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Every few weeks, the contributors to The Writers, as well as some special guests, will submit a Top 5 list
on a given topic.

Top 5 Current Athletes I Would Pay to Watch

Special Guests: Bryan Graham (Snowballs for Santa), Clay Luraschi (Topps), Dave
Starman
(Hockey Analyst, CSTV).


Ed Barnes:
All of the players on my list, have plays or specific traits that prove exactly why I would pay to see them.
Those plays or traits can explain as well as anything why I would pay to see them.

1. Ichiro- Climbing the wall to take a home run away from Garret Anderson. More impressive is the fact
he’s made the softball skill of slap hitting seem cool.

2. Michael Vick - 46-yard game winning scramble against the Vikings on December 1, 2002 for a 30-24
win in overtime. Plus he can throw footballs literally out of the stadium. I saw it on TV.

3. Brett Favre - In 2004 against the New York Giants when he sustained a concussion on first down and
missed two plays. Then, on fourth-and-5, he put himself back in the game without medical clearance
and threw a 28-yard TD pass to Javon Walker. A play he didn’t remember after the game.

4. LeBron James - Making all those 90 foot jumpers before that one game. Just amazing how he takes
his normal stroke for those too. He can even hit them fading away!

5. Ronaldinho (Striker, Barcelona) - His goal against AC Milan in this year’s Champions League
showed his combination of touch, power and skill. Unfortunately, I know I’ve lost a lot of people reading
by putting a soccer player in my top 5.


Bryan Graham:
1. Tiger Woods - The easy one.

2. Randy Moss - Terrell Owens might be a nice football player, I’d list the mercurial Oakland wideout
among the top five or 10 pure athletes of all-time.

3. Allen Iverson - Nobody in sports get more out of his body.

4. Bernard Hopkins - The undisputed middleweight champion has (a record) 20 championship
defenses and counting.

5. Wayne Rooney - As a ‘Pool puller, this is a difficult call. Only wish Rooney, who plays with such a
distinctive style (a bull in a china shop comes to mind), had stayed with the Toffees.


Marc Grossman:
1. John Daly - Having turned down many offers to attend pro golf events (I have attended a few over the
years, but would much rather play than watch on a nice day- especially if someone else if paying!), he’s
the one guy I would follow because he’s the guy I model my game after. Grip it and rip it and ….hope it’s
somewhere near the fairway! Distance is addicting.

2. Ben Wallace - I love players who can totally dominate a game and make other players look like they
don’t want to be there. When Wallace takes over a game on defense- 20 boards, 5 blocks and no one
wanting to go into the lane- it’s worth the price of admission.

3. Roger Clemens - In trying to come up with a baseball name to add to this list, I started listing all the
great players I saw during my life and realized I’m getting old. Looking at the great pitchers who I have
seen in person- Spahn, Koufax, Drysdale, Gibson, Marichal, Ford, Bunning, Jenkins, Niekro, Maddux,
Palmer, Carlton, Sutton, Perry, Seaver- most of them multiple times- there seems to be a name missing
based on the all-time greats of my lifetime. Seems to me I missed the chance to drop down $5 (that is
the price of a good box seat these days, isn’t it?) the other night when he pitched at Wrigley.

4. Jeff Gordon - Now that we have reached the 2nd of our two seasons here in Chicago (road
construction, the other of course being winter), I figure I need some serious pointers on driving. Last
week, they closed the two major east-west streets in my area to do street reconstruction while at the
same time closing three of the major north-south streets for similar work. My normal 20 minute drive to
work is now 45 minutes. I’ve never seen a NASCAR race in person or on TV (watching someone drive in
a circle just doesn’t do it for me), but I keep hearing it’s really different and that these guys really know
how to drive and get thru the other cars. Maybe if I go, I’ll get some tips on fighting the congestion! And,
after hearing him sing the other night at “Wrigley Stadium”- I want to get all his CD’s which I’m sure they
will be selling at the track.

5. My daughter and her high school JV basketball team - wait, I actually do pay for that. Can you believe
they charge to see high school girls play basketball? Talk about taking advantage of a situation- what
parent is going to say no? I’m sure they wish they could deny me the ticket, though. Is there a worse
combination than a parent of a back-up player who is also a basketball statistician? I had never seen a
person look so thoroughly confused as her coach after I came forward with a complete analysis of
points in the paint, 2nd chance points, rebounds per minute, plus/minus, etc explaining why my
daughter should get more playing time…I’m sure you don’t want to hear about it anymore than he did!


Clay Luraschi:
1. Barry Bonds
2. Lebron James
3. Tiger Woods
4. Johnny Wilkinson / England Rugby team
5. Freddy Adu


Myra Maresh:
1.  David Beckham - Brilliant footballer...I only wish he was playing in the US-England friendly this
weekend.

2.  Roger Federer - Given time, a potential tennis legend.

3.  Haile Gebrselassie running the marathon - He's known for his 10,000m races (particularly that one
in the 2000 Olympics), but I'm interested to see how this running great would fare in the marathon
(rather well, perhaps--barring injury, of course).  He didn't run the 2005 London Marathon due to an
Achilles' injury.

4.  Lance Armstrong - (Winning) in his last Tour de France.

5.  I can't think of one for #5.


Jerry Milani:
1. Derek Jeter - does anyone consistenly do more, day in and day out, at the bat and in the field to give
you your money's worth than Jeter?  That play he made on Wednesday night, climbing over Robinson
Cano's back to steal a hit and save at least a run, was almost routine for this superstar.

2. Brett Favre - Packer fan bias aside, does anyone in the League pull you out of your seat, for better or
sometimes for worse, more often?  His unbridled enthusiasm and will to win set him apart.  He may not
ever get back to Super Bowl, but he'll expend his last breath trying or it.

3. LeBron James - the sports gods have smiled on the NBA with this wise-beyond-his-years gem.  
Comparisons to M.J. are unfair since they are different type players, but there's no mistaking the star
power that this #23 has, and that all the Association and sponsor hype in the world couldn't make stick
in Grant Hill, Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant or anyone else they tried to throw at us.

4. Andre Agassi - no one brings out the true mano-a-mano emotion of tennis than this class act who
never leaves an ounce on the court.  The many incarnations and rebirths of this true cross-over star just
add to his mystique, and seeing him in his twilight years is every bit as enjoyable as during his prime
and his legendary battles with Pete Sampras. Tennis will never be the same after he goes.

5. Roger Clemens - there's no mistaking the bulldog tenacity that all five of my selections share.  
Perhaps no one epitomizes the good old-fashioned hardball pitcher like Rocket.  Supremely confident
and in complete control, an argument can be made for Clemens as the best pitcher of all time.  I'll still
take Walter Johnson in that debate, but there's plenty of Big Train in this stud.
Honorable Mention:  Serena Williams, Ray Lewis, Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam.


Eric Mirlis:
1. Ichiro - I was working a Yankee-Mariner game for YES a few weeks back and Jim Kaat actually started
saying this on the air. I couldn't agree more. In that one game, he did all of the following: Opened the
game with a triple on a ball that should have been no more than a double; Make a running circus catch
in the right-centerfield gap to rob Hideki Matsui of extra bases; cut a ball off in the right field corner that
was similar to the one he got a triple on, holding the very fast Tony Womack to a single. No one plays
the game better and does more things well.

2. Shaquille O'Neal - For a man of his size, his grace and speed are amazing. He might not have the
spring in his step that he did when he was younger, but he is just as unstoppable no as he was ten
years ago.

3. Tiger Woods - A swing unlike the game of golf will ever see from anyone else. Just watching him
swing the club when he is driving is an amazing sight. And his creativity around the green is close to
unmatched.

4. Michael Vick - Which would you rather have in a quarterback? A cannon for an arm, or the ability to
scramble unlike anyone who has ever played the position? Now, what if you could have both? That is
what you get with Vick. He is one of the rare breed of athletes that can win a game by himself.

5. Derek Jeter - The famous plays are indelible in your mind - the toss from out of postion against
Oakland in the playoffs; the dive into the fourth row while chasing a foul pop; and the latest, climbing
over Robinson Cano's back on a short fly to center. Jeter might have the greatest instincts of any
baseball player of not just this genertation, but ever. Enjoy watching him make the impossible look
routine while you can - no one else does it more often.


Barry Neuberger:
1. Michael Vick - By far, the best marketing thing to happen to the NFL. A threat from any place on the
field to get you on your feet.

2. Derek Jeter - If someone wants to know how to play baseball, take them to a game and instruct them
to just watch him for 9 innings.

3. LeBron James - He plays the game a step faster, quicker than everybody and it seems that his feet
never touch the ground.

4. Tiger Woods - I’m not a golfer, but I’m amazed at how he makes a very difficult game look easy.

5. Mark Messier - Has anyone ever played every shift of every game at the highest level like this guy?
Never takes a minute off.


C.J. Papa:
1. Dwyane Wade
2. Tiger Woods
3. Any hockey player
4. Roger Clemens
5. Mike Tyson


Bob Rosen:
Frankly, I wouldn't pay to see any of these players play.

First of all, I don't have to, but even if I did, I think these tickets are overpriced and most of the good
players behave poorly which really turns me off. However, there are TEAMS which I certainly would pay to
see.

In the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs are not only an excellent team and play good, basic basketball, but
their players behave well. Same can be said for the New England Patriots in the NFL. In baseball,
watching Pedro Martinez or Randy Johnson pitch is worth the money, but lately they haven't shown me
much to be excited about. Derek Jeter on the other hand has always been worth watching, but there
aren't too many of them throughout all of baseball and there are a lot of bad teams also. However, I don't
like the way Major League baseball is played today, but that's just me and my old generation. This
generation of fans accept it, so it must be OK to them. Well, whatever turns you on I guess.

Anyway, like most fans, I like my generation best (the late 40s, and 50's), so I'm just glad to be a fan and
enjoy the games no matter what. And I also adore Elvis Presley, by the way, so I'm not altogether out of
it! Ciao, baby.


Dave Starman:
1. Peyton Manning - I know the ground game is an important part of football, but I have no patience for a
16 play 73 yard drive when you can go all 73 in one play with #18.

2. David Beckham - Always liked soccer, and this guy is really good.

3. Steve Yzerman - Maybe not as much now, but even as far back as 3-4 years ago, #19 was a pure joy
to watch because he is good with the puck, good without it, and his instincts are in the Gretzky category.

4. Donovan McNabb - Screw Terrell Owens, that loud mouthed overrated schmuck. McNabb's
athleticism is great, and unlike Michael Vick, who I might have put in this spot, he doesn't have the hip-
hop rapper personality.  He just acts like an athlete, and a throwback at that.  

5. Maria Sharapova - Tight tops, short skirts, and a great tennis player.  Oh yes, did I mention the movie
star good looks.  'Nuff said.


Brian Wilmer:
1. Tiger Woods - The Jack Nicklaus of his era.  Tiger is never really considered out of a golf tournament,
even during his past tournament slumps.  Tiger has drawn a whole new generation of fans to the game,
and there may never be another player that could be considered his equal.

2. Brett Favre - The king of the outrageous on the football field.  Favre improvises better than just about
any quarterback to ever put on a uniform, and his leadership and big-game abilities still make many
fans marvel every time he takes a snap.  He is quite arguably the best quarterback of his era.

3. Vladimir Guerrero - The reigning AL MVP escaped from Montreal and headed west to help lead the
Angels to an AL West title in 2004.  Guerrero is on par with Ichiro on defense, but his ability to drive the
ball and hit tape-measure shots every time up places him slightly ahead of Ichiro on this list.

4. Peyton Manning - The man who destroyed Dan Marino's single-season touchdown record earns the
fourth spot on this list.  Manning seems to put up extraordinary numbers every game, and with weapons
like Harrison, Stokley and Wayne lining up on either side of him in the future, there is no reason to
believe that he won't continue to break records on a yearly basis.  If Manning ever wins a ring, his legacy
will be eternally cemented.

5. Ichiro - The Mariners' right fielder is a five-tool player, but not in the previously-defined sense.  Sure,
Ichiro does not hit for a lot of power, but every other facet of his game is airtight.  He is a man on whom
you can count to make contact virtually every time at the plate, and the plays he makes in the outfield
(both catching and throwing the ball) are highlight reel-quality every time.