It’s time for Round Two from the Logical Betting Suggestion Box! Yet another faithful reader has come through with a better idea than I could come up with, so what say we open the old inbox and took a look, see.
Dear Logical Betting,
Forgive me, sports fan, for I have sinned. I am a Y*****s fan. I was raised this way and have been unable to shake the demons from my soul. I hope you can look past my faults and take my suggestion anyways.
I was wondering, if you had to assemble a 12 man unit to go into military combat with, which athletes would you want on your team. Please stick with current athletes and use any criteria your wise heart desires. If you answer my suggestion, I will try and raise my daughter to not be a Y*****s fan.
Reggie Jackson, Berlin, NJ.
I’m sorry your childhood has brought you to this place. My sincerest and deepest sympathies go out to you. I can only hope you will not beget this horrible fate upon your child.
That said, I freaking love your idea. I immediately forwarded your suggestion to my Army buddy (and since we keep things anonymous around here, he will forever be known in Logical Betting as Mr. Mojo Risin), who loved it even more, and joined in on the conversation. We decided to go with the most well-rounded team possible, taking into account a variety of skills that would be needed in battle. We also decided we needed a coach to act as general, so we’re going with a 12 man squad with a coach. My buddy’s team is included at the end of this post as well.
Worst of luck to your Y*****s, I hope they go 0-162.
Logical Betting, constantly digging out of snow ala the time we spent in Boston
Incidentally, for all you out there raising children, I can help with problems like Reggie had when he was growing up. Pretty simple really. My mother-in-law is a Y*****s fan, and I made it real clear for her and my soon-to-be child: I told her if she bought our kid any Y*****s clothes, I would make sure she never saw the kid again. She agreed to the deal.
Anyways, I don’t play Halo or Call of Duty or anything like that, and I don’t have the balls to serve in the military, but if I did, here are the athletes I would take with me. They are sponsored by Copenhagen Long Cut, for reasons beknownst to me, my boy Mojo, a few of his friends, and (disapprovingly) his wife. Copenhagen – making 10 hour trips into a desert just a little more bearable. My team would kick my buddy’s team’s ass, for the record, though admittedly his is WAY more organized.
General/Coach – Bill Belichick – from what I can gather from my buddy, the generals are never in the field, so I need a pure Xs and Os guy. If my general were gonna carry a gun and fight, I would go with Mike Tomlin (as would Reggie, for the record). But have you ever seen a guy be able to scheme so well against anyone? It took Peyton Manning years to figure this guy out, and the Pats still almost got the Colts this year, in Indy, nonetheless. On top of that, he coaches in the most battle-like, strategic, adjust on the fly sport on the planet. He’s perfect, hands down the best choice. Well, he was til I saw Mojo’s choice. Now he’s a clear second.
1. Peyton Manning – Whatever the rank between general and the rest of the unit is, that’s what I want Manning to be. Consummate leader, makes everyone around him better, cooler than ice under pressure, players rally around him, and he’s a proven winner. Other than that whole 2010 Super Bowl thing, that is. Smarter than all hell, too. He and Belichick would come up with the greatest battle plans known to man. Tell me guys wouldn’t fall in line behind this guy.
2. Jimmie Johnson – I’m going to get this out of the way now. No, I have not changed my mind and I still don’t recognize NASCAR as a sport or its drivers as athletes. I do recognize, however, that I am in a very small minority in that thinking, so I’m “stealing” one of your “athletes” cause I need someone to drive the Humvee. People I know who love NASCAR compare his four straight Sprint Cups to things like UCLA’s winning a million championships in a row, the Y*****s of the mid to late 90’s, the Steel Curtain, etc. So I’ll trust him to get us safely through the battlefield while my next guy is firing the machine gun outside the Humvee.
3. Ray Lewis – Just the thought of him rocking a machine gun screaming at anyone and firing at will, probably without a helmet and just a bandana on his head, makes me think the Army should be recruiting this guy. He is the definition of badass. He can still be dominant now, even late in his career. Who wouldn’t go to war with this guy?
4. LeBron James – He may go down as the best athlete in any sport, ever. If you do anything in the next couple years, spend a little extra cash to get down close and see this guy play in person. A couple years ago, Fah T. hooked me and the wife up with some 8th row center tix in New Jersey to see them play the Cavs (owner’s seats, f-ing awesome). LeBron is as fast as a point guard and bigger than Karl Malone. Every now and then, he just decides he’s gonna score, takes the ball, and goes to the hoop, and absolutely no one is willing to get in front of him. It’s crazy to see, so much that we’re thinking of getting courtside seats one year to watch him up close and personal. It’ll be worth every penny.
5. Lance Armstrong – I stole this one from Mojo, and he explains why he took him below. I’m going with the whole inspiration/never give up/other-worldly work ethic on this one. Besides, all my guys are pretty big so far, and I need someone who might actually be able to take cover without us digging a LeBron-size bunker every two miles.
6. Michael Phelps – Inspiration again, another insane work ethic, will do absolutely anything to win, and has standards that are sometimes unrealistic even for him. Besides, have you ever seen the list of what he eats when he’s in training? Check this list out: http://www.nationalpost.com/sports/beijing-games/story.html?id=723871. Just watching him eat will help lighten the mood in camp, though the rest of my squad might starve.
7. Brock Lesnar – Speaking of LeBron-size bunkers… if we’re gonna dig it, we might as well fill it. MMA isn’t exactly a mainstream sport, but this guy is gonna be my hand-to-hand combat leader. Mojo mentions a need for a demolition guy, too, and for whatever reason I feel like Brock would fill that role on my squad.
8. Ed Reed – Another consummate leader, sees the field like crazy, killer instincts, and will take your head off in a heartbeat. Every wide receiver in the NFL agrees with me on this pick. Besides, he’s from the U. They’re all nuts.
9. Chris Johnson (RB, Tennessee Titans) – I hope those parentheses were unnecessary. Anyways, I’m realizing my team is slowly filling up with a bunch of ego guys who are leaders, which means I need to fill the roster some more humble dudes. I’m going with one of the fastest athletes in the world to start. Ideally, this would be Usain Bolt, but until the U.S. annexes Jamaica, I’ll live with Johnson. If you can’t tell, football is dominating my roster, probably cause it’s most often compared to “battle.” Time to go a little more obscure and represent the rest of the sports.
10. George Parros – I think maybe two of you reading this know who he is. And I’m not gonna lie, the only reason I know is cause I’m good friends with J.B. and I did a search for the NHL guys who are leading league in penalty minutes and fights. I don’t even remember what team he plays for, but I know he’s American, unlike a lot of the other guys leading in fighting penalties. If you question my pick for a second, just look at this profile picture of ol’ George and tell me he doesn’t look like he could be a soldier. http://espn.go.com/nhl/players/profile?playerId=2386. Freaking awesome.
11. Tim Lincecum – My man Timmy is one of the best strikeout guys in baseball and barely walks anyone to boot. He’s gonna be launching grenades from my LeBron bunker. Wonder if LeBron could sponsor those bunkers… anyways, even if he proves to be a crappy soldier, he’s perfect for smuggling in the contraband, given his recent run-in with the law, and besides, I need a baseball guy. Plus, he goes about 5’7”, 150 lbs. Good luck hitting him with anything.
12. Michael Oher – If you haven’t seen The Blind Side yet, go see it. I hate Sandra Bullock, and I got over her being in it (a lot) pretty quickly. If my man Oher can survive what he has, he will survive the battlefield. He’s as humble as they come, quick as hell for his size, and would never leave a fallen man behind. All around good guy. Besides, that family he lived with is loaded, meaning we’ll never be short on Copenhagen Long Cut. And for whatever reason, I guess I needed another Raven on my squad.
So there’s my squad. And now for the opinion of a much more qualified man, Capt. Mr. Mojo Risin, in his un-edited words. My comments are as noted because you know I can’t keep my mouth shut. Without further adieu, take it away, Mojo:
The next dirty dozen. Well, when this idea came to me via the great logical better (via an insightful friends email), I was thrilled. I thought a bit on how this would be structured: 12 strongest, 12 greatest, etc. In the end, I went with what sports should be: the 1 best team. I decided to stick with what I know, the 1 best military team. I decided to use this to reflect on what I know about a team, the personalities and strengths that I think work best together. I have a little bit of experience in this: 17 months as a platoon leader with 12 months in Iraq and 35 months and counting as the team leader for a 12 man special forces detachment with 3 months in Tajikistan (Google it) and 8 months in Afghanistan. (LB note – true story – he told me at least three times before he left that he was going to Tajikistan, and I thought he was making up the name of that country til like a week before he took off. It really does exist, and apparently the people there are nice.) So I gave a brief description of what I was looking for and then who my pick is for that position. I also looked to give the senior spot to a seasoned veteran and the junior spot to an up and coming. So without further ado, I will list my team and the job description I used to choose the person (which by the way, very closely mirrors the job descriptions found on a 12 man special forces team). (LB note – pay attention, kids, you are about to learn something really cool.)
The General: A coach that knows how to make a team full of strong personalities work.
MY PICK: Mike Krzyzewski. I saw this guy give a speech once from the front row. Why? Cause he was speaking at my college and his Alma Mater: West Point. That’s right. This guy was an officer in the Army. Played for 'The General' Bobby Knight at West Point and also coached a motley crue of players during the Olympics. He has a passion for competition and has been winning for a long time now. Think of all the coach's that have been at or near the top for as long as he has; and then also consider he took over a mediocre program. He is been primed for making a bunch of guys become one. (LB note – Dammit, how the hell did I miss that one?)
The team leader: Take charge guy. Make the tough calls when needed. A man who can turn chaos into victory.
MY PICK: Peyton Manning. If there was ever a position best suited for this part of the job it would be quarterback. He leads them by example in practice, with confidence in the huddle, and with authority at the line. Tough choice maker? Have you ever had to call an audible with the game on the line....he has.
The Team Chief: Second in charge. A man who doesn't mind being second. He often works alone and works with all the reports, so someone who speaks and writes well.
MY PICK: Lance Armstrong. His sport is an individual one by nature. So he can exist all by himself as he gets the administration work done, or he can be in front of a crowd if need be (like when he hosted the Oscars). He also has a good working knowledge of written and oral communication with all he dealt with from the French during the Tour de France. I think he would be a strong and loyal second-in-command and be a good advisor to Peyton.
The Team Sergeant: The man who has been there, done that. Someone everyone respects and will listen to. Also, someone who can put the smack down if needed and support the boss.
MY PICK: Shaquille O'Neal. He has been around for a while. Just when you think he won't be any good any more; he is. I know his body has his aches and pains, but so does anyone who has been in the Army for 20 years. He has been there and done that. He still wants to win, so he is not just sitting back on his past titles. This is the attitude you need; someone who wants to make his unit better with his ability and experience. Plus he does not seem like he had to be the only star; he gave that to Kobe for the most part. This is a key ingredient to being the top Non-commissioned officer. And about putting the smack down; I think he can hang with the best of them. (LB Note – I disagree on the Kobe comment, but Shaq is an awesome pick. I think his father or step-father was a sergeant, too. I’m about to hide behind Brock Lesnar).
The Intel Sergeant: A person who is smart. He is the one who studies the enemy and predicts what they will do.
MY PICK: Charles Woodson. Need a smart guy? How bout someone who has to study defenses before every game? Woodson is one of the best in preparation. He does his homework on the other team, the other quarterback. I think he would study the enemy quite well. The one problem I have with this choice is that he is defense. I would want offensive minded people on my team usually. (Like I personally think we should have a secretary of offense, not defense, but that is a different story). However, in the this case I think the best offense would be a good defense and Woodson knows how to lead a great defense; not to mention how to make a big play at a crucial time (Google Michigan v. Ohio State or Super Bowl punt returns). (LB Note – or YouTube. Eat it, Buckeye fan).
Senior Weapons Sergeant: This is your muscle man. He knows all about all the weapons, so he would need to be someone who knows his job really really well and can put the fear of God into others.
MY PICK: Ray Lewis. I admit, I stole this one from a person smarter than I. However, to quote that great philosopher, "Can't you see Ray Lewis on top of a HUMMER laying wasted with a .50 caliber machine gun?" Yes I can oh wise one, yes we all can. (LB Note – I picked him first, so I get Lewis and he gets Lance Armstrong.)
Junior Weapons Sergeant: This individual is usually the one in charge of scheduling the training. So this would be that young guy who you expect to be a coach someday.
MY PICK: Dwight Howard. He went from High School to Pro. He did it on intelligence and determination. He is no LeBron, but he put the Magic back in the finals. He would also look pretty good behind a mounted machine gun. Ray Lewis and Dwight Howard as my machine gunners? Bring it Osama!
Senior Engineer Sergeant: This guy manages all the logistics, so he has to be very organized.
MY PICK: Jimmy Johnson. Johnson is a great driver. His skills as a mechanic would be HUGE! He would surely be one of the drivers. He can drive his way out of an ambush like nobody else. In fact, he would surely be the driver in the lead vehicle. This guy is good with his hands and likes to get dirty; that is what you need an engineer to do. Oh and the logistical piece; well, I am sure he has to manage ordering all those parts (or at least oversee it). As an additional note, due to his concentration and patience (like driving in a circle for hours) I would make Jimmy my sniper. I think he would be a hell of a marksman.
Junior Engineer Sergeant: This is the man who handles all the demolitions. This guy has to love to blow stuff up.
MY PICK: Jake Long. One job of an engineer is to make a breach through an obstacle. This guy knows how to make a breach. He makes them in defensive lines all day long (no pun intended :). He is a young guy with a bright future. He stayed at Michigan for his senior year when he could have gone pro; he is loyal. He will learn a lot and I gather that he would enjoy blowing stuff up! (LB Note – I’m not sure if Mojo was trying to make a smiling emoticon there, but in case he was, I left it there. If he didn’t mean to and I was supposed to catch that on spell check, then I apologize for the phone call I’m sure Fah T. sent Mojo’s way the second he saw that one. Maybe we should have picked Fah to be our sandbags. I think our whole unit, including Fah himself, would be safe in that scenario.).
Senior Medical Sergeant: This guy is cool under pressure and your smartest guy.
MY PICK: Chauncey Billups. Cool under pressure? How bout Mr. Big Shot? Not only at the end of the game, but all through the game he puts up the numbers. Also, his free throw percentage makes him someone to be feared at the line, so he can use that kind of precision to put the needle in my arm.
Junior Medical Sergeant: This is the other smart guy. Great memory to remember all the medications and how to do stuff.
MY PICK: Ryan Miller. When you think of pressure, a goaltender has to come to mind. His mistake can change the game in an instant. Think of how many games are separated by one goal. Also, think about a shootout. Everything your team did on the ice for 60 minutes comes down to less than 60 seconds. Ryan Miller will also be representing the US Olympic team, is there a bigger stage than one that only comes once every four years? I think not. He has helped Buffalo get back on top. Cool under pressure and dependable. A goalie has quick instincts and incredible focus, which make him my choice to be working on my bullet wound under gun fire. (LB Note – admit it. Your wife made you pick a Sparty after you took two Wolverines.)
Senior Communication Sergeant: He is the trouble shooting gadget geek. Somebody who is also good speaking since he makes the radio calls.
MY PICK: Derek Jeter. This guy is the man who takes charge by example and voice on the infield of the world champion Y*****s. He lives in a world of stars and big money busts. However, he continues to put up respectable numbers. He is used to the spotlight, so he won't choke when talking on the radio. He will give clear commands and not be distracted by the radio; also I heard he can throw a grenade in a window from 50 yards. Just a rumor. (LB Note – I love Mojo, but how dare he mention the Evil Empire on my blog! I saw that word and vomited before bleeping it out.)
Junior Communication Sergeant: This guy also is got to be good at speaking; but a quiet leader since he is the junior.
MY PICK: Sidney Crosby. Probably the youngest athlete poised to be something really really huge. His team already looks to him for skill and strength. He has mastered a stick and a puck, and I am sure he could master a few radios. He is my only non-American, but Canada has long been a strong ally and I think this guy would make a good teammate. Strong resume already, but not too cool to learn a thing or two from Jeter about how to stay at the top. (LB Note – So how was sleeping on the couch after your wife saw that one? I thought you were a die hard Red Wings fan. And a Canadian? I’m taking Usain Bolt back.)
There you have it. My team. I think these guys would be a good choice to have with you in a foxhole. They know when to be serious and when to have fun. I can only think of all the poking of fun had over some beers after a mission (that is, if any soldiers out there have beer after a mission.....hmmmmm) They are loyal and patriotic. This is my A TEAM! (LB Note – He even added a team name. I’m f***ed).
If Mojo ever starts a blog, I will bow to the competition. We’re actually hoping to get him on a podcast here soon, and if testing goes well, you all will be treated to some more military knowledge and me trying to defend my picks against his. I love the medical staff, that was some thinking. Then again, he does this for a living. Thanks for chipping in, buddy, I really appreciate it. And many, many thanks to you and all the rest serving our country, especially those poor, unfortunate souls under your command. If I ever meet any of them, I am picking up their bar tab.
So if you can’t tell by now, I do take your suggestions and comments seriously, and this one by Mr. Reggie Jackson was a great one. Mojo got a huge kick out of that, and so did I, so thanks again to Reggie for giving us more excuses to call each other and talk sports. Keep the comments coming, and please keep forwarding this on to friends and family. As I mentioned, we’re working on podcasting soon (featuring Mojo on this topic, and hopefully another down the road, and J.B. on the state of the NHL), and going to be doing some NCAA tourney, baseball preview, and (ladies willing), a “ladies take on sports” column. I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at my personal email if you know me. If you need me, I’ll be at the Army store looking for XXXL camo for Brock Lesnar.