Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Updated: October 13, 11:43 AM ET
MJ, HDTV and more
By Bill Simmons
Editor's note: This article appears in the Oct. 9 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
Have I really written for The Magazine for four years and never broken out the mailbag? Impossible but true. Let's answer some actual questions from actual readers:
Q: Give me one good reason that MJ isn't the captain of our Ryder Cup team.
SG: I can't. It's not like you need to know much about golf to be Ryder Cup captain. You just need to look good, fill out a lineup card and act like Al Czervik over the last nine holes in Caddyshack. Plus, there's no way Tiger would let MJ down. He'd probably shoot a 55 on Sunday. And imagine Oakley as MJ's assistant, dressed in golf attire, trying to intimidate the Europeans. I love this idea.
Q: Why do all the guys on MTV's "Two-A-Days" have the same hair as Donald Trump?
--Doug S., Roanoke, Va.
SG: I think he must fund the team. There's just no other way to explain how some random Alabama high school has a 30,000-seat stadium and a budget that allows the coach to say, "I want you guys to be focused for tomorrow's home game, so we're all staying at a hotel tonight."
Q: Roger Federer's U.S. Open win was his ninth in the past 14 Grand Slam events, yet he still flopped to the court like it was his first. Isn't it time he stopped celebrating like that? Act like you've been there before.
--Dave, Herndon, Va.
SG: Here's the problem: In any other sport, there's someone nearby to hug after a win -- a teammate, caddie, coach, trainer, someone. But tennis players are out there by themselves. All they have is the sag-to-ground-and-cover-face-with-hands routine. It all adds up to acting that is worse than David Caruso's in "CSI: Miami." Either their loved ones have to be seated on the court for instant hug access, or the players have to be allowed to hug the ball boys and ball girls without fear of us making any Michael Jackson jokes. Those are the only two choices we have.
Q: Help! I'm going through withdrawal! It's Sunday and it's been 28 seconds since I saw a Manning.
--Bill Bertera, Waltham, Mass.
SG: Are you sure your TV didn't freeze?
Q: Did Bill Parcells play Robert Paulson in "Fight Club"?
--Dave, Boca Raton, Fla.
SG: Actually, that was Meat Loaf. But you bring up a good point: The 2006 season has been overtaken by NFL coaches with man-boobs. I don't blame the coaches. I blame the NFL for outfitting them in those golf shirts that end up sticking to their bodies. They may as well be competing in a wet T-shirt contest. Make sweatshirts or windbreakers mandatory, please. For everyone's sake.
Q: Two years ago, would you ever have thought yourself capable of criticizing Theo Epstein? The real-life equivalent: "My girlfriend has been disappointing in bed since she set up that foursome with the twin cheerleaders."
--Jim D., Chelmsford, Mass.
SG: Excellent point. The past two seasons have been the sports version of: foursome works out well, cheerleaders move in & then girlfriend kicks them out and announces she won't have sex again until wedding night. You can't complain, but you can wonder what might have been. The fact remains: The Sox were significantly better off in November 2004 than they are now. That's a problem.
Q: You know that friend everyone has in college who gets embarrassingly drunk every time you go out, then declares he'll never do it again ... and then does? USA Basketball is that drunk friend.
--Josh, Baton Rouge, La.
SG: Sorry, I'm not getting wound up about FIBA anymore. The rules are too different from the NBA's. It's like sending USA baseball players to a tournament with two-foot-high mounds, neck-to-ankles strike zones and outfield walls 500 feet from home plate. You can't expect a team of randomly assembled All-Stars to come together in three weeks and succeed in a format in which they're the only ones unfamiliar with the rules. It's stupid. Any kind of basketball that makes Jose Calderon more valuable than LeBron James or Dwyane Wade is, by any calculation, idiotic. We should send the AND1 All-Stars to the 2008 Olympics in protest.
Q: When are we going to see the Little League World Series of Poker?
--David P., Philadelphia
SG: You, sir, are a genius. I would watch this every night. The unparalleled tension of the spelling bee crossed with the unabashed exploitation of the Little League World Series. I'm making this my signature series when they put me in charge of ESPN6.
Q: You gotta love how HDTV has put the fear of God in female sideline reporters. In the game I'm watching now, I think the reporter applied her makeup with a shotgun.
--Jim Petrosky, Livonia, Mich..
SG: You're right. Even dead people at wakes are less made up than sideline reporters these days. But can you blame them? They're two feet from the camera, and we can pick up every wrinkle, every blemish. I picture Suzy Kolber waking up on Monday morning, seeing the makings of a pimple and screaming, "Noooooooooo!" They should all insist on the same hazy camera lens ABC uses for Barbara Walters.
Q: Let's say I hit the lottery, buy the 76ers, fire Billy King and offer you the GM job at a nice big salary. Would you take it? Do you think you could effectively manage a team in the same division as your beloved Celtics?
--Troy B., South Jersey
SG: Would I take it? In a cocaine heartbeat. Would I have a problem going against the Celtics? Hell, no! Running an NBA team is my dream job. And I'd have a built-in competitive advantage, being one of the only GMs with any semblance of common sense. I think I'd have a 95 percent chance of succeeding as long as I didn't suffer a head injury. Plus, the chance to become a lifelong hero in a city as bitter as Philly would be too enticing to pass up. It would be like dating a girl who had just had 39 consecutive horrible boyfriends over the past 10 years. How could you lose?
Q: What's up with the dancing transformer and random computer-generated hydraulic sounds during Fox's NFL games?
--Ben M., Tigard, Ore.
SG: Come on, you weren't watching NFC games last season and thinking: You know what would really push this Eagles-Giants game to the next level? A dancing transformer and random computer-generated hydraulic sounds!
Q: Steroids are like porn: Both have changed my perspective forever. Every time I see an attractive 20-year-old, I assume she wants to rip off her shirt and jump me in an abandoned warehouse. Every time I see the winner of a sporting event, I assume he's taking steroids. Both have changed the way I look at a bicycle.
--Aaron, Albany, N.Y.
SG: Yup, these are my readers.
Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His new book "Now I Can Die In Peace is available on Amazon.com and in bookstores everywhere.