Tale of the Tape: Da Coach vs. Raffy
By Nick Bakay
Page 2 columnist

Anyone remember Joe Namath wearing pantyhose?

Ad campaigns used to make waves by exposing the feminine side of NFL stars, but now that Mike Ditka has signed on to shill for Levitra, it's pretty clear that the ... er, pendulum has swung the other direction. It also might explain why former (and future?) Cubbie Rafael Palmiero -- the long-established poster stud for Viagra -- is fighting that trade to Chicago so hard: He might not want to see Chicago labeled the city of big shoulders and limp bizkits.

I can already feel the mail piling up at my e-doorstep. Before you fire off a hasty, misspelled, all-caps dandy, let me make one thing perfectly clear: The message they're sending to sports fans everywhere is "it's OK to go to the bullpen," AND I THINK THAT'S GREAT! We all have issues. I long for the day they invent a pill that helps me cover the point spread. But no matter how you feel about these prescriptions, both inarguably involve the dangers of picturing the spokesman sporting the proud results. At the risk of sounding like Jeremy Shockey, that's pretty rough.

It's also worth noting that spokesman gigs like these come with built-in hazard pay -- big bucks commensurate with the big-league razzing they invite. So I'll go at it this way: The real question is, who makes for the most effective spokesman?

Ditka, Palmeiro, let's see how they stack up at the Tale of the Tape ...

Mike Ditka vs. Rafael Palmeiro
Rafael Palmeiro
Mike Ditka
Source of the problem:   Can't stop comparing the size of his weekly check to A-Rod's.   Can't stop "picturing" Ricky Williams in that wedding dress.   Ditka
Campaign slogans:   I have hit 500 career home runs!   This ain't your father's erectile supplement.   Palmeiro
Active player?   Yes.   Soon, apparently.   Palmeiro
Placebos:   Baseball Annies.   The Coors Lite twins.   Ditka
How to ask for a prescription:   "Yeah, Doc, that Sosa thing was wild. Say, speaking of corked bats ..."   "Yeah, Doc, the Fridge got his butt kicked by that little Japanese dude. Hey, speaking of hot dogs ...   Push
Have they dabbled in other high-risk endorsements?   Uh ... the man does wear a Rangers hat every day.   "Consort: the hair spray for men."   Ditka ... and me. I use it to train all three hairs remaining on my forehead.
Target demographics:   Baseball fans who haven't been the same since they cancelled the '94 World Series.   Couch potato football fans who long for a tighter spiral.   Push
Irony:   A member of the 500-homer club.   "Iron" Mike.   Ditka
Sport-specific lingo:   The high, hard one.   Feel the rush in the pocket.   Ditka
Position:   First base.   Tight end.   Missionary
Possible side effects:   Could make you sacrifice average for power.   Could make Buddy Ryan kiss his offensive coordinator.   Palmeiro
Should send a case of pills to:   The Dodgers offense.   The Bears offense.   Palmeiro
What they haven't made a pill for:   A Ranger team that wins.   A way to get all those draft picks back.   Push

So there you have it. It's all so simple when you break things down scientifically. In a tumescence-in-a-can crack back, the advantage goes to Ditka. But hang in there, Raffy, at least we know your stuff actually works. Until next time, I'm Nick Bakay, reminding you the numbers never lie.

Humorist Nick Bakay, currently a writer for the CBS sitcom "King of Queens," is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and Page 2. He has a website at http://nickbakay.com.



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