In christening the trophy for the first annual Bad Sport End of the Year Awards, one name seemed appropriate. As memories of past Wimbledons and U.S. Opens flooded my mind, there was an endless echo of "You can NOT be serious! That ball was on the LINE! CHALK dust flew!"
That's right, this year's namesake for the Bad Sport awards is none other than the worst sport ever to pick up a tennis racket: John McEnroe. Johnny Mac unsuccessfully tried to parlay his tennis career into a television career, only to find that the public no longer cared to tolerate his antics. His talk show on CNBC was notable only as the lowest-rated program ever.
Still, when it came to spicing up his painfully boring sport, Mac couldn't be beat. He could always be counted on to viciously attack an umpire, opponent or bellboy with passion and colorful language. He took the prestigious, gentlemanly traditions of tennis and tucked them into his trademark white-man Afro. In short, he was once a hero to this young bad sport.
So, without further ado, the first Johnny Mac in the category Throwing the Rules Out of the Window at an Inopportune Time goes to Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees. In a decisive game against the eventual World Champion Boston Red Sox (I just can't type that enough), A-Rod attempted to smack the ball out of pitcher Bronson Arroyo's glove on his way to first base. Not only was A-Rod called out, but Derek Jeter was forced to return to first base instead of advancing to third. This stopped a Yankees rally dead in its tracks and allowed the Red Sox to continue to gain momentum and knock the Yankees out of the playoffs. Ironically, the Yankees outbid the Red Sox for the services of A-Rod during the previous off-season by $12 million.
Moving on, the Johnny Mac for If a League Fell and Nobody Cared, Would It Make a Sound? is hereby awarded to the National Hockey League. Did you know that they were supposed to be playing pro hockey right now? Do you care? I didn't think so. Due to either the greedy owners or selfish players (I don't care enough to figure it out), the National Hockey League couldn't come to terms on a labor agreement and has yet to play a single game of the 2004 season. NHL players are spending their time learning to read, participating in best-mullet contests and drinking Molson by the gallon. Will the two sides ever work out their differences and play hockey again? Who cares?
Taking home the There Is No "I" in Team Johnny Mac is holistic-healer-in-training Ricky Williams. This former Miami Dolphin left his team high and dry when he decided (a week before training camp) that learning offensive plays was less attractive than taking bong swats. He reportedly had failed his fourth drug test and faced a lengthy suspension from the NFL, and decided to retire rather than take the suspension. Sticky-icky-Ricky left the Dolphins with no offense, no hope of making the playoffs and no way for head coach Dave Wannstedt to keep his job. Curiously, Ricky briefly toyed with the idea of making a return to the NFL when an arbitrator ruled that he owed the 'Fins over eight million bucks in back pay. However, he is still enrolled in holistic healing classes and, like Cheech and Chong, is still smokin'.
I Will Kick Every Detroit Fan in This Arena's Ass was a competitive category this year, but the winner is Captain Crazy himself, Ron Artest. We knew Artest was marching to the beat of a different drum when he applied for a job at Circuit City after he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls. (He figured he was going to be spending so much money on electronics equipment that he could benefit from the employee discount.) He went from eccentric to bizarre this year when he asked his coach for time off to promote his upcoming hip-hop/R&B album and, if that wasn't enough, he went apeshit and ran into the stands in Detroit when a bozo tossed a cup at him. Ron pummeled the wrong guy (who was wearing glasses, no less) and got suspended from the NBA for the remainder of the season.
Winning the Johnny Mac for Don't Believe the Hype is the 2004 U.S. Olympic Squad. Our professional basketball players took home an unsavory bronze, our baseball team failed to qualify, and our track and field stars were hopped up on growth hormones. It speaks volumes for the U.S. Olympic Squad that one of the only highlights worth TiVo-ing was the hot girl-on-girl action performed by the women's volleyball team. Their Sapphic celebratory embraces almost made us forget how dull the Olympics were this year. Almost.
It's not too surprising that the Johnny Mac for Can't This Guy Stay Out of Trouble? is going to Mike Tyson. (It's quite likely that I'll be renaming the award in his honor soon.) Iron-headed Mike almost made it through the year without any major drama, save for some bankruptcy and consorting with those of questionable virtue. Then in early December, he decided to jump on some poor dude's car outside the Pussycat Lounge in Scottsdale, Ariz. I would love to know what said dude did when he realized it was Mike Tyson jumping on his hood. What do you do in that situation? Beep the horn, and Mike rearranges your face. I think it would be best to do the same thing you do when a transsexual is orally servicing you: Avoid eye contact at all cost.
Leading the pack by taking home the Johnny Mac for Farthest Fall From Grace is Old Faithful himself, Kobe Bryant. Hard as it is to believe, only two years ago Kobe was a sought-after endorser of products, a role model for kids and a teammate who was willing to let Shaq have the spotlight. His star lost a lot of shine when he admitted on national television that he had cheated on his wife (before the, um, rape trial), and it burned out completely when he ran both Phil Jackson and Shaquille O'Neal out of Los Angeles. It became obvious to NBA fans that Kobe needed Shaq, and nary a week has gone by in which Kobe hasn't further humiliated himself and poisoned his legacy by feuding with teammates and opponents alike. One of the more recent transgressions involved Kobe accusing former Laker Karl Malone of hitting on Bryant's wife. Kobe may tolerate a lot of things, but infidelity certainly isn't one of them.