Monday, January 30, 2012

I’m Going to Disney World!

Professional sports and advertising have always been close bedfellows. From the ubiquitous Goodyear Blimp to corporate signage surrounding playing fields, it’s nearly impossible to escape the clutches of Madison Avenue during an afternoon at the ballpark.

The relationship between sports and advertising is especially evident every winter when the Super Bowl’s MVP happily declares “I’m Going to Disney World!” in a hastily assembled 30 second commercial.

The tradition first began in 1987 when representatives from Disney approached New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms one week prior to Super Bowl XXI and asked him to utter the phrase if his team won the game. Simms declined, but the reps persisted and on January 25, 1987 he rattled off the now legendary line following the Giants’ convincing 39-20 victory over the Denver Broncos.

“I didn’t think it would turn out to be what it is,” Simms now admits. “Everyone always asks, ‘how’d y’all do that?’ Well, when the game was over they turned the camera to me and I smiled and said ‘I’m going to Disney World.’ I couldn’t believe I was doing something like that on the football field. It’s fun to look back and know I was the first one to do it.”

The iconic phrase has been uttered by nearly every Super Bowl MVP since, with the possible exception of linebacker and murder suspect Ray Lewis, who was famously not asked where he was going when the Baltimore Ravens won the championship in 2001. Perhaps that’s because the phrase “I’m going to prison” isn’t quite as inspiring.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Question of the Week

Ray, Victorville, CA
Subj: The best of both worlds
Hey Ryan, my friend and I are having a debate. Do you think Bo Jackson could have made it into the Hall of Fame if he had concentrated solely on baseball and had stayed reasonably healthy?

That’s an intriguing question. Let’s examine Jackson’s production. Bo played for four full seasons before his hip injury, during which time he averaged 27 home runs, 76 RBIs, 20 stolen bases and 111 hits per year. If he continued at the same pace and played until he was 38 (an age at which many sluggers call it quits) he would have finished with career totals of 405 home runs, 1140 RBI, 300 stolen bases and 1665 hits. Putting those totals into proper perspective reveals that Bo would have been 43rd on the all-time homerun leader board, 162nd on the RBI leader board, 149th on the stolen base leader board and 423rd on the hits leader board. Bear in mind that Bo was also a big whiffer who averaged 151 strikeouts a year, so he also would have finished his career with 2,265 Ks. That stat is particularly relevant because it would represent the third highest total in major league history. In fact, the only players who struck out more are Reggie Jackson, who played for 21 seasons and Sammy Sosa, who likely won’t make it into Cooperstown because of his suspected steroid use. Given the fact that superior sluggers like Mark McGwire and Dale Murphy aren’t enshrined makes it hard to imagine how voters would allow Jackson to slip in. Let’s face it: Bo may have “known” cycling, soccer, cricket, surfing, weightlifting and auto racing, but I highly doubt he would have known what it feels like to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Not Your Average Joe

Joe Paterno may be gone, but he won’t be forgotten. The legendary Penn State coach leaves behind a treasure trove of quotes that are sure to inspire future generations of athletes. Here are five of my favorites:

“Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good.”

“Losing a game is heartbreaking. Losing your sense of excellence or worth is a tragedy.”

“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.”

“Publicity is like poison; it doesn't hurt unless you swallow it.”

“It’s the name on the front of the jersey that matters most, not the one on the back.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Weighing in on Prince Fielder

Congratulations to Prince Fielder. The larger-than-life first baseman has become one of the wealthiest players in Major League history after signing a nine-year, $214 million deal. That may sound like a lot of money until you realize that Fielder spends $20 million a day on breakfast alone.

I don’t want to insinuate that Fielder is overweight, but the last time he saw 90210 was when he looked down on his bathroom scale.

Kudos to the Tigers. Not every team is willing to invest in a player whose cholesterol count is 500 points higher than his batting average. However, you do have to question the wisdom of signing a slugger whose strike zone is roughly the size of Wyoming.

Hopefully it will all work out. But if it doesn’t, at least the Tigers will be able to use Fielder’s jersey to cover the infield during rain delays.

Elsewhere in sports, I was sorry to hear about the passing of Joe Paterno. It’s sad news for Penn State and even sadder news for LensCrafters. Apparently JoePa was just two days away from buying his first new pair of glasses in 73 years.

You’ve been a lovely crowd. Good night!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Question of the Week

Tony, Yakima, WA
Subj: Wilt the Stilt
Is it true that Wilt Chamberlain almost retired after his first season in the NBA?

That’s correct, Tony. The Big Dipper nearly hung up his size 19-shoes because he was frustrated with the way rival teams manhandled him beneath the basket. Former Celtics forward Tommy Heinsohn still recalls how he and his teammates would hammer Chamberlain in the post. "We tried to send him to the foul line, and in doing that he took the most brutal pounding of any player ever,” Heinsohn says. “I hear people today talk about hard fouls. Half the fouls against him were hard fouls." Luckily for fans, Chamberlain’s friends and family convinced him to give the league another shot and he went on to enjoy 13 sensational seasons before retiring in 1973.

Eat Your Wheaties

Sports and advertising have always gone hand-in-hand as companies have consistently turned to clean-living athletes to help boost their image and improve their visibility. That’s particularly evident when you look at the long and storied history of Wheaties.

The so-called “Breakfast of Champions” began its enduring relationship with jocks in 1934 when legendary New York Yankees infielder Lou Gehrig became the first professional athlete to appear on a box of Wheaties. The appearance came 10 years after Wheaties debuted on grocery shelves across America and it produced such encouraging results that the cereal continued to regularly feature baseball players over the next five years. By 1939, Wheaties had become so synonymous with America’s national pastime that 46 of the 51 players selected to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game were official Wheaties pitchmen.

The athlete with the most number of Wheaties appearances, meanwhile, is Michael Jordan. The five-time NBA MVP has appeared on the box 18 times, including three appearances with Dennis Rodman, one of the few players in the world flakier than the cereal itself.

Surprisingly, you don’t have to be a pro athlete to appear on a Wheaties box. The cereal has also turned the spotlight on big-game hunters, airline pilots, explorers, rodeo riders and even livestock breeders. So, maybe there’s hope for you yet!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

MMA Fight Trivia

The world’s fastest-growing sport is now invading mobile with MMA Fight! Play against the computer or challenge a friend as you answer skill-testing questions about MMA organizations, famous fighters, memorable matches and noteworthy grudges.

This super fast-paced game tracks your progress with realistic fighter avatars who exchange bloody blows with each and every question. Get a question right and watch as your avatar delivers a vicious knee to your opponent’s groin. Get a question wrong and brace yourself for a punishing punch to the face. Each game features 3 30-second rounds of back-breaking, bone-crunching fun!

From hard-hitting action to red hot Octagon Girls, MMA Fight is full of all the things you love about mixed martial arts. Put some fight in your life with MMA Fight!

Question of the Week

Liam, Topeka, KS
Subj: March Madness
In your opinion, what was the greatest NCAA basketball team of all time?

Great question, Liam. I’d personally have to select the 1971-1972 UCLA Bruins. The team was loaded from top to bottom with lightning fast guard Henry Bibby, sweet-shooting forward Jamaal Wilkes, dependable banger Swen Nater and Naismith award winner Bill Walton, the prototypical college pivot. In addition to posting a perfect 30-0 record during the regular season, the Bruins also breezed through the NCAA Tournament en route to capturing their eighth national title. As if that weren’t impressive enough, the team also led the country in point differential by regularly walloping their opponents by a margin of 30.3 points per game.