Wednesday, October 30, 2013


For those of you keeping track, the last time we did a Letters segment was April 27th hahahahahaha that's unbelievable. Literally a 6-month hiatus. At that time, we were talking about the first round of the NBA playoffs, the effect that tragedies like the Boston marathon bombings have on sports teams, and driving on parkways. We've accumulated some pretty good questions, so let's get to it. Back in business.

2004 World Series

David Ortiz and Mike Matheny in the 2004 World Series

How does this world series contention for the red sox compare to those of the last decade?  How do the associated emotions as a fan compare?  How do the rosters compare?  Some things to ponder.  Does this city "need" this championship?  What does that even mean, and is that a real thing?

Let me answer these 100 questions. The Red Sox were pretty much clearly the best team in baseball coming into the playoffs. That was also probably true in 2007. They had a really solid rotation this year, with 6 guys doing good work for them, and 3 guys at the top of rotation being great (Lester, Buchholz, Lackey). That's similar to 2004, when they had Pedro, Schilling, and Bronson Arroyo pitching great, and Tim Wakefield and Derek Lowe pitching quality innings. I think this team, all things considered, is the best of the 3 pennant winners. Manny probably made the lineup in 2007 slightly better, but the 2013 pitching staff is better than that of '07.

Nothing will ever beat the Red Sox winning in 2004. That was and will always be the best sports moment of my life. Not having won since 1918, coming back from down 3-0 against the Yankees, Ortiz with two game-winning hits in the ALCS; that win was truly unbelievable. I think 2013, if the Red Sox do indeed pull it out, will come in second. After winning 69 games last year, no one thought the Red Sox would come back and be THIS good. It would be really sweet to win it this year.

I honestly think that the marathon bombings haven't been a giant story line in this World Series. They've been a story, but one would think they'd figure extremely, annoyingly prominently in coverage of the Red Sox. I've heard almost as many "the Cardinals should win because Stan Musial died" stories than I have about the marathon. In 2001, the Yankees lost a heartbreaker of a World Series to the Diamondbacks. I think they turned out fine. Boston doesn't need this, but it'd sure be nice.

people claim WNBA is a joke, and yet this ( happened.  that ain't no joke.  your thoughts?

I'm not here to poopoo the WNBA. But I must poopoo where poopooing is duedue. Look at the play that led up to that gushing blood. If that happened in the NBA, it would be the lamest fast break of the season. The person leading the break just stopped at the three-point line. It was a four-on-two, and they scored on a regular layup. The fact that the players are sooooooooo hyped up about this play just shows how pathetic WNBA action is compared to NBA action. If Blake Griffin bled after this, that would be reasonable. No disrespect no disrespect

Is it important to be patriotic?  Do Americans have a totally skewed view of the world, and does that influence American patriotism vs non-American patriotism?  Is saying America when I mean the United States of America an example of this?

It's tough to say whether Americans are more patriotic than other people. We certainly have the most to be patriotic about. We're the richest country and the badassest. It's funny to me that other countries are mad at us about the debt ceiling and shit. Like hey, don't you have other things to be worried about, rest of the world? Please let me know how to run our country, EU. BUT IF YOU'RE TOO BUSY WITH YOUR OWN PROBLEMS, YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO HELP US AS MUCH OH NOOOOOOO WE'RE MAD! You're welcome for saving your asses all the time, you ungrateful pricks.

I'm a progressive-minded individual, but one of the things that annoys me the most is when people from other countries diss America. Like one time, someone from Pakistan said to me that "uneducated Americans" didn't know where Tashkent was (this was appropriate to the conversation somehow). Like're from PAKISTAN. You guys are BFFs with bin Laden. And last I checked, there might be a group in Pakistan that's uneducated...hmm, what could that be on that's right WOMEN. HALF OF YOUR GODDAMN POPULATION. That annoyed me sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much.

By the way, he said that Tashkent was in Turkmenistan, and I knew that it was in Uzbekistan. USA! USA! USA!

With the world series happening and football being in full swing, do we really care about basketball starting? Obviously we don't care about hockey at all, at least not until the playoffs, which are awesome.

The timing of basketball's start is somewhat unfortunate, especially if you care about the World Series. If the Red Sox weren't in the World Series, I'd be all about the start of the NBA season. The thing about basketball is that it's a loooooong season, whereas football is a short one. So I'll finish out the baseball season, then move on to caring primarily about football, and then once that's over in February, the NBA season is heating up and getting good. We're gonna be watching basketball until June, folks. No need to get too excited about October NBA games.

The government shut down for a while, there.  Thank goodness that's over.  Three questions - what are the most tangible manifestations of the shutdown, how many of these things affected you personally, and does the shut down definitely happen even if you're overseas in Oceania?

That last question is pretty random, but yes, everything America does counts. That's why Europeans are smelly and mad at us. That's not why they're smelly actually. They just are.

One aspect of the government shutdown might have affected me. The payment I made on my federal student loan wasn't processed during the shutdown (I submitted it over a week before the shutdown ended), but the day after the shutdown ended, it was processed. But yeah, the government shutdown was certainly annoying to hear about, and it affected a lot of people who aren't me, so I guess that matters.

Let's say Carlos Beltran theoretically tweaked his spine on that one play and injured some of his intervertebral discs, made of tissue very similar to cartilage.  how would you propose he treat the defective discs in a minimally-invasive, long-lasting manner?

Maybe our MYSTERIOUS SPECIAL GUEST LETTERS SEGMENT PERSON FROM THAT ONE TIME would have an answer to this question. Feel free to expound in the comments, mystery person.

Aside from Brady throwing better passes, what can the Patriots do to play better?  If really the only answer lies in Brady throwing better, what are some ways to force him to do that?

So the Patriots are 6-2. They're on pace to have a 12-win season. The offense has not been exactly what we're used to, but I don't think Brady is entirely to blame.

The Patriots, in the beginning of the year, had 0 real receivers. When you have 0 real receivers, it's tough to really crank on offense. Brady has played in conditions similar to this before, like the entire pre-Randy Moss/Wes Welker era. Interestingly, if you look at Brady's numbers this year, he's kind of on pace to do what he did in 2003, when the Patriots won their second Super Bowl. Their receivers that year were Deion Branch, Troy Brown, and David Givens, with Christian Fauria and Daniel Graham at tight end. Brady's receivers this year so far have been even weaker than this corps, and that's certainly not something we've become used to over the past several years.

Brady certainly has looked bad at certain points, but he hasn't really been THAT bad. And let's not forget: the team is 6-2. Even a bad Tom Brady will make your team successful. The receivers are getting better (Kenbrell Thompkins can actually catch the ball now sometimes!), Gronk's back, and we can look forward to the Patriots' offense improving going forward. Yay!

People claim that men following sports closely is like women following pop culture and celebrities closely. Knowing player histories, stats, and tendencies is like knowing a real housewife of OC's particular outfit, what Miley Cyrus had for lunch, or how much Justin Bieber's new dildo costs. How do you respond to this, and I assume it's not "yeah those people are spot on"

There are some overriding similarities between these two pastimes. One is that neither of them matter in the grand scheme of things. They're not, by many measures, important. Also, both of these pastimes don't really make a lot of sense when you think about them. The sports team you support plays however it's going to play, and that has NOTHING to do with you. And yet sports fans trash talk each other all the time, or find joy and disappointment in their teams' victories and defeats, as if those fans were somehow also responsible for that performance. A sporting event is totally out of your control when you're watching it, but you still feel invested. It doesn't make sense. And obviously it doesn't make sense to be obsessed with the personal lives of celebrities, as if your particular support sustains them, and they are somehow a reflection of you, or someone you admire and care about.

These things, however, are important to a degree. Sports teams bring in so much money to local economies, and they provide meaningful entertainment in the same way that movies and television and books do. They're also cultural phenomenons; sports teams, in many ways, define localities, and localities certainly define sports teams. Celebrities, I think, have some of these characteristics, though they're not as pronounced as with sports teams. Sports teams and celebrities don't matter in the same way that art "doesn't matter." They matter as much as people want them to matter. The question is not whether these things matter. The question is: on what plane of "mattering" do they exist?

I think the statistics and analysis side of sports is FAR superior to that aspect (if it truly exists) of celebrity discourse. Looking at statistics, evaluating performance, and trying to figure out the truest sense of how well a player performed is interesting, debatable, and requires intelligence. It's something to analyze, figure out, and have informed opinions about. It's not rocket science, but it's both fun and interesting.

Celebrity "analysis" is much less, shall we say, analytic. Justin Bieber gets carried up the Great Wall of China and that's about it. Amanda Bynes goes crazy and that's about it. It's funny, or sad, or "inspiring" if you're an idiot, or whatever, but it's objectively not interesting. And if you are analyzing celebrities, and making assumptions about their lives, that's just annoying. Like oh man, how could Kim Kardashian DO THAT?! I think she really needs counseling and psychological help lol #mentalproblems #yousinpireme. It's just kind of like following a story for the story's sake. The only value you're getting is a quick shot of entertainment. There's no substance. With sports, at least there's history and analysis to be consumed. With celebrities, not so much.

Both sports fandom and celebrity fandom involve living vicariously through something else, but at least with sports, it's a bit more complicated and interesting than that. With celebrities, it's not, and that's kind of pathetic to me.

Did you know that Xander Bogaerts is 21 and is from Aruba?

Yup. Also, I assumed his full name was Alexander, but I just looked up, and it's just Xander. The world is a colorful tapestry of surprises. He's the second player I know of who was born in Aruba. The other was longtime Orioles' rotund starter Sidney Ponson.

And with that, we conclude the first letters segment in half a year. Enjoy the games, everyone. Bless you boys.


  1. Celebrities and sports are different in one big way that you missed. Sports are about achieving goals. These people have talents we don't have, but they still have to use those talents and EARN their way onto the field. They aren't given anything, and the second they let up somebody takes their place. Sometimes this is because people want to watch the more exciting option, someone flashy. But the better player almost always wins out. We value accomplishment, and if we follow a team or a player and see them succeed we see the time and work it takes to reach their goal. We live through it with them and while their success was not ours, we were still invested in it.

    Watching celebrities is pretty much just about stalking. We aren't watching them to enjoy their success in their career, whether it's their new album or movie or sex tape. We're just watching their lives. We could watch athletes at home too (I know, Lamar Odom was a crossover in this for awhile), but that's not what we're watching sports for. I'm a ridiculous fanboy for Tom Brady. And as badly as I want him to father my children... I wouldn't watch a reality tv show about his life. I want to watch him read a defense, slide awkwardly for a first down, look off a safety, hit a back-shoulder throw, execute a perfect play-action fake, and then run a 2-minute drill and win the Superbowl. I'll read over stats from his career, compare them to other greats, and argue his place in history. I'm valuing his achievements, not his personal life. He brings enjoyment into my life, but only when he's on the field.

  2. this is a good point; brown bear EIC missed this angle.
    well put, mr calrissian.