Monday, February 26, 2007

Bill Simmons’s Rules of a True Fan: The Five Year Review

On February 27, 2002, ESPN columnist Bill Simmons wrote perhaps one of his best articles, the Rules for Being a True Fan. Although by no means an authority, Simmons laboriously detailed 20 guidelines for fandom. In 2002, these rules were considered gospel, especially to Simmons's many legions of fans. Five years later, however, with the sports world vastly different, and many voices out-Simmons-ing Simmons, it is time to re-examine The Rules of a True Fan and see how relevant they remain.

(Warning: This post is over 2,500 words. May require printing out and/or minimizing on occasion. Enjoy.)

1) "You can't purchase a 'blank' authentic jersey from your favorite team with no name on the back, then stick your own name and number on the jersey ... well, unless you want to be an enormous dork."

Still 100% true. Nothing says "dork" like Jordi on a Mets jersey. However, with the explosion of throwback jerseys in recent years, the jersey rule had to be updated. Josh Bacott of does an excellent job covering the details of what should and should not be accepted of a jersey wearer. When discussing old Cardinal jerseys, for example, Bacott asserts "If you’re going to make an investment on a throwback jersey, at least make sure the jersey actually existed at one time." Do not get a Dizzy Dean-era Vince Coleman jersey. Real fans know a fraud when they see one.

2) "If you're attending an NBA game, don't wear the jersey of a team that isn't competing in the game."

True, but not as horrible as it once was. Again because of the explosion of throwbacks. Let me explain. If, for example, you live in LA, like a certain sports writer, but you root for the Celtics, and you want to wear your Larry Bird throwback to a Clippers-Grizzles game, I see no problem. As a matter of fact, if the players themselves wear throwback jersey of players not in their organization, a fan has every right to say "Yes, I am here to watch the Clippers and the Grizzles. Yes, I am admiring the game as an observer, not a fan. Yes, I am a Larry Bird fan."

3) "Don't wear cheap-looking replica jerseys or flimsy-looking bargain-basement hats. Come on. You're representing every fan from your team."

I understand where Simmons comes from with this, but keep in mind, he went to a private college and grew up among Celtics season ticket holders. If all I can afford is a two dollar hat, then if you want me to wear a new Starter fitted cap, you buy it for me. Otherwise, I am rocking the two dollar hat. Being a fan isn't based on money.

4) "Don't wear replica championship rings as a conversation starter. Don't carry someone's baseball card in your wallet as a conversation starter."

Ok, these are still true. I don't know anyone who actually did either of these, save for Bob Costas and his Mickey Mantle card. If, however, you buy an authentic championship ring on eBay, show that baby off.

5) "It's OK to flagrantly show your contempt for the home team by wearing the colors of a hated rival, as long as you're not being obnoxious as you root for the visiting team."

Of course this is true. When would it not be? Although I would tone down the rival-wear in the company of some European soccer fans.

6) "When your team wins a championship, it's your civic duty to purchase as much paraphernalia as possible."

If this is true, Simmons's house is probably covered in Pats and Red Sox paraphernalia. This is a dumb rule. Keep it modest folks. Nobody likes a braggart. A championship t-shirt, a hat maybe, the front page of the local newspaper, and that weeks Sports Illustrated should be all you need.

7) "Be very careful when using the word "We" with your favorite team. Use it judiciously. Just remember, you don't wear a uniform, you don't play any minutes, and you're not on the team."

I agree to a point. I have two issues with this rule, however: 1. Because you have established a relationship with the team, should you not refer to yourself as a member of the team's "nation" of fans? Do you not refer to you and your significant other as "we"? Why do you do that? Because there is a bond of affection there.
2. If you are a fan of college sports, especially if you are an alumnus of that particular school, feel free to use "we" as often as you like. You are part of your school's family, as are its current student/athletes.

8) "No hopping on and off the bandwagon during the season with the flip-flop, 'I knew we were going to self-destruct! ... All right, we won six straight! ... I knew we wouldn't keep playing this well. ... I knew we would bounce back!' routine as the season drags along."

Another dumb rule. Again being emotionally attached to anything is going to sway your opinions, especially as you follow it day-to-day. Simmons himself claims to break this rule. There is an axiom in finance to not get caught up in the daily ebb and flow of the market, but to look at the long term. If we followed that axiom in our fan affiliations, we would probably be a little more sane. But it wouldn't be as fun.

9) "It's OK to root against your team, if they're hopelessly out of the playoff race and you want them to keep losing so A) they'll get a better draft pick, or B) you're hoping the coach and/or GM will get fired. Don't feel bad about it."

Still true. Simmons is doing this right now, rooting against his Celtics so they have a better chance of drafting Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. Personally, I am still boycotting the Isiah Thomas era in NY while of course rooting for Oden and Durant to stay in school.

10) "If one of your fantasy guys is lighting it up against your favorite team (scoring goals, rushing for big yards, making jumpers, etc.), you can't pump your fist, high-five anyone or refer to the player in a 'That's one of my guys!' sense, especially if it's a crucial game or a crucial juncture of the game."

I have never been a big fan of fantasy sports. I played one season of fantasy basketball in my freshman year of college. It drove me to drink. Continuously. But Simmons is right, don't put your fantasy team over your "real" team. Unless you are a lock to win money in the fantasy league. Then a little celebration is acceptable.

11) "Don't boo your team unless it's absolutely warranted - like with the brutal Knicks situation this season, or if you're hoping to get a coach fired or a specific player traded or something."

Five years later and Knicks fans are still booing. Amazing, but I digress ...

Here is another rule I disagree with Simmons on. Boo all you want. Cheer all you want. If your team is in a losing streak, boo them. If A-Rod strikes out with the bases loaded, boo him. You pay money to see a performance. If the team, player, management, fails to perform to the ticket buyer's expectations, they can expect to be told as such. I see no problem with that. How else can fans let the performers know they are dissatisfied?

12) "After your team wins a championship, they immediately get a five-year grace period: You can't complain about anything that happens with your team (trades, draft picks, salary-cap cuts, coaching moves) for five years."

Another faulty rule Simmons himself breaks on occasion. For an example of how ridiculous this rule is, ask a Marlins fan how happy they were after the Marlins won in 1997 then lost 108 the following year. Then try to console them with the "five-year grace period". Then tell them their five years ended after 2002, and the because the Marlins won it all in '03 they still can't complain. As a matter of fact, Marlins fans can't complain about 1998 until 2008. Chewbacca lives on Endor and this does not make any sense.

13) "You can follow specific players from other teams, but only as long as they aren't facing your team."

Well, not exactly. This rule should be a lot closer to the aforementioned fantasy rule. In my opinion, it is ok to root for individual accomplishments and root for said individual's team to lose. If I want Kobe to score 60 but the Lakers to lose to the Knicks, how is that wrong?

14) "Just because you supported a team that won a championship, it doesn't give you the right to turn into a pompous, insufferable schmuck. Remember this."

Simmons actually wrote this rule? Wow. Where do I start? In all honesty, you can't have it both ways. You cannot not complain (see Rule 12) and also not be a pompous schmuck. Complaining keeps you level. It reduces your excitement and prevents you from getting a big head. Unless you are a Yankee fan.

15) If your team defeats a good friend's team in a crucial game or series, don't rub it in with them unless they've been especially annoying/gloating/condescending/confrontational in the days leading up to the big battle. You're probably better off cutting off all communications in the days preceding/following the game, just to be safe.

a) Along those same lines, if your team squanders a crucial game/series to your buddy's team, don't make them feel guilty about it -- don't call them to bitch about the game, don't blame some conspiracy or bad referee's call, don't rant and rave like a lunatic.

b) If your buddy's team loses an especially tough game, don't call him -- wait for him to call you. And when you do speak to him, discuss the game in a tone normally reserved for sudden, unexpected deaths.

c) If one of your best friends loves a certain team that has a chance to win a championship, and your team is out of the picture, it's OK to jump on the bandwagon and root for his team to win it all. That's acceptable. Like Temporary Fan status.

Rule 15 - the big one. Simmons's only rule with multiple parts. Despite its complexity, this is a good rule. Rule 15 itself is why I don't bet on my team. Too much friendship ruining potential. I've never been in a 15a situation, however 15b is chillingly true. After "my" Mets lost to the Cardinals in last year NLCS, I didn't answer my phone until I went for a brief walk outside. Had to clear my head. On the other hand, 15c is a great rule that allows you to get your drink on as you let your friend know you totally supported his/her team. You never know, you might just get a drink or two out of it.

16) "If you marry someone who roots for a different team than you, you can't be bullied into switching allegiances."

I would hope this never actually happens, so this rule still applies. Part of being the man of a relationship means laying ground rules in your personality that will not be crossed. She may dress you, drag you to the gym, force you to drink light beer, but you should never give up the team you started following since before she came around. And what if you give up your team and end up divorced? Is there a sports confession booth, where you can confess to a priest you gave up your team for a mortal partner? Just don't do it.

17) "If you're an American woman and visible former actress, and you marry the most famous Canadian hockey star of all-time, and eventually he becomes the man in charge of putting together a Canadian Olympic hockey team, and they end up playing the Americans for the gold medal in a game that's taking place in a U.S. city, and you show up for that game cheering for the Canadians, and you're hugging everyone in sight as the Canadians are putting the game away in the third period ... well, you have to leave the country immediately. And you can't come back. Ever."

Written for Janet Jones, Rule 17 is still applicable.

18) "If you live in a city that has fielded a professional team since your formative years, you have to root for that team."

Sounds good to me.

19) "Once you choose a team, you're stuck with that team for the rest of your life ... unless one of the following conditions applies:

Your team moves to another city.

You grew up in a city that didn't field a team for a specific sport - so you picked a random team - and then either a.) your city landed a team, or b.) you moved to a city that fielded a team for that specific sport.

One of your immediate family members either plays professionally or takes a relevant management/coaching/front office position with a pro team.

You follow your favorite college star (and this has to be a once-in-a-generation favorite college star) to the pros and root for his team du jour. Only works if there isn't a pro team in your area.

The owner of your favorite team treated his fans so egregiously over the years that you couldn't take it anymore -- you would rather not follow them at all then support a franchise with this owner in charge."

Simmons covers so much with this rule, it's hard to see how it wouldn't still apply. However, that being said, it does only apply to professional major league sports. Simmons unfortunately does not addresses fans of local minor league teams in this section. For example, you live in a town with a minor league team. You root for said team and its players. Are you supposed to discard your loyalty to the players as they move on? Or better yet, what if the major league affiliation of the minor league team changes? What if what was once a Royals Double-A team is now a Red Sox Triple-A team and you are a Yankee fan? Any suggestions?

20) "If you hail from New York, you can't root for the Yankees and the Mets."

This rule absolutely stands and is good for any and all state or city rivals. Can you imagine an Aggie saying "Well, it's ok that the Longhorns won, as long as we keep the National Championship in Texas"? Funk that. As a Florida State Seminole fan, I damn sure rooted for Ohio State in the BCS championship and UCLA in last year's basketball championship. Anyone who puts their team loyalty aside for the betterment of their state is a moron. Your state/city/town/region/community/village/commune/local gathering wins nothing. Your team wins everything.

Overall, most of Bill Simmons's rules are still applicable five years after their initial publication. I guess beneath the teen reality show references, the Godfather and Karate Kid quotes, and the yarns of J-Bug and Hench, there is a core of sports gospel in Simmons's writing that sports fans can and should be able to follow for years to come.

- Jordi

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Monday with Manson (now Bryan Maddox) Part 2

Today we welcome back independent wrestling superstar Bryan Manson. When we last saw Mr. Manson, he was mindlessly meandering through Mudville mauling midgets mercilessly. So with our full riot gear in tow, The Serious Tip attempted to find the truth behind the soon-to-be legend of Bryan Manson.

The Serious Tip: Welcome back Mr. Manson. So let start off with an easy question, who would you love to face off with in the squared circle (past or present)?

Bryan Manson: Of all the wrestlers to ever work, I would love to wrestle against Bret Hart, circa 1990. His technical ability is among the best and he is the best there was, the best there is, and the best there ever will be ... Until I beat him.

The Serious Tip: I see that happening ... when Bret Hart is about 90. But I digress. So what are your top five all-time favorite matches?

Bryan Manson: Finally, a question where I can have more than one favorite. First any match with Masato Tanaka against Mike Awesome. Those guys put on a great show everytime. Then I would have to say D-Von & Bubba Ray, the Dudley Boyz, versus Kronus and Saturn, the Eliminators, in ECW. Great tag team match, not much tagging, but just a festival of double team moves and straight-out brawling. Then I would say the Undertaker against Mankind in the infamous Hell in a Cell Match. Decent wrestling, but the resolve of Mick Foley is an awesome thing. Second favorite match ever would be Eddie Guerrero against Dean Malenko in their last ECW match. It was two out of three falls and a great technical wrestling match, perhaps the best technical display ever. But my favorite match ever would have to be Rob Van Dam versus Jerry Lynn in ECW. Great match, high-flying, technical, hardcore, no dragging on, just action the whole time, by far the greatest match ever. ECW has always put on better wrestling throughout the company's lifetime, be it technical wrestling or the bloody brutality know as hardcore.

The Serious Tip: I almost lost count, did you just give about 10 different matches? So in your albeit limited short wrestling career what has been your best match?

Bryan Manson: So far, I would have to say my singles match against Nooie Lee. He is a great wrestler and I would love to wrestle him again in the near future, as it would be even better than the last one.

The Serious Tip: I think I have heard porn stars talk of each other the same way. Speaking of, do wrestlers have groupies? If so, what is the wrestler groupie scene like?

Bryan Manson: Wrestling groupies are referred to as Ring Rats, and if they do exist, they don't go to the shows I work. Believe me, if they wanted to do any of the wrestlers at my shows it would be me.

The Serious Tip: Umm … yeah. Speaking of women, who is the hottest female wrestler?

Bryan Manson: Well, until recently, I would've said Trish Stratus, due to her ample wrestling skills and ample breasts. But as she is no longer under the employ of WWE, I would say Mickie James. For some reason, the better the chick wrestles, the hotter she seems. Mickie James is a great wrestler and very easy on the eyes.

The Serious Tip: Mickie James, huh? I guess everyone is due their own opinion now that Stacy Keibler is under the employment of the Mouse. But since this interview is about you, have you held any belts or won any championships yet?

Bryan Manson: I have held the 1st Class Pro Wrestling Tag Team Wrestling Championship as the Koffin Kidz with my partner, Jay Icon. Oh and it is with K's and Z's because that's how the kool kidz do it.

The Serious Tip: Those kooky krazy kool kidz. They need to get away from their eye-pods and their eBays and go outside and play a sport like jacks or cricket or wrestling. Er, is pro wrestling a sport?

Bryan Manson: Sport? No. Are wrestlers athletes? Yes.

The Serious Tip: Ok, that was a quick answer. You know, I remember back in the day there were some wrestlers who you knew looked like Barry Bonds with their thick necks and shriveled testicles (or so I’ve heard). Is steroids still a problem in pro wrestling?

Bryan Manson: Maybe back in the 1980s, but today, with all the information of abuse and all the legal products out there, I don't see a problem at all.

The Serious Tip: But you guys can still get hurt, right? What are the inherent dangers of pro wrestling?

Bryan Manson: Obviously bodily injury is a huge danger, as wrestlers are hitting and slamming each other, as well as leaping off of eight foot heights to concrete floors. Bones are easily broken, muscles torn, and bruises and cuts are plenty. The biggest danger, however, is stepping into the ring with Bryan Manson and not bringing your "A" game.

The Serious Tip: You got me skurred. So what is the biggest false stereotype people have of wrestling? Of wrestlers?

Bryan Manson: Well, either people believe wrestling is totally real or totally fake. That's the biggest stereotype by far. Some think that a DDT or a powerbomb will kill you. While they can be dangerous, if taken correctly a DDT is one of the tamest moves in all of wrestling.
But worse than that are the people who think chair shots don't hurt. People, the chairs are real and the hits are real. Oh yeah, and the blood is real. As far as stereotyping wrestlers, the most annoying is that wrestlers don't feel pain, or don't feel it as much. No, we do. We just know that pain is temporary. I still hurts, though.

The Serious Tip: Everybody knows pain is weakness leaving the body. Though here at The Serious Tip for some reason we never seem to run out of weakness, hence never-ending pain. So, final question, before I leave you to return to your handlers, why should people go see Bryan Manson?

Bryan Manson: To see the culmination of great training, years of hard work, and 287lbs of raw brutality and amazing talent. Simply put... to see the best.

I'd like to thank Bryan Manson for spending some time with The Serious Tip. Next time though, Mr. Manson, please use the Febreeze after you leave a number two. It’s there for a reason. It stinks in here now.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

SportsCenter 100K

Last Sunday, on February 11, ESPN aired its 30,000th SportsCenter. As ESPN is always quick to mention, the first SportsCenter aired on Sept 7, 1979. This milestone in great American sports programming began two days prior to my 2nd birthday. SportsCenter eventually grew to average more than 1,000 episodes per year, enabling the program to air its 30,000th show nearly seven months prior to my 30th birthday.

So how did the SportsCenter broadcasts pass me so quickly? After dusting off my old high school calculator, I decided to crunch the numbers. I discovered that in the duration between SportsCenter 1 and SportsCenter 10K, on December 2, 1988, there were 2.96 SportsCenter airings per day. How this was, I am not sure, as ESPN did not begin airing a second daily SportsCenter until January 1, 1982.

From SportsCenter 10K to SportsCenter 20K, on May 17, 1998, there were 2.9 SportsCenter airings per day, curiously less per day than the previous 10K, and even more curious considering a third daily SportsCenter began airing on August 20, 1990.

On Aug 25, 2002, ESPN aired SportsCenter 25K. With the addition of a fourth daily SportsCenter beginning April 6, 1999, the average amount of SportsCenters per day increased to 3.2. Again there would be another decline in daily SportsCenters as ESPN broadcasting averaged only 3.06 SportsCenter airings per day from SportsCenter 25K to SportsCenter 30K on February 11, 2007. By the way, if anyone can explain how the amount of SportsCenters per day drop on occasion, please let me know.

After doing all that math, I began to wonder, barring accident, injury, or a game of global thermonuclear war gone awry, will I live long enough to see the 100,000th airing of SportsCenter? Using the most recent average of SportsCenter airings per day (3.06), SportsCenter should pass its remaining 5K milestones on the following dates:

SportsCenter 35K – July 29, 2011
SportsCenter 40K – January, 16, 2016
SportsCenter 45K – July 4, 2020
SportsCenter 50K – December 22, 2024
SportsCenter 55K – June 9, 2029
SportsCenter 60K – November 27, 2033
SportsCenter 65K – May 15, 2038
SportsCenter 70K – November 2, 2042
SportsCenter 75K – April 20, 2047
SportsCenter 80K – October 8, 2051
SportsCenter 85K – March 26, 2056
SportsCenter 90K – September 13, 2060
SportsCenter 95K – March 3, 2065
SportsCenter 100K – August 21, 2069

August 21, 2069. I will be 91 years old. Living to see SportsCenter 100K is my new long term goal. Remembering what I watched at 91 years old, however, may be a whole other issue.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Monday with Manson (now Bryan Maddox) Part 1

As Mitch Albom once spent his Tuesdays with Morrie, here at The Serious Tip I am spending the next two Mondays posting my recent email interview with someone of a far different breed. Someone far more intimidating, scarier, and who wears more make-up than Albom’s elderly mentor. From the ranks of Florida’s independent wrestling scene, I bring to you
Bryan Manson.

(P.S. I know pro wrestling isn’t considered a sport in some circles, but it is the ides of mid-February. Not exactly the most exciting time in the sports calendar.)
The Serious Tip: Greetings Mr. Manson. So where does Bryan Manson come from? Are you the love spawn of Charles Manson?

Bryan Manson: Bryan Manson hails from the dark, twisted alleys of the mean streets of Winnipeg, Manitoba. That’s in Canada for all you geographically challenged morons out there. Oh wait. I forgot. You morons are known as Americans.

The Serious Tip: Ummm… ok. Nice third person reference there. Well, then explain the origins of Bryan Manson.

Bryan Manson: Before the dawn of the universe, there was darkness. Darkness has persisted throughout the Ages of Man. From this darkness comes Bryan Manson… that sounded cool.

The Serious Tip: Very existential. Let’s try another route. How did Bryan Manson become a wrestler?

Bryan Manson: Within every man, woman, and child is a desire to destroy. To rend and maim our fellow man. I simply chose to hone my skill under the tutelage of renowned Florida Independent Wrestling Trainer Bam Bam Mancuso at the Florida Exteme Westling House of Pain School of Professional Wrestling in Melbourne, Florida, which can be reached at (321)432-1020 or online at

The Serious Tip: (coughs)shameless plug(cough).

Bryan Manson: Gesundheit.

The Serious Tip: What is Bryan Manson’s character? How does that fit in pro wrestling?

Bryan Manson: Bryan Manson is the seemingly mindless brute controlled by his Dark Masters, Rico Moon & the Black Widow. He has many quasi-Satanic elements in his character, adding to his “dark” and “evil” image. He is also a bit of prankster, showing a touch of humor, but when things don’t go his way, he is quick to anger. Pro wrestling is a great venue for larger-than-life characters, so Bryan Manson is a perfect fit. Then again, fans are fickle, so if the evil character isn’t getting enough attention, it might be time for a change.

The Serious Tip: A change?

Bryan Manson: Dropping the evilness and going with a character that both appeals to the fans and fits myself as well. I’m not one for today’s rap music, so you can forget a Gangsta Manson, but something a little less evil, more working-class metalhead is highly possible.

The Serious Tip: That’s a shame. I like those hippity-hoppity rappin’ wrestlers. So what is your wrestling style? Do you destroy your opponents like the centipede, the snake, the scorpion, the lizard, or the toad?

Bryan Manson: I describe my style as Global. I use different moves from various styles. If my opponent is assaulting me with uppercuts and haymakers, I employ my own brutal brawling technique. If my foe is using submission holds and suplexes, I counter with my own technical prowess. However, the inverse works best with larger or quicker wrestlers, respectively. I use power moves on smaller wrestlers and quicker moves on larger wrestlers.

The Serious Tip: So there ain’t no father to your style, kinda like the Ol’ Dirty Bastard. However, because I think you kinda have to emulate someone, who is Bryan Manson’s all-time favorite wrestler? Hopefully it is not Jimmy the King from Ready to Rumble.
Bryan Manson: Wow… that’s a tough one. There are many wrestlers who I enjoy to watch and have influenced my own wrestling, but of all-time, my favorite would have to be the
British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith. His combination of power and agility not only made his matches enjoyable, but influences my style and challenges me to improve.

The Serious Tip: Favorite current wrestler? Kevin Federline, perhaps?

Bryan Manson: As far as today’s wrestlers go, I would have a tie between Carlito and Shelton Benjamin. Both men are fairly early in their careers and, with their talents, have extremely bright futures.

To know more about this wrestling phenom, check out The Serious Tip’s next Monday with Manson next week. Of course, I will be posting other news and commentary throughout the week, so stay tuned and thanks for swinging by.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Punxsutawny Shaq

"When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter."
- Bill Murray, Groundhog Day (1993)

Throughout most of the world, February 2nd is a day of hope. On this day, in a little town 80 miles from Pittsburgh, Pa., a little groundhog pokes his little head out his little hole and reveals whether or not we will face six more weeks of cold, bleak, dreary winter.

For many sports fans in Miami however, Groundhog's Day came early this year. Please forgive their haste. Not only is winter not a big issue where the temperature rarely drops below 80 degrees, but with a certain major football championship to be played in the city on February 4th, the certain minor holidays needed to be rescheduled.

Last night, in Indianapolis, Indiana, Shaquille O'Neal returned to the Miami Heat and made his season debut. This comes as great news for Miami Heat fans, who can now hope for six weeks of playoff basketball with their All-Star center back in the lineup. No longer will they have to endure the bleak, cold, depressing performances of has-beens or never-will-bes such as Earl Barron and Wayne Simien. Finally, the Big Barishynikov has come back to Miami.

In honor of Shaq's return, The Serious Tip has decided to compare these two Seers of Seers, Sages of Sages, Prognosticators of Prognosticators and Prophets Extraordinary in a quick tale of the tape to determine which, if either, could best help people find their missing bikes.

Miami is a much more popular and warmer tourist destination, has beautiful beaches, and plenty of scantily-clad eye candy. Besides Gobbler's Knob, what else is in Punxsutawny? Advantage: Shaq.

Groundhog Day vs. Kazaam, Steele, Blue Chips, Good Burger, etc. Although Groundhog Day was not filmed in Punxatawny, Shaq's movies lacked that certain something called Bill Murray's comic genius. And with "Ned the Head", "Needle-Nose Ned" Ryerson in a supporting role, Groundhog Day was a repetitive masterpiece. Advantage: Phil.

Place of Emergence:
'Tis much better to rise from the ashes of the Miami Heat bench dressed in a custom-made suit than for ye to cower in a Saddam Hussein hidey-hole in Gobbler's Knob. I think Shakespeare said that. Advantage: Shaq. And yes, I said Gobbler's Knob again. Huh, huh, cool.

Phil never released any albums with the Fu-Schnickens. Shaq unfortunately did. To paraphrase, "That's okay, not being bragadocious, but Supercalifragelistic, Shaq's rap career was quite atrocious." Major advantage: Phil.

Cultural impact:
Although Shaq has been around for what seems like forever, Phil is supposedly going on 120 years old. That's a lot of soothseeing. According to a web site about Phil, the secret to his longevity lies in a sheltered climate-controlled environment where he spends all of his non-working time. Kinda like Gilbert Arenas. Durability advantage: Phil.

In a close contest, Phil grabs the 3-2 victory over the Big Aristotle. This victory comes as no surprise however, as Phil's skills in prophesy haven't been challenged since Miss Cleo vanished from the scene several years ago.

Despite his defeat to the world's most famous groundhog, Miami Heat fans should be optimistic about Punxsutawny Shaq's return and their chances at another title, until of course, the Heat play the red-hot Phoenix Suns or Dallas Mavericks. Then it might be time to crawl into Phil's hidey-hole and wait for next year.