How to Annoy a Fan Base in 60 Easy Steps

Prisoner’s Dilemma

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Surviving the Apocalypse, the Best Unis in Hockey, and the Peyton Manning Drama

All that and more in this week's edition of the Bake Shop mailbag

How about some hockey aesthetics. Is it just me or are Nashville’s new yellow home sweaters pretty great? Yellow is risky for a primary jersey color, but I think they pull it off and might even slip into my top five home jerseys:

1. Chicago’s Reds (Probably the best in sports)
2. Montreal
3. Rangers (Think about it, the greatest moment in US hockey history happened in jerseys mirrored from Rangers’ jerseys)
4. Nashville
5. Boston

Notice that all of these aside from the Preds’ are Original 6, there’s a reason for that.

— Kirk M.

I’m a little scared to address this question because I’ve seen some of the epic flame wars that even an innocent “Hey, cool jerseys!” can spark. Hockey fans, more so than devotees of any other sport (with the possible exception of soccer), have very strong opinions about what their teams wear. Given some of the sweaters that have been foisted on an innocent public in years past — see here, here, here, and especially the comments section here — the level of emotion isn’t surprising.

The Nashville Predators’ yellow jersey is one of the more divisive in hockey, but I love it. I think the yellow looks great on TV, and I appreciate the locally inspired but not totally over-the-top details like the guitar strings on the numbers and the picks on the shoulders and the hidden piano keys on the inside of the neck. It’s one small step up from the perfectly fine but utterly forgettable previous sweaters, and it’s one giant leap forward from the last time Nashville tried to do yellow.

If I were going to do a top five favorite current home uniforms, though, I think it would be …

5. Edmonton Oilers. (Once iconic; now perhaps soon to be worn by a third-straight no. 1 draft pick. Also, I could not disagree more with Greg Wyshynski regarding this erstwhile Oilers creation.)

4. Tampa Bay Lightning. (This will piss off Toronto Maple Leafs fans, as the Lightning pretty much ripped off their look, but the lightning bolt on the pants gives them the edge. How bad are those “BOLTS” third jerseys, though?)

3. Philadelphia Flyers. (Pains me to say it.)

2. New York Rangers. (OK, now I feel better.)

1. Anaheim Ducks. (Just kidding — good god, those are awful. Bring back the Wild Wing!)

1. Detroit Red Wings (I love them with the red pants, it’s fittingly Soviet.)

If you like this sort of thing, check out the NHL Uniform Database and Hockey By Design for more on sweaters and logos. The one thing currently missing from the NHL, really, is a team clad in some good old college-style Kelly green. Miss you, pre-1992 Hartford Whalers. Miss you every day.

Am I the only person upset that the Peyton Manning sweepstakes has ended? I was looking forward to at least a few more weeks of aerial footage of Manning getting into and out of SUV’s.

— Ian F.

I was sad at first, too, but I’ve since been cheered up by the hilarious (if fleeting) prospect of the New York Jets going after Tim Tebow. This New York Times article on the subject is an absolute joy, from the headline, which could not possibly be any less diluted (“Jets Said to Show Interest in Making Room for Tebow”) to the photo choice, to the obituary-like description of Tebow as “the polarizing cross-cultural phenomenon made expendable when Denver signed Peyton Manning,” to the earnest quoting of Antonio Cromartie’s Twitter post (“we straight”) to the sentence “Their interest in Tebow is sincere and legitimate,” which sounds like something you’d say while asking for someone’s daughter’s hand in marriage. Man, I so hope this happens. My interest in Tebow to the Jets is sincere and legitimate. (UPDATE: Praise Jesus!!!!!!!!)

Have you been watching this show Doomsday Preppers on the National Geographic channel? I already had a small flame of paranoia burning in my psyche but this show is like opening up a fire hose of gasoline onto that flame. It freaks me out. Doesn’t everyone wonder if they could hack it in an apocalypse scenario? Or is that just me? Some twisted part of me wonders how long I would survive.

— Noah C.

Oh no, it’s not just you: I think about that all the time, particularly now that I’ve seen Contagion and The Walking Dead and read World War Z and Zone One and The Hunger Games. Uplifting stuff! Questions I ask myself related to “hacking it in an apocalypse scenario” range from “Would I be able to seduce some doctor into slipping me the vaccine, nudge nudge?” (maybe; would depend on how much weight the deadly virus caused me to lose) to “Would I be willing to shoot my best friend in the head if she turned into a zombie?” (I think so; I’m still bitter at her for not letting me copy her Health homework in seventh grade, that goody two-shoed biatch).

At any rate, shows like Doomsday Preppersand Doomsday Bunkers, a program that is the Deep Impact to DP‘s Armageddon, the Antz to its A Bug’s Life — kind of make me just want to preemptively give up. I can’t compete with these people! The other day I lost like three hours of productivity when my wireless trackpad ran out of juice and then I couldn’t find the remote control to steal batteries from, and also it was raining outside so I wasn’t about to walk to the store. On the other hand: You know how they always tell you to fill up your bathtub in the event of an emergency so you have a supply of water to use? Well, my bathtub takes like three days to drain after a run-of-the-mill shower, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

Thoughts on who should win the Calder? Gotta be Gabriel Landeskog, right? Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has the flair and the goal scoring touch and Adam Henrique has been money for the Devils. But based on the numbers, Landy’s likely been the best all-around rookie this season, and the rookie that’s had the biggest impact on his team.

— Dan R.

Until he was sidelined by injuries, it seemed like The Nuge was a shoo-in for the NHL’s rookie of the year. But I’d be surprised at this point if Landeskog doesn’t wind up with the award. (The Edmonton Journal’s Jonathan Willis wrote a great piece recently comparing the two players in depth.) Landeskog leads all rookies in points with 47 (although in fairness he’s played 22 more games than Nugent-Hopkins, who has 45, and nine more than Henrique, who has recorded 46). He’s logged more ice time per game than any other rookie forward. He’s scored five game-winners, tying him for tops among rookies with Philly’s Matt Read. He’s a +20 on a team that is a cumulative -2.

And, most important, he has one of my favorite athlete Twitter feeds: Between the Swedeborg avatar, the photos of his teammates’ false teeth (set on Ritz-Carlton stationery, no less), the constant boy-next-door shout-outs to the ladies, and the professed love for Britney Spears, it’s impossible for me not to retweet each and every one. And as we all know, that’s really what the Calder Trophy ought to be all about.

I’m a junior college student who will be working as a summer analyst at a large investment bank. My friends have assured me that I’ll get fat, never sleep, and it’ll be the worst three months of my life. Two questions: A) True or False? B) If true, got tips for upcoming summers on how to stay sane?

— Charles S.

A. True. Your two biggest enemies: summer associates (despite the loftier title, these people are generally equally as clueless and overeager as summer analysts are; their lone distinguishing characteristic is that they’re in business school and have thus been groomed to effectively market themselves and talk in corporate-speak right from the get-go in order to obscure the fact that they don’t actually come into the summer with too many practical skills) and SeamlessWeb delivery minimums. Better throw in a few extra orders of fries!

B. In no particular order: Don’t be the first to leave, but don’t stay till 3 a.m. just because some other summer is trying to be a hero. Don’t be too worried about the senior people knowing who you are. Eight or nine times out of 10 it’s the analysts or associates who will either get you hired or blacklist you. If someone asks you if you want to get coffee, never say you’re too busy, even if you feel like you are. You’re not.

Don’t interpret “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” to mean that it’s OK to come in with a $5k suit and those shirts with the white collars and cuffs. Easy on the hair product. Easy on the cleavage. Keep an emergency change of clothes at your desk in the event of an all-nighter or bender. Go to the gym.

If you’re a summer analyst in sales and trading, do not — I repeat, DO. NOT. — screw up the daily lunch orders. Always get a few extra appetizers just in case. Take advantage of the black car line at night; it’s the only time you’ll feel like a big shot. If applicable, become tight with the people in the printing/production center. It will change everything. Same goes for your group’s admins: You may not realize it, but they secretly hold all the power.

You’ll be told that “there are no stupid questions,” but no one actually means that. When you do have questions, ask them in batches, and go to your analyst first. Read the Wall Street Journal, but read something else too. Check your work. Check it again. Print it out, take 10 minutes alone, and check it again. Know what it means to “summarize.” (Hint: It doesn’t mean sending out notes that are longer than the meeting or call itself.)

Keep in mind that you’re only there for 10 weeks: Don’t get too comfortable, but also don’t get too stressed. Be a real person and use common sense. Those two things alone will probably differentiate you from the rest of the pack. And if all goes well, congratulations! You’re just 12 years away from dropping the mic and storming out in a huff via the op-ed section of an international newspaper. Coffee’s for closers only, you know?

Two questions: inspired by Claude Giroux’s Datsyuk-ian moves, what’s your favorite breakaway/shootout goal ever? And I just finished watching Reality Bites, so what’s your favorite 90s movie?

— Connor S.

Obviously it’s the one that Pavel Bure failed to score on that penalty shot in Game 4 of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals.

And since Troop Beverly Hills came out in 1989 and I can’t choose that, I’ll have to settle for Mallrats. Cue the forced-smile reaction shots of nominees The Cutting Edge, Fear, Legends of the Fall, The Big Lebowski, Good Will Hunting, Pulp Fiction, and The Net. True, these aren’t (all) necessarily ’90s movies the way Reality Bites is a ’90s movie, but perhaps this will be relevant to your interests: It’s one person’s Quest for the Most ’90s Movie of All Time, and it’s spectacular.

I’ve been a regular reader of Grantland since it debuted last summer. I always look forward to your semi-weekly Bakeshops. But when I glanced over your first “Wedded Blitz” column, I learned two things: Newspapers have pages devoted to marriage announcements and that people actually read them. Every time another Wedded Blitz piece comes out, I can’t help but be reminded of The Atlantic’s rather excellent “Marry Him!” and “All the Single Ladies” essays and wonder how it relates to you. So I guess my question is, on a scale from 1 to investment grade corporate bond, how resentful are you right now?

— Jay S.

James Bennett, is that you? I like to think of myself as a callable bond: There’s always the chance that I’ll be redeemed prior to maturity. But more important, I love/am completely baffled by the implication that investment grade corporate bonds are somehow a proxy for unmarried girlish jealousy. I have a mental image of, like, General Electric and Johnson & Johnson bonds meeting up for Sunday bagels (“scooped out with lightly spread non-fat soy cream cheese,” obviously) and fuming to each other over the day’s marital announcements. “Can you BELIEVE she married a Rockefeller?” one would ask, pausing to pick a wedgie from between the Greek sorority letters imprinted on the butt of her sweatpants. “I mean, repackage her however you want, but anyone who’s known her since college knows she’ll always be high-yield.” The other would nod, lips pursed, judgment rendered, a spare bit of cream cheese lingering on the side of her lips. “Yeah. Complete junk.”

I am a Boston University alum, and a big college hockey fan in general. I always find myself rooting for guys across the NHL who came up through the college ranks, almost feeling like they snuck into the league. I know many recruits break their commitments and switch to a Canadian junior league to make themselves more attractive pro prospects. I wonder if the Canadian system truly is better, or if this is based on outdated information and Canadian bias? Burke just got slammed by Don Cherry for his love of American players, but maybe he sees something the rest of the league won’t acknowledge?

— Joe E.

I’m with you, Joe: I have a (probably irrational) fondness for any player who opted to go the NCAA route rather than play in the CHL, both because it does kind of seem like they snuck in and also in part because it feels like the closest you can get to the American version of Don Cherry’s beloved “good Canadian boys.” Of course, this is being reductive — nearly 30 percent of NHL players this season went through college (up from 24 percent as recently as 2006-07), and plenty of them aren’t even American, most notably Jonathan Toews, who played two years at North Dakota before signing with the Blackhawks. (The Fighting Sioux recruit heavily in Manitoba.)

But just as reductive is the idea that the CHL is a definitively better destination for NHL hopefuls than NCAA hockey. This argument reared its head again this summer, when several high-profile prospects reneged on collegiate letters of intent at the 11th hour in order to go play in the Canadian juniors. (Craig Custance wrote the definitive piece on the subject.) While the CHL is hailed for being more similar to NHL play — the schedule is similarly grueling, fighting takes place, and many of the world’s most skilled players opt for that league — NCAA hockey has its benefits too.

For one thing, it skews older: CHL teams are mostly populated by teenagers and can only carry three 20-year-olds, while I knew guys back in college who were 21 as freshmen. (Hide your daughters!) The relatively lighter NCAA schedule affords players more opportunities to work on their on- and off-ice training — Toews, who was picked first overall in the CHL draft, said in 2005 that one of the things that attracted him to college hockey was “the amount of time you can spend working on little things of your game.” One pro scout who spoke to The Hockey News agreed: “A fifth round pick who’s got holes in his game and something to work on — maybe his size, strength, or whatever — he has to the age of 23 in the NCAA and that can make all the difference in the world.”

I’ve been doing a bit of traveling this past winter while unemployed to Snowboard and go to warm spots on Spring Break. In airports I’m constantly hunting for celeb sightings and even have a dynamic list of celebs I’d most like to see on that particular day which ranges (not including babes) from the Property Brothers of HGTV to catching Hank Lundqvist without makeup on. I shared this with my Brother-in-Law this weekend and he too had similar fantasies of celeb sightings. We then shared our finest recent airport celeb sighting moments. He recently ran into Sinbad at Boston’s Logan airport, and I recently was followed through airport security and to McDonald’s at Reagan in DC by Montel Williams of the Montel Williams show. You’ve been in airports a good amount as of late — who have you seen recently? and is there anyone you’re dreaming of being in the Sbarro line with next time your at SFO?

— Paul R.

Katie Couric accidentally cut me in line for an Amtrak train once, which was mildly exciting. I typically don’t get to airports early enough to do anything but sprint blindly toward my gate, though I did see Chubby Checker once when I was a kid. (My parents explained that he was the guy who sang the song in the Oreo commercial.) And oh yeah! A year or two ago I totally blew my chance to meet Cris Collinsworth, whom I love with all my heart, when we were waiting for the same red-eye flight from San Francisco to New York, because I was wearing, like, a full-on sweatsuit and I’d been too lazy to blow-dry and I couldn’t bear for him to see me in that condition. The perils of laziness mixed with vanity. It’s one of my bigger regrets. I’ve never gone to the airport with wet hair again.

I happened to see you mention Greg Stump and his seminally influential ski movie a while back, which tickled me no end as I am a passionate if somewhat underperforming skier myself. Skiing is obviously only newsworthy to most Americans every Olympic cycle. I was wondering what your reaction to Sarah Burke’s accident and death might have been, as an observer of treacherous winter activities.
— Luke L.

“It’s what our lives are, being on the hill,” said Sarah Burke this fall, sitting next to her husband Rory Bushfield, in the Ski Channel documentary Winter. “And there is a reason for that: it is where we met, where we play, where we live, and hopefully where we will die.” A few months later she did die on the hill, after crashing during a training run on the same Park City halfpipe where snowboarder Kevin Pearce nearly died in 2010.

“The death of freestyle skier Sarah Burke has forced the safety of extreme sports into the spotlight,” began an article on ABC News’s website. “The tragedy has drawn attention to the dangers of a daredevil sport,” wrote Emily Sohn for Discovery. “Burke’s death … has also raised new questions about what might make high-flying snow sports safer.” For all the supposed spotlights and attention and new questions about the safety of these sports, though, the reaction from within the community remains the same as it ever was. I wrote at length about the conflicted realities of the dangers of “daredevil sport” back in 2010, and pretty much every word remains applicable today — though I’d have a few more names of deceased athletes to add to the list.

“We wouldn’t be truly living if we weren’t doing this,” said big mountain skier Ingrid Backstrom in the wake of Burke’s death. “It makes you think about how I can do it the safest way possible, but it’s who we are and what we do. It’s a part of you. Arne wouldn’t want me to give that up, and Sarah wouldn’t want us to stop doing what we do.”

Arne is Ingrid’s brother, a rising star in the freeskiing world who was killed in 2010 in an on-mountain accident in Peru. That same year, pro skier CR Johnson also died “on the hill.” (And Shane McConkey died in 2009.) And yet this recap of the premiere of a Matchstick Productions ski film that included both Backstroms and aired just months after the deaths glides right over the tragedies as if they’re fresh snow. “There was a little moment of recognition for our fallen heroes CR Johnson and Ingrid Backstrom’s brother Arne Backstrom, who both died following their love of skiing,” it reports. The very next sentence: “MSPs sponsors loaded up the giveaways with goodies including Salomon skis, Helly Hansen shells, goggles, and all sorts of other gear for the raging skiers.”

The truth is that when you immerse yourself in this world — whether as participant or spectator, and whether it’s surfing, or mountain climbing, or skiing, or even motorcycle riding — you become somewhat inured to the fatal ramifications. This isn’t because they’re not sad or upsetting, but because the high-flying athletes themselves, time and again, somehow accept the risks with such grounded serenity. They can do this, I think, because they know what they love, and they love what they do.

Last time the Bake Shop was open for business, I asked, on behalf of a Sue Bird-loving letter-writer, for recommendations on an easy term to use when describing someone of the opposite gender with whom you just want to get a beer and hang. Suggestions included, but were not limited to:

The Obvious:

  • Beer Friend; Beer Crush
  • Platonic Crush; Platonicrush; “Platony”
  • Lady Crush, Lady Bro (Note: That last one was suggested the most by far. I’m just upset no one came up with a Broseph-style portmanteau like “Bimbro,” although on second thought … no I’m not. Speaking of which … )

The Portmant-no’s:

  • Womigo (“Combination of woman and amigo”)
  • Froob (“Combination of friend and boobs”) (These two came from the same person. I am either terrified of this person or want to be their best froob 4 life.)

The Acronyms:

  • PFOTOS (Stands for “Platonic Friend of the Opposite Sex” and pronounced “Photos”; the writer e-mailed again two days later to add “feel free to pronounce it “as Fottos or even go Spanish and say Vatos.”)
  • OOMPH (Stands for “Object of my Platonic Heart”) (These two came from different people, surprisingly.)

The X-Files:

  • Fragile X (“Obviously, the actual Fragile X is a potentially debilitating genetic maladaptation which no one would wish on anyone. But, that being said, for the purposes of bro-medy & bro-mity, it would serve. It’s chuckle-worthy, with an hint of danger … and yep, I am one of those readers.”)
  • X-Chromosome Homies (“or X-Chromosomies?”)

The Backing … Away … Slowly:

  • Pink Swan (“It is essentially the opposite of what is commonly referred to as a “Black Swan” event: a rare, unexpected event with a major impact. Although “Black Swan” is not truly an inherently negative term, it is usually assumed to be or used to reference as such. Given that, I think “Pink Swan”, or a rare and unexpected but positive surprise more aptly describes the situation. Because let’s be honest here, it IS a pretty rare thing.”)
  • Mustache (a cousin of “beard”; the person who submitted this one noted in a postscript that “As a 30-year old New Yorker who grew up listening to WFAN and somehow remains a hockey fan despite loving the Islanders, my mustache is definitely ESPN’s Steve Levy” and then added: “WOW, its too late to delete because I’ve already invested far too much time on this email, but let me be the first to declare “mustache” the worst term to describe a platonic crush.” Okay!)

The “As Seen on TV”:

  • Jack and Liz friendship (“I think you have to use the best platonic male/female friendship in pop-culture, Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy.”)
  • Elaine (“She portrayed that girl so perfectly, the girl who fits right in a group of guy friends, to the point that even if she has history with one of the guys, it’s still not awkward.”) Of all of those, I think I like those last two the best, because apparently I’m just an NBC whore. But Jack and Liz is good because it can go in either direction. And if you, male or female, don’t want to hang out forever with an Elaine, drinking cocktails and cruelly making fun of everyone who walks by, then you can just GET! OUT! (But don’t … take it out.)

Questions? Opinions? Hope? Dreams? E-mail

Filed Under: Bake Shop, Hockey, People, Peyton Manning, Series

Katie Baker is a staff writer at Grantland.

Archive @ katiebakes