March 20, 2006

Colby Cosh's "The Terror" -- An Attempt at a Definition

This may not be what Colby had in mind, but here's my idea of a definition of an athlete who is a "terror" -- a one dimensional athlete who can humiliate or physically hurt opponents real bad with that one skill. The prototypical terror might have been boxer George Foreman in 1973-74, the awesome peacher who destroyed Joe Frazier with his punching power and shocked Ali in the first round of the Rumble in the Jungle with how hard he hit. But could be beat if you could avoid his one skill. During his comeback in the 1990s, when he won a share of heavyweight crown at age 45, he was much less of a terror, but much more of a boxer.

A terror in baseball might be a slugger like Dave Kingman, Gorman Thomas, or Rob Deer who will strike out or hit a homer.

You may not remember Roscoe Tanner in tennis back in the 1970s, but he had an incredible serve and could make better all-around players look bad when it was working.

A pitcher who can throw 100 mph, but without much control would be a terror -- Sandy Koufax or Nolan Ryan early in their careers. The Yankees had one of the first terror relief pitchers, Ryne Duren, who wore thick glasses and put on a big act about how he couldn't really see all the way to home plate and was just as likely to bean you as throw a strike because the whole world was a blur to thim.

The concept can probably be extended to acting. I just saw the new Sam Shepard movie, "Don't Come Knocking," in which his performance is quite inadequate. I compared it to how good he was as Chuck Yeager in "The Right Stuff." Perhaps he's a terror, capable of an iconic performance in a very narrow range of roles, but out of his depth otherwise. In comedy, you could think of Michael Richards as Kramer on "Seinfeld."

In acting, perhaps a "terror" is the same as a "scene stealer."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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