Wrapping Up April

During my many months at “Below the Belt Sports”, I have managed to write long posts about the NHL points system, reasons why MLB should have an earlier trade deadline, and my dislike for preseason football.  Based on this, you are probably shocked that I have managed to experience these past three weeks without writing several long posts.  Nope, I have actually written nothing in three weeks.  Granted, if these three weeks were in late February/early March or in August, you could understand my inactivity.  However, these past three weeks have seen an NFL Draft in which both locals picked in the Top 3, Mike Francesa coming out of retirement, Matt Harvey being demoted to the bullpen, and the Devils playing and losing their first playoff series in six years.  (That is not to mention anything about the Yankees or NBA Playoffs, but I do not often touch upon those subjects.).  As for the four main topics that I missed, you are probably sick and tired of hearing of three of the four.  That said, you are loyal readers of my posts, and the five of you deserve to know what I think about these matters.  Therefore, here are my quick thoughts on each of the afore-mentioned topics.  You are welcome, Mom.

  • Mike Francesa’s return is as big a “d-bag” move as I have ever seen in the sports world, but I will listen to him anyway. Callers and guests spent a year and a half feting him for retirement, only for him to return four months after retirement.

Mike Francesa’s return has bumped “CMB” from 2-6:30 to 1-3.  That is a big step back for Carlin, Maggie, and Bart; and it is rather cruel to demote a show that has had a mere four months to grow.  Granted, I agree wholeheartedly with Chris Russo when he says that a) you should not have a new show with three hosts (Note: the successful three-host shows in the area evolved into having three hosts; they did not begin this way.), and b) you cannot have a sports talk-radio show in this area with someone who does not know baseball.  The latter describes Bart Scott.  Scott is great with football, but he does not know baseball….and WFAN’s shows talk Mets and Yankees from February to October and for plenty of the other three months too.

I actually love Maggie Gray.  I think she is fantastic.  She is an ideal Mets fan – she is very knowledgeable and falls perfectly on the Mets-fan spectrum between the annoying “sky is always falling” Mets fan and the less-often-seen “everyone on the Mets is awesome” Mets fan.  Plus, she is a Bills fan, which is a cool and unique dimension to add to football discussion.  Lastly, her voice is incredible.  I would actually watch golf if she were announcing it.

Meanwhile, Carlin too often interrupts callers before they have a chance to speak, and I do not like that he gives people silly nicknames when he answers calls.  That said, he is a Jersey guy who knows his sports.  He has done plenty of time on WFAN, and he is a good fit for New York sports radio.  He has plenty of the Francesa arrogance, but fortunately without the complete misery Francesa sometimes shows…

…but Francesa’s back.  As I have said, it is a total d-bag move.  However, I get why he did it.  He has a huge ego, and I think he assumed that people would be lining up to give him a lucrative contract.  He was wrong.  Apparently, there is not a large national market for a guy who hangs up angrily on 75% of his callers and who knows little about sports beyond the Mets, Yankees, NFL, horse racing, and college-basketball teams coached by his friends.  Thus, he is coming back to WFAN with his tail between his legs.

Image result for mike francesa

It is going to be incredibly awkward in the beginning, and it is a d-bag move by WFAN to bring him back.  However, money talks.  I am going to listen to Francesa.  So will everyone else who has ever listened to him.  The awkwardness at the station will eventually fade away.  In fact, things will likely return to how they were in December.  Many people at WFAN could not stand him then; many people at WFAN will not be able to stand him now.

The truth is that I actually think his show will be better this time than it once was.  Francesa is the only person with a regularly scheduled solo talk show on WFAN or ESPN Radio New York. (Can you imagine anyone, post-Mad Dog, wanting to partner with such an egomaniac?)   Moreover, he hosted the longest show (5.5 hours) of any show on the two stations.  That is ridiculous.  Nobody should ever have a 5.5-hour show by himself.  That is insane!  It makes me understand Francesa’s crankiness a bit.  If I had to spend 5.5 hours in a row (OK, 3 hours minus commercials) answering the same questions about Matt Harvey over and over and over again, I might too lose my mind.  Therefore, having Francesa for only 3.5 hours as he is now scheduled should make him better.

Plus, he has realized where his bread is buttered – New York sports radio.  That is what he knows.  Even though he can be downright irascible on many occasions, he is the one person who can best sift through the bs with big topics. For years, he has been right about the big ideas with the Yankees, Mets, and NFL.  Additionally, he is the one person who can speak eloquently about controversial topics.

It is like he has an “a-hole switch” that he turns off when talking about touchy things.  In the months leading up to the 2016 election, he actually made some of the most cogent, non-extreme commentary on now-President Trump.  Similarly, Francesa is the only sports person I know who touched the Kaepernick issue, said the most important point of the saga, and generally avoided blowback: Protesting is fine, but you do not automatically have the right to do it when representing a large organization that signs your paycheck.  Had the NFL acknowledged Francesa’s logic early on, I think it could have better handled the whole issue, but I digress…

Francesa made a d-bag move.  He is taking a pay cut, but he is still going to make plenty of money off his d-bag move, and we are going to listen.  There are still times when he can be the voice of reason, even though he is often a jerk.  Meanwhile, Carlin has made no bones about his disdain for his former boss, and I applaud Carlin for admitting his disdain.  His reaction is human, and I think people appreciate his genuine emotion.  Maggie and Bart, who have much less history with WFAN, have taken the high road, and I commend them for that as well.  Maggie is delightful.  Have I mentioned that?  Hopefully, “CMB” become sympathetic figures, and hopefully this issue helps propel them to great radio futures.  As for Francesa, he made a d-bag move, but we are going to listen to him.  Moving on…

  • The NFL Draft happened. I am sure you heard about it.  Likewise, I am sure you know that I think it is time for the Giants to think about Eli’s replacement.  Actually, I am sure you are aware I thought we reached that time a few years ago.  That said, I have full faith in Dave Gettleman.  As I have advanced in age and now sit at the ripe old age of 36, I have grown to have a lesser appreciation for people who substitute clichés for reason and a greater appreciation for people who see through those clichés.  Well, after the draft, Jets GM Mike Maccagnan talked about how he likes all his draft picks, while Gettleman joked about the fact that every GM loves his own picks immediately after the draft.  Yes, it stinks to be a Jets fan.  I already loved Gettleman from his commentary on being offered hot dogs and bagels for the #2 pick but nothing more.  Now, his joking about “We love our draft” cliches put me over the top.  This guy gets it.  I would follow this guy over a cliff.  If Dave Gettleman believes that neither Darnold, Allen, nor Rosen is a franchise quarterback; I believe him.  It is time for Saquon to deliver Eli one more championship, and I greatly look forward to the Kyle Lauletta era from 2020 through 2039.

Image result for saquon and eli

One more draft thought.  It is annoying that people are mad at Josh Rosen for saying nine teams made a mistake by passing on him.  Rosen should absolutely feel that way.  Do you know who else is motivated by teams passing on them in the draft?  Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.  How have things worked out for them?  People worry about Rosen being a rich kid who does not “need” football success.  First off, to me, that is silly logic.  If you really need the money, hate football, and are great at football; you are going to try to make it to the NFL.  However, if you do not need the money and are great at football, you will only try to make the NFL if you love football.  That said, if you cannot follow that logic, you should at least like seeing a guy motivated to dominate and stick it in the faces of the teams who did not draft him.  Great quarterbacks are always super-competitive.  Rosen seems to have this trait.

The people who have a problem with Rosen’s comments are likely the same people who lost their minds over Jay Feely’s prom tweet.  It is a joke, people.  I hate guns, and I will never be a gun owner….but funny is funny.

  • Matt Harvey is in the pen, and I love it! In fact, I wrote in the offseason that the Mets’ best path to success was to move Harvey and Wheeler to the pen and to sign someone like Jason Vargas.  I could not have been more correct.  The only things I messed up were that Wheeler is still in the rotation and has been decent, that Harvey has not yet done anything great as a reliever, and that Vargas’ Mets ERA is 22.09.  Everything else though has been spot-on.  Pardon me while I pat myself on the back.  Seriously though, I still think that Harvey has a chance to embrace the bullpen role, and I can envision him being a successful closer as the Mets make a 2018 World Series run.  I can see it happening!

Image result for matt harvey bullpen

  • I am not going to write a post documenting the ins and outs of the Devils/Lightning playoff series. The better team (Lightning) won in 5 games, but it was delightful to attend two playoff games for the first time since 2012.  Hopefully, the Devils can build off this year’s playoff appearance to make a legitimate playoff run in 2019.

Image result for nj devils

Mt. Rushmore Mondays: Miscellaneous

Here we are. Week 5. The last Monday (and day) of April. It’s been a helluva journey and I’m glad to have shared it with you guys, our BelowTheBelt readers.

With this fifth and final Monday brings our fifth and final Mt. Rushmore MondayWe started off with Sports, then Movies, then TV, then Music, and now, instead of another specific aspect of U.S. culture, we will be looking at absolutely anything. In fact, as I’m writing this, don’t even have a plan for what the fuck I’m gonna write. I’m totally winging it. Whatever comes to mind will find its way on this blog post.

If you’d like to recap the prior weeks before this Mt. Rushmore finale, here you go…

Week 1: Sports

Week 2: Movies

Week 3: Television

Week 4: Music

And now… without further ado… Mt. Rushmore Monday Week 5: Miscellaneous…

Mt. Rushmore of Drinking Games

Beer Pong

Pong is an absolute lock on this list. It’s probably the first drinking game you played when you snuck a rack into your basement freshman year of high school. It’s a timeless game that will always be fun and bring out the competitiveness between close friends.

Flip Cup

This game is always great for a crowd of people. Chug. Flip. Move on. Very simple. Very fun. If you volunteer to go last, make sure you back it up, because if you get caught having to flip the cup on multiple attempts, you’ll never hear the end of it from your teammates.

Power Hour

This isn’t really a game like the others, in the sense there is a winner and a loser. It is more of just a fun way to get drunk and listen to music with your squad for 60 minutes. Nonetheless, I’ll let the lack of competitive nature slide considering a Power Hour is classic pregame strategy.

Never Have I Ever

This game can get real dirty, real fast. It’s always fun finding more out about your friends just by the subtle sip of their drinks, until someone says, “Never have I ever paid for and had sex with a stripper,” and you have to take a sip of your drink in front of a bunch of girls. Don’t worry. I’m not talking about myself. But you know who you are.

Honorable Mentions: Kings, Quarters, Edward 40-Hands

 

Mt. Rushmore of Holidays

Christmas

Xmas is basically the quintessential holiday. It’s just magical. Waking up early morning December 25th to a tree surrounded by presents was always the best feeling. With the star-studded lineup of Jesus Christ, Santa Claus, and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Christmas is just tough to top.

Hanukkah

Don’t worry my fellow Jews (yes, I play both sides of the coin), instead of one day of presents we’ve got eight crazy nights.

New Years Eve/Day

The entire world celebrates this holiday, regardless of beliefs. That should say enough. We all count down. We all stay up late.

Halloween

October 31st is the one day of the year every kid had an excuse to chow down on candy. And this holiday isn’t just for kids, if you’re in college you’ll be participating by dressing as either a basketball player if you’re a guy or Harley Quinn if you’re a girl.

Honorable Mentions: Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day

 

Mt. Rushmore of Fast Food

McDonald’s

McDicks is a total lock. It’s been the most popular fast food joint for decades, and the Big Mac is one of the most famous burgers in the world. Wendy’s and Burger King are great too, but nothing touches the house that Ronald built..

Chipotle Mexican Grill

Over the last several years, this Mexican restaurant has become an American staple. Potle is a go-to spot that everyone has their own signature meal at (mine is white rice, no beans, chicken, mild and hot, sour cream, guac, cheese and lettuce… just in case you wanted to know). The only thing left up to question is if you are a burrito or bowl guy.

Chick-fil-A

No fast food joint makes chicken like Chick-fil-A does. It’s got the best chicken sandwiches and the best chicken nuggets and it’s not even close. The reason for that is because they are closed on Sundays so they can bless their chickens.

Subway

The age-long battle between Subway and Blimpie is more one-sided than you’d think. While I think they mostly taste the same, Subway is consistently the more successful of the two, which firmly gives Subway the spot on this Mt. Rushmore reserved for fast food sub shops.

Honorable Mentions: Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell

 

Mt. Rushmore of U.S. Cities

New York City, New York

It’s the greatest city in the world. The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. The concrete jungle where dreams are made of. End of discussion.

Los Angeles, California

Hollywood. The City of Angels. L.A. is basically the N.Y.C. of the West coast, except with a lot nicer people and much more beautiful scenery.

Las Vegas, Nevada

What happens in Vegas, amirite? Sin City is the gambling capital of the world. If you’re looking for a place to bankrupt yourself while also misplace your future brother-in-law before his wedding, look no further.

Washington, D.C.

It’s our nation’s capital for cryin out loud. No matter who resides in the Oval Office, the White House and the rest of D.C. is the face of our country.

Honorable Mentions: Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago

 

Mt. Rushmore of Artwork

Mt. Rushmore

Remember last week when I said if there was a Mt. Rushmore of Art there would be four Mt. Rushmores on it? Well… yea.

Mt. Rushmore

If you think otherwise, come talk to me when the Mona Lisa is made of granite and stands 60 feet tall.

Mt. Rushmore

Nothing has changed.

Mt. Rushmore

Did I mention each head is 60 feet tall?

Honorable Mentions: Mt. Rushmore

So that’s that. 5 weeks. 5 Mt. Rushmore Mondays. It’s been a blast of a month. I hope you enjoyed this amateur installment on BelowTheBelt Sports, because I sure did (except the last few weeks because I ran out of stuff to write about + it’s finals week so I somehow was able to find time to write this but whatever… #noragrets).

 

Figuring Out the Browns Draft Strategy

Maybe it’s the star power and surplus of potential franchise quarterbacks headlining this season, but this year’s draft has everybody locked in. People are itching to see what teams like the Browns, Giants, and Jets do with their top picks. Everybody wants to know where Barkley is going to end up. Is Josh Allen really that good? Is Baker the next Johnny Manziel? Well, we have our first hint of news…

To be honest, I never thought this was going to happen. I figured it would be Chubb, Barkley, Allen, or Darnold. Mayfield wasn’t even a thought, based on what I heard in the past. But Adam Schefter tells no lies. If this is the general consensus, then there is a high probability that Baker Mayfield is the first selected player in the 2018 draft.

So with that being the premise of this conversation, how will the rest of the first few picks play out, and how are the Browns planning to maximize their two top-five picks.

Here are my thoughts:

  • The Browns added Tyrod Taylor as a transition quarterback to give their new quarterback an opportunity to learn, grow, and mature. If they knew this was going to be Baker, this is a tremendous move. Tyrod is one of the smarter quarterbacks in the league, and plays relatively similar to Mayfield. I think Mayfield has a higher “big play” ability, but they both are pass first, run second, yet are able to make significant plays with their legs (I know that’s not that unusual in modern football, but knowing when to run and when not to is not exactly something all players have perfected). On top of this, Tyrod is a grown-up in life in general. A stand-up guy. Baker needs to know how to be a franchise quarterback OFF the field. Good move by the Browns.
  • With the selection of Mayfield, the Giants and Jets are next in line. The Browns have to be assuming that they will both look to take quarterbacks for one reason: Saquon Barkley. The Browns have set themselves up very nicely in any scenario though. Here’s why:                                                                                                                                    —-If the Giants/Jets take a quarterback, then Barkley is available at pick #4, and now the Browns have the quarterback who they believe is the best available (Mayfield) AND the best running back in the draft (Barkley).                                            —-If the Giants/Jets take Barkley, then the Browns have themselves secured at the running back position with the signing of RB Carlos Hyde in the offseason and holding onto RB Duke Johnson, Jr too. This leaves them feeling comfortable about their offense and the option to take stud DE Bradley Chubb and line themselves up with the best, young defensive front in football.
  • By selecting Mayfield with the first pick over Barkley or Chubb, they are ensuring they don’t swing and miss on this year’s draft by missing out on their franchise quarterback by having to take the third best option (in their opinion). On top of that, their other options are ground-breaking players that can alter their franchise.

It seems like GM John Dorsey finally has a plan in place for the Cleveland Browns, and a really good one at that. Now, I could be entirely wrong, Schefter could be reporting on BS, and the Browns could trade all their picks to the Patriots for Tom Brady. Who knows, it’s Draft Day.

Go Hawks.

The Top Five Hardest Positions in Sports

Obviously, anyone who is an athlete is going to have an argument that their position is the hardest. And they might have a few points here and there, as really no sport is “easy”. But if you’re going to tell me with a straight face that being a professional bowler is harder than trying to outrun 225 pound linebackers, then your opinion is invalid and you probably punt in Madden. You have to consider the likelihood of success, the necessary athleticism, the work that goes into being out there every day, and who your opponents are. With that said, here are the five hardest positions in sports.

5. Soccer Goalie

The thing about being a soccer goalie, which I can tell you from my four years of experience as a stud rec soccer goalie on an undefeated team, is that there is a lot of instincts involved. You have to know when to come out, when to stay, and even if you make the right decision, you can get a ball coming at your skull with the intention of taking you along with it into the goal. You also have a massive amount of space to defend (24 feet wide, 8 feet tall) when forwards and wings can be infinitely close to you. I mean, you’re telling me you, or anyone else, plans on stopping this?

Image result for really close goals soccer gif

4. Baseball Pitcher

As some of you may know, I myself am a pitcher for Ramapo College baseball. And let me tell you, there are times when it’s physically impossible. Mechanics need to be perfect in order to have the ball go where you want to go, and even if you do everything perfect, the ball could still get absolutely creamed on by hitters. The reason why I don’t consider this to be higher on the list is some guys can pick up a baseball and throw 100 MPH with no problem, and they never have to put in the extreme amount of work other positions may have to. But, when your average guy is on the mound, the gif below describes perfectly what we, as pitchers, think is going to happen.

Image result for strike zone gif

3. Hockey Forward

The whole ice thing to me is just insane. Maybe it’s just because I don’t play hockey and can’t skate for more than seven seconds at a time without falling, but the fact that people can compete against each other at a high level on that terrain is unfathomable to me. Now you have to add in the ability to be able to stick handle, pass, and score on a goal that probably doesn’t have more than a foot (if you added up all the space) of open space to shoot at. I’ll get to goalies later…

2. Quarterback Football

Easily the position in all of sports with the most pressure, I don’t care what anyone says. Despite ability, if you are the quarterback for a team, you are automatically one of the faces of the franchise. You’ll never know the name of every back-up offensive lineman in football, but if I asked you who Brandon Weeden is, most of you would have a clue. Added to this pressure, you now have to guess where receivers will be down the field while dodging immensely large defensive ends and linebackers who wants to hurt you in every way known to man. Oh, and you have to know EVERY play in a playbook of 100+ plays, and tell everyone their assignment for 50+ times a game.

Related image

1. Hockey Goalie

There was simply no doubt in my mind about this one. Let’s not forget that in addition to trying to stop 100+ MPH slap shots while another human, sometimes your own teammates, are entirely blocking your vision and have less than a second to react, they are also on ICE. ON ICE. LIKE DISNEY. Most people look like this on ice:

Image result for guy slipping on ice gif

But, now you have to stop guys, who train night in and night out for their whole life, from scoring on YOUR goal! You have to make sure nobody slips a 1-inch puck through your 5-hole. There is absolutely no harder position in all of sports than a goalie.

 

Maybe I left a few out, but these are the hardest in my humble, amateur opinion. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone Else Nervous for the Giants’ Pick Tomorrow Night?

The day us Giants fans have been anticipating basically since the Week 4 loss to the Bucs that dropped them to 0-4 is almost upon us. The NFL Draft’s first round is tomorrow night, and the G-Men hold the #2 overall pick. This is the first time since 1981 that the Giants have picked second, when they took legendary linebacker Lawrence Taylor. They haven’t even picked in the top five since 2004 when they took Philip Rivers, who they ultimately traded to the Chargers for a quarterback by the name of Eli Manning. Now, after a 3-13 season in which we saw the Giants fire their coach, bench Manning for a game, and lose star receiver Odell Beckham for the season to a fractured ankle, this draft pick determines the direction of their franchise. Do they take one of the draft’s top quarterbacks and begin to prepare for life after Eli? Or do they take an offensive weapon like Saquon Barkley and give it one last shot with Eli? Let’s weigh the options.

Draft a Quarterback

The four top QB names that are being thrown around in mock drafts are Wyoming’s Josh Allen, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, USC’s Sam Darnold, and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. Three of these four will be on the board when the Giants pick, but it is unclear which three, as the Browns have been linked to all of them besides Rosen. Darnold is considered the most polished of the four, though he had an underwhelming final season at USC. Allen is more of a project, but his 6’5 frame and rocket arm are the physical skill set teams dream about. Rosen had an impressive college career, but is considered by many (including myself) to be a bit too outspoken to play in New York. Give me an Eli Manning type, a guy who will do his job in silence. A quiet competitor, a real warrior that will get up from the hardest hits. Rosen’s Cali kid vibe won’t fly in New York, especially if he struggles. Despite what I just said about wanting an Eli Manning type, I also love Mayfield. Sure, he’s quite outspoken too, but in a more fiery, “I’m going to do whatever it takes to bury my opponent” kind of way. If you didn’t enjoy watching Mayfield play, you don’t like fun. He gets a lot of Johnny Manziel comparisons, which can obviously be taken the wrong way. But I think his height and his past mistakes are played up too much, and he has real NFL potential. Realistically, I think the Giants take Rosen or Darnold, if he’s available. But man, I would love to see Baker in blue.

Draft Saquon Barkley

My brain tells me to take a quarterback, or trade down and get a huge package of picks. My heart tells me take Saquon Barkley. I’ve been posting #SuckForSaquon for months now. This guy is absolutely electric to watch play, and with the recent success of rookie running backs like Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette, it’s not inconceivable that he can be an instant boost for the entire offense. Yes, the Giants offensive line is still weak, but they’ve already started to make improvements with the signing of Nate Solder. The Barkley connection can’t be denied, with many mock drafts linking him to the G-Men. It would be a risky pick, but I would love to keep the Jersey kid at home.

Draft Bradley Chubb

Another option is to draft on the defensive side of the ball. After trading Jason Pierre-Paul this offseason, the G-Men could opt to take the draft’s best pass-rusher. Chubb broke Mario Williams’ sack record at NC State, and his draft stock has been rising steadily over the past few weeks. It wouldn’t be nearly as flashy of a move as taking Barkley or a quarterback, but an elite pass rusher is one of the NFL’s most coveted assets.

Trade Down

If the Giants decide to trade down, there will surely be a large number of suitors. This is a quarterback-heavy draft, and many teams such as the Bills or Cardinals could be looking to trade up and grab either Darnold, Rosen, Mayfield, or Allen. Preferably, the Giants trade to a spot they can take Notre Dame OL Quenton Nelson, but that may be a long shot. Although trading down is easily the least sexy option of the bunch, it needs to at least be considered given the package it would command.

 

Last season was not fun for Giants fans. This pick could very well determine the direction of the franchise for the next five years. In Gettleman we trust.

Mt. Rushmore Mondays: Music

Feels like yesterday I was ranting to you all about why Mt. Rushmore is the undisputed G.O.A.T. of artwork. In fact, if there was a Mt. Rushmore of art, Mt. Rushmore would be on that Mt. Rushmore four times.

Anyway, three weeks later, here we are in week 4 of Mt. Rushmore Mondays. This week, if your looking for something to workout to, party to, set fire to the aux with, etc. you’ve come to the right place. As this week is the Mt. Rushmore of Music.

I’ll be doing this week a little different. Instead of writing about strictly modern figures and then giving little shoutouts to all-time Rushmores (like I did with week 2’s Mt. Rushmores of Movies), I’ll be doing the opposite. Writing about all-time Mt. Rushmores of Music, and throwing shoutouts to modern Rushmores of Music.

*Reminder: Each Mt. Rushmore is not just based off of talent and accomplishments, but also just as equally overall influence, impact, and star power.

Let’s get thing started…

Mt. Rushmore of Rock (group)

*Modern Mt. Rushmore: Radiohead, Coldplay, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Beatles

Lock of the century. John, Paul, George, and Ringo make up the most influential band of all-time, in any genre of music. From “A Day in the Life” to “Hey Jude” to “Come Together,” The Fab Four made iconic song after iconic song. They were the first real boy band, and became international sensations overnight. If they didn’t find their way on this list, it would be a joke.

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin’s the father of heavy metal. They were pioneers of the sub-genre and created headbangers like “Stairway to Heaven,” which is regarded as one of the best songs of all-time. The English rock band just simply consisted of phenomenal musicians, and were undeniably great.

The Rolling Stones

Once The Beatles called it quits in 1970, the Stones took the claim as the world’s best rock band. The fact they are still making great music is just incredibly unbelievable. One might argue that their longevity could rank them closer to The Beatles than you might initially think.

Queen

Have you noticed the trend? Four spots on the Mt. Rushmore of Rock Bands, four English rock bands. It’s just that simple, the Brits know how to make good rock music and Queen is no exception. The only reason Queen wouldn’t belong on this list is because who knows if they should even be considered rock? Their sound is so unique and so experimental, and yet so, so great. And then there’s the sing-along factor. If “Bohemian Rhapsody” comes on the car radio and you don’t react like Wayne, Garth, and co., you should check your pulse.

Honorable Mentions: Pink Floyd, ACDC, Van Halen, The Who

 

Mt. Rushmore of Rock (solo)

Jimi Hendrix

While his band could’ve been included in the above Mt. Rushmore, I figured being given a solo spot is the respect Jimi Hendrix deserves. He is the best guitarist of all-time. Plain and simple. One could say he is the best instrumentalist (regardless of instrument) ever. There’s a reason he was the headline at Woodstock, aka the most famous music festival ever. It goes without saying he died WAY too young, and because of the drug-use he was a victim of his own superstardom.

Elvis Presley 

He’s the King of Rock and there honestly might not be a bigger individual musical figure in American history. Like the Beatles, Elvis was a cultural icon, and he really brought the genre of rock on the map even before the Fab Four. Another instance of being a victim of his own superstardom, Presley died sitting on the toilet because he was too busy taking a dump on his competition.

Bob Dylan

Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” is widely considered to be the best song of all-time. I mean the magazine that ranked it #1 is literally called Rolling Stone, but I won’t let that take away credit where credit is due. This song also inspired the name of one of the bands on the above Mt. Rushmore (I don’t need to tell you which one). There’s gotta be a spot on this Mt. Rushmore for the artist behind such a masterpiece.

Bruce Springsteen

If you’ve been keeping up each week, you’d know by now that I am from Jersey. And if I failed to include Jersey’s pride and joy on this Mt. Rushmore, I’d be forced to renounce my residency. I’d be exiled. The sounds of Brucie Bruce have been heard at American barbecues for years and he is still goin at it. Long live The Boss.

Honorable Mentions: Tom Petty, Eric Clapton

 

Mt. Rushmore of Hip-Hop (modern)

I know I said I wouldn’t write about any modern Mt. Rushmores, but it also just so happens that I lied. I know I should stay consistent, but ya know… it’s my blog.

Drake

Ever since he played that wheelchair kid from Degrassi, we all knew Drake was destined for hip-hop greatness. There might not be a rapper who makes such universally liked music, as he makes banger after banger. The guy is just a fuckin superstar.

Kanye West

If you keep telling people you are the best, eventually they will start to believe you. He might be the most outspoken music artist around right now and while the nonsense he says is sometimes almost always ridiculous, you gotta respect his success as a producer and a rapper, as well as a future political candidate (Kanye 2020).

Lil Wayne

Weezy has been doing it for a LONG time. In 1991, he signed with Cash Money Records at the age of 9, and he is still at the top of the rap game. His unique sound, charisma, creativity, and longevity make him one of the biggest and most influential rappers of our generation.

Kendrick Lamar

He’s the youngest rapper on this Mt. Rushmore, but don’t let his younger age fool you. He might be the smartest song-writer and lyricist in the game right now. His album Damn just recently won him the Pulitzer Prize for Music, and since gaining popularity, Lamar has come out with great song after great song.

Honorable Mentions: Chance the Rapper, J. Cole, Big Sean

 

Mt. Rushmore of Hip-Hop (all-time)

*Modern Mt. Rushmore: Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Kendrick Lamar

Eminem

Marshall Mathers easily could have found himself on the Modern Mt. Rushmore, as well, as he is still making popular music, but he deserves a spot up here with the ALL-TIME greats.  There’s really no one like him, and not just because he’s white. I’ve never heard a better lyricist, his range of subjects is so broad, and above all, he tells a story in his raps. He’d never spit the senseless bullshit you’d hear from someone like 21 Savage (I mean c’mon, the only thing “Bank Account” does is show me 21 can, in fact, count to 8). Em is in my eyes the G.O.A.T., and a total lock on this list.

Tupac

Ask anyone. Tupac is always considered one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time. His lyrics were brilliantly written and his voice was so powerful that his message was heard loud and clear. If he wasn’t killed at the young age of 25, who knows how much more he could have accomplished? R.I.P.

The Notorious B.I.G.

It always seems like Biggie and Tupac always get brought up in the same conversation, which is a shame, because they were both their own extraordinary hip-hop artist. Like the first two members of this list, Biggie was such a great lyricist and story-teller. With his distinct sound and unique look (yes, he was rather heavy), one might’ve called Biggie the face of rap in his heyday. He might have also been killed at 24 (R.I.P.), but don’t worry, he will never stop loving it when you call him Big Papa.

Jay-Z

Like Eminem, Jay-Z could’ve been considered for the modern Mt. Rushmore, but his impact on the rap game earns him the respect along with the all-time greats. He’s a great rapper, as well as a great businessman. His $900M estimated net worth makes him the richest hip-hop artists in the world.

Honorable Mentions: Dr. Dre, Nas, Snoop Dogg

 

Mt. Rushmore of Pop

*Modern Mt. Rushmore: Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Beyonce

Madonna

Her 300+ million records sold make her the best-selling female recording artist of all-time, and quite simply, she’s the “Queen of Pop”. She did not shy away from controversy, but her incredible music made her an cultural icon, as well as an influence on many pop artists of today.

Michael Jackson

Every Queen needs a King. While Madonna is known as the “Queen of Pop,” Michael Jackson is known as the “King of Pop.” Whether he was making hit songs like “Thriller,” moonwalking into the record books, or holding his infant baby over a hotel balcony, MJ was a global figure for years, and his highly publicized life/music career made him one of the best known artists of all-time.

Prince

The Mt. Rushmore of Pop basically has its own royal family. First a Queen. Then a King. And now a Prince. Despite the controversy he found himself in and his unpronounceable name-change, was a total star. No one will ever be as electric and flamboyant on stage as he was.

Whitney Houston

Like Madonna, Whitney has also been considered the “Queen of Pop,” but for the sake of consistency, she will be this Mt. Rushmore’s Princess. Not to downplay her greatness, though. “I Will Always Love You” is the best-selling single by a woman in American history. Thanks to her powerful voice, she also became simply known as “The Voice.”

Honorable Mentions: Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Janet Jackson

 

This blog post might’ve been the hardest of the 4 so far. There are so many genres and sub-genres with so many significant figures in music history that I couldn’t have possibly wrote about all of them. So in a last-second effort to show respect to as many music artists that weren’t included in any modern lists, all-time lists, or honorable mentions as possible, here’s the first ever Mt. Rushmore Lightning Round.

  Elton John      |  Marvin Gaye  |   Bob Marley    |   Frank Sinatra

Aretha Franklin |   Ray Charles  |           Adele           |   Stevie Wonder

[ PUBLIC ENEMY POSTER ]

Wu-Tang Clan    |       N.W.A.         |    Run-D.M.C.    |   Public Enemy

 

4 weeks down. 1 to go. I hope you’ve enjoyed our time together, because next week we are closing April with the biggest, baddest Mt. Rushmore Monday yet (or maybe not, we’ll see how I’m feelin when I write it). There will be a wide range of topics covered, but before then, make sure to catch up on past Mondays. Last week’s Mt. Rushmores are here: https://belowthebeltsports.com/2018/04/17/mt-rushmore-mondays-television/

Looking forward to next Monday April 30th: Mt. Rushmores of *Miscellaneous*

Mt. Rushmore Mondays: Television

We’ve reached the Wednesday of Mt. Rushmore Mondays. After this and we are over the hump. Two down. Three to go. After last Monday’s fun with movies, we move onto movies’ little cousin: Television. We’ll be taking a look at the very best of TV dramas, sitcoms, characters, etc. Anything you either schedule your week around or binge on Netflix. Look no further.

Again, due to the likely age of our readers (aka you guys), we’ll be focusing on much more modern television. Don’t worry. You don’t have to know who Mary Tyler Moore or Archie Bunker is to read this blog post. Nothing from the ’70s. But you should brush up on your ’90s television, though. Because you’re crazy if you aren’t expecting Seinfeld to be included in this Mt. Rushmore Monday.

*Spoiler Alert: Write-ups may contain some spoilers. So if you are not caught up on certain shows, you may want to refrain from reading about why they belong on each Mt. Rushmore.

*Reminder: Each Mt. Rushmore is not just based off of talent and accomplishments, but also just as equally overall influence and impact.

Shall we…?

Mt. Rushmore of TV Sitcoms (modern)

The Office (2005 – 2013)

Except for when Dwight is being Dwight and Michael is being Michael, The Office isn’t a laugh-out-loud comedy. What it is is a brilliant portrayal of the subtle, relatable humors of everyday life at an ordinary workplace. You learn to love the characters and all their relationships. Pam says it best in the final scene of the series, “There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kinda the point?”

Seinfeld (1989 – 1999)

Kinda like The OfficeSeinfeld is so great because it shows the subtle humors of everyday, relatable life. The dynamic between the four best friends is hilarious. They are all just so ignorant and selfish, and Kramer especially is one of the funniest characters in TV history.  The fact they still get so much money from re-runs says enough.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000 – 2011; 2017 – Present)

Curb is the most cringeworthy show, and it is so funny because of it. What makes it so great is that Larry David the character is literally Larry David the person. They are the same people. When they came back for a 9th season, they did not disappoint. The last season was as Larry David as ever.

Friends (1994 – 2004)

Friends served as one of the most popular TV shows for a long time, as well as an introduction for 6 upcoming stars to the world. Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc, Perry, and Schwimmer were all so great and had so much chemistry that Friends has to have a spot on this Mt. Rushmore.

Honorable Mentions: The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family

 

Mt. Rushmore of TV Dramas (modern)

Game of Thrones (2011 – Present)

To anyone who refuses to watch GOT because of its dragons and magic: I was once you. Young. Naive. Ignorant. Now I realize GOT is far and beyond the best show currently on television. It is so deep with so many well-developed characters and storylines. And with the constant threat that anyone could die at anytime, there really is no other show like it.

The Sopranos (1999 – 2007)

The Sopranos has become iconic. With so many great TV dramas on today, it almost seems like The Sopranos was the very first of its kind. In an age well before binge watching, the characters and stories were so great it made the week-long wait unbearable. And as an added plus: the series takes place in the greatest state in the U.S. of A. and my homestate, New Jersey.

Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013)

Kudos to AMC for rolling the dice with Breaking Bad, which is the only network television (and non-HBO) show on this Mt. Rushmore. Premium channels like HBO and Showtime turned down Vince Gilligan’s pitch. Lucky for AMC, which stumbled on their best show ever, and maybe the best all-time.

The Wire (2002 – 2008)

As Omar Little said, “You come at the king, you best not miss.” And according to the people who believe The Wire is the best show of all-time (and many do), all shows have missed. The show was so gritty and so real.

Honorable Mentions: Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Stranger Things

 

Mt. Rushmore of Adult Cartoons (modern)

Family Guy (1998 – Present)

Seth MacFarlane is honestly a comedic talent we should cherish. He voices so many characters and makes you laugh in so many different ways. With Family Guy‘s hilarious cutaways, raunchy jokes, and mindless humor, it’s usually a go-to when simply throwing on a show, and has, in my opinion, one-upped its yellow-skinned counterparts.

The Simpsons (1989 – Present)

Speaking of yellow-skinned, enter: The SimpsonsFamily Guy might be better (at least in my opinion), but The Simpsons is the O.G. mindless adult cartoon about a working class family with a stupid father, wife, teenage son, teenage daughter, infant child, and dog. The Simpsons has also been doing it for SO long, being the longest-running American sitcom.

Rick and Morty (2013 – Present)

Rick and Morty might not have the years that the others have, but there is something so different and revolutionary about it. With its drunken improv/method acting and mind-blowing Sci-Fi concepts, Rick and Morty is so funny and so smart. It is so much more than a mindless comedy, and has a bright future if Harmon and Roiland can keep up and think of new, brilliant concepts. To put it simply: Wubba lubba dub dub.

South Park (1997 – Present)

Probably the most offensive show on this Mt. Rushmore, South Park honestly just doesn’t give a fuck. Trey Parker and Matt Stone somehow take sensitive topics such as the Holocaust, racial tension, and homosexuality and are able to make a hit show for 20+ years.

Honorable Mentions: Beavis & Butthead, Robot Chicken

 

Mt. Rushmore of Kid Cartoons (modern)

SpongeBob SquarePants (1999 – Present)

Do I really need to explain this one? It’s freakin SpongeBob. C’mon. The animated sea sponge has become an international icon. The show is ageless, too. If you’re a kid, you love it. If you’re an adult, it is still so charming and funny, with the occasional hidden dirty joke, that you just can’t not love it, too.

Looney Tunes (forever)

At first, I didn’t know if I should include the Looney Tunes because they’ve been around since 1930. But then I quickly remembered how relevant they still were even when most of us were growing up. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the whole gang are iconic. I really believe the catchphrase, “What’s up, dock?” is one that will always be remembered.

Pokémon (1998 – Present)

If you told me your childhood wasn’t filled with Pokémon Gameboy games, cards, and toys, I’d call you a liar. Every kid I knew growing up spent years duking it out for the 8 gym badges, looking to become the very best that ever was. And the TV show and movies were wildly fantastic, as well. Similar to SpongeBob, Pikachu has become an international icon.

Rugrats (1990 – 2006)

“I am Reptar! Hear me roar!” If you didn’t fuck with the trials of Tommy Pickles and Chuckie Finster growing up, I simply don’t fuck with you. Rugrats was a go-to cartoon for little kids. These cute toddlers went on some wild adventures that we were lucky to be a part of.

Honorable Mentions: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Jimmy Neutron, Fairly Odd Parents

 

Mt. Rushmore of TV Protagonists (modern)

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) – Breaking Bad

I can confidently say that Walter White has the greatest character arc of any TV character ever. Look at where he starts: an innocent, family-oriented high school chemistry teacher with a boring life. And look at where he ends up: a brilliant, badass meth kingpin that will do anything to get what he wants. From Mr. White to Heisenberg. Two completely different characters, yet the arc seems totally natural and organic.

Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) – The Sopranos

Kinda like Heisenberg, Tony is just a terrible guy. Murderer. Thief. Brilliantly evil. Yet we still root for him. He really paved the way for TV anti-heroes, such as Walter White, Don Draper, Omar Little. Tony’s the OG Italian Mafia boss, and he does Jersey proud.

Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) – Game of Thrones

Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, while total beasts right now, started the series off a little slow (in my opinion). Tyrion, however, has been a top character since episode one. There’s so much to like about him: he’s so small and so drunk, while also so smart and so funny. In the most popular show currently on television, he’s probably the most likable character. He’s been through hell and back, and is front and center in probably my favorite scene in TV history (below).

Michael Scott (Steve Carell) – The Office

He might be the only character from a TV comedy on this list, but that really doesn’t matter. There might not be a more quotable character in TV history. “I. Declare. BANKRUPTCY!!” “Dwight, you ignorant slut.” “I’m not superstitious, but I’m a little stitious.” And of course, “That’s what she said.” Michael Scott was just an absolute legend, and The Office wasn’t the same after he left.

Honorable Mentions: Daenerys Targaryen, Don Draper, Eleven, Dwight Schrute

 

Mt. Rushmore of TV Antagonists (modern)

Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) – Game of Thrones

Cersei is just a ruthless bitch, but you have to respect her willingness to do anything it takes to stay on the throne. The only thing keeping her human was her love for her three children, but as each of them died one-by-one, Cersei became more and more of a monster. The last time we saw her she was the undisputed Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, with a dogfight with Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen coming in season 8.

Gustavo “Gus” Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) – Breaking BadBetter Call Saul

On the surface: a model Albuquerque citizen and business owner. Under the facade: a cold-blooded drug kingpin using his industrial laundromat and Los Pollos Hermanos chicken chain as a front for the largest drug-trafficking syndicate in the Western hemisphere. Before Heisenberg finally put and end to their perpetual cat-and-mouse game, Gus was always one step ahead of Walt.

Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) – Deadwood

Like Gus, Al was a ruthless businessman willing to stop at nothing to keep his power of Deadwood, South Dakota. Regarded as one of the best shows ever to be cancelled too soon, Deadwood rode McShane’s sadistic Swearengen for 3 strong seasons. For the sake of the show’s fans and anyone planning on watching, hopefully the rumblings of HBO producing two Deadwood TV-movies to wrap up the series are true.

Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) – Game of Thrones

Fitting for one member of this Mt. Rushmore to birth another. Cersei’s youngest two children might’ve been sweet and innocent, but her oldest was the devil in the flesh. What sets Joffrey aside from the rest of this Mount is that while the others were cruel for the sake of gaining power, Joffrey was cruel for the sake of being cruel. He loved nothing more than to see his inferiors suffer. This little fucker might be the most hated character in TV history.

Honorable Mentions: Ramsay Snow/Bolton, Ben Linus, Stringer Bell

Halfway through April, we’re down to the home stretch. If you’d like to recap before next week, here’s the link to last week’s Mt. Rushmores:

Mt. Rushmore Mondays: Movies

Looking forward to next Monday April 23rd: Mt. Rushmores of Music