As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers:
Q: If Tiger decided to wrap the green jacket around Phil’s neck in an attempt to strangle him while Jim Nantz and Hootie Johnson futilely tried to break up the melee, would that rank as the all-time “remember where you were” moment on live TV? I say yes, while my friend says that the O.J. chase would still be No. 1 followed by the Artest brawl. Can you settle this for us?
–Alexander Scott, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.
SG: I think it would depend on whether Nantz was trying to break up the brawl with that crazed/creepy Masters grin on his face. If he somehow maintained the grin during the entire fracas, it would rank above the O.J. Chase for me.
But I don’t think he could pull it off. If anything, I think he would start sobbing. So my top seven looks like this …
1. The O.J. Chase
2. Namath-Kolber I
3. The Artest Melee
4. Tiger strangles Mickelson (hypothetical)
5. Jimmy Snuka’s appearance on Piper’s Pit
6. The Anna Kournikova-Barbara Schett match at the 2001 Australian Open
7. Tyson bites Holyfield’s ear
Q: We have to get “Pap-Smeared” into the lexicon for those times Jon Papelbon comes into a Sox game in the seventh or eighth and slams the door. I’m giddy thinking about the first time Papelbon strikes out the side, I leap out of my chair screaming, “You’ve been Pap-Smeared!” and my wife looks at me like I’m still the 22-year-old who got hammered and peed in the laundry hamper.
–Owen Rodgers, Apex, N.C.
Q: Jonathan P(aplebon) = Jonathan E. Fans need to greet his every entrance with a chant of “Jon-a-than, Jon-a-than, Jon-a-than.” Because the only thing as scary as a big kid from Texas throwing 96 mph gas, is a coked up James Caan on rollerskates. This will put “Enter Sandman” to shame. Make it happen.
–Sean Libby, Guilford, Conn.
Q: Do you still have your Papelboner? I do.
–Phil, New York
SG: That’s right, we had a three-way tie for the “Most excited e-mail about the Jonathan Papelbon Era” this month!
Q: Why don’t you just change your name from “The Sports Guy” to the more accurate “narrow-minded, ignorant Yankee-hating d——– from New England?” that would be more accurate. Get a life, loser.
–Keith Verrier, Kailua, Hawaii
Q: I love TiVo, but why can’t I change the name of my saved shows? In the days of the video, I could tape what I want, change the name to “Broncos Highlights — 1994″ and rest assured my wife would never look at it. Now, if I TiVo something she might not like, “Naughty Nurses” is right on the saved list. Has there ever been a better product with such an obvious oversight?
–Brendan Lane, Darnestown, Md.
SG: You’re a genius. They should add a special feature called “TiVo Camouflage” for an extra $9.95 a month. Every time you record a movie like “Naughty Nurses,” TiVo Camouflage automatically changes the title of the show to something concurrently running on the NFL Network. That can’t miss.
Q: I took the plunge and hooked up with the hot-but-crazy chick last night. I’d been considering it for weeks, and I finally gave in to the hotness. Three phone calls already today, and I left her place less than 12 hours ago. The craziness seems to outweigh the hotness. I mention this because last night, I kept thinking “I should have done this when it first occurred to me,” and today, as I try to keep my voicemail crazy-chick free, I’m seriously regretting the original attraction. This is where you’re headed with the Clippers. Sam [Cassell]’s all well and good, but they’ll hit the playoffs and in the very first round, in true Clippers fashion, they’ll make a couple “We’ll take the ball and we’re going to win,” sized errors, and that’ll be that.
SG: You’re probably right. After watching Mike Dunleavy single-team Dirk Nowitzki with the ADD-riddled Chris Kaman on the final shot Monday night — seriously, take a guess how that one panned out — I came to the conclusion that this Clippers team could potentially get swept in Round 1 by a total of five points combined. Whatever. In the past two games, not only did John Lithgow and Kelsey Grammer show up — that’s right, folks, here come the celeb fans on the Clips’ bandwagon! — but Lithgow sat three seats away from me and even yelled at the cheering kids in front of us to “Sitttttt doooooowwwwnwwwn!” in a villainous accent that came right off the set of “Cliffhanger.” That may have been the highlight of the season so far.
Q: The Clippers are not the “most ridiculed, least successful franchise in sports history.” I believe that tag can go to the Saints. It took this team 20 years of existence just to make the playoffs. They’ve won one playoff game and were lucky to do it. They need to go undefeated for about 7½ seasons to reach an overall record of .500. It seems like every record ever set in the NFL was set against the Saints. Their fans even wore bags over their heads and everybody called them the ‘Aints. The Clippers got nothing on these guys, right?
–Dan Reiling, Denver
SG: All valid points. But here’s the catch: The Saints had some pretty good seasons in the 1987-92 range (12-3, 10-6, 11-5 and 12-4) and won a playoff game in 2000 (beating the Rams, who were the defending champs). That’s much better than anything that ever happened to the Clips. Actually, the Cardinals have a better case because they only had three winning seasons since 1976 (just like the Clips), and they were just as inept and hopeless … but at least they shocked Dallas in the 1998 playoffs and advanced to Round 2, which meant their fans were happy once. Clippers fans don’t have a single happy memory in 30 years. That gives them the edge, I think.
Q: After a co-worker jokingly asked me if I watched the WNBA draft this morning, and after we all had a good laugh at the silliness of the idea, it dawned on me how to give the league some attention that will be a win/win for both the NBA and WNBA. Let Isiah Thomas become the WNBA commissioner! If he can generate ratings/interest for the WNBA like “Surreal Life” does for VH1, then the league might actually create an ounce of revenue, and we might see some new rules for the WNBA that make the game a little more entertaining. The sky is the limit and no one can predict Isiah. Your thoughts?
–Matt Sexton, Playa Del Rey, Calif.
SG: I like it. And it would be Stern’s most diabolical idea yet: Not only would this prohibit Isiah from continuing to destroy the league’s marquee franchise but there’s a 100 percent chance that he would destroy the WNBA like he destroyed the CBA … which would save the Commish the humiliation of folding the league himself, as well as saving face for all the women’s hoops fans who don’t want to admit that the WNBA just doesn’t work as a viable sports league. They could just blame Isiah for screwing it up. And watching Isiah run the league would be more riveting than watching President Logan try to run the country on “24.” Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Q: Since you didn’t do a running diary of WrestleMania, I was curious to know what your thoughts were about the show. And please don’t tell me you didn’t watch it — that would break my heart!
–Ryan R, Burbank, Calif.
SG: Come on, would I ever miss a WrestleMania? It’s a little dated at this point, but I had to bring up four things:
1. Undertaker raised his record to 14-0 at WrestleMania. I’m not talking about his actual record, but the 14 consecutive matches that completely sucked and made me regret spending money on a PPV. He’s the Jay Leno of the WWE — I will never understand his appeal. Never.
2. They keep pushing WWE champ John Cena as a good guy even though everyone has been booing him for months, which is becoming just plain awkward. The announcers have to keep making dumb excuses for him like, “Don’t be surprised if this Chicago crowd cheers for Triple H, they’ve always liked him here,” and “Those aren’t boos, the crowd is actually chanting his nickname, Moose.” Come on, guys, don’t insult my intelligence. I already feel inadequate enough that I just spent $50 on a wrestling pay-per-view when I’m in my mid-30s.
3. The most entertaining match featured women’s champ Trish Stratus battling a buxom, crazy-eyed, thong-wearing lesbian stalker named Mickie James who was practically falling out of her top with every suplex and clothesline. Of course, the crowd was wildly behind the stalker. Come on, who doesn’t enjoy a buxom, thong-wearing lunatic stalker with that wild-eyed, “I will not be ignored!” look like Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction”? Especially if she’s falling out of her outfit? You just don’t get these moments in real sports.
4. Vince McMahon (?!?!?!?) wrestled against the Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels, with a body that was so obscenely ripped, even Victor Conte was shocked … and then Michaels ended up kicking the crap out of him to the point that I still can’t believe what transpired. At one point, Michaels stuck a garbage can over his head, placed him on a table, climbed to the top of a 20-foot ladder, then leapt off and dropped an elbow right on McMahon’s garbage can-covered head. Can you imagine that happening in any other sport? David Stern getting his ass whipped by Ron Artest? Bud Selig getting beaten up by Barry Bonds? You have to love wrestling. OK, maybe you don’t have to.
Q: So I was at a local bar here in scenic Muncie wearing a Patriots sweatshirt when some jackass walks up to me and says, “Nice shirt. At least we stole your kicker, although I don’t know why when we had the best one.” Immediately, my buddy, a Colts fan, starts cursing Vanderjagt’s name and saying how it’s his fault the Colts lost to the Steelers and the other guy lashes back saying it was Peyton Manning, then and everytime, who chokes. Just wanted to say how joyful an experience it is around here to watch the Colts fans argue over who to blame for choking the worst. I would suggest all Pats fans to take a vacation to Indiana to see it for yourselves.
— Jason, Muncie, Ind.
SG: That’s right, just five months until the 2006 season!
(By the way, I’d like to thank the NFL Schedule Gods for finally including the Patriots on the “Teams With A Cream Puff Schedule” list. So we get to play Buffalo twice, the Jets twice, Houston, Tennessee, everyone in the NFC North, plus Indy and Denver at home? Thank you, Schedule Gods. That nearly made up for the Vinatieri/McGinest departures. Actually, no, it didn’t. Not even close. Uh-oh, my blood sugar is crashing again.)
Q: In the last mailbag, you and Kris from Franklin, Mass., didn’t do your research into pooping for average sports fan. I am a 27-year-old poop expert (as my fiancée, family and friends will attest). I talk about poop, and give updates to the type of poops I take. It is not uncommon for me to poop two-to-three times a day when I am not eating healthy and drinking some beers. When I eat healthy and work out regularly, then yes it is once a day. But I have a feeling that most of your sports-loving readers aren’t the healthiest of people. You might have a backlash from readers who will disagree, and attest to pooping more than once a day. So as a multiple daily pooper I stand up and support Bob from Atlanta’s claim that your book is 189 poops.
— Doug, Woburn, Mass.
SG: Come on, do you get this type of info in Peter King’s Monday column? I think my new goal in life is to get John Hollinger involved in this debate, convince him to come up with a poop efficiency stat or something.
Q: Regarding the Baby Einstein DVD: It’s not called “babysitting” when it’s your kid. It’s called “parenting.”
— John McQueeney, Brooklyn, N.Y.
SG: Look who rode in on his high horse, everybody … it’s John McQueeney from Brooklyn!
Q: Hey Bill, where did Vito Spatafore get that outfit he was wearing at the gay bar in the “Sopranos”? Did he pick up an old “Police Academy” costume at Steve Guttenberg’s garage sale?
–Steve H, Seattle
SG: I’m just happy that Vito shattered one of the untouchable Hollywood records of all-time: “Funniest scene by a movie or TV character improbably enjoying himself in a gay bar,” which was previously held by Al Pacino in “Cruising.” If there was a way to digitally merge the Pacino and Spatafore dancing scenes, that would be the moment that finally caused me to cough up a lung.
Q: So, my buddy is at WrestleMania and he’s heading into the bathroom. Who does he see coming out at the same time? None other than Joe Theismann. All he could think of saying to him was, “You’re doing great, Joe!” Personally, I think he was sitting on a comedy gold mine and blew it. If you were in my buddy’s shoes, what would’ve you said to Joe?
SG: That’s easy: “Great players take great leaks.”
Q: I was watching “Roadhouse” the other day, and about a minute before Dalton rips out Brad Wesley’s goon’s throat, the guy tells Dalton, “I used to (bleep) guys like you in prison.” This got me thinking: I’m pretty sure there is nothing anyone can say that could possibly be, at the same time, more awkwardly scary, yet amazingly funny … that can have absolutely no comeback whatsoever. Just wanted to know your thoughts on this one.
SG: You came to the right place: I think it’s the greatest line in the history of bad action movies. There are a number of things to love, including …
1. Not only does the goon have a wavy, Ziering-like mullet, he’s wearing an unbuttoned blue shirt with the sleeves cut off. He’s a headband away from doubling as the lead in a Loverboy cover band.
2. On the surface, it’s a pretty good line. We learn a couple of things from it: First, that the goon served some time, which increases his “I’m a bad dude” credibility; and second, that he was so tough in the joint, he routinely had sex with other guys by force. Clearly, he’s a man to be reckoned with. And if he had casually dropped that line on Dalton at the Double Deuce, he would have been fine — the intimidation factor would have been there. But he waited until the tail end of their climactic fight scene, when he was holding Dalton, and Dalton was shirtless and bleeding … so it ended up being overwhelmingly homoerotic and creepy. As well as hysterically funny.
3. As Zak pointed out, Dalton had no possible comeback (especially since he was in a choke hold at the time). He just ends up grunting in anger — in fact, it’s kinda funny how mad he gets. So the line works to perfection. If that was Seagal, he would have had some witty response ready like, “If I wanted to hear about your sex life, I would have asked,” or “That doesn’t surprise me, I always thought you looked a little light in the loafers.” But Dalton was completely humorless throughout the movie, so his only possible response could have been muttering something like, “Yeah, well, we’re not in prison anymore,” followed by an elbow to the stomach. In retrospect, I think he handled it the right way — some frantic, angry grunting followed by about 20 punches and kicks and a throat rip.
4. Everyone forgets this, but Mike Tyson ended up stealing the line (almost verbatim) 13 years later during the famous press conference before the Lennox Lewis fight when he flipped out on the reporters.
Q: Just read your latest mailbag. The solution you came up with about watching too much porn had already been done on “Friends” probably a full 8-10 years ago. Joey and Chandler end up with free porn for a week or so and eventually begin to blur the real world from the porn world. How can you not know this? It was on “Friends”! Wait a minute, why should I know this? It was on “Friends.” Are you putting this in mailbag? Who is this? I don’t know you. Never call back again. PRANK CALLER! PRANK CALLER!
–Frank, Bethlehem, Pa.
SG: A few people e-mailed me about this; as I wrote two years ago, I stopped watching “Friends” during the second season when it evolved into the sitcom equivalent of a chick flick. The episode you referenced happened in Season Four (I looked it up, it’s called “The One With Free Porn”), when no guys were watching that show unless their wife or girlfriend was holding a gun to their heads. I don’t think any jury would convict me on this one (especially with my old roommate Ricky as a star witness for the illegal cable box story). Besides, do you think I would ever try to steal from “Friends” — of all shows?!?!?! — for a mailbag response? Come on.
Q: Hi Mr. Simmons. I’m 16 years old and I am the daughter of one of your biggest fans (my dad). Recently, I got in trouble and was told that I couldn’t attend my junior prom at the end of April. I’ve tried everything to make my dad let me go. Crying, begging and threatening haven’t worked, so I’m asking if you could, in your next mailbag, ask my dad to relinquish my punishment for ONE night. He reads all of your columns, loves your work, and I think you have enough influence over him to persuade him to change his mind. Please, Mr. Simmons, you’re my last resort. P.S.: What I did to be banished from my prom wasn’t even that bad. My parents are totally over-reacting.
–Arica, Hayward, Wis.
SG: Since you sounded so desperate, I came up with a convoluted plan to save you: I was going to secretly fly to Wisconsin and be your date for the prom, just because there’s no way your dad would have banned you from going if I randomly showed up in a limo wearing a cheesy purple tux and offering to escort his daughter for the night. Then, there would have been pictures, and I could have written a column about it, and you could have gone to your prom, and your dad could have gotten a good story out of it, and everyone would have been happy. Well, except for ESPN, which would have had to pay for everything.
But before I made the plunge, I asked my friend Jimmy what he thought (since he happens to have a teenage daughter himself). Here’s what he wrote back: “As a father of a future prom date, it would be terrible karma to do anything other than reject her plea.”
An excellent point from a man with a chance to become the Merv Griffin of this generation. Anyway, Arica, I’m staying out of this one. Just remember, there’s always senior prom.
Q: I was just messing around with ESPN’s mock draft lottery simulator, and something unbelievable happened. The Celtics (4.3 percent chance of winning) just won five times in a row. Let that sink in. What are the odds!? I challenge you or anyone out there to try and duplicate that. It was too weird to be true. I think it means something. The C’s are winning the lottery this season, they have to be!
— Mike F., Vernon, Conn.
SG: What’s worse: the fact that I spent the past 10 minutes wondering whether this e-mail was a good omen for the C’s in Secaucus, N.J., next month, or the fact that Mike F.’s five-game streak on the lottery simulator was three games better than Doc Rivers’ longest winning streak this season? And yes, we’re two months away from the 20th anniversary of The Last Celtics Championship. I will now swallow my own tongue.
Q: Whoa, whoa, WHOA. You wrote of Oscar Robertson: “The triple-double in 1961 was a little overrated because all the offensive stats were completely skewed that season (it was like a steroids year in baseball).” You owe us an explanation. That stat — along with all the praise from guys like Russell and Wilt — has kept the Big “O” on a pedestal in my mind for years. If this stat isn’t legit, everything changes for me. The world is no longer round.
–Greg I., Philly, Pa.
SG: Little-known fact: NBA stats are completely screwed up from 1959 to ’67. Teams were running and gunning at a breathtaking pace. For instance, the 1960 Celtics scored 124.5 points per game and averaged nearly 120 shots a game, but since the shooters weren’t as good back then (the Celts only shot 41 percent that year, which also led the league), they also averaged a whopping 80.2 rebounds per game. To put that in perspective, Phoenix led the league with 111.9 points and 85 shots per game, but they only averaged 44.1 rebounds per game because everyone can make a jumper now and it’s not run-and-gun.
Take Oscar’s first five years compared with Magic’s first five years. From 1961 to 1965, Oscar averaged 30.3 points, 10.4 assists and 10.6 rebounds … but he was the 17th-best rebounder in the league over that time (in an eight-team league) and the third-best rebounder on his own team (behind Wayne Embry and Jerry Lucas). Magic averaged 18.2 points, 10.3 assists and 8.0 rebounds … he was the 36th-best rebounder in the league over that stretch (in a 23-team league) and the second-best on his own team (behind that ninny Kareem). Oscar’s team averaged 69 rebounds a game 1961-65; Magic’s team averaged 45 a game.
Not to infringe on Hollinger’s territory here … but if you prorated Magic’s stats to the run-and-gun 1961-65 era, they would look something like this: 21 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds per game. Even if you transported the 1987-90 Fat Lever (18.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 19th-ranked rebounder), he would have matched all of Oscar’s numbers except for the scoring. But if you brought Oscar to the modern era? His rebounding per game would have dropped into the 7-8 range and the “Who was the only NBA player to average a triple-double?” trivia question wouldn’t exist. It’s true.
(Random “comparing the players from different eras” comment: From 1979 to 1983, Moses Malone averaged 26.8 points and 15.4 rebounds a game. Transport him back to the ’60s and he would have averaged something like 30 and 25 every night. To put this in perspective, Wilt Chamberlain averaged 41.7 points and 25.3 rebounds a game from 1960 to 1964, Bill Russell averaged 15.5 and 24.0, and Elgin Baylor averaged a 32-16. Yet, you never hear Moses mentioned in the “greatest centers ever” discussion. I find this interesting.)
Q: OK, Sports Guy, how funny was Adam Morrison receiving his Chevrolet Player of the Year Award? The ill-fitting suit, the hair in the eyes, the barely audible voice, the head facing the floor the whole time. He was the awkward cousin at the wedding reception, the one you had to sit with at the rejects and weirdos table when you were single. Your unintentional comedy rating?
— Kevin McGowan, Boise, Idaho
SG: A solid 95 out of 100. Actually, I’m more looking forward to his draft-day interview with Stu Scott than the actual draft. Imagine Stu starting things off with something like, “Adam, congratulations. As The Game once sang, ‘Hate it or love it, the underdog’s on top, and I’m gonna shine homie until my heart stop!'” as Morrison sits there fidgeting awkwardly with his new team’s hat? I’m counting down the days.
Q: MySpace. Add me. Update more often.
— Chad, Spokane, Wash.
SG: Every so often, I get an e-mail like this from someone who thinks that I have a MySpace account and wants to be added to my list of buddies or something. Just for the record, I do not have a MySpace account. At least not yet.
(And while we’re here, I don’t post on other people’s MySpace accounts; I don’t exchange IMs with people; I don’t go into chat rooms; I don’t post on any message boards other than the Sons of Sam Horn; I don’t belong to Facebook.com; I don’t play video games or video poker against random strangers online; and I don’t randomly show up at bars by myself introducing myself to people and saying things like, “Hey, who wants to do some shots!” I have nothing against any of those things; I just don’t do them. You have to believe me. Back to the column.)
Q: Wily Mo Pena is the Red Sox version of Pedro Cerrano from “Major League.” Cerrano can’t hit the curve and Willy Mo swings and misses at every high-and-outside pitch thrown. He’d swing at 60 of them in a row. We need to get him a Jobu doll and some bat hats.
–George Rowlinson, Boston
SG: On the bright side, this could lead to Wily Mo potentially playing the President on “24,” doing some Allstate commercials and serving as the emergency getaway driver in “Heat 2: She’s Got A Great Ass, and You Got Your Head All The Way Up It!”
(Speaking of Wily Mo, during his first start last week, he struck out twice in a row against the immortal Bruce Chen, followed by Dad calling me just to say, “This guy sucks. He’s got a slow bat. Why did we get rid of Arroyo?” That’s right, Wily shattered the all-time record for “Fastest Dad ever turned on a new Boston player,” previously held by Alaa Abdelnaby and Marion Butts.)
Q: ESPN2 obviously stole the script from “Bonds on Bonds” from Amber Waves’ Dirk Diggler documentary. Seriously, has The Worldwide Leader ever produced a less honest puff piece? You have to admit that the Dirk Diggler doc involved more rigorous investigative journalism. Is it OK if I say this into the camera, Amber?
–Rob Jackson, New York
SG: And I thought I was the only one waiting for Bonds to fire back at his critics by saying, “I only am who I am because I was born that way. I have a gift and I’m trying to not be selfish about it, but to use it, OK? Jealousy will get you nowhere!”
“Bonds on Bonds”: Steroids & Jealousy
But I’m glad you brought this up. Just for the record, I didn’t think ESPN should have agreed to do the show, for the same reasons that Rob and everyone else already brought up (no need to rehash them). At the same time, as soon as it was announced, I was programming it into my Season Pass within about 10 seconds.
Quite simply, Bonds fascinates me: There hasn’t been a professional athlete who seemed this beaten down by the fans and media since Tyson (and look how that turned out). Unlike Tyson, Bonds is savvy enough (calculating, even) to know what’s happening and seems to soak everything in: Every slight, every insult, every negative column, everything. He feeds off it. And he’s so rude and defensive to reporters and broadcasters that it’s almost comical; every one of his interviews comes off like those SNL skits where Martin Short played the chain-smoking lawyer who didn’t trust Mike Wallace and kept trying to turn the tables on him: “I didn’t say that! You’re putting words in my mouth! It’s so funny that you would think I said that — maybe 60 Minutes should be investigating you! How ’bout that?”
Say what you want about Bonds, but he was the one who shrewdly approached the production company (Tollin/Robbins) with the idea, knowing it was his last chance to sway people over to his side during the quest for 756 homers. The riveting pilot episode was well-done, enlightening and consistently interesting — and it should have been, because they had a ton of time to put it together — capped off by some rock-solid unintentional comedy at the end (Bonds breaking down and gunning for an Emmy, even though he isn’t eligible in any of the “Best Actor” categories). I also found myself liking him and feeling sorry for him as the show went along, under the timeworn documentary rule that I like to call the Mark Byars Corollary: “If you’re watching a documentary about anyone, even if it’s the stepdad from ‘Paradise Lost’ who may or may not have framed those three kids for murder, then had his teeth removed so the bite marks on the bodies couldn’t be entered into evidence, it’s impossible not to sympathize with them in some way.”
That’s the thing about documentaries: Invariably, you end up rooting for the protagonist, no matter who it might be. Yes, even a cheater like Bonds. When he starts whining about how everyone is against him, instead of thinking, “Well, you deserved it, you sold the game of baseball out, you’re a cheater!” … you end up thinking, “Man, it must have been tough for him to show up at the ballpark under those circumstances, you gotta hand it to him for delivering big numbers every year.” Then you feel like a schmuck for thinking it.
(Note: This is why every network is so afraid to greenlight a reality show about O.J. — not because nobody would watch it, but because people would watch it, and they’d end up feeling bad for poor O.J. because he was stuck playing golf and living off his NFL pension, and because he could barely walk on those bad knees, and because his kids can’t stand him, and because he doesn’t have any friends, and within 45 minutes, you’d be wondering, “Hey, maybe he didn’t kill his wife, he seems like a nice guy” … and then the show would end and people would take a step back and say, “Wait a second, why the hell do I feel bad for O.J. Simpson! I feel manipulated! I blame (fill in the name of the channel)! I’m never watching them again!”)
Here’s the biggest problem: The vast majority of Americans just don’t like Barry Bonds. They don’t want to spend 30 minutes with him, much less 60. So the ratings for the first show were disappointing, and I’m sure they’ll be worse for this week’s show — which ended up being rushed, disjointed and fairly mundane since they only had a week to slap it together (a bad omen for the upcoming shows). What happens when they run out of episode topics by July, especially if he’s rehabbing his aching knees on the DL? Will they spend a half-hour deconstructing how in God’s name Sid Bream could have scored from third base against the best defensive left fielder of all time, or Bonds’ shocking 1993 Skins loss to Rush and Steve Sanders on “90210?” You got me.
The second-biggest problem: Since there is overwhelming evidence that he lied about using performance-enhancing drugs since 1998, and he maintains his innocence, it’s a little hard to take anything he says at face value. For instance, in the second show, we see him talking about a recent SNL sketch in which Kenan Thompson played Bonds (poorly, by the way) … and Bonds is smiling, and he’s claiming that it didn’t bother him, and that the sketch could have been funnier. But you can tell that it did bother him. In fact, all this stuff bothers him — that’s why he felt the need to offer exclusive access to a production company in return for a documentary/puff piece, so he could set the record straight once and for all. So when he pretends that it doesn’t bother him, it’s insulting.
And that’s the real reason he doesn’t work as a reality-TV star: On just about any other show, from “Flavor of Love” to “The Bachelor” to “The Gauntlet,” you can always count on the principals to accept the basic rule of reality TV: “Whatever happens, don’t take me too seriously. If I was desperate enough to appear on this show, then all bets are off.” In Bonds’ case, he wants us to take him seriously, but like any other reality-TV star, he’s full of crap. So the show can’t possibly work. In retrospect, he would have been better off just moving into the “Surreal Life” house and sharing a bunk bed with Verne Troyer.
Q: I think that to be considered a great basketball player, you need to be comparable to any good female porn star. That means being unselfish, know when to take over, and fun to watch on both ends. This year’s great basketball player/female porn star: Elton Brand. Thoughts?
— Harry, Boone, N.C.
SG: Yup … these are my readers.
Bill Simmons writes two columns per week for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. You can reach his Sports Guy’s World site here. His book “Now I Can Die In Peace” is available on Amazon.com and in bookstores everywhere.