A letter to the Junior High Sports Guy

How to get Kidd out of Jersey

Pats-Ravens, plus more links

Bill Simmons reacts to the Pats' latest close call and passes on some can't-miss links from his readers. Story

Here are some relevant links from the past few days:

• You might remember my 2003 column about traveling to Harlem and watching Mike Tyson fly his pigeons for a “Jimmy Kimmel Live” segment. Well, that TV segment finally made it to YouTube a few weeks ago — to this day, it’s my favorite piece I ever did for Jimmy’s show. And while we’re on the subject, here’s my second-favorite piece: We went to a Clippers practice to figure out who owned the coolest car on the 2002 Clippers (with help from Quentin Richardson). You haven’t really lived until you’ve seen the inside of Melvin Ely’s filthy Hummer.

• Speaking of Jimmy, he turned 40 last month and the best birthday present was from our friend Tall Jon, a former “JKL” writer who left to work on Sarah Silverman’s show: Tall Jon filmed a birthday video for Jimmy that’s a parody of every cheesy mid-’80s romantic music video. Everyone else was humiliated because this was the greatest gift ever given.

• Peter King goes over the “questionable” fourth-quarter calls in the Ravens-Pats game one by one to determine if anything fishy happened. The verdict: No.

Look, I freely admit the Ravens gave away that game; that it was one of the luckiest Patriot wins in franchise history; that they did everything possible to lose that game (the number of drops were remarkable); and that there were five or six points when the Ravens could have put them away and couldn’t do it. It was a garbage win and the Pats were outplayed … but other than the Watson penalty, did another call in the game even stand out, other than the incredible no-call on the final Hail Mary (which went in Baltimore’s favor, by the way)? Even if Jabar Gaffney’s TD catch was overturned (which would have been ridiculous), the Pats still would have had second-and-goal from the 2-yard line because of Bart Scott’s two idiotic penalties. The Ravens lost that game because of all their three-and-outs in the fourth quarter and because they lost their composure down the stretch. These are the facts. I thought Rick Maese of the Baltimore Sun did a good job of pointing out the Ravens might need to look in the mirror instead of blaming the refs. They had that game and they blew it.

• I received a shocking number of e-mails from delighted Sixers fans about Billy King’s firing this week. The thing that surprised me was they waited until now — why didn’t they fire him last winter so another GM could have made the Iverson trade and started rebuilding the team? Instead, they allowed him to trade Iverson, make all the 2007 picks and signings … and then they fired him? How stupid was that? Anyway, I loved this quote from Wednesday’s Philly Inquirer article about the firing from Kyle Korver, one of the many Sixers whom King overpaid over the years: “Obviously, he did a lot for me, and I owe him a lot. So to see him go is tough for me.” They should have gotten quotes from everyone King overpaid: Kenny Thomas, Aaron McKie, Eric Snow, Sam Dalembert, Steven Hunter …

• I agree with Johnny Ludden from Yahoo: Kudos to Cavs GM Danny Ferry (now there’s something I never thought I’d write) for refusing to pay Anderson Varejao and getting him at a below-market price for two years. Are the NBA GMs slowly getting wiser, or is it just me? Five years ago, somebody would have stupidly given Varejao $50 million. Now he’s basically getting $17 million for two years. This is progress, I think.

• Check out this Boston.com poll that contained Yes/No answers to a simple question: If the Twins insist on the Red Sox including center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury in a trade for left-handed starter Johan Santana, should Theo pull the trigger on a deal?
More than 82 percent of the 50,000 respondents said, “No.”

(That’s why I wouldn’t include Ellsbury in the Santana trade: Not only do you lose Ellsbury, but you lose Coco Crisp because everyone will resent him in 2008 and they’ll be booing him the first time he goes 0-for-4. Trade Ellsbury and you’re essentially killing any chance of Coco succeeding in Boston. Again, I’d much rather see them include Clay Buchholz in the deal because I don’t trust pitching prospects as much.)

• Jeff from New York asks, “Can you please make a plea to iTunes to make the Band-Aid Christmas classic available for download? All they have are cheap cover versions. A daily YouTube fix is one thing, but I need my Paul Young on the subway commute.” Couldn’t agree more.

• This “Hills” parody on www.funnyordie.com made me laugh: James Franco and Mila Kunis acting out a scene from the show. Watch out for some foul language in this one if you’re at work.

• Did you follow the controversy with Hank Steinbrenner’s favorite actress? Some blogs posted “unflattering” photos of her in a bikini and made mean comments about her “weight,” so she lashed back on her Web site and everything. Did you ever think any chain of events could happen that could get females across America rallying behind Jennifer Love Hewitt? I think it just happened.

• Some good news for everyone planning on traveling to this year’s Super Bowl in Arizona: It’s just about impossible to find a direct flight to Phoenix without using US Airways since that’s the Phoenix hub. According this story, US Air leads the country with most customer complains in 2007 so far. Hey, did we mention that the day after the Super Bowl is the single worst day to leave an airport? I’m predicting a travel nightmare of epic proportions. People are going to be stuck there for weeks eating each other to stay alive like the 1963 Uruguayan rugby team.

• My buddy Geoff sent this along the best low-budget music video ever: “Sweetheart” by Frankie and the Knockouts. This killed me.

• I joked about this in last week’s chat, but I hope everyone got a chance to read this Boston Globe article about NBC “inadvertently” picking up many of Brady’s audibles in the Eagles-Pats game. What was worse: Belichick videotaping someone with a camera from 50 yards away, or NBC zooming in within 3 feet of Brady for half of his no-huddle calls?

• I enjoyed the jersey-tossing Knicks fan from last week’s Knicks-Celts blowout. And while we’re here, the New York Observer’s mini-feature on the depressed reporters trying to cover the Knicks while they’re in complete lockdown mode was really interesting.

• Since a number of people enjoyed my bad-eating-in-L.A. recommendations in last week’s marathon chat, here’s my bad-eating-in-a-chain-restaurant: IHop finally perfected the pancake experience with its new corn cake pancake — it’s like a flattened corn muffin, only if it was buttered and covered in maple syrup. It’s delicious.

Finally, three from the readers …

1. Mike from St. Louis:
Scroll down to the middle of your 2004 Super Blog and you wrote this line: “I keep waiting for someone to take it away, like the league finding out that Belichick and Pioli have cheated or something.” I just have to say good call, how did you know that was coming?

2. Will in Oakland:
After listening to you and JackO discuss the merits of Hank as El Jefe, I wanted to point out to the bottom of this page
where writer Walter Shapiro introduces Hank. I don’t know what I like better: that his moonlighting gig as a high-school soccer coach makes him a supreme evaluator of top-stakes talent, or that he authored the “let’s get rid of Righetti for my one-game pony” …

3. Matt from San Fran:
You mentioned during your marathon chat that if only someone could work on a high-speed train from Vegas. Thank god for people who work on these things so people like you and I can focus on important things like how the anticipation for Hayden Panettiere (cheerleader from the TV show “Heroes”) turning 18 will dwarf the Olsen twins expectations a few years ago. Check out this link.


Bill Simmons is the founding editor of Grantland and the author of the New York Times no. 1 best seller The Book of Basketball. For every Simmons column and podcast, click here.

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