Bateman: New rivalries can replace Backyard Brawl

By Oliver Bateman

We’re sure you’re all probably devastated that the much-beloved Backyard Brawl series might come to an end. We’re sure you’re all probably devastated that the much-beloved Backyard Brawl series might come to an end. If you can’t direct your spleen at those mentally defective hillbillies and the horde of junior college dropouts who represent them on the gridiron, how will you be able to go on living? Fear not, dear readers: There is a slew of other terrible teams, people and email networks for you to loathe. Let’s take a look at some of the more obvious possibilities.

Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA team): Fronted by chalky-white baller nonpareil Kevin Love, the Timberwolves are one of several professional sports teams that you should consider hating. Not only are they consistently mediocre — from legendary ball hog  Michael Beasley to overpaid backup center Darko Milicic, nearly every link on this team’s chain is as weak as papier-mâché — but they’re virtually unknown among the general public. If you start hating them now, you’ll have a considerable head start on all those bandwagon-jumpers who insist on only hating successful teams. Other possibilities: Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL?), Nashville Predators (NHL, we think), Jackonsville Jaguars (NFL — for now), B.C. Lions (2011 Grey Cup Champs).

Rick Perry (Politician): It’s easy to hate on a sleazebag like Newt Gingrich or Jerry Sandusky but much harder to despise an aw-shucks imbecile like Perry. Perry, who has embarked on one of the strangest “redemption quests” of all time — appearing on late-night chat shows to mock his own idiocy — is threatening to make America fall in love with him. You can stop this program of character rehabilitation by refusing to allow him to live down the fact that he couldn’t remember a few basic facts. As was the case with your unfortunate WVU brethren, a rivalry is always better when you’re able to feel mentally superior to the person or group you’re up against (and if you’re earning a D- or better in Intro to Psych, you’d be justified in lording it over Governor Perry). Other possibilities: Ron Paul (sure, he’s grandfatherly and 420-friendly and all, but he wouldn’t hesitate to pull the plug if you were on life support and the state happened to be footing the bill), Brad Pitt (not a politician, but why won’t he and Angelina just get it over with and get married?). (Service): Until the end of Thanksgiving, the upper left-hand corner of the portal still featured a festive image of bats flying in front of a full moon. Now, with the advent of the Christmas season, we’re treated to a picture of a pumpkin. What’s to be expected in February? Santa Claus smoking a corncob pipe? All kidding aside, is arguably the worst thing ever and therefore thoroughly deserving of your scorn. It boasts a hideous graphic interface (with the exception of the aforementioned cute pumpkin, we suppose), less storage space than the circa-1998 version of Hotmail and an annoying tendency to crash whenever you’re about to email that hastily written term paper you just plagiarized off Wikipedia to the TA who will spend no fewer than three minutes grading it and no more than five reading it. Other possibilities: any of the various “61” bus routes in operation between the hours of 5 and 7 p.m., the sushi served in the basement of the Cathedral, the student activities fee that exists only so that we forget to pay it and therefore incur a considerable late payment penalty.

Upper-level classes (any): OK, those surveys were a lot of fun. No attendance policies, no reading assignments, CD-bundled textbooks you could leave in the packaging and resell online as “new” or “like new” at the end of the semester. But now you’re in a bunch of upper-level classes, and the pace of the work is ridic. You’re expected to grind out 15-20 page papers, tolerate a professor who might even remember your name and raise your hand occasionally to say some dumb nonsense about that stupid book you’ve been skimming for the better part of a month (and to think — the better part of your month used to consist of investing hundreds of hours in rebuilding the woebegone Jaguars franchise in Madden 2012’s “dynasty mode”). To this we say only: Really? And again: Really?

Peyton Hillis (face of Madden): Speaking of Madden, can you believe this dude? He wins a rigged popular vote to appear on the cover of Madden 2012 — the greatest installment in the history of history’s greatest and best-selling series of sports games — and then proceeds to spend an entire season resting on his laurels, nursing a bunch of leg injuries and pretending to suffer from the same imaginary colds and flus you cite when preparing your requests for extensions on those 15-20 page papers that you haven’t started writing yet because, duh, you’ve been rocking out with Madden 2012. Moreover, this beer barrel-shaped running back — perhaps “trotting back” is more appropriate, given his 6.4 speed in the 40 and inability to break even a single tackle — plays for the Cleveland Browns, a team that would be the hereditary rival of your hometown Pittsburgh Steelers if the Browns weren’t so terrible on account of the fact that they insist on starting replacement-level talent like Hillis and his BFF Colt “hard-nosed game manager” McCoy at crucial positions. Other possibilities: Donovan McNabb, anyone you see on the street wearing a replica Donovan McNabb Philadelphia Eagles No. 5 jersey (the dream — and by extension the “Dream Team” — is dead, people).

As you can see, there are all sorts of people and things that could fill the void left by the termination of a meaningless rivalry game, the existence of which 99.9 percent of the people living outside the Pennsylvania/Ohio/West Virginia tri-state area were probably unaware. In the alternative, you might try to go about your business without concern for trifling nonsense like this — but how much fun would that be?

Oliver Bateman is the head coach and athletic director of the Moustache Sports Club of America. The MCoA is your one-stop destination for steroid investigations, Pittsburgh Pirates World Series coverage and Brock Lesnar fan fiction. If you’ve got a fantasy story involving Mr. Lesnar, you should surf over to and submit it to us. Notwithstanding the effect that Mr. Lesnar might have on you, try to keep it PG-13. We’re a family-friendly website, people!