Top 5 Tuesday: Most Polarizing Athletes

Athletes have long transcended sports. As cultural icons, they are loved and hated, idolized and vilified. Many fit this description, but we here at THE SPORTS DISPENCER scoured the records to compile five of sports history’s most polarizing figures.

5. Tim Tebow

As a college standout at Florida, Tebow was a member of two national title teams and became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. As a pro, he has proven his ability to win. Rooted in his strong evangelical faith, Tebow seems to do everything right.  However, many sports fans simply cannot stand him. Overexposure has led many spectators to detract from his accomplishments. His atypical throwing motion and exuberant personality may deter common sports fans, but until he falters, we are left to conclude that Tebow is indeed God’s quarterback.

4. Shoeless Joe Jackson

With a .356 career batting average, Shoeless Joe’s career accomplishments rank him among the best of the early twentieth century. His talented play puts him in the same conversation as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and the other greats of baseball’s infancy, yet one of history’s finest will never have his name read at Cooperstown. Because of his involvement in the 1919 Black Sox scandal, Shoeless Joe was banned from baseball. Jackson admits to early involvement but has refuted the idea that he helped throw the 1919 World Series. Many point to his twelve hits and .375 average as proof, but his poor fielding performance does not help his case. Even if he is acquitted by the MLB, it will be difficult for Jackson’s legacy to become disassociated with the scandal with which its long been intertwined.

3. Barry Bonds

With one swing of the bat, Barry Bonds launched a ball over the right-center field wall. The home run was his 756th, breaking Hank Aaron’s record for the most homers in baseball history. A fierce debate started soon thereafter. Many believed the Giants’ slugger had not broken the home record — he stole it. Bonds’ reported steroid use is up for heated discussion. He is a central figure in baseball’s steroid scandal, and his alleged involvement leaves many unwilling to recognize his accomplishments. In addition, his brash, insolent personality when dealing with both the media and his teammates leave few rooting for Bonds outside of the Bay area.

2. O.J. Simpson

At his peak, O.J. was a near unstoppable running back. At USC, Simpson won the Heisman by one of the largest margins in the award’s storied history. In the NFL, O.J. garnered six Pro Bowl selections and four NFL rushing titles, but perhaps his greatest feat was in 1983 when the Buffalo Bills back rushed for over 2,000 yards in a fourteen-game season. After he retired from football,  Simpson remained in the public eye. He delighted audiences with his appearances on The Naked Gun and Monday Night Football, but in the summer of 1994, public perception quickly changed. O.J. was charged with deaths of his Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman but was later acquitted in part due to his marquee defense counsel anchored by Robert Kardashian. Since his acquittal, many have questioned O.J.’s innocence until  2007 when he was sentenced up to thirty-three years for his involvement in a Las Vegas robbery case.

1. Muhammad Ali

Perhaps the greatest athlete of the twentieth century, Muhammad Ali is a true cultural icon. Long know for his unorthodox fighting style, Ali floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee en route to becoming the first and only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion. In 1967, however, the man formerly known as Cassius Clay made headlines with his refusal to be drafted into the United States military. His refusal to serve in Vietnam was well-documented. He notably remarked, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. No Viet Cong ever called me n*****.” His statement echoed the sentiment of many at the time but his remark came before widespread Vietnam protests had begun. Ali’s stance on Vietnam exemplified his willingness to voice his mind. As a boxer, Ali was known for his profuse trash talk and unwillingness to back down from a challenge.

Now in his seventies, “The Louisville Lip” has picked up a different fight. After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1984, Ali turned to the role of activist, spreading awareness of the affliction while remaining one of America’s most notable public figures.

* Photos Courtesy of Red Clear Sports, ESPNInquistr

What do you think? Anything we missed? Who would you choose? Comment below and let the discussion begin.

Remarkable Foul Ball Catch

In the top of the first, a Blue Jays fan routinely returned to his seat with refreshments in hand when a foul ball came rocketing to left field. After evading a group of gloved spectators, the one-hopper found itself firmly planted right between the concession-clad fan’s legs.

(Click on Photo for Link)

Top 5 Tuesday: Most Unbreakable Records

The record books are constantly rewritten, but several marks have managed to stand the test of time. The sports world has provided us countless examples, but we here at THE SPORTS DISPENCER have scoured the records to compile five of history’s most unbreakable records.

5. MLB’s Most Career Steals

Long-regarded as the top baserunner in history, first-ballot hall of famer Rickey Henderson holds one of baseball’s most coveted records. On May 1, 1991, Henderson passed Lou Brock to become the all-time leader. Twelve years later, Rickey concluded his four-decade career with an unbelievable total of 1,406 stolen bases. Players may possess the skills and longevity to near a 1,000, but it would take over 70 seventy steals for 20 consecutive seasons in order to challenge Henderson’s untouchable mark.

4. MLB’s Most Complete Games

Since Cy Young threw his final pitch, baseball has drastically changed. Gone are the days of pitchers throwing 20-plus complete games a season, and present are the days of pitch counts, bullpens, and managers limiting innings. Few pitchers in the modern game bear the talent to make a run at Cy Young’s mark, but no manager would allow a season’s pitch count to rise that high. So for now, Young’s 749 complete games remain a testament to baseball’s rugged stars of the early twentieth century.

3. MLB’s Most Consecutive Starts

Durability is a valuable trait in sports. An athlete’s ability to perform day in and day out is crucial for a team’s short and long term success. In his 20-year career, Cal Ripken, Jr. embodied unrelenting durability. While garnering two MVPs and 19 All-Star nods, the Baltimore Orioles star passed Lou Gehrig en route to 2,632 consecutive games. His 17-year streak surpasses any in American professional sports and will keep Ripken in record books for years to come.

2. NBA’s Highest PPG Average in a Season

Scoring fifty points in an NBA game is difficult. Averaging 50 points for a week is very difficult. Averaging 50 points for a season is ridiculous. In the 1961-62 season, NBA great Wilt Chamberlain averaged a mind-boggling 50.4 points per game. Since his record-shattering season, many of basketball’s best have passed through the league, but between Magic, Bird and Jordan, a 37.1 average was the closest effort put forth. If MJ cannot match it, who can?

1. College Football’s Most Lopsided Victory

After Cumberland defeated Georgia Tech’s baseball team 22-0, legendary coach John Heisman wanted to make a statement. On October 7, 1916, Georgia Tech crushed Cumberland by the unbelievable score of 222-0. The Ramblin’ Wreck pounded the ragtag Bulldogs team with an unrelenting might. Many believe Heisman’s true reasoning for running up the score was to send a message to voters. At the time, teams were ranked by the number of points scored. Heisman vehemently disagreed with this process. He unleashed Georgia Tech’s full forces, who scored on every set of downs. Regardless of the reasoning, Georgia Tech’s unfathomable win has remained uncontested, earning it a place atop history’s finest.

What do you think? Anything we missed? What would you choose? Comment below and let the discussion begin.

* Photos Courtesy of Sportige, SouthernMemories.com

Top 5 Tuesday: Memorable Mustaches

Few things can define a man like a mustache. There are countless athletes sporting the iconic fixture upon their face, but we here at THE SPORTS DISPENCER scoured the records to compile five of sports history’s finest.

5. Adam Morrison

In his short NBA career, Adam Morrison won two NBA championships riding the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers. His play on the court was of little impact, but his mustache could bring fans to their feet. His minimalistic upper lip hair may not be as stylish as those of LeBron James or other NBA stars — at least he has two rings.

4. Mike Cowan

Few caddies have found as much success as Michael “Fluff” Cowan. While caddying for the likes of Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, and Michelle Wie, Fluff’s walrus-like mustache always seems to draw a crowd.

3. Hulk Hogan

It may be a stretch to call professional wrestling a sport, but Hulk Hogan can not go unrecognized. The WWE star was an ’80s icon and a key player in professional wrestling’s surge in popularity, and while lifting the championship belt, piledriving The Undertaker, and fighting Rocky Balboa, his ‘stache was there every step of the way.

2. Mark Spitz

Hair is something not typically associated with swimmers, but nine-time Olympic gold medalist Mark Spitz shed the fear of reduced aerodynamics aside and grew Olympic swimming’s greatest mustache while inspiring a noteworthy follower.

1. Rollie Fingers

Coming in at numer one is none other than baseball Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers. In his illustrious 18-year career, Fingers garnered seven All-Star selections, three World Series titles, a Cy Young, and an MVP, but most importantly, baseball’s best ‘stache. The Oakland A’s star donned a classic handlebar mustache that is fondly remembered to this very day.

What do you think? Anything we missed? Who would you choose? Comment below and let the discussion begin.

* Photos Courtesy of Star Pulse, Almighty Philly, Bleacher Report, Around the Horns, SIBatting Forever Mont

Athletes as The Avengers

After topping the box-office for the second straight week, Marvel Studios’ The Avengers has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide. The story tells of an elite group of six superheroes teaming together to save humanity from certain destruction. Rave reviews from fans and critics continue to bode well for the film’s commercial success and has caught the eye of us here at THE SPORTS DISPENCER. Based on the skill sets of Marvel’s finest, we assembled our own team of the sports world’s premier talents.

Drew Brees as Hawkeye

Quarterback Drew Brees fills the role of the sharp-shooting super spy Hawkeye. After leading the NFL last season in completion percentage and passing yards, no doubt remains over Brees’ deadly accuracy.

Shawn Johnson as Black Widow

Known throughout the sports world for her daring acrobatics and unquestioned skill, four-time Olympic medalist Shawn Johnson is the obvious choice to represent Black Widow in The Sports Avengers.

Henrik Zetterberg as Thor

Nordic roots? Check. Master of a single handheld weapon? Check. Flowing mane of hair? Check. Detroit Red Wings star Henrik Zetterberg meets all the qualifications necessary to personify the hammer-wielding god of thunder.

Rick Monday as Captain America

Captain America is an embodiment of stars, stripes, and the American way, and no ball player represents these ideals more than former Marine and ex-Chicago Cubs center fielder Rick Monday. A two-time All-Star, Rick Monday is perhaps best known for stopping two protesters from burning an American flag in a play dubbed “the greatest in baseball.”

Kurt Bush as Iron Man

Every team has its egos, and eccentric billionaire Tony Stark’s is one of the largest. In the sports world, few athletes have the attitude problems to rival Kurt Bush, who was booted from Penske Racing in 2011. Both Bush and Stark live lavish lives, operate pricey machines, and posses the personalities to prove it.

LaRon Landry as Hulk

No being in the universe has the physique to match the invincible mound of muscle that is the Hulk, but NFL strong saftey LaRon Landry comes close. Landry recieved instant fame for pictures he posted on Twitter that revealed his garagantuan size.

What do you think? How did we do? Who would you choose? Comment below and let the discussion begin.

Photos Courtesy of Guys NationThe Front Office, Chud.com, The Halo Bender, Offbeatworlds.com, Wikipedia, Movie Fanatic, 1973 Topps, Bad Haven, The Inquisitr, Word of the Nerd, The Washington Post, Collider

MLB 2012 Middle of May Power Rankings

30. Minnesota Twins

With a record of 9-24, the Twins are already nine games back in the weak AL Central.

29. San Diego Padres

The Padres are an MLB worst 10.5 games back in their division.

28. Chicago Cubs

Last in the NL Central, the Cubs have struggled with run production, bringing in only 114 on the season.

27. Kansas City Royals

The Royals have mounted surprisingly good offensive numbers but are continuously set back by one of baseball’s worst bullpens.

26. Milwaukee Brewers

Aside from Greinke, the Brewers have had little success on the mound.

25. Houston Astros

The Astros five-game winning streak lifted them to fourth place in the NL Central.

24. Colorado Rockies

When your best starting pitcher is 49, something is wrong.

23. Seattle Mariners

The Mariners lay claim to a team OPS of .288 that is dwarfed by their division’s leader.

22. Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates offensive woes continue. They have an MLB worst 94 runs scored on the year.

21. Arizona Diamondbacks

After being swept by the defending champs, Arizona finds itself in a close series with the Giants.

20. Boston Red Sox

Last in the AL East and 7.5 games out of first, the Red Sox are struggling to put it back together.

Rick Osentoski – US Presswire

19. San Francisco Giants

The Giants may be second in the West, but they still trail the Dodgers by six games.

18. Chicago White Sox

A lack of consistency on the mound and at the plate causes them to drop in the rankings.

17. Oakland Athletics

Billy Beane’s squad is playing above .500 but has an uphill battle to take over first in the AL West.

16. Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies continue to surprise baseball pundits everywhere as they place last in the NL East.

15. New York Mets

An above .500 record and David Wright’s remarkable performances help the Mets crack into baseball’s upper half.

14. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Pujols has yet to prove he is worth the cash they dealt for him.

13. Florida Marlins

Ozzie’s team is just over .500 but has the pieces to do much better.

12. Detroit Tigers

They may be two games off the pace in the AL Central, but the Tigers have the talent to win the division.

11. Toronto Blue Jays

Jose Bautista has broken out of his slump, making the Jays a team to watch in the AL East.

10. Cinnicinati Reds

An NL wild card contender, the Reds trail the Cards by 3.5 games in the Central.

9. Cleveland Indians

They are leading the AL Central, but these days, that does not mean much.

8. Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa is second in the Al East but has dropped three in a row.

7. New York Yankees

The Bronx Bombers are still third in the AL East but have mounted a three-game winning streak.

6. Atlanta Braves

The Braves are charging in the NL East and have just taken a series from the defending champs.

5. Baltimore Orioles

The O’s are leading a close AL East race and show no signs of slowing down.

4. Washington Nationals

The NL East leaders have found a future star in Bryce Harper.

3. St. Louis Cardinals

Offseason pickup Carlos Beltran has rejuvenated his career with one of baseball’s top offenses.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

Matt Kemp may be slowing down, but the Dodgers have a six-game chokehold on the rest of the West.

1. Texas Rangers

Two words: Josh. Hamilton. The Rangers star has been lighting up the boxscore. The defending AL champs are poised to make another deep postseason run.

Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

* Photo 1 Courtesy of Rant Sports

* Photo 2 Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle