By Bill Simmons
Page 2 columnist

As always, these are actual e-mails from readers ... I edited for space and threw in some additional comments when necessary. And while we're here, thanks to everyone who takes the time to write an e-mail and send it along.

Luis Castillo
Always ask prospective dates if they know who Luis Castillo is.

Here we go ...

  • I learned one thing over the past few weeks: Don't joke about females being unable to work the remote control. Yes, some female sports fans claim they can work the remote -- more than a dozen of them wrote in. Here's an e-mail from Kari in Orange County that summed it up:

    "As a female sports fan, I must say that you and your readers are definitely dating the wrong girls. There are girls (reasonably attractive girls, who are completely heterosexual) who dig sports as much as you guys. We regularly attend sporting events, never miss "SportsCenter" or "Baseball Tonight" and would be horrified at missing part of any game for a Lifetime-made-for-stupid-chicks movie. We can tell you that Pedro was Pedro in San Diego last night, Luis Castillo has a 34-game hit streak (with 56 games being the record held by Joe DiMaggio), and the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, all while making you a gourmet dinner.

    "And more importantly, we care that Pedro was Pedro in San Diego last night, Castillo has a 34-game hit streak, and the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup! Just this morning, several of us gals were up at 4 a.m. to watch World Cup soccer. So, when you guys feel ready to turn in your nonsporting, Lifetime-watching, girly girls, give us true Sports Gals in Southern California a call."

    (By the way, I'll be auctioning off Kari's e-mail address on eBay later this month.)

  • Another joke that riled people up -- in this case, a few confused soccer fans -- was when I mentioned in Tuesday's Ramblings how America's World Cup games should have been preceded by a taped, "Attention: These are not our best athletes!" announcement from President Bush. That elicited the typical "Soccer athletes are the best-conditioned athletes in the world!" crap from a few soccer zealots ... and they were totally missing the point. In almost every other country, the elite athletes play soccer. In the United States, the vast majority of our elite athletes (center fielders, running backs, point guards, wide receivers, quarterbacks, shooting guards, cornerbacks, etc.) gravitate toward baseball, football and basketball because A) those sports are more popular, B) that's where the big money is. I don't think this is too difficult to figure out.

  • You might remember me mentioning in the Spelling Bee column that the greatest Bee moment of all-time happened in '97, when Rebecca Sealfon gleefully spelled out the winning word ("euonym"). Ron from Watertown, N.Y., sent along the video link in case you've never seen it.

  • In case you haven't noticed, I'm clearly slipping. In the previous mailbag, I answered the question about "Five hot chicks from the '80s who inexplicably disappeared" and forgot to mention Amanda Peterson (the blonde babe from "Can't Buy Me Love") and Mia Sara (Ferris Bueller's girlfriend). The two most prominent actresses on that list ... and I missed them both. Terrible job by me. And while we're at it, I easily could have mentioned Phoebe Cates, Joyce Hyser ("Just One Of the Guys"), the lady who played Lacey Underall in "Caddyshack," Justine Bateman and Helen Slater ("Legend of Billie Jean"). This is grounds for my possible firing. Seriously. I can't believe I forgot about Amanda Peterson and Mia Sara. It's a dark day.

  • Speaking of Lacey, a number of you pointed out that she should be the Captain of the Anti-Adrian team (likable chicks in sports movies), not just because she was attractive, but because she became the lifetime MVP of the Go-Team by sleeping with Ty Webb and Danny Noonan in a 24-hour span. Very good call. Yet another John Wasdin fastball down the middle of the plate that I missed.

    Stephon Marbury
    Stephon Marbury should have been in The Sports Guy's Idiot's NBA Draft Guide.

  • Speaking of slipping, some of my other screw-ups from the past few weeks: The Jack Ryan movie scene when Harrison Ford's car was besieged by hitmen happened in "Clear and Present Danger," not "Patriot Games" ... Avondre Jones was the Fresno State player with the samurai sword, not Tremaine Fowlkes ... Stephon Marbury was mistakenly omitted from the Idiot's NBA Draft Guide (as a Top-Tier pick in '96) ... it's the "University of Dayton," not "Dayton University" ... when Earnest Byner fumbled in the AFC championship game against Denver, it was 38-31, so a touchdown and extra point would have only tied the game ... "Torquemada" was also the name of the Inquisitor in the Spanish Inquisition scene in "History of the World Part One" (can't believe I missed that).

  • From Leviticus in Kentucky: "After just watching the NBA Finals to cap off the playoffs, I truly believe that NBC has mastered the fourth dimension of time travel. How else could they fit two 30-second commercials into the same amount of time used for a 20-second timeout? Could you please try and explain that one? I just don't get it."

    I noticed that as well ... add that to the list of "Things the NBA Needs to Change," along with the ridiculous offensive charge rule, which was exploited by Jason Kidd throughout the playoffs. Until recently, the offensive player was always given the benefit of the doubt, especially if he was committing himself to a two-step move that ended with him heading in the air toward the basket. The only way a charge was ever called was if A) the offensive player was completely out of control, or B) the defensive player was planted as the offensive player was starting his move.

    Somehow that changed ... now the offensive player can be in the middle of his move, the defensive player can scurry over, stop on a dime, quickly plant his feet and absorb the contact as the offensive player goes airborne. Just idiotic. For one thing, you're inhibiting offensive players from going to the basket by giving the defensive player more leeway, which isn't in anyone's interest, least of all the fans. And somebody is going to get seriously hurt one of these times. They need to change this back, pronto.

  • Following up on my section about shaky officiating in NBA games from an NBA playoff column last month, readers sent along these other candidates: Knicks-Bulls Game 5 in 1994 (Hue Hollins calls a phantom touch foul on Scottie Pippen well after Hubert Davis shot the ball; NBA hands Knicks a 3-2 lead in the series.) ... Jazz-Bulls, Game 6 1998 (a Howard Eisley 3-pointer waved off by Dick Bavetta, despite replays showing it left Eisley's hand before the buzzer, and a Ron Harper 3-pointer allowed by Bavetta, despite replays showing it clearly occurred after the buzzer) ... Bucks-Sixers Games 5 & 7, 2000 ... Knicks-Pacers Game 7, 1994 (flagrant foul on Reggie Miller near the end) ... Pacers-Bulls, Game 7, 1998 ... Suns-Sonics Game 7, 1993 (Suns shoot a jaw-dropping 67 free throws, 19 by Barkley alone in the fourth quarter).

  • Remember my theory that "Toupee or Not Toupee?" and "Real Breasts or Fake Breasts?" would be the most absorbing game shows of all-time? Illinois reader E.J. Becks points out that David Letterman's show already has a segment called "Hairpiece/Not a Hairpiece," where they actually bring out a contestant and discuss whether he's wearing a toupee. Sorry about that.

    Cuba Gooding Jr.
    Something about Memphis just makes a guy like Cuba Gooding Jr. want to give an Elvis-like karate pose.

  • Many people wrote in about two things that happened during the Tyson-Lewis pay-per-view fight, neither of which I mentioned in my Tyson column. I'll let two of the readers explain:

    1. Chicago's R. Flanagan: "Please tell me you saw what was arguably the funniest interaction ever. It was during the first undercard fight, when they cut to the Tyson entrance. Mike is walking in and what seems to be a female production assistant in a headset says, 'Hey, Mike.' Tyson then delivers the elevator eyes and sticks his hand out, pulls her in and kisses her while saying, 'Hey, how you doing baby?' The production assistant makes an 'I'm getting kissed by a rapist!' face and runs away. I had a party for the fight and once everyone arrived, thanks to TiVo, I played the scene over and over again with rolling on the floor."

    2. From M. Pullen: "What the hell was Cuba Gooding Jr. on? Was that (pre-fight) interview with James Brown not a perfect 100 on the Unintentional Comedy Scale? I'm getting the giggles just thinking about it. Cuba all hopped up, bouncing off the walls, he was like one of those comedians on BET who bomb, just running off, being loud and not making one bit of sense. Watching Brown try to keep some semblance of sanity during that segment was hilarious, especially when Cuba got up, went behind the seats and started shadow-boxing, and Brown said, 'Hey, there's no railing there,' and he had to try and pull Cuba back into his seat before he fell to his death. Kudos to Brown for a heroic performance, considering next he had to deal with a punch drunk and incomprehensible Joe Frazier! I can't believe no one has mentioned this Cuba Gooding Jr. thing."

    (Note: I mentioned Cuba in the Tyson column, but couldn't find the right place to give the incident its proper due -- one of the goofiest interviews of all time, right up there with the time the "Cheers" cast appeared on the "Tonight Show" when they were all sauced. You really had to see it. Either Cuba was on something, or he's completely insane. There's no middle ground.)

  • Reader suggestions for "Level of Losing" games: The Buffalo Bills and Frank Reich coming back from 35 down against Houston (Guillotine) ... Scott Norwood in the '91 Bills-Giants Super Bowl (Stomach Punch) ... Gary Anderson in the '98 Vikings-Falcons NFC Championship (Stomach Punch) ... Joe Carter takes Mitch Williams deep to end the 1993 World Series (Guillotine + the Stomach Punch) ... Patriots-Packers in '96 (Monkey Wrench -- the kickoff to Desmond Howard) ... Boston College-Notre Dame, '93 (Princeton Principle) ... Kirk Gibson's HR in the '88 World Series (Dead Man Walking) ... Kentucky-Duke (Alpha Dog + Stomach Punch) ... Game 6, 1991 World Series (Monkey Wrench -- Leibrandt pitching to Puckett) ... Game 7, 1985 World Series (Guillotine + Dead Man Walking) ... Orioles-Yankees, '96 ALCS (Jerrey Maier -- Monkey Wrench) ... USSR-U.S. men's hoops, '72 Olympics (the all-time combination of the Stomach Punch and the Monkey Wrench).

  • From Albany's Kirk Bebout: "I was watching 'Seinfeld' reruns the other night, and I think I found the episode where they jumped the shark: The menage a trois episode. No question. Jerry and George plot the fabled 'roommate switch,' plus we find out that Kramer's first name is Cosmo. And when the roommates tell Jerry they are into it, we get the classic of all George lines (to Jerry), 'Do you ever just get down on your knees and thank God that you know me and have access to my dementia?' Classic episode. It was all downhill after that. When do you think 'Seinfeld' jumped the shark?"

    I always thought it happened right after George got engaged, which was a Top 10 episode for me. Remember how it ended, with a bummed-out George watching "Mad About You" in bed with his fiancée? Things started to go downhill after that -- the situations became a little too contrived and formulaic. Hey, it happens. There were still some good shows after that, but it was never as consistently good. At least for me. Sitcoms only have about a four-year life span before you have to start changing the cast around to keep things fresh. That's why "Cheers" was saved when Coach and Diane Chambers departed when they did (although Coach departed because of natural causes, but still ...).

  • Questions that I just couldn't answer (so we're opening them up to the general public):

    Bob Golic
    Bob Golic's NFL background made him a perfect sidekick for Screech.

    1. Scottie in Virginia: "While I was reading your review on the U.S. soccer team, I realized your snooze on your alarm goes off every nine minutes, too. Is that a universal snooze time? Can't it be extended to 14 minutes, or 17 minutes? What's the significance of nine minutes?"

    2. Dante Simpson in Ohio: "Has there ever been a more inexplicable casting decision than Bob Golic on 'Saved by the Bell: The College Years?' How did this work? Did Golic's people say, 'We need to hook up Bob with A.C. Slater and Screech,' or did the 'SBTB: TCY' producers say, 'Who should be the RA? Oh, I know. Bob Golic.' I can't begin to fathom this one."

    3. Heather in New Jersey: "I was at a bar last night talking with a guy friend I hadn't seen in awhile, when another girl that I don't know comes over to say hello. Now they're talking away and I've been stopped in midsentence. I spent a few awkward minutes sipping my drink, looking around, trying desperately to not look like I just lost a conversation faceoff. Is there any graceful way to escape this situation?"

    4. Steve from Baltimore: "Is there a term for it when something un-jumps the shark? If there isn't, one should be made. It has to incorporate John Travolta in it somewhere (à la 'Pulp Fiction')."

    5. California's Jason Rexing: "Has 'Jumped the Shark' jumped the shark?"

    6. Ed Murphy: "Is it me or is Joe Randa's permanent Joker-esque grin one of the most annoying sights in all of sports? At first, you think it's just a s--t-eating smirk for when he's doing good, but it's always there! He even had it on his face right after he made an error last night. Does he know he looks like that? Is it a medical condition? Someone has to tell the man. It's kind of freaky and borderline disturbing."

    7. Graham in Memphis: "I think the most underrated phenomenon in life is the ability to stagger back to your hotel drunk and not get lost when you're in a new city. Have you experienced this? Doesn't matter if it's your very first time there, you always make it back without getting lost. Why is this? Do we have a GPS system installed in us that only goes off when our blood-alcohol level exceeds a certain point? Why hasn't this been researched more thoroughly?"

    8. Brad in Memphis: "If you put Chris Webber and Kevin Garnett on the same team, would they fight over the ball the first three quarters, then stare blankly at each other the final four minutes of the game?"

    9. KM Scully: "What would happen if Shea Ralph married Shea Hillenbrand? Would she become Shea Hillenbrand or would he become Shea Ralph?"

  • From Sly in Bridgeport: "Watching 'The Longest Yard' last night forced me to list four top worst decisions prison wardens have made. The decision to have a football team of ex-cons ('The Longest Yard') ... the decision to give Andy Dufresne a poster for his cell ('Shawshank') ... the decision to have Adebisi reinstated to M city ('OZ') ... the decision by Warden Drumgoole to never let Leone see the light of day ('Lock Up')."

    (I racked my brain coming up with another bad warden decision and couldn't think of one. By the way, Andy's poster has to be No. 1 on the list -- it led to Andy's escape, the exposure of wide-scale corruption in Shawshank, the prison guard from "Bad Boys" and "Highlander" going to prison, and the warden losing all his money and blowing out his brains. )

  • My three favorite reader ideas:

    Minority Report
    Predicting the future as in "Minority Report" might save the Red Sox from future debacles.

    1. Jim Z. in Minnesota: "My friends and I were talking the other day and we've decided that MTV needs to make a show called 'Clubbin' with Mark Madsen.' Think of the comedy ... it would blow everything out of the water. An MTV crew could just follow the Lakers and Madsen around the country. Each week there could be a new NBA player to serve as co-host with him. Think of the great moves guys such as Vlade Divac, Todd MacCulloch and other big, uncoordinated, white guys could showcase. They could even bring some guys out of retirement, like Bryant 'Big Country' Reeves. It would certainly be a huge ratings winner. I would even get HBO if they carried that series. Why isn't this show in production right now?"

    2. Matt K. from Massachusetts: "I saw 'Minority Report' last night. Pretty good flick. More importantly, it gave me an idea to help out our New England teams. In staying with the basic idea of the movie, there should be a machine that transmits a signal to a secret location just outside of Beantown, where a renegade band of rabid fans waits to stop all bad sports moves before they happen. Just think of all the good that could have been done in just the last 10-15 years for the Red Sox even. Just as Lou Gorman is about to trade away Jeff Bagwell for Larry Anderson, a SWAT team comes in and hogties him, preventing him from doing so. Or when Dan Duquette gave Steve Avery his contract ... glass flying everywhere, Dan crying for his mother, but the Sox saved from another bad roster move. Championships would become standard fare in Beantown."

    3. Oyster Bay's Stewart Glickman: "At the NBA draft, rather than being forced to listen to David Stern's anticlimactic announcements such as 'Fred Jones is not here,' why not jazz it up like the Oscars? Why not have an offstage announcer instead say 'accepting the traditional handshake with David Stern on behalf of Fred Jones is ...' And here's the kicker: Let the replacement be someone from the audience. Have a couple of the NBA suits go out into the audience, find someone in a Pacers jersey, bring him up front, meet the commish, immediately followed by the post-selection interview. Just imagine what this would do to sustain interest throughout the draft."

  • Keith Kincaid in D.C. definitively answers the "Is there any way at all to hit on a Hooters waitress, yet maintain some dignity at the same time?" (from the last mailbag column):

    "Since you are taking counter-arguments, take this one from 'Seinfeld,' after a waitress walked away from some playful conversation with George at the coffee shop:

    -- "George: 'You think she likes me?'
    -- "Jerry: 'She is working for tips.'"

  • From Sox fan Roger Wakefield: "Seen in one of those SkyMall catalogs on an airline was an autographed still photo of Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner from the fateful play in Game 6, autographed by both players. This just steams me, that Buck is making money off this -- now I know the game was pretty much lost by this point, and it would bother me even more if it were Calvin Schiraldi somehow making money off this, but nonetheless, shouldn't this kind of thing be prohibited in the same way convicted felons are prohibited from profiting from their crimes?"

    (It's funny, I'm the first person to defend Billy Buck about '86 -- he was the heart and soul of that team -- but even I can't defend this. That's an absolute outrage. I agree with Roger, the "Son of Sam" law should apply here.)

  • Wisconsin's Justin Baker has some more nominees for the Bob Horry/Nate Dogg Category (as mentioned in the last mailbag: "Mario Elie (has a worse player ever hit so many big shots in the postseason?); Danny Ainge (huge playoff performer, never even the third best player on his team); Claude Lemieux (80 career playoff goals, Steve Yzerman has 67); and Don Cheadle (Buck from 'Boogie Nights,' The Thief from 'Out of Sight,' L.D. from 'Bulworth,' the Fed from 'Traffic,' and if you haven't seen him as Sammy Davis in the HBO movie 'Rat Pack,' you owe it to yourself)."

    (I liked those. Upon further reflection, I'm throwing in guitarist Johnny Marr, as well, just because he helped carry The Smiths, Electronic and The The, three of my favorite bands from the 1980s and early '90s, and he had one of the most distinctive sounds around. Nobody ever mentions him for some reason. He's the Jack Morris of alternative rock.)

  • E-mails that made me laugh out loud:

    1. Charles Mansfield in New York: "Have you seen Jim Courier's haircut? He's a Wimbledon commentator on TNT. Unbelievable! He looks like Carol Brady."

    Quin Snyder
    Quin Snyder tries to think of something to say.

    2. Jeffrey McFarlane: "Great to see that your dad picked up Drew Gooden's horrible buttonless suit, but how could you miss that Gooden looked just like Dr. Evil?"

    3. Jeff from Marlbourough, Mass.: "You hit the nail on the head with Quin Snyder at the NBA draft. The guy sat there emotionless for almost two hours before saying anything that sounded like he put some thought into it. He reminded me of those two women from the 'SNL' skits who have their own radio show -- the 'Delicious Dish' -- on National Public Radio. Every so often, he'd chime in there with "We played against him last year, mmm, yeah, wow, mmm, he was good, yeah ..."

    4. Brian Carr: "Aimee Osbourne is the Chuck Cunningham of the 21st century."

    5. David K. in Michigan: "Is it just me or is there an eerie similarity between watching Bill Laimbeer coach the WNBA's Detroit Shock and watching Tom Hanks coach the Rockford Peaches of the AAGPBL???"

    6. CV Sullivan: "Did you see Game 6 of the Lakers-Kings series? Shaq was 100 percent from the free-throw line at the time I noticed, so I wanted to ask -- is it my imagination, or do Shaq's eyes become more crossed as a game goes on? At the start of the game he looked as normal as a 7-foot-3 guy who weighs 300-plus pounds can, but when they showed him at the line at various times in the fourth, he looked like an oversized Sammy Davis Jr."

  • The most e-mails I received about anything have been: A) When I mentioned Lisa Lopes in a "Ramblings" column and she died 24 hours later, and B) when I wrote about ManningGate (how Paul Molitor's 39-game hitting streak ended with Moiltor on deck) in a mailbag column and Luis Castillo's 35-game hitting streak ended the exact same way 36 hours later. On the heels of last year's Ewing Theory column, when I designated Drew Bledsoe and the Patriots as the No. 1 candidate to watch (followed by Bledsoe getting hurt and the Pats winning the Super Bowl) ... well, some of you are wondering if I'm clairvoyant. One reader even asked if I was born "with the afterbirth covering your face." I'm not even sure what this means. Stop creeping me out, please. If I had special powers, I'd be living in Vegas.

    (Speaking of Vegas ...)

  • From reader Mark Petralia: "Having just returned from a Vegas weekend during the first round of the NCAA tourney, I'm wondering which of these you mind the most difficult after a Vegas trip -- 1) reincorporating the sun into your life, 2) convincing your stomach that half-a-pack of cigarettes and nine Heinekens is not a meal, 3) realizing that blatantly staring at the "talent" (both amateur and professional) is frowned upon in real society, or 4) disposing of all that excess oxygen they feed you?"

    Excellent question. The toughest thing for me has always been adjusting to the oxygen they pump into the place -- it practically makes you superhuman. Is there another place on the planet where you can remain awake until 7 in the morning without getting tired? It's like developing superpowers.

    Speaking of that, North Carolina's Jim Hazen wonders, "After how many Red Bull and vodkas can you legally be considered insane? My count is four." Sounds good to me. That's why they call it "The Gambler's Delight." Between the oxygen and the drinks, you reach some sort of heightened sense of controlled insanity. Perfect for gambling large sums of money.

    Columbia Pictures
    A Sports Guy reader wants to turn Kirsten Dunst's career upside down.

  • Brad Hickey makes some good points here: "I think the mustache has lost its place in sports these days. While waiting for the Red Sox-Orioles game to start at 3:05 on Thursday, I was flipping channels and caught a Red Sox-Yankees game from 1989 on NESN -- more than half of the players in the game had mustaches. For the Sox, Rick Cerone, Jody Reed, Luis Rivera, Ed Romero, Mike Greenwell, Kevin Romine -- even Dennis Lamp warming up in the bullpen -- all had the whiskers (Boggs was in his beard stage, but he almost always had the 'stache going). The Yanks had a bunch, too, Mattingly, Don Slaught, Mike Pagliarulo, Alvaro Espinoza. Anyhow, all the leagues used to be fraught with men with mustaches, now they're rarely found. Is this a culture thing -- personally, I know nobody under the age of 45 who has one or has ever had one -- where the goatee has taken over, or can there be some other explanation?"

    (Here's my theory: When Jeff Hostetler rose the prominence with the Giants in the early-'90s, his mustache was so cheesy and wispy that it ruined the mustache mystique for everyone else involved -- they took one look at Hoss and said, "You know what? I can't be in the Mustache Club anymore. I'm shaving mine off tomorrow.")

  • Finally, Gary from Middletown, Conn., writes in with the following plea: "My buddies and I need your help. We are starting a boycott of all Kirsten Dunst movies, the theory being that she'll end up broke and destitute and have to turn to direct-to-video skin flicks. What do you say? Can you help?"

    (Yup ... these are my readers ...)

    Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN Magazine.

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