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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

What Amazing Sports Plays Are No Longer Special?

Illustration by Sam Woolley/GMG
Illustration by Sam Woolley/GMG
FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag.

Your letters:


When did robbing home runs become so commonplace? Growing up in the 70's and 80's (yeah, I’m old as dirt) I don’t remember anyone ever scaling a wall to steal a sure home run. Nowadays, it seems like there’s two or three of these ‘amazing’ catches every week... Did anyone in Mickey Mantle’s era ever do this and if not, why? Were the fences three feet high back then? Were the players playing barefoot? Are there other plays that used to be considered rare and spectacular but are now accomplished so frequently, they’re no longer special? The alley oop? One-handed football catch?


I think it’s less a function of increased athleticism—even though players are obviously bigger and stronger and faster now than in decades past—than sheer visibility. If you grew up in the ‘80s like I did, you weren’t seeing EVERY stolen home run. Not every game was televised. Sports were confined to the local news and those people SUCKED at compiling national highlights. I used to have to stay up and watch The George Michael Sports Machine just to see shit from a whole week’s worth of action. Unless it happened in a big moment, like my favorite Kirby Puckett highlight, a lot of amazing feats simply slipped through the cracks.

That, of course, is no longer true. Every game has a camera on it, and every highlight gets efficiently chopped up, packaged, and disseminated onto TV and the internet. If a sixth-grader hits a full-court buzzer beater in fucking Fairbanks or something, it goes national. Nothing goes unnoticed, which means you’re going to see a lot more great plays than you did as a deprived child, and are thus more liable to take those great plays for granted. Here are some amazing plays that can cause the jaded old man within me to sometimes go MEH like a complete dick:

  1. Insane dunks. The Slam Dunk contest proved that there are only so many dunks you can try before you have to bring in props to spice up the affair, like sex toys in the bedroom. Now when I see some dude throw down a tomahawk dunk or a windmill dunk during a game, I’m like, “I guess that was an okay dunk, but why didn’t he jump over an elephant?”
  1. Any Hail Mary. When I was kid, the Doug Flutie Hail Mary had like a 10-year run as The Hail Mary That Actually Worked before Kordell Stewart finally came along and added another. Now it seems like you get a completed Hail Mary at least once every season, both in college and the pros. Don’t get me wrong, I still lose my shit whenever one is completed (like Florida’s last week), but sometimes I’m also like, “Why can’t these assholes defend that play?” For real Butch Jones, what the fuck is wrong with you?
  2. No-look passes. We don’t have to pretend Russell Westbrook is using secrets of occult to make that pass. He does have excellent timing and peripheral vision, you know.
  3. Any fast tennis serve. I remember seeing the radar on serves when I was a kid and being like OH SHIT. But then Pete Sampras came along and it was like, “Oh, this guy serves real fast and never rallies and this match is gonna be boring as hell.” A 189 mph serve means nothing to me now.
  4. Triple axel. I’m only watching to see if they DON’T nail it. Nailing it is what I expect from an Olympic figure skater. It’s when they fall and break their fibula in eight places that I bolt up from my chair.
  5. Striking out the side. I almost never realize the side has been struck out until the TV guy says it. Oh? He struck out the side? I was too busy mixing cookie dough.
  6. Sideline tiptoe. Cris Carter and other ‘90s wideouts got so good at this that I no longer gasp in awe when the wideout gets both feet down. Again, as a spoiled sports fan, this is what I EXPECT from you. Oh, did you not get both feet down in a supreme, balletic act of athleticism and spatial awareness? You’re a loser. I demand you be cut.
  7. Any long three-pointer. I remember back when taking ANY three-pointer was considered risky, and taking it from well behind the arc was basically an act of GLORY BOY lunacy. Now Steph Curry hits them with such regularity that I forget he’s a crazy man.
  8. Football player hurdling a defender. When even the tight end can jump over a dude, it kinda loses its luster. I think guys just studied tape and realized that was a move that could actually work and started doing it en masse. So I’m excited for the correction, for defenders to start faking guys out, going low, and popping up like a fucking jack in the box right as the guy is hurdling and tackling him by the dick.
  9. Golfer getting himself out of a nightmarish lie. You know what a letdown it is to see some sniffy golfer hit it into a fucking tarpit and then take a wedge magically hit a perfect layup onto the fairway? You fancy asshole. I want you humiliated! I want you humbled by the fiendish contours of Pebble!


I went to get a bag of chips outta the variety box my wife buys from Costco and to my disappointment, there were only plain Fritos left. It got me thinking, would plain Fritos ever make it to the shelf this day in age as a brand new product? Is big chip just adding Fritos just to mess with us?


How dare you. How dare you reduce Fritos to the standing of plain pretzels? Don’t you understand that a Frito is a tortilla chip that’s been fortified with 9,000g of trans fats? Now THAT is the kinda snack I like. And those are just the plain ones! You ever have the Chili Cheese Fritos? EVERYTHING should be chili cheese. One bag of Chili Cheese Fritos tastes amazing and has enough sodium to kill a death row inmate. There’s a reason they make Frito pie and not Funyuns pie, my friend. I’ll eat whatever leftover Fritos you got. They are a dreadfully underappreciated snack in the American pantheon. We should have a holiday to honor Frito Day. We should build a giant Frito scoop and sail it out into the sea, like an ark.

Fritos are not a variety pack interloper, the way plain Sun Chips are. I like Sun Chips, but you guys can’t even slip a Harvest Cheddar bag in there? What the hell is wrong with you? Or look at this cereal pack that includes Crispix AND Special K. Why not toss in a cyanide pill while you’re at it? No grownup cereals in my variety packs, please. Only cereals that feature cartoon animals on the front.



Last week I grabbed drinks with a girl I’ve been interested in for a long time. Things started normally enough: we ran through the usual questions you ask on a first date. But then she asked me what my hobbies are. I answered (writing, watching sports, drinking beer, etc. if you were interested) and sent the question back to her. After what felt like 4-5 minutes, she answered “I don’t have any.” How much of a red flag is this? I mean you have to enjoy doing SOMETHING, right?


No I think it’s fine. I mean, the hobbies you listed aren’t really hobbies at all. Those are just general interests. It’s like if I told you that one of my hobbies is showering. This isn’t a sitcom. You can’t expect everyone you meet to have specific, quirky hobbies like puppeteering and sewing quilts out of old bar towels. If you gave me a HOBBIES section on a job application, I’d have no fucking idea what to put there. I work, then I eat, then I booze, and then I dick around on my phone. I don’t have time to take up 17th-century coin collecting, man. Sometimes it’s okay to live a generic existence.

Also, not everyone is gonna volunteer their hobby on the spot, or even realize that their hobby IS a hobby. I like to cook, but shine a spotlight on me and ask me what my hobbies are, and I’d probably blank for a solid hour before blurting out UHHHH I LIKE TO MASTURBATE INTO THE TOILET! Sometimes you have to wait until people are comfortable before they can reveal themselves to you.



What’s the worst, normal day job to do while hungover? I say teacher. Early start, kids are loud, you’re essentially giving presentations all day. That would suck.


As a parent who has dealt with loud children while hungover, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to preside over a class of 26 asshole kids while in similar straits. You know damn well it would be Movie Day three days a week at Farmsbutt Elementary if I were in charge of a class.

But that’s not the only rotten job to perform while hungover. Here are some others, in no specific order:

Construction. What are the chief enemies of any hungover person, apart from being alive? Well, there’s loud noise, and there’s extreme heat, and there’s sunlight. Oh goody, here’s a job that entails all three of those things. Just being NEAR construction sounds will destroy you if you overdid it the night before. I’d die if I had to be the one to actually operate the jackhammer.


Hospital worker. Dealing with people is already raw hell if you’re feeling lousy. Now make all those people hospital patients, constantly leaking pus and poop, expecting to be tended to every waking second and looking surprised and hurt when they are not. And, as a bonus, you get to spend all day in a windowless building bathed in fluorescent light. LUCKY YOU!

Office drone. I know that anyone with a white collar job is relatively fortunate to have one, but being stuck in a meeting when you are hungover is AWFUL. It is Satan’s handicraft. I feel like bosses can sense when you’re hungover and actually extend the offsite presentation just to toy with you. I swear to God I’d rather do manual labor, man. At least I’d be sweating out the toxins. At least time would pass more quickly. Sit on a conference call when your head is exploding and tell me you don’t want to just die.


Stablehand. Again, think about your sworn enemies if you are hungover. Bad odors, including horse dung, are way up there. Oh, and what about…

Cleaning/Sanitation. Pine-Sol! Oh dear heavenly Jesus, please deliver me from the scent of Pine-Sol if I’ve ever coldcocked myself with gin the night prior. One whiff and my hopes for holding in the vomit are dashed.



YOU: I’m not gonna drink too much tonight. I have a long drive tomorrow.

*******12 HOURS, TEN BEERS LATER*******

YOU: What have I done

Professional football player. I’ll never know how John Riggins did it.


Can we get a ranking of Tom Brady’s lines in this ridiculous Beats ad that I’ve already seen 20 times today? I’m torn between “Of course they love it down in Miami, who wouldn’t?” and “And you know me, hold the nightshades.” for number 1.


Oh I think “GIRLY GIRL” is the worst of them. I wanna see the list of phrases that the copywriter sent to Brady before he scrolled through them and was like… “Ah, ‘girly girl.’ That is something I would very much say, indeed!” I like that they’re trying to make him look cool, but he ends up spending that whole ad looking like every asshole I’ve ever seen on a Bluetooth at the airport.

Not to go all Rovell on you, but Tom Brady does not seem like the greatest match for that brand. There aren’t schoolkids in The Bronx going “OH SHIT! That lentiltarian pullstring doll is all about the Beats! I GOTTA HAVE THOSE!” Tom Brady’s the greatest quarterback in history, but he’s not exactly the coolest guy around. He’s clearly much more natural pimping out lame shit like ugly boots, and watches, and retirement services, and yogurt, and other KINDS of yogurt, and magic powders that can “cure” your lupus. That’s much more in his wheelhouse.




Who’s gonna be the next James Bond?

Didn’t Daniel Craig just sign on for another? I like Craig as Bond but I’m getting VERY tired of his grumpy old man bullshit, acting like it’s some awful burden to play the most storied film role in history and rake in tens of millions of dollars from a few month’s work. Every time they crank out a new Bond, Craig gets all ornery and is like OY YOU TOSSAHS THIS JOB IS SHITE I’LL BE RIGHT DEAD BEFORE I PUT ON THAT BLOODY TUX AGAIN INNIT. You’re not digging ditches, fuckwad. Do you really expect me to feel bad for you? If you don’t wanna be Bond, let someone who DOES step in. I’ll do the Bond thing for you. I’ll wear the tux, and play the backgammon, and sleep with the girl who turns out to be a secondary villain before sleeping with the girl who’s actually cool and helpful. I’ll do all that and I won’t complain ONCE. You have my word. Daniel Craig can eat a broken martini glass. You only got the job because Clive Owen didn’t take it, buddy!


Anyway, my first choice for the next Bond is Tom Hardy. I know a lot of people want the next Bond to either be a lady or a person of color, but my desire to see Tom Hardy in EVERY movie supersedes my desire to be socially conscious. So Hardy is No. 1. Ever see Inception? He’s suave as fuck when he wants to be. He doesn’t have to play a masked and tattooed ape-man in everything. Let me see Tom Hardy’s lips for once, dammit.


After Hardy, there’s a pool of great actors you can choose from including Idris Elba, Nicholas Hoult, Tom Hiddleston, Emily Blunt, John Boyega, Ewan McGregor, Matthew Rhys, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cillian Murphy, and the entire cast of Game of Thrones. I wouldn’t bitch about any of those people. HOWEVER, I wouldn’t mind seeing Oscar Isaac become the first American Bond. That would really make those mayo-slurpers across the pond lose their shit. Or what about Jason Statham?! Just make him go full cockney and have Bond sleazing around in the pub for an hour before smashing pint glasses over everyone’s head. I’d pay double the cost of admission for that (NOTE: I would actually not do this). Oh, and Chiwetel Ejiofor too. He’s a badass. I was kinda mad that he had to play second banana in Doctor Strange. I want Chiwetel front and center to fuck some shit up.

But that’s not gonna happen. No, they’re gonna make fucking Mark Wahlberg the next Bond or something. Agent 0033. “IN SOUTHIE WE DO THINGS A LITTLE FACKIN’ DIFFERENT THAN YOU QUEE-AHS IN MI6 AHHHH USED TO!”



Aside from watching their own teams, how much football does your average NFL owner actually watch? I think aside from their own team’s games and maybe a few other games that have playoff implications, not much at all. It explains why someone like Snyder is so terrible at football and always signs players way past their prime.


Oh, I think the number of NFL owners who actively enjoy the spot of football is less than half. I bet most of them HATE football. Like, I bet Dean Spanos actively resents having to sit in a luxury booth for three hours every Sunday when he could be at the Beverly Wilshire hobnobbing with actors and talking up five-stars escorts instead. These people only care about football as a delivery device for money and power. Only a handful of them, like the Double J, are invested in the sport itself.

On a certain level, that’s actually fine. You’ve seen what happens when an owner actually pays attention to these games. I’d rather have an owner like Paul Allen—who clearly gives no fucks about the sport—than some shitheel like Danny Snyder pretending to be Mr. Football and meddling in everything just to prove something to his dead daddy. No thank you.



How are the TVs at the gym so bad? They’re getting a digital signal from satellite or cable, with no antenna involved, right? Where is all the static coming from?


Oh yeah, my gym has TVs that don’t even turn on. I think part of it is that the gym just buys cheap garbage that breaks. They prioritize the fitness equipment over the TVs, because those all need to work, and because the average gym person is busy listening to music or staring at a phone instead of watching TV anyway. TVs are a low priority for the staff. The only people really into the TVs at the gym are the old dudes on the treadmill who spend the first mile flipping around for FOX.

More important, I think it’s similar to the problem plaguing hotel TVs, namely that the gym is using a special provider that caters exclusively to businesses that have multiple TVs running at once and want to offer in-house PPV. It will not shock you to learn that these providers are fucking terrible. It’s like having an airplane WiFi company in charge of your in-gym entertainment. All the TVs are routed to a central location inside the gym that only two employees know exist and only one knows how to operate. That’s how you end up with only four available networks spread across channels 1-6 to 967-4. Get these places better providers, and the TVs will start working properly again. I’ve been to plenty of hotels that just use cable now. It’s a lot better, even if you don’t get the sordid thrill of cruising through the ADULT ZONE menu.



My son is a year and a half and my co-workers still ask how he’s doing. How old will he be when people stop caring?


They probably stopped caring months ago. They’re only asking now you to make conversation. Take it from me. If I ask you how your kids are, it’s only because we’ve already talked about the weather and your weekend plans. So… how’s the kid? Is he sleeping through the night? How’s he eating? Let me ask you about your kid as an opening for me to bitch about my own. The state of your children is right there on the Small Talk checklist. After that, we’re down into talking about which Netflix shows you’ve seen, along with other conversational dreck.

So people will keep asking you about your kid and, if you’re like me, you’ll be like, “Eh, they’re fine.” My kids could be trapped in the jaws of a hungry werewolf and if you asked how they’re doing I’d still be like, “Oh, same ol’ same ol’!” I have very little to offer at parties.



Sebastian Janikowski was taken 17th overall in 2000. He’s been with the Raiders ever since, scored a fuck-ton of points, and is generally one of the better kickers in the league. Is the pick at 17 still laughably stupid?


Yes, if only because that was the Tom Brady draft. In fairness to the Raiders, I double-checked the results of the that draft and, apart from Shaun Alexander at 19 and maybe Keith Bulluck at 30, the first=round picks that came after Sebby are pretty limp. They include luminaries such as Sylvester Morris, Anthony Becht, R. Jay Soward, and Trung Canidate. The rest of that draft isn’t much better either. The Raiders whiffed on Brady, but so did everyone else, including the Patriots five times. And you know what’s astounding? It doesn’t seem like NFL teams have gotten any better at scouting since that awful draft. They still whiff on just as many high picks, and they still let potential gems slide down in the bowels of the later rounds. You guys have tablets and stuff now. Why are you still so shitty at this?

Anyway, I still reserve the right to mock the Raiders for taking a kicker that high. It’s a kicker. You’re investing too much in a fungible position and subjecting the guy to needless scrutiny on top of it thanks to drafting him way up there (see: Aguayo, Roberto). The Italian they brought in to spell Janikowski has been both capable AND adorable. Did the Raiders win any Super Bowls with Sebby? I REST MY CASE.



Could McDonald’s ever go out of business? Like it seems impossible but Ford and General Motors almost ate it and they’re bigger institutions than McDonald’s. What have to happen to make McDonald’s go belly up? And would the government bail them out to save millions of McJobs?


They’ll never go out of business. You now live in a dystopia where certain companies and brands are so deeply enmeshed both within the culture and the greater economy that either can’t fail or—and this is worse—have tricked important people into believing that they can’t fail. This is serious problem in America because it means that companies that suck and deserve to go out of business are instead staying afloat by lobbying for subsidies and stifling innovation in other areas to keep from getting beaten by worthy competition. McDonald’s is the reason you don’t have a Hyperloop yet. I have NO evidence of this, but it’s true.

Think about it in terms of life itself. For every animal on Earth, there is a natural cycle of death that’s healthy for the ecosystem. Older animals die out to make room for the younger animals and help preserve whatever resources are needed to sustain the living. But let’s say a bunch of older manatees get a “bailout” and are allowed to live a few extra decades and hog all the precious mangrove leaves. What happens then? I’ll tell you what happens: ANARCHY. The natural processes get thrown out of order and the whole system gets fucked. That’s what happens if you go buy a Big Mac now. You’re killing the baby manatees. This all makes sense in my head I swear I’m not high.


Email of the week!


When I was a kid the local T-Ball, Minor League, and Little League teams were all sponsored by local businesses. My mother was part owner of a family business passed on to her and her siblings by my grandfather. Every year she would sponsor a team for me to play on. Every year, without fail, we were the worst team in the league. Going into my 9-year-old league, I demanded that I not be placed on the team she sponsored.

She went to the league and offered to sponsor a team but informed them that I should be placed on another team. So that year I was selected to an absolute juggernaut of a team. We went undefeated throughout the season pounding all of our opponents and earned a bye to the championship game.

We would go on to lose that game to the team my mother sponsored. I quit baseball in the car on the ride home while my mother smirked at me.


Goddamn. Mom doesn’t fuck around.

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.