My brothers Mike and Tim would argue one hypothetical "Who Would Win?" battle for hours, maybe even years. In their scenario, Tim would have a Bazooka-style, rocket-propelled grenade launcher with only one shot. Mike would have a Caterpillar D10 bulldozer with a 19-foot blade. They would meet on an open field. If Tim got off a good shot, it would blow Mike up. If the shot did not incapacitate the Cat, Mike would then run over Tim.
We were adolescent boys. No one gave us the bazooka or the expensive piece of earth-moving equipment, so to this day it has remained a hypothetical.
I had not played the game for a while, indeed had not thought much about it until recently, when a young man from our neighborhood started asking me, "Who would win?"
I jumped in immediately. For the most part, I thought I had better arguments than he did. I thought his arguments were juvenile and just a little immature. He is 10. His name is Ethan Sprague, and most of his matchups involve new videogame characters that I have never heard of. We now agree that they have to be old-school matchups. Here are some of our more recent face-offs:
Best big-game pitcher
Mets' Tom Seaver vs. Yankees' Vernon "Lefty" Gomez.
Ethan: Seaver was not a bad hitter, he hit a grand slam during a minor league game he pitched, winning the game. Gomez was a terrible hitter. Seaver had a 2.86 ERA, Gomez had a lifetime 3.34. Seaver also had a better win-loss record.
Me: Tom Seaver has a special place in my family's heart. He visited my brother John in the hospital. Gave him autographed balls and hats and even sent him a letter. That being said ... are you freakin' crazy? What the hell are they teaching you at Mill Hill Elementary School? Certainly not logic or common sense.
In a big game, who do you hand the ball to? There is a separate baseball category for pitchers with a perfect record in the World Series. Who stands at the top there? Lefty Gomez -- six wins, zero losses. That is called perfect on the biggest stage. Maybe you think the biggest stage is an All-Star Game. Who won the first one? Same answer. Lefty Gomez. You make me sick.
Best action hero
Aqua Man vs. Human Torch.
Ethan: Aqua Man controls all the creatures of the sea. Fantastic Four torch guy just flies around lighting things on fire. Winner: Aqua Man
Me: This one I may concede. I just looked it up, and the torch can't work under water. But if Johnny the Torch could get Aqua Man on dry land? Doesn't Aqua Man occasionally have to come on dry land, maybe to go to 7-Eleven for a pack of smokes?
Albert Einstein vs. John Von Neumann.
Ethan: I looked it up. Einstein was inventive, developed special and general theories of relativity. Einstein had a deeper understanding of science. Contribution has to do with the universe.
Von Neuman was technical, developing game theory of zero-sum games. Von Neumann was a pioneer of computer science.
Einstein was more inventive than Von Neumann.
Me: You again are taken up in this popular culture. You probably watched Baby Einstein videos as a baby, being indoctrinated into the whole conspiracy.
Einstein might have been above average. But many who knew both at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study thought Von Neumann was quicker on the uptake. Von Neumann gave us computers and nuclear energy. What the world needs is for somebody to make Baby Von Neumann videos.
Who would win?
Bruce " Enter the Dragon" Lee. vs. Don "The Dragon" Wilson
Ethan: Bruce would win because he:
Grew up in Hong Kong
Never lost a street fight
Is the godfather of mixed martial arts
Don grew up in Cocoa Beach, Fla., and competed in several kickboxing tournaments.
Me: What is wrong with Cocoa Beach? It is the home of the Ron Jon Surf Shop. It is also the fictional home of Major Nelson and Jeannie of "I Dream of Jeannie." Don was an 11-time World Kick-Boxing champion -- 11 times! That's a lot. That is more than Lefty's six World Series wins. Also, Don is 6-foot-1 and Bruce Lee is only 5-foot-7. This one is easy: Don the Dragon.
Actually, forget all this. Just give me John Von Neumann driving a D10 Cat, and we take on the world.
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His "A Father's Journal" column appears every other Friday. He can be reached by email at Tlawlor@mcommunications.com .