I’m a Recovering Homophobe

Jason-Collins-is-gay.-Image-via-@SInow

 

Jason Collins came out yesterday as the first active, openly gay athlete in the four major American professional sports.  I’ve been watching the reaction from the periphery.  At one time Collins’ homosexuality would have made me uncomfortable, but I now I find myself cringing at some of the reactions.  For anyone who is thinking, “This is 2013, what’s the big deal,” all you have to do is check out the comments section of any of these articles on Collins and you’ll find plenty of people voicing an opinion that doesn’t feel worthy of the 21st century.  Not only that, the tangents come quickly, and before we know it, Collins being gay has something to do with President Obama.  So, it’s pretty evident that while the majority of the reaction to the announcement has been positive, this is still a big deal, and it took a tremendous amount of courage from Collins to make his sexuality public.  

What’s encouraging is that Collins felt comfortable enough to discuss his homosexuality while still being an active player.  It’s true that Collins has spent his NBA career as a role player, and there is no guarantee he’ll be on a roster next season, but that’s hardly the point.  The point is that we’ve brought homosexuality into the locker room.  It’s perhaps the place most synonymous with the American idea of masculinity, and because of that, it’s perhaps the last place where a gay athlete would feel comfortable being out as a homosexual.  

As I said, I spent my younger years with some lamentable ideas in my mind.  My homophobia was the passive, casual kind that probably does some of the most damage.  I wasn’t actively bullying, or spewing hateful diatribes on a regular basis, but if I encountered someone who I perceived to be gay, or homosexuality was brought up in any way other than an off the cuff remark, you would have been able to see my discomfort.  So, where did these feelings come from?  

I wasn’t from a religious family.  My feelings about homosexuality had nothing to do with faith.  I can’t really palm off my thoughts as being a product of my upbringing, either.  I remember my sister being wholly unimpressed with some of my thoughts or jokes on the subject when we were growing up and we were raised the same way by the same parents.  So, if I’m trying to trace these feelings, I might end up settling on my immersion in the sports culture.  Playing team sports from an early age, being part of several locker rooms in my formative years–these things certainly helped mold my mind.  

I can thank team sports for many things–friendships, and character building, and the list goes on, but I think a lot of people’s fears and misunderstandings about homosexuality take root in these locker rooms.  Again, we’re talking about the pinnacle of American male-ness–the professional athlete.  Every kid in these locker rooms wants to step into those shoes some day.  That’s the goal and in an attempt to carry that out, the kids emulate the professionals.  They copy them on the field, but also adopt the mentality.  

For so long, the belief was that a gay teammate wouldn’t function within the locker room.  It’d be a sign of weakness.  It’d ruin the dynamic.  And if that was true of the professional locker room, it was true of the middle school one as well.  The small step to make was that being gay was a hindrance to becoming a professional athlete.  So, the natural stance for a thirteen year old to take is the polar opposite.  If being gay is a detriment, then I’m going to be as far away from that as possible.  And, unfortunately, that manifests itself in homophobia.  

I carried these thoughts with me through my decidedly non-professional sporting career, and it took me growing up and thinking more independently to realize how foolish and close-minded my opinions were.  It’s a shame that we can form opinions when we are so young, so impressionable, and so immature, because by the time you grow up, and open your eyes a little bit you realize that you’ve developed a lot of habits that are hard to break.  

I probably have a long way to go.  I still say things I shouldn’t say, and I still tolerate the type of passive homophobia that I possessed myself.  When I hear a college kid saying something I might have said a decade ago, I just stay quiet, and hope they will eventually see the light like I did.  Maybe I should speak up and try to do my part to break the cycle.  

That’s what Jason Collins can hopefully help accomplish with his announcement.  The only way homosexuality will ever be a non-issue in locker rooms is if it’s a non-issue in professional locker rooms.  If we can break the association of masculinity and heterosexuality at the highest level, perhaps it has a chance to trickle down to these kids who were like me, just trying to fit into the mold of doing what I thought I was supposed to do.  

 

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Making A Mockery of the Draft.

With the 1st Pick in the 2013 Draft, Andy Reid Selects Doritos, Frito Lay University.

With the 1st Pick in the 2013 Draft, Andy Reid Selects Doritos, Frito Lay University.

In twenty years the NFL Draft may start the night after the Super Bowl.  They’ll then do five picks a night until the season starts, all covered by 4-hr specials on the NFL Network.  People would watch the hell out of that.  Don’t think any different.  The NFL Network might be the only TV station that survives.  As it is now, the NFL has stretched their draft to three days, putting the 1st round in the coveted Thursday Night time slot, where it’ll square off against Seinfeld.  Most draft experts are on their fourth, fifth, seventh version of their mock draft.  It makes you wonder, why did I bother reading the 1st six?  I don’t go in much for the revised versions.  I like to do things right the first time.  Last year, I correctly pegged 3 of the first 4 picks.  So, I’ll let that speak for itself.  The format seemed to work last year too, so I’m not going to change it up.  The First Round…drink it in.

#1 Kansas City Chiefs:  Eric Fisher, OT Central Michigan

Why Kansas City Sucks:  They think Andy Reid is an upgrade, but more than that KC was awful last year, has big holes on the defensive front and could use an OT to protect Alex Smith and make room for Jamaal Charles.

Why Fisher: It always baffles me that a guy can be the consensus #1 pick (Joeckel) and then suddenly be supplanted by a player like Fisher after they stop playing ACTUAL GAMES.  But, there’s no way Andy Reid is going to take a guy who everyone had pegged as #1 back in October.  He’s dying to trade down, but if he doesn’t, I’ll say Fisher.

#2 Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE Oregon

Why Jacksonville Sucks:  They play in Florida, Blaine Gabbert is stunting the growth of Chad Henne and they rang up a league low 20 sacks last year.  20!  That’s incredibly bad.

Why Jordan:  I suppose Jordan is the most talented pass rusher in the draft, though you wonder how a guy who is going to be drafted on potential and “tools” could have only compiled 14.5 sacks in three years against college competition.  But, there’s not a QB to take, so Jacksonville takes a shot on Jordan.

#3 Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT Florida

Why Oakland Sucks:  Their punter is their best player, they think Matt Flynn is an upgrade, and they have gaping holes on defense.

Why Floyd:  I’d take Dee Milliner, because they could use a corner and can’t afford the pick to be a bust, but the need at DT seems even more pressing.  For a long time Richard Seymour was all Oakland had, now he’s gone, Tommy Kelly is gone and Floyd certainly feels like a Raider, doesn’t he?

#4 Philadelphia Eagles: Dee Milliner, CB Alabama

Why Philadelphia Sucks:  Reid fatigue, possibly the worst secondary ever assembled, and an offense that has looked a lot better on paper than on the field the last few seasons.

Why Milliner:  The team needs a cornerback.  Let me rephrase that, they need a cornerback who can cover.  They could use an OT to provide insurance for Jason Peters, they need an interior defensive lineman, but with a safe-looking, instant starter sitting there at a need position, how do you say no?

#5 Detroit Lions: Luke Joeckel, OT Texas A&M

Why Detroit Sucks:  Megatron can’t play all 22 positions, they give up tons of points, Jim Schwartz’s effectiveness has to be wearing off.

Why Joeckel:  The Lions have plenty of needs, but given the chance to take one of the draft’s best players, they won’t be able to ignore Joeckel.  If Joeckel (or Fisher) falls to five, the Lions would be smart to trade down a few spots and try to grab Chance Warmack.

#6 Cleveland Browns: Chance Warmack, OG Alabama

Why Cleveland Sucks:  Short, baseball player QB, and a suspect defense.  Also, Cleveland may be cursed.

Why Warmack:  The Browns have bigger needs on defense, but I’d take the guy most people expect to be a plug and play 10-year starter.  Solidify the offensive line, see if you really have something in Weeden and Richardson.  Spoiler Alert: Weeden isn’t going to cut it, but at least you’ll know.

#7 Arizona Cardinals:  Lane Johnson, OT Oklahoma

Why Arizona Sucks: They trade for players like Kevin Kolb and Carson Palmer.  Their offensive line is terrible and they can’t properly utilize Larry Fitzgerald.

Why Johnson:  A total no-brainer, the Cardinals could use 4 (5?) new starters on the OL and if one of the three big tackles is available–they’ll go to Arizona.  The question is, will the Cardinals have to trade up to get a tackle?  This is why you don’t accidentally start the season 4-0, it kills you in April.

#8 Buffalo Bills:  Jonathan Cooper, OG North Carolina

Why Buffalo Sucks:  They play a “home” game in Toronto, they acquired Kevin Kolb, the curse of Don Beebe.

Why Cooper:  I refuse to believe that Doug Marrone is going to take Ryan Nassib or any other QB this high.  That’d be a total reach, and show no creativity.  Even though we’re talking about the Bills, I think they shore up the offensive line and try to get a QB later, which will lead to them taking another QB in the 1st round in 2014.

#9 New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB BYU

Why New York Sucks:  Sanchez, Rex Ryan ain’t the genius he’s cracked up to be and Sanchez.

Why Ansah:  The Jets need to build back up their defensive identity after trading away Revis Island.  Ansah could provide the Jets with a much needed pass rush and would seem to be an ideal project for Rex Ryan if he can drag himself out of the local Payless.

#10 Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

Why Tennessee Sucks:  Eddie George Retired, they couldn’t lure Peyton and a lack of impact players on defense.

Why Lotulelei:  Chris Johnson wants an offensive lineman, but I think Tennesee would have to trade up to get one of the premier guards or tackles.  With some of the defensive talent falling, they end up with Star, who some have as a top-5 talent.

#11 San Diego Chargers: Barkevious Mingo, OLB LSU

Why San Diego Sucks:  Coaching, can’t protect Philip Rivers, weather in San Diego too distracting?

Why Mingo:  The Chargers need a pass rushing linebacker.  The offense should have enough weapons to score points if they can keep Rivers upright.  A trade up for an OT for San Diego is super trendy in the mocks right now.

#12 Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB FSU

Why Miami Sucks:  A complete black hole of skill players, they wear turquoise, the curse of Ace Ventura.

Why Rhodes:  The Dolphins have had an aggressive off-season and have gotten young Tannehill some help.  Mike Wallace, Bradon Gibson, Dustin Keller…it’s time to focus on defense where they are in dire need of a corner.  Rhodes looks like the consensus #2 off the board.  Done.

#13 New York Jets: Geno Smith, QB West Virginia

Why New York Sucks:  I think we touched on this–Sanchez.

Why Smith:  I think you can take a QB at #13 and he doesn’t immediately have to save the franchise.  But, the Jets need another option and they don’t look like a team that wants to wait it out and get a franchise QB by being awful for a few more years.  Smith is worth a shot.

#14 Carolina Panthers:  Kenny Vaccaro, S Texas

Why Carolina Sucks:  Cam Newton didn’t progress, Steve Smith is getting old, fans probably want to draft players from Duke.

Why Vaccaro:  Safeties get very little love in the draft, but they sure are nice to have, aren’t they?  Cornerbacks are great until the middle of the field turns into a no-contact drill.  The Panthers could use a WR, but in a tough call, they should go the safer route with Vaccaro.

#15 New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, OLB Georgia

Why New Orleans Sucks:  Bounties, they give up ungodly amounts of points, they stink on the road, and the offense lost a bit of that finishing touch?

Why Jones:  It’d be tempting to re-load with a receiver, but New Orleans has to play better defense–especially in their division.  Jones gives them a chance at getting a play maker, which they sorely lack.

#16 St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, WR West Virginia

Why St. Louis Sucks: Sam Bradford is a husk, no receiving options.  Just none.

Why Austin:  Would I get excited about a 5’9″, 170 lb WR?  Not particularly.  I’ve seen DeSean Jackson play.  I’m more of a Cordarrelle Patterson type guy, but it appears that Austin is the clear cut #1 WR so St. Louis has to take him.  They have no choice.

#17  Pittsburgh Steelers: Tyler Eifert, TE Notre Dame

Why Pittsburgh Sucks:  A sudden lack of skill players on offense, an aging defense and a QB who seems destined to hit 300 lbs before retirement.

Why Eifert:  The Steelers could use WR help or a running back, but they also need a TE.  It seems to be a fad position right now, and Eifert might provide the most help at this slot.  I expect the Steelers go offense early and try to find defensive value later on.

#18 Dallas Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson, DT Missouri

Why Dallas Sucks:  They have a noted amateur golfer playing QB, Jerry Jones can’t let go, their best player is their video board.

Why Richardson:  The Cowboys look to have more holes on the defensive side of the ball.  The consensus is, DT and safety are the two most glaring weaknesses.  With Vaccaro gone, the Cowboys land Richardson who is a top-15 talent.  Of course, one of these days Jerry is going to turn into Al Davis 2.0, and then we’ll have no idea what’s going to happen.

#19 New York Giants: Tank Carradine, DE Florida State

Why New York Sucks:  The defense cratered.  Is there more?  No, I think that’s it.  Awful defense.

Why Carradine:  The Giants seem like a best defensive player available type of team.  JPP wasn’t a real NEED pick when they took him, and DE probably still isn’t the most pressing concern, but taking the guy they like the most has worked for NY in the past.  From what I read, they like Carradine.

#20 Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree, LB Georgia

Why Chicago Sucks: Jay Cutler is one of their best players, lost their identity at linebacker.  

Why Ogletree:  The Bears need linebackers and Ogletree has more versatility than other players available at the position.

#21 Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Cyprien, S Florida International

Why Cincinnati Sucks:  Ginger QB, weak secondary and they’re the Bungles.  You can’t escape that.  

Why Cyprien:  Just filling a need for the Bengals.  Cincinnati has some talent on offense and they look comfortable with Dalton, etc.  Pretty rare for this team to be picking in the bottom third of round 1 and having the luxury to go need or best player available.  

#22 St. Louis Rams: Eddie Lacy, RB Alabama

Why St. Louis Sucks:  Glaring lack of skill players, curse of Ricky Proehl.  

Why Lacy: It seems pretty certain that the Rams will take a WR with one of their early picks, but I think they should keep loading up on skill players.  Not a lot of high grades out there for running backs, but St. Louis needs help replacing Steven Jackson.  He’s been their whole offense.  

#23 Minnesota Vikings: Justin Hunter, WR Tennessee

Why Minnesota Sucks:  Christian Ponder?  The curse of Sam Steele?  AP can run for 2,000, but can’t throw for 4,000.

Why Hunter:  The Vikings lost Percy Harvin, who was their most versatile offensive weapon.  They brought in Greg Jennings, but they need to surround Ponder with as much skill as possible.  This way, they’ll figure out he’s terrible sooner rather than later.  

#24 Indianapolis Colts: Bjoern Werner, DE Florida State

Why Indianapolis Sucks:  Reggie Wayne is old, terrible defense, at the end of the day Andrew Luck still fails the face test.

Why Werner:  It might be tempting to surround Andrew Luck with more weapons, but the Colts need help on defense, and with the pass rush.  Werner, or another DE seems likely.  

#25 Minnesota Vikings: Manti Te’o, LB Notre Dame

Why Minnesota Sucks:  They seem to be the only team interested in Te’o in the 1st round.  

Why Te’o:  After getting some help at WR, Minnesota must address a need at LB.  Te’o’s career, at least the first few weeks of it, will be fascinating.  Guy makes plays, but is he really too slow to be an NFL linebacker?

#26 Green Bay Packers: Datone Jones, DE UCLA

Why Green Bay Sucks: After the offense scores, the defense has to come onto the field.  No running game.  

Why Jones:  The Packers lost Jennings, but still have enough depth at WR to address defense in round one.  Jennings’ replacement, and maybe a RB project coming in the later rounds.  

#27 Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR Clemson

Why Houston Sucks:  Kubiak sets the bar at 8-8, haven’t shown up in the biggest games.  

Why Hopkins:  The Texans need someone to play opposite Andre Johnson, and oh by the way, Johnson is going to turn 32 this summer.  They’ve about used up his prime.  

#28 Denver Broncos: Damontre Moore, DE Texas A&M

Why Denver Sucks: Still haven’t learned all of Peyton’s hand signals.  

Why Moore:  The defensive line seems to me the biggest need for Denver, who needs to put together a better defense while Peyton is still upright and functioning.  The departure of Elvis Dumervil leaves a pretty big hole.  

#29 New England Patriots: Desmond Trufant, CB Washington

Why New England Sucks:  Gronk’s bum arm, Gisele, terrible secondary.  

Why Trufant:  I’d be tempted to get Tom Brady a deep threat, but NE seems to pull their receivers from the scrap heap.  Maybe Terry Glenn is available?  Trufant gives them someone to pair with Talib to help anchor what’s been a shaky secondary.  

#30 Atlanta Falcons: D.J. Hayden, CB Houston

Why Atlanta Sucks: Julio Jones refuses to play corner, the curse of MC Hammer?

Why Hayden:  The Falcons are pretty set on offense.  Time to cover someone.  

#31 San Francisco 49ers: D.J. Fluker, OT Alabama

Why San Francisco Sucks: They’ve got the 2nd best Harbaugh

Why Fluker:  Fluker is an obvious 1st rounder that I didn’t find a spot for, so voila!  What team doesn’t need tackle depth? Gotta protect that Kaepernick.  

#32 Baltimore Ravens: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Tennessee

Why Baltimore Sucks:  They’re getting old, no more Ray-Ray speeches OR Dances.

Why Patterson:  You give Flacco weapons, he wins Lombardi trophies.  Any questions?  

There you go, folks.  Can’t wait to see how I do.  What’s so exciting this year is that because there is no consensus 1st pick and because I’ve given the Eagles someone they definitely ARE NOT going to take–I actually have a chance to get ALL 32 of these wrong.  Which, I don’t have to tell you, would be thrilling and quite the accomplishment.  

We’ll Do a Mailbag.

Might Light Your Wrist, But That About It.

Might Light Your Wrist, But That About It.

Been a while since I’ve posted something.  Last week was a very busy week, and with what was unfolding in Boston, it just didn’t seem like the time to be posting a mailbag.  Not that this blog is a news outlet, unless you consider mediocre gambling advice news, but I guess I wasn’t in the mood for the mailbag’s signature levity.  One of the things you hear in the aftermath of terrible events like the marathon bombing is that now we’ll see what Boston is really like–the city will show its true colors while emerging from this tragedy.  I don’t doubt there is truth in that statement.  Boston, as provincial as they come, will rally around itself.  It’s already been happening for days.  But I don’t need events like this one to be shown the heart of a city.  I am admittedly not a city person.  I can’t envision a scenario right now where I would ever live in an urban setting.  I judge cities through my brief trips, but more so by the people I meet and get to know.  The qualities that will eventually get Boston past what happened last week?  I’ve seen them all along.  So, as we get back to more normal posting here, my thoughts are with Boston and the people who have showed me what the city was really about.  

Q: I think I saw this the other day.  A school bus driver, think off-duty, meaning no kids were on the bus.  He’s in a parking lot.  A woman is walking in the parking lot.  And, I think he “tried to holla,” if you will.  Can you hit on a woman while driving a school bus?  Would this be the best pick up ever?  Otto Mann, Springfield, IL

A:  School bus drivers really have a certain joie de vivre, don’t they?  I don’t know what school bus drivers are like now, but back in my day the ranks were populated with some real interesting folks.  Our district had one crazy old coot, Hank (?), who every kid wanted to have drive their bus.  I forget Hank’s exact routine, but he had a shtick. He was like Max Patkin–only at the wheel of big yellow.  But, it wasn’t all Hanks.  There were some real dicey characters too.  I remember one lady sold the kids sodas.  Sweet side business.  There was the notorious incident of the woman telling me that our grass needed cut–think I touched on that before.  The women were notorious bitches.  There, I said it, but moving on…can you pull a school bus up to a stranger and pick up said stranger?  I suppose anything is possible.  I’d really need to see video of this meeting to decipher what was going on–pick apart the film if you will.  Maybe this is what the guy is thinking.  By approaching the women WHILST in the bus, he conveys two main points.  First, I’M EMPLOYED.  Second, he’s apparently trusted, by someone, to drive kids around.  In today’s market that might qualify as a CATCH.  For all we know, a school bus could be the new puppy at the park.  These guys could be killing it with the ladies.  Just kidding, I imagine the conversation probably went something like: Bus Driver, “Heyyyy, haven’t seen you at this bus stop before…” Woman: (calls police).  

Q: Who do you think would do better on Jeopardy, football coaches or baseball managers?  Turd Ferguson, Hollywood, CA.

A: I’m afraid that would be a case by case type of thing.  I suppose I could speak in some generalities.  Football coaches probably have less time to do Jeopardy beneficial things like read books?  And, we always hear about the “smart” baseball managers.  Football coaches are called geniuses at the drop of a hat, but that’s a football description.  They are an offensive genius.  Or a defensive genius.  They may know NOTHING about EUROPE or POTENT POTABLES.  On the other hand, I think we talk about these brilliant baseball managers, because over the course of a long season we don’t have anything else to say.  Hey, did you know Tony LaRussa has a law degree?  NEVER QUESTION HIM.  And, that’s how Joe Maddon becomes Phil Jackson Jr, because he reads books and wears trendy glasses.  All classic signs of dominating on Jeopardy.  So, I guess if I have to take one, I’d take the baseball guys, because they are slightly less obsessed with their own sport?  It’s a real tough question.  How about my dream game of coaches jeopardy?  I think I’d want to see Phil Jackson vs. Tony LaRussa vs. Bill Belichick.  Those egos competing against Alex’s?  You wouldn’t be able to look away.  

Q:  Why do we need TVs at gas pumps and what are the long term social and ecological implications?  Pissed at the Pump, Phoenixville, PA.

A:  Believe it or not, I think this is going to be a short-lived phenomenon.  I think the people at the gas stations will soon realize that everyone’s phone is far more interesting to them than whatever they could show on TV.  It’s not even real TV, it’s bootleg, pre-packaged TV.  I can’t imagine anyone saying, “Oh, I’ve got to go to that gas station because they have TVs.”  Like I said, you can just look at your phone.  I always feel great about myself when I leave my phone in my car while I pump gas.  LOOK AT ME–completely independent from modern technology.  Of course, then I scurry back in there, PRAYING that someone has messaged me.  No messages?  But I was out there for an eternity.  Anyway, a TV, or some distraction is a nice feature for a urinal maybe, but what purpose do I think it serves at the gas stations?  DISTRACTION.  They’re thinking maybe this guy will lose focus for a second and accidentally fill up his whole tank.  Instead of “Give me $7 on pump four,”….BOOM–sixty dollars!  I think some people that can afford to fill up all the way, just don’t these days because of the psychological toll.  They put in $39 and fill up more often, just because they don’t want to see those meters run up over $50, $60 or $70.  The other day I was filling up and some old-timer asked me for directions to the Valley Forge Casino.  I said, “I’ve got a deck of cards in the car.  If you want to just give me your money and save the hassle–I’m game.”  But, he was insistent on going, probably a Wheel O’ Fortune slot man, so I have to tell him how to get there.  Next thing I know, my tank is full.  Ouch.  Anyway, distraction–that’s my final answer.  

 

Q:  If you could somehow research this accurately, what percentage of pets do you think like their owners?  I don’t want to get dark here, so I’m talking about people who take good care of their pets only.  And, let’s keep it to the major pets.  We all know that reptiles feel no emotion.  Brad LaDoodle, Augusta, ME

A:  I’m not sure what the MAJOR pets are.  Cats and Dogs?  This is an interesting question.  I think the results would be a bit like asking kids if they liked their parents.  It might all depend on when you catch them.  You take your typical, happy family and the kids will probably say they like their parents the majority of the time, but god forbid you catch little Bradley after he got his video game device taken away or after he was FORCED to continue with his piano lessons.  He’d probably give you some real COLORFUL language to describe his parents.  I could see the same thinking happening for pets.  What if your dog is at the tail-end of an six hour session in their crate while you galivant all over town?  If I ask your dog, “Thoughts on Becky?”  They might be all, “You mean the slut?”  I think the moral here is that the world would be a lot more entertaining if all pets biting senses of humor.  But really, pets are more like young children than aloof, awful, freak show teenagers.  They rely on their owners for a lot, so that builds up a ton of loyalty.  I’m going to say that 95% of dogs like their owners and I’m going to put the cat number at a bit lower, 91%, because some cats are notorious misanthropes and cannot be helped.  

Q:  Have you had a chance to try the new Entenmann’s Raspberry Crumb Minis?  I want to dip a toe, but I don’t want to be disappointed.  Minnie Danish, London, England.

A:  Funny.  What’s your next question, have I ever seen the Phillies bullpen blow a lead?  Of course I have tried the Entenmann’s Raspberry Crumb Mini Cake.  It’s in a very sporty package.  Caught my eye right away.  I don’t want to ruffle any feathers over at BIMBO bakeries, but I MIGHT have a few issues with Entenmann’s.  First, the pricing is getting a little out of control.  Let’s not pretend we’re some organic, boutique bakery on the Main Line.  Know your role, Entenmann’s.  You are a TAD ghetto.  A while back I was having a healthy impulse and I grabbed some Super Cinnys and a bottle of chocolate milk on a weekend morning.  Hit the self checkout, and the device is telling me the total is like, “$8.39.”  I actually thought I had scanned something twice.  But, no, those Super Cinnys are SUPER expensive.  It’s cut into my Entenmann’s habit a bit.  I’ve got to be honest.  And, the miniature danish was never their strong suit.  They’re just trading off the success of the larger products.  You see a small little package and you think you are getting a miniature Raspberry Danish TWIST–but alas, that is not the case.  Some of the same ingredients are there, but the composition is OFF.  Same scenario with the new Mini Crumbs.  Some good flavors, a possible step in the right direction, but still a sorry substitute for real thing.   Entenmann’s is just not a single serving size company.  You buy the whole crumb cake, and eat it in 2 days.  

Q:  Why do people insist on going through the NFL schedule game by game, before the draft, and trying to predict a team’s record?  John Raworski, Medford, NJ.

A:  People are starved for the NFL.  Can you believe it’s been about 10 weeks since the Super Bowl.  That’s a LIFETIME.  I actually think they should release the schedule earlier, because now we’re right up against the draft.  The draft makes the schedule release look like Spring Training.  It’s another benefit of the NFL’s short season.  No other sport could get away with something like this, but people can take the time to hand out 16 L’s or W’s.  Speaking of which, here’s the Eagles rundown:   

  1. @ Washington–L
  2. vs. San Diego–W
  3. vs. Kansas City–W
  4. @ Denver–L (ulz)
  5. @ NYG–L
  6. @ Tampa Bay–W
  7. vs. Dallas–W
  8. vs. NYG–L
  9. @ Oakland–L
  10. @ Gren Bay–L
  11. vs. Washington–L
  12. vs. Arizona–W
  13. vs. Detroit–W
  14. @ Minnesota–W
  15. vs. Chicago–L
  16. @ Dallas–W

So, 8-8.  Unless they draft Geno Smith.  And he actually plays.  In which case, 4-12.  Speaking of the Draft, I’m going to Mock it up this.  Andy Reid is going to mess it up.  I can feel it.

Will Chooch Save the Phillies?

Out of His Depth.

Out of His Depth.

Or, maybe the first question is, do the Phillies need to be saved?  Thirteen games is hardly a deep look into the season, but considering the 6-7 Phillies were supposed to take advantage of a soft early schedule, it certainly looks like the Phillies need a boost.  Or else they could be headed toward a repeat of 2012.  One of the reasons it’s tempting to project out the Phillies after so few games is because the team looks so familiar.  Same names, same manager, same problems.  Several of their early losses look like they were pulled from the 2012 files.  Could one player make that much of a difference?  Is Ruiz’s offense and his handling of the staff something that turns games in the Phillies favor?  With Chooch coming off a career year, it’s tempting to make those arguments.  

But, I think that argument ignores what the real problems were last year.  The Phillies season fell apart last year after Roy Halladay went on the DL (while Ruiz was having that career year).  On August 2nd, the last game Carlos Ruiz played before returning on September 9th, the Phillies were 47-58.  Ruiz had cooled to .335 at this point, but was still the team’s biggest offensive weapon.  When Ruiz came back, the Phillies were 67-71.  They’d gone 20-13 without Ruiz in the lineup and they’d close the season 14-10 with him back behind the plate.  The Phillies were a better team with Ruiz, and last year would have been much worse without some of his 1st half heroics, but his performance is not what causes the Phillies to win and lose in the big picture.

If you believe in a stat like WAR, Ruiz was worth 4.5 wins to the team last year.  So, that would be the best case scenario for this season when he comes back.  Are the Phillies 4 wins out of a playoff spot?  

 

The Phillies have a couple of players off to fine offensive starts this year.  Chase Utley looks terrific, which is great to see, and Michael Young has had some huge games –performing better than I thought he would–so far.  Even the Mayberry/Nix platoon has put up respectable numbers.  So, why doesn’t the Phillies offense score more runs?  Why don’t they look better?  

The answer is the same as it’s been for the last several seasons.  The team doesn’t hit enough home runs to compensate for their lack of ability to get on base.   That’s the best way I can boil it down.  There are other issues.  They don’t hit left-handed pitching, they function poorly with runners in scoring position and in other “situational” moments, but the bottom line is, the Phillies have a home run hitting style lineup that doesn’t hit home runs.  In 2008, Utley/Howard/Werth and Burrell hit 138 homers.  In 2009, Utley/Howard/Werth and Ibanez hit 144 homers.  What’s the ideal 3-6 for this team?  Utley/Howard/Ruiz/Michael Young?  The upside on that group, even projecting a full season for Ruiz is probably about 95 home runs.  That’s a monumental loss of power.  

The Phillies have 12 homers in their first 13 games this year, numbers that are right in line with 2012.  With the team already in the midst of a five game mini-slump, where it looks like stringing together 4 straight singles is about the only way to score, it’s obvious things from an offensive standpoint aren’t going to change that much.  It’ll help to have Ruiz back, but he probably won’t hit .330.  He’ll be better than Kratz, who has been terrible, but it won’t be enough to transform the lineup.  Not with Ryan Howard struggling, with Revere’s microscopic OBP, and with Michael Young probably coming down a bit from the heights of .370.  

So, how does this team win games?  They have to win them how they were designed to win them–by pitching like crazy.  The Phillies that won the World Series had a dangerous combination of some guys who could get on-base and a 1 through 6 that could take you deep at any time.  They really have none of that now.  They were rebuilt, in a different mold, the 4-ace mold after 2009 and since then the Phillies have won when they’ve pitched–almost exclusively.  

In 2010, the Phillies bottomed out at 48-46 on July 21st.  Shortly after that they’d fire Milt Thompson and trade for Roy Oswalt. Over the last 68 games, the Phillies went 49-19.  To be fair, the offense did produce 4.89 runs a game over that closing stretch, which is pretty good by modern NL standards, but they were averaging 4.67 runs a game when they were 48-46.  In 2011 they won 102 games while scoring 4.4 runs on average.  

So, the point I’m getting at is that the Phillies aren’t as good as they were in 2008, because they don’t hit nearly as many home runs, but they’re not as good as they were in 2010 and 2011, because they don’t pitch nearly as well.  And this team is a lot more similar to the 2011 team in makeup than the 2008 team.  Carlos Ruiz can comeback and mercifully end the run of Eric Kratz, but he’s not going to save the Phillies.  To be saved, the Phillies will have to pitch better, get that ERA back among the league leaders, iron out middle relief.  Otherwise, it’s going to be ebbs and flows, good streaks like against New York and miserable ones like what started down in Miami.  

Last year, the Phillies proved that won’t add up to a playoff spot, so something will have to change this time around.  Running down the Nationals and the torrid Braves isn’t going to be easy.  

 

 

Steve Williams Carries Adam Scott (‘s Bag) To Masters Title.

Ruined 36 Jim Nantz Angel Puns

Ruined 36 Jim Nantz Angel Puns

Another great ending to the Masters.  I wonder if today, sitting around the well-pledged libraries of the clubhouse if the members are just congratulating themselves?  Someone takes a sip of Scotch, gazes lovingly at a life-sized oil painting of Bobby Jones and says, “We run the perfect golf tournament.”  It’d be hard to argue.  We’re on a run of years now with scintillating finishes and memorable shots and it’s all happened without Tiger Woods sliding into his 5th green jacket.  For a sport that seems to be reliant on individual star power, the Masters and Augusta National pull themselves above that level most years.

What I’ll take away from the event this year was the quality of the golf of the playoff.  My Masters’ playoff memories include Scott “Choke” Hoch, Len Mattiace making a thousand on 10, Ray Floyd splashing down on 11, Kenny Perry squandering his chance at history and of course, Bubba’s awful tee shot before, “THE HOOK.”  The Masters makes people choke.  Jason Day all but admitted it in his post-round comments.  The playoff is even worse.  Perhaps this is why a Masters sudden death playoff has never extended beyond two holes.  You either see something miraculous, or someone gives it away.

If you want to be picky, I suppose you could criticize the shots Scott and Angel Cabrera hit into 18 on the first playoff hole, but that would ignore the inherent difficulty of that shot.  And then Cabrera nearly holed his chip, Scott made a nervy 3-footer and they were off to the 10th.  Cabrera’s monster iron off the 10th tee was something from another era.  Thirty years ago professional golfers carried 2-irons to “get the ball in play,” and now they’re practically extinct.  Whatever souped up driving iron Cabrera hit in the playoff was something to behold.  Of course, his putt ended up teasing the edge like Oosthuizen’s last year, but there was no choke in Cabrera.  When the guy shows up–he’s there to stay.

And, Adam Scott has always been a great ball-striker.  He’s the kind of guy who would make a 2-handicap quit the game if they had to hit balls next to him on the range every day.  We’ve been hearing, “if the guy could ever make some putts,” for years.  Last year, when Scott gave away the Open Championship you had to wonder if the cumulative impact of his missed putts was starting to take hold on the rest of his game (Sergio-itis).  But, Scott found the putting stroke late Sunday and made two of the more memorable putts in Masters’ history, the first of which, I thought he had no chance to make.

I’ve always had Scott in the category of guys who I thought could eventually get a major (Hey, I picked him 3rd–not bad?).  It’s a group populated by guys like Dustin Johnson.  Eventually, these guys are just too good to not put it together for one week.  Greg Norman was the most snake bit player in the history of the majors and he gave away plenty too, but he still went out of his mind a couple of times and won the Open twice.  One of these days, Dustin will get so far out in front that he can’t blow it, or he’ll lip-in a crucial putt when he needs it, like Scott did on Sunday.  These guys are too talented to not win a major, where as players like Lee Westwood and Luke Donald–you wonder.

I’m sure it’s a relief for Scott this morning to be free of “the label.”  He’s been a guy who has been pigeon-holed his entire career.  First, he was the guy with Tiger’s swing–an automatic and unfair heir apparent.  Since then, he’s been replaced by an even younger group of Australian golfers and become the favorite of women who are stuck on the couch watching golf.  An honorable distinction, but I doubt something Scott aspired to.  Now, he’s a major champion.  He’s a guy that could have, should have won 2 of the last three majors.  It’ll be interesting to see where he takes it from here.

Some other things of note…

Disappointing Performance by the Top of the World:

Rory and Luke Donald were never factors, Tiger got lost in controversy and didn’t meet his own standards and I’m not sure if Phil Mickelson even played the event.  Did anyone see him?  It’s strange to me how someone like Mickelson can have a week like he did.  The guy has owned the course in the past.  You’re telling me Fred Couples (god that he is) can get around with relative ease for 3 of 4 rounds, can play in the last group Saturday and end up 13th at 53 years old and Phil someone with a (better?) set of similar skills and a decade younger finishes with 77-76-73?  I don’t get it.

Speaking of the Tiger Rules Controversy:

First, I don’t believe that Tiger intentionally took a bad drop.  He knows that every eye is on him and he would have never admitted to it in his interview after the round.  In fact, I wonder if as those words were coming out of Tiger’s mouth if he didn’t have an alarm go off in his subconscious saying, “OH Fudgesicle.”  I think he was flustered, or enraged by that terrible break and made one of the bigger bonehead moves you’ll ever see.  Joe LaCava failed miserably here too.  There’s really no question Tiger took a bad drop, the question is whether he should have been disqualified.  Prior to a rule change a couple of years ago, Tiger would have been out, but a new rules allows the DQ to be waived under “exceptional circumstances.”  That’s quite vague wording for a rule, but that’s golf’s style.  I don’t know that Tiger’s free pass falls in line with the spirit of the rule, but you can certainly shoe horn it in there.  Bottom line, he didn’t win anyway, and we’ll forget about it soon enough.

Closing Shot:

I think they’ve found a nice balance in the setup at Augusta.  I looked at scores on Friday and wondered how hard they could make the course if they wanted to…I’m quite certain with some moderate changes +10 would win.  But, the balance they seem to be at now is that we’re seeing less eagles and maybe fewer “runs,” but the course is still vulnerable to a hot back nine, you simply have to be playing near perfect golf to take advantage.  So, a guy like Scott who is closing well can still make the needed birdies, while someone like Brandt Snedeker, who is leaking oil, is quickly shuffled toward the back of the pack.  It may not be perfect, but it’s working for me.

That it for now–See you at Merion!

 

Masters Predictions, Etc.

Tiger Will Likely Beat the 14-year Old.  Who Else?

Tiger Will Likely Beat the 14-year Old. Who Else?

There’s a pretty good chance by the time the dozen of your read this, the first round will be well underway and much of the following  insight will look foolish.  I meant to get this up much earlier in the day, but LIFE INTERVENED, as they say…but just in case some of this stuff actually happens–I wanted it on the record.  The Masters, in fits and starts.

Worst Decision:  Phil Mickelson’s “Phrankenwood”

Classic Mickelson.  He’s an over-thinker.  This year he teased a special club and then debuted the 12-degree driver/FW combo item this week and Callaway has dubbed it “The Phrankenwood.”  Essentially, they are just re-releasing “The Deuce” with their new technology.  I had a Deuce.  Phenomenal club.  I probably was the best user of that club in southeastern PA.  The thing about this type of club, though?  It’s really for people who can’t hit drivers.  You basic head case chop.  That was me in 1996.  And, I guess that’s Phil now.  He’s got a complex, launch specs reason for putting this thing in the bag, but it feels like the classic Mickelson buckle.

Best Decision: Rory McIlroy’s Trip to Valero.

McIlroy intended to skip last week’s Texas Open to attend a UNICEF function in Haiti, but decided he didn’t want to show up to Augusta spraying the ball all over good god’s creation.  By Sunday in Texas he appeared to know what he was doing again.  I’m not saying he’s going to win, but he should at least keep his penalty shots in the single digits.

Does Bubba Have a Chance to Repeat:  No.

This isn’t necessarily a matter of form, though Bubba hasn’t quite hit on all gears this year, I just think the process of being defending champion is going to have him wore down before we get to Sunday.  He’s an emotional guy.  He already cried in his press conference.  I think he runs out of steam sometime before the weekend.

Does a Non-Major Winner Have A Chance:  Yes.

When Tiger won 14 Majors in nine years, or whatever it was, it seemed like there were fewer 1st time major winners, because Tiger was constantly raising trophies.  Throw in a few other repeat champs like Paddy, Phil and Vijay and the Majors felt like an exclusive club.  I think we could be headed back toward that type of era, but there is still a long list of major-less talent out there.  My top 3 Non-Major Candidates:  Kuchar, Scott and Rose.

Will Jim Nantz enter the Pun Hall of Fame:  Someday.

This is Nantz’s biggest time of the year.  He just dry humped the microphone for the NCAA Final and now he’s at his home away from home–Augusta National.  An interesting thing to monitor is Nantz’s unabashed rooting for Fred Couples.  The guy loves his college roommate.  I think Fred missed his chance, but if something crazy happened and Fred won again, Nantz would be a wreck.  He’d look like one of those dogs welcoming home a soldier.

Quick Predictions:

Highest Score:  Craig Stadler, 86 on Friday.

Lowest Score:  Lee Westwood, 66 on Thursday (he’ll buckle)

Low Head Case (Sergio or Adam Scott):  Adam Scott–I give him an outside chance at contending for 68 holes.

Low Fashion Icon (Poulter or Fowler):  Fowler–I’m just glad I don’t have a 10-year old who wants to wear dipsh*t Puma hats.

Worst Score on 12 by Someone in Contention Sunday: 6, Phil Mickelson.  Feels right.

Will There be a Hole-In-One on 16:  YES

Will Jack Nickalus Hit a Butterball Turkey Fade out there 238 yds tmmrw morning:  YES

Low Ryder Cup Hero (McDowell or Westwood):  Westwood

Low Ryder Cup Goat (Stricker or Mahan):  Mahan–eventually this “semi-retired” thing is going to catch up with Stricks

Low Lookalike (Bill Haas or Nick Watney):  Watney–I’m rooting for Watney to get a major, not sure about his demeanor.

Low BFF (Keegan or Phil):  Keegan.  He’s been on pretty good form, plus he needs one of these before they take his putter away.

Low Champions Tour Player:  Fred Couples.  This isn’t even a homer pick, guy finished 12th last year.

Five People I wish Were Playing (you figure out the reasons): Jack, David Duval, Tommy Two Gloves, Ian Baker Finch and Stacey Lewis.

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for…

The Definitive, Yet Arbitrary Masters Top-10:

  1. Matt Kuchar
  2. Tiger Woods
  3. Adam Scott
  4. Keegan Bradley
  5. Louis Oosthuizen
  6. Jason Day
  7. Freddy Jacobsen
  8. Rory McIlory
  9. Phil Mickelson
  10. Rickie Fowler

The great thing about the Masters is, the field is so small, it feels like this type of leaderboard is actually possible.  Everyone enjoy the coverage.

 

 

Amen Mailbag.

"Golden Bell? More Like Golden Hell" ~ Rick Reilly

“Golden Bell? More Like Golden Hell” ~ Rick Reilly

Blistering 84 degrees today.  Inappropriate.  There was a scene in the Mad Men opener, a solid start to the season I thought, where some squatters were lamenting the winter.  Living without heat one of them said they missed the summer when they were hot all the time.  I suppose this is the only answer if you are living in an uncontrolled environment, but assuming it’s not a life or death situation, I’ll opt for the chill in the air.  Maybe it’s just the shock to the system.  Fifty degrees to eighty, but it feels like 95 out there today to this guy.  I had to break out the short pants.  My legs are in Mid-January form.  They’re whiter than Gonzaga.  In the spirit of the Masters, I may have to take them out for some type of golf activity to get some color.  Let’s mailbag, some golf, some not…

Q:  What do you think is the best hole at Augusta National?  Ronald Ross, Jeffersonville, PA.

A:  I feel like there is answer to this question if you’ve played the course, or at least seen it in person, and then an answer for those of us who watch it on television.  If I went and played the course, I would probably choose the one hole where I made a par (assuming I made one) or something along those lines.  But, let me approach this as an armchair critic with a very high opinion of his taste.  First, some holes of note.  One is just too damn hard for an opening hole.  The par fives on the front nine don’t really stand out.  I always loved the green complex around 7, but have heard too much about the hole being “ruined” in recent years.  I like eleven, sixteen, and I love the tee shot on 18, but I’ve got to choose twelve.  Is that the biggest cliche answer in the history of this blog?  MAYBE.  Twelve is great because it’s not 230 yards and because it’s a perfect representation of Augusta.  Elevation change, hazards, small targets, a treacherous putting surface.  I’ve always felt Augusta was about the individual shots.  So, why not choose the best individual shot on the course as the best hole?  Please feel free to correct me in the comments.  

Q:  Can you ever interject into a stranger’s retail purchasing experience?  Say they are about to pick some horrid mustard off the shelf, or emerge from the dressing room looking upholstered…can you speak up?  SHOULD you speak up?  

A:  I’ve had this happen to me in the positive way.  I was once pulling a bottle of Sticky Fingers BBQ sauce off the shelf and a woman standing there felt COMPELLED to tell me how much her husband like that sauce and how she sometimes had to go to GREAT LENGTHS to secure it for him.  It made me marvel at her social instincts.  If I saw someone doing the same it would definitely register in my mind, “I’ve had that sauce–It’s good.”  But, I would never open my mouth.  You’re in a grocery store aisle.  Not an open forum.  We’re not filming for QVC.  ARE WE?  I can’t imagine my reaction if someone told me my selection was a poor one.  The unsolicited part of this is what makes it a tough question.  If someone hold ups a bottle of Hunt’s ketchup and is like “Yay or Nay,” you are free and clear to make gagging noises, but if they just pick it up off the shelf?  I don’t believe you can intervene.  That crosses the line into forcing your opinions on someone else.  After all, if there is an entire rack of Hunt’s ketchup–someone must like it.  People without taste buds, people who put on elaborate Halloween stunts–they need their ketchup too.  So, as usual, best to just button it up.  

Q:  This would never happen, but say it did.  What if Augusta National auctioned off a membership?  What price do you think it would go for?  Donald Trumpp, Miami, FL

A:  Assuming the membership would come stigma free, it would go for an astronomical figure.  I did some research and it appears the golf club with the highest initiation fee is Sebonack, the relatively new course in Southampton with the legendary neighbor, cost $650,000 when it opened its doors.  That number is now rumored to be closer to 1 million dollars.  There are others in this rare air.  The Bear’s Club, Jack Nicklaus’ spot in Jupiter FL, reportedly will set you back a 1/2 million, but that comes with some equity.  Equity or not, Augusta would blow these figures out of the water.  I imagine like at most exclusive clubs, the annual dues at Augusta probably aren’t as high as you might think.  They create a ton of revenue, they have a vast membership, so we’re really talking about a one-time outlay of cash.  On the low end, I’d guess 10 million.  And, honestly, nothing under 50 million would even make me bat an eyelash.  Mark Zuckerberg in a bidding war with an Oil Sheikh?  100 million?  Sky is the limit.  

Q: I have a question about overweight actors and actresses.  Do you think they ever tire of the fat jokes?  Isn’t this a bit sad, or are they just happy to be playing a part?  Polly “pass the biscuits” Pendergast, Manakin Sabot, VA.

A:  I’m sure it bothers them.  I don’t think anyone is ever fully immune to a joke.  Not completely.  It’s like when I watch a celebrity roast and these comedians are saying awful things about one another.  They are all laughing, and you hear about comics having this inner circle where anything goes, but I don’t know how you can brush something like that off completely.  Another way you know it must bother people?  There are always actors and actresses who start out heavy and then drop a bunch of weight.  Jonah Hill was pretty ROTUND, but he slimmed down to give himself an opportunity to play something other than the chubby, funny guy.  I don’t think the weight loss is really for the specific role as much as it is for the opportunity to get a wider range of parts.  I also wonder what overweight actors think of skinny actors who “gain 50 lbs” for a part.  Are they like, “HELLO, right over here.  Already BIG-BONED.”  But, seriously, I think it is so tough to get into acting that most are probably happy for the work.  I think most actors and actresses have to lower their standards a bit, or come to terms to play some early parts.  I’m sure the young women playing Topless Girl #4 aren’t necessarily dying to show off, but next time around maybe they’re in a bikini, maybe they get a line–who knows?  

Q:  What do you think Bobby Jones would shoot at this year’s Masters if you took him in his prime, transported him to modern times, gave him a new bag full of Titleist swag and let him practice for a month?  Hootie Johnson, Auguta, GA.

A:  Bobby Jones last played the Masters in 1949, but that was long after his prime.  You’re talking about a golfer who was at his best in the 1920s.  The equipment would be a shock to him.  Even though it would be way more forgiving than his set of butter knives, he would probably have to adjust to the weight, the feel of the new ball on the club face, etc.  People are talking about Rory McIlroy struggling to make the adjustment from Titleist to Nike, well that’s just different versions of the same technology.  But, even with having to make the adjustments, the golf swing is the golf swing and Bobby Jones certainly swung it well enough, and was powerful enough to not be phased by the shocking length of Augusta National.  The extra 1,000 yards wouldn’t be much of a factor in my opinion.  The biggest difference might be around the greens.  Augusta had different grass on the surfaces back in his day and I don’t think the speeds were quite as extreme.  Getting a feel for the short game would probably be the biggest obstacle.  I think an in his prime Jones, with a month to get ready shoots around even par.  I would say he finishes in the top-30.  I hope that’s not too disrespectful.  It is, isn’t it?  

Q:  The top-5 shows in 1988 were: The Cosby Show, Roseanne, A Different World, Cheers and Golden Girls.  This is what people liked 25 years ago.  Say none of these shows ever existed, which one would be the most popular today?  Rusty Dalrimple, Queens, NY.

A:  Golden Girls was a top-5 show?  That’s a bit shocking.  I mean, Golden Girls had that ROLLICKING theme song and some moments, but was it that good?  Maybe it was.  Lot of sass on that show.  LOT. OF. SASS.  So, none of these shows existed and they are all getting pitched in 2013?  Well, I think with the possible exception of A Different World–they’d all get made.  A Different World was a spinoff of the Cosby Show, so maybe it has the least merit standing alone?  Shows about college kids don’t usually do well.  Is that a fair statement?  Something happens between high school and college that makes people less interesting?  No, I think it’s more, kids in middle school watch shows about kids in high school.  Kids in high school and college don’t really watch sitcoms?  There’s a theory.  I’m booting Golden Girls, too.  Can’t get past it.  So, you have the Cosby Show and Roseanne, two family shows centered on famous comedians, and Cheers, which is more of an ensemble production centered in a bar.  Shows about families are still popular.  There’s certainly some Roseanne in The Middle, for example.  I think Cheers would be critically acclaimed and have a real loyal audience, but ratings wise would probably be doomed to Office and Parks and Rec type numbers.  Pressed to make a final decision, I’m going (based solely on ratings):

  1. Roseanne
  2. The Cosby Show
  3. Golden Girls
  4. Cheers
  5. A Different World