Time for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Today, we're covering casual fans, racist neighbors, old porn, and more.
I'm guessing in MLB/baseball history, there have been pitchers who have been great hitters (Babe Ruth comes to mind), but in modern-day baseball, do you think we will ever see a pitcher who hits like .270-.300 consistently and isn't a sure out? I know recently there's been like Jason Marquis, Mike Hampton, and even Carlos Zambrano who have been known to knock one out of the park, but never hit for average.
According to this study, there are a couple of guys like Zach Greinke who have managed to hover around .200, but they're few and far between. Pitching at the pro level is so detailed and requires such extensive training that teams are perfectly fine to cede outs at the nine-spot because of it. I wonder if building up good hitting muscles and shit actively works against the muscles pitchers need for throwing the ball. Like, you can train to become a .300 hitter, but then you get too heavy, and your fastball goes to shit or something. And maybe pitching prospects don't train for hitting as much these days because they know they have a 50/50 shot of never having to bat. I bet they all PRAY for an American League team. I bet American League GMs are like, "Remember, you don't have to bat with us!" to every possible draftee and free agent.
With the possible exception of free-throw shooting for certain players in the NBA, I can't think of any other situation in sports where a player is asked to do something that it so far from his skill set. It's like forcing your quarterback to be the kicker. (NOTE: I am not against this.) I'm all for athletes embarrassing themselves, but it's a real letdown with the bases loaded and two outs when you realize the stupid pitcher is coming up to bat. You'll never see baseball teams allow their pitchers to become DISTRACTED by working on not being terrible hitters. They'll always suck at it.
Every time a major golf championship is in the news, sportswriters and radio guys can't seem to talk about anything other than Tiger Woods and how golf needs him to bring in the "casual fan." Who is this mythical person? Golf is such a slow, usually boring sport to watch that the people who watch it genuinely enjoy watching it, regardless of whether Tiger is in it. It's not like my girlfriend, who has never picked up a club in her life, is gonna tune in. Can we all just admit that this "casual fan" is just some bullshit fairy-tale person who cannot possibly exist except to give guys like Colin Cowherd a reason to talk about Tiger even when he's totally irrelevant?
The most obvious example of a real-life casual fan is your mom. Your mom is the sweet spot for every TV exec and webmaster and car salesman out there. If your mom has heard about something, that means the whole goddamn world knows about it. And if your mom—who is constantly put upon with dinner arrangements and paying bills and various garden-club duties—can make time to sit down and watch the ninth inning of the World Series, then many other people will also make time for it. Golf wants your mom, man. Golf wants to bring her in and rub her shoulders and seduce her with wide panning shots of pretty landscaping around the course. AZALEAS. Your mom is crucial. I've worked in advertising, and the key question the client always asks is, "Hey, will this asshole's mom buy this for him?" I've written books, and the key question publishers always ask is, "Hey, will some asshole's mom read this book? And can you spare some change for us?" Everything is marketed to get your mother's approval and/or awareness.
I have said this before, but there are plenty of people out there who are interested in sports but don't have the time or the inclination to follow them wire-to-wire every season. I am now one of those people. With the exception of football, I usually tune into other sports only when I can be a GLORY BOY and swoop in at the most dramatic time. Like with golf. I'm almost certainly never gonna watch golf on Thursday again for the rest of my life. I got work and kids and all that horrible shit. But I happily watched the last three holes of the PGA on Sunday, because I had time, and the leaderboard was tight, and there were many dramatic clouds. I jumped right in and rode that bitch out.
As life goes on, you can easily demote yourself from diehard to "mom fan" status without much effort. It's not a good feeling. I am much shittier sports fan than I was 20 years ago. Back then, I could have gotten into a "Is Jerry Rice the beneficiary of Joe Montana, or is Joe Montana the beneficiary of Jerry Rice?" argument with you and really given it my all. I would have CARED. Now I could give the zero-est of fucks, and I am less of a man because of it. I had such hotter takes back in the day. Twenty years from now, I'm gonna text my kid, "How about that LeBron Jr.?" and my son will roll his eyes in irritation. It's gonna happen. I can't stop it.
Annoying old swing-voter-types are the casual fans that TV execs want, the people who take the sport from the sports page and promote it up to the front page, where the wars and presidents are. I have no idea why TV people want those fans. Those fans just drop the sport the second the drama goes away. But those are the people they are aiming for.
I play for a relatively good American football team in Scotland. We're not in the top division, we're one away. Our players are the equivalent of maybe a decent high school team, except we're grown men. One or two Div II college types permeate our mix, but nothing great. What I want to know is, if Adrian Peterson came over and played a season for us, what happens? I imagine he'd be successful, but how successful? Surely 11 grown men could overpower him, meaning we'd have to rely on other aspects of our offense to win?
Here we are in white and red:
You would go undefeated. At your level of play, a running back is arguably the most important player in the field. If you've ever seen low-level high school football (normal high school football, not the crazy pro-type shit that 10,000-student Cali high schools play), you know that a team with a kick-ass running back can beat the SHIT out of other teams. All the QB does is hand off. The freakshow running back/returner does the rest. The lower the level of football, the more impact an individual player can have. So if Peterson joined your team, you would be able to CRUSHSLAY the competition. You probably wouldn't even have to block. I know the Vikings don't.
When I was a senior in high school, we had a really good running back, and I was wayyyyy too proud of having him for a teammate. Like, he would score a touchdown, and I would turn to the crowd while I was riding the sideline and be like OH YEAH, THAT WAS OUR GUY. Like I somehow deserved credit for being in the general vicinity of the kid who was twice as fast as everyone else on the field. I also went to football camp, and one of the other campers was committed to Syracuse. And when I got back, I told EVERYONE. I was like, "Yeah, I went to football camp. Kid from there is going to Syracuse." Which is stupid! I wasn't going to Syracuse. Syracuse isn't even good at football.
But that's how it works at the lower levels of football. The best players are infinitely better than the regular players, and so they elicit an ungodly amount of awe and wonder, and throw benchwarmers like me into hysterics.
Does the fact that I'm a fan of Penn State and the Washington Redskins, in and of itself, make me a bad person? Don't know if this is relevant, but I've been a fan of both since I was old enough to watch sports. So, about 25 years.
Nah, that's fine. I actually feel bad for some Penn State fans. You didn't sign up to be a Penn Stater knowing that your school would go down as a loony bin of child-molestation truthing. You just liked Kyle Brady or something.
And there are a few okay 'Skins fans out there. A FEW. You gotta look hard.
My cable provider is doing a free preview of Cinemax this weekend, and I see that they are showing an Emmanuelle soft-core flick in the middle of Saturday night. This particular movie was apparently made in 2014. Apparently the French shit out eight of these per year. Is the Emmanuelle #brand really that strong? Should I be sending this email to Rovell?
The only person who is going to look to Cinemax for porn these days is someone old enough to remember the first time Emmanuelle was on Cinemax, so it makes sense to churn out as many of those movies for casual soft-core porn fans as possible. I know when I think of Emmanuelle, I think back to my Golden Days of Masturbation, when soft-core porn was forbidden and exciting, and masturbation was a fantastic new personal discovery, before it became a horribly rote exercise that now excites me about as much as finding a new brand of mouthwash on the drugstore shelf. Passion Fruit Listerine? I'M IN.
I grew up watching old porn like Emmanuelle and Happy Housewives and Inhibition and Candy Stripe Nurses, and those movies still hold a kind of allure over me. It's like anything else you love when you're young: You love it more and you remember it better. So if I ever stumbled upon a sequel to one of those movies in the TV listings, I would TOTALLY check it out, only to be disappointed by the sequel's writing and creative direction and tacky CGI work and the appearance of comic sidekick Jar Jar Bonks. It would crush my childhood.
How would you rank different types of golf clubs in terms of the agony of being bludgeoned to death with one?
I would put the putter in the No. 1 slot. I played mini golf with my kids awhile back: Letting a child wield a long metal putter for 20 minutes is a bad idea, but that only dawns on you once you've paid your money and picked your clubs out. It's a really tense 20-minute round of golf after that. They swing those clubs around like fucking Conan the Barbarian.
What is the average number of times you have to set a full garbage bag down on the ground to ensure it doesn't topple over?
Three. Sometimes you get lucky and get a bag that has a small pizza box at the bottom, or some other object that can serve as a base. But mostly, it's chicken bones and baloney wrappers.
I gotta take out the garbage every day, and it is a debilitating process. The bag never just lifts out of the can. It's like trying to pull a ring off of a bloated corpse. I'm so tired from wrenching the bag out of the can that I have to pause at my doorstep and rest the best before delivering it all the way to the outside can. And when I set the bag down, it always topples over or it is already leaking ketchup from an unseen hole in the bottom.
When I lived in New York, the building had a garbage chute. Garbage chutes might be the only good thing left about living in New York. I would pay at least four dollars for a garbage chute now. You push that bag in the chute, hear it crash, and your work is done. Where did the garbage go? Did the bag explode? DONNNNNN'T CARRRRRRRRE.
If you parked in one of those long-term airport parking lots with acres upon acres of cars in them and you went down in a crash, how long would it take for the parking authority to notice and do something about your car? Is there some poor soul's 1993 Chrysler LeBaron still sitting in the JFK parking lot from TWA flight 800?
At Dulles airport, any vehicle left for longer than 45 days is declared abandoned and then towed away. So if your surviving loved ones didn't go to claim it, your car will be taken to the pound eventually. Parking-lot officials love any excuse to tow a car away—unpaid meter, parked in a reserved spot, you were NOT a customer of Bob's Carpet Emporium, etc. Your unfortunate death is all they need to clear out your poor Chevy Nova.
Would it be worse to be castrated, or be deaf and blind?
Deaf and blind. Close your eyes and cover your ears and walk around for 60 seconds. Sucks, right? It's well worth sacrificing your testicles to not be entombed in that cone of blackness for the rest of your days.
What kind of game with the ladies are you gonna have if you're deaf and blind anyway? You can ask to "see" your date by touching her face, and that's very sweet the first time you do it. But after the 60th time, she's just gonna be angry. STOP TOUCHING MY FACE, MILES. I like being able to see and hear. It's useful to me. Take my balls if necessary. I'm probably a better person without them.
How would you rate the following aspects of having kids, in terms of how much raging fury they inflict upon parents:
* Leaky sippy cups that appear to be designed to leak
* Seat/chair straps that will not clasp, especially in heavy rain
* Finding that they pooped as you are sitting them down for dinner
* Finding joy when they eat something for the first time, buying a metric ton, and their immediate refusal to eat it at the next meal
* Splashing water in the tub
Splashing water is my No. 1 worst. I can't think of one thing that is more enjoyable and infuriating between two human beings only 10 years apart.
I can handle a bit of tub splashing. You have to let the kid live. I only get pissed when the kid takes a cup of water and just dumps it right out of the tub (happens a lot), or the kid scoots back and forth in the tub, creating a wave pool and then flooding the bathroom floor when that wave spills over (rarer, but infinitely worse).
I hate everything else on your list much, much more. Here is how I would rank them.
5. Tub splashing.
4. Leaky sippy cups. They ALL leak. Milk just gushes right out of them. I'd be better off serving milk in a leaky canoe. Then the milk leaks on the kid, and they just cry, all the time. They don't suck it up and go find a napkin. They just piss and moan.
3. Pooping before dinner. They also poop right after you've left the house and you gotta change them in the shotgun seat and pray no poop gets on the windshield. Or they poop right after you put the overnight diaper on them. Stupid baby. Don't you know those things cost 30 cents a pop? These kids all time their poops horribly.
2. Refusal to eat something they liked just a day ago. I've learned my lesson about this kind of thing. Getting children to eat decently is fucking horrible … arguably the worst part of parenting. My wife has cried MANY TIMES over our failure to get the kids to eat like normal human beings. But even we know that you can't kill a dish by serving it 50 times in a row. You gotta show restraint and wait a few days before serving it again, because apparently children are just like single women who want you to call but don't want you STALKING them.
1. The car-seat thing. I actually had a seat recalled because the buckle was so hard to buckle. I have gotten my son's penis caught in the buckle MORE THAN ONCE because a five-point car-seat buckle is located directly on top of the crotch and makes for easy genital-mashing. Car seats are evil, horrible things and I hate them in every possible way. One time I was coming home from a flight with the kids and I had to re-install the car seat as they waited on the curb, and the thing wouldn't latch, and I was so angry I just howled. Like a fucking dog. With people watching. I howled and then kicked the car in a fit of rage. Car seats do this to you.
I have been arguing with my sister about which label is more offensive: "weird" or "odd." So far, I have gotten about a 50/50 split when asking other friends, but would like an answer to end the whole stupid discussion before I see her in two weeks. I personally feel that "odd" is much more offensive. It comes across as the way someone that attended finishing school would refer to anyone who does not fit into their zone of normal-ness. If some douche told me I was odd, I would respond with a throat punch. When people-watching, I want to see weirdos, not odd-os.
I think calling someone "weird" is a more damning observation. Oddballs have the potential to be endearing. You're basically one step away from being quirky. "He's a bit odd. He likes collecting Hummel figurines. But he's a great guy!" You can have one odd trait and be an otherwise normal human being. But I tend to think of weird people as people who summon a general air of discomfort and creepiness. That guy sleeps all day and makes sculptures out of old toenails at night. What a fucking weirdo.
By the way, that's one of the annoying things about movies and TV shows. Every strange person in a movie is portrayed as endearing nevertheless. That's not true in real life. In real life, that wacky neighbor of yours is just a fucking freakshow and should be kept away from your children at all costs.
Vests have never made sense to me. Thoughts?
I used to have a vest to wear in the fall and spring. It lets your pits breathe, which is nice when it's hovering right around 58 degrees outside. Plus I got to pretend I was Marty McFly, which is all I've ever wanted.
Also, a vest shows off the GUNZ. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise: people who wear vests are people who want to be warm, but just can't stand the idea of letting their powerful arms go unexposed. If I cover my arms, I lose my all of my superpowers.
In general, I am never the correct temperature, ever. If I go outside in anything, I am either too hot or too cold. One day they will make a full body Hazmat suit that keeps you a perfect 69 degrees at all times, and I will buy it and wear it, looks be damned.
I don't know what I'm doing on the internet. I'm a two- or three-website guy. I don't know what people do when they go online. Hundreds of millions of websites, and I visit three regularly. Am I dumb?
Nah, you're not dumb. There are a million things to eat in this world, and yet many people opt to eat pizza or burgers for the zillionth time. You have your comfort websites, and that's where you go. Makes perfect sense. If you broadened your choices, you'd be left paralyzed with doubt. I had to buy a laptop last month, and the choices are so vast that you can end up having a nervous breakdown sorting it all out. Eventually, you just have to choose, and the comfort of making a choice is better than sitting there day after day poring over CNet reviews and shit. This new laptop could be missing eight keys and I'd still keep it, just because I'm glad the selection process is over.
Email of the week!
My family moved to Scandinavia from the States for work a few years ago, and we are settling in nicely. The only problem is that it's a little tricky finding new friends for me and my wife. A new family moved in earlier this year, and we thought all of our problems were solved. The dad likes drinking beers and watching sports, and our kids are the same age and best friends. It's been a blast.
Last night, we had a late-night messenger, another friendly neighbor, tell us that this new neighbor is actually the head of a white supremacist / anti-immigrant group in Scandinavia. TOTAL BUMMER. Evidently his awesome tattoos of ancient Norse gods and Finnish lions are not quite as innocent as I thought they were.
Obviously I'm not going to keep inviting him over for burgers, beers, and talks about Viking history, but how should I handle the relationship with our kids? It's not their fault that Daddy is a hater. The kids have a great time together, but I don't want my son being indoctrinated into neo-Nazi-spewing hatred, and I haven't progressed to the racism lesson in my Rosetta Stone yet.
That is so typical of Scandinavia. You move there thinking it's some kind of Nordic paradise with nice blonde people serving locally forged peat moss and herring on slabs of thick wheat bread. Next thing you know, you realize everyone is either a white supremacist, a writer who specializes in rape scenes, or an actual rapist. THAT LAND HIDES MANY LIES.
Anyway, my advice would be to keep things cordial but distant. That's the proper WASP move. You don't express outright disapproval; you simply keep things superficial and try your best to keep things pleasant. And then your new neighbor wonders why you've cut him off, then slowly realizes you are one of the SHEEPLE, and then he plots your death. Standard Swedish suburban conflict.
But keep the kids friendly. I'd send my kid to Charles Manson's house for a playdate if it bought me a couple of hours.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also order Drew's book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.
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