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White Kid Can Jump, and Play for Vandy?

Welcome to Hero, Nero, Zero, where we champion the triumphs, insanity and ineptitude of the sports world. Got a candidate for one of our life-altering labels? Email me at cdavidmartin@yahoo.com. This feature appears Mondays and Fridays.

HERO: Christian Terrell

Back in high school I was a halfway decent basketball player, which means I made the team and was asked to cheap shot the starters during practice as a means of toughening them up. It had its rewards. I reminded no one of former high-flying Caucasian Tom Chambers. Nor did I have the kind of rise seen here by high schooler Christian Terrell, a 6-foot-2 white fella from Jacksonville, Fla., who posterizes an opponent in a pickup game. If Jimmy the Greek Snyder were alive, he might have some insight about Terrell’s uncanny ability to defy gravity. 

NERO: James Franklin

If I were a fan or alumnus of Vanderbilt University, I’d take pride in seeing how far the football program has come under head coach James Franklin, who in the last two seasons became the first coach to ever lead the Commodores to back-to-back bowl appearances. Competing in the SEC against yearly national title contenders such as Alabama, LSU and Florida is extremely difficult, especially for a school like Vanderbilt that actually asks its players to be student-athletes. Franklin has to be creative in order to field a competitive team. Does he give scholarships to criminals? Nope, not allowed. Does he give scholarships to idiots? Nope, not allowed. Does he give scholarships to unborn children? Well, that depends. Namely, on the size of that kid’s mommy and daddy.

“If I see a 6-foot-6 man walking in the mall with his wife, and she’s 6-2 and she’s pregnant, I’ll go up and offer their unborn child,” Franklin told The Tennessean in an interview.

“I’m not exaggerating. I do that all the time. If I go to speak at an elementary school, if I’m out at a restaurant, we kind of have fun with it. It’s about developing a relationship with people. It’s about getting them connected with Vanderbilt. It’s about making people laugh and telling a story and having fun. It’s about having a sense of humor and not being some robot coach that I don’t want to be.”

If I were a fan or alumnus of Vanderbilt (and I’m both), I would love me some James Franklin. He’s the right kind of crazy.

ZERO: Complete games 

Like most people who have jobs and pay a modicum of attention to their families, I rarely watch baseball games from beginning to end anymore. Since I live in the New York City market, I still tune in most nights to root against the Yankees for a few innings, but gone are the days when I’d spend three to four hours watching a complete game. Know who else isn’t down with complete games? Starting pitchers. 

If you check the team pitching statistics, you’ll be surprised by a number of things. Not only are the Pittsburgh Pirates apparently the best pitching team in the National League, but they’ve compiled the best team ERA in baseball - without the benefit of a single complete game. The team with the second-best team ERA, the Braves, have yet to register a single CG, either. In fact 10 of the 30 MLB teams have zero complete games this season.

Why is this? Well, probably because pitchers know that most fans aren’t watching the entire game, so what’s the point of trying to impress? Moreover, these players are all in a union, and we know how attitudes run toward hard work in those things.

Cameron Martin has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, ESPN.com, Yahoo! Sports, and CBS Sports. Send your ideas to cdavidmartin@yahoo.com.

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