By Bill Simmons
Page 2 columnist
As always, these are actual e-mails from readers ... I edited for space and threw in some additional comments when necessary. And while we're here, thanks to everyone who takes the time to write an e-mail and send it along.
Repeat after me, Dirk Nowitzki er wird Den Sprung gemach.
Here we go ... Steve from Marblehead, Mass., wonders, "How can Mike Tyson not score a perfect 100 on your Unintentional Comedy Scale? Was he just overlooked, or are you trying to keep the UCS 100 percent winners to nonconvicted felons?"
(A few people wondered about this. I didn't give Tyson the perfect 100 because he's so beaten down and hostile; he just seems to have a death wish at this point. For instance, when Dikembe Mutombo is speaking, I'm laughing -- there are no mitigating factors whatsoever. But watching Tyson can be a downright depressing experience -- sometimes he seems so hopeless that you can't help but feel sorry for him. With that said, he definitely edges into triple figures from time to time. Like with last week's press conference to promote the Lewis fight.) You knew this was coming: Reader John Breeden offers the German translation for the sentence "Dirk Nowitzki has made The Leap" -- "Er wird Den Sprung gemacht." Now it's up to Dan Patrick to spout that out during his next SportsCenter appearance. Let's move to the third quarter ... Nowitzki from 3 ... ER WIRD DEN SPRUNG GEMACHT! My favorite NBA-related e-mail of the past few weeks, courtesy of Craig in Northern Virginia: "I attended a Wizards-Mavericks game last Sunday and noticed something very disturbing: Mark Cuban hovers over every Mavericks huddle from behind the bench. I find this even more disconcerting, considering the experience that the Mavs have on their bench in Don Nelson and Del Harris. It was almost as if Cuban expected Nelly to turn around and say, 'Mark, I've been an NBA coach for 25 years, and I have three All-Stars on the floor, but frankly I'm stumped on this one. Do you want to draw up a play?' Ridiculous. When will owners realize that teams just need their money, and that's it?" Two more e-mails riffing on WWF announcer Jim Ross (I never get tired of these jokes):
1. From Maine's Matt Seaver: "I just got back from a showing of 'The Scorpion King' -- now I'm hoping that the DVD will feature a full-length commentary with Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler doing play-by-play for the entire film. It would fit too perfectly! 'Oh my God! That's Memnon's music! No! He's wearing nWo colors! All hell's about to break loose!' Can you make this happen?"
2. From Arthur S. in Atlanta: "I want to weigh in on the 'Chair Shots as a part of everyday life' idea. During the Opening Ceremony of the Salt Lake City Olympics, Sting & cellist Yo Yo Ma were playing a duet out in the middle of the stadium. Wouldn't it have been the funniest thing in the history of mankind if Yo Yo Ma just stood up & bashed Sting over the head with his cello in the middle of this song? I can just see him standing there with a demented smile on his face, smashing the cello to bits over Sting's lifeless body, while Jim Ross screams in the background, 'My God, Yo Yo Ma has lost his mind!'"
(I loved that one. Speaking of Ross, my buddy Gus has a suggestion to spruce up the hockey playoffs -- during one OT playoff game every spring, one defenseman should be designated to "turn" on his own team, but fans wouldn't know which defenseman it was. Let's say they picked Chris Chelios this season. He would be holding the puck behind his net in triple OT, then suddenly he could swing around and slam the puck into his own net as Ross screamed, "Noooooo! Nooooooo! What is Chris Chelios doing? My God!!!" The best part would be watching all the NHL playoff games and waiting for one of the defenseman to turn heel -- it would add an insane level of tension and suspense to every game. And no, Gus wasn't drunk when he came up with this idea.) Megan from Boston solves the "Time Conversion Chart" question that was mentioned in my previous mailbag: "When a man tells a woman that there are five minutes left in the game, that's the same amount of time as when a woman tells a man that she'll be ready in five minutes." Brilliant. Wish I had thought of that two weeks ago.
Once more from the top, let's revisit the Ewing Theory.
Billy from New York is confused: "I recently read your Ewing Theory, and something is bothering me. You said teams like the Knicks should improve after losing a superstar? Well, how does that explain this year's Knicks season? Is your theory flawed, or is there a reason the theory isn't working?"
(You misunderstood. The Ewing Theory only works when three things are in play: 1) the team hasn't won anything, 2) the superstar involved isn't nearly as good as everyone thinks, and 3) when the superstar finally leaves, everyone writes the team off and thinks they're finished. When Patrick Ewing left the Knicks, he didn't have anything left in the tank; there wasn't anyone saying, "Good God, how can the Knicks win without Patrick Ewing?" So they don't qualify. For more details, read the original column. And while we're here, is anyone else rooting for C-Webb to sprain is ankle, followed by the Kings rolling past the Lakers?) JP from Santa Barbara asks, "For all of the 'contemplation' and 'soul-searching' by 'The Bachelor,' didn't it really just come down to picking the girl with the best rack?"
Yup ... pretty much. Indiana's Eddie Abel writes in, "I have another addition to your list of sports faces. What about the Isiah Thomas 'I Don't Really Know What I'm Doing When I Coach Face'? You know the one I'm talking about, after the Pacers have blown a 15-point lead with 10 minutes left, and Thomas just stands there, with his hand on his chin, looking lost. Maybe he's thinking about the way he's running a team loaded with talent into the ground, while the man they chose him over, Rick Carlisle, is winning with Jerry Stackhouse and spare parts in Detroit. Could the Pacers have possibly made a worse decision in hiring Thomas over Carlisle?"
Reader Geoff Folsom adds, "Shouldn't someone give Isiah Thomas a 'Grand Slam of Failure' trophy? He must be the first guy to be a disaster as general manager, broadcaster, league commissioner and coach."
(Now that's a pretty good point. Even Magic Johnson couldn't pull off the Grand Slam. Uncharted waters for Thomas. And I'm glad someone noticed his cigar store Indian routine on the sidelines -- sometimes it doesn't even look like he's breathing. As a Celtics fan, I'm just hoping the Pacers keep bringing him back -- that team has too much talent. They need a coach like Thomas to even things out.)
Pedro Martinez is ready to go back inside the diner and kick some butt.
Chris from Boston had the following reaction to my Pedro Martinez column last month: "Just after reading your column about Pedro and wiping the tears out of my eyes, I realized one extremely important aspect that you left out of your 'Superman 2' analogy. At the end of the movie, Superman gets his powers back, and goes back to the diner and kicks the crap out of the trucker who had beaten him up. This alone proves to me two things: No. 1, there is at least one '80s movie moment that applies to every situation that occurs in life, and No. 2, there is plenty of reason to hope that Pedro will be back to normal soon, because if Clark Kent can do it, then why can't Pedro?"
Absolutely. Hope you're right. Speaking of that Pedro column, Sox fan Edward Gordon writes, "Shame on you for writing that you hoped that similar accents were where the comparisons started and ended with Grady Little and Forrest Gump. Everything Forrest Gump touched turned to gold! Goes to Alabama, becomes a football star. Heads to Vietnam, wins Congressional Medal of Honor. Takes up pingpong, becomes a world champ and scores a trip to China. Comes home, goes on TV and meets John Lennon. Takes over a broken-down shrimp boat and builds a multimillion-dollar business out of it. Starts running, and starts a movement. Marries the love of his life -- loses her tragically -- but still has a gifted son to share his life with.
"Bottom line: this franchise would love it if every stupid move Grady Little made turned into gold. It'd be just like having Jimy Williams back."
(And those words have proven prophetic ... at least so far.) Questions that couldn't be answered:
1. From Rico Andrade: "How come all crime investigations in movies include a trip to a strip joint?"
2. From AJ May: "Why do tennis players always dribble the ball before they serve?"
3. From Zach Russo: "If French Stewart and Renee Zellweger had a child, would that kid be blind?"
4. From Danella N: "Why does everything on the Spanish channel look like porn with the sex scenes edited out?"
5. From Mark de la Vergne: "In your recent article about Tampa Bay, you made a sarcastic comment about the Devil Dogs selling tickets like hot cakes. Don't you think a hot cakes store would be like money in the bank? I mean they would just fly out of the store and the owner would be a very rich man." Andover's David Washburn stumped me with this one: "Do you have any idea what 'piece of hitting' means? ESPN's Harold Reynolds used this phrase three times in a recent Yankees-A's telecast, and Tim McCarver probably holds the record for most consecutive games using 'piece of hitting' to describe a base hit. You would never hear this phrase in any other sport. 'Oh, what a great piece of driving by Jeff Gordon,' or, 'That was some piece of bowling by Parker Bohn III.'" Remember when I wrote the bit about a line of throwback jerseys for colossal busts and disgraced athletes, and I mentioned a Yinka Dare jersey? Well, I'm not sure what this means, but Yinka's jersey generated two e-mails:
The Yinka Dare throwback jersey, available soon at The Sports Guy's online store.
1. Josh Madden: "I go to the University of Maryland and I was sitting in a bagel restaurant when a young man walked in with a Nets jersey. It was an old one -- all blue with the red numbers ... the kid walked by and it said 'Dare' on the back. My knees literally buckled and I lost my breath. I could not stop laughing at the kid."
2. Michael O'Connor: "I nearly lost it when I read your idea that a Yinka Dare jersey would sell like hot cakes because I saw one -- no lie -- at Antoine Walker bobblehead night. I was waiting for my brother across from that McDonald's as you walk into the FleetCenter when I see some guy walking in with one of those ugly gray Nets jerseys with the No. 45. Now I understand when a team does well, you see their jerseys around. But you see the stars such as Martin (6), Kidd (5) even Van Horn or Kittles. I usually know stupid stuff like who wears what number for no reason at all, but I drew a complete blank on the Nets 45 as I waited for the guy to pass me so I could read the back. And there it was ... DARE." Corrections to my most blatant screw-ups from the past few weeks: 1) In "Rounders," Famke Janssen was collecting $7,000 from Mike McD for the Chesterfield (not Teddy KGB); 2) Jason Voorhees tormented the camp counselors at Crystal Lake (not Candlewood Lake); 3) I forgot that Julia Stiles and Josh Hartnett have appeared in a movie together ("O"); 4) For the chick flick award in the Anti-Oscars, I meant "The Wedding Planner," not "The Wedding Singer"; 5) Pau Gasol is 21 years old (not 19). As always, please remember that I'm an idiot. More reader suggestions for words that only seem to be used in specific phrases: Bane ("bane of existence"); scantily ("scantily clad"); ballyhooed ("much-ballyhooed"); crafty (*crafty left-hander"); tenacious ("tenacious defense"); kindred ("kindred spirit"); inveterate ("inveterate gambler"); palpable ("palpable tension"); veritable ("veritable cornucopia"); wreak ("wreak havoc"); gamut ("running the gamut"); exorbitant ("exorbitant amount"); brimming ("brimming with confidence").
Reader Eugene Kalinsky adds my favorite of the bunch: "Another word that can only be used in one sense: 'stave,' as in 'the Lakers stave off elimination.' Have you ever even heard anyone use that word elsewhere? 'Wow!, Look at Jimmy stave off that bear!'" Adam from Chicago points out, "Suppose that the Grizzlies draft Duke's Jason Williams -- they would then have two guys with the same name playing the same position. Think about the hilarity that would ensue as sportswriters and sportscasters tried to differentiate between them without referring to race."
Yao Ming as a Memphis Grizzly has to happen.
(I'll go this far: Before Jason changed his name to Jay Williams, I thought the league would have to step in and prevent the Grizz from taking Williams. It would have been too damn confusing. But in any case, I want them to end up with Yao Ming -- the thought of a 7-foot-5 Chinese guy in Memphis seems so bizarre that it's almost destined to happen. Can you imagine that starting five? White Chocolate, Lorenzen Wright, Gasol, Ming and a very confused, disoriented Shane Battier? That's the most eclectic starting five in the history of the league. Definitely needs to happen.) My "Dumb things to gamble on" riff in the last mailbag generated more than a few e-mails. Maybe my favorite was the guy who wrote in describing his "Pick the Next Pope" pool. That sounded like fun. Three gambling alternatives for baseball that I neglected to mention in that column (multiple readers mentioned them):
1. The Batter Game -- Let's say you have four people at the game, each of whom puts a $1 bill in an empty souvenir cup. If Batter No. 1 gets a single, Person No. 1 puts another dollar in the cup. If Batter No. 1 gets a double, Person No. 1 puts $2 in. A triple, $3. A homer, $4. After Batter No. 1 finishes his at-bat, Batter No. 2 comes up ... so Person No. 2 holds the cup. And you go from there. But when the home team comes up, you can take out money from the cup that corresponds to how your batters did. If you're holding the cup during a homer, you get everything in the cup, and the whole thing starts over. And when the game ends, the person holding the cup gets whatever's left. It's not as complicated as it sounds; just make sure everyone brings plenty of ones.
2. The Mound Game -- Everyone throws in $5 ... the person on the far left gets to hold it for the top half of the first. At the end of the half-inning, somebody will roll the ball on the mound, but it usually rolls off. Usually. If the ball somehow stays on the mound, the person holding the money gets to keep it. If it rolls off the mound, the person passes the money to his right. And this continues until that magical moment when the ball somehow remains on the mound. Sounds dumb? I'm telling you, it's the gift of excitement that keeps on giving. You'll see.
3. The Homer Game -- Let's say you have three people at the game. Eighteen half-innings are in a game, so you hold a draft and "pick" half-innings -- top of the first, bottom of the fourth, top of the seventh, your buddy gets three other half-innings, and so on. Each of you will end up with six half-innings. When your half-inning comes up, you get $5 for every homer that happens in that half-inning. If someone hits a grand slam, that's worth $10. So at the end of the game, if you had four homers in your innings and your buddies had two apiece, they each owe you $10. Make sense? Kudos to reader Ben Bernetson for mentioning Reggie Cleveland as the best possible example of my "you think a random baseball player is black and they turn out to be white, or vice versa" phenomenon (described in the last Ramblings, about Sidney Ponson and Marcus Giles). That e-mail prompted me to rename the list "The Reggie Cleveland Group." Some other examples sent in by readers: Ricky Proehl, Shavlik Randolph, Herbert Perry, Tony Massenburg, Trot Nixon, Brooks Robinson, Johnny Damon, Harmon Killebrew, Darin Erstad, Jarrod Washburn, and, of course, Troy O'Leary.
DG from Chicago "Woke Up in Love This Morning" ... with Shirley Jones.
Yes, I know Lisa Lopes died in that fiery car crash, less than 24 hours after I mentioned her name in a Ramblings column. You can stop e-mailing me about it. Illinois' Kevin P even asked, "For the sake of mankind, could you make a mention of Carrot Top in your next Ramblings column? Or Pauly Shore. 'Preciate it."
Ouch. From our good buddy The Baseball Crank: "I can't believe you did a two-part Oscars column without addressing the most horrifying event of 2001: After a decade-plus reign as Hollywood's hottest woman that never landed her a decent part in a decent movie, Jennifer Connelly gets a key role in a big-name film that lands her an Oscar ... just as she turns skinny, flat-chested and blah. It was like Pete Maravich with the Celtics, or Kevin Appier with the A's: She finally escapes to the big time after years of wasting her talents in backwaters, and the magic is gone."
(Couldn't agree more. My mom even called me during the Oscars to ask if Connelly had a double mastectomy. Could somebody grill this girl a cheeseburger, please?) Speaking of hot chicks, DG from Chicago is headed straight to hell: "I saw a show this weekend with host Shirley Jones of 'Partridge Family' fame and realized I was still strangely attracted to her. It got me thinking, are there any 60-plus actresses you would still 'throw down' with?"
(Well, I might as well join him. I always had a thing for Alyssa Milano's grandmother in "Who's the Boss?" She was a hottie.) New York's Gabe Bevilacqua writes, "Watching the Sixers-Celtics series, I simply coudn't get enough of the Derick Coleman-Antoine Walker matchup -- two big guys who have zero-point-zero interest in being anywhere inside the 3-point arc. I envision a seven-game, one-on-one, pay-per-view event starring the two of them, which would boil down to them checking the ball to each other, dribbling once or twice, and then launching a 3-pointer before arguing over who had to chase down the rebound. I can see DC occasionally trying to back Walker down, but this would likely be followed by a gentlemanly "I'll just dribble outside the 3-point arc for four minutes so we can catch our breaths" gesture from Walker. Do you think there might a market for this?" More NBA-bashing from Vinny in San Fran: "Are there two NBA players who disappear faster in the playoffs, especially the last four minutes, than Karl Malone and Chris Webber? Watching Game 4 with my buddy from Sac, we both started a 'countdown to meltdown' on which 'star' would destruct his team first. Webber started short-arming jumpers and Karl was dishing to Ostertag for a turnover within minutes. Which begs the question ... If Karl Malone and Chris Webber were pitted against each other in the one-on-one championships, would either of them score in the last four minutes?"
Jennifer Connelly, apparently in the midst of her hunger strike, arrives for the Golden Globes.
(Wow ... I can't even begin to answer that one. But the Webber-Malone comparisons work splendidly. It's almost like the Gag Torch was passed in Round One of this year's playoffs. They should have given one another the Heimlich maneuver just to cement the deal. Also, I loved the Walker-DC pay-per-view game -- I would definitely pay $49.95 for that one, as long as Tom Chambers was the guest referee.) Following Derek Lowe's no-hitter two weeks ago, dozens of readers wrote in demanding that I should officially retire the Derek Lowe Face. Absolutely. Consider it retired. There hasn't been a turnaround this improbable since the '69 Mets. R. Bodenburg asks, "When did 'Beverly Hills, 90210' jump the shark?" That's a question that pops into my mailbox all the time because of the constant "90210" references in my columns (hey, I can't help it, it's my favorite show). "90210" nearly jumped during the gang's senior year in college, but it rebounded for one last solid season (the first year out of college) before finally jumping when Brandon and Kelly called off their wedding at the last second ... which led to Brandon leaving, Dylan's disturbing comeback and entire episodes revolving around Steve Sanders. As Howard Cosell would say, "That was it, right there!" That reminds me, Jersey's Rob Grundlock suggests, "For your consideration when you get your own TV network -- a return of 'The $100,000 Pyramid,' but with sports stars such as Rickey Henderson, Derek Bell (Operation Shutdown would be in effect), Dikembe Mutombo, Larry Brown, any Canadian-born hockey player and Mike Tyson. Trying to guess words from clues from that group would be impossible. Good TV though."
(Agreed. I also think Moses Malone should fill the Dick Clark role as emcee/host. And Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf has to be involved somehow. And John Rocker. And Carl Everett. Other than that, I think you're on to something here.)
(Yup ... these are my readers ...)
Bill Simmons writes three columns a week for Page 2. Sometimes he even writes three columns in the same week.