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. And as always, thanks to everyone who takes the time to send in something.

On to the e-mails ...

Jason Voorhees
You're not going to kill Jason Voorhees if you're not wearing pants.

Who is your favorite generic idiot character to hate in the "Friday the 13th" series of "films"? Is it the "Act Like a Big Shot Guy," who just can't turn his back fast enough when Jason is down and looks dead? Or the "Fat Guy," who thinks hiding is a good idea after he spots Voorhees. Or the "Guy With a Gun," who shoots nowhere other than at Jason's chest (aim for the face, moron!). Or the "Usually Hot Woman," who thinks that it is her boyfriend playing a trick on her after she hears a noise in the woods.

Or my personal favorite -- the "Scared Woman," who sends the guy she is sleeping with out to check on the sound that only she heard. She basically writes that guy's death certificate when she does that, especially when the guy is stupid enough to investigate for any crazed murderers in the house without wearing pants. You are not stopping Jason Voorhees if you're not wearing any pants.

There are countless others, like the "Guy Who Can't Start His Car in the Clutch," but I feel these are the ones who really make you hope that Jason has his pickax handy. And just one other thing, does Jason give off the medical condition "Chronic Falling Down Syndrome"? Because the number of people who fall down when chased by Jason is uncanny. Truly uncanny. -- Cam Allen, Ontario

SG: Maybe my favorite e-mail of the past eight months. I love this job sometimes. Anyway, you left out the "Hot Chick," who comes back to the summer house at 10:30 at night, finds everyone inexplicably missing even though all the lights are on ... so she decides that it would be the perfect time to hop in the shower. Or the "Not Quite As Hot Chick," who decides to go skinny-dipping by herself at night, even though 40 to 50 people have been randomly murdered at Candlewood Lake over the past few summers.

But at gunpoint, I think I hate the "Guy Who Can't Start His Car In the Clutch." First of all, you should never get in your car when Voorhees is chasing after you because it's never going to start. Second of all, you can always outrun him because he refuses to walk faster than a brisk pace ... so you don't even need a car. And third, even if you end up starting the car in time, he's going to climb on the back and somehow remain attached to the automobile, even as you're swerving along the road at 45 mph.

So just start running, don't look back, don't hide and don't stop. There's no way he can catch up. That's my advice.

How come NBA fans (like you) have such an inferiority complex that they must take the opportunity to rip the college game whenever they get the chance? It's as if they're jealous that their version of the game is placed squarely on the back burner for a full month every year, while the drudgery of an 82-game season continues. It's a very easy target when the championship game was so lackluster, but games like Duke-Indiana and Maryland-UConn (easily the best basketball game played in the past year) don't get jotted down. We all know you're an NBA fan, but is it really necessary to try and prop up the league by ripping college ball? -- D. Meyer, Ancaster, Ontario

Juan Dixon
The quality of play in the NCAA final between Maryland and Indiana was sorely lacking.

SG: First of all, he's right: Maryland-UConn and Duke-Indiana were immensely entertaining. But we used to have eight or 10 games like those during March Madness every year; now we only have one or two. And some fans still cling to this notion, which drives me insane, that the college game is a better brand of basketball than the pro game.

For instance, during the Indiana-Maryland game, Billy Packer and Jim Nantz kept calling the play "sloppy," which would indicate that both teams were capable of playing an aesthetically pleasing game. Gimme a break. There wasn't one player on the court who was a potential NBA starter. Not one. Think back to Kentucky's team from 1996 (Walker, Delk, Anderson, McCarty, Mercer), or even the early-'90s (Stacey Augmon & Larry Johnson for UNLV, the Fab Five for Michigan, Christian Laettner and Grant Hill for Duke). It's amazing how the quality of play has deteriorated over the past five years -- because nine out of 10 blue-chippers head right to the pros -- and nobody seems to care.

Let's face it: The NBA has ravaged college hoops. When a team as limited as Indiana makes the championship game simply because it's draining 3s, it's practically a cry for help. Why not just stage a 3-point shooting contest to decide the national title? Other than dunking, breasts and female coaches walking awkwardly in high heels, is there a discernable difference between men's college basketball and women's college basketball anymore?

Can't the NBA impose an age limit of 20 or older? Please? Pretty please?

Why is it that all video footage from spring training games looks like it's shot by some 75-year-old retired Floridian whose only camera experience is documenting the annual family reunion? Your favorite player blasts a home run in spring training, and the only footage available to SportsCenter involves a camera panning hopelessly across the sky in search of the ball (never coming close to finding it), followed by a violent jerk back to the diamond to show the player trotting around the bases. I feel like this is a conspiracy to convince fans that spring training really doesn't matter ... it just doesn't make sense. There has to be some reason, right? -- Bryan Ricchetti

SG: I always thought the baseball cameramen used spring training to get in shape, like it took them four weeks of games just to figure out how to follow a home run in the air. Maybe I'm crazy.

Jules Asner
Asner

Brooke Burke
Burke

Please address the raging debate among males of our generation: Brooke Burke or Jules Asner? -- Rich Hogan, Belmont, N.Y.

SG: Puh-leeze. I get this question all the time. Jules Asner isn't in Brooke Burke's class. I will not argue about this. It's like comparing Ray Allen to Kobe Bryant.

Every year in our fantasy leagues we have a couple of guys who draft terrible teams and end up absentee owners by midseason. This year we decided to impose a penalty on whoever finishes in the bottom two spots (because they gave up). Suggestions have ranged anywhere from $50 fines to being required to have your picture taken while wearing an "I Love Child Porn" T-shirt and a Pirates cake hat (a copy of this photo would, of course, be sent to every other member of the league). Any suggestions as to how we can get these guys to play the entire season? -- Chris Anderson, Cleveland

SG: It's simple: Head to the convenience store, take the subscription cards out of as many to feminine magazines as possible (Allure, Cosmo, Jane, etc.), then sign them up for about 12 subscriptions and check the "Bill me later" box on every card. This never fails.

Shame on you ... how can you write Pedro off after one start? What's the matter with you? -- Bob G, Dracut, Mass.

SG: Some Sox fans misinterpreted that column because the original headline ("Eulogy For Pedro") made it seem like I was giving up on him. In fact, I never mentioned that I was giving up on Pedro anywhere in that piece (we changed the headline).

Pedro Martinez
Pedro Martinez will test the free agent market after this season.

Hey, nobody's writing him off. The fact remains that he hasn't looked like the old Pedro since May 2001. The second half of last year was a complete waste, he looked totally rattled in spring training, and Opening Day was an unequivocal disaster. So it wasn't just "one start" -- this has been going on for 10 months. To pretend it's simply a "funk" is just foolish. He looks scared to death out there.

I wrote that column to celebrate the end of an incredible run, not to bury the guy. He isn't invincible anymore. He isn't dominant anymore. He doesn't carry himself with that same swagger anymore. For instance, when Larry Bird started battling heel/back problems in the late-'80s, no matter how badly he was playing, he never lost that swagger, and he always believed that he was the best player on the court, even if that wasn't the case. But Pedro went from saying things like "Wake up the Bambino -- maybe I'll drill him in the ass" to saying "You can't expect me to be the same way all the time or the same way I used to be" (which he told the Herald last week). For somebody who evolved into a superhero in Boston over the past four years, it has been a jarring turn of events.

So here was my point: Regardless of what happens from this point on, that hot streak from 1997-2001 has to be considered kaput. Even if Pedro recaptures his old magic, Red Sox fans will always secretly be hoping that he can just stay healthy, instead of just enjoying the fact that he's kicking butt. So he's moving into another phase of his career; whether he remains as successful remains to be seen. Believe me, I hope he gets it back.

Why is it that you're not allowed to rip announcers? Is it actually in your contract? Is there some sort of libel thing there? -- Brad Lockhart

Here's the deal: The Powers That Be feel that, since I'm writing for a website owned by a TV network, it would be inappropriate for me to criticize announcers from other networks when I couldn't criticize people from ESPN. Needless to say, I don't agree. At all. And it's the toughest thing about this gig -- it's difficult to articulate the experience of being a sports fan when you aren't allowed to rip on announcers. That's half the fun about being a sports fan, isn't it?

For instance, I was practically having a conniption during March Madness because I couldn't comment on Billy Packer and Jim Nantz. Juan shining moment!!!!! Please, just shoot me in the head. At least Packer had enough moxie to rip the quality of play during the championship game ... even if he kept beating the same theme into the ground.

And what was with the relentless Masters promos? Or what about CBS running a 10-Minute Ticker when no other games were happening? Or the relentless promos for "Baby Bob," a 2023 "E True Hollywood Story" waiting to happen? Hey, here's a good idea -- let's show Juan Dixon's brother again ... we haven't seen him in almost three minutes. I could go on all day. This won't stay in the column, anyway.

There should be an Oscar for "Movies that most needed a nude scene." My top three: Sarah Michelle Gellar in "Cruel Intentions," Cindy Crawford in "Fair Game," and Jennifer Love Hewitt in every movie she has ever been in. What are your top three? -- Steve, Austin

Neve Campbell
There's plenty of skin in "Wild Things," but not much of it belongs to Neve Campbell, left.

SG: Enjoyed all your suggestions. I would add these: Neve Campbell in "Wild Things"; every Lauren Holly movie; Talia Shire in "Rocky III"; Mitch's older sister in "Dazed and Confused"; Helen Slater in "Legend of Billie Jean"; every Bond girl in every Bond movie; Nicollette Sheridan in "The Sure Thing"; Christie Brinkley in "Vacation"; Brooke Shields in "The Blue Lagoon" and Natalie Portman in "Beautiful Girls."

(That last one was a joke ... seriously. Please don't arrest me.)

I also think we should flip the question -- "Movies that definitely didn't need a nude scene" -- just so we can include Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction," Goldie Hawn in "Wildcats," Meg Ryan in "The Doors" and every Ellen Barkin movie.

Did you get a chance to watch Wrestlemania 18? My friends and I almost fell out of our seats when Hogan started "Hulking up." -- Michael Conti, College Park, Md.

SG: For all the nonwrestling fans reading this, feel free to skip to the next question. No hard feelings.

Anyway, I thought the Hogan-Rock match was just tremendous, one of the five great wrestling matches of the past 20 years. There was a predictable backlash among the wrestling smarts after that match (the "Yeah, it was good, but it wasn't that good" routine), led by wrestling guru Dave Meltzer (who awarded the match just 3½ stars out of five). Sure, the moves weren't that polished and the structure of the match was a little predictable, but the naysayers were missing the point. Watching it live, that match was incredibly dramatic, for a number of reasons:

  • The crowd was beside itself from the moment both guys came out. I can't even remember the last time I heard a wrestling crowd make noise like that -- you might have to harken back to Mick Foley winning the WWF title a few years ago. I always thought the greatest crowd I ever heard was when Sergeant Slaughter beat the Iron Sheik in a Boot Camp match at MSG about 20 years ago, but the SkyDome crowd last month came pretty darned close.

  • Watching two generations of wrestling collide, then watching the crowd turn on Rock and cheer Hogan ... you couldn't believe it was happening when you were watching it live. Nobody thought the Hulkster would win a Charisma Litmus Test with the most popular wrestler in the world.

  • When Hogan started "Hulking up" near the end of the match ... I mean, that was TREEEEE-mendous. The nostalgia factor was off the charts. I felt like I was 13 again.

  • You honestly didn't know how the match would end. I had no clue. That never happens with wrestling anymore. 99.9999999% of the time, I know exactly what's going to happen. And when the match finally ended, I immediately called my buddy Gus just to ask him, "Did you see that?" So anything that passes the "I Have To Call One Of My Buddies Immediately To Discuss What Just Happened" Test has to warrant five stars, in my book.

    Of course, the WWF ended up botching the post-match angle. Here's what they should have done: Made Hogan depressed that he lost to The Rock, like he was doubting himself and wondering if he had anything left ... kept him from wrestling for a few weeks, like he was going through one of those "Rocky after Mickey died" funks ... then slowly built his comeback with a nostalgic, Lemieux-, MJ-esque, "Former superduperstar trying to win the title one last time" routine. And they could have had him wrestling for the title like 10 times; each time, something could have happened that screwed up a victory for him (somebody running in, the ref missing a three-count, the ref getting knocked out, etc.). I'm telling you, this would have worked. By the time he finally won the title, the fans would have gone bonkers.

    Instead, in classic WWF fashion, they overexposed him early, quickly made him a Good Guy and put him in the ring as much as possible. It doesn't get any dumber than the WWF. Back in the old days, they would milk these things for the optimum dramatic value -- now they rush through plots and angles in a matter of hours. Really pisses me off.

    (End of wrestling talk -- you can now rejoin the program.)

    After watching the first few episodes of MTV's hilarious "The Osbournes," would you agree that Ozzy Osbourne has now joined Rickey Henderson as the only two people to rate a perfect 100 out of 100 on the Unintentional Comedy Scale. -- Arthur S., Atlanta

    Ozzy Osbourne
    Ozzy Osbourne's son, Jack, definitely deserves his own series.

    SG: Absolutely. The episode when the family was talking about Jack's camping trip and how Jack had to "feed a tree" before he fed himself, so Ozzy responded, "Feed a tree? What do you, put a f---ing ham sandwich next to it?"... well, that cinched it for me.

    But don't count out Jack Osbourne (Ozzy's son) in this discussion. This is the same kid who took part in the following exchange (I'm paraphrasing):

      Nanny: "How was the camping trip?"

      Jack: "Everyone hated me. I got in trouble for swearing at the teachers and throwing rocks at the other kids."

      Nanny: "Did you have fun at least?"

      Jack (thinking): "I had fun throwing rocks at the other kids."

    Now that's comedy. MTV needs to give Jack $100,000 so he can start his own record label, then record every second of the proceedings. I'm not suggesting this, I'm demanding it.

    I totally agree with you about baseball jumping the shark ... my real concern is the opening line of your column, "I found this out while reading Sports Illustrated's baseball preview in the bathtub this weekend." What the hell is this? The bathtub? -- Andrew Rush, New York

    I have a bad back. It's the bane of my existence. And since we can't afford a whirlpool here at the Sports Guy Mansion, only bathtubs can loosen up my back when it's stiff. Hey, it's either that or I could pull a Matthew Perry and start popping Vicodins ... and then we'd end up with my weight fluctuating by 40 pounds from week to week. Nobody would want that.

    Who would be your Top 5 celebrity closers for blackjack and why? Would Robert Patrick from "Terminator 2" be No. 1? -- George Vellios, Brooklyn, N.Y.

    SG: I assume you mean this as "Blackjack dealers you would never want to see if your table was hot," which means the list would have to include Robert Patrick (but only if he's dressed as a police officer), Ron Artest, Paulie Walnuts, the killer from "Silent Rage," Michael Richards, Suge Knight, Robbie Ftorek and Lucy Liu. I would rank Suge Knight first and Lucy second. Suge Knight scares the hell out of me. In fact, I'm even afraid to finish this paragraph.

    Flipping this question around, the celebrity blackjack dealers I would most want to see? George Wendt. I just don't think anyone could lose at a blackjack table with a gregarious fat guy dealing cards. It's impossible. That's why no casino ever hires them.

    Bill Simmons writes three columns a week for Page 2.



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