Commentary

Power Rankings: Break a Leg Edition

Originally Published: October 17, 2011
By Greg Hardy | Special to Page 2

Sean PaytonAP Photo/Brian BlancoNew Orleans' Sean Payton continued to coach after getting injured in the first quarter on Sunday.

Welcome to the smack-talk urgent care unit known as the ESPN.com Page 2 Power Rankings! Our formula combines the results of two surveys: a human poll concocted by ESPN Page 2's Greg Hardy and a scientifically calibrated poll generated by computer analysis. Unfortunately, our computer spent the weekend trying to figure out how to boost the TV ratings for a World Series between St. Louis and Texas. The best model it could come up with? Convince the Occupy Wall Street protesters that they can save the American pastime if they buy the goods and services of Major League Baseball's corporate sponsors. To the results!

1. Payton's pain

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.4 9.6 19.0

Credentials: That's probably not how they drew it up in the playbook. New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham barreled toward the sideline in Tampa but was unable to avoid coach Sean Payton. The play picked up 6 yards but certainly had a terrible result: a broken tibia in the coach's left leg and a torn knee ligament. (Although of course, considering how noisy ex-Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey is about being replaced by Graham, Payton is lucky they didn't run into each other in the parking lot. But how could it have ended up worse?) Just wondering: For someone who has an 80-hour work week, how many sick days do you have to use up for the surgery? Fortunately, the Saints' next game is against the Colts, so the assistant coaches only need to come up with a game plan that doesn't have to be any more rocket-science-complicated than Drew Brees telling his receivers in the huddle: "Just get open. We'll go back to the 'X-slant triple-Y right tango zippy foxtrot' in the next game."


2. NL champion Cardinals

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.5 9.3 18.8

Credentials: From being 10½ games out in August to having World Series patches sewn on their uniforms. If you would have asked us three weeks ago which one would still be around between the Cardinals and the new "Charlie's Angels" TV series, we'd have said, "Are you kidding? Minka Kelly fighting crime every week? It's a no-brainer! Make room on the shelf for a row of Emmys!" Thank goodness the TV execs can never cancel the episodes we'll have forever stored on our DVR menu.


3. Bumbling Brewers

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.8 8.4 17.2

Credentials: Obviously, the true punishment for Milwaukee's horrendous pitching and seven errors in the final two games is that there could hardly be a more humiliating way to be sent home from the postseason. But if we're in management, we'll have to take a tough-love approach on some of these guys by insisting that they're not awarded their participation trophy at the final team banquet.


4. World Series ginger ale

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.7 7.3 15.0

Credentials: The Texas Rangers have made a habit of creating an all-inclusive postseason celebration for those who don't drink beer or champagne by toasting victories by spraying one another with Canada Dry. But please don't tell the stadium concession vendors that ginger ale is being used as a substitute for alcohol, or they might start charging $9.50 a cup for that, too.


5. Jim Harbaugh's super strength

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.3 7.4 14.7

Credentials: Commissioner Roger Goodell has a decision to make. Does he ignore the postgame dustup between the victorious 49ers coach and Detroit's Jim Schwartz and hope the topic du jour goes away? Or does he step in and investigate the backslap by making Harbaugh undergo HGH testing to see whether there was a substance-assisted reason that a simple pass-by could come a whisker away from turning into an MMA bout at midfield? As long as there's a way that all involved can save face and avoid Goodell making a public reprimand of Schwartz by telling him, "Dude, walk if off, dog."


6. Greg Norman

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.3 6.6 12.9

Credentials: The captain of the International team for the Presidents Cup competition mocked Fred Couples' decision to include Tiger Woods on the U.S. team. For those of you too young to remember, Woods used to be the world's No. 1 golfer. Maybe some of you are confused by recent headlines and think that Woods is one of those competitive hot dog eaters.


7. Saving Justin Verlander

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.4 5.3 10.7

Credentials: Well, we'll never know whether the AL's best pitcher could have saved Detroit's bacon in an ALCS Game 7 because the Rangers ended the Tigers' season after Game 6. It's just one of those unanswerable questions, like "Would the 'Footloose' remake have won the opening-weekend box office if Kevin Bacon had made a cameo?" Speaking of, it did cross the mind of someone involved to ask him, right? That would have been pretty ironic if someone would have wanted Bacon to be in the "Footloose" remake, but no one knew how to get in contact with him.


8. Oklahoma State No. 1

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.3 4.9 10.2

Credentials: Boy, did the BCS computers love the Cowboys in their initial analysis of the college football landscape. Which came as quite a surprise to the actual human beings who watch and rank college football teams. But maybe the computers are so supersmart that they know things that we mere humans could never comprehend. The only logical explanation we can come up with is that Oklahoma State is the top team in the country because the computers have access to the secret emails that prove the Cowboys will be the 14th team to join the Southeastern Conference.


9. Boxing bodyslam

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.1 4.2 9.3

Credentials: Should Chad Dawson be called the light heavyweight champ given the way his fight with Bernard Hopkins ended? Usually the only thing you win by picking up and dropping a 46-year-old man to the ground in a fight is a cameo in a "Cops" visit to a trailer park.


10. Big East fire sale

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.1 4.2 9.3

Credentials: In the race to stop the madness of college football conference realignment, the Big East is looking to put into writing that its members would have to shell out $10 million to bolt to a better conference. (Although at this point, technically every conference is better than the Big East.) Still, considering the anarchy out there, we hope the contract includes a provision that spells out who collects the jackpot if every Big East team coincidentally files to quit the same day.


11. A Very NBA Christmas

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.2 4.2 8.4

Credentials: "Dear Santa: Thanks for that great Miami Heat jersey you gave me last year! I know this request might be beyond your talents, but if I can have only two presents this year, it's this: Can there please be an NBA agreement soon so we can see a Christmas day game of the Heat versus the Mavericks so we can have payback for the Finals? And please give Dwyane Wade the ability to hit the game-winning shot? That would be the bestest Christmas present ever! Love, LeBron."


12. Rugby World Cup

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.0 3.7 7.7

Credentials: Did you have New Zealand versus France in the finals of your Rugby World Cup bracket? Believe it or not, that's exactly what we had penciled in. Although not because we had any real gift for analysis of international rugby, it's just that the past two times we've flown, that's where our luggage accidentally ended up.


13. Your Halloween costume

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
3.1 3.3 6.4

Credentials: Among the dos and don'ts of picking a costume, an annual item on our "don'ts" list is dressing up as a football player. Yes, the temptation is strong because it's such an easy-to-assemble ensemble. And although you'll look the part physically, we'll all know that mentally you're lazy and uncreative. So even though you might be a fan of Cam Newton because he's a gold mine for your fantasy team, if you parade around in a No. 1 Carolina Panthers jersey, odds are you'll end the evening by having all your candy intercepted.


Also receiving votes
• "The Walking Dead": It's zombie season again! Specifically, Season 2 of the world's greatest zombie weekly TV series. We spent an incredible 90 minutes Sunday night hiding our eyes from the gore, the mayhem, the destruction and the brain-dead shuffling before we realized we were watching the Minnesota Vikings' offense.

Never receiving votes
• Winless Colts: Through six games, Indianapolis has scored 104 points but has given up 163. Peyton Manning is so bored on the sideline that he has nothing to do but use his laptop to come up with charts for a PowerPoint presentation that shows how much those totals suck compared to his first six games of the past 10 seasons.

Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at Twitter.com/HardyVision.


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Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at Twitter.com/HardyVision.

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