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Jim Harbaugh tops list for The Times' Sports Oscars

The Times' Fan of the House Chris Erskine breaks down the nominees for this year's greatest dramatic actors in sports. The 49ers coach leads the way.

January 18, 2013|Chris Erskine
  • 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh argues with line judge Mark Steinkerchner after a play against the Green Bay Packers in an NFC divisional playoff game.
49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh argues with line judge Mark Steinkerchner after… (Harry How / Getty Images )

Oscars, smoshkers. With his scenery-chewing performance on the sidelines last weekend, Jim Harbaugh has elevated himself to the top of this year’s list of the world’s greatest dramatic actors.

“Maybe he’s just being himself?” you say.

Well, all the great ones are.

I see him more as a sequel to Bobby Knight, a whiny, arrogant and profane antagonist, an unfortunate role model, a troubled and troubling anti-Wooden. The lip-syncing Harbaugh was doing to the refs last Saturday would’ve made Charlie Sheen blush.

The world of sports has a name for people like this. “Winners,” you say? Absolutely. Or total tools. Take your pick. These days, the distinction’s rather thin.

Because you can get away with almost anything in life as long as you rack up the wins. The Mongols come to mind (Tamerlane was 20-2 against the spread). Napoleon, of course, though he was better in domes. And now, this James Joseph Harbaugh.

Hitchcock had his blonds. The NFL has its Harbaugh.

In any case, the 49ers coach leads this inaugural list of Sports Oscar nominees. It is awards season, after all. “Sports Golden Globes” has a nice ring too, but we hate the foreign press. Or any press. Plus, such a name raises some uncomfortable Notre Dame imagery — Golden Globes, Golden Dome, Golden Tate. So the “L.A. Times Sports Oscars” it is.

First, we’d like to thank the Academy.

Second, we’d like to thank our plastic surgeon. You think God makes chins like this?

Now, on to the awards:

Nominees for best actor

Jim Harbaugh in “Silver Linings Playbook.” The story of a mercurial San Francisco dictator prone to fits of ref rage. His abuse of headphones and officials gives him the edge in this year’s Sports Oscar race.

Mike D’Antoni in “Les Miserables.” Mild-mannered coach is suddenly caught up in the throes of anarchy and revolution as L.A. Live becomes the new capital of “let-’em-eat-cake.”

Phil Jackson in “Lincoln.” A romantic comedy featuring a wise stoic who always gets the girl, even if he doesn’t succeed in saving her daddy’s fabled sports franchise. (Probably belongs in best director category.)

Blake Griffin in “The Hobbit.” Gentle giant finds himself in the company of 13 dwarfs as he is swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Kingdom of Erebor.

Lance Armstrong in “Flight.” An unrepentant substance abuser finally comes to terms with his lying and bad behavior when his sport turns upside down.

Phil Anschutz in “Arbitrage.” Denver financial genius puts his empire on the block despite winning championships in two L.A. sports and somehow luring legit interest from the impossible-to-please NFL.

Kobe Bryant in “This is 40.” The story of an aging superstar who’s personal life makes a comeback even as his professional career seems to spiral beyond his — or anyone’s — control.

Bill Belichick in “The Master.” Creative genius develops a cult-like following as he builds an empire tainted by corruption and yard-sale sweatshirts.

Atlanta Falcons in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Story of a team from a chronic NFL backwater that can’t get any respect despite consistently carving up the opposition.

Colin Kaepernick in “Amour.” Gripping Cinderella story about a no-name quarterback who suddenly makes the estimable Aaron Rogers look like a has-been. A smitten nation wonders: “Who is this dude?”

Special lifetime achievement

Vin Scully, as the James Stewart of baseball, has led baseball’s most Capraesque career.

Tommy Lasorda, winner of the new Charles Durning Prize, as a perennially waddly yet lovable American icon.

Sandra Bullock, because besides Jackson, we’re pretty sure the in-your-grill actress is the only person who could ever really coach these Lakers.

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