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Rick’s Cafe: Linsanity and Tebowmania are on a celestial collision course, and only one will survive

Mar 22, 2012, 6:09 PM EDT

New York Knicks' Lin reacts after a personal foul was called on him in the first half of their NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston Reuters

It was almost exactly a year ago that astronomers studying data from the Kepler telescope witnessed something never before seen: two planets sharing the same orbit around their star. The two planets are part of a four-planet system dubbed KOI-730, and they circle their sun every 9.8 days at exactly the same distance: kind of what it must look like watching Rex Ryan and his brother, Rob, circling the buffet at Golden Corral. But it also bolsters the widely-held theory that Earth once shared an orbit with another like-sized planet, and that the two collided — a chunk of the pulverized loser becoming our moon.

Fast-forward to 2012 AD, where we find two other planets now in the same orbit. Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow are more than just superstars — they are celestial sports memes, with their own gravity, weather systems and jersey racks at Modell’s. And both are now in the same city, after Tebow was sent by the Broncos to the New York Jets for a few draft choices and a handful of magic beans. I wouldn’t toot my own horn even if I could, but I was one of the first to wonder, way back in early February, what would happen when the NBA season met the NFL season and Linsanity and Tebowmania overlapped. Solar storms? Fish raining from the sky? A silent movie winning the Oscar? The answer of course is, all of these. But little did I know that it would come six months early, and in the same city.

Of course only one will prevail: Tebowmania and Linsanity cannot co-exist indefinitely. But which will survive?

source:  The paths that Lin and Tebow took to reach the Big Apple are remarkably similar. Both were undervalued when they arrived in the pros, but eventually proved their worthiness under fire. Both captured the imagination of a city, and then the nation and the world, with a combination of unexpected athleticism and aw-shucks naivete. Both elicit the same emotions you get when you see a dog driving a car — it’s unexpected, it’s cute, and it’s proven darned useful for the dog’s owner. It’s like that episode of Cheers when Woody ran for city council and won. We love seeing wholesome over-achievers triumph.

The fact that both wear their religious beliefs on their sleeves helps a lot. Despite our cynicism, many of us still like to believe that God us up there working the levers. How else to explain that Broncos’ win over the Steelers? And look, even though I coached Jeremy Lin in middle school, even I didn’t imagine him outscoring Kobe Bryant head-to-head.

But basic laws of nature tell us that one will eventually come out on top. There can be only one dominant playground bully, only one hottest-girl-in-school. We see it with wolves and Bighorn Sheep, gorillas and even the walrus: there can be only one alpha male. Eventually, Linsanity and Tebowmania will collide, and one will be smashed to bits and cast into deep space, perhaps a modest chunk remaining to become a colony for President Gingrich. But which one? Let’s look at the data.

Tim Tebow:

  • Projected to be Mark Sachez’s backup, where he will presumably be used to run the Wildcat formation. And as we all know, that’s one step from becoming a tight end, or retirement.
  • His new teammates are already throwing him under the bus.
  • Things never end well for guys named Tim in New York. See: The Life and Times of Tim on HBO.

Jeremy Lin:

  • Unlike Tebow, plays at a proficient level for four quarters.
  • Has the important Spike Lee endorsement.
  • Actually plays in New York.
  • When he arrived in New York, had to survive on the mean streets of his brother’s couch.
  • No Rex Ryan swearing at him day and night.

New York is populated with superstars, celebrities and national memes. Eli Manning and the New York Giants are the reining Super Bowl champs. A-Rod and Derek Jeter control their own Yankees fiefdoms. Woody Allen is a legendary inhabitant, sort of a Jewish Gandalf. And Donald Trump perches atop Trump tower, overseeing all like a gargoyle with a red combover. But the biggest of them all by far are the wonder twins, Lin and Tebow. They are the only ones big enough to have their own gravitational pull.

source:  But I predict that a year from now, Tebow will be a distant memory, or a Jacksonville Jaguar. I’m not saying that New York will eat him alive, like some are maintaining … as if we’ll soon be seeing Tebow exiting a cab with Lindsey Lohan, and weeping softly while sitting on a stool on Dr. Phil. He’ll remain his usual, chaste self. He’s not Gronkowski.

But I also don’t think that Tebowmania has the candlepower to shine with Linsanity when both are switched on in the same room. Tebow will fade a bit to the background, joining Eli, A-Rod, Jeter, and Gargoyle Trump. All are bonified New York celebrities, but there can only be one alpha male.

The only one officially on record in all of this so far is Lin. Washington Post:

If Lin, who said he’s only talked to Tebow once, feels challenged by Tebow’s arrival, he isn’t saying so. “It’s awesome. I’m just excited for him and to see what he does,” Lin said. “We’ll see what happens next year, but I’m excited obviously that he’s going to be in New York.”

In that same story, a reader poll rated Linsanity as more likely to prevail over Tebowmania, 72 percent to 28 percent. Much of that may be due to this being basketball season, and the fact that Tebow has not had a chance to prove himself.

Nor will he, in my opinion. Nothing against Tebow: he’s a fine lad, with a lot to offer. It’s just that there’s only room for one main protagonist in Gotham. And in time, that will play out.

Rick’s Cafe Americain appears on Thursdays. Contact: Twitter: @Rickchand.

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