Tondar's Daily Rant

Prepare yourself for the writings of Tondar the Destroyer, Baron of Atlanta, Rightful Heir to the Throne of Spain, from whom all babies come. As his will be blogged, so let it be done.

Monday, April 28, 2008

GREAT NAMES IN UNRETIREMENT

From Seth...

Well, Brett Favre is retired and Petr Forsberg isn't. Dom Hasek has retired again, but he and the Red Wings don't know that yet. Barry Bonds isn't retired, but nobody will sign him. Scotty Bowman is retired, but apparently every team in the league is trying to sign him.

While you try to keep track of who's hung 'em up and who's taking them off the rack, here's a rundown of Seth's Top Ten unretirements:

9. Scott Niedermeyer and Teemu Selanne. This pair of ducks rode off into the sunset last year the way Hall of Famers dream of: with a Stanley Cup. This pair spent 75 percent of the season saying they were retired and promising that they weren't just sitting out so the Ducks could fit them under the salary cap, then they both returned magically just when the Ducks could fit them under the salary cap. But get this: they were both getting paychecks from the organization as particularly well-paid scouts. Well, you gotta give them credit for ingenuity.

8. Ricky Williams. The first athlete to openly retire early in order to smoke pot, Ricky subjected himself to ridicule from millions of deuchebags, until we all realized that this guy had all the money he would ever need, was 25 years old, in peak human health, had a Heisman, and could now do anything or anyone he wanted. Then he came back, and stunk, giving deuchebags across the nation all the evidence they needed to go back to pretending that winning the Superbowl is more important than enjoying life to its fullest.

7. Reggie White. The Minister of Defense makes the list, as the Messianic Man of the Midwest turned the Final Days message of his last year with Green Bay into the a faith healing road show in a one-year return in Carolina. He was a Great Man around the Great Lakes, but just another evangelical (and just another pass rusher) in Raleigh.

6. Michael Strahan. This is how Reggie White should have done it: retire at the start of training camp, sip martinis while your teammates are doing two-a-days, then unretire and win the Superbowl.

5. Roger Clemens. Every year since 2003, it's the same schtick: tearful farewell, ESPN special on his career, followed by drawn-out contract negotiations and then someone ponies up $9.5 million for six starts. None of these unretirements have yielded rings, but the Rocket makes the list for cumulative effort

4. Michael Jordan. Already the greatest basketball player who ever lived, Jordan then tried to become the greatest human who ever lived, going out for baseball. Following a comical stint with the ChiSox, his Airness returned wearing No. 45, and all was right in Bulls land until it was time to depart. But then MJ, having bought the Washington Wizards, took a play out of Lemieux's book, unretiring again for a less-than-successful stint for his new team. Whatever sells tickets, Mike.

3. Dominick Hasek. The Dominator's comeback was so great because it was as sloppy, myopic and brilliant as he is. After leaving with his long-sought cup, Dom spent a year beating up roller hockey players (literally) in Czechloslovakia before getting the itch. His comeback led to such comical moments as Dom's $8 million/year replacement, Curtis Joseph, clearing waivers to start for the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffons, then Joseph's return, then backup Manny Legace getting more starts than either star when both Joseph and Hasek went down with injuries.

2. Pat Riley. Ever have a friend who would let you play his Nintendo game, but as soon as you got that sweet power-up he took back the controller? Riley shocked the world when he stepped aside right before the 2003-04 season and promoted his longtime assistant Steve Van Gundy to head coach, claiming it was long past time that his portly, mustached friend was given his shot at taking on Bowser. But with the emergence of Dwayne Wade and Big Diesel, ol' Pat just couldn't resist the urge to keep his hands off the controller, and Super Mario was summarily shoved aside mid-way through through the 05-06 season. The wily ol' Riley piloted the Heat to victory, saved the Princess, and brought peace to the Mushroom Kingdom.

1. Mario Lemieux. He walked out a Shakespearean hero, the Lou Gehrig of his sport, the most brilliant talent this side of Gretzky to ever put on skates, who got past Hodgkins lymphoma and kept playing. But the back did him in in his prime, and Lemieux went out after a first round exit, getting immediately inducted into the Hall of Fame. He solidified his heroism by forgiving all the money the Penguins owed him (which had put them in bankruptcy) in return for equity in buying the team and saving it. But as owner, Mario realized that having a lumpy, aging, Mario Lemieux in the middle of the lineup was the only thing that could bring people to see his hapless Penguins (especially once all the other talent was traded away). It worked great for year, but became a bigger and bigger joke for another six seasons.

Honorable Mention: Barry Sanders. Many single-town stars coming to the end of their playing days have said they'd rather hang 'em up than play for another team, but only Barry said "If I CAN'T play for another organization, I quit." He could have had every record in the books, but even that couldn't justify one more year of playing for Bill Ford behind second-hand offensive linemen. And while Barry has still yet to set foot on the field we finally built for him, and he's now approaching 40, not an offseason goes by when Detroiters don't whisper about the day when Matt Millen leaves town and Barry Sanders returns from Avalon to lead the Motor City Kitties to a Golden Age...just probably not when his lead blocker is Edwin Mulitalo.

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