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Thursday, February 14, 2008
Mailbag: Where was the Rocket's red glare?

By Bill Simmons
Page 2

Instead of flowers and chocolate for Valentine's Day, I got you the present you've always wanted: That's right, it's a 6,000-word mailbag. As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers:

Q: What ranks lower on the Vengeance Scale: O.J. tracking down the "real killers," or Rusty Hardin "uncovering" the vast conspiracy to defame the Rocket? I guess O.J. still "wins," but Clemens can't rate more than a 0.15.
-- Edwin K., Washington

SG: Nah, I'd say Clem is rocking in at a solid 0.65 right now. At least he made a half-hearted attempt to defend himself by taping phone calls, manufacturing statistics, releasing one-sided reports, appearing before Congress and giving interviews to 89-year-old broadcasters to "fight" his case. O.J. vowed to find the real killers one time then spent the next 14 years playing golf. You can't rank lower than that. And since we're here, a few thoughts about Wednesday's congressional hearing, which was clearly one of the weirdest sports-related events of our lifetime.

1. Given that we're dealing with Iraq, global warming, the subprime shakeout, the decline of the American dollar, the decline of the public-school system and every other troublesome reality in this country right now, it's hard to believe some of our most notable Congressmen didn't have a better way to spend this week than interrogating a disgraced Hall of Fame pitcher and the sad-sack Andy Dick lookalike who once trained him. I do not approve this usage of my tax dollars.

2. When you're an athlete in trouble and you have to throw the most important people in your life (wife, best friend, agents and players' union) under the bus to defend yourself, it's definitely time to re-evaluate things. I'm just saying.

3. Along those same lines, imagine the validity of this scenario if I had pitched it to you two years ago: There's a famous baseball player whose career will have a curious resurgence well after his prime, and eventually there's going to be evidence pointing to his possible usage of steroids and HGH ... but as it turned out, only his best friend and his wife used HGH! And he wasn't involved at all! You would not have believed me.

4. My favorite part of the day was the way Jose Canseco's 1998 pool party was hashed and rehashed to the point it felt like it was becoming a significant historical event along the lines of Abe Lincoln's last play and the Cuban missile crisis. The list of unforgettable pool parties really begins and ends with Canseco's bash and Jack Horner's pool party where the Colonel met Dirk Diggler. If you ever wanted to attend two pool parties, those would have been the ones. I was actually hoping they'd call more rebuttal witnesses from the '98 Blue Jays to discuss the party. Let's bring in Ed Sprague and Felipe Crespo. Guys, you were there ...

5. Let's assume Clemens' ex-friend was sitting there lying about him with only one person between them. Why wasn't the Rocket more upset? If that were you, wouldn't you have been trembling with anger and making "I can't believe this!" faces the whole time? I couldn't get past that. For someone who was allegedly being betrayed, Clemens sure didn't seem to feel that betrayed.

6. The enduring question for me: How much of a me-first scumbag was Clemens that McNamee inexplicably held onto evidence for all these years, even though there was no reason to do so? He thought so little of Clemens' character, he protected himself during a time when there was absolutely no reason for him to consider protecting himself. I thought that was telling. And you wonder why the late Boston Globe columnist Will McDonough derisively called Clemens "The Texas Con Man," attacked his character at every turn and wrote roughly a million times that Clemens only cared about himself and nobody else. Maybe we won't get a definitive answer on whether Clemens cheated, but maybe we don't need one.

Q: You know how dozens of Texans claimed to have seen a UFO being chased by fighter pilots? My buddies and I were wondering how many Texans would it actually take for the rest of the country to believe them: 250? 200 with four sources of video evidence? We realized this measuring stick should be used to determine the order of the presidential primaries. For example, I would believe 15 people from Maryland over 40 people from Kansas, therefore, Maryland should come before Kansas in the primary election cycle. It's pure genius!
-- Roberto, Somerville, Mass.

SG: (Nodding.)

Q: I have an idea: What if you let Shannon Sharpe do the audio-tape of your next book?
-- Matt, Los Angeles

SG: (Nodding happily.)

Q: Thanks for being the only American writer who understands what Vince Carter did to Toronto.
-- Andrew, Toronto

SG: As well as the only American writer who understands what Vince would do to the Pacers if that Vince/Jermaine O'Neal trade happens. Come on, Larry Legend! Turn off the Trade Machine and walk away from the computer! Do you hear me? Walk away!

Q: Can you clarify something for us New Yorkers? The cocky attitude that New England fans carried about the perfect Patriots was suddenly turned into classy responses of "you beat us fair and square," with very few comments like "I hope New York burns in hell." I expected more of the latter. Was your "classiness" just a facade, and have Boston fans exposed themselves as thin once things go south? Or is this more of an Eddie Murphy in "Trading Places" thing where you are a KARATE MAN and get bruised on the inside and don't show your weaknesses? What gives?
-- Jason K., New York

SG: You have to remember, Patriots fans were constantly bristling during the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons when opposing players and fans played the "they had no business winning that game," and "maybe they were the winning team, but they weren't the best team" cards. Hence, the "nobody respects us!" angle that was pushed ad nauseum by Patriots players and fans alike. As crazy as this sounds, we believed that 60-minute football games should be used to determine who had the best team, not what "could" have happened or what "should" have happened. (Sorry, everyone from Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Indy.) So when the Giants outplayed the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, we admitted as much -- we've seen good defense and good coaching topple too many "talented" teams to call that game a fluke.

Also, it's easy to forget this after what happened from 2002 to 2007, but Boston fans are REALLY good at losing heart-wrenching games. We've had tons of practice. It was like Madonna dropping the British accent and the classy mom routine and turning into a slut again. You fall right back into it.

Q: What were your thoughts on Arizona as a Super Bowl destination? Your column slamming Scottsdale and the Phoenix area was sorely missed during Super Bowl week.
-- Ronald F., Tempe, Ariz.

SG: I thought Arizona was a cross between the world's largest outdoor mall and the world's largest upscale retirement community, only if you added saloons and golf courses. Is that a compliment? I don't know. Everything seemed to be 25 minutes away from everything else. The weather was chilly enough that any outdoor party at night (like ESPN's shindig, for instance) didn't work that well because you had hundreds of women shivering in cocktail dresses. It was unclear who lived there other than retirees, second-home owners and young people working in service jobs. And the football stadium was an hour away from Scottsdale and Phoenix, as was the NFL Experience (normally one of my favorite things about a Super Bowl). In terms of sprawling locations, it was more palatable than Jacksonville and Houston, but it certainly wasn't on par with Miami, New Orleans or San Diego.

Here was my biggest issue: Last call in Arizona is 1:45 a.m., with bars "closing" for good at 2 a.m. and kicking people out a few minutes later. When you're bidding God knows how much money for a Super Bowl, couldn't you bend the rules and extend last call to 4 or 5 a.m. for four days? Isn't the host city trying to show everyone a good time? What's fun about turning in at 2 a.m., especially when it takes 25-30 minutes to go from Point A to Point B? Assuming you have a 7:30 p.m. dinner, and you're heading out to parties starting at 9:30-10, that's not a lot of time to "party," right? If Barack Obama is reading this, I hope he adds the following idea to his increasingly spectacular presidential campaign: Every Super Bowl city is required to extend last call to at least 4 a.m. YES, WE CAN!

Q: Did you see CNN's presidential primary coverage of Super Tuesday? In an effort reminiscent of Roger Bannister, they introduced the world's first eight-man, two-tiered panel of analysts! Four people at two tables set up in rows (with two laptops in front of each analyst), Anderson Cooper traversing back and forth between the rows, and I might have just spotted an additional three-person panel to the left of the two-tier monstrosity. We have witnessed history, gentlemen!
-- Cavan, Atlanta

SG: Let's hope and pray none of the producers from the NFL pregame shows are reading this.

Q: What is the real-life equivalent of the Gordie Howe hat trick? The best I can come up with would be going to a bar, playing wingman for a buddy, picking up a girl yourself and getting into a fight all in the same night.
-- Max Myers, Philadelphia

SG: Perfect. That's exactly what it should be. Also, has any athlete ever had a cooler sporting accomplishment named after him for the rest of eternity than Gordie Howe with the Gordie Howe Hat Trick? Nobody named triple-doubles after Oscar Robertson. Nobody named the cycle in baseball after Ty Cobb. For whatever reason, getting a sack, interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery in the same football game has never been called the Lawrence Taylor, even if it makes perfect sense. Why did Gordie Howe get to live on for the rest of eternity, but LT, Cobb and Oscar got the shaft? Hell, the only athletes who ever got something named after them were Gordie, Tommy John, Larry Bird, Dick Fosbury and somebody else that I'm probably missing. It's just weird, right? We name bridges and buildings after anyone and everyone, yet we ignore natural connections for sporting accomplishments and athletes.

Q: I've noticed the only times the Red Sox win the World Series are the times the Sports Gal is pregnant. This leads me to two questions: Are you going to be having babies every year now that this info has come to light? And if you get snipped, would that bring another 90 years of futility?
-- D.C., Minneapolis

SG: Let's get something straight: I'd never get snipped because then I wouldn't be able to have kids with my second and third wives. So that's not happening. But to answer your question -- yes, the Sports Gal has been carrying fetuses (fetii?) each time the Red Sox won the World Series. I am 2-for-2. I have no idea what this means. I can tell you that there's a zero percent chance of Kid No. 3 happening, so if the Simmons family is responsible for these World Series wins, get ready for a prolonged drought.

That reminds me, somebody needs to launch a Web site for anyone thinking about having two or more kids. The Web site would be called "Why Didn't You Effing Tell Me?" and would include the following features:

  • The "Why Didn't You Effing Tell Me?" Blog, in which dads rip into their buddies for not warning them to stick with one kid.

  • A quote page of deranged things said by mothers melting down as both of their kids were crying at the same time; stuff like, "I swear to God, I'm going to stick this baby in the microwave soon and defrost him!" and "THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, YOU WANTED TWO, I WISH YOU WERE DEAD!!!!"

  • A detailed explanation of my buddy Sully's 12 Percent Theory, which can be described in one sentence like this: "Assuming women start out at 100 percent on the Sanity Scale, every time she passes a living being out of her body, she becomes 12 percent less sane." By the way, this is why Hillary Clinton can run for president -- she only had one kid, so she's operating at 88 percent capacity. Still much higher than George W. Bush.

  • Transcripts of incoherent shouting matches between sleep-deprived parents.

  • Live webcams featuring streaming video inside the living rooms of families with two or more kids. And before anyone decides to have a second kid, by federal law, they'd have to spend three hours surfing around this Web site.

    Q: Saw the greatest sports movie ever again over the holidays, "Rocky IV," and noticed in one scene where Drago receives an injection of some "substance" and it got me wondering: You mean to tell me Hollywood knew about these "banned" substances in 1985, and Major League Baseball just found out about them?!?
    -- David W., Indiana

    SG: You know, I've been waiting for someone to take that "Rocky IV" training scene and stick Curt Schilling's head on Stallone and Clemens' head on Drago -- kinda like how the YouTuber creatively put the heads of Isiah, Marbury and Randolph on the "Night at the Roxbury" guys. How hard could that be? Make that my Valentine's Day present for this year, please.

    Q: One of my roommates is a female who is completely oblivious to the world of sports. She just walked by the television while Isiah was answering questions following a 17-point rout suffered at the hands of Chicago and said, "Wow. Why does that guy look so sad? He looks like he's about to cry." This is priceless stuff. I hereby formally nominate a face to join the Pantheon of Faces alongside the Peyton Manning, Derek Lowe, Art Shell, and Norv Turner faces ... the Isiah Thomas Postgame Press Conference Face.
    -- Joe L., New York

    SG: Done and done. We also need to add the following five:

    1. The Steve Nash "My Career Is Wasting Away, I'm Going to Kill Somebody Soon" Face (now on hiatus).

    2. The Tom Brady "OK, Seriously, Is Matt Light Throwing the Game?" Face.

    3. The LeBron James "Don't Help Me Up, I Don't Even Want To Look At You Because You Suck So Much, I Can't Believe We're On The Same Team" Face.

    4. The Roger Clemens "My Consultant Told Me That This Short Haircut Will Make It Look Like I Never Did Steroids" Face.

    5. The Tiki Barber Post-Super Bowl XLII Face (my personal favorite).

    Q: Recently found your book online and used. I notice an entry inside from Luke to Patrick, "To the biggest sports fan I know and the best brother-in-law I could hope to have." Then I find YOU have also signed it, as "Patrick, From one lifer to another, Bill Simmons." So Luke went out of his way to get it signed for his dear brother-in-law, or Patrick got it signed, but in either case it wasn't so cherished that it didn't end up for sale on the Internet. Not me. Your tome has found a hallowed spot on my nightstand next to the Koran, the Mitchell report, and one of Larry King's books (I think it has something to do with Princess Di).
    -- Chris F., Denver

    SG: Thank you, Chris! Hey, let's make way for a sixth face: The Patrick "I Hope Luke Doesn't Read The Valentine's Day Mailbag" Face.

    Q: Now that this "Real World: Australia" season is over, do you think the only girls who are going to date Dunbar are the same girls who are attracted to serial killers?
    -- Damian, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

    SG: And O.J. Simpson. Don't forget him.

    Q: Ever since the Monte Carlo casino fire, I have been thinking about this. Say you were there that morning playing blackjack on a major roll. Then you heard the hotel was on fire. Now the Monte Carlo, as I recall from visiting there, is about 40 floors high. How long -- if they would let you -- would you ride the fire out before abandoning your hot streak? My feeling is, one of two things have to happen before I bail out -- either the dealer showing 16 pulls a 5 to make 21 twice, or I see smoke.
    -- Mike, Grand Island, N.Y.

    SG: See, I think this would be the greatest possible gambling moment you could have -- the time you were killing it at the blackjack tables to the point that the casino actually caught fire! They would have needed three security guards to pull me away from the table.

    Q: How long before Marcus Vick commits a crime and gets himself sent to prison on purpose? This is our only chance for a "Prison Break" reality show and it actually could happen, right?
    -- Kurt, Indy

    SG: You're right, the feds might want to stake out all the tattoo shops in the Virginia area just to be safe. But I'm glad you brought this up. I was thinking about Michael Vick sitting in the slammer and all the different directions his life could go over the next decade. It seems like there are five options:

    The Tyson Precedent: Vick keeps his mouth shut, finishes his sentence, gets released from jail, fails to regain his greatness, loses his marbles and becomes a social and cultural oddity along the lines of Floyd Mayweather Sr. and the people who dress up like superheroes on Hollywood Boulevard.

    The Paul Crewe Precedent: Vick gets chosen to lead the inmates in a game against the guards, defies the warden's instructions, wins the game and has 30 years added to his sentence. We never see him again except for an occasional "Real Sports" or "E:60" segment.

    The Rick Fox on "Oz" Precedent: Vick gets hooked on drugs, falls into a deep despair and ends up getting beaten up by the guards during a chaotic riot, then eventually graduates to a life of straight-to-cable movies and mediocre seats at Lakers games.

    The Prison Break Precedent: Vick's brother covers himself in tattoos that detail a blueprint for an escape, lands in the same jail and springs them both. Unquestionably, this would be the biggest sports story of all-time -- it would even surpass David Segui landing in the Mitchell report. Still, I can't see Marcus Vick pulling this off. It's unclear if Marcus could even follow an entire episode of "Prison Break," much less emulate the key plot element for the show.

    The Boxing Precedent: This never happens except for boxing, in which it's happened at least 235,048 times, but what if Vick emerges from jail with a wiser perspective, makes the most of his second chance, salvages his career, turns around the fortunes of New Team X, becomes a visible PETA advocate, finally learns how to run the West Coast offense and wins a Super Bowl. Would we remember that entire sequence -- starting with Vick signing the $100 million deal with Atlanta, and ending with him holding a Super Bowl trophy over his head -- as the single craziest stretch of an athlete's career? Or does Tyson's performance from 1985 to 2004 still hold the crown? Tough call.

    Q: What do you think happened to Gino, the C's human victory cigar with seductive hip motions. I feel after he sired hundreds of children in the '80s, he retired to a remote tropical island where he is worshiped by the natives as a god of virility. My friend argues that, with the rise of cocaine and HIV in the '80s, there's no way Gino made it past 1987.
    -- Albee, Somerville, Mass.

    SG: I'm with your friend, Albee -- Gino probably didn't make it past 1987, and they definitely would've played a Yaz song at his funeral.

    Q: If they were going to construct the Mount Rushmore of the rap industry, who would the four members be? Keep in mind that it is the four most influential people to the history of the industry, not necessarily the four best rappers.
    --Adam, Hillsville, Va.

    SG: You'd have to call it Mount Rapmore and, by the way, it's not a bad idea for a tourist attraction in Compton or Watts. Anyway, Tupac had the most raw talent, the biggest creative impact and the most fascinating legacy. He has to be there. Dr. Dre played a crucial role during rap's formative years, helped launch the West Coast sound, found Snoop and the Dogg Pound, pushed rap into the mainstream with "The Chronic" and showed everyone else how to sell out. He has to be there. Jay-Z made the most money, bagged Beyonce and turned himself into a financial and cultural icon. He has to be there.

    As for the fourth spot, Eminem reached the single highest peak of any rapper; Biggie Smalls was the greatest freestyler ever and had the single most distinctive sound; and Public Enemy had a bigger influence than both of them, only you couldn't just stick Chuck D. on there because it would belittle the contributions of everyone else in the group. So I keep coming back to this point: Biggie's major red flag was that he died too young, but if he had made one more memorable album, you'd pencil him in without an argument. Can you penalize him for dying young? I say no. Besides, you can't have a Mount Rapmore with Tupac and not Biggie when those guys are so intertwined historically. So Biggie would be my fourth pick for now, but it's up for grabs. We're an Eminem comeback album away from him knocking Biggie off and grabbing the fourth spot.

    Q: My (then) girlfriend came by my house right before the holidays to deliver a late birthday present and my Christmas gifts. The gifts were as follows:

    1. An authentic Jason Varitek home jersey.

    2. A baseball from the 2004 World Series, signed by Varitek.

    3. A limited edition Boston Red Sox watch.

    4. Two pairs of Red Sox boxers.

    5. A rubber ducky, which I collect, please don't ask why.

    So, she spent quite a bit of money on me, and I think the most I spent on her was $85. Obviously, she spent quite a bit more. Well, immediately after she gives me my gifts, she breaks up with me. I ask her if she wants the gifts back. She said she didn't, so I kept them. So here is my question: What is the sports equivalent of what happened to me in December?
    -- Adam S., Oklahoma City, Okla.

    SG: No, no, no ... HERE is the question: Why the hell do you collect rubber duckies?

    Q: Do you realize that listening to Explosions in the Sky, the band that does most of "Friday Night Lights" music, can make any normal experience epic? I walked my dog [while] wearing headphones and listening to them, and by the end of the walk, I felt as if I had experienced something truly life-altering. I am currently trying to apply the "Explosions Theory" to many other aspects of my life, such as showering, vacuuming and doing laundry.
    -- Owen, Cleveland

    SG: Couldn't agree more. I wish there was a way to pump that music into every bathroom in my house. I'm also amazed none of the presidential candidates has used Explosions in the Sky for their campaign. You could show me a 30-second ad of John McCain trying to pass out a kidney stone to that music and I'd probably want to vote for him afterward.

    Q: I have a brilliant idea for the next season of "24": After listening to Boston sports fans complain about not winning a fourth Super Bowl and the Celtics finishing "only" 68-14, a mentally unbalanced Philadelphia sports fan (played by myself) steals a dirty bomb and threatens to set it off in Boston. The only man who can stop him is Jack Bauer. Things get more complicated when I plan to kidnap relatives of the Celtics and demand they throw their first-round playoff series. Bauer eventually catches me and threatens to shoot me dead. I reply that no man scares me after witnessing Billy King, Andy Reid and Charlie Manuel for a collective decade of stupidity. Bauer shoots me dead, anyway. Ironically, the Phillies go on to win the World Series several months after my death. The end. What do you think?
    -- Sean, Philly

    SG: I think you're a borderline genius. Three things I would have added, though. First, how did you not work Andy Reid's sons into that pitch? That could have been a whole four-episode arc of its own -- Jack Bauer searching for the mentally unbalanced Philly fan and somehow ending up at a party at Reid's house, then mistakenly thinking one of his kids was a suspect. Second, Jack should get hooked up with Donovan McNabb at some point, because it would be funny to see them racing around trying to find the suspect as the "24" music is hammering away, only McNabb was moving at the same lethargic speed in which he operated the "2-Minute Drill" in Super Bowl XXXIX, so Jack just keeps getting angrier and angrier with him and finally shoots McNabb. And third, in the final episode, when we flash-forward to the World Series, Jack throws out the first pitch of Game 7 and gets booed by the Philly fans.

    Q: One article that I look forward to every year is the annual "Fire Doc Rivers" column. How in the hell are you going to write it this season?
    -- Mike Costello, Lansdale, Pa.

    SG: It's going to be tough. I'm not gonna lie to you. The plan is to wait for the playoffs, wait for the Celts to blow their Round 2 series where they lose four games to Cleveland by a combined seven points and then rush the column out as quickly as possible so it still counts for the 2007-08 season. If you have a better idea, I'd love to hear it.

    (In all seriousness, Doc is the perfect coach for this particular team and knocked the first four months out of the park. Every problem I ever had with him -- playing too many guys, brow-beating young point guards, blowing big leads and not using his timeouts correctly, making too many excuses, not having a plan for defending the high screen and everything else -- hasn't been a problem this season. Does this change the fact he coached the Celtics poorly for the three previous years? No.)

    Q: What would the money line be if you were to play the ESPN ombudsman in Scrabble? You'd have to be a 3-to-1 underdog, right?
    -- Gordon, San Diego

    SG: Are you kidding? I'd destroy our ombudsman in Scrabble. I'm an unbelievably good Scrabble player. In the words of Emmit Smith, she would get "debacled."

    Q: Don't you think the Kyle Korver trade made too much sense for both sides to have happened in real life?
    -- Sergi, Barcelona, Spain

    SG: There's no question. It's the most logical NBA trade made this decade -- Philly desperately needed some cap space and a pick, and Utah desperately needed a scrappy swingman who could drain open shots and close out games on the free-throw line. And to top things off, you had Korver finding his manifest destiny by landing in Utah, Land of the White People, where he's already become a heartthrob for Mormon schoolgirls everywhere. When I saw that trade on, I almost felt like applauding. I loved that deal.

    Another deal I loved: The Lakers fleecing Memphis for Pau Gasol in a horribly one-sided trade that would have caused complete chaos in any of my fantasy leagues. (Bare minimum: Three weeks of angry e-mails, phone calls and message-board posts, followed by the guy who traded Gasol deciding to "leave" the league.) There were a number of incredible things about the trade, including ...

  • Memphis GM Chris Wallace not waiting until the trade deadline to make the deal. What, were the Lakers going to pull that craptastic offer off the table? "Chris, you have 48 hours to accept 34 cents on the dollar for Gasol! Or else we're backing off!"

  • Everyone kept evaluating the deal for how it would affect L.A.'s title chances this season, but I'm much more interested in the long-term ramifications: The Lakers getting the 27-year-old Gasol for the next four years and possibly beyond. Now they're set up as a title contender for Kobe's entire prime and have the best pair of young big men in the league (Gasol and Andrew Bynum), as well as someone who can score with his back to the basket and command a double team. You shouldn't just be able to stumble into someone like that. I don't think the Lakers can win this season because of Bynum's knee injury. But next year? They're the favorites.

  • Kwame Brown and Darko Milicic ... together at last! Where's Shawn Bradley? Can the Grizzlies lure him out of retirement?

  • Wallace getting nothing substantial for Gasol AND failing to dump Brian Cardinal's contract in the deal. Amazing. Incredible. When you're making a deal that's thinly disguised as a pure salary dump, how can you trade Gasol for cap space without dumping Cardinal unless you're getting back a lottery pick or a potential All-Star? I can't get over this.

  • Wallace pimping the acquisition of Marc Gasol in the trade, calling him "one of the best big men in Spain right now." Wow, he's one of the best big men in Spain! I didn't realize that! Just last week, he dropped a double-double on Chris Washburn! By the way, if you're a Boston fan who remembers when Wallace traded for an alcoholic making max money (Vin Baker) and then tried to claim that Shammond Williams was the key to the trade, you had to enjoy the Marc Gasol comments. I have seen port-o-johns after football games that were full of less crap than Chris Wallace.

  • Wallace getting a young point guard in the deal when he already has Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry, setting the stage for Horrible Trade No. 2 -- the one in which he dumps Lowry and Mike Miller in the same deal for more cap space and another first-round pick. My hope is Memphis somehow gets three first-round picks in this draft -- the last time Wallace had three first-rounders, he drafted Joe Johnson, Joe Forte and Kedrick Brown. It's always good to have a GM with a .333 batting average making three picks in the first round, if only for comedy's sake.

  • Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak extricating himself from the Atrocious GM Summit II with the Gasol trade, the non-Kobe trade, the non-Bynum trade and the Derek Fisher signing. Taking his place ... you guessed it, Mr. Chris Wallace!

    Q: Is Coach Taylor the worst first-half coach in football history? Have the Dillon Panthers ever gone into the half with a lead? They're constantly down by 28. Either he really sucks at watching film or the advance scout team is for crappo.
    -- Julius, Los Angeles

    SG: You're right, with the exception of Norman Dale, Coach Taylor has to be the most overrated coach in Hollywood history. His team stinks out the joint in every first half and then bails him out with Hail Marys and miracle plays. He couldn't figure out how to motivate Voodoo when Voodoo was the most talented guy on last year's team. He never taught Street how to tackle and got him paralyzed. He never had the balls to make the overpowering Tim Riggins his starting running back and relegate the overrated Smash Williams to being a third-down back. He never realized Smash was using steroids last season even though Smash's 40-yard dash time had suddenly increased by a half-second. And on top of everything else, he dumped his team for a college job and then changed his mind three weeks into the season. What kind of wishy-washy leadership is that?

    Q: I just heard on the radio that there was a charity giving all the pre-printed championship garb of Super Bowl losers to needy children across the world. In all seriousness, I would first like to commend this cause -- it seems quite worthwhile. It would be hard, however, not to find some humor in this effort, right? Imagine the creation of a Bizarro Sports World in third-world villages across the globe. Craig Morton and Neil O'Donnell would be worshipped as heroes, and the Vikings and Bills would be celebrated as unbelievable dynasties.
    -- Josh, Oakland, Calif.

    SG: And it would be the one place where everyone thought the Patriots went 19-0! I always thought it would have been a great running joke if a plane crashed on the "Lost" island carrying boxes and boxes of pre-printed championship clothing to third-world countries, so the castaways starting wearing the clothes on the show and thinking that those "winning" teams were the ones that won titles in 2007. Come on, there's still time to work this idea into the show. We have three more years! Wouldn't you love to see Hurley wearing an XXXL "2007 COLORADO ROCKIES WORLD CHAMPIONS" T-shirt?

    Q: Simmons on The Helmet Catch: "That was the single greatest sports play I've ever seen in person." Didn't you witness Bird stealing the ball from Isiah? Come on Bill, those two aren't even close. Bird stealing the ball is one of the greatest sports moments of all-time.
    - -Jason F., Cheboygan, Mich.

    SG: You know, I thought long and hard about that before I wrote it. And here's the thing: The Helmet Catch directly influenced a championship game and altered the result of that game. Bird's steal only ended up winning Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals; the Celtics ended up losing to the Lakers in the next round. On top of that, something like 97 million people watched the Helmet Catch happen and only 7-8 million probably watched Bird's steal. The catch was just a bigger and more significant moment. Which reminds me ...

    Q: My buddies and I have come up with a new level on the excitment scale: "Gus Johnson Excited." It's used to describe anything that approaches wet-your-pants level excitment. Are you with us?
    -- Travis, Ann Arbor, Mich.

    SG: Of course, I'm with you! Heck, I am practically Gus Johnson Excited about your idea. I can't wait to use this phrase in my everyday life. By the way, if Gus had done Super Bowl XLII, his head would have exploded after The Helmet Catch. That would have been it. He would have reacted just like Joe Buck, only the complete opposite. It would have sounded like this ...

    "Here's Eli back to pass ... UNDER PRESSURE ... HE'S GONNA ... NOOOOO! HE GETS AWAY!!!!!! HE GETS AWAY! NOW HE THROWS IT DOWNFIELD! AHHHHHHH-OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! (We hear the sound of an explosion, followed by a microphone going dead.)"

    Q: If you had the No. 1 pick in a death pool draft, would you go with Britney Spears or Amy Winehouse?
    -- Mike P., Morristown, N.J.

    SG: I'll do this in super-intense, face-turning-red, Todd McShay mode ...

    "Mike, Amy Winehouse has to to be the No. 1 pick. This girl has every tool you'd want: She's addicted to drugs; she has no concern about her own safety; she hangs out with other people who do drugs; and the song 'Rehab' feels like a self-eulogy every time she sings it! I judge my No. 1 picks in a death pool by one thing: If CNN reports that he or she died, would I be remotely surprised? In the case of Amy Winehouse? NO! I would not be surprised! As for Britney, her stock has been falling with GMs across the league -- she's finally getting help, she's on bipolar meds and she jettisoned some of the negative influences in her life. We're starting to hear whispers that she might drop out of the top five. I've had GMs tell me that Mary Kate Olsen and Dennis Rodman have moved ahead of Britney on their boards ..."

    Q: I wanted to wait a few days to write to see if I was still as depressed as I was on Super Bowl Sunday. I am. I spent all my money on a plane ticket to Phoenix and drinks while I was there. I lost my cell phone while I was there. Only fat chicks would talk to me 'cause I drank too much. My flight was canceled twice, and it took me four airports and 27 hours to get back to the Manchester airport. I have a sneaking feeling the Celtics are about to blow it and Garnett's injury is worse than they are letting on. The Red Sox are a long way away and can't possibly match last season. I feel the opposite of how Billy Madison felt on nudey magazine day. I can't believe what happened.
    -- Matt, Harvard, Mass.

    SG: Yup, these are my readers.