Before I get into all the other pictures and the questions this week, I’ve got to thank everyone for the avalanche of submissions–photos and otherwise. If I knew all I had to do was partially quit to get people in the participatory frame of mind, I would have done it long ago. But really, yeoman’s work in the submission department this week. Makes my job so much easier. Ok, here we go, pictures first, because I know you’re just going to scroll down and look at them first anyway. By the way, these were the “cleaner” submissions. You people have some issues, but keep the photos and questions coming!
All right, if your picture wasn’t used, you just stumped me. I wasn’t funny enough. Or you don’t know where to draw the line. Either way, don’t be offended.
Q: What is your opinion on roadside wanderers? I’m thinking hitchhikers and beggars. Would you ever pick up a hitchhiker, and how about throwing the homeless guy a dollar or a burger? Alexander Supertramp, Anchorage, AK.
A: Ever since I saw There’s Something About Mary, I don’t think I could ever pick up a hitchhiker. As great as it would be to hear an idea like, “7-minute Abs,” you just never know what is going to happen. I think most people are afraid the hitchhiker will be a serial killer, and while that is a reasonable concern, I’d be more troubled by the awkward silence. I’m trying to drive someplace. I don’t want to meet someone new. That’s exhausting. Every once in a while I see someone thumbin’ it and I think there is absolutely NO WAY that person is ever getting a ride. Sometimes I think hitchhiking is the “walking to school in the snow” of a certain generation. People in the 38-50 range talk about hitchhiking all over god’s creation like it was some rite of passage. Ok, we get it, you grew up in the 70s. CONGRATULATIONS. As far as the panhandlers go–I think I’m pretty generous. I’d never put in the time to get them a meal, though. So, I’m generous, but LAZY. One time in college I stumbled out of the bar, gave a homeless guy 10 bucks and told him to, “have a great night.” That was my single biggest one-time donation. Back when the economy was rolling I used to think that a beggar could do pretty well (relatively speaking) for themselves and I wasn’t too keen on the idea of someone scrounging 50, 100 bucks a day. But, not two weeks ago I saw a woman go 0-for about 20 cars at a traffic light. It’s hard out there for everyone.
Q: Do you think the competitive nature of the Phillies pitching staff, and a desire to outdo one another or remain “top dog,” has contributed to the rash of injuries the Phils have suffered in the arm department? Countess Pitch, Phoenixville, PA.
A: There does seem to be a lot of talk about the competitiveness among the Phillies pitchers. They even have a hitting competition between themselves. Winning this may be Cliff Lee’s #1 priority. The only other time I remember a staff being discussed in terms of competitiveness was when the Braves had all their big guns. Those guys were obsessed with golf…and pitching a little bit too. I think some of the injuries the Phillies have suffered are the result of overuse. Jose Contreras is just out of bullets. Roy Halladay has a lot of innings on that arm. The question is, do the other pitchers on the Philly staff cause Roy to push himself too far? I guess only Halladay would know the answer to this, but I’m going to say, no. He’s a guy who has been locked into the same routine for years and has always thrown a ton of innings. That didn’t really change when he arrived in Philly, and he had two perfectly healthy years in the books here. If anything, I think there could be a bit of a mental strain, because of the other pitchers and the expectations of the team. I’m sure Cliff Lee, who is winless, isn’t thrilled about being 8 wins behind Cole Hamels. I don’t think it’s the first thing on his mind, but it has to be there to a certain extent. If he was pitching great on a bad team, it’d be easier to take solace in his good numbers, but here I don’t think that’s the case.
Q: What are your thoughts on changing sport team loyalty if you move to a different part of the country? And, if someone was moving to the states, how should they pick a team? Van Mayflower, Houston, TX.
A: Geography is a huge part of being a sports fan. Part of the reason why I have trouble seeing myself moving away from the Philly area is that I don’t know that I’d want to make the sports fan sacrifice. Yes, you can now see most any game you want if you make the effort, but there’s still that level of immersion if you live here that you couldn’t get elsewhere. I think part of the fan experience is being in a community of other fans. That’s far more likely to happen if you live in the town where the team plays. This is why I’d suggest adopting the local teams if you move to the states. If you unpacked your bags in Kansas City, you might be less than impressed with the Royals and Chiefs, but it’d be a lot harder to assimilate into the new digs if you start wearing Yankees and Cowboys gear. Moving within the country is a tough one. I know people who have been pulled in by the local teams–it’s TEMPTING. Personally, I think consistency is the most important part of being a fan. If you decide at birth that you want to be a Lakers fan, even though you live in Baltimore–OK. It’s suspect, but I’ll give you a pass. Just don’t keep flip-flopping. Moving opens up one of the rare cases where a “2nd team” scenario can be acceptable. Nothing is more annoying that someone saying, “Oh, the Tigers are my AL team, but I’m a Cubs fan.” No. You are a TOTAL FRAUD. If you grew up a Cubs fan, but moved to Dallas and want to participate a bit in Rangers hysteria–just socially, and on the fringes–I’ll give you a pass. A power eye-roll, but a pass.
Q: Are you up on the latest Donald Trump feud? He’s targeted George Will. Will ended up calling him a bloviating ignoramus. This is one of the best insults I’ve ever heard? Do you have a favorite? Don Rickelles, Las Vegas, NV.
A: What’s really odd is that I used “bloviating” in the mail bag last week. Hey, G-Will–Thanks for reading, buddy! Trump picks the oddest fights. Do people choose sides when he’s running his yap at Rosie O’Donnell? I mean, that’s all lose/lose. This is a really tough question, because these things don’t stick in my mind. Speaking of Rosie O’Donnell–the other day I was watching A League of Their Own and there’s a line where Tom Hanks says, “Rogers Hornsby was my manager, and he called me a talking pile of pig sh*t…” I always thought that had a real great ring to it. There’s a guy who writes at Deadspin, Drew Magary, that has a feature where he rips into the writing of Gregg Easterbrook. Easterbrook is the senior editor of the New Republic, but he’s known to sports fans for his Tuesday Morning QB on ESPN’s website. He fashions himself as very high-brow, and Magary titles his Easterbrook scorn, “Gregg Easterbrook is a Haughty Dipsh*t.” I love that because it combines a great vocab word with a go-to profanity. Right now, that’s probably my favorite.
Q: You know what I hate? Formulaic sports writing. I wish people would stop handing out grades (Ohhh…some ass hat thinks Juan Pierre had a B+ May), stop being commissioner for a day, even power rankings kind of annoy me at this point. Any thoughts or pet peeves? Herbert Warren Rice, Brooklyn, NY.
A: Aside from mailbags? Something does pop into my mind, though, and that’s the “open letter.” If you are a blog reader from way back, perhaps you remember my “Open Letter to Jason Sobel.” It created quite the buzz since Sobel apparently google alerts himself. He went on to send me a response and rescind my invitation to his birthday party. It was pretty good times. I don’t regret what I said, because Sobel’s live blogs were an unmitigated disaster, but I do regret the “open letter” form a bit, because it’s really the height of arrogance. I skimmed one the other day addressed to Rory McIlroy. It’s like, “Hey Rors, we know you’re just trying to live your life, but stay focused bro–talent is fleeting.” That’s not an exact quote, but the implication is, I’ve been covering golf for years, let me pull you aside and learn you some things, chappy. Does it matter I couldn’t break an egg, or I’m writing this after a “slump” that’s lasted all of a month? I don’t think so. THESE EYES HAVE SEEN, I tell you. DRINK IN THIS WISDOM, rich boy, and maybe you can save your career. If I was a professional athlete, I know I’d read all my press, and this would be the most infuriating stuff. So, I’m officially done with open letters, unless Sobel addresses one to me, in which case I might choose an “open response,” but barring that unlikely occurrence, I’m out. Hopefully everyone else will follow my lead.
Q: So, the markup on alcohol at bars has always bothered me, not to the point where I would ever stop getting a drink out on occasion, but it’s always there in the back of my mind. Six dollars for a tasty ale? I can get a whole case for 35. That’s a 400% markup, you fascist. But, what’s always gone under the radar is the dessert markup. Six dollars for a slice of cake? What the cuss is going on here? Ted X. Sugar, Brownsville, TX.
A: I moseyed up the counter at a Barnes and Noble Star-awful the other day to get an iced tea and the helpful apron behind the counter told me I got a coupon for 10 dollars off a whole cheesecake. How much do these cheesecakes cost to begin with? Naturally I had to look. Answer: 35-60 dollars. You’ve got to be Sh*ttin’ Me. That is criminal. Unless you are auctioning off the slices during the filming of Survivor, I’m not sure how you could possibly get your money’s worth in that scenario. That said, baking a cake can get a bit expensive. I was baking not long ago and when I tallied my basket at the checkout there was a bit of STICKER SHOCK. Whoa, is that confectioner’s sugar or POWDERED GOLD? Of course, commercial bakers can buy in bulk and probably spend a fraction of what I spent. Any time you don’t have to splurge for the vanilla extract–you’re money. The reason bakers and barkeeps get away with these tremendous markups is that people NEED their product. Could you go buy a six-pack and sit at home for 8 bucks? Sure, but then you’d miss out on NOT APPROACHING all the good looking ladies at the bar. Could you go home and scoop yourself some ice cream for $1.29? Sure, but by the time you get home, that surf and turf might have settled and you could be full. DISASTER. Plus, they have to jack you on booze and sugar, otherwise they wouldn’t get by on the thin margins in every other department. Do you want all restaurants and bars to go out of business? Because, then you know you are screwed.