Square tables, Burt Reynolds, and Man Law? Sure, that's nice, but are you aware of a secret society so powerful and profound that its rulings can alter our sports universe?
I'm speaking, of course, about The Men and Women of the Training Table.
The Training Table's latest members -- Ozzie Guillen, David Feherty, Charles Barkley, Tonya Harding, Jose Canseco, Ron Shelton, Lindsey Jacobellis, Rick Majerus, Hank Aaron and Eddie Vedder (anybody who dresses a rotating mannequin in a bloodied, game-worn Kyle Farnsworth uniform deserves to be a member of the Table) -- convene in the corner room of Chicago's Billy Goat Tavern, where they interpret and rule on sports dilemmas that confound mere mortals. Green Bay Packers team historian Lee Remmel records the official minutes.
Their most recent decisions:
Beltran Case: Carlos Beltran, you're the second-leading All-Star Game vote-getter among National League outfielders. But you hitting .266 heading into Wednesday's games (.252 during that last 30 days), have worse overall numbers than Alfonso Soriano, Bobby Abreu, Carlos Lee or Jason Bay. If the ballot-stuffing Mets fans still vote you into the All-Star lineup, do you accept or decline?
Sports Law: Unless you plan to retire at season's end (not the Roger Clemens' kind of retiring, but for real), or need the All-Star bonus money to buy a dialysis machine for your grandmother, you must fake an injury and immediately withdraw from playing in the game.
Case: With the Dallas Mavericks now in the NBA Finals, how many times per game should ABC cameras cut to Mavs owner Mark Cuban?
Sports Law: There is no ambiguity here. Any team owner who dresses like an extra from "High School Musical" should never -- repeat, never -- be beamed into the homes and neighborhood bars of unsuspecting sports fans. This is especially true for those with high definition TV. The thought of watching Cuban suck on a water bottle in HD is more frightening than finding triple sixes on the scalp of your infant.
Case: Nike asks you to attend a secret screening of its newest TV commercials. Do you go?
Sports Law: Attendance is forbidden if the words Bode or Miller are used in any connection to said TV ads.
Case: Your longtime personal trainer provides you with an unmarked container of "flaxseed oil." You use the oil and immediately grow a second skull, develop enough back zits to film a Proactiv infomercial, and hit 73 home runs. Should you be suspicious about the true contents of the container?
Sports Law: Yes, though Sports Law continues to be ignored by rebel forces in the Bay Area, where they abide by the so-called Barry Bonds Statute. The Statute states that there is nothing "odd or disconcerting" about the size 14¾ New Era cap worn by Bonds.
Case: You convince your wife to watch the Yankees-Red Sox game. During the game she asks you to explain the Infield Fly Rule. Do you admit you don't know the rule, or do you do as she does at night and fake it?
Sports Law: It is understood that all men should lie through their mesh jerseys when trying to describe the intricacies of the Infield Fly Rule. The same applies for the NFL's Tuck Rule, the NBA's Illegal Defense Rule, and anything to do with rhythmic gymnastics scoring. This is otherwise known as the Cliff Clavin Provision.
Case: A friend gives you two tickets to a ball game. Can you scalp the tickets and keep the money?
Sports Law: Under normal circumstances the, "You Take 'Em, You Use 'Em" law applies, especially if the tickets are for a rivalry or postseason game. Notable exceptions: NFL rip-off exhibition games, anything involving the Chicago Blackhawks, Kansas City Royals, the NIT, Skins Game, curling and Davis Cup.
OwensCase: After catching three passes in a minicamp drill, Terrell Owens informs his new Dallas Cowboys teammates that he deserves induction into the team's Ring of Honor. "Bob Hayes? Bob Hayes couldn't catch a cold," says T.O., while doing sit-ups in the Valley Ranch parking lot. "If Bledsoe can throw a spiral, I'll be in that Ring by June. Or else." Do you discipline Owens or ignore his rant?
Sports Law: Owens is allowed a maximum of two T.O. Moments per year, while his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is allowed one. After that, the Tuna Duct-Tape Rule goes into effect.
Case: You recently bought "Caddyshack II" and hated it. Can you take it back to Best Buy and get a refund?
Sports Law: No. You violated Section 4.2 of the Sports Movie Sequel and Remake Code of 1988: Purchase of said movies constitutes idiocy on your part and results in forfeiture of all cash spent on DVD. Rule of thumb: If you can quote a line from the original sports movie, there is no need for a sequel or remake.
Case: A fellow Pittsburgh Steelers tailgater at Heinz Field says his Weber gas grill is malfunctioning and asks if he can use yours to cook his main course. You notice he is carrying only a plate of apple slices and golden beet couscous. Your response?
Sports Law: The precedent-setting Usinger's Bratwurst v. Shaved Lemon Zests Case of 1981 leaves no room for argument. Once a grill's plastic wheels touch the asphalt or concrete of a stadium parking lot, said grill can be used for only the cooking of red meats.
GarciaparraCase: You invite your goober neighbor to a Los Angeles Dodgers game and he shows up wearing a Nomar Garciaparra Boston Red Sox jersey. Is this allowed?
Sports Law: No. Replica or authentic jersey wear bearing the name and number of a player two or more teams removed from his original franchise is forbidden. In Nomah's case, only Chicago Cubs or Dodgers jerseys would be acceptable.
Case: A co-worker insists on detailing all 24 rounds of his fantasy league WNBA draft. Do I have to sit there and take it?
Sports Law: You have three legal options: (A) Have his tongue collated at Kinko's, (B) Mention that long stories exacerbate your flatulence problem, (C) Counter by reciting your 10K split times.
Case: You learn your ex-girlfriend recently purchased a HD 52-inch plasma. Do you make up with her so you can watch the Super Bowl at her place?
Sports Law: Girlfriend Groveling is legal for Super Bowl and conference championships, but not for wild-card or divisional playoff games.
Case: John Daly asks to borrow $50 million to take care of "that thing, with that guy, at that place." Do you lend him the money?
Sports Law: Under no circumstances is Daly to be issued anything other than WD forms, Diet Cokes, ashtrays, 7-degree drivers, lard and Just Cuts coupons.
BrownCase: Larry Brown says coaching the Willowbrook (Neb.) Middle School basketball team would be a "dream come true" because "the kids play the game the right way -- not for lunch money, not for the eighth-grade girls." Do you believe Brown?
Sports Law: Unless attached to a polygraph machine, all Brown comments are suspect. In this case, Willowbrook officials should insert a clause prohibiting him from coaching the nearby Montessori School.
Case: You win your $5 Nassau and all seven presses made by your beleaguered golf opponent. At round's end you realize he'll have no money left if he pays off all bets. How much do you let him keep?
Sports Law: Enough for a Happy Meal.
Case: The Packers beat the Bears on a Brett Favre touchdown at Lambeau Field. You turn to the Cheesehead next to you and embrace. What is the maximum time allowed for a Man Hug?
Sports Law: No longer than it took for Favre's pass to cover 36 yards (1.8 seconds). Several rules apply: No nipple-to-nipple touching and no gazing into each other's eyes. Slaps on shoulders are permissable, though the hand should not linger. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.