Episode 4 - October 19
What would YOU do for someone you loved? Well, if that someone has a sports fantasy, then "I'd Do Anything" might just be for you. ESPN managed to gather three more chumps ready to risk their bodies and their egos so that someone else can get the prize.
Let's meet the scapegoats and their caretakers who hope they can be herded to their dreams:
Profession: Operations Manager
Playing for: Joe Kratzer
Dream: See Lance Armstrong ride in the Tour de France
Profession: Medical sales
Playing for: Joe Bracken
Dream: Play golf with Fred Couples
DAVID HORWATH, JR.
From: Jackson, GA
Profession: College student
Playing for: Carolyn "C.J." Horwath
Play with the U.S. Women's Olympic soccer team
(And, just like in "Fear Factor", ESPN wants to cover their asses. So they let you know that these stunts are put together and overseen by "trained professionals" [whatever THAT means]. So even if you WOULD do anything, you're not on TV...so DON'T DO ANYTHING THEY'RE DOING!)
SACRIFICE 1: PAIN - CAN YOU TAKE THE HEAT?
The three Ford F-150s carrying the teams of sacrificers and sacrificees (if that's even a word) pull up at a minor league baseball field and meet host George Gray out on the pitchers mound. George explains how winning sacrifices will effect things. Win just one and you're off to the Final. Win two and someone else will be eliminated before the Final. Win all three and you get to CHOOSE who gets eliminated.
But can't have someone win ANY sacrifices until we start the FIRST one. And the first one is a simple game of catch... against a smart pitching machine which can throw curves and knuckleballs as well as 100 MPH fastballs... and they're not REALLY catching since that requires a glove which they won't get. They'll use a small pad and try to BLOCK the balls from passing the white line about six feet behind home plate. The one who blocks the most out of 20 balls thrown at them wins the sacrifice.
Rob is psyched, having PLAYED semi-pro basketball back home. He gets suited up and marches confidently towards home plate, squatting behind it. He manages to block the first one...but it hits his wrist a little and that 80-odd MPH pitch packs a wallop. But he's fine and does his best, even though it feels to him like someone is firing an M-16 clip filled with rubber bullets at him. A few get around his pad and one even went "five-hole" (through the small hole between his legs) but, for the most part, he blocked with percision and, in the end, put up a score of 16 blocked pitches. It's not without a cost, though; he feels his thumb might be broken.
Next one put in the line of fire is David... and, unlike Robert, it's been a LONG time since he's ever played baseball (try 6th grade). So, needless to say, he's a BIT nervous at that 16 Robert put up. Also unlike Robert, David isn't as good at stopping these balls at first. In fact, the first one he DOES stop is one that deflects off his face mask! He improves, though, using his entire body to keep the balls from passing the line. Call him "Patrick Roy" because this guy is blocking the plate like a hockey goalie. The 15th block got him right in the gut, but he manages to struggle back up and take the final pitch... which was JUST a bit outside. He finishes with 15. A vallant effort, but no Final just yet.
Finally, Rich steps up to the plate. He's nervous... but he chooses to embrace it instead of cower from it. And Rich embraced it like he was on a honeymoon with it because he stopped 9 of the first 10 shots sent his way. But he starts to slip and, after 14 shots, he has blocked 11. He needs to block the remaining 6 to win. He blocks the first four, despite the pain he shows with each grunt. But one gets by him, meaning he needs to stop the last one to just TIE with Rob. Here's the pitch... RIGHT down the middle for strike three and block 16!
Well,...THIS hasn't happened before. A tie for a sacrifice? How will we decide this? "Sudden Death", of course. George tells them that they'll have to block them WITHOUT a glove or WITHOUT a "cup" (a groin protector), whichever they choose. Tough choice... but both Rob and Rich toss their pads aside. George then says he was kidding and just wanted to see if they'd "protect the 'family jewels'". The ACTUAL "Sudden Death" format is that Rob will take a pitch and then Rich will take the SAME pitch. If one blocks it and the other doesn't, the one that blocks it wins.
Rob steps up and takes a knuckleball in the dirt. Though he blocks it, he chases after it to make SURE it doesn't cross the line. Rich doesn't have chase, though; he blocks it in front of him without a problem. Rob's next pitch is ANOTHER one in the dirt... but he CAN'T block it well enough. Rich comes up... but, though he blocks it, it trickles past the line. Rob's next pitch is a slider, but he blocks it in the wrong direction. Rich gets back behind the plate... and blocks it PERFECTLY. He wins the sacrifice and is that much closer to getting his dad on the links with Fred Couples. Needless to say, Rob is upset.
SACRIFICE 2: PAIN - CURLING UP AND DYING
The next day, once all the bruises have blackened up and numbed, Rich is feeling that he has less pressure on his shoulders now that he's in the Final. Rob, however, is hurting...literally (he says he can't move his thumb). The three trucks arrive at a local ice skating rink (causing Rich to say, "Oh, no!") and join George inside to watch a few people doing something odd. One is pushing round stone blocks down the ice while two others brush the ice in front of the stone to aim it towards a target on the ice. This is the Olympic sport of "curling" and George tells them that THEY'LL will be partaking in a game of curling. Or, rather, a game of HUMAN curling!
Each player will be wearing nothing but a pair of Spandex shorts, a helmet and elbow and knee pads as they propel themselves down the ice towards the target in the ice. Once their chest or butt hits the ice, though, they cannot use their arms for propulsion. Unlike scoring in real curling (which is more like shuffleboard), they will score points by where their head is in relation to the bulls-eye (like archery). The various rings are worth 2, 3, 5 and 10 points while the white around the target is 1 point. A regular curling stone will be placed where the head ends up and the stones CAN be knocked away by the body or hands. The total points for each round will be determined by the stones on the target at the end. They will play two rounds of two slides each. The one with the most points wins the sacrifice.
Rich is destined to go first (at least all his brusies will get the ice he needs). He sprints and slides but, nearing the target, he pushes with his hands. Since he violated that rule, the stone is placed where his hand touched the ice, which was outside the target. David slides on his ass to kick Rich's stone away... but he ALSO pushes with his hands meaning HE only gets one point. What's more, Rich's stone rebounds off the boards and slides into the blue section of the target, giving him TWO points instead of one! Rob is smarter, though; he pushes Rich's stone away with his hand to where it WON'T rebound and, furthermore, puts his head in the white circle for THREE points, giving him the lead after one "toss".
For the second "toss", Rich swats Rob's stone away and puts HIS head in the three-point circle. David knocks away Rich's stone and TRIES to lie down with his head in the red five-point circle, but the ref tells him to straighten up, which only gives him three points. So Rob need five points to win the round and Rich will have to wait for the second round to make a comeback. He manages to knock the ONE-point stone away, but the can't push the three-pointer too far. He manages to GET three points, but the BAD news is that the stone he pushed big rebounded back for a point... and the one he pushed just a LITTLE was pushed into the FIVE-point circle. That means the first round ends with David ahead with 6, Rob in second with 3 and Rich behind with zero.
For the SECOND round (after they clear the stones away), the ice is watered down, meaning that it'll be much faster. ALSO, whereas they ran on a carpet to start their slide before, they must NOW stand on the ice for a few minutes before the round starts. Dave and Rob slide right PAST the target, but Rich manages to get in the scoring area for one point. This means he'll need a bulls-eye and for Dave to get 0 points to win. As he shivers, Dave steps up for his last slide, hoping to put the game away. He pushes Rich's stone away and uses his fingers to BARELY stay in the scoring zone for one point, boosting him to 7. Rob's final slide knocks Dave's stone out but, despite his screams, he cannot stop in the scoring zone, meaning Dave ends with 6 and and Rob with 3. Rich needs a bulls-eye to win. He runs, he slides, he tries to stop... but he overshoots the target entirely! With 6 points, Dave wins the sacrifice! Now get them to the heaters before they stick to the rink like a tounge to a frozen flagpole!
SACRIFICE 3: SHAME - STRICTLY BALLROOM
Viva Las Vegas, baby! Once again the contesti leave the state of Insanity... I mean, California for the playground of the world! They stop in front of the Stardust Hotel & Casino (one of the few left from the "Rat Pack" days) and join George outside it. George tells them that they will be competing in an Olympic event whose World Champioships are being presented tonight in front of 1000 on-lookers. What is the event? Well, the teams turn around to see the marquee... which reads:
NEVADA STAR BALL
"I'D DO ANYTHING"
DAVID - RICH - ROB
(I did the research; "Dancesport" (as it's called by pros) WAS proposed at the time of this taping to be an Olympic sport for 2012 but, since then, the proposal was shot down by the IOC.)
Each player will pick a professional partner and will have three hours to learn their routine (a tango and a salsa). They will then dance their routine in front of a live audience (complete with frilled shirt) and will be judged just like any other couple. The one judged the best receives a trophy and a trip to the Final.
Rich chooses Josie and learns the steps rather quickly. According to Josie, though, he needs to calm down a bit. David and Kelly specialize in the "tango" and do rather well in practice. Rob and Christy have a routine done which includes a "booty shake". After the three hours are up, the men get into their frilly shirts and tight pants and prepare to make jackasses of themselves.
That night, the ballroom is crowded with cheering people... making Rich MORE than a little nervous. His tango is nearly flawless and gets a huge ovation, but it is his salsa with Josie that is simultaniously the most electric... and the most hilarious. Rich feeds off the electricity and puts on a stellar performance.
Next is David, whom his sister admits has "two left feet". He concentrated during his tango to get the moves right... but, when the salsa started, he let louse and got wild. And why not? Even if he blew chunks, he was in the Final and was going to get a chance to get his sister to play soccer with her idols. It turns out he was pretty decent.
Finally is Rob, who had choked twice before but now has a chance to
get his boss to France to watch the bicycle races. He's quite nervous...and, when the music starts for the tango, he freezes when his partner goes off step. SHE is pretty much leading HIM around, which is just NOT supposed to happen in ballroom dancing. He's a LITTLE better with the salsa (and a LOT more hilarious) but it doesn't look like Joe is going anywhere (not at ESPN's expense, anyway).
To the Ultimate Sports Fantasy Bar in the ravine they go later that night. George has the trophy for the best dancer of the group. If Rob doesn't get it, he's gone. If he does, all three go to the Final. George says that it was close... but Rich is the "Dancing Queen". Rob and Joe have to head home. Rob's sad that he didn't win, but he had a hoot.
FINAL: INSANE - NOTHING BUT NET!
Talk about your road trips! The Final is taking place in New York City. The two teams drive up to a field where a large AmericQuest (TM) derigible is visible. George is there and tells him that it's an honor to just be at the U.S. Open (just down the street), whether it's as a player...or one of the ball boys, the guys who run to the net and across the court to retreive stary tennis balls between points. Today, Rich and David will become ball boys and retrieve balls stuck in tennis nets. Uh,...one thing, though: the nets are on the botton of the blimp... and the blimp will be hundreds of feet above the sea!
Each player will wait for a signal before climbing down one net, retrieving six balls along the way. Once all the way down, they must move to the other net and climb back UP, retrieving ANOTHER twelve balls along the way. The one who gets all twelve balls and gets back in the cockpit of the blimp in the fastest time wins.
Since Rich won two sacrifices to Dave's one, Rich gets to choose who goes first. Having a GREAT fear of heights makes it easy for him; he wants Dave to
The players climb up into the cockpit and the blimp takes off. Dave is feeling very, VERY nervous about thje experience but, when George says "Go", he starts his decent. While C.J. watches through high-power binoculars, her brother grabs the first three balls in under a minute. He does all right on the way down and gets the sixth ball in just over TWO minutes. Now comes the HARD part: switching from one net to the other. He caught his breath and smoothly transitioned, hearing his sister in his ear. The climb is strenuous, especially when fear is gripping you with every step. When the wind gusts, Dave hangs on to the net for dear life, NOT wanting to fall off (even though there is a safety harness). He ascends slowly before grabbing #12 in just over six minutes. But, for some reason, the climb up the last ten feet to the cockpit is just too much for him to even try, especially with his shoe caught in the net. After being on the nets for eight and a half minutes, he takes his shoe off and tries again. But it's no use; he has no strength left. He lets go of the net and has to get wenched up into the cockpit. He can't breathe and his limbs are paralyzed as he gets dragged into a seat. C.J. is glad he's safe, but is a little upset. She's not the ONLY one; Dave mutters, "Sorry, C.J." as he gets to a seat and takes some water.
Back on "terra firma", C.J. IS upset... but more that Dave is sorry than anything else. She is very proud of her brother, even if she DOESN'T get to "kick around" with the ladies.
So it's up to Rich now. All he has to do is collect all 12 balls and pass the highest point Dave traversed on the net and his father will playing 18 with Freddy Couples. The winning distance is determined by a windsock on the net. HIS foot gets caught in the net on the FIRST STEP... and it takes close to thirty seconds to get it out, but it saps a lot of energy from the frightened Rich. He's slow on the way down but, thankfully, this isn't timed for him. He just needs to get the balls and get up. He grabs the first six in four minutes, muttering words of encouragement to himself. The crossover is a little tought and the climb up is even tougher. "Let your feet do the work," he keeps muttering as he grabs #8... then... he just runs out of gas. He quits and lets go of the net. Since he didn't get all 12 balls, let alone pass the windsock, C.J. breaks out of her depresison on the ground because she knows her brother has done it for her! Joe is glad his son did as well as he could, fighting his fear. Rich cries as the blimp heads back to the field, even though George tries to convince him that he didn't quit.
PRIZE: C.J. Horwath won't HAVE to fly anywhere...because the U.S. Olympic Women's Soccer Team will be coming to Atlanta FOR her! She'll learn all the tricks of becoming a Mia Hamm or a Brandi Chastain.
That is...provided C.J. keeps her shirt on after every penalty shot.