Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How Crafty Are These Con Artists?

Joe Posnanski, who I've mentioned before as one of my favorite baseball scribes, is currently writing a terrific series about the top 100 players ever. Ernie Banks was No. 55 on the list, and Posnanski wrote this:

"[Banks] expressed that joy for baseball in everything he did -- in the way he walked, the way he talked, the way he played every single game, the way he made it feel like he was exactly where he wanted to be -- no place on earth would be better.

'Maybe it's sacrilege but I believe Banks was a con artist,' John Roseboro said. 'No one smiles all the time, naturally, unless they're putting you on and putting you on. Every day of our lives isn't a good one.'"

I love that story for a bunch of reasons, including the fact that I love all Ernie Banks stories. But the thought of Banks as a con artist also got me thinking about some of my favorite con artists. This is one of the most unnatural segues* of all-time, but here are my top 10:

*Speaking of segue, have you seen the SEGWIZZLE! video, in which I stole a Segway?

Top 10 Con Artists

10. Annie and Hallie (The Parent Trap)
This movie was first made in 1961, but I'm talking about the 1998 version starring pre-meltdown Lindsay Lohan. The twins meet at camp, then con their parents into reuniting and falling in love again. Props to Lohan for the terrible English accent, and for being a hot girl who was the same age as I was in 1998.

9. Manley Pointer ("Good Country People")
If you haven't read this Flannery O'Connor story, suffice it to say that the con involves a girl with one leg, a Bible salesman, sex playing cards, a bottle of whiskey, and some condoms.

8. Mike McDermott (Rounders)


In one of Matt Damon's many excellent roles, he plays Mike, who's not so much a con man as a degenerate gambler. Still, Mike speaks for all the people on this list when he says, "It's immoral to let a sucker keep his money."

7. Cooder and Spud (The Simpsons)
In the episode "Bart Carny" (Season 9), these two carnies take over the Simpsons' home. Are there better names for a con man and his kid than Cooder and Spud?


6. The Duke and the King (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
These guys have no shame, stealing money at religious gatherings, pretending to be dead people, and lying to those who try to help them. Fortunately, they're eventually tarred and feathered. (Wouldn't that have been a great addition to Bernie Madoff's punishment? Just tarring and feathering the shit out of him?)

And one more Mark Twain character...

5. Tom Sawyer (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)
Tom invented the old "This is so much fun, wanna help me?" trick for something that clearly sucks. In Tom's case, it was painting a fence, but I used that trick on my sisters to force them to help me shovel snow.

4. Addie Loggins (Paper Moon)
The 20-dollar bill scam is absolutely classic.


3. Danny Ocean and his crew (Ocean's Eleven)
In defense of anyone that ever got conned by Ocean and his crew: How could you NOT give your full confidence to this group?


2. Frank Abagnale (Catch Me If You Can)
To all the people on Facebook patting themselves on the back after they pass the Bar Exam, just remember that Frank passed it in Louisiana without ever attending a minute of law school.

1. James "Sawyer" Ford (Lost)
Sawyer is the biggest badass on one of my favorite shows ever. In an interesting wrinkle, his nickname is taken from a man named Tom Sawyer, whose affair with his mother caused young James' father to murder her then commit suicide.

"The Long Con" is one of my favorite Lost episodes because of how it blends Sawyer's past with the events on the Island. Sawyer truly puts the artist in the term "con artist."


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