Lists are fun. Lists are inane. Lists are useful. Lists are meaningless.
There are, of course, different kinds of lists. Priority lists. To-Do lists. Brainstorming lists. Project lists. Grocery lists. Wish lists. Honey-do lists. Best-of lists. Bucket lists.
I’m a list guy. For as long as I can remember, I felt organized if I wrote it down. I’d frequently refer to them … if I could find on which of the three dozen yellow post-its scattered around and affixed to various workstations, monitors, and appliances the list in question was written.
Lists helped me remember stuff. Mostly, I’d come across a wayward post-it chock-full of good intentions and observe, time and again, “Hmmm. Got that done three weeks ago.” Or “Damn. I need to get to that,” at which point I added the task to a more-recent post-it. I made a vow 10 years ago to do away with post-its, which had become a sort of office wallpaper for me, successfully moving cold-turkey to planners. Much more effective, especially when I have to scroll back several weeks or even months in an attempt to locate a specific task list amongst dozens of notes, conversations, appointments and, yes, other lists.
Why the fascination with lists? The Zeigarnik Effect (see Wikipedia) states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed ones, and therefore lists are useful mechanisms. Also, they have varying values. Ranking-lists are great for debate. Honey-do lists are critical to the marriage-hierarchy continuum. Bucket lists — well, let’s just agree that it’s an important task for the soul to check as many of those boxes as possible while you can still make lists.
Conclusion: For the most part, people love lists.
Not On My Watch — Dan Le Batard
Not Dan Le Batard. At least not best-of lists, to which he ascribes almost zero societal, conversational or any other value.
Le Batard has long been one of my favorite talents, first as a sportswriter for the Miami Herald (1990 to 2016). He’s a brilliant writer — observant and passionate, with a fixation on research and scripting truth or molding opinion via strong vocabulary and wordsmithing. His articles always received, from me at least, high marks for clarity and entertainment. Le Batard’s audience reach and fanbase expanded exponentially with the debut of the Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz in 2004, a sports-talk radio show hosted by Le Batard and Jon “Stugotz” Weiner. It is broadcast on WQAM in South Florida and, from 2015 until January 4, 2021, on ESPN Radio affiliates nationwide. The broadcast is a rabble-rousing rollercoaster of commentary and hijinks — sometimes even addressing current sports news. Frequently irreverent and with self-deprecating humor, Team Le Batard brings it strong with quirky perspectives on news stories, society norms, and pop culture. The show’s interviews are anything goes. Le Batard likes to make waves; indeed, he prides himself on being the “uncomfortable” sports journalist.
What he doesn’t like to do is lists. Unless the stumbling, bumbling and endearing Stugotz (bless his traditional sports-talk-show soul) manages to sneak them into conversations or tackle sports comparisons, best-ofs and what-ifs when Le Batard is on vacation, lists seldom grace the airwaves during their show. To Le Batard, that’s hackneyed, clichéd, uninspired and, I’ll say it, boring radio … and the purview of boring hosts and bored listeners. Le Batard invariably casts such debates into a subterranean vault, never to be heard again. He’d rather make his audience think, which is bold for sports-talk radio.
Le Batard also loves starting fires and fanning the flames, which occasionally has gotten him in trouble with his bosses. It’s why his many loyal fans, me amongst them, seldom miss a show. As they say, he’s just Dan being Dan. But he’s our Dan.
If I may digress from the topic of lists for a brief jaunt into current events … In a move that is equal parts baffling and disturbing to Le Batard’s loyal audience, Le Batard and ESPN parted ways after his popular shows (TV and radio) aired on January 4, 2021. In a statement, ESPN noted that the media giant and Le Batard had “mutually agreed that it was best for both sides to move on to new opportunities.” Horrendous move initiated, it appears, by ABC/ESPN. Le Batard and Friends independently founded their own podcast network; the team recruited former head of ESPN, John Skipper, to become the new network’s CEO. The pro-characterless “suits” at ABC/ESPN made a huge mistake in letting this talent and his listeners walk; no matter who gets the time slot over time (Greeny is first up … ), their numbers are going to pale in comparison.
Hence, my Lists Homage to Le Batard, a personal genuflection to one of my journalism heroes.
So … back to lists. I’m guessing that another reason Le Batard doesn’t like them is that they’re relatively easy go-to drivel for bloggers and writers. I confess that is so. When perhaps less than inspired to pen brilliant takes and in need of copy to post, lists ofttimes roll off the mind and onto the keyboard more effortlessly than other viewpoints.
Subjects and Lists of Great Consequence
Keeping Guru Dan uppermost in mind, I will try not to opine on subjects of great consequence such as:
- The Greatest Centerfielders of All-Time (Mays, Mantle, DiMaggio, Griffey … )
- Top Secrets to a Happy Relationship (Communication, Communication, Communication,
Communication, Designating Her As The Alpha Dog … )
- Best Quarterbacks Who Never Won a Super Bowl (Marino, Fouts, Moon, Tarkenton … )
- Coolest Vinces (Gill, Lombardi, Vaughn, Carter, Price … )
- Better Group — The Temptations or The Four Tops (No Ball of Confusion here — the
Temps … )
- Teddy Ballgame Versus The Babe — Who Is The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived?
(The Splendid Splinter got his wish … )
- Harder to Tackle — Barry Sanders and Walter Payton or Bo Jackson and Earl Campbell?
(Can’t tackle what you can’t wrap up … )
- Words You Can Type Using Only Your Left Hand (the longest are tesseradecades,
aftercataracts and sweaterdresses … )
- TV’s Greatest Dogs (Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, All the Dalmatians, Toto, Snoopy … )
- Greatest Sports Food Nicknames (Butterbean, Spud, Sugar, Juice, Georgia Peach,
Sweet Pea. Honorable Mention: The Microwave, Smokin, Refrigerator, The Bird,
Sweetness, The Iceman … )
- Best Ballhandlers of All-Time (Pistol Pete, Curly Neal, Isiah Thomas, Stephen Curry,
Tim Hardaway, Allen Iverson … )
- Large Hollywood Talents Under 5’5″ (Kevin Hart, Jason Alexander, Mel Brooks, Prince,
Danny DeVito, Frodo Baggins … )
- Best Sports Uniforms (Chicago Blackhawks, New York Yankees, Las Vegas Raiders,
Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, and whatever Under Armour uni-rotation
is made by the University of Maryland. And, oh okay, UNC’s Carolina Blue is not bad, either … )
- And, of course, The Chicken or The Egg? (the bird, see Genesis 1:20–22 … )
Important subjects all. Imminently debatable. I’ll try not to go there. Too often. Maybe.