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''The Amazing Race'': Handicapping the teams

After another nonelimination round on ”The Amazing Race,” we deal with everyone’s favorite term of endearment, then fearlessly list the teams’ odds of winning it all

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The Amazing Race
The Amazing Race: Tony Esparza

”The Amazing Race”: Handicapping the teams

Show of hands, people: How many of you actually call your loved ones ”baby”? And how many of you do it more than 50 times a day? I didn’t think you did. So I’m trusting you’ve become just about as impatient as I every time Kendra, Freddy, Aaron, Hayden, Bolo, or even He Who Would Be Vile (now known simply as He Who) uses the word ”baby” or ”babe” whenever someone so much as raises an eyebrow. ”Oh, good, baby!” ”You’re doing great, baby!” ”We’re gonna win, baby!” ”You’re a big baby, baby!” (Okay, no one said that, but I wish someone would for once.)

Turns out ”lucky” would have been a more appropriate nickname last night — at least for Hayden and Aaron, who managed to come in last in the leg but still survive in the race because it was just another nonelimination episode. (Can’t you just predict these by now?)

Here’s the quick scoop: Teams flew to Corsica, where Hayden channeled Kendra by insulting a local taxi driver and flapping her arms as a way to indicate she needed an airport. Around this time, He Who announced he’s ”in a happy place” — probably because he just got another verbal ass-whupping by the Race producers for ragging on She Who Is in Denial. (Obviously it was short-lived; he was blaming her for just about everything going wrong by episode’s end.) Rebecca and Hellboy got the season’s second (and last) fast forward — a harrowing task involving a turn-of-the-century dive suit that gave me claustrophobia just looking at it. (But it certainly produced the night’s best exchange. Rebecca: ”We have to dive. I’m certified.” Hellboy: ”I’m not! I don’t think this is wise.”)

The rest of the teams went on to the detour, where they had a choice to climb up a stone structure (a challenge that was way too similar to that leg last season in which the bowling moms got eliminated) or drive a boat over the water and find a buoy with a submerged clue. He Who and She Who were the only ones to hit the water — an ultimately wise decision, because I couldn’t see He Who pulling his sorry ass up that wall. About this time, Adam and Rebecca had already completed the leg while Hayden and Aaron were showing signs of slowing. I won’t bore you with the next roadblock — a painless grape-stomping session that yielded a little pink wine and lots of painful whines from a very impatient She Who — because it all ended with an anticlimactic, nonelimination thud.

So let’s talk odds, instead! Come on, we’re halfway through — it’ll be fun.

Kendra and Freddy She’s no diplomat for America, and Freddy’s a pointy-nosed sissy, but these dim bulbs still deserve props for making it this far in a race that has already sapped the energy out of much stronger — not to mention way smarter — couples. And they beat the other models up the side of that structure, fer crying out loud! But Kendra’s intolerance of anything dirty weighs heavily on her ability to persevere, and if Freddy can’t keep his spicy soup down without blowing chunks, I can’t see him stomaching anything tougher by race’s end. Odds: 25 to 1.

He Who and She Who Believe it or not, it’s not just his abusive nature that hurts their chances — it’s their unnerving ability to cast doubt on just about every challenge they encounter. These two are reasonably intelligent and athletic. Why must everything be so hard? Finally, He Who said something last night that I could actually agree with: ”We deserve to lose. We don’t work together.” But you pull off that whole mutual-negativity thing with real aplomb, buddy. Odds: 15 to 1.

Rebecca and Adam If these two ever had a romantic relationship, then I’m a size 0. I’m convinced these are two workout buddies who thought it would be fun to play like a couple and run across the world — and they really could win, if only he’d stop calling for mommy and she’d stop playing his mommy. Sister’s got some pretty scary abs, but her muscles and confidence can only do so much when Hellboy’s not pulling his weight. Maybe I should split these bozos. Rebecca: 6 to 1. Adam: 50 to 1.

Kris and Jon I know they’re cute. I know they’re nice. I know they’re damn happy to be here! But can’t we get beyond our adoration and think for a moment how we probably wouldn’t love them as much if we didn’t have He Who and She Who to compare them with? What’s the most memorable thing Kris has said? ”This is vibraty!” What’s the most memorable thing Jon has done? Don a Speedo (not that I’m complaining). There’s a word I’m searching for here. . . could it possibly be boring? Or maybe it’s just laid back. (Okay, that’s two words. But stay with me here.) That great attitude has certainly helped them to endure; many of their competitors could learn a lesson or two from these happy hotties. But I’m concerned that lack of edge could keep them out of the winner’s circle (remember, even the lovable Chip and Kim got down and dirty by yielding Colin and Christy), which is why I’m risking everbody’s ire by putting their odds at 4 to 1.

Which leaves us with Lori and Bolo and Hayden and Aaron. Hayden was quite the Nelly McNaggy in the car last night, but I’ve still got faith in the models — if only because they’ve won an amazing number of legs and remain fiercely competitive. Meanwhile, Lori and Bolo are getting better every week, and what the two lack in brain power they certainly make up for in drive. But the bickering’s gotta stop. I actually cringed when I saw him lift a hand toward Lori before stomping on the grapes (not because I thought he’d hit her, mind you; I was imagining what she’d do to him if and when he actually did). Bottom line: They’re giving Hayden and Aaron a run for their money, which is why I put them — as well as the models — at 2 to 1 odds.

Okay, let’s hear it, baby. Who do you pick to win?

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