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Editor's Note: This is part 5 of Bill Simmons' running email exchange with pop-culture writer Chuck Klosterman of Esquire and Spin magazines. If you missed part 4, part 3, part 2 or part 1, click here to go back to their other email exchanges.This is the final set of emails, wrapping up the exchange.
To: Chuck Klosterman
Subject: RE: Face Off
Time: 3:45 p.m. ET All right, I'm entering the "My head hurts, and I can only write in bullet points" stage of Face-Off. I feel like Nick Nolte in the beginning of "North Dallas Forty" right now. This was grueling. OK, that's a complete lie. I just need coffee. Which reminds me, you might be the first writer I've ever met who doesn't drink coffee. I was floored by that revelation earlier today, which seems like about six years ago. Please tell me you smoke cigs or do copious amounts of drugs.
Like Dr. J in the 1970s, Nirvana defined the early 1990s.
To: Bill Simmons
Subject: RE: Face Off
Time: 4:30 p.m. ET Bill, OK, now this is a great question. Thus far, I would say the greatest sports scandal has been the Pete Rose affair, as he (a.) seemed to define what was great about all sports, only to (b.) do the single-worst thing any athlete can do. If Pete had shot Mike Schmidt during the 1980 World Series, it would not have hurt the integrity of the sport as much as his gambling. Rose should never be reinstated into baseball, even posthumously. The second greatest sports scandal of all-time is O.J., but that has very little to do with sports and more to do with what's wrong with the entire human race. The third greatest sports scandal is the fact that ESPN Classic still hasn't devoted an episode of SportsCentury to Roger Staubach. However, there could certainly be a larger scandal than any of these. If Tiger Woods called a press conference and then (a.) retired from golf, (b.) said he was gay, (c.) made several casual anti-Semitic remarks, (d.) punched a female golf reporter in the face, and then (e.) refused to comment on any of these issues (to anyone) ever again ... that would be pretty shocking. If it turned out Michael Jordan was secretly a woman (and always has been), that would blow my mind. If there was a terrorist bombing at the Olympics, and it turns out that one of the athletes was actively involved with this bombing, we (as a society) would have to do a lot of soul searching. These would all be considerably scandalous scenarios.
How could Team USA spell relief in Athens? J.J. is the answer.
But I think there is a possibility of something even bigger: What if it turned out that an entire baseball season was scripted?Like ... let's say the nation was really depressed and troubled, and everyone became obsessed with alienation and despair. And let's say the government realized this was happening, so they decided to buoy the national spirit by secretly fabricating an incredible baseball season (the whole year -- every single game). Some big, dumb white guy would hit 80 home runs; some unknown rookie from the inner city would hit safely in 60 straight games and bat .400; some aging beloved pitcher would throw 20 no-hitters. This would captivate the world, and America would forget its troubles and just embrace the National Pastime. We would all be able to feel good about something. Yet it would all be a mere construction; it would just be the government's way of distracting us from what was really going on. Reality would not exist as we know it. Granted, this is unlikely. But it's not that different from trying to go to Mars. As for the "Real World" question ... "RW III: San Fran" is my favorite as well, but I've already written about that subject more than any man should. Right now, I'm more obsessed with "Big Brother 5," which might be the most socially reprehensible thing I've ever seen on TV. I love it. But anyway, it has been nice talking with you, Mr. Simmons. Enjoy those Counting Crows B-sides. Your pal,
Chuck P.S. You know who should be on this Olympic basketball team? J.J. Redick.