Fine twittering is like fine wine. Deep, fluid, and just a little dark.
Which is why when one comes to consider which sporting figures have taken their tweets to an exalted level, one doesn't look at the number of followers they might enjoy.
No, one examines their tweets. One swills them around one's mouth. And one spits them out to see just what effect they might have on others.
This list was compiled with some joy and not a little pain, from research that goes beyond that which most scientists could endure.
But please let me start with mentioning those who simply didn't make the cut. I will be dedicating a separate post to these damned souls. They deserve a place all of their own. Today, we are sticking with the best.
So let us begin at No. 10. May I introduce John Daly, professional and controversial golfer and alleged rabble-rouser. You might imagine that John would be a ribald tweeter. You might think he would talk about drinking and partying and his many, many wives.
But no, his Twitter feed shows him to be lovable and charming. An example: "Send some more twitters my way I'm liking the new meets on here." And last Friday he revealed: "just weighed it at 225 LOST 55 POUNDS!! That's so AMAZING!" Just to show that he is fine man, John follows more people (5,121) than follow him (4,951)
No. 9, The Rudy Report. You may not be familiar with the Rudy Report. Neither am I. However, it wafted across my Twitter world and has the ability to open the eyes just occasionally.
A sample: "Pro golfer Wayne Levi was the first PGA pro to win a tournament using a colored (orange) ball. He did it in the Hawaiian Open in 1982." It made me only wonder who might have been the second to win with an orange ball. Surely, no one.
Or try this from just a few hours ago: "In Somalia, Africa, it's been decreed illegal to carry old chewing gum stuck on the tip of your nose." How many of you knew that?
No. 8, John (Speed) Raser. Again, not a household name. John is a 26-year pro golfer who fancies himself as something of an entrepreneur. John has a little wit.
And his heart is definitely in the correct segment of his body. To wit: "I literally hate every #Celtics player except for Ray Allen. Big baby, Rondo, Perkins, and Starbury can all kiss it." John follows around the same number of people (3,137) as follow him. A healthy sign.
No. 7, Terrell Owens. Oh, do scoff away. But when Terrell commits himself, nothing will stand in his way. Not even the Cowboys logo. Terrell has become a regular tweeter. He eats salad and he bumps into film directors.
Sample: "@joecaine i LOVE ALL my DALLAS FANS 2! no love lost there, it's nt ur fault i'm nt there but got mad love 4 ya!! go get my Bills jersey!!"
Another sample: "Met john singleton n airport last nite b4 i took off 2 dallas! maybe u'll c me n 1 of his movies n the future!" Indeed, maybe we will.
No. 6, Frankie Muniz. I can already hear you suggesting that I have lost my earthly bearings, as Frankie Muniz is that little boy/child/man person from "Malcolm in the Middle." Indeed.
But he is now trying to become a racecar driver. He drives the No. 77 car for Team Stargate Worlds in the Atlantic Championship. So, hah. Frankie's tweets are adorable. His love for someone called Elycia Marie is quite breathtaking. He also has incidents at his Arizona home.
Sample: "Was walking my dog and after running from a coyote, a GIANT rattle snake came slithering towards my dog and I.. (Sigh) Beautiful Scottsdale!" You see, he has a sense for the dramatic. Did he kill the rattler? Did he? Perhaps we will never know.
No. 5, Stewart Cink. He's the golfer who, when he takes his cap off, is far more bald than you think he's going to be. Cink loves to tweet.
He offers interesting tips about clubs, ball spin and the joys of travel. Sample: "Hope everyone enjoyed their rest last night! Too bad you weren't on the redeye with me back from Vegas. Guy puking in bag across isle." Too bad.
No. 4, Muhammad Ali. Oh yes, I have now lost my mind. I am being unusually offensive. But, no. There is a lovely Twitter feed of daily quotes from the man himself.
You may find, as I do, that his words are rather more interesting than his boxing. Sample: "I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world."
Second sample, because it's Ali: "'How tall are you? So I know in advance how far to step back when you fall down!' (Favorite question to opponents at prefight weigh-ins)"
No. 3, Baron Davis Here's the thing about Baron Davis. Baron Davis is an interesting man with interesting friends. You know, like Jessica Alba. And Adam Sandler. He plays for the Clippers. Because someone has to.
And at least they play in LA. Baron, without whom the Golden State Warriors are just the Golden State Wa, is into film, music and helping those not as lucky as himself.
Sample: "Go support the youth promise act, tell your local officials. We need to help our underpriveledge (sic) youth."
Second sample: "Speaking to congress next. Showing them Made in America. Crips and bloods movie. Then talk about the youth promise act." Yes, Congress.
No. 2, Barry Zito The San Francisco Giants pitcher is another sportsman with a brain. One that he actually uses. His tweets vary from simply sporting stuff to philosophy, poetry and Alyssa Milano.
Sample: "'To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.'-Elbert Green Hubbard." Second sample: "it's late, i just misspelled niece. ugh. nite yall.." You see how he opens himself up to criticism? Love it.
No. 1, Shaqille O'Neal Could it really be anyone else? It is irrelevant that Shaq, the self-styled King of Twitteronia, has over 1 million followers.
The only thing that matters is that is Shaq is poetry and poetwittery is Shaq. And Twitter is not about sending people interesting articles you've just read. It is about poetry. Pure and simple and complex.
Sample: "In the words of austin powers Yeaa vaby 1 million friends. tweeps, tweeple, twittereans, twitteretts, twitterdees thank u 4 da support."
Second sample: "Confession I admit to taking performance adhancing cereal....Frosted Flakes mixed with Fruit Loops and Bananas. Pls dnt judge me."
Third sample, because he's the winner: "Should I challenge tiger woods to a homeboy style putting contest? I kno what you are thinking, I dnt putt like I shoot free throws, lol."
I know some of you might be wondering, "where is Lance Armstrong?" Or "where is Dwight Howard?' Well, perhaps you'll have to wait for my list of the worst sports twitterers to find out.