Fri 19 Sep 2008
“What goes around, comes around”.
That’s what my father told me after I was picked off at first base when the first baseman distracted me by pointing to a tripped-out Camaro driving by the baseball diamond. I was just a kid, and I didn’t understand what he was talking about. Centrifugal motion was interesting, but hardly helped to explain the pain that I was feeling. I didn’t understand that he was trying to tell me that people who cheat eventually get cheated themselves. And although the first baseman hadn’t cheated per se, it certainly didn’t seem to me to be a nice way to play the game. By giving me this talk, my father was trying to prepare me for life in a sometimes cruel, but generally just, world.
Many years later, I learned that this man was not in fact my father. Nevertheless, my experiences since that day have convinced me that he was right: What goes around really does come around. The people who were the most attractive ones in high school generally grow up to be unattractive, unpopular adults with unfulfilling jobs. The most successful investment dealers invest in asset-backed commercial paper and go bankrupt. The once-largest colonial empire becomes colonized by shawarma-wielding foreigners. The circle of life, if you will.
However, I have noticed that in one particular area of human experience, the laws of karma seem to be frequently suspended. And that area, my friends, is Sports. In a universe properly balanced by the elastic forces of karma, the Superbowl would be won by the most virtuous team, the NL MVP would be a philanthropist, and the Masters winner would donate his green jacket to a jacketless orphan of similar size. But experience has taught us that the opposite is more frequently the case. Quite often, it’s those who flaunt the rules of karma who reach the highest echelons of sport. In today’s edition, we celebrate those athletes – Sport’s Greatest Karmic Anomalies
10. Phil Mickelson
3 majors wins. 34 PGA Tour wins. Perhaps the greatest left-handed golfer ever. And, by all accounts, a monumental douchesac. So annoying, in fact, that he makes Vijay Singh seem palatable.
Suggested Comeuppance: Stabbed with his own underwire
9. Cristiano Ronaldo
Bar none, the most talented soccer player in the world. He should be loved. And he is – amongst the Portuguese and eyebrow maintenance professionals. But the rest of the world hates how he flaunts his superiority. The beautiful girlfriends, the endless amounts of cash, the sinuous legs; he has it all. But karma is like the elastic in a pair of Sansabelt slacks – it can only take so much before it snaps back with fury.
Suggested Comeuppance: Marginalized by onset of untamed unibrow
8. Pat Riley
At the time, Stan Van Gundy told the press that he was quitting midway through a successful season for the Miami Heat to spend more time with his family. It was out of the goodness of Pat Riley’s heart that he was stepping in to fill the void left by Van Gundy’s departure. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that Pat Riley smelled the chance to get himself one more championship ring. But no need to worry, right Stan? Surely the forces of karma will intercede to bring down Shaq or Dwyayanne with an injury, preventing a Miami win and hitting Pat with his just desserts, right? Wrong. Miami wins the title, and the Riley legacy is further cemented.
Suggested Comeuppance: Unwittingly trades for Marbury and Zach Randolph
7. Ric Flair
Actually, I hear he’s a pretty nice guy. I should probably remove him from this list.
Suggested Comeuppance: Arthritis
6. Curt Schilling
Rarely has a pitcher ran his mouth on so many occasions and still managed to back it up. Consistently flaunts the hallowed rule against athletes taking each other to task in the press. Worse still, he writes a blog.
Suggested Comeuppance: Mitch Williams fastball to back of head
5. The 1995 Dallas Cowboys
Having just read an excerpt of Jeff Pearlman’s new book about the Cowboys’ dynasty, I can personally assure you that the Emmitt Smith-era Cowboys constituted the greatest threat to universal harmony that the sports world has ever known. I mean, they actually paid for a fleet of stretch limousines carrying strippers to follow them from Dallas to Tempe. They set new standards for showboating. Even the tackles showboated, for crying out loud. The Cowboys were the favourites coming into the game, but everyone suspected that it was finally time for the forces of the universe to be righted and for the jilted Steelers to pound the Cowboys into submission. Never happened. Cowboys win 27-17.
Suggested Comeuppance: Troy Aikman turns out to be gay
4. Terrell Owens
T.O. has broken virtually every rule about professional sports. He blames his teammates for his team’s failure. He accuses his quarterbacks of being, among other things, incompetent and/or gay. He grandstands. He ponders suicide when he has “25 million reasons to live”. About the only thing that prevents T.O. from being struck by lightning at any time seems to be the fact that he never takes off a play. However, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s an asshole of the highest order.
Suggested Comeuppance: Third receiver with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats
3. Kobe Bryant
Come on. I have to believe raping a woman and then trying to cover up by ratting out your teammate has to earn you some bad karma. And yet Kobe continues on as the world’s greatest basketball player.
Suggested Comeuppance: Raped by a WNBA player
2. Sean Avery
Making fun of an NHL player’s battle with leukemia? Check. Creating annoying new cherrypicking technique that necessitates the introduction of an eponymous rule banning said practice? Check. Most hated player in the NHL? Check. Interning at a woman’s magazine in an effort to show that you’re more than a dumbass agitator thug? Check.
Suggested Comeuppance: Beaten to death with crowbar by teammates and opposing players
1. Barry Bonds
No surprises here. Bonds epitomizes everything that is bad about sports. Examples of his apparent policy of creating bad blood at every turn abound. I mean, just think of it: the single greatest baseball player of our time was also the single most (justifiably) hated man in sports. I suppose the fact that he’s sitting at home right now because no team will hire him counts as some sort of karmic payback, but as far as karma goes, that’s pretty weak.
Suggested Comeuppance: Forced to play tennis doubles with Jeff Kent.