So who are the most annoying people in sports, present company excluded?
Annoyance, of course, is subjective. You, for instance, might enjoy watching Paul Pierce, while I harbor a fervent hope that Shaquille O'Neal will one day swallow him whole.
By annoying, I mean anyone who (a) tries to look like Pat Riley, (b) wears a headband, (c) dances after homers or chest-thumps after dunks, or (d) has broken rules, noses or hearts in two or more cities.
Even if you exclude ESPN anchors, sports-talk radio hosts, Twitterers, and ultimate fighters, the ranks of the sporting obnoxious are amazingly deep.
Here's my personal top 10 in no particular order:
John Calipari: The epitome of sleaze. If I were the NCAA, I'd put a permanent tail on the guy - a figurative tail, not a literal one, though come to think of it a real tail would go pretty well with his horns. He sent UMass into a permanent swoon. He got Memphis into hot water, then fled. You can book a future scandal at Kentucky.
Rick Pitino: He might be the most upstanding guy in the world, but every time I see the Louisville coach, I keep waiting for Martin Scorsese to yell, "Cut!"
Roger Clemens: Little explanation needed. He's also among the contenders in the most arrogant and most self-deluded categories.
Jose Reyes: The biggest showboat since the Delta Queen. Contains more hot dog than Ed Rendell's stomach.
Dustin Pedroia: The Red Sox second baseman is just one of those guys who tries to compensate for his lack of size with an overabundance of motion. Were he ever to slow down, we'd likely see him for the annoying shrimp he really is.
Kobe Bryant: He's perfect for L.A. He exudes insincerity and narcissism on the scale of a Tom Cruise.
Barry Melrose: Where do I start? The pomaded mullet? The Frank Nitti suits? The Don Cherry-like defense of goonery? He's a heaping helping of annoyance.
Tony La Russa: A great manager, but one who can afford to lose the perpetual sneer, the propensity to engage in beanball wars, and the notion that he invented the sport.
Alex Rodriguez: He was always annoying. Now that he's added Yankees, New York, Madonna and steroids to his resume, he's in a whole new league.
LeBron James: There's a lot to like about him, too, but the pregame powder toss, the handshake-spurning snit following the Cavs' recent elimination, and the headbands are enough to earn him a spot.
Five Phillies Questions
1. Could Charlie Manuel possibly chew that gum any harder?
2. Could Raul Ibanez possibly squeeze any more tobacco into his jaw?
3. Could Chan Ho Park look any more unconcerned on the mound?
4. Could Jimmy Rollins hit a ground ball now and then?
5. Could Chase Utley possibly try any harder to maintain his one facial expression?
Sunday at the park. I've seen a lot of bizarre things at baseball games over the years, but few could match the scene midway through Sunday's Phillies-Nationals meeting.
The cast of a Wilmington production of West Side Story performed "Gee, Officer Krupke" with the Phillie Phanatic, who was wearing a one-piece police uniform.
Surely, Frank Dolson is spinning in his grave.
Otherwise, the game was great fun - consuming $4 hot dogs and $6.50 beers in a $42 seat while watching a 46-year-old pitcher baffle a 13-34 team that might have the worst defensive outfield in baseball history.
NASCAR note of the week. Perhaps some of the criticism Pocono Raceway has absorbed in recent years can be attributed to co-owner Rose Mattioli's concept of good food.
A native Philadelphian, she apparently borrowed the ambiance of the city's pretzel vendors for her track.
"I grew up eating those, and the men would have these big jars of mustard they would dip the pretzels in for you," she told NASCAR.com. "It is that kind of catering we like to pass on to our fans, the sanctioning body, and to our competitors."
Sorry, Mattioli, I won't be able to attend Thursday night's banquet.
The Bard and the Batsman
Speaking of Utley, a reader who's an Archbishop Wood English instructor has pointed out that the Phillies second baseman bears an uncanny resemblance to the recently discovered portrait of William Shakespeare.
Take a look at the accompanying photo. He's right. The Bard and the Batsman have the same slicked-back hair, the same intense eyes, the same expressionless gaze.
Put a lace-collared tunic on Utley, add a goatee, and, measure for measure, they'd be virtually indistinguishable.
And within two weeks, Phillies fans would be wearing Utley's tunics to games.