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All That’s Missing Is a List of the Top 10 Lists

I spent some time the other day at one of the nation’s Top Five Chain Bookstores.

Actually, it was a Sunday, one of the Top Three Days of the Calendar Week.

Top Four Things I Found Inside:

1. Lists

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2. Books featuring lists

3. Magazines featuring lists

4. Books and magazines featuring rankings in lieu of lists

Five Book Titles Displayed Prominently in the “Sports” Section:

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1. “Golf’s Greatest Eighteen -- Today’s Top Golf Writers Debate and Rank the Sport’s Greatest Champions”

2. “The Mad Dog 100 -- The Greatest Sports Arguments of All Time”

3. “Facing Ali -- 15 Fighters, 15 Stories”

4. “One Hundred Years -- The New York Yankees’ Official Retrospective (featuring the “Top 25 Moments, Marks And Events” in Yankee history)”

5. “Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Lineups -- A Complete Guide to the Best, Worst, and Most Memorable Players to Ever Grace the Major Leagues”

Top 10 Headlines in the Magazine Section:

1. “Super 50 -- The Top NFL Players & Position Ratings” (Pro Football Weekly)

2. “100 Most Historic Moments” (Pro Wrestling Illustrated)

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3. “1000 Guns!” (Shooting Times’ Gun Guide)

4. “The Ring 100" (The Ring)

5. “SI’s Top 10" (SI)

6. “The Cool List” (Spin)

7. “The 100 Greatest Guitar Albums” (Mojo)

8. “Tiger’s Greatest Hits -- His Ten Best Shots Ever, From Augusta to Valhalla (Travel and Leisure Golf)

9. “Bonus! Top 200 Draft List! (Fantasy Football Cheatsheets)

10. “41 Cheatsheets and Mock Drafts” (Just Cheatsheets)

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Three More Sports Book Titles:

1. “The Sporting News Selects Baseball’s 25 Greatest Moments”

2. “Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play”

3. “The Ultimate Book of Sports Lists”

Top Five Reasons We Are Obsessed With Lists:

1. They’re easy to read.

2. They’re easy to type.

3. Anyone can make a list.

4. “My list is better than your list.”

5. They generate lively debate, which is a handy way to kill time between commercials for ESPN’s “Playmakers,” and they generate more lists, which will help kill more time as we wait for a nonfictional NFL team to start playing games in Los Angeles.

For instance, Sports Illustrated recently ranked “Bull Durham” as the “Greatest Sports Movie of All-Time,” which generated lots of reaction, but to pick just three:

1. “It’s not as good as ‘Eight Men Out.’ ”

2. “Tim Robbins has done better work.”

3. “Is this a hypothetical world we’re talking about? Or one in which ‘Raging Bull,’ ‘Hoop Dreams,’ ‘When We Were Kings,’ ‘Slap Shot,’ and ‘Caddyshack’ have also been filmed and released?”

Sports Illustrated also recently ranked the “101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports.” Its choice for the top spot was Robert Johnson, owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, an expansion team that won’t begin play until the 2004-05 season.

It would be interesting to poll sports fans overseas, considering the sports world does not begin and end at the U.S. border. Five likely responses:

1. “Tiger Woods”

2. “Michael Jordan”

3. “Serena Williams”

4. “Is Ronaldo on this list?”

5. “Who’s Robert Johnson?”

Another thing about lists: They are temporary and contemporary, dismissible and disposable, quick takes from a particular moment in time, always open to revision. It’s one of their best qualities -- sportswriters and coaches get about a dozen chances to correct their Top 25 mistakes every college football season.

This is encouraging news for the Angels, who climbed to the top of the list in 2002, only to be dissed in lists ever since. Five recent examples:

1. ESPN.com lists Darin Erstad as the fifth-most overrated current athlete.

2. ESPN.com lists Nolan Ryan as the seventh-most overrated all-time athlete.

3. Neyer, in his “Big Book of Baseball Lineups,” lists Ryan behind Chuck Finley as the Angels’ all-time best starting pitcher.

4. In the same book, Neyer describes Garret Anderson as “perpetually described as underrated, and so eventually became overrated.”

5. The Sporting News lists the Angels’ loss to Boston in Game 5 of the 1986 American League playoffs as the 24th-greatest moment in baseball history, just ahead of Barry Bonds’ 73-home-run season.

Five Responses on Behalf of Angel History:

1. Over whom is Erstad rated? Who did these ratings? Let’s see these ratings.

2. If you honestly believe Ryan was overrated, you never saw him pitch for the Angels. At the time, the Angels had players called “major leaguers,” making many of them vastly overrated.

3. Finley had the advantage of pitching for the Angels when they had hitters who could hit and fielders who could field. Ryan was the closest thing the Angels ever had to Sandy Koufax. Except Koufax never had to throw to catchers named Art Kusnyer, John Stephenson and Ellie Rodriguez, or pitch in front of shortstops named Rudy Meoli, Billy Smith and Rance Mulliniks.

4. Anderson kind of held his own at last month’s All-Star game.

5. The Sporting News had to go and dredge that one up again.

Lists are everywhere. Lists are everyday. Top Five Lists in the Sports Section You’re Holding:

1. Standings

2. Box scores

3. League leaders

4. Schedules

5. TV Listings

Strangest List We’ve Seen in the Sports Section in Months:

1. Shaun Micheel

2. Chad Campbell

3. Tim Clark

4. Alex Cejka

5. Jay Haas

That would be the final PGA Championship leaders’ list.

So why isn’t Tiger Woods on this list?

Top Two Ways to Describe Tiger’s Play at Oak Hill Country Club:

1. Listing.

2. Listless.


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