20. The football game I played in Saturday
Y’all. This game was IN-effing-TENSE. It was old school, fumbly-wumbly type football, sandlot-style. Laterals, trick plays, double reverses, triple reverses… I don’t even know who won. (Side note: I think we lost.) Best play of the game: Addison returning a kickoff, faking a lateral to Jeff, yelling “NOPERS!” at the top of his lungs, and burning me and Colin for six. Cheapest play: Addison tries to lateral to Jeff, but the ball falls short for a fumble, and I proceed to slap and kick the ball to the other end of the field, where I fell on it for six. It was basically the Holy Roller times 1000. You guys, pickup football is the best ever. I am a man of simple pleasures.
19. "Whiffleball" (Stella sketch)
Okay, so it’s really barely about whiffleball, but I just wanted an excuse to talk about how much I love(d) Stella. I think these shorts were the pinnacle of 21st century absurdism. Even if, by some chance, they were filmed before the year 2000. If I ever meet Michael Ian Black, I am going to give him a) a hug, b) a hearty handshake, c) a box of baseball cards I’m trying to get rid of, d) a beer, and e) a haircut, just because I’ve never cut hair before and he seems like a guy who it would be fun to start on. Also maybe a tongue-kiss? (By the way, I was pretty close to putting the baseball scene from Wet Hot American Summer on this list, too… but, um, I didn’t. I still love it though, okay? Evil Camp Tigerclaw… heh. Cracks me up.)
18. Kissing Suzy Kolber (blog)
The funniest thing about KSK is probably the name, but that’s okay. I think it’s good to have a constant internet reminder of that time Joe Namath was really drunk on national TV and tried to kiss sideline reporter Suzy Kolber. (Side note: is “constant internet reminder” an implied oxymoron? There are few things more ephemeral than the internet.) Sometimes their humor is a little too “AAAH BALLS RAPE FUCK!” for my taste, but that’s because I’m an effete New Yorker who sometimes listens to jazz. (Second side note: I’m not that effete, you guys.) Still though, it was pretty tight when they superimposed Bears QB Kyle Orton’s head onto John Cusack’s body doing the boombox-in-the-air pose from Say Anything. Man. I friggin’ hate Kyle Orton.
17. "Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request", Steve Goodman
This is a long list, so I’m just going to copy-paste some stuff I wrote a while back:
“As a kid from Buffalo who pulls for Minnesota sports teams, I know a thing or two about senseless devotion. If he’d stayed away from the Cubs, this titular fan might have a few years left. Yet Goodman’s good-natured cynicism is both touching and hilarious; you can hear him smiling the whole time, through defeat and even death.”
Wow, that was a bit douchier than I’d like to admit. Anyway, it’s a great song. And apropos of recent developments in the MLB postseason.
Page 2 can be pretty hit-or-miss, frankly—and I’m pretty staunchly opposed to Bill Simmons, especially when he makes tacitly racist claims about black quarterbacks—but I respect the hell out of most of their staff. Scoop Jackson, Paul Lukas, and DJ Gallo are all great writers and funny guys, and I’ve really come to depend on Gregg Easterbrook’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback, because I, too, hate unnecessary punting in football. Oh, also, every once in a while Chuck Klosterman (yet another famous Minnesotan) writes for them? Sweet? (Once Rob and I constructed an elaborate joke about Chuck Klosterman judging a Chuck-Klosterman soundalike contest and subsequently coming in fifth, behind Mugsy Bogues or someone.)
15. Fire Joe Morgan (blog)
Mostly I just like how angry these guys are. Sometimes they approach even Trump-rant levels of anger. Also, this is a sweet list—and I WOULD KNOW.
14. Major League
Any movie where Tom Berenger isn’t playing a sniper (ie: any movie that Tom Berenger is in that isn’t from the Sniper series) is fine by me. This movie nails the number one commandment of sports movies: Have many, not just one, great characters. Young hotshot renegade who did some time in prison and rides motorbikes? Check. Fast talkin’, fast runnin’ black man? Check. Pagan home-run hitter who talks to his bats? Check. Corbin Bernsen? Check. This movie owns like Snorlax.
13. The Detroit Lions
12. "Prince: Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories" (Chappelle Show sketch)
It is so incredibly lame that I can’t find a clip of this sketch on YouTube, and yes, once again, it’s not really about sports, it’s about how ridiculous Charlie Murphy is and what an incredible impressionist Dave Chappelle is, but come on, the montage of Prince and the Revolution playing basketball against Charlie and his crew is a defining moment for The Chappelle Show. “Game, blouses,” indeed
11. Bull Durham
This is one of those movies I watched waaaaaaaay too early in my life. We would quote it during Little League. We didn’t really know what we were talking about, but we sure had fun saying it. (Turns out, it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars. Tiiiiight.) Plus, it’s basically the only Kevin Costner movie I can sit through. (Yeah. I said it. Listen, Field of Dreams makes me cry, but that doesn’t make it a good movie.) And any movie that opens with Susan Sarandon giving the “I believe in the Church of Baseball” speech is A-okay in my book. (PS: YouTube doesn’t have it—LAAAAME—but it has this, this, and this.)
10. Straight Cash Homey (blog)
This is maybe the second funniest thing that Amir (of Jake and Amir) has ever done, in my opinion. The premise is brutally simple but perfectly executed: reader submitted photos of folks about town wearing the jerseys of tarnished/awful/washed-up or otherwise embarrassing athletes. I wish Miroslav Satan would get washed-up soon so I could start wearing his jersey again and make it to their blog. (Yet another side note: I wore my Miro Satan jersey to the New York State finals of the Geography Bee and am relatively certain that an especially devout judge gave me impossible questions because of it.)
9. The Year I Owned the Yankees, by Sparky Lyle
I’ve probably read this book more times than any other, save perhaps Cat’s Cradle. Lyle—who also famously wrote The Bronx Zoo, a blow-by-blow recount of the tumultuous 1978 Yankees season—imagines that following the removal of George Steinbrenner, he is put in charge of the team’s operations for the 1990 (?) season. The book is peppered with both real players and bizarre fictional ones (like an Asian reliever who can read minds and a farmboy who pitches a perfect game in his first start), and despite its predictable Hollywood ending, it’s still a wonderful pinstripe parable. (Plus there’s an awesome scene where Lou Piniella destroys the Skydome in Toronto. Seriously, fuck the Skydome.)
I almost didn’t put this on because, come on, golf counts as a sport the way candy corn counts as food. (To borrow Rob’s words, nothing you can do while casually drinking and smoking is a sport. Add your own bad-ass words about how frequently you do things while casually drinking and smoking.) Even so, this film will never, ever, ever, ever, ever get old. And I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever understand why that one girl is Irish. 1812 Overture + Bill Murray + nah nah nah nah + “I’m Alright” by Kenny Loggins + Baby Ruth in the swimming pool = YESSSSSS.
7. Slap Shot
Dear Paul Newman,
You were my favorite. I’ll buy you a beer in heaven. In the meantime, I will watch this movie over and over and over again while eating your popcorn.
PS: Okay, fine, my name is Peter and I run a listblog. Do you have the internets in heaven?
6. "Philosopher's World Cup" (Monty Python sketch)
Rob lobbied hard for the inclusion of this and for good reason—it’s not just funny sports comedy, it’s really one of the funniest things that Python ever did. Best line: (Socrates scores a goal for Greece and the Germans dispute the call) "Hegel is arguing that the reality is merely an a priori adjunct of non-naturalistic ethics, Kant via the categorical imperative is holding that ontologically it exists only in the imagination, and Marx is claiming it was offside."
5. "Baseball vs. Football", George Carlin
We lost quite a few great ones this year and this man was definitely (and unfortunately) one of them. He was more than just a standup comedian, he was a theologian, a sociologist, and here, he displays his unparalleled skills as a linguist. On paper, this bit doesn’t really work… he’s just comparing one thing to another. And yet, I can’t watch this without laughing my ass off.
Perhaps there are some folks out there who weren’t too thrilled when ESPN decided that its anchors should have just as much celebrity status as the athletes they cover. But… I was cool with it. Funny people deserve the opportunity to show it off. Now, as far as the ESPYs go… that’s just basically one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard of. What even is that. An ESPY. You’re just being ridiculous, Universe.
I don’t think that I’ve ever followed a TV show as intently as I followed SportsNight. (And the fact that the dynamic between Casey McCall and Dan Rydell is partially inspired by the relationship between Keith Olberman and Dan Patrick is just… just… well, that makes me happy.) But aside from all the rapid-fire Sorkin walk-and-talks and the will-they-won’t-they-will-they-ever-again Dana and Casey love-plot, it was a flat-out hilarious series. And second to only Arrested Development on the list of TV Shows canceled before their time. (But the AVClub already did that list last week, so… I guess my thunder has been duly stolen.)
Yo. It is a personal quest of mine right now to meet the guy who writes for Onion Sports. And high five him. …And then ask for a job. They have an absolute knack for making the joke you were thinking about, perfecting it, and then taking it to the next level of hilarious. Read this, or this, or this. Sports and comedy and journalism are a beautiful marriage. Or, um, threeway? This got weird.
1. "Who's On First" (Abbott and Costello sketch)
My dad showed me this when I was like, 6. I still can’t keep a straight face when I watch it. That’s just about as glowing a recommendation I can give to a piece of entertainment. After 17 years, six minutes of sketch comedy is still hilarious. Plus, they show it every hour on the hour at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Oh, also, fun note: last season, the LA Dodgers were playing the Padres. The Dodgers have an infielder named Chin-Ling Hu. The dude hits a single and Vin Scully got the honor of saying, wait for it, “Hu’s on first.”