All It's Quacked Up to Be

Inside Joke: Hannibal Buress

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Is It Time for Jets Fans to Defect?

Plus: sympathy for the Sabres faithful and Malkin's dad in the Bake Shop mailbag!

So, as a lifelong Jets fan, at what point does all this crap finally make it acceptable for me to become a Giants fan?
—Mike B.

This is interesting — might we be reaching post–Jeremy Lin levels of New York fan disgruntlement? I’d love to see a historical chart of this. The Mets-Yankees numbers over the past year would be fascinating. While I empathize with this predicament, I unfortunately don’t know if I can endorse this particular switch, for several reasons:

1. The Knicks-Nets swap was never that great of an idea anyway. I didn’t and don’t begrudge any fed-up Knicks fans the option of jumping ship after all that has gone down with the team, but do you really believe you’re not getting drawn back in should there be a surprisingly deep playoff run? In other words …

2. It’s like changing lanes in traffic. You know full well what awaits you.

3. It’s a bad investment. In portfolio management, you’re warned against “chasing the hot dot” — the tendency to want to move your money into the top-performing fund du jour. Do this too often and you’ll wind up overinvesting in funds whose best days are behind them. Becoming a Giants fan now would be buying kinda high on the team. They’ve won two Super Bowls in five years, and thanks to the wonder of Football On Your Phone we may be approaching Peak Eli Manning. The Jets, meanwhile, can only get better from here, right? RIGHT?

3a. OK, I take that back: It’s probable that any investment would be better than the emotional Ponzi scheme that is being a Jets fan. This is a team that really tests the sell discipline of its backers.

4. If you live in the New York area, you’re still going to be stuck hearing about the Jets day in and day out no matter which team you root for.

5. It’ll all be worth it one day. Or at least that’s what I’ll be telling myself when the Brooklyn Nets win an NBA championship while the Knicks lose in five games in the first round and then trade three years’ worth of first-round picks.

6. THE SANCHIZE!!!

sanchez

How do you think it went down between Geno and his dad after the “other offers”/tampering biz? Was Geno rough and chastising? Is Sergei Gonchar gonna have a private, stern sit down with Geno’s dad the next time he is over for dinner? Or do they just hug it out and sip some Stoli with popped collars on their tight shirts with big designer labels?
—Thomas H.

Come on, how can you be mad at this guy? The Geno story — in which his father merrily provided information about his son’s offseason that, if true, would suggest illegal tampering — was particularly good and weird because it sat right in the nexus of “wacky/suspicious NHL offseason stories” and “wacky/suspicious stories revolving around an NHL parent.” Do you think Vladimir Malkin got sympathetic phone calls from Marlene Reimer and Donna Kane?

We’ll never know exactly what Mr. Malkin was going on about, but it did make for one of the more interesting moments of the NHL offseason, up there with the Ilya Kovalchuk decision and the great cross-continent coaching swap and this Jaromir Jagr photo shoot and this Nail Yakupov retweet and the Cory Schneider draft day trade and the exaggerated mental image of an armed guard stationed outside Tyler Seguin’s hotel room.

The Sergei Gonchar angle is also fun, because the concept of a professional team acquiring a player as best-friend bait makes me imagine the Stars scouting room as not unlike that reporter bullpen on the TMZ show.1 New Dallas boss Jim Nill strides around the room like Harvey Levin, shooting down each and every meek suggestion from his staff. Too Euro! Too injured! Too slow! Finally, a lone voice speaks up.

“Well, there is Gonchar … “

“Gonchar? What have we got?”

“Paps spotted him out with Geno the other night. Apparently they’ve been linked for years. Used to be besties in Pittsburgh.”

“Well, for God’s sake, get his agent on the phone.”

Everyone talks about how dominant LeBron James would or wouldn’t be in the NFL. But can we talk for a second about [how] amazing it would be for him to be a perennial All-Star in the NHL?
—Harrison L.

The Miami Heat of hockey is geographically the closest to Akron, so everyone wins!

How do we divvy up rights regarding airplane seats? Does simply being in the window seat grant you full rights to the window shade, or do all three seats get equal say? Maybe we portion it out based on distance from the window — window seat gets a 49 percent stake, middle 33 percent, aisle 18 percent (this would allow the two outer-seaters, if in agreement, to overcome the plurality held by the window seater)? Does the middle seater, by virtue of getting stuck in the middle seat, get access to both armrests?

Hypothetically, if the window seater has control over the window, and the middle seater has the armrests, what rights do we afford to the aisle seater?
— Miles C.

Keep in mind that I support a passenger’s right to recline,2 which I realize is a controversial position that might cause you to disqualify my input right off the bat.

Should you still be interested in my opinion, though, I think that the passenger in the window seat generally owns the rights to its use, with the following exceptions:

In-flight entertainment system interruptions: Should the setting sun blaze a path directly onto the screen of your seat-back Big Bang Theory delivery device, you are within your rights to ask that the shade be lowered just enough to reclaim your sight. Squint as apologetically as possible while inquiring.

Red-eyes: Blinds are to be closed until and only until the flight attendants wake everyone up and turn on all the lights, at which point they should be strategically opened to allow everyone’s eyeballs some degree of sunlight acclimatization. Those seated at the windows who do not understand this protocol should be reported to flight attendants for enrollment in the Red-Eye Reeducation Program, which exists in my stiff-necked, Ambien-aided fever dreams.

Maiden voyages: Is it your first time on a plane? Have you never seen the ocean or the Manhattan skyline before? You’re allowed to ask for a peek out the window during the first and last 10 minutes or so, but it would help if you adopted a coquettish Southern and/or Australian accent first.

As for the middle seat, there are four armrests and three people, so it’s fair for the middle-seater to have access to two to help him or her endure such monstrous conditions. Note that “access” does not equal “100 percent of the square inchage.” I’d say it equals about 75 percent. The aisle-seater gets the benefit of sudden and unencumbered access to the lav, the ability to stand up first upon landing and then mill around unmoving but without bumping the ceiling for 15 minutes while the jetway malfunctions, and the opportunity to subtly trip rude children or business travelers. Really, it’s more than enough.

What is the song of this summer? Is it “Blurred Lines”? Is it “New Slaves”? Is it one of the songs off of the new Backstreet Boys album?
—Jimmy L.

I initially thought the song of the summer was “Come and Get It,” but no. It turns out the song of the summer is … “Cruise,” accompanied by a dancing Taylor Swift.

(The runners-up are this slowed-down version of “Jolene”3 and the Miley lyric “And everyone in line in the bathroom / tryna get a line in the bathroom.”)

Do you really hate the Flyers or is that just shtick? I’d say I bleed orange & black but that just sounds corny.
—Joseph H.

You just have to understand a few things: In addition to liking the Rangers, I’m a Mets and Giants fan, which means I am preconditioned to dislike and distrust the Phillies and Eagles. I grew up about halfway between New York City and Philly, so the allegiances of my peers were split, which made for a more intense rivalry. In recent years, the Flyers, Eagles, and Phillies have kept the Rangers, Giants, and Mets out of the playoffs. The Rangers drafted Bobby Sanguinetti (now playing in Russia) when they could have had Claude Giroux. And finally, Philadelphia and its fans are just highly mockable.

That said, I really don’t hate the Flyers per se, I just find them most fulfilling when things are flying off the rails. The Ilya Bryzgalov saga delivered on this, though it grew uncomfortably bleak by the end. Giroux recently injured his finger while golfing, which is concerning to any fan of the league’s finest players, yet still mildly amusing in the same way that it’s mildly amusing when you get a ticker update that Mark Sanchez has thrown three interceptions five minutes into a Jets game.

Actually, the Flyers are in many ways the Jets of hockey, if you equate goaltenders to quarterbacks.4

As a guy walking with a woman into a restaurant or other establishment where there are two doors at the front, what is the proper protocol for handling the door situation? I realize you could go with the over hustle from door 1 to 2 after holding the first but that seems like trying too hard. What would your thoughts be if a guy didn’t open both doors for you? Would you care?
—Jack E.

This question is the door test from A Bronx Tale mixed with the spooning metaphor in Mallrats. “What do you mean ‘and’? That’s like a metaphor for our whole relationship!”

Anyway, I’m just glad to see that chivalry isn’t dead. Here’s what you do: Open the first door, and then follow behind at a normal stride. If she steps aside to let you get the second as well, great, go for it, but no need to rush or make a dramatic dive for the door — she’s giving you time to move at a regular pace, so use it. If she opens the door first and starts to walk through, go ahead and hold it as she does. (If she opens the door first and is clearly intending to hold it for you, I think you’re better off just walking through it with a gallant “Why, thank you!” than you are trying to insist on “After you,” but this might not be the case in some particularly refined situations.)

In summary: I don’t think I ever really notice if someone doesn’t hold a door for me, but I always notice (and appreciate it!) when someone does.5 Soon you’ll be ready for “Door holding etiquette — advanced level.”

How have you not seen The O.C.? What else do we need to know?
—Craig H.

It’s part of a tradition of ignorance that spans Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place too. But when God closes a door, he opens a window, and I’m proud to say that on the topic of semi-realistic Southern California living, I have seen every single episode of Laguna Beach, The Hills, The Real Housewives of Orange County, and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I also loved Newport Harbor, which was taken from us too soon.

Let’s just say that my gaps in knowledge (what Vulture called “pop-culture blind spots”) are not nearly as impressive as the “Glaring Omissions” rounded up at Criticwire recently. If only I knew enough about Lawrence of Arabia and The Passion of Joan of Arc to know which response was most similar to being asked to name a weakness at a job interview and answering that you’re such a perfectionist! I kid, I kid, I’m just humiliated to have never seen Breaking Bad or any of the Back to the Futures or Network. Nor have I read any of the Harry Potters or the Goodbye(s) to All That.

It’s all very embarrassing and I’m lashing out. It’s probably all just like that time Tony got defensive in The Sopranos, except I haven’t seen that show, either, so I’m not really sure. :(

Are you in or out on the Premier League? Either way does it have a chance to take off in the States?
—Phil K.

As I understand it, players can be bought, sold, and “loaned”; there are uniforms that look like Busy Bees; verb conjugations swing any which way; everyone is the Dallas Cowboys; and I can half-watch it all from bed at the crack of dawn on weekends. IN AND YES.

I’m a Sabres fan, and a big one. I want to love my team wholeheartedly, but I’m getting whiplash from all the tinkering with our sweaters. I’m only 22 years old and it already takes a half-day to just describe the changes I’ve lived through. I was born to a team in blue and gold, then when I was 5, Buffalo joined the ’90s black-and-red trend by switching to the goathead. My Dad hated those jerseys, but I was a kid so I adjusted. Then we added a confusing red alternate that nobody needed, but I went ahead and bought that one too (a Donald Audette, to be precise — he’s got the speed!). Everyone was thrilled when the original jerseys started reappearing as alternates. Anyone remember that awesome 2-2 tie in the 82nd game of the year versus New Jersey in 2002-03? I do!

Then after our best playoff run ever (2006) the team decided to go back to the colors that clearly defined them. Somehow, we even managed to screw that up by choosing that awful slug logo and a white jersey that committed a deadly hockey sin — it made us look like Nashville. But hey, we were starving for blue and gold for a decade, so the slugs flew off the shelves and I fell for them too. But we were all thankful when the decision came to replace them with the original logo. Of course, we didn’t quite accomplish that either. The jerseys are much darker, have an odd bit of grey that adds nothing, and although this part is the league’s fault it’s still all wrong to wear colors at home and whites on the road.

And then, even after everyone demanded a return to form and we got 80 percent of it, the team decided to engineer a faux-retro jersey to make some extra money. From any perspective other than “how much cash can we squeeze out of our fans?”, designing a new jersey to look old is really stupid. When your actual old jersey is the fans’ most beloved, it’s downright idiotic.

But it happened, and now the team has been painstakingly revealing minuscule portions of a new alternate jersey, a gold one, in small “sneak glimpses.” Maybe I would’ve been excited for a gold alternate in some world, but after all these changes, I’m getting pretty bitter. The team’s promotion strategy doesn’t help either — am I supposed to be frantically checking the team’s site every day for a new close-up of a gold armpit?

I just can’t seem to get myself to care. So what am I supposed to do with a team that changes its jersey so frequently? Do I just latch onto the original blue-and-golds? Do I embrace each new wave? Is the goathead retro-cool yet? My best idea: we all wear the old Buffalo Bisons AHL bottlecap jerseys until the team makes up its damn mind about who we are and what we wear.
—Lucas W.

I’m running this rant in its entirety (though I’ve added some paragraph breaks — the original came in one big unfiltered, uncut block of frustration) because it’s such a pure distillation of the state of the Sabres franchise, and also because the line “my Dad hated those jerseys, but I was a kid so I adjusted” could be the opening voice-over line to my new favorite Disney-produced hockey film.

As for Buffalo, that team should thank its lucky stars its local folks love their hockey so much, but instead it has alienated them to the point where 22-year-old red- (and black- and blue- and gold-) blooded men can’t even muster up enthusiasm about which jersey to wear. This is serious! Hockey sweaters are serious. They’re like the one thing that consistently brings a hockey fan earnest joy. The most negative Rangers supporter I know is this guy @ScottyHockey, and he treats jerseys with a level of devotion and care that borders on reverence. How many @ScottyHockey types are there up in Buffalo? Can’t you just give these people this one thing?

Earlier this week, when the San Jose Sharks crisply unveiled new duds (and, to some, duds) of their own, The Sporting News‘s Sean Gentille mocked Buffalo’s comparatively slow and methodical rollout. “Meanwhile, the Sabres post a sideways Instagram shot of a jersey tag,” he wrote. “Almost there!” He wasn’t at all far off.6 Somewhere out there is a fan who has dutifully assembled all these “sneak peeks” into a Beautiful Mind–style collage and gone mad in the process.

Later in the day, the team’s Twitter account tweeted, one by painstaking one, the names, heights, and weights of a dozen young prospects who will be headed to its rookie camp shortly. It’s been a long offseason for everyone. At least you can rely on one thing: The answer to that AHL bottle-cap jersey will always be yes.

Did you have more male friends than female friends? What are the repercussions?
—Todd J.

I have always had lots of guy friends in my life, but I don’t think it has ever really been at the expense of my cherished laaadiiieesss. (You’d maybe be surprised at which group pored over the “Stars Without Makeup” issues of Us Weekly with the cattiest zeal and which drunk-munched on Papa John’s in front of looped ambient SportsCenter most catatonically, though.)

Still, repercussions from my personal social choices have included public-urination-related jealousy at outdoor events; weight gain; severe overexposure to turn-of-the-century Maxim; a complex about wedge sandals; numerous harried trips to Walgreens for shampoo and conditioner that isn’t Pert Plus 2-in-1; and a crippling fear of being That Woman.7 But your mileage may vary.

The biggest risk is probably that it’s uniquely awful when a good friend of the opposite sex dates someone who’s the worst. If you’re not a fan of the new plus-one, you come across as jealous or possessive, even if you just so happen to be a sterling snap-judge of character. If you’re too friendly, you seem calculating and suspect. You can’t win! And if, God forbid, the worst-case scenario unfolds and one of her friends starts dating another of yours, you honestly might as well move to a new city and begin a new life, because they’re all gonna start going in on ski houses together and their future children will one day terrorize yours. Luckily, as Molly Lambert pointed out in her for-the-ages manifesto, this happens infrequently because “most girls don’t suck.”

Thoughts on InkBoy’s latest business venture? I don’t know about you, but when I think bikini, I think Chinatown.
—Josiah B.

It’s like a Stefon skit. New York’s hottest club is ALGAE. Located in the back room of one of Chinatown’s fishmongers, ALGAE has it all: mackerel guts, venture capital funding, a pop-up bikini shop, a dude who will pierce your ears with fish hooks, and InkBoy’s family tax adviser. When you’re ready to wash up onshore, head to ALGAE. Eighteen to party, 21 to glug glug glug!

Filed Under: Bake Shop, Katie Baker, People, Series

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Katie Baker is a staff writer at Grantland.

Archive @ katiebakes