Who Is Your Favorite Athlete Not On Your Favorite Team?

Graphic: Jim Cooke (GMG), Photo: Getty

Today, we’re talking about getting eaten by a whale, state names as first names, typos, Hitler, butter knives, and more.


Your letters:


When Ichiro retired, I saw a lot of comments to the effect of, “He was my favorite player not on my favorite team.” Who are some all-time favorite players who aren’t Jordan or LeBron that weren’t on your team? My list is: Randy Moss and Ken Griffey Jr.

This will date me but when I was growing up I loved both Bernie Kosar AND Phil Simms. Yes, I did. This was before Phil became PHEEL in the announcing booth and I realized that Phil Simms has no redeeming qualities of any sort. Before that, he and Bernie were just the kinda lunchpail QBs I could envision myself becoming one day (I never did). One Christmas, my mom even got me a replica Phil Simms jersey. No name on the back. That would have cost extra in printing. Regardless, I cherished it. I wore it to school and everything. In Minnesota. Imagine thinking that being Phil Simms makes you cool. I may as well have worn a KICK ME sign around my ballsack.

I have other athletes stored away in the Guys I Like A Lot file gathering dust in the back of my roomy head. I loved Al Dillard at Arkansas. I loved Bo Jackson, as is required by law for anyone my age. I loved Chris Chelios. I love Kieran Trippier. I liked Bill Laimbeer because he was the guy who fought people. I can’t necessarily tell you WHY I liked some of these players. In the case of Bo, it’s self-evident. With Chelios, I just think he had a cool name. I wish there were more to it, but there doesn’t always have to be. Certain athletes just give off an aura that’s on your wavelength. Anytime I thought to myself, “Hey man, THAT guy and me could be frat bros!” I basically liked them.

I don’t really get that way with a lot of athletes who aren’t on my team anymore. Part of that is age. When I was a kid, I had enough free time to watch every sport and have Thoughts about every last person involved. I’m not as freewheeling with my affections anymore, which is strange because I am now PAID to watch every sport and have Thoughts about every last person involved. I should be cottoning to the Mike Tolberts of the world. But that part of my sports imagination has eroded. Now I like a few athletes outside of my favorite team, but for the same reasons everyone else does: either because they did some useful shit for my fantasy team, or because the internet loves them. They’re not mine, the way athletes can sometimes feel. Or I’m way too busy HATING the John Kuhns of the world because it’s more fun.

The internet has its favorites, especially Steph Curry in his prime Vine years. As with so many other things, the internet has a tendency not to widen your sports loyalties, but rather to concentrate them where everyone else’s lie. I love Patrick Mahomes, but so do 90 million other people on Twitter. There’s nothing unique in loving him when he’s already an Official Internet Darling, as he’s earned the right to be. Those darlings are internet comfort food. I could go hunting around for tape of some OTHER athlete whose stylings might be on my wavelength, but I don’t see the need to make that effort when I can watch a clip of Mahomes literally throwing a football out of a stadium, or listen to Deshaun Watson breaking down a defense in shockingly digestible terms at a presser, or laugh at Kyle Long doing a funny tweet.


If I don’t have to make an analog effort to appreciate certain obscure players, like I’m tracking down rare vinyl albums at an indie record store, I won’t. My sports imagination has been flattened. So if I didn’t answer your question properly, compiling a list of universally loved secondary athletes, it’s because all of my choices—Alvin Kamara and Giannis, as two examples—would be so obvious as to be redundant. I do love that Whitney Mercilus, though. He’s a fucking badass.


What are the best and worst states to have as a given name? Not including geographic or other descriptors (no “North” or “New” or “Island”) what would you most like to be called? Dakota and Montana have become pretty popular recently, but old standbys like Georgia and Virginia are actual names. Would there be anything worse than being called “Delaware”? “Connecticut”?


Yeah, you don’t wanna be named Connecticut. No one is gonna assume you’re some tough guy because you’re named after Martha Stewart’s backyard. Plus everyone would shorten it to Connie anyway. Lemme just run through a few of the best and worst possible choices:


TEXAS. Nice shootin’, Tex!

INDIANA. I know this is a double-edged sword, but you’re not gonna complain about failing to live up to the standards of Indiana Jones when you could have been named Hampshire Farrington VI instead.


WASHINGTON. Oddly, if this is your first name, you might be from Connecticut. But you’ll still be all right.

ARKANSAS. I only have this on here because I remember Christian Slater playing Arkansas Dave Rudabaugh in Young Guns 2. I saw that movie once in the theater and thought it was awesome. I never bothered to watch it again. I’m no fool. I know a second viewing would easily SHATTER the illusion.


NEVADA. Makes you sound like a cowboy, or like you own a soccer-themed bar in Manhattan.

VERMONT. Apart from Dakota and other state names that make you sound like a Chevy pickup truck, naming your kid after a state lends them a, uh, STATEliness that makes them sound all well-bred and cultured. Or you sound like a friend of Jim Tomsulas. It can really fall either way.


TENNESSEE. True story: One time, I was in drama class in school and I had to do a scene where I played Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. Part of the scene required me to, like, forcefully grab the girl who was playing Blanche and berate her. I was not up to this task. My voice cracked 16 times as we rehearsed it. To play that guy convincingly, you have to be a GENUINE bastard. I am simply too sweet and kind to qualify.

ALABAMA. “Amid the chaos of that day, when all I could hear was the thunder of gunshots, and all I could smell was the violence in the air, I look back and am amazed that my thoughts were so clear and true, that three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record: you’re so cool, you’re so cool, you’re so cool.”


ARIZONA. Arizona is one of those states that has a cool name but is, itself, a wasteland. At least Arizona Burton would have a chance to live up to the connotation.


MISSISSIPPI. Missy for short! Suddenly it’s not so special.

DAKOTA. Fuck you, man. Your YouTube channel is banned from our house.

FLORIDA. There’s only one Florida and that’s the mom from Good Times. All the other Floridas are inferior to the immortal Esther Rolle.

IDAHO. I da pimp! HEY-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Like a Good Times reference, that joke never gets old!

ILLINOIS. This is Will Leitch’s actual first name.



Does Trump believe in ghosts?

No. He thinks ghosts are for losers. Also, ghosts have no money, and are therefore unattractive to him.



What professional athlete could you outrun? It’s a one-mile race and first one to the finish wins. As an average guy I think I could beat a power lifter or maybe even a catcher. Thoughts?


An MLB catcher? A dude who can squat in place for five hours a day and somehow not die? No. I’m not outlasting Yadier Molina for a mile. The only pro athlete I can imagine outrunning is, like, John Daly. And he’s not even a pro athlete anymore. And he would still kick my ass.

Long ago, I used to run five miles a day. I got to the point where I could pull this off in a relatively tidy 35 minutes. A seven-minute mile. That represented the apex of my athletic ability. Before that, I played football and used to bust my ass every offseason to improve my 40 time. I lifted. I cut my body fat. I did dot drills in the college fieldhouse at o’dark thirty. I went to a local park near my folks’ house and ran sprints in the middle of a dirt track all summer long, hoping girls and pro scouts alike would notice me FLYING across the turf. At times, I became convinced that I had cut my 40 time so far down that I was faster than Joey Galloway.


Then two-a-days arrived. The coaches paired us up to measure out 40 times, and that’s when the truth would outrun me by six lengths. I don’t think I ever broke 5.8. I was pathetic: as slow and useless as I had always been. Perhaps I should have spent those summers, you know, timing myself to check my progress. But no! No, I instead chose to wait until I was surrounded by literally everyone I wanted to impress to discover how little I had improved. Every time we ran the 40, I would walk away devastated.

Twenty-plus years and three back surgeries later, I strongly doubt I’ve gotten any faster. Who’s an athlete I could possibly outrun? Some out-of-shape pitcher? Those guys are actually in shape. A sumo wrestler? Those guys are built like Jonathan Ogden now. You appreciate sports a lot more when you either play them or see them up close and understand, innately, how fucking HARD they are at the highest levels. I’ve seen and played enough to know that I’m operating at a level 67 rungs down from where, like, even a World Poker Tour guy lives. Fedor Holz would leave me eating his Pumas.



Why is it that frozen ravioli/tortellini are hands down the hardest thing to find in a freezer aisle? ZERO thought is put into their placement. You think they’d be near, I don’t know, other frozen pastas? But no, apparently they are closely related to frozen potatoes. This is how the country has fallen off so badly, we’re kept in a state of constant agitation by shoddy supermarket design.


Excuse me but are you not making your pasta from scratch?! It’s SO easy! Just ask Sofia Coppola and Andy Garcia!

Whoa hey, did it get EROTIC in here or is it just me? My wife tried to make homemade gnocchi 20 years ago and was so traumatized by it that she still thinks about it to this day (I thought it tasted fine, she was not so kind on herself… we did not make out by the kitchen counter). Anyway, I don’t remember ever having a hard time finding five-pound bags of frozen beef-a-roni in the freezer aisle (In all seriousness, I recommend the Rana brand stuff). At my store, it’s usually lumped in with all the sad frozen lasagnas and what not. Now, frozen fruit? THAT is a bitch to find. The part of the aisle that has frozen fruit is never clearly labeled, because there are only one or two freaks on the hunt for frozen fruit at the store any given day.


Conversely, you could buy the fresh Buitoni pastas that are warehoused in their own little purgatory, usually the deli aisle for some reason. Who doesn’t love paying $7 for two handfuls of spinach tortellini? Not this man. For years, the only thing my son would eat were mini-ravioli from the fresh pasta case. When those little ones got discontinued, we had a legitimate crisis. I had to seriously labor to get my child to eat normal sized ravioli. It took months. I have no idea where I went wrong.

My rule of thumb is that if you can’t find something in the freezer aisle, it’s because it’s located on the bottom shelf. All the basic goodies like ice cream and pizza are at eye-level. The rest is buried way down and far back, with all the vegan shit. This is all just to injure you. Your supermarket hates you.




I know Trump has denied ever taking drugs. As far as weed, do you believe him? Do you think there was one time when he was 17 or something? What do you think he would be like? Mellow? Anxiety attack? Nonstop laughter?


I actually believe Trump when he says he’s never had a drink or taken drugs. His brother died from alcoholism, after all. And I’ve met enough psycho teetotalers out there who don’t want beer “clouding” their ambitions or whatever to know that Trump neatly fits into the prototype.

If Trump ever smoked weed, I absolutely know how he’d react. He’d complain-brag that he didn’t feel anything. It’s a way of announcing that you’re so cool that you’re impervious to bong hits. BRO THIS IS ISN’T DOING ANYTHING BRO! YOU GOTTA BRING ME THE GOOD SHIT IF YOU EXPECT MY AMAZING BRAIN TO HOOK UP WITH IT! I’ve pulled this move, mostly so I could pretend that I had a superhuman tolerance for all illicit substances. A few hours later campus security woke me up because I was asleep on one of the paths.


To Trump, weed is for hippies and losers and ghost hunters, and I think he considers himself a literal breed apart from that group: genetically superior and inherently resistant to such weaknesses. I would say smoking weed could make Trump unusually paranoid, but well, you’ve seen the man’s tweets.


Settle a score in my office. You’re typing and realize you misspelled something. Do you…

A. Backspace to the word deleting any extra words you might have typed and make the corrections

B. Use the mouse to right-click and have word/office/wizards/whatever fix it for you

C. Leave it and let spell correct ask you at the end

D. Highlight the word and fix it yourself

D is the correct answer, right ? A is clearly an insane person. B and C are trusting technology as our overlords. Thanks.


I never do C because I never formally spellcheck anything I write. It shows when I post, but I’d rather put up the occasional typo than endure a two-minute spell check where Microsoft Word offers breathtakingly wrong grammar fixes (“The bus would not GOES any faster”) and redlines every proper noun and compound swear word I use: shitbox, etc. Fuck all that. I trust myself more than I trust Clippy to correct those mistakes. I fix recognized typos right away, either by doing one of your first two options or, and this is nutty, just deleting EVERYTHING back to the typo (within reason… like, half a sentence) and re-typing it all from scratch. I saw my mom do this once and thought it was deranged. Then I caught myself doing it and I was like OH SHIT I’M MY MOM NOW. Weird moment.

Mostly, I backspace or I move the cursor to the offending word and fix it before going back to the end of the doc. I’m sure there’s a more efficient way of going about this, but I’ve made it this far being a typing idiot. No sense in breaking what’s already broken.



My best friend doesn’t use hand towels and insists on making his guests either traipse to the kitchen to get paper towels or use his bath towel to dry their hands. I insist this is appalling behavior. He moved in a few months ago with his girlfriend, who is a doctor, which I assumed would end this practice. Much to my chagrin, she has the same disgusting habit. Am I allowed to call them both undeveloped Neanderthals and/or throw globs of hand sanitizer at them?


You could, or you could just grin and bear it and then bitch to friends about it, the way I would. The way you are right now!

This whole Funbag is showing my age. I never wanted to become a hand towel guy. I was once a bachelor who dried his hands off using leftover napkins from the pad thai I ordered for takeout. Now my wife and I have hand towels and complimentary SoftSoap dispensers in each bathroom and I am at a loss whenever a bathroom lacks such amenities. Just the other day I got mad at my kids for leaving throw pillows on the floor. I should become a greeter at a Walmart.



What if Hitler had kept a standard mustache? Would the regular ‘stache be extinct today or would we have looked past it? Would all 80s cops have rocked the Hitler ‘stache? Would WWII have happened?


Well, Stalin had a regular mustache. A good one, actually. Nice and bushy. That hasn’t stopped modern men from growing them, and Stalin killed MORE people than Hitler did. So I don’t think Hitler’s preferred mustache would have changed anything about him, or about modern mustache trends. I guess the block mustache would still be allowable, but one of the reasons it was phased out after World War II—apart from the single glaringly obvious reason—is that it looks fucking absurd. Even Michael Jordan couldn’t pull one off. I guess I should thank Hitler for disgracing such a lousy grooming technique so thoroughly that it’s now extinct. Thanks, Hitty! I’m just glad he didn’t ruin cargo shorts for me.


As I struggled to cut a piece of chicken with the provided dull-as-hell butter knife, I came to realize that the butter knife has to be the worst piece of cutlery. They are not adequate in doing the main job of a knife (cutting) and though they are good at their specialty (smearing shit on toast), this function could easily be performed by a shaper steak knife without mangling the bread. I find myself mostly just using the butter knife to move around food so I can stab it with the fork, a task that I could also accomplish using literally any stick-like object. I am close to going home and throwing out all my butter knives and replacing them with steak knives. Should I do this?


But why are you eating chicken with a butter knife? They don’t call it a chicken knife. For main courses, you should use a regular-ass serving knife. It’s the right tool for the job there. A butter knife is essentially designed for spreading softened butter, like butter you keep out of the fridge and in a crock all day long. For anything else, you’re right in deeming it to be worthless, especially when a serving knife can do the same job with ease. Fish knives are also stupid. Don’t eat a regular meal with either of those two utensils. There’s no point.

That said, I don’t agree with you that using a STEAK knife to spread butter on bread is a harmless endeavor. Maybe you don’t mangle the bread with it, but I sure do. Also, if you’re making a sandwich with a steak knife, the pointed end of it makes it hard to get a big glob of peanut butter on the end, the way I require. Save steak knives for special, meaty occasions. When I bust them out at home, I feel like I’m warming up to play in the Super Bowl. And when a restaurant places one down in front of you before your entrée comes? That’s when you know shit is gonna go DOWN. It’s a nice moment. Your tomahawk chop actually arriving at the table is a nicer moment, but I appreciate the opening salvo.



My wife and I recently bought a new couch online. The delivery people said they would call the day before to set up a time to drop it off. I was expecting a typical eight-hour, abandon-all-your-responsibilities afternoon window. However, they offered only one time – 6:30 AM. That’s in the morning. Is this a thing? This seems like an insane time to have a couple burly dudes come in and clomp up the stairs of an apartment building (where everyone is presumably sleeping).


I think I’ve had that happen a few times. Every time, I’ve been surprised. Like you, I expect delivery services to run on a cable company service call schedule, where you have to wait at home for them between 9 a.m. and 4 a.m. six days later. So it’s refreshing when a service gives you a definite time. The thing you should know, though, is that they’re still never actually there on time. Sometimes they’re late. Sometimes they’re strangely early. One time I looked out my window and the delivery guy was parked outside 15 minutes ahead of schedule, fucking with his phone to burn the clock. For a second I thought the CIA was staking out my house, hoping to catch me plotting a coup d’etat. Then I realized it was just a new end table. Disappointing.


Just read an article where a scuba diver narrowly escaped being swallowed whole by a whale. Got me thinking, if you’re a scuba diver and carrying a knife and actually do get swallowed whole by a whale, do you think it would be possible to cut yourself free from the inside out? My thought is 100% yes. That one dude cut his damn arm off to save his life. Sorry, Shamu but give me 10 minutes and I’ll be free.


No, you’d be dead. You’d have to hope that the whale thinks you taste bad and spits you out. Jonah-style. Otherwise, its powerful digestive tract would squeeze the life out of you and starve you of oxygen. The acid in it stomach lining would eat you alive. Your scuba mask would be pressed through your skull. It would feel unpleasant.

Also, you’re assuming that you’d be all calm and strategic once you’re trapped in Free Willy’s rectum. That might be true if you’re, like, Rambo. If you’re an average pud like me, you’d be left paralyzed by the shock. HOLY FUCK, I’M BEING EATEN BY A WHALE. That’s all I would be able to think about if it happened. I wouldn’t even remember I had a knife before going unconscious. And even if I did, it’s not like a whale’s carcass is made of Brie cheese. I get tired butchering raw chicken, and that chicken is dead. What chance would you or I have cutting a man-sized hole in the side of fucking Moby Dick before last grain of sand tumbles down into the bottom of the hourglass? Zero. You’d be whale shit.


Email of the week!


I know you have an issue with the new generation of names, but listen here buddy: At least there’s a little variety, no matter how bad they are. I’ve been fortunate enough to break into my career path at an early age, which means 90% of the time I’m working with people that are a generation older than me. I shit you not, here is a list of repetitive names I need to differentiate on a daily basis:

- Bob x5 (none of these old guys use Robert or Rob. Is that a law drafted in the 70s?)

- Mike x4

- Joe x4

- Adam x3

- Chris/Kris x3

I waste at least 20 minutes a day figuring out who the hell someone is referring to while trying to get some work done (do not fact check). Please take a moment to re-evaluate your take on old names vs. new names. Thank you for your service.


Okay that’s fair. At one point I worked with 67 different Megans. It can get cumbersome.

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