In the wake of Georgia's spirit-crushing loss to Fresno State in the final game of the College World Series, a dejected Paul Westerdawg placed Fresno State RF Steve Detwiler -- who was 4-for-4 with two homers and all six of his team's RBIs -- alongside such luminaries as Steve Spurrier, Peyton Manning, and others on his "all-time Mount Rushmore of Hate and Contempt." Anyone who's ever bothered to get excited about a sports team probably has one of those, I'm sure, but my philosophy for assembling one is different from most people's, Paul's included, for the simple reason that I find it a lot harder to get mad at the guys who are actually good. Like, Peyton Manning made my life every bit as miserable on the regular as he did Paul's, yet because he was supremely talented and, by all accounts, a genuinely classy guy, I just couldn't gin up the energy to hate him. Similar deal with, say, Tom Landry and Yankees-era Joe Torre. And, sadly, Detwiler.
That's not to say I can't hold a grudge -- boy, can I ever hold one. But they have less to do with how miserable someone made my life as a sports fan than they do with how much of an asshole they were while doing it; I also factor in the corresponding assholishness-to-actual-talent ratio. (There's a related corollary to Muhammad Ali's "It ain't braggin' if it's true" rule: If it's not true, you need to shut the fuck up, hoss, and quit being such a douchewhistle.) So with that in mind, this week's +5 is my own personal Five-Man Mount Rushmore of Sports-Related Hate. What helps mitigate the hate, to some extent, is that each individual received some sort of karmic come-uppance after messing with me or my team, which I shall enumerate thusly:
For making Redskins fans' lives a living hell throughout the 1990s, I had to put a Cowboy on this list. But whom? Troy Aikman's too classy a guy; Emmitt Smith, while both dumb and a Florida grad, never seemed like that much of a jerk; Deion Sanders certainly achieved such heights of douchebaggery as to earn the title of yotta-douche, but he was only there for one of Dallas's three Super Bowls. So I'm going to go with Irvin, who matched Deion end-zone dance for end-zone dance and douche for douche while maintaining what I can only imagine was a robust and expensive cocaine habit. Yet only last year did ESPN finally rid themselves of him, and he's apparently still on an ESPN Radio show that, mercifully, airs only in the Dallas area.
Karmic come-uppance: Arrested for, and pled no contest to, cocaine-possession charges that resulted in a five-game suspension to start the 1996 season; arrested two more times for drug-related charges after his retirement from football.
My family moved to Georgia right as the Braves were hitting their stride in their historic 1991 season, and we actually got to go to the game in which the Braves clinched what would be the first of fourteen consecutive division pennants. But some people just couldn't stand the Braves winning one, including Darryl Strawberry, whose L.A. Dodgers were punked out of the NL West title on the last day of the regular season. Strawberry later told the media that the Braves only won because the teams they played didn't care whether they won or lost, while the teams the Dodgers played actually cared and gave them a better game; never mind that, particularly since this was before interleague play, the Braves and Dodgers were playing the exact same fricking teams. Who knows what kind of fevered logic Straw was trying to employ with that statement, but it earned him (lifetime) and the Dodgers (15 years) spots on my shit list.
Karmic come-uppance: Had 280 lifetime homers at the end of the '91 season but didn't hit his 300th for another six years -- nor before serving a 60-day suspension in 1995 for a positive cocaine test. Served a 120-day suspension four years later for possessing cocaine and soliciting a prostitute. (Full list of offenses here.)
Leard, with the assistance of wide receiver Ronney Daniels (and, for all practical purposes, Georgia defensive coordinator Kevin Ramsey), was responsible for one of the worst nights of my life, in which the 16th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs found themselves in a 31-0 halftime hole to 4-5 Auburn and faced a 38-0 deficit in the third quarter before finally scoring some bullshit touchdowns to make the final score a little more respectable. Leard set new personal bests (416 yards, four TDs) in what was otherwise a fairly undistinguished career; the following year he also ended up on the winning end of a 29-26 overtime game that the Dawgs had led 13-0 at one point. Off the field, he was apparently such a douche that even my best friend Arlana -- an Auburn grad fiercely, violently loyal to anything Plains-related -- couldn't stand to be within a hundred yards of him.
Karmic come-uppance: Finished his Auburn career a mediocre 13-10 as a starter and went undrafted in 2001; signed as an undrafted free agent but then waived just 45 days later by the Patriots, who went on to win the Super Bowl that season.
"Oh, Doug, you only hate George O'Leary because he was the only coach since Bobby Dodd to have any kind of consistent success against the Dawgs." Damn straight, and it didn't help that a) his three-game winning streak over Georgia began my senior year and b) his first two "wins" were fraudulent -- none more so than the 1999 game, which even today continues to fuel my white-hot hatred of everything Tech. But even after the ill-gotten OT victory in '99, O'Leary couldn't recognize the controversy with a little humility, he had to give the knife in Jim Donnan's side another twist with passive-aggressive comments about how he just couldn't believe Donnan would actually try for a touchdown when the Dawgs got down to the 1 with thirteen seconds left. Nor could he resist talking about how brilliant he was to order the game-winning field goal on third down in overtime (after having had the opportunity to witness Donnan's "mistake"). O'Leary hung around on the Flats for two more years -- long enough to beat Georgia one more time in 2000, and OK, that was a legitimate ass-whupping -- before transporting his shockingly oversized head elsewhere. Which brings us to . . .
Karmic come-uppance: Georgie boy's last home game at Tech was a 31-17 loss to the Dawgs, led by then first-year head coach Mark Richt, who would of course develop a reputation as a nightmarish death-bringer in the annals of GT mythology. Two weeks after that loss, O'Leary accepted the head-coaching job at Notre Dame, a tenure that lasted all of five days before being asked to resign due to falsehoods on his résumé. After three years in coaching Siberia, O'Leary resurfaced at Central Florida, where he went 0-11 his first season.
Here's the thing: Back when Spurrier was torching Georgia's asses on the regular, he wouldn't have made this list at all, much less as Public Enemy #1. Yes, he routinely beat the Dawgs by victory margins no self-respecting UGA team should surrender. But you really couldn't argue with the guy, because he was that good. (Besides, admit it, Georgia fans: Getting a 40-point spanking from a Florida team that would go on to win a national title wasn't half as painful as coughing one up to Zook in '02.) But Spur Dog has maintained his cocky attitude in spite of the fact that he really hasn't accomplished anything since bidding Florida adieu after the 2001 season. His NFL tenure was notable only for proving something the rest of us already knew -- that fielding a fantasy team of washed-up ex-Gator legends was no way to get to the Super Bowl -- yet he had to drive my Redskins into the ground to do it. At South Carolina, he's 21-16, identical to the three-year record that got Tyrone Willingham whacked at Notre Dame, yet continues to trash talk. It's one thing to tweak the rest of the league when you can score 50 points a game in your sleep, Steve, it's another thing entirely when your quarterback's last name is Smelley and you're not even guaranteed a win over Vanderbilt anymore.
Karmic come-uppance: After upsetting Georgia 16-12 last season, Spurrier couldn't resist questioning why anyone thought Georgia was any good, given that they'd now lost to five SEC East opponents in a row; his Gamecocks proceeded to go 4-6 the rest of the season, including losses to three of the four Eastern Division teams remaining on their schedule, and miss out on a bowl game. Then there's the whole "still has to coach at South Carolina" thing.
Just missed the list: Tommy Tuberville, Michael Vick, Casey Clausen, Bobby Petrino, Keenan Jones.
No, Reggie Ball didn't make the list. Are you kidding me? I love Reggie Ball. Every Georgia fan loves Reggie Ball.
And now the Ten:
1. Blur, "Sing"
2. Pet Shop Boys, "Minimal" (Telex heaven remix)
3. DJ Shadow, "Ape Shall Never Kill Ape"
4. John Phillip Sousa, "The Liberty Bell"
5. Dr. Octagon, "I Got to Tell You"
6. Radio 4, "Red Lights"
7. 3rd Bass, "MC Disagree and the Re-Animator"
8. Cee-Lo, "Intro"
9. KRS-One, "Step Into a World (Rapture's Delight)"
10. Pet Shop Boys, "Hit and Miss"
All right, I'm headed down to Orlando for the weekend. Amuse yourselves with your own Random Ten and/or all-time sports villains in the comments.