A Tribute To Shitty Sports Talk Radio Callers

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Elena Scotti/Deadspin/GMG, photos via Shutterstock, Getty Images
Elena Scotti/Deadspin/GMG, photos via Shutterstock, Getty Images

Your letters:


Can we all finally admit that the worst aspect of sports radio are the callers? No more callers. There’s no need to take seven minutes of my day with a crackly phone connection to ask why the Steelers sucked this weekend. You want to talk about stuff on the radio... tweet or email the hosts.

Yeah but it’s still better than having an actual player or coach on to be interviewed. That’s death. I would much rather hear from Vinny from Syosset detailing how the Giants can turn things around by offering Eli and a third rounder for Carson Wentz. That’s the real gold. And who listens to Finebaum for Finebaum? No one. No, I’m tuning into PAAAAWWWLLLLL specifically to hear Phyllis from Mulga call in and cry out that SABAN HAYS GOT TA GOOOOO-EWW because Bama only won by two touchdowns.


There’s a reason callers have been the staple of sports talk radio for decades now. Those callers are the original Twitter eggs. They’re the perfect foil for everyone else involved in the show. The host gets to looks like a Wise Sports Knower for discrediting the caller’s trade idea (“Bob, Bob… ya nevuh gonna get LeBron to terminate his own contract and join duh Knicks… that’s nawt legal”). The listener (me) gets to yell at the radio about what a fuckhead the caller is for saying Jay Gruden is a good coach because he ain’t afraid to ruffle players’ feathers. And the station gets to fill hours of airtime for free, with virtually no hassle. It’s the perfect radio model. I don’t wanna hear from professional athletes who have been diligently trained to say nothing of import. I want morons. Morons are realer. They’re the grease that keeps the whole tank economy engine running.

I think I’ve told story before but I used to call into radio shows back in the day. One time I called in to a show in 1997 to explain why Michigan could beat Penn State in Happy Valley when the host thought they had no chance. Michigan won that game 34-8, because I am the Wisest Sports Knower of all! Another time, I called into WFAN to complain that Yankee Stadium didn’t replay pitches on a Jumbotron. The host thought I was a rube and a brat. In hindsight, I can’t disagree with him.


I also used to watch Calling All Sports on CNN, when Vince Cellini would demand callers FINISH UP STRONG by giving their quickest, hottest takes at the end of the show. I loved all that. Before the internet, these were basically the only avenues for a REAL FAN like me to broadcast his or her takes to the world at large. When you actually got through to a show, the power was intoxicating, by God. Someone is finally listening! Maybe they’ll be so impressed with my call that I’ll get a show of my own! That kind of thrill is easy to take for granted now that we’re inundated with horrible DIY takes, but I still appreciate a good old fashioned call-in rant from Bernie in Rockville Centuh. At least he’s passionate. Bernie calls because he cares.

We joke about bad takes here all the time but that’s because, deep down, I really do love them. I don’t wanna live in a world without bad takes. There’s a name for boring talk radio that’s civil and polished, and it is NPR. I know we’ve taken it way too far now that we’ve installed a living bad take in the White House: a constantly bloviating fart monster who craves only to be heard. But I still love me a snifter of bad takes every now and again.



Can ghosts travel through time? I asked a few of my friends but their answers didn’t lay the issue to rest for me.


In my highly scientific opinion, no. I know that A Christmas Carol has time-traveling ghosts, but those are special teams ghosts. Normal ghosts just hang around in the present and rattle your coat hangers and stuff. If there’s a ghost in your house, it’s probably bored. Leave Netflix on for it when you go out for a beer.

I also object to the idea of ghosts time-traveling on narrative principles. If you are a disembodied spirit roaming the ethereal plane, you shouldn’t ALSO get to time-travel. One superpower per supernatural being, please. It’s like Looper when they introduced time-travel but also had to go and add a telekinesis subplot. Time travel is enough. I like my shit streamlined.




My girlfriend and I were skulking around a Bed Bath & Beyond this weekend when I came across this Maryland shaped cutting board. Two questions: Is this the dumbest product ever made, and are people out there using it for its intended purpose?

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My guess is that it’s a presentation cutting board. Like, you’re not gonna butcher a whole raw chicken on that thing, because that would be idiotic. Instead, you put it right on the dinner table with a wedge of (Old Bay infused?) cheese and tastefully folded slices of charcuterie. I’ve been to enough overpriced Italian restaurants to know that everything tastes better when eaten off a cutting board. If I ran a steakhouse, your T-bone would come on a bigass cutting board with one of those littler reservoir pools that captures all the delicious steaky juices GODDAMN.


Anyway, for actual cutting, that thing is stupid. It’s a presentation cutting board, which means you will never use it and will end up gifting it to someone you don’t give a crap about. When it comes to real cutting boards, you want one that’s big, preferably the literal surface area of Maryland itself. Even with big cutting boards, I end up with onion shrapnel and raw chicken bits flying off and touching the counter (GAHHHHHHHHHH). It’s the worst. I need a cutting board the size of a football field.



I am 28 years old, live in New York, and a fan of the Mets and Jets. Will I ever see a championship in my lifetime? My fiancee keeps saying that if for some crazy reason I had a head injury and lost my memory, she would tell me everything the way it was, except she will make me a Yankees fan. Am I doomed forever?


Not necessarily. Both the Mets and Jets won titles before you were born, which makes them more accomplished than a number of other pro sports franchises. I know the Mets are essentially a Ponzi Scheme settlement and that the Jets are run by a Tommy Boy 3 direct-to-video spinoff. But you’re only 28. That’s still a LOT of time for either team to get its act together. You’ve already witnessed any number of other supposedly incompetent (Patriots) or snakebitten (Cubs) teams pull off the previously unthinkable.

There’s no reason the Mets and/or Jets can’t stumble their way into a similar turnaround. You don’t even need a good owner (see: Cavs). All you need is to get it going is a shrewd GM, or a gifted head coach, or a special player. Also, those are New York teams. They have built-in advantages in terms of both money and location. Leagues may jack themselves off to parity, but deep down they WANT those big market teams to do well because that’s what gets off TV execs and butthole pundits who love talking about market sizes. This is why I’m subjected to grainy footage of Joe Namath on every Jets telecast even though that happened 50 billion years ago.


This is why you stay a fan. Chances are, your team isn’t gonna win jack shit any given year. But there are still smaller thrills to be had, and there’s the tangible possibility that holy shit, they’ve finally figured it out this year. Look at how destitute the Rams were a year ago. Now they look like a fucking juggernaut. It can happen quickly, and with barely any warning. That’s how BIG SPORTS keeps you hooked. There’s always a chance for you, and the chance is real. Just not this year because those teams suck.



So baseball has the ceremonial first pitch, could/would that be adapted to other sports? Will we ever see a ceremonial first free throw at an NBA game?


Well, football has the coin toss to cover all that. For the coin toss, it’s like the fucking Twelve Days Of Football. You get 12 team captains, 11 troops, 10 olde-time players, nine State farm reps, eight friends of the owner, seven retired politicians, six Punt, Pass, and Kick winners, five random dicks, four lobbyists, three escorts, two family members, and Jerry Jones leering at everyone with his big fake teeth. It’s a big production. You got the anthem, the coin toss, and the weekly moment of silence for whatever mass shooting just happened. I think I’ve reached my limit on pregame pageantry. I just want the fucking game to start on time.

The truth is that no one really cares about the first pitch other than the person throwing the ball, and it’s only memorable when they do a shit job. Ergo, rather than add yet another layer of celebrity knob-slobbing to the affair, I suggest we ritualistically shame and embarrass a famous person before a game instead. Have LeBron dunk on fucking James Toback and then kick him in the balls. Now THAT is added value.




Cheese Balls > Crunchy Cheetos > Puffy Cheetos. EXPLAIN THIS.

Oof, I dunno man. I have a soft spot in my heart for ALL cheesy poofs. You’re asking me to rank my children here. I think the original Cheetos go in the top slot, followed by the balls, and then the poofs. Although I sure love those giant-size tubs of Utz Cheez Balls. I like to eat those until I’m sick. I see no issues with that.


All those processed orange snacks are a delight but lemme tell you about one you missed: HONEY CHEEZE CURLS. Yes, these exist. I was at a pool earlier this summer and the snack bar only had these cheese curls. And I so really hard up for artificial cheese that I bought them and ate the whole bag. They still disturb me. Why would anyone want a fucking honey-flavored cheese curl? I’m gonna eat a dozen more bags and get to the bottom of this phenomenon. Why not sell chocolate-covered onions while you’re at it?



What do you consider to be the lifespan for the average pair of socks? I find myself throwing out socks with holes in them constantly and buying new packs of socks every 2-3 months. Is that too frequent? Am I being fucked over by Big Sock?


It’s possible you are buying low quality socks, like I do when I grab a three-pack of discount Wigwams at the local TJ Maxx. I love New Sock Day and luxuriating in the fresh, clean whiteness. But three weeks later, those same socks looked like they were fished out of the bottom of a fucking river. Do I throw those socks away? I do not. No, I keep them in the rotation and the laundry hamper looks like a literal MAD magazine gag about 50 Shades of Grey. I should probably look into better quality socks, and so should you. And then we can both blanche at the price tag and walk away.

For real though, socks are important. Not only do they keep your piggies toasty and fresh, but they absorb a LOT of punishment from your feet. Men’s feet are gnarled, disgusting things. A pair of cheapass Puma socks stands no chance against them. I would pay good money ($3) to have a college-style equipment manager for GROWN MEN, where you pay a fee (again, $3) leave a bag of dirty socks on your doorstep and get a replacement bag of freshies. I would also make banter with the “e-quipment manager” and give him a cool equipment manager name, like Ol’ Gordo, or Cheap Willy, or Bongo Jim. WHO SAYS NO?!





The wife and I are expecting for the first time. Here’s what keeps me up at night: at what age do kids start being responsible for wiping? I understand that I will have to change my child’s diapers until they are potty trained, and teaching them to wipe is part of potty training. But I also know that I will still be responsible for wiping them thoroughly until they get the hang of it.


Oh yeah you got a lot of ass-wiping in your future. Obviously, the chief goal is getting the kid to shit in a toilet. But once they’ve started going in the bowl, they need a while to get the hang of wiping, and you WILL find yourself wiping their ass, both to save time and to prevent them making some kind of tragic rookie wiping mistake that ends with a palm full of diarrhea. I have had to clean up such self-induced messes. It’s unpleasant.

I can’t tell you how long it took my older kids to learn to wipe, because I am 41 and can barely remember what I ate for lunch yesterday. But I can tell you that my youngest kid is currently in that No Man’s Land where he can go in the potty but still requests wiping assistance. And it’s great because whenever he needs a wipe he cries out NEED A WIPE!!!! as loud as he possibly can, no matter who’s around. We could have the Ambassador to Spain touring the joint and he’d be like NEED A WIPE!!! It’s a real record scratch moment.


Also, he does not let ME wipe his ass. Like if I go to do the wiping, he starts crying and I can’t go in for the wipe because then he’ll start bucking and crying and then I’m risking flying poop. He will literally sit on the fucking can for 30 minutes waiting for his mom to come do the job. And it ain’t like I’m a deadbeat. I want to wipe the kid so we can all get on with our lives, but he won’t let me. It’s insulting, frankly. I can wipe with them best of them, boy. Gimme a chance. They warn you about a lot of shit when you have kids, but not about this strange wiping corner you can find yourself painted into.



When going outside to throw a ball around (baseball, football) do you “have a catch” or “play catch”? There’s been a sharp divide when discussing this around my workplace. I think you “have a catch” as the act of casually throwing a ball around is not a sport or game...things you play. Complicating factors is that everyone coming down on the “have a catch” side of the argument are originally from New Jersey so now we’re paranoid it’s one more dumb thing us Jersey natives say different from everyone else.


I say “play catch.” I know that the money scene in Field of Dreams phrases it your way, but that movie was annoying. I play catch, and I play to WIN. You think this shit is a game? I will out-catch the fuck out of my eight-year-old. I’ll catch the ball one-handed. I’ll catch it lefty. I’ll dazzle the boy with an array of fastballs and high lobs. This is not gentle father-son bonding time. This is WAR.

Besides, saying you “having a catch” makes it sound like you catch one ball and that’s the end of it. No one ever has just one catch. You gotta do the whole route tree. My kid likes playing catch for hours on end, to the point where I lose any sense of sentimentality and end up begging to go inside so I can have a beer and take a shit.




What if, tomorrow, we did away with all lane markings on Interstate highways (e.g. I-95 for the Northeast)?


More people would die. Cars on the interstate go way too fast to accommodate that sort of lasseiz-faire street design, especially when you’ve got idiots texting their buddies at 85 mph.

That said, you may have heard about the experimental street designs in the U.K. towns which feature no lane markings, no signs, and no stoplights. Basically, what the design does is force drivers to be more careful, to drive a bit slower and to be more attentive to other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. When you have signs and lights essentially telling you when to pay attention, you can end up NOT pay attention at other times. It’s like when I drive into a rotary (or traffic circle, depending on your regional tastes). Whenever I encounter a rotary, I’m like OH FUCK A ROTARY. I slow down, I turn down the radio, I tell the kids to can it. I should probably be that attentive at ALL times when driving, but I am not. I got sports talk radio callers to yell at.


Now, this shared space design works in a small town center because the flow of traffic is usually slower anyway. But you can’t replicate it on freeways. In fact, you probably couldn’t replicate it here in America because people would be like DURRRR THIS IS TRAFFIC SOCIALISM and DURRR IT’S FROM EUROPE IT SOUNDS QUEER TO ME and then one cyclist would get run over and soccer moms would be like I TOLD YOU IT WAS UNSAFE! There is nothing we cannot make overtly political. It’s our gift as a people.



How would you rank the best NFL watching days of the year? I for one think the Super Bowl is overrated, but I think Thanksgiving holds the top spot, even though I have never made it past halftime of night game due to 4,000 calories of food in my gut, mixed with at least a bottle of wine and 10 beers. Next has to be followed by NFC/AFC Championship Sunday, the random Wildcard Saturday games (ooooh NFL on Saturday, droooool), Opening Weekend, and then the Super Bowl. Special shoutout to any NFL Sundays followed by a Federal holiday I don’t have to work on.


I think Thanksgiving is a little overrated because even though I like having the option of disappearing to the TV room and ignoring everyone, I still don’t get to fully luxuriate in the action because there’s always the lingering specter of having to go back upstairs and mingle. I rarely get to watch those games in full, because even when I turn on the TV in a common area, my wife will usually tell me it’s rude to have it on, and then I grumble and turn it off. On Thanksgiving, football is wallpaper. And I am a diseased sack of meat by the time the night game rolls around. I can barely register what’s happening on the field unless Leon Lett fumbles the ball.

I think the Divisional Round Sunday is the best one, because the Saturday games are usually duds so, by law, you usually get at least one nutzoid playoff game that next day. I would rank them like this:

  1. Divisional Sunday
  2. Championship Sunday
  3. Wild Card Sunday
  4. Super Bowl
  5. Divisional Saturday
  6. Thanksgiving
  7. Opening Sunday
  8. Any Sunday after the byes and London games are finished
  9. Wild Card Saturday (featuring the Texans playing the Texans!)
  10. Any other Sunday
  11. Monday
  12. Grim death
  13. Any Thursday Night in September

Truthfully, I like myself a plain old NFL Sunday with a full slate. That is my happy place. The NFL is at its best when all the games are on at once and you can toggle around the action like it’s March Madness. That’s when I’m like, “Oh yeah! I like this sport!”




I recently moved from downtown area of a large city to a very family-friendly neighborhood. I don’t have any kids. Whenever I am out biking, running, yard work, etc I see families walking around with their kids. The kids usually run in front of the parents, wave and give a very enthusiastic Hiiii! When I respond, is a little kid voice Hi! back good enough for the entire group or should I give the parents a separate greeting in a grown up voice?


The kiddie-voiced HI is enough. It really is something how I go up three registers when greeting a child or a dog. “Hiiii! Hi little guy! I’m speaking in a high voice to let you know I’m not a serial killer!” I’m not sure this is a foolproof method of making chitchat with small mammals.



I just learned about this, and I must do it.

I dunno, man. You go skateboating and it seems like a mortal lock that you would lose a vital limb. Look at the blades on the iceboats, man. You’re telling me you can dodge one of those things if it’s coming at you at 450 mph? And it’s all powered by wind! You can’t control the wind! All it takes is one stray gust and BOOM! You got an iceboat skating over your neck, Clint Malarchuk-style. If I’m gonna kill myself on a frozen lake, it’s gonna be with a snowmobile, thank you very much.




My coworker handed me his phone to read an email he got from a client. Whenever I am requested to read something to myself in front of someone who is waiting, I lose focus of the content and just start worrying if HE thinks I’m reading too slowly. So I spend the remainder of the time fake reading, counting the seconds in my head until I think a believable time has passed.


Yeah man, tell him to just forward the email. Please don’t make me read on demand, and please don’t read ANYTHING to me out loud, unsolicited. Like if someone is like, “Did ya hear about this?!” and then reads an entire Buzzfeed article out loud to you, that’s grounds for murder.

Also, never hand your phone to someone. Every time I hand my phone off to someone to watch a funny frog video or something, I immediately regret it. What if they keep the phone? What if they break it? What if they scroll through my tweets and see all the death threats I made to mayonnaise producers? What if they just took a shit and are wiping their poop all over my touchscreen? No thank you. I’m not sharing hardware.



Email of the week!


The Halloween after high school graduation my buddy and I go over to another friend’s house for a party. Bunch of people we knew from high school. We drifted out back to where the stoners were to see who was there. There’s a big group out back, including John (not his real name) and John was going to take his first bong hit.

John was one of the smartest guys in our school. 1600 SATs, went to a very prestigious college away from home, didn’t like it so he transferred to a very prestigious college closer to home. Very book smart. John’s very excited to take his first hit. The professional stoner who brought the pipe gets it all ready and hands it to John. But John doesn’t know what to do. So he unscrews the water cylinder underneath the pipe and downs the water in one gulp.

I didn’t smoke and never have in my life, but even I know you’re not supposed to do that and everyone watching yells at him variations of “Why the fuck did you do that!?” And John just looks around with a stupefied expression on his face and says: “What?”

Just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you actually know shit.

So true.