Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"I thought it was a little overrated..."

No, that's not Alexander Semin opining on the latest performance of Sidney Crosby, it was Ryan Getzlaf, remarking on the dribble-spin-whack (whiff) move of Alex Ovechkin in the skills competition at last year's All Star Game.

It's all part of the pre-game trash-talk we suppose, but really...if this is the state of the art of trash-talk in the NHL, well, we hear better at grade school recess.

"I thought...it was a little...overrated? Only in hockey could such a thing be polite.

I mean, could you imagine Muhammad Ali saying of George Foreman, "I think his punch is a little overrated?" No, he went and crafted a sonnet of trash talk...

“For this fight, I’ve wrestled with alligators, I’ve tussled with a whale,
I done handcuffed lightning, and put thunder in jail.
You know I’m bad. I have murdered a rock,
I’ve injured a stone, and hospitalized a brick.
I’m so bad, I make medicine sick.
I’m so fast, man, I can run through a hurricane and not get wet.
When George Foreman meets me, he’ll pay his debt.
I can drown the drink of water, and kill a dead tree.
Wait till you see Muhammad Ali.”

And there was Mike Tyson on the matter of Lennox Lewis, tilting more to the graphic horror imagery with a religious twist...

“Lennox Lewis, I’m coming for you.… My style is impetuous. My defense is impregnable. And I’m just ferocious. I want your heart; I wanna eat his children. Praise be to Allah.”

Basketball players, even retired ones, can summon up trashier trash talk than this. Consider Charles Barkley, who before submitting to a match race against NBA referee Dick Bavetta said of his opponent:

"I have nothing against old people; I want to be one myself one day."

Barkley backed it up -- he won the race.

Even the not-so-well-known in basketball can dish it out. Some years ago, New York Knick Larry Johnson heard some unflattering remarks sent the Knicks way by Chicago Bull Scottie Pippen. Johnson bided his time and a couple of months later replied in true trash-smackiest fashion after his club defeated Pippen's in a game...

''He needs to shut his mouth now. All he needs to do is to give the ball to 23. That's his best play right there. 'Here, 23. Bail us out.' He needs to shut his mouth.''

"23," of course, was Michael Jordan. Pippen was one of the "Jordanettes." And Jordan, himself, was the gold standard of trash-talking.

Even in baseball, the ultimate trash talk is something you do or say that you immediately back up. Such was the case on a fall day in 1932 when Babe Ruth stepped to the plate in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the World Series. The Chicago Cubs (perhaps the last team on the planet that should have ever or ever should engage in the practice) rode Ruth unmercifully from the bench. Ruth, as legend has it, was giving back as good as he got. But with the count reaching two-and-two, Ruth gestured outward toward the field. Whether he was lifting a finger to indicate he had one more strike, or if he was pointing to center field to warn the Cub bench of where the next pitch would be deposited, Ruth's mighty swat to the deepest part of center field would forever be remembers as the "Called Shot" and might be the definitive example of "trash talk" in North American sports history.

Mr. Getzlaf, you have some work to do.

1 comment:

nuftjedi said...

really? even if it was, it was still better than anything he did.