Just another beautiful Spring Day in the greater Philadelphia area. The Phillies could have stayed home for February and March this year with little problem. You might think it’s a burden to be cooped up on such a day, writing the mail bag, but nothing can be further from the truth. I’m actually writing this post in my apartment’s open-air courtyard, so it’s the best of both worlds. On to the questions…
Q: So, a while back Frank McCourt buys a baseball team he can barely afford, runs it into the ground, and then turns around and sells it at almost a 500% profit. Despite being hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, McCourt stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the transaction. The question is, should he buy a piece of the Mets? Charlie Ponzi, Queens, NY.
A: That would be hilarious, and who knows, the Wilpons might be open to the idea. I think if you show up to the Mets’ offices with a nine-figure check you can at the very least have a discussion. But I think McCourt is more likely to get involved in something like another failed Spring football league. That would be a good landing spot for his new fortune. I have to admit when I saw the 2.15 billion dollar price tag for the Dodgers, I was a bit surprised. After all, it was reported last week the Phillies were worth over 700 million dollars and that number was a bit jarring. To think the Dodgers are worth 3x what the Phillies are is mind-boggling–LA market, or not. I guess the bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what teams are selling for as long as they are sold to stable ownership groups. Baseball and the other sports need billionaire owners. That’s just the truth and they’re drawing new buyers all the time because a sports franchise remains a good investment. I read an article in the Inquirer today about a new casino, Revel, opening in Atlantic City. The price tag was about the same as what Magic and Co. spent on the Dodgers. Now, would you rather own the Dodgers or an Atlantic City casino for 2 billion? I’d take the baseball team every time.
Q: Can you believe Nick Faldo is eligible to play in the Masters and doesn’t? I assume his game is total crap, but if Larry Mize is still out there, you’d think “Sir Nick,” would give it a go. I’m sure Ernie Els would love to take his spot. C.J. Ving, Jupiter, FL.
A: The question: Is Faldo a coward, or does he get credit for maintaining his dignity and being able to let go of his past glory? As a fan, it’s easy to envision yourself in the Billy Casper mode, happily playing Augusta until you can’t break 100. But most of these guys are very proud and can’t handle playing if they aren’t in form. In my mind, there are several reasons why Faldo doesn’t play. First and foremost, he’s clearly not the player he once was, or even a Champions Tour aged approximation. Faldo didn’t age as well as a Tom Watson, Fred Couples, or even a Craig Stadler. The chances of him doing anything but missing the cut by a mile at Augusta are remote. Also, this is a different course and a different time. Back in the day, the old guys could slap it around the 6,800 yard course and not disrupt the flow of the event. They could also shoot their 80s and up in relative peace. If someone shot ~102 ala Casper these days, they’d never stop showing it on TV. The biggest reason I think Faldo stays away, though, is the type of career he had. He’s too big a name to play the event quietly–like a Larry Mize. But, he’s not a big enough name where people just want to see him play golf regardless of score. If Jack and Arnie decided to play this year and shot 80 and 90 respectively, everyone would love it (except Arnie and Jack), but if Faldo went out there no one would care. In the end I respect Faldo’s choice to be a broadcaster and not a ceremonial golfer. I’m actually more surprised he doesn’t still play the British Open Championship.
Q: I have a great home design idea. The “Dumpster Room.” Basically, it’s a mega trash chute. You just open a door and there’s one of those industrial dumpsters you see in parking lots, but from the outside it looks like just another room of your house. Think of all the stuff you could chuck in there and then a week, a month later it’s gone. G.P. Kidd, Tulsa, OK.
A: I like this idea. I have two trash cans in my apartment and they are both useless. My main trash can is circular and holds approximately…NOTHING. The other one in my bathroom is mostly decorative. As a result, I just leave trash around and then once a week or so I give the whole place a once over and head down to the dumpster with multiple bags of trash. If I had a dumpster room I could, IN THEORY, be a cleaner person. My old computer for example–gone. Various boxes, old golf clubs, old clothes–poof. I don’t know why I have some of this stuff. Perhaps I’m waiting for American Pickers to show up? No, it’s just a pain in the ass to throw out. The problem with the dumpster room is you still have to walk over there–that’s a tall order. I’d need an elaborate system of tunnels and air suction added to my dumpster room so no matter where I was in the house I could be rid of trash immediately. Finish a bottle of water? SHOVE IT IN THE WALL! Now that’s convenience.
Q: Do you think Don and Joan will ever hook up on Mad Men, and does the possibility of them eventually hooking up help sustain the show? Glen Weiner, Rye, NY.
A: Quick answer: I hope they do not. It wouldn’t be as troubling as Don hooking up with Peggy, but it’d be up there. As much as we love these characters, it’s nice to think they have some boundaries and Don and Joan for whatever reason is an established boundary for me. It’s also surprising that they’ve made it this long without hooking up just BY ACCIDENT. It’s quite a streak and everyone loves a streak. I don’t think Mad Men has a Ross/Rachel or Jim/Pam element to it–it’s not a sit-com. After Jim stopped pursuing Pam and they finally got together the show went downhill quickly. If Don and Joan had a fling, and it could only be a fling, the biggest hit I think the show would take would be to its originality. Taking the alpha male and alpha female of the office and throwing them together seems a bit too obvious for Mad Men. If it did happen though, I trust that Mad Men could recover more quickly and more adeptly than The Office. I do have some concerns, given Joan’s comments in this season’s premiere and the tenuous situation with her husband being in Vietnam, but in the end I’m rooting for the streak.
Q: I saw a Real Sports segment on the Flying Wallendas the other day. The tight-rope walkers. Total insanity. How far do you think you’d make it on a tight-rope that was only a foot off the ground? Meaning, you’re in absolutely no danger–it’s just a test of balance. Kenny Carny, Louisville, KY.
A: Oh, there’d be danger. I’d take one step out on the rope and that’d probably be it–rolled ankle. MEDIC! I’m trying to think back to my proficiency on the balance beam style playground apparatus. How pathetic is that thing, by the way? Oh, here’s a slightly raised piece of metal–walk around on it. HOURS OF FUN. Anyway, I wasn’t that great at traversing that obstacle and it was approximately 10x the width of the wire. Without any practice, I’d be happy if I made it three steps. I’d still be a little nervous. I’m afraid of heights. I saw the same segment on the Wallendas and my palms were sweating just watching it on television. If I stepped on any wire I’d probably start to immediately think about them crossing between buildings 100 feet in the air and I’d start to panic. I’d do the dramatic jump off, no way I just step off the wire onto the ground like a normal person. I’d have to flail and awkwardly leap like the big baby that I am.
Q: I was at an indoor lacrosse game last weekend and there was a guy scalping tickets. Um, what? I guess I just really don’t understand how scalping works. If you can walk in and buy any ticket you want, how is this guy making any money? Billy Boxseats, Trenton, NJ.
A: I imagine he’s not doing real well if he’s scalping lacrosse tickets. Maybe lacrosse is like the Minor Leagues of scalping? He’s on the bottom rung of some scalping syndicate and they send him out to the lacrosse games to work on his routine. He’s got to practice his negotiating and his, “Got any extras.” When baseball season starts you can’t have an amateur out there cutting into your profit margins. I admit that I have also been puzzled by scalping. I understand if it’s a high-demand situation, but plenty of times that is not the case. I also almost NEVER see an actual scalping transaction go down. And, I understand they don’t necessarily do it right out in front of the ticket office, but I’ve seen maybe 4 or 5 people in my entire life even approach a scalper and that’s after going to hundreds of games. I imagine in non-sellout situations the scalpers are trying to turn around tickets they bought from someone just dumping them. Say you had 4 tickets and two people cancelled on you, instead of eating them you just dump them quickly on a scalper for a few bucks and then he tries to sell them for more–a price that still may be under face value.
Q: What do you think is the average number of people needed to consume a Pizza Hut Dinner Box (1 pizza, 5 breadsticks, 10 cinnamon sticks) and do you think Pizza Hut came up with the idea for one super fatty or is really marketing it as a 10-dollar dinner option for a family? Leroy David Lawson, Ames, IA.
A: Pizza consumption varies wildly from person to person, family to family. When I was a kid we ate heroic amounts of pizza. The men, the women, it didn’t matter. When the pizza arrived, you best GET OUT THE WAY. It was all business. Sometimes a stranger would wander into this den of pizza destruction and be amazed/appalled. And along the same lines, sometimes I’d go over to someone’s house, there would be like 8, 9 people around and they’d order two pizzas. That’s when you start crying…ON THE INSIDE. I’d say the average for the Dinner Box is probably two people with a stick or two leftover. That seems reasonable. Four people is an absolute joke. That’s borderline starvation. That said, there are plenty of people who take this down on their own. PLENTY. There are people who probably look at it as a challenge. Pizza Hut knows this. They might not come right out and say it, but they embrace it. It’s like the Rangers announced last week that they are serving a 1lb chili dog for $27 at their ballpark this season. They’re saying it can feed 4 people–no problem. And, I guess it could, but what they’re really saying is, “Psst…biggun. Hey you, think you can take this whole thing down? It’ll cost you $27 to try.”