Checking the mail: Summer edition   

Updated: August 11, 2007, 10:41 AM ET

  • Email
  • Print
  • Share

Maybe I'm supposed to be working on a book, but how could we allow the summer to slip away without a mailbag? As always, these are actual questions from actual readers:

Q: I thoroughly enjoy how "Theo Ratliff" isn't a player anymore but an incomplete term -- his name is really an abbreviation for "Theo Ratliff's expiring contract." From now on, I propose that his basketball card, his fantasy profile and even the back of his jersey are changed to "Theo Ratliff's expiring contract." Can you make this happen?
--Chuck, Huntington Beach, Calif.

SG: I'll do my best. Maybe we can't CGI his body into a 7-foot contract with arms and legs during every Minnesota game, but at the very least, all the Web sites, newspapers and magazines can make the necessary adjustments, and the card companies could change his basketball card to a picture of his contract with the words "EXPIRING" written across it in block letters, no? I'd also like to see a limited edition special card set of the most famous expiring contracts in NBA history -- Ratliff in 2008, P.J. Brown in 2007, Penny Hardaway in 2006, Dale Davis in 2005 and so on -- with a game-worn piece of street clothes the guy wore on the bench that season attached to every card.

Q: Did you ever think Michael Vick would be the person to introduce the world to the "rape stand"?
--David, Louisville, Ky.

SG: I always thought it would be Chris Hansen. By the way, we officially have a new candidate for the most inappropriate fantasy football team nickname of all-time. Any time you can get something with an NFL connection that's also aggressively offensive, you know you've hit the jackpot.

Q: Do you think Danny Ainge used Jill Kelly and Chasey Lain to convince Ray Allen to come to Boston?
--Christian C., Rhode Island

SG: I'm glad you brought this up -- this is my new favorite scenario for "the worst possible choice by a disgruntled employee running the jumbotron during a timeout when they're supposed to be getting the home crowd fired up." The old one was "The Shining" scene in which Jack Nicholson comes flying out of nowhere and buries an ax into Scatman Crothers' chest -- I always thought that would lead to 45 seconds of horrified silence. But a big Ray Allen 3-pointer, followed by a visitor's timeout, abruptly followed by the jumbotron playing Ray's threesome from "He Got Game" … actually, what am I saying? That would lead to even more cheering! Nothing will ever top the Jack/Scatman scene.

Q: If Bonds had hit No. 756 on the road, would the mood have been similar to when Chong Li killed that guy in the Kumite in "Bloodsport"?
--Matt G, Boston

SG: Right down to the swollen body and the oversized head. Look, I know it makes me a racist that I didn't want an ornery African-American baseball player who I believe cheated over the past nine years to break a record held by a dignified African-American baseball hero who didn't cheat, but still …. I thought it was appalling that (A) people weren't more appalled, and (B) a team going ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE like the Nationals didn't intentionally walk him every at-bat for three games just to make a point for the rest of the country. Nobody took a stand against Bonds this season -- not Bud Selig, not MLB, not the TV networks, not the opposing players or managers, nobody. Not one person stepped up. Everyone was secretly excited to see it happen. And by the way, I include myself because I probably watched 95 percent of Bonds' at-bats live the past three weeks. Now I feel dirty.

Q: After Lindsay Lohan's second DUI with a charge of coke possession, it appears her career has spiraled down the toilet. So what's her best option? To sign the largest contract ever with Vivid Entertainment. This would be like the David Beckham effect on Americans watching soccer … except it would actually work. Porn would be mainstream, she would still be making tons of money and it would be cool for her to be going to the wild parties. This idea is too perfect to not work.
--Drew, Columbus, Ohio

SG: Hmmmm … you might be right about this. Porn actresses show up late to sets; they drink and do drugs; they dress like hookers; and they have sex with random shady people. Lohan already might be doing all those things. From a financial standpoint, she couldn't make more than a $1-2 million for a mainstream movie because she's box office poison at this point; when you think about it, Jenna Jameson makes that much money in a month. So, yeah, Lindsay might be better off emulating Jenna than Gwyneth Paltrow at this point. On the other hand, it wasn't that long ago that Angelina Jolie was making out with her brother, wearing Billy Bob Thornton's blood around her neck and dressing goth. … Now she's a respected actress who's allowed to adopt babies in various countries and even managed to steal Jennifer Aniston's husband. So you can't give up on Lindsay yet.

Just for the hell of it, here's the Sports Gal's take: "Lindsay doesn't need porn. She needs to copy what Angelina did and play a role close to herself, that's how she can turn her career around. Nobody wants to see her in a romantic comedy because she's too messed up and nobody wants to see her in a horror movie because we'd just root for her to get killed. When Angelina was struggling, she did "Girl, Interrupted" and played a mental patient with drug problems who cut herself and acted crazy. It wasn't exactly a stretch. Lindsay needs to do that, something close to home, like a promiscuous alcoholic with low self-esteem and a drug problem who likes to drive drunk, chain-smoke and pretend that her breasts aren't fake -- then, her life is turned upside down when she gets sent to jail for her 14th DUI and she ends up feuding with a group of skinhead prisoners who resent her because of her beautiful red hair, which they end up shaving before she joins a rival Kabbalah group and finds the strength to kill the Skinheads to survive. I would go see this movie, and Bill would probably go too because there would definitely be a shower scene."

Q: I just got the 1987 World Series DVD collection for my birthday, and while watching Game 1, I heard something I thought you might appreciate. Announcing the game: Al Michaels, Jim Palmer and Tim McCarver. During the third inning, with Tony Pena batting, McCarver said, "If you're a contact hitter, you have to make contact if you want to hit in the major leagues." It's just good to know that some things never change.
--Tim, St. Paul, Minn.

SG: (Nodding.)

Q: My roommate and I were discussing Matt Leinart and his continuing shenanigans and wondered where Leinart would be if he couldn't throw a football? It took me literally about 0.3 seconds to determine he would be none other than Jason Wahler, pretty boy of "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills." You know, the Orange County party boy known for club-hopping, hanging with second-rate celebs and [involved in] various police incidents. Am I wrong here?
--Matt P., Phoenix

SG: You know, I've flip-flopped on the Matt Leinart era at least six times over the past two years, but any time a reader compares a starting QB to the soulless, dim-witted bad boy who got back with LC on "The Hills" solely because he wanted to be on TV again, and the comparison actually works … that's a terrible sign for the 2007 Arizona Cardinals. Almost as terrible as the fact that their team name is "the Arizona Cardinals."

Q: I was at the Indians-Devil Rays game the other day when Kelly Shoppach struck out and proceeded to snap his bat over his knee without flinching. Is there a manlier act in sports?
--Andrew S., Tusky Ohio

SG: Yes -- breaking a bat with a checked swing. I'd also nominate any football play in which a running back has a chance to hop out of bounds as he's running toward the sidelines, but instead, he waits for a defensive player to reach him, then lowers his shoulder and plows into the guy just for the hell of it. In terms of single most manly sports moments, here's my top five of a list that almost seems destined to be turned into a special top-50 show for "Best Damn Sports Show" in about 18 months as soon as they've run out of ideas for gimmick shows.

5. Five-foot-9 Calvin Murphy picking a fight with 6-foot-10 Sidney Wicks, decking him and giving Wicks a bloody nose. That's one of the 10 sports clips that needs to be on YouTube if it exists -- it was the NBA version of the Jonathan-Bouchard fight.

4. Jack Youngblood playing most of the '79 NFC Championship Game with a broken leg. If this happened today, they would have changed "SportsCenter" to "YoungbloodCenter" for an entire week. By the way, my buddy Ace always brings this up -- the Rams in the late '70s had linebackers named Jack Youngblood and Jim Youngblood, but somehow, the Youngbloods weren't related. What were the odds of this? One trillion to one?

3. Charles Oakley. … I mean, his entire career was a manly sports moment. You can't narrow it down to one or two. Let's just put him at No. 3 to be safe. If you want a more detailed explanation, read my Black Super Bowl column from February '06.

2. John Wensink challenging the entire North Stars bench to a fight and nobody accepting his invitation. Much to my delight, this clip is actually on YouTube now. It was one of the 10 greatest moments of my childhood. I'm not kidding.

1. The time Johnny Bench kept getting shaken off by a pitcher who wanted to keep throwing fastballs, so he caught the next fastball with his throwing hand. That will never be topped. That was the sports equivalent of Dalton catching someone's punch at the Double Deuce, then twisting the guy's arm around and breaking his neck.

Q: Say what you want about NBA refs betting on/fixing games, but at least the players are well dressed when they travel.
--Troy R, Bellingham, Wash.

SG: Excellent point. And at least they stay on the bench during shoving matches.

Q: Do you agree with me that VH1's "I Love the '80s" has ultimately become one of the worst things that happened to television? The original series was new and unlike anything on TV. It aired before '80s nostalgia became chic. Celebrities that were fairly relevant during the time frame being discussed were part of the shows. Now the format has become more and more bastardized with each passing year by what seems like every basic cable station on the dial, from the Style Network down to Fox Sports Net. I swear, I was flipping through the channels last Saturday afternoon and saw a show where the receptionist from In Touch Weekly and the guy that changes the urinal cakes at the US Magazine building were the ones reading the scripted, snarky, smart-ass comments off of the cue cards. Seriously, if I have to be subjected to another intern from an entertainment magazine or faux celebrity talking about what a great moment it was when Kate Hudson made her first appearance on a red carpet while the camera zooms in and out of the same three still photographs of her and Kelly Clarkson's "Miss Independence" suddenly comes blasting through the speakers, I'm giving away every TV in my house and will just listen to all of my sports teams on the radio.
--Vinnie Z, Colonia, N.J.

SG: This e-mail won the award for "Most Enjoyable Reader Rant of the Summer." Also, I actually watched the episode of "Top 50 Most Dangerous Celebrity Feuds" in which the guy who changes the urinal cakes at Us Weekly made snarky comments about Hilary Duff. So Vinnie isn't lying.

Q: My friend and I have a $500 bet on who will die first: I have Rodman; he has Tyson. What do you think? I just figure Rodman can die for all the same reasons Tyson can, plus Rodman's more likely to fall off a party roof or die of a sex disease.
--Michael, Chicago

SG: You scammed your buddy because Rodman is a 4-to-1 favorite to croak before Tyson does. Take it from someone who watched Tyson filming a taped piece for the ESPYS a few weeks ago -- he's more medicated than A.J. Soprano after the pool/suicide scene right now. He wanders around in a perpetual stupor; he's at least 30 pounds heavier than his fighting weight; and he has people driving him around everywhere. It's as if somebody shot him with one of those tranquilizer guns they use for elephants and rhinos. Meanwhile, Rodman has been partying like a suicidal rock star for a solid decade, and if that's not enough, he's completely broke. If he ever ended up in the same car at 2 a.m. with Lindsay Lohan on Sunset, the LAPD probably would just shoot out their tires before anything happened. My money's on him.

Q: Not sure what was a bigger shocker: that the mob owned an NBA ref or that we've finally discovered the threshold of what it takes to get The Sports Guy to work on a weekend. Does this mean I can expect a Sunday column every time a major North American sports league gets shaken to its core on a sunny Friday?
--Brad W., Waterloo, Ontario

SG: Yes. As long as I haven't already made plans.

Q: What do you consider to be a fair trade the Red Sox can make for Wily Mo Pena? My roommate and I were discussing it, and we decided that a cheeseburger would be fair. But not just any cheeseburger… we're talking a one-pound cheddar and bacon burger from Fuddruckers. We figure once we add on the tomatoes, pickles, relish, mustard, ketchup, jalapeņos, nacho cheese and onions, we'd come out on top. Your thoughts?
--James, Brighton

SG: Um, you'd come out on top if you traded Wily Mo for a single-patty McDonald's cheeseburger with nothing on it. But I like the thought of Theo Epstein announcing the deal, then holding a news conference in which he eats the Fuddrucker's burger in front of the reporters and cameraman and just repeatedly says, "Mmmmmmm … . Mmmmmmm … mmmmm, this is delicious, it almost makes up for the fact that we effectively gave away Bronson Arroyo … mmmmmm … yummmy … "

Q: I know it's pretty obvious, but Yi Jianlian's nickname has to be "The Chairman," right?
--M. Filion, Montreal

SG: Has to be. There hasn't been a more effective nickname in years. Not only does it sound like the right nickname for him ("Chairman Yi"), but the joke-trapped-inside-the-joke (during ESPN's lottery show, there was video of Yi posting up actual chairs and spinning around them for layups) will never stop being funny. And when you think about it, we haven't been able to call anyone "The Chairman" since Sinatra died. So it's done -- we're calling Yi "The Chairman." This meeting is adjourned.

Q: I've been a HUGE fan of yours for a long time, but please stop with the poker analogies. It's one thing to use one, though it's overused all the time in the media. It's another thing to mess it up! When you hold two cards of one suit in your hand and flop two more cards of that suit, you don't have only a 25 percent chance of hitting your flush; you have around a 36 percent chance! This explains why you're not very good at poker! Please stop with the poker analogies!
--John, San Jose

SG: This is my new favorite pastime -- to slightly screw up poker analogies to see how many e-mails I can get from the poker freaks. Missing those percentages by a mere 11 percent triggered nearly 600 e-mails. I felt like I just lost on a straight flush because somebody flopped a full house.

Q: In your Matthew Berry podcast, you said that you weren't sure if the Internet had a bigger impact on porn or fantasy, then you said that you'd have to think about it and get back to us. Here's a quick thought exercise: How many cool guys do you know who DON'T play fantasy (baseball, football, basketball)? How many cool guys do you know that haven't watched porn on the Internet? Mailbag it with your apology.
--Joe I., Nanuet, N.Y.

SG: Here's the smoking gun: Before the Internet, we could still get plenty of porn. You could buy porn magazines; you could rent or buy porn videos; you could pay-per-view porn movies; you could even subscribe to the Playboy Channel or Spice Hot. Admittedly, the Internet made everything much easier (and less embarrassing, since it eliminated the awkwardness of dealing with counter people at a video store or magazine stand), but compared with the impact it had on our fantasy habits? It's no contest.

Think about following sports before the Internet. We had to wait until the next morning for newspaper box scores. We had to manually tabulate fantasy scores from Monday's USA Today (for football) and Tuesday's USA Today (for weekly NBA and baseball stats), which meant that (A) some poor sap in your league had to spend three hours doing it, and (B) you had to wait for him to mail you the stats. We couldn't read any fantasy columns or get any fantasy updates on injured guys -- in fact, when someone disappeared from a baseball or NBA box score, you never knew why. We didn't have Web sites to examine everyone's teams and the stats for each of their guys, and we couldn't bench guys or make transactions on a day-to-day basis. We couldn't look up live scoring on Sundays for the NFL, or even every night for the other sports, and we couldn't have leagues with complicated scoring categories such as OBP or WHIP. We couldn't e-mail trade offers to other owners because there was no such thing as e-mail (so you always had to call them); we couldn't trash-talk other owners because there were no such thing as "message boards" or "group e-mails"; and we couldn't protest shady trades to anyone other than your commissioner.

Looking back, the difference between pre-Internet fantasy and post-Internet fantasy was like the difference between pre-cable TV and cable TV, or 1950s basketball vs. 1990s basketball -- it's like night and day. You couldn't say that about pre-Internet porn and post-Internet porn. The Internet basically created, optimized and legitimized the entire fantasy industry, whereas the Internet only helped along a porn industry that was already in place. So after much deliberation, my decision is the Internet had a greater impact on fantasy sports than on porn over the past 11 years.

Q: Gus Johnson brokers peace between you and Isiah in Vegas and this gets only a few lines at the end of a magazine column? How is this possible?
--Jeff, Kailua, Hawaii

SG: I'm saving the Gus-Isiah story for Book No. 2. You'll understand why when you read it, assuming I ever finish this freaking book. As to your other point, I'm totally convinced Gus Johnson can solve any feud, controversy or territorial matter within 25 minutes -- Bloods-Crips, Richards-Locklear, Shiites-Sunnis, TO-McNabb, the Gaza Strip, Michael Vick-PETA, you name it. I have seen the man in action, and he's like Jimmy Carter crossed with Cyrus from "The Warriors."

Q: Your Donaghy column didn't go far enough. The problem with the league is Stern, plain and simple. His stubborn refusal to adapt and make changes has dragged this sport dangerously close to being irrelevant. Not only do most people not care about the NBA, but they loathe it. Think about that. Read any book about corporate management and every good CEO will admit a life span of over five to seven years in one position will leave a leader ineffective and will actually have a negative effect on the company. How long has Stern been there? This league needs a total overhaul and it should start at the top.
--Marty T., Baltimore

SG: Three years ago, I would have said you were crazy and spent the next few mornings checking out the Baltimore Sun's obituaries to see whether the body of someone named "Marty T." turned up. Now? I'm not so sure. I feel the same way about Stern that I did about Red Auerbach during the six-month span when Auerbach turned down Dallas' offer of Sam Perkins and Detlef Schrempf for an aging Kevin McHale, traded Danny Ainge for Eddie Pinckney and Joe Kleine and picked Michael Smith over Tim Hardaway in the '89 draft. As we watched Smith run around like a spaz the next season while Hardaway was headed for rookie of the year, every die-hard Boston fan came to the realization he wasn't the magical Red Auerbach anymore. Eventually, the Celtics gently took the car keys away from him and that was that. We haven't quite reached that point with Stern yet, but if we make it through this entire summer without his blowing up the playoffs and the officiating infrastructures and coming up with a solution for tanking, then we've reached that point. Hate to say it, but it's true.

Q: What about "The Lindsey Hunter All Stars" for male athletes with names that make them sound like a hot girl? Members include Keary Colbert, Ashley Lelie, Lynn Greer, Andrea Bargnani and maybe even Zaza Pachulia? That could be a European supermodel chick to-be-sure. I'm sure I'm missing some obvious ones. Got any?
--Mike DeArmond, Minneapolis

SG: You missed Alexis Rios! How could you create a Lindsey Hunter All-Stars team and not include Alexis Rios??? I'd also include Tatum Bell, Samie Parker, Coco Crisp, Jamie Walker, Aubrey Huff, Jensen Lewis and Kelley Washington. Not sure where Boof Bonser fits into all of this though.

Q: So I was reading today that Shaun Livingston is "ahead of schedule" with his rehab. Has any pro athlete rehabbing an injury ever not been ahead of schedule (except Uwe Krupp)?
--Brad W. Waterloo, Ontario

SG: Lemme tell you something, Brad from Waterloo … you owe Mr. Rocco Baldelli an apology. The man has carefully crafted an entire career of torturing fantasy owners by falling behind his rehab schedule again and again. He has been in rehab more often than everyone in the extended Kennedy-Skakel family combined. In fact, Rocco just tweaked his hammie reading this e-mail; you set him back another two weeks. This is terrible. Let's move on before he blows out another ACL.

Q: I have been a T-Wolves fan almost my whole life. I was in seventh grade when we drafted Kevin Garnett and he has been my hero ever since. He's the reason I was ever interested in the NBA and I even wore his number throughout my own basketball career. Seeing how Kevin McHale has completely destroyed my hometown team … I'm wondering if per your rules of being a true fan, am I allowed to drop the Wolves in favor of the Celtics? I want to be a real fan, but I have so much respect for KG and very little for the Timberwolves organization. Can I switch teams without being a fraud?
--Jenna, St. Michael, Minn.

SG: Absolutely. According to my "20 Rules for Being a True Fan" column from 2002 (which needs to be updated to account for the fact that I've broken at least four of the rules since it was written), one of the addendums in Rule 19 clearly states you can switch teams or renounce a franchise altogether (as I did with the Bruins) as long as "the owner of your favorite team treated his fans so egregiously over the years that you couldn't take it anymore." In the case of the pathetic T-Wolves, this rule clearly applies. When I write a 2.0 version of the column someday, we need to add an additional rule called "The Ray Bourque Corollary," in which you're allowed to follow your favorite player to another team for the rest of his career, as long as he left because of front-office incompetence and as long as he stuck around as long as he possibly could -- to the point that everyone was imploring him, "GO! JUST GO!" -- before finally asking out of the abyss.

(With that said, I really hope the Minnesota fans give Al Jefferson and Ryan Gomes a chance. Both those guys are good, and both of them give a crap. Please be gentle with them. If there was ever a time when a GM should have slipped on a Robin Williams beard and a cardigan and done the "It's not your fault, it's not your fault" monologue with two players he was trading, it was Danny Ainge with Gomes and Al. Those guys will be heard from on a good team. At some point.)

Q: I'm sure this has been sent to you multiple times, but this is the perfect opportunity for the Celtics to sign Paul Shirley to fill out their roster and have him blog about the team next season. Plus it's Doc Rivers, so he might get significant playing time.
--Ryan, Melbourne, Fla.

SG: It would only be fitting. At this point, I feel as though the Celtics are making moves specifically to make me happy. We signed a guy named "House"; we signed a four-time Unintentional Comedy MVP (Scot Pollard); we're going after Reggie Miller under the old fantasy rule of "Maybe he won't help me, but we look even better on paper!" (and for 15 minutes a game shooting 3s, couldn't Reggie play that role until he's 55 years old???); and we're even leaving a roster spot and some money kicking around for the inevitable Sam Cassell buyout in mid-January when the Clippers are floundering 12 games below .500 without Elton Brand, and KG is calling Big Sam every night telling him, "I need you, I need you, we can win the title, just poison the waters in L.A. for a buyout, come on, I need you … "

I can't believe I'm saying this, but the Celts are playing this very shrewdly. They're looking at the 2008-09 season as the one when they'll make a run (because their young guys will be a year older, because they'll have first crack at the summer free agents, because they still have their No. 1 pick, because they'll almost definitely have a new coach after Doc screws up the playoffs this season), so they're not making panic signings (like Charlie Bell for $12 million), yet they're leaving the door open that they can win a title this year with a little luck on the Allen-Rondo-Perkins front (if they can exceed expectations) and 1-2 veteran buyout guys this winter. The VP of Common Sense agrees with everything. Honestly, I feel as though I'm living in an alternate universe. Am I dead right now?

Q: My girlfriend is a huge "Rocky" fan. (I know, she's a keeper). When she heard about Reggie Miller's potential return she coined a phrase I thought you might be interested in. "He just has 'Apollo Creed Syndrome.' " Apollo Creed Syndrome, as she explains it, arises out of the adrenaline rush and adulation Creed received as a champ, the craving of which led him to fight Drago. Reggie needs that same rush, and, like Apollo, it's too late. So my question is, will Reggie Miller live or die through this season, and which Russian player in the NBA will end up saying "If he dies, he dies."
--Greg G. Tampa, Fla.

SG: Um, Greg? I'm kind of on a Celtics high right now? Could you and your keeper girlfriend cut me some slack with your common sense? Please?

Q: I've had an epiphany: A year-round, three-sport, never-ending Ultimate Fantasy Game for football, basketball and baseball. The same 12-14 managers have teams encompassing players from each league and it would always be going due to the timing of the leagues. The season would never end. Can you imagine being able to offer a trade of Larry Johnson for A-Rod? If anybody can make this happen, you can. Stop writing your book, this is much more important.
--Justin, Baltimore

SG: That was it right there -- the tipping point of when fantasy sports finally went too far. I just spent the past 10 minutes trying to figure out how a three-sport, never-ending fantasy league would work, and it nearly made my head break, like when you're watching "Back to the Future II" and trying to figure out how two Marty McFlys can be in the same place at the same time. Let's all agree that we can never, ever, EVER create a never-ending, three-sport fantasy league. It will end up like the final game of "Rollerball" -- just dead bodies strewn everywhere and one bloodied guy skating around with his hand up. We can't let it happen.

Q: First Ortiz, then Moss, now KG? Boston can kiss my Minnesota ass.
--Kevin, Minneapolis

SG: Just wait until we come after Prince, Bob Dylan and the Mall of America. We're not done yet.

Q: I'd like to thank Fox, MLB and DirecTV for the continued blackout of non-Fox Saturday afternoon games. I know you're not the biggest A-Rod or Yankee fan in the world, but it was really a privilege to pay $180 to not watch the second person ever to hit his 500th home run in Yankee Stadium.
--Matt, Philadelphia

SG: I enjoyed not seeing that, as well. You know what else is great? Getting stuck with the home announcers for every road Red Sox game -- it's always fun to see Fausto Carmona nail Dustin Pedroia with a pitch and throw at his head two innings later, followed by Pedroia rightfully getting pissed, followed by the Cleveland yahoos calling Pedroia a baby and telling him to act like a man. (Nothing like some good, objective baseball broadcasting -- they did everything but use the "she was asking for it" defense for Carmona.) And if that's not enough, anyone living outside New England can't set up a TiVo Season Pass for NESN (the Red Sox channel) every night because so many games are blacked out, so we have to manually record each road Red Sox game … and if you forget one night, you miss out. Thanks again, DirecTV. You're the best.

(Hey, speaking of DirecTV … )

Q: We've seen DirecTV commercials featuring Doc Brown, Ricky Vaughn, Nadia and Ripley among others … which character [and] in which scene would you most like to see done? I cannot think of anyone better than seeing Ving Rhames in the store basement with Zed with a gag in his mouth mumbling about DirecTV's superior HD selection. Or would you rather see a "Shawshank" one in which the warden blows off his head, then hear Morgan Freeman's voice-over saying "I'd like to think that the last thing that went through his head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how the hell he could have passed up such an exclusive offer from DirecTV featuring free installation and access to over 400 channels." Or am I being obtuse?
--Frank the Tank, Bethlehem, Pa.

SG: Frank the Tank is like Hank Aaron -- it's his consistency over the years that makes him so special. Frank, I liked your choices and would add these three: (1) Al Pacino dressed as Tony Montana, coming up from a gigantic pile of coke on his desk and screaming about DirecTV's movie channels; (2) Jimmy Chitwood breaking out of the final Hickory High huddle and saying, "Coach, I'll make it … as long as we're all allowed to order the NBA package on DirecTV!"; and (3) Michael Myers breaking character as he's about to kill Jamie Lee Curtis in "Halloween," then calmly explaining the advantages of DirecTV's relocation program as he's holding Curtis in the air and wearing his mask. All three of those would kill me. So would Dirk Diggler getting ready to show the Colonel his goods, then pulling out a DirectTV remote and explaining all the features. It's an endless list.

But here's my question: How do they convince these stars to reprise their roles? Charlie Sheen makes something like $15 million a year for that "Two and a Half Men" show. … What kind of Godfather offer did they make to persuade him to dress up like Wild Thing again? Did they blackmail him with porn orders made on DirecTV that they threatened to show his wife for her divorce case? I feel like all of these stars were blackmailed. … Well, except for Shannon Elizabeth, who was available. And if the DirecTV folks don't have to blackmail them, how have they not landed Robert DeNiro yet? That guy will appear in ANYTHING if you cut him a check. Literally, ANYTHING. So where's our DeNiro commercial of him breaking out from the diner scene in "Heat," or the "What did I tell you?" scene after they pulled off the Lufthansa heist in "Goodfellas"? If somebody knows the answer to any of these questions, please, lemme know. I think about them constantly.

Q: Every year on July 1, columnists make a big deal about GMs calling NBA players at one minute past midnight to negotiate deals. Midnight by whose clock? If Mitch Kupchak wants to sign Grant Hill, does he call at midnight? Does he call three hours before midnight?
--Adrian, Minnesota

SG: I'm with you -- I always wondered how this worked. What if Mitch was going by his microwave clock and it was three minutes fast, then he called someone at 11:57 p.m.? Would he be suspended by the league? If not, why wouldn't all GMs set their clocks a few minutes ahead, then claim they didn't realize their clocks were wrong when they called seven minutes early? Or what if Rashard Lewis has been vacationing in Japan … could the Magic have called him 18 hours early because it would have been July 1 in Japan? What if you called someone and his pregnant wife answered, "Do you know what time it is?" and hung up? Would that do more damage than good? And what happens if you call someone at 12:10 instead of midnight? Is his pride wounded because you didn't call right at midnight? Does he feel as though he was your second choice? Instead of devoting 100 million hours of news coverage to Barry Bonds and stationing reporters like Pedro Gomez in San Fran as though they're "Nightline" reporters covering the war in Iraq, I wish we spent more time wondering about stuff like this.

Q: On the "Questions I Wish Had Never Been Asked" scale, where does your girlfriend asking for your definition of "cheating" fall?
--Matt, Philadelphia

SG: At the tippy-top. Here's a better question: In this day and age, what even constitutes cheating? I don't know the exact rules for the era in which women dress like hookers, shrug off one-night stands and dance by grinding their butts against the groins of various strangers at dark nightclubs. So what's cheating in this universe? A threesome with two of their boyfriend's best friends? Sleeping with their boyfriend's brother or dad? I give up. Just know that I'm sending my daughter to high school in a suit of armor every day.

Q: Can we declare a moratorium on the use of the word "stud" to describe athletes? I can't be the only one who's getting a liiiittle weirded out by the overuse of this phrase.
--Christopher, Hartford, Conn.

SG: I'd like to eliminate "stud" as well as any phrase that involves scouts or GMs and the words "drooling" or "salivating." Instead of stud, can't we just use "specimen"? And couldn't we come up with another phrase than "filthy stuff" for a pitcher? The word "filthy" means "dirty, grimy or muddy." It doesn't even make sense. Would you ever say that a pitcher had muddy stuff? I like "nasty" a little more, but that's been overused, as well -- I'd much rather see us gravitate toward stronger adjectives such as "malevolent," "callous" or "inhuman." It should sound as though we're describing a ruthless dictator from the 1500s or something. Here, watch how I handle this next question.

Q: Wait a second … Joba Chamberlain is white??? And from Nebraska??? How on earth did this happen? He hasn't even pitched in the majors yet and I'm ready to waive the five-year waiting period and induct him into the Reggie Cleveland/Reggie Willits/Khalil Greene Hall of Fame.
--Owen, Valdez, Alaska

SG: And I'll tell you another thing -- not sure whether you've seen Joba pitch yet, but that guy is a specimen. His stuff is positively malevolent. It's almost inhuman.

(See? Much better.)

I sat four seats over from Tim Robbins at Shea last night. He didn't even acknowledge my drunk brother calling him "Meat" for three innings straight. Not even a response after Alou went deep and he hit him with the obligatory "He hit the … bull! He gets a free steak." If you see him around tell him to stop spreading his commie propaganda and grow a sense of humor. Thanks SG.
--Frank B., New York

SG: Yup … these are my readers.

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His book "Now I Can Die In Peace" is available in paperback.