One note: I wouldn't have had a problem running a mailbag that was more than 5,000 words, but unfortunately, my editors have to plow through this thing and I didn't want any of them to kill themselves or have dangerous flashbacks to the Gregg Easterbrook Era. So I pulled out an NBA question that we'll run on my page later this week. As for everything else, as always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers:
Q: Congrats on your baby, looking forward to seeing her walking across the stage at the 2028 WNBA draft.
Brett, Gaithersburg, Md.
SG: Thank you.
Q: Congrats on the kid. I look forward to seeing her on The Simple Life 25.
Kevin, Hollywood, Calif.
SG: Thanks. Thanks so much.
Q: Did you injure anything jumping on Danica Patrick's bandwagon this weekend?
Jerry T., Roanoke, Va.
SG: I wrenched my neck a little but that was about it. Actually, my dad and stepmom were in town this weekend, and since my stepmom is a raging feminist, every time they showed the inside of Patrick's car, I muted the volume on the TV and pretended I was Patrick talking to her pit crew: "Look, I told you, I'm going as fast as I can! I can't drive when you're talking to me!!! Stop telling me how to drive!!! I'm going to pull over and get out right now, I swear to God!" That was more fun than the actual race.
(Come on, somebody has to make these jokes.)
Q: My favorite rule in basketball is when a player is fouled and ejected, then the other team chooses someone from the bench to shoot the free throws for him (like when Kendrick Perkins nearly lost Game 6 of the Pacers-Celtics series). I can only hope that happens to the Pistons and Darko has to come and shoot free throws to save the season. That would be amazing drama.
Matt Gallagher, Jersey City, N.J.
SG: As well as poetic justice if it happened against the team that ended up with Dwyane Wade, right? Look, I'm for anything that involves Darko. When TNT or ESPN is showing these Detroit playoff games, I think NBA TV should be simulcasting Darko's reactions on the bench for 150 straight minutes. Come on, you wouldn't occasionally flick over to the Darko Cam during a Pistons game, just to see what he was up to? Hey, look, Rasheed Wallace is telling him jokes! Hey look, Darko just fell asleep he's so cute! Count me in for at least 30 Darko Cam visits per game.
Which reminds me, now that we have a general idea of Wade's ceiling as a player, here's my question: if you were a Pistons fan with access to a time machine, and you could travel back in time to convince Joe Dumars to select Wade over Darko ... would you do it? Would you give up everything that happened in the 2004 championship season for the possibility of multiple championships with Wade (as well as the chance to watch him for 12-15 years)? Or would you keep the 2004 title and hope Darko turns into a player? My guess is that more Pistons fans would keep the title. But you never know. These are the questions that should be on the front page of ESPN.com.
Q: Do you think that a Pistons game would improve if Darko sat there in a clown costume? Rasheed Wallace laughs every time he gets in the game anyway, and the clown gimmick would be fun to watch. If necessary, Darko could take off the costume to enter games, but the makeup would stay on. This would improve the ends of blowouts, keep people at the game and give ESPN lots to talk about. My buddy and I came up with this idea, just wondered what you would think.
John, Las Vegas
SG: All right, now there might be a few more Pistons fans leaning toward the time machine and Wade. Cancel that poll. By the way, I love that it took two people to come up with that question.
Q: I was watching the final of "The Contender" when my wife made the observation, "Jesse Brinkley is way too hot to be married to that chubby girl." Without even thinking I blurted out, "Well, she probably didn't look like that when they got married." Somehow my wife took that comment to mean that I think she is getting fat. Are all women irrational or is it just my wife?
JT, River Vale, N.J.
SG: Nope. It's not just your wife. During Monday night's "Miss Universe" telecast, I had the following exchange with the Sports Gal:
Me: Wow, between Miss Venezuela and Miss Peru, I think we need to take our next vacation in South America.
Her: Very funny.
(Ten-second pause where you can hear their wheels turning as they slowly became angry.)
Her: "You know, you're enjoying this show WAY too much. I wish they had these shows with guys."
Me: "Yeah, but there's one difference."
Her: "What's that?"
Me: "I wouldn't watch a Mr. Universe show with you. In fact, I would rather kill myself."
(Five-second pause as they're totally flustered by a flawless, logical statement, followed by the obligatory obscenity.)
Q: Leftover "Survivor" question: What would you say is the sports equivalent of Ian absolutely collapsing down the stretch? Vegas would have pegged Ian the favorite since he's younger, probably needed the money more and was less condescending than Tom for much of the season. So what in the name of Jean Van de Velde happened to Ian during the final five days? Can you say 2004 Yankees? 1969 Cubs?
Matt, Marion, Iowa
SG: You need to remember one thing about Ian though: The guy trains dolphins for a living. So it was only a matter of time. I would compare his collapse to Grady Little hanging Pedro out to dry in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS devastating but ultimately not that surprising. Speaking of the Red Sox ...
Q: Is Dale Sveum the only man in sports that can make you feel like you're losing when you have a two-run lead?
Q: If you had to guess, how much is Steinbrenner paying Dale Sveum every year to coach third for the Sox?
Tom, New York City
Q: I'm currently watching Game 1 of the Memorial Day Sox-Yanks series, and I was just wondering ... can we start a petition to fire Dale Sveum or something? Can we put a hit out on him? Can we do something?!?! Can he see? Is he deranged? What's wrong with him? I need to know this or I won't be able to sleep.
David, Hockessin, Del.
Q: I live on the West Coast. And if someone doesn't put a hit on Dale Sveum sometime soon, I'm going to fly out to the East Coast and do the deed myself.
Jason Underwood, Portland, Ore.
SG: As you can see, we had a tie for the "Derogatory Dale Sveum e-mail of the week."
Q: Mr. Simmons,
Just want to let you know the Ewing Theory can be applied internationally. In the English Premier League, Everton is known as "the other team in Liverpool" mostly finishing middle of the table, never anything spectacular. They had this wunderkind, teenager Wayne Rooney who is supposed to be the next Michael Owen (let's say, equivalent to Dwyane Wade-type impact). But all this speculation of whether they are going to sell him to another team because they can't afford to pay him what he wants finally leads to his going to Manchester United, pre-Glazer. So what happens? Without their best player, they tear it up and wind up fourth, qualifying for the final Champions League tourney slot, edging out crosstown rival Liverpool. At some point, you may have to rename it the Ewing Axiom and collect your well-deserved Nobel Prize. Then you can go to your shed and find hidden codes in US Weekly.
Jack in Bangkok
SG: Um ... what just happened there?
Q: Are you a Bradley guy or a Muresan guy?
Chris, Norristown, Pa.
SG: I'm a Bradley guy, if only because he was once Shaq's answer to the question, "Shaq, who's the one player you could score 100 points against in a single game?" Nobody in the history of mankind has been dunked on more than him it's like the opposing players are sitting in the locker room before games saying, "All right, everyone throw in $500, first guy to dunk on Bradley gets the pot."
Q: I don't expect an entire column on "The O.C." season finale, but could you spare a few words on how you think they wrapped up this season?
Rachel, Seabrook, N.H.
SG: Okay, twist my arm. As usual, they rushed through the plots too fast, leading to the biggest mistake of the season: Seth's Mom developing a drinking problem and shattering the joint record of Alison Parker and Bailey Salinger for "Fastest drinking problem by a TV character on Fox." I knew we were in serious trouble when she found out her father died, and didn't even ask "How?" then dramatically grabbed her bottle and headed upstairs in slow-motion. That was one of those scenes where the actors needed to intervene and say, "No offense, but should we shoot an alternate ending? You know, just in case?"
Hey, every show of this ilk plays the drinking card at some point ("The OC" has already played it twice in 14 months), but if you're doing it, you need to get your money's worth. For instance, "Party of Five" pulled it off the best with Bailey, as he started dating an unredeeming bimbo and acting nasty to his friends totally out of character, but believable because he was assuming too big a parental role with his family. This led to the obligatory car crash where Jennifer Love Hewitt's breasts were almost injured, and everything cresting with the superb intervention episode that was so grueling, you needed a cigarette when it was over. Now that's how it's done. With "The OC," they squeezed Kirsten's intervention between the third and fourth commercial breaks, and she didn't even get a cool song from The Bravery or Zero 7 for the obligatory family hug. Wasted story line.
(By the way, just once I want to watch a show where somebody has a parent who drinks too much, only it doesn't affect the people around them and actually makes them more fun to be around. I know people like this. You know people like this. Why aren't they on TV?)
As for the other two big mistakes, both of which happened midway through the season ...
Mistake No. 1: Dumping Marissa's lesbian crush from the cast (Olivia Wilde). Let's see ... she was the best actress on the show ... every guy on the planet had a crush on her ... she had some untapped baggage that could have been interesting ... the whole "bisexual" angle could have had some major legs ... you know what? Let's dump her from the show entirely! Utterly inexplicable. I will bet anyone $100 that she's a bigger star than Mischa Barton five years from now.
Mistake No. 2: Seth's dad having an unconsummated flirtation with his old flame (played by a Botoxed-out Kim Delaney). There's nothing more frustrating than when a TV show creates a rock-solid character that you believe in, and then they have him do something stupid that completely undermines everything he was about. Sandy Cohen was the ultimate TV Dad, the good guy who came through when it mattered. Why tamper with that? Didn't they learn from the very special episode of "Family Ties" when Mr. Keaton (a Hall of Fame TV Dad, and one of the five most underrated characters ever) nearly did the mushroom dance with his new secretary? Once you cross that line, you can't go back.
Throw in the fact that Seth and Ryan still have another year of high school left, only they're starting to get that Ian Ziering "Maybe if we comb my hair forward, I won't look like I'm 30" thing going, and we could be in bad shape for Season 3. With that said, the addition of Ryan's brother for the last few episodes was excellent; the cliffhanger ending of the last episode worked about as well as you could expect; and any show that could come up with a story line as funny and creative as Julie Cooper's hidden porn tape deserves and demands a TiVo spot. I'm not giving up on "The OC" yet.
Q: If Mike Bibby and Miles Simon are walking down the street, does Bibby just pretend that he doesn't know Simon at this point?
SG: I think he gives him the "Yo, man, what's up?" and performs some sort of elaborate handshake with him, but he's walking away within 8 seconds.
Q: How much would you pay to see Stern walk up to the podium on Draft Night and say, "In the great tradition of Randy Breuer, Jack Sikma, Paul Mokeski, Frank Brickowski, Larry Krystkowiak and Marty Conlon, the Milwaukee Bucks select Andrew Bogut from the University of Utah"?
Jeff M., Eugene, Ore.
Q: As a native Wisconsinite, isn't it too perfect that the Bucks would get the first pick this year? When it comes to basketball, Milwaukee has forever been the home of the big white stiff. Benson. Mokeski. Breuer. Schayes. Lohaus. Brickowski. Przybilla. And, now, the legacy will be continued with Andrew Bogut. Going to Milwaukee, with its wonderful legacy, Bogut will not be able to escape his destiny as the next great white stiff.
Josh Herbst, Ithaca, N.Y.
SG: After receiving a slew of these e-mails last week (with 90-percent of them coming from the Milwaukee area), I'm actually rooting for the Bucks to take Bogut now, just for comedy's sake. Has an entire fan base ever been "Jets fans at the NFL Draft"-level angry after their team screwed up a No. 1 pick before? This has all the makings of the best draft in years. Imagine this interview on ESPN moments after Bogut goes No. 1:
Stu Scott: "Andrew, in the words of Jay Z, "You're twitchin', don't do that, you're making me nervous!"
Bogut (dodging debris): "Sorry ... um ... "
Scott: Not only are the Bucks' fans booing like mad, not only are they hurling bags of urine onto the stage, but police just had to lay the smack down with tasers. No frontin', are you scared to play in Milwaukee?
Bogut (still dodging debris): "Well, I just hope they give me a chance ... "
Q: Will you settle a disagreement for me? My buddy (who couldn't even start for a D-II college team) thinks he would be a starter in the WNBA. He's about 6-foot-2, and is a 27-year-old lefty with decent speed, quickness and ability (for a white boy). I say he plays some minutes for a decent D-I women's team, but doesn't even make the WNBA. My buddies and I are currently split 3-3 on whether he even makes the league. What do you think? Please shoot him down b/c I'm tired of listening to him talk about how he "smoked" the handful of D-I and D-II women's college players that he's played against.
SG: I think he would immediately become the 2005 WNBA MVP.
Q: How many times has this argument taken place across America: When speaking about the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie/Jennifer Aniston triangle/breakup/rumors, every guy has said that if Brad were going to dump Jennifer the only woman it would make sense to do it for would be Angelina, followed by any woman within listening distance arguing with the man that Jennifer is as good as it gets, and Angelina is basically a prostitute?
Q: Was hiring John Amos as the new Cavaliers coach the right move to ensure that LeBron doesn't leave Cleveland?
Tommy McConnell, Hollidaysburg, Pa.
Q: Bill, how about that Dave Roberts providing a spark for the San Diego Padres who just have completed their best ... May ... ever? Everyone (including GM Kevin Towers) thought that San Diego overpaid for Roberts ... so how's Jay Payton working out? Ramon Vasquez? Dave Pauley?
Dominic, lbany, Ore.
Q: In the "More Cowbell" update on 5/23, you sort of implied you hadn't yet seen the new Star Wars movie (which is understandable, having a new baby and all). I'm sure many readers are curious as to your thoughts, but I'm specifically wondering as to your thoughts about its impact on sports. How many kids, from 1977 to this week, shunned sports growing up, either as participants or observers, because they were watching "Empire" for the 50th time, or were playing with their action figures or were discussing script rumors on the Internet? Now that the series is finally over, will the youth return to sports in record numbers? Or will they just latch on to something equally as tragic?
Adam Woodyard, Dallas
SG: It's tough for me to comment since I was the same kid who probably watched 1,000 hours of pro wrestling growing up. And I don't know if everyone's elementary school worked like mine did. But in my school, the kids who liked "Star Wars" didn't like sports, and vice-versa. There were no crossovers. I just remember being totally confused by the whole thing they kind of kept to themselves, almost like cross-dressers in a penitentiary, and it was like they were talking another language. Nobody really bothered them. But after elementary school, I made at least 4-5 friends who were sports fans and loved "Star Wars." So I think it depends on the school.
I look at it this way: Everyone needs something growing up. For some kids, it's sports. For other kids, it's "Lord of the Rings," "Star Wars" and whatever goofy fantasy thing is out there where you get to watch something 20 times, dress up like the characters and say things like, "The movie is coming out in three weeks, wanna go to our local theater and wait in line with 250 other guys?" Again, since I count Superfly Snuka and Hulk Hogan as two of the 10 most influential heroes from my childhood, I'm in no position to judge.
(As for your question, "Will they just latch on to something equally as tragic?" the answer is obviously, "Unquestionably.")
Q: Who is the best president in a movie or TV series? I'd have to go with Bill Pullman from "Independence Day" or Martin Sheen from "The West Wing".
Jason Wasserman, N.Y.
SG: I'm going with Jeff Bridges in "The Contender." He was so commanding and likable in that movie, I remember leaving the theater and thinking, "I would absolutely vote for him." And yes, I still feel that way. Coming in second: Kevin Kline in "Dave." In third: Dennis Haysbert in "24." Coming in last: Michael Keaton in "The First Daughter."
(Note: The Sports Gal actually rented that one I happened to be passing through the room, noticed Keaton on the screen, made the obligatory "Wow, it's Michael Keaton!" fuss, followed by her saying, "Yeah, he's plays the President." Talk about bad casting. Holy mackerel. No wonder poor Katie had to join the Tom Cruise Struggling Actress Scholarship Program to get her career going again.)
Q: I couldn't agree with you more about your "The Longest Yard" column. Would you agree with me when I say that Eddie Albert died during the opening week of this incredibly ridiculous remake, just so that he could have a grave in which he could roll over?
Michael Collins, Marietta, Ga.
SG: Absolutely. I think Adam Sandler and Chris Rock should be charged with his death. I just keep picturing Eddie watching TV in a chair in his convalescent home, seeing a "Longest Yard" ad, rising from his chair in shock (like he did in the movie every time Paul Crewe made a big play), then keeling over. And yes, I can make these jokes the guy was 99.
Q: Would you rather have a sports career like Karl Malone/Charles Barkley/Patrick Ewing or Bob Horry? Hall of Famer with obscene amounts of cash or a clutch performer with five rings who's rich?
Mark, Manhattan Beach, Calif.
SG: Fantastic question. I would probably choose Barkley over anyone, and only because he's crossed into that weird Howard Stern Zone where he can say whatever he wants (no matter how offensive or ridiculous) with no repercussions because there's some sort of unspoken, implicit understanding that he's a good guy and we shouldn't take anything he says at face value. That's an unbelievable power to have.
But I would rather be Big Shot Bob than Malone or Ewing. Fifteen years later, if you're Horry, you made more than enough money. You played with three of the greatest players ever (Hakeem, Shaq and Duncan). You played crucial roles on five (soon to be six) championship teams who wouldn't have won titles without you. And you were successful enough that everyone brings up your strengths (clutch 3-point shooter, fantastic defender, exceedingly reliable and unselfish) without ever mentioning your weaknesses (that you couldn't create your own shot and needed at least two blue-chip teammates in order to properly thrive).
I used to compare him to Nate Dogg, but somebody sent me a great e-mail once (sorry, I tried like hell and couldn't find it anywhere) comparing Horry to John Cazale, the guy who played Fredo Corleone and appeared in exactly five movies before dying of cancer: "The Godfather," "The Godfather II," "The Deer Hunter," "The Conversation," and "Dog Day Afternoon," with crucial roles in all of them that nobody else could have played as well. So the question remains ... would you rather have Cazale's career (except for the cancer part), or would you rather have been a big-time star for an extended period that isn't remembered as fondly (someone like Patrick Swayze or Rob Lowe)? For me, it's no contest I would have rather been John Cazale (except for the cancer part). And I like the Horry comparison here, because just like Cazale, there wasn't anyone else who would have fit in as well with those Rockets-Lakers-Spurs teams, and only the true fans appreciate him. So there you go.
(Which leads to another question: Who's Swayze and who's Lowe between Ewing and Malone? Let's save that for another time.)
Q: It's 12:30 at night and I just discovered that Mark Prior broke his pitching arm. I'm on the brink here ... I'm losin' it. I know that everyone always thinks that their team is unlucky, but come on. And every time I even begin to talk about how everything goes wrong with my Cubbies ... there is some Boston fan that gives me the ole "hang in there, if the Red Sox can do it, then the Cubs can do it too." The last thing I want to hear is someone reminding me that the Cubs are now the only cursed team. I realize that both the Cubs and the Red Sox went a long time without winning the World Series, but why do you guys feel the need to hold our hand while we try and win one. You guys are Red Sox fans, we are Cub fans ... end of story. The next time we see each other, I don't know you and you don't know me.
John Addler, Blackduck, Minn.
SG: Fine! You want it that way? Fine! Go ahead and go. But some day, you're going to need me, John Addler. You may be hurting, you may be angry, you may be willing to give up on everything we had ... but there's going to be a time when you need me. Oh, yes. You just better hope I'm here when you come back.
Q: Quick Vegas/Celebrity Story My buddy Ralph and I are playing craps at the Hard Rock last weekend at the table next to Elizabeth Shue. Every time we rolled a pass we were screaming out "Ali, with an I!" After about 20 minutes, she looks over at my friend Ralph and says "Hey ... that joke. It's really not workin for ya." Ralph pauses, looks her right in the eye, and says "I really like your car Mrs. Larusso!"
JT, Holmdel, N.J.
SG: Yup ... these are my readers.
Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His Sports Guy's World site is updated every day Monday through Friday.