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November 25, 2008 at 7:07 am ET
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Your Sportsmen Ain’t S#!t #4: Josh Hamilton, Kurt Warner, Stephen Curry, Nick Lidstrom, and the Anderson Monarchs

These Sportsment Ain't S#!t

Jon Heyman has nominated Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon for Sports Illustrated’s 2008 Sportsman Of The Year. I trust that by now all of our readers know the many, many reasons why Joe Maddon would be the most deserving recipient of this award — EVER. But I thought it would be fun and in character to take a look at the other nominees and demonstrate objectively and conclusively that….

All the other nominees AIN’T S#!T COMPARED TO JOE MADDON….

JOSH HAMILTON

Lenartz > TorrePablo S. Torre’s take: “his numbers alone warrant Sportsman of the Year consideration …. he is, in the end, the rare athlete who lived up to hype served cold, who rebuilt his life and family, who achieved redemption by genuinely devoting himself to something bigger than, well, himself. …. a record 28 bombs in the first round of the Home Run Derby. …. he was the story of the night and probably the baseball summer, endearing himself to a worldwide audience while stretching the parameters of belief.”

Why JOSH HAMILTON ain’t s#!t: Josh Hamilton is a horrible, horrible candidate for this award, and really for any award. Personally, I’ve been rooting against him since I heard in June about him dumping his agent for not being Christian. Bigots ain’t sportsmen. Even setting that aside though, the constant spin of his story as “inspiring” went past nauseating a long time ago. Andy Lenartz’s photo juxtaposition of Hamilton and Amy Winehouse is one of my all-time favorite things ever written on our fine website, both for its humor and insight. ESPN’s Mike Tirico called Hamilton “the furthest thing from an inspiration,” explaining:

Hamilton went to rehab 8 times. He tried to commit suicide (though married with a child) 5 times. He is so deep into his addiction that he has a handler follow him around and is not allowed to have more than $20 in his wallet at any time.

Josh Hamilton is basically in permanent out-patient rehab. Sports Illustrated would be immoral and perhaps criminally negligent to add to the myth that he has recovered through nothing but hard work, determination and Jesusosity by naming him Sportsman Of The Year. If we want to look at just what he did on the field, he hit well for half a season on a team that was never really competitive. And that magical night at The Old Dump In The Bronx? We’re gonna give him an award for setting a record in the opening round of an exhibition that he lost? And if you need anything else, I might point out that Joe Maddon can handle his liquor.

KURT WARNER

Peter King’s take: “There has to be something to the athlete who wins — either in charisma, folk-hero status, non-sporting appeal or the ability to use his platform to make the world better — that goes beyond greatness in the game he plays. …. Warner doesn’t have one. He has all four. …. leading his moribund team to the verge of a rare division title and putting up the kind of numbers he put up in both of his MVP seasons in St. Louis. …. America loves a comeback story, especially with an athlete who’s a better person than player.”

Why KURT WARNER ain’t s#!t: The Cardinals ain’t on the verge of a division title because of Kurt Warner’s greatness. The Cardinals are 7-4 overall, but 3-4 against not the NFC West. The other three teams in their division are a combined 7-26, with four of those seven wins coming against each other. But apparently to Peter King, Kurt Warner is a folk-hero now with non-sporting appeal? I ain’t heard any little kids saying how they want to be Kurt Warner when they grow up. And charisma? The old man has all the charisma of dirt. For nominating Warner, Peter King’s right up there with Terry Pluto in my book.

STEPHEN CURRY

Joe Posnanski’s take: “Sure, every NCAA tournament has a hero, a player who emerges and scores a bunch of points or blocks a bunch of shots or makes one as the buzzer sounds. This guy was different, though. There was something about watching Steph Curry play basketball that just made everybody happy. …. Maybe it was because he looked so young, like a 12-year-old kid who had been called from out of the stands. …. None of the big schools wanted Stephen Curry. Even Virginia Tech, the place where his mother and father had both been athletic stars, only offered him a chance to walk on. He was considered too slight, too small, too delicate to play in the big time. …. Then, for two wonderful weeks in the tournament, he showed the big schools and America what too many had forgotten: Basketball is not a science; basketball is art.”

Why STEPHEN CURRY ain’t s#!t: Curry did less than my George Mason Patriots did two years ago. George Mason vs. Joe Maddon might have been a contest. It’s just not that surprising any more when little schools make it deep into the NCAA tournament. What Joe Maddon did in the AL East was shocking. And Maddon made people smile too. Other famous Mason alums besides me: Shawn Camp and Chris Mottram. Who the fuck ever went to Davidson? How many magazines could Dell Curry possibly buy?

NICK LIDSTROM

Kostya Kennedy’s take: “In leading the Red Wings to the NHL’s best record last season he played a tireless 27 minutes a night, scored 70 points (tops among NHL defensemen) and was on the ice for 40 more even-strength goals scored than allowed. He also captained Detroit to its fourth title in 12 years.”

Why NICK LIDSTROM ain’t s#!t: A hockey player not named Ovechkin even being nominated for this is a joke. Still Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski semi-endorsed Lidstrom, saying “we fully expect him to win, provided Michael Phelps gets caught wearing counterfeit Speedos in a meth lab.” [Insert follow-up Josh Hamilton joke here.] Lidstrom apparently had a nice season, but neither he nor the Red Wings winning yet another cup is a story that transcends hockey’s sadly limited following. Even if we all lived in Canada, I still think we’d all be more impressed by Maddon’s accomplishments than Lidstrom’s.

WALTER STEWART & THE ANDERSON MONARCHS

Michael Bamberger’s take: “In the U.S., girls soccer is an overwhelmingly white sport. The other team, the Anderson Monarchs, drawn from all over Philadelphia, was 100 percent black. That’s most unusual. ‘As far as I know,’ said the Monarchs’ coach, Walter Stewart, ‘we’re the only all-black inner-city girls soccer club in the United States.’ Well, nearly all black. Stewart is white. He gave up a partnership at a downtown Philadelphia law firm to become a teacher at a Catholic elementary school and to devote his out-of-school time to introducing soccer to black girls from working-class backgrounds who would otherwise not be exposed to the game he loves. Stewart’s success rate is astonishing: His teams have about a .900 winning percentage and his players have about a zero percent dropout rate.”

Why WALTER STEWART & THE ANDERSON MONARCHS ain’t s#!t: It’s a nice story. The Sportsman criteria though is “the athlete or team whose performance that year most embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement.” Stewart sounds like a great guy, but I’m not convinced that he’s the world’s best youth sports coach. Joe Maddon has certainly achieved more this year, and given that Major League Baseball is given a slightly larger stage than youth soccer, he’s probably inspired more people too.

Previously on Your Sportsmen Ain’t S#!t Compared To Joe Maddon….

#1: Tiger Woods, The Boston Celtics, Central Washington Softball, Bernard Hopkins, and Nnamdi Asomugha

#2: CC Sabathia, Hope Solo, Abhinav Bindra, Fresno State Baseball, Joey Cheek

#3: Barack Obama, Brian McBride, Jimmie Johnson, Anderson Silva, Padraig Harrington

Coming soon to Your Sportsmen Ain’t S#!t Compared To Joe Maddon….

On Deck: #5 Rafael Nadal, Candace Parker, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Mike Leach, and Bill Russell & Kevin Garnett

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