Welcome to the No Benjamins Association

A dumbfounding night in the ‘Dumbleavy Era’

The wait is over! The mailbag comes through

Bill Simmons ends his long mailbag drought with a mammoth batch of reader submissions, including the definitive word on the De Niro-Pacino debate. Bill Simmons

Jack from Swarthmore, Pa., e-mailed Wednesday just to say, “69 days! 69 days since your last mailbag! You’re killin’ me! For god sakes, I went through finals without a fresh mailbag to sink my teeth into. Over 1,500 hours of mailbag-less time. Quite frankly I’ve stayed awake many a night pondering my mailbag future. So please for me and the rest of your readers — write another mailbag!”

Fine, fine, fine. As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.

Alex Rodriguez

Q: I am a broke college student who recently spent two weeks of beer money for a bleacher ticket for A-Rod’s first Fenway game just so I could chant “A-Roid” with everyone else. Now they’re saying he could be out for two to four months, and I won’t be living here when he finally comes to Boston. Can you please rank this on the Levels of Losing for me?
— Sean P., Boston

SG: The levels of losing? Can’t you see the big picture here? We haven’t seen the Karma Police work this quickly since Swayze’s sleazy buddy got impaled on the broken glass in “Ghost.” Either A-Rod needs surgery, or he’s going to play in pain all season. In fact, I demand that Fenway plays “Karma Police” for A-Rod’s first at-bat. Although we won’t hear it because everyone will be singing “A-Roid! A-Roid!” Holy hell am I excited for the 2009 baseball season.

Q: This is a little bit closely related to your holiday gifts column only with a spin: How about sponsoring Mike Dunleavy’s page on basketball-reference.com and making a sarcastic comment about him on it? Hey, its only 10 bucks.
— Bilal, Boston

SG: Done and done. What’s sad is I spent a solid 45 minutes crafting the right testimonial before finally settling on what I wrote. Any time you can spend 10 bucks to sponsor the Undertaker, you have to do it.

Q: Too bad you decided not to have break-up sex with the Boston Bruins this year, isn’t it? It’s like an ex-girlfriend who switched to contacts from glasses, let her hair grow out and discovered aerobics. Now she’s the hot girl at the bar.
— Alex, D.C.

SG: Only I’m still taking medication for the VD she gave me. I’ll be back for the playoffs. I always get sucked back in for the playoffs. Too many memories. And, by the way, I like to think of the Bruins as an ex-wife, not an ex-girlfriend. We’re like the couple in the current “High School Reunion” season — maybe we haven’t been together for a few years, but we’ll always have a spark even if she has a man’s haircut and looks like she should be coaching third base for a college softball team. The truth is, the only reason the Bruins became competitive again is because the salary cap evened the odds for Jeremy “The Grinch” Jacobs. Nobody can outspend him anymore. The Bruins don’t care about their fans any more than they did during the first 24 years of my life — when they were bending my ankles back over my head more times than a Pilates instructor. Their fans deserve better regardless how this season turns out. As I have said a million times, as soon as the Grinch sells the team, they have me back 365 days a year. And not a moment sooner.

Q: How old does offspring have to be before you teach them about gambling by betting on games on ESPN Classic? Maybe no money changed hands, but my 10-year-old son just cleaned out the cat litter box after we watched a “live” telecast of the Celtics posting the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history against the Lakers.
— Jim A., Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

SG: Brilliant idea and I’m going to immediately start doing this to my own kids. Like, right now. As soon as I hand this column in. Just wait until there’s a Larry Bird Weekend on ESPN Classic and I’m telling my daughter, “OK, fine — if Magic Johnson misses a junior sky hook to lose Game 4, you can wear makeup to the sixth grade dance. If he makes it, lip gloss and that’s it.”

Q: Do you think if someone told Bruce Jenner in 1976 that he’d spend his golden years trying to steer the misguided children of a lawyer who successfully defended O.J. Simpson from charges of killing his own wife, or that his son would introduce the world to the concept of a “bromance,” he would have thrown his discus or javelin off to the side and taken the silver medal in the decathlon?
— Ben S., Lexington, Mass.

SG: And you left out the fact that he now looks like a female librarian. I just don’t think he would have believed you in 1976 — he thought he was going to be a movie star and the biggest endorsement celeb in the world. It couldn’t have turned out worse. It’s impossible. Speaking of bromances …

Q: Do you think the relationship between Rocky and Apollo could be considered the original bromance?
— Kevin McB, Oakland, N.J.

Seinfeld cast

SG: No way. The original bromance was Lewis and Clark. I’d break down the others like this: Costanza and Seinfeld (funniest); Norm and Cliff (second funniest); Diggler and Rothchild (third funniest); Borat and Azamat (grossest); O.J. and A.C. (most controversial); the Rat Pack (most influential); Kimmel and Carolla (drunkest); Puffy and Biggie after Biggie died (most shameless); Flintstone and Rubble (best animated); Mike and the Mad Dog (most tragic); Kurt Warner and Jesus (most inspirational); Jules and Vincent Vega (most violently entertaining); McEnroe and Fleming (most one-sided); Kobe and Shaq (most destructive); Lincoln and Derickson (most suspicious); Damon and Affleck (wealthiest); Tom and Jerry (most psychotic); Cagney and Lacey (just kidding); Michael Jackson and Emmanuel Lewis (openly creepiest); Bob Crane and John Carpenter (secretly creepiest); Spade and Farley (best one-time chemistry that couldn’t be recreated, even by them); King and Favre (most gushing); Lennon and McCartney (most successful); Parker and Stone (most creative); A-Rod and Jeter (most contrived); Clapton and Harrison (biggest backstab); Chuck D and Flava Flav (most unlikely); Siegfried and Roy (best romance bromance); McConaughey and Armstrong (most appearances without a shirt); Bauer and Almeida (most exciting); Wilbon and Kornheiser (most reliable); De Niro and Pesci (best mafia); Redford and Newman (coolest); Simon and Garfunkel, Malone and Stockton, Madden and Summerall (tie for “best fit”); Scottie and Michael (most titles); Hanks and Scolari (biggest disparity of talent); Rocky and Apollo, Daniel-San and Miyagi, Buck and Aikman (tie for “most uncomfortable”); Clooney and Pitt (most overrated); Kirk and Spock, Tango and Cash (tie for “most unintentional comedy”); McNulty and Bunk, Big Papi and Manny (tie for “most underrated”); T-Mac and Vince (least likable); Felix and Oscar (best contrast); and Red and Andy (the greatest bromance ever), with Red and Andy’s beach hug in Mexico doubling as the single greatest bromance moment. Thank you and please drive through.

Q: I recently stumbled across some numbers that made me completely reconsider Rasheed Wallace’s place in history. Would you put his 41 technicals in 2000-2001 up against DiMaggio’s 56 in a row? I would. And he only played 77 games, which means a technical every 1.87 games!
— Will, Germantown, Tenn.

SG: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: There needs to be a Jail Blazers documentary. It could be three hours long and I would watch it. Coming up, Zach Randolph sucker-punches Ruben Patterson, breaks his eye socket and has to hide out at Dale Davis’ house that night when Ruben vows to kill him! And coming up later, Ha Seung-Jin attacks Nedzad Sinanovic with a wooden pole during a summer workout! That’s next on the “The Legend of the Jail Blazers!” But to answer your question, I would absolutely put ‘Sheed’s 1.87 up there with Joe D’s 56-game streak, Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA and Wilt’s 50 points per game as the Mount Ru- … I mean, four really great one-season records.

Q: I recently watched “Almost Famous” for what has to be the 20th time, and it seems like every time I’ve watched it, the movie was better than the previous time. It got me thinking about other movies where this applies, and my short list included “Pulp Fiction,” “Shawshank,” and “The Usual Suspects.” I feel like there has to be some sort of name for this phenomena, and of course, I have come to you for guidance.
— Bhavin, Philadelphia

SG: I’d go with a wine reference even though it doesn’t totally work. Most movies are like chardonnays or pinot noirs — you can drink them right away or any time within a span of 10 years. Many cabernets, Bordeaux and Barolos hold their vintage really well and you can actually enjoy them for as along as 10-20 years. Kinda like “Midnight Run” or “Hoosiers.” The best vintage ports are drinkable right away (although it’s not advised), but they’re specifically designed to get better and better the more they age. So, if you feel that way about a few of your favorite movies, I’d say that’s your vintage port collection. By the way, my mom helped me write this paragraph.

Q: My office is having a blood donation drive. All blood donors get two free tickets to an upcoming Clippers game. Do you think we should make clear to people that they DON’T have to actually go watch the Clips play? I would hate it if the Red Cross lost blood donors — and innocent people died — because they were threatened with going to see the Clippers.
— Mike Wilner, Los Angeles

SG: Ladies and gentlemen, one more time, your 2009 Los Angeles Clippers!

Q: Can you think of the sports equivalent of the spouses of buddies whose Facebook friend-request you accepted who constantly update their status on the topic of taking care of their kids? Like “Jenn is watching her little ones nap” and “Sarah is playing ‘Bob the Builder’ with her kids! Yay!” As a 28-year-old unmarried man, it’s not that I don’t appreciate females or motherhood, it’s just that I don’t care. For the same reason that I don’t update my status with “Kully just put on jock itch cream.”

— Kully, Guangzhou, China

SG: Wouldn’t the sports equivalent be like ending up with an undesirable throw-in for an NBA trade (aka Marcus Banks)? The more interesting angle for me is how Twitter and Facebook reflect where our writing is going thanks to the Internet. In 15 years, writing went from “reflecting on what happened and putting together some coherent thoughts” to “reflecting on what happened as quickly as possible” to “reflecting on what’s happening as it’s happening” to “here are my half-baked thoughts about absolutely anything and I’m not even going to attempt to entertain you,” or as I like to call it, Twitter/Facebook Syndrome. Do my friends REALLY CARE if I send out an update, “Bill is flying on an airplane finishing a mailbag right now?” (Which is true, by the way.) I just don’t think they would. I certainly wouldn’t. That’s why I refuse to use Twitter.

As for Facebook, I don’t mind getting status updates and snapshots of what my friends’ lives are like — even if “Bob the Builder” is prominently involved — as long as they aren’t posting 10 times a day or writing something uncomfortable about their spouse/boyfriend like “(Girl’s name) is … trying to remember the last time she looked at her husband without wanting to punch him in the face” or “(Girl’s name) is … just going to keep eating, it’s not like I have sex anymore.” Keep me out of your personal business, please. Other than that, the comedy of status updates can be off the charts. Like my college classmate who sends out status updates so overwhelmingly mundane and weird that my buddies and I forward them to each other, then add fake responses like, “(Guy’s name) … snapped and killed a drifter tonight” and “(Guy’s name) … would hang myself if the ceilings in my apartment weren’t too short.” It kills us. We can’t get enough of it. We have been doing it for four solid months. And really, that’s what Facebook is all about — looking at photos of your friend’s kids or any reunion or party, making fun of people you never liked and searching for old hook-ups and deciding whether you regret the hook-up or not. That’s really it. All in all, I like Facebook.

Blake Griffin

Q: Why hasn’t anyone come out with “Throw-forward” jerseys? Say your team absolutely sucks right now and you know there is no chance it is making the playoffs, wouldn’t it lift your spirits to see a Ricky Rubio or Blake Griffin jersey? Sure, more likely than not the player won’t end up on your team, and it will be worthless after the draft is over, but think about how much that jersey would mean to you if your team drafts your guy after you have been wearing the jersey already for six months!
— Dave T., Baltimore

SG: Love it. I know for a fact that Clippers fans would rather wear a Rubio or Griffin jersey than a jersey of anyone on the actual team except for maybe Eric Gordon. It’s a great idea. Although I absolutely would have bought a green Kevin Durant Celtics jersey during the 2006-07 season and probably tried to strangle myself with it after the 2007 lottery. On second thought …

Q: I listened to your spot on Adam Carolla’s new podcast, and for the first time ever you swore and it wasn’t bleeped out. It was surreal, and I gotta say I’m developing a taste for it, Simmons. I’m afraid I won’t be able to go back to the genteel Sports Guy. It’s like your long-term girlfriend, who’s really conservative in bed, gets really drunk one night and she unexpectedly turns into an animal. How can you go back? How?!
— Max R., Sydney

SG: Just wait until my book comes out! Lots of swears and even a few completely inappropriate topics handled without any diplomacy whatsoever. I couldn’t be more delighted. Get ready for more animal sex with me, Max from Sydney. OK, bad choice of words.

Q: I just used, “I’ve been in the Sports Guy’s mailbag” as a pickup line tonight, only to no avail. However, it did get me a free beer from a guy who saw the event transpire, although it’s tough to say if he’s a fan of Bill Simmons or I was just that pathetic. Either way, thanks.
— Joel, Athens, Ohio

SG: No, thank you. I think “I’ve been in the Sports Guy’s mailbag” has replaced, “Hi, I’m the Talented Mr. Roto” as the worst pickup line in modern history.

Q: When De Niro gets off the highway to kill Waingro at the hotel in “Heat”: The whole movie you want De Niro to kill Waingro, but you don’t want De Niro to go back when he’s home free with Judge Amy. Is there a more ambivalent occurrence of emotions in any movie?
— Alex, Syracuse, N.Y.

SG: That’s the thing — he HAS to go back. It’s the key to the movie. He’s all about living his life so that he never cares about anything enough that he couldn’t walk away from it in 30 seconds, and yet, it turns out that he’s a hypocrite. He can’t walk away from Waingro. Everyone thinks that whole “heat around the corner” thing hinges on him walking away from Judge Amy at the end because Pacino is coming, but really, he already betrayed his own rule by being at the hotel in the first place.

That reminds me, I finally rented “Righteous Kill” this weekend and the movie settled the Pacino-De Niro argument from 2002 (scroll down to the bottom) once and for all: In the opening credits, De Niro came first, then Pacino. So we’re done. Of course, nobody who rented this movie wins — it’s like seeing Bird and Magic playing in a Celtics-Lakers game again, only the Bird and Magic from right now. I can’t tell you how scarring it is. How did these guys lose the ability to act? How???? It’s one of the 20 worst movies ever made. I watched it with my old intern, Jamie, who wondered at one point, “Do you think they forgot to number the pages, then the guy carrying the only script tripped outside and all the pages scattered everywhere, but they had to start filming that day, only the writer was dead, so they just had to guess which scene went where?” A perfect description. That’s exactly what the movie was like. I think my favorite part was about 35 minutes in when Donnie Wahlberg suddenly started carrying himself with a confident and slightly fired up, “Not only am I the best actor in a Pacino-De Niro movie, I am the best actor by a WIDE MARGIN!” look on his face. I don’t know whether to encourage you or discourage you from renting it.

Q: Now that Ben Wallace has a broken leg and T-Mac might never recover properly from his surgeries, who’s your vote to replace Raef LaFrentz’s contract as the new “Theo Ratliff’s expiring contract?” I say Big Ben because he was way overpaid from the beginning and can only keep declining, while T-Mac might stage a Grant Hill-style comeback at some point.
— Dovi, Buenos Aires

SG: Great question. You need three components for this one. First, it needs to be someone who hasn’t been good for at least five years, so his contract became ridiculous either when he signed it or immediately afterward. (This rules out T-Mac: His contract only became ridiculous recently after he broke the record for “most times screwing over the same team in one season.”) Second, it needs to be a team that spends money and would definitely want to flip that expiring deal for a better, more expensive player. (This rules out Cleveland with Wallace because they don’t have the cash flow; same for New Jersey with my illegitimate brother Bobby.) Third, it needs to be inherently funny for whatever reason. This rules out “Jermaine O’Neal’s Expiring Contract” and “Larry Hughes’ Expiring Contract.”

And so I’m going with this one: “Erick Dampier’s Expiring Contract.” It has everything we’re looking for — it was ridiculous when he signed it, it has become more ridiculous over time, it’s being paid by a team notorious for spending money, it’s funny to look at in print, and it’s even funny to say. You will hear it between 500 and 15,000 times next season. You will.

Q: Shouldn’t the ESPY for “Clutch Performance under Pressure” go to Pilot Sully?
— Paul K., Warsaw, Poland

SG: I think it would be funnier if Sully was nominated … but then he lost to someone like Ben Roethlisberger? I wouldn’t put anything past the ESPYS.

Q: In Matt Cassel’s first news conference with the Chiefs, someone asked Cassel if he was looking forward to meeting Bernard Pollard. Shouldn’t he immediately take some of his new money and buy Pollard a new car? The best full circle moment is the fact Cassel would still be a nobody if it weren’t for the Chiefs and now he is playing for them. GOD, I LOVE THE NFL!
— David, Elon, N.C.

SG: I’ll go one further — imagine if we learned Cassel offered Pollard $3 million to take out Brady’s knee in Week 1? Would that be one of the five biggest scandals in sports history? It wouldn’t be bigger than the 1919 White Sox throwing the World Series, or the college basketball point-shaving scandals in the ’40s and ’50s … but it would be equally as big as Tonya Harding conspiring to maim Nancy Kerrigan, right? By the way, listen to Monday’s B.S. Report if you want to hear me make the case for the 2009 Chiefs as a phenomenal bet at 100-to-1 to win the Super Bowl, thanks to my theory that the success of one team can become a sports colonic for that city’s fans, turn them from “glass half-empty” to “glass half-full” and ignite every other team in the city. I see the Royals kicking off things by becoming this year’s 2008 Rays, followed by an NBA team moving to K.C. in June or July. Then in September, with the pennant race heating up and K.C. fans already delirious, the Chiefs will charge out of the gate with four straight wins … although there’s a sobering moment when Joe Posnanski’s head tragically explodes as he’s crafting a column trying to put everything in perspective. Just be prepared. Wait, you don’t believe me?

Q: I listened to your Monday podcast and was interested in your “Kansas City Theory.” I thought that a good example of these things being cyclical was Cleveland in 2007. Both the Browns and Indians had unusually successful seasons when compared to their normal vomit-inducing play. If you add this with the Cavaliers’ play in the LeBron Era, it’s hard for anyone to deny that this theory bears at least some merit.
— Brad H., New York

SG: See? It happens! Some other good examples: the ’84 Tigers (paved the way for the “Bad Boy” Pistons, the Barry Sanders Era and the Steve Yzerman Era); the ’01 Pats (the ’04 Red Sox and ’08 Celts, as well as two more Pats titles); Chicago in the mid-’80s (the ’83 White Sox, ’84 Cubs, ’85 Bears and the Jordan Era); Seattle in the mid-’90s (Sonics and Mariners); Pittsburgh in the late-’70s (Steelers and Pirates); Cincy in the late ’80s (’89 Bengals, ’90 Reds); Boston in the mid-’80s (’85 Pats, ’86 Celts, ’86 Red Sox); New York in the late-’90s (’98-’99-’00 Yanks, ’00 Mets, ’99 Knicks; ’00 Giants); and L.A. in the late-’80s (’88 Dodgers, ’87-’88 Lakers, ’89 Raiders). There is ample evidence that a city can catch fire like a hot blackjack table. Just remember we had this conversation when they’re calling it “The Year of K.C.” in seven months.

(Or, feel free to e-mail me this whole section in a few months just to make fun or me. Either one will do.)

Q: Your “Year of K.C.” has as much hope as the “Summer of George.”
— Alex R., Holden

SG: (Searching for a comeback.)

Q: What would be the sports equivalent to Vin Diesel and Paul Walker reuniting nine years later for the third installment of the “Fast and the Furious” trilogy. The best I could come up with would be the following: Pedro Martinez, Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller, and Derek Lowe reunite in 2013, nine years after the Sox won their first championship in 86 years, to lead the Single-A Lowell Spinners to the N.Y.-Penn League championship. WE CAN BUILD ON THIS!!!!!
— Tyler H., Allston, Mass.

SG: Come on, it’s like you’re openly goading me into writing about the Garnett-Marbury reunion. Don’t make me go there. I beg you. I have changed my mind on the merits of the Marbury Era at least 730 times in two months. That reminds me, when Marbury looked great in his first game in Boston, I called my dad and we had the following exchange:

    Dad: “Hello?”

    Me: “You watching this? Marbury looks great!”

    (There’s a three-second pause.)

    Dad: “He has a tattoo on his head.”

Q: Did you happen to see the Mosley-Margarito fight? I couldn’t take my eyes off Bernard Hopkins with Marky Mark, Spider-Man and E from “Entourage” behind him. Hopkins spent the ENTIRE FIGHT screaming at Mosley to follow his directions (from the sixth row or so) and standing up no less than 15 times a round, completely blocking the view of the Hollywood A-Listers. They never told him to sit down. Considering Hopkins has spent time in prison and could kill all three with his bare hands, it was probably a wise move. That should be put in next week’s US Magazine “They’re just like us!!!” section.

— Matt T., Los Angeles

SG: Yeah, but would they go with “They get their view blocked at prize fights!” or “They’re afraid to ask boxers to sit down!” as the caption?

Q: You are unfairly killing an entire fan base with your refusal to call the (Team That Shall Not Be Named) by its name. In your attempt to make another state feel better (rightly deserved) you are coming across as a pompous jerk to another one. Can you please start calling our team by its proper name?
— John H., Tulsa, Okla.

SG: No way. It’s like (TTSNBN) was a married couple and couldn’t conceive a child on their own, so they went and stole another couple’s kid (in this case, Seattle’s) after proving in court that the kid was living in an aging house and deserved to live in a new one … but then, in the insult of insults, it turned out they lived in a house that was just as old and decrepit as the kid’s old house. How would you expect me to support this? You stole their team. I will continue to call it The Team That Shall Not Ne Named, the Bennett City Hijackers and the Seattle SloppySeconds. And if it costs me every reader in Hijack City, so be it — I have 49 other states and hundreds of other countries to work with. I’ll be fine. You stole someone else’s team. If you were friends with a buddy who stole another buddy’s wife, you would not be friends with that person anymore. Hijack City is not my friend. At least until Seattle remarries.

Q: Let’s say you are at LAX and you are about to board your flight, but then you notice one of the cast members from “Lost” on the same plane. Do you still get on that flight?
— Brian, Richmond, Va.

SG: It depends on what character and where I’m headed. I don’t mind flying from L.A. to Boston with Jin or Desmond. But I’m getting off a flight from L.A. to Australia or Guam if I see Matthew Fox or Evangeline Lilly sitting in first class. This is not negotiable. By the way …

I think the MLB Network should borrow the time machine premise from “Lost” for an MLB show called “MLB Time Machine.” They could pick 20 at-bats of accused or rumored steroid guys throughout their career and just jump back and forth with that “Woooooooof” noise and a light flash like when they’re jumping through time on “Lost.” So it would go like this:

Key Barry Bonds AB from his rookie season … WOOOOOOOF … Bonds cranks a homer in the 2002 World Series … WOOOOOOF … Bonds strikes out in the ’91 playoffs … WOOOOOOOOF … Bonds makes an awesome catch from the ’97 season … WOOOOOOOF … a bloated Bonds grounds out in 2005 and jogs to first base like Fred Sanford … WOOOOOOF … Bonds comes up for the first time as a Giant in 1993.

And it would go like that for an hour. I feel like I would watch that show. I think I’d even buy the Clemens one on DVD just for all the weight changes. “Hey, it’s Clemens in ’94 — remember how fat he was!” Come on, I talked you into it.

Q: If you could be conjoined to any one person in the world, past or present, who would it be? You must take into account that person’s looks, reputation, profession, image, etc.
— Jay, Los Angeles

SG: I’m refraining. Remember, the Farrelly brothers once asked Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear this question.

Q: I have watched “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” at least 200 times. Recently, I asked this question — I have no idea what the answer is — and now find the movie completely unwatchable: WHAT HAPPENED WHEN ABE FROMAN SHOWED UP AT THE RESTAURANT? Are we to believe Abe never showed up for his reservation, followed by Ferris and his crew getting tossed? It makes no sense.
— Scott Marx, New York

SG: Wait a second … that’s what made “Ferris” unwatchable for you after all these years? You weren’t fazed by Ferris inexplicably jumping on a parade float and belting out “Twist and Shout” and “Danke Schoen” to the entire city of Chicago? Or Cameron destroying his father’s million-dollar car for no real reason, then his friends assuring him that he did the right thing? Or the guy who played the Principal getting arrested for child porn charges in real life? You’re going with Abe Froman? Really?

Q: I was just looking over previous mailbags and came across your prediction of Olivia Wilde becoming a bigger, more relevant star than Mischa Barton within five years. This is uncanny. I shall never doubt you! Any other bold predictions?
— Vinit, Winnipeg

SG: I have 10 for you, other than the one from last Friday that the 2011-12 NBA season will be canceled by a lockout. First, Jay Leno will be hosting “The Tonight Show” again by September 2010. Second, the words “Michael Phelps” and “rehab” will appear in the same sentence. Third, at the end of the NBA Finals in June, one of the happy players will yelp happily to Michele Tafoya, “We goin’ to see Oh-baaaaaaaa-maaaaaaaaaaaa!” exactly how I just wrote it. Fourth, America will turn against Judd Apatow. Fifth, they’re going to figure out a way to retroactively test all the Olympic urine samples from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, and that will become the next gigantic sports scandal that dominates your life (and not in a good way). Sixth, Mike and the Mad Dog will be back together in time for Opening Day 2011. Seventh, the Detroit Tigers will have a fire sale for their players starting in June that will rival anything the Marlins ever did. Eighth, Howard Stern, David Letterman and Bruce Springsteen will all retire within three months of one another, it will happen within the next 30 months, and all three of them will do it quietly without fanfare. So, there you go.

Q: I’ve written many times and I am pretty sure you have never looked at my e-mails. But in all seriousness, I like the podcasts even more than the columns. I was introduced to you five years ago when I entered college by my first roommate. Never listened to a podcast ’til my senior season. Now I love them because they drown out the voice of my wife.
— Charlie, Endicott, N.Y.

SG: That was the first installment of a new mailbag feature tentatively called “Fellas, Don’t Get Married.” I have high hopes for this one.

Q: Wouldn’t you say the Red Sox not getting A-Rod in 2003 was BY FAR the best non-trade of all time?
— Adam, Toronto

SG: There’s a bigger one: After Seattle picked Robert Swift in the 2004 draft, the Celtics offered the Sonics the 13th pick (basically, the rights to Al Jefferson) and their 2005 No. 1 pick for Swift’s rights … and Seattle said no. Three years later, the Celts turned Jefferson, the 2005 pick and other stuff into Kevin Garnett and a 17th title. So that’s right up there. I mean, have you SEEN Robert Swift? My buddy House called me last week just to ask me that question, and he asked it exactly like that: I answered, there was a pause, and he said, “I mean, have you SEEN Robert Swift?” Who knows — maybe the Sox win with A-Roid, er, A-Rod. But there’s no way the Celtics get Kevin Garnett for a package headlined by Robert Swift. None.

(Note: I’m sure there were some other great non-trades. I am getting old and can only remember mundane hypotheticals involving Boston teams. If there’s a better example than Swift-Jefferson, please, e-mail it to me.)

Q: Thanks for making me choke up at work with the column about your dog. I decided to move The Dooze immediately into my greatest dog rankings, just ahead of the dog from “Amityville Horror” that saved the dad from falling into the gate of hell. Powerful column. Thanks.
— Andy, Decatur, Texas

SG: As much as the Simmons family misses her — to the point that I joked we should get training wheels put on the Dooze’s urn so we could walk the Dooze’s ashes with Rufus, only my wife had a brief look on her face that said “Can we do that?”– even my wife would admit The Dooze didn’t top the “Amityville Horror” dog. I mean, we’re talking about a black lab rescuing a master from the gates of hell here. The Dooze only would have toyed with the gates of hell if a tennis ball rolled near it. I still have the “Amityville Horror” dog ranked first, the Dooze second, Hooch third, Scooby-Doo fourth, Marley fifth, Cujo sixth (just because he came soooooooo close to mauling the annoying little kid from “Who’s the Boss?”), Dino Flintstone seventh … and Paris Hilton’s chihuahua last.

Q: After Doc Rivers was ejected in Dallas and started clapping uncontrollably in the face of the ref who ejected him, I realized that being tossed from a game is the sports equivalent of a bouncer throwing out the drunkest guy in the bar, right down to every single person in the place watching to see what the reaction would be. Will he walk away quietly, or will he make a butt out of himself yelling at the bouncer while everyone’s secretly rooting for him to throw a punch and open the floodgates? Thoughts?
— Eddie, Newton, Mass.

SG: I like it! There are a few parallels between bars and sports, actually: every arena or bar has a name; you can eat and drink in both places; the best tables and bar seats are just like the best seats for a game; the JumboTron is like the biggest TV in a bar in that everyone’s glancing at it; the bartenders are like referees in that they have a little too much control in the proceedings for everyone’s liking (and can totally be self-important jerks); the bouncers are like security guards; your friends always get excited when you text them just to say, “I’m at the game/bar!”; there’s usually one local celebrity in your bar/section; cocktail waitresses are like cheerleaders in that they’re fun to stare at and you talk yourself into having a chance with them the drunker you get; it’s not quite as easy to make a bathroom run as it should be; there’s a last call/final buzzer; the final price always ends up being higher than you thought it would; and it always takes a few minutes to figure out where you should go next after you leave.

Q: At what point does Sam Bowie hug Greg Oden and tell him it’s not his fault over and over again?
— Andrew, Seattle

SG: Would he put on a Robin Williams sanctioned beard and cardigan? I feel like he’d have to. By the way, Oden-Durant remains one of those rare stories that isn’t getting enough attention — not just the offensive leap that Durant made this season, but just how lousy Oden’s “rookie” season has been compared to what our expectations were in 2007. Forget about his durability issues, his knee injury that cost him last season, even all his nagging little injuries this season. Just in the games that he has played — and again, we’re talking about 49 of a possible 125 — he has been absolutely underwhelming compared to our original expectations. Here’s what Chad Ford wrote in his 2007 Draft Tracker scouting report on Oden, and remember, this was the consensus opinion at the time.

    “The consensus No. 1 pick in the draft despite Kevin Durant’s amazing season. Draws comparisons to Tim Duncan, Patrick Ewing and David Robinson. He may not be spectacular, but most NBA GMs believe he’ll immediately be one of the top two centers in the league. His strong performance in the NCAA title game gave us a glimmer of what he’s capable of, going for 25 points, 12 boards and four blocks.”

I didn’t agree with that assessment (especially the “immediately one of the top two centers part) and thought Durant was the only sure thing in that draft. Regardless, a good chunk of people DID agree with Chad’s take, and since that’s the case, how can anyone argue Oden’s NBA career has been anything other than a disaster so far? You don’t think it’s a red flag that he averaged a 15-9 with three blocks in his only college season, and his typical NBA stat line was “nine points, seven rebounds, one blocks and a 50 percent chance of foul trouble in 20-23 minutes?” What have we seen from him that tells us, “Greg Oden can consistently dominate a basketball game?” I’m still waiting. Hell, even Sam Bowie did better in his rookie season: 10.0 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.8 APG and 2.8 BPG in 76 games. I’m not saying Oden can’t turn it around and become a valuable starting center, but his ceiling has lowered to the degree that only an insane person would argue Portland did the right thing two summers ago. The Blazers drafted LaRue Martin over Bob McAdoo in 1972; they gave away young Moses Malone for a measly first-round pick in 1976 (even though he was two years removed from being the most ballyhooed high school prospect since Kareem); they passed on the greatest player of all-time in 1984 (and took a 23-year-old center coming off two years of leg surgeries); they traded out of the third spot in the 2005 draft when Chris Paul and Deron Williams were the next two picks; and they passed on the evolutionary cross between Tracy McGrady, George Gervin and Plastic Man in 2007. Has any sports franchise botched five “sure-thing” decisions on that level in the span of just 35 years? Has to be a record.

Q: I thought you should know that I have discovered the male equivalent to Jennifer Love Hewitt — a guy that most women find attractive, but when guys hear any girl say it, they get seriously pissed off. Brace yourself … it’s Luke Walton. Go ahead, test the theory with your male and female friends, but I think you will find the same results.
— Jacki, San Diego

SG: I can only tell you my reaction: Whaaaaaaaaaaat??? Luke Walton? Really? How can this be possible? THIS MAKES ME ANGRY!!!!!!!! I always pictured Luke, Sasha Vujacic and Vlad Radmanovic hanging outside some Sunset Strip club at 2:30 a.m. trying to convince three Albanian girls to come back to Walton’s beach house with them, while Vlad bums cigarettes off a homeless guy, and Sasha tells the girl who might like him that whatever happens, she’s not allowed to touch his hair. Now you’re telling me women like Luke Walton? I’m flabbergasted. My gast is flabbered. This can’t be true. You’re just trying to make me angry.

Q: Just watched “Field of Dreams” for the umpteenth time and it still gets me choked up, but I noticed a fatal flaw: Terence Mann (African-American and 1960s leftist radical) doesn’t go ballistic when he sees the ghosts from the deadball era and realizes not one is black. Wouldn’t he say, “You mean even in the afterlife you SOBs wouldn’t let Cool Papa Bell, Josh and Satch play?” I mean especially after Ray Liotta describes the place as heaven? Had they cast Sam Jackson instead of James Earl Jones, he would have gone ballistic and arranged a sit-in until justice was brought to Iowa. Either way, why did I have to notice this? I wish my favorite sports movie wasn’t ruined.
— Joe, Salisbury, Md.

SG: Yeah, and thanks for ruining it for everyone else as well. You’re right. Terence Mann would have flipped out that there weren’t a few Negro Leaguers involved. There’s no question. I hate you for pointing this out. You could arguably remake “Field of Dreams” two different ways: As a “Glory Road”/”Remember The Titans”-type movie where Terence Mann fights for equality on Ray Kinsella’s cornfield, and as a futuristic movie set in 2075 where Future Ray Kinsella eases the pain of the players from the Steroids Era. I actually like the last idea more because the final scene could unfold like this:

    Ray’s Wife: “Who’s that handsome skinny guy trotting in from left field?”

    Ray (squinting): “My god, that’s Barry Bonds! I didn’t even recognize him! He’s gotta be 75 pounds lighter!”

    And then later …

    Ray (voice cracking): “Hey Barry … wanna have a catch?”

(By the way, I would absolutely pay to see this movie. In fact, I’d volunteer to write it if Hollywood made movies anymore that weren’t superhero movies or cheap indies. Take that little fact away and I’d be right back in that thing.)

One more note: Four of the five greatest sports movies of all time are “Hoosiers,” “Field of Dreams,” “Rocky” and “The Natural” in some order. The fifth is up for debate. Just make sure those four are included. It cannot be argued or debated from the standpoint of quality, originality, rewatchability, likability and chill scenes. What’s interesting is that THREE of those movies undeniably have racist undertones: “Hoosiers,” “Rocky” and “Field of Dreams.” The first two revolve around a white underdog toppling an invincible black champ; the third completely ignored a half-century of indefensible prejudice against minorities in Major League Baseball. Even worse, I loved all three movies for years and years and would watch any of them right now if they came on. Does this mean I should be writing this column with a white hood on? I can’t come to grips with this. Let’s just move on.

Q: Would finding out that Salma Hayek’s breasts are fake be the equivalent of finding out that A-Rod used steroids? I think I would be more devastated actually.
— Sean, New York

SG: Wouldn’t it be more like finding out that Manny or Griffey used steroids? You thought he/she was doing it naturally, you thought he/she was a freak of nature, you always admired him/her for it, you never turned the channel when Manny/Griffey/Salma’s breasts were up … and then it turned out he/she was cheating all along? I don’t know if I could bounce back. No pun intended.

Q: I just heard the horrible news that Kate Winslet will no longer be doing any nude scenes. This has got to be the movie equivalent of Jordan retiring, right? I’m holding out hope for a comeback like Jordan with the Bulls, but not a Wizards-era comeback for her — that would just be nasty to see!
— Mike, Los Angeles

SG: I wish I had thought of this sooner — we could have tried to break the column record for “most e-mails comparing a celebrity’s breasts to a famous athlete.” Why didn’t anyone send me an e-mail comparing the three-breasted lady from “Total Recall” to Tom Dempsey?

Q: Which “Saved by the Bell” cast member had the most successful career? Earlier this decade it was clearly Tiffani-Amber Thiessen due to “90210.” However, with a couple of “NYPD Blue” years and a TNT show has Mark-Paul Gosselaar overtaken her? Or is Mario Lopez, the Latino Ryan Seacrest, our top seed?
— Rick, Los Angeles

SG: Well, we can definitely rule out Elizabeth Berkley, Dustin Diamond, Dennis Haskins, Lark Voorhies and the actress who played the two Toris. After that, it depends on your definition of “successful.” M-Lo reached the highest level of fame thanks to “Dancing with the Stars” and his infamous carousing; Gosselaar had the best acting career; and T.A.T. reached the highest level of cultural relevance (by injecting new life into “90210” when a ton of people were watching that show). I’d pick T.A.T. just because, at the apex of her career, she would have stopped any room, whereas you couldn’t say that about the other two. For instance, I received an e-mail a few years ago from someone who went to a wedding that T.A.T. happened to attend; the e-mail was longer than one of my columns. I just don’t see that happening with M-Lo or Goose. My final answer: T.A.T.

Q: How good does a player have to be to justify using such phrases as “landed” and “sweepstakes” when talking about an NBA trade? For example, “the Grizzlies won the Chris Mihm sweepstakes.”
— Damir, Chicago

SG: Drew Gooden is the cutoff. It’s in the Official NBA Rulebook and everything.

Q: I happened upon “Con Air” recently and was once again awed by Nic Cage’s terrible accent. Got me thinking, what would be your Hall of Fame for worst movie accents? Mine would have to include Cage’s drawl, Irish Maggie from “Caddyshack,” and Jon Voight’s South American child molester voice in “Anaconda.”
— Tim, Chicago

SG: First of all, nobody will ever top Kevin Costner’s trifecta of his cajun accent in “JFK,” his Boston accent in “Thirteen Days” or his British accent in “Robin Hood” (which he finally abandoned halfway through the movie). We should name the Hall of Fame after him just like the NBA recently named the Finals MVP after Bill Russell — it’s just the right thing to do. I’d also include Leo DiCaprio’s Southern accent in “Body of Lies”; Jack Nicholson’s Boston accent in “The Departed”; Brad Pitt’s Irish accent in “The Devil’s Own”; Keanu Reeves in “Dracula” (origins unclear); Tom Cruise in “Valkyrie” (origins unclear); Don Cheadle’s British accent in “Ocean’s 11”; and James Van Der Beek’s drawl in “Varsity Blues.” By the way, there should be a Bad Movie Accents blog or Web site. I had to spend 20 minutes Googling “bad movie accents” to make sure I didn’t miss anyone.

Q: You gave the world that brilliant shot-by-shot “Rocky IV” remake. You gave the world that brilliant fake Michael McDonald Halloween video. Why haven’t you given the world the equally brilliant shot-by-shot remake of Journey’s “Separate Ways” video (SEE RIGHT)?
— Robert, Tempe, Ariz.

SG: Because I was saving it for the next mailbag! There you go. By the way, the Holy Grail of Cheesy Shot-By-Shot ’80s Remakes has to be the “You’re the Best” montage from “Karate Kid.” That’s the highest degree of difficulty — you need to fill the stands, you need to learn karate, you need to pull off the crane kick, you even need to find a convincing Miyagi and Kreese. Frankly, I don’t think it can be pulled off with a cheap budget. I’m laying the gauntlet down now — if you want to win the “Cheesiest Shot-By-Shot ’80s Remake” title, you have to remake the “You’re the Best” montage. Sure, the “Win in the End” montage from “Teen Wolf” is probably a little more doable … but it’s an easy way out. And as Robert Tepper once said, there’s no easy way out, and there’s definitely no short cut home.

Q: I’m a 30-year-old ex-college athlete who likes rare steaks and fake breasts. I just read your Dooze column and had to disappear into the bathroom at work so my co-workers would not see me crying. Damn you.
— Dave, Philadelphia

SG: As you can tell, we just entered the Yup Zone. Although I liked the way Dave described himself — it sounds like the way a contestant would be described on “Win Ben Stein’s Money” or “Love Connection.” He’s a 30-year-old ex-college athlete who likes rare steaks and fake breasts, please welcome Dave from Philadelphia!”

Q: Raise your hand if you went to Mardi Gras and nailed Kid Rock in the face with beads when the sexy chick he was with wasn’t flashing and then got high fives from everyone who saw it happen. Yessir.
— Erik, Tallahassee, Fla.

SG: Getting closer …

Q: We’ve all seen “Cast Away” and, of course, remember the emotional scene as Wilson the Volleyball floats away from Tom Hanks in the middle of the ocean. It’s time to admit to ourselves those two were more than just friends. I mean come on … four years on an island together … no female or any other sexual outlet around. Hanks did the deed with the Volleyball and probably regularly.
— Carl F., Merrimack, N.H.

SG: Yup, these are my readers.

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. For every Simmons column, as well as podcasts, videos, favorite links and more, check out the revamped Sports Guy’s World.

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

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