One of the changes I dislike about the new season of the Pros Vs Joes is that we meet the pros before the Joes do, so I'm going to bypass the opening scene, and go right to when we meet our Joes.
Joe #1 is Church Lockett (really) for whom I could not dig up a local news article about. He's by the far the biggest of the Joes on the show tonight and he's from Gary, Indiana, and his key quote (and this happens after all the Joes come out (don't worry Timmy Hardaway, I don't mean "come out" in that way.)) is "I hope they brought their mothers and their wives and their kids to see what I do to them." However, Church was an all-state basketball player in Indiana, which means he was a hell of a high school basketball player (though I suspected, and we will see, that his game was probably around the rim).
Joe #2 seems quite unlikely to advance to the final round. His name is Marc Bosler, and he's clearly overweight. I don't say that in a judging way. Why not be overweight if you aren't making your money being in shape? Hell, enjoy those beers and cupcakes, goddammit. Marc is from Las Vegas (Strike 1!) and he refers himself to as Captain Charisma (Strike 2!) and he is promising "beat downs" to all the Pros (Strike 3!).
Joe #3 is Mike Zimmerman--I didn't catch where he was from. He's the "smallest" of the Joes. He still holds the record for tackles at the high school he graduated from. Which suggests he was a linebacker, and he's now 5' 11" and just a bit over 200 pounds. Mike has all the aspects of a douchebag--a desperate (and failing) attempt at cool hair whilst balding, odd facial hair, a penchant from giving himself nicknames ("I'm the White L.T.", or "People call me the Z-man") and to cap it off, a tattoo celebrating his Z-manness, which appears to be a modified Superman logo with a "Z" instead of an "S". I definitely start off rooting against this guy.
Our Pros, in order of appearance:
1. Wide Receiving Great, Andre Reed. He later proves himself to be the worst shit talker of the episode, and maybe of the entire run of Pros vs. Joes.
2. A long retired (44 years old and enjoying retirement) Spud Webb. The Joes actually make fun of Webb's height when he shows up, as if his lack of height isn't a badge of honor for him. He played in the NBA, dumbasses! Mocking a 44 year old who is about to school you in the art of shooting a jumper isn't a good idea.
3. Cobi Jones? Really? At the time of the taping he hadn't yet retired from the Galaxy. I think I remember seeing him from the promo from last week, but I'm still surprised to see him. If they really want to embarrass the Joes, they'll just do training runs all day with Cobi. Say what you will about the man (and I've said plenty) the guy is fitter at 36 then I was at 23. The way they use Cobi is limited, but quite delicious (that's what we in the writing game call "foreshadowing").
4. Oh yeah, Promise Kept. The Motherfuckin' Straw. Of course. How did they go a season and a half without Darryl? At no point does Strawberry bust out his lines from that Classic Simpsons Episode. Very disappointing, Darryl.
Challenge 1: Defend Andre Reed. Simple enough--each Joe has three chances to stop Andre, who runs behind a QB, who will either hand off, or fake a hand off. There are big foam blockers if Andre chooses to run, or he can break into the field to catch a ball. First up. The Z-Man! Reed works a quick double move, gets by Zimmerman easy, peasy. Bosler is up next, and Bosler decides to hang back, basically camping out on the end zone, so he can't get beat by a double move. So Reed just cuts a post move, and outruns Bosler to the End Zone. Church gets a break, as Reed runs the ball on him, and Church tackles him pretty easily. Next time around The Z-Man gets whistled for obvious past interference (0-2). Bosler gets beaten like rug that has been hanging in the Dustorium. 0-2 for him, too. Church can seal it here! But here Reed runs a stop move that no shit, flat dusts Church. He's spinning around 5 yards from Reed. Easy TD. Church is only up one after two interations. The Z-Man comes out again, and tackles Reed on a reverse (Reed shouldn't have run any reverses). z is 1 for 3. Bosler is beat badly again, but the QB misfires, and that counts as a point for Bosler. He's 1-3. Church can win it here. He does on what host Petros Pachydermitis (or something like that) calls a "tipped ball", but I didn't actually see a tip. Looked like Andre dropped it. Church wins this event.
Spud Webb earns Special Bo Jackson Southern Black Country lipping off honors when he says, "I bet that Chruch Lockett is a Preacher's Boy. You know preacher's boys." No, I don't Spud, but I like the way you said that. Spud locks up the award when he tells one of his competitors facing him in Challenge 2, that "You got a better chance hunting bear with a switch." Awesome!
Challenge 2: Outshoot Spud Webb in a 3 point Shooting contest, modeled after the All-Star 3-point challenge. Hey, man, Spud was a dunker, not a shooter, right? These guys have a chance, right? (Please see Mr. Webb's quote about hunting bear with a switch). First Joe up is Bosler, who as you may recall, called himself "Captain Charisma". It is about this time that it becomes clear that Darryl Strawberry is calling him "Captain Crunch" every single chance he gets. Pretty weak, Straw. DARRR-yl, DARRR-yl. I'm mocking your ability to mock, Straw! How you like them apples? Regardless, Bosler gets worked like an illegal immigrant. He loses 9 to two! And that score makes it sound closer than it was! Bosler didn't hit a shot until the 4th rack of 5. Lockett is next, who again, was a former All-State Indiana basketball player. It should be noted that Spud seems a little weak shooting from the left side, where the compeititon starts. Lockett maybe even had a lead briefly. But when Webb gets to the Top of the Cirlce, he's fucking deadly. He beats Church Lockett 9-6. It's hard to imagine Captain Charisma/Crunch is going to do better. He doesn't. He loses 11-5. So far, the man who promised to "beat down" the pros has not only lost, but has looked awful doing it. It seems quite likely that his only chance to win is if the next contest is impersonating the guy who called Lindsey Lohan a 'firecrotch". He could win that!. Church wins this one, and gets a bye to overtime.
Challenge 3: Field Against the Straw. This seems a little overly complicated, and in some ways too easy. Stand out in right field, shag hits to that area from Strawberry, and then throw to 4 targets, 2 times each. No time limit, no apparent limit on movement. The Z-Man goes first, and takes his goddamn time, jogging to balls just sitting in right field (memories of my chain smoking Czech roommate in intramural softball) and then sets himself for his throws. He nails first base twice, 2nd base once, goes 0-2 to third (those were just targets) and goes 2-2 to homeplate (with a human catcher). But he dogged it. Cobi Jones let's the Z-man have it when he jogs off the diamond, "See, Z, that's the difference between you and a Pro. You did exactly what you had to to get by, but you never tried to do more." SNAP! Cobi lands a solid, and Mr. Zimmerman looks genuinely hurt. Bosler's turn (and yeah, the Straw's still calling him Captain Crunch). And Petros (the host) is still calling him Captain Charisma. He runs all over the field, and actually tries to make throws on the run. Why he does this after the way the Z-Man got to 5, I don't know. I guess he is trying to impress the Pros. He fails. He misses his first 4 targets, and can't possibly win. He trots off the field to actual booing by the Pros. Andre Reed says, "That's just awful" It's the most clever thing he has said all night. Bosler's going home. It's Church vs. Zimmerman in the OT (with Church the prohibitive favorite, in both Joe's minds)
OT--4 challenges, never lasting more than a minute. Quickest overall time wins.
OT 1: I like this challenge. Sink 4 shots, from designated spots on the floor, before Spud Webb hits 6. If Spud hits 6, then the Joe maxes out, no matter how quickly Spud hit his 6 shots. Church is up first. The shots are set up so that first two should really be bank shots. Church can't, or doesn't like to, bank. Spud kills him. Church maxes out at a minute. Z-Man is up next, hits his first two shots quickly (banking the first). Only two shots left, and like 50 seconds to work with. But he stays stuck at those two shots for a while. But then hits two quick ones again. Z takes the lead, 46 seconds to 60 seconds.
OT 2: Hit into Darryl Strawberry's defense--The Joes are shown a large swath of pitch in right field that The Straw will be patrolling. Their job is to land two hits into that area that Darryl can't catch. One problem--these guys can't hit Batting Practice pitching to save their lives. They both manage all of two balls into the area at all, all four "hits" popped up enough that Strawberry has no problem getting under them. Both Max Out. Super Z's lead stays at 14 seconds.
OT 3: Stand in a Wall, and stop shots. As a former soccer player, and a soccer fan, I love this challenge. Pros Vs. Joes has done more to promote the fact that soccer is a physical game than any other American produced show that I can think of. Last season, they had Alexi Lalas dominate in the air, and had him throwing in crunching tackles that earned the respect of NFL linebackers. Professional soccer players have more to prove in terms of showing their sport is physical, and they do so in this show. Especially since the Joes who show up have very little soccer experience, and are clearly dismissive of it. Certainly, Cobi had a chip on his shoulder for this challenge. The challenge is this--in one minute, stop 4 free kicks (not as host Petros Snuffalupagus called them, "goal kicks") from the foot of Cobi Jones. Now, in the world of soccer, the Cobi Jones free kick is not famous. But the set up gave Cobi all the room in the world to operate. It was a 5 man wall, but 4 of those men were cut out cardboard figures, with a space for the Joe to stand in. Cobi could have easily (I could have easily) chipped shots into the goal, without any force, and maxed out each Joe. It would have been easy for me. It would have been easy for Cobi, obviously. So he did what every soccer player is told to do. Drill a couple at the wall. And it was beautiful.
The Z-Man (The White Lawrence Taylor) was the first to sit in the cut-out. Cobi lined it up, and just drilled him in the nuts. Zimmerman was covering his junk (I guess he's watched enough soccer to know to do that). What they never told him is that if someone puts a ball going about 50-60 mph into your hands, it still ends up rattling your nuts. He squirted a few tears. Now, Cobi's plan seemed to be to shoot a couple right at the guy, and then try for an impressive shot. That was the wrong thing to do. He should have popped guys, as he was doing, and then just chipped the occasional shot over the wall (there was no keeper). Regardless, he pops Mr. Z a couple of times, whose eyes are clearly watering, but then sends a couple of shots over the bar (by yards--again--Cobi is not Landon Donovan--he's not a free kick taker). Mr. Z gets out at 30 seconds. He shakes Cobi's hands and says, "Those kicks hurt, man." Good! Church is next, and he must have said some really nasty things about soccer, because he looks downright scared, and Cobi seems to be not trying to get a ball over the wall at all. He's just sending them right at Church, and three of them connect pretty good. I think it is the second one, landing solidly on Church's thigh (and it's a chilly night, seeing as the Pro's are wearing sweatshirts). Cold soccer ball on thigh hurts even if you are used to it, and it's being kicked by a really top notch Division III soccer player. Cold ball, Cold thigh, Cobi Jones' leg? That's got hurt like a motherfucker. And Church looks like he is in serious pain. All the same, he takes his punishment quicker, and brings The Z-Man's lead down to 9 seconds.
Again, I just want to say thank you to Lalas and Jones, for showing guys who know nothing about soccer how much it can fucking hurt. It makes my debates and occasional trips to the hospital all seem worth it.
Challenge Four: Outrun Andre Reed. They've set up a situation in which the Joe is a cornerback catching an interception and running down the sideline. They have a headstart. If they score a touchdown, they race to endline. If Andre Reed catches them and pushes them out of bounds, he may cost them precious seconds. Andre Reed doesn't catch anybody (the lines he takes suggests that he thinks he's much faster than he actually is, or he thinks the Joes are slower than they are). Both Joes run the course under 20 seconds. Which means annoying Z-Man wins.
Unsatisfying. Can we have Cobi kick at them some more?
What is really satisfying is next week's teaser--Sports Announcers! The black dude with braids from ESPN Xgames; the youngest Albert brother, I believe, and others. It will be sweet!