Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Here's week six of our yet to be named mailbag. As always, these are questions from our loyal and devoted readers. Please please help us come up with a name. We are about two weeks from just going the path of the UFC and just tacking on a number to each post. Trust me, you don't want to read Mailbag 161 in three years.

What do you think Ron?

What will happen if the Men's US Basketball team DOESN'T win every game? Can it happen?

Here's what will happen: the 24-hour news cycle will first portray it as a catastrophe, then talk about the globalization of basketball, and some hack writers will say this proves that LeBron isn't clutch or Kobe is selfish or some other oversimplified angle.

Mean Muggin'

It can't happen that the US loses. They have played at a C+ level during the first five games and outside of Lithuania they have won every game with ease. LeBron James and Kevin Durant have been in second gear until they are needed, like they were during the third quarter of the Argentina game when they scored 25 points between them in one quarter. Spain has the potential to beat us if they play a perfect game but they have more flaws than the US, and once again it bears saying, WE HAVE LEBRON AND DURANT.

What grade would you give Serena Williams' crip walk?

I'd give her a goddamn A. People need to get off her back about expressing joy. Deadspin said it better than I could when describing Wimbledon and the Crips: "You'd think that a gang of carefully selected, racially homogenous people practicing their own strange folkways and enforcing their own strict dress code would have at least a few things in common with the Crips."

With Michael Phelps now having won 18 golds and 22 overall medals, he's pretty irrefutably the greatest swimmer ever. Do you think he is the greatest Olympian of all time? If not, who would you take and why?

The number of golds that Michael Phelps won is certainly impressive, but Usain Bolt isn't getting a gold medal for running backwards the fastest. Swimming for some reason gets to have a bunch of different strokes, relays, medleys, and whatever else that pumps up their medal totals. I think that Carl Lewis is just as deserving as Michael Phelps the title of GOOAT. He won medals in four different Olympics, won the 100m and 200m two times and the long jump four times. He dominated his sport for just as long as Phelps and did it in events that mattered (the 100 and 200), not like trampolining or synchronized time keeping. Also this happened.

If it came out that a major sports league had fixed a game, one which was important but did not immediately affect who won the championship (example: during the high-profile Christmas NBA games, maybe the league has the Heat lose so that we get a week of "what's wrong with the Heat" articles and then they can "turn it around" heading into the playoffs) would you quit watching the sport? Does it change your mind if the players conspired independently to throw the game, knowing that it would help the narrative of the season, and it wasn't an edict from the league?

First of all, if a major sports league fixed a game the worst part of all of it would be the media coverage. The only silver lining for the shitstorm that would ensue would be Skip Bayless keeling over and dying of a heart attack. If it wasn't a championship, and especially if the players decided to do it, then I'd keep watching the sport. Realistically, sports are all a little bit rigged. I don't think anyone in their right mind, especially in the NBA and MLB, thinks that each team has a 1/30th chance of winning. There are warm weather cities, big markets, and owners with open checkbooks that skew things towards certain teams. Even though these advantages exist within the rules, I don't have some idealist notion that sports are all fair and if the players wanted to do it then I'd get over it. 

For a sports league's success, what do you think is more important: superstar players or, for lack of a better descriptor, superstar teams? Are they too intertwined to preference one over the other?

I'll take the cop out answer and say that they are too intertwined. For sports leagues to be successful they need dynasties, rivalries, and teams that elicit strong emotional reactions from fans. People hating the Heat and the Lakers and the Yankees is good because hate watching is as much a part of sports as a ball and a field. Hatred of love for players can elevate role players on their teams to evil status, I hate the hell out of Derek Fisher for no reason other than the fact that he was a Laker for so many years. When leagues have crappy finals it isn't because of the quality of play, it's because the teams don't make us feel anything. Spurs-Pistons or Steelers-Seahawks are two recent examples where no one cared either way and the events were turrible.

If I poured you cups of Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Pepsi, and Diet Pepsi, what chance would you give yourself of identifying them all correctly?

Pow right in the kisser
Coke Zero 100% chance. That cough syrupy aftertaste is one of a kind.

Diet Coke 100% chance. That battery acid aftertaste is also one of a kind.

Coke 60%, Pepsi 50%, Diet Pepsi 50%. I don't think I've ever had a Diet Pepsi but I imagine it tastes gross. I can't wait until 2050 when I'm telling my grandkids about the magical drinks that rotted your teeth and made you fat and how we allowed everyone to gulp down as much as they wanted until we were all obese.

Which are there more of in the NBA: oversized players who are underrated or undersized players who are overrated?

It all depends on who is doing the rating. If you look at players' contracts or at fans' perceptions, you will get two different answers. Big guys in the NBA aren't underrated by the size of their contracts (see Dampier, Erick; Haywood, Brendan; and Brown, Kwame). General managers love big guys a lot and if you don't believe me check Darko Milicic's bank account.

Big guys in the NBA are often the targets of fans' vitriol mostly because their impact, box outs, screens, altering shots, aren't noticed by casual fans. Having a center who can defend the pick and roll and protect the rim is extremely valuable to an NBA team, even if he occasionally bricks two free throws or flubs a pass for a dunk. So in short, GM's actually overrate size and fans underrate it.

Little guys are typically overrated by fans for the exact opposite reasons. When a player like Nate Robinson makes a 3 it is awesome, but what you don't notice are his defensive deficiencies. Good offensive teams know how to expose undersized players and there are very few little guys who can score more than they give up. General managers once again see it differently than the fans here and don't typically give these guys big contracts. Another factor to consider is that the physicality of the NBA wears little guys down faster than most players. Basically, there is a ton we don't see as fans because of a lack of knowledge, the camera angle, or whatever, but just because we don't see the value doesn't mean it doesn't exist (Tyson Chandler for MVP, jk jk jk).

So to answer the actual question, there are probably more oversized guys who are underrated because there are more oversized guys.

Is it okay to have a giant crush on Missy Franklin?

If you have to ask you already know the answer.

Which would you prefer: the Olympics being 2 days long or 2 months long?

Here's the thing that no one wants to say about the Olympics--it's not as exciting as we all want it to be. For every USA-Canada women's soccer semifinal there's 200 hours of crap before the next two-minute swim race. Even sports that are popular during the Olympics like gymnastics are confusing, kind of boring, and weird. Now, if you just had the Olympics on for only two days, I'd sit and watch only the sports I wanted to see, trim all the fat of round robin pool games for team sports, and never ever watch the random boring sports that we all want to be more interesting than they actually are.

Also, who would you rather have a beer with: Federer or Nadal? And, Ivan Lendl: Explain.

Federer seems like he'd be boring and Swiss. Nadal is a mama's boy who turns into a beast on the court but is sort of a baby off it. Ivan Lendl would probably bore me to death by talking about the superiority of the wooden racket and life in Eastern Europe. The real answer here is Andy Roddick. Roddick is really really good at tennis but he's great at drinking beer. A night out with him (or McEnroe for that matter) would be far superior to Federer or Nadal.

Thanks for the questions send them to Steve next week.

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