By Bill Simmons
Page 2 columnist

Please keep in mind, everything you're about to read came from actual e-mails sent in by readers over the past few weeks. If you would like to submit a question for the next edition of "Ask Sports Guy," click here and follow the instructions.

On to the e-mails ...

TMCCONVILLE WRITES: I wanted to add another "great sports music theme" from years past: NBC's theme from "Breakfast at Wimbeldon." Almost as fun as listening to Bud Collins panting during every single point between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. "Chrissie, 'Tina, Chrissie, 'Tina, CHRISSIE, 'TINA!!! LOB SHOT WINNER ... 'TINA!!!" Bud should've smoked a cigarette after each set.

Bud Collins
Bud Collins' play-by-play was terrific, but his post-match interviews were even better.

Sports Guy: You're right. I mistakenly left the Wimbledon music off my list from last month, as well as the inexplicable omission of the original "Monday Night Football" music (which should have been grounds for my immediate firing).

As for Bud Collins, his orgasmic play-by-play calls were tremendous, but I enjoyed his post-match interviews even more. Was there ever anything funnier than Collins trying to say something cute in another language to the foreign players, like when he would babble in German to Steffi Graf and come up with phrases like, "Der freuilen forehand"? And how 'bout when Bud kicked off a post-Finals interview with a rambling monologue like this:

"For the last two weeks, this gutty kid from the streets of Las Vegas was rolling sevens in England. He took our breath away, he inspired us, he captured the hearts of British fans and he outlasted Patrick Rafter in a memorable five-set war that nearly made me wet myself twice. And now, at long last ...

"HERE'S YOUR CHAMPION!"


TINBEAR86 ASKS: The Ian Woosnam 14-club rule debacle at the British Open got me to thinking about the turn of events on the 18th green at Bushwood. When Judge Smails asked Spalding for the Billy Barroo, could it be that with two putters in the bag, the Judge was carrying 15 clubs for the entire round? Did Ty, Al or Danny Noonan (Smails's caddy at the start of the round) ever do a club count?

Ted Knight
Even if Judge Smails did have too many clubs in his bag, we should give him a break. He was having a very tough week.

If Smails were over the limit, then the match was over even without the controversial explosion-birdie putt going down, which, by the way, might have been hanging on the lip for too long to count as good, anyway. Thoughts?

Sports Guy: You forget, the Judge broke one of his clubs earlier in "Caddyshack" when he tossed it toward the restaurant and nearly impaled one of the other members, so I'll bet he was playing a club short, anyway. And even if the Judge was carrying 15 clubs, Danny couldn't have performed a club count, because Smails asked Danny to caddy for him seconds before the match kicked off.

We should give the Judge a break. In retrospect, that was a pretty tough week for him: He lost an illegal $80,000 match, his golf course blew up, his boat sank, he nearly killed an old lady, and he found out his beloved niece was a harlot. Yikes.

(Besides, Al Czervik was probably the one who bent the rules with his club count. Remember, his golf bag included a stereo, a quarter keg, a phone, a putter with an electronic tracking device, a contraption that enabled all the clubs to shoot up in the air at once and God knows what else. You're telling me he wasn't carrying more than 14 clubs?)


ABBAYLISS ASKS: Are the Red Sox waiting for the new ownership to move in before they announce that Montreal is officially one of their farm clubs? I mean, is there a little room hidden deep in Fenway where Dan Duquette actually plots which Expo he will call up to the big club next? When does Vlad get here?

Sports Guy: Don't tease me with the "Vlad coming to Boston" stuff. I can't handle it. Vlad's like the knockout freshman girl in college who hasn't broken up with her boyfriend from home yet ... you know she's gonna be available soon, it's just a matter of time. By the way, I'm drunk again.


JANCAIT ASKS: Does the "That Guy" phenomenon carry over to the sports world? The guy who started me thinking about this is Stan Javier. Has any baseball player had a longer, less distinguished career than Stan Javier?

Stan Javier
Does Stan Javier qualify as a "That Guy"?

Sports Guy: I dunno ... it's pretty tough because the whole "That Guy" concept centers around somebody popping up on the movie screen and making you say, "Hey, it's That Guy!" (if Javier comes up to bat, at least you know it's him, because they announce his name). But I understand where you're coming from.

If you want to work the "That Guy" phenomenon into sports, it probably works best with NBA referees: Every time I attend a Celtics game, I always find myself saying, "Oh, no, it's That Guy" or "Good, we have That Guy tonight!"


MZIGMONT ASKS: What's your beef with "Arli$$"? I just don't understand. Could you write (or repost) a column in which you explain why you hate it so? My frustration with respect to this topic is not your opinion but the lack of an explanation/justification.

Sports Guy: I'm gonna hold off on this question for now, if only because I can't remember despising another TV show more in my entire life. I'd rather devote a whole column to it at some point ... maybe a mock "Arli$$ goes to Oz" script that features Arliss drawing Adebici as a roommate. That could work.

In all seriousness, didn't you love when HBO had to shift "Arli$$" to 10:30 p.m. because it couldn't hold the measly 30-minute time slot at 9:30 between "Sex and the City" and "Six Feet Under"? Has a TV network ever scheduled half-hour comedies at 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., with a one-hour drama sandwiched in between them? Does that make any sense?

Having "Arli$$" in your TV lineup is like having Jon Kitna as your starting QB -- you just can't hide it.


JHALABAN ASKS: Since you're the self-proclaimed fantasy football guru and all, could you please post some of your sleepers and favorites for the upcoming season? I assume you're not doing a full-scale preview now that you have your new cushy ESPN.com gig, but you did help me win my roto draft last season.

Sports Guy: You're right, I am the roto football guru. Here are some players I like/dislike this season, other than the obvious names.

Ricky Williams
Trust the Sports Guy: Ricky Williams is ready for a big year.

(Please keep in mind, I'm good at this...)

Poised for big seasons: Ricky Williams (1,800 yards-plus); Tony Gonzalez & Trent Green (the Vermeil influence); David Boston (the Cliff Floyd of roto football); Aaron Brooks (I'm sold); Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss (on verge of a Magic-Kareem thing); Brian Griese (tons of toys); Jeff Garcia (should grow beard to complete Dan Fouts Effect).

Potentially shaky: Brett Favre (no WRs); Warrick Dunn (lures new suckers every year); Charlie Garner (the Wheatley factor); Ahman Green (makes me nervous); Donovan McNabb (not sure if his skills translate to roto yet); Rich Gannon (injury waiting to happen); Keyshawn Johnson (no thanks); Stephen Davis (nightmare team); everyone on the Pats, Bills, Seahawks, Cowboys, Panthers & Browns (obviously); Terry Allen (dead man walking!).

X-Factors: Jamal Anderson (too many people on the bandwagon, which always scares me); Fred Taylor (literally a roll of the dice, as always); Terrell Davis (proceed at your own risk).

Sleepers: Brandon Stokely (I can't explain it); Michael Bennett (another gut feeling); Mike Anderson (I'm not sold on TD, frankly); Cam Cleeland (the bargain TE sleeper); Ron Dayne (finally in shape); Eddie Kennison (right team, tight time); Snoop Minnis (love the name); Robert Smith (the ultimate late-round flyer).


JCHODOS ASKS: Just curious, when watching "Miami Vice" on TNN, if you turn it on halfway and you're not sure which episode it is, how do you determine which season it's from:

    a.) Crockett's hair
    b.) Tubb's facial hair
    c.) Black or White Ferrari

Sonny Crockett
Use Crockett's hair as your guide to whether a "Miami Vice" episode will be quality viewing.

Sports Guy: Crockett's hair. No question about it. That's also the way I determine whether it will be an entertaining show or not: Short hair + chain-smoking = stellar episode.


KLEVIN ASKS: For all us guys whose wives hate football (but are addicted to reality shows), couldn't HBO throw us a bone and do preseason documentaries on every team at the same time? If they had just chosen the Patriots over the Ravens, I could have gotten my wife to watch and every week of the season would have been like a new episode of "Temptation Island."

I can see it now, my wife in tears on the couch when Ted Johnson tears a bicep and goes out for the season again -- just like when Billy and Mandy got back together.

Sports Guy: You should have made your wife watch "Hard Knocks," regardless. The Sports Gal and I have watched every episode so far ... she even asked me on Tuesday, "Didn't the Ravens make cuts today? Did you check online? I hope Kenny (Jackson) made it." And this is coming from someone who asked me two weeks ago if Steve Young still played for the Cowboys.

(By the way, not to sound like Larry King, but if you're not watching "Hard Knocks," you're missing out. The segment in Episode Three with the rookie defensive lineman who went AWOL was un-BEEEEEE-leiveable. The rookie tried to leave; the Baltimore coaches couldn't talk him out of it; Billick and Siragusa finally convinced him to stay; then the rookie snuck out the following morning, anyway. Probably the most fascinating 10 minutes I've seen on TV this year that didn't involve a G-String Diva.)


RJHOFF129 ASKS: I have only been a reader for the past few months, so if you have already addressed this I apologize ... but I was just wondering if you could explain the difference between "personal seat licenses" and "extortion"?

Sports Guy: That's easy. Webster Dictionary's definition of the verb "extort" reads as follows: "To obtain from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power ... to wring ... to gain especially by ingenuity or compelling argument."

In the case of personal seat licenses, force is not used. We'll be back on "Being a Sports Fan Sucks" after these messages ...


CTGBIGGS ASKS: What is the greatest injustice in sports history? This came to mind this morning as I was driving to work. I heard "Devil Went Down To Georgia" by Charlie Daniels. Everyone knows this was the greatest injustice in music history -- no way Johnny outfiddled the Devil. The Devil had a much better riff.

Sports Guy: Well said. As for the greatest sports injustice of all-time -- as much as I hate to admit it -- it happened when Isiah Thomas was left off the original Dream Team in the '92 Olympics (in lieu of John Stockton).

Isiah Thomas
Isiah Thomas was robbed of a spot on The Dream Team in 1992.

Granted, Michael Jordan (allegedly) refused to play unless Isiah wasn't there, and Stockton's skin color probably helped, and Isiah could have crippled team chemistry (being a little backstabbing weasel and all). But this team was supposed to celebrate the superstars of the '80s and the rising stars of the '90s. Looking back, Isiah had to make the team, if only because he was the fourth-biggest superstar during the '80s (the watershed decade in NBA history).

Compare his career to Magic Johnson's career: Magic won five rings, but he also played with two Hall of Famers (Worthy and Kareem) and a number of accomplished role players (Wilkes, Nixon, Cooper, Scott, etc.). Only during the '87 and '88 title seasons -- when Kareem was losing it -- did Magic unquestionably emerge as the MVP on his own team. Don't let anyone tell you differently. And please don't forget the fact that you couldn't hide Magic defensively.

Meanwhile, Isiah played with one second-tier All-Star (Dumars) and an eclectic mix of role players ... yet his Pistons teams netted two titles and should have won a third (in '88). And Isiah was Detroit's GTG (go-to guy) for his entire career -- he didn't have the luxury of dumping it to Kareem for an automatic deuce. And while we're at it, nobody ran a basketball team better than Isiah; I'll go to my grave believing that. He was the best pure point guard of my lifetime.

Here's my point: You could at least debate the "Magic vs. Isiah" argument. But there wasn't a single moment in John Stockton's career -- I mean, ever -- when he was better than Isiah Thomas. Isiah deserved to make that team. Case closed.

(I can't believe I just spent five paragraphs defending Isiah Thomas, the same man who once claimed that Larry Bird would be "just another good player" if The Man were black. Blasphemer! Let's just move on ...)


RIVOHORA ASKS: I was just sitting here listening to the news when it occurred to me that the rash of children falling down wells has completely ended. How is that possible? It is that we are making less wells? Putting up fences around wells? Are children just getting smarter? I don't think it's any of those -- I think kids are still falling down wells, it's just that we don't give a damn anymore.

Sports Guy: Yup ... these are my readers.


DLANZA ASKS: I caught what I felt was a glaring omission in your "Least believable sports movie moments" list: How could you not mention the basketball scenes from "Basketball Diaries"? There are about 15 excruciatingly implausible scenes in that movie, including 1.) Leo DiCaprio being a purported All-America player despite dribbling higher than Michael J. Fox in "Teen Wolf," and 2.) Marky Mark speaking of grabbing myriad rebounds, despite being shorter than Air Bud.

Sports Guy: All good points, but I never considered "Diaries" a sports movie. And besides, my favorite "Dreadful athlete in a sports scene that took place in a non-sports movie" will always be the guy who played Meat in "Porky's 2."

(For sheer comedy's sake, you can't top a 45-year-old guy being cast as a high school hoops superstar back in the 1950s, especially when he has a beer gut and he can't dribble or shoot. That will never be topped.)


ADICHIARA ASKS: How come you never mention "Teen Wolf" when you talk about the Ewing Theory?

Sports Guy: Whoa! Consecutive "Teen Wolf" references in the same mailbag! It almost makes me feel like breaking out the CD single of that "Win in the End" song that they play during the final game, when Michael J. Fox's team goes on an 82-4 run to cut the lead to two in the final minute. Remember that song? "WINNNNNNN ... in the end! I'm gonna win in the end!"

You know, when they make the CD for cheesy-yet-inspiring sports movie songs, I just hope "Win in the End" and "You're the Best" (the song cranking when Daniel-san is kicking butt during the All-Valley Tournament in "The Karate Kid") are involved. You could sell that baby for $50 and I'd buy it.


DRALTMAN ASKS: Is Tony Siragusa auditioning for the role formerly played by Art Donovan on old NFL Films?

Sports Guy: Is this a rhetorical question?


JVOGEL ASKS: It's obvious that you're a wrestling fan. Who were/are your favorite wrestlers to watch? Who is your favorite of all time?

Sports Guy: My top-five favorites of all-time ...

  1. "Macho Man" Randy Savage: Took things to the next level, especially his flying elbow and the concept of a female valet. A true visionary.

  2. "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka: Peaked from '79-'81. Maybe the first wrestler that ever made me go "Holy s---!" from time to time -- the man had no regard for his body.

  3. Hulk Hogan: Put wrestling back on the map. You almost wish he had been hit by a bus after he handed the title to the Ultimate Warrior in the late-'80s.

  4. Rob Van Dam: Cracks me up. And he's legitimately insane.

  5. Frankie Williams: The greatest jobber of all-time. He was also involved in the watershed "Piper's Pit" appearance of my lifetime -- they needed closed-captioning so you could understand him.


PROMESTHEUS200 WRITES: I don't have to ask if you watched the "E! True Hollywood Story" about "Beverly Hills 90210." Epic. Did you see Ian Ziering's curly mullet in the 1992 interview footage?

Sports Guy: I've said it before, I'll say it again: When they create the Curly Blonde Mullet Hall of Fame, Ian Ziering will be inducted in the inaugural class, along with Larry Bird, Jack Sikma, Viking from "Bad Boys" and Randy West.

(Speaking of that "90210" show on E!, I wish you could buy stock in things like "The guy who played Nat would unsuccessfully try to launch a chain of Peach Pits in real life some day." I'd be a millionaire right now.)


Jason Isringhausen
Jason Isringhausen makes plenty of in-game adjustments.

ALEFFERTS ASKS: Have you ever noticed that Johnny Damon looks like a wax dummy? There's just something about his face and those perfect sideburns that isn't natural. Every at-bat he had during the Sox-A's series made me think Andrew McCarthy was going to storm the field proclaiming his undying love for the mannequin he brought to life. Check it out. It really is kind of eerie.

Sports Guy: Watching those A's-Sox games earlier this month, I was more blown away by how many times A's closer Jason Isringhausen adjusted his cup. Is he gunning for some sort of record? Do the statisticians keep track of this? I thought I was watching a Michael Jackson video or something -- I kept waiting for Izzy to jump on the hood of a car and start smashing the windows with a baseball bat.


PWILSON23 ASKS: Carver High vs. Hickory High in a seven-game series ... who wins?

The Sports Guy: Since this is the final question of the mailbag and it involves two of the greatest TV shows/movies of all-time -- the "White Shadow" and "Hoosiers" -- let's break this baby down Dr. Jack Ramsay-style. And just for the record, trying to choose between Carver and Hickory damn near killed me.

GUARDS: Jimmy & Rade (Hickory) vs. Hayward & Thorpe (Carver). Jimmy Chitwood was in a league of his own -- the only true superstar in this series ... his backcourt mate, Rade, was always underrated (you remember him as the guy who defied Coach Dale during the first game) ... as for the Carver guys, Thorpe was a ballhog and Hayward always lacked confidence because he kept getting yanked at crunch-time ... shaky to say the least ... big edge to Hickory here.

FORWARDS: Buddy & Merle vs. Reese & Goldstein. Buddy and Merle were two "dirty-work" guys (neither guy gave Hickory much offense) ... Reese was talented enough to get recruited away by an all-white prep school (I always thought he was the heart and soul of those Carver teams) ... Goldstein looked like a young Bobby Jones at times ... slight edge to Carver here.

Gene Hackman.
Imagine if coach Norman Dale had Shaq to go with Jimmy Chitwood.

CENTER: Flatch vs. Coolidge. Big mismatch on paper ... Flatch could potentially out-work Big Cool up and down the court in a "Cowens vs. Jabbar" kinda way if Cool wasn't properly motivated ... you have to admit, Cool was kind of a head case -- he quit the team at least three different times over the years, he skipped practices, he battled weight problems and girl problems, and he always seemed unhappy about something ... as my buddy Joe House says, "Cool was Derrick Coleman with a sense of humor" ... edge to Carver here, regardless.

BENCH: Ollie, Strap and Whit vs. Gomez, Salami, Vatalgia and Jackson. Here's where Carver has a sizable edge ... Hickory's bench was paper-thin -- that doesn't bode well for a seven-game series ... meanwhile, Reeves could roll out an effective full-court press with the second unit ... and Jackson looked like a young Vinnie Johnson at times (as long as he wasn't gambling against his own team or lying dead in a liquor store) ... big edge to Carver here.

DRUNKEN, DISRUPTIVE PARENTS: Shooter vs. Mr. Gomez. Probably a wash.

COACHING: Norman Dale vs. Ken Reeves. Reeves was always suspect: He juggled his starting lineup too much, he didn't play Hayward and Goldstein enough, he never had the right people handling the ball at crunch-time and he could never beat Central ... on the flip side, Dale's performance down the stretch of the '54 season was nothing short of masterful -- he pushed all the right buttons and handled a tough town pretty well ... edge to Hickory here.

FINAL PREDICTION: Hickory prevails in six, for two reasons:

1. Even if Reeves rotates Hayward, Salami and Gomez on Jimmy Chitwood, Jimmy still ends up with 35-40 a night. When in doubt, always take the team with the best player. I'm just not sold on Coolidge.

2. There were too many ongoing crises and personality conflicts with the Carver team -- no way they could handle the strain of a seven-game series, not to mention one or two road trips to Indiana to play in Hickory. I mean, can you imagine the Carver guys staying in the Midwest for a few days? All hell would break loose. Just remember what happened to them during their Las Vegas trip.

Not to bring Dr. Jack back into this, but I envision this series unfolding like the famous Sixers-Blazers series in '77; on paper, Carver looks more formidable, but Hickory has all the intangibles, and they're just a better overall team.

I loved those guys.

Bill Simmons writes three columns a week for Page 2.



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