By Bill Simmons
Page 2 columnist

Before we get to the e-mails, I wanted to give a special shout-out to our U.S. military personnel overseas ... at least once a week, I'll receive an e-mail from one of them and it always makes me remember what happened a year ago (and what has been happening since). It's like my weekly wake-up call. So, thank you.

Cal Ripken
Watch for Cal Ripken's latest CD, which includes a cover version of Ray Stevens' "The Streak."

Best wishes to everyone this week. For today's column, I'm turning things over to the readers -- two months worth of potshots, wacky observations, goofy theories, nitpicks and everything else left over from the summer. Hope you enjoy ...

Things that make you go 'Hmmmmm ...'
Tom A. from Kansas: "Is Cal Ripken Jr. just another one of Garth Brooks' wild spinoff personalities? Like Chris Gaines? No wonder Garth always goes to spring training, to throw us off the trail by hitting .144. We are on to you, Garth!"

Leo Lopez from New York: "Do you think Mike Lupica has some bizarre variation of Tourette's syndrome that causes him to shout out 'Tiger Woods!' at random intervals. I have been watching 'The Sports Reporters' for years, and the longest I have seen him go into a show without saying 'Tiger Woods' is about nine minutes (I believe they were discussing figure skating on that episode)."

Mike from Stoneham, Mass.: "Would you agree that one of the best places in the world to be is sitting next to the guy getting a lap dance at a strip club? There isn't that pressure to look interested ... and you can sip your drink without worrying about dropping the bottle or drooling all over yourself. Just calm, cool, relaxed, fun."

Brent from Cleveland: "Can we get a restraining order to prevent people from using the 'Why would people want Ted Williams' DNA when they saw what it did for John Henry?' joke? It is quickly becoming the 'Why don't they just make the whole plane out of black box?' joke of the 21st century."

Things you may not have known
Rian Kirkman of Los Angeles: "I think I've discovered the 'dork' anti-venom for your reader whose 'buddy' suggested they go to Hoover Dam during a Las Vegas bachelor party. A friend of mine goes to Vegas every year with a group of friends. One guy is a paramedic. He packs a suitcase full of IV's. They get bombed at night, and in the morning, each guy hooks himself up to a drip. After about 30 minutes, the hangover is gone, and you're ready to start up again with the morning bloody marys.

"I really don't know what do do with this information. I'm in awe, scared and jealous ... all at the same time. I haven't felt this odd combination of emotions since I first watched the original 'Brian's Song.' I think this guy should quit the paramedic gig and just open up shop in Vegas next to the oxygen bars."

Dagan Loisel (Japan): "Just wanted to let The Sports Guy know that the bullpen car is alive and well and living in Japan. Went to my first Japanese baseball game recently. Around the seventh inning, I looked up from my sushi and green tea just in time to see the wonder of all wonders, a sleek, modern bullpen car emerge from the outfield wall. It was essentially a normal sports car with a special modification allowing the incoming reliever to stand up during the five-second ride to the mound. Kind of like the bubble top on cars from the future."

Burning questions
Jeff Gagan of Virginia: "My friends and I love watching 'Finding Forrester' just to hear Sean Connery awkwardly belt out, 'You're the man now, dog.' Can you refer me to other instances where an actor seems physically unable to deliver one line in an otherwise decent performance?"

Jason from Oklahoma: "The Miami Heat play at the American Airlines Arena and the Dallas Mavericks play at the American Airlines Center. What is the difference between an arena and a center?"

Nick Solis of Massachusetts: "On the USA Network, does Michael Barkann only do the U.S. Open for Tennis? I mean, is he frozen the rest of the year?"

A.C. Green
Ever wonder why we haven't heard from A.C. Green since his wedding night?

Patrick McCarthy from New Hampshire: "If you could switch bodies for a couple hours with any living human, is there a more desirable choice than A.C. Green on his wedding night?"

Brad Ennett of Green Bay, Wis.: "How come it's always a 'Pier 6' brawl? What's going on at piers 5 and 7?"

People with too much free time
Jon from Rehoboth, Mass.: "Just wanted to let you know about a little something I call 'The Three Reggies Trick,' a way to categorize all your relationships. First up is the 'Reggie Lewis' -- this is someone you met and had instant chemistry with, but for some evil twist of fate, the relationship never gets a chance to reach its potential. Then there's the Reggie Williams -- the girl that you had a really good feeling about before you got blindsided with some sort of news that just tells you the relationship can't work. As an added bonus, although you want to break things off, you just can't seem to get rid of her, you think she's gone, but inexplicably she keeps coming back into your life.

"And last up is the 'Reggie Miller' -- you invest all sorts of time and money and effort in this girl, she's the one, finally after all these years, you can settle down. Things go well for quite a long time, everything's great, she's smart, good-looking, understands football, the total package. One day you wake up and go about your normal day's business, come home and find out that all of a sudden she's looking 10 years older than she did last week, with one of those 1980s hairstyles, and she'd rather watch Lifetime's made-for-TV movies than 'Monday Night Football.' Thus we have 'The Three Reggies Trick.' There's no getting around it."

Jeff Kearney of Massachusetts: "You recently had the Levels of Losing, which was right on. Being a longtime Sports Guy e-mailer, I have come to realize that there are Four Levels of E-Mailing the Sports Guy. Bear with me ...

"Level One: The Silent Treatment. The Sports Guy never responds. He is too busy. He has probably written something controversial and is swamped, is on assignment, or is in Vegas or Foxwoods. I have learned not to get offended. Timing seems to be everything with SG.

"Level Two: The Response. SG writes his typical one-line response, all in lower case. The SG is still busy, but at least you got his attention. The e-mailer is happy to hear from one of his heroes, but, unfortunately, now knows his e-mail is not a Level Four.

"Level Three: The Anonymous Publishing. Your e-mail got mentioned, but one of two things happened: A) Other people wrote in with the same idea as you, so nobody was referenced, or B) You were either too slow, not creative enough, or just a victim of numbers. It happens. I have one career Level Three, a nomination of Ricky Proehl into the Reggie Cleveland Hall of Fame.

"Level Four: The Annotated Publishing! SG puts you in his column, mentions your name, and sometimes even mentions where you're from! Jackpot! A Level Four is akin to Mike McDermott sitting with Johnny Chan and taking a hand, or the Patriots winning the Super Bowl. I am proud to say I have two career Level Fours, making me the envy of my buddies. And since SG column mentions are permanently in the deadball era, I have an insurmountable lead on my friends. Which, as always, warrants mentioning."

Things you might have missed

Brian Billick
After his Ravens lost to the Panthers in Week 1, Brian Billick wanted to blank his players.

Jay from Philly: "I just caught Mr. Arrogance himself, Brian Billick, on the '70s game show, 'Match Game,' last night -- he bombed worse than David Caruso's movie career, did not match a single answer (and everyone matches Brett Sommers at least once ... I mean it's written into Brett's contract that every contestant must match Brett at least once during the show). During the show, he said he was recently retired from professional football and was getting into coaching. Yeah, Billick, tell the truth, like you just got cut from the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL.

Host Gene Rayburn cut him to pieces. Gene said, 'Football ... failed, game show contestant ... failed, what are you trying next?' It was absolutely one of the most riveting 30 minutes of TV I've ever seen. To see Mr. Know-it-All himself get brought down a couple of notches really made my day."

Brian from Los Angeles: "You have to check this out 'Conan The Barbarian' -- the DVD, by far the funniest thing I have seen in a long time. Not the actual movie, but the commentary by Arnold and the director. It's like watching an 'SNL' skit, but it's for real. Arnold doesn't remember half the stuff that was filmed, often says the wrong thing, and his comments make you wonder how he got to where he is with his IQ. The director on the other hand isn't much better -- he tries to explain each scene as something more important and symbolic than it really is, and he almost comes across as a pervert the way he talks of his attraction to the actresses used in the movie. You won't be disappointed."

Chris from East Meadow, N.Y.: "Can we now give Randall Cunningham his own language (a la Rickey-speak) after the display he put on this past week? There are three quarterbacks I look at now. Donovan McNabb, Culpepper and, in Detroit, McMahon. Mike McMahon? The jewel of the interview though was when he said, Yes, I can still play. Do I have anything left? I do not have anything left because I left it out on the football field. I left it all out there. I'll take misused Mike Tyson idioms for $200, Alex. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to fade into Bolivian."

Javier Perez Jr. of Texas: "You mentioned that you'd like to get the EA Sports voice guy and the CBS Football voice guy together to hear them say regular things. Well, this one's better: Jerry Seinfeld is coming out with a new movie called 'Comedian.' There is a site where you can go to watch newly released trailers and it shows that guy who does the voice-over for every movie trailer trying to do one and going off on too many tangents. It's hilarious. Check it out. The specific site for the trailer is here."

Great NBA dunks I forgot to mention
Zach from Minnesota: "How can you leave the Bernard King dunk vs. the Pistons in the 1983-84 playoffs off the 'Best Dunks' list? Granted, he was playing for the hated Knicks at the time, but King was arguably a Top 10 player before he blew out his knee, and it was in the playoffs in an overtime game that he threw down that rebound dunk, in which the Knicks eventually won the series. If that game is on ESPN Classic, I am forced to watch the rest of that game, just to see King and Isiah trade baskets for the fourth quarter and OT."

Bernard King
It was good to be King in 1984.

(SG: This one haunted me. ... Zach is right. The best part about that one is that, during the jumpshot before the dunk, you see King watch the jumper go up, then take a running start to ram the rebound home, almost like he knew the shot was bouncing off the back rim. Amazing dunk. And lest your forget, Bernard was in The Pantheon in 1984 ... but that's a story for another time.)

Larry Kavanagh (DC): "I'm a bit of a dunk expert. You left out two Julius Erving classics:

"No. 2: Doc on the Bullets, Jan-Feb '81. Those Sixers and Bullets teams didn't particularly like each other, and that was especially true of Elvin Hayes and Erving. So Mo Cheeks feeds Doc on left wing, 20 feet out. Hayes comes out to guard Doc. Mistake. Doc takes ball in right hand and starts to wave it around ... energy is crackling through arena, they've been going at it all game. Doc jabs left, goes right and blows by Hayes. One huge stride later, he has the ball high above his head, knifing through two Bullets (Grevey and Dandridge?) and is airborne, only Unseld and some stiff between him and the hole ... they jump and Doc windmills it down, right on Wes' head. After the dunk, the place goes dead silent for a few seconds, until a Bullets fan two rows in front of me screams, 'He dunked on our whole %&^$#@# squad!' There's a roar I haven't heard ever for an opponent in a hostile arena. Unreal.

"No. 1: Doc on Kareem, first All-Star Game after the merger. ABA-NBA juices boiling. Doc on a runout, approaching the left elbow at glide speed, Kareem between him and the hole. Doc lifts off from waaaay far away, and Kareem, who could rise for a big man, takes off to block the shot. He didn't have enough. The Doctor just kept climbing until he finished with the most powerful, manhood-taking, in-your-face slam of all time. Incredible. He wound the ball up from behind his butt before he threw it down. If you like the dunk on Bill Walton in the '77 Finals, this was 10 times as ferocious and from farther out. One of those rare moments of 25-odd years ago that I remember like yesterday."

More burning questions
Nick Barbato of New Jersey: "Please put an end to this lifelong mystery of mine ... how was it possible that A.C. Slater was a member of the Bayside football, soccer, basketball, wrestling, baseball and track team?"

Yao Ming
Yao Ming, coming up next on MTV's "Cribs."

Dave McLaughlin from Massachusetts: "Could getting yourself into a rap video be this generation's equivalent of going to the Playboy Mansion? As a white guy, I don't think I could ever set my dreams higher. Couldn't Ludacris or Jay-Z hold some contest to be the dorky white guy in their next video? I'd definitely do it, even if it meant getting my butt kicked to be near some of the chicks they bring out of the woodwork for those videos."

Dave Pearl of Illinois: "So how are we going to stop the Chinese government types from taking some of Yao Ming's money? He's gotta have a bunch of gold chains, a house worthy of MTV's 'Cribs,' a fleet of cars and several kids to be making child support payments on. I'm worried about the guy ..."

David from Chatham, N.J.: "After hearing about Serena Williams' stalker, I thought of something. Why do only tennis players have stalkers? Why not more popular sports?"

What's my beef?
Dan Long of Texas: "Why are stats such as on-base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage (SLG) kept like a batting average? A .489 OBP is not a percentage. It is an average. A 48.9 OBP would be more accurate, wouldn't it? It means he gets on base 48.9 percent of the time. His on-base average would be .489. Why does MLB incorrectly list stats this way? I am by no means a math wiz, but this is something that really bugs me."

Jon from New Jersey: "When does Bud Selig get a spot in the Pantheon of Faces? Have you noticed that every time you see him, he's wearing that same frustrated yet vaguely condescending 'I know I'm right, but I'm losing all hope of getting you people to understand me' look? As a lifelong baseball fan, that face has become the bane of my existence."

Bud Selig
The commish shows Donald Fehr how to give the Bud Selig face.

Vinson Conner from Texas: "Is there a bigger ego killer than ESPN's 'World's Strongest Woman' competition? This has to be stopped, Bill. The site of these women could destroy society as we know it. In fact, if there is a powerful individual out there (Gordon Gekko powerful, not George the Animal Steel powerful) who can pull some strings to stop this competition, every man in the world would truly appreciate it."

Retroactive answers
You might remember the last "Yup, these Are My Readers" column, when Heather from New Jersey asked the following: "I was at a bar last night talking with a guy friend I hadn't seen in awhile, when another girl who 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?"

Well, two female readers came up with interesting solutions:

Kristen from Oklahoma: "Ummm ... Heather? May I suggest to you the thing that solves every single problem you will ever face as a woman? Lean over so he can see your breasts. I don't care what the problem is or how big yours are. This works every time. I promise. You don't have to do it like a slut or flash him or anything, just lean over a little and play with your necklace. Just the mere idea that they might see even the tiniest part of your boobs will turn men into groveling idiots. Every time. I promise.

"And don't gasp and say, 'Oh, but no self-respecting woman would do that,' because there are some smart, successful women in this world, and they too have breasts. If nothing else, everything I ever needed to know I learned from 'Friends,' when Rachel said, 'I use my breasts to get attention!' and Monica quickly added, 'We both do that!' "

Alicia from Venice, Calif.: "If I'm at a bar with a guy friend, and he starts chatting up some girl without introducing, I just jump right in with, 'Hi, I'm Alicia! Guys never introduce -- we met back in (submit year here) and he's been a jerk ever since (laughter).' Then I start in with 20 questions and completely ignore the guy friend. Works every time. You can also chat up any male within five feet, order the next round, get a bunch of chocolate martinis with Absolut and Godiva liquer, then ask the guy friend for his credit card so we can open a tab. That one is priceless!"

Missed opportunities
Eric Sterner of Boston: "Regarding 'SportsCentury and Beyond: Mike Myers,' I think Tim McCarver's comments were a bit unrealistic. Don't you think he would mention how Mike Myers is the best among all serial killers for a certain move? Maybe something like 'Mike Myers might be the best serial killer there ever was and will be when it comes to using a phone to strangle a victim. The best in the game.' "

Jonathan Smith of Kentucky: "I was a little disappointed when I read your latest Ramblings column. You mentioned that you would always have a soft spot for a season that brought 'Brandon Puffer, Coco Crisp and the Met who couldn't handle his pot.' But you failed to mention the greatest name of the year ... Jung Bong."

Corrections and clarifications

Raghib Ismail
Back, knee ... whatever. The Cowboys don't have Rocket Ismail going for them.

Many of you wrote in about two "errors" in the "Caddyshack" column. First, I wrote that Rocket Ismail injured his knee when he actually injured his back. More importantly, the quote "Honey, could you come here and loofa my stretch marks?" actually should have started out with Judge Smails' first name ... the problem was, I had no idea how to spell his name. Was it Elihue? Elyoo? Elhoo? Ellhugh? Who knows? So I went with the generic "Honey" and people were outraged. Sorry about that.

Some other corrections ...

Dan Markham from Indiana: "A few months back, you committed a lesser version of a small sin I see all too frequently -- the sandwich error. The most common example of this mistake is when the guy who does NBC promos says something like, 'Tuesday, it's a "Frasier" sandwich. Two episodes of Frasier around one episode of INSERT UNWATCHABLE NBC SITCOM HERE.' " Now your faux pas was a little different, reading something like: 'Mike Dunleavy would be the lunch meat in a groupie sandwich.' The problem, as I'm sure you've seen by now, is that in both instances, the sandwich is being named for the bread. This never happens. Nobody eats a rye sandwich. It's a ham and cheese."

Geraint Morgan of Wales: "In your 'Replacements' column, you mentioned the token foreigner, where you say that you like him despite your not liking English people. He isn't English. Wales isn't a subsection of England, it's a separate country. What you wrote is the equivalent of me writing. 'Bill Simmons is from Boston. I quite like him, despite me not liking people from New York.' Of course, I do like you, and I have nothing against New Yorkers. But you get the point."

JC from the United Kingdom: "In response to your comment, 'Is there a better phrase in the English language than "free concert"? in the All-Star review column, the answer is, of course, 'open bar.' "

Eric Porvaznik: "My only guess is that you started your "Caddyshack"/NFL column last month and understandably missed correcting things because Larry Bird retired Aug. 18, 1992."

(SG: Can't believe I screwed that one up. That was almost like calling Good Friday "Good Thursday.")

Fred Taylor
Fred Taylor, the 2,000-yard man. Believe it because you read it here.

Arthur Bright of Massachusetts: "Man, how could you rent 'Groundhog Day' and not listen to Egon Spengler's commentary about the movie? He answers your reader's question right there -- Phil was stuck there for something like 10 years. Apparently, the original script had Phil stuck for thousands of years, but they decided that was a little hard on the poor guy."

Dan Amsellem of New York: "You know that your NFL predictions add up to 262 wins and 250 losses. How is that going to happen? Let me ask you, do they not have calculators up in Boston? You should already have one to calculate how many games back the Red Sox are from the Yankees."

(SG: We fixed. I cut four wins off Arizona, one off the Giants and one off Minnesota. Please remember, when in doubt, that I'm an idiot. Don't forget this for a second.)

Prize-winning theories
Geoff Thomas of Washington, D.C.: "I have to sound off on the whole issue of people suing people over landmark baseballs. How ludicrous is this? 40,000 people at a baseball game, ball hit in the middle of 1,000 of them (counting the idiots who jump over 18 rows while the ball is in the air) The person who ends up with the ball gets pounded by the other 999, bloodied and generally beaten. I think this should be made into an Olympic-style event. Ball thrown into huge steel cage with 1,000 mostly drunk people. Person who emerges (alive) and with ball is victorious. No lawsuits, no courts, just great WWF style entertainment. Who would not pay to watch this?"

Trevor Christofaro from Connecticut: "I'm writing in lieu of the Doug Christie jersey award. Should there also be an award to combat the Doug Christie award, possibly a 'Bizarro World' Doug Christie award that goes to your friend who hooks up with a lot of different women? Should this guy receive a Wilt Chamberlain jersey? While we're giving out jerseys, maybe your buddy with the best-looking girlfriend gets a Counting Crows shirt to wear, in honor of the string of gorgeous females Adam Duritz has dated."

Nick Shurgot from Seattle: "I think the band Smashmouth realized in advance that they were no-talent ass clowns. Recognizing that they would have trouble patching together even a mediocre singing career, I think they wrote songs that would have immediate appeal to advertisers. Is this the first premeditated sellout in history? I can't wait for their next album which would include the following songs: 'Great Service at Low, Low Prices' ... 'Factory Direct to You!' ... 'I Won't Be Undersold' ... 'But Wait, There's More For a Limited Time Only.'"

Sony from Los Angeles: "Here's how to reinstate the players' passion for the baseball All-Star game: Grant the winning team immunity from steroids testing. I guarantee you won't see guys shagging it in the field and mugging for the camera. And can you imagine the fan interest? You'd get better ratings than the World Series. What if they administered the tests right there after the game. Hell, I'd stick around for that postgame show."

Fred Taylor
Fred Taylor, the 2,000-yard man. Believe it because you read it here.

Bobby Tabb of West Virginia: "My brother and I just came up with the ultimate invention for guys in fantasy leagues: the fake magazine. Anyone who has ever been in a fantasy league knows that half the guys in the league will show up ready to draft for the first round ... then unfortunately spend the rest of their rounds flipping through borrowed magazines for a guy to pick. So what if companies made up fake magazines full of horrible advice such as Thomas Jones is primed for a breakout season, and Neil O'Donnell is a much better QB than Steve McNair and will be starting by Week 3. Then guys could take these to drafts and pawn them off on their friends. As an added distraction, the magazines could be filled will full-color ads of scantily clad women to distract your buddies."

(SG: I love this idea! Pure genius. Somebody needs to make this happen. We could even put Freddie Taylor on the cover with the headline "The 2,000-Yard Man?")

And finally ...
Joe D. of Las Vegas: "Have you ever attempted to give your date-girlfriend the Aunt Jemima treatment? I was at my girfriend's parents' home this July 4 and saw the barbecue. My Cro-Magnon instincts took over and I needed to check out this wonderful contraption. On top was the nice new set of utensils. I quickly went into a 'Stripes' flashback and called my girlfriend over, hoisted her onto the picnic table and proceeded to give her the treatment like Bill Murray did to the sexy MP. When we were done horsing around, she got up, and then I realized I scratched and grooved a brand new table. I was an outcast for the rest of the afternoon, anyone who set their drink on my scratches had their glass fall over. I am going to dump her."

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

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