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The Oscars: Baltimore Sports Edition

February 28, 2018
The 90th Academy Awards are set for March 4. There are actually some Baltimore connections this year, most notably Best Picture nominee "The Shape of Water," which is set in Charm City. 

There are no known Baltimore sports connections, however, which is of course unsurprising. But that's not because no Baltimore sports figures have ever tried their hand at acting. 

With that in mind, I'm taking a stab at handing out some awards to Baltimore sports figures who have appeared in TV shows and movies throughout the years. It's not rocket science. 

And the Award for "Your Aunt Definitely Thought Brady Anderson Was As Hot As Sabrina's Did" goes to … Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations/former outfielder Brady Anderson

Seemingly, every young lady at Perry Hall Middle School was watching the same thing Jan. 17, 1997: watching "Sabrina the Teenage Witch." It cannot be understated how Anderson dominated the "heartthrob" market in this town. Girls hung his poster up right next to posters of Jonathan Taylor Thomas and the Backstreet Boys, and, honestly, I'm admitting to knowing far too much about this, aren't I? ABC capitalized on Anderson's popularity and "athletic opus" by forcing him into a nonsensical role on the show, completely logical considering the target audience. 

And the Award for "It Must've Been Hard Running The Point For A Team Made Up Of Centers" goes to … Baltimore native/former NBA star Muggsy Bogues

How was Bogues supposed to run an offense without an actual shooter on his team? The rest of the players whose talent was stolen from them in the 1996 film "Space Jam" consisted of forwards Charles Barkley and Larry Johnson and centers Patrick Ewing and Shawn Bradley. The current Phoenix Suns think this was a poorly constructed team. Also, exactly what talent was stolen from Bradley, anyway? Thankfully, Bogues' 5-foot-3 frame prevented him from suffering the same fate as his teammates inside a hospital in one of the rare humorous scenes in the film. (Bogues also appeared in the movies "Eddie" and "Juwanna Mann.")

And the Award for "Holy crap I was in a movie!" goes to … former Orioles outfielder Jay Gibbons

Gibbons wasn't actually "in" the hilarious 2005 film "Wedding Crashers." Instead, merely footage of him hitting a home run was used in a scene, which he didn't know about until after the movie came out. He'd probably rather talk about that today than some other aspects of his career. Thankfully, an intrepid Bleacher Report writer (A.J. Martelli) determined the footage in question came from a game on May 5, 2004. Truly doing the lord's work. 

And the Award for "At Least There Aren't Many Baseball Fans Who Know This Exists" goes to … former Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy

Why were Hardy and three other then-Milwaukee Brewers (including fellow former Oriole Bill Hall) part of a 2007 episode of "The Young & The Restless?" I have no friggin' clue. But it wasn't great. And Hardy admitted he was more nervous taping the episode than he was facing Roger Clemens. 

And the Award for "Maybe He Shouldn't Lead His Resume By Saying He Was O.J. Simpson's co-star" goes to … former Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer

Palmer of course played the role of a color analyst in the brilliant 1988 comedy "The Naked Gun." We're still bitter we never got the broadcast booth of Palmer, Curt Gowdy, Tim McCarver, Dick Vitale, Mel Allen, Dick Enberg and Dr. Joyce Brothers to work an actual game together. Palmer later appeared in an episode of the HBO show "Veep" in a scene filmed at Camden Yards. 

And the Award for "Best Shrinkage" goes to … Orioles manager Buck Showalter

George Costanza had a hell of an idea in a 1994 episode of "Seinfeld." He wanted the Yankees to switch from polyester to cotton uniforms to better deal with the heat. Showalter was agreeable (playing himself). They just didn't see the shrinkage issue being a factor. Oddly, every time the episode airs in syndication it actually costs Showalter money

And the Award for "This Would Make More Sense If The Character Weren't Ukrainian" goes to … former Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa

Siragusa seemed destined for media dominance after his 2001 retirement (which came right on the heels of the Ravens' Super Bowl XXXV victory). His turn as a Ukrainian thug named Kostya Novotny (warning: language NSFW) in the excellent 2002 Spike Lee film "25th Hour" was perhaps supposed to lead to movie stardom. That never came for Siragusa, despite the fact that he was decent in the role. It always seemed as though "Goose" would have been more natural in classic Italian mob movies. 

And the Award for "Best Actual Actor Who Also Played Accordion With Steve Urkel" goes to … former Baltimore Colts Defensive End Bubba Smith

The late, great Bubba Smith was incredible as Sgt. Moses Hightower in the "Police Academy" movies, even if he didn't know how to drive. In fact, Smith became so synonymous with the role that his football career truly became a secondary part of his professional life. In a 2015 Glenn Clark Radio interview, his "Police Academy" co-star Steve Guttenberg admitted he wasn't surprised by Smith's successful transition from sports to the screen, saying "the truth is that sports is a form of entertainment." Of course, nothing in sports probably prepared Smith for having to play the accordion with Jaleel White's character "Steve Urkel" in a 1993 episode of Family Matters. 

And the Award for "One Of The Few Dudes That Might Actually Have A Chance In A Fight Against The Rock" goes to … Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs

Suggs has had Hollywood on his mind for some time. Not only has he appeared in six episodes of the HBO show "Ballers," (including this battle with Dwayne Johnson's character Spencer Strasmore), he's also previously appeared on the FX show "The League" and produced the 2012 movie "The Coalition," which garnered most attention when Beyonce and Haloti Ngata helped it go viral

And the Award for "I Wonder If His Speech Sounded Like Al Pacino's" goes to … former Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas

Perhaps he's better known for his slices of Americana on "The Simpsons," but Unitas played the opposing coach in the huge playoff scene in the excellent 1999 football film "Any Given Sunday." Unitas didn't have a speaking role (which somehow seems fitting) but his mere appearance helped to give greater football cache to a film that already featured Hall of Famers Lawrence Taylor, Warren Moon, Terrell Owens, Y.A. Tittle, Dick Butkus and Jim Brown. 

Honorable mention: Former Colts defensive tackle Art Donovan and former Orioles pitchers Armando Benitez and Scott Erickson in the show "Homicide: Life On The Street;" former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Deion Sanders in the movie "Draft Day;" former Orioles Rafael Palmeiro, Tim Raines, Mickey Tettleton and Lenny Webster in the movie "Little Big League;" Baltimore native/Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps in the show "Entourage;" former Orioles catcher Jeff Tackett in the movie "Dave" 

Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer/PressBox