I don't really have a fancy introduction this week, the title kind of says it all, so let's just get to the list.
5. Pete Rose
Say what you will about Pete Rose, he may be banned from baseball, but he isn't banned from my heart! In my opinion, Pete Rose is the greatest baseball player that has ever played the game. You don't earn a name like "Charlie Hustle" for no reason. He ran every base as hard as he could, he took every at-bat like the game was on the line, and played every game like it was his last. These days, some players purposefully choose not to play in the All-Star Game, and the ones that do, don't take it seriously. In Rose's era, the All-Star Game was an honor, and he played to win, which is why he wound up ruining Ray Fosse's career in a collision at home plate during the 1970 mid-summer classic, which left Fosse with a separated shoulder that never healed correctly. Again, say what you will about Pete Rose, but he showed us that every game is worth winning, and you don't compromise for anyone. I know it's played out, but Rose needs to be in the Hall of Fame.
4. Matt Groening
Being the die hard Simpsons fan that I am, it should come as no surprise that I have the man that created the series on this list. I realize that producer James L. Brooks and the some of the writers are the ones that had more to do with making the show what it was, but it was still Mr. Groening who created the characters (I mean, they are named after his family members). The Simpsons played a pivotal role in my life in terms of forming my sense of humor, and I'm sure the same goes for lots of people my age. The show is an institution at this point, that's why it's still going strong today despite the fact that it hasn't really been that great of a show since the late 90s (still better than Family Guy, though).
3. Sylvester Stallone
He is Rocky. He is Rambo. That's kind of all that needs to be said. Four movies have made me cry in my life, and all of them are Rocky films (I, II, IV, and Balboa, in case you were wondering). I still listen to Rocky soundtracks when I'm at the gym, with images of Stallone running up the steps and doing one-armed push ups. If anything I would just like to sit down at a table with the guy to let him know how much inspiration his work has given me (minus his early porn days). He's still going strong, too. I love the Expendables films, and the latest installments of the two aforementioned franchises are some of his best work, despite being in his 60s at the time. And when you've done as much reading on the man as I have, and you realize the kind of things he did in order to get to where he is, like selling his dog because he couldn't afford to feed him and then buying the dog back after the success of Rocky, it makes you admire him even more.
2. The Undertaker
If you say you're a fan of pro wrestling, but you don't know who the Undertaker is, then you're probably the girlfriend of a backyard wrestler, and that's no way to live your life. The Undertaker is one of the immortals of professional wrestling. No one commands the type of respect that he does, not even Vince McMachon. To do what he has done, for as long as he has, at the level that he has, is something that even the best of the best can't say that they've done. His last couple of years haven't been his best, between the lackluster WrestleMania matches and constant injuries, but you have to remember that this was a guy whose wrestling career began in 1984 and was still winning "Match of the Year" awards from Pro Wrestling Illustrated as recently as 2012 at age 47, an age where most wrestlers have already retired or faded into obscurity. He was one of the last generation of wrestlers to emerge from the territories, and he witnessed first-hand the rise of the WWE empire, the Attitude Era/Monday Night Wars, the Montreal Screwjob, as well as other monumental moments in wrestling history. Just imagine all the stories he has to share.
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger
A lot of people don't realize that Arnold Schwarzenegger was more than the world's greatest action movie hero, or the former governor of California. Most people don't realize or remember that Arnold Schwarzenegger was the greatest bodybuilder who has ever lived. Sure, guys like Ronnie Coleman and Lee Haney each have one more Olympia title than Arnold, but Arnold is still the youngest to ever win the title (age 23), and then, after deciding to retire, he was persuaded to return in the 1975 competition to have his training filmed in the documentary Pumping Iron. He only had 3 months to prepare, and was still able to win, making it his 6th in a row. Then, after officially retiring to pursue his acting career, he returned to win his 7th title in 1980. For those of you who aren't into bodybuilding, let me explain why he was the best: No bodybuilder since Arnold has stood over 6 feet tall, Arnold is 6'4". No bodybuilder before or since has had the perfect combination of size and leanness. No one trained harder, or dieted better. Say what you will about steroid use in bodybuilding. Yes, they all use, but just because all of your peers are using steroids doesn't mean that you can't still be the best at what you do. Bodybuilding still requires an incredible amount of discipline.
I haven't even started on his acting career. He isn't going to win an Oscar for Best Actor, but there will never be a better action star than Arnold (sorry, Rock). He also has a great knack for comedy, though some of that may be due to his thick Austrian accent. Think of your favorite action movies, and there's a good chance he is in one, if not all, of them. Terminator, Predator, Commando, Total Recall, True Lies, and the list goes on.
Whatever the man says he's going to accomplish, he accomplishes, that's what makes him great.
Thanks for reading. And don't forget you can follow me on Twitter @TheDustinThomas, and you can also subscribe you my podcast, the Error Machine Podcast, here.