By Bill Simmons
Page 2 columnist
As Ernie Banks would say, "Let's play two!" I couldn't squeeze everything into part 1, so now it's time for even more of your e-mails and observations ...
You might remember the Diff'rent Strokes episode where Gordon Jump tried to molest Arnold and Dudley (indisputably the funniest "serious" sitcom episode of all-time, as covered in the last mailbag column). Well, as many of you pointed out, I never gave enough props to the second-funniest "serious" sitcom episode -- when Jesse Spano became addicted to caffeine pills on "Saved By the Bell." Clearly, I'm slipping in my old age -- three years ago, there's no way in hell I would have forgotten this one. Maybe a 93 out of 100 on the UCR (Unintentional Comedy Rating) scale, ranking just ahead of the episode where Zack and Slater poured punch all over one another.
Although he only appeared in seven games for the Cubs in 1995, Rich Garces is still part of the Cubs-Red Sox connection.
As reader Chad Bell wrote, "You're hurting me by not including the 'Jesse's on caffeine pills' episode -- it had the cheesy music video, Zack calling time out, and most memorably, Jesse's wailing 'I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so ... SCARED!' dance/singing frenzy that ended up with her crying in Zack's arms. Great TV. In fact, my senior class made it our Senior Class play."
(Chad neglects to mention that this was Elizabeth Berkeley's finest acting moment until her "thrashing like a 60-foot marlin" sex scene with Kyle McLachlan in "Showgirls," indisputably the funniest sex scene of all-time. She's definitely had some career highlights so far. What a talent.)
From Brian B. in Kenosha, Wis.: "After reading your Generic Spring Training column,have you ever noticed the Red Sox/Cubs Corollary? If so, do you find this scary and/or amusing? Bill Buckner, Gary Gaetti, Heathcliff Slocumb, Flash Gordon, Ron Mahay, Calvin Schiraldi, Jeff Fassero, Frank Castillo, Dennis Eckersley, Rich Garces, Lee Smith, Rod Beck. And that's just from your preseason article! I know there are more. I am now going to stand in oncoming traffic." Couldn't have ended that one better myself.
Really good question by Brent Zell in South Dakota: "Has Stephanie McMahon officially entered the Jenny McCarthy Zone, where a gal becomes so blisteringly annoying that no amount of good looks can make her seem attractive?"
(My answer: Absolutely. Nobody can bring a lively wrestling show to a screeching halt faster than Steph. She's like Sofia Coppola in "Godfather III," but crossed with Pamela Anderson, Amaya from the "Real World" and Satan. And it's a crying shame. First, she bought breast implants when she didn't need them; then, she entered the Jenny McCarthy Zone. Only one thing can salvage this whole mess, and I think you know where I'm headed here ... let's just say the remedy includes the words "black market," "illegally recorded" and "porn tape." Gentleman, start your camcorders!
E-mails we're openly ignoring at this point: Anything that starts off with "Can you settle a debate from your 20 Rules of Being a Fan column?" or some sort of "What should I do?" fantasy baseball question. Please. Throw me a frickin' bone here.
Strangest offer of the winter, from Dan in Boston: "Bill, I can't think of any other way to propose this: Will you marry my sister? I will take her current boyfriend out of the picture. All you have to do is show up. As a dowry, I am offering you a Wade Boggs rookie card, a dozen Dunkin' Donuts, a case of Heineken and two box seats to a Sox-Yankees game." Not really the most enticing package. Apparently he didn't feel the need to throw in his game-worn, autographed Acie Earl jersey.
Tim Schultz wonders, "Other than MJ's black & white Nike 'Wings' poster, what do you think is the greatest bond between guys in Generation X? Personally, I think it's the pregame code you enter in on the controller before you play 'Contra' on old-school Nintendo: up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-B button-A button-Start button. Classic. You can reel that off to a 25 year-old guy on the street you've never met, he'll know exactly what you're talking about, and you'll be pals before lunch."
(Note: I would vote for Tecmo Bowl. Hands down. With "NHL '94," "RBI Baseball" and "Hot Dog: The Movie" as runners-up.)
Walt from Baltimore destroyed my conspiracy theory about the '85 NBA Lottery (that New York's envelope was frozen with dry ice, so David Stern would know not to pick it until it was the only envelope left):
Stephanie McMahon, right, has just become downright annoying.
OK, maybe it wasn't dry ice. But the Patrick Ewing lottery in 1985 was still rigged.
"Not to lay too much science on you, Bill, but dry ice is solid carbon dioxide, and it is really cold. It also sublimates (turns from solid to gas without going through the liquid state) quickly at room temperature. If the Knicks' envelope were coated with a lot of dry ice, a cloud of smoke would be billowing out of the bin, and I think someone would have caught on. And Stern would have been in extreme pain and needed immediate medical attention if he touched any solid dry ice. That's why people handle it with gloves or tongs. If the fix was in, a simpler method would have been to have the Knicks envelope made from a paper with a different texture than the others, say out of bond paper. It would look the same, but feel differently."
(So, yeah ... it was bond paper! That's how they did it! We still need to have Bob Ley investigate this.)
Many of you pointed out that I missed two crucial breakdown categories in the "Cheers vs. Seinfeld" debate (from the previous mailbag): Theme songs and spinoffs. In each case, "Cheers" wins handily over "Seinfeld" -- not only did it have a much better theme song, plus "Frasier" has been 10 times more successful than any of the
"Seinfeld" spinoffs. Still, I'm going with "Seinfeld" over the long haul.
Speaking of "Seinfeld," this comes from Jeff Z. in Glastonbury, Conn.: "In your recent column, you mentioned the 'Seinfeld' episode 'The Contest' in your comparison between 'Seinfeld' and 'Cheers.' Do you realize that, on the same evening, Sam Malone revealed to Carla that he was going bald? I have to rate that as my most memorable night of television ever. I didn't know what to do with myself for about a week -- nothing else compared. Is there anything that tops it, in your mind?"
(Hmmmmm ... I remember a Wednesday night in '93 when Dylan McKay's Dad was blown up in a car on "90210," and that was immediately followed by one of the episodes from right after Heather Locklear had joined the cast of "Melrose Place." Doesn't get much more riveting than that. And strangely enough, that was probably a few months before that "Seinfeld"/"Cheers" double whammy. Man, remember when fictional TV used to be good? Wasn't that long ago. Now all we have are reality TV shows, MTV and HBO.)
Since we don't have Tony from "Pardon The Interruption" in the house, here were some of my top screw-ups over the past two months (as pointed out by the readers):
1) Sam Adams beer is primarily brewed by the Pittsburgh brewing company (I thought it was brewed in Massachusetts); 2) Baltimore is 40 miles north of Washington, D.C. (I wrote "south"); 3) the Bullets/Wizards haven't won a playoff series since '82 (I wrote "playoff game"); 4) Gary Hudson appeared with Shannon Tweed in "Indecent Behavior," not "Indecent Exposure" (best moment of that entire "Brink" column and I mangled it); 5) I forgot to include the New Orleans Saints on my list of "Worst Sports Franchises From the Past 25 Years"; 6) I forgot to mention Philly last week as a city that rivaled Washington, D.C. for great hoops tradition; and 7) as strange as this sounds, Columbus, Ohio, actually has two state-of-the-art arenas within 30 minutes of each other.
Grady from Richmond, Va., asks, "Do you consider yourself the Nostradamus of sports columnists? I was doing some Sports Guy archive browsing (The Ewing Theory 101) and noticed that you mentioned Drew Bledsoe as a prime candidate for The Ewing Theory. I wasn't sure if you'd mentioned it in any of your giddy ramblings immediately following the Super Bowl so I thought I'd bring it to your attention."
(Hey, if you re-read that column, Bledsoe was actually the first example given in the "Future Candidates" section. Kudos to me. Now, I'm waiting for the Peyton Manning injury, followed by Indy's improbable Super Bowl run. And don't count out two 2002 possibilities for the "Future Candidates" list: 1) the Giambi-less A's, and 2) Chris Webber hobbling off the floor against the Lakers with his 150th sprained ankle, followed by the Kings improbably pulling out the series.)
Something I forgot to mention in part 1: In the Fred Taylor Hall of Fame, there has to be a plaque for yours truly in the Media Members Wing. Nobody gets sick more often than me; I contract mutant forms of bronchitis at least twice a winter (and just wait until hay fever season, when my column will be disappearing for weeks at a time, with no explanation in sight). I should just pull a Travolta and write my columns from a plastic bubble. I'm a wuss. Let there be no doubt, I'm a wuss.
Greg W. in Brookline, Mass., had the toughest question of the past two months: "OK, let's say a Skinemax Hall of Fame opens up. Which actresses do you put into the 'Ruth, Cobb, Wagner, Matthewson, Johnson' inaugural class? My two obvious ones are Shannon Tweed and Monique Parent, and maybe Sylvia Kristel gets in from the Veteran's Committee. But who fills out the other two spots?"
Hmmmmm ... I ran this by some buddies, and we decided on Shannon Whirry and Sybill Danning for the other two spots, although Andrew Stevens should definitely receive his proper due at some point for being the first recognizable actor to freefall into a Cinemax career (he always had that "I can't believe this happened to me" look on his face). And Kari Wuhrer deserves some consideration just because she fell the hardest of any actress -- from legitimate Hot Chick Du Jour status in the late-'80s (on MTV's "Remote Control") to "90210" to Skinemax in less than a decade. Remarkable.
Just for the record, the two Shannons were the Bird/Magic of Cinemax -- from 1992-1995, Whirry starred in "Animal Instincts," "Body of Influence," "Lady in Waiting," "Fatal Pursuit," "Animal Instincts 2," "Private Obsession," "Playback" and "Dangerous Prey," while Tweed carried "Night Eyes 2," "Night Eyes 3," "Indecent Behavior" (with Gary Hudson!), "The Naked Truth," "Cold Sweat," "Possessed by the Night," "Indecent Behavior 2," "Night Fire," "Hard Vice," "Indecent Behavior 3," "Hotline," "Body Chemistry 4," "Electra," "The Dark Dancer" and "Scorned" (probably her epic). What a stretch. Might never be duplicated.
Bernie P. has a follow-up to the unbelievably misguided "Night Vision" scene described in my review of "Rollerball:" "Went to the movies the other day and saw a sign you would enjoy. On the box-office window there was a letter from the theater that said (and I paraphrase), 'We have received numerous complaints about an extended scene at the end of 'Rollerball' where it appears as if the screen is green. We have notified the distributor and they assure us that it is part of the movie.' "
A splendid NBA-related e-mail from Bruce in Toronto:
The Sports Guy predicted the Ewing Theory for Drew Bledsoe's Patriots in early 2001.
Chris Webber isn't the only All-Star talent that the Kings let get away.
"I'd like to nominate the Golden State Warriors as the worst NBA franchise of all-time. Why? Take your two three-way player evaluations in your recent NBA column -- KG and Webber vs. Duncan and Kobe vs. T-Mac and Vince -- and realize that the Warriors had, or reasonably could have had, five of the six. Five of the six!
"They had the chance to draft Kobe (taking Todd Fuller two spots earlier -- that pick was followed by Peja Stojakovic, Steve Nash, and Jermaine O'Neal) and McGrady (they took Adonal Foyle one spot earlier). They also traded the rights to Vince for Antawn Jamison (throwing in cash to boot). They passed on KG for Joe Smith. And they traded Webber for Tom Gugliotta and draft picks (and you already saw how they use draft picks).
"This is also the same franchise that traded Robert Parish and Kevin McHale for Joe Barry Carroll, traded Bernard King for a drugged-out Michael Ray Richardson, and gave away Wilt Chamberlain, in his prime, for a bucket of spare parts. And they managed to screw up 'Run TMC' (Hardaway, Mullin and Richmond), one of the top 10 most entertaining teams of all-time. The evidence is overwhelming."
(All terrific points ... you even forgot how they let Jamaal Wilkes and Gus Williams get away in the mid-'70s. Unfortunately, G-State won an NBA title back in '75 when Rick Barry was in his prime -- a team can't be awarded "worst franchise" status if they have a championship banner. Either the Cleveland Cavs or the Atlanta Hawks have to get the nod over them. But you could make a case that the Warriors have been the most consistently dumb NBA franchise of the past 25 years.)
Random e-mails that cracked me up:
1. Boomer from S.D.: "Longtime fan, fourth-time writer. In relation to what I just said isn't the most annoying thing about Sports Radio is having a caller say: 'Longtime fan, first-time caller"? What I'd really like to hear is the total tally of those losers who call in daily: 'Hi, longtime fan, 349th-time caller. Can you confirm I have no life?'"
2. Reader Francomega: "Is it just me or is the strangest thing to come out of this whole Jayson Williams saga the fact that Chris Morris and Benoit Benjamin are Globetrotters? I haven't seen standards lowered this far since Method Man and Redman got into Harvard."
Billy Joel is younger than Tony Bennett -- but you wouldn't know it be looking at them.
3. Houston's Chris Hill: "Does Billy Joel age like a dog? How is it that he was born 30 years before Tony Bennett, yet now he is five years older than Tony? It defies modern medicine, it is like he has found the reverse fountain of youth (located in Otis Nixon's backyard). I think some fast food restaurant should hire Billy Joel to start promoting a new line of extra fat foods. Foods loaded with calories, high in FAT, but they taste freaking awesome! BJ could mock that dork from subway, Jared Vogler. Start talking a bunch of Crap about how he might be fat now, but once he was skinny and was married to Christy Brinkley, and no matter how many 6-inch wheat veggie delites Jarred eats, he still will never get a girl half as good-looking as Christy and will never have half the money that Joel has. He could just keep rambling about things until Mayor McCheese and the Grimace have to come usher him off the set."
(Note: Tell us how you feel, Chris. Don't hold back.)
4. Boston reader J. Cournoy: "Is there any truth to the story that "Scooby Doo" was created by a UMass Amherst alum, and that each character represents the stereotype of the Springfield area schools? Think about it. Fred: Amherst College. Daphne: Mount Holyoke. Velma: Smith. Shaggy: Hampshire College. Scooby: UMass."
5. Reader John Ketterling: "Has there ever been a more recklessly irresponsible public figure in movie history than Larry Vaughan, the mayor of Amity in 'Jaws'? I mean, he wants to keep the beaches open even after a 10-year-old boy is eaten by the Great White in plain view of the entire town, and even after his police chief and a shark expert both insist that the Great White is still on the prowl. Amazingly bad decision. Did he even bother to run for re-election?"
6. Reader Chris Bailey: "When is someone finally going to make the point that if Isiah Thomas were white, he would be just another horrible NBA coach?"
7. Reader David McCullough: "I think the Chair Shot (from wrestling) should be worked into every major sport. I'd watch golf if everyone in contention on the final 18 had a chair shot to use anytime, on any competitor. Think about it ... Tiger is lining up the putt to kill yet another Mickelson challenge at Augusta, when all of a sudden -- BLAM! -- Mickelson cracks him with the chair! Puts Mickelson over as the heel -- setting up a classic duel for the British -- but also adds to the fan excitement. Every sport could benefit from this."
Finally, here's Brian from Baltimore: "I was reading about Mike Tyson's latest troubles, and I came up with an idea. Tyson obviously shouldn't be allowed to fight human beings due to his short temper and love of biting, but that doesn't mean he still can't earn a living. I suggest that Tyson still be allowed to fight, but only animals. Think about it. Fox could package it as one of their reality shows: 'When Animals Attack Mike Tyson.' Viewers could tune in each week to see Mike take on fearsome animals such as a grizzly bear, silverback gorilla, or Burmese python. Each week it would get tougher, so by around week 10, I guess he'd have to take on a blue whale or a swarm of bees or something. I'm telling you this would be a ratings bonanza! I would watch this. Everyone would watch this."
(Yup... these are my readers.)
Bill Simmons writes three columns a week for Page 2.