Welcome to the Half-Summer of Mailbag, Volume III. Slight tweak for this week only: I limited myself to one-paragraph responses so we could hit as many questions as possible (almost like an elaborate chat). As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.
Q: Was the Georgetown/China brawl our generation's assassination of Archduke Ferdinand? Should I get my bomb shelter ready?
— Lee D., Portland
SG: I had the same thought: Please don't tell me Los Angeles is going to blow up in three months because of this. Normally I love sports brawls because they always provide an entertaining few minutes on YouTube and nobody ever seems to get hurt, but that one went to a truly frightening place, lowlighted by the one Chinese guy landing on top of a Georgetown player, sitting on his chest and unremorsefully pounding him with "THIS IS WHAT YOU GET FOR MESSING WITH THE CHINESE MILITARY TEAM!!!!" punches. I kept waiting for Brick Tamland to magically appear wearing a Hoyas jersey and throw a trident at a Chinese player riding a horse. But here's the part that everyone missed: No matter how this shakes out, at the very least, don't we have the opening for the next 24 movie? You have the brawl, you have the chaos afterwards and then, you have the obligatory shot of Jack Bauer watching from the stands and debating whether to get involved. Done. Get the writers back in the writing room, let's bang out the rest of the script this weekend.
Q: The Yahoo story on the U says Shapiro paid for prostitutes for the Miami players. Isn't the entire point of playing football so that you don't have to pay for sex?
— Jeff, Irvine
SG: The short answer: Not exactly. The long answer: After watching my buddy Sully spend the past few years successfully brainwashing his young sons (10 and 7) into believing that (a) they should go west or south for college, (b) they shouldn't get married until they're at least 38 years old, I've spent the past year messing around with brainwashing strategies on my own son (who turns 4 in November). The one that's stuck: If you ask him "Who do girls like?" he responds, "Girls like boys who play music or football, or if they're Spider-Man." Which is absolutely 100 percent true. I wouldn't say the entire point of playing football is so you don't have to pay or grovel for sex, but it's definitely one of the top-five reasons, right?
Q: Now that this season of The Challenge is coming to an end I want to get your take. Seeing as how the "Frenemies" premise came from your mailbag, were you satisfied with how the "Rivals" season played out? Seems we underestimated how much these people need the money because, like you, I figured this season would have had at least 1 homicide. Do we need to re-evaluate how we think of these people, or just introduce more steroids to the mix?
— Mike C., Rice Lake, WI
SG: I thoroughly enjoyed the season and believed — in all seriousness, without a hint of facetiousness — that this week's Challenge with Tyler/Johnny and CT/Adam was the single most dramatic sports moment since the Women's World Cup final. (When CT's team lost, I actually screamed in disbelief. Stunning. That might supplant Whitey Bulger's getting caught as the biggest Masshole-related upset of the 21st century.) In general, I liked how some pairings grew closer and other pairings grew further apart; I thought that totally worked. It kept me interested. My biggest gripe: Challenges and eliminations dominate so much of the show (and have become so athletically complex) that it chews away from the partying/fighting/ball-busting/hijinks time. So if we really want this show to become the fifth major professional sport, then they need to start at 9 p.m. with a 10-minute pregame show, expand every episode to 90 minutes (to show more hanging in the house), then follow it with a 20-minute after show from 10:40 to 11. It should be a two-hour block every Wednesday.
Q: 600 homers, 5 teams, no standout season, no ring. Who is Jim Thome's NBA equivalent?
— @hakondevries (via Twitter)
SG: The closest equivalent: Dan Issel, who's ninth on the NBA/ABA career scoring list (27,482 points), never won an NBA ring (although he got one playing for the ABA's Kentucky Colonels) and never had a "standout" season. I'd say the statement, "Did you know Dan Issel is ninth on the all-time scoring list?" produces roughly the same reaction as "Did you know Jim Thome has 600 homers?" For football, you'd pick a receiver from the past 20 years because the "receiving boom" coincided with the homer boom in baseball. I'd go with Tim Brown here: 14,934 receiving yards (fourth all time), 100 receiving touchdowns (tied for sixth all time), no rings, and I can't remember a single standout Tim Brown season. For hockey, you'd pick a goal scorer (since goals are the closest thing to home runs), so Mike Gartner would be the choice: 708 goals (sixth all time), never hoisted the Cup, never won a Hart Trophy, never led the league in goals. And for our fifth major team sport, The Challenge, I'd go with Paula: eight seasons, no titles but she's in the unofficial all-time top eight for screaming matches and sobbing breakdowns.
Q: The picture of the 1980 Lake Placid Medal (from this week's Sports Collectors Convention photo essay) has to be a hoax. The USSR vs. USA game was a SEMI-FINAL game. Thus the USSR could not have won Silver because they did not even make the final.
— Matthew Havens, Greenfield, Iowa
SG: Roughly 2.3 million readers brought up this same point over the past 24 hours and they were all wrong. It was a round-robin tournament. Even though USA-Finland was for a gold medal (by winning it, America won the gold), had America lost, the Soviets would have won the gold and much of the significance of "USA 4, USSR 3" would have been squandered forever. That game wouldn't have nearly the same legs if the Soviets were wearing gold for two days, right? The Finland comeback never gets its just historical due: We fell behind 2-1 after two periods; Herb Brooks walked into the locker room before the third period and told the team, "If you lose this game, you'll take it your grave your fucking grave;" then we scored three in the third to win the gold. Had we lost? Bronze and gold for the Soviets. It's weird how few people remember this. And I include myself: When I saw that silver medal at the Collectors show, I asked the guy, "Wait, didn't Finland win the silver?"
Q: Commissioner David Stern- "I remain optimistic that we will make a deal and not miss any games." Sports Guy- "How could you be so obtuse?" Stern- "What did you call me!?" SG- "Obtuse. Deliberate?" Stern- "Guards!" SG- "I don't like where this is going. I don't understand where the urgency is?" Stern- "I think it's important that people like you help us, but for now
Solitary. A MONTH!" SG getting dragged out of his own studio- "This is my life! Don't you understand! This is my life!!!"
— Jeff Meyer, Pequannock, NJ
SG: The easiest way to get into my Mailbag every month: any fairly clever Shawshank e-mail. I can't lay off them, much like Carl Crawford can't lay off pitches in the dirt. Also, as much as I love Stern, I kind of enjoy the Stern/Warden Norton analogy right down to the part that Tim Robbins couldn't fit into Stern's suits.
Q: Honestly, you are the WORST person I have ever watched on ESPN. You, as a person, are completely non-descript. Your even worse than your uncle and my friends & I can hardly believe that we've found someone who's more boring than him. Honest to God, your terrible. Do us a favor and pick a good trade school and get out of sport's media business. Geez.
— Ron Cromer, Pubelo, Colorado
SG: Why don't you do us a favor and get out of a city named after pubes?
Q: Can we officially add "Celebrity Chef Hot" to the famous Hot list? After re-reading your summer mailbag in 2009 where you added such levels as Goth Hot, Cleaning Lady Hot, and even the morally debatable Pregnant Hot, Celebrity Chef Hot merits serious consideration.
— Sam W., Chicago
SG: Done. You just reminded me of something: Even though I don't like cooking or watching cooking shows, the Sports Gal loves a Food Network show called Chopped that improbably has become one of my favorite time-waster shows. Four chefs are given a mystery box that contains four random items (for example: diver scallops, red pickles, broccoli and brown sugar) and have to make an appetizer out of those items in 20 minutes. They can use various things from the kitchen (spices, bread, milk, etc.), but the final dish HAS to include the four assigned items in some way. Then, three celebrity judges taste the dishes and "chop" one of the chefs. Next course: entrees, same drill, a second chef gets chopped. Final course: dessert and a winner gets crowned. It's a smart show that forces the chefs to get creative every round; more important, it's the best spousal gambling show ever. Do it this way: After they introduce the chefs, someone gets first pick (and the last pick), the other person gets the second and third picks, make it worth 20 bucks (or whatever you want to bet), and you're off. Bonus wrinkle: If both of your chefs end up in the final two, you win double the bet. (The lesson, as always: Gambling makes everything a little bit better.)
Q: Enjoyed your sports memorabilia piece. A question though: Were there ANY women there at all? I mean, if there is 'press box hot' what constitutes as 'sports memorabilia convention' hot?
— Torey, Pittsburgh
SG: I tackled this subject in 2009's photo essay, writing things like "There are sausage fests, there are mega-sausage fests and then there's the National Sports Collectors Convention. You have a better chance of meeting your future wife in an all-male penitentiary during a Gay Pride parade." Press Box Hot is a much higher caliber than NSCC Hot; I'd put NSCC Hot just below Female Prison Guard Hot. It's so bad that you're startled every time you see a woman under 40. Even pregnant moms pushing baby strollers get checked out. One collector had the bright idea of having a pretty women in her early 20s sit in his station with him; she was clearly hired for the event (like a convention escort), but the ploy worked. Guys in Hawaiian shirts were awkwardly wobbling by like they'd just seen a lunar eclipse. That's my suggestion to any major dealer out there: Hire a local Hooters girl or model to hang out in your booth for five afternoons and just flirt with customers. Pay her $200 a day. You'll make the money back.
Q: Your 'stache makes you look like Bradley Whitford from the funny but short lived TV series, "The Good Guys." Or a rapist.
— Bret, Grand Rapids, MI
SG: Is it OK if I just go with the Bradley Whitford comparison? Thanks in advance.
Q: I've generally enjoyed Entourage through its entire run. However, it's inconceivable that a bunch of guys from Queens call their buddy, Eric Murphy, anything other than "Murph." Or, for that matter that 90% of the people he interacts with on a daily basis don't call him "Murph." Having been a "Murph" for the past 32 years, I can tell you that there is just no plausible scenario where he's not "Murph." If "E" had an older brother who was already "Murph," he'd still be "Murph" or maybe "little Murph." If he had sisters, they'd be "Murphs" too. I believe this to be a universal truth that knows no ethnic or socioeconomic bounds. There are some surnames that demand a male person refer to another male person by a derivation of this surname in almost every context outside of a court of law. In my opinion the top 5 are: Murphy ("Murph"), Sullivan ("Sully"), Jones ("Jonesy"), Smith ("Smitty") and Brown (Brownie) with an honorable mention to O'Brien (Obie).
— Murph, New York
SG: Liked the list except I'd replace "Brownie" with "Fitzy" (for anyone named Fitzgerald or Fitzsimmons). And you're right — somebody named Eric Murphy would NEVER not be called Murph. It's an impossibility. If your last name is Sullivan or Murphy and you just had a son, I don't even know why you'd give him a real first name. Just name him Sully Sullivan or Murph Murphy. As Murph from New York points out, even if you have multiple brothers in the same Sullivan or Murphy family, they all end up being called Sully or Murph, anyway. Why fight it?
Q: In the span of three months you've completely changed your appearance three times. During the Bruins Stanley Cup run you looked like a 25 year old kid. Then at the collectors convention you look 50. Then on PTI you looked like Jeff Kent. Are you on the run from the cops?
— Ryan, New York
SG: I'm just bored with my face. Hold on, I'm glad you brought this up
Q: We need to straighten something out. What you have there on your face is NOT, in fact, a Fu Manchu mustache. You're making the all-too-common mistake of confusing the Fu Manchu (all hair grown from upper lip) with the horseshoe mustache (kind of what you have going on there). This is a great injustice to those with both the God-given physical facial-hair-growing talent and the unparalleled courage to grow a TRUE Fu Manchu mustache. There is a reason why there are countless examples of horseshoe mustaches (Hulk Hogan, Jim Rome, Jared Allen, Todd Jones, etc.), and very few Fu Manchu growers: most of us just don't have what it takes.
— Derek, Madison, WI
SG: Derek just tapped into something that has needed to be cleared up for years. He's right: A "fu manchu" is the Hulk Hogan mustache. A mustache with a soul patch (my hideous look on PTI last week) is called a "Zappa" after Frank Zappa. A "goatee" is chin hair only (the billy goat look). When you grow a mustache and goatee but they don't connect, it's called the "Van Dyke" after 17th century Flemish painter Anthony Van Dyke (that's what I had going in those NSCC photos). Now here's where it gets weird: When a mustache and goatee connect as a circle (probably the most common facial-hair look right now), it's only called a "circle beard." Everyone mistakenly calls that look a "fu manchu" simply because it's more fun to say "fu manchu" than "circle beard." Here's the point: We need to come up with a better name than "circle beard." I vote for the "Cobain" because Kurt Cobain had one of the better circle beards; it's a good way to pay homage to his legacy. And most important, if Frank Effing Zappa can get a look named after him, I think we could give this one to Cobain.
Q: You have officially made me want to become a sports writer. The fact that someone might actually pay me to write random bullshit that crosses my mind like you do is both amazing and awesome at the same time. Thank you for the inspiration.
— Lewis, San Ramon, CA
SG: The "Backhanded Compliment of the Week" really needs its own sponsor.
Q: I am a little disappointed that my "preseason fantasy football" idea hasn't caught on. Wouldn't this make preseason games 100 times more watchable? Who would be the number 1 pick?
— Tory, Blacksburg
SG: Part of me thinks, "Come on, that's just sick." Another part thinks, "How fun would it be to have Brian Hoyer as your first-round pick right now?" And another part thinks, "I'm doing this league in 2012 and I don't care who judges me." You'd have to tweak it because the playing time isn't the same, so you don't want a situation in which touchdowns are skewed too much. I'd go with this: 1 point for every 15 passing yards, 1 point for every 7 rushing/receiving yards, then everything else stays the same. Also think you'd need deeper starting rosters — maybe you draft 20 players (at least one defense/kicker/tight end, no more than three QBs) and EVERYONE is eligible. But there's definitely something here.
Q: After watching Kobe highlights from his recent Drew League visit, is Kobe still that good or is James Harden that bad at defense?
— Kevin S., Ponte Vedra Beach
SG: Put it this way: If Harden wasn't one of Durant's real-life teammates, I'd be starting the "Kobe paid Harden under the table to make Kobe look like a superstar in this Drew League game in a brazen attempt to trump Durant's Rucker League clip" rumor. You can lock out basketball, but you can't lock out my comically slanted Kobe hating! Do you hear me, owners? You can't lock me out!!!!!!!!!!!!
Q: I just read your photo essay for the 2011 NSCC, my only suggestion is that name for Landon Donovan's all male porn movie should be "Penalty Shot" or "Chip Shot" instead of "Extra Time".
— Mark, Deerfield
SG: You're right that I blew that joke, but you missed the one I should have used: "Handballs." Huge oversight by me.
Q: I was watching Con Air for the 200th time last night. How unlikely is it that Nic Cage got 7-10 years for a plea bargain for killing some trailer trash in self-defense??? From a PLEA BARGAIN! I mean I'm sure he was from Texas or something, he could have shot all 3 dudes in the face and gotten a year at most. Oh well.
— Chuck, Washington, IL
SG: And that's not even the most unrealistic part of the movie; it ends with Cage landing the Con Air plane in the middle of the Las Vegas strip at night without crushing hundreds of cars and plowing over hundreds of pedestrians. And by the way, it's not like McCarran Airport was way out of the way; it's a seven-minute car ride from the strip! You also have to love that they decided, "Hold on, that ending wasn't quite dramatic enough, we need something else what if, after the plane lands, Nic sees a couple of the bad guys getting away, then hops on a motorcycle and chases them down?" I'm still waiting for an official answer on that crazy stretch from 1995 to 1998 when Hollywood made Con Air, Face/Off, Broken Arrow and The Rock and never told us whether those movies were made ironically or unironically. If they were secretly intended to be comedies under the guise of an "action movie," then I need to know that. If they were intended to be action movies that inadvertently turned out to be comedies, then they need to tell us that. But I'm tired of living in the dark. I need answers.
Q: My buddy Chris is a collector who loves wrestling and boxing. It is an illness. When going through his collection of stuff one day, I asked him this hypothetical: Walking into the men's room in Vegas, you pass Ali coming out of a stall. You go in the stall he just came out and you realize he dropped a deuce, but forgot to flush. What do you do? His response: "Ooh
— Eric Kidwell, Yorktown, VA
Q: Let's assume that the next NBA season will be cancelled (as depressing as that may be). Whose legacy does this potentially hurt the most? (Kobe may lose his last chance to catch up to Jordan's 6th championship. If Dirk won a 2nd consecutive championship, it would almost certainly propel him into the top 15 all time. Lebron might lose another year in his quest for a championship). Whose legacy does it help the most? (For instance, Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant might benefit from the extra year to develop while their chief competitors get another year older.)
— Ethan, Santa Barbara
SG: Since the NHL missed an entire season seven years ago, I asked Yahoo!'s Greg Wyshynski (a.k.a. Puck Daddy) if there were any lingering legacy lessons there. He said the losers were teams, not players; for instance, the Lightning won the 2004 Cup, couldn't build on the momentum and had to eventually trade one of their best players (Brad Richards) because of the new hard cap. So if you're thinking about it that way, the big legacy losers would be the Celtics, Spurs, Mavs and Lakers (four older contenders who just don't have a lot of chances left), and, potentially, Oklahoma City (which might be forced to deal Westbrook, Ibaka or Harden someday if there's a hard cap). If you're looking at individual stars, I'd say Kobe/Duncan/Garnett/Nash are the big losers (this was probably the last elite or close-to-elite season for all four), then Blake Griffin (because a lost season would mean that he missed two of his first three NBA seasons), then LeBron and Wade (who have four-year outs on their Miami deals, which means we'd be halfway through their Heat partnership with no rings). I don't think anyone's legacy would be "helped," although if you're looking for "losing an entire season isn't the worst thing in the world" candidates, you'd go with Amar'e and Carmelo (instead of logging too many minutes on a two-man team, they get a year off and free-agent help next summer), then Deron Williams and Chris Paul (save a year of miles, start fresh in 2012 with contending teams). What a disaster. Let's move on before I start throwing things.
Q: How much longer before the U enters the Tyson Zone?
— Thomas Belcher, New York
SG: Strippers, prostitutes, abortions + cocaine = we're there.
Q: Being a Raiders fan, my favorite Raider over the past decade or so has been Shane Lechler. Every NFL coach knows the importance of field position, so when will we have fantasy points for punters? Punts inside the 20 can be one point, inside the 10 two points, inside the 5 three points, punts 50+ yards two points, etc. (Maybe I'm just pushing this because Lechler is one of the top punters in the league and I want a Raider to have some relevance in fantasy leagues.)
— Adam, Placentia, CA
SG: I'm in. I love this idea. Not only would it make every punt more exciting, but someone grabbing Lechler four rounds too early would be one of the funniest moments of any draft. And don't we need a way to bump special teams points considering nobody is going to return a kickoff for a touchdown ever again thanks to the new touchback rule? That reminds me: Why not kick off from the 32½ line? If the 30 is too far and the 35 is too short, shouldn't we just split the difference and draw special dotted lines on both 32½ lines that would become the special kickoff line? We'd cut down the total number of kickoffs without eliminating them entirely that's not a good compromise?
Q: My buddy just texted me and asked if I thought he could pull off taking a dump at work for 56 straight days. I told him you must try because I can see ESPN doing live look-ins after you hit the 50 mark.
— TK, Lenexa, KS
SG: I have to be honest — that's everything I ever wanted for a Mailbag question. The bar has been raised.
Q: Dumbass — your "fu manchu" is NOT a fu manchu. It's a cheap dirty goatee. A fu manchu is what Sam Elliot rocked in Lebowski or Tombstone. Quit patting yourself on the back with pathetic facial hair. Glad you're 40 and finally have to shave. And nothing says "I'm lazy and not creative" more than a mailbag, asking your readers to write your articles and come up with ideas for you! Nice job.
— Paturzo, NYC
SG: And it's just been lowered again. If this were a movie, this would be the part when I wandered the streets of L.A. as sad Elliott Smith music played, wondering if these Mailbags were worth it and if I should keep doing them.
Q: That Celine Dion guitar actually wouldn't be a bad gift (from the Collectors Convention photo essay), and here's why: if you take the pick guard off (the white part that she signed) and replace it with a new one ($20), you've got yourself a Fender Telecaster for $319. Even the cheaper Telecasters still run about $600. So if you do the math, her autograph actually dropped the price by about 50%. Come to think of it, I should bring Celine Dion and a Sharpie marker with me every time I go shopping and just have her autograph stuff.
— Sully, Boston, MA
SG: That reminds me of the time my roommate Geoff bought an authentic NFL football autographed by Neil O'Donnell at an auction for something like $40 — half of what it was actually worth — and we used to throw it around in a parking lot behind the Store 24 in Charlestown and laugh every time Neil's autograph got scuffed. I was brought here to win games I'm a winn-ah the Jets need a winn-ah
Q: Shouldn't every college fan of a large institution be scared shitless of Charles Robinson from Yahoo! Sports right now? The guy finds skeletons in a closet like Dog The Bounty Hunter finds drugged out bail jumpers. If he tweeted "Down in Gainesville watching the Gators," wouldn't every Gators fan tremble that he would find the likely hundreds of skeletons Urban Meyer left behind? Or the thousands of skeletons Phil Knight might be leaving at Oregon?
— Jeffrey Melnik, Chattanooga, TN
SG: It's a great point. I remember writing a few years ago that getting an e-mail from Lester Munson and Don Yaeger that simply read, "We're writing a story about you, we need to talk" would be the single most frightening e-mail you could get. Didn't Charles Robinson just grab that championship belt? And what would that belt be called? The Uh-Oh belt? The Shit What Did I Do? belt? Either way, congrats to Robinson — that was an incredible piece of reporting.
Q: While I agree with your opinions regarding male-female tab paying, I had one disagreement with your response to Maria T's inquiry in last week's mailbag. For kinky sex with a lovely female, it is far better to go to their house or apartment. Whether you are in the "leave at night" or "sleep over" camp, the female home is more conducive to male enjoyment. Most male abodes are dumps, whereas the female terrain is more agreeing. This includes a much nicer bathroom and a much higher quality bed. Look at any woman's bed, they have eight different pillows, and blankets and sheets upon sheets. The prophylactics are neatly organized. Further, most women have hard alcohol hanging around from a get-together, whereas we know bottle of hard alcohol cannot survive a night at a male's house. So for the "stayer" — a nice buzz, a great sleep, and fancy shower with a seemingly priceless and fascinating array of soaps. For the "Exiteers" — what better than leaving a scattered mass of human with a great buzz at the wee hours of the morning to find your way home? Not sure about the parameters of the new website and what's appropriate, but I'm just saying. RIP Sonics.
— Richard B., Seattle
SG: (Afraid to say anything.)
Q: The mutual hate that Barcelona and Real Madrid have for each other transcends anything I've seen in American sports. Is there a rivalry in American sports anywhere near as impassioned as the one between these two teams?
— Scott, Park Ridge, IL
SG: Not right now. Our most recent example was probably the Red Wings and Avalanche during the Claude Lemieux era: That one had bench-clearing brawls, goalie fights, sucker punches, retribution fights and everything else you'd ever want from hockey. Baseball doesn't have anything like it; basketball doesn't allow teams to act on any bad blood; and in football, rivalries like Ravens-Steelers, Patriots-Jets and Giants-Eagles lack the intensity/hatred/meaning because they don't play each other enough. Here's how I would describe Barca-Madrid: Imagine if the Mets and Yankees were the two best baseball teams by far, if they measured themselves only by each other, if they played six to eight series every year, and if they had many of the best players in the world. Then imagine if baseball was the only sport that anyone cared about in America, imagine if they were throwing at each other almost every game, and imagine if the players hated each other as much as the fans did. That's Barca-Madrid. And on top of that, Barca plays soccer at a higher level than any American sports team does anything AND it has the best athlete in the world (Messi, who's the closest thing to a sports genius that we've had since Michael Jordan). Wednesday's Barca-Madrid bloodbath featured 90 minutes of high drama, an incredible winning give-and-go goal by Messi in the final minutes to win it for Barca, then a last-minute, scissor-kick cheap shot by Madrid's Marcelo on pricey Barca addition Fabregas that nearly started a full-scale brawl. You couldn't have asked for more from a two-hour sporting event. If you enjoy the World Cup every four years, you will really enjoy every Barca-Madrid game. It's just a fact.
Q: I think that you need to give more credit to Curb's "Ski Lift" episode in season 5. Please re-watch this episode. How does it not get pantheon status?
— Rob S., New York
SG: Enough readers made this point (some passionately) that I'm giving it belated "Pantheon" status. Meanwhile
Q: Based on your hypothetical power pitcher stats for Curb, here's how the 9-year career shapes up: 158-52, 2.72 ERA, 1870 IP, 2130 K's, 1.05 WHIP. Eerily similar to Pedro's dominant years from '97-'05: 149-53, 2.47 ERA, 1842 IP, 2196 K's, 0.97 WHIP.
— Kyle, Cincinnati
SG: One more
Q: To put Curb's "career numbers" in recent and historical context, (min 1000 IP, all per baseballreference.com): 75.2% is the 2nd highest win % of all time (most comparable recent SP are Jon Lester 69.9%, Pedro 68.7%, Doc Halladay 67.15%); ERA is 83rd all time, but Oswalt at 3.21 is best among current SP (historical comparisons are Whitey Ford 2.75, Koufax 2.76, and Seaver 2.86); 10.25 K/9IP is 3rd all time (behind Randy Johnson 10.61 and Kerry Wood 10.33, ahead of Pedro 10.03 and Nolan Ryan 9.55); and WHIP is 4th all time, (behind 3 old HOFers, ahead of Pedro 1.05, Koufax 1.11, and Johan 1.12). Even factoring in some decline over the remaining years, given the historical context it'd be hard to argue anything except that this is the best "starting pitcher" of all time. Are you and your mustache willing to make that claim about the show as well?
— Nick, Rochester
SG: No. Seinfeld remains the GOAT because of its cultural significance (the show affected popular culture more than any other modern comedy), its ability to remain transcendently funny on NBC without all the content crutches that Curb uses (F-Bombs, politically incorrect plots, etc.), the number of episodes it produced (22 episodes per year for Seinfeld, 10 per year for Curb), and its ability to remain entertaining despite commercials (unlike Curb, which runs for 25 straight minutes and has a better flow). Watch those mutilated Curb reruns on WGN with bleeps, edits and commercials sometime — it's not the same show. The hardest thing to do creatively is to remain entertaining/original/fresh/edgy while appealing to as many people as possible. Seinfeld did that better than any television show ever. It will always be the GOAT.1 Hold on, one more Curb-related e-mail
Q: Did you overlook Matt Stone and Trey Parker as contenders for the 2011's Funniest Guy Alive award or were they excluded on a technicality? I'm a big fan of Louis CK's work. I also think Larry David is a comedy GOD and has been far and away the greatest American humorist over the past 22 years (since Seinfeld's premier in 1989). They have both been great this year, but the Book of Mormon has been transcendent and the single greatest piece of comedy since Borat in 2006. Admit you were wrong.
— Kris, Long Island
SG: I was wrong. Pulling off the Book of Mormon, making it funny and getting non-Broadway fans to see it was harder than anything CK or David did. Throw in another quality South Park season and they were practically two-sport athletes. But you could say the same about CK — he's cranking out his TV show while doing stand-up dates and keeping his "best stand-up comedian alive" title, so, really, he's a two-sport athlete, as well. Even if Larry David might be having a career year on Curb, that's the only thing he's doing; that drops him to no. 3 in the discussion right now (making him the Jered Weaver of this race), with Matt & Trey (Sabathia) and Louis CK (Verlander) in a dead heat heading down the stretch. I'm fine with cowinners if it comes to that.2
Q: What happens to an ESPN employee if they're on TV and refer to the league we all love as the "NFL" instead of "The National Football League"? I'm guessing a serious beat down from Mark Schlereth.
— Jon, Arlington Heights, IL
SG: It's the same penalty as the one for an ESPN Radio or SportsCenter host who doesn't say "ohbytheway" at least once an hour: The first offense is a $500 fine; the second offense is a $1,000 fine and a one-week suspension; the third and last offense is termination. I thought everyone knew that.
Q: Thome's 600th this week prompted me to look into the all-time home run leaders. I can't believe Aaron is only 7 behind Bonds on the all-time list. Can Hammerin' Hank can still put a few in the bullpen? Proposition for Hank and Bud to ponder: have Henry DH for the Orioles for the rest of the year and slug 8 out in meaningless games. It would be great to see him run around those bases again like when he got mobbed by the 2 guys in Atlanta.
— Mike Snyder, Scranton
SG: This idea delighted me to the point that I looked up Hank's age on Wikipedia: He's 77 years old. If he came back, he'd have the benefit of EVERY opposing pitcher/catcher trying to help him; nobody would want to strike him out or make him look bad. He'd probably need two or three years to get to eight, and he'd need about six weeks as the DH each season so you're right, for this to work, we'd need a basement-dweller like the Orioles who had nothing to lose. First question: Could a late-70s Hammering Hank hit eight homers in 12 weeks over two years with every opposing pitcher grooving him meatballs? (It's conceivable, you have to admit.) Second question: Wouldn't it be worth it for the Orioles attendance-wise to try this Hank Aaron experiment? (Hell yeah.) Third question: When he struck the eighth homer, would that be one of the five or six single happiest moments in sports history? (I'm welling up just thinking about it.) Fourth question: If Hank broke the record, would we have to worry about a Barry Bonds comeback? (Crap, this is suddenly a bad idea.)
Q: I'm sitting here stoned trying to put into words what the Kings leaving would do to me. I've lived in Sacramento my whole life, and the Kings are all this city has ever had. Besides potent marijuana.
— Matt J, Sacramento
SG: Wow, I guess we're here. That was abrupt.
Q: Our IT guy was doing some work on my laptop and asked me for my network password. How do you respond to the old guy when your password is Vagina69?
— Rob M., Ames
SG: Yep, these are my readers.
Bill Simmons is the Editor in Chief of Grantland and the author of the recent New York Times no. 1 best-seller The Book of Basketball, now out in paperback with new material and a revised Hall of Fame Pyramid. For every Simmons column and podcast, log on to Grantland. Follow him on Twitter and check out his new home on Facebook.
Previously from Bill Simmons:
The Glorious Return of the Mailbag
Summer of Mailbag: The Revenge
Red Sox Report Card
'Good Lord! That's His Music!'
If I Ruled the (NBA) World