked around for evidence that the team was so named for that reason and couldn’t find any.  But the Celtics were pretty well named…

    #9.  The Detroit Pistons

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    It’s the Motor City.  The Detroit Motors is a bit obvious (and stupid).  The Detroit Mechanics makes no sense at all.  The Detroit Auto Workers is a union.  Hmmm…The Detroit Union?

    Probably not.  I wouldn’t want Fox News to have an aneurysm.

    So, there’s the Lions and Tigers already in Detroit, along with the Redwings which was actually based on a bicycling club (bet you didn’t know that).  Detroit needed something to pay homage to the auto industry that helped build the city.

    Pistons is perfect.  

    (By the way, I actually had this list compiled before today and just this morning saw the 30 for 30 “Bad Boys” which was outstanding, as the 30 for 30’s always are.)

    #8.  The Columbus Blue Jackets

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    The Blue Jackets are a great name for a franchise.  I should probably mention that they get propped up a bit, given the frame of reference of other expansion hockey teams/names chosen when the franchise moved: Avalanche (trendy and stupid), Hurricanes (hockey should not be played in a place where these are found on a regular basis), Coyotes (or in Phoenix), Lightning and Panthers (or in Florida), The Wild (huh?), Predators and Thrashers (what the hell are those?)

    The Blue Jackets are a reference to Ohio’s Civil War history.  Apparently Lincoln asked that Ohio raise a bunch of infantry divisions, and Ohio responded by doubling the request.  Apparently these people were nicknamed “Blue Jackets”.

    See, that’s the way you do it and it’s even better since the name was given so recently.  How much better is that than a friggin’ Thrasher?

    (by the way, this would be an excellent spot for the Colorado Rockies.  I think I was just so happy that the Blue Jackets managed to get it right, compared to the other franchises that have been coming out in the NHL)

    #7.  The Baltimore Orioles

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    You know what?  It’s a really obvious name and of all the birds that are team names (Cardinals, Blue Jays, Hawks, Eagles, Falcons), the Orioles are the most regionally appropriate (the bird is called a Baltimore Oriole for God’s sake) and the team did the best job of nailing the uniforms to go along with the bird.  

    Since Washington D.C. area teams seem to have a problem with mascot names (Bullets and Redskins), the Orioles seem to be the only one that manages to not piss off anybody.

    #6.  The Minnesota North Stars

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    So, it’s not quite as clever or unobvious as the Vikings.  But, when you think of Minnesota, you think that it’s north.  Of, like, everything.  It’s not nearly as subtley awesome as the Hornets, as historically important as the 76ers, or as beer-related as the Brewers.  The North Stars were just a great name for a franchise that never, ever should have left and I’m still offended and it’s been over 20 years since that THEFT.  Screw you Norm Green.  I haven’t forgotten.

    It’s not even as if it couldn’t have been salvaged.  Call Dallas the Silver Stars (as a US marshall reference) and give the North Stars back to Minnesota.  It’s not as if that precident hasn’t already been set (Red Sox and White Sox).

    Why don’t people ask me about this stuff?   Well, they should.

    #5.  The Milwaukee Brewers

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    Notice how they casually dropped the fact that beer comes from Milwaukee (Algonquin for “The Good Land”, and the only city to elect three socialist mayors) and managed to invoke a somewhat drunken reference into the team name?

    That is a wholly solid effort.  Never mind that the franchise name lends it’s self to the nickname “The Brew Crew”, it’s a franchise name that stems from beer.  That alone gets you on the list.  You make Top 5 when Brewers references an industry in the city.  

    #4.  The Charlotte Hornets

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    Did you think that the Hornets were just a cool mascot because Hornets sound cool, are wholly un-offensive to anybody, and you don’t want to mess with them?
    Well, you’d be right.  What you would be missing is the historical relevance.  
    The British General Cornwallis called Charlotte “a hornet’s nest of rebellion” during the American Revolution, leading to the City being nicknamed “The Hornet’s Nest”. This is why the Hornets are one of the best named franchises in all of sports.  Mixing city tradition with something that everybody in America can get behind, which just so happens to be an animal you don’t want to piss off equals a phenomenal name for a franchise.  

    Special Shoutout to the New Orleans Pelicans who gave up the name “Hornets” to switch to “Pelicans” which is also more regionally appropriate to make this happen.  

    Good.  Job.  Everybody.

    #3.  Canadian Hockey

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    The Canadians know how to name their hockey teams.  Lets run through them…

    The Montreal Canadiens - okay, this is a little obvious.  The thing is, they use the French spelling which a nice little subtlety that celebrates the French-Canadian pride in Montreal.

    The Toronto Maple Leafs - Canadian Pride comes out with the maple leaf on the flag.  I always thought it was a little curious that their colors were blue and white, but still, a great, not-obvious nickname none-the-less.

    The Winnipeg Jets - There’s a big Canadian Air Force presence in the city of Winnipeg.  The Jets is an excellent name.  They had thrown around the idea of the Polar Bears when the franchise came back which isn’t horrible (have you ever BEEN to Winnipeg in January?) but the Jets belong in Winnipeg.

    The Edmonton Oilers - You know they have oil in Edmonton?  There’s a bunch of oil in the sand up there - now that oil has risen in price, it’s cost effective to get the oil out of the sand.  Just an FYI.  People in Wisconsin are finding out about this… By the way, they were named based on a former franchise called “The Oil Kings” which is also pretty fricking rad.

    The Vancouver Canucks - A “Canuck” is roughly equivalent to a “Yankee” per my Canadian relatives.  So that makes it perfectly fine for a Canadian Hockey Team.

    The Ottawa Senators - Sooo…this one doesn’t exactly fit.  The Senators as they exist today are so named by accident.  Apparently there were two Ottawa franchises and one was named the Senators.  The other, (the one that did the winning) was accidentally referred to as the Senators in a newspaper article and the name stuck.  The Franchise left in the 30’s and came back in 1992, thanks to a campaign raised by one of the city’s real-estate developers.  The city insisted on sticking with the name that had been with a team who won 11 stanley cups from 1917-1934.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    The Calgary Flames - yeah…this one sucks.  They were the Atlanta Flames (apparently a Civil War reference?) and Atlanta couldn’t hold the franchise.  Should have changed that.  Personally, I’d vote for the Calgary Chinooks.  A Chinook is a wind phenomenon that comes down the Rocky Mountains and can warm up the world in a hurry.  It means “snow eater” and in southern Alberta (where Calgary is), in 1 hour (yes, one (1) hour), the temperature rose from -2 F to 72 F.  You read that correctly.  Not only that, but the winds are strong, sometimes gusting up to 100mph.

    Plus it sound cool.  Why don’t people ask me about this stuff?

    Anyways, Canada Hockey Teams, collectively get the #3 spot, because they’re really good at picking names.  

    #2.  The Philadelphia 76ers

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    Have you ever been to Philadelphia?  Just in walking around the city for one evening (when everything was closed), I think I saw more significant American history than in any other 4 hours in my life.  

    In 1776, in Philadelphia, the Declaration of Independence was written, adopted, and signed.  While Philadelphia as a city doesn’t have the market cornered on “1776”, it has a huge part of it.  When you walk through Philadelphia, you have to ignore that the fan base is the most insufferable in all of sports, and appreciate that the city probably has more American History per square foot than any other city in the nation.  When you stand outside of Independence Hall, as I did with my friend Brett Reich, it might occur to you who else has stood in front of that building in the very spot you were standing, and it might be a little incredible.

    So, you name the team the 76ers, call them the Sixers for short, and get yourself one hell of a great team name.  

    Why isn’t it the top spot?  Oh, it was very close.  The tie breaker is below…

    #1.  The Pittsburgh Steelers

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    There is no more loved, a more regionally appropriate, unique, and cool sounding franchise name than the Steelers.  Aside from residing in the Steel City (see what they did there), the materal of steel just lends it’s self to football.  Since the Steelers have played tough, defensive minded football whenever they’ve been good, the name works even more.

    What gets it the top spot, the tie breaker, if you will, is the inclusion of the franchise name in what is arguably the best collective nickname in sports, “The Steel Curtain” which was the nickname given to the Steeler defense in the 70’s.  

    You can’t name a franchise better than this.  You could try, and if you were the Philadelphia 76ers, you could come close, but ultimately you would fail.

    Well, I’d try - people should ask me about stuff.  Specifically, they should ask me about the next football franchise that gets awarded.  Because the name of that franchise should be the Rottweilers.  It’s not regionally appropriate, but nobody else is the Rottweilers, they could wear black jerseys with brown trim, call them the Rotts for short, you could have a badass live mascot.  See how right I am?

    Fact.

     

  7. Top 10 College Football Uniforms - of All-Time?!?

    Do you know what’s awesome?  A good college football uniform.  I’m highly missing college football right now so I decided to put together a list of my 10 favorites.

    ***Full Disclosure***  In the interest of objectivity, I left off any uniforms that may be from Iowa State or Iowa.  Oh, but the temptation to put Iowa State’s uniforms from the early 80’s was so high…

    ***Also***  Guys, this is so subjective and I’m trying to just recall the ones that really jumped out.  By all means, weigh in with your own opinions.  I’m sure I missed some.  

    But college football uniforms are sweet.  Now, one has to make a choice here about whether or not to include the alternative uniforms that teams might use vs their standard issue uni.  To avoid a “Get off my lawn!” old-fogey approach here, I went ahead and included the alternative ones because the sweetest, sharpest, best looking uni I can think of at the moment is an alternative one. 

    That said, sticking with what works and not abandoning your universities beloved and hallowed threads will be factored in and weighted heavily here.  Today’s Best of the Rest are uniforms that I always liked but then they tried to get trendy and messed around with them too much and, as such, didn’t make the list.

    By the way, Notre Dame doesn’t even sniff the list.  Altering the helmet during the 2012 season was un-forgivable and cost you any shot at the Top 10 and if it hadn’t been for that, probably top 3 would have been in order.  But no.  No, Notre Dame.  You lose.

    The Best of the Rest!

    Tennessee Volunteers -

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    It’s clean and the uniform has it’s own signature color - Volunteer Orange.  That’s a great looking uniform right there.  I wasn’t even offended by the Smokey Mountain Greys they wore this year against (I think) Georgia.  It was a nice idea and didn’t keep them out of the Top Ten.  What kept them out were the Orange and Black disasters a few years ago on Halloween that made them look like 11 peices of candy corn running around a feild.  Yikes…

    UCLA -

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    Why do you screw around with this?!?  Why with the black and the navy blue alternates.  Powder blue is your color, not navy or black for God’s sake.  And these look great in the picture here!  There’s no need to screw around with this!  Sigh.

    Now, I do what to mention one other thing.  I absolutely LOVE it when UCLA wears their powder blues and USC wears their reds during that cross town rivalry.  That’s what a West Coast football game should look like.

    Arizona State -

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    Aw, DAMMIT, Arizona State, why did you abandon this?  This a great look and Sparky the Sun Devil was endearing.  Now, since you tried to be like Oregon, dumped Sparky for your trendy, stupid pitch fork logo, these went away and I’m sad.

    I think my most lasting image of these unis was the 1997 Rose Bowl - the ASU defensive backs had mirrored eye shields on their and I thought they looked as cool as you can.

    Nebraska -

    Again, the sea of red in Lincoln is always a neat sight - if you’ve never been to a Nebraska Football game, it is a hell of thing to see.  Which is why Nebraska should always be wearing these and not any of that nonsense the keep trying to pass off as cool.

    This is the way Nebraska should look.  With an option quarter back and roughly 3 tons of corn-fed beef on the offensive line.  As sure as the leaves change in the fall, this uniform and that offense is what should be in Lincoln every autumn.

    Penn State -

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    I have to abandon my usual smartass tone here a bit…

    So, the uniform wasn’t screwed around with, but Bill O’Brien was.  Some may know that, for the longest time, Joe Paterno stubbornly refused to put logos on the helmets or nameplates on the back of the jerseys, insisting that the team was bigger than the individual. 

    After the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Bill O’Brien took over and really did a hell of a job.  Many players could have left and O’Brien wanted to recognize the ones who stayed, so - for the first time in Penn State’s history, a player’s last name was put on the jersey.  I thought it was a good thing to do.  Obviously, the Sandusky thing doesn’t need to be rehashed; look, there’s still a university in University Park, and it’s still benefitting people.  The university needed to fire those involved and work past it’s trangressions.  And so they tried. 

    But some people couldn’t let Paterno go and O’Brien angrily left after two very good years of work trying to rebuild citing a lack of support.  He has since sort of retracted the statement, saying he had good support, but why people didn’t want O’Brien to stay and keep coaching there is beyond me…

    Hey, enough seriousness.  Let’s do this thing!

    Top 10 College Football Uniforms!

    #10.  Miami Hurricanes c. 1990

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    Yeah, yeah.  Everybody hates Miami.  Everybody hated them then, everybody hates them now.  Look, it’s still great looking jersey.  “The U” is instantly recognizable and when I see these, I think of swagger, arrogance, and really good football.  And really, when you see a uniform, you’re supposed to think of something.  If that’s the something you think of, well, that means its a good uniform.

    I admit it - I don’t much care for the updates they’ve made but that probably stems from me liking these.  I like orange jerseys and I like the green with it.  I like the old school football number font.  Miami’s current uniform iteration makes me think of a shell of a former powerhouse, but these…these make me think of a baaaaad group of young men.

    #9.  Wyoming.  Just, Wyoming.

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    Oh, she’s a beauty that #9…

    Look at them!  I mean, just LOOK AT THEM.  They are GOD-AWFUL.  Yellow and brown and white?

    And you know what?

    Wyoming doesn’t give a damn.  They haven’t screwed around with anything, they kept the same colors, they’ve played around with the combination but they didn’t say “hey, you know what? These colors resemble human waste products so we should ditch them…”

    Hell no.  They kept them and that’s why Wyoming makes the list as a solid #9, as the College Football Uniform equivalent to the Cleveland Browns, and as certified Awesome by me.

    #8.  TCU - 2009

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    A Texas school?  Wearing an alternative uniform?  Good Lord.  What gives?

    Well, I wanted to watch a team wearing these.  The pants and the helmet was supposed to look like frog skin and there was (it’s sort of hard to see) a little streak of red on the helmet that was a reference to the Horned Frogs’ other nickname, the Bloodspitters.

    I don’t much care for purple and black together, but purple and gunmetal grey that’s been textured to look like frogskin?  That’s a different story…

    #7.  The Florida State Seminoles c. 1993

    28 - Warrick Dunn

    Oh that Garnet and Gold.  Maybe it’s images of Wide Right, maybe it’s Deion Sanders and that signature do-rag, maybe those tomahawk helmet stickers…I dunno, but I miss this look.  Actually, I think their road whites look better.  They tried to modernize it a bit with more trim around the neck and sleeves and with a different number font but these ones are ones I always liked the best.

    #6.  The LSU Purple Home Jerseys

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    For some reason, I like these because of the rarity of their appearence.  LSU generally wears white at home, but I have been told that the purples make an appearance during non-conference home games.  Since those seem to be rarely televised, I don’t get to see them that often.  

    Maybe it’s the stadium it’s self, with that sweet airbrushed tiger eye in the center or that quirky Tiger Stadium tradition of putting yard markers on every 5 yards rather than every 10.  Maybe it’s that perfect grass that looks like a putting green, cut even shorter than astroturf.  Maybe it’s the way it looks under the lights.

    I think these are pretty damn sharp.

    #5. Pitt Panthers c. 1982

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    I can’t help it!  I think it’s awesome.  I admit to having a pro Blue and Yellow uniform bias; the old Los Angeles/St. Louis Ram uniforms are on the top 10 NFL list. 

    There’s just something about the script Pitt and this version of yellow and blue that just looks better than the current version.  I wish they hadn’t changed it.

    #4.  The Air Force Academy Fighting Falcons

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    Air Force’s Fighting Falcon’s have run an option offense and have worn these classy blue and whites for nearly as long as I can remember.  They recently added the grey sleeves and numbers that you see up there.  What I really wanted was color picture of Air Force’s uniforms c. 1990 but couldn’t find one.  I thought Dee Dowis (remember him) wastheshit when he ran Fisher DeBerry’s offense during the very beginning of the 1990’s and these gorgeous unis have remained relatively un-marred.  Air Force doesn’t NEED to have alternative uniforms - the insistance that every team have a blackout jersey makes me want to pull my hair out but…

    But I can’t stay mad at these uniforms.  They are elegant and stunning.  If you must, Air Force, leave your alternates all grey but leave out the black.  And why even screw around when you’ve got sick threads right here?  I probably would have put them Top 3 if it hadn’t been for that…

    #3.  The Oregon Ducks’ 2011 National Championship Uniforms

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    Alright, look.  If we’re talking about uniforms, we’re gonna talk about the Ducks.  I don’t want to hear how you hate that Oregon does something different every week - they do, and now everybody else does as well.

    I don’t care if you hate that they do this - the National Championship uniforms were AWESOME.  The helmets had neat texturing to them and that neon is eye-catching without being overwhelming. 

    I contend that - to date - this is Oregon’s best effort that they pulled out on the biggest stage.  If only they could have knocked off a former Auburn Coach who shall not be named…

    #2.  Michigan Wolverines - now to the End of Days

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    The maize and blue recipe and famous winged helmets have been working in Ann Arbor for over 100 years.  If it isn’t broke, don’t mess with it.  And, for the most part, they haven’t. 

    Sure enough, there have been some throwbacks and that’s just fine.  Throwbacks are cool and take into account history.  They messed with different colored piping down the sides and a few times have done different colored shoulders (kind of a mis-step) but eventually always come back to this - because it is a gorgeous, timeless uniform.

    Our Ohio state friends are fuming over this selection…sorry Buckeyes.  that school up north has the better looking kit.  The overall body of work gets Michigan the #2 spot.  They’ve kept it clean and classy for the better part of 100 years and there’s no reason to change something that looks that good.

    #1.  Navy’s Alternative Uniforms - 2013

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    Dude.  These are so fricking sweet.  With many apologies to our Army friends who have had to endure Navy’s over-a-decade-long Army/Navy supremacy (and I am not saying that to kick you when you’re down), these uniforms are everything a uniform that a Military Acadamy’s Football uniform should be.

    This was worn against Army in 2013.  It is worth mentioning the 2011 version as well which they actually managed to improve on in.  I think the helmet is the best part of the uniform, and the jerseys are all class, clean, sharp, and very appropriate for the Navy Service Academy.

    Like their Army counterparts, the uniforms feature a patch on the right shoulder indicating the unit they’ll serve in.  Normally, I have an issue with crazy alternative uniforms, but lissenup, College Football - if you’re going to do it, take a tip from Annapolis.  This is the Gold Standard, right here.

    One final thought.  The Army/Navy game is awesome.  And watching the cadets in their dress blues and dress greys, that is so cool.  Best looking student section in the land.

     

  8. Top 10 Baseball Uniforms (According to Jon)

    Do you know what’s awesome?  An awesome baseball uniform.  

    So, I’ll be honest here, I’m not the world’s biggest baseball fan.  But I do love a great sports uniform.  And I do love stuff that’s awesome.  Wanna go through a list of some most awesome baseball uniforms of All Time?

    Well, I do.  Now, I should definitely makes something very clear.  My top 10 was based on one strict and unwaivering criteria:

    Would I wear this to a bar/bbq/beer-pong tournament?  You’re gonna find a whole lot of “oh hell yes, I would too” coming.  The Best of the Classy Rest isn’t going to entail that particular criteria…these are uniforms that look good.  I know, I know, there’s more good ones out there.  Good Baseball uniforms isn’t really my forte so…

    Best of the Classy Rest

    My favorites in the top 10 aren’t going to be loved by everybody (anybody).  But I have suspicion that The Best of the Classy Rest will be admired by fashionistas out there…

    The Chicago White Sox

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    Awww…so what if the most famous gambling scandal in baseball history cost their most famous player ever his career.

    Doesn’t mean they didn’t look good.  They never should have gotten rid of this one…

    The Cincinnati Reds -

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    You know what?  They’re called the Reds.  They keep their uniforms red.  Unlike the St. Louis Cardinals who, inexplicably, occationally wear dark navy hats (you’re the Cardinals for God’s sake!  How does navy blue factor in to this?), the Reds stay Red.  They stayed Red when everybody hated communism, they were the Big Red Machine, they stayed…fricking…RED. 

    Also, how can you not like the “C” logo on the hat?  It reminds me vaguely of a football team God considers his favorite, but - like your own child - is hard on for their own good.

    The Kansas City Royals - 

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    Whether it was Bo Jackson destroying Wonderboy or George Brett manically raging out of the dugout, this remains the best road uni baseball ever saw.  So good.

    The New York Yankees -

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    With many apologies to my Boston Red Sox nation friends (Josh Snyder) out there - the Yankee pinstripes are timeless and just cannot be usurped from the halls of uniform supremacy.  While the Red Sox home unis are quite classy themselves, when it comes to any competition between the Red Sox and the Yankees, not unlike The Highlander, there can be only one.  Take heart in the fact you won the last World Series.

    Why the hell are we screwing around with stuff that is supposed to look good?  I said these were my Top 10 Favorites and Most Blatantly Awesome, not the top 10 classiest!  Lets do this thing!

    Jon’s Top 10 Most Awesomely Full-on Radwagon Baseball Uniforms of ALL-FLIPPING-TIME.

    #10.  Florida Marlins- 1993

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    Well, it’s teal.  With pinstripes.  And an angry fish on the hat.  When I was 13, I didn’t realize at the time that teal was not as cool as powder blue.  I thought teal was just as cool as powder blue.  The Jacksonville Jaguars sort of made me realize I was dead wrong.

    By the way, it is not at all without irony that knuckleballer Charlie Hough was 45 years old and got a Florida team their first victory.  

    Hey, when I was 13, I thought Charlie Hough was awesome.  It seemed like, at the time, there would never be professional sports stars younger than me.  I pondered whether or not this would ever happen.  I thought, just in case it did, I’d always be happier if I thought there were older people than me playing professional sports because it meant there was still hope.  

    As far as the uniform goes, I still like it and I don’t care what you think.

    #9.  San Diego Padres - 1984

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    Oh, she’s a beauty, that #9…

    See, while some teams go with just brown and yellow or just brown and orange, the San Diego Padres said “screw it, we’re doing every single earth tone we can in one uniform”.  

    Why?  Why the hell not?  See, I like this because by God you’re committing to a look.  If this doesn’t make you want to play bumper pool in a rec room (what man caves used to be called) whilst drinking a Stroh’s, I don’t know what will.  Put some shag carpeting in your rec room while you’re at it.

    #8.  Chicago White Sox - 1982

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    Good GOD Pudge, this isn’t a frigging company softball league.  Who in the hell thought this was a good idea?

    Well, hire them.  Because this was evil genius.  Why wouldn’t the WhiteSox have red and blue in their uniforms.  By the way, I miss the capri length pants and stirrups up to your knees.  

    The whole look is ironic and I think these uniforms were designed by the Godfather of Hipsters as a big prank on the MLB.  

    Well played, sir.  Well played.  

    #7.  Pittsburgh Pirates - 1979

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    Whoa whoa whoa.  

    Have I gone too far here?  Have I pushed past awful, but still gone even past awesome and have now over shot the mark and have ended up back at…

    Huh?

    What the hell is going on with that hat?  Those black pants?  Those glasses - I admit - some of the hilarity here is the fact that the player himself looks like somebody who has to tell you he’s living in your neighborhood and is on a registry.  

    Well, that’s why it’s not higher.  Quite frankly, there were some other Pirates Uniforms in the 70’s that looked better (garish, I’ll grant you, but better) that I could have put on there but this picture was a little too, je ne sais quoi not to put on the list.  So there you go.  Incidentally, I did find, in researching this uniform, a particularly good blog post you might want to check out detailing ALL the Pirates uniform combinations in 1979.  It is worth a look:

    http://oldtimefamilybaseball.com/post/40985815401/favorite-1979-pirates-uniform 

    (You know, they won a World Series wearing these…)

    #6.  Montreal Expos

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    See, I’m already having a hell of a time with the logo.  What is that exactly?  i can see a lower case “e” there at the beginning, which would presumably stand for “Expos”, and I guess if I went to Colorado and/or Washington frequently enough, I could make an M out of that, but my word…that logo is…

    I don’t have the words.  But I know I want one of those jerseys RIGHT FRIGGING NOW.

    #5.  Philadelphia Phillies - 1985

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    Oh, I do love a baby blue uniform.  Especially one that has some maroon on it.  I’m not sure why the baby blue even showed up in Philadelphia (or in Montreal, for that matter).

    When I played rugby, my friend Jason York permed his hair.  (it was long).  The thing was, Jason made it look awesome.  So then everybody tried perming their hair and everybody else looked frigging horrible.  Dustin Hugen looked like a big, lanky, ugly, stoner-scary white dude with a gheri-curl.  

    In my analogy here, Jason was the Kansas City Royals.  Philadelphia and Montreal were Dustin.

    Oh well.  Still awesome.

    #4.  Oakland Athletics

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    Yes. Could we do better than this?  Could we?  It’ll be tough, we’re only at #4 here.  But lets talk about Rollie for a second…  

    Maybe it’s just Rollie’s facial expression here, but never in a thousand years would you suspect this man is paid money to play a sport.  Any sport, even non-sports like darts or bowling.  You would never suspect this man has one ounce of atheletic ability.

    And yet he plays on the Oakland Atheletics.  

    As an aside, The A’s were the first team to ditch the standard white uniform at home, grey away uniform and go with a colored jersey and egg-white pants on the road.  At least I think I read that somewhere.  So we’ve got that going for us here.

    And Rollie’s sick mustache.  

    #3.  Seattle Mariners - 1983

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    Okay, Chuck may actually look less athletic than Rollie does.  And Rollie’s in the Hall of Fame, so this is probably fair.

    I remember thinking these were so cool when I was a little kid.  This comes back to my pro blue-and-yellow uniform policy.  Now I realize that the incredibly clever idea of using an upside down Trident to represent an “M” for Mariners…  

    (see what they did there)

    …maybe was one of the most genius uses of graphic design the world has ever known.  See?  Because they’re MARINERS.  It starts with an M.  And every MARINER has a TRIDENT.  It’s in the Geneva Conventions.

    #2. Milwaukee Brewers

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    Oh my God.

    Can it be?  Baby Blue, plus dark blue and yellow, plus a logo that involves an inanimate object that contains the Team City and Name letters in it?  (can you see the “m” and “b” there in the glove?)

    AND Rollie Fingers, still looking as un-photogenic as it is possible to look in a photo IS WEARING THE DAMN THING?

    Is this my uniform white whale?  On paper it should be, but I have a suspicion that I might find some even more awesome efforts at spots 2 and 1.

    Sometimes, when you try and cram too much awesome into one object, it reaches a critical mass and there is awesome overload.  I don’t think the world was ready for this one.

    #1.  Houston Astros - 1975

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    And here is, not just one of the most awesome baseball uniforms of All-Time, one of the most awesome SPORTS uniforms of all time.

    How’d this design meeting go, I wonder…

    "Dammit Bruce, I’m telling you we need to a minimum of 3/4 of the way up the damn jersey with alternating red, orange, and yellow stripes.  If I had my druthers, we’d go 7/9ths of the way up, untucked!"

    "Uhhh…I don’t know if that’s a good ide…"

    "AND MAKE THE STRIPES DIFFERENT WIDTHS!  Do it and Bruce, if you try arguing I’ll throw in non-matching shade of orange for the hat!"

    "Uhhh…"

    "There it is!  Orange hat!  Now make sure everything else is navy and white and call me in the morning."

     

  9. Top 10 Hockey Uniforms!

    Do you know what’s awesome?  A great hockey sweater.  Wanna run through 10 of them?  Well, I do…

    You know, I think a special Best of the Rest is in order today.  Hockey Jerseys seem to show up in the oddest places.  So today’s Best of the Restis going to entail:

    The Washington Capitals, The Toronto Maple Leafs, The Anaheim Mighty Ducks, The Vancouver Canucks, The Ottawa Senators, The Pittsburgh Penguins, and a most special Best of the Rest shout to Gin, Juice, and The Springfield Indians

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    Thank you Snoop.  Lets do this thing!

    #10.  The New Jersey Devils

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    You know, I think this is generally underrated.  The NJ was relatively well done and when they decide to change things up and throw in the green, it doesn’t look bad.  

    I like the fact that New Jersey has such an appropriate mascot.  It seems like Jersey would want a team name that wasn’t something noble or a “good guy” name.  

    #9.  The Minnesota North Stars

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    Oh, she’s a beauty that #9.  

    The fact that the one state in the union (Minnesota) who actually deserves a hockey team more than any other state had theirs taken away is almost as offensive to me as the fact that arguably one of the best team names in professional sports history got bastardized by Dallas.

    This is another reason to hate Dallas Sports teams.

    Great sweaters, great team name, never should have left.  That was a crime.  Screw you Norm Green.  I haven’t forgotten.

    #8.  The Montreal Canadiens

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    Because there is nothing wrong with this, whatsoever, and they haven’t messed with it, it makes my list.  It’s a sharp look and it’s clean, instantly identifiable and just doesn’t piss you off.  There’s something to be said about that.  

    I really have nothing much else to add.  Other than Montreal, if I remember right, was the last Canadian team to win Lord Stanley’s Cup.

    #7.  The San Jose Sharks

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    When the Sharks came out in the early 90’s, everybody thought the unis were top shelf.  They got better recently, when they busted out All-Blacks.  They look cool on white ice, and it’s a little less pastel-y then the teal sweaters.  It’s simple without being plain and eye-catching without being gaudy.  That’s tough to do…

    #6.  The Hartford Whalers

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    Never mind that Hartford, Conneticut probably had no business having a professional sports team…but they should have because that was awesome.  Sweet, sweet unis and seriously, look at the score Renee.  Hartford.  The Whale?  They beat Vancouver once, maybe twice in a lifetime.

    Breakfast Schmreckfast.

    #5.  The Winnipeg Jets

    (old)

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    (New)

    image

    So, I have to be honest and forthright here…my step-mom is from Winnipeg and this makes it difficult to be subjective as I always cheer for the Jets.

    But you must understand that the Jets were taken away from Winnipeg in the ‘90’s…and given to Phoenix.  Phoenix.  Hockey.  Played on ice.  Taken from the coldest metropolis in North America and given to the warmest.

    So, when it came time for Atlanta to lose their second (SECOND) hockey Franchise, Winnipeg happily snapped it up and God bless them if they didn’t choose the old Jets Franchise name and really did a nice job rebranding the uniforms.  Normally, I am whole heartedly against two shades of blue (please Google “Tennessee Titans” as to why) but here, it oddly looks quite nice.  The Hornet Jet on the jersey wasn’t picked by accident - that’s a staple of the Royal Canadian Airforce, and there’s a nice little Maple Leaf behind to remind people that Canada should get hockey teams, always.

    Really well done.

    #4.  The Quebec Nordiques

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    This was a sweet, sweet sweater.  Color was clean and sharp, the fleur-de-leis were emblematic of the French-Canadian pride Quebec has (albeit, somewhat annoyingly - that doesn’t mean it wasn’t appropriate on the uniform).

    Now, I will grant you that the Nordiques logo looks very weird.  Not sure where they were going with that.  Is it an igloo?  With a hockey stick?  I probably would have moved this up into the top 3, had it not been for the odd logo, given that I have a thing for old uniforms of moved Franchises (as evidenced by most of this list).

    #3.  The Buffalo Sabres

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    So, aside from the fact I like it because it’s blue and yellow, it also invokes memories of a certain Paul Newman classic movie…

    I like the fact that Buffalo always seems to go back to the sword crossing logo.  They mess around with it for a bit, and eventually find their way back home.  It’s a sharp looking sweater and a small market city that likes their sports teams.  

    Which I really like.  Good for them.

    #2.  The Detroit Redwings

    image

    You know that logo has only imperceptably changed since 1932?  That earns you points on my list anyways.  That logo and those gorgeous reds are instantly recognizeable and gave Detroit some much needed love - because the Lions sure as hell weren’t getting them any championships.

    The Redwings don’t just have great home jerseys, the away whites are gorgeous too with their red sleeves.  Detroit kept it simple, kept it classy, and resisted the urge to mess with a good thing.

    Totally sweet uniforms.  Very well suited for chucking a dead octopus on the ice during the playoffs…

    Also, it should be noted that Cameron Frye wore this jersey on a particularly glorious Chicago Day in which his best friend deemed, should be a day off.

    #1.  The Chicago Blackhawks

    image

    Yeah, sorry Detroit.  Chicago takes this one.  Even when they re-did the sweater, they kept it awesome, and the old throwbacks are fricking sweet too.  It’s a tough call, but I gave the edge to the Blackhawks, because there’s more detail on the sweater which is hard to do without making it look overly busy and stupid.  There’s cool detail on these and, like Detroit’s, they’re instantly recognizable.  Lest we not forget Clark W. Griswold rocked this out on glorious Winter’s Morn.

    Now, lets talk about the (maybe) elephant in the room…

    Is it okay to have that logo?  Personally, I think it is.  When I was a little kid, and we played Cowboys and Indians, I always wanted to be the Indians (I guess I should say Native Americans) because I thought they were cooler.  I think that team names like the Seminoles and Braves aren’t bad things - I always viewed it as a franchise name similar to Knights (various teams), Volunteers (Tennessee), or Patriots (New England).

    Frankly, one of most famous ethnic names of any sport anywhere is a white ethnic group and nobody cares about at all - that would be the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

    The Washington Redskins…okay, that’s a different story and a different discussion for a different day.  So is the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo.

    But the name was given to the franchise because the team’s original owner was a member of the Black Hawk machine gun division in the first World War, which got it’s name from the Native Sauk war leader, Black Hawk.  I guess I view the name and the logo as an impressive figure and an important and interesting part of American history rather than racially insensitive.  If the existing Sauk Nation doesn’t like it, then we can talk.  But a bunch of people debating on Facebook really don’t get to decide what’s insensitive to another group of people.

    In my humble opinion.

    And, in my humble opinion, these uniforms kick ass.

    There you go - that’s my Top 10.

     

  10. Top 10 NBA Uniforms - According to Jon

    Do you know what’s awesome?  A great NBA Uniform.

    Alright, full disclosure.  I’m not a huge NBA fan.  I used to be and I’ll watch the NBA playoffs and NBA finals for sure.  But I just don’t find the NBA regular season to be nearly as compelling as everything else and am perfectly happy watching the highlights on sports center. 

    But I’ll critique the hell out of some uniforms.  Here are my favorites and I invite you to post your favorites in the Facebook comments this is linked to.  Clean and classic is appreciated but not necessary - there’s a couple of what would be considered garish, I suppose.  Actually, in the interest of garish, I think today I’ll start with the…

    Best of the Rest (Best of the “What the hell, why not” - those uniforms that were ugly but you might as well go with it at this point)

    By the way, you’re going to see a lot of mid-90’s here.

    Philadelphia 76ers c. 1992

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    If we looked hard enough, we could find Manute Bol and Shawn Bradley wearing these uniforms and the 76ers could be the 7 foot Sixers (I am the first person in almost a 2 decades to use that joke). 

    Milwaukee Bucks c. 1990

    image

    Do you know what doesn’t help a uniform?  Multiple shades of green and nothing else.  You know what?  Screw it.  Go there.  The team hasn’t been good since Moses Malone was there, so what have you got to lose?

    Phoenix Suns c.1996

    image

    Charles Barkley kept lucking into some of the most garish uniforms out there - leave Philadelphia, that the logo with a trail of stars, show up in Phoenix and get a pumpkin sized sun on your jersey.  That’s how you do, Sir Charles.

    Denver Nuggets c. 1991

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    Yup.  This is happening.

    How the rainbow theme worked its way on to the jersey, I’ll never know, but I have to admit that I miss these.  The Nuggets tried to go powder blue and normally I’m a sucker for this sort of thing but damned if this one didn’t look better.  Shouldn’t have abandoned this, Denver.

    Special Best of the Rest Shout Out to the Most Garish of the Garish - tie between two Canadians:

    The Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors

    image

    image

    Uhhh…maybe just stick to hockey Canada.

    Let’s do this thing!

    Jon’s Top 10 NBA Uniforms of All Time!

    #10.  San Antonio Spurs Home Uniforms

    Oh Brooklyn.  Trying to do black and white.  Well, the Spurs do it better and have done it for longer.  Kind of like basketball in general.  

    Using an actual spur in the word for a “u” is pretty good, and black, white, and silver is actually pretty hard to screw up.  And they don’t.  Now, it might very well be that the people wearing these uniforms command respect, but they make it look pretty good too.

    #9.  Seattle SuperSonics

    image

    Oh, she’s a beauty, that #9…

    I’m not sure why I like this one so much.  But I do.  Oddly, keeping the Seattle Skyline on the shorts in the basketball horizon seems stupid until you actually see it.

    This was a signature uniform that was really distinct from everything else at the time.  No need to alter this one.  Fortunately, the city of Seattle still has the right to the name Supersonics, so we may see this again, someday…

    #8.  Phoenix Suns

    image

    See, now you might be saying to yourself, what’s special about this uniform.  You might say, Jon, there’s not a damn thing interesting about that.

    Au contraire, MON FRERE.  

    The Phoenix font is distinctly southwestern and is regionally appropriate without going to all the trouble of cacti or adobe or whatever.  The color choice was also really good - purple and orange could be very dumb looking - but here it does well.  Makes you think of a desert.  The sun it’s self is cleverly worked right into the side of the shorts and is obvious and appropriate without being garish and stupid.

    Good job Phoenix.

    #7.  Washington Wizards - c. Present

    image

    See…yes.

    As I’m sure I have to keep repeating, this is a list of stuff I like.  It was so great to bring back the old Bullets’ uniforms, but in a new way.  They even managed to incorporate the old Bullets’ logo with two hands going up for the ball with the arms as the “L’s” in the word Bullets now on the DC on the shorts.

    This was a top quality job.

    #6.  Orlando Magic - kind of all of them…

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    For a 90’s expansion team, this could have gone all sorts of wrong.  Personally, I think Orlando nailed the unis and really haven’t screwed them up with a uniform iteration since.  They haven’t done anything stupid with the logo, they haven’t changed the colors…I know my list is weighted really, REALLY heavily towards the NBA’s golden age of the mid-90’s but the Magic jerseys today still rate.  

    I had to pick one picture here and so I settled on Shaq around 1993, but looking through all of them didn’t reveal a mis-step anywhere.  They were never better than when Shaq and Penny were doing their thing…only Hakeem the Dream could slow them down.

    5.  Chicago Bulls c. 1993

    image

    Yes, this may very well be on the list because of the people wearing the uniforms.  I don’t know of the image of these nice, clean, red, white, and black beauties remains unstoppable and awesome because the Chicago Bulls of this era were that - but that’s the image in my head.  If anybody is wearing these threads, I expect them to be about 5 feet in the air, about ready to posterize somebody.

    The NBAs Golden Age was summed up in one picture - Michael Jordan soaring over the whole world, wearing this uniform, showing everybody what the best is.

    #4.  The Golden State Warriors - current

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    Jon’s Blue and Yellow uniform fetish strikes again!

    Honestly, I love these.  It’s cool that they incorporated the Golden Gate bridge into the logo, it’s kind of a cool old ABA version of putting the numbers on the front of the jersey’s - and the away jerseys in royal blue look just as good.  When they do decide to change things up, the alternate all yellows with blue trim (not those short sleeved abominations) look really good.

    I wouldn’t mind if Golden State kept going in the playoffs for a variety of reasons, one of which is so I can keep looking at these uniforms.

    #2/3 - (tie) The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers (from birth to death)

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    For real, does any uniform match up in all of sports look better than this?  Maybe, MAYBE I could be talked into considering that USC vs UCLA in red and powder blue respectively could be INCLUDED in the discussion, but this match up is classic and perfect.

    I admit this is very much a copout but I honestly couldn’t choose which one looks better.  And I want an NBA finals every few years with these two teams meeting so I can watch this.  It looked just as good in 2008.

    #1.  Charlotte Hornets

    image

    They are, and will remain, my favorite NBA uniform of All-Time.  And I am SO HAPPY that the Hornets name is coming back to Charlotte.

    I don’t know anybody who didn’t want a Charlotte Hornets Starter Jacket c. 1991.  

    I really don’t have anything clever or smartassy to write about this one.  I love these basketball uniforms and it actually makes me want to watch the NBA again.  I know how stupid that sounds…

     

  11. Top 10 NFL Uniforms

    Do you know what’s awesome?  A sweet NFL uniform.  Wanna run through 10 of the best?  I do…

    The Best of the Rest is going to include just two teams today…I think you’ll see why:

    The Best of the Rest - 

    The Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers

    These two iconic NFL franchises have been scrapping since the 1920’s and the oldest NFL rivalry has two uniforms that I couldn’t possibly rank subjectively.  So these arch enemies make up the entire Best of the Rest this go around, for keeping it the same as it always was.  Makes me happy to be a Bears fan - we have worthy and respectable rival in those Green Bay Packers and I’m glad that the Pack is our most despised adversary.  It’s a good thing.

    Let’s do this thing!

    #10.  The Miami Dolphins’ All-Whites

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    Miami should be required to wear these forever.  No matter what.  I don’t know what that orange jersey nonsense was…this should be the uniform that Miami always wears.  I can’t stand the shadowing or the insidious inclusion of black that kept showing up around 1990 or so; this is what Miami looked the best in.  

    I don’t even think they should wear their “Home” turquoise jerseys.  This should be the only thing they ever wear.  See, they switched up the logo, took the helmet off Flipper, and then Richie Incognito happened.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb…

    BONUS!  It’s functional - in the South Florida Heat, you’d nearly want to wear all white.  

    #9.  The Cleveland Browns, well, Brown Uniforms

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    Oh, she’s a beauty, that #9…

    This franchise is the only one in the NFL to not have a logo on their helmets.  You add orange pants to a brown jersey - you’re drilling past awful and ending up at awesome.  

    Fact.  Actually, the Cleveland All-Whites look pretty good too, because that’s a uniform that gets appropriately muddy and when you see that brown helmet and all white uniform, it makes me think of Jim Brown, THE Cleveland Brown to rule all the Cleveland Browns and that iconic number 32 striking massive fear into the hearts of linebackers and safeties throughout the league.

    See, that’s what a uniform should do.  It should remind you of greatness and put success right in the front of your mind.  When a franchise has been as snake-bitten as the hapless Browns have been, and a uniform can still invoke an image of what some consider to be the greatest running back of All-Time (not me), that makes for a great uniform.

    BONUS!  The most season appropriate uniform combination of any of them.

    #8.  The Houston Oilers c. 1993

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    This is one of those times when it’s hard to tell which uniform looks better, the road version or the home version.  The Oilers’ home versions looked just as sharp, just flip flopping the powder blue pants and white jersey around.

    This look started in the 70’s with the Houston Oiler “Luv ya Blue” craze.  Earl Campbell was probably the biggest badass running back of the late 70’s (apologies to my Steeler nation, and Dolphin friends out there - but he was better than Franco Harris and Larry Csonka).

    In the early 90’s, it was the Houston Run and Shoot offense that just lit up scoreboards like pinball machines.  Warren Moon had Haywood Jeffries, Earnest Givens, and Webster Slaughter, and the “House of Pain” defense were no slouches either.  

    But the Run and Shoot couldn’t salt away games and the Bills came back from 35 points down.  Which is where I think the above photo came from.  

    Doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fun team to watch.  Especially in those gorgeous get-ups.

    BONUS!  If this color combination doesn’t lend it’s self to some sweet Zubaz, I don’t know what does.

    #7.  The New Orleans Saints c. 2006

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    So, my list is appearing to be quite heavily weighted towards my youth.  Well, that may very well be.  It’s my list and I don’t give a damn, because I’m right.  So lets talk about the more modern NFL.  

    To quote “Swingers” and specifically Vince Vaughn, “Mike, you don’t want all that Pirates of the Caribbean horseshit.  Guys like us have to kick it old school.”

    There’s a reason most of my favorite uniforms are simple and clean.  It’s because it looks better.  Now I admit that the Carolina Panthers All-Blacks are pretty sharp.  Sharper than I would have thought and I alllllmost put them on.

    San Francisco going back to what they should be wearing was considered very, very closely.

    But ultimately, I landed on the NOLA unis.  I’m not sure which looks better, the white jerseys with the gold pants or the black jerseys with the gold pants.  I decided on this photo, because it’s my favorite moment in Saints history, Steve Gleason blocking that punt.  This uniform reminds me of that MNF game.  I think Tracy Porter was wearing the same combination when he pick sixed Peyton Manning to secure a Super Bowl for NOLA a few years later.

    The Fleur-de-Lei is emblamatic of the city, the black and gold lends it’s self to all manner of crazy fan costumes, and it just looks good.  

    The Nike uniforms took a mis-step, though, by adding that black collar, because they added it to a bunch of other teams so, uhh, it’s not unique.  Boo.  Shouldn’t have done that.

    BONUS!  Any crazy black and gold costume you were wearing to the game looks completely normal on Bourbon Street afterwards.

    #6.  The New England Patriot Reds

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    Oh.  Oh my.  THAT is a sharp looking uniform.

    Pat the Patriot vies for the most awesome helmet logo, although (spoiler alert), Bucco Bruce may be coming soon (like you couldn’t see that coming).

    But those are just clean and sharp and eye catching.  I almost like the throwback version of the originals more than the originals because the red just seems to pop more - maybe it’s just the photos I could find on the internet just seem to look better.  

    BONUS!  There’s the Miami All-Whites again.  And they did this twice a year!

    WHO WOULDN’T WANT TO WATCH A FOOTBALL GAME THAT LOOKS LIKE THAT?

    #5.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneer Creamsicles

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    Every “Best of NFL Uniforms” have the Creamsicles on them and the Bucs, God Bless them, try to bring these back at least once a year.  

    These unis have become incredibly endearing to the rest of the league’s fans for some odd reason, but I would suspect it’s because they’re effing radical.

    Now, I would be somewhat remiss if I didn’t mention that of all the uniform redos, personally I think that the pewter helmets and pants, and red jerseys the Bucs came out with around 1997 or so didn’t look pretty good.  I thought they did and if you’re going to rebrand a franchise (and, lets face it, the Bucs need rebranding badly), that’s a great way to do it.  The Creamsicles became synomous with generally bad football during the mid-70’s, and though most of the 80’s and 90’s.  

    So I get the rebrand.  But the latest iteration of the Buccaneer uniforms are simply awful.  

    BONUS!  Bucco Bruce was Captain Jack Sparrow before Captain Jack Sparrow was Captain Jack Sparrow.

    #4.  The Los Angeles Rams c. 1984

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    In 1984, Eric Dickerson (seen above) was at the very height of his powers and ran for 2,109 yards in a 16 game season which was, and still is, an NFL record.   I see these and all I think of is Dickerson, his neckroll, and his sports glasses, trucking anybody and everybody in his path.

    Many years ago, the Rams were actually the first team to put a decal on a helmet and those Ram horns have stuck ever since, as they should have because that’s awesome.  

    When I was a little kid, this was my second favorite team, behind the Bears, because I thought these uniforms were so cool.  Again, not sure what my pro blue-and-yellow policy here is, but I love them.  Lest we not forget that the Rams were wearing the away version of these in Feb of 1999 when they won a superbowl.  They switched up their uniforms after that, lost a superbowl in 2002, and haven’t recovered since.  And now they’re in a division with Seattle and San Francisco, so…

    BONUS!  Horns on the helmets, horns on the sleeves.  Genius.

    #3.  The Denver Broncos Orange Crush

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    I am SO. Sad.  That these aren’t still in use.  There was NO. Reason. To abandon this sweet threads.  The current uniforms actually manage to prop up this uniform because the current Bronco uniforms are flat-out terrible.  

    Make these come back.  Now.\

    BONUS!  Your best chance for a snow game on natural grass now is in Denver.  If this would happen during a throwback jersey game, I’d be in Heaven.

    #2.  The San Diego Chargers Powder Blue Throwbacks

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    This is just the prettiest damn uniform out there.  It almost (almost) makes me want to be a San Diego fan.  It almost (almost) makes me want to commit an unforgivable sin and purchase a jersey of team that isn’t mine.  

    Almost.  

    And they almost took the top spot, were it not for another AFC west team…

    BONUS!  Okay, umm…I have to admit, the Royal Blue and yellow unis they switched these from in the late ’70s…I…uhhh…kind of like them too.

    #1.  The Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders

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    Was there ever a uniform that more completely summed up a team image than the Raiders unis?  

    (the answer you are looking for is “no”)

    That menacing silver and black and absolute distain for authority, the rest of the AFC west, and the NFL in general was captured in this timeless, clean, perfect threaded effort.  They’ve never had to change the damn things BECAUSE THERE’S NOTHING THAT NEEDS CHANGING.

    My Denver Bronco and Kansas City Chief Fan friends are absolutely livid right now, and they should be.  Actually, the Chiefs probably should have made the list because they haven’t screwed around with their uniforms either, but this was getting to heavy on the AFC west.  KC is definately Top 15.

    Look at this - it’s never changed, it sums up the franchise perfectly, it has always looked good, it reminds you of people named Snake, Bo, the Assassin, and the Ghost.  It reminds you of defenses that probably should have been thrown in jail after games.  It reminds of an owner, that crazy dysfunctional SOB, who was arguably the one of the most influencial individuals in shaping what the NFL came to be, despite being remembered for drafting Jamarcus Russell.  It looks the same in 1963 as it did 50 years later in 2013.  You see this uniform and there’s no doubt who’s wearing it.  You can almost hear John Facenda saying, “The Autumn Wind is a Raider…”

    When you come up with the best uniform that isn’t your own team’s, isn’t that what should take the #1 spot?

    BONUS!  The Raiders are now the only team in the NFL with a logo that contains a helmet, on their helmet.  

    Oh, I love some good uniforms.  If you’ve got a favorite, point it out!

     

  12. Top 10 SNL Sketches Where They Can’t Hold It Together

     

  13. Top 10 Saturday Night Live Impressions!

    Do you know what’s awesome?  Making fun of somebody by impersonating them.

    They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.  Well, whatever.  I love impersonations because they make me laugh really hard.  I have loved and started doing impersonations at a very early age and the etiology behind this rather annoying habit I have is easily identified.  Saturday Night Live.

    I also love SNL.  I think it’s a funny show and has been for a long time.  I also think that people always rip into SNL and the phrase “It used to be awesome but now it sucks” has been used since 1979 when the original cast started to move on or die.  EVERYBODY says this.  Well, I happen to think that SNL is still funny though, admittedly, there is a bit of a rebuilding that needs to take place now that they’ve lost Seth Meyers.  But, while people who remember SNL in it’s very first iteration claim that it will never be the same, I contend that SNL from 2009-2012 was as good as the show has ever been and that it will get good again, because it always does.

    Part of this has to do with the depth and hilarity of the impressions that have popped up in the past few years.  You may notice that alot of these are fairly recent…part of this is because I didn’t have the benefit of remembering the very first impressions but I really do think that the impressions have gotten better over the years.

    My Best of the Rest today is going to be brief bit parts that the sketch didn’t actually revolve around.  These showed up on “Weekend Update” and various other sketches in the show but sketches that didn’t actually focus on the impression entirely.  That might seem weird, but there have been so many funny sketches in the history of SNL, I decided to do it this way.

    Andy Samburg as Nicholas Cage

    So, Nicholas Cage was pretty cool c. 1995.  Leaving Las Vegas was excellent and The Rock is certainly among the pantheon of fantastic action movies but…then…Nicholas Cage got…more Nicholas Cage.  Which then needed to be exploited.  By Andy Samburg.  Here’s the “Get in the Cage” segment that makes me giggle – a lot.

    http://vimeo.com/24124182

    It is nice, however, when those being made fun of can play along…

    http://screen.yahoo.com/weekend-cage-000000391.html

    Bobby Moynahan as Manti Te’o

    Jason Sudekis didn’t have a whole lot of Lance Armstrong mannerisms to work with in the first part of the sketch, but then again, neither – really – did Moynihan.  He did have jokes that wrote themselves and knocked it out of the park.

    Dude, this one was so funny…

    https://screen.yahoo.com/cold-opening-piers-morgan-tonight-000000579.html

    Fred Armisen as David Paterson

    So, a lot of people found this one to have gone too far.  Armisen made fun of Gov. David Paterson’s most obvious difference – that he was blind.  The sketch was a recurring one on Weekend Update and always involved Armisen making fun of the fact his character couldn’t see, making fun of New Jersey, and always ended with Armisen walking in front of the camera, of course alluding the fact the Governor was blind and did so unknowingly.

    Well, it may have been too far.  But then…then this happened and David Paterson transcended cool.  The link is imbedded in webpage

    http://entertainment.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978548674

    The SNL Cast as Various Artists

    They all got together an put this one this one on the holiday special a few years ago.  I think the highlight is probably Jay Pharoh as Kanye, but the whole thing was pretty funny, especially if you find some of the people they made fun of completely intolerable (Kanye).

    http://screen.yahoo.com/buble-duets-000000267.html

    So these are my top 10 favorites…if you think I missed one, it’s entirely possible.  Let me know what you think!  And lets do this thing!

    Top 10 SNL Impressions!

    #10.  Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman as Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon

    Dana and Phil could have easily been on here for Ross Perot and Admiral Nelson…in 1992, Ross Perot was the most talked about guy in politics.  I remember my dad defiantly said he was going to vote for him but alot of people thought he was a joke.  I thought Dana Carvey was funny when he impersonated him and didn’t really know what the big deal was about.

    But Dana and Phil also did their over the top impression of Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon that lasted for a while.  This one made me giggle and this clip has all sorts of other impressions including Dana Carvey also kind of nailing Dennis Miller:

    https://screen.yahoo.com/dana-carvey-snl-skits/cold-opening-final-tonight-show-000000444.html

    By the way, if you want to see Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman do Perot, here you go:

    https://screen.yahoo.com/joyride-ross-perot-000000231.html 

    #9.  Alec Baldwin as Tony Bennett

    I think Alec Baldwin should be required to do this impression whenever he hosts.  He looks just like him…don’t believe me?  Well, you will when you watch this.

    Every so often I’ll find myself saying “Well that’s just great.  A great, great, (insert noun here).”  In the Tony Bennett Voice.  

    Now, I thought that when Martin Short did the holiday episode a few years ago and Baldwin came on and reprised the Tony Bennett impression, that was as good as it got.  I was so sad, in making this list, that I couldn’t find that clip.  I did find a suitable alternative, though, and I think you’ll like it…

    https://screen.yahoo.com/alec-baldwin-snl-skits/tony-bennett-000000611.html

    #8.  Jay Pharoh as Denzel Washington

    In terms of being spot on with vocal mannerisms, Jay Pharoh is really tough to beat.  He does an outstanding Chris Rock and I couldn’t watch Will Smith on Jimmy Fallon’s opening night without think of Pharoh making fun of him.  But his finest effort is probably his effort as Denzel Washington.  In terms of iconic-ness, this isn’t as high as some of the others but from a strictly “holy crap he sounds just like him” perspective, Pharoh definately makes the list.

    He gets the Denzel laugh just right just like he does each time he busts out a new impression (nothing against Fred Armisen, but it’s a really good thing that they got Pharoh to start impersonating Obama).

    Here’s two, since I couldn’t decide which.

    http://screen.yahoo.com/returns-exchanges-000000749.html

    http://screen.yahoo.com/unstoppable-trailer-000000405.html

    #7.  Gilda Radner as “Baba Wawa” (Barbara Walters)

    The first of the truly talented ladies on SNL could have been Gilda Radner.  Apparently there wasn’t too much love lost between her and Belushi regarding whether or not women were funny.  

    Well, she makes the list and he doesn’t.  This was one of the first recurrent impressions that showed up on SNL and one of the best…long before The View was being made fun of today.  It’s a shame Gilda Radner couldn’t come back on and reprise the impression…the world lost her talent far too early as a result of ovarian cancer.

    https://screen.yahoo.com/gilda-radner-snl-skits/baba-wawa-home-000000231.html 

    #6.  Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery

    Or Will Ferrell as Alex Trabek, Jimmy Fallon as French Stewart, or Norm McDonald as Burt Reynolds.  Rest assured, if I ever do a Top 10 SNL sketches, this’ll be near the top.

    See, I had briefly considered putting this one in the Best of the Rest category, because the sketch really doesn’t focus around Darrell Hammond as Connery all that much, but the sketch is so funny, you can’t really leave it off the list.  This one is

    http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/celebrity-jeopardy/n11253

    #5.  Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake as Barry and Robin Gibb

    So, I really don’t know how Barry and Robin Gibb actually act.  It doesn’t change the fact that this one absolutely slays me.  For some inexplicable reason, for a long time I found Jimmy Fallon irritating – there is no good reason for this and now, I not-at-all-reluctantly say that I think he’s hysterical and his efforts on the Tonight Show are top drawer.

    But I digress.  I also tried proactively to dislike Justin Timberlake until he kept showing up on SNL and being fricking hysterical.  Being funny gets a pass for a lot of stuff.  Like being in a boy-band.  And he’s really funny so there you go.  I think this sketch is really funny but was curious what would happen when Robin died – if they’d keep doing it or not.  Turns out they did and they got a really great endorsement for the sketch and the end of the sketch.

    http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/barry-gibb-talk-show/n44606

    #4.  Dana Carvey as George H.W. Bush

    This is the first time I realized it was funny to make fun of a politician.  Truth be told, I didn’t really understand exactly why all the things Dana Carvey was saying was funny, but he looked silly and my dad thought it was really funny, so when dad told me to brush my teeth one night and get ready for bed, as he was walking away I enthusiastically piped up with “Wouldn’t be prudent!  Thousand points of light!” in my very best George H.W. Bush voice, which really just sounded like me with a head cold. 

    But Dad thought it was funny.  He started giggling, kept walking away, and I heard an approving “Yeah, that was a good one,” that seemed like it was directed at no one in particular.  So I brushed my teeth and decided that impressions were a good thing.

    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/400999/dana_carvey_as_bush/

    #3.  Will Farrell as Harry Caray

    Will Ferrell held the title of the funniest man on the planet for the better part of the 2000-2010.  Like so many others, he got his big break on SNL and this impression was the one that he auditioned with, as the story goes. 

    The Iowa State Rugby Team was particularly amused by this impression.  Drunk ruggers doing an impression of Will Ferrell doing an impression of Harry Caray is quite enough to put you on the floor.  Asking nonsensical questions in the Harry Caray voice is always funny and I will forever remember a very chippy game of wiffle ball one sunny July afternoon at the Iowa State rugby house.  The competitive nature of the people playing had lended it’s self to an animated disagreement about A. Whether or not it’s pronounced “whi-ffle or whu-full” and B. Whether or not a ball deemed to be a foul ball was actually foul.  Tempers were heated and the game nearly came to blows until Jon Froiland started loudly interrogating everybody as to whether they’d like to play whiffle ball or get mad cow disease.

    It is impossible to keep a straight face when this is happening.  Passions cooled and beer was cracked open.  The game continued.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrFUBKCONfs

    #2.  Bruno Mars as Various Artists

    It is not often that the SNL guest who is not an SNL alumni or a comic of some kind can do spot on impressions.  Even Timberlake would agree that as hosts go, Bruno Mars’ Pandora Intern effort is the gold standard for impressions done by guest hosts.  Everybody tries to do impressions of people but very rarely to people try to sing their impressions.  And it is even rarer for the impressions done to be this spot on. 

    And one person doing this many, this well?  It’s only happened once on SNL…

    http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/82872039/ 

    #1.  Tina Fey as Sarah Palin

    This is, to date, the best SNL political impression that has ever been done.  Tina Fey looks like Sarah Palin, she sounds like Sarah Palin, and she acts exactly like Sarah Palin.  What was unfortunately lost in Tina Fey’s brilliance was that the same year, Jason Sudakis and Amy Pohler absolutely killed it as Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.  Scotty Pippen was pretty good too…put him next to Jordan and he doesn’t even make the list of the top basketball players of all time.

    Tina Fey was arguably the best cast member SNL ever had.  If I made a Top 10 SNL Cast Members list, she’d be #1…aside from being staggeringly funny in the sketches, Tina Fey was an SNL Head Writer (the first female head writer SNL ever had)and even spun off the TV show “30 Rock” from her experiences on SNL.  Her scarily spot-on Tina Fey impression stands out in a body of comedy work that is rivaled by very few, regardless of gender.   It is the most watched SNL sketch in the history of the show. 

    And that is saying something very significant.

    Because it’s so good, here’s two clips.  The first clip is her and Amy Poehler and the second is the first time she busted out the Sarah Palin Impression. 

    http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/sarah-palin-and-hillary-clinton-address-the-nation/n12287

    https://screen.yahoo.com/tina-fey-snl-skits/vp-debate-open-palin-biden-000000836.html

     

  14. Top Ten Awesome TV Sports Themes

    Do you know what’s awesome?  The #1 TV Sports Music on this list.  I had originally thought to say in a Facebook post - Do you know what’s awesome…(insert my #1 TV Sports Music here) but as I got to thinking about it, I realized there were lots of awesome TV Sports music.

    So we’re clear, these are themes and intros that show up on Sports Television in the United States.  For the most part, the themes I came up with were intros to shows, but there are a few exceptions…you’ll see what I mean.  YouTube, happily, makes this list easier and so all the music I could find can be easily played back if you’d like.

    We can all agree music is tied to memory - the music I came up with today was either catchy as hell or reminds me of a vivid memory.  Maybe it’ll do the same for you.  You’ll see very quickly that that my list is pretty heavily weighted towards one sport…can’t help it.  It’s how I roll.  Do you wanna start with The Best of theRest?  I do!  So let’s start there…

    The Best of the Rest!

    ABC’s Wide World of Sports-I admit it, the music wasn’t quite as catchy as everything else on this list, but the intro’s music and Jim McKay’s reminding us that the flip side of “The Thrill of Victory” was “The Agony of Defeat” personified by that hapless ski jumper are iconic.  The music got very ominous as said hapless ski jumper flailed about during his doomed attempt.  Any list like this would be remiss without a mention of The Wide World of Sports.

    Did you know the very first episode of ABC’s Wide World of Sports covered the Drake Relays right here in God’s favorite city (Des Moines)?  Well, it did…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fi69utdvDcA

    Comin’ to Your City (Big and Rich)My friends Ike, York, Owen, and Fratter probably hate this selection and, for the most part, I would agree that songs with actual lyrics opening up a sports show is generally a mistake (exhibit A. being the Hot Mess that is Sunday Night Football on NBC).  But Big and Rich don’t suck here.  It’s reasonably catchy and doesn’t make you want to change the channel.  I always wondered, though, why the kid that is walking down the street just before the music starts has a jersey that says “Winter Park” on it.  Oh well…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNNdruOJttM

    College Football Lives Here (ESPN) -

    I think the reason that I like this one is because I find myself lightly clicking my teeth to the drumline and it makes me feel like I can play the drums.  Which I cannot.  The music by it’s self is mostly just a drum line but when you put it to highlights and the whole “lives here” theme, it works pretty well.  And the Christmas version where they mash up “The Twelve Days of Christmas” on a glockenspeil (oh, you don’t think this guy knows how to pick a glockenspiel out of a mash up?  Check yourself, son…) sounds great too.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKTSEqyiUCA

    The Lombardi Trophy Theme – So…I’m not sure if this one belongs which is why it shows up in the Best of the Rest because I’m not sure it actually made for TV.  This is the theme they play when they present the Lombardi Trophy to the Superbowl Winner immediately following the game.

    Honestly, it’s just too damn catchy not to mention, though.  A few years ago, when the Saints won the Superbowl, a rather famous photograph was taken of Drew Brees and his 1 year-old son.  His son was wearing ear protection which was oddly cute and curiously reaching for the confetti that was falling.  In my mind, this was the music that was playing.  I don’t know why.  Here’s the  music.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Je1M-dJqGMc

     

    Let’s do this thing!

    Top 10 Awesome TV Sports Music

    #10.  The NFL Network Bells

    image

    This is not (I repeat NOT) the trainwreck that is Priyanka Chopra’s Song that starts NFL Thursday Night Football.  If we were making a list of TV music disasters, that ear-drum papercut might very well top it. 

    We are talking about the bells.  This piece of music sounds oddly Christmas-y, but does a nice job of making the upcoming game feel very severe, even if it’s Jacksonville vs Cleveland.  When they play this music, I feel like the weather should be colder than it is.  It’s really catchy and hopefully the NFL network quits trying to be like NBC and drops that idiotic “In My City” that was inexplicably forced on America.

    The television show “Around the Horn” sort of parodied this – they have their “Tournament of Champions” at the end of the year and Tony Reali was apparently given permission to use this music as the intro.  When you hear it, a Tournament ceases to be pronounced “ter-nament” and becomes “Tore-nament.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPaidySLdqM

    #9.  The SportsCenter Theme

    image

    This one grabs a spot in the Top Ten because “da da da, da da da!” has become somewhat synonomous with a sports highlight.  I don’t know about everybody else’s high school but when you were shagging fly balls at baseball practice, it was considered in poor taste not to dive for a ball even if you didn’t really need to.  The implorement “C’MON!  FULL EXTENTION!” referred to your opportunity/obligation to unnecessarily dive for a fly ball.  If you managed to come up with said fly ball, a customary “DA DA DA, DA DA DA!” yelled from across the field was in order.

    When I was a senior in high school, Joe Herring and I were given the opportunity to start a promising broadcasting career during a softball game from the Earlham High School, uhh, press box (I guess).  Kelly McCracken made a relatively easy throw to first and an enthusiastic “DA DA DA, DA DA DA!” emitted from the press box over the field speakers.  This marked the end of Joe Herring and I’s promising broadcasting career.

    The SportsCenter Theme music is almost as much apart of popular culture as SportsCenter itself and if the closing stanza of your symphony is that recognizable, it makes the list.  The link below is the most recent version and by itself, it’s a little bit underwhelming which is why it stays at #9.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrPPVXfeCQI

    #8.  The NFL Today – Old School

    image

    Well, this is a blast from the past.  The NFL Today holds the distinction of being if not the first NFL pregame show, being the first NFL pregame show that existed as we recognize them today.  Highlights, analysis, interviews, and (one thing that has been lost) Jimmy the Greek going over the lines (betting lines) (and, I guess, metaphorical racial ones later in his career).

    I remember when Jimmy the Greek got fired for saying something about black people.  Since I was about 7 years old at the time, I didn’t understand what he was saying or, indeed, why it was inappropriate.  I didn’t understand what a betting line was, but found Jimmy the Greek oddly transfixing - everybody else on that show seemed to want to know what Jimmy the Greek had to say, so I guess I should pay attention too.

    I have been listening to Brent Musburger’s voice all my life (he even came to Ames this week to call the Kansas/ISU game) and I really enjoy his calls.  His voice has gotten a bit lower during the 30 years I’ve listened to him and his comments, well, they’ve become more focused on coeds in the crowds (“Folks, you see that young lady there…that’s A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend…WOW”).  The first time I ever heard him talk was preceded by:

    BOM BOM!  Ba da ba da baaa ba ba baaaa…BOM BOM!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBDoaMoB5R4

    #7.  The NBA on NBC Theme

    image

    When you hear this, Marv Albert hasn’t been accused of anything bad yet and his signature and simplistic “Yes!” is about to denote every field goal that drops.  Larry Bird is about to continue to be ageless.  Charlotte is going to rock out those sweet unis.  Actually, so are Seattle, Denver, and Philadelphia (the ones before Iverson got there).  Shaq is about to clash with ‘Zo and Penny’s about to feed him the ball.  Hakeem the Dream and Patrick Ewing are about to fight for position and boards.

    And Michael Jordan.  Oh, Michael Jordan.  He is about to TORCH the Jazz, Suns, Lakers, Sonics, or Trailblazers.  He’s about to light up the Trailblazers for six 3’s and 35 points in the first half on my birthday and shrug his way down the court.  He’s about to cut the hearts out of Cleveland.  He’s about to shoot a free throw with his eyes closed.  He’s about to fly through the air with his tongue hanging out and drive a Chicago crowd into a frenzy and be the most amazing basketball player I ever saw. 

    That’s what happens when this music plays.   Just like that wonderful period of NBA basketball, the music couldn’t last.  In the name of TV contracts and network rights taking over, it was taken from us.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxTryUZs_XE

    #6.  NFL Primetime Highlight Themes

    image

    I know my friends Ike, York, Owen, and Fratter will hate this selection at #8.  This is because my friends Ike, York, Owen, and Fratter have a rather healthy distain for Chris Berman. 

    The truth is, I used to love Chris Berman.  When I was in 7th and 8th Grade and Berman didn’t always sound like he had acid reflux all the time, I thought NFL Primetime was coolest highlight show there was.  Berman would come up with clever variations of players’ last names, he’d say something funny, and then throw it to Tom Jackson who’d come up with really good play insight.  I remember they were doing highlights in 1992 of the Eagles and Giants and Vai Sikahema returned a punt for a touchdown and started punching the Giants Logo on the goalposts like a boxing heavy bag.  Berman and Jackson did a highlight package and it was perfect.

    But the highlight package didn’t just have Berman and Jackson – NFL Primetime also had some of the best backing music there was.  I think the link at the bottom was the best one they had, making you think that with each highlight, the pace of the game would get faster and the outcome even more in doubt. 

    Why they stopped this formula I have no idea.  If you follow the link, actually Primetime Themes 1-3 should take you back…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXuXBLlfxRo&list=PL8079C03236A464E3

    #5.  The Monday Night Football Theme

    image

    So, again, this is NOT the song.  I was really glad when Hank Williams’ “All My Rowdy Friends” got axed from the show’s beginning because, after 20 years, it was over-played, over-hyped, and generally irritating.  Monday Night Football already HAD good theme music, a theme called “Heavy Action” that has been around since it’s inception.  It sounded great in the 70’s, it sounded great in the 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s and today.  They actually used it nicely with their opening this year as they went through 40 years of Monday Night Football. 

    This music lends it’s self to voiceovers and descriptions of what was about to happen in the game you were about to watch.  This music, by itself is catchy and can go around in your head without being tremendously irritating.  This music, not Hank, is what you find yourself humming on late Monday afternoons in October when the week has just started but you have something to look forward to on your television when you get home.

    I never got to hear Cosell, Gifford, and Meredith call games together, so my MNF imprinting was Frank Gifford, Al Michaels, and Dan Deirdorf.  To this day, at halftime, I find myself wondering if I have to go to bed, because that’s when I had to go to bed when I was 7 or 8.  Occationally, when I hear this music, I get a flashbacks.  The house I used to live in when I was little, the sofa and the carpet and (oddly) Little Caesar’s Supreme Pizza.

    Yeah, I know.  That last one is weird.  But I’ll be damned if they don’t just pop up sometimes when that music starts playing…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIxeOvClzR4

    #4.  The Masters Theme

    image

    This could be a little low at #4 and if people think it should be higher, I could certainly see why.  The Masters Theme lets you know that it’s April and the world is about to wake up – at least, that’s what I always think of.

    Azaleas in Augusta can only mean that Iowa’s fragrant flowering crab apples are not so far behind.  The weather should be warmer than it has been and it’s probably time to open up your windows and air out the house a bit.  When I hear this music, it makes me think that the most manicured and most flawlessly kept golf course in the world is green again and that my world just needs a few more weeks.

    Jim Nantz has been the voice of the Masters for as long as I can remember and when Jim shows up on my TV on a sunny April Saturday, I know that Spring is just around the corner.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UL4fh_B-j4

    #3.  The Olympic Theme

    image

    Every 2 years, this one gets dusted off by NBC and we all get a chance to be fans of the same team (you know, providing you live in the same country as me).  I really like the Olympics, both summer and winter.  The US never does quite as well in the Winter Olympics but, to be honest, I kind of found those sports to be a little more intriguing even though, as Seth Meyers once pointed out, the Winter Olympics is essentially 27 different versions of sliding.

    But your plastic Target-bought sled could easily double as a luge or bobsled, could it not?  And who doesn’t love watching the men’s and women’s skiing events?  Those people are fricking crazy.  We (the Americans) do have somewhat of a stranglehold on Men’s Snowboarding (thank you Shaun) and the speed skating events are oddly hypnotic.  And there’s always ice-skating drama.  You may hate it, but it’s interesting.

    The Olympic Theme is the back drop to all of this.  That stately piece of music reminds you that the human body is capable of amazing things – did you know that it was written by John Williams?  I didn’t, until I looked it up.  Also, and this cannot be understated, it is my wife’s favorite piece of music.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWdOFgDQIn0

    #2.  The CBS College Basketball Theme

    image

    I know that this one is used throughout the year by CBS, but I associate it with arguably the most magical two days in American sports – the first Thursday and Friday of March Madness.

    March in Iowa sucks.  It is the only month out of the year that I don’t really like my home state.  The world is brown and dead, the skies are perpetually cloudy and grey, the temperature maddenly fixed at 37 degrees F, and dirty piles of snow that fell two months ago sneer at you as you drive by and refuse to melt.

    Then, something magical happens.  March knocks out a gorgeous day.  I don’t know why and I don’t know how but that first Thursday of March Madness always seems to be met with a gorgeous, sunny, warm, wonderfully happy March day.  The temperature moves north of 60 degrees and people dig through drawers to find those shorts that got put away back in October.  Those sneering snowpiles suddenly see their own mortality as you drive by with your windows open.

    And this is the music I think of.  I first noticed the Gorgeous Thursday phenomenon when I was a freshman at UNI.  Ben Brown had been stressing all week about an exam that might be pushed back to Friday which would ruin his plans to skip class, open his windows, drink beer, and watch college basketball all day.  Fortunately, Ben ended up taking his exam on Thursday morning and saw his plan come to fruition – and it was a glorious day.  And then it kept happening.  Year after year, the Thursday of the Tournament kept being gorgeous.

    As my bracket disintegrates faster than those sneering snowpiles, this music is the music I find myself humming.  And it makes me very happy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4o_FZZ_Ccs 

    #1.  The CBS College Football Theme

    image

    This is the greatest TV Sports music of all time.  This should not be in question by anybody; if it is, I pity you and your poor, misinformed life.  By the way, I’m not sure how CBS kept knocking out all these good ones, getting 4 of the Top 10 and 3 in the Top 5, but they sure can find catchy music.

    This music IS Saturday afternoons in the Fall.  I love College Football more than just about any other sport and there are certain things that will be stuck in my head forever associated with college football…our old house used to be within hearing distance of Jack Trice Stadium and I remember the way that stadium sounded when I wasn’t in it.  I remember when Oklahoma State came calling and Barry Sanders shredded us for around 300 yards – I swear I heard the stadium collectively gasp.  There are other things too, Keith Jackson and Brent Musburger’s voices, Saturdays that are warm in the sun and cool in the shade, falling leaves, days that start to shorten when you aren’t looking, and the sound of a marching band (sadly missing from Sunday afternoons)…but most of all this music. 

    It’s what I think of when I think of Saturday Afternoons.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iXhs9x-7yk

    Wanna hear how good it is when there’s a voice over?  Here’s Musburger setting up a classic between Notre Dame and Miami (the Catholics vs Convicts game) in 1988.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI5VCbbXM6U

    I miss you, College Football.

     

  15. Top 10 BCS Games!

    Do you know…what’s…awesome?  (It’s so hard to type, since I know what I’m about to type next)

    The BCS.

    Okay, okay, okay…I get it, everybody hated the BCS and the idea that computers choose who plays on the field is wrong.  But, in the spirit of positivity, let us think of a few reasons the BCS didn’t suck as much as everybody thought it did.  I mean, the BCS rarely got it wrong (Auburn Tiger fans in 2004 would fervently disagree, but whatever), but they didn’t get it THAT wrong.  And the BCS made the college football regular season the MOST captivating regular season of any sport, anywhere.

    It doesn’t matter anyways, because the BCS is set to expire and we will get a 4 team playoff starting in next year’s season.  It’s been 16 years, so let us take a look back over those past 16 trips around the sun to see if there were 10 BCS games that maybe, just maybe, made it worth the headache. 

    Since I know this is a tough sell, I know the haters gon’ hate, and since I live to serve you, The Haters, I’ll start with:

     
    The Best of the…Ugh  (Some games that did us no favors as fans)

    2002 Rose Bowl – Miami vs Nebraska – Final: 37-14

    There was no doubt as to who was number 1, but who was number 2?  Nebraska?  After getting throttled by a Colorado Buffaloes team, 62-36?  If only Joey “Blueskies” Harrington and the newly coutured Oregon Ducks had been given a crack at it, maybe this lousy game could have been avoided (this was right about the time Oregon started getting crazy with their unis). 

    But, all sorts of teams started dropping like flies in the last week of the season, Nebraska got the nod and subsequently got beaten like a rented mule.  This one was over in the second quarter.  Not just a little bit, a lot.  It was 34-0 before the first half ended and, thankfully for Nebraska, Larry Coker called the dogs off in a rather un-Miami-like fashion. 

    2005 Orange Bowl – USC vs Oklahoma – Final: 55-19 

    Well, this one they (the BCS) got wrong.  Knowing what we know now (that Oklahoma and Ashley Simpson would have the same level of talent during their respective performances during that game) it seems blatantly obvious that Auburn should have gone and Oklahoma shouldn’t have.  Or Utah.  Or Boise State.  Or Iowa State for that matter, because any one of those couldn’t have been less entertaining than this game.  I took a picture of the final score/carnage on the TV screen for posterity.

    Of course, it came out that USC cheated in assembling that juggernaut of team and had to vacate the title, but there was no doubt as to who was better that day.  This one was also over in the first half.

    2012 BCS National Championship – Alabama vs Notre Dame – Final: 42-14

    Oof.  Notre Dame got so badly beaten in this one that Brent Musburger had to resort to talking about Alabama QB A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend…in the first quarter.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seql_NefLXY).  There was no doubt about this one either and Notre Dame’s National Championship hopes evaporated faster than Manti T’eo’s girlfriend. 

    Oh.  Too soon?

    2010 Fiesta Bowl – TCU vs Boise State – Final: 17-10

    Wait, what?  That score didn’t suck.  What’s the deal Crosbie, why are you hating on this game?

    I’m hating on this game because they put the two BCS busters in the same game.  Sat them at the “kids table”.  Both those teams had proven they could play with the big boys and win and it was a bunch of shit they didn’t get a chance to do so.  This stupid game also contributed to the conference re-alignment that I hate in a round-about way because it felt like teams from the non-Power Conferences weren’t going to get a fair shot at what they may very well have deserved.

    Boo, BCS.

    The Cotton Bowl – 2010-infinity

    The Cotton Bowl wanted to be the 5th BCS Bowl.  I’m okay with that.  The Cotton Bowl argued that it’s storied history and traditional place with the old Southwestern Conference and later with the Big XII warranted such a title.  I agree.  The Cotton Bowl Stadium is a college football stadium with history going back to 1930 and some really good SEC, and SWC match ups.

    All history, all good, love it all.

    You know where you should play the Cotton Bowl?

    IN THE STADIUM CALLED THE FRICKING COTTON BOWL.  NOT.  IN.  JERRY-WORLD.

    It is this epic-fail and blatant spitting on college football history that makes me hate the Dallas Cowboys (by proxy) and their insidious, unconscionable owner even more.

    Sorry.  I’m supposed to be positive here.  I got carried away in the injustice of it all.  Oh, yeah, and (as always) no internet is allowed in forming the list, so I know I missed a few good ones - g’head and correct me in the Facebook comments.

    Let’s do this thing for real!

    Top 10 BCS Games!

    #10.  2008 Orange Bowl - Kansas vs Virginia Tech - Final 24-21

    Okay, you can call shenanigans on this selection if you want.  There’s a reason I picked it and it doesn’t actually have all to do with the game it’s self (although the game wasn’t bad).  Lots of people felt Kansas had no business being in that game and maybe they were right…I don’t like Missouri, but they probably should have been given the BCS bid.  Kansas put on a decent show though, and put the game away late.

    The reason why I put this one on my list was that Kelley and I had gotten married several days before.  We had been given as a wedding present, our very first 40 inch HD TV.  This game was the first thing we ever watched on it and the first time I had the pleasure of watching a football game all the way through, on HD, and I remember watching the crystal clear picture and thinking to myself that this technology was single greatest human achievement in recorded history.

    #9.  1999 Fiesta Bowl – Tennessee vs Florida State – Final: 23-16

    The first one – hey, this wasn’t nuthin’!  It was a decent, relatively defensive game and I can still see a pretty sweet ball thrown by Tee Martin (whatever happened to him?). The game came down to the wire and, although turnovers were what determined the game, it was entertaining and you watched it all the way through…I watched it at my friend Ryan McDonald’s apartment up in Ames.  I remember thinking after this game that the process was a little screwy, but that it certainly wasn’t a bad option for a National Championship. 

    Have 16 years really gone by since Ryan and I watched that game?  Do you know who’s still playing in the NFL from those teams?  I looked it up and the only one I could find was Sebastian Janikowski (Peyton Manning had left the year before). 

    #8.   2014 Rose Bowl - Michigan State vs Stanford - Final: 24-20

    In coming up with this list, I was trying to think of games that didn’t just have fantastic finishes (although that helps) but games that were well played and captured your attention from the start all the way to the end.  This year’s Rose Bowl, I think, fell into that category.  It was also nice that it was a throwback to an old way of playing - lots of running between the tackles but enough scoring to keep it interesting and not just 3 yards and a cloud of dust.

    I admit I would have rather seen them play a little bit longer.  A fourth down stop is cool, but it’s cooler when it happens with 10 seconds to go on the 5 yard line, rather than with a minute and a half to go on the 35 (or whereever they were - I didn’t bother to look that up).  But still, you knew that Stanford 4th down was the ball game, so I guess the fact that the conclusion of the ballgame coming a minute premature shouldn’t really take away from what was otherwise a fun ball game to watch.

    #7.  2011 Rose Bowl - TCU vs Wisconsin - Final: 21-19

    I watched this one down at Lake of the Ozarks with my parents.  Upon re-reading the scores and stats on this one, I’m surprised to find that TCU was actually favored here.  Both teams put on a good show, though Wisconsin probably could have played better.  Wisky had a crack at tying it after scoring a touchdown but Montee Ball couldn’t get it done.  TCU’s defense, lead by a guy named Tank Carder ended up choking out Wisconsin and the BCS Busting Horned Frogs ended the season undefeated.   

    It might have been that I was pulling for TCU in this one, or it might have been that I want the Rose Bowl to be good, but I just remember this game as being particularly entertaining and compelling.  Just the way your New Year’s Day should be.

    #6.  2006 Orange Bowl - Penn State vs Florida State - Final: 26-23 (3OT)

    I almost left this one off, given the Jerry Sandusky scandal.  I guess I prefer to remember the game as a great one and remember this as a game that saw two great coaches meet for the 7th and last time.  Following the Sandusky scandal, the win was vacated and officially, the game has no winner.  But the Nittany Lions scored more points that day.

    I think college football overtime is hugely entertaining and wish the pros would do it this way too, though they should probably start from the 50 rather than the 25.  In true Florida State fashion, kicking plagued them and ultimately cost them the game, as two missed field goals in over time, and a missed PAT and field goal in regulation factored in somewhat heavily.

    It would be nice to remember this one as the final meeting between two iconic coaches without a very sad post-script.  But this game, like so many others doesn’t end with a “what a great game that was!”.  It ends with “what a great game that was…but…”

    #5.  2006 Sugar Bowl - West Virginia vs Georgia - Final: 38-35

    Everybody hates the Big East (or American Athletic Conference or whatever they’re called these days).  Everybody says the Big East has no business being in major bowl games and doesn’t deserve an automatic qualification bid.  Well, you might want to slow your roll, son.

    With the exception of a Oklahoma’s thrashing of Conneticut and Florida taking Cincinnati behind the woodshed, the Big East has done pretty well for themselves.  A few years ago, West Virginia thoroughly destroyed both Clemson and my Bowl pool, winning 70-33.  Central Florida did the same to Baylor and my Bowl Pool this year. Did you know the name Teddy Bridgewater before Louisville slapped Florida around in the 2013 Sugar Bowl? Well, you do now…

    Of all the games this maligned conference had, I remember this one being arguably the most shocking.  I listened to this one old school, on AM radio in my car, somewhere in the middle of America, driving home from Ottawa, Canada, after my friends Rory and Sabreena got married there.  Georgia was supposed to have dominated this game but as it turned out, not so much. 

    There was tons of scoring and although Georgia never held a lead, they nipped at West Virginia’s heels all game.  At least that’s what it sounded like on the radio.  Rich Rodriguez demonstrated a brass set by calling a fake punt with a little over a minute to go, ahead by three, and the Mountaineers ended the game in the victory formation.

    #4.  2012 Rose Bowl - Oregon vs Wisconsin - Final: 45-38

    I remember thinking that Oregon should win this one going away and that big, slow, Wisconsin didn’t have a prayer.  As per usual, I can’t predict what will happen in football games worth a damn and, as it turns out, having an offensive line that averages over 300lbs a person is an asset.  If I recall correctly, it was an errant Russell Wilson throw that fell into the arms of an Oregon Duck that sealed the Badgers’ fate in this one.  The teams set a Rose Bowl Record for points scored and there were a fair amount of lead changes.  There were no stalling techniques employed by Beilema (unlike a National Championship game that WILL NOT be on my list, involving a certain ex-Iowa State Coach, who WILL NOT not be named either.)  Oregon got to do their thing, and Wisconsin matched it.  And it was fun to watch.

    If you also remember, the uniforms were worth talking about.  Oregon, of course, was expected to come out with something spectacular, and they did.  This was the year the Sons of Nike busted out the Darth Vader, mirror black helmets and the green, iridescent, oil-in-water-looking numbers for the first time.  Wisconsin wasn’t expected to come close but Adidas did the Badgers proud.  If you remember, the W logo on the helmets and the uniform numbers were actually done in rose petal print which sounds lame but actually looked really cool.

    It was a picture perfect setting that day in Pasedena and the game lived up to the stage that was set.

    #3.  2003 Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State vs Miami - 31-24 (OT)

    This was a hell of a football game.  I watched this one with my friends on the rugby team at our old rugby house and I can still remember the collective gasp from the room when Willis McGahee’s knee was bent at angle that a human knee isn’t supposed to bend at.

    That was the only point in the game my friends and I couldn’t watch the television.  The rest of the time, we were glued to the screen and even though nobody in the room were particular Ohio State or Miami fans, the room exploded with opinions as to whether or not a now-infamous pass interference should have been called.

    But it was.  And despite the argument about the PI, we all agreed it was one hell of a football game.

    #2.  2005 Rose Bowl – Texas vs USC - Final: 41-38 

    Vince Young’s finest hour takes the number 2 spot here which should make #1 fairly obvious, though I could certainly understand why people think that this one should be number one - this was an exquisite football game.  I admit thinking that Texas was gonna get thumped and was actually pulling for USC in this one because the two celebrities they pulled out to do the promos were Matthew McConaghy (Texas) and Will Ferrell (USC).  I needed to pick a side (because it makes it more fun) and because Will Ferrell has arguably been the funniest man in the 2000-2010 decade, I figured this was as good a reason as any to pick this side.  My friend A-Bomb decided to pull for Texas in retaliation. 

    Well, it wasn’t USC’s day, but if you love college football, this back-and-forth rollercoaster was an absolute treat and, at the time, probably would have taken the #1 spot. 

    Until it was unseated a few years later by…

    #1.  2007 Fiesta Bowl – Boise State vs Oklahoma – Final: 43-42 (OT)

    This remains the best college football game I have ever seen.  Boise coming out and punching Mighty Oklahoma in the mouth, Oklahoma’s furious comeback, and Boise busting out some trick plays that may as well have been drawn in the dirt in a back yard.  We all remember Boise’s Hook and Ladder that scored with 18 seconds to go and the Statue of Liberty play…do you remember the half-back pass on 4th and Goal in overtime that got the touchdown in OT in the first place?

    Cripes, Ian Johnson even proposed to his girlfriend after scoring the winning two-point conversion, setting the bar a little too high for marriage proposals.

    If you had written a movie, and put all that in the script, I’d have called it one of the dumbest football movies I ever saw.  But in real-life…it’s best game I ever saw.

    Lookitthis - the BCS had it’s problems and so will the 4 team playoff.  And, again, the BCS made the college football regular season hugely compelling.  Would this year’s Iron Bowl have been nearly as amazing if it hadn’t cost Alabama a shot at the National Title?  If there were a four team playoff this year, Alabama would probably still be in it…

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy there’s a 4 team playoff.  Alls I’m saying is that as we say farewell to the BCS era, well…

    It wasn’t all bad.