By Bill Simmons
Page 2

Posted 4:12 p.m., ET, July 8

Apparently you guys had a fever ... and the only prescription was "More Cowbell."

That's right ... the name of this column has officially changed for good. I wanted to mention one thing though: A Columbia University student named Jake Olson was already writing a column in the school paper called "More Cowbell." When some of my readers suggested the title, and I mentioned it as a possibility in Wednesday's column, I didn't know about Jake's column until he e-mailed me. But we have his blessings. He's even excited about it. Anyway, thanks, Jake. Your package of gold-plated diapers is in the mail.

One more thing: I'm fully aware that my favorite NBA team just signed Mark Blount to a six-year, $41 million contract. I didn't have a problem with this -- they did it so Raef LaFrentz wouldn't be the most overpaid player on the team. I thought it was brilliant, actually. Now Raef can just go out and play some basketball. I'll have more thoughts on this Friday, as soon as I stop slamming my head against the desk. The weird thing is, that wasn't a terrible contract considering everything else that happened this week.

(Uh-oh ... I'm already talking myself into it ...)

Here are some answers to recent e-mails from readers that weren't quite worthy of a mailbag, but deserved to be answered nontheless:

My thoughts on Al Pedrique and RBI Baseball generated a ton of comments, including this one from Detroit's Ryan Needham: "The reason Pedrique was the SS on the NL All-Star team in RBI Baseball was because the All-Star team was made up of players that weren't already in the game. There were no Cardinals, Tigers, Mets, Red Sox, Angels, Astros, Twins, or Giants on the All-Star team."

You're right ... I totally forgot about this. But seriously, read that last sentence again. This was only 17 years ago -- can you believe that we used to play video games that were only able to carry enough information for eight major-league teams and two All-Star teams? How did we survive? Nowadays you can play every team on "MLB 2004," create your own players, pick your own ballparks and probably shave Pedrique's video mustache between innings. We've come a long way.

Pennsylvania's Art Valentine wonders, "How on earth did you let David Stern open the draft with 'Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks and WNBA's Liberty' without killing him in your NBA Draft diary?"

Before we answer this one, I think Frankie Williams, Barry O and Art Valentine wrestled a handicap match against Andre the Giant once. I'm almost positive. Anyway, in the rough draft of the column, I had a joke in there about how Stern forgot to follow that MSG intro up with something like, " ... as well as the home of the 2004 Junior Bullriding Championships." But I'm trying to limit myself to one derogatory WNBA comment per column. It's like ice cream -- once you have a few bites, you can't stop eating it. And there are some people who think it makes me sexist that I can't stand the WNBA, when my only problem is that they're trying to market a league with a specific niche audience to a group of fans that don't want to watch it. Just leave us alone. If we were going to watch the WNBA, it would have happened already.

New York's Andrew Goodman pleads, "Can you please send out notification emails when you post something new on your website so I don't have to check your site every 45 seconds and possibly get some work done and maybe, just maybe, keep my job?"

It's always going to be one of these three scenarios. Either ...

A. I have a regular column that's posted when Page 2 launches at 12:30 p.m. ET.

B. I have a "More Cowbell" posting that goes up either at the time of the Page 2 launch, or between 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. ET.

C. I didn't write anything.

So if you check Page 2 around 12:30-12:45 p.m., and if you keep reloading the "Sports Guy's World" page every 2.3 seconds from 3-4 p.m., you'll be fine.

Great point here from New Jersey's David Guidice: "I just finished reading your article about how Jeter has earned a lifetime pass from ever getting booed. I used to believe in those. Then Andy Pettitte ripped out the hearts of every Yankees fan last summer. The Yanks offered more money, but he turned his back on the organization and more importantly, the fans. Maybe Jeter didn't deserved to get booed, but there is no such thing as a lifetime pass. If Pettitte ever pitches in Yankee Stadium again, I will be there. I'm going to throw up when I see him in the Astros jersey. And then I'll boo him for three straight hours."

I'm with you. Did the same song and dance with Clemens seven years ago. I was operating under the assumption that Jeter would remain a Yankee for life, but you're right -- you never know anymore.

San Francisco's Keith Emerson makes another great point: "You keep forgetting to mention the number one Unintentional Comedy moment of the 'Real World: San Diego' Season -- Jacquese crashing the moped in Greece, then jumping back up with the 'I'm OK!', just like Dr. Evil's 'He's OK!' after Mini-Me falls off his harness. Just watching Ja ride the moped like a scared Steve Urkel -- as opposed to Brad who was riding it like a motorcycle -- almost had me in tears. When he fell I completely lost it. I am saving that episode on TiVo forever so I can show it to guests when they come over."

Loved the Dr. Evil comparison -- that was perfect. Jacquese was a great character because he vacillated between Unintentional Comedy and Intentional Comedy as well as anybody in the history of the show. He was laugh-out-loud funny at times. I would make him a first-ballot Real World Hall of Famer, no questions asked.

That reminds me, there's a website that lists all the people chosen for the next "Real World/Road Rules Challenge", which has a "Boys vs. Girls" theme this year (probably a good idea since the Road Rules wins every year). You're not going to believe this, but the Mizz was available for this one. Not sure how they convinced him. Also, five people from the "San Diego" cast made it -- I feel like I'm talking about a baseball All-Star team -- and Adam from "Paris" attempts to cement his status as the biggest loser in the history of the show. Sadly, Sarah (a k a "The Queen Of the Gauntlet") hasn't committed yet. I guess when you've had one of the "Ted Williams hitting .406"-type seasons on a reality-show, it's tough to think about doing it all over again. She needs to be involved though.

Atlanta's Kurt Hunzeker vents, "In the immortal words of Mugatu in "Zoolander," I feel like I'm taking crazy pills listening and reading that a good chunk of sports fans believe Gagne's saves streak is one of the best ever. Has everyone forgotten the fact that HE BLEW THE ALL-STAR GAME last year?!?!? Nothing like being on center stage in front of the entire country to blow it. Just imagine if the AL's Yankees would have won the World Series in Game 7 at home? This is just driving me mad."

Hey, I'm just happy that someone in Atlanta is actually following sports. Anyway, we went through the same thing in Boston with Flash Gordon: During the '98 regular season, he saved an astounding 46 games and something like 40 in a row. (Note: I can't remember the exact number, but he only had one blown save all season). So what happens? In Game 4 of the ALDS against the Indians -- with the Sox down 2 games to 1 -- Flash comes in to protect a 1-0 lead, promptly gives up two runs, blows the save and blows the season. Then the following season, when he kept getting saves, his consecutive streak reached 54 before he finally botched one.

But here's the thing: Out of those 54 straight saves, he botched the only one that truly mattered! How can we pretend this didn't happen??????? I never understood the whole "only regular-season games count in a streak" rule. If Manny hits in 40 straight games at the end of the season, then hits in another 17 straight games in the playoffs as the Sox win the World Series, that doesn't mean he hit in 57 straight games? Please explain this to me.

Miles Blanco from New London, Conn. saw the re-run of my Hoosiers diary and asks, "Since you were able to determine the stats for Hickory High, do you think you can determine the stats for Roy Hobbs in The Natural?"

A few readers asked this one; I always forget that some people probably weren't reading way back in 2001. Check the end of this mailbag for the Hobbs answer.

Reader Brian Demoree has "One bone to pick with your article about the Sox/Yanks column last week. You said that there were two blue chippers available last winter (A-Rod and Vasquez) and the Yanks got them both. I don't think it's a stretch to say that Schilling and Foulke are blue chippers as well, and I believe the Sox landed both of them BEFORE the Yanks got their guys. In fact, NY pretty much made the moves IN RESPONSE to the Sox getting two top-flight pitchers. Again, hate to nitpick, love your columns, but it had to be said."

Fair enough. Here's why I wrote that: Last winter A-Rod was 28, Vasquez was 27. Both of them were just hitting their prime. One was a franchise player, the other was a potential franchise pitcher. There were the only no-question-about-it blue-chippers in the group. The only other guy in that class was Vlad Guerrero, but his back problems were such a question mark that the Yankees actually signed Sheffield over him. As for Schilling, he's a full decade older than Vasquez; both the Sox and Yankees pursued Vasquez first, the Sox were told by Omar Minaya that they didn't have enough to get him, so they went to Plan B (Schilling).

I just thought A-Rod, Guerrero and Vasquez were the big catches last winter, with Guerrero's status tainted by the question marks about his health. The other star players -- Foulke, Sheffield, Schilling, etc. -- were obviously All-Stars, but not people you could build your franchise around for the next 7-10 years. More importantly, the Red Sox tried to acquire both A-Rod and Vasquez before the Yankees did and couldn't make it happen. So they had to scramble to sign other people. That was my point.

Reader Matt P. from Washington complains, "I was flipping the channels last night when I came across the "40 Greatest Fashion Statements" on CMT. Guess who one of the commentators was? Joel Stein!!!! What does he know about country music fashion? Is he omniscient in that he knows when a "Greatest" list of any type is going to be filmed and just makes himself available at the producer's discretion? He's listed as being a writer for "Time" magazine but when does he write? He must spend every waking hour in a TV studio somewhere taping these list shows. How can I still watch TV and get away from Joel Stein? Please help me!"

You know that section in TiVo where you can program your favorite actors, and then every time one of their movies comes on, TiVo automatically tapes the movie? I have mine specifically programmed to tape anything involving Stallone, Seagal or Kaplan. I'm not making this up. Although it doesn't get much worse than TiVo deciding to automatically tape "Oscar" or "On Deadly Ground." Anyway, I think they need to create a category for "People Who Appear on Lists Shows." Wouldn't you love to see Joel Stein's upcoming programs every week?

Friday, July 13, 2 p.m., MTV2 -- "35 Greatest Moments from the MTV Movie Awards."
Friday, July 13, 7 p.m., Comedy Central -- "40 Funniest Mad TV Skits."
Saturday, July 14, 4 a.m., Spike TV -- "20 Greatest Superfly Snuka Matches."

Speaking of cable TV, Craig A. from Baltimore wonders, "What happened to 'SNL' reruns on Comedy Central? In the beginning of the year E! was supposed to start showing 'SNL,' but that lasted about three weeks. Now 'SNL' is never shown, and we're subjected to crappy reruns of 'Mad TV' on Comedy Central. Given that you're out on L.A., can you find out what the hell is going on? Is it some sort of conspiracy to pull 'SNL' off the air?"

Nope, it's worse. Last year E! purchased the rights to "SNL" re-runs from NBC, stealing them away from Comedy Central. Why Comedy Central would have let them go was anyone's guess -- then again, they're the same people who thought "The Man Show" would work with Joe Rogan and Doug Stanhope. Anyway, E! planned on running one of those lame countdown shows with "SNL" clips: "The 101 Most Unforgettable 'SNL' Moments." According to this CNN article from last January, NBC flipped out, arguing that "such a move constituted a violation of the original agreement with E! and would compete with various network-produced 'SNL' compilation shows." Now they're battling it out in court.

Here's the thing that stinks: Until they resolve the lawsuit, apparently E! isn't showing any 'SNL' re-runs. Beautiful. I'm not sure who I hate more right now -- E! or NBC. I think it's a toss-up.

Wisconsin's Casey Murphy asks, "Do you really think Xavier McDaniel's cameo in 'Singles' was better than Brett Favre's cameo in 'There's Something About Mary?' Come on. Brett nailed it on the head. Is there any better response to Matt Dillon's 'What the hell is Brett Favre doing here?' than Brett's 'We're in town to play the Dolphins, you dumbass.' I can just see Brett in the locker room calling his teammates dumbasses when they ask stupid questions."

But here's the thing about the X-man's cameo -- it came out of nowhere. Even with Bob Watson and Cesar Cedeno in "Bad News Bears in Breaking Training," it was at least plausible that two of the Astros would be on hand in a game that was being played in the Astrodome. But the X-Man cameo was a total surprise. When it worked, that paved the way for Dan Marino's cameo in "Ace Ventura," which then paved the way for Favre and everyone else. But the X-Man was the pioneer.

Finally, Philadelphia reader Jeff B. writes, "Did you see the ESPN25 Top 25 Blunders show? For it to be considered a "blunder," one would think that it would have to had a bad outcome and occur at an important time. Well, tell me how the following people are not on the list: Bill Buckner; Chris Webber; Fred Brown; Isiah Thomas (for his pass to Bird). Instead they have things on the list that I would argue are not even blunders, like Terry Mulholland, who actually got the guy out. How was that worse than C-Webb calling a timeout when he didn't have one? Please do something about this. You are our voice."

Put it this way: I need New Year's to come around so I can make a resolution not to get upset about these shows. You could make a case that Buckner, C-Webb, Fred Brown and Isiah should have been Nos. 1-4 on the Blunders list. It's inexplicable. And the sports movies debacle ...

I mean ...

How can you have a list of the "Best Sports Movies of the Past 25 Years" without "Vision Quest," "Karate Kid," "Rocky III," "American Flyers" and "He Got Game"?

How?

How is this possible?

I can see the "expert panel of voters from across the country" missing one or two, but five? Five?????? Remember when Steven Seagal came out of his eight-year coma with his muscle tone completely intact in "Hard to Kill," and he was watching TV and heard the politician's voice, then realized it was the guy who tried to kill him? So as the politician says, "And you can take that to the bank" in the commercial, Seagal follows that up with, "I"m gonna take you to the bank, Trent ... the blood bank"? Remember the vengeance in his eyes?

Well, that's how I feel right now. I'm going to rectify this sports movie travesty on the "Sports Guy's World" page. It's going to happen soon. Sooner than you think. That's all I'm saying. Right now I'm getting into shape, punching wooden boards and sticking hot acupuncture needles into my body. Just wait two more weeks. All family business will be settled.

Bill Simmons is a columnist for ESPN The Magazine and Page 2. You can reach his Sports Guy's World site every day on ESPN.com.




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