Two years ago, we had the Summer of Mailbag. In 2013, we nearly had the Summer of No Mailbag. Since I’m the person in charge of collecting reader e-mails, picking my favorites and responding to them in a mailbag column that’s always 2,500 words longer than it needs to be, you know what? I’ll take the blame here. As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.
Q: The most amazing thing about A-Rod’s career: He’s one of the best hitters the game has ever seen, yet he will not be remembered favorably by a single person. Say what you want about Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, etc.; but at least there will be groups of fans who will always remember them in a positive light. A-Rod’s going to pass 650 HRs and not have a single Old Timer’s Day to come back to. Has anyone else in sports ever been so good, yet burned every single bridge when it comes to the fans?
—Ryan K, New York
SG: I wouldn’t count out Retired A-Rod yet. In 2008, the thought of Roger Clemens returning to Fenway to celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Morgan Magic” was inconceivable. In 2013, this happened …
… and not just that, but Clemens received a few cheers and even joined WEEI’s radio broadcast during the ensuing game. If the Texas Con Man can get something of a second chance in Boston, then anything’s possible with A-Rod. Time (and age, and nostalgia) has a way of softening this stuff.
But you brought up one intriguing story line: The real possibility that A-Rod becomes a historical nomad, a generational talent that ultimately doesn’t belong to any fan base.
There’s a precedent: Oscar Robertson spent the 1960s with the Cincinnati Royals before finishing his career in Milwaukee. The Royals moved to Kansas City in 1971, changed their name to the Kings, then moved a second time to Sacramento in 1985. Every NBA legend belongs to at least one current franchise except Oscar. Magic, Elgin, West, Kobe, Kareem and Shaq? Lakers. Bird, Russell, Cousy and Havlicek? Celtics. Hakeem? Rockets. Doc? Sixers. Barkley? Sixers/Suns. Jordan? Bulls. Mokeski? Bucks. You can keep going and going.1 Oscar remains one of the 12 best players ever by any calculation, but he “belongs” to a city that hasn’t had professional basketball since I was wearing diapers. He’s the only legend without a guaranteed, heartfelt standing ovation from his old fans anytime he wants one. That’s just bad luck — and for poor Oscar, par for the course.2
Moses Malone bounced around for two decades, but both Philly and Houston love him — he’s getting a standing O in either building.
For further details, here’s the Oscar chapter from my NBA book.
A-Rod’s “bad luck” was self-inflicted. He ditched Seattle and Texas, so those cities hate him. Baseball fans hate him because he pulled off the triple crown of baseball crimes (PEDs, serial lying, record-defacing). Sports media members have practically disemboweled him these past few months; they’ll never sing his praises. So only Yankees fans are left. And for Yankees fans, well before this latest PED scandal, A-Rod had become one of those annoying in-laws who never fit in with their family, but they had to put up with him because, technically, he WAS family. So they pretended to be happy to see him, made small talk with him during the holidays … and the whole time, deep down, they were rooting for him to divorce their sister so they’d never have to see him again. He’d have to single-handedly drag them to the 2013 World Series for that to change. In the words of James Baby Doll Dixon, I wish you a lot of luck, A-Rod.
So barring a 2013 World Series miracle, how does A-Rod avoid being a historical nomad? I think he has only one career move left, whether he’s suspended for 2014 or not: That’s right … Japan! I could see him going there next season with two goals: make as much money as possible, and make a run at Sadaharu Oh’s all-time professional baseball home run record (868). You realize he’s fewer than 220 away from Oh, right? You can do this, A-Rod! Here, we’ll all chip in for your plane ticket. That reminds me …
Q: We need an Overstayed Your Welcome Club for people once cool, then tedious, then insufferably tedious. Hey Dennis Rodman and Terrell Owens? I’d like you to meet Alex Rodriguez.
—Steve Greenberg, Boston
SG: I love this concept even if I can’t believe you left out Chad Ochocinco and Metta World Peace — it’s like you were deliberately trying to hurt them. But shouldn’t you tweak the name to “The Terrell Owens Club (for celebrities who overstayed their welcome)”? T.O. is the real-life version of John Belushi’s old SNL sketch, “The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave.” He even tried to hijack last week’s Kobe-Kimmel interview event in L.A. and had fans booing him and heckling “It’s not about you!” Has anyone ever gotten more mileage out of being less interesting than Terrell Owens? (Thinking.) Wait, now I’m worried VH1 is going to build the Overstayed Your Welcome House for him, fill it with cameras, then stick T.O., Ocho, Rodman, Metta, Chyna, Danica Patrick and Pete Rose in it. Forget I brought this up.
Q: Which installment of the Fast and Furious franchise will feature Nic Cage?
—Ted, Alexandria, VA
SG: Fast Eight. No question. The Mayans predicted it way back when. I’m sure Nic Cage is more confused than anyone that they’ve made seven of these movies without ever saying the words, “Hey, what’s Nic Cage doing?”
Q: I have to take issue with your assessment of Don Henley’s afro-beard combo.
For me, it comes in a distant 2nd to Lindsey Buckingham’s at the height of Fleetwood Mac’s popularity. Check out his pictures from that time and tell me you don’t agree.
—Dave Whitney, Rapid City
First, how dare you do anything other than pay homage to Henley’s beard/Afro combo (or as I renamed it in that Eagles column, the Henley). Second, these guys already had enough existing tension after Henley dated Stevie Nicks right after Buckingham broke up with her — they didn’t need more beef, so any additional blood is on your hands, Dave Whitney. Third, the Henley hit its hairy, unkempt, wolfmanish peak in 1975, at least a year before the height of Fleetwood Mac’s popularity — that’s why we call it the Henley and not the Buckingham. And fourth, you’re not finding anything in the mid-’70s capable of trading haymakers with the Henley, with one exception … that’s right, the Artis.
Q: You should update your twitter bio, it still says that you’re a columnist.
SG: I deserved that.
Q: You are the Bert Cooper of Grantland.
—Nicholas Martin, Seattle
SG: That, too.
Q: Actual conversation I had with a girl the other night:
Her: “Did you read Bill Simmons’ article about that?.”
Me: “Yeah, I read all of his articles.”
Her: “You say that like it’s a hard thing to do.”
Thanks, jackass. That tidbit was an impressive feat to throw around back in 2005. Now it’s just pathetic.
—Bryan, Grand Forks, ND
SG: This is starting to sting a little.
Q: In your latest podcast with Zach Lowe (off his “Best NBA Team Nicknames” column), you discussed the stupidity of the Phoenix Suns nickname and suggested the Phoenix Pitbulls. Why not borrow your idea for Brooklyn to just be “Brooklyn” and drop the Suns name altogether? Just call them “The Phoenix!” My plan: They should wait a year until after whatever high lottery pick they get. Let me literally rip off Wikipedia for a minute: “In Greek mythology, a phoenix or phenix, is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor.” Did you just read that?! Is there not a more perfect marketing/name-change opportunity? The Phoenix — it symbolizes “rebirth” and it’s high-flying and fiery? If the Suns miraculously land Andrew Wiggins and don’t do this, I’m holding you accountable.
—Dan S., San Francisco
SG: In 1970, an ABA team called the Miami Floridians changed their name to “the Floridians.” Did they go defunct within two years? Absolutely. But still … that’s a precedent! Only two NBA teams absolutely HAVE to change their names: the Washington Wizards and the Brooklyn Nets. The Wizards need to go back to the Bullets, and Brooklyn needs to be the Brooklyn Ballers, the Brooklyn Moguls or just plain Brooklyn.
Q: My vote for best new NBA team nickname features alliteration, is scary, is utterly original, would create some unintentionally hilarious headlines, and is over-the-top offensive. Your winner is … the Cleveland Cancer.
—Adam Pollock, Washington, DC
SG: I laughed. I can’t lie.
Q: News just broke that [Chris] Hansen is funding an anti-arena group in Sac, hoping to bring it to a public vote (and sabotage their deal). I suspect otherwise. I think it’s only, say 30%, about Sac and 70% about getting an expansion team. It’s clear that Hansen has ZERO leverage right now. (He’s the perfect blackmail for every other struggling franchise — as you have already pointed out.) Also, there’s an election coming in Nov. and it’s possible that several of Seattle’s top politicians, who signed off on the MOA that eliminates the Seattle public arena vote, could go away. The ONLY leverage Hansen has to move this forward is to make this Sac arena deal an ugly public fight. Nobody wants that. Hansen’s end game: tells Stern he’ll call off the dogs if NBA commits in writing to a Seattle expansion team. What other play does he have?
SG: You’re right. Here’s what Hansen knows …
1. Regardless of what they’re saying publicly, Adam Silver and David Stern have turned Seattle into a relocation blackmail city for every NBA owner who needs to muscle his city for help building a state-of-the-art arena. NBA Seattle = NFL Los Angeles.
2. Our last collective bargaining agreement was apparently negotiated by Billy Hunter while he was dressed like General Custer. Did Billy have any idea that Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network were coming, or that live content in the DVR/Twitter/Netflix era was the single most important TV property you could have? It’s unclear. But the league’s franchise values have been climbing from the moment that lockout ended. Three years ago, Joe Lacob’s group paid $350 million less for the Warriors than they’re worth today. Josh Harris’s group paid a little less than half as much for the Sixers as Vivek Ranadive paid for the Kings just 30 months later. Hansen missed his window to steal an NBA franchise for anything resembling a good price.
3. You’d be crazy to sell an NBA team right now. Even if you own a team in a less-than-thriving market — say, Detroit or Charlotte — you could thrive by throwing out a $45 million player payroll, collecting TV/merchandising/luxury tax revenue and letting your franchise appreciate. That’s how we knew the Maloofs were broker than broke: NOBODY wants to sell an NBA team right now, and yet they had to sell their team.
OK, so you’re Chris Hansen. (Not To Catch a Predator Chris Hansen, but Really Really Rich Chris Hansen.) You and Steve Ballmer just spent the last two years making it clear that you’d do anything to bring basketball back to Seattle, even if meant overoveroverpaying for the Kings. And you didn’t just get screwed over; David Stern effectively hit you over the head with a steel chair, then climbed on the top rope while waving “THE SONICS ARE DEAD” and “CLAY BENNETT 4EVER!” T-shirts at Seattle fans. You’re not getting an expansion team at anything less than extortion prices for a simple reason: Why would the other 30 NBA owners want to dilute their share of the league’s booming media rights? They don’t care if Seattle has a basketball team. I can’t see Hansen getting an expansion team for less than $1.05 billion ($35 million per franchise), and at that point, why even do it?
Your only possible relocation prey? The perennially mediocre Milwaukee Bucks, who rank behind the Packers, the Brewers, Wisconsin basketball, Marquette basketball, Wisconsin football, and the Packers a second time on the Wisconsin Sports Fan Priority Scale.3 Still, they’re owned by retired politician Herb Kohl — or as every NBA employee respectfully calls him, “The Senator” — a 78-year-old guy who doesn’t seem especially motivated to become The Guy Who Killed Professional Basketball in Milwaukee. Even if you offer a record price for the Bucks (something like $850 million, not including the relocation fee), nobody thinks Kohl would bite. He’s the same guy who values being a perennial no. 8 seed over blowing things up and going into über-tank mode (like the Sixers just did). Now he’s just going to quit on professional basketball in Milwaukee completely? At his age???
I wrote about this before but it’s worth mentioning again: When the Bucks’ arena celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, a local radio station held a contest in which listeners voted for the greatest moment in the arena’s history. Your winner? A wrestling match involving the Mega-Powers, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.
So if you can’t get an expansion team, and you can’t get the Bucks, who’s left? The answer: nobody. Hence the turd-in-the-punch-bowl strategy with the Sacramento vote. Maybe it’s a legal Hail Mary, but it’s the only move Hansen has left. And it’s not going to work. The NBA seems determined to screw over Sonics fans for as long as humanly possible. Uh-oh, I feel a song coming on …
Q: Aren’t you the king of “Stay In Your Lane”? So what are you doing abandoning your column and podcast during the 2013 NBA Playoffs for television? A column and a podcast can last forever, but all those pregame shows you did were meaningless, empty accomplishments the moment they were over.
SG: Yeah, but still!
Q: Has the Matthew Stafford If He Stays Healthy nickname torch been passed to Danny Amendola If He Stays Healthy?
SG: Apparently you missed the ceremony on NFL Network last week. Amendola looked so good in last week’s exhibition game that he doubled his fantasy auction price and even generated some Welker 2.0 buzz. Naturally, he got hurt a few days later (even worse, with an “undisclosed injury”), was listed as “day-to-day” and conspicuously missed last night’s Lions game. So much for doubling his fantasy auction price. Danny Amendola is going to be a top-12 fantasy receiver … you know, if he stays healthy. PS: If you need help for your fantasy draft this weekend, listen to my annual fantasy football preview podcast with ESPN’s Matthew Berry.
Q: When Hank closed the garage door, that was like the Heat improbably getting the rebound in Game 6 and everything that followed in that scene was Ray Allen hitting That Shot. One of the greatest moments in TV history, period.
SG: I thought it was the television equivalent of the 75 seconds or so right after Mike Tyson first chewed off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear — when we realized what happened, zoomed through the Seven Stages of WTF? and assumed they would stop the fight, only they didn’t, and suddenly Tyson and Holyfield were hopping in their corners, ready to fight again as everyone lost their freaking minds.
I’ve been in just about every conceivable sports fan situation at this point — that’s my no. 1 “I am prepared for ANYTHING right now” sports fan moment. (It’s impossible to overstate how exciting those few seconds right before they started fighting again were. I still remember where I watched that fight, who was there, and where everyone was sitting.) So without spoiling the garage moment for anyone who hasn’t seen Season 5 yet, I will only say that it made me feel the same way.
Wait a second, we’re doing this right now? This is happening??????? I AM PREPARED FOR ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING.
Q: Is there anyone who can die between now and next month to prevent James Gandolfini from getting the hammer slot in the ‘In Memoriam’ Emmys montage? I see only three potential people stealing his thunder: Bill Cosby, Bill Shatner, or Jerome Seinfeld.
—Bryan Farris, Baton Rouge
SG: Agree on Cosby and Seinfeld. Disagree on Shatner. Would add the following definites: David Letterman, Michael J. Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara Walters, Lorne Michaels, Carol Burnett and Oprah Winfrey. Also, I think Alan Alda, Regis Philbin, Tom Brokaw and Ellen DeGeneres would almost definitely get the hammer over Gandolfini. Maybe he ekes out a decision over Ted Danson, Ray Romano, Jon Stewart, Bob Newhart, James L. Brooks and Roseanne Barr … but at the very least, for every one of those six examples, the guy in charge of the “In Memoriam” montage sends out an e-mail to his producers asking what to do.
The single toughest call? Gandolfini or Eddie Murphy. I don’t know the answer. And I hope we don’t find out. I love Eddie Murphy. STAY ALIVE FOR THREE MORE WEEKS, EDDIE! YOU CAN DO IT!
Q: I’m not sure why, but the other day, I decided to see what the current Red Sox rotation would look like if all the pitchers were actually dinosaurs:
1. Felix Doubrontosaurus
2. Jon Lestyrrannosaurus
3. John Lachiosaurus
4. Jake Peavelociraptor
5. Ryankylosaurus Dempsterodactyl
Bonus: Claosaurus Buchholz (Yep, Claosaurus is actually a dinosaur). DOUBLE BONUS: Steven Wrightceratops.
I doubt this can be done with any other rotation (can it?). Is this a good sign — the Sox will totally destroy their weak competition — or a terrible one — the Sox are one major asteroid strike away from missing the playoffs?
SG: About a week after I received this email, Ryankylosaurus Dempsterodactyl plunked Alex Roidriguesaurus, fired up the Yankees and turned their season around, sent the Red Sox into a tailspin, and inadvertently transformed John Farrell into 2001 Jimy Williams. So I’m going with the asteroid.
Q: SportsCenter has been showing a lot of tweets on air from sports figures and celebs. Most of the time, the person reading the tweet kinda butchers it due to the weird form of English used on twitter. What do you think of SportsCenter bringing in a Frank Caliendo type impersonator and use him over an anchor awkwardly reading a Shaq tweet?
—Ashton, Springfield, MA
SG: I don’t see ESPN doing that, but it sounds like it’s right up Fox Sports 1’s alley! FUN IDEA.
Q: I don’t want to bad-mouth Midnight Run, but to claim “No movie used more f-bombs more effectively than Midnight Run” took me aback. Have you not seen The Big Lebowski?
—Eric S., St. Peters, MO
SG: Still haven’t seen that movie. My buddy Gus believes everyone should have one movie that you’ve never seen just because it infuriates and perplexes everyone you know that you haven’t seen it. His movie is E.T. He’s never seen it. This infuriates and perplexes me. For me, it’s Rebowski. Er. Lebowski? Is it Rebowski or Lebowski? I wouldn’t know because I’ve never seen it.
Q: In your “Overrated/Underrated/Properly Rated” podcast with Wesley Morris, you debated how to rate Jodie Foster’s career against Meryl Streep’s career. Streep is probably the most similar to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar due to her longevity and continued success, right? Foster is more like Bill Walton. She succeeded early (Foster in Taxi Driver, Walton at UCLA), got sidetracked in her early adult years, then blossomed in her late-20s (The Accused and Silence of the Lambs for Foster, the ’77 title season and ’78 MVP for Walton), then fell off again and did nothing of real note for the rest of her career other than one last hurrah (Inside Man for Foster, Walton being the sixth man for the ’86 Celts). Your thoughts?
—Alex Choi, Sacramento, CA
SG: I like it because Wesley overrates Foster’s Accused/Lambs peak much like I overrate Walton’s run in 1977/1978, and also, the Streep-Kareem parallels are pretty great. And thanks for not extending the analogy to include Bill Russell and Katharine Hepburn, because that would have pissed me off.
But you reminded me of something: Back in 2009, I wrote an ESPN The Magazine column about Streep owning our “greatest living actor” title. The thesis: If we created a sports-like formula to capture acting success, regardless of how complicated or simple that formula was, Streep’s “stats” would beat every other living actor. To prove that point, I made up a simple formula based on the historically unreliable Oscars: Best Actor/Actress wins were worth seven points; Best Actor/Actress nominations and Best Supporting Actor/Actress wins were worth three points; and Best Supporting Actor/Actress nominations were worth one. At the time, Streep (45 points) trailed only Hepburn (52) on the all-time list.
Since then, Streep received another “Best Actress” nomination for Julie & Julia, then officially passed Hepburn by winning “Best Actress” for The Iron Lady. That makes her the most successful actor ever based on my dumb formula that I spent 27 seconds creating. Our top 20 actors updated through 2013’s Oscars …
Streep (55); Hepburn (52); Bette Davis (41); Jack Nicholson (38); Spencer Tracy (35); Laurence Olivier (32); Marlon Brando (30); Dustin Hoffman, Paul Newman, Ingrid Bergman (29); Jack Lemmon (28); Daniel Day-Lewis,4 Jane Fonda (27); Greer Garson (25); Peter O’Toole (24); Gary Cooper, Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Liz Taylor (23). Sorry, Al Pacino — you missed the cutoff by one point. Hoo-ah!
DDL jumped into the top 12 thanks to Lincoln.
Q: I had a dream last night about a cricket-playing cat called Toby. Toby was like the Babe Ruth of cat cricket, I mean he made the other cats in the cat cricket league look like they were kittens. He even had an epic five-minute YouTube montage of his greatest shots that I watched several times. And the worst feeling about waking up wasn’t realizing that it was all a dream, but realizing that I couldn’t send you a link and tell you about Toby, the Babe Ruth of cat cricket.
—Jonathan Gault, Syracuse
SG: I’ve learned to see through transparent attempts to become the last e-mail of the mailbag.
Q: Pick one musical act for the New York Super Bowl halftime: Jay-Z, Bruce, Bon Jovi or the debut of the Frank Sinatra hologram?
—Chris Agar, Felton, DE
SG: I guess I need more clarity … are we considering this a New York Super Bowl or a New Jersey Super Bowl? (Maybe America should vote on this?) If it’s a New York Super Bowl, then I vote for Jay Z performing with the Sinatra hologram. If it’s a Jersey Super Bowl, I vote for Bruce and Bon Jovi performing together as Chris Christie eats pasta in the background with a Gandolfini hologram.
But if we’re considering this a New York–New Jersey Super Bowl — a joint collaboration, if you will — then nothing less than a Jay Z–Springsteen combo would suffice. We might as well go all-out because right around the second quarter — when it’s 18 degrees and every Super Bowl spectator is in full-fledged WTF mode — we’re going to collectively decide that no cold-weather city should ever host a Super Bowl again.
Q: Hello, I’m a Jets fan. I just looked through some fantasy previews and this is what I saw …
Stephen Hill, 36 rec, 481 yds, 4 td [72 pts]
Jeremy Kerley, 40 rec, 579 yds, 2 tds [68 pts]
Santonio Holmes, 21 rec, 271 yds, 3 tds [44 pts]
Kellen Winslow, 29 rec, 302 yds, 1 td [35 pts]
Braylon Edwards, 14 rec, 214 yds, 1 td [27 pts]
Ben Obomanu, 14 rec, 180 yds, 1 td [24 pts]
Mike Goodson, 14 rec, 148 yds, 1 td [21 pts]
Chris Ivory, 1 rec, 11 yds, 0 td [1 pt]
A total of 292 fantasy points, 2,186 yds, 13 tds
Calvin Johnson is projected for 232 points, 1,795 yds and 9 tds HIMSELF.
Ladies and gentlemen … your 2013 NEW YORK JETS!!!!!
—Matt Davis, Putnam, CT
SG: J … E … T … S … JETS JETS JETS!
Q: Did I just hear on your podcast that you were “never a fan of” Bret Hart? As a lifelong follower of the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be, I’d appreciate an explanation.
SG: Let’s see … no personality, no sense of humor, wet hair, horrible entrance music, hideous wrestling outfit (pink and black?), never tweaked his gimmick, didn’t get along with Shawn Michaels, “carried” the WWE during its most boring stretch of the past 40 years, sold out for WCW money, remains memorable only because of (a) the Montreal Screwjob (and the fact that he punched Vince McMahon afterward), and (b) his phenomenal Ewing Theory credentials (the WWE took off again right after he left). Just thought he was overrated.
Quick tangent: In our aforementioned podcast last week, Wesley Morris mentioned his “market corrections” theory and how, sometimes, there can be only one “type” of successful lane for one actor (only with multiple actors vying for it). An example he liked: Mark Harmon never making it as a leading movie actor because Kevin Costner took all of those marquee roles that could have gone to Harmon from 1988 through 1995. Costner was Harmon’s market-correction guy, the guy blocking Harmon from having a Costner-like career.
Same for Tom Hanks and Michael Keaton — they battled for seven years for “funny/likable comic actor who dabbles in serious roles and will eventually become an A-lister” supremacy, with Keaton gaining an early A-list upper hand in 1989 thanks to the Batman movies. What happened to Hanks? Total tailspin! That was his Joe Versus the Volcano/Bonfire of the Vanities stretch — three years of forgettable movies. When Hanks rallied back in 1992 with A League of Their Own, then Sleepless in Seattle, Philadelphia (Oscar) and Forrest Gump (Oscar), what happened to Keaton? TAILSPIN! As Wesley says, there could be only one.
Back to Bret Hart: His market-correction guy was “Mr. Perfect,” Curt Hennig, another technically terrific wrestler who hit the WWE in the mid-1980s. I always loved the arrogant “Mr. Perfect” gimmick and thought Hennig was more interesting and entertaining than Hart, but Hart’s extended wrestling family (brother Owen, brothers-in-law Jim Neidhart and British Bulldog) morphed into the Hart Foundation family, which stole good spots in every pay-per-view. With the Hitman leading the way, of course. So Hennig ended up being the Keaton to Hitman’s Hanks — he never won the WWE title and eventually jumped to WCW. So not only did Bret Hart semi-bore the hell out of us in dozens of pay-per-views, he drove away his more entertaining market-correction guy. I don’t hate him for it. Just can’t call myself a Hitman fan. Wait, did we just spend four paragraphs on this?
Q: Since you blindly defend everything Boston, what’s your defense for Ben Affleck ruining the Batman franchise? I know you have one!
—Chris, Scarsdale, NY
SG: I don’t have a defense, more of a theory. On the face of it, Affleck taking a massive risk like this makes no sense whatsoever. He just spent the past six years rebuilding his career, reestablishing himself as an A-lister and completing one of the greatest comebacks in Hollywood history.
But here’s the thing …
I don’t think it was enough for him. I think he’s still in “Eff You” mode from all the abuse he took during the Bennifer era, for people writing him off, and for the Academy not giving him that Best Director nomination for Argo. And obviously, he’s been on fire with career decisions for the last few years and feels like he can’t do anything wrong. So this is part hubris and part “Eff You” — Affleck knew taking that Batman part would be polarizing, he knew he didn’t need it financially or professionally, and he didn’t care. If he pulls it off, now it’s not just one of the great Hollywood comebacks ever, it’s THE GREATEST Hollywood comeback ever.
So really, this is the Hollywood equivalent of the 2007 Pats trying to go 19-0 post-Spygate. Ben Affleck is trying to run up the score on us right now. How can you not respect him for this? We’ll be back on The Best Blind Boston Defense I Could Come Up With after these messages.
Q: Are you aware that the President of the American Leprosy Missions is named Bill Simmons?
—Warren K, Adelaide, AUS
SG: Did you know that my middle name begins with a “J,” and that the second Ku Klux Klan was formed in 1915 by the Reverend William J. Simmons? Or that there’s a famous competitive eater who recently went to jail for cocaine possession and distribution named Bill Simmons? So to recap, I’m not Leprosy Bill Simmons, KKK Bill Simmons or Cocaine-Selling Competitive Eater Bill Simmons, I’m the OTHER Bill Simmons.
Q: How is it possible that Grantland’s Best Song of the Millennium Bracket did not include “Seven Nation Army”? As the commander-in-chief of Grantland, I am appalled that you allowed this travesty to transpire. It is probably the most distinctive guitar intro of the last decade plus, and the song was definitely played enough to warrant a spot on the list. Use your powers and fix this immediately.
—Andrew, Thousand Oaks
SG: Heat fans ruined that song. You know it’s true. I know it’s true. We all know it’s true. That’s the official theme song of the fan base that bolts for the exits down by five with 28.2 seconds left and the season on the line. A seven-nation army couldn’t hold them back … from heading to the parking lot. Sorry, Jack White. You deserved better.5
Songs omitted from our top 64 that I took the most personally (and made me question why I hired many of the people who work for Grantland right now): The Game’s “Hate It or Love It” is the ultimate West Coast rap throwback song (how do we have Drake on our list but not The Game????) … Hot Hot Heat’s “Bandages” was better than pretty much every alternative song we actually picked … regardless of how you feel about Coldplay, not including a Coldplay song from 2000-03 was just plain spiteful (especially when Wilco made it — you suck, Chris Ryan) … and even if you don’t love the song, America couldn’t get away from Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” for five solid months. PS: I also would have gone with “Smile Like You Mean It,” “Time to Pretend” and “The Recipe” as our Killers/MGMT/Kendrick Lamar choices, but that’s just me.
Q: In light of the ongoing debate over the name of the Washington Redskins, don’t you think it’s time Boston changed the name of Yawkey Way, given that Tom Yawkey was an open racist who refused the integration of baseball?
SG: Given that Yawkey Way is the road you walk down as you’re about to stroll into Fenway Park, yeah, I’d say that’s a little awkward. Especially if you were a black Red Sox fan thinking to yourself, Wow, if it were 1949 and I was good at baseball, the guy they named this street after wouldn’t have let me play on his team. Hold on, lemme work up a good loogie to spit.
But Yawkey owned the Red Sox for 44 years (longest baseball reign ever at the time), helped turn the Jimmy Fund into one of America’s best cancer charities and even got elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame. His shadow hangs over the 20th century for Red Sox fans, for better and worse. Dave Zirin and I discussed this very theme on Wednesday’s podcast: Changing a street name, pretending your history doesn’t exist, and not giving your fans a chance to discuss and digest what happened … I mean, that isn’t the greatest idea, either. Yawkey was a flawed guy in extremely flawed times, and if the street makes you remember that and appreciate the progress we’ve made over the past six decades, maybe that’s not a bad thing.
Here’s what I’m thinking: What if we went the other way? What if you kept the name of the street, but you built statues of Pumpsie Green (the first minority Red Sox player), Jim Rice, Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz that would be strategically positioned along Yawkey Way? And then, you point out on each statue that the Red Sox were the last franchise to integrate their team, and that once upon a time, our racist owner Tom Yawkey fought for years and years to maintain an all-white Red Sox team? (Thinking.) Or we could just change the name to Dave Roberts Drive and be done with it. What Red Sox fan wouldn’t feel like a million bucks walking down Dave Roberts Drive? I need to think about this some more.
Q: Where does Will Smith casting his son in a big budget movie and then having the audacity to promote him as the lead in the film rate on the all-time nepotism scale? Where would it rate between perfectly legit and James Dolan?
SG: I have it rated as a Jimmy Buss. You just reminded me of something: How many years away are we from Michael Jordan hiring his sons to help him screw up the Bobcats? Like, five or six? Can we announce an official date so I can start looking forward to it?
Q: After A-Rod’s now-hilarious “confessional” interview with Peter Gammons in early 2009, Fox — who at the time was promoting its short-lived TV series Lie to Me — brought in world-renown lie detection expert Dr. Paul Ekman to break down A-Rod’s microexpressions. Dr. Ekman believed that A-Rod showed contempt throughout the interview, and frequently displayed the telltale signs of a liar. I remember seeing this at the time and immediately thinking to myself, “Hmmmmmm. We probably haven’t seen the last of this … ” Sure enough, A-Rod was fibbing all along. I propose that from now on, whenever an athlete or celebrity is suspected of being dishonest, we get Dr. Ekman involved in the case and let him figure out what’s really going on.
—Harrison R, Austin TX
Q: I was just rereading “Now I Can Die In Peace” for the 10th time and couldn’t help but notice your take on A-Rod after he slapped the ball out of Arroyo’s glove like a ninny in Game 6: you said the play ” … exposed A-Rod as a liar and cheater of the highest order, the kind who would turn over an R in Scrabble a pretend its a blank letter.” Touché sir. You called it.
—Tyler, Durham, NH
SG: Where is Dr. Ekman? I want to high-five him. We had this all the way, Dr. Ekman!!!!!
Q: Did you read Bill Barnwell’s piece on the yearly QB Championship belt? He gave Peyton Manning six seasons of belts and Tom Brady 1. My roommate and I think he’s trying to get you to fire him so he can join Peter King’s site.
—Danny, Lincoln NE
SG: We certainly can’t rule it out. Obviously, I would have given Brady the 2003 and 2004 belts for leading a juggernaut that won two straight Super Bowls, finished 34-4 over that stretch (including an NFL-record 21 straight victories) and beat the Colts all four times they played (including twice in the playoffs). We left the 2004 playoffs believing that Brady was the next Montana, that he owned Manning and the Colts, and that there was no better money QB in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. Had someone written a column in February 2005 based around the premise “I don’t care what just happened, I’m still giving the QB Championship belt for these past two years to Peyton Manning,” he would have seemed like a crazy person … right?
And just so you don’t think I’m a homer (you’re right, we’re about 10 years too late), I would have given Eli Manning the 2011 belt for carrying a 9-7 Giants team past Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, a terrific Niners defense in San Francisco, then Brady in the Super Bowl. We left that season believing that he was the best big-game QB in football, right? Same logic as Brady in 2003 and 2004. As for 2012 … I don’t know. Joe Flacco submitted one of the best QB postseasons ever, but didn’t that feel more like a good QB catching fire for a month than someone becoming the league’s best QB? I’d probably give the 2012 belt back to Rodgers, but I don’t feel great about it. Finishing second: Peyton Manning. Finishing third: Flacco. Finishing fourth: Tom Brady. Finishing last: Mark Sanchez.
Q: I never thought The Sports Guy’s Mailbag would go extinct before the US Postal Service. Good thing I don’t bet on these things.
—Matt Sexton, Agoura Hills
SG: Come on, we’re back! We’re headed for 10,000 words! WE’RE BACK, BABY!
Q: Is this the saddest internet sale of the summer Why only 50 percent off?
SG: I’m not ready to laugh at anything involving the words “Gerald Wallace” yet.
Q: After Game 7 of the NBA Finals, SportsCenter cut you in the postgame show off right as you were going to say something about The Decision! What was it?????
—Matt Scully, SF
SG: Part of me never wanted to answer this question, just because I enjoyed so many conspiracy theorists thinking ESPN intentionally cut me off there. Really, you think ESPN would do anything like THAT? (Thinking.) Fine, it’s probably the wrong week to ask that question. But if that were true, then that means I uttered the words “The Decision” and a panicked director in Bristol immediately screamed, “CUT HIS MIC!” within 0.015 seconds. Come on. Nobody can react that fast.
So what did I actually say? The same thing I’ve written in my column before — that “The Decision” was considered a disaster when it happened, but it’s really the best thing that happened to the NBA since Jordan came back from baseball. From the spring of 2010 through the summer of 2013, everything happening with LeBron James was more interesting than anything else happening in any other sport. His evolution from “beloved young star with no ceiling” to “polarizing, selfish superstar who stabbed Cleveland in the back” to “super-talent who might be melting down from the spotlight” to “best player since Jordan” to “one of the best ever” remained compelling the entire time. And the Finals ratings backed that up. Maybe “The Decision” was shortsighted, and maybe it made LeBron’s journey a little more difficult … but as a whole? Huge huge huge win for the NBA. Even if Stern and Silver would never admit this, it’s true.
Anyway, that’s what I said — and I did make that entire point. Magic was even nodding with that super-impressed, “I like where you’re goin’ with this, Bee-wwl” look on his face. We just didn’t have a working video feed at the time. There was no conspiracy.
Q: Did you see Nestle launched a contest to build a female sports fan her own Wo-man Cave, or as they’re calling it, the WoCave? If anyone can come up with a better name than WoCave it’s you.
SG: Thanks for your unwavering support, Sarah. You’re right, if I can’t top a name that sounds like the name of a magazine targeted at gynecologists, I should just retire right now. In my opinion, no female-twisted play on the words “Man Cave” can work. Especially the reprehensible WoCave. Forge your own identity, ladies. Since it’s a place to hang out, a cave-like word like “nest,” “den,” “lair,” “bunker,” “lounge,” “haven” or “hideaway” needs to be prominently involved. Don’t get crass with something like the “Ovary Office” or the “Breast Nest.” Keep it simple.
My vote: Lady Lair or Lady Lounge. My wife agreed and voted for “Lady Lounge.” She made me include her thoughts: “My ideal Lady Lounge wouldn’t be for sports, obviously — it would be for hanging with my girls, watching movies or new episodes of shows that we like. I would only need one biggish flat-screen TV and that’s it. No woman wants to watch more than one TV. I’d need surround-sound speakers and an iPad to blast the Mumfords and JT. The Lady Lounge should feel comfy, feminine and maybe even a little sexy. You need comfortable down couches with big soft pillows. Good candles. All the best magazines and gossip rags to read. Maybe a small bar with an ice machine, a cooler for wine, and room for some liquor and mixers. Lots of candy: Twizzlers, dark chocolate, etc. Oh, and definitely a small bathroom attached with a nice mirror in it. Wait, now I want a Lady Lounge!” Great. Look what you did, Sarah from DFW.
Q: If 2013 David Halberstam had access to an NBA team like he did for the ’79-’80 Trail Blazers in Breaks of the Game, what team would you want to read a great book about?
—Eric S., Minneapolis
SG: Hmmmmmmmmm, this sounds like one of those NBA Reddit questions that always suck me into a 200-comment rabbit hole. They had one recently called “Game 7 of the NBA Finals, down 1 point. 1.5 seconds on the clock and inbounding from the midcourt. What player in NBA history would you want to take the shot?” that was just fantastic. I loved that because it’s not a simple “Who should take the last shot?” question — you’re factoring in clutchness with degree of difficulty, as well as someone’s ability to get off a GOOD off-balance shot while he’s being blanketed by someone who knows he’s about to shoot. So the runner-up choices would be Kevin Durant (length + shooting range), Jordan (obviously), LeBron (length and athleticism to at least get open and get off a decent shot), and Reggie Miller and Ray Allen (the caveat: You’d have to run a great play to get them open). But because of the short amount of time, the best choices would be Larry Legend and Kobe — they were better at getting off great looks from anywhere on the floor up to 27 feet, with people draped all over them, than anyone else in the history of the league. And if I had to pick one? I mean, come on.
Back to the Halberstam question: I’d pick the Thunder because, like the Blazers in 1980, they’re a microcosm of everything good and bad happening with the league right now. They bottomed out and used the lottery to rebuild, then struck oil with three straight top-five picks. They made the most controversial trade in recent NBA history, breaking up a potential dynasty for financial reasons (not basketball ones) — like that 1980 Blazers team, they’re battling the ghosts of poor decisions. They have the NBA’s second-best player, someone signed for three more years who just moved to Los Angeles for the offseason — hmmmmm — which allows you to get into the big market/small market visibility conundrum (and whether that even matters anymore).
Also, they allow you to get into the whole OKC/Seattle/Sacramento arena thing, as well as how the fate of small-market teams was changed (for the better) with the recent CBA. They have one of the most “modern” GMs, an advanced-metrics guy who could allow you to get into NBA Moneyball a little. Like the ’80 Blazers, they play in a city that doesn’t have another professional team — so everything means waaaaaaay too much. They have players with fascinating backstories: Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Perry Jones, to name four. They’re going to go relatively deep into the 2014 playoffs, which makes for an interesting end-of-the-book narrative … especially if they battle Harden’s Houston team in a seven-game series. Easy pick.
Sadly, nobody will EVER get that kind of ’79 Halberstam access again, so it’s a moot point. Speaking of Halberstam …
Q: What’s your very best piece of life advice?
SG: You mean something that didn’t come from George Costanza (“Just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it”), David Halberstam (“Being a professional means doing your job on the days you don’t want to do it”), Ferris Bueller (“Life moves pretty fast — if you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it”) and Milton Berle (“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”)? Hmmmmmm. I’d go with this advice …
Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Worry about what you’re doing.
(Or as the great Mickey Rivers put it, “Ain’t no sense worrying about the things you got control over ’cause if you got control over ’em, ain’t no sense worrying. Ain’t no sense worrying about the things you got no control over ’cause if you got no control over ’em, ain’t no sense worrying.”)
Q: Perfect nickname for Lindsey Vonn and Tiger Woods: “TiVo.”
—Stephen Cass, Atlanta
SG: I’m ignoring that. But I do have an important nickname question: Has enough time officially passed since the Xavier McDaniel era that we can comfortably call prized Red Sox rookie Xander Bogaerts “The X-Man?” Or does McDaniel get to be X-Man for life? Before you make your decision, I have a few notes …
• For years and years in this column, I protested LaDainian Tomlinson stealing “LT” from Lawrence Taylor and only referred to him as “LDT.” I’m against nickname hijacking if you’re hijacking the nickname from an iconic player. There can’t be another Larry Legend or Magic; there can’t be another Doctor J or Hakeem the Dream; there can’t be another “Charlie Hustle” or “The Great One,” there definitely can’t be another “Bambino,” and there definitely should NOT be two LT’s. Xavier McDaniel made only one All-Star team and never played in the Finals. Even though he averaged 20-plus points four different times, was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team in 1986 and started for a couple of memorable teams (the ’87 Sonics and ’92 Knicks), you certainly wouldn’t call him an iconic talent. But we never called him “Xavier” or “McDaniel” at any point of his career — he was always “X-Man” or “X” and that’s it. Hold that thought.
• X shaved his head well before anyone else (even Jordan) thought it was cool to shave their heads; even better, he did it for effect, as part of an ongoing quest to be intimidating (check out the last minute of this clip, or read this 1991 SI piece). Nobody stared down more players after dunks (FYI: He’s one of the reasons they had to add the taunting rule), and he nearly bullied Scottie Pippen out of the 1992 Eastern semifinals before Jordan finally squashed it.
• His X-Man poster might have been the best Costacos Brothers poster ever released — just a wild-eyed X-Man holding a futuristic pit bull on a leash, and that’s it.
• X fought the NBA’s version of Shaft, none other than Charles Oakley. Stood up to him, tried to kick his ass, the whole thing.
• X tried to strangle Wes Matthews once. During an NBA game. No, really.
• X’s cameo in Singles ranks among the greatest athlete cameos in movie history — not just because Kyra Sedgwick’s character took a shot at him and Campbell Scott’s character responded, “Dare to rip the X-Man,” but because they actually worked the cameo into a borderline NSFW sex scene. Name me another athlete who’s just strolled into an NSFW sex scene and pulled off the single best line of a good movie?
• X also made a Married With Children cameo in which he nearly pulled an Artest on the Bundys. So to recap — he cameo’d in Married With Children as well as the defining grunge movie of the early ’90s while also feuding with MJ and Pippen AND being the Jackie Robinson of the shaved head sports movement. The X-Man!
• Last but not least, X-Man should have been nominated for “Best Supporting Actor” for his role in Larry Bird: A Basketball Legend. It’s the best Larry Legend story ever told.6
Relatively new on YouTube: The entire Sonics-Celtics game from 1987 that led to X’s Oscar-winning story!
Here’s my vote: When you add everything up, X-Man deserves to keep that nickname. We can just call Bogaerts “X-Bo” or “X.” There should never be another X-Man.
Q: Which Sharknado follow-up are you most excited to see: Wolfcano, Bearnami, Hippoquake, Piranhurricane, Tarantulavalanche, Lizard Blizzard, Baboon Monsoon, Whalestorm, RHINOSTEROID, Orcalipse, or Octopocolypse?
—Chris K, Houston
SG: One of the dangers of waiting too long to write a summer mailbag — good-in-the-moment questions eventually spoil like a fresh carton of milk. Oh well. But the next Sharknado franchise can only include the following three things: Brian Austin Green, Tiffani Thiessen and the words “mutant killer octopus.” And it should either be called Octopocalypse or Octupusunami.
Q: I’m obviously biased as a Dodgers fan, but the backlash against [Yasiel] Puig is Exhibit A as to what’s holding baseball back. I find it refreshing to see a player give his all on every single play. But crusty baseball curmudgeons have taken a Cuban refugee’s big splash onto the big scene and turned him into a villain. Puig gets heavily booed on the road, and opposing players have made it very clear that they don’t like him. Have you read the story about how Puig allegedly dissed Luis Gonzalez? Puig was raked through the coals by guys saying he’s disrespectful. Well, I’m sorry Puig isn’t well versed in MLB history and all of its unwritten rules. He was too busy being oppressed by a Communist regime, and the raft that he rode to escape from Cuba didn’t have WiFi. If the purists want baseball to further slip into irrelevance, keep hating on guys like Puig.
—Sam Yu, LA
SG: We’ll be back on The Sports Reporters after these messages. Just kidding. Look, I’m the same guy who uses Manny Ramirez as his Twitter avatar — you don’t need to sell me on rooting for an unconventional, fun-loving, supremely talented wild card who breaks a few stuffy baseball rules and might not always show up on time. If I’m flipping channels on any given night without a Red Sox game on, only Puig (Manny 2.0), Miggy (human video game), Mike Trout (five-tool baseball robot), Chris Davis (outside chance to break Maris’s home run record) and A-Rod (the real-life wrestling heel) make me stop flipping if they’re up. So I’m always going to be pro-Puig.
Speaking of the channel-flipping thing, we have more entertaining starting pitchers than ever (Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Matt Harvey, Felix Hernandez, Jose Fernandez, Stephen Strasburg, David Price and Matt Cain, to name eight), but I’d never kick back and watch any of them. Like so many baseball fans in 2013, I just follow my own team, with the exception of a few Kershaw starts (and in that case, it’s a combination of Kershaw/Puig/Vin Scully coupled with that night’s Red Sox game already being over). If I were home watching TV 10 years ago, I would have been casually monitoring every lights-out starter (especially against a bad offense) just in case 20 Ks or a no-hitter was in play. You know what’s changed? Twitter! If Yu has 10 K’s through four innings in Houston, either multiple people will alert me on Twitter or a friend will see it on Twitter and text me, “10 K’s for Yu through 4!” If anything special is even remotely brewing, the Twitterverse jumps on it now — it does all the work for you. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
Q: A mailbag reader emailed you asking when the first American athlete comes out. Your response: “Great question. I think it will happen within the next 30 months. It will be someone who isn’t a superstar but a recognizable player — like a third starter in baseball, or a swingman in basketball (no pun intended) — and someone who’s closer to the end of his career. I think it will be basketball or baseball. Someone SHOULD do this. They’d become an icon in the gay community and much more marketable/famous. It’s a smart career move.”
This exchange happened on Nov. 23, 2010. [Jason] Collins came out on [April] 29, 2013. If you said a more conventional timeframe I wouldn’t have e-mailed you. But exactly 30 months? Who says “30 months” in response to anything?
— Marty Ward, Coffs Harbour, AU
SG: Look, I didn’t ask for these powers!
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“3rd and 10 at BAL 33 (No Huddle, Shotgun) T.Brady pass short left to A.Hernandez to BLT 22 for 11 yards (B.Pollard).” Yup, Aaron Hernandez’ last catch as a Patriot ended with him being tackled by none other than Bernard Karmell Pollard. I need a drink.
—Rock, Providence, RI
SG: At least 700 readers e-mailed me about this Pollard-Hernandez connection. You can stop now. No, not the readers — I mean Bernard Pollard. You can stop now.
Q: Everyone I know who watches Game of Thrones hates Joffrey and even the kid who plays him. Is this actor the best that ever was when it comes to portraying a bad guy? I can’t think of any character from a movie or a show that the audience hates so thoroughly.
SG: Initially I wrote for this response, “I’d love to know more about real-life Joffrey’s day-to-day life. Isn’t it just 24 hours a day of people either (a) staring at him with total contempt, (b) half-jokingly telling him how much they despise him and/or (c) interacting with him for a few seconds, then going out of their way to tell him how they’re surprised he’s not an asshole? I feel like he’s headed for a real-life meltdown that’s going to make it seem like his biological parents are Angus T. Jones and Amanda Bynes. It just can’t be a healthy way to live, right?”
But when I asked some Grantlanders, they claimed that Real-Life Joffrey is just a happy British dude who has tons of fun with the whole thing. What would happen if he grew up in, say, Chicago, right now? Probably wouldn’t be as giggly.
Q: Also, I bear a striking resemblance to Joffrey. I’ve known it since the first season, but my secret somehow didn’t get out until the third season. Now, all my friends and co-workers laugh at me behind my back. Strangers have come up to me on the street to tell how much I look like him. I’m starting to embrace it because I have no other option. I figure it’s better to be an inbred sociopath king than one of the dead pretenders to the throne. Any advice?
SG: It’s gonna be OK. Embracing your resemblance to a fictional inbred sociopath king, then soliciting the approval of an Internet columnist … I mean, those aren’t red flags at all. You’re handling this fine.
Q: Why did the 2014 Sixers even need a coach? Wouldn’t it be the greatest tank job ever to play a season without a head coach. They’d be riggin’ for Wiggins by letting the players sub out on their own with no game plan. It’d be the most entertaining team in the league and they’d easily have the league’s worst record. Tell me you wouldn’t be on board for this.
—Mike Bell, Alexandria, VA
SG: Believe me, I loved this idea just as much as I loved the idea of “Allen Iverson, Head Coach.” Then the Sixers had to go hire Spurs assistant Brett Brown as their head coach — or in this case, their head caretanker — because there’s no better way to kick off your head coaching career than by going 7-75. Throw in an offense revolving around Thad Young and Evan Turner and it’s almost enough to make me change my answer for the “What 2014 NBA team should Halberstam cover?” question.
Q: Which professional sport do you think would best be able to translate the WWE’s “Money in the Bank” idea?7 My vote would be golf. Imagine if the PGA held a “Money in the Bank” golf tournament every year. The winner gets the MITB suitcase, then can use it any time over the next 12 months — even if it means cashing in the suitcase against someone who just won a major, then playing them in a one-hole playoff for the title they just won. How great would it be if Tiger Woods was celebrating on 18 after finally ending his major drought, only to see Sergio Garcia come walking up the 18th green with a red briefcase?
—Ken Rodney, Mississuaga, Ontario
For those of you who don’t follow wrestling — every year, the WWE throws a Money in the Bank pay-per-view, with the main event featuring a “money in the bank” suitcase hanging above a ladder in the ring (and multiple wrestlers fighting for it). Whoever wins that suitcase gets to “cash it in” later against the current champ — a match anytime they want, wherever and whenever. At this year’s SummerSlam, Daniel Bryan beat John Cena for the WWE title, then lost it four minutes later when Randy Orton cashed in his suitcase (with help from a crooked referee). Ironically, wrestling also needs help with its weakest major — they have three good ones (WrestleMania, Royal Rumble and SummerSlam) but need to upgrade the fourth from Survivor Series to Money in the Bank.
SG: Ken just came up with a way to save our weakest golf major — the PGA Tournament, a.k.a. the Homeless Man’s U.S. Open. If you can name our last 10 PGA title winners, I’ll give you 100 bucks. You’re right, I’m not doing that. But if the PGA title guaranteed you a suitcase that could be used one time to challenge any tournament winner — the Masters and U.S. Open excepted — wouldn’t you pay a little more attention to the PGA title?
I think we also need the MITB idea for the Australian Open, which improbably became our fourth tennis major for two reasons: It’s the first big tennis event of the year, and everyone loves hanging out with Australian people. The other corner that the Australian Open needs to own: married mixed doubles. It’s the best television idea that doesn’t exist yet. Ever watch a married couple play doubles? It’s impossible for them to get along for one full set. It can’t be done.
For instance, I played doubles with my wife at a summer wedding — our friend Daniel kept hitting it right between us hoping my wife would jump over to my side and I’d get pissed about it. Of course, that’s exactly what happened because my wife absolutely loves jumping in front of my forehand so she can try a lunging backhanded volley that has a 12 percent chance of working. So I bitched about it, then she got mad that I bitched about it, and we totally fell apart and ended up losing in three sets. Grantland’s Bill Barnwell doesn’t believe in momentum in sports — he obviously hasn’t watched a married couple play tennis before. I’m telling you, married mixed doubles would (a) put the Australian Open on par with Wimbledon, and (b) lead to an Andre Agassi–Steffi Graf divorce within three years.
Q: I just noticed that the Angels have an OF named Collin Cowgill. Anytime he makes a backhanded catch from now on, can we call it a “Reverse Cowgill”?
—Ravi, New York
SG: Oh boy …
Q: So I thought of this brilliant idea last night: Renaming the conference rooms at our office after female porn stars. Like, “hey, where’s Tom?” “Oh, he’ll be in Jenna Jameson for another 15 minutes.”
SG: Wow, we’re already in range?
Q: The other night I was at the bar with my buddy for some a stand-up comedy open mic. The open mic got done (surprisingly good, which lead us to drinking more) and led to a “roast” of some dude that works at the local Trader Joe’s by his co-workers. He was moving to Boston and they were all convinced that he would be eaten alive or at least become homeless in the next year. Again, surprisingly funny and we drank more. The night was coming to an end and my buddy went for a cigarette. It was at this point that I realized the attractive older woman that had been sitting across from us all night had a grilled cheese sandwich she had only eaten half of. Naturally, I asked her if she was going to eat the rest of her sandwich. To this she replied that I could certainly eat it, and if I wanted a beer. In a state of giddiness usually reserved for when I make it to McDonald’s breakfast I replied yes and she goes and buys me a delicious craft beer because this is Seattle. She comes back with the beer and we proceed to talk for a while (turns out she’s from South Africa/England, extra cool) before the subject turns to pot, which leads to a walk back to my house and a smoke sesh with my roommates. We all party for a while before crashing.
The next night she comes over to hang out again … only this time with a bag of Cheesy Poofs, two six packs, chips with salsa AND guacamole, and a fifth of Knob Creek. Not to mention she went out and bought us a pack of Charmin (ULTRA-SOFT!) toilet paper when we mentioned we were out later that night. This all leads to my question … do we have a Sugar Mama or is there another term for a cougar that provides for multiple of men? As far as I know Sugar Mama is a singular term.
—Kenny, Seattle, WA
SG: Yup, these are my readers.