Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Whole 42 Letters: I'm A Terrible Person Edition

I apologize that there was no mailbag last week. We had been on a half-year roll with these mailbags, always posting once a week, and I missed last week. I'm like the guy who screws up the rhythm in an awesome round of catch by dropping an easy throw. I'm the Jermichael Finley of mailbags.

In the time since the last mailbag, the NHL has ended its lockout. Let's celebrate with A Hockey Musical! Starring a guy who kinda looks like Steve Buscemi!

Your questions:

With our esteemed EIC only successfully predicting 12 of 32 over-unders in the NFL can we impeach him? Should the editor in chief position rotate every year or is this a subject better suited for our shareholders meeting?

I think it's certainly up for discussion. I may have lost the season-long suicide pool (although I pulled even after the first round of the playoffs, and should actually be ahead because the tie should be counted as a tie) but 12/32 over-unders is fucking pathetic. You should be ashamed of yourself, Steve. I'm putting you on blast.

What's your take on the Pennsylvania governor's suit against the NCAA over the fines handed down to Penn State?

I'm actually with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on this one. Deadspin laid out a pretty compelling argument for supporting their side in this article, that the punishments are wholly arbitrary and threaten the livelihood of many people completely unconnected from Penn State football. Crucially, this is not PSU suing the NCAA, as they basically gave up the right to contest the punishments and they also covered up systemic child sexual abuse (so don't really have the moral high ground here). 

Deadspin's article follows the logic that the NCAA is completely unaccountable to any legal standard (a complaint we've made round these parts about commissioners of major sports leagues as well) and this suit is an attempt at imposing order. I don't totally disagree with that, although the simple fact that the NCAA is terrible in many other facets does not mean they were terrible in dealing with Penn State. Rather, I'd refer back to what I wrote the day the Freeh Report was released, that this is not really a sports story and not really a sports matter. The NCAA had to do something because Paterno and Sandusky were within its purview, but I would have preferred that that legal system (which has, you know, due process and precedent) handed down the bulk of the punishment.

What is the legacy of famed NFL pre-game dancer Ray Lewis, who has announced that he will retire?

On the football field he's one of the all-time great linebackers, maybe a shade behind LT and Butkus, but certainly in that Singletary range of greatness. Were it not for Cris Carter's inexplicable troubles getting into the Football Hall of Fame, I'd say Lewis is a shoo in for Canton (I'll still say it; I just might be wrong). Like counterpart Brian Urlacher, Lewis has been overrated for quite a few years, but the backlash to that being overrated has made him somehow underrated (I call this the Jeter corollary). Also, he may or may not be the KG of the NFL.

Off the field is a bit murkier. We always think we know players, and love to extrapolate from their on-field demeanor, but we really don't know anything. Lewis was somehow involved in a murder and obstruction of justice and we're never going to know the full extent of that.  I think of it along the lines of Ted Kennedy's drunk driving hit-and-run, that it's terrible and deserves to be mentioned as part of his life, but shouldn't necessarily discount the good things he managed to do.

Is Lionel Messi the greatest footballer ever? If not, who is?

I don't really know enough about soccer (I called it football once to EiC Steve and I feel like I should apologize once a week for that) to make a judgment about Messi historically. Pele, Cruyff, or Maradona  probably all have claims, especially because they had success on the World stage. You could maybe throw Fat Ronaldo or Zidane in there; it's hard for me to say. I will say that I watch a fair amount of soccer, and no one plays quite like Messi (WHAT AN ORIGINAL THOUGHT). He's in that Gretzky/Bird category of greatness where it's not that he has specific physical skills others don't - by all accounts, C. Ronaldo is a more technically skilled player - but he sees angles that don't seem to exist for other players.

If you have time, watch all 91 goals from Messi's record-breaking 2012 season. What he excels the most at seems to be casually chipping the ball over the goaltender's arms. Everyone else goes for power, but Messi goes for touch, and it's beautiful.

Someday, I'll write something about Barca soccer, but that day is not today. 

If you could partner in a tag team with any pro wrestler, living or dead, who would it be?

Another topic I should know more about historically. Just from watching old clips, Andre the Giant looks to be the most charismatic big guy I've ever seen. I'd obviously want to be paired with a big guy so he could do all the actual wrestling, and Andre seems like a good guy. Plus, he was awesome in Conan the Destroyer. I should look into actual tag team guys. Maybe I'll answer this question for real later.

 What's your favorite amount of sleep to get per night?

I do really well on about 7-8 hours. Any more and I'm groggy. If I have to get less, I'd rather get 4-5 hours because then I can function on adrenaline. I can actually do that quite well for a couple weeks before completely falling apart and needing to sleep for about 14 hours. That's probably not healthy. 

You and I had our taste in music influenced by the same person (albeit 2 decades apart).  How do you think he did?  Do you feel like he steered you wrong anywhere?

Not a ton of rap in the Andy Muchin musical palette, but I feel as if that's to be expected. Ultimately, I'm just glad he steered me away from The Eagles. Thank. God.

Kim Kardashian is pregnant with Kanye West's baby.  Is it all for publicity?

No, I think it's for love.

If you were the Kings would you try and trade DeMarcus Cousins?

Absolutely not. He has too high a ceiling and you'd have to sell low right now. He's a big man who, when motivated, can absolutely take over games and is still getting better. They knew when they drafted Cousins that he was mercurial, to say the least. Now it should be incumbent upon the Kings to get an adequate support system in place for Cousins. I know no one wants to bend to every whim of an entitled young guy, especially if he's still starring on a bad team, but now is not the time to trade Cousins.

You can only go to one concert from one band at any point in history, who are you seeing?

This is a question I've thought about a lot, and I can never really come up with a great answer. On the one hand, maybe you want to attend a famous concert; I'm guessing Woodstock wouldn't count, because you said one band, but maybe just going to Jimi's show at the Blue Wild Angel Festival right before he died. Or maybe the Bob Dylan Royal Albert Hall "Judas" concert that didn't actually take place at Royal Albert Hall. Dylan, Hendrix and the Beatles are probably my three favorite artists, but what about Neil Young and Crazy Horse on a night they were really kicking? Or maybe the Velvet Underground? Those concerts would knock your socks off and you'd have hipster cachet forever (not that I really want that). Jesus, this is so hard.

 I also realize how '60s rock my taste looks right now. Look, I can see modern bands now so I'm not even considering them. I think I'd ultimately go for one of the Band of Gyspies concerts Hendrix put together in 1969 or one of the few times Coltrane played the full A Love Supreme suite. 

I narrowed it down to two. Deal with it.

Is Sheed the inspiration for the Unforgivable videos? When he does the remix and says Jingle I swear they sound just the same.

This is the best question I've ever gotten at the mailbag. I don't even have a great answer. I just want to thank whomever sent this in for getting me to watch both the Pistons Jingle Bells video and re-watch the Unforgivable videos (I'll post one below). 

And for comparison:
Pretty damn close.

If you owned a sports team, would there be any huge marketing/branding changes you'd make? Say you owned the Bucks, for example, what would you change?

I'd give out bucks to everyone in the stands for sitting through yet another game. I mean I'd definitely implement incentives for the team to score because I love when the crowd cheers for that 100th point because they want their Chalups (does Taco Bell still make Chalupas?). I would also frequently do nights where I lowered concessions prices because I love drunk crowds and hopefully I'm not a miserly rich team owner in this totally hypothetical scenario.

Basically, If I owned a team, I'd Bill Veeck the shit out of it, and do crazy promotions all the time. All publicity is good publicity. And the Brewers have gone long enough without a micro-brewery in the bullpen.

Send you questions to Steve for next week.