By Bill Simmons
Page 2 columnist
After receiving an astonishing number of e-mails over the past week (in the four-figure range), I decided to turn today's column over to the readers for a new monthly segment called, "Yup ... These Are My Readers."
Donovan, that's not your mother. Don't eat the Chunky Soup!
Four reasons for this:
1. Since there isn't any possible way to answer everyone's questions and comments, this seems like the best way to touch on a number of things that needed to be touched, and I don't mean that in a Divinyls kind of way. I also thought it would give readers a sampling of the things that drift into my mailbox every day. You need to know these things.
2. ESPN.com rejected my request to write 10,000 words on Wednesday's premiere of "Corey Haim: The E! True Hollywood Story," easily the most astounding, absorbing, haunting one-hour TV program of my lifetime.
3. Some of your e-mails were pretty damned funny.
4. Any time you guys can throw a couple of innings for me and allow me to rest my arm, I'm happy.
One more note: Thanks to everyone who took the time to send along a comment or a question. I wish I had the time to respond to everyone.
Without further ado ...
From reader Joshua Kennedy: "I think you may be the only one to blow the lid off of one of the greatest conspiracies of all time. Over the weekend I saw Donovan McNabb and his 'mother' in a Campbell's Chunky Soup commercial. I realized I knew her (please, no jokes). She is an actress named Marcella Lowery, who most recently appeared on NBC's Saturday morning sitcom 'City Guys.' Please check your local listing for times."
(Scandal! Scandal! Get Bob Ley on the phone!)
Cal Ripken Jr. went from chillin' in retirement to shillin' on QVC.
From reader Rick Kelley: "I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Cal Ripken Jr. peddling autographed photos of himself on Monday night on a home shopping network (QVC). The champagne from his Saturday night retirement party (way too drawn out, by the way) was still cold, for God's sake, and here he was pimping 8 by 10 glossies for a few extra bucks. I agreed with everything you said in your 'Lo-Cal' article, but unless the proceeds of his $199 pictures were going to charity or something humanitarian, he ought to crawl into that warehouse behind Camden Yards."
Stuff that cracked me up: A number of you commented on the connection between Bills QB Rob Johnson and Elijah Price from "Unbreakable" (Sam Jackson's character -- I won't ruin it, if you haven't seen the movie) ... I also enjoyed when reader Tom Heston wondered if Billy Joe Hobert and Billy Joe Tolliver were actually the same person ... and when David from San Diego wrote in to ask, "Did you see Jerry Jones on 'MNF'? His facelift is so tight that when he sat down his mouth was forced open."
Reader M. Antigua has a theory behind "Sports Night's" cancellation: "I'm still sore about 'Sports Night' being pulled. Count me in as one of the cult that adored that show. I do believe that there's a point of no return for critical acclaim. Its like it had too much. When that many critics love it, it can be like 'vegetables' for the folks that watch in Peoria."
(Interesting. Enough people e-mailed me to defend "Sports Night" that I'm probably going to give it one more chance. I've given that show more chances than the Mavs gave Roy Tarpley. Anyway, stay tuned.)
I received roughly 500 billion e-mails from people suggesting various "breakdowns" for the Dr. Jack Breakdown section in my biweekly mailbag. A few of them were funny, and the vast majority of them were predictably ridiculous. My favorite "breakdown" idea came from the reader who asked if I would pull a Dr. Jack and break down the careers of Chris Gwynn and Billy Ripken. Probably needs to happen at some point.
Reader Patrick McDonough sends in the Quote of the Month:
Tom Hauck /Allsport
Bad karma shrouds Marc Jackson, left, and the Warriors.
"It's a quote from Warriors center Marc Jackson last Tuesday, after Golden State matched the free agent contract offer he had accepted from Houston, forcing him to remain a Warrior:
" 'The funny thing when you do something to somebody that isn't right, it'll come back on you. The funny thing is they are going to try and trade me,' he said. 'But the funny thing is I have to consent to the trade. They didn't do me any favors, so what makes them think I'm going to do them a favor?'
"My first question is this: Which is the funny thing? My second question is this: Isn't there a class somewhere that teaches athletes not to say stuff like this?"
(Note: The funny thing is, there isn't.)
Reader Jon Tukman has a solution for everyone watching a Braves game at home who wants to turn the table on the chop:
"There is a very simple way that the chop can be subverted from within. To my knowledge this was first employed -- to great effect -- during Game 6 of the 1996 World Series at Yankee Stadium. It requires only two minor modifications to the hateful Braves/'Noles chant and will provide great satisfaction to those perpetually annoyed by that cheerless cheer:
Now you can play at home when they start chopping in Atlanta.
"1) Instead of making that stupid karate chop motion open-palmed, close your fist and extend only the middle finger of your chopping hand, waving the bird at the objects of your derision on the field.
"2) Instead of the droning chorus, use the lyrics, '(Bleep) thuuh Braves, (Bleep) thuuh Braves' to the tune of that wordless moan voiced by Braves fans.
"Try this out at home during the Braves game tonight -- even if you're alone in front of the TV, it effectively counteracts the maddeningly hypnotic wail of those frustrated Georgians. Then try it at the ballpark someday; it's easy to remember, easy to harmonize, and actually a pretty good mantra or koan to fall back on in times of sports-related stress.
"I know this probably has no place in a family column such as yours, but it could help you with your chop problem."
(Family column? I'm offended!)
A number of you wrote in suggesting various "Faces" to add to my ongoing list of Sports Faces (with Derek Lowe, Troy Aikman, Jeff George and everyone else). Here's a sampling:
"Can we add the 'Wayne Fontes Face' to our list of faces? I thought of this while watching the Rams dismantle the Lions on 'Monday Night Football.' Several times, they showed the Lions' coach, and he always had this, 'My team is falling apart in front of my very eyes on national TV' look. It's the same one that Wayne Fontes had in every Lions playoff game in the '90s."
-- J. McGuinness, St. Louis:
Don't try the Jerry Jones face at home without first consulting a professional.
(Note: I always called this one the Pete Carroll Face. I guess it could be area-centric. Texas could call if the Dave Campo Face; the Pacific Northwest could call it the Rick Adelman Face; the Midwest could call it the Mike Dunleavy Face. You get the idea.)
"Forget the Derek Lowe Face, Troy Aikman Face, Jeff George Face -- even the Mike Dukakis 'I can't believe I'm losing to this guy' Face -- the single most disturbing thing in professional sports is the Jerry Jones Face, the one he apparently wears all the time, though in the past apparently Michael Jackson and Kate Hepburn have borrowed it. If they dropped flyers with his face on it into Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden would run screaming from his mountain hideaway. Don Rumsfeld should look into this."
-- Mike Marcucci, Massachusetts
"During the Raiders-Colts game on Sunday night, I noticed a brand new 'face'. In the proud tradition of the Derek Lowe face, I now present the Peyton Manning Face (the glazed look he gets after yet another drive-killing interception). This is simply a look of utter hopelessness, somewhat like when Fredo's skanky wife is dancing around drunk on the dance floor in "Godfather II," and he is powerless to stop her. Also qualifying for Peyton Manning Face: Mike Hargrove after the '99 playoffs.
-- Kyle K., Cleveland, Ohio
But my favorite e-mail about Faces came from reader Sean Costello:
"I was flipping through channels this weekend, when a familiar mug came up on the screen on VH1. It was Emilo Estevez. In case you haven't noticed it, Estevez now sports a face similar to Aikman, Drew Bledsoe, George -- but oh so different. Estevez lost his fastball in the late '80s somewhere between 'Young Guns' and 'Men at Work.' I figure he picked up The Face then, and it's been getting worse ever since.
"So I submit for your approval: The Emilio Estevez Face. It's your basic, 'I'm getting paid in cash, right?' look, with the underlying resentment of a career gone haywire. Best of all, it's easy to make. Just say:
--"I can't believe I'm in 'D2 -- The Mighty Ducks'."
--"Did I really produce 'The Jerky Boys'?"
--"I can't believe I'm in 'Rated X' with my rat-fink brother."
--"I can't believe I agreed to do another 'Top 100 of the '80s' for VH1."
"I figured you'd appreciate the observation."
Probably the most common question over the past few weeks: "What happened to your ESPN archives?"
In case you didn't notice, ESPN.com created a Columnist Archive Page for me that only extends back to early September, making some of my earlier columns harder to find. Here's what you do: If you're interested in reading any pre-September column, click on my AFC Preview column and you'll find every pre-September link sitting on the right of the page. It's a little complicated, but it's better than nothing.
Reader Kevin Grant has an idea for a new "Kingpin" TV show:
"1) The main character should really be a mix between Roy Munson and Ishmael. He should be loveable but stupid, in a Terry Bradshaw sort of way. The premise of the show is that half the time he is in different cities on the PBA tour, and half the time he is at home with his wife, 16-year-old daughter, and 12-year-old son.
"2) While he is in different cities, his wife is having an affair with the slimy neighbor (think Richard Kline as Larry Dallas from 'Three's Company'), played by the incomparable Scott Baio. Meanwhile, his daughter is always threatening to run away, and his son is trying to be good at sports but failing miserably ('Bad News Bears'-esque footage inserted here).
"3) In the beginning of the season, a hotshot rookie comes onto the tour with a lot of hype. In the beginning, though, he struggles and the Munson character takes him under his wing. This would be a great role for Kirk Cameron. Munson tries to help him with his bowling struggles, his wacky girlfriend (possibly played by gorgeous Chelsea Noble, his girlfriend-wife Kate from 'Growing Pains' and the awful 'Growing Pains Movie'), and general life on the Tour.
"4) The bad guy bowler should be a mix between Big Ern McCracken (possibly the greatest sports villain ever ) and Shooter McGavin. He is the secondary focus of the show -- his exploits with the LPBA Bowlers, how he consistently beats Munson, and how the press/fans still love him even though he's a slimeball. The question is -- how do we get Bill Murray?"
Boston fan Mike Reilly sent the following game for everyone to play at home:
"Please put the following in order of Most Likely to Happen to Least Likely to Happen.
-- The Red Sox win the World Series.
-- O.J. Simpson admits, "I did it."
-- Tara Reid wins an Academy Award.
-- J-Lo gets divorced.
-- Jennifer Aniston gets divorced.
-- Rosie O'Donnell admits to "alternative lifestyle."
-- Perry Saturn becomes WWF champion.
-- Backstreet Boys inducted into Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame.
-- Matthew Perry relapses.
-- Kobe Bryant gets divorced.
-- Larry Johnson has another child before Kenny Anderson or Sean Kemp."
I enjoyed the e-mail from the Wizards fan who wrote in just to say, "Just like Ichiro has his first name on the back of his uniform, I think Jahidi White should have 'Jahidi' on the back of his Wizards jersey."
(Just the thought of Jahidi White dropping the "White" and demanding that everyone refer to him as just "Jahidi" ... I mean, why is this hysterically funny? I'm cracking up right now. Some things just can't be explained.)
An especially kooky e-mail from Conor L. in Virginia:
"I consider RBI Baseball on the 8 Bit Nintendo to be not only the best sports video game of all time, but one of the greatest video games of all time. It's simple, highly competitive, and comes from a golden age of baseball teams and players (with stats based on the 1986 and 1987 seasons). The All-Star game features up-and-comers such as Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, but has the old school stars like Schmidt and George Brett, as well as two guys who I can't remember for the life of me, Al Pedriq and Bill Schroeder (who the hell were these guys?).
"Anyway, while watching the Mets' John Franco blow a big save to end the Mets' season, we were quite amazed he was still around. I mean, this guy was old enough to be in RBI! So it got us thinking -- do you think that when the last active player from RBI Baseball retires, there will be anyone in America who realizes this? Will there be a smart-ass sportswriter who comments some day, 'With the retirement of Ellis Burks, RBI Baseball is no longer represented in the major leagues?' Or just some ridiculous college kid like us?
"On a much farther note, in 45 years, when theres only six or seven of these guys left alive, do you'll think they'll receive telegrams informing each other when a player has died, like on that 'Fighting Hellfish' episode of the Simpsons, with Grandpa and Mr. Burns? Will they attend each others' funerals, and have the contingent of RBI players standing solemnly on the sidelines? Who will be the last man standing?"
(Note: I'm reigning myself in ... I could write about RBI Baseball all day. Let's just move on before all hell breaks loose.)
Reader Phil Simmons has the answer to my question about why there hasn't been a good sports-related TV show in 20 years: "The writers and producers are people from LA -- they don't qualify as real sports fans." Well-said.
Atlanta native Dennis Koniecki has an interesting counterpoint to my bashing of the Tomahawk Chop: "I read your column regularly, and before today I always enjoyed your opinions. Now I find myself wondering how you have failed to realize that most of the reasons you gave for eliminating the Tomahawk Chop is exactly why it thrives. The opposing team hates it, the opposing fans hate it, and it never fails to motivate our team. Why else would it have survived at FSU for so long?"
(I like the logic there. The whole point of the Chop is to antagonize the opposing team and their fans ... gee, I wonder why I don't like it.)
Reader Phil Keidel points out that the same person made the following two quotes about Pats WR Terry Glenn:
Preseason: "I came in with Terry, I have the utmost respect for him as an athlete and a teammate, and I consider him a friend. But there was one negative spot out there that was kind of deterring the team. There's a sense of relief on my part ... with the right mindset he's second to none and that's comparing him with anyone in the league. But right now, that situation is just a cancer. With the direction the team is going, that situation needed to die as soon as possible."
Oct. 10: "Terry is the one guy that can do it. He's a tremendous athlete. I know just from talking to people throughout the league, other defenses, they're happy when he's not in that lineup."
So who was it? As Phil tells us, "Both quotes are from strong safety Lawyer Milloy. With this sort of verbal track record he could actually be an attorney."
A number of you pointed out that I missed the boat with my "Which movie character had the greatest roto season?" question. Here's a sampling:
"Your response to 'Best Fantasy Player from a movie' omits Michael O'Keefe's role as Darryl Palmer in 1985's 'The Slugger's Wife.' Palmer hits 61 homers for a lousy Braves team and bags Rebecca DeMornay throughout the movie. O'Keefe's best non-Noonan effort."
-- Joe Pace
"In response to the reader who asked about the best fantasy player from a sports movie, I'd have to go with Steve Nebraska from the awful yet endearing 'The Scout.' How can you get better fantasy production from a player than a guy who pitches a perfect game, strikes out everyone, and homers every AB? A side note in 'The Scout' is that Bob Costas lost all credibility when he uttered the line (and I'm paraphrasing here), 'Steve Nebraska has just become the first pitcher to throw 81 pitches, 81 strikes, 27 up, 27 down, and hit 4 home runs in the same game!' "
-- Gavin Steen
"What about Gus, the mule that could kick field goals from anywhere on the field? Think about it: Assuming the California Atoms get 12 possessions a game and score touchdowns on three of them, you're then looking at nine field goals for Gus, in addition to his three extra points. We're talking about a 30-point-per-game average for this mule, even more for leagues that reward longer field goals. He would utterly revolutionize the fantasy football landscape."
-- Peter Nguyen, N.Y.
(Put it this way: There's a reason why I didn't mention Steve Nebraska, Darryl Palmer and Gus The Mule ... because those movies were terrible! Come on! Work with me here. Next thing you know, you guys will be nominating the 12 year old with the broken arm in "Rookie of the Year." Everyone who sent me an e-mail about The Scout, Slugger's Wife or Gus the Field-Kicking Mule and Scott Baio's character from "Zapped," go to your room.)
A number of you pointed out that I omitted the Fox comedy "Hardball" from the two-part series on sports-related TV shows last week. Here's how reader Ian Stevenson summed it up: "I remember that they had Joe from 'Newsradio' as the overpaid star, Kenny Banyan from 'Seinfeld' as the GM, Dann Florek from 'Law & Order' as the manager and, of course, Mike Starr, who was Boone in 'The Natural' and Frenchy in 'Goodfellas,' as the aging catcher. I also seem to remember a very angry mascot, but who wouldn't be angry if you were a mascot, and an excruciating cameo by Barry Bonds."
There were a surprising number of Adam Duritz-related e-mails over the past two days, including unconfirmed reports that the Counting Crows singer/svengali has also dated Gwen Stefani and Winona Ryder. Apparently, I'm not the only one who's dumbfounded by this whole Duritz thing.
One interesting subplot: Nicole Kidman told the New York Post on Thursday that the rumors were false and she has never met Duritz. Reader Tim DeGrande confirms: "Nicole Kidman is still single! I saw the Counting Crows last night at Smith College and Adam Duritz was signing autographs after the show. I had read your column about how distraught you were over his uncanny luck with the ladies. So when I got to the front of the line, I asked him about Nicole and he said he had never met her and the story was fabricated. Maybe there is hope for us after all!"
(Yup ... now we have a chance ...)
Adding to the Duritz conundrum, a reader named Rosey sent this along: "My girl and I just caught the Counting Crows concert at Muhlenberg in Allentown on Sunday night. So Duritz comes out and my jaw nearly hits the damn floor. I kid you not, he must have put on at least a good 50 pounds. During every song when there was a guitar solo or something, he would go back, sit down, chug down a huge gulp of water and wipe his face and body off with a regular size towel. Every chance he got. He is that out of shape, Bill, I'm serious. He didn't wear a shirt underneath his short sleeve button down -- by the third song his entire upper body was completely soaked. It was and still is one of the top five grossest things I've ever seen. Hands down."
(Again, I ask you ... What the heck is going on here? I'm getting to the bottom of this, I swear.)
Two bar-related questions:
"Am I dreaming or could Derek Lowe & Jimy Williams be the '90s images of Sam 'Mayday' Malone, and Coach from the early episodes of 'Cheers'? Are they planning on opening up a bar in Boston after Lowe's career completely bombs? Is this all a coincidence?? I think not."
--Andrew from Boston
"Is it just me, or should Chicago Bears DB R.W. McQuarters be licensing his name to a soon-to-be-built chain of frat-house-themed Bar & Grilles ASAP? This is T.G.I. Friday's meets Bennigans meets Tipsy McStagger's in a big way. Do you think you could resist an offer of pitchers and jalapeno shooters at R.W. McQuarters?"
-- Gabe Bevilacqua
(Both tremendous ideas. I especially love the Mayday Malone/Derek Lowe connection. Treeeee-mendous.)
Time for the token wrestling e-mails to see if this column can get mentioned in Dave Meltzer's wrestlingobserver.com column and Rick Scaia's wrestleline.com column again (those guys are so easy):
"While watching SportsCenter this morning, I saw 'highlights' of a bowling tournament. Peter Weber won, bowling a 299 game in the process. During his interview, he did his impersonation of Rob Van Dam and said, 'I'm back and I'm P.T.W,' while raising his hands and pointing to his shoulders. This is a guy who bowls for a living and wears sunglasses while doing it. Classic moment. My question to you is this: What is this guy thinking? Personally, I'd like to see him put through the Spanish announcers' table."
-- Jeremy in Boston.
"How cool is it that Roger Clemens is the center of controversy, even after his great season? I mean, this is uncanny -- I wish Vince McMahon was around for stuff like this. Then Clemens could come out with a stable of pitchers who fold in the clutch. Picture it... Clemens, Sele, Jose Mesa and John Rocker all in the same group with hats that say, 'Choke... 4 Life' on it. You could even have Bob Stanley manage them.
-- MIke Schaub, Massachusetts
I really liked this theory from reader Brad Denton:
"My question concerns the cloning of certain major league players. Oddly enough, the Aidian Quinn/Gabriel Byrne duplicates led me to this discovery. Have you noticed this? I posit a 'Prime Mover,' who lords over baseball and fills team rosters with slightly cosmetically changed clones.
"Let's face it -- is there a difference between Greg Myers and Brent Mayne? Hmm? Or Joe Oliver and Charlie O'Brien? Is there really any fundamental difference between Jimmy Key and Jamie Moyer? Really? Notice that Moyer was not allowed a truly, truly eye-catching season until the 'retirement' of Mr. Key... there are examples in abundance. Herbert Perry and Chris Stynes/Kelly Stinnett and Brook Fordyce -- the mind reels. Think back to the Eighties, even, when the technology was in its infancy, to Bob Horner and Cory Snyder.
"And don't get me started on the Dominican infielder clones..."
Nick from Boston submits the token soccer e-mail:
"Not sure about your familiarity with the world of soccer, but I was wondering if, to your knowledge, there has ever been a sports star with a career that seems more like it was scripted by a daytime soap opera writer than England and Manchester United midfielder David Beckham?
"The guy is dumb as rocks, has a high-pitched squeaky voice, is married to a Spice Girl (who keeps trying to get him traded to an Italian team so she can have better shopping, according to the press), has been everything from public enemy number one to a national hero in England (the latter only after the arrival of the mysterious Swedish "zen master" manager), has absolutely sublime soccer skills, named his son Brooklyn (after where he was conceived), has been photographed by the press wearing a sleeveless shirt and a sarong (together) in public, showed up for a recent World Cup match looking like DeNiro in 'Taxi Driver' (mohawk haircut), and has on occasion sported more humorous facial hair than Rod Beck.
"I just keep waiting for the day we learn of his evil genius brother who was hideously deformed in a bizarre childhood accident, which David escaped, and who has spent his life trying to sabotage David's career."
J-Dub From Boston has details of the funniest moment of the first round in the Baseball Playoffs:
"Does the following exchange Sunday night make it to the Broadcast Pantheon of the Interview Hall of Fame?
"(Heard on Fox after a heroic Tony Womack had been mobbed by teammates and fans):
"Sportscaster: 'Hey, Tony, who just hugged you?'
Sportscaster: 'Tony, who hugged you, was that your Mom?'
Womack: 'No, that was my wife.'
Sportscaster: '......... Uh .......'
"From game-winning hit to having your wife mistaken as your mom. What a buzz-kill."
And finally, my favorite e-mail of the month, courtesy of Maryland native Jeff Kearney:
"Have you noticed the amazing phenomenon occurring in the NFL called, 'The Wayne Chrebet Catch' (a variation of the Derek Lowe/Jeff George/Troy Aikman Face)? I've noticed that every time this guy makes a catch, the following factors are all present:
"1. The ball is always thrown high, and Chrebet has to go up like Dwight Clark against the Cowboys to get the ball.
"2. While in the air, after securing the ball, it seems as if an imaginary wrecking ball hits him in the lower spine, causing him to contort grotesquely. The funny thing is, no defenders are ever nearby.
"3. He crumples to the ground, in a heap, like he's just been the victim of a Jack Tatum cheap shot.
"When the NFL puts out its 'Yards After Catch' statistic, they should include the following note: 'This does not apply to Wayne Chrebet. Ever.' "
Yup ... these are my readers.
Bill Simmons writes three columns a week for Page 2.