Two Way Street: New Editors Aleck Ryner and Brian Friel Talk Soccer, Unathletic Athletes and Imaginary Fights

Brian Friel

“Half the editor, twice the emotion”

Athlete you would pick in a fight:
Aleck: I have to go with the biggest physical freak in football, 49ers Tight End Vernon Davis. The 6’ 3”, 254 pound monster first burst onto the NFL draft scene when he ran a 4.38 40 at the NFL Combine. But this isn’t about his speed, this is about his strength, and Davis benches as much or more than most offensive linemen in the NFL. You would be hard pressed to find any athlete that could beat Davis in a fight. And he rocks the dreads.

Brian: I’m going with a guy on the same team, just on the other side of the ball: Patrick Willis. At 6’1”, he gives up a couple of inches to Davis, but he’s 240 pounds of pure muscle and is an absolute freak athlete. The man ran a 4.37 40 yard dash at his Mississippi Pro Day, which is as fast as what CJ Spiller ran this year, and bench pressed 365 pounds coming out of high school. But what really sets Willis apart is his playing style. Willis is relentless, unlike Davis, who at times can be a diva. All in all, I wouldn’t ever want to be on the other side of the ball from this guy, let alone fight him.

Next Bay Area team to win it all:
Aleck: I’m going to go with the Giants, but by default. The Giants really don’t have the offense to win it all, or the General Manager for that matter, as Brian Sabean continues to make stupid comments regarding players in his own system. However, with one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, if they do make the playoffs, it will be hard to stop Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Barry Zito. The next step for the Giants should be to bring up top prospect Buster Posey, but as I stated earlier, Sabean just doesn’t seem to realize the Giants offense is pretty awful. But if Sabean finally realizes how stupid he sounds and calls him up, the Giants could have a legitimate chance… in a few years.

Brian: One of these years, the San Jose Sharks are finally going to win it all. The past two years were complete busts, as they never even advanced past the Conference Semifinals despite being number one seeds. This year proved to be much of the same, as the Sharks entered the playoffs boasting one of the NHL’s best records only to be swept by the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals. To their credit, it was only the second time in franchise history that the Sharks got that far, but it’s about time that they at least reached the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. If the Sharks can stay healthy, next year may finally be the year.

Professional athlete with the least natural athleticism:
Aleck: It has got to be Padres infielder David Eckstein. I mean, someone who’s 5’7” and slow with a weak arm and very little power probably should not be in the majors. But somehow Eckstein gets by with his minimal natural ability. He has been selected to two all-star games, he’s won two world series and has a world series MVP award. This year he is batting a solid .310 with one home run, a walk-off shot against the Giants.

Brian: John Daly: Because it must be hard to sprint with a Diet Coke in one hand and a cigarette in the other. For years the man was a legitimate competitor in PGA tournaments despite being over 40 years old and tipping the scale at 280 pounds. To his credit, Daly has recently slimmed down, but his previous accomplishments certainly couldn’t have helped golf’s constant struggle for recognition as an actual sport. The bottom line is, anyone who calls themselves a professional athlete needs to be in shape. If they aren’t, it isn’t pretty. Just ask Bengie Molina.

Opinion on soccer:
Aleck: There are a variety of reasons why soccer is not popular in the United States, and it would take a long time to mention them all so I’ll stick with a few. First of all, there are ties, and in the World Cup there are penalty kicks. That’s basically the equivalent of replacing extra innings in baseball with a home run derby. Sounds fair to me. Also, on the rare occasion I find myself playing soccer, I must always fight the temptation to pick up the ball. I really just don’t understand the infatuation with a sport in which you can’t use the most useful part of your body.

Brian: Sorry Ashraf, but soccer will never be popular in the U.S. because it is absurdly slow. I’ve heard some argue with false pride how the average soccer participant “runs” four miles in a game. Newsflash: that means they are jogging less than three miles per hour. Translation: they are mostly standing around. Why would I want to spend 90 minutes watching a bunch of guys jogging around in hopes of maybe seeing two or three goals? I’ve also found that soccer is one of the few sports in which one could watch for 30 seconds and still not know which direction either team is going. I guess that’s why most games end 0-0, or, excuse me, nil-nil.

Most attractive/least attractive athlete:
Aleck: The easy winner of least attractive athlete goes to former NBA player Sam Cassell. Only a picture can truly show his ugliness, but if I had to choose one word to describe him, I would choose alien. As for the hottest athlete, tennis player turned model Anna Kournikova takes the cake here. She first came onto the scene because of tennis, but stayed on it because of her looks. Basically, she’s Maria Sharapova but hotter and worse at tennis.

Brian: After winning a national championship at Florida, Joakim Noah hasn’t had too much go his way. His 40-40 Bulls did manage to squeak into the playoffs, but were promptly dismantled by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Amidst the beat-down, Noah was also chastised by the national media for trying to start a feud with King James. This certainly can’t help a guy who’s got a bizarre afro-ponytail, a disgusting gap in is front teeth, and a failed attempt at a mustache. Jennie Finch, on the other hand, has been enjoying a lot more success than Noah. Finch is one of the best softball pitchers of all-time, and has a gold-medal from the 2004 Olympics to back it up. She also isn’t doing to bad in the looks department either, as she modeled for a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition as well.