1. Ryan Madson, Breadwinner
When you say "YOLO," Andy Greenwald says "Butterscotch Krimpets":
"Pour out a little liquor — or at least a little baking soda — for Reds pitcher Ryan Madson. You know how stats dorks like to measure everything in baseball against replacement players? Ryan Madson is the replacement player. First the Phillies replaced him with Dropkick Murphys Stan Jonathan Papelbon, despite Madson’s agent, the dreaded Scott Boras, insisting that the Phillies had offered his client $44 million first. Then came the devastating disclosure that the closer’s UCL had been torn completely off the bone, requiring the replacement surgery known as Tommy John. But neither bit of news stung as much as the revelation that local hoagie-roll bakery Liscio’s hadn’t even waited for the ink on Papelbon’s contract to dry before replacing former spokesman Madson with hungry Houston transplant Hunter Pence. Stay strong, Mad Dog! May you return next year, stronger than ever and in a LeBron-esque carb cloud of double-zero flour. Like yeast, a good pitcher/bread spokesman can’t stay down for long."
2. Brittney Griner, Ultimate Fighter
Rembert Browne, no doubt manically scribbling a reboot of Sunset Park right now: "For having the heart to give the rest of the NCAAW field a chance, by attempting to get herself suspended for this BENCH-CLEARING BLOODBATH. But then they didn't suspend her, so it's back to no one else having a chance. It's the thought that counts, though."
3. Mick Pennisi, Flop City
Rafe Bartholomew is the chief curator at the Museum of Modern Flopping: "We all saw Mick Pennisi of the Philippine Basketball Association join the Omer Asik flopping pantheon last week, but that was just the beginning for Pennisi. His buzzworthiness has shot through the roof with a YouTube song, "Teach Me How to Floppy," and a black-and-white mock art-house movie trailer. And Pennisi, long known as one of the PBA's beloved, class-clown teammates, has milked the attention masterfully with TV appearances like this one":
4. Mario Balotelli, Trolling Without Borders
Bill Barnwell sees you raising your hand in the back, but ignores your questions anyway: "It would be one thing for Mario Balotelli to crash his own manager's press conference. That would be your standard-issue zany athlete. (Roberto Mancini would probably respond by fining Carlos Tevez out of sheer habit/confusion.) Mario Balotelli, though, is in a different class. So what does he do? Why, he goes back to his old stomping grounds in Milan and decides to crash the press conference for the new Inter Milan manager, Andrea Stramaccioni, without warning. Balotelli might know Stramaccioni, formerly Inter's youth coach, from his time at the club, but crossing a border almost exclusively for trolling purposes is another level of hustle."
5. Bill O'Brien, Patriot
Michael Weinreb, who is still trying to perfect that Bob Seger-Bruce Springsteen-Hulk Hogan mashup, nominates the new Penn State coach: "'I don't think you can have enough American flags in your weight room.'" Debate that, Wolf Blitzer.
6. Bobby Valentine, Calming Presence
Don't peak too early, Bobby V. Let's not make the Red Sox clubhouse — or organization, for that matter — too harmonious. Because whenever you have to "address" rumors that you are involved in a power struggle with your general manager a little less than four months into your reign, you know you are doing something right. We already know Jose Iglesias is a big fan.
8. Rick Pitino, BRING. IT.
Sarah Larimer likes to stoke the fires of rivalry: "TAKE IT AWAY, RICK PITINO: 'There will be people at Kentucky that will have a nervous breakdown if they lose to us. You've got to watch. They've got to put the fences up on bridges. There will be people consumed by Louisville.'" Yeah, things might get a little real. They already have at the dialysis clinic.
9. Boris Diaw, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
I wonder if the French have a word for working for one of the worst companies in your field, spending your time there eating at Golden Corral, watching said company nose-dive into the ground, and then being rescued to work for one of the best companies. "Diawesque" maybe?
10. Kobe Bryant, Whistling T.I.'s "Motivation"
Can we raise $1 billion to have Kobe become the greatest studio analyst in the history of the NBA? Here's Mamba on the Lakers coaching staff: "They have a lot of youth." Haha. See you at shootaround, Quin Snyder.