Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Jimmy Rollins: A Retrospective

Can you remember what you were doing in September 2000? I can. I was a snot-nosed freshman at Quakertown High School playing varsity golf and still waiting on my first kiss. My God, that was a long time ago. 

Jimmy Rollins played his first Major League game against the Florida Marlins at Veteran’s Stadium for a last place Phillies team on September 17th that year. The Phillies were 62-86, 25.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves who were winning their umpteenth division title in a row. Randy Wolf started, Pat Burrell played left, Bobby Abreu played right, Scott Rolen had the night off and Terry Francona probably had a chew that would make Lenny Dykstra smile going in the dugout. Rollins had the first and second of his eventual all-time franchise leading 2306 hits that night.

Desi Relaford and Alex Arias got the lion’s share of playing time at short that year for Francona and the Phils. That was the last year that Jimmy Rollins wasn’t a mainstay at the 6 spot on the diamond for a decade and a half. So the actual answer to who played shortstop for the Phillies before Jimmy Rollins was "Yikes".

Rollins played the last handful of games in 2000 and it was clear that he was the shortstop of the future going forward, and the Phils brought in shortstop of the past Larry Bowa to steer the ship in 2001.  Rollins was a catalyst in a turnaround year for the Phillies. Every position player outside of catcher played a minimum of 147 games that year and the Phils finished 2nd in the NL East at 86-76 and earned Bowa manager of the year honors.  Rollins hit 274 with 48 steals 29 doubles 14 homers and 180 hits in his first full season. He finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting behind Roy Oswalt and a dude name Albert Pujols. Things were looking up for the Phillies after above average years from a young group of talented players.

It was not to be.

The Phils ran the same squad back in ‘02 but the organization’s unwillingness to spend money as well as Bowa’s fiery personality clashed with the temperamental star of the team, Scott Rolen. Ed Wade sent him packing and Rollins numbers were down across the board for a team that finished a game below .500.

The next few years were spent trying to find an identity as the team moved across the street to Citizen’s Bank Ballpark and Jim Thome hit a bunch of mostly meaningless home runs.

Rollins was a constant. If everything else on the team was a variable, be it the manager (Charlie Manuel replaced Bowa in 2005), the starting pitching, the entire roster save Burrell and Abreu, Rollins was always there. From 2001 to 2007 Rollins missed just 34 of 1134 games and never played less than 154 in a season. In that same stretch he posted the following hit totals: 180, 156, 165, 190, 196, 191, 212.

By the time Charlie Manuel had settled in as manager Jimmy Rollins knew that the Phillies were going to be good. They had serious close calls for playoff berths in 2005 and 2006, the former of which was led by Rollins’ 38 game hit streak that stood at 36 games when the '05 season ended. That hitting streak is 8th all time by the way. In 2006 the New York Mets were dominant and ran away with the division and looked poised to do the same in 2007.

Jimmy Rollins was not having any of that. Don’t get me wrong, Rollins was always an All-Star caliber player from day one but believe me when I tell you his 2007 season was something for the ages. We all know he declared the Phillies as “the team to beat” in spring training that year even though the Phillies hadn’t made the playoffs since Rollins was in middle school. Then all he did was go out and make every single play a guy could make that year. Ryan Howard gets to go down in history for those 58 home runs in his 2006 season, but put Jimmy Rollins right next to him for having the following stats in ’07 (bold numbers indicates a league lead).

162 games, 778 plate appearance, 716 at bats, 139 runs, 212 hits, 38 doubles, 20 triples (20 triples?!?), 30 home runs, 94 rbi, 41 steals (6 caught), and he hit 296.

Oh, and he also won his second consecutive gold glove. And National League Most Valuable Player honors.

I tend to get carried away with stats but know that it wasn’t just about the stats with Rollins. He was the leader on a ballclub on a true ascension. He was outspoken. He was charismatic. He had swagger (before swagger became something that everybody claimed to have). He Made Every Single God Damn Play At Shortstop. Day in. Day out.  For what seemed like forever. This can't be taken for granted but usually is.

His 2007 season got the Phillies over that playoff hump. Sure, they got swept by the Rockies but the comeback the Phillies made against the Mets to take the division is what every one remembers that year.  Seven and a half back with 17 to go and the Mets folded like a cheap suit. Rollins put the belief in that team to go out and do it. Having Chase Utley, Howard, Jayson Werth, Chooch, and Shane Victorino certainly helped but Rollins was the one who made them believe. First he did it with his words, and then he did it with his play.

From there the legend only grew. Every one reading this knows what happened in 2008 for the Phillies. When you’re the starting shortstop and a main reason for a team to reach the apex of the sport your position has been solidified as one of the all time franchise greats.

Then came the 2009 NLCS. The Phillies had not been in a tight playoff series during their run up to that point and Jimmy Rollins was not about to let that '09 NLCS be any different. It was a cold Monday night in October and the Phils were leading the series 2-1 but trailing the Dodgers 4-3 and down a run in the bottom of the 9th at Citizen’s Bank Park.

The Dodgers closer, Jonathan Broxton, had already been victimized by the mortal Matt Stairs in the 2008 NLCS to the tune of a moon shot game-winning home run. This time, Broxton was facing Jimmy batting left-handed with two outs and two men on when the 30 year-old shortstop connected on a 99 mile per hour fastball and sent a laser into the gap in right center. Can’t you just hear Harry (RIP) doing that call “Two runs are gonna score..”

 This always has and always will be my favorite YouTube clip of all-time. Scott Franzke with the call.

That’s the hit you dream about when you’re a little kid playing in your back yard. That’s what every fan wishes their team would be capable of pulling off. That’s what Jimmy Rollins delivered in the 2009 NLCS. It’s a hit and a moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. It made Jimmy Rollins immortal as a sports figure in this city regardless of his shortcomings and more lean years we’ve experienced of late.

Since the Phils string of five straight NL East titles Rollins’ play has dipped, along with every other star on the Phils' aging roster. After the 2011 season, the one that ended in bitter disappointment after 102 wins, he signed a three year deal to stay with the only team he’d ever known. I actually wrote him an open letter pleading with him to stay. I’m glad he did. It was the right thing to do, whether it worked out for him and the Phillies or not.

Jimmy wasn't without his faults. I did my fair share of complaining about his penchant for popping up the second pitch of an at-bat in the infield. I got frustrated when he seemed to swing for the fences or not work counts, but the positives always far outweighed the negatives when it came to Jimmy. He was never the prototypical leadoff hitter, but when Jimmy Rollins was going good the Phillies were tough to beat and everybody knew that.

It saddens me that Rollins, Utley and Howard are not as revered currently as they should be because they have seen such a large drop in production. That’s what happens though, athletes get old. Unless you’re Barry Bonds (cough bullshit cough), you’re not putting up career years at age 38. People will rag on Jimmy these days because of his low batting average and suspect on base percentage.  They might be legitimate gripes but after 15 years of being the best shortstop this organization has ever seen it’s finally time to let any negative feelings you may have about Jimmy Rollins go today.

He is the man that put his heart and soul into this ballclub since before any 20 year old in the Delaware Valley is capable of remembering. He’s been through Francona, Bowa, Manuel, and Sandberg. He’s been through last place and he’s been through multiple pennants. He won one of the franchise’s two World Series. He will always be a Phillie, but for now he’s a Dodger. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ruben is Still Here

I was with several friends over the past weekend and I discussed that the Phillies season would end with a Cole Hamels start on Sunday. Here are some samples of the responses I heard.

“They’re still playing?!”

“I stopped following the Phillies in May.”

The terms 'relevant' and 'Phillies' don’t look as if they’ll collide in a sentence any time soon, perhaps for the rest of the decade. They finished this season with the same exact record as last season, but this time it was bad enough for last place. So let’s take quick stock of the drastic and epic fall from grace for this collection of stiffs. In fact it will be real quick. The Phillies have finished in a worse position than they did the year before every single year for six consecutive seasons, but here’s the scary part, I don’t think they’ve even bottomed out yet.

We’ve gone over and it, and gone over it, but this collective failure really falls at the feet of one incredibly stubborn man. That man is Ruben Amaro Jr. He’s taken a perennial contender and turned it back into the perennial doormat it had been for the vast majority of its century plus old existence. Despite the facts that every single Phillies fan is familiar with¸ Ruben has been given a vote of confidence and will be coming back to try and get his team out of last place (barring a miracle he won’t) in 2015.

To quote Liam Neeson in Taken – the arrogance offends me.

There are literally hundreds of reasons why the Phillies should not bring back Ruben Amaro Jr but we’ll talk about the most relevant ones.  There’s really only two that matter, take your pick as to which you think is a bigger reason why RAJ should lose his job. It doesn't matter that people within the organization like him, or that he is doing his best. His results speak for themselves, and its hard to imagine any other team allowing this kind of rope with which he's hanged himself.

First, he has taken a team with incredible talent and aside from obvious additions like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Hunter Pence he hasn’t filled in the cracks with anybody half as talented as Jayson Werth or Shane Victorino. When the Phillies core four (Howard, Rollins, Utley, Hamels) were in their prime together they didn’t need a ton of help but Pat Gillick got it for them anyway. What makes upper management think that Amaro will all of a sudden turn his “bad luck” free agent signings and clear as day lack of talent evaluation skills around? Seriously, What. The. Fuck?! Makes them think that?!?

I’m at a loss there, I assume everybody else is too, except, astoundingly, the people who make decisions above RAJ’s head. Wow. Just wow. We’re dealing with incompetence on top of incompetence and then throw in a gallon of stubborn and you have the 2014/15 Phillies' management.

Second, the Phillies brass is removing all goodwill they built up with their fans during the sustained success by not firing RAJ. You could poll the 100 people who actually made it to the last Phillies home game of the  year whether they’d have RAJ or literally anybody else who’s made a baseball decision in their life at the Major League level who they’d want to run the team next year, and 100 people and all of their moms would say literally anybody else.

So really, what do the Phillies have to gain by being loyal to a man who has run their team into the ground? They’re not going to find somebody who could do worse. But there’s got to be a decent chance they could find somebody who would do better. It’s like the Phillies have been eating out of the same opened bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos since 2012 and they love stale Doritos! They had a great run, but hey let’s see if we can find a new bag, maybe Cool Ranch, maybe something cool we don’t even know about yet.

This offseason will be an important one for the Phillies. Will they vie seriously for free agent talent? Will they go find a pitcher? Will they turn Ryan Howard lose and eat $60 million? Will they stand pat with lame ducks Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley? Will they find a competent outfielder that isn’t over 35 years old that led the MLB in Ks?* Will they employ a catcher than can slug over 370? Will they employ anyone who can slug over 400?**

I just don’t want Ruben Amaro Jr answering any of those questions. I can’t say I’ve come across anybody lately who disagrees.

*Marlon was second in the MLB in Ks. I’ll give you one guess who led the MLB in Ks, and that’s all you should need.

**Marlon did at 445 and Chase Utley technically slugged 407 but he finished the season with just 11 home runs and hit only 15 doubles after May, when he hit 21 in the first two months of the season. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Even When They're Good, They're Bad

Cole Hamels is 15-8 with a 3.34 ERA in his career against the Braves

Today the Phillies’ completed a no-hitter using four different pitchers, their first combined no-hitter in their 130 year history and the 12th in team history. It will surely go down as the most memorable moment of this abysmal 2014 season. But as I was planning on writing even before this somewhat historic feat, even when these Phillies are good, they are bad.

Take today as a case in point. Sure, Cole Hamels tossed 6 innings of no-hit ball but Cole would certainly tell you he’s pitched better in a plenty of games this season. Hell, he only made it through six innings despite not giving up any hits. Hamels was less than sharp walking 5 and hitting a batter en route to 108 pitches after 18 outs.  His turn came up to hit in the bottom of the 6th and Sandy wasted no time sending Grady Sizemore out to pinch-hit for Hamels. His afternoon was done even with the chance at immortality still in his grasp.

Sandy turned to a bullpen combination that has been somewhat dominant (the somewhat is Jake Diekman) in Jake Diekman, Ken Giles, and Jonathan Papelbon to try and persevere the no-hitter. Those three combined for three perfect innings and the Phils were able to squeeze out a bright spot on Labor Day against their division rival Atlanta Braves, who flat out can’t hit.

So this is a nice accomplishment and a “neat feat” but having Cole Hamels only be able to finish six innings while walking five is just another prime example of the Phillies being bad, even when they’re good.

More cases in point – Has any one taken a look at the NL batting title race lately? I have a pretty good chuckle to myself every time I see Justin Morneau slip down a few points and still manage to hold on to his grasp of the league lead. Little Ben Revere has been making a push the past few months to try and claim this title for the Phillies for the first time since Richie Ashburn did it more than 50 years ago.

What a pathetic race this is though! Currently, Morneau is tied with Josh Harrison of the Pittsburgh Pirates at .311. 311?!? Are you kidding me? Under .315 has a good chance to walk away with a batting title this year? Pete Rose could probably still do that. Benny sits about one hit behind the leaders at .310. Last year, Michael Cuddyer won the batting title hitting .331 and that was the lowest mark in over 20 years! The last guy to win a batting title in the NL under .320 was Terry Pendleton (.319) for the Braves in 1991.

More to the point of Benny being bad even though he is good, of the top 10 hitters in the NL right now Benny has the lowest on base percentage (.328), the lowest slugging percentage (obviously, .364) and even after a 5 RBI day yesterday the lowest amount of RBI (20).  He’s also the only hitter in the top 10 with less than 2.1 WAR, coming in at a whopping .6 WAR despite the 3rd highest batting average in the league.

When you take a look at the rest of the Phillies roster almost every player on here is good for something, but just not good overall. Not good enough to help the team win.

A few weeks back while discussing Ryan Howard during his Sunday broadcast gig, Mike Schmidt insisted that “you couldn’t have a bad season if you got to 100 RBI.”  Well, Mike my friend, what about old Ryan Howard? If he continues at his current pace he’s going to prove you wrong on that statement. Miraculously, Howard and his 87 RBI sit at 4th in the NL despite hitting .225 and slugging just .383. Of the other men in the top 10 in RBI in the NL, Howard’s slugging percentage is .41 points lower than anybody else. Of those same 10 men Ryan Braun has the least amount of WAR at 1.3, except for Howard who has compiled a -1.0 WAR for the season. Eeeessshhh.

Meanwhile, Marlon Byrd, perhaps the Phillies most productive hitter, has been swinging for the fences all season. It has worked, to an extent. He’s 5th in the NL in home runs with 25 (a career high) but he also leads the Majors in strikeouts with 164. If you’re teammates with Ryan Howard and you hold your team lead in strikeouts something is off there, I don’t care what your other production is. Byrd is hitting .268 and leads the team in slugging so it’s certainly not all bad.

Jimmy Rollins has been a bit hot of late so I don’t have to throw up every time I check his box score. Is it sad that I’m fairly excited to see he’s up to .249? The answer to that question is yes. Rollins does have a career high in walks (62) this year and has a decent shot to have a 20 homer 20 steal season as a 35 year old shortstop. That batting average though, it’s tough to take, especially when he’s come in at .250 and .252 the prior two years.

Lastly, Saint Chase. Nobody likes to rag on Chase Utley in Philadelphia, but come on Chase, where has all the power gone? I don’t know if it’s his knees or what, but Utley just flat out does not drive the ball for power at anything more than a normal-ass second baseman clip. Nobody has ever referred to Utley’s power as “normal-ass” for a second baseman I guarantee you that. After racking up 21 doubles and hitting .320 through May this year Utley has not done much of anything at the plate. He hit .240 in June, .268 in July, and .243 in August. During those three months he only produced 16 extra base hits and is in line for a career low slugging percentage of .418. Despite all this he’s the best position player on the team by most accounts.

So even when the Phillies are good, they are bad. Here’s to watching Rollins, Howard, and Utley start on opening day next year. Cheers!

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Top 10 George Costanza Lies

"And you wanna be my latex salesman"

“The thing is, I’ve been living a lie.” Gary Fogel.

Just one? I’m livin’ like 20,” George Costanza.

Editor's Note - If you are viewing this on a mobile device the embedded clips from the show will not display, but they are hyperlinked in for each lie. Also, wow! YouTube is probably top 5 invention all time.

Alex Riley: From the occasional casual viewer, to the obsessed Seinfeld aficionados, it is well known to many that George Costanza has lived his life as a prolific liar. My friends and I fall into the latter category. This past Memorial Day Weekend we went as far as delivering PowerPoint presentations on our top 10 episodes of all time. Try coming up with your top 10 Seinfeld eps, that’s no easy task. It’s like having 180 kids and trying to tell somebody who your favorite is. So with this knowledge and Seinfeld prowess in mind, those same friends and I have decided to put together another top 10 list. 

This time we present to you: The Top 10 George Costanza Lies of All-Time.

I’ll kick things off…

The Race - 6th Season, Episode 10

Setting the scene: Jerry’s legend for being the fastest kid in school has grown to epic proportions after winning a race in high school, and he needs George to corroborate his story that he did not break early at the start of the race. The boss of the woman Jerry is dating went to high school with Jerry and insists Jerry cheated in order to win the race. In an effort to make him believe, Jerry and George stage a fake meeting in the coffee shop and act as if they haven’t seen each other in 20 years. The lies from George start flying from there. He, of course, explains that he is now an architect and mentions that he did the new addition to the Guggenheim. "It really didn't take that long either." He goes on to also reveal that he lost his virginity the day of the big race to "Miss Stafford, the voluptuous homeroom teacher." My god, what a brilliant liar!

The lie: “I guess I started losing it when I was 28, right about the time I made my first million. It’s true what they say, the first million is the hardest.”

The Wizard - Season 9, Episode 15

Setting the scene: Afer his fiancee, Susan Ross, dies (from the toxic glue found on her cheap wedding invitations that George stooped to paying for), a foundation is established in her name and there is an event her parents invite George to attend. Not wanting to go, George tells several elaborate lies to the parents of his deceased fiancée starting with the 'fact' that he cannot attend the event because he will be at his house in the Hamptons. He goes as far as to tell them he has two horses named Snoopy and Prickly Pete. The Ross’s know he is lying and want to get the better of him. Thinking they'd never take him up on his offer, George invites them out to his place in the Hamptons. Much to his chagrin the Ross's take him right up on the offer and show up at his apartment for the long ride out to this non-existent beach home. George asks them if they really want to go through with the trip to his place in the Hamptons.

The lie: “Speak now or we are going to the Hamptons.. You wanna get nuts?!? Let’s  get nuts!!”

Andrew Eisenhart: Let's be honest, no one likes liars. They frustrate us on all levels, whether your relationship with the liar is serious or as easy-going as a distant work colleague, they don't fit into the mold of our society. That said, we all can really enjoy a lie that is comedic and there hasn't been a more humorous liar on television than Seinfeld's George Costanza. George is a pathological liar throughout the series. The irony of this is that one of his famous lines is about living in a society in a civilized way. How does lying fit into that? Who cares!

The Marine Biologist - Season 5, Episode 14 

Setting The Scene: While George's entire life is a lie, you can't help but feel for the guy when his best friend Jerry makes up a lie on his behalf. During an ATM visit, Jerry runs into an old college friend who asks about George. Jerry tells the "it" girl from their college days that George has become a Marine Biologist and is quite successful. George becomes uncomfortable with this made up lie claiming "he knows what he's capable of" as he prefers lying about being an architect.

The Lie: "Is anyone here a marine biologist?"

The IQ Test - Season 3, Episode 7 

Setting The Scene: Monica, George's girlfriend, administers IQ tests for her education course. Monica asks George to take the test and George, worried that she won't be impressed with his score, concocts a plan to have Elaine take the test for him. Monica's apartment has a first floor window that is accessible to the street, making it easy for Elaine to take the test then return it to George in the allotted time. Elaine has a hard time concentrating at Babu Bhatt's Dream Cafe, where she is taking the test. She returns it to George and this ensues. No pre-mediation, no pre-thought, just brilliant lying on the spot.

The Lie:   "How Am I Going To Explain This?"

Bob Bolenius:

The Non-Fat Yogurt - Season 5, Episode 7

Setting The SceneGeorge and Jerry are hanging out at the non-fat yogurt place admiring the delicious, seemingly non-fat frozen yogurt. In walks Lloyd Braun, who is a childhood neighbor of Georgey Boy's and now a big time advisor to Mayor Dinkins. "He thinks he's so cool," we learn via George. Much to George's dismay, Lloyd recognizes him and initiates conversation, hilarity ensues. Lloyd tells George he hears he is living at home with his parents to which George replies, "yeah there was a fire in my apartment building." Lloyd retorts "Fire, boy speakin of how bout some of the chicks in here..."

While George expects that Lloyd is scanning the room for babes Lloyd actually looks back right at the moment George is nudging Jerry with his elbow as if to say "ya see, this fuckin' guy?" Lloyd asks George if there is something wrong with his elbow to which George replies, "yeah its the damndest thing out of nowhere I started getting this involuntary movement." Naturally, Lloyd is concerned and gives George a business card for Mayor Dinkins' esteemed doctor to get it checked out. Like deceit is wont to do, this lie creates all kinds of problems for George. When Lloyd stops by Frank and Estelle's and brings up George's spasms both of his parents say they've never seen him do that but George elbows his mom to show the problem. In order to save face George agrees to go see the doctor. As the doctor reviews the x-rays he tells George "I find there's absolutely nothing wrong with you, nothing that would indicate involuntary spasm."  George replies "well its a mystery isn't it." The doctor proclaims "No, not really, may I suggest the possibility that you are faking?" George, aghast, retorts with "what kind of a person would make up a thing like that?" The doctor says "I don't know what kind of person would do something like that...obviously a very sick person.  A very immature person. A person who has no regard for wasting other people's time ... Good day." As George gets up to leave in a huff he smashes his elbow on the desk and ironically does begin to experience involuntary arm spasms.

The Lie: "Well it's a mystery isn't it?"

The Outing - Season 4, Episode 17

Setting The SceneAfter realizing that a pair of college girls in the booth next to them are eavesdropping Elaine intentionally let's them hear her reasoning with George and Jerry that "So what if you're gay? I mean does that really change anything?" One of the girls happens to be an aspiring journalist from NYU who is set to interview Jerry. Later on at Jerry's apartment while the interview is going on, George behaves in what can be misconstrued as a homosexual manner in both his body language and conversation with Jerry.  George goes as far as asking "Do you see the way he talks to me?" to which the girl replies "You should see the way my boyfriend talks to me."  To this Jerry puts two and two together and realizes that this girl was the one that was eavesdropping back at the coffee shop and proclaims that Elaine was just messing with her and they are not gay. George, not wanting to appear homophobic, offers up some pro-gay comments including the unforgettable lie, "My father's gay." Since the reporter was still struggling to comprehend the fact that Jerry and George are indeed hetero, George comes out with the classic line "DO YOU WANNA HAVE SEX RIGHT NOW?? C'MON LETS GO BABY!!"

After many issues Jerry finally gets Sharon (the reporter) to believe him that he is straight and Jerry even gets Sharon interested in a romantic relationship. Meanwhile, due to George's desire to get rid of the girl he is currently seeing he lies to her by reading her the newspaper article that Sharon wrote proclaiming that Jerry and his "longtime companion" have been seeing each other for years. He says "Don't you understand what that implies?? I'm gay, I'm steeped in gayness." However George's girlfriend does not believe this lie and when George finds Jerry and Sharon making out on the couch he screams "Jerry what are you doing with a woman??" Jerry says, "what are you talking about you idiot?" After this interaction, Sharon is fed up and leaves because everything is so weird. Since Jerry will not play along George finally tries a new lie and says, "actually I'm a pornstar named Buck Naked," to which his girlfriend gets turned on while George laments "oh my god...".

The Lie: "My father's gay"

Craig Bevan:

The Boyfriend - Season 3, Episode 17

Setting The Scene: At the gym, Jerry spots baseball star Keith Hernandez in the locker room and before he can work up the courage to introduce himself, Keith walks over and tells Jerry how much he admires Jerry's comedy act. They soon become fast friends but Jerry is jealous, of what he's not quite sure, when Hernandez starts dating Elaine. Kramer and Newman have their own views about Hernandez, convinced that he spit on them after a game several years before. Jerry analyzes the event with Warren Commission-like detail. Meanwhile, George is having trouble extending his unemployment benefits and let the lying begin. He notices that the unemployment counselor is a big Mets fan and he let's her know that he's a "good friend of Keith Hernandez" to ingratiate himself with her.

In an effort to extend the benefits, George makes up a story about a job interview he'd been to and that he was very close to securing a job with Vandelay Industries. He then gives Jerry's address and phone number for the unemployment counselor to check out Vandelay Industries, which manufactures latex on the Upper West Side.  George rushes to Jerry's apartment to make Jerry aware that he needs to answer the phone "Vandelay Industries" until the unemployment counselor calls. Kramer, however, is unaware as he picks up Jerry's phone and let's the woman know she's "way, way, off" which is very typical of Kramer. While Kramer is telling this woman that there's no Vandelay Industries at this number George comes storming out of the bathroom yelling at Kramer.

The Lie: "Say Vandelay! Say Vandelay!"


The Butter Shave - Season 9, Episode 1

Setting The Scene:
Not fully recovered from "The Summer of George", George is using a cane to get around.  George learns of a job interview with a playground equipment company. He is hired for the job at Play Now because they think he is handicapped due to his use of the cane. George takes full advantage of the situation after they offer him his own fully equipped handicap bathroom.

George manages to keep up his handicap bluff until he gets into some trouble with old-timers after hitting their motorized carts (four volts), a very slow chase ensues. George's cart begins to die on him so he jumps off and picks up the cart and runs away from the mob only to run into his boss from Play Now. George, now concerned about what will happen to his job, is caught by the mob and one older gentleman hits George with his cane ("Eat hickory!").   George's boss wants to get rid of him, since he now knows he isn't really handicapped; as a result, everyone who works there doesn't like him. He has a one-year contract with Play Now, which he will exploit by meeting only the most basic requirement of showing up for work every day. Play Now tries to negotiate with George, but he won't give in. Later, he offers his office and one of their rubber balls to allow Kramer to test his oil tanker bladder idea.

The Lie:  "My baby takes the morning train"

Brad Bolenius:

The Strike - Season 9, Episode 10

Man this is one of my all-time favorite episodes. It really has it all. 

Setting The Scene: Jerry dates a two-face. Elaine’s got issues with fake numbers, crappy subs, and sleazy bookies (is there any other kind?). Kramer gets back to work after a decade long strike at H&H Bagels. Once Jerry sparks Kramer's interest in a little-known holiday Frank Costanza drew up, he's gotta know more. “As I rained blows upon him, I thought, there’s got to be another way…A Festivus for the rest of us!” Certainly an aluminum pole, airing of grievances, and feats of strength beats the hell out of a tree, presents, and cookies any day. Jerry Stiller really knocks this one out of the park. "George stop crying and fight your father!" Frank Costanza. "I think you can take him Georgie," Estelle Costanza.

The Human Fund - Money For People
Early in the episode, George opens his mail to find a Hanukkah gift from converted Jew, dentist Tim Whatley, that contains a card noting that a contribution has been made in his name to a children’s charity for the holidays. Well if this doesn’t chap George’s ass; he had gifted Whatley Yankees tickets! An Eye for an Eye! That’s the real Christmas spirit!
Though feeling slighted, George believes he has uncovered a loophole in the system. The Human Fund, a made up charity with the sole intent to skirt holiday gifting. Only George! Gifts come in. Nothin' goes out. What a hilarious piece of crap. Friends. Family. Coworkers. Kruger, his apathetic boss. “A donation has been made in your name to: The Human Fund.” Kruger, “Whatever.” George, “Exactly.”
Kruger has a charitable contribution for his business in the order of $20K and decides to make the check out to George’s fake charity. Upon the accounting department’s discovery that The Human Fund does not exist, Kruger is naturally pissed off that he received a fake Christmas gift. George, being the veteran liar that he is, tells Kruger of the Costanza winter holiday and that he made up the Human Fund because he was afraid of being persecuted for his beliefs in Festivus. Such a ridiculous story, Kruger needs proof so he comes by Frank and Estelle’s lovely residence in Queens. Frank Costanza’s indescribable insanity quickly validates the tale of Festivus and George once again gets off the hook. Well…not exactly. 

The Lie: "George I don't get it. If there's no Human Fund those donation cards were fake?! You better have a damn good reason why you gave me a fake Christmas gift."

The Limo - Season 3, Episode 19

Setting The SceneIn this episode, the lie actually sets the scene. George is picking up Jerry from JFK, but his car breaks down near the airport so now George and Jerry are both without a ride. While trying to find Jerry, George asks a man for the time. Although wearing a watch, the man advises George to view a wall clock in the distance. After questioning the man’s rationale, George gets fed up and tries grabbing the man’s wrist to view the time. “What are you some kind of nut?” George, “You know we are living, in a society!” Classic George!

OK, so in casual conversation, Jerry notices a chauffeur holding a sign greeting “O’Brien.” A man Jerry already knows missed the flight in Chicago but was desperate to get to Madison Square Garden tonight. So Colin O’Brien (George) and Dylan Murphy (Jerry) get in the limo and are on their way. After a classic George-Estelle conversation on the limo telephone, O’Brien finds out they are on their way to MSG with 4 passes. Oh baby, Jordan’s in town to play the Knicks! (Ya can’t miss Air Jordan). After Jerry informs Elaine/Kramer of the free passes, the limo driver pulls off to pick up the other planned members of the O’Brien party. Oh man, the jig is up! Not so fast, there’s still more hole to be dug.
Tim and Eva enter the Limo, anxious to meet their idol and author of The Game, Mr. O’Brien. After some light discussion, it surfaces that O’Brien is scheduled to speak tonight outside Madison Square Garden. “…and the Jews steal our money through their Zionist occupied government and use the black man to bring drugs into our oppressed white minority communities.” Ouch George, you’re not going to open with that are you? A tire blows on the limo and the two Jews have a moment alone inside the limo. Jerry tries discussing a plan, but George cannot get over the way Eva is coming on to him. “Kind of a cute Nazi though.” Having trouble getting over the sexual potential, George dials 9-1-1. Tim comes back in the limo and George is caught mid-sentence… "uhh Astroturf…you know who’s responsible for that don’t ya? The Jews! The Jews hate grass. They always have and they always will.” LMAO
So the limo stops to pick up Kramer and Elaine. Sure enough, the jig is up. They make it to MSG to find a huge angry mob, ready to flip the limo. The episode ends with George live on national TV with the caption “Donald O’Brien – Leader of the Aryan Union.” Explain yourself out of this one, George.

The Lie: "Tim, who's the head of the Aryan Union? Who is responsible for making hate-mongering and fascism popular again?"


There you have it folks, the tangled webs that George Costanza was capable of weaving. He is perhaps the most comedic and downright hysterical liar ever portrayed. And for that we thank him, and TBS for airing four episodes a night.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

An Open Letter to Bushwood Country Club Members from Judge Elihu Smails

Esteemed Bushwood Country Club Members,

I’ll tell you one thing right now, I’ve had it with the shifting culture in today’s society. The youth of America have absolutely zero respect for the way we fine upstanding citizens have conducted our normal every days lives since the days when my father first brought us to Bushwood. It is clearly up to gentlemen like myself to stand up for what’s right. To stop the people who don’t belong from making a mockery of decent country club life. To carry on traditions that have been passed down with honor and dignity.

If you’ll indulge me for just a brief time, I’ll share with you the horror that I have witnessed in the past week at a place I used to consider my own sanctuary. I need to take this time to impress upon the culture the lack of civility that is occurring, of all places, right here at Bushwood. This sort of retelling isn’t easy for me, but I feel it’s owed to the younger generations to set the record straight on the difference between right and wrong. Goodness, and badness.

The horror that has taken place recently has come from all walks of life. All culminating in an embarrassing fixed golf match that Dr. Beeper and I most assuredly won regardless of stories you may have heard second hand. So much has happened I can barely decipher where to begin…

First of all, our Scottish greenskeeper is an incompetent imbecile who employs another doubly incompetent imbecile who has perpetrated his low life tendencies throughout my life and those who play golf at our fine establishment. I’ve already slapped Carl Spackler with so many cases stemming from his involvement in the destruction of my beloved Bushwood he’ll be my age before his court proceedings are finished. The man literally took a bite out of excrement right before my eyes. My dear wife collapsed from the site of it. It is people like Mr. Spackler who influence our young members and caddies and provide a horrid example for the youth culture. Honestly, how difficult can it be to trap and kill all the gophers on a golf course?

I must also share my dismay at my former favorite caddy, Danny Noonan, and the sewer he has chosen as his path. In the span of a few days, Danny went from an obedient young man with a good head on his shoulders to a philandering miscreant capable of such apocryphal atrocities against respect the mind has trouble just to fathom them. This was a young man I felt I could trust. A young man who’d shown he was capable of goodness. A young man who had a good work ethic and attitude towards work despite his upbringing. Well, I guess you can’t always bring them to the good side of things no matter how hard you may try. Trusting Danny, and other boys like Danny, will be a mistake I will not make in the future as he deliberately betrayed me and all of the good I tried to stand for with him. This seems to be typical of the Roman Catholics I’ve encountered, the world needs ditch diggers too. An older man is capable of learning new lessons, and I am certainly never going to be fooled by that kind of person again.

Mr. Spackler and Mr. Noonan not withstanding, I am particularly disgusted with two men who ought to know better. Two men that are old enough to carry themselves in a dignified manner, rather than the ghastly chicanery I have had the disgust to deal with lately.

One of those men is Ty Webb. You all know him as a member here, as was his father with whom I served our country. Ty was a man I thought I knew, a decent golfer with a passion for Bushwood we both shared. But I’ve learned that was all deception and he too lacks the very moral fiber we strive to attain here as members of this once fine club. Not only does Mr. Webb side with badness, but he has also taken part in the corruption of poor Danny Noonan. Perhaps without Mr. Webb’s insolence rubbing off on Mr. Noonan, Mr. Noonan may have been able to choose another path. Sadly, it was not to be.

Some people just don't belong.

Mr. Webb’s association with Al Czervik is what I find most disturbing, however. Mr. Czervik came to our Bushwood as a guest of the Scott’s, whom I will be insisting upon banning from Bushwood after their guest was responsible for the downfall of this club. In the span of a few days Mr. Czervik has wreaked havoc upon the establishment. He caused me to strike a woman with my putter, insulted our cook, poked fun at my nephew Spaulding, propositioned my wife, sunk my brand new boat the Flying WASP, and  aided and abetted in the general downfall of civility within our club. Mr. Czervik will be finding himself in a courtroom all too soon, a menace like he, needs to be squelched in a timely manner.

In conclusion, it is the people I have singled out. Assistant greenskeeper Carl Spackler, caddy Danny Noonan, member Ty Webb, and guest Al Czervik who must be removed from our way of life. Our way of  being. They clearly do not represent the best wishes and attitudes of our fine Bushwood Club. I will be doing everything in my judgeship authority to see that these cretins are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for their malicious behavior.


The Honorable Judge Elihu Smails

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Philadelphia, and their Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Baseball Team

Hindsight is a bitch Rube

A few years back, in the hey-day of this once great ballclub, the Phillies became the first professional sports franchise to lose 10,000 games. In other words, the only real grand tradition the Phillies have is losing ball games. They had a similar run of impressive teams from the late 70s to early 80s but otherwise the Phillies have run the gamut from laughingstock, to mediocre, to travesty and after they teased us with five straight division titles, have reverted back to their roots.

After the World Series win in 2008, it was easy to see why the Phillies became so nearsighted. The team was clearly still on the come up and obviously equipped to make another run at a title or three. Just think that the Phillies won in 2008 with Cole Hamels, Bret Myers, Jamie Moyer, and Joe Blanton starting the first four games of the World Series and try not to cry thinking about 2009-11.

So Ruben Amaro inherited a team with three bonafide superstar infielders and All-Star caliber players littering the rest of the diamond. He set out to win another World Series by bringing in marquee players and re-signing the ones he already had. Every significant move Amaro made, save the trading of Cliff Lee to Seattle after the 2009 season, was done in an effort to get this team back to the top of baseball. Here is a timeline of large moves Ruben made that you can’t argue with without the benefit of hindsight.

December 15, 2009 – Amaro trades prospects Travis d’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, and Michael Taylor to acquire Cy Young winning pitcher Roy Halladay. d’Arnaud has become the Mets every day cather as of 2014, he’s hitting 226. Kyle Drabek pitched two innings in 2013 and has not played Major League ball in 2014. We all know what Roy did here.

April 6, 2010 – Amaro inks Ryan Howard to a 5 year contract extension for 5 year $125 million that will begin in 2012. A few people may have been skeptical about this deal at the time, but if you polled folks that day on whether this was a bargain or a colossal fuck-up a large majority would have gone with the former.

July 29, 2010 – Amaro sends JA Happ and minor leaguers Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar to Houston for Roy Oswalt. Gose and Villar are both still very young players getting playing time for the Blue Jays and Astros, neither is hitting above .240 for their career. Oswalt was thought to be a missing piece for the rotation.

December 15, 2010 – Might as well have been declared a holiday. Cliff Lee took a discount on the free-agent market to come play for the Phillies for 5 years $120 million. Euphoric would probably be the term for the city’s state of mind for the next 9 months.

July 29, 2011 – Go for broke time. With the Phillies pitching staff dominating the league Amaro sent Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid and Domingo Santana to the Astros for Hunter Pence. This is the worst move in hindsight (if we’re not counting Howard’s contract as “a move”) but I’ll tell you there wasn’t one person saying “No way we don’t win the World Series now” when Pence came aboard. Singleton would be nice to have playing first base this year, essentially giving you the same thing Howard’s giving you, but at the age of 22 for about $24.5 million less.

Truth be told if the Phillies had won another title in the three subsequent years they reached the playoffs after 2008 the burden on every one would be a lot lighter. Two titles is something you can really hang your hat on. There's not much room left for complaint after two titles, not until the entire regime that won them has moved on anyway. But obviously, that was not how it went down.

The memory of the end of the 2011 season is almost as painful for Phillies fans as the injury was for Ryan Howard. The Phillies were never the same, but that’s where it started. That’s where Ruben Amaro Jr couldn’t for the life of him understand the shifting environment his team was going through. This is where the Phillies really started to fail mightily as an organization.

Nobody really knows if it’s Amaro making all of the bad and questionable decisions or if David Montgomery is pulling the wrong strings as well, but make no mistake about it, the Phillies have not made a meaningful good decision in years. Amaro gets and assuredly deserves the bulk of the blame. There’s no doubt it takes some luck to get back to the pinnacle of baseball, but there’s still smart ways to go about and not-so-smart ways to go about it. Shrewd is actually a better word, and Ruben Amaro has proven he’s the antithesis of a shrewd baseball man.

The Red Sox were able to win the World Series in 2013 after finishing in last place in 2012 through a series of shrewd baseball moves. They sent large contracts packing (Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez) and got lucky with older players still performing at peak levels. See Ortiz, David and Victorino, Shane.

So why aren’t the Phillies trying to follow a similar blueprint? All signs point to Ruben Amaro being delusional about the value of the decaying talent on his team. Amaro made no moves at the trade deadline for the second year in a row for a team that had no shot at contending. The reasoning for this is not complicated but it has layers. First of all, every player on this team with any value only has it in a marginal sense because they are past their prime. If a team were to take a chance on Chase Utley, or Marlon Byrd, or Jimmy Rollins it would essentially be a short-term rental because all of these guys are on the wrong side of 35 (not even 30, ha!). But therein lies the rub, Amaro structured the contracts for so many of his players with vesting options that could make the deals much longer and much more team un-friendly were they to vest. Was it really necessary to give Utley three vesting years in his 2 year contract?

Then there’s Amaro’s unwillingness to part ways with the players on his team without receiving something of close to immediate tangible value in return. As a fan, you can understand Ruben being gun shy about trading Cole Hamels or Chase Utley considering his track record in talent evaluation. If he sent somebody beloved packing and didn’t get anybody with Major League talent in return he knows he could finally get shown the door. Imagine how tough it is for Rube to walk around the city today and then imagine if he sent Cole Hamels packing without getting guys with serious potential. Yikes.

To prove Rube's lack of self-awareness, he stated that other teams "were not aggressive enough" when asked why he didn't make any moves at the trade deadline. Was he paying attention that day? From that kind of response it would appear that he wasn't. Did he not see big names changing cities by the hour from a multitude of teams? The Red Sox jettisoned their best two starters the year after they won a World Series because they run their team like it's a business. Ruben runs his team like it's a family business. That's not how it works.

Then there's Amaro’s biggest issue to date; and it is an organizational one. The Phillies do not know how to judge talent anymore. They nailed the following draft choices, fucking nailed them – Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, and Cole Hamels. You can win a title with that core, as we know. For the life of me, I can’t come up with one player the Phillies have drafted since Hamels that has had a significant impact on this team. So when Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Cliff Lee all shit the bed for either full seasons or what was left of their careers there is no one there to pick up the slack.

It’s naïve to think that Rube is the sole person responsible for the constant whiffing in the draft, but it’s also naïve to think he isn’t ultimately responsible. It’s like if Desean Jackson was still on the Eagles and got in trouble for speeding or causing an issue at a nightclub, it wouldn’t really be Chip Kelly’s fault but it reflects poorly upon the man in charge. Ruben is that man. Every last bit of talent evaluation below the Major League level has reflected poorly upon the Phillies and Ruben Amaro mostly, since he has taken over the top spot as GM. Meanwhile, he's turned every Phillies fan into Randy Quaid from Major League II. 

So there you have it folks, a sure fire archetype on how to turn a perennial contender into a team with little hope that can’t compete. Overpay and overextend contracts for past their prime players. Throw darts at draft boards and pray. And perhaps most of all, run into a serious case of bad luck with a precipitous decline in production from formerly top flight talent. If you had to bet, the Phillies won't be relevant again until Ruben is gone, and most likely for a few years after that. He is out of touch and the Phillies are out of options other than tearing down and rebuilding.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Champ is Here

Alex Riley - A week or so ago I got a text from my buddy Mike Rumbaugh, aforementioned in this blog as the sabermetric foil to my homerism, that he wanted to do a collaborative blog. When he pitched me on the “Hottest Woman in the World Championship Belt” I responded “in” as fast as a 3 pitch Ryan Howard K.  We are both readers of the website Grantland and staff writer Bill Barnwell had recently published the “Best Pitcher in the World Championship Belt” article.  This piece has a similar premise, but a very different theme as far as content is concerned. Here’s Mike to explain.

Mike Rumbaugh – At any given time in a society/culture there is one “IT” girl and one “IT” guy. People Magazine does a dumbass list of “Most Beautiful” every year and there are probably others out there similar. But those shits are a joke. People like “Drew Barrymore” win People's “Most Beautiful.” I have literally never once in my life heard any guy OR girl say they are even mildly attracted to Drew Barrymore. Drew CAREY has a better chance of having some adoring fans than Drew Barrymore.

And even when these publications do choose someone decent (Like Jennifer Lopez in 2011) they are always 5-10 (god damn sometimes 20!) years too late. J-Lo in 2011 as most beautiful?!? American Idol J-Lo? 11 years past her peak powers J-Lo? No wonder print media is dying.

So here is what we set out to do: Take a look at pop culture both past and present to determine who was the “IT” girl of the year. They may not have been the most talented, or even technically the “hottest” woman in the world, but they had at least 1 moment (and likely multiple) that made them the most desirable.

1 MAJOR important thing to note here: Ties almost always go to the New Girl; undetermined potential matters. Think about the hot new girl that transferred into your high school, being a new commodity was essential to her winning the championship belt of your high school for that year. In a society constantly obsessed with the next big thing, timing matters. We took into account when the “contenders” were at the Peak of their Powers in determining the winner of the year. Almost every year the Championship Winner was simultaneously at the Peak of Her Powers. That's just how this thing works.

If you don’t fucking like it, go read People.

AR – Mike and I were both born in 1985 and our recollections of modern times began at about 1990, so that’s where we are deciding to start this highly scientific process.  Said process probably would not have been able to take place prior to the internet but thankfully we don’t live in a world where every piece of information ever needed is readily available through a simple Google search.

So, like I said, this process. It basically boiled down to preliminary lists from both Mike and myself consisting of 2-3 women for each year. These lists were drawn up through endless scouring of different dubious websites in order to confirm that no bra was left unseen, or bikini layout went unnoticed. It took time, painstaking time to get through the necessary arduous research required to compile a list that won’t have one dissenter. We’re talking about just laying down facts for you over the course of this list.

From there we exchanged the lists and let them marinate for a few days while we tried to think up somebody cool we might not have remembered. We then got down to brass tax via FaceTime and bitched and moaned and bitched and moaned about whom we thought was the best pick for each year. Some years were tougher than others. When we brought our significant others in for some reference on a particularly tough year, to literally no surprise, Jennifer Aniston was whom the women sided with. Cementing Aniston as the female’s female.  

Admittedly, there were some tough omissions to make on this list. Obviously, Jennifer Aniston was tough to leave off every single year, the same can be said for Jennifer Lopez. But here is my list for my three most difficult omissions. 

My Honorable Mentions:

3. 1992 – Sharon Stone. If _______ wasn’t taking over the world in 1992 Sharon Stone and the beaver she shot Newman (of all people!) in Basic Instinct would have propelled her to the belt.

2. 1998 – Jennifer Love Hewitt. Basically, ____________ absolutely had to win a year and unfortunately for JLH, ________ was peaking in 1998. JLH was starring in Party of 5 and breaking hearts with the best of them in Can’t Hardly Wait.

1. 2004 – Scarlett Johansson. The opening scene of Lost in Translation is possibly a top 10 scene in movie history. It’s a travesty that we left her off this list, but somehow she never peaked at quite the right time for us.

Without further adieu.. take it away Michael.

MR – 1990 – Julia Roberts

Christ. Nelson Mandela freed from prison after 27 years and this is all we had to show him? Egads. Sorry bud.  

Anyways, Julia was 23, only a few years into her career and relatively unknown around the country. Then came her starring role in Pretty Woman, which she crushed by the way, and she was officially the “IT” girl every guy fell in love with. I was 5 at the time and was more interested in trucks than women but do distinctly remember seeing the VHS cover of Pretty Woman at my babysitters house with Julia Roberts in a pink top, black skirt and those long black boots. I remember thinking, “what the fuck am I doing playing with trucks?” Once I saw the movie years later I totally get why she was huge at the time. However, I would argue much of the appeal of her in those times was due to the role (Spoiler Alert: she played an escort). Anyways, Congrats Julia Roberts, you win the inaugural Championship Belt - Pretty Impressive stuff to add to your already impressive resume.

AR  1991 Cindy Crawford

Now we’re talking. I know, it was pretty shitty to start off handing the belt to someone who was once married to this guy. But 1991, now we’re cooking with gas. Now we have someone you’re just reminiscing on right now. And you’re saying to yourself maybe these guys do know what they’re talking about because they got the right one baby. Cindy Crawford was everything in 1991. She was married to Richard Gere, who w
as the guy that made Roberts the IT girl in ’90. I mean damn, how do you think Gere felt rolling up to the Oscars with Crawford on his arm. That’s eye-popping, jaw-dropping, six-to-midnighting stuff right there.

If you were in a grocery store in 1991 there wasn’t a Redbook, or Vogue, or People, or you name it magazine she didn’t grace the cover of, and she made it sell. The most iconic thing about Crawford though, her signature if you will, was that mole. Cindy had a mole just above her lip on the left side of her cheek that gave an imperfection to her perfection. She is the first, only, and last person to pull off a mole and have it make her look even better.

Cindy Crawford folks, drink that in, she’s wearing that belt proudly.

MR  1992 – Madonna

Madonna was and still is to this day a Bad. Mother. Fucker. Hell you could argue she won the entirety of the 1980s(!) and the 1990s(!). She was and is a cultural icon. She paved the way for countless women on this list and women in general. She scared the living shit out of the conservative right AND the liberal left, moving the needle for women all over the globe. Madonna done changed the game folks.

Think about this, Madonna was UNQUESTIONABLY the “IT” girl of 1984 with the release of Like A Virgin. But somehow that wasn’t at the peak of her power. Somehow she kept going strong for 8 years and not til 1992 did she reach her apex (and probably didn’t come down for 10 years after that).

Check out her Wikipedia for 1992 – She starred in one of the top films of the year “A League of Their Own,” founded Maverick records and movie studio and released her 5th studio album Erotica. But 1992 will always be remembered for Madonna releasing a book entitled Sex, containing explicit and sexual imagery, which at $50 a pop sold 1.5 million copies in just a few days. She was the biggest star in the world and released a book containing sexual and obscene images of her alongside other A-List nude celebrities. Read that last sentence again. Now imagine Beyonce does this tomorrow while convincing Katy Perry, Kanye West and Kate Upton to appear alongside her.

Madonna: A. Bad. Mother. Fucker.

AR  1993 – Tiffani Amber-Thiessen

Oh boy. Oh man, oh boy. Kelly Kapowski folks, that’s how we all know her. We’ve gone from a woman dripping sex out of all orifices to a teen queen that every red-blooded American man born between 1978 and 1988 dreamed about. Most people our age grew up watching Saved By the Bell and all the guys wanted to be Zack Morris, he was cool,  popular, and good looking. But more than anything we wanted his girlfriend. Kelly Kapowski was hands down the best looking girl at Bayside, and hands down the IT girl of 1993.

She was a senior in high school and had a look that was girl-next-door mixed with bombshell. She had a charisma about her that made you oooh and ahh the same way the audience would when she made out with Zack on the show. Her coy smile when Zack did something that impressed her made me melt, among other things. Her high cheekbones and voluptuous curves defined her look, as well as somewhat dated big 90s hair but nobody is complaining, then or now. That summer the Bayside kids spent at Malibu Beach Club was the summer I learned to appreciate a green 1 piece more than ever..

MR  1994 – Cameron Diaz

Obligatory Smoooookinnggggggggggg!!!!  Sorry, had to. How else am I supposed to kick this one off?!

Diaz, 21, a 2-bit model with no acting experience before being cast as the X chromosome to Jim Carrey’s Y, in 1994’s The Mask, exploded onto the scene and hasn’t really looked back since. She may not have been the most beautiful or even had the biggest career that year but she was the quintessential “IT” girl: New, Fun, and not to shabby to look at.(Riley's Note: Diaz peaked looks wise in that picture you see right there)

AR  1995 – Pamela Anderson

Pam Anderson folks. Almost enough said, but we’ll get into it. 1995, we’re talkin’ Peak Powers Pam. Baywatch Pam. Playboy Pam. Sex Tape Pam. Pam did for running in slow motion on a beach what Michael Jordan did for basketball. There wasn’t a man on the planet who didn’t find the platinum blond, fake breasted, strikingly attractive woman the IT girl of 1995.

She married Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, after knowing him for only four days, in 1995 and her fame skyrocketed from there. We all know why. I’ve seen it. You’ve probably seen it. If you haven’t seen it, you should probably do yourself a favor and figure out the internet to go see it. She was the Jackie Robinson of celebrity sex tapes, and like most celebrity sex tapes it was disappointing but obviously still worth seeing.  So when you’ve been compared to Michael Jordan and Jackie Robinson in consecutive paragraphs you know you’ve found a woman who reached an apex that some women will never be capable of hitting. Pam Anderson is an IT girl icon.

MR  1996 – Salma Hayek

Man, 1996. If I don’t say so myself, the world was really starting to hit its stride.  Rock N Jock Basketball (and Softball!) was a thing, The East Coast/West Coast Rap Rivalry was at its peak (RIP Pac, RIP Big), and there was like a 5 woman race for the yearly championship belt. Look at this lineup of contenders in 1996: Jennifer Aniston, Posh Spice, Carmen Electra, (At her PEAK) and Jenny McCarthy (Yea the weirdo Ecig, non medicine giving to children Jenny McCarthy.) Not to mention Alicia Silverstone, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Love Hewitt. What an incredible year.

However, the public became a little tired of the Pam Anderson bleach blond barbie look and was looking to go in another direction. You might even say that the public was “Desperado”letly looking for the next big thing, and boy oh boy did they find her, when a little known Mexican-American actress named Salma Hayek starred in Desperado. There are some scenes in that movie that well, ahem, really capture your imagination. Congrats Salma.

AR  1997 – Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks hit the scene when I was first, we’ll say, discovering myself. I’m slightly embarrassed thinking back on those swimsuit issues she dawned the cover of in the mid to late 90s including that beauty you see right there. Like Rusty asked his cousin in the original Vacation, “How do you use a magazine?” Hmmpphh.

Tyra was devastating. How could she be built like that? That tall? That thin? That stacked?! Seriously, of all the women on this list, and this list is built around incredible women, Tyra might have the most naturally gifted physique. Despite the odd hairline nobody had IT more than Tyra did in 1997. The swimsuit issues speak for themselves but the Victoria’s Secret ads, catalogs, and fashion shows also made her presence ubiquitous and you could not get enough of this striking creature who had more physical assets than any female rightly should possess.

MR  1998 – Jennifer Aniston

An All-Timer. A 5 tool player. A First Ballot Hall of Famer and when she’s gone we might even retire her number. Was something like top 3 in 8 different years and top 5 in 12. Is the gold standard of “Men Want to Be With Her and Women Want to Be Her. (Well until that whole Brangelina thing. Too soon?)

Jen won 98 for 3 reasons:
1)     Her role on Friends – Personally I never got into Friends. You are either a Seinfeld guy or a Friends guy. You are either a Louis CK guy or Tosh.0. You’re either smart or dumb. It’s not that hard. But I can’t deny that Friends was Ha-Yuge in 1998, and Jen was the shining star of the female cast members. Courtney Cox started aging pretty quickly. The other one no one remembers and that that pretty much left Jen to crush it, which she did.
2)     Women's Haircuts – Women. Love. Jen’s. Hair. It’s a scientific fact. Don’t ask me how I know this but I do and its real. Just take my word for it, Jen’s influenced more haircuts than the Rastafari Movement, Hasidic Jews, and Neo Nazi’s combined.
3)     Her smile – Lets get cute. Its her most endearing quality and in my opinion the key to her stardom. She smiles and we all forget how bad an actress she is :)

AR  1999 – Britney Spears

Hit me baby. One more time. To be honest, we could have put Jennifer Aniston in this spot again, or certainly Jennifer Lopez for that matter. But we’re talking about Britney Spears crashing on to the scene in 1999. This was star power that out shined everyone else and then some. Her debut album came out in January and it was basically pop magic. The lead single and video featured a precocious Catholic School Girl Britney spending a day in high school wearing provocative outfits and performing dance routines in the gym. The song’s title and chorus was a thinly veiled sexual reference that drove everyone wild. According to Wikipedia, the best source known to man, the single sold 500,000 copies on its first day and to date has sold more than 10 million while the album itself is platinum 30 x over. Whoa.

These were the days when Carson Daly and TRL ruled everything in the teenage culture and Britney permeated through that to all walks of life. Later that year she posed on the cover of Rolling Stone (as an 18 year old) in what can only be described as a scantily clad bedtime outfit. This drove everybody nuts in a different way. Boys ages 12 to 90 felt happy in pants. Women age 12-25 were insanely jealous. Women 26 to 90 were mostly disgusted. Conservative Christians called for a boycott of her albums. Any move like that is always going to backfire as we know children tend to rebel against repressive parents. Any publicity is good publicity and Spears had it all in 1999. Ugghh.. to be in 8th grade (shout out to Strayer middle school!) and thinkin bout Britney Spears again. 

MR – 2000 – Jennifer Lopez

Oh boy. Before we can go any further we all need to be on the same page. Please take 4 minutes and 9 seconds and watch the entirety of this music video.

Oh boy. Starts slow. Picks up right around 2:10 with just a tease of a dance. Gives us a close up at 3:00. Symbolism at 3:37? And then the closing sequence starting at 3:41.

I am standing up clapping. Are you standing up clapping? Beyond the obvious, here is why this video was so great. This was released in late late 1999 and all you wanted to do for 6 solid months was watch this video.  And it was 1999! There was no Youtube or Vevo for instant viewing pleasure. There was no on demand! You had to wait! Which made it that much better. Seeing this video and seeing JLo was like seeing a Unicorn for a split-second. You caught just enough to know you saw it but not enough to adequately describe it to your friends.

Then JLo went and wore “The Dress Heard Round The World” to the Grammy’s and there was no more needing to describe JLo to our friends. We all knew at that instant. There were no words that needed to be spoken. The competition was over.

The fact that JLo starred in multiple movies that year, was dating Sean "P Diddy" Combs and was releasing single after banging single really didn’t matter. From the time she wore that dress, she was on every magazine cover known to man, from Maxim to Home and Garden. Everyone, even grandmothers knew JLo was the “IT” girl of the year. And when rumor leaked that her ass was insured for something like $3 Million Dollars, her public profile ballooned and the size of her victory only increased. Even with other strong contenders for the belt in 2000, JLo pulled away like Secretariat in 1973, just like a Horse’s Ass would.  

 AR   Give me a minute, I’m still recovering from Peak Jennifer Lopez. I can’t type the words I’m thinking, but hopefully you’re all with me on this one. Wow, just wow. Let’s give JLo a round of applause for doing her thing. We’re all better for it.
AR   2001  Halle Berry

If I was a betting man I would have put anything down on JLo repeating in 2001, but rules are rules and there’s always a new challenger worthy to take the throne. And if any woman was worthy to wrestle the belt away from JLo it had to be the inconceivably beautiful Halle Berry. Halle rose through the ranks and had quite a few films under her belt by the end of the 90s. She was always incredibly attractive, but the 90s style she employed never did her Justice, get it?

At the turn of the century you probably couldn’t find a woman more appealing than Halle Berry. If you polled 100 men in 2001 who did the best back-to-back movies with nudity? 107 would say Halle Berry. Fresh off a cool half million dollar bonus paycheck for appearing topless in 2000’s Swordfish (hold on, I’m having palpitations)…. Halle got taken to the cleaners in a graphically passionate sex scene in 2001’s Monster’s Ball by Bill Bob Thornton. Billy made her feel good. (Hang on ma!)… Halle’s performance in that, as a poverty stricken widow who also just lost her son earned her an Oscar (Why’d Halle have to let a white man pop her to get an Oscar? Jadakiss wonders) and solidified her decision to get down and dirty with Billy Bob. Sidenote, Billy Bob may have won 2001 for dudes by getting to do that scene with Halle and being married to a batshit sexually crazy Angelina Jolie – give Billy Bob a hand for killing it with mediocre looks.

So Halle Berry folks. If Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, she brought nudity for A-List actresses back. She earned this belt. God, Halle Berry. Fannnntastic.

MR – 2002 – Tara Reid

Buckle up, the next few are a bit rough.

Say what you will about Tara Reid today, but she was a stone cold fox in 2002. Skinny, blonde, with a raspy voice to die for, everyone had a little thing for Tara.

Coming off of a small part in The Big Lebowski, a little larger part in American Pie and an even larger part in American Pie 2, Tara finally got her own starring role in Van Wilder opposite of Ryan Reynolds. (Sidenote: This is a horribly underrated movie) This was maybe probably definitely Tara’s last great day in the public eye as it has been an epic spiral down the poop shoot since the release of Van Wilder.

But Tara was definitely the “IT” girl of 2002. She was most definitely at the peak of her powers and it seemed like she would be there for some time. (who would have thought her next half decent(?) movie would come 11 years later as a straight to TV SyFy network mock-movie called Sharknado?)

Congrats Tara, For God's Sake I hope this helps.

AR   2003  Paris Hilton

Ugh. Let’s just say 03 was an off year. I’m considering Paris the least qualified person on this list but hey we don’t repeat and Paris did have one hell of a year in 2003. Thankfully, she’s all but removed from memory now.  Unthankfully, depending on who you are and where your allegiances lie, she’s the second most responsible person for bringing us Kim Kardashian. OJ being the first. (Rumbaugh Note: I would argue shes the third. OJ the first, Ray J the second)

Back to Paris. She became famous for the same reason Kim did, but unlike Kim and Pam her sex tape was half decent. I won’t go into serious details, but the non-night vision scenes of “1 Night in Paris” were solid, pun intended. I’m all bias here and Paris just doesn’t do it for me, this is a tough one to have to write about. She’s a stick figure with zero personality to show for herself. If you watched her reality show “The Simple Life” with Lionel Richie’s daughter you should be ashamed of yourself you know that she did not have an ounce of work ethic or sense of reality in that slender frame of hers. She was big. She was attractive. Let’s move on.

MR – 2004 – Lindsay Lohan

Somewhere on the Internet is a 25,000 word opus to 2004 Lindsay Lohan. There has to be.

2004 Lindsay was just coming off Freaky Friday and Mean Girls and even released a solo album that went platinum! Bet you didn’t know that! Before anybody realized what happened Lindsay was running Hollywood and was seemingly everywhere. She partied every night, hung out with the biggest names in the industry and everyone, I repeat, everyone loved her. Moms, Grandmas, black, white, old, young, poor, rich; Everyone.

She was the ideal “MTV” girl that every teenager, male or female loved. Lindsay had the classic girl next-door look (and I believe is the only girl next door on this list). She seemed sweet and down to earth but also someone who would party you under the table and then make fun of you before kissing you goodnight. Chicks dug her cause she was the nice girl in Mean Girls and so they felt she would be that way in real life too. She was cooler than all of us but if we ever got to hang out with her we felt like she wasn’t going to flaunt it. We liked that about Lindsay.

10 years later and your girlfriend/fiancé/wife will probably throw up if you say anything nice about Lindsay Lohan. Hell, they would prefer you say you want to sleep with Miley Cyrus before Lindsay Lohan. That’s how far her train has rolled off the tracks.

But hey, now is not a time of sorrow, it’s a time of celebration. So grab a beer Lindsay, congratulations on winning 2004!

AR   2005  Angelina Jolie

Now we’re talkin my language. A woman I can sink my teeth into, if you will. Jon Voight’s daughter spent a lot of time kicking ass in 2005. Brad Pitt dumping Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie that year was like the Kennedy Assassination of celebrity breakups into hookups. Did that really happen? Did the best looking guy on the planet leave the second best looking woman on the planet for the best looking woman on the planet? Yes, yes it did. This was a monumentally epic celebtastic event.  Even Kanye mused “Got a new bitch now you Jennifer Aniston.”

The whole thing went down because Jolie got cast opposite Pitt in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Angelina showed she could hold her own with her new man which nobody took as a surprise considering her acting credits prior to this film. The movie was a huge success thanks in part to the gossip surrounding Hollywood’s biggest power couple.

Jolie is a one-of-a-kind beauty. She has an exotic look with cheekbones Rocky would cut his knuckles on, eyes that would make Brad Pitt weak in the knees, and lips, Jesus H. Christ those lips on Angelina Jolie! Is there a reason why she hasn’t been getting paid millions for Chap-Stick or Bert’s Bees with those lips? Seriously, the lip moisturizing market is missing out on a killer opportunity for a spokesmodel. She’s just top notch from head to toe. I’ve only discussed her enchanting face at this point, but if you’ve ever seen Gia or Orginal Sin you know she’s got the goods when the clothes come off as well. Stamp this one folks, Jolie raises a bit above most and puts her mark all over this belt in 05. 

MR – 2006 – Emmanuelle Chriqui (Sloan)

OK, let's clear the air first before we go anywhere else. Entourage sucks. Go back and try to watch that garbage now. Absolutely horrible. But during the airing of the first 2 seasons, it was a fun 30 minutes, a last hooray on Sunday night before facing the doldrums of work the next day.

Not to mention that Entourage was basically just a show about 4 guys walking around Hollywood hitting on hot chicks. And through the hundreds (thousands?) of beautiful women that you saw in scenes on Entourage, no one, and I mean no one stood out more than Sloan. Completely and utterly unknown before showing up on Entourage, you could hear the entire male demographic simultaneously utter the words “Oh my god..who the FUCK is that?!?!” when she first appeared on screen. I’m shaking my head just thinking about her. As a people I think its fair to say we were all in awe of Sloan.

Obviously, I have never met Sloan and I know none of you schleps have either but I think we can agree on this: Sloan is the only woman on this list, and probably one of few in the world, we could marry shotgun style in Vegas and bring home to our parents, and our mothers would be proud. More than proud. Our mothers would cry they were so happy. And then Sloan would cry because she was so happy. And then Sloan and our mothers would become instant best friends and go to spin class together. They would go out to brunch and have mimosas and then when it was over they would text nice things about us behind our back. And the surprise parties. I bet Sloan plans the best surprise parties. With burgers, and mac salad and cupcakes, and beer. Lots of ice cold beer. And all of our friends, past and new. (sigh)

Man, you guys. Sloan is so great.

AR   2007  Megan Fox

This aptly named brunette sauntered into our hearts (read loins) in the Michael Bay joint Transformers. The initial car scene alone with her in her short jean skirt launched a generation into puberty and got another one through it. Nobody liking Shia Labuff (not bothering to look up how that douche bag spells his name) made it even more difficult to sit through Transformers but Fox made it all worth it.

Fox, albeit for a short period of time, was the kind of hot that was painful to look at. She gave you a feeling in your gut that moved south, you felt good about Megan Fox whenever she was in your sites. She was always in some impossibly scant clothing that accentuated everything Fox. Her acting was a bit wooden, along with the men who watched her, and she always seemed to be squinting her way through scenes. These facts, along with her marriage to David Silver from the original 90210, may have led to her falling off a bit. At her peak though, in 2007, you were hard pressed to find someone more men were talking about and yearning after than Megan.

MR – 2008 – Adriana Lima

MR – 2008 Kim Kardashian

This was going to go to Adriana Lima but REMIXXXX we are giving it to Kim and there is no debate.

Early Kim was a 100% lockdown smoke-show (and if you disagree you're lying to yourself or have awful memory), But here's why Kim gets the title in 2008:

2003: Kim makes a sextape with R&B artist Ray J
2003-2004ish – Kim becomes friends with Paris Hilton
2004-2006ish – Kim starts showing up in gossip magazines first as a “socialite” and then as a model. This 2-3 year period was essential for Kim winning 2008 because there was aura of mystery surrounding her. You’d have one friend who would be like, “you ever seen Kim Kardashian? Girl is crazy hot. She got an Ass so fat you could see it from the front.” And you would be like, “who and or what are you talking about? And I have told you 100 times to please stop quoting Mos Def in normal conversations dude.  Its weird and you can’t rap.”
2007 – Kim’s sex tape with Ray J is “leaked”
2007 – Kim signs on with E! to film Keeping Up with The Kardashians
Later 2007 – Kim poses for Playboy

The rest as they say is history.

There are two sure-fire ways to being in contention for the Championship Belt. 1) Burst on the scene a la Cameron Diaz in ’94. And 2) Construct a perfect career arc that builds over time creating a mystique around your persona and only revealing bits and pieces at a time.

Kim was in a couple shitty movies in 08 along with Dancing with the Stars and her stupid TV show. But the damage was already done. No one was debated more, talked about more and sought after more than Kim K in 2008. It pains me to hand it over, but Congrats Kim you earned(?) it. (Riley's note: Kanye's pissed he didn't get mentioned and pissed she didn't win every year from 03 on.)

AR   2009  Rihanna

Bad Gal Ri Ri, as she likes to call herself. By 2009 she was definitely in full good girl gone bad mode and the world was eating it up. She released “Rated R” and Rude Boy could not stop annoying the shit out of most guys who listened to it, regardless you had to listen to it. It wasn’t necessarily her music that made her so big, but more her crazy persona. Of course in 2009 that prick/asshole/idiot boyfriend at the time Chris Brown beat her up and somehow has stayed in somewhat good graces with her. She took that licking and kept on ticking. Her outrageous hair, provocative outfits and outstanding body made her shoot to the top of the 2009 list.  

MR – 2010 – Brooklyn Decker

Woof. This one is a boring. Not much to really see here folks. 2010 kinda blew.

Tale of the Tape: Really hot. Great name. Started dating Andy Roddick during his peak and eventually married him. Yada Yada Yada she wins the title.


AR   2011  Mila Kunis

Yesus. Pretty stoked my year came up to write about Mila. I’ll start by saying I’m not normally an eyes guy, but Mila Kunis’ eyes are hands down the best in the business. Here are some superfluous adjectives to describe them; captivating, mesmerizing, enchanting, hypnotizing. That’s it, I think I got it with hypnotizing. You look at this woman and you are hypnotized. She’d been on the scene for a while with That 70s Show but things really started to turn for her when she played the love interest in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In that role, she was simultaneously the coolest chick and the hottest chick you could ever come across. Job well done there.

Anyway, by 2011 Mila was a full blown firestorm. Black Swan came out in December 2010 and people did not stop talking about that lesbianic episode (With Natalie Portman no less!!) until, well people are still talking about it as you can see. In ’11 she starred opposite Justin Timberlake in Friends with Benefits as once again the coolest and hottest girl you could ever possibly come across. There’s something about the roles she plays and/or chooses that endears you to her and gives her a bit of an everyday girl quality when in fact she’s about as far from everyday looks as it gets. Perhaps, this came about because she was a bit of a late bloomer. If you watch those early episodes of That 70s Show she hadn’t quite grown into the stunner she is today. I took a look at her Wikipedia and she won just about every award you can win having to do with a kiss (with Portman) or just being the hottest girl on the planet. 2011 was a no-brainer. It’d be a pleasure to see Mila wearing the belt, only the belt.

MR – 2012 – Kate Upton

There were a few unanimous decisions, no questions asked nominees on this list. Pam in 95, Britney (bitch) in ’99, Jenny from the Block in 2000, Halle Berry in 01, and Kate Upton in 2012. Christ, it seemed like everyday for a year someone would send me a pic, gif or youtube video of this broad. Remember the Fembots in Austin Powers? That’s Kate Upton; Smoke’s coming out of her Jumblies. She won the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2012 and then repeated in 2013. She also danced the Cat Daddy and Dougie on her way to absolutely destroying 2012. Speaking of the Cat Daddy dance, that gif wasn’t the first gif I ever saw, but its definitely the first gif I remember.

To be honest, she hit at the perfect time when Twitter was finally becoming a household necessity and smartphones had finally figured out how to dominate our everyday lives. Kate spread like absolute wild-fire in 2012. I credit this to not only her incredible good looks but her flirtatious attitude in public. With her smile, laugh and silliness, she’s made a career of making every guy believe theres a chance. 

AR   2013  Emily Ratajowski

You know what the best job was in 2013? It’s actually not even close. The best job in 2013 was the casting director for Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines video. Seriously! Can you imagine being in that room? Here’s a sample ad they ran to get women to show up to be cast in this video:

Please find the girl with the most amazing breasts on the planet.


Oh, you haven’t seen the video that put Emily Ratajowski on the map? Here it is – Blurred Lines – don’t click that if you’re at work. It’s necessary viewing. I’ll wait while you watch.

How was that shower?

So that’s Emily, in all her glory, just kickin it in that video. She’s parlayed that video, obviously, into a burgeoning modeling career. She just appeared on the cover of GQ, man what a spread! But 2013, shoooootttt, still can’t get over that video. What a novel concept eh? They said find the woman with the best breasts on the planet, they found her, and they made her dance around topless for 3 and a half minutes. Maybe it was objectifying women a bit, but sex always sells and 2013 was no different.

Still sittin here thinkin about that video. Gawd. Emily. Ratajowski. 2013. Hottest. Woman. On. The. Planet.

MR – 2014 – Beyonce 

Lets rewind for a second. Its February 3rd, 2013 and its Super Bowl Sunday in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Baltimore Ravens are playing the San Francisco 49ers when all of a sudden a Be-Fucking-Yonce concert breaks out.

In my lifetime Super Bowl halftime shows are usually where musicians go to die (see Peas, Black-Eyed). Each year they announce some half-assed artist and we all kind of nod our heads, shrug and say cool. We know the halftime show will kind of suck but will keep us somewhat entertained and if nothing else provide excellent background noise while we are plowing down our 3rd bowl of Chili covered Pizza Bagel Bites.

What I loved about this moment was that at the time, Beyonce was probably the biggest vocalist in America, but still felt like she wasn’t given her due (and to be fair, she wasn’t). Her albums were selling out in days, her concerts in minutes and she was almost unanimously praised by the media. But she wanted more. She wasn’t satisfied with that. She knew there were still skeptics out there that didn’t see her greatness. And she fucking crushed it at the Super Bowl. Man, Woman, Child sat still and witnessed Beyonce at that Superbowl and we ALL started etching her name onto the 2013 Championship Belt.

Then… things got a bit ahem, “Blurry” with Emily Ratajowski and we all know how that ended.

So why Beyonce in 2014? Well because that’s a stupid fucking question. Have you seen this? Or this? Or maybe even this?

What I can only assume is genuine anger and disappointment; Bey released a secret album in December of 2013 (After Emily Ratajowski’s victory had been leaked to the press) which officially shut the internet down for several days. She then went on to announce a Mega World Tour with Jay Z that literally every single one of my friends, family members, colleagues, acquaintances, twitter crushes, and enemies has been to.

Bey could have won in 2008. She could have easily one in 2010. For a while now she been the “hottest chick in the game” (Credit HOV), but not til 2014 did she finally nab the Championship Belt. 

AR: Man, took a while to get through that. Props to Mike Rumbaugh for the idea and his splendid contributions. This is really all I have to say.