Ok, so that was a picture bag. Unfortunately, two more wildly inappropriate shots came in that I could not publish. Maybe the picture bag has legs.
Perhaps the Phillies need a David Stern intervention. A few days ago we were headed toward NBA playoff Armageddon. But that crisis has been averted. Miami is OK. Even if they weren’t back to sailing along there’s the perception that David Stern would have a meeting or two. Then you’d get a game where the Heat shoot 46 free throws and the Pacers shoot 11. Weird. The way the Phillies are playing, they could use a helpful hand. A very favorable home plate umpire? Four outs an inning? Something, but baseball at least has the perception of being on the up and up, so the Phillies frustrate nightly and the umpires stand idly by. Of course, when the starting lineup includes Pierre, Fontenot, Galvis and Luna—how frustrated can you get? Frustrated enough to fill a mailbag.
Q: What do you think is a more powerless feeling: pitching and not being able to get anyone out, or being on a golf course and having no idea where the ball is going? John Wasdin, Boston, MA.
A: I think any individual sport is going to be more humiliating. When you’re doing something on your own there’s absolutely no question that you are one who is screwing the proverbial pooch. There’s always SOMEONE ELSE to blame in baseball. I have experience in both of these situations. Once in a hotly contested Middle School baseball game we were killing a vaunted Tredyffrin Easttown squad . I don’t remember the score, but I was given the ball and a very COMFORTABLE lead. I turned into a big old gasoline can. COMBUSTIBLE. I couldn’t get anyone out, and it wasn’t like I was getting dinked and dunked. If Joe Maddon was managing the team he would have put all 7 fielders in the gaps. It was a powerless feeling, but at least I knew that someone might eventually hit a line drive at someone, or jam themselves, and that is what happened. We eked out a win after I threw about 140 pitches in relief. It’s a situation that pales in comparison to not being able to hit a golf ball. I was once so fouled up playing golf that I walked off the course after 9 holes, because I knew if by some chance I didn’t lose all my balls on the back nine, there was no way I was breaking 60. That’s as low as it gets.
Q: Now that Kristen Wiig has officially moved on from SNL, can we finally agree that she was never funny? Eric Hozmer, King of Prussia, PA.
A: I think you’ve brought this up before, Eric. This unabashed hatred of Kristen Wiig, where does it come from? I was watching SNL the week Will Ferrell hosted, and I thought to myself, SNL could still be funny if they had funny people ON THE SHOW. I think a misconception about SNL is that they have this phenomenal material. They certainly have had their share of classic skits, but more often than not, you are just laughing at the person. I heard Dave Chappelle say one time that he, “spoke the language of comedy. Everything I say is funny.” There’s some truth in that, and when you watch Will Ferrell in an SNL skit you are laughing with expectation and laughing at skits he did 10 years ago. More often than not the stiff doing the skit isn’t going to produce that kind of reaction in people. I’m not going to go as far as calling Wiig a stiff, though. Most of her characters drove me crazy, I’ll concede that point to you, but I think if you were just hanging around with her, she would be good for a few laughs. A bigger problem might have been that Wiig became their most marketable face, so the more you disliked her, the more you ended up seeing her mug.
Q: They’re remaking the Great Gatsby movie? Any gut feeling? It’s got Leo, but this wasn’t exactly a home run last time around. Peep the trailer. Zelda Fitz, Great Neck, Long Island.
A: Oh, I’m skeptical. Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway? I just can’t quite make up my mind on Tobey Maguire. I guess I should be thankful they didn’t cast the kid from Twilight or Channing Tatum. Carraway is the man, but I can’t put my finger on the right guy to play him. Gatsby seems like the far easier role to cast. The original movie was underwhelming if I remember correctly, and that one had a little guy named ROBERT REDFORD in it–maybe you’ve heard of him. The Great Gatsby is an elegant story, but not an overly complicated one. It should make for great sets, great visuals, some SWEET cinematography, but I doubt it’ll be a great movie. Also, doesn’t everyone know this story? Even if you didn’t read the book, you at least got the summary, right? So you’ve got a story that’s simple to begin with and everyone knows the ending. If they really wanted to go big here, they’d have to supplement material, take some liberties. But, that’s sacrilege. People with high opinions of their own intelligence will want to LOVE this picture, but in the end, it could be a flop.
Q: What’s your stance on the whisper argument? Like two people are arguing in public, but they are whisper shouting at each other? They know everyone can hear them, right? Yves Drop, Lansing, MI
A: Sometimes I think people believe they can whisper however loud they’d like and no one can hear. Perhaps wishful thinking? My opinion is, if you stumble upon a whisper fight you’re going to want to pay close attention. People that argue full-bore in public probably argue all the time. They have NO CONTROL. They’re just screaming idiots. They could be arguing about just about anything. Now take a duo who is into a heated whisper argument. These are two people with some sense of decorum. They are not the type of people who would usually argue in public. They KNOW they will be drawing attention to themselves. But, even given all that, they cannot put the argument off until they are in private. THESE GRIEVANCES NEED TO BE AIRED. If something can’t wait? It must be huge. You might hear a girl whisper scream, “You just broke up with me in a F*cking Panera?” That should perk your ears. There will be more gems coming. So, I’m pro-whisper argument as an observer, but I steer away from participating myself.
Q: The other day I saw Snoop Dogg on Sportscenter. It was a big old yuk fest. Do you find it odd how mainstream Snoop is considering his love affair with weed and other things like his Girls Gone Wild Video, various drug and weapons arrests, etc? Paul Roobens, St. Louis, MO.
A: It is interesting to me. It’s not surprising, but yeah, Sportscenter trots Snoop out as this ultimate lovable character, he’s like hip hop Dr. Seuss. Gather ’round kids, it’s time for some fun Snoop rhymes! There’s nothing about “So we gonna smoke an ounce to this. G’s up, hoes down, while you motherf*cking bounce to this,” that screams–MAINSTREAM. And, like you said, this is just the start when it comes to Snoop. He loves weed SO much, he loves it so much that people forgive him for it. Getting mad at Snoop for smoking is like getting mad at your dog for playing fetch. He’s just doing what comes natural to him. What some rappers have managed to do is to transition to different forms of media and entertainment. There’s a whole generation of people who think Ice-T is the guy from Law & Order. They think Ice Cube makes fun family comedies–He’s a chubbier, less harmless Eddie Murphy! What’s the key for these guys crossing over? Charisma. There’s something engaging about Snoop. Even if you’ve never been within 40 miles of a blunt, you probably think it’d still be cool to hang out with Snoop. When Ice-T describes his days as an ACTUAL PIMP, he manages to do it in a way that doesn’t make him sound like a thug and a criminal. His brutal honesty earns his pass. I gotta give these guys credit for making the transition.
Q: Kerry Wood walked off the mound after his final strikeout the other day and hung ‘em up. A great way to go out, it brought to mind John Kruk quitting after his last base-hit with a .300 career average. Which athlete do you think had the best exit? Brett Favray, Bumcuss, MS.
A: I wonder if leaving on a K, or leaving on a hit curbs the desire to make a comeback? Krukie would never have wanted to come back and risk that .300 average. But I assume someone who has such an approach to retirement is sure they want to go. They are also going on their own terms. You can’t begrudge players for staying on as long as they can, but the end can sometimes get painful. It’s common for great hitters to go out in an unfamiliar uniform, hitting .200. Part of you says it shouldn’t be that way, and another part says, they earned the right to hit .200 if they want to. I don’t have a complete knowledge of every athlete’s retirement. John Elway comes to mind. There’s a guy who took a career’s worth of doubt and extinguished it in his final seasons. But, football is a team sport and Elway had plenty of help to win that Super Bowl. The best retirement that comes to mind immediately is Ted Williams. In 1959, a 40-year old Williams hit .254. Almost 100 points below his career average. It was the first time in 18 years he’d ever been below .317. When Williams decided to return in 1960 at age 41, I’m sure many people thought he was headed for a Steve Carlton on the Twins type moment, but he ended up hitting .316 with 29 homers, including one in his final at-bat. It’s almost like Williams wanted to remind everyone, including himself, how great he was just one last time. Forty-three MLB players have homered in their last at-bat, but few knew it was going to be their last at-bat, and fewer still were as significant as the one Teddy Ballgame hit.