Bill published it. I promised a writeup. And only four days late, you're getting just that. Actually you're getting part of just that. I didn't make it all the way through. And I just read his "25 best storylines of the NBA playoffs" article and it's a fucking garbagecluster so now I've eventually got to do a writeup of that. Jesus, life down here in this basement is tough.
/eats family sized bag of Sun Chips, falls asleep in front of TV blaring infomercials
When I heard about the "Fenway 100" anniversary celebration before Friday's Red Sox–Yankees game, my guard went flying up at the speed of a vintage Pedro fastball. See, we went from having neglectful owners (the 1970s) to incompetent owners (the 1980s and 1990s) to opportunistic owners who transformed the franchise (in a good way — we won two titles) while scraping every possible penny of profit out of their investment, to the point that Yaz was probably afraid to come to Fenway today because he didn't want to be murdered, chopped up and turned into commemorative Yaz-flavored kielbasa pieces for $499.95 per bite.
In other words your team had a series of owners who were exactly like most other owners of their generation. Neglectful, incompetent, intensely profit-focused: like 99% of all current owners can be described by at least one of those. (Exception: Mark Cuban, who is intensely profit-focused in everything else he does so that he doesn't have to be with the Mavericks.) WE AHHHH SPECIAL! THINGS AH DIFFERENT HERE AND YOU WOULD NOT UNDAHSTAND! WE HAVE SUFFAHED MO-AH THAN YOU HAVE, CLEVELAND! No really he made that argument once.
The thought of a "Fenway 100" celebration made me nervous.
That's one of the stupidest things I've ever read. Even the world's shittiest owners can put on a good ceremony if iconic players are in attendance. Hell, Bill wrote a great article like a month ago about that very event happening at a Golden State Warriors game. I mean, the owner in question was mercilessly booed, but people still went nuts for the iconic player. It's not like that kind of thing is going to get screwed up.
And then the players came pouring out on the field, one after the other, and … well …
I mean …
What can you say?
"My team has been around for a long time, so it's not too surprising that they have some legendary players. And that those players took a day from doing nothing to show up for this. Neat."
What can you say when every checkpoint from your entire life happens to be huddled as one big mass of Red Sox jerseys in the only hometown park you ever had?
" (those are ditto marks)
There were Fisk, Rice, Pedro, Big Mo, Nomar, Remy, Rico … it was like a 35-man tie for "Guy I Was Most Excited to See Again." Even better, they invited everybody, so for every childhood hero, there was also a Mike Stenhouse, a Shag Crawford, even a Steve Lomasney. I ended up getting greedy and being bummed out that El Guapo and Freddie Lynn didn't show up. Talking about it with my father later, he mentioned the moment when Fisk, Yaz and Rice helped out with the first pitch — how he couldn't help but notice that Freddie Lynn was missing, how there was something fitting about Lynn not being there for that moment, either.
"He never should have left Fenway," my dad said for the 10,257th time. "Perfect park for him. He would have made the Hall of Fame if he stayed."
Lynn was a lefty who had a reputation for hitting the ball to the opposite field well, so Fenway was probably a good place for him. Then again, he nearly broke his back slamming into the Green Monster during the 1975 World Series. And then again again, if you're the kind of player who can only make the HOF if you play half your games in a specific ballpark, you are probably not a HOFer at all.
We have been having the same conversation about Freddie Lynn since I was 13. He should have stayed. These are the things you think about when your entire life is flashing before your eyes. Football is more popular, basketball is more marketable, hockey is more exciting, soccer means more throughout the world. But baseball has a way of making you think about everything that ever happened to you, every conversation you ever had, every place you ever lived, everything. I saw Millar and thought of standing in the tunnel at Fenway in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, when he was drawing that walk against Rivera.
I should go back and do some research on that story of Bill's, but why the hell was he not in his seat? Seems likely that he was trying to beat the crowd out of the ballpark if the game had ended with a Yankees win. Classic Bill.
I saw Yaz and thought about him popping that ball up against Gossage, seeing it coming down, praying for a miracle that wouldn't come. I saw Pedro and thought of those precious nights at Fenway when he'd give up his first hit and the crowd would collectively sigh, as in, "Damn, I'm not seeing a no-hitter tonight." I saw Mo and thought about that hideous strike season, a year after I had moved back to Boston, when Big Mo was the only Red Sox player worth seeing. I saw Nomar and thought about how, once upon a time, it was Nomar, then A-Rod, then Jeter (in that order).
There was never a time when it was that. Not any onces upon any times.
I saw Remy and Rice and thought about the time Remy blew out his knee and Rice had to carry him back to the dugout, and I saw Evans and thought about the time he got beaned in the Seattle game and my dad and I thought he was dead. I saw Fisk and thought about that first White Sox game when he came back and rammed it right between our eyes.
I didn't see Freddie Lynn, and that mattered, too. So did the fact that I didn't even realize Clemens was missing until about 20 minutes after the ceremony.
But please, tell us: how will you look back on that moment 10 years from now? And how will you look back on the 10 years from the moment when you looked back on the ceremony 10 years after that?
All of this mattered. All of it. The Red Sox have been screwing just about everything up lately, but today wasn't one of those times. Let's hope that ceremony doesn't end up being the highlight of the 2012 season.
If the rest of us are lucky, it'll be outdone by a full-fledged dugout brawl between Valentine and Youkilis as Carl Crawford attempts to burn Fenway to the ground.
Q: I'm turning 30 and the only thing I want for my birthday is a new mailbag. The only thing.
You're either super rich or super worthy of being shot into deep space.
I even told my fiance not to worry about giving me a gift. I hope you can come through for me, for all of us.
— Jana Fischer, Boise, ID
SG: I don't know, Jana. Lots of people turn 30.
Like my dad, this one time! Let me tell you about it!
I need a little more prodding.
It's astonishing: the more popular he gets (to the extent that it can be quantified, I would guess that he's currently more popular than he's ever been due to the relative success of Grantland), the more he needs to make sure everyone knows how popular he is. That's not a hallmark of an insecure person or anything though.
Q: When a soon to be Holy Cross freshman is getting action in a 1966 Driver's Ed class on episode of TV's best show (Mad Men), I think that means it is time for a mailbag. Given that it is Holy Cross, it wasn't co-ed yet and that it was before the "free love" era, what are the odds that was the best that guy was going to do until he got back home next summer?
— John, Dunwoody, GA
SG: The odds are lower than you think. My dad went to Holy Cross in the late-'60s [rest of answer deleted because ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz]
I HAVE A FAMILY! THEY HAVE DONE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT!
Q: It's 4/20 on Friday. You almost always write Fridays and you have owed us a mailbag for weeks. Also half your audience will get high before they read that mailbag anyway. Do I have to spell this out for you Simmons? 4/20 MAILBAG!
— MG, NY NY
SG: OK, now we're talking. I'm almost convinced. I'm on the brink.
Guarantee you that guy is super annoying to get high with. MG, I mean. But yeah also Bill.
Q: Sports guy. Deployed in Kuwait right now. Entering the 2-3 month point when you realize your life is depressing. How do you feel about a mailbag? I'm begging.
— Andrew Gerry, Udairi, Kuwait
SG: Now that's a good reason for a mailbag! Stay safe out there, Andrew. As always, these are actual questions from actual readers.
That's some good 21st century corporate PR material. I support soldiers! Everyone likes that, right? Next mailbag Bill will bend over backwards to make sure everyone is aware that he is aware of breast cancer.
Q: Now that Dwight is out for the season, how likely is it that The Ewing Theory will soon become The Howard Theory?
— Kyle, Toronto, Ontario
SG: It's a perfect storm: You have the possibly overhyped superstar who never won anything; everyone writing off his team for the playoffs; a group of players who probably weren't crazy about becoming part of Howard's soap opera these past few months; a first-round matchup against a totally unproven Pacers team; and a coach who'd love nothing more than to shove it to the guy who wanted him out all season. The Ewing Theory Committee is on high alert.
The best part about the Ewing theory, besides the fact that it's ridiculous bullshit fueled entirely by confirmation bias, is that the 1999 Knicks won a whole like three more playoff games after he got injured before losing to the Spurs in the Finals. Not that their playoff run wasn't impressive or anything, but I just like that if (God forbid) you need to explain it to someone who's never heard of it, you end up saying "Well the Knicks made the conference finals with Ewing, then he got hurt, then they won the conference finals, then they lost in the next round. And then the following year, with him back in the lineup, they made it back to the conference finals. So as you can see, they were way better off without him. Oh and also, here's the REAL proof: they've won a whole zero playoff series since his final season with them in 2000." If you get all the way through that without the other person punching you or walking away, the nonplussed look on their face will be worth 1000 words.
Couldn't you see Orlando making, like, 20 of 35 3s in Game 1 or Game 2, then doing the same thing in Game 3, followed by Indiana getting tight and everyone saying, "Wait a second, Orlando can't actually win this series without Dwight, right????" More important …
He got the part about Indiana playing like crap and looking tight right. The part about Orlando playing well, not so much. I still think Pacers in 6.
Q: With Howard out for the Olympics, Stiemsma has to take his spot right?
— @bobfuton (via Twitter)
SG: Look, Greg Stiemsma already went from never averaging 12 minutes a game for a Big Ten school to averaging 20 minutes a game as a valuable backup big man for an NBA title contender. You're really telling me that "Greg Stiemsma, Gold Medalist, USA" is far-fetched at this point?
And it might be wishful thinking, but I'm also holding out hope for Hawks in 5. Might take them 6 though.
Anyway, I'm glad Mr. Futon brought this up because I spent the morning freaking out about our gold-medal chances. Here are the nine definites for Team USA …
[long breakdown of the likely US roster, highlighting uncertainties with big men and the fact that Spain can throw both Gasols and Serge Ibaka at us]
In all seriousness, here's what we should actually do. First, we send Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Coach K and Durant to KG's Malibu house right after the Finals. They deliver the following message:
"We're looking for Andrew Bynum's place, do you have his address?"
We only need you for TWO games. You're going to be using the summer to stay in shape, anyway — what better way to stay in shape than a few weeks of July practices against the best players in the world in Vegas? From there, we'll go to London and stick you in a fire extinguisher case for the preliminaries — "ONLY BREAK IF YOU REALLY NEED KG." You can cheer on the guys, F-bomb our opponents from the bench, scream encouragement like a lunatic and do KG things.
A couple weeks back I was thinking to myself that pretty much everyone I know who uses the "[Person] is doing [Person] things!" bit is obnoxious. Well, lookie there.
Then, we'll bring you out for the medal games against France and Spain. You can finally get revenge on Pau Gasol for the 2010 Finals when you were playing on one leg. You can win a gold medal and add to your legacy. And by the way? WE NEED YOU. Win this with us.
No way Garnett turns them down.
Garnett turns 36 in a few weeks. I watched every minute of the Hawks/Celtics game earlier this evening; he played like he was 56. In that column I posted about last week, Simmons gushed and oohed and ahhed about Garnett's midseason bounceback. Here's the thing: the only reason he achieved a bounceback in March is because he was playing like dogshit in December and January. Dude isn't one of the 12 best American basketball players right now. He's not close. He might not be one of the 12 best American big men. Christ. I'd rather have Javale McGee on the Olympic team. YES I SAID IT AND I SORT OF MEAN IT. I don't know which is more preposterous--this KG idea, or the idea that an objective person at any point, ever, could have preferred NOMAH to Fish Fillet-Rod. They're both stupefyingly outrageous.
Q: How long do you think it will take for Bill O'Brien to get the "old person smell" out of his office?
— Mike P, Philly
SG: (Afraid to say anything.)
Ah, yet another Simmons reader writing C+ jokes that get published because most of Bill's own material is more in the C-/D+ range.
Q: Is it me or is Kill Frank Gore's Head going to be the most popular team name in fantasy next year?
— Butter, West Palm Beach
It's you, you fucking prong.
SG: Absolutely. I'm also excited for the obligatory terrible metal rock song with the chorus, "KILL THE HEAD (AND THE BODY WILL DIE)!!! KILL THE HEAD (AND THE BODY WILL DIE)!!!"
Like I said, C-/D+ range.
That reminds me, where was the WWE during this Gregg Williams saga? How did they not create a wrestling manager/Williams parody who keeps "crossing the line," offers bounties for his wrestlers to injure other wrestlers, stirs up an ongoing moral dilemma and comes out to the entrance song, "Kill the Head (and the Body Will Die)"? How long do we have to wait?
Q: How is Grantland not reviewing Jennifer Love Hewitt's new show The Client List?
Get Klosterman on the red phone! Sports fans who don't actually enjoy sports are clamoring for some analysis of The Client List!
It is female porn. There are so many guys with six pack abs that all need Jennifer to "massage" them in all the right places. Insecure men leaving their women. Overdone Texas stereotypes. Please get someone on this show asap.
— Jeffrey, Austin
Please go live in the woods somewhere and stop bothering people. (Credit to Don Rickles)
SG: Done and done. We're launching a weekly "Hate Watching: The Client List" recap post next week on our Hollywood Prospectus blog.
Reading that sounds about as worthwhile as watching The Client List.
Q: When the 8-seeded Kings took a 3-0 lead on the Canucks, I was reminded of how little advantage Vancouver received for their amazing regular season.
For their hard work, the Canucks received home ice advantage throughout the playoffs and the easiest road possible to the Finals. That's plenty. Say what you will about the virtues of having eight teams in each conference make the playoffs, but if you start with that as a given, the Presidents Trophy winner has a pretty sweet deal. Better deal than the NBA's best regular season team gets; they don't get the benefit of reseeding for the second round. I don't want to ask you to think too far outside the box, but when you were eating those paint chips and pondering home ice advantage, maybe what you should have been reminded of is that the Canucks aren't that good when only one of the Sedins is playing and that Jonathan Quick is a monster.
Here's a dramatic and controversial plan that could keep ESPN's talking heads busy for weeks. I call it "Game 8." It's simple and beautiful. The 1 and 2 seeds only need to win 4 out of 7 as usual, but the low seeds need to win 5 games total. How do we do this? They could win 5-0, 5-1 or 5-2 in a normal 7-game series. But, if the low seed is leading 4 games to 3? The sportstalkopalyse: Game 8. At the high seed's home arena. Winner take all.
Fuck it, why stop there? If Game 8 is tied after regulation, there's no overtime... WE GO STRAIGHT TO GAME 9. AND REPLACE THE PUCK WITH A BOUNCY BALL. Yeah, you know what I've been thinking while watching this year's playoffs? Game 7 just isn't fair enough. We need to tweak that a little.
What a fucking jackass. How could he make this email worse?
As you say: Who says no?
And there you have it.
— Brent T., Los Gatos, CA
SG: Let's be honest: The only hockey-related ideas that "could keep ESPN's talking heads busy for weeks" would be Tebow, Peyton or LeBron signing with an NHL team.
Hoo hoo! THERE'S some decent material from Bill! All you have to do to get him to be mildly funny is get him riled up about his employer!
Anyway, I like the spirit of your idea but don't agree with the execution — the no. 1 seed shouldn't have to play an extra playoff game.
THIS IS WHY HE'S THE VP OF COMMON SENSE, FOLKS. SIT BACK AND WATCH HOW IT'S DONE.
I'd rather see the NBA, NHL and MLB adopt the following idea: give no. 1 seeds an extra home game in Round 1. In baseball, change Round 1 to a 2-1-2 format; in basketball and hockey, change it to a 2-2-3 format.
That's pretty dumb, although certainly less dumb than 95% of the changes he proposes. Seems like a good spot to take a breather. More tomorrow (no for reals).