Top 5

With the news that my friend Dale over at has just received a free book to review because he reviewed some other book, it has come to my attention that as a blogger who is now approaching 1/2 of a milliWheaton* in daily hits, it is time for me to perhaps try and pimp myself out for swag. So without further adieu:

Actually, this looks kind of gross.

Roast Beefs: I am a big fan of all things, erm, slaughtered. I know this does not make me a good liberal, but still… if you give me a big mass of beef and then you cover it with some sort of cheese and perhaps add bacon, I am a happy man. It’s not that I hate animals. Well, it is partially that. They are always staring at me with their beady eyes, thinking their animal thoughts. I think you’d have to be crazy in my situation *not* to hate them. That being said, I also enjoy how they and, in the case of cheese, their entrails taste. There is a good moral lesson here: if you are going to be that obstreperous and also that delicious, you deserve to be eaten.

Related swag: ranch dressings, barbecue sauces, pastas (but only if they include chicken, beef, or pork or perhaps all of the three together), “garden patties” (but only if they are made of beef).

Trips to Far Away Lands. I’ve now been out of the United States exactly twice, both times to London** and as such can be easily impressed. Seriously, if you were to send me a ticket to some place in Brandenburg and add a hotel room for a week, I would totally write nice things about you. Just don’t expect the same for a train ticket and 3 days in North Dakota. A Greyhound bus ticket and a half-night in Spokane is right out.

Other Blogs. I’m not sure how this would work but I am certain that if successful, this endeavor would rip a hole in the space-time continuum. So let’s give it a go, blog peoples!


Tickets to the Gun Show. There’s nothing I like more than to get not just one, but two tickets to the gun show. Also, will you find some way to contort your arm so that you can flex your “tri”? Perhaps you could point to your shoe. I think it’s a mark of American sophistication and mastery of all the important things in the world that the word “triceps” takes too long for your standard bodybuilder to say and therefore must be replaced by a monosyllable. See also “glutes”, “delts”, “pecs”, “quads”, and “bis”. Not “lats” though because the term “latissimus dorsi” really is just plain stupid and long.

Moneys. My idea here is that you will send me lots of different kinds of currency, I will describe what it looks like, how it feels, and so on, and then I will recount my experiences trying to purchase items with it. Obviously, this is going to need to be American currency, owing to the fact that the local California Pizza Kitchen does not accept the Euro anymore. Also, I will state up front that I can be bought, and that furthermore the larger the denominations, the better you will be received. Finally, people who think they can “make a funny” by sending me Nixon $3 bills or George W. Bush Deficit Special -$1 bills, I am onto you.

*Note: if you are a swag giver awayer, please do not click this link and instead assume that a milliWheaton is a very, very large number. Look, it has the term “milli” in it.

**Canada does not count.


When I composed this list, it was way back in the year 2007. George Bush was still President, we still had an economy, and things were so, so much different then. The Internet did not even have pictures, which can be the only explanation as to why I did not include any. Anyway, I post this with pix now so that you may enjoy the effervescent Slickosity.


Yes, it is time to compose another top X list. One of my favorite books is the Book of Lists. Another one of my favorites is Moneyball, but that doesn’t really have any bearing on this post. It’s just fun to list things, yo.

And by “top 5”, I don’t necessarily mean best. In this case I mean a combination of “most cynically conceived” and “most hilariously devoid of education content”. In that respect, I can’t really include “Trading Spaces” because, devoid of anything educational that it is (other than “don’t let the crazy lady redesign your house”), it’s not something you’d ever even potentially see a schoolteacher TiVo and then play for his/her class as a means of not having to put together a lesson plan for that day. No, these are straight-out documentaries.

Come on, now. It was just a chimp that walked upright.

Come on, now. It was just a chimp that walked upright.

“Humanzee” I think that this documentary had a lot of promise but I haven’t seen it at all on any of the channels save the one time. Basically, it’s the story of a pet chimp some couple purchased back in the 1960s that they think might have been half human. I don’t even want to think about how that would have come about. I really, really hope that it involved test tubes. But that’s not all! Supposedly there have been several human/chimp hybrids but they have all been killed by angry mobs and/or the government.

Extra credit bonus points: There’s a scene in the documentary where the female half of the aforementioned couple recounts a time when the Humanzee apparently sexually assaulted her. This was relayed in a jokey, off-the-cuff manner, which somehow manages to increase the creep factor of an already naturally creepy show.

“The Tunguska Explosion” The Tunguska Explosion is something that really occurred. The latest theories on the subject involve a largish comet that bounced off the Earth’s atmosphere and released insane terror on a remote section of Sibera. It’s actually a pretty interesting phenomenon.

However, I guess that the producers of the doc decided it wasn’t interesting enough because this is the most extreme Educational Channel Program I think I’ve ever seen. Here are the tenets of Educational Channel Programs:

It's not a matter of if, but when.

It's not a matter of if, but when.

– You never say “this was 3 miles long” or use any English or metric system of measurement for anything. When relaying size, it’s always in terms of football fields. Force is ALWAYS – and this CAN NEVER BE SUBSTITUTED FOR ANYTHING ELSE – measured in Hiroshima bombs. I forget how many Hiroshima bombs the Tunguska explosion was worth but it was worth a lot of them.

– You have to find creative ways to make whatever phenomenon you’re talking about Newsworthy and Important to your average channel-surfing, gum-clacking viewer. In the case of “Tunguska”, this is done by scientists repeatedly saying things like “it’s not a matter of if but when”.

– If you can create a corny CGI of a city being destroyed and find a good reason to include it in the doc, you must. In fact, you must repeat the image about 400 times because CGI costs money, dammit.

– If it involves a war, you are legally required to have 8 people dress up in period clothing. This will be your army, and you will do nothing but take close-up shots of their feet and faces because then maybe viewers won’t figure out that you didn’t actually send a cameraman out to the Battle of Thermopylae.

This, of course, did not involve a war, which is unfortunate because I would have really liked to see the feet and heads of 8 to 10 Cossacks at some point in this. It did have the other 3 things I mentioned and included them gloriously. A friend of mine developed a drinking game around this particular doc which involves taking a shot every time you hear the words “football field”, “Hiroshima bomb”, or “it’s not a matter of if but when”. I do not recommend doing this as it is possible to die from alcohol poisoning.

Look, God! I can shoot crap out of my butt! Can the humans please make an EXTREME animal show and feature me in it?

Look, God! I can shoot crap out of my butt! Can the humans please make an EXTREME animal show and feature me in it?

The entire Most Extreme Animals series I admit, I’ve watched most of these. But you know what? I am a man in my mid-30s and that means I get to fill my brain with whatever fluff I want to fill it with. Children, on the other hand, do not need to know what the Top 10 Most Grossest Animals Ever X-TREME are (yes, the snot eel made the list). My favorite aspect of this show is when they transform evolved animal abilities into superhuman powers. “If you could use sonar like a dolphin, you’d have to have a really big head and a protruding jaw. Basically, you’d look like Jay Leno.”

“The Real Da Vinci Code” Thankfully, we’re not seeing so many of these as we did last year. Here’s the real code: THERE IS NO FUCKING CODE, OKAY? IT WAS A CRAPPY BOOK MADE INTO A CRAPPIER MOVIE.

Somehow, the fact that this was called "Animal Face-Off" makes it even more awesome. Or lame. I don't have a good barometer for these things.

Somehow, the fact that this was called "Animal Face-Off" makes it even more awesome. Or lame. I don't have a good barometer for these things.

The “(carnivore) Versus (carnivore)” series As happy as I am that there are no more Da Vinci Code docs being made, I am saddened that this series – which was hyped to a MASSIVE degree back in 2005 – is not only not still being made but isn’t even being shown anymore. The idea for the show was this: let’s take 2 animals that could beat the crap out of your average person and see who would win a “battle” between the two. They would actually in many cases create a life-size metal animal head and have it clamp down on something to demonstrate its jaw power. This, of course, did not actually demonstrate jaw power so much as it demonstrated the power of a chunk of metal with a hydraulic thingie behind it, but that’s not the important part. They’d end the hour with a CGI animation of one animal clobbering the other and then – my favorite part – the scientists talking all kinds of trash as though one just broke the other’s ankles Iverson-style. There should be more trash-talking in science.

Well, there you have it. My top 5. To those that didn’t make the list: try harder and include more references to Hiroshima bombs.

If you’ve heard anything about England, you’ve probably heard about the foodstuffs. Well, this blog post shall denounce some popular myths and, um, talk about other stuff as well.

This is the good stuff.

This is the good stuff.

The English like their beer cold, just like we do. Yes, I know that’s the big stereotype, those English folk drinking their room-temperature beer. And I will grant you, some of the “classic” ales are meant to be tasted at 50-60 degrees, which is what passes for English room temperature. Personally I think that a lot of people prefer their beer to be ice-cold because they’re drinking crap like Budweiser or Coors and want to experience as little taste as possible. That being said, you will not have a problem getting a good cold beer in England.

In fact, a proper Pacific Northwesterner will probably have between zero and no problem with the pub scene. With all the hops-heavy microbrews up here, you’ll probably find most English beers rather mild in comparison. Don’t get too complacent, however: I doubt most English folk know what a hefeweizen is, and if they catch you putting a slice of orange into your beer you will get punched very hard in the face by a “hooligan”.

While we’re on the subject of beverages, a couple bits about soft drinks. First, do not be surprised if your Coke comes sans ice. I don’t know why, but they don’t put ice in drinks a lot of the time. It’s a strange experience, in that we Americans know how our soft drinks taste and prefer them ice cold. That being said, if you’re a Coca-Cola connoisseur, this may end up being a good thing because they use cane sugar as opposed to high fructose corn syrup. Yes, there is a difference in taste. Don’t let anybody tell you differently. I found cane-sweetened Coke to not necessarily be any sweeter – in fact, it might have been a little less sweet – but had more of a sense of what I think the Japanese refer to as umami. It has more of a… complete feeling to it, like the taste equivalent of Warren Spector’s wall of sound. And you don’t even need to murder anyone to get it! Anyway, no ice in your Coke means you’ll have that much more of it to savor. Just don’t expect it to cool you down so much on a hot summer’s day (and really, you shouldn’t be using Coke too cool down anyway, fatso).

Don't expect any of this in Old Blighty.

Don't expect any of this in Old Blighty.

Don’t expect a lot of steak. Think about it: the United States has vast tracts of land, the kind that guy in Monty Python and the Holy Grail could only dream about. We have so much land, we can let cattle basically roam free and only bring ’em back in when we decide to cut them into tasty bits. England, well, look at it. Imagine a country with a third of the population of the USA jammed into a land mass the size of the state of Oregon. On top of that, a great deal of the land that is out there an available is owned by an aristocratic class that would rather use their land for leisure than ranching. As it happens, England has some of the best farmland in the world, but the scenario I put together does not make for a lot of space to raise cattle. England’s got plenty of fish and other meats, is really good with cheeses, and the restaurants are close enough to continental Europe to really nail the presentation aspect of things, but if you’re in the mood for a thick, juicy steak, save it for when you get back to the USA.

The best place I ate at in all of England. No, really.

The best place I ate at in all of England. No, really.

Feel free to think “outside the box”. London is, of course, the cornerstone of the British Empire. At one point in time, lots and lots of different cultures paid some sort of fealty to this capital of this nation. As such, there is a great deal of stuff available from a number of different locales in the city. When I think of London, I think of it as an incredible location in a vertical sense, in that there is so much history there, but also in a horizontal sense, in that there is a tremendous amount of diversity. It’s very easy to be overwhelmed by all of this; in fact, I’d say it wasn’t until the last couple days of the trip that I really began to understand the depth as well as the breadth of England.

That goes quintuply to its food. “Classic” English cuisine has always been derided as bland, overcooked, and pie-centric: the sort of thing you wash down with your 17th beer of the day so that you never taste it anyway. Thing is, “classic” English cuisine isn’t so English anymore. My tour guide on one of the trips I took – tour guides, of course, always being 100% correct about everything – remarked that the most popular foods in the country nowadays are tikka masala and spaghetti bolognese. Indian and Middle Eastern are also very popular (I think tikka masala is Indian but I don’t really know Indian outside of curry so I can’t say for sure).

Where that intersects with bangers and mash and meatpies and so on is that a lot of these kebab shops and so on are pushing out the pubs. That’s a bad thing to the nostalgic but a wonderful thing to the visitor, as many of the places that have managed to stay in business have done so by providing the best that old-skool English food has to offer: delicious, fresh food and some of the best alcoholic beverages in the world (brought to you by the people so drunk they tried to burn mud) (and succeeded, I will grant you, but you still have to be drunk).

Pub grub is going to be a bit on the mild side, though. The English do not seem to have the taste for heat that many of us in the USA have built up (thanks in large part to our neighbors in the South). My brother tells of a place he went to further north where a restauranteur passed around some hot sauce. Try it before you put it on your dinner, he warned. This is painfully hot, he warned. Do not, whatever you do, put this directly in your mouth, he warned. My brother tried it. It was roughly as hot as Tabasco sauce.

So if you want the heat, you have to get away from the places that “native” English folk and tourists frequent and instead head out to the shops that service the immigrant populations. The Star Kebab House is, I am pretty sure, one of those places. It was on Earl’s Court, right smack in the middle of Touristville, but even so this was not a place designed to suck in tourists. There were around 40 items on the menus, all with unintelligble names and no explanation. I chose one at random and must have chosen right because man, oh, man… spicy and delicious, and served on a bed of rice so that you could put the fire out as soon as it started. I liked it so much, I went there a second time and was not disappointed (that time, I pointed at one of the trays of simmering goop).

The ironic bit was that these were also perhaps the cheapest two meals I bought (Burger King’s breakfast might have been less expensive). It’s mentioned in the Lonely Planet Guide to London that you don’t have to spend a lot to have a good time in the city, that in fact sometimes all money does is insulate you from the heart of the city. This is definitely one of those situations.

For whatever reason, baseball sure attracts its set of characters. Don’t get me wrong, weirdos can be found in all of professional sports. But there seem to be more of them in baseball than anywhere else. Why is this? My hypothesis has to do with the rarity of the skillset required to play the game at a high level. If you have good speed and are willing to work your butt off through college, you can become a fairly okay NFL running back. In fact, to a point players at that level are often weeded out according to the amount of work they’re willing to do to accomplish their dreams rather than any natural ability. In baseball, on the other hand, if you can make good contact with a 95 mile per hour fastball, or throw a 95 mile per hour fastball for that matter, you can make it in the big leagues without a lot else, because doing those things is really, really hard – pretty much impossible for the average person, in fact.

And yet, you’d expect this to mean that the game’s greatest flakes/nerds/crazies would be most good hit no field types. As you can see, this is not the case at all. The one Hall of Famer of the bunch is a pitcher, not a hitter, and although the other 4 guys managed to swing a bat well enough to stay in the majors, they weren’t exactly league leaders. If Arsenio Hall were writing this blog (and he is not, trust me I know), he would say this is a thing to make you go “hmm”.

5. Moe Berg

There is a fantastic book about this guy out there called The Catcher Was A Spy. Now, you hear that title and you think of Berg as maybe a baseball-playing James Bond, whipping out his special combination bat-gun at a crucial time to thwart an enemy who has no hair. The fact is, though, that spies are in the business of gathering information, and people who do that for a living tend to be the nerdiest people of all. Think about it. Who else gathers info for a living? Economists. Scientists. Journalists are mostly about telling people about information other people have already gathered, so they don’t qualify.

Anyway, the famous statement made about Berg is that he could “speak 7 languages but couldn’t hit in any of them”. It was this facility with language that made the US approach him first in the 1930s, when he was one of many players barnstorming across the world (including Japan). He appeared on the 1939 equivalent of Jeopardy, where he was apparently something of a Ken Jennings of his day. After *that*, he ventured to Europe during World War II, where he spied on resistance movements and spoke with scientists in Italy on behalf of the OSS.

Casey Stengel once called him “the strangest man to ever play baseball.” Casey Stengel. I rest my case.

5. Miguel Batista

Batista actually wrote a book of poetry. Okay, ma



ybe that’s not old skool nerdy in the “I have an entire room devoted to GI Joe action figures DON’T YOU DARE CALL THEM DOLLS” sense, but really, when I think of “professional athlete”, “poet” is the last word that comes to mind. The title of the book translates to “Sentiments in Black and White”. He also wrote a crime thriller about a serial murderer. Before you say that takes him out of the nerd domain, I will ask you… have you seen Stephen King lately? Or, um, ever?

3. Dan Quisenberry

The Quiz gets here for two reasons. First and foremost, Bill James, the grandfather of baseball statistical analysis, considered him a good friend when he was alive. If you’re friends with Bill James, you are probably going to be pretty darn nerdy. I would not be surprised if Bill James has unboxed Stretch Armstrong toys in his closet, if you know what I mean.

Secondly, the Quiz also published a book of poetry. If it gets Miguel Batista in, it sure as heck gets the Quiz in!

2. Doug Glanville

Doug Glanville is pretty much my favorite baseball player ever. Allow me to list just a few of what makes him aWesome:

  • Graduated from Harvard with a degree in physics.
  • Wrote an essay for the board game Strat o Matic Baseball in which he discussed the way they rate fielders. And another one about his experiences with Strat growing up. And another in which he answered other Strat players’ questions. If you don’t believe me, look here.
  • When asked why he had such a good career batting average vs. Curt Schilling, he said it was because one time he and Schilling were playing Everquest, an online MMORPG, and Schilling got his character killed. Sadly, the Jayson Stark article that talked about this has been taken down from the ESPN page (probably because it was drawing in the wrong type of crowd) but you will be able to find many references to it if you google Doug Glanvile Everquest.
  • From the article: “Not enough attention is paid to the off-the-field motivators that create nasty on-field grudges. I believe video atrocities top the list. I’m of the theory that this could be a key explanation as to why some players have tremendous success against certain other players.”

I always wondered how a guy this smart was so unable to understand the concept of taking the occasional pitch and drawing walks. It’s a small, small criticism to make.

1. Curt Schilling

He probably cut himself docking corners.

He probably cut himself docking corners.

Why does Schilling beat out Glanville? First, there is the point that he is mentioned as the prime culprit in the Everquest Incident. If playing video games makes you nerdy, being really bad at video games makes you a nerd among nerds.

Also, this is the man who, when tabletop wargame company Avalon Hill was bought out by Hasbro, swept in and bought the rights to Advanced Squad Leader. If you are a nerd with any level of interest in World War II whatsoever and you have not heard of Advanced Squad Leader, you need to get out of your mom’s basement now and get that thing off of the E-Bay. This is the Dwarf Fortress of tabletop wargames. Dwarf Fortress might even be less complex than ASL. ASL has never been made into a computer game because it’s just too complicated for a computer AI to fathom.

Schilling was an ASL fan from way back. I know this for a fact because when I was in high school I bought a couple versions of the Avalon Hill game Statis Pro Baseball. The 1992 edition (which had the 1991 season in it) had Schilling’s card with all the other ratings they used plus a special “Advanced Squad Leader” rating. The copy I had actually had the back signed. Sadly, my mom threw that game out years and years ago, but I can still remember the joy I had when I learned that yes, even a pro baseball player could be as nerdy as I.

In what is sure to be a regular aspect of this here blog, here is a top 5 list. I am a huge fan of The Book of Lists and other books of that ilk. Give me a numbered list of craziness and I am a happy Slick for as long as it takes me to read it. Why was the book High Fidelity so aWesome? If you ask me, it’s because the main character was always composing top 5 lists. 5 is a great number. 5 fits on one hand (although if you are Antonio Alfonseca, I will allow you your top 6 lists). 5 * 5 = 25 – 2 (the number of hands you have) = 23. Exactly.

So anyway…

5. The Greatest American Hero

greatest2aOh Slickonis Backbaconis, you say. Surely you only included The Greatest American Hero on this list so that you could be all ironic and stuff and also make the top 4 guys look even more spectacular. Well, you would be partially right. On the other hand, TGAH was my favorite show when I was like 5 years old. I even made my mom go out and buy the theme song as a single. “Believe it or not, I’m walking on air/I never thought I could be so free-hee-hee/Flying away on a wing and a prayer/Who could it be?/Believe it or not, it’s just me”. That could be the theme song for more than one early 80s television show. The other show? “Believe It Or Not”. If they had Jack Palance do the Believe It Or Not song as spoken word, it would probably still be on the air today.

This only gets 5th place, and a distant 5th at that, because frankly I don’t remember much else about the show. The old guy and the girl look vaguely familiar, as though I saw them on the show at one point. No, that couldn’t be it. The only things I am 100% sure about are a. the song, b. the guy with the hair, and c. the fact that he was really, really bad at flying.

4. General John Sedgwick

I can’t claim to be knowledgeable enough about this guy to write a biography on him or anything. Frankly, there’s one event in his life that puts him on this list, and that event was his last. His final words were, and I quote the testimony of one Martin McMahon, Brevet Major-General (a bigger excerpt can be found online at

I gave the necessary order to move the troops to the right, and as they rose to execute the movement the enemy opened a sprinkling fire, partly from sharp-shooters. As the bullets whistled by, some of the men dodged. The general said laughingly, ” What! what! men, dodging this way for single bullets! What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” A few seconds after, a man who had been separated from his regiment passed directly in front of the general, and at the same moment a sharp-shooter’s bullet passed with a long shrill whistle very close, and the soldier, who was then just in front of the general, dodged to the ground. The general touched him gently with his foot, and said, ” Why, my man, I am ashamed of you, dodging that way,” and repeated the remark, ” They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” The man rose and saluted and said good-naturedly, ” General, I dodged a shell once, and if I hadn’t, it would have taken my head off. I believe in dodging.” The general laughed and replied, “All right, my man; go to your place.”

For a third time the same shrill whistle, closing with a dull, heavy stroke, interrupted our talk; when, as I was about to resume, the general’s face turned slowly to me, the blood spurting from his left cheek under the eye im a steady stream. He fell in my direction ; I was so close to him that my effort to support him failed, and I fell with him.

Popular lore has his last words as “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist-“, which definitely makes for a better story. I guess the truth will have to suffice for #4.

3. Typhoid Mary

Typhoid Mary is a true tale of American perservearance. She demonstrated how time and time again, by just ignoring a disease she carried from birth, she could keep doing what she loved forever and ever and ever until the police had to come in and stop her. And what did she love doing? Killing people? Well, no, not exactly. She loved to cook. She cooked for a lawyer family and gave them all typhoid. She cooked in Manhattan and Mamaromeck, New York, and gave everybody typhoid. She wanted to show that even rough and rugged Long Islanders could get the typhoid and lo and behold she gave them the typhoid. She was quarantined and told never to be a cook again, so she changed her name and gave people the secret typhoid. This was not a person like Fred Merkle who got their nickname because of one outing (Merkle is known for “The Merkle Boner”, which is not nearly as kick-ass as it looks like on paper). Typhoid Mary could kill a bear with her bare hands and she would still be known as Typhoid Mary (and people would be pretty suspicious that the bear didn’t die of the typhoid).

nina2cdThe other reason why I like the Typhoid Mary story is that it’s so well-entrenched with a particular meme in American culture that has all but died out: hatred of the Irish. Typhoid Mary was a Celt and her story really fanned the fears of good, upright American citizens freaked out about the filthy Irish. It helps that typhoid is one of those diseases like cholera or the bubonic plague that seems so closely associated with the slums of Europe (more stereotypical American slum diseases are the black lung and the one that makes gangsters dance and sing like in West Side Story). Mostly, though, seeing signs that say “No Irish Need Apply” make me reflect upon the cosmopolitan nature of this country. And by that, I mean that it makes me laugh.

2. Louis Slotin

The wikis got good infos on this:

On May 21, 1946, Slotin and seven other colleagues performed an experiment that involved the creation of one of the first steps of a fission reaction by placing two half-spheres of beryllium (a neutron reflector) around a plutonium core. The experiment used the same 6.2-kilogram (13.7 lb) plutonium core that had irradiated Daghlian. Slotin grasped the upper beryllium hemisphere with his left hand through a thumb hole at the top while he maintained the separation of the half-spheres using the blade of a screwdriver with his right hand, having removed the shims normally used.[1] Using a screwdriver was not a normal part of the experimental protocol.

At 3:20 p.m., the screwdriver slipped and the upper beryllium hemisphere fell, causing a “prompt critical” reaction and a burst of hard radiation.[8] At the time, the scientists in the room observed the “blue glow” of air ionization and felt a “heat wave”. In addition, Slotin experienced a sour taste in his mouth and an intense burning sensation in his left hand.[1] Slotin instinctively jerked his left hand upward, lifting the upper beryllium hemisphere and dropping it to the floor, ending the reaction.

You can’t even call this guy a Darwin Awards recipient because he was a freaking nuclear physicist. A nuclear physicist who actually thought it was a good idea to conduct an experiment with highly radioactive materials using a screwdriver and his thumb. I know that if I was a physicist there on that day, I would have said, “Boy, is this going to end well.”

1. Rube Waddell

rube-waddell-hof-1Rube Waddell was the awesomest awesome ever to awesome. No, seriously. Each and every one of these factoids about the man is 100% true:

  • An early baseball superstar, he had a super-fast fastball and struck out a ton of guys. Think of him like an early 20th century Randy Johnson. Sort of.
  • Was made to sign a contract preventing him from eating crackers in bed. Ballplayers in those days shared hotel beds when on the road and apparently his bedmate didn’t like sleeping in crumbs.
  • Once missed a start because he decided to chase a fire engine instead (no, I am not making that up).
  • Had a little trick of making his infield and outfield sit down while he struck out the side.
  • An actual headline from Wheeling, West Virginia:
    Throws Up His Job with “Stain of Guilt” Company, Butts in at a Fire, Hires Out as a Beer Slinger, and is Sued by Wife for Non-Support
  • Once stopped a fire by picking up a wood stove with his bare hands and carrying it outside.
  • Died of tuberculosis, a disease contracted when he stood in shoulder-deep water helping to repair a dyke in Kentucky (the Dutch part, I guess).

A-Rod or no, how can you hate a sport that produces people like this?