Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Page 2 [Print without images]

Thursday, October 11, 2007
Updated: October 12, 1:50 PM ET
Baseball e-mails, I live for this

By Bill Simmons
Page 2

With the second round of the playoffs starting Thursday, I thought we'd rip through some baseball-related e-mails for a pseudo-mailbag. As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.

I was pretty excited to watch "SportsCenter" on Oct. 9, the day after the Tribe vanquished the Yanks to advance to the ALCS. So I flip on "SportsCenter" and watch a full 40 minutes of coverage about the freaking Yankees. And Joe Torre. And Joe Torre. And Joe Torre. If somebody turned on that show, but missed the first five minutes, they might not have known who beat the Yanks, just that the Yanks lost and Joe Torre's job was on the line. Speaking of which, did you know that Joe Torre's job is on the line? I know it's asking too much for ESPN to stop covering the Yankees endlessly. But you should step up to the plate and mention, just so at least your audience knows, that the Indians are, in fact, in the playoffs.
--Tim, Philly

SG: The Indians are in the playoffs? Just kidding. In ESPN's defense ... wait, I won't defend ESPN on this one. Cleveland's toppling the Yankees was just as good a story as the Yankees' getting toppled; besides, how much more could be said about the Yanks at this point? Rivera and Torre might leave, Posada might leave, Clemens might retire, A-Rod might sign somewhere else for a lot of money. ... Um, didn't we know these things in April? The only relevant news about the Yankees is that, since 2000, the following things have happened:

1. They're 25-31 in the past seven postseasons.

2. They lost seven different playoff games that could have finished off opponents.

3. They've had the highest payroll for every season -- including 2007 -- and yet, with their playoff lives on the line, they had to throw out Chien-Ming Wang on three days rest.

4. Not one, not two, but three different teams have ended Yankee seasons on Yankee soil.

(Note: I think we should start using "soil" in sports like they do with war analogies. It's more fun to say that Cleveland clinched the ALDS on "enemy soil." It just is.)

Meanwhile, here's what happened with the Indians:

1. Their Big Two (Sabathia and Carmona) came through on a big stage and catapulted Cleveland into "Be terrified to play us if we can pitch these guys four times in a seven-game series" mode.

2. Manager Eric Wedge stuck to his guns, started Paul Byrd in Game 4 (I thought Wedge was crazy, like so many others did) and pitched his embattled closer in the ninth when he easily could have brought out a lights-out Rafael Betancourt for a second inning, announcing to everybody, "This is our team, this is what we did all year, I'm not changing now." And it paid off. They won. You have to hand it to him.

(Wedge didn't get enough credit for dusting off the Artist Formerly Known as Trot Nixon, then starting him in Game 3 for the simple reason that Trot has ALWAYS owned Roger Clemens. As soon as I saw Trot in the lineup, I thought to myself, "Wow, I don't care how washed-up Trot is, he's hitting a homer in this game." And it happened. Sure, Trot ended up blowing the game open with an outfield error a few innings later, but it happened. Let's make sure that Trot ends up in Clemens' nursing home 50 years from now. Assuming Clemens has retired by then.)

3. The two biggest X factors in Cleveland's lineup -- Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore -- reached base in 19 of 41 ALDS plate appearances and put their stamp on two wins (Hafner's winning hit in Game 2, Sizemore's monster Game 4). I wasn't sold on either guy's coming through in October and, frankly, I'm still not. But they have me considerably more worried than I was nine days ago.

4. Joe "Never a Doubt!" Borowski slammed the door on the Yanks with one of those classic Borowski saves -- he gave up one homer and another potential homer that curved foul before whiffing Posada to end the series. I never thought a baseball closer could match the "no, no, no ... yes!!!!" dynamic of Antoine Walker in his prime, but Borowski has to be the most compelling guy in the playoffs right now, a potential successor to Calvin Schiraldi, Mitch Williams, Jose Mesa and everyone else of that ilk. Can you win a World Series with a closer who makes the '96 John Wetteland look like Eric Gagne during his 84-save streak? If you remember, the 2001 World Series champs survived two Byung-Hyun Kim meltdowns in the same series. So it's definitely possible. It's just that Indians fans might be throwing up blood for the next two weeks.

5. This seems like a good time to mention that (A) the Indians haven't won a World Series since 1948, (B) they're only 10 years removed from the Jose Mesa/Tony Fernandez game and (C) they have one of the best and most loyal fan bases in baseball. It's hard to fathom how the 2007 Indians (still alive) didn't get anywhere near the attention of the 2007 Yankees (dead) as a national story this week.

And, no, ESPN didn't help the cause. At one point Tuesday, I think we had poor Buster Olney discussing Joe Torre's future on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS and "Mike and Mike" while writing his blog at the same time. There's a good chance he worked for 36 straight hours, unless we had him cloned and nobody told me. So if you argued that ESPN was playing an East Coast bias with the Yankee overload, I couldn't really disagree with you.

But here's the catch ...

People love piling on ESPN. Hell, I even did it once upon a time -- then they hired me, brought me to a remote location and had me "cleansed" by the Haitian guy from "Heroes." With that said, you can't tell me that you didn't miss the Worldwide Leader during the first round of the playoffs. Red Sox fans, did you enjoy getting stuck with two National League announcers who seemingly hadn't seen an American League game in eons (I knew we were in trouble in Game 1, when Ted Robinson sounded legitimately excited that there were seats on the Green Monster), or watching a home playoff game that was miked so quietly that you couldn't hear the crowd and it sounded like a Wimbledon match? I bet you missed the Worldwide Leader. I bet you did.

Let's arrange a summit that would bring together fans of the 2007 Mets and 1978 Red Sox. There could be speeches, seminars and breakout groups. Maybe it could take place at the Elks Lodge in Danbury, Conn. There would be a formal dinner with a cash bar, shrimp appetizer and baked-stuffed chicken with salad and and scalloped potatoes. This would happen if, and only if, the Sox don't win the '07 Series.
--Derek, Norwalk, Conn.

SG: Whether it happens or not, should we line up Jim Jones' son as the keynote speaker just in case?

Probably not a good sign for the Indians that a Google search for "Joe Borowski scares me to death" returns 163 matches.
--Evan, Dallas

SG: It's an even worse sign that my reaction to your e-mail was, "Only 163?"

Q: Can't believe you defended LeBron in your magazine column. Bulls, Cowboys and Yankees? He is the absolute worst kind of fan. You know you have hated kids/guys like him your whole life. How can you give him credit for being such a bandwagon sports philanderer?
--Cy, Boston

SG: That's a whole separate issue -- I was defending LeBron's choice to say "Screw it, I'm a Yankees fan and I will always support them, even under these circumstances." I don't think many superstars would have done that, which is the main reason I wrote the column. He can't be defended on the front-running issue (especially when he grew up in a state that had professional teams in baseball, football and basketball), but LeBron grew up without a father and you can't overstate how much fathers can affect the sports choices of their sons. This doesn't excuse the fact that he violated Rule No. 18 of my "20 Rules for Being a True Fan" column, but it might explain why he has drifted in the wrong directions.

Take me, for example. I grew up in a house in which my father passionately rooted for all the Boston teams and bought a single Celtics season-ticket when I was 4. Do you think there was any way I wasn't for the Boston teams? Hell, I WANTED to root for my dad's teams because those were the teams he was watching every night. If my mom had raised me by herself in the Boston area, would I have gravitated toward the Boston teams? Hard to say. Again, you can't overstate the role of the father in this process ... and LeBron didn't have one. So he can be defended on the "not rooting for all the Cleveland teams" issue, as well as the "wearing a Yankees hat to an Indians game" issue, but not for the three teams he picked. Going with the Cowboys, Yankees and Bulls in the mid-'90s was like putting 10 bucks down on the front-running trifecta.

Q: In your AL playoff preview, you compared Ortiz to "a cobra ready to pounce." Which got me thinking, can a cobra pounce? Can a reptile with no legs literally pounce on its pray? I have heard of a cobra being ready to strike, but pounce? I'm confused.
--Cody D, Roswell, N.M.

SG: Don't be confused. I don't have a lot of brain cells left. I'm about three more years away from going Busey.

Q: If anyone asks, I was with you tonight. I was definitely not in Boston, killing J.D. Drew.
--The Duke, Boston

SG: That was the belated winner of the "Funniest J.D. Drew related e-mail during the four-month stretch of the 2007 season when every Red Sox fan hated him" award. Now we're good with J.D. He's had some solid moments the past few weeks. Everything's fine now. I keep telling myself this.

Q: As a fan of all Dallas-based sports teams, it wouldn't bother me in the least to see, say, Dirk Nowitzki show up to a Cowboys game in a Redskins hat or Terrell Owens show up to a Mavs game in a Spurs jersey. Not in the least. But I won't buy for one second that you, Bill Simmons, the guy who wrote "Now I Can Die In Peace," wouldn't get absolutely p.o.'d if Paul Pierce showed up to a Yankees/Red Sox game, in Boston, wearing a Yankees hat.
--Joel H., Allen, Texas

SG: I would never hold it against someone for being loyal to their favorite team. Only two types of sports fans truly bother me:

1. Bandwagon jumpers.
2. Sports bigamists.

We covered both groups in the aforementioned "20 Rules" column, so we don't need to comb over that ground again. It's the Dane Cooks of the world that need to be addressed. I know for a fact that Cook (A) wore a Yankees cap while taping an entire day of "Crank Yankers" phone calls, and (B) wore a Yankees cap and a Red Sox T-shirt to a "Man Show" season wrap party. Again, this isn't a third-hand story -- I have friends who would swear on the lives of their children that they witnessed those two "incidents" (for lack of a better word). Well, no true Sox fan would wear a Yankees hat under any circumstances, unless they were being tortured or engaging in some sort of twisted sexual role play with a hooker. So when he's doing the whole "I'm a huge Sox fan!" thing in his baseball commercials, or claiming that Derek Jeter told him he was a big fan and Cook responded, "I'm not" (an actual "story" that Cook told on the "Mike and Mike" show last month) ... I mean, he HAS to be called out on this stuff, right? I think it's time for him to write another letter to himself.

Q: Here's my plan for my first kid. I have the entire 2004 Red Sox playoffs on DVD, as well as all the Patriots' Super Bowl DVD's. What if, instead of Dora and Barney, I prop my kid up in front of Tom and Papi? Hell, my kid may come into this world just before the NBA playoffs. What a way to start. This cannot fail; this will be revolutionary. All I need from you is a way to convince my wife this is a good idea.
--Bob, Pittsfield, Mass.

SG: Convince you? I'm beating you to it. There's no rhyme or reason to any of the shows aimed for kids under 18 months old. They have only one goal: to juggle as many weird colors, sights and sounds as possible to keep the kids' attention and eventually give them ADD.

For instance, our daughter went through a huge "Teletubbies" phase that ended only when we sent her to a Teletubbies rehab center. What are the Teletubbies, you ask? Multicolored, androgynous, possibly homicidal Muppets with speech impediments and farting problems who pop out of the ground after getting instructions from a smiling baby whose face has been superimposed on the sun, then jump around, wobble into each other and giggle for no reason. Twice per show, they break away from the Teletubbies to show a group of English kids learning from a female teacher named Debbie who has scary Austin Powers-type teeth. Then the show ends with the Tubbies popping back into the ground as the smiling sun baby grins in approval. That's the whole show.

So here's my question: If I'm going to overload my impressionable child with a show that inundates him or her with colors, weird sounds, strange noises and inexplicable movements, wouldn't a baseball or basketball game make just as much sense? Would I rather have my little boy dreaming of hanging out with Tinky Winky and Dispy ... or KG and Big Papi? Bob from Pittsfield, it's you and me. Let's do this.

Q: Just got done reading your AL playoff preview and had to comment about your "couldn't Fox have pulled a cute girl out of the stands to do the postgame interviews" statement. The game was in Milwaukee. 'Nuff said.
--Rob, Milwaukee

SG: The funny thing is, all the male readers in Milwaukee are nodding right now and saying, "That's a good point."

Q: What are your thoughts on the Red Sox offering Mo Rivera crazy money? How better to stick it to the Yanks than to grab him for top money and make him a setup guy to Papelbon? And who better to teach Papelbon the art of closing than Rivera? Imagine the Yanks at Fenway next year in the late innings. ... Wait! Is that "Enter Sandman" playing on the PA? That's Mo Rivera's music!
--Jason, Phoenix

SG: I love this idea and even mentioned it on Wednesday's podcast as I was torturing my buddy JackO during the farewell segment of "Johnny, Are You Worried Yet?" I'd offer Rivera $45 million for three years for these reasons: He'd be a phenomenal setup guy and backup closer; it would completely crush the Yankees fans (shades of the Yanks' signing Luis Tiant in '79); and the Red Sox have more than enough money to accommodate such an over-the-top offer (as evidenced by J.D. Drew's ridiculous contract, or the fact that they threw away $20 million this season on Joel Pineiro, Eric Hinske, Matt Clement and Eric Gagne). Unfortunately, I can't imagine Rivera wanting to be a set-up guy in Boston unless he REALLY wanted to stick it to the Yankees (like when Adam Vinatieri signed with the Colts). Or, unless we drugged him.

Q: Where's your NLCS prediction? I need to know which team to bet against.
--George, New Rochelle, N.Y.

SG: Thank you for asking! I like the Rockets over the T-Backs. Just kidding. But I'm glad you brought this up. No matter how much you love baseball, it's nearly impossible to care about the Colorado-Arizona series. You might watch it, you might enjoy it, you might even gamble on it ... but unless you're an absolute baseball nut or a Rockies/D-backs fan, how could you honestly care who wins when neither franchise is older than Jamie-Lynn Spears? It's like going to a wedding in which you don't know anything about the bride or the groom.

(Note: I'm rooting for the D-backs for one simple reason -- the thought of the Red Sox playing three games in the thin Denver air scares the living crap out of me. Dice-K can't even sleep on a hard hotel mattress; he's going to throw seven innings in high altitude? And what about Big Papi wheezing his way around the bases and potentially puking between second and third on a triple? Yikes. I don't want any part of the Rockies.)

Anyway, a friend of mine who works in the sports world got me thinking about this on Monday when he e-mailed just to say, "Colorado versus Arizona might be the least watched LCS in baseball history. Who the hell cares about either team? I'm convinced that sports is all about history. If there's history, it's interesting. If not, who cares? People need the emotional attachment that comes from a lifetime of cheering for the same team -- and especially when their parents rooted for the same franchise."

My response: "You just described why the NHL died in this country over the past 12 years."

Q: I can't believe John Mellencamp wasn't listed as one of your "25 people to watch in AL playoffs." He needs to go into the witness protection program because I am ready to snap and go OJ on him and everyone at Chevy for ruining another postseason. TiVo and all the DVR makers need to get involved and find a way to block this commercial from broadcasting on TVs.
--Silvio, NYC

SG: Lord knows the "This is ourrrrrrrrrr country" joke has been beaten to death ... but don't you find it fascinating that an ad campaign has annoyed America to the degree that one of my readers just threatened to "go OJ" on the star of the commercial? Isn't the point of an ad campaign to build up confidence in your product and get people to like it? Since these particular ads confuse and enrage viewers, I'm going out on a limb and saying there's a problem here. If Chevy was smart, right near the end of the commercial, they'd have a new Chevy run over Mellencamp as he's singing, followed by the slogan, "CHEVY: WE'LL BE THE FIRST TO ADMIT WE SCREWED UP."

Q: Manny's postgame interview after his Game 2 walkoff homer should shoot right to the top of your Unintentional Comedy Scale. Once he hit that ball, the first words out of all of my buddies was along the lines of, "I REALLY hope they do a postgame with Manny." We were more on edge during that interview than the last half of the ninth. Varitek says, "Joo don't leave Boston without a home run." I says, "Joo know it."
--Bobby, Belmont, Mass.

SG: You left out the key part of the interview ... Jose Mota! Teaming up Manny and Mota was like teaming up Cosell and Ali in the early-'70s, only the exact opposite. Couldn't ESPN Radio have given them Dan Patrick's old show? Hey, speaking of TBS ...

Q: After two weeks of TBS, I never thought I would long for Tim McCarver's voice. But I am almost there.
--Chris, Longmont, Colo.

SG: I'm, uh, not almost there. I have a ways to go.

Q: How about Bob Brenly accurately describing the astounding ambivalence of Eric Wedge (and Carmona) toward A-Rod in that ninth-inning at-bat in Game 2? Tying run on second, open base, two outs in the ninth of a 1-1 game, and you PITCH to the HR, RBI, runs scored, and ninth-inning batting average leader in all of baseball?!? Amazing how heavy the postseason baggage is for A-Rod.
--Chris, Philly

SG: Yeah, I don't think you'll see that moment mentioned in Scott Boras' 200-page pamphlet that will be handed to every baseball team as he's gunning for a $300 million contract. By the way, in the aforementioned podcast, JackO mentioned a Jimmy Chitwood-type scenario in which A-Rod tells the media, "Torre stays, I stay ... he goes, I go" and becomes a hero in New York for sticking up for his manager. (Note: Rivera pulled this move Wednesday but A-Rod's gesture would carry more weight and change the way he's perceived by Yankees fans forever. Of course, he'd never do it because Boras would tie him up in Zed's basement and stick a red rubber ball in his mouth for the entire winter before letting it happen, but still.)

Q: Are you as unimpressed by Vladimir Guerrero as I am? He whines anytime someone throws inside, whines anytime a strike is called and swings at some of the worst pitches ever. I ache when I watch him walk, but between injuries and age, he's really a shell of what he used to be. He's kinda like the hot girl who you really wanted to get with in middle school, but by 12th grade, you were glad you didn't. Congrats Vlad, you're the girl who peaked in eighth grade.
--James, College Park

SG: It's a great point. I remember being scared of him during the 2004 playoffs and decidedly unscared of him by the time the 2007 playoffs rolled around, even though his regular-season stats were as good as they always were. If he were playing in a big-market city that gave a crap about sports, Vlad's postseason failures (.183 BA, 1 HR, 7 RBI, .491 OPS) would be a much bigger deal. That's why I think A-Rod is destined to end up on the Angels: sell-out crowds, no pressure, warm weather, a superstar teammate who's even worse in the postseason than him. ... It's the perfect place for him. He can sign for $300 million, break Bonds' HR record, make a run at 4,000 hits, hang out with the Beckhams, live by the ocean, wear expensive clothes and maybe even make a few movie cameos and get a Disney ride named after him. Nobody will ever bother him again.

Q: Wow! Have you ever seen a fan base just give up on its team like the Angels fans did? I'm not just talking about leaving early and allowing the Sox fans to take over the front rows, but how about those fans that brought the signs that said "Thanks for the great season" in which all of the A's were the Angel's logo. These fans had the time and forethought at home before the game to make these signs and sneak them (presumably) into the game. When the cameras passed by it, all I could think was "Wow!"
--Dann T., New York

SG: See what I mean? Perfect place for A-Rod. It's a mortal lock. And for the Angels, it would be quite the coup -- they'd go from having a one-eyed cleanup hitter in the 2007 playoffs to a superduperstar in the 2008 playoffs. Even factoring in A-Rod's postseason woes, that's still a major upgrade, right?

Q: My favorite part about reading your '01 World Series diary was this tag at the end: Bill Simmons writes three columns a week for Page 2. Wow. It really has been a long time since Paul O'Neill played.
--Mark, Madison

SG: (Searching for a comeback ... )

Q: Could you comment on the "twist" on the "Friday Night Lights" season opener? I think it's network executives making sweeping changes in order to try to get ratings, killing my favorite show in a way worse than simply canceling it.
--Chris W., New Haven, Conn.

SG: Quick break from baseball to answer this one...

Normally I'd say, "Come on, don't be so cynical, they had an incredible first season and the FNL writers earned the leeway to spend three or four episodes proving this 'twist' was a good idea." But network TV has betrayed us so many times, it's impossible not to think that NBC ordered FNL to sex it up and use "The OC's" old playbook to boost ratings. But this "twist" completely betrayed Landry's character, which wouldn't be a major deal except he was one of the four rocks of the show (along with the coach, his wife and the QB). You can't just waste one of your rocks like that unless there's a REALLY good reason.

Hell, that's one of the reasons an inferior show like "The OC" died so quickly -- Peter Gallagher's character (Seth's dad) was the show's moral compass, only he started considering an affair in Season 2 and the show never recovered, mainly because his character never recovered. I wasn't a "Sex and the City" fan, but my wife went crazy when Sarah Jessica Parker's character started cheating on her boyfriend with Mr. Big; she just felt completely betrayed because Parker's character was her "friend" and she could never condone a friend acting like that. I thought this was an interesting way to look at it because TV characters DO become your friends to some degree, and you DO feel like you know them, so when someone as great as Landry pulls a 180 and does something his character would never, ever, ever, EVER, EVER, EVER do (not the "twist" itself but how everything was handled after the twist), it was almost like losing a friend, as weird as that sounds.

Yeah, they can resolve the twist, but it's going to be difficult to repair the damage that was done to Landry's character. I don't trust his judgment anymore. Which brings me back to my original point: You can't betray one of your main characters like that, especially on a show like this, when the decisions for every character were made so carefully in Season 1. That's what made this twist so infuriating. Even a few seconds before "it" happened, I paused the TiVo and told the Sports Gal, "That's it ... NBC is about to ruin this show, we should have known."

There's a bigger issue here: Because everyone thought "FNL" was going to get canceled last year, they threw the kitchen sink into Season 1 and...

(SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN SEASON 1 YET. AND, MY GOD, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR????)

... made the understandable decision to have Dillon High win the state championship (thinking the show was one and done), which would have been the perfect way to go out if NBC hadn't screwed everything up by halfheartedly renewing the show and giving it the "Friday, 9 p.m." death sentence.

(END OF SPOILER ALERT. AND, DAMMIT, BUY THE SEASON 1 DVD ALREADY!)

You can't blame the FNL creators for doing everything they could to keep this show on the air, even if it meant toning down the football scenes and executing some of the dumbest script notes in recent Hollywood history. And maybe they'll salvage the ill-fated "twist." I just worry that Season 2 is headed for the "Let's just pretend this never happened" Hall of Fame along with "Fletch Lives," "Another 48 Hours," "Caddyshack 2," Hakeem Olajuwon's year on the Raptors and everything else.

Q: How 'bout those Yankees? The visiting locker room at Yankee Stadium has seen more bubbly over the past couple of years than the champagne room at Scores!!
--Frank, Swampscott, Mass.

SG: Bah-dum-cha! Thank you folks, my time is up ... please give a warm Tourgasm welcome to Mr. Bobby Kelly!

Q: I'm sure you were thrilled that Torre decided to go with Wang on three days rest in Game 4. Why, why, why do managers ever choose to use pitchers on three days rest??? The stats are horrible. According to a post on the Web, in the past 10 years, nine of the 14 playoff teams that have employed a version of a three-man rotation in the FIRST ROUND series have lost the series. These teams lost 17 of the 21 games pitched on short rest. What gives?
--Graham M., Los Angeles

SG: Graham, that's a fantastic question. I don't have an answer for you. The three-day rest thing only seems to work when you don't have another choice (like the Red Sox in 2004, for example). If it's a conscious decision, the results always seem to be brutal. But I have another question: Why is everyone always so confident that sinkerballers are better on three days rest? People just spout this out like it's a foregone conclusion -- oh, yeah, it's fine when Wang pitches on three days rest, he's a sinkerballer. It is? Who said? Do we have scientific proof that it's better for any pitcher (even someone with a specialty pitch like the sinkerball) to be more tired than less tired? I'm dying for them to tackle this on "MythBusters."

Q: What is the appropriate reaction to somebody bringing up the Mets' collapse to me 24 hours after it happened? I say I am legally allowed to punch any male who says anything. With females I say it is OK to pick out their greatest insecurity and viciously attack it for a solid 45 minutes.
--Joe B., Staten Island, N.Y.

SG: That sounds about right. The Sports Gal had a rare misfire of judgment after the Indians finished off the Yankees -- she wanted to call her friend Teresa (a Cleveland native, although it's unclear if she could pick any Cleveland athlete except for LeBron out of a police lineup) to congratulate her and also taunt Teresa's husband, Julio (an enormous Yankees fan), before I explained to her that (A) this would be an absolutely HORRIBLE idea, and (B) if the roles were reversed, and Teresa made that phone call to our house, I would immediately murder anyone who was within 10 feet of me. She didn't make the phone call.

(Of course, if she suggested that we waited a day and sent Julio a floral bouquet with one of those "Our condolences on the 2007 Yankees season" note, I might have gone for it.)

Q: Do you think Steinbrenner was watching too much "Bronx is Burning" and thinks threatening Torre's job would have the same effect as threatening Billy Martin?
--Zack R., Chicago

SG: I think there's a better chance that Steinbrenner's family is showing him old playoff games from 1996 to 2000 and convincing him that the playoffs are going great.

Q: You know when you're fully realizing that something special is happening? A couple weeks ago, I was at one of my usual strip clubs and heard the 50 Cent and Justin Timberlake song, "Ayo Technology," for the first time and KNEW that this was a song I was going to hear in the clubs all the time for the next decade. I haven't seen a song that was able to instantly change the atmosphere in a strip club that much since Christina Aguilera's "Dirty" came out. It's kind of similar to what Joba was able to do to the Yankees in the second half of the season. What gives out earlier, Joba's arm from Torre pitching him ragged or "Ayo Technology" from Larry the bald 45-year-old strip club DJ playing it every half hour?
--Brian C, Hopkinton, Mass.

SG: Yup ... these are my readers.

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His book "Now I Can Die In Peace" is available in paperback.