Off day for the Phillies today. Unless you are a pitcher heading to a minor league game, in which case, I assume you are cursing your bad luck. This means the odds of another player getting hurt today is slightly reduced. Someone could still fall out of their golf cart. With the Phils enjoying their lone break of the Spring, and with one day left before I have to face the NCAA tournament starting back up without a pool in the fight, a mailbag seems like a fitting distraction. Here we go…
Q: I saw yesterday that Wendy’s moved past Burger King and into the #2 Burger Joint slot. When I went to read the article, I saw a disturbing fact–Subway outsells them both and is the second most popular chain overall (to McDonalds). I think if your business is getting outsold by Subway, you should just take down your shingle. H.I. Urway, San Antonio, TX
A: There are two keys to fast-food success. Ubiquity and affordability. You’ll notice that I didn’t include product taste or quality among the keys. I honestly can’t believe Burger King held onto the #2 spot for this long. I’m not a real fast-food burger person, so I can’t speak to the drawing power of the Whopper, but I do know that BK has always been a chicken tragedy. Wendy’s figured out the chicken nugget decades ago while BK was floundering around with those awful chicken tenders. No company has ever tried so hard to make fake chicken look like real chicken. One of the true regrets of my life is that I didn’t get involved in a Wendy’s chicken nugget eating contest back in my prime. Anyway, Subway isn’t outselling other chains because their sandwiches are delicious, it’s because you can’t go 2 blocks without seeing a Subway, they sell their subs for $5, and people think it’s healthier than a place like Burger King or Wendy’s. That’s a stacked deck. Subway isn’t even worried about Burger King at this point, they’re in the rear-view. The real question is, will anyone ever dethrone Mickey Ds?
Q: If you were coaching Little League (I’m thinking 10 years or under) would you try to get everyone equal playing time, or would you only throw the uncoordinated kids in for one inning? At what point does Little League become all about wins, baby? Mike Singullterry, Chicago, IL.
A: I didn’t play on one team in my entire life where everyone got equal time–with the possible exception of T-ball. Did they just send 12 kids out into the field at once in T-ball? I know everyone hit, but I assume you mean older than T-ball, because you said, “coaching,” and there’s no coaching in T-ball. You just put your best kid at “pitcher,” and someone who can catch at 1st and let the cards fall. When I played Little League every kid had to hit once and play an inning in the field (I think this is still the rule). When you consider the game is six innings, that’s not a lot of playing time for the benchwarmers. Little League can be rough. I remember being on a team once with a kid who was especially bad and we’d throw a ticker tape parade for the him if he drew a walk during his one AB. When you think about it, that might actually be worse than letting the kid punch out in peace. I think your bench players are going to fall into two categories, the ones that want to play and the ones that know they aren’t any good and just want the game to be over. I was put on an All-Star team once that I had no business playing on, and that was pretty miserable. I didn’t have any fun out there during my one or two innings. More playing time just would have made it worse. You gotta know your players, if they want to be out there, I say give them as much time as you can, but if they spend the game trying to find the best spot in the dugout for their iPad to get WiFi, they’re probably OK with just the 1 inning. Or, you can ask the team a question my 8th grade basketball coach once posed to some bench players, “Do you guys want to WIN, or do you want to PLAY?” They chose play. We probably lost.
Q: Have you ever seen a fire lane parking violation enforced? I mean, no one has ever gotten busted for pulling up to the front of the grocery store and running in for a minute, right? Lee Vitrunning, Temple, TX
A: Do you do that? Because if you do, I hate you with a burning passion. In a world absolutely suffocating in laziness, this might be the most lazy thing I see on a regular basis. Who do you people think you are? I’m just going to run in for a minute? SHUT UP. There’s a real problem with car towing, or ticket giving as a penalty, because it’s not instantaneous enough. What is the store manager going to do if you park in the fire lane? Call a tow truck? Hope the police roll by? Neither of those scenarios is going to happen, and so you are right people do this with impunity, and I’ve never seen anyone get busted for it. It’s like a necessary evil of shopping center parking lots. Aside from the laziness, it disrupts the flow of traffic. I would love to see some drastic measures taken to alleviate this problem. If there was a job where I could go around slashing the tires of people parked in the fire lane–that would be absolute bliss. I’d also like to see the store actually catch on fire (no injuries) and have a fire engine come barreling in at 60 mph and just level your flippin’ Accord that you left there idling while you run in to return your damn Redbox movie. Go park in a spot, there are thousands of them–15 feet away.
Q: I finally figured out why the U.S. can’t eliminate coin currency. What about coin-tosses? What about speed quarters? Quarter basketball? Bloody knuckles? We need the change for the games, right? Buffy Nickle, Syracuse, NY.
A: A very interesting theory. What would happen if we banned change? Would you be given a certain window to turn yours in for paper money and then if that deadline passed they’d cease to have any value? I don’t think we’re in any danger of losing our change, though. Maybe pennies, but the big hitter–the quarter–that’s the fabric of our lives. From doing laundry to marking your ball on the green, the quarter is always there for you. I’d be DEVASTATED if they did away with the quarter. I would keep some to myself. Hoarder alert. Would the quarter become a collector’s item? In a thousand years will there be a quarter behind protective glass at a museum? That’d be a rightful resting place. As far as the games, the coin-flips, and stuff–people would adapt. Nothing gets in the way of people drinking or gambling, so as great as the quarter is in that role, it would regrettably be replaced. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen in our lifetime.
Q: I have an idea for a driving range. What if you used human targets? How awesome would it be if you dressed someone up as the 150 yard sign and just sent them out there? They’d get a helmet and everything, but don’t tell me that wouldn’t be the most popular driving range in town. Cole Shank, St. Andrews, Scotland.
A: Oh, yes! That’s tremendous. I’ve always wanted to combine a bar with a driving range and this could be the missing link. Drunk(ish) people hitting golf balls at human targets. That’s HOURS of fun. It’s amazing what the range cart does to people at the driving range. You must understand that 99.9 percent of people who go to a driving range have no idea what they’re doing. They’re not aiming at anything really. It’s just rapid-fire, swing hard, swing often. Even good players can fall into a rut at the range. I used to take an occasional golf lesson and the teacher would say, “What are you aiming at?” And, I’d be all, “GOD I DON’T KNOW. LEAVE ME ALONE. WHERE THE BALL GOES–THAT’S WHERE I’M AIMING.” I wasn’t a great student, but the point is, when that ball picker comes out–people SNAP to attention. And, it’s game on. I know what you’re thinking–people hit balls at the range cart because they think they can’t hurt the guy. Nope. That’s not it. They do it because they’re allowed to. It’s freedom to create mayhem. They don’t care about the cart guy and they won’t care about the guy wearing the 150 sign, either. Let’s make this happen.
Q: What do you think about the electric cars? Do you see yourself getting in early on something like that–assuming you have the means? E. Cofriendly, Seattle, WA
A: Have you seen the price of gas? I’m not a particularly macho person when it comes to cars. I’ve never been in a position where I could just buy any car I want, so I’ve had plenty of practice looking at a car as just a means of transportation. One of the most successful guys I’ve ever known would constantly go on and on about people wasting money on cars. I worked at this golf course where people were showing up in their Ferrari or Bentley and I can’t help but think those are probably the people who went broke over the last few years while this guy got by with just a regular Mercedes. Anyway, I don’t want to get into a gaudy car rant–what are the electric cars out there right now? The Volt? The Leaf? (Googles both). Well, the Leaf is the real deal, and that’s not the most attractive thing I’ve ever seen. The Volt looks like a much newer version of my car, so no worries there. I think when I’m finally ready to get a car the electric technology is going to be coming into its own and it’ll be a match made in heaven. Where do I plug the SUMBITCH in?
Q: It’s my feeling that guy’s lacrosse is the sport that draws the fewest amount of truly elite athletes. My question is, if you took a team of All-American football and basketball players (Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon, RG3, Jae Crowder, etc) how long would they have to be drilled in lacrosse before they could contend with and/or beat a good college lacrosse team? Prestonfield Hathawayton IV, Towson, MD.
A: This is the Jim Brown question, I guess. I forget how Jim Brown started playing lacrosse, but there he was–one of the great athletes of all-time playing lacrosse at Syracuse before dominating the NFL. By all accounts Brown was a devastating lacrosse player, but he didn’t just stumble upon the sport. I don’t think you can argue that lacrosse (at least at present) draws a particular type of athlete more than other sports. Let’s be honest, if a kid looks at sports as his only way to be successful, lacrosse is not the path he’s going to choose. He’s looking NBA, NFL, maybe MLB. So, when you peruse a lax roster you see a lot more, “Steele Stanwicks,” “Tanner Ottenbreits,” and “Rhody Hellers” than you’d see playing football for LSU. Those names are taken from UVA’s roster by the way–the #1 lacrosse team in the country. I do think people undersell the skill level in lacrosse, though. From a conditioning standpoint, I don’t think the basketball players would have a problem, but they still have to score goals. The question would be how easily would they physically dominate? Back to UVA’s roster. Most of these guys run about 6 feet, 190 lbs. That’s the midway point. The dream team of All-Americans would have the speed edge, the strength edge, and probably a height advantage if you wanted one, but it’d take a long time for them to learn to play well enough to compete, I think. Were you expecting a week, or something? I don’t think so. Maybe six months? I have no idea, but if Claiborne and company had been playing lacrosse since they were kids? Total blood bath.