I bet some of you were worried that I wouldn’t have time to do a mailbag on Super Bowl week. There are menus to plan, picks to make, and jinxes to be laid down. I’ve always got time for the mailbag, though. It’s what I live for. Your questions/complaints…
Q: I have an idea to make baseball more exciting. You know how wrestlers have entrance music and baseball players have a song they play before they come to bat? I’d like to combine the two for pinch-hitting. I think a pinch-hitter should remain in the dugout and then when it’s his turn to come up they just blast his music and he storms out of the dugout. The crowd would go wild with anticipation. Imagine if Chase Utley had the day off and then in the 8th all of a sudden you hear, “Kashmir.” You’d lose your mind, correct? M.G. Okerlund, Stamford, CT.
A: In theory, this is a great idea. Because, in situations like the one you describe, it would only heighten the moment. I admit you do lose a little build-up with the guy standing out there on-deck. Even though the crowd will still go crazy when the player is announced in certain instances, it could be bigger. It could be BETTER. The problem is, you’re borrowing an idea from wrestling, and wrestling is fake. They can use the entrance music to its utmost potential, because they know exactly what is going to happen. You don’t have that phenomenon in baseball. Don’t you think it’d be a little ridiculous to have Michael Martinez hiding in the tunnel in the 5th inning of a blowout? Then, he’s forced to charge out to almost no applause while they play whatever song he’s chosen? That would be embarrassing. The players would also HATE it. I think we’re stuck with what we’ve got, but I did hear that Jim Thome is going to let J-Roll pick his at-bat music this year, so maybe there is something to look forward to in that area. Here’s my early front-runner.
Q: I saw you talk a bit about Kyle Stanley’s choke job last weekend, but I was wondering how big of a lead do you think you’d need to nail-down a PGA Tour win? Assuming your own golf skills and the crowd being there–everything. Jim Nance, Cleveland, OH.
A: Well, let’s get the relevant information on the table. I currently carry a USGA index of 4.9. I also have plenty of “the buckle” in me. I once had a Kyle Stanley like meltdown in a junior club championship tournament. I just couldn’t get out of that DAMN BUNKER. This is an almost impossible question to answer. The simple response is, I’d need a big cushion. A huge one, because not only would I need to get the ball to the putting surface, I’d have to allow myself AT LEAST three putts. It would depend almost solely on the hole in question. The 18th at St. Andrews? That’s about a 150-yd wide fairway. I’d hit PW off the tee. A 9-iron couldn’t be trusted. I’d get a 2nd wedge in the neighborhood of the green and then I’d ask for 4 putts. So, there I’d need six shots. The 18th at Augusta? I don’t know that I could get any club through that narrow chute under pressure. I might have to putt the ball up the chute and then start hitting PWs. Who knows how many shots I’d need. But, that said, I feel fairly confident I could have made a 7 at Torrey Pines last Sunday. I’m thinking on in four and 3-putt. It’d probably be a real tester for 7, a tricky little two-footer, but who knows maybe it’d go in. And, the real advantage I’d have is there is no way I’d hit the shot solid enough to have it spin back into the drink. That’s just showing off.
Q: I find the following two things mildly annoying and was interested to see if you feel the same way and if you have any advice. 1) you text someone and they respond by calling you. If I had wanted or
been able to talk I would have called them in the first place, but now it’s kinda awk if you don’t pick up cause they know you’re by the phone. 2) people who are still wishing others a Happy New Year. I don’t care if it’s the first time they’ve talked in 2012… it’s frickin February already. Bunched Panties, Conshohocken, PA.
A: I can come down staunchly in support of number two. Each holiday has its time of year. And, corresponding with that there is an appropriate time to wish people well. I’m going to invent the term, “Tidings Window,” for this purpose. Most people get way too liberal with their tidings window. I’d say Christmas or the more general, “holidays,” has the largest window. But, for everything else, you have to be actively involved in the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving? That’s only valid from happy hour on Wednesday through Sunday. If you missed someone, you don’t say Happy Thanksgiving the next Monday. That’s idiotic. And, the same goes for New Year’s. The New Year’s resolution is partially to blame here, because everyone thinks you need well-wishes in the new year. Well, those wishes need to be confined to New Year’s Eve through the 1st business day after the 1st. That’s it. Move on. The text/call scenario is tougher. If you have a good relationship with the person, if this is someone you talk to regularly on the phone, I don’t think it’s a big deal. If it’s someone more random, then I think it is a bit of an aggressive move by them and you have the right to completely ignore their call.
Q: Do you have an ideal Super Bowl menu? I imagine someone of your generous proportions at least has an opinion on the subject. Paco Taco, Royersford, PA.
A: Um, thanks? But, yes, guilty as charged. I do have an opinion. There are countless things to consider. The first is, how much do you care about the game? If you are going to be focused on the game you cannot be focused on your kitchen. If your team is in the game, or if you’ve placed thousands of units on the action–It’s takeout time. There’s no shame in getting pizza for the Super Bowl. Pizza is delicious. If you are going to prepare food, COMPOSE it, if you will, then you need copious amounts of planning. My strategy is to break the party up into time slots and not “meals” or “courses.” What do you want to be eating in each time window. This can help you avoid overdoing it. If you just throw together some courses, you’ll probably have too much overlap and too much food. I’m a big fan of a wide-array of appetizers, into a signature dish, into dessert. The signature dish could be a sandwich of some kind, some ribs, chili (if that’s your thing), tacos–whatever as long as it’s one thing. Don’t make ribs, three sides and a salad. That’s too much, and no one will have room for dessert, which should be the focal point of the whole event.
Q: Can you be held accountable for songs that get stuck in your head? Sometimes I have the worst songs in my head and I’m afraid it’s going to come out at the worst time–Seinfeld “Master of the House,” style. Shouldn’t everyone get a free pass for this? It cannot be helped. Alton Benes, NY, NY.
A: I get terrible songs stuck in my head. When I go for a jog I don’t wear headphones. I’m sure it would help pass the time, but instead I do very odd things. Sometimes I interview myself in my mind. I pretend I’m the Phillies GM and I quiz myself about the off-season. Next thing you know? CALORIES BURNED. Sometimes I think about something I’m writing, try to form actual solid sentences and dialog to use. But, more often than not, I end up with the last song I heard stuck in my head for the duration of the run. This can be good, or bad. The other day, I said, “My heart’s a stereo,” about 1.67 million times during my run. I hate that song. And, that’s the only line I know. Troubling, but I happened to hear it in the car. And, you know what song is everywhere? That, “Goes off like a Gun–brighter than the sun,” garbage. It’s in a movie preview, it’s in a shampoo commercial, what the hell? Also, how many movies can we make about saving sea mammals? It’s great that we rally around dolphins and whales, but enough is enough. What was your question? Oh, should we be responsible? Hell, no. If someone creeps up on me at Wawa and I’m like, “Lightning strikes the heart….” I expect COMPLETE amnesty.
Q: I saw someone flying a kite the other day. I was dumbfounded. Did they go home and play jacks later? Kites are not/were never fun to play with, correct? It was just something you could make out of a string and some other easily obtainable wares of the 1800s.
A: I have to agree. Kites are very boring. And, I guess there are competitive kite people, and something called “kite-fighting” exists? I guess that would be better, at least it’s competition, but just standing there in the park or on a beach–I don’t get it. You have to be really easily impressed to enjoy kite flying. I also feel like most kites these days are probably cheapo garbage and they won’t fly or will break immediately anyway. In 7th grade I had to make a kite in wood shop. Back in the day you probably got to use the saws, build exciting trinkets and pieces of furniture in wood shop, but by the time I rolled through that was TOO DANGEROUS. We made a flippin’ kite. I put the K.C. Chiefs logo on mine. I think mostly because I thought it would be easy to draw. It’s just an arrowhead, after all, but it came out crooked as sh*t. Then, we all waited for a windy day to try fly these modified garbage bags and I don’t think any of them got airborne. Failure across the board. Kites are awful.
Q: If you could have a chef cook you one meal a day, what would it be? I guess the logical answer is dinner, because of the options, but I think the other choices have potential. Who wouldn’t want a nice breakfast every morning that didn’t cost them any time? Muffin English, Scranton, PA.
A: Tough call. I actually don’t think I’d choose dinner, because I like to make myself dinner and I’m very particular. I wouldn’t trust even a fine chef to get something exactly as I wanted it. You know, don’t be serving me up pork cooked medium–I don’t care if that’s the fancy way to do it. I imagine if you were a hard-working business professional, lunch would be very tempting. Not wasting time going to a restaurant, or worrying about packing something–you’ve just got your chef there with a delicious and nutritious lunch. I think I’d probably end up going breakfast, though, because I am a breakfast skipper on most days. I skip THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY. I think that’s been proven true and then false and then true about a million times now, but I think I’d benefit from some breakfast. Kick-start that metabolism, kind Sir. I think I’d need a chef to keep it creative, keep my portions in check, etc. I’m afraid if I start eating breakfast on my own every day that it would quickly turn into a whole loaf of cornbread with a side of bacon.