We're splitting this week's mailbag up over Thursday and Friday. If you want to read everything all at once, just scroll down for the Jets-Pats pick and come back Friday at noon for a mega-mailbag extravaganza. As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.
Q: I would like to nominate you, Bill Simmons, for a new Sports Czar position in the Obama cabinet. It's a position that's needed in government, no? You're the only one who can save this country from future sports missteps.
-- Travis, Minneapolis
SG: Travis, I accept your nomination even though I lack the legal background, the authority and the connections. With 10 weeks to fine-tune my platform before President Obama officially takes office, here's a rough draft of ideas I'm kicking around. Some of them have already been mentioned in this column; I just wanted to get everything in one place. Feel free to send me any additional suggestions. On the first week of 2009, I will post a complete platform for my bid to become the first Sports Czar.
Creations: A college football playoff system; a uniform boxing organization; a better trophy for the World Series; championship belts for the defending NBA champs that they must bring to every game; a hierarchy of alcoholic beverages for baseball celebrations (cheap beer, then good beer, then cheap champagne, then good champagne); an NBA expansion team in Seattle, effective for the 2010-11 season; a no-exception three-city rotation for the Super Bowl among New Orleans, Miami and San Diego; a full-length indoor basketball court in the White House, with all games involving Obama televised on NBA TV; a purple Masters-type sports coat for the winning March Madness coach (presented to him by last year's coach as Jim Nantz orgasmically looks on); relegation for Major League Baseball (a 30-team league with the bottom two teams forced to move to Triple-A for a year).
Eliminations: The backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke events in the Olympics; baseball managers cannot wear uniforms anymore; no more seat licenses, NIT or Tony Siragusa; no NFL division champ can make the playoffs unless it wins nine games; no more three-man booths except for Van Gundy, Jackson and Breen; the bullpens can't empty during a baseball fight; no NHL ticket can cost more than $75; no tax write-offs for season tickets, but you CAN write off luxury suites; no more sideline reporters unless they agree to dress like Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman"; no more cell-phone calls by spectators during sporting events (you can only text); no more sunglasses in the World Series of Poker.
Restructures: The NHL will disband eight teams, move a few more to Canada and form 11-team conferences in the United States and Canada; Fox's No. 1 team for baseball broadcasts will be selected in a vote by the users of FoxSports.com; the Nets and Bobcats will merge and move to Vegas next season (and become the Las Vegas Dice); the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Hornets will switch nicknames; Gus Johnson will be promoted to CBS' lead play-by-play guy for March Madness and the Final Four; Buffalo residents can purchase the Bills in a public trust (like how Sconnies own the Packers); all "live" sporting events will be shown live again and not on a brief tape delay, and if anyone out there can't handle hearing an occasional F-bomb, then don't watch live sporting events; a three-game exhibition season for the NFL with two regular-season bye weeks (not one); the entry fee for the WSOP will be raised to $25,000; two rounds for the Home Run Derby and that's it; H-O-R-S-E for NBA All-Star Weekend; ESPN Classic's budget is tripled; the Olympics and World Cup will happen every three years (not four).
New rules: No pregame show will be allowed to have more than four people (except for NBC's "Football Night in America," which will shift to a "Hollywood Squares" format); if you purchase a player's jersey and that player is traded within 12 months, you can return the jersey and buy a new one for half price; incoming college freshman recruits don't have to honor an NCAA scholarship if their sleaze-bag coach ditched them after he signed them; all professional owners either have to sell their team before they turn 80 or before they start looking like a sea monster; a forced agreement where the NFL Network is carried by all cable systems; baseball fans get to vote on the entrance music for their closers; golfers have to carry their own bags for the PGA Championship; the "Real World/Road Rules Challenge" will replace the Australian Open as tennis' fourth major (with the top six male and female tennis players competing against MTV cast members); no more 20/20 flashes on sports radio shows (we move to a 30/30 flash); the U.S. Olympic basketball team cannot have anyone over 25 years old; David Halberstam's "The Breaks of the Game" must be re-released; Chris Rose will be liberated from "The Best Damn Sports Show" and given a better show; Tropicana Field is immediately blown up; Isiah Thomas will replace Donna Orender as the commissioner of the WNBA, effective immediately.
Q: Watching the end of the Jets-Chiefs game, you know what I hate most about the obligatory "number of game-winning drives in Favre's career" graphic? The fact that if he didn't suck so much for the first 50 minutes of the game he wouldn't need those game-winning drives. Really? You're putting a last-minute game-winning drive against Kansas City on your résumé? Does that negate the three INTs you already threw?
-- Aaron, Montpelier, Vt.
SG: Back in the day, this e-mail would have caused a riot in Wisconsin. Now? It's only causing a riot in Peter King's office. But I agree with you. We need to differentiate "game-winning drives" from "game-winning drives that only happened because you played like crap for three quarters." And by the way, if Favre was/is the MJ of this category, then John Elway was either Magic or Larry. Sorry, Denver fans. It's true.
Q: Can you ask the Sports Gal if she's keeping track of how many birthdays Brody Jenner gets per year? We've counted two this season already.
-- Lauren and Kristina, Boston
SG: It took two people to write that e-mail! Here's the Sports Gal's response: "Brody is the only person with an IQ greater than 85 on that show and figured out three years ago that not only could he be the center of two birthday party shows per year, but everyone would be dumb enough to keep giving him gifts. Remember, he is the only person on the show who sees right through Spencer's loser sister and that is saying something. I like when Brody has a birthday because it reminds me that we have to move our clocks either forward or back soon." Well, then.
Q: My co-worker just told me the story about how his $8,000 Bobcats season tickets arrived the other day. In years past, they looked like what you might expect from a major sports franchise ... in a nice, professional-looking book done by a marketing/ticketing company. This year? My co-worker's ticket office contact calls him, tells him to expect it from UPS one morning. It arrives in a beat-up, wrinkled envelope, and inside the tickets are "packaged" in a large stack held by two rubber bands ... and they didn't even require him to sign for it! Eight grand worth of merchandise, just sitting on his back step. So, a couple of days later my co-worker calls the ticket-office guy to complain, only to find out he quit! Can I get a "Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008 Charlotte Bobcats"?
SG: Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008 Charlotte Bobcats!!!! By the way, is anyone else rooting for MJ to buy a majority share of the Bobcats, and then lose that share a few months later in a high-stakes golf match or all-night poker match in Vegas? What would be funnier than ESPN running the following sentence on our ticker: "ESPN's Ric Bucher reports Charlotte majority owner Michael Jordan lost his majority share to Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu in Las Vegas on Friday night. Ivey and Negreanu will take over the Bobcats immediately. Also, Charles Oakley is missing. Details to come on the 6 p.m. SportsCenter."
Q: Milwaukee recently passed Houston as America's fattest city. Is this because CC Sabathia moved there?
-- Jeremy, Sydney, Australia
SG: I mean, not entirely. Here's the part of the column where I send Hank Steinbrenner subliminal messages, in a tiny font that he hopefully won't realize he just read, telling him to spend $150 million on Sabathia.
(Do it Hank.)
(You need a lefty.)
(His best years are just ahead of him.)
(Stop kowtowing to your dad and be your own man! You need CC! Be a man! BE A MAN!)
Q: C'mon Bill, you can't tell us about the "what's staying and what's going ritual" for your dresser without mentioning your top five sacred T-shirts. The ones you will have interred with you in your casket. The same ones that probably are on the Sports Gal's "top five to secretly throw out someday" list.
-- Noah L., Chicago
SG: Fine, fine, fine. I've been getting this question in various forms for seven solid years. (Note: I might have even written about this already, I honestly can't remember. I am getting old. Last week, I left my house to get gas and money, filled my tank, then drove around aimlessly for 10 minutes trying to remember the other thing that I needed to do. And yet, I can remember the uniform numbers of anyone who ever played for the Celtics, and I can come into any of the first four "Rocky" movies and know within 0.00000003 seconds exactly where we are in the movie. I have stopped trying to figure out the aging process.) I always compare T-shirts and dress shirts to baseball pitchers -- you have your ace, your closer, your set-up guys, your rotation starters and then your fringe guys who move up and down between the majors and minors and you can't decide whether they should stay or not. Then you have T-shirts or shirts that you received as a gift or you bought when you were drunk or in the mood to just buy something. Those are the Carl Pavano shirts.
Anyway, I won't tell you my entire pitching staff because that would be boring. But I will tell you about my ace, or as I have affectionately called it for nine years, "Pedro." It's an old-school Golden State Warriors T-shirt purchased during a Warriors-Kings game in the spring of 1999. I usually buy T-shirts during fun road trips to commemorate the occasion; you look at the T-shirt and think, "Yeah, that was a fun weekend!" In this particular case, I flew to San Fran to hang out with my buddies Bish, Mikey and Hopper (the heart of the original Vegas crew) for a few days. The weekend started off with Mikey showing us a then-legendary porn scene -- one where Rocco Siffredi randomly decided to dunk a co-star's head into a toilet -- which we analyzed like it was the Zapruder film for a good two to 10 hours. Then we flew to Vegas and gambled for three straight days, and every time someone got killed by a blackjack hand we made a variation of a joke about someone getting their head rammed in the toilet by Rocco. Vegas is the place where you beat the same joke into the ground, but this went to another level -- flushing sounds, gurgling, "No, no Rocco, not again!" and everything else. It just never got old. My buddy Bish and I also had our legendary comeback run at Treasure Island that I have referenced a few times, which culminated in me peeing next to the WWF's Undertaker. Now that is a Hall of Fame Weekend.
We returned on Sunday night and I stuck around for a Warriors-Kings game the following night, which turned out to be phenomenal for the following reasons: The Kings were just starting to jell with C-Webb and White Chocolate and played a wide-open style that seemed revolutionary at the time; Warriors fans HATED C-Webb and booed him for four straight quarters; and their fans were just fantastic in general. They were old-school hoop nuts who hadn't been priced out by luxury suites and club seating yet. I loved it. They reminded me of the old Celtics crowds before the Fleet Center was built. I ended up having such a good time -- not just at the game, but all weekend -- that I bought myself that old-school Warriors T-shirt that has received more compliments over the years than anything I own. And I never wear non-Boston shirts. This is the only one I own. It's blue and thick, the letters faded perfectly, and for whatever reason, it's survived roughly 200 to 250 washings. Also, upon my return home I wrote my first mega-Vegas column ("Viva Las Vegas"), which ended up bringing more traffic to my old Web site than anything I had ever written. That was a turning point for me professionally; it was the first time I started to believe that, yes, I could write the kind of column I wanted to write and make a living doing it. So, yes, that's my favorite T-shirt. Every time I look at it, I think of all of these things. All good things. Even you, Rocco. Can you put a price on a shirt like that? I say no.
Q: What the ... your buddy JackO is getting married? And you chose to just drop that on us with absolutely no set-up? I don't know where along the line of listening to the podcasts, I developed my fake relationship with JackO, but I did. I was psychotically 100 percent sure that we would have a chance meeting where he would be really impressed that I knew who he was, and we would get married. I'm really disappointed. In both him getting married and my life in general.
-- Claire, Atlanta
SG: You know how women fall in love with serial killers, write them letters and eventually marry them even though they're on death row and can't consummate the marriage? Suddenly, that seems a little less strange.
Q: Is it possible for a heterosexual woman to have a man-crush on a guy? What would you call that? I have a man-crush on you.
-- Michelle, Atlanta
SG: OK, what's going on in Atlanta? Do we need to send some more men with a sense of humor between the ages of 25 and 40 down there? To answer your question, a heterosexual female cannot have a man-crush on a heterosexual male. It's just a crush. You might rationalize it as a man-crush, but deep down, you want to jump my bones. Of course, you live in Atlanta, so apparently any female fits that category. I think Atlanta is the new San Francisco -- just horny, successful, fun-loving women looking for love and questioning their self-esteem on a daily basis. I feel totally comfortable making that generalization after two e-mails.
Q: If your fantasy football league has no trades the entire season and less than 10 e-mails between owners, whose fault is it? The commissioner? The members? Should the league automatically dissolve and move on, (i.e., insert random TV show where actors mail it in and no one cares anymore)?
-- Dan Gati
SG: I am inserting "'24,' Season 5" in those parentheses. Anyway, I would send an offensive e-mail to everyone in the league and see how they respond. I thought my East Coast league was getting a little bland and sent a truly offensive e-mail to five of my friends last week, which led to 20 more offensive e-mails and eventually became like old times. Also, I think I'm going to jail. But that's my advice. Cross a line or two. If nobody crosses with you, it's time to go.
Q: If I could have sex with someone's writing, it would be yours. Thank you.
-- Michael, Knoxville, Tenn.
SG: Note to self: Cancel Knoxville trip, go to Atlanta instead.
Q: Giants-Titans Super Bowl: What is the line and who are you taking?
-- Michael R., Passaic, N.J.
SG: If that game was played next week in Tampa, the Giants would be favored by either 3½ or four. As it gets colder though, and as they keep banging out wins, I could see that climbing to six points for two reasons: because people still don't trust Kerry Collins, and because of all the New York money. What I don't understand is why people don't trust Collins; he has been the league's most consistent QB this season. It's not even close. I think he's legit for this reason: He has the right pedigree, only his career was derailed for whatever reason -- immature, drank too much, partied too much, didn't want it badly enough, wasn't tough enough, lost his confidence, maybe even all of those reasons -- and now he's settled into a better place in life, which you can see in the way he carries himself, leads his team and gets better in big moments. It's a little like Robert Downey Jr. during the "Iron Man" and "Tropic Thunder" portion of his career, actually. Did you ever think Downey would headline a $1 billion movie? Of course not. Now he's one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. The point is, you never know what will happen to talented/troubled/immature people when they get older and things calm down for them. If you don't like Tennessee's Super Bowl chances because of Collins, you need to find a better reason. You really do.
Anyway, I keep getting e-mails from readers comparing the '08 Titans to the '72 Dolphins: Veteran backup QB who stepped in for the ballyhooed starter, great coach, tough-as-nails defense, two-headed running game, lack of national respect and everything else. Seems fair. I think they're a little closer to the '03 Pats, personally. But I would lay the points in a Giants-Titans game right now (assuming New York was giving between 3½ and six) because of something that scared me during that Titans-Bears game last week: Tennessee couldn't run the ball. At all. Not even a lick. Chicago completely shackled the Titans. Which means the same thing could happen against the Giants as well (or even sooner). Which means everything would rest on the shoulders of Collins and a mediocre crew of receivers. Last Sunday, it didn't bite them because Rex Grossman gave them the game. But against a really good team? That can't happen.
So, I'd pick the G-Men in that game. I love the way they're defending the title. But while we're here, think of all the weird Super Bowl media day scenarios that are in play right now. "Two Mannings, One Trophy" with the Colts and Giants. Giants-Jets. Jets-anyone. Matt Cassel/Tom Brady. Steve Smith/Kenny Lucas. Plax Burress. Terrell Owens and Pacman Jones. Andy Reid. Vince Young/Kerry Collins. Kyle Orton/Rex Grossman. Marvin Harrison. An hour of questions to Anquan Boldin about coming back from a face. And probably three more that I'm missing.
Q: I was in the Verizon Center in D.C. the other night when I looked up to the rafters to see banners claiming the Washington Mystics led the WNBA in attendance, not once, not twice, but THREE times (1998, 1999 and 2002). Has it really been that long for a championship in the D.C. area that they are clinging to WNBA attendance titles? Shouldn't there be a rule stating a city must be in a championship drought for a set number of years before hanging up meaningless banners? We need your expertise on this one.
-- Steve, Needham Heights, Mass.
SG: I don't consider those three WNBA attendance titles valid because half of those crowds were made up of Pittsburgh Steelers fans. But I mentioned your e-mail to my buddy House (a D.C. fan and resident) and he shamefully passed this tidbit along: Apparently last month during a Capitals game, the Caps raised a banner to commemorate their 2007-08 Southeast Division title. If you came up with some sort of formula to determine the worst four-sport city in America that included things like "sweeping lack of success," "general apathy," "ability of opposing fans to overwhelm your home crowd," "lack of tradition," "most transplants living in the city and rooting for other teams" and everything else, wouldn't Washington and Atlanta end up battling it out for the title like Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett in the '80s, like, they'd be so far ahead of the pack that it would be foolish to even mention the other contenders?
Q: I'm in a fantasy basketball league where the championship prize is a big bag of weed. I used your fantasy rankings. I hope you're right.
-- Tom, Eugene, Ore.
SG: I had 12 different jokes I liked for a response until I realized that all of them included Josh Howard. But you just made me realize something: Back in 2001 or 2002, I remember writing a mailbag answer about how someone should televise an Everyday Life Decathlon between stoned people and drunk people, with the events being things like, "Grocery Shopping," "Making a Frozen Pizza," "Putting in a DVD, Fast-Forwarding Through Every Preview and Starting the Movie" and "Trying to Purchase Something Online." I still think this would work. But what would be the results of a fantasy draft where everyone smoked Hydro Pot beforehand? I was in a football draft once where someone smoked halfway through and eventually refused to make his last pick because "It's an intimidation move, my team is so good that I don't need an 18th guy!" He was dead serious. We thought this was hysterical. Well, what if the entire draft unfolded like that? What if it was an auction? If I sent you an Excel sheet with the explanation, "Ten of my buddies got baked last night, and then had a fantasy basketball draft," you can't tell me that you wouldn't click on that Excel sheet and laugh at least 15 times. If anyone ever held an "Everyone Gets Stoned" fantasy draft, please, by all means, send me the details.
Q: Which is a worse impersonation: the one Adam Carolla does of you on his radio show, or Steve Sanders and Brandon Walsh impersonating basketball players in the 3-on-3 tournament episode where their teammate Dick ODs on heroin in a bathroom at the PPAD? I gotta go with Carolla. At least in the game montage there was music to listen to.
-- Matt, Sacramento, Calif.
SG: Thank you for bringing up the "90210" episode where Ian Ziering cried and said the words, "This one's for Dick." Thank you. Again, thank you. To answer your question, Carolla is the single worst impressionist of the 21st century; he can only imitate the lead singer of the theme song for "Taboo 2" and Powers Boothe's monologue about beans in "Red Dawn" and that's it. Anything else is more painful and cringe-inducing than Andy Reid holding a challenge flag, staring at the JumboTron and deciding what to do as the announcers make excuses for him.
Q: Read your NBA preview about Portland the day after Oden was injured and scored no points. I could've sworn the music from "Boogie Nights" was playing. No, not the happy disco stuff, but the ominous this-world-is-ending music when Rollergirl has the worst limo ride ever and Dirk gets beat up for whipping it out. Did Oden happen to buy donuts on the way to the game for his pregnant porn star wife or something?
-- Ian, Los Angeles
SG: That e-mail wasn't even that good -- I just wanted to keep my "Boogie Nights" mailbag streak alive. We're now at 53. I'm three away from DiMaggio.
Semi-related note: I always get e-mails from readers wondering if my list of "favorite rewatchable cable movies" has expanded to include anything from the last few years. Actually, I have two additions: "The Departed" and "Little Miss Sunshine." You can jump in with either movie at any time. I also like the first 75 to 80 minutes of "Knocked Up," basically everything up until after Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen make the Vegas trip. (After that, it turns into a straight chick flick and bangs home the typical "If you're a dude, you have to lose your friends, your self-worth and all of your quirky traits to find true love" lesson that makes me want to punch Hollywood in the face.) I like the first 80 to 85 minutes of "No Country For Old Men" until Josh Brolin is talking to that girl at the hotel pool. Then I can't flick channels fast enough. And "Juno" has some serious potential if only because Vern Schillinger plays Juno's dad, and I keep waiting for him to rape the guy who knocked up his daughter. Is that one of the deleted scenes in the DVD? Since we're here, I really like Diablo Cody and think she gets a bad rap. So there.
Q: I heard that Will Smith's son is starring in a "Karate Kid" remake due out in 2009. As a loyal fan to you and The Trilogy (as you described it), I have some deep fears of my anger for this movie. Please give me some things to hope for -- maybe Johnny and Ali's love child in the finals at the All-Valley or at least Larusso's red coat.
-- Geoff S., Roselle, Ill.
SG: I'm a little torn because this flagrantly violates one of my Hollywood credos ("nobody should ever remake a movie that's still watchable and holds up"), only I'm the same guy who once wrote that, if we're remaking a movie everyone loved, it should only be remade with an all-black cast to make it a little different. The example I used was "Caddyshack," which bizarrely was remade as "Who's the Man?" with an all-black cast (starring Cedric the Entertainer) and it sucked. So let's dump that idea and stick with my Hollywood credo.
Here's the thing, Will Smith: Your movies have made something like $10 billion. We like you. We want to keep liking you. I just don't see the upside here. Everyone remembers the original "Karate Kid." It's on all the time. Everyone has seen it, and for kids of the '80s like myself, we've seen it 10 or 15 times. OK, 20. OK, 50. OK, I'm in the hundreds. For every male between the ages of 30 and 40 -- and by the way, we're the ones who would take our kids to see this stupid idea -- a "Karate Kid" remake is nothing short of a declaration of war. Really, is Hollywood that cooked? You're out of ideas to this degree? And beyond that, how do you think this makes Macchio feel? Or Zabka? Or Joe Esposito? If you're remaking a "Karate Kid" movie, remake "Kid II" -- that movie could have been good and instead sucked. Give that one another whirl. Or you could even do "Kid III" and delve into the homoerotic tension between Miyagi and Daniel-San a little more; maybe they could decide to get married and instead of the Crane Kick, your climactic scene would be their protest against Prop 8 on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. I don't care. But you can't remake the original "Kid." I can't allow it. The thought of Will Smith's kid feuding with Black Zabka on the soccer field as The Game's hip-hop remake of Bananarama's "Cruel Summer" blares in the background makes me want to kill someone. We can't let this happen.
(Add this to my Sports Czar platform: No sports movie can be remade if it's still exceedingly watchable.)
Q: You are a stupid (bleep) sucking (bleep) (bleep) licking dumb (bleep). I'm not dumb. You are. Don't you ever call me dumb again, you good for nothing (bleep). (Bleep) you! (Bleep)!
-- Bradley, Salt Lake City
SG: Four sentences, 31 words, seven bleeps. That's 4.3 words per bleep. Quite possibly a record for this column. Look, I'm sorry Deron Williams isn't as good as Chris Paul. I really am. You can keep sending me the stats of their head-to-head matchups if it makes you feel better. If you polled every non-Jazz player and non-Hornet and asked them if they'd rather play with Paul or Williams, Paul would win in a landslide. There hasn't been an NBA argument this dumb since everyone decided before the 1992 Finals that MJ and Clyde Drexler were on the same level and we needed to argue about them. Just stop.
|Jets +4 over Patriots
Last week: 10-4
Q: Can we pull a Prince on the NBA and give the "team formerly called the Seattle SuperSonics" a wacky symbol with no identifiable name for all the NBA scoreboard and ESPN/FSN graphics? I don't think this is too much to ask.
-- Mark, Los Angeles
SG: I vote for the logo that Facebook uses when someone doesn't upload a profile picture. Or, we could use a black-and-white picture of someone's heart getting ripped out of their body.
Q: You're 17 games over .500 through 10 weeks? You're leading the Sports Gal by three games? This is like Jason McElwain draining 3s all over again!!!!!! I wish I could be cheering your picks on in a gym with 500 other people leaping up and down and hugging each other over the unbelievable human achievement they are witnessing. Regardless of how this plays out I think you will be nominated for an ESPY. B-Simm is the new J-Mac.
-- Danny, Toronto
SG: Um, thank you! I think. Since you brought up the picks, we might as well make one for tonight's game: I'm taking the Jets plus the four points in New England. You can reach a point in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUEİ (copyright: Ron Jaworski) where you just lose too many key guys, and the Pats might have gotten there with Adalius Thomas' broken arm. What a killer. I didn't even let out an audible gasp upon finding out; just a grimace followed by an 11-letter swear word. Meanwhile, the Jets are coming together and look eerily similar to last season's Packers team, right down to the home blowouts, the green jerseys, the sneaky-effective running game and the veteran QB who can kill you or save you depending on the week. Throw in the lack of home-field advantage at the Gillette Cemetery, and I'm grabbing the points.
COMING TOMORROW: PART TWO OF THE MAILBAG, PLUS WEEK 11 PICKS
Last Week: 11-3
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.