Post Deadspin Magary has a compilation of the decade’s most irrelevant figures. I’ll highlight a few favorites, starting with James Harden:
You’re not alone, sir. If you had told me that an NBA player would come around who would, in the 2019 season, average more points per game than Michael Jordan did in any season of his entire career, I would be SHAKING with delight. I am not so delighted when that player turns out to be a man who runs down the entire play clock in a desperate thirst for whistles. Watching James Harden play basketball is like being put on hold by an insurance company.
And even though Harden has an MVP to his name and has made the Rockets a perennial contender—that chokes—no one else in the league wants to pull the kind of shit he routinely pulls on the court. His style of play works, but it sucks so much that everyone else REFUSES its influence out of sheer principle.
This one is good. I’ve said this before, but Sarah Palin essentially was the prototype for Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party, and yet has been so incredibly lazy she hasn’t even risen to the third tier of grifters who have cleared a profit on Trumpism:
Think of the parade of racists, buffoons, failkids, and open swindlers who have seen their profiles rise dramatically thanks to the Trump presidency: Ben Shapiro, Tucker Carlson, Charlie Kirk, that Wohl guy, Candace Owens, Jordan Peterson, Diamond and Silk, Joe Arpaio, Scott Baio, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Ben Carson, Meghan McCain, the entire extended Trump family, and on and on they go. So it’s genuinely stunning that Palin, whose particular brand of cheerful wing-nuttery provided all of those other people a blueprint for prospering in an age of criminal idiocy, somehow hasn’t been able to take advantage of any of it. She couldn’t even get a regular gig on FOX! She started her own channel instead and it didn’t even last a year! Her husband left her! Her kid was arrested for domestic violence! I almost feel bad for her, man…
…but I don’t. Sarah Palin sucks.
Having suffered through the AT&T ad so often I’m almost grateful to see another ad from the billionaire vanity candidate du jour, I like this more obscure choice:
Anthony Bourdain died last year. Thankfully, Gordon Ramsay is still with us to carry the torch by yelling at people, starring in boilerplate AT&T ads, and producing a Parts Unknown knockoff reimagined as a 578th televised cooking showdown. The greater food culture hasn’t missed a beat!
I’m no advertising professional, but it strikes me that if you need the actors in your commercial to say the name of the celebrity you hired every three seconds to remind the audience who it is, you can be very confident you vastly overpaid for that celebrity. “Wow, look, it’s Gordon Ramsay! Gordon Ramsay, did you ever think that you, Gordon Ramsay, would be handing out food samples at a Costco? I never expected to see Gordan Ramsay doing that, as it would seem out of character for a celebrity chef like Gordon Ramsay.”
And I’m glad he made the cut:
Jonathan Safran Foer
I know a lot of crazy shit has happened since, but the most entertaining story of this decade remains the time JSF left his wife because he was in love with Natalie Portman and thought that she felt likewise. She, uh, did not. THAT’S AMAZING! That’s the kind of rejection that happens to you when you’re in MIDDLE SCHOOL, not when you’re a grown-ass adult! Meanwhile, he also wrote a novel called Here I Am that elicited no shortage of rapturously scathing reviews…
I am leaving my wife for that review. That review and I are in love now. We’re going to make babies together.
That takedown is excellent, but my vote still goes to Walter Kirn’s review of Extremely Bad and Incredibly Pretentious. Inject that directly into my veins please.
And to move to the sports theme, we cannot commemorate the decade without some Pasta Diving:
Jeter retired in 2014 after spending two decades as the most overrated player in baseball. Since then, he has busied himself by being the 87th rich asshole to gut the Miami Marlins for seemingly no reason, walled himself inside a Tampa mansion (of ALL the places you could choose to live…) that looks like a discount Sandals resort, and launched an online repository of spiffed-up press releases for pro athletes that, just this year, was sold to the kind of holding company that loves to acquire brands without actually giving a shit about WHY those brands are valuable. He also likes to sit in his office and look at iPads.
Yeah Jeets! One thing to add is that he’s apparently estranged from the Yankees because Brian Cashman told him the truth about his late career abilities and the market that would exist for his services elsewhere. And finally:
At some point in the new decade — hopefully, one not very far off — Roger Goodell will be quietly liquidated and consigned to an emeritus role within the NFL where he can spend eight hours a day giving firm handshakes to friends of the owners while wearing a cheap U.S. Navy baseball cap. There are now clear signs that his time as the face of the Shield is already waning, as he operates in the shadows and makes clumsy gestures to put a little shine on his ginger legacy.
And what will that legacy be? What will Goodell have accomplished in his time as steward of the most popular sport in American history? Here’s the answer: nothing. Absolutely fucking nothing. Pete Rozelle helped usher in the era of football as an optimized television product. Paul Tagliabue brought about a period of labor peace and forged a close relationship with then-players union chief Gene Upshaw (too close, if you asked a lot of players at the time). By contrast, what the fuck has Roger Goodell REALLY done? He muddled the rules of the game and then muddled them even further in ongoing attempts to find clarity. He locked out the players. He locked out the refs. He suspended his very best players and decided their sentencing by throwing fucking darts at his office wall. He let Cowboys owner Jerry Jones — the actual commissioner — broker a deal that has planted two unwanted teams in Los Angeles. He tried to brush off a concussion epidemic that, to this day, has rendered football a clear and present danger to those who play it. He is a comically servile loser. Anyone could have made NFL owners money this decade. Few could have done it with such perpetual gracelessness.
And yet, the thing is that he’s not even the worst commissioner of one of the major North American sports right now. Say this for Goodell, at least he doesn’t palpably hate the sport he’s in charge of. And if there isn’t a World Series cancelled by a lockout in the next five years I’ll be shocked.