Welcome to a new feature of TSL Sports, wherein I impersonate famous ESPN writers in a shameless attempt to both satirize and steal their styles. This week, it’s the world-famous Bill Simmons, a.k.a. The Sports Guy. There’s actually not too much impersonation required for this one—like the Sports Guy, I grew up in New England, I love Boston sports, I watch too much good and bad TV, and I like to view many aspects of my life in terms of potential gambling bets.
So without further ado, let’s get right into this week’s mailbag: as always, these are actual questions from actual readers: (Except questions 1-6, which I just made up)
Q: I was at Frary brunch on Sunday and I saw the whole CMC football team eating at the head table. They actually brought the Peace Pipe to our dining hall with them just to rub in their victory. Can you come up with some sort of system to explain how much of a dick move that was?
—Andrew, Claremont, CA
NH: Great question, Andrew, and I feel for you. That entire brunch, every one of those dudes had the “Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire” Face that just said, “I own this town.” I can’t explain why, though—beating a 1-7 team is just not that big of an accomplishment. Nobody in that dining hall really cared about the game after it happened (if we did, there would’ve been a brawl or a food fight or something), and CMC looked like complete tools just for expecting us to. It would be like if Tom Brady & Co. rolled up to lunch in downtown Buffalo after an overtime win against the Bills—congratulations, you (barely) did what you were expected to do. Now go home.
There’s no way to explain this other than with the official Kenny Powers Scale of Self-Importance. It measures how much you think people care about you as compared to how little they actually do. Hopefully this will give you some idea of how the scale works:
1.0—Tim Tebow, a.k.a. The Chosen One. He’s publishing a series of “inspirational” memoirs before his NFL career even takes off. I’d rank him higher, but I find the way that he runs over defenders to be “inspirational” as well.
2.0—Young Money rappers not named Lil Wayne or Drizzy Drake. Seriously, why would I ever listen to Nicki Minaj, Jae Millz, Mack Maine, or the perpetually awful Gudda Gudda? They should all be banned from collaborating with real artists and expecting me to listen, just so I don’t have to guess which parts of a song I need to fast-forward over. Still, they’re only mildly annoying, and you never know when Nicki will trip, fall, and land on a good verse (see, for example, “Bottoms Up”).
3.0—Tony Stark. Awesome because he’s such a narcissist; ranks low because we actually do love him almost as much as he loves himself.
4.0—Skip Bayless, Jim Rome, Jay Mariotti, Woody Paige, Jemele Hill, and any other ESPN talking-head who says idiotic things in order to get on camera. I’m firmly in the Ozzie Guillen camp on this one.
5.0—Chris Moltisanti from The Sopranos. Expects to be the next family boss even though he’s a talentless, impatient drug addict. Continually complains to Tony when he’s left out of operations. Moltisanti gets bonus points because not only did nobody on the show want to see him, nobody watching The Sopranos actually wanted to see him either (unless he was with his wife Adriana, who had that “Jersey-girl hot” look nailed down to perfection way before J-Woww and Angelina).
6.0—Mark Cuban, who not only yells at referees all the time but matches every fine that he gets for it by donating an equal amount to the Fallen Patriot Fund (which is actually a pretty cool way of sending a big Eff-You to David Stern).
7.0—Roger Sterling on Mad Men. His main pursuits at the office are carrying on affairs with secretaries and writing his memoirs (humbly entitled Sterling’s Gold). But when he gets left off of an organizational chart, he asks in all seriousness, “Why am I being punished for making my job look easy?”
8.0—LeBron James during The Decision. With LeBron, we’re entering the upper echelon of self-importance—it’s really hard to top someone who held a one-hour special on national television that could be boiled down into seven words: “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.”
9.0—Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift at the VMA’s, declaring himself “the voice of a generation,” liking fish dicks, etc.
10—Cristiano Ronaldo’s entire existence.
I’d say CMC barely cracks a 4.5 on the Powers Scale right now. Still, we know they have the potential to do better, and they’ll look to return in the 2011 season with a renewed commitment to achieve at least Justin-Bieber levels of arrogance.
Q: I thought the season finale of Mad Men was awful. Why would Don do something so rash and stupid?
—Every female Mad Men fan
NH: For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, skip over the following answer. Or just go watch the show—you’ve had over a month.
I actually think that Don Draper’s decision to pull a Roger Sterling and marry his hot (minus the unfortunate Michael Strahan gaptooth) younger secretary was a good thing. See, some people are valuable to a partnership not because they are intrinsically great themselves, but because they can contribute something that makes the other person great. For example, take Jason Varitek. Even though at this point in his career his hitting ranges from mediocre to God-awful, he’s still a great player and captain. Why? Because he’s the smartest catcher in baseball, and he can make every pitcher on his team better. It’s not a coincidence that Tek has caught a record four no-hitters. He creates an environment where pitchers can succeed. That’s why he’s so valuable to the team, and there’s no shame in being a supporting player.
I think that Megan, Draper’s fiancée (never thought I’d type those words) is the Jason Varitek of the office. She’ll complete him in a way that none of the other women Draper spent his time chasing could. Those women were either independently successful and reluctant to give up their achievements to help fix Don—and make no mistake, he is a broken man—or they were young and hopelessly nave, exactly the same as Betty was. Megan, by contrast, is calm, charming, collected, and quietly self-confident in a way that stands out from everyone else on the show. She also offers something that Don has had almost none of throughout the series: stability, of a very maternal variety (thanks, Matt Weiner!). The key moment comes when Don says he finally feels like himself around her, thus resolving the question posed at the very beginning of season four: Who is Don Draper? The answer is that there is a truly great man inside of Don that Megan will help bring out. Don is Derek Lowe, Megan is Varitek. They need each other to throw a perfect game.
Q: What do you think of Duke basketball this year? Can we repeat or what?
—Lucas, Durham, NC
NH: Thanks for the question, Sports Bro. But if I wanted to watch a bunch of untalented rich white guys who aren’t real NBA prospects play basketball, I could just as easily watch CMS.
Q: What would you do if Shaggy came to Pomona?
—Anonymous concert promoter, Claremont, CA
NH: Since Shaggy only had about three good songs, I would probably make bets on how often he would play them during the concert. I’d set the over/under at 3.5 for “Wasn’t Me,” 2.5 for “Angel” and “Boombastic,” and .5 for anything else. Also, prop bets for size of Shaggy’s posse (I feel like either a lot of people want to hang out with him now, or absolutely nobody does), whether he can still afford a tour bus, etc. would obviously be in play.
Q: I was playing baseball with some friends this weekend, and we were having a debate about what position is most important. Most of my friends said that the shortstop is the most important because he makes a lot of plays on ground balls and pop-ups. But I think that the left fielder is the most important, because he can rob home runs hit by right-handed batters. Shouldn’t baseball teams put their best player in left field, where he can have the biggest impact on the game?
—Rich, Oakland, CA
NH: Wait for it…
Q: Does liquor luge count as a sport? Is there any way I could get a PE credit for my proficiency and versatility in liquor luge racing? I just won races in the categories of Flaming Dr. Pepper, Smirnoff “Ice on ice,” bourbon, and rum; could my nickname be “The Jim Thorpe of Drinking Stuff off of an Ice Block”? Do you wanna order some Domino’s?
—Glenn, Chicago, IL
NH: Yup, these are my readers.