Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Last American Bad Ass

I happened to hear the song "American Bad Ass" by Kid Rock earlier today and I started thinking, who right now is actually an American Bad Ass? I knew right away it was definitely not Kid Rock. Sorry, but some skinny dude in a wifebeater who looks like he should have a sign on his back that says 'Follow me to the methadone clinic' is no Bad Ass, American or otherwise. I thought about it for a while and I don't believe there is one right now. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of people doing some seriously bad ass things on a fairly regular basis, but that's not enough to qualify for the title of American Bad Ass, which to me, is sort of a czar of Bad Assedness, someone that everyone can turn to when something Bad Ass needs to be done. In order to qualify, you should be able to accomplish amazing things in a difficult and demanding job and have done so over a prolonged period of time. Note: I said job, as in something you're paid to do. I don't care how many times you've crashed your mountain bike while doing something 'xtreme', no stupid weekend adrenaline junkie weekend hobbyists need apply. You should have also achieved some level of notoriety because of your exploits and you should also do your own stunts. There are currently no actors who meet this criteria. You should also have done at least one socially meaningful thing. This means no current athletes are eligible. Last but not least, an American Bad Ass should sincerely not give one red rat's ass what anybody else thinks about them. Sadly, this eliminates all politicians, writers and musicians.

No, I'm afraid our last American Bad Ass was Ted Williams and he died in 2002. Actually, now that I think about it, Muhammad Ali more than qualifies under the criteria cited above and he's still alive. But I already looked up Ted Williams' accomplishments so here's some of those:
  • Was named after Teddy Roosevelt, himself a legitimate American Bad Ass in his own time.

  • He was the last man to hit .400. In 1941 with an average of .39955 on the last day of the season, his manager gave Williams the choice of sitting out the season-ending doubleheader which would have locked him in at a rounded up .400. Williams opted to play both games and went 6 for 8, giving him an average of .406.

  • Interrupted his baseball career twice for military service during times of war (World War II and the Korean War). Did he spend his stints posing for publicity photos to induce the public to buy war bonds? No, he flew fighter planes, including 38 combat missions.

  • Hit a home run in his final at bat in 1960.

  • Was a world class fisherman and was inducted into the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame in 2000.

  • Chuck Norris was granted a brief audience with Williams in 1998 and curtsied daintily in deference when they were introduced.

The last one (probably) isn't true. But it could be.

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