By Bill Simmons
Page 2 columnist
After writing five days of columns in D.C. last week and contracting some rare combination of strep throat and the ebola virus last weekend, I'm resting my arm and letting the readers throw a few innings again. You guys are in charge.
Actor Tim Robbins, right, might look comfortable on the ice with Barry Melrose, but he's way out of his element on the baseball field.
Before we hit the e-mails, one quick note: Given that I was traveling for the past two-plus weeks, I had little access to e-mails ... so they piled up, and they piled up, and they piled up some more ... and somewhere along the line, it passed the "I'll read these and respond to as many as possible" point and entered the "If I can just read all of these, I'll be happy" zone. So you'll have to give me a mulligan for anything sent over the last few weeks (at least now I'm caught up). As always, thanks to everyone who takes the time to send something in.
On to your e-mails and observations:
Suggestions keep pouring in for words only used in specific situations, like "warrants" (only used with "warrants mentioning") and "ensuing" ("ensuing kickoff"). Some of the best reader ideas from the past two months: Staunch ("staunch advocate"); tutelage ("under the tutelage ..."); much-maligned (used with secondaries, bullpens, field-goal kickers and goalies); consummate ("consummate professional"); estranged ("estranged wife"); and slapping ("slapping the franchise tag").
(My personal favorite? "Under the tutelage ..." As Scott from Gainesville, Fla., points out, "You only hear it in situations like, 'Under the tutelage of Steve Spurrier, the Gators continued their trend of posting one of the best passing offenses in the nation.' You would never hear someone say "Under the tutelage of his mother, Timmy prepared the best turkey and cheese sandwich his father had ever tasted.' ")
Two startling "Bull Durham"-related tidbits for you:
1. Ty Lifeset writes: "There was a really funny moment at this year's NHL All-Star Weekend Celebrity Game. Tim Robbins was playing and he was pretty good -- so the announcer pulls him aside and asks him if he had to live his life all over again would he choose acting over playing hockey. And Robbins says that he would have preferred to be a baseball player. I immediately start booing and start throwing old VHS copies of Bull Durham on the ice. You would have been proud. I mean, has there ever been a worse actor playing a baseball player? Ever?"
Grady Little won't score many points with Pedro by claiming he developed "Nuke Laloosh."
2. Not only did new Red Sox manager Grady Little serve as the technical advisor for the baseball scenes in "Bull," but as reader Kevin Geraghty points out, "Someone needs to tell Little, and do it quickly, that the way to gain the confidence of Red Sox fans is most assuredly not to claim credit for teaching Tim Robbins how to pitch in Bull Durham. That's like Denny Terrio taking claim for teaching Elaine Benes ("Seinfeld") how to dance."
(The lesson of these e-mails, as always: Nuke LaLoosh threw like a girl. Don't forget this. Not for a second.)
You might remember the last edition of Ask Sports Guy, when one reader came up with a Fredo Hall of Fame for the screwed-up brothers of celebrities (Jeremy Giambi, Ozzie Canseco, Roger Clinton, Frank Stallone and so on). Many of you e-mailed some additional candidates, including Billy Ripken, Clint Howard, all of Gordie Howe's sons, Billy Conigliaro, all of Alec Baldwin's brothers, Jaron Rush, Dan McGwire, and the biggie ... Don Swayze.
Reader Dan W. sums it up: "Don Swayze should have his own section in the Pantheon Level of the FHOF. They could play clips from his best work in such movies as 'Beach Babes From Beyond,' 'Sexual Malice,' 'Body of Influence,' and, of course, 'Trapper County War.' Don Swayze in a late night Skinemax flick has got to be close to a 10 on the Unintentional Comedy Scale. Him and Frank Stallone should have their own reality TV series called 'One Chromosome Short.' How funny would that be? Cameras could follow Frank and Don around and see what kind of crazy things happen when those two guys live together."
That reminds me, on the heels of the One-Year Wonder Hall of Fame and the Fredo Hall of Fame, two readers suggested a Hall of Fame for Chronically Fragile Athletes, which we might as well name the Fred Taylor Memorial Hall of Fame. Nominees for the first ballot: Jamal Anderson, Penny Hardaway, Tyrone Hill, Terrell Davis, Grant Hill, Marcus Camby, Theo Ratliff, Bret Saberhagen, Cam Neely, Sandy Alomar Jr., Todd Stottlemyre, Zydrunas Ilygauskas, Danny Manning, Alonzo Mourning, Chris Chandler and Tom Gugliotta.
Daniel F. suggests: "You need to come up with a list of 'Guys Who Wield Just A Bit Too Much Power' -- like the bouncer at any snooty bar, the deli counter guy who only gives samples to people he deems worthy, and ice skating judges (especially the French ones)."
(Don't forget about these people: Softball umpires ... the guy at Best Buy who checks receipts before you can leave the store ... sixth-grade gym teachers ... bank tellers ... bartenders in crowded pickup joints ... condo association presidents ... sports radio hosts who hang up on callers when they don't agree ... everyone who works at a video store ... stewardesses on long airplane flights ... movie theater ushers ... the maitre'd at any restaurant in Vegas or Manhattan ... and the hotel worker in charge of the volleyball games at any resort.)
Two other "Guy Rules" that readers suggested (in addition to the 10 staples I mentioned in the last mailbag): "Don't reach for a buddy's sports section of the newspaper before he gets a chance to read it himself," and "Under no circumstance shall one use the urinal directly next to another guy."
While we're here, reader M. Bingoldsby makes a great point: "My girlfriend and I are both big fans of your column, but I was hoping you could clear up a discrepancy. One of your 'Guy's Rules' was, 'Don't operate the remote control at someone else's house, unless they give it to you.' I contend that this only concerns a guy visiting another guy's home. Women are, as a general rule, incapable of operating a remote with suitable speed and skill. I assume that when a guy is over a girl's house, his use of the remote is mandatory, and should be acquired by any means necessary."
From Chris Strauss in New York: "I was watching the "NBA Sidelines" on the Clippers tonight when they interviewed Penny Marshall. Did you happen the notice the scary resemblance she now has to Ozzy Osbourne? The stringy hair in her face, the rounded sunglasses and even the large dangling cross around her neck. This phenomenon definitely needs to be addressed in an upcoming column."
Fred Taylor would be a first-ballot entry in the Hall of Fame for Chronically Fragile Athletes.
If you're not watching "The Osbournes" on MTV, you're missing some terrific unintentional comedy.
(Very good call... there hasn't been a more disorienting TV cameo in recent history than Penny's appearance on "Sidelines." Frankly, I'm not ready to discuss it yet. And speaking of Ozzy ... yes, I'm watching "The Osbournes," and yes, it's tremendous. You can stop e-mailing me about it. Thank God TV networks are finally planning programming specifically directed at the Unintentional Comedy Rating -- we're getting closer and closer to a talk show with Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, I can feel it.)
On the subject of scary TV, apparently Fox Sports Net showed the "Glutton Bowl" last month -- contestants eating mass amounts of deviled eggs, pizza slices, chicken wings, cheesesteaks, mayonnaise, apple pies and everything else you can imagine -- and the whole thing was so kooky that none of my readers were able to adequately capture the festivities in a readable, coherent e-mail (from all accounts, it made for riveting TV). And if that's not weird enough, one of the champion chicken wing eaters was named Bill Simmons (a k a, "El Wingador"). How weird is that? Page 2 needs to run a Burning Questions with Bill Simmons and Bill Simmons.
Chris P. from Amherst, Mass., points out the most underrated moment of the Snow Game (Pats-Raiders, Round Two, 2002 NFL Playoffs), which I hadn't even noticed myself until a second watching of the videotape:
"During the review of the most debated call since the Dyson-Wycheck connection (Brady's fumble/non-fumble), my ears picked up on something -- Phil Collins' 'In the Air Tonight,' quite possibly the most eerie song ever recorded. When that song came on, I knew something was up. You see, like the Ewing Theory your friend came up with, this song has power. Whenever the song is on, it grabs my attention like no other. And most of all, nothing bad ever happens. Whoever was the genius that picked that song saved the Pats' season."
Something was definitely "In the Air Tonight" during the Snow Game.
(All good points. That song has now figured in the "Miami Vice" pilot, "Risky Business" and the most memorable game in the history of Foxboro Stadium. And it does have a special vibe, doesn't it? If you have a tape of the Snow Game, you have to fast-forward to the part when they're reviewing the fumble. It's surreal, especially with the snow coming down. All it's missing is Crockett and Tubbs glancing at one another in slow motion while the ref looks into the replay booth.)
A burning question from Eric S: "When they hold inductions to the All-Whipped Hall of Fame, would our buddy qualify on the first ballot? He chose the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament as the weekend to go to Jamaica with his girlfriend. He claims to be a big college hoops fan, but it is ever permissible to voluntarily miss the best four days in sports?
(My answer: As far as I'm concerned, you've lost him. Move on.)
The requisite "Shawshank"-related jokes and comments:
1. From Jake LeBlanc: "Overheard on the Super Bowl Post-game show: 'I like to think the last thing to go through Mike Martz's head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how the hell Bill Belichick ever got the best of him ...' "
2. From D. Napier: "Ever since I first saw Jeff Garcia, something about him really bothered me, and I couldn't think of what it was. However, the other day, it dawned on me. I think he played the role of Boggs in Shawshank. Is it me or are they the same person? I don't think they've ever been seen together. Do you think he refers to his O-line as 'The Sisters'?"
(The Garcia-Boggs connection was really good. I'm kicking myself that I didn't catch that one first. Terrell, I could be a friend to you ...)
Atlanta's Chris Bishop solves the "Sports movie vs. chick flick" debate: "If I wake up at some point during the movie and my wife is crying, it's a chick flick." Thank you and please drive thru.
I also liked this one from Jesse C. in Stone Ridge, Mass.: "When will we see 'Sportscentury and Beyond: Eldridge Recasner?' I'm oddly fascinated with this guy. He gets signed and released approximately 1,200 times per season. He's the Ted McGinley of the NBA -- if he suits up for your team, they aren't going to the playoffs. I think when you sign a 10-day contract in the NBA, that should be known as getting Recasnered."
Once your team signs Eldridge Recasner to a 10-day contract, you can probably forget about the playoffs.
(As I've written before, when they launch ESPN6 some day, they immediately need to launch, "SportsCentury And Beyond: The NBA Scrubs": Chuck Nevitt, Randy Breuer, Manute Bol, LaRue Martin, Terry Duerod, Ken "The Animal" Bannister, Chris Dudley, Recasner, a special three-part series on Paul Mokeski ... you could go on for months. I want my own ESPN Channel. I'm demanding this in my next contract.)
More fodder for www.matthewormitchell.com (as described in the last Readers column): Keys from Atlanta writes, "Did you know that Matthew Laurance (Dr. Mel Silver from "90210") is currently gainfully employed as a sideline reporter by the Duke Radio Network, and also claims the title 'Special Assistant to the Director of Athletics/Basketball' at Duke? Apparently, he met Coach K in L.A. a few years back and felt comfortable begging for a job after '90210' got canned. Now Dr. Mel gets to lurk around Duke huddles and provide the inside scoop to Duke fans. Please ... and he's qualified to do this because ... why?"
Patrick Lacey was the latest reader to ask about this: "Can you please shed some light on the whole 'Every guy on the team has to slap five with the guy on the foul line after every shot attempt, even if he bricks it' phenomenon? When did this start? When will it stop? It kind of just crept along, under the radar, until finally it is the most annoying thing in the sports universe that is simply not talked about."
(From what I can gather, it started about 15 years ago, because it never happens during the ESPN Classic NBA games from the mid-'80s. If I had to blame anyone, I'd blame those painful Knicks teams from the early/mid-'90s for starting it -- they were always reassuring one another after every screw-up. Plus, it's fun to blame the Riley Era Knicks for every revolting NBA development from the past ten years.)
J. Stonehill suggests a new face for the Faces Pantheon: "The Joel Goodson face. Remember when Rebecca DeMornay walks into the Goodson residence for the first time and says 'Are you ready for me, Ralph?' (one of the greatest movie lines of all-time, but that's a whole other story). Joel Goodson (played by Cruise) has fallen asleep on his sofa while waiting for her ... then he awakens to that line and her looks. Hence, the 'I'm in utter disbelief that this is happening to me' face (which Cruise ended up perfecting during the crucial courtroom scenes in 'A Few Good Men')."
(Stonehill also listed three sports examples of the Goodson Face: Luis Gonzalez hitting the winning RBI single in the 2001 World Series, John Paxson nailing the game winning shot in the 1993 NBA Finals, and any time Shaq makes a free throw. I'd throw in Bob Kraft after the 2002 Super Bowl, John Elway after the Broncos won their first Super Bowl, and every picture of Ed Burns after he upgraded from Heather Graham to Christy Turlington.)
From Steve Selleny: "I'm amazed that no one has ever mentioned how much Dave Wannstedt looks and sounds like Bernie Lomax (the dead guy) from "Weekend at Bernie's." Could they possibly be twin brothers separated at birth?" This pretty much ruined the Wannstadt Era for me ... every time I watch a Dolphins game from here on, I'll keep waiting for him to tip over.
My two favorite jokes about Drew Bledsoe and the Pats Super Bowl parade:
1. R. Daniels writes: While reading about the Pats' Super Bowl parade at City Plaza, I couldn't help but wish that Drew Bledsoe secretly got onto the podium while Brady was doing his MVP/Disney World dance and nailed him with a chair. I can hear Jim Ross calling it: What's that? Oh my god, that's Bledsoe's music!!!! right as Drew cracks Brady over the head with the metal chair and starts doing his 'I should've been the MVP and gone to Disneyworld' dance.
2. Stu Disco from New England: "I know Drew skipped the Patriots Super Bowl parade, but weren't you hoping he would stagger out there drunk like Steve Buscemi's character at the beginning of 'The Wedding Singer' -- Who's the best QB now... I can play ...I can play! -- as he tried to wrestle the MVP trophy away from Brady?
Questions that just couldn't be answered:
1. Eric in Exeter, N.H.: "Why didn't the others just kill Gilligan?"
2. Reader J. Karalis: "What do we do with all the 'points' we score in life? People give me points for obscure references or clever placement of movie lines in every day conversation. Sometimes we give point values to pedestrians while we're driving. Do we need these points to get into heaven? If I think I'm low on points later in life, should I just sit on Newbury Street randomly throwing out lines at people hoping that they'll throw me a few points?"
3. Lance from Bedford, N.H.: "Could you please detail a Battle of the Bands competition between the Flutie Brothers, the Bacon Brothers, Keanu Reeves' Dog Star, or Russell Crowe's 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts?"
Finally, female reader (and Brooklyn native) Val C. wrote in about the "Sports Girlfriend Challenge," which was broached in the last mailbag column. According to Val, it should be a three-day affair (like the All-Star Break in pro sports) and include the following events:
"1. A gratuitous wrestling-in-a-pool-of-hot-oil event (from North African Road Rules, the most recent edition). Girls would not be judged on pure strength (I might lose) but on willingness to use low down dirty tactics (biting, scratching, pretending Brad Pitt just walked by) and how willing they were to lose their tops in the name of winning.
"2. A steak cooking/eating competition (she's got to be able to cook raw meat -- that's a deal breaker) followed by a beer chugging competition, with only solitary bathroom runs allowed (no doubles). Bonus points awarded for beer you can't see through.
"3. The following day, there would be a hangover plagued sports movie marathon/identification contest. Extra points awarded for getting 'chick flick' trivia questions wrong. That would be quickly followed by a Showering/Getting Ready/Putting on Makeup competition (quickest time wins).
"4. The second evening includes watching an important playoff game while Ben Affleck/Jason Sehorn lookalikes are paraded around the bar in an attempt to distract girls from the game. A 20-question quiz follows game -- just to make sure the girls were paying attention. Points are deducted if they answer cell calls or talk too much during the game.
"5. The final day explores each girl's ability to have sex in the shower/standing up/with the lights on. (Body issues abound if she can't do it with the lights on -- the rest is just for testing sexual drive and creativity.)
"And, as a woman, I think that would be an interesting compeitition and only slightly skewed in my favor. Good luck to all."
(Yup ... these are my readers. Part 2 coming tomorrow.)
Bill Simmons writes three columns a week for Page 2.
You might recognize Dave Wannstedt from his role in "Weekend at Bernie's."