Q: I need a mailbag like Kevin Love needs to start laundering Warden Kurt Rambis’ money while digging an escape route.
— Patrick, Arcadia, Calif.
SG: Fine, fine. We’re overdue. Let’s call it “The Super Bag” since it’s Hyperbole Week. As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.
Q: There’s comedy, there’s high comedy, and there’s Dallas people driving on the ice and snow. Welcome to the Super Bowl!
— Charles Bailey, Dallas
SG: Let the party begin! Can somebody explain how I’ve been in Dallas for two snowstorms in the past 12 months, yet it doesn’t have snow plows and it sands the roads instead of using salt? Sanding the roads? What was Plan B, pouring hot water on them? Amazingly, Dallas would have to snow locusts to pass Jacksonville as the Worst Super Bowl Location of All Time. But over the past eight years, I’ve been able to narrow the criteria for what a Super Bowl location SHOULD be into 10 bullet points:
1. If MTV would never film a “Real World” season in your city, you probably shouldn’t host the Super Bowl.
2. If your city shuts down for drinking at 2 a.m., you probably shouldn’t host the Super Bowl.
3. If your downtown isn’t big enough to house everybody, so some visitors will have to stay in another city that’s at least 35-40 minutes away, you probably shouldn’t host the Super Bowl.
4. If I have to pack a winter jacket, you shouldn’t host the Super Bowl.
5. If you don’t have enough luxury hotels with sizable minibars that call girls can ravage after a heavy hitter, celebrity, rapper or suit passes out, you probably shouldn’t host a Super Bowl.
6. If you’re located in a place that makes no sense whatsoever for a February family vacation or a spring break week, you probably shouldn’t host the Super Bowl.
7. If your city is short on strippers and/or cabs, you probably shouldn’t host the Super Bowl.
8. If your airport is more than 35 minutes away from your downtown, you probably shouldn’t host the Super Bowl.
9. If your location doesn’t quadruple the chances that a player on one of the two teams will get arrested, you shouldn’t host the Super Bowl.
10. If the only reason the Super Bowl is in your city is “We just built a new stadium,” you shouldn’t host the Super Bowl.
Bonus bullet point: If your solution for highways laden with black ice and/or snow is “We need more sand,” you shouldn’t host the Super Bowl.
That leaves Miami, San Diego, New Orleans (even if New Orleans can get chilly, Bourbon Street makes up for it), Las Vegas (if it ever builds a stadium) and Los Angeles (hopefully breaking ground on Farmers Field soon) as our We Should Be The Super Bowl Rotation quintet in an ideal world. Of course, things never work out ideally, so it’s probably futile to complain about it. Other than those five cities, Dallas is the best alternative (frigid weather aside) for four reasons: It’s a fun city to visit if you’ve never been there (the JFK assassination spot pushes it over the top); it’s like going to another country (as I’ve said many times, I believe Texas should secede — it already has its own flag and identity, now it just needs to start printing its own money); it brings a unique food experience to the table (Texas barbecue); and it offers the best state-of-the-art football stadium on the planet.
Think of it this way: If you’re lucky enough to have a ticket Sunday, the experience of being there, in that stadium, will trump anything else that might happen to you that week short of shivering on a street corner at 2:15 a.m. after the bars close, then having a limo pull up, Mark Cuban roll down the window like Jack Horner and ask “Want to join the party?” You can’t oversell how cool that stadium is. For that reason alone, I’m fine with dipping outside the Warm Weather Quintet this one time. Repeat: once.
Q: If there’s no football next season, how about HBO does “Hard Knocks” from the set of “Two and a Half Men?”
— @JasonAbbruzzesse (via Twitter)
SG: Co-sign. If only because of this next e-mail
Q: The other day I came across the following story in the morning newspaper: “Charlie Sheen hospitalized after 36-hour coke binge involving five porn stars.” I didn’t blink. Has Charlie Sheen entered the “Tyson Zone,” or is he breaking new ground? Do we need a “Charlie Sheen Zone?”
— Dan Ryan, New York
SG: Let’s at least agree that Charlie Sheen took the Tyson Zone to places we never imagined it could go. Recently, a brief TMZ story about Charlie’s latest meltdown included the words “briefcase full of cocaine,” “36-hour party,” “smoking cocaine continuously,” “porn connoisseur,” “porn critique,” “theater room,” “911 call” and “Maloof.” Had one extra word like “tiger” or “Tiger” been thrown in, it would have been the best Tyson Zone story ever.
So should we just rename the Tyson Zone after Sheen? Maybe it’s like the presidency in that nobody should be able to hold the title for more than eight years. Plus, Tyson got there three times a year, whereas Sheen gets there three times in a month. We’ve also seen a mellowing of Tyson over the years, whereas Sheen (older than Tyson) can’t even be described as “debaucherous” anymore; it belittles what he’s doing. (He’s more “rebaucherous.”) Believe me, I would never discount Iron Mike’s incredible run as the Tyson Zone’s founder (starting with this 2004 mailbag), and I will never forget some of his looniest moments, like the time he bit off Holyfield’s ear, or the time he covered the left side of his face with a tattoo, or the time he threatened to eat Lennox Lewis’ kids
(Actually, who am I kidding? We’re keeping it “The Tyson Zone.” He bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a fight. Charlie needs to sit courtside for a Lakers game with three porn stars, punch Jack Nicholson in the face, then throw a bag of coke on the Lakers logo at midcourt and start snorting it while watching porn on his iPad to take Tyson’s title. Let’s hope I didn’t just challenge him.)
Q: If the NBA were one big episode of “The Bachelor,” who would lead the league in most “he’s in it for the wrong reasons!” accusations from fellow contestants?
— Matt, Lakewood, Ohio
SG: You mean, other than Vince Carter?
Q: Thank you for sticking up for Jets fans on your podcast. I know a lot of us can be tough to deal with, but do people get how hard being a Jets fan can be? In every other city in America 95 percent of the people root for the same team as you do. When the Pats lose, you all go through it together. In New York, more than half are Giants fans, and every team is well represented because it’s such a transplant city. All this team has done in my life is lose, and spectacularly at that, while everyone around us mocks us as it happens. I don’t like many of our fans either, but I can understand how they became that way.
— Jamie Penn, New York
SG: I was going to make the joke, “I look forward to reading that e-mail aloud at the Tortured Sports Fans Convention next month in Cleveland,” but that got me thinking: Which city would be the most pissed off that someone else was hosting the Tortured Sports Fan Convention? I feel like Minneapolis would be absolutely furious that Cleveland got the rights. Meanwhile, Buffalo wouldn’t be furious, just devastated, and they’d probably say things like “We can’t even win the Tortured Sports Fan convention.” And Cleveland would be angry that some other city thought it had a case for hosting it. Which almost makes me wonder if we should put it in a neutral location like Fargo or Hartford. I need to chew on this some more.
Q: Last night I made a ton of food for dinner, then set a gambling line for Me versus Leftovers. Leftovers covered. I hope you and Cousin Sal are happy you’ve done this to me.
— Peter Marie, Portland
Q: I want the Nuggets to become totally spiteful with Carmelo. What if they sent him to the D-League, played him 48 minutes a game for the rest of the year, or introduced his wife to Tony Parker?
— Joe, Chicago
SG: (Nodding happily.)
Q: Over the years I’ve noticed more and more women keeping their maiden name and hyphenating it with their husband’s last name, thus creating more athletes with hyphenated names. Twenty years from now, we could potentially have some ridiculous names. For instance, let’s say Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has a daughter who marries BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ son. In 45 years, we could have Gus Johnson Jr. screaming “JEROME RODGERS-CROMARTIE-GREEN-ELLIS EXPLODES AROUND THE EDGE AND SCAMPERS DOWN THE SIDELINE! HE MIGHT GO!!!!!”
— John Zink, Bismarck, N.D.
SG: “And here comes his half-brother, Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie-Cromartie. He might catch him from behind!!!!!!!!!”
Q: Twitter recently suggested that I follow Anthony Morrow, whose handle is @BlackBoiPachino. Is there a pro athlete out there with a more ridiculous Twitter handle?
— Drew, San Jose
SG: No. Trust me, I wasted 30 minutes of my life researching it: not even Warren Sapp calling his Twitter account @qbkilla compares to @BlackBoiPachino. It’s the only Twitter handle that leaves more answers than questions. Did he mean Al Pacino? Does he consider himself the black Al Pacino? Is it a “Scarface” homage? Does he wish Tony Montana was black? If he likes hip-hop and sitcoms, where does Al Pacino fit in? And did he ever expect to inspire a @WhiteBoiPachino?
Q: I watched the excellent “why you don’t mess with Larry Bird” clip you posted. About 2:13 into the clip, there is an egregious shot of Bird and McHale in the short shorts, and it got me to thinking: For the NBA All-Star Game, what if the loser has to wear ’80s short shorts for the following year’s game?
— Jesse, Portland
SG: You know what’s brilliant about that idea? It makes much more sense from a motivational standpoint than money does. You’re not going to get the Western All-Stars to try harder because they’ll snag $35K per man if they win. That’s chump change for them — they’ll lose that playing bourré in the locker room in an hour. But being stuck wearing nut-huggers on national TV for three hours? Now that’s incentive! You don’t think Kevin McHale took the NBA TV job because he has a master plan of burning down its video library so all footage of his nut-huggers from 1981 to 1988 will be destroyed?
Q: How do the teams and dynamics shake out if the NBA instituted the NHL All-Star idea of captains picking the teams? Twenty-four players, two captains, conferences don’t matter. If Kobe is a captain does he “sabotage” his team so he doesn’t have to share the ball? If LeBron is a captain does he take Kobe (assuming Kobe isn’t the other captain)? Whose feelings get hurt the most? I’d be more interested in watching the draft than the game!!
— Aaron, Des Moines, Iowa
SG: When I first wrote about this idea in 2008, I thought it couldn’t miss. Then the NHL tried it and it didn’t totally work. (Unless you were rating it for unintentional comedy only. Then it totally worked.) But let’s play out the idea with Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant as captains. (Why Wade and not LeBron? For the same reason Wade got to choose LeBron’s team last summer — he’s wearing the pants in the LeBron/Wade family.) And let’s say the commissioner made a rule that the starters (as voted by fans) had to be picked first (not including Yao Ming). I see it unfolding like this
Team Wade starters: Wade (C), LeBron James (1), Chris Paul (3), Carmelo Anthony (5), Amare Stoudemire (7). Wade sticks with his buddies and doesn’t worry about positions. You know, kind of like in real life.
Team Kobe starters: Kobe (C), Dwight Howard (2), Kevin Durant (4), Derrick Rose (6), Blake Griffin (8). Intriguing team! Kobe takes Griffin over Gasol for three reasons: It’s a savvy political move (picking LA’s young gun and the most exciting guy in the game); it’s the pick that gets the most buzz (you can almost imagine the “Ooooooooooh” sound the crowd would make); and it’s a clear message to Gasol (“I don’t like the way you’re playing right now”).
Team Wade bench: Chris Bosh (9), Rajon Rondo (11), Dirk Nowitzki (13), Russell Westbrook (15), Kevin Love (17), Al Horford (19), Ray Allen (21).
Team Kobe bench: Deron Williams (10), Pau Gasol (12), Manu Ginobili (14), Joe Johnson (16), Tim Duncan (18), Paul Pierce (20), Kevin Garnett (22). Wade leans toward younger guys, Kobe leans toward experience. Funniest wrinkle: Pierce, Allen and Garnett going last because Wade and Kobe wouldn’t want them (you know, the Boston thing).
All right, so let’s say the draft unfolded that way: What makes it memorable other than Kobe picking Griffin and the Boston guys going 22-23-24? Not much. And also, why take the NHL’s sloppy seconds? I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’d rather stick with the conference format.
Q: You called “The Net” the most dated movie of the past 20 years. What would you call “School Ties?” Every time it comes on the TV I can’t stop watching it.
— Michael, Columbus, Ohio
SG: I’d call it the best “There’s Just A Lot Going On, I Can’t Stop Watching This” movie of the last 20 years. I love comparing Brendan Fraser to the other great movie quarterbacks. (I have him ranked behind Burt Reynolds but dead-even with Jamie Foxx.) I love the scene when Matt Damon finds out that Fraser’s character is Jewish (one of the better “Uh-oh, this isn’t gonna end well” movie moments). I love when Damon turns into Evil Racist Preppy Damon, and I love wondering why the filmmakers decided to have Damon and Fraser fight naked in the shower. (It’s one of the strangest ideas in movie history. I’d put it against anything. They could have been shaving. They could have been brushing their teeth. Nope. Guys, take your clothes off and get wet — you’re gonna fight naked.) I love how the anti-Semitism angle kicks into 19th gear before Fraser’s classmates learn the valuable lesson, “Hey, he might be Jewish, but that doesn’t mean he’d cheat on a test.”) I love Fraser telling the dean, “You used me for football. I’ll use you to get into Harvard. Excuse me” (a classic moment), and then the final Fraser-Damon exchange that ends the movie. It’s a cable classic.
(Note: I even think you could pretty easily turn it into a television show: Set it at a rich New England prep school in the 1940s, make everyone 11th-graders, then build the first season around Fraser turning the football team around while becoming best friends with Damon, falling for the girl Damon loves, and hiding the fact that he’s Jewish as the dramatic tension that connects the episodes.)
Anyway, here’s the most continuously mesmerizing part of “School Ties” to me: The six stars are Fraser, Damon, Chris O’Donnell, Ben Affleck, Cole Hauser and Randall Batinkoff, all of whom were good. (I remember noticing Damon in other movies after that and wondering why he wasn’t a bigger star.) Seeing Fraser, Damon, O’Connell and Affleck is like watching the 2003 draft and seeing LeBron, Carmelo, Bosh and Wade as four of the first five picks. O’Donnell broke out first with “Scent of a Woman” and had the best immediate career; Damon and Affleck broke out a few years later in “Good Will Hunting” and quickly became A-listers; two years later, Fraser became an A-lister thanks to “The Mummy.” Even Hauser became the guy from “Good Will Hunting” who told Will that his new car had a good engine — extending the 2003 draft analogy, he’s probably Chris Kaman. So here’s my question: What happened to Randall Batinkoff? Why didn’t he become a household name but the other guys did? Every time I watch that movie, I think of Batinkoff watching it and going, “What the hell happened? I was right there! I was just as handsome! I had the big scene when I ratted out Damon! Why them and not me???? WHYYYYYYYYYYY?”
Q: Former Haitian President Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who has been in the news lately, has a much cooler nickname than he apparently deserves. Doc Rivers’ blue-chip son, Austin, who committed to Duke next year, needs a nickname. See where I’m going? Baby Doc Rivers. Can you help?
— Dan, Washington, D.C.
SG: Yeah something tells me that’s not sticking.
Q: After drinking for a few hours at the Yardhouse before going to the Bobcats versus Clippers game and drinking the entire game, my friends and I, who were sitting close to the Bobcats’ bench, decided it would be a good idea to start heckling Stephen Jackson, aka Krazee-Eyez Killa, at the end of the game. NOT a good idea. He pointed at us and said “I’m gonna f— you guys up.” For the rest of the game and the whole walk to our car I kept looking behind my back to see if he was following us. Even in the car I figured he might drive up next to us and I would end up on “1000 Ways to Die,” the Stephen Jackson edition. Turns out you should NEVER EVER mess with Stephen Jackson.
— Garrett, Oxnard, Calif.
SG: Um didn’t we know that already?
Q: In hindsight, where does Donovan McNabb’s decision to endorse Philadelphia’s signing of Michael Vick rank in the list of “bad decisions that lead to your replacement” hierarchy from the obvious, should have seen it coming (Jennifer Aniston signing off on Brad Pitt working with Angelina Jolie) to the no way a reasonable human could have anticipated it (Mia Farrow’s decision to adopt)?
— Brian Dillmore, Mullica Hill, N.J.
SG: Come on, nothing will ever top Aniston signing off on the Pitt/Jolie movie. That’s a 10.0 on the Should Have Seen It Coming Scale. I’d rank McNabb/Vick at 8.0, just behind Johnny Carson naming Jay Leno his permanent guest host and just ahead of Roger Goodell causing a prolonged lockout because he pretended to care about player safety while hypocritically pushing for an 18-game schedule.
Q: Just wondering your thoughts on Jimmer Fredette. Reading articles about him, scouts seem divided. What kind of pro do you think he’ll make? Any comparable players to his style?
— Nick McLain, Indianapolis
SG: Remember, as long as you have one elite skill, you can play in the NBA for 8-10 years. Jimmer can fill it. He won’t be a bust. I see him landing somewhere between a homeless man’s Mark Price and an extremely poor and almost destitute man’s Stephen Curry. Could he eventually carry your second-team offense for six minutes per half? Yes. Could he thrive as a spot-up shooter on the right team? Yes. Would you have to hide him on defense at all times? Yes. Would it be fun to scream “JIMMER!” and watch him swish 28-foot 3-pointers? Yes. Would it be fun to have an NBA star whose name sounds like what they called an erection in 1920? Of course.
Q: I’m glad your Boston ass doesn’t like Kobe. Go throw rocks at school buses, you hack.
— Steve, Detroit
SG: That was this month’s winner of the “Most Efficiently Vicious E-Mail” award.
Q: What’s the most frightening way that “Mad Men” could jump the shark next season?
— Gordon Stevenson, Tampa
SG: I thought about Don realizing after his 1,000th sexual conquest that he’s really gay, then running off with Lee Garner Jr. and eventually opening a photo gallery with Sal. I thought about Don getting Robert F. Kennedy’s advertising account for the 1968 presidential race, being at the Ambassador Hotel when RFK gets gunned down, tackling Sirhan Sirhan shortly after the fatal bullets have been fired, then struggling with survivor guilt. I thought about Joan finally having her baby, and it turns out to be black (and fathered by Sammy Davis Jr.). But here’s the winner: Don finds out that the real Don Draper isn’t dead (he’s a POW) and flies back to Korea, Chuck Norris/”Missing In Action”-style to save him. You can’t top that one.
Q: I know you’re not much of a college hoops fan until the tournament, but Gus Johnson has his own promo on the Big Ten Network.
— Jeremy Ranz, Henderson, Nev.
SG: Let’s add this to the “Reasons Why CBS Needs To Make Gus The Voice of March Madness” list. Which is 470 pages long at this point.
Q: How good is Blake Griffin? My wife hardly follows basketball, but she knows Griffin. She refers to him as “Crotch Face” guy because of his dunks. How excited are you!
— Scott R, Denton, Texas
SG: Apparently you haven’t seen this YouTube clip yet.
Q: Why haven’t you started calling the Clippers “The Blakers?”
— Joey, Yucaipa, Calif.
SG: Received this e-mail two weeks ago, started doing it immediately. The word “Clippers” is damaged goods, much like the phrase “From M. Night Shyamalan ” Too much has happened. “The Blakers” feels like a fresh start. It’s also better than giving Blake a nickname, which he doesn’t need because there’s never been another famous sports Blake. Maybe the suggestions for nicknames have been fun — Poster Child, Earthquake, Milk Shake, Blake Superior, Dunkbot 3,000, the Blake Show, the Rim Reaper, even Crotch Face Guy — but in ClipperLand he’s simply “Blake.” Nobody says his last name. He’s almost Brazilian that way.
But calling the Clippers “the Blakers”? That might have some legs. As long as it doesn’t lead to people calling him Blake Mamba. Regardless, that’s not the biggest Blake-related story in play
Q: I don’t think people that realize Blake versus Kobe is setting up to be the biggest west side war since Marlo versus the Barksdales. Do you see the Blakers/Lakers parallels?? No one took Marlo (Blake) as a serious threat, but he’s being noted all over Baltimore (America). If Melo, as you proposed, comes to the Clips (as Brother Mouzone) and teams up with an Omar, they could facilitate the fall of Stringer Bell Bryant and the Lakers. Problem is — who could be that Omar? Who could be that final piece that leads to the fall of the Lakers and the rise of the Clippers? YOU EVEN HAVE A CLARENCE ROYCE AS A SLEAZY TEAM OWNER IN STERLING! The parallels don’t stop. All I know is when they come at the King Kobe, they best not be missin.’
— Tony, Chicago
SG: Fantastic e-mail. Loved it. Especially because Blake reacts to hard fouls like he wants to punch the offender in the face, then scream at the officials, “MY NAME IS MY NAME!” Part of me wonders if Donald Sterling is actually Omar — he’s on his own, nobody wants to be associated with him, nobody can get rid of him no matter how hard they try, and he robs from the rich (the other NBA owners who stupidly allowed someone to put a second team in L.A., then charge L.A. prices for tickets while putting out a cheap product and raking in all the ancillary revenue). And like Omar with Marlo, Sterling is Blake’s biggest threat: He can singlehandedly derail Blake’s chances to be The Man.
But let’s go with Tony’s premise because it was his idea: We have Kobe (Stringer), Jerry Buss (Avon), Griffin (Marlo), Baron Davis and DeAndre Jordan (Chris & Snoop), Sterling (Royce), Tim Leiweke (Carcetti), David Stern (Prop Joe) and I’m including myself as McNulty and J.A. Adande as Bunk because it’s my mailbag and I can do these things. Eric Gordon should be Brother Mouzone; it can’t be Carmelo because Carmelo is headed for the Knicks. (Note: Everyone’s known this since August; we just made a collective decision to pretend there were other options so talk shows had fresh daily topics and columnists and writers could have something to write about. Yes, I include myself.) You know who “Omar” is? Minnesota’s unprotected 2012 No. 1 pick (owned by the Clips). You can win a title with three All-Stars; if the Clips strike gold with that pick OR trade it for an impact player, that’s your Omar. And that’s when Kobe gets whacked.
Just know that the Blakers could grab a chunk of Los Angeles pretty easily. Because of its mammoth size, the number of transplants and Hollywood’s pervasive influence (there’s a premium on star power, and you’re only as good as you were last week), there’s a little more bandwagon-jumping than usual. You’d never see UCLA or USC fans switch sides, or hardcore Lakers/Dodgers fans jumping to the Clippers/Angels, or any transplants from cities with rich sports histories (Chicago, Boston, New York, etc.). But everyone else is up for grabs. Especially kids.
At Monday’s Bucks game, when my daughter decided she wanted a Blake jersey after Blake unleashed two hellacious dunks — and by the way, she wanted it RIGHT AWAY — was I really going to stand in her way? (Especially on the same day that she taunted two Lakers fans in her kindergarten class about Sunday’s Celtics beatdown?) Liking the Clippers means that she doesn’t like the Lakers. That’s a win for me. Had she asked for a Kobe jersey, I would have left her in the parking lot.
Anyway, I was here for that first post-Shaq season when the Lakers became an afterthought; I was here for the Dodgers season when Manny was all the rage; and I’m here right now as BlakeMania is taking hold. The Clippers have never had a better chance to stage an L.A. coup d’etat. Trust me, I’ve been to seven of the past eight home games — I don’t think he’ll ever be as good as Jordan, but I can’t imagine 1985 Jordan was more exciting. Crotch Face Guy (that’s kind of growing on me) has turned me into a freaking Kool-Aid drinker. I sent out e-mails to my New York friends begging them to get tickets for next week’s Clippers-Knicks game. The man HAS to be seen in person. He’s the biggest local threat that the Lakers have ever had. Not only is their title window slowly closing, but they have to worry about their own turf with Blake/Marlo coming after them. They better hope he doesn’t find Omar.
Q: How much would you pay to see one of those NBA past/present commercials for Eddy Curry? Wouldn’t it be wonderful seeing him get approached by a man before a game while he is drinking malt liquor and eating a Big Mac? The man could say, “Some people think you’re the next Shaq, but instead, you’re going to be the answer to the question, “What NBA player would own the largest bra size?”
— Caleb Ennis, Madison, Wis.
Q: I’ve been playing the Pats-Jets game over and over again in Madden for the past two weeks, and never once have I panicked and accidentally let a special teams player audible to a fake punt.
— Brendan, Boston
SG: (Nodding grimly.)
Q: How perfect would it be if Aaron Rodgers wins the Super Bowl? The storybook part is obviously that it would happen in the same season that Brett Favre experienced the ultimate fall from grace (personally, professionally, physically, photographically). The antagonist/protagonist contrast is brilliant too, as you’re putting all-around good guy Aaron Rodgers against (insert insult here) Ben Roethlisberger. But the poetic part would be that it came on the heels of so much other self-serving nonsense in sports (The Decision? SpyGate II? Tiger? Favre? Big Ben?) If Aaron Rodgers wins, does he restore balance and order in the world? And if it does restore balance in the world, does that mean Megan Fox can get her old face back?
— Suneet, Charlotte, N.C.
SG: If you believe there’s a certain symmetry with sports, that things happen for a reason, that someone upstairs is pulling the strings with this stuff I mean, wouldn’t Rodgers polishing off Vick, Roethlisberger and Favre in the span of four weeks rank right up there? Like those last few holes when Phil Mickelson was closing in on the 2010 Masters jacket, or even the underdog Giants thwarting New England’s 19-0 post-Spygate season, you can almost imagine choking on 500 columns Monday force-feeding the same “Rodgers atones for three NFL evils at once” angle. Personally, I could give a crap. I just want to see a good game. But the Favre angle is freaky. It’s like the pilot of a new hard-hitting FX drama.
After Brett hits rock bottom when his handsome replacement in Green Bay wins the Super Bowl, his business manager loses $40 million of his money in a Ponzi scheme gone bad, then his wife leaves him after finding out about his sexting affair with Chaz Bono. Now Brett has to make a comeback and throw an NFL game to save his house unless the Mississippi mafia kills him first. Stay tuned for the premiere of “Four And Out,” only on FX!
Q: I know you covered it with Cousin Sal (in Monday’s podcast), but could you write down your picks for every hilariously dumb Super Bowl prop bet in one place?
— Ryan, Valpo
SG: I’ll do you one better: I’ll write it in one paragraph. I think Christina Aguilera’s national anthem will be more than 1:54 (-130) and she’ll hold “brave” for more than six seconds (-130) because her new boyfriend seems seedy and I bet he’ll wager on both of those things and then coerce her. I think Fox will show Jerry Jones during the game more than three times (+115) and mention Brett Favre more than 2½ times (-200). I think there will be less than 45 seconds left when the Gatorade dump happens (-145), the color of the Gatorade will be yellow (-120), and the defense will do the dumping (-125). I think a Steeler will mimic Aaron Rodgers’ championship belt gimmick (even.) I don’t think a punt will hit the scoreboard (-2,500). I think the game will get over a 46 rating (even.) And I absolutely, positively think that a Packers player will attempt a Lambeau Leap (+115).
Q: I don’t have cable, but I can usually grasp the point when you relate sports to various television shows. However, when I read the transcript of a recent chat of yours, I was rather appalled. You were entertaining questions about “Jersey Shore” and “The Bachelor” and the like that had NOTHING to do with sports. I don’t give a crap who is going to win “The Bachelor,” who’s judging “Idol” or what anybody on “Jersey Shore” is doing. When I take the time to read your stuff, I want to read about sports, not reality television. Thus, I suggest that you change your moniker, lest people get the idea that you write about sports. My proposal is “The Sports and Reality Television Guy.”
— Emily, Harrisonburg, Va.
SG: Maybe, maybe maybe you should change to Emily The Really Mean E-Mail Lady!
Q: Me: It’d be an insult to us if you’re still here in 20 years. Hangin’ around here is a [expletive] waste of your time.
Steve: You don’t know that.
Me: I don’t?
Steve: No. You don’t know that.
Me: Oh, I don’t know that? Let me tell you what I do know. Every few days I come by U.S. Airways Center and I watch you play. And you go out and dish a few assists, and it’s great. You know what the best part of my day is? It’s for about 10 seconds before I log into ESPN.com. Because I think maybe I’ll get up there and I’ll read about the Suns trading you. No goodbye, no see you later, no nothin’. Just left. I don’t know much, but I know that.
— Mike, Scottsdale, Ariz.
SG: That was well done. I want Phoenix to trade Nash to Dallas for the following reasons:
1. They owe it to him. He’s loyal, he’s Canadian, and he cares too much about the inner workings of a team (and his role as the leader of the team) to ever undermine a situation by pushing publicly for a deal. They owe it to him to do the right thing.
2. You gotta love the wrinkle of Dallas reacquiring Nash when it never should have let him go in the first place. How often does a franchise get to atone for a mistake on that level?
3. A reunion of Dirk, Nash and Cuban allows them to recreate one of the unintentionally funniest pictures in the history of sports. Also, how much fun would it be to have best friends and two of the best 35 players ever (Nowitzki and Nash) chasing their first title with the one owner who can definitively say “I got screwed out of a ring” (Cuban)?
4. Of the contenders, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, San Antonio, Utah and Oklahoma City don’t need a point guard; Miami, Atlanta and Orlando don’t have enough to trade; the Nuggets are out because they’re being held hostage by Carmelo; and the Lakers don’t match up (I can’t see either team doing a Bynum/Blake for Nash/Gortat deal). So who’s left? Dallas! The Mavs could offer Rodrigue Beaubois (a legitimate trade chip), Caron Butler’s expiring deal (with the promise that Phoenix waives him so Dallas can re-sign him), DeShawn Stevenson’s expiring, their 2011 No. 1 pick and $3 million for Nash, Grant Hill and Josh Childress (whose unseemly contract would be the Trade Tax for giving up Nash and Hill).
5. What’s a better feel-good story than (A) the Nash-Dirk reunion; (B) the Nash-Marion reunion; (C) the Nash-Cuban reunion; and (D) Nash, Hill, Jason Kidd and Nowitzki making a run at the Finals together? Anything? Throw in Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, Peja Stojakovic and Brendan Haywood’s corpse and that’s a pretty fascinating nine-man rotation. I don’t think Dallas can win a title with the team it has. With Nash? It could win. Phoenix owes it to Nash (and really, CUBAN owes it to Nash) to pull the trigger.
Q: I’m so sorry, Simmons. A while back I e-mailed you facetiously about the overuse of “Oh by the way” by ESPNers and you concurred. Today I read in your column: “Emmanuel Sanders. Who, by the way, has one of the great ‘This name could have gone in 12 different directions’ names of all time.” At this point you are the doctor in “Blade.” You are infected and the clock is ticking. In five columns every sentence will include this dreaded phrase.
— Jason N., Anchorage
SG: I’m like one of the infected people in “Walking Dead.” There’s no cure. Just leave me here to die and go on without me. Oh, by the way, don’t worry about me! Go! GO!
Q: Shouldn’t there be an A.S.S. (American Swearing Society) Awards Ceremony every year? I’d let Katt Williams host it, and throw it on HBO so everyone could say whatever they wanted unedited. This year, Danny McBride would win Best Swearer for his role as Kenny Powers; Bruce Boudreau would win Best Newcomer; Mike Tyson would win Best Swear (for his line while watching surveillance in “The Hangover”); and Lewis Black could win a Lifetime Achievement Award. Tell me you wouldn’t watch this. It would be f—— awesome.
— James A, Weston, Conn.
SG: At the very least, this should be a 20-minute animated cartoon show. A few tweaks/additions: the Lifetime Achievement Award should be called the Lenny Bruce Lifetime Achievement Award (since he’s the Jackie Robinson of swearing); the “Best Swearer” award should be called the Tupac Shakur Trophy (since he’s the best swearer of all time); the Susie Essman Trophy should be handed out to the best swearing female of the year (maybe Whitney Cummings?); the Clay Davis “Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet” Award should go to the TV character who reinvented the pronunciation of an obscenity in the best possible way.
Some other awards: “Best String of F-Bombs By A Coach”; “Best Meltdown”; “The Christian Bale” (best audio of a meltdown that leaked out); “Best Accidental Obscenity at an Awards Show” (this year: Peter Facinelli at the MTV Movie Awards); the Howard Stern Award for “Most Gratuitous Reliance On Obscenities By Someone Who Feels Liberated For Not Being On Free Radio Anymore” (this year’s winner: Adam Carolla); the Hunter S. Thompson Award for “Most Efficient Use Of The F-Bomb In Print” (this year’s winner: Matt Taibbi); the Tiger Woods Award for “Best F-Bomb Accidentally Caught By A Mike During a Golf Tournament” (this year: Tiger Woods); the Kevin Garnett Award for “Best F-Bomb Accidentally Caught By A Mike During An NBA Game” (this year: Kevin Garnett); the Ryan Leaf Award for “Best Obscenity-Laden Tirade Directed By An Athlete At A Reporter” (this year: Derek Anderson); the Radiohead/Creep Award for “Best Use Of An Obscenity In A Song That Makes It Feel Diluted When You Hear It Bleeped On Free Radio”; the Best Accidental Obscenity By A Politician Award (Joe Biden cruises in 2010); and the Rex Ryan Award for “Coach Who Always Seems Like He’s Swearing On The Sideline Even If We Can’t Hear Him And We Don’t Know If He’s Actually Swearing” (this year: Mike D’Antoni). This show would be f—— awesome.
Q: You mention “The Sopranos” often in your columns/podcasts both in terms of analogies related to current events and speaking relative to other television series. After reading this article you may think twice about ranking “The Wire” higher and also about questioning “abandoned plot lines” and the Kevin Finnerty dream sequences. This guy spells out in mind-blowing detail the meaning of the series finale and how it relates to the way David Chase brilliantly crafted the entire series. Have you read it?
— Joey, Pittsburgh
SG: Tremendous. I originally believed that Tony didn’t die, and that the ending symbolized what the rest of his life would be like (living in fear). But when it came out that David Chase originally wanted to jettison closing credits and just run a black screen with no music for 2-3 minutes — and was turned down by HBO — that changed my mind. You don’t make that request unless you want your viewers to think Tony died. And in previous episodes, he had Tony and other characters mention multiple variations of the “when you get whacked, you don’t know it’s coming” theme and even included that fantastic slow-motion scene of someone getting killed at Silvio’s table and Silvio needing two seconds to register what happened. So yes, Tony died. It was a brilliant way to end the show, as long as you don’t care about the part that everyone watching it live thought their cable went out.
Q: In today’s society, where famous people cheating on their partners is not only commonplace, it’s almost expected, shouldn’t we be celebrating the fact that Rex Ryan is clearly still turned on by his wife? That she loves him back enough to indulge his fetishes? They clearly have a great sex life, are still very much in love with each other and that should be cooler than Kobe buying his wife off with a giant diamond ring.
— Greta S., Brooklyn
SG: I didn’t include Greta’s last name because I wanted to save her from getting asked out by every single guy in Brooklyn. But she makes a great point. I feel a lot better about forcing my wife to wear a Larry Bird jersey and a blonde wig to bed every night. Speaking of the Legend
Q: I was wondering if there is an official, or unofficial for that matter, set of rules for what to do when a random person meets a sports star, musician, actor, etc. For instance I was recently returning from an NHL game (go Devils!) and stopped at an interstate rest stop. It was myself and one other person in the whole bathroom — I look up and it’s Barry Melrose, who lives in upstate New York. I have never met Barry — but as a diehard hockey fan I absolutely love the guy and his passion for the game as well as his own personal flair. I locked up and didn’t say a thing even though we stood in a bathroom washing hands next to each other — as the moment was happening I thought, “The Sports Guy should have some rules on what to do” so the random fans don’t screw up these chances. This question seems perfect for you so
yah got any ideas?
— Peter Applebee, Albany, N.Y.
SG: You should have waited until you were out of the restroom, then pounced on him. There is no steadfast rulebook for celebrity interactions; it totally depends on the situation and the location. The only real rule is to keep them as short as possible. In the past 12 months, I met two celebrities that I had always wanted to meet (Lorne Michaels and Larry Bird). And each time, I executed the same game plan fairly successfully:
1. Don’t interrupt them when they are eating or peeing. Not a problem with Michaels or Bird; just a good rule to remember in general.
2. Say something flattering out of the gate, but not creepy flattering. With Bird, something like “I’m a huge Celtics fan, thanks for everything” is fine but saying, “Out of the 50 greatest moments of my life, you were involved in 28 of them” is creepy.
3. Don’t bring up a mutual name unless you are 100 percent sure that you know he/she will know who you’re talking about. In other words, don’t say something like, “My neighbor says she knows you, she was college roommates with a friend of yours ” Best-case scenario, the celeb will say, “Oh yeah, I know her!” (Congratulations, you both know the same person! In a country of 250 million people, that never happens!) Worst-case scenario, either the celeb will hem and haw or be annoyed that you just made them rack their brain trying to place the name. It’s a no-win. When I talked to Bird, my big move was “So whaddya think of Griffin?” Boom! We were off and running. And actually, I learned that Bird was a huge fan and loved how hard he played.
4. Don’t overlaugh at any of their jokes. Celebs are used to everyone kissing their asses, buttering them up and overselling anything they say. Just make eye contact with them, talk to them and remember that they eat, sleep, pee and poop just like you do.
5. If you try to get to second base (posing for a picture with them), just make sure someone takes it who knows how your camera works. You don’t want a Larry Bird photo where he’s smiling grimly because you just made him stand there for 53 seconds as your Aunt Marge repeatedly tried to take an iPhone picture but kept taping video instead. That’s also an incredibly long time to stand there with your arm around a stranger’s back. It could undermine the whole exchange. So be prepared.
6. Don’t let the interaction last for longer than a minute. Get in and get out. I don’t care how great it’s going. Don’t try to throw a no-hitter, just settle for five innings and the win.
Of course, my greatest celebrity interaction of all time happened when I ignored half the tips you just read. I was in the middle of an extraordinary blackjack binge at Treasure Island in 1999 — my buddy Bish and I were actually cleaning up for once, partly because we were drinking enough to kill a police horse — and right in the middle of the euphoria, I raced off to pee and found myself using a stall two over from Undertaker. The wrestler. Who’s gigantic, by the way. And not exactly benevolent-looking. But I was hammered, and I didn’t give a crap. So we had this exchange.
Me (staring straight ahead): “It doesn’t get any better than this — I’m in Vegas, I’m up $500 and I’m taking a piss next to Undertaker.”
(Three seconds pass. It starts dawning on me that nobody else is in the bathroom, and that there’s a decent chance I might get my ass kicked.)
Undertaker (starting straight ahead): “Mmmmmmm sounds like it.”
And he flushed the urinal and walked away. The cherry on the ice cream sundae of my first great Vegas night.
Q: It’s only a matter of time before an athlete changes his last name to include the @ twitter sign. Who’s it going to be?
— Mike, Tempe
SG: Anthony @BlackBoiPachino.
Q: Are you ever making a Super Bowl pick in print or do I have to sit through one of your stupid podcasts to hear it?
— D. Winston, Chicago
SG: No, I’m making a Super Bowl pick. Green Bay 37, Pittsburgh 27. Why? Because the Packers pulled a fast one on us this year. They probably should have been a 14-win juggernaut, but injuries and bad luck knocked them down to the wild card. They probably should have been remembered as one of those ridiculously fast, comically explosive, scary-in-a-dome passing teams on the level of the ’99 Rams or ’98 Vikings, but they were stuck playing in the NFC North. Even this week, they probably should have been favored by more than three against a banged-up Steelers team that ground out two less-than-impressive but gritty home playoff victories, but everyone’s been so blinded by Big Ben stories and the possibility of another Pittsburgh dynasty that we talked ourselves into it being an even game. And maybe it will be. I just know I’m not going against Aaron Rodgers indoors. Not this year, anyway.
Q: I cannot believe you wrote an entire column about Billy Hixx in 2001, and I am even more amazed that I read it nine years later. It’s official. I’ve reached rock bottom.
— Joe, New York
SG: Yup, these are my readers.
Bill Simmons is a columnist for ESPN.com and the author of the recent New York Times No. 1 best-seller ” The Book of Basketball,” now out in paperback with new material and a revised Hall of Fame Pyramid. For every Simmons column and podcast, check out Sports Guy’s World or the BS Report page. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sportsguy33.