It was a dark and stormy night, perhaps somewhere in the world; however, in my environs the unblocked sunlight radiated from our nearest star and penetrated through the depleted ozone layer of the Earth’s atmospheric shell (for it is on this planet that our scene lies) before gently reflecting off the ecru walls surrounding my cubicle and onto a computer screen which hadn’t been cleaned for several months. In honor of one of the the best known examples of superbly horrendous writing from the 19th century, I may have found its rival for the 21st century. In particular, I have found a writing sample so bad that it can only be called a masterpiece. Fashioned as a countdown of the most terrible New York Yankees trades, the piece reads like the most terrible countdown of NYY trades instead.
On the eve of the 2016 NFL Draft, much of the drama surrounding the top two picks has subsided. Over the last two weeks, both the Rams and Eagles traded up in order to secure a potential franchise quarterback. Arguably, it will take several years before anyone can properly evaluate the trades. However, I believe the evaluation can begin already based on the expected value of the draft picks involved. For example, the Rams will win if their pick matches the career of Eli Manning. Similarly, the Eagles will win if their pick matches the career of Philip Rivers. Is either case possible? Certainly. Probable? Certainly not.
Influenced by impressive combine results, the St. Louis Rams took Baylor OT Jason Smith with the #2 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Despite high expectations, Smith ended his four-year career as the least productive offensive lineman ever taken with a top 5 overall pick. While he seemingly deserves to be labeled a Top 10 Bust, his lack of production can be attributed to a history of serious head injuries. In particular, he suffered two season-ending concussions during his first three years in the league. Smith recovered from the first one, but never started again after the second. It’s uncertain how good he might have been without the injuries, but it’s unfair to label him as an all-time bust because of them.
While researching potential Top 10 Busts Keith Edmonson and Russell Cross, I learned an interesting sports trivia fact. Specifically, only three college basketball coaches have taken two different schools to the Final Four within four years. First, Gene Barlow took Memphis in 1973 and UCLA in 1976. Second, Lee Rose took UNC-Charlotte in 1977 and Purdue in 1980. Third, Roy Williams took Kansas in 2003 and North Carolina in 2005. Of note, North Carolina (18), UCLA (17) and Kansas (14) have been to 49 Final Fours between them. In contrast, UNC-Charlotte and Purdue have combined to reach only three (i.e. one without Rose). As such, Rose’s achievement should be viewed as the most impressive. Overlooked on every elite coaching list, Lee Rose may deserve special recognition.
Taken with the 9th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, Patrick O’Bryant finished his career with fewer than 200 points and 150 rebounds. Based on a total 0f 0.5 career win shares, he ranks in the bottom 3% of all 6th-10th overall picks since 1970. As such, the former Bradley Brave failed on an absolute and relative basis. Worthy of being labeled an all-time bust, O’Bryant escapes the Hall of Shame given that Adam Morrison went earlier in the same draft. Without the same cachet, O’Bryant must settle for an Honorable Mention. Somehow, I’m sure he’ll manage.
Prior to the 2015 NFL Draft, I identified Jameis Winston as a potential Top 10 Bust. In particular, I labeled him as an interception-prone QB lacking the maturity needed to lead an NFL franchise. Winston proved me wrong by having a productive rookie year on the field and avoiding problems off of it. Of note, he earned a spot in the Pro Bowl and became the inspirational leader of the significantly improved Buccaneers. If his career stalls for whatever reason (e.g. over confidence, decline in work ethic), Winston still may end up being a bust. For now, however, it appears that Tampa Bay made a good choice with its #1 overall pick.
In my lifetime, the most revered athlete to experience a fall from grace may be either Lance Armstrong or Tiger Woods. After seeing the downfall of the greatest cyclist and golfer of this generation (and perhaps ever), I wondered if any sports hero could survive heightened public scrutiny. Of note, I thought Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning might be the only superstars beyond reproach. Jeter rode off into the sunset with his reputation intact. On the other hand, Manning may not be as fortunate. In particular, the five-time NFL MVP allegedly used HGH when recovering from neck surgery several years ago. At the same time, we can’t overlook the “mooning” incident. Whether true or not, these accusations may lead to his removal from the already-small list of “squeaky-clean” superstar athletes.
While no one involved with Gigli will appreciate the following statement, the movie has become synonymous with a Hollywood failure. It’s why I probably don’t even have to tell you that Gigli rhymes with really. The movie had many flaws (e.g. inane story, bad acting), but it was DOA due to the nonstop coverage of its stars’ scandalous off-screen relationship. In particular, there was no need to see Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez attempt to have a fictional relationship when their actual relationship had played out in front of the media for almost a year. In the movie, Affleck’s character overcomes the hurdle that Lopez’s character is a lesbian. In real life, Affleck overcame the hurdle that Lopez was married. Which conflict seems more interesting to you? After the movie’s flaws were exposed, already weak ticket sales became nonexistent. In fact, Gigli holds two dubious box office records: the largest drop-off in ticket sales after an opening weekend (82%); and the largest drop-off in theaters after two weekends (97%). With production costs rumored to be around $75 million and worldwide ticket sales of $7 million, Gigli earned its spot as the #4 Box Office Bust. Somehow, there still are three movies that were even worse.
Just like Brendan Fraser, Warren Beatty earned the dubious distinction of starring in more than one Top 10 Box Office Bust. While the term “star” may have applied to Fraser for a fleeting moment, it most certainly has applied to Beatty for decades. Still the Hollywood legend failed miserably with Ishtar (1987) and Town & Country (2001). Coming in at #10 in my countdown, Ishtar may be a more well-known fiasco. However, I consider Town & Country more bust-worthy. Despite having a strong cast that included Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn alongside Warren Beatty, the movie didn’t work. In particular, it only grossed $10 million at the box office. With an inflation-adjusted loss of $125 million, Town & Country certainly earned its spot as the #5 Bust.
In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, I have prepared a double feature of Brendan Fraser turkeys as 6A and 6B in the countdown of Top 10 Box Office Busts. I highlighted the failure of Dudley Do-Right (6A) in my last post and will highlight the failure of Monkeybone (6B) in this one. Relative to both movies, Monkeybone cost more to produce ($75 million vs. $70 million) and made less at the box office ($8 million vs. $10 million). With a bigger loss on an absolute and percentage basis, Monkeybone arguably deserves to be called a bigger flop. For me, however, Dudley Do-Right was more bust-worthy given that it bombed despite having a built-in audience from Fraser’s hit George of the Jungle. While certainly not a good movie, Monkeybone at least had originality as well as some interesting special effects