Would Athletes Be Better If They Were Psychic?

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Illustration by Sam Woolley.
Illustration by Sam Woolley.

Before we get into the Funbag, I just wanna say that my second novel, The Hike, comes out today. You can get it in hardcover, or on Kindle, or via Gregorian chant. There’s also an audiobook of it for lazy people. I’ll be out on tour for the next two weeks whoring it out to you, the reading public. That parade of drunkenness starts tonight in Chapel Hill, followed by Brooklyn tomorrow night and back here in DC at the end of the week. You can find all the relevant tour info here.

Now, about the book. I’m not gonna give much of it anyway, except to tell you that it’s basically The Odyssey, but with cursing. I promise that I didn’t write a novel just so I could get high on my own author farts. My job is to deliver to you, the paying reader, the most entertaining, metal, batshit crazy story I possibly can. And I have. If you liked The Postmortal, you’ll like this one too. So go buy it. All the proceeds from sales go to a good cause, namely my own personal enrichment. If this thing hits the bestseller list I’m gonna be funneling Old Overholt for a full week.

Your letters:


If a major player was psychic, would that help them? For example, if LeBron was psychic, would that help that person be even greater or would they just think too much?


I dunno, man. How psychic are we talking? When you first asked that question, I thought about a QB dropping back, seeing a receiver break open in his mind—a split second before it actually happens—and then delivering the ball perfectly. That seems like a helpful superpower to have.

Except… if you saw the future, you would be unable to alter it, right? So if you’re walking the ball up the basketball court and your Spidey Senses start to tingle and you see, in your mind, that you’re about to shatter your ankle driving toward the basket, and it’s unavoidable, well then you’re fucked either way! Or what if ghosts talked to you? All the time? What if you’re trying to make a free throw but you can’t concentrate because Hitler’s ghost won’t stop screaming at you? You’d brick that shit. Or what if you foresee the death of your own father on third and long? On what if you can’t celebrate your team’s victory because you can see Tiny Tim suffering in a hospital bed twenty miles away? BAHHHHH, CURSE THIS SUPERNATURAL FIELD VISION!


Anyway, my guess is that it would cause some problems.


Which would be better, a taco from McDonald’s or a burger from Taco Bell?

Oh, the McDonald’s taco. They already make breakfast burritos at McDonald’s, so a taco wouldn’t be an enormous stretch for them. They could stick four McNuggets in it and call it the McCrunch Baja Taco and you’d get your dollar’s worth.


But you’ve seen Taco Bell’s meat. It’s a toxic slurry of used worm livers and dog hair. It’s sloppy joe meat that’s been left in a desert for two weeks. It can’t be solidified into a patty, not without adding a shitload of xanthum gum and stewed donkey hoof. Imagine biting into a Doritos Loco Burger and seeing that meat staring back at you. It would haunt your dreams.


I’m sitting around a campfire right now and people are cooking hot dogs in the fire which got me thinking about what is the best way to enjoy a hot dog? BBQ, boiled, steamed, microwaved, corn dog, pig in a blanket, etc


Are we talking about toppings, too? Because then you get into a whole hot dog fight with Chicago hot dog people and Detroit hot dog people and all kinds of other, insane hot dog cultists. That’s a whole jar of banana peppers I don’t wanna open. If we’re talking strictly about the hot dog itself, I think the preferred method of cooking is to grill that fucker until it blows up like a balloon, and then eat it before it shrivels back down into an old man penis. That’s better than eating a hot dog that’s been sitting a vat of tepid water for eight days and comes out looking gray and dead. That’s a dangerous hot dog. Every boiled hot dog should come with a label noting just how long it’s been boiling. In theory, you could boil one for a full century and it would stay intact.


I was rummaging through some boxes in my parents’ house (I just graduated from college and am in the process of moving out) and I stumbled upon this crazy-looking mace (pictured below). Do you think that you could kill a gorilla with it? Like, if you were matched up with Harambe on an open basketball court, do you think a good swing would take him out? And, if you were to fight Harambe, would you rather have the mace or an aluminum bat? I say mace, and that you could take out that sucker in one hit; my brother says you need to go with the bat. What is the call?

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I think Harambe would kill you regardless. Gorillas can lift up to ten times their body weight, i.e. two tons. They’re real-life Marvel characters. Even if you got in a good crack with the mace or the bat, he’s either A) going to come at you anyway, unaffected by the blow, or B) will still tear your head off before going down. Harambe barely needs to lift a finger to crush your skull. He could do it while concussed. You gotta rain down multiple blows to stop him, and you won’t have time.


I bet you wouldn’t even get in that first shot anyway. He’d roar, then come at you, and then you’d shit your pants and forget to how swing a bat. I know that’s how I would die if a gorilla attacked me.


Were the 2016 Warriors more of a disappointment than the 2007 Patriots?

No. I know the Warriors were poised to make history, but they already won a title the season before, and they got waylaid by the best player in the game. Draymond’s penis issues aside, I don’t think the 2016 Warriors have much to be ashamed for.


The Patriots thing is different because they were a few years removed from their previous title AND because of the undefeated factor. They were perfect. They were poised to banish Mercury Morris to obscurity forever, and all they had to do was beat that goober Eli Manning. But they couldn’t. It would be like if the Warriors had been knocked out of the playoffs by Dwight Howard. I hope 18-1 gets chiseled on all of their tombstones.


Is anything easier done than said?

YES! Adultery, embezzlement, disavowing Trump, picking up after your kids yourself instead of berating them for four hours about doing it. A great many things are easier done than said.


In fact, when I was kid, I had a whole filmography of imaginary movies that I planned to write/direct/produce/edit/star in. And one of the movies was about the President being a serial killer (the perfect crime!), and I remember I thought of the tagline, “In Washington, corruption is easier DONE… than said.” I was really into that tagline. In fact, I was so impressed by my imaginary tagline that I never bothered to come up with, like a story. The President is a serial killer who butchers people and eats them. What more do you need to know?!


Is there any reasonable way to buy a watermelon that doesn’t totally suck? I don’t want to be one of those douchebags that plays a Neil Pert drum solo on them in an attempt to echolocate the right melon.


I love eating watermelon but buying it sucks. Every time I see it on the shopping list, my heart sinks. That means I either gotta shell out for pre-cut watermelon (which has been marked up 5,000%), or I have to buy a whole one, which weighs four billion pounds, or I have to buy a half- or quarter-melon, which is already sopping wet and soaked through its cling wrap.

Plus, you have to slice the thing when you get back, which releases roughly a gallon of water onto the countertop. It’s a good thing that God made it so delicious, otherwise I’d never bother. I wish I could quit you, watermelon. I wish you weren’t so difficult.



In regards to burgers, which would you rather eat - two quarter-pounder patties, or a single half-pound patty?


The single patty. Smaller patties are hard to cook medium rare because they’re so thin. You need it be a little thick so that you can char the outside but still have the inside all bloody and tasty. That’s just the kind of bacteria-infested meat disk that I adore.

I say all that despite the fact that I have been to Blimpie Burger in Ann Arbor, and I know the wonders of a multipatty burger, especially when there’s a fried egg on top. Let’s go directly to Flavortown to bear witness:

I am instinctively drawn to meat that comes in pile form. But I’ve also had enough sliders (which sound good in a theory and rarely are) and tiny-ass fast food burgers in my life to know that, in general, you’re better off with a single, substantial patty. Smaller ones dry out quick.



If all orgasms cost $1.00, how would it affect the frequency of them? The relatively low cost of entry probably wouldn’t stop much coitus, but bored masturbation would take a hit, right?


It would cause class warfare. If you’re impoverished and living hand-to-mouth and you can’t even jerk off without spending your last dollar, you’re gonna be mad. And you’re gonna be extra mad if you’re walking around knowing that rich fat cats can afford to nut any time they please. What if you get turned down by the government for orgasm stamps? I swear to you, I would be ready to storm the Spermizon corporate headquarters to bring down BIG ORGASM. There are limits to what a man will put up with.



So, Tom Brady can’t talk to the team during his suspension, but he’s obviously going to watch the games and the Patriots press conferences available to us regular folk. So, does Belichick:

A. Give more detailed press conferences than ever before so Brady can know and understand any decisions he wouldn’t get instinctively.

B. Do nothing differently and trust that Brady can get back up to speed in his week back, or

C. Develop a complicated system of code through blinking that wouldn’t be technically against the rules, since the blinking is public information?


I think the easiest way to skirt the moratorium is by using an unaffiliated third party to relay game day package details and ball-scuffing innovations. So Belichick could summon Bill Simmons to his office and say to him “GRUMBLE GRUMBLE USE YOUR SHOW TO BE MY MONKEY BOY,” and then communicate with Brady through that back channel.

Truthfully, I don’t think that Brady will need much information during his time off because the Patriots tailor game plans week-to-week, and because he and Belichick are essentially of the same mind already. The beauty of Ballghazi is that, even if Brady and Belichick play it straight during the first month of the season, I will STILL suspect them of devising an elaborate system of satellite intercepts designed to relay opposing team locker room footage directly to an untraceable Panisonic Toughbook connected to the DARK WEB. I will never stop assuming the worst about that team, mostly because I don’t want to.



How long would it take you, a grown man, to teach a caveman to drive a car up to socially acceptable standards?


Never. One look at my Kia and the caveman would stab me with a spear and then tear the vehicle apart, searching for the ghost of the moon inside.

I am a poor cultural ambassador, anyway. If I’m talking with someone who doesn’t speak English or loose Spanish, I instantly devolve into a stereotypical American tourist, speaking English slowly and/or making furious hand gestures in a futile attempt to get my point across. I would sit there in the passenger seat next to Grog, trying to explain what every letter on the gear shift means. And then the blinker would go off and he’d start grunting in terror and then I’d just fucking bail. I’d rather teach a teenager to drive.



I don’t get why in PGA, golfers get to ask a “rules expert” on how they can play questionable shot and where they can or cannot take drops. Draymond Green doesn’t get to ask a referee, “If I kick Steve Adams in the balls, is it a foul?” Why should Jordan Spieth get to ask where he can place his ball without a penalty?


I think you’re allowed to consult with the refs in other sports. That’s why every replay challenge in the NFL takes 45 minutes. Your head coach doesn’t just throw the flag. He corrals the ref, grills him about the call, throws the flag, and then grills him again about why the play was fucked.

And in basketball, refs will sometimes WARN you about shit they’re gonna call that night. “If you drive the lane with that paring knife, I will call it.” They’re pretty open if you just ask. In fact, I would argue that referees are an underused resource for most pro athletes. Players are so busy bitching and glowering at them that they fail to ask the ref is eye gouging is legal BEFORE gouging someone’s eyes out. If I were an NFL player, I’d pepper the ref with questions like a four-year-old, catering to his ego in the process. “Oh so THAT’S how that works. Fascinating bit of sage wisdom there, Ron. May I call you Ron?”


One other thing about golf: You have time to ask. There’s no linebacker bearing down on you. So if you have ANY question as to the legality of a shot, there’s no detriment in asking. I can’t blame golfers for not know the rules when the PGA handbook is 215 goddamn pages.


Under what circumstances is it viable to leave your team? It has to be some crazy shit, like your QB being a dog fighter, right? As a self-loathing Lions fan, I’m too deep in to leave, aren’t I?


You are. I am still of the mind that people who claim to have deserted their team haven’t REALLY left, and will come back the instant things are rosy again (like here in DC).

But, that said, I have drifted away from some of my childhood teams, although the circumstances behind deserting them are actually far from what you might expect. For example, I was a big Twins fan as a kid, especially when they won two titles. But then I started liking football more and baseball just kinda fell by the wayside. So I don’t REALLY care much about the Twins anymore, which is good because they suck.


I’m also not much of a T-Wolves fan anymore, even though I grew up in Minnesota and the first NBA game I ever went to was a T-Wolves exhibition game (featuring Brad Lohaus!). But then my family moved and, for whatever reason, I legitimately stopped giving a shit. It didn’t help that the T-Wolves have been shitty for the majority of my existence, but I just naturally drifted away and never came back.

And they’re good now. They might be building a legit dynasty over there, but I’ve lost the tether. I promise that, if KAT and Andrew Wiggins start winning titles in bulk, I will not show up at the arena like fucking Drake, pretending I’ve been there all along. I am determined to keep my non-fan cred. Sometimes you just grow apart from teams, even if you don’t want it to happen.



You get one million dollars, but for one year every week an ostrich will chase you unannounced.

You are only safe in your home and cannot kill it. Once a week this will happen at any moment.

This is a very inconsiderate ostrich. Do you take the cash?

No. Even if you promised me that the ostrich wouldn’t kill me or permanently injure me, no. Because I would spend one day a week getting chased by that thing, and the other six days DREADING the attack. That’s the real problem. That ostrich would be in my head all year long. I wouldn’t be able to sleep, or eat. I wouldn’t be able to focus on other shit. I would be too preoccupied with that ostrich showing up and ruining my shit to function properly.


Also, I’m very slow and the ostrich would always get me. I wouldn’t be able to treat this as a kind of game and elude him every other time. He would successfully run me down and peck my dick off with little effort. This is why we must burn all the ostriches.


Who watches golf other than people who can’t do anything else? Old people who can’t stand up out of their chair and probably shit themselves, or sports bros who passed out drunk and shit themselves. How are there possibly that many people who watch golf??


Because you nap to it! It’s perfect naptime programming. All I have to do is watch a skycam zoom down a fairway and I’m halfway asleep already. That’s why every old fogy over 50 watches it. It’s like a Planet Earth episode that’s five hours long. And if you’re lucky, you wake up and things are tense on the last four holes.

Also, people who golf themselves usually enjoy watching golf on TV and backseat caddying when tour pros fuck up. I know I do. “See now, I wouldn’t gone five-iron on that approach. Terrible decision-making by Steve Stricker right there.”



Do you think LeBron James knows how to use a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet? I don’t think he does, yet the dude is a billionaire. Unreal.


The only way he knows it is if they forced him to learn about it in school, and even then I doubt it because five hundred other people in the school—students, coaches, teachers, administrators—probably would have been willing to learn it for him. If you know Microsoft Excel, that means you’ve almost certainly worked a dead-end office job, tallying up sales figures like a bloodless drone and deriving only the smallest of thrills from hitting ENTER on the AutoSum function. Everyone who knows that program also knows the depths of existential loneliness.


As I age, is it normal for me to just start getting emotional and tearing up a bit every so often when viewing an emotional moment? I’m not even talking about in real life, I mean with like movies and TV shows. I’m 26 and I cried a little when watching the Nicole Simpson funeral in the O.J. doc, and another when Cleveland won game 7, both in the same weekend.


Oh, I’m a wreck. My kid was watching some Mickey Mouse special on Netflix the other day and when Goofy hugged his idiot son at the end, I was on the verge of bursting into tears. I’m as easily manipulated as a tub of Play-Doh. Even when I know I’m watching something shitty that’s making the cheapest, most transparent effort to tug at my heartstrings, I give in. I just think that as you get older and as you have more emotional moments, you’re come across more and more things that remind you of those moments, and that’s when you turn in to a blubbering pile of shit.

Email of the week!


I recently went on a long trip that required the first leg to be a quick flight on a small propeller plane (there are something like 20 such flights between Portland and Seattle every day). Now, the flight itself on a prop plane can be stressful, with the constant loud grinding noises and near-constant turbulence. However, they also provide one of my favorite moments of air travel: Tarmac boarding! When I’m walking up those steps, and especially after landing when I emerge at the top of the steps, I am a fucking VIP. I’m fresh off winning the championship and bringing the trophy home to my adoring fans; I’m a foreign dignitary about to be greeted on a red carpet by the president, or, at worst, secretary of state; I’m fucking Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and Iron Maiden all rolled into one, ready to rock the face off whatever city this is. It’s a moment of dignity before I’m told to go stand aside and wait while they unload everyone’s bags, because the overhead bins are designed to hold approximately three coin purses on those piece-of-shit prop planes, and then I hate everything again.


I like to pretend I’m being extradited.