The ESPYs, 2011

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Prior to blogging about last year’s show I had never bothered to watch the ESPYs.  I mean, it’s the ESPYs, right?  Come on, ESPN, the ESPYs?  What a stupid name!!  Plus, why do we need an award show for sports?  I’m pretty sure we already have awards for sports.  You know, like MVPs and championships.

But then I watched them, and wow, it was a lot of fun!  Mostly because of all the great montages.  I love a good montage, and ESPN is really good at putting them together.  Plus, Seth Meyers is hosting, there is sure to be a bunch of weird, awkward celebrity/athlete pairings, and it’s a slow Wednesday night.  What else do I have going on?  I’m in.

The ESPYs are also perfect for the award show winner-picking competition between my wife Johanna and I, because she has absolutely no idea what’s going on.  She claimed not to have heard of any of the boxers until I pronounced Manny Pacquiao’s name for her, and she’s currently Googling the names in the “Best Jockey” category.  As I said last year, if I don’t win this one, it’ll be embarrassing.

As always, in addition to blindly picking a “Best Bowler,” she is also in charge of making us a themed cocktail for the evening.  She’s whipping something up with gin, lemonade, and a splash each of cranberry juice and sparkling water and calling it the “Derrick Rosé” in honor of the man who has managed to steal the title of “Jared’s Sports Crush” away from Albert Pujols.

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Categories and winners are in bold, and I’ll be keeping score as we go along.  Let’s get started.  Play ball!  Kickoff!  Tip off! Puck drop, or whatever!

9:01 –  You know you’re watching a seriously classy event when it’s sponsored by a motor oil.

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9:03 – No messing around, we’re kicking things off with a montage!  They know me so well.

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9:05 – I know this sounds bad, but the only thing I like more than a montage is a dead person montage.  This show may be peaking a bit early.

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9:08 – Here’s Seth Meyers, bringing, at least temporarily, an unfortunate end to the montages.

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9:19 – This monologue has been going on for quite a while.  No complaints here!  The longer he goes, the less pausing and typing I have to do.  Maybe this evening won’t be completely interminable!

9:21 – Here’s Emmanuelle Chriqui and, wait, “Tonight’s ESPY award winner for ‘Best DriverJimmie Johnson.”  So that’s how it’s going to be, huh ESPN?  Trying to sneak these awards past me?  Anyway, I had Johnson, and Johanna picked Dario Franchitti, so the score is 1-0, me.

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Does ESPN have Emmanuelle Chriqui on retainer or something?  Why is she always here?  Every year she presents an ESPY and every year I have to go look up how to spell her name.  They’re presenting Best Breakthrough Athlete.  Johanna and I both went with Blake Griffin.  I’m guessing he’s the only one of these nominees that she has heard of, which is a good explanation for why he won.  2-1 me.  “All the nominees look good!  I like his tie!” says Johanna.  My life is slightly less fun now that athletes learned how to dress appropriately in formal settings.

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I don’t like Blake Griffin, I don’t think, but I can’t decide if it’s because he seems like a bit of an asshole or because he looks like a space alien.

9:31 – I’m not even going to make a joke about Chris Berman because absolutely no one likes Chris Berman anymore.  Even people who like Dick Vitale are like “Berman’s kind of a blowhard, right?”  Ugh.

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9:33 – Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman are here to present Best Championship Performance.  I like Jason Bateman, but is he actively trying to have the most generic, boring career ever?  Just because you’re the straight man doesn’t mean you have to be in uninteresting movies, Jason.  Plus, as Johanna says, “He’s looking kind of old.”

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I went with Kemba Walker here and Johanna went with Tim Thomas.  Both seem like sort of unlikely choices now that I think about it.  But no, Tim Thomas wins!  Uh oh!  He also apparently won Best NHL Player.  We’re all tied up at 3-3.

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9:40 – Here are Maria Sharapova, Amar’e Stoudamire, and some actress named Rachel Nichols.  You know, a totally normal grouping.  The ESPYs aren’t weird, you guys!  They’re totally normal!  These three hang out together all the time!

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They’re presenting Best Upset.  We both went with VCU because we don’t care at all about any of the other three.  MMA?  A first round NFL playoff game?  Horse racing?  No thanks.  I mean, the Zenyatta race was admittedly pretty cool, but, really, no thanks.  VCU wins!  This is a nice reminder that I like Shaka Smart.  4-4.

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9:53 – After a kind of embarrassing and unfunny bit featuring Paul Scheer (whom I usually love!), Justin Timberlake comes out with the winner of this year’s Best NFL Player award, Aaron Rodgers.  Both Johanna and I picked him, so we’re still tied, 5-5.

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They’re presenting Best Male College Athlete.  Johanna went with Cam Newton, and I picked Jimmer Fredette because he is, like, SQUARELY in the demo for ESPN people.  Jimmer wins!  I retake the lead, 6-5.

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9:59 – They throw to commercial and then slip in the fact that Arian Foster wins the Castrol Edge NFL Whatever Award.  Neither of us picked him.  Oh, well.  Moving right along…

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10:04 – Here’s Kiefer Sutherland to present the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.

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I have nothing to say about this, so instead let’s talk about the new Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie that they just showed a preview for during the commercials.  I know everyone thinks it looks stupid.  I know the Mark Wahlberg one was stupid.  I know the CGI apes look like STRAIGHT-UP CGI APES.  I mean, they aren’t fooling six-year-olds.  And I know everyone is sort of out on James Franco right now (I almost typed John Franco there!  SPORTS ON THE BRAIN ALERT!).  But I think it looks kind of cool.  Is it just me?  When Johanna and I saw the trailer before our showing of Mad Men: X-Men: First Class the other day I made her promise to go with me when it comes out.

10:28 – Chris Evans and Kerry Washington are here to present Best Male Athlete.  Already?  Don’t we have like an hour left?  All right then.  Also, Chris Evans is not QUITE as pale IRL as he appears in the following photo.

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Johanna went with Dirk Nowitzki because she likes to stick with the recent stuff.  I went with Aaron Rodgers because it’s the NFL, and whether I like it or not it’s the biggest sport in the country.  Nowitzki wins, and Johanna briefly pulls into a tie, but then the announcer mentions that he also won Best NBA Player.  She admirably went with our household hero Derrick Rose, and I picked Dirk, so I’m back in the lead, 7-6.

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10:33 – Serena Williams is here talking about Billie Jean King.

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10:34 – Brooklyn Decker and Tim Tebow are here presenting Best Female Athlete.

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“I went with Lindsey Vonn for some reason,” says Johanna.  Earlier in the evening she asked, “Do we care about skiing when it’s not the Olympics?”  I went with Maya Moore, of course.  But Lindsey Vonn wins!  What?!  Which of these categories do fans vote on? 7-7.

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10:37 – Here’s the latest thing making me feel old: Tim Tebow just said “Winning an ESPY is something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little kid.”  Really?  How long have the ESPYs even been around?

10:48 – Kevin Love and Jonah Hill stroll out and I brace myself for the inevitable “one of these things is not like the other” jokes.

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They’re presenting Best Game.  I went with Butler v. Pitt, Johanna went with Alabama v. Auburn, and the Eagles v. the Giants wins.  That game looked pretty crazy; I don’t even remember hearing about that.  Yawn.  I’m not going to lie, I’m really losing steam here, guys.

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11:01 – Did you guys know that Stuart Scott’s lazy eye was caused by an accident at a Jets’ mini-camp in 2002 when he got hit by a football?  I had no idea.  I assumed it was a from-birth type thing.  You learn something new (on Wikipedia) every day!

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11:04 – Jay Leno is here presenting the Best Male Athlete with a Disability award.  The just HAD to have Leno present the one award where I don’t feel comfortable making snide remarks, didn’t they?  You win again, Jay.

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I went with the winner, Anthony Robles, the one-legged wrestling champ.  Johanna went with Jerome Singleton, but now she’s pointing out that this might not actually be the Best Male Athlete with a Disability award, and rather some sort of Jimmy V Perseverance award that’s not on our ballot.  Whatever, screw it, I’m assuming Robles won the Disability award too.  8-7 me.

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11:12 – Another totally logical grouping of presenters: Cee Lo, Amber Heard, and Cam Newton

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They’re presenting Best Play.  I don’t think this was on our ballot, but  Abby Wambach wins for that great goal the other day.  They’re in Germany, obvz.

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11:16 – Well, my DVR just decided that to record the last fifteen minutes of this it needed to delete 25% of my shows.  Time Warner Cable, I will burn you to the ground.

11:22 Danica Patrick and Justin Bieber are here to present our final category, Best Team.  “What an unlikeable duo,” says Johanna.  That was Johanna who said that, Beliebers and Danicanimals, not yours truly.

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In a reversal of our Best Male Athlete picks, Johanna went with the Packers and I chose the Mavs.  And The Mavericks win!  9-7 me.

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11:27 – And we’re done!  Now we just have to go look up the results of all of the untelevised categories.  How fun.  (Honestly, I’m still stewing about the DVR mishap.  Time Warner Cable, I will bomb you into the Stone Age.)

Best Record-Breaking Performance: Johanna is still showing Derrick Rose some love, while I went with UConn women’s basketball.  Rory McIlroy wins.  9-7.

Best Moment: We both went with Fennville H.S. Basketball.  Roy Halladay wins instead.  “What, do they have no hearts?!” says Johanna.

Best Sports Movie: We both went with The Fighter because one of the other choices was Secretariat.  It wins, obvz.  10-8, me.

Best Coach/Manager: Johanna went with the Auburn football coach.  I decided to use a different tactic and pick the winner, Rick Carlisle.

Best MLB Player: We both went with Roy Halladay, and he wins.  11-9 me.

Best WNBA Player: We both went with Lauren Jackson, which is kind of funny, because neither of us has ever seen a WNBA game.  Diana Taurasi wins instead.

Best Fighter:  Manny Pacquiao wins, as we both predicted.  12-10 me.

Best Male Golfer: We both went with Rory McIlroy, and he wins.  I wish I could go back in time like three years and bet a lot of money on Tiger Woods not even being nominated for this.  13-11.

Best Female Golfer:  Johanna randomly chose Na Yeon Choi and I randomly chose Yani Tseng.  Cristie Kerr randomly won.

Best Male Tennis Player: We both went with Rafael Nadal and he wins.  14-12 me.

Best Female Tennis Player: Johanna went with Li Na and I chose the winner, Serena Williams15-12 me.

Best Female College Athlete: Maya Moore wins.  We both picked her.  16-13.  Why are there so many categories?!

Best Male Action Sport Athlete:  We both chose Shaun White and he wins.  17-14.

Best Female Action Sport Athlete: Stephanie Gilmore wins.  We both went with Kelly Clark.  Yup, we’re still going.

Best Jockey: We both went with John Velazquez and he wins.  18-15 me.

Best Female Athlete with a Disability: Johanna went with Melissa Stockwell and informs me that she is an Iraq War veteran.  Savvy choice and nice research, Johanna.  I went with Mallory Weggemann, who Johanna says was paralyzed at age 18 after receiving a botched epidural for back pain.  She wins.  19-15 me.

Best (Really, ESPN?) Bowler: I went with Chris Barnes, Johanna went with Mika Koivuniemi, Jason Belmonte wins.  OK.

Best MLS Player: We both obviously went with Landon Donovan, and he wins.  20-16 me.  I’m pretty sure you have too many categories when you only televise like a quarter of them.

And, finally, Best Track and Field Athlete: We both went with Tyson Gay, and he wins.

FINAL SCORE: 21-17.  I win!  But that was closer than last year.  Not bad, Johanna!

I really liked this show last year, but boy was this boring and surprisingly not funny!  Too bad, Seth Meyers and his writing staff!  This was also not my best effort, I don’t think.  Just a half-assed job all around!  I need to regroup before the Emmys, you guys.

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Until then, keep awarding!  And, as always: Time Warner Cable, I will haunt your grandchildren!

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