Monday Shocking Sports Blogging

I’m back from vacation back East and politics is too depressing to think about in the wake of the events this week in Arizona. Therefore, sports! Lately I’ve realized that to make my list of favorite athletes, you have to be either surpassingly good at at least one niche aspect of your sport, or have a character that stands out from every other star’s.

NOTE: I think it’s interesting that there are no basketball players on the list that follows. If I followed the NBA more closely I might put Chris Paul on here, or maybe Gerald Green simply for this:

On to the list of favorites:

Omar Vizquel. I was too young to really appreciate Ozzie Smith in his prime. But Vizquel more than holds his own, I think. Defensively the guy was almost literally unbelievable. You couldn’t believe that a human being could possibly have that kind of reaction time and speed to the ball. Sure, his offense was nothing special. But the defense was so amazing that it didn’t matter. You had to see it to understand.

Nnamdi Asomugha. It would be enough if all Asomugha did was play defense so dominant that his you can’t even use statistics as a reliable guide to his talent. He doesn’t get many interceptions, or tackles, or passes defensed…because nobody is dumb enough to throw a football anywhere near him. On top of this, though, he manages to be one of the brightest and most normal people in the NFL. What other NFL player would wait on the guests at his own draft party?

Bert Blyleven. A new entry to my favorites.  Blyleven’s baseball card was one of the first I remember owning, but I knew nothing about him.  Just watch this interview after he was elected to the Hall of Fame last month. There’s something comforting about seeing someone as competitive as Blyleven appearing so down-to-earth and self-deprecating.

Ernie Banks. I met Mr. Cub when I was about 8 at a card show and still remember what a gentle man he was. Any ballplayer of that generation who has the courage to march in Chicago’s Pride Parade earns my admiration. Pure class. 512 home runs ain’t too shabby either.

Chad Ochocinco. I know, kind of a surprise after the previous four. How could I possibly list four classy players who do/did their jobs with humility, and then this clown? Here’s why: every time I see #85 act up, I see a little of myself and the crazy, cartoonish South Florida environment that both Ochocinco and I grew up in. Come on – between the kicking of extra points, the planned touchdown celebrations, and the taking of Twitter followers on impromptu shopping sprees, how can you hate the guy? Ochocinco clearly loves his job and treats it with exactly the respect it deserves. His job is to play a game. It’s supposed to be fun. Would that the rest of us (and Roger Goodell) never forget that.

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