Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And preorder Drew’s next book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about NFL roster size, Crocs, hockey fights, songs you like only when drunk, and more.
What’s the rule on using the bathroom of the house you’re touring? Seems like if it’s an open house, you probably can’t. Definitely no shitting, but could you get away with a piss? But what if you’re on a tour with just your agent? I have definitely pissed, but could you hunker down and do the business? You can’t, right?
I’ve pissed at open houses. What better way to know if a house is worth buying than to actually USE it? Hmm? I don’t know if I’ve ever taken a shit at an open house, but I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. I’ll shit anywhere if nature mandates it. Also, they serve free coffee at open houses. What do they expect? Coffee encourages your rectum to be on its worst behavior. Some things can’t be helped.
Kitchens and bathrooms are what move any house off the market. So again, it pays to do your own form of due diligence. What you should do before taking any real estate tour is drink a shitload of coffee, eat an entire vat of chili, drink a case of Schlitz, and then conduct a thorough stress test of the house’s plumbing system once you’ve arrived. Then you’ll know if the asking price is justified or not.
What would the NFL look like if they had a 72-man roster?
Worse. I’m glad that the NFL is poised to keep most, if not all, of the roster/practice squad expansions they instituted for the 2020 season. But that latest tweak added just two players to the active gameday roster, with preconditions attached to it. Those were all the adjustments the NFL needed to survive a COVID-addled season where teams could have been—and WERE—infected en masse. For rosters to get any larger, it would come after the NFL contracted 10 teams in the face of a looming asteroid strike.
I’m like any fan where the current restrictions piss me off anytime I need my asshole team to have an extra kicker or an active fourth QB on hand. Even with 48-man rosters, teams are still forced to conduct a bit of positional triage in the ramp-up to Sunday, which has the potential to bite them in the ass if certain things go wrong. That’s all part of the strategy, and your team often blows at it.
But that’s their problem. The NFL still has a cap, so it’s not as if expanding the rosters would put it in the same territory as college football, which has an 85-man scholarship limit that allows schools like Alabama to have two Top 25 teams’ worth of players behind the first string. HOWEVAH, I don’t want NFL teams incentivized to keep every cheap player they have—every UDFA, every specialist, every occasionally valuable scrub—on the team forever. That restricts player movement, encourages NFL Twitter to do even more armchair cap-crunching than it already does, and fucks with the league’s sacred parity.
I don’t want the NFL to mimic fantasy football where I troll around the waiver wire for a guy on Tuesday because I think he’s been just quiet enough to remain a free agent, only it turns out division rival Charles Scrotin’ already snagged him. GODDAMN YOU, SCROTIN’. And I don’t want Bill Belichick afforded the luxury of having a spare left-hander at every position on field just so he can run a kickass fake field goal against the Jets while up 40-0. All of that is bad. I don’t want any NFL team getting too comfortable with itself.
What should the hand-sign for having the COVID jab be?
We probably need one, because I got my precious CDC card copied and laminated a couple of weeks ago and NO ONE has asked me to display it since then. I’m walking around with proof of immortality in my wallet, and I’m DYING to whip it out at a restaurant. Or at a reception desk. Or at a Kid Rock concert. But no! No one wants to know. More than once, I’ve told people “I’m fully vaccinated and have been for a while!” without them asking. I’m just that eager.
This is why a hand signal—could be just me slapping my upper arm emphatically—would come in handy right up to the moment white supremacists decide it would be fun to co-opt it for Nazi signaling.
I recall a question from a few weeks or months back about what to do about sweaty feet in slippers. I had the same dilemma, and the answer is, regrettably, Crocs. They are comfortable, you can wear them around the house or out to the trash, your feet don’t really sweat much and what sweat does happen doesn’t soak in and make them smell. I feel a little twinge of sadness every time I put them on, like I’ve lost something I can never get back, but it’s worth it.
I can’t ride with you on this, even though Crocs are indeed back, along with many other cultural artifacts we all hoped would remain blissfully forgotten. If Crocs work for you, I’m not gonna judge you one way or the other. All I know is that I can’t wear them. And it’s not even for fashion reasons, even if I’m become three percent more fashion-conscious recently. It’s a matter of practicality.
Crocs are shoes made of used rubber spatulas. They’re not made to accommodate men with serious back and perspiratory issues. I’ve tried wearing Crocs before. My feet got sweaty in an instant and the shoes didn’t absorb my excretions whatsoever. Instead, my sweat formed an everlasting oil slick inside each Croc, and suddenly my ankles were an endangered species. For a shoe very much engineered to LOOK like it’s worn strictly for comfort, Crocs don’t live up to the billing on my end. Also, I don’t work in a restaurant kitchen, so I don’t need Crocs to protect my feet from a pot of boiling pasta water accidentally falling off the stove. For day-to-day comfort, I can just wear my ugly-ass slides and be fine.
I do have fond memories of my kids wearing Crocs. They’re a fine shoe for toddlers because they have no laces. Plus your kids can adorn them with all the stupid Jibbitz they please. I think my daughter had mostly fruit Jibbitz. Adorable. My wife’s preschool actually had to BAN Crocs on kids, because kids would slip out of them on the playground and hurt themselves. So you see, no one is safe from Crocs. Not physically and not aesthetically.
I’ve long believed that hockey is even more retrograde than baseball, and that fighting in hockey is only accepted because the players are white. After 17 years, is my opinion still reasonably accurate? Is fighting still considered “boys being boys”? Or is my take the liberal equivalent of “I don’t like the NBA with its selfish players wearing baggy pants,” which is an immediate signal that someone hasn’t watched an NBA game in at least a decade?
The latter. Complaining about hockey fights is a take for ancient tight-asses, right up there with “I hate that people like watching the NFL draft!” That Caps/Rangers shitshow a month ago—which was AWESOME, by the way—was all the Mike Wilbons of the world needed to check in on hockey for the first time in years and be like I STILL DON’T APPROVE OF THIS. Fuck off already. NHL fights are governed by a set of evolving, byzantine, unwritten rules that echo all of baseball’s tired codes of conduct. The difference is that NHL players ACTUALLY fight, instead of clearing out the dugouts and pretending to. Also, NHL players fight in retaliation for dirty on-ice play.
As self-policing goes, hockey does a better job of it than baseball, where you get a 99 mph fastball to the dome because your home run trot was a little slow for Tony La Russa’s taste. Baseball feuds have been accidentally designed to perpetuate themselves into eternity, which would normally make me happy except they make an already long sport even longer. By contrast, a hockey fight lasts a few seconds, you get actual punches thrown, two guys get sent to the box, and then we’re back in business. It’s tidy, efficient, and admirably stupid. I like it, and I don’t have the energy to question it, especially when I know the exact kind of people who love to drive by and offer a broad critique of an entire sport that no one asked for.
Giri did an excellent post about this happening in tennis last week. And truthfully, I’ve been guilty of it in the past. I’ve been the idiot American offering cure-alls to soccer, which is only the most popular sport in world history. I’ve asked why the NBA doesn’t call traveling more often, as if that sport needs MORE referee interference.
And I’ve done the whole NFL-guy-tells-baseball-what’s-wrong-with-baseball thing, too. One time I was a guest host on an AM radio show here in D.C. hosted by Steve Czaban, and they had beat reporter Mark Zuckerman (not Zuckerberg) on the phone to talk about the Nats game from the night before. Now I had not watched this game, but I DID know that the benches had cleared during it for all of the usual, dumb reasons that the benches clear. That was my only in to the Nats game, and it was a shoddy one.
So, unable to keep my fat mouth shut, I asked poor Zuckerman, “Doesn’t what happened last night prove how dopey all these unwritten rules are in the sport?” Zuckerman was a professional and answered me as best he could, but I could tell my question was a waste of his time. How many fucking times do you think the average beat guy has heard that question from a casual dickhead? To this day I still wish I had just left that discussion to the people who actually knew what they were talking about. There’s a difference between fresh eyes and blind ones. And that’s why fighting in hockey is still the absolute shit.
My husband and I just welcomed an adorable baby girl into the world. My husband is a Lions fan and I’m a Packers fan. She can’t like both, so how do we help her decide what team cheer for? I don’t want her to support a coach that wants to eat people’s kneecaps!
Are you asking me to side with a Packers fan in a dispute? How do you think this is gonna go, Hannah?
All kidding aside, just let the kid pick of her own volition. I know you said she can’t like both teams, but lemme tell you about kids: They don’t give a good fuck about the rules of fan engagement. They’ll root for multiple teams. They’ll root for single players. They’ll root for the fucking GEICO ads if they feel like it. My oldest son started off a Lions fan (because he liked the unis), then became a WFT fan, and now only cares about soccer. And THAT is how we became a Vikings/Lions/Racism/Soccer family. When you try to force your kid down a road, it’s a road they’ll never want to take.
My whole life I have heard that every decision the NFL makes is to cater to gamblers. I never necessarily believed it, but also I don’t even understand it. Every sports gambler I know is a southsider that smokes Marlboro lights, drinks Bud Lights, and talks about what the latest bar they’ve been thrown out of. They don’t go to games, or buy jerseys, and really barely watch any given game. This is a myth, right? If so, why?
It’s not a myth. You’re thinking of “gamblers” strictly as degenerates who have been cast as extras in Trees Lounge. You’re not accounting for fantasy football players, suicide pools, DFS fans, sports book bros, and casual fans swapping friendly wagers with one another. When you factor all of those people in, suddenly the profile of “gambler” goes from “dirtbags who are one bad beat away from an indecent exposure charge” to “literally everyone.” That’s the beauty of gambling, Vern. It’s such a rich, diverse, INCLUSIVE culture. I was just talking about this the other day with Cousin Sal and Ryen Russillo on our podcast, where we ranked gambling demos using my patented Is Jennifer Lawrence Still Hot? movie scale.
In a recent Funbag you mentioned that “American Pie” blows. Sober me 100% agrees with you. Drunk me, on the other hand, can get in on that chorus! Are there other songs that fit into that category of sober bad and drunk/high good?
I hated “Smooth” (obligatory: by Santana Feat. Rob Thomas) from the moment I first heard it and never stopped … UNTIL I was at a karaoke bar (not the night I got hurt; different karaoke night) and our own Samer Kalaf queued “Smooth” up on the machine and EVERYONE sang along. When in doubt at karaoke, always pick a song everyone knows all the lyrics to. So whenever I hear “Smooth” now, I think of that moment and am momentarily pleased before remembering that the song itself is a piece of shit.
I’ve also sung my heart out to “Livin’ on a Prayer” in a crowded Manhattan bar, because they mandate it if you’re a white person over 30 who lives on the East Coast. I retain NO fondness while sober for that song, or for any of Bon Jovi’s dickless garbage.
I’m watching the Cubs crush their old emotionless turd, Jon Lester (I like them both). They just slowed down a play at first where the runner headed to first base and you can see him smash his foot down on the bag in an attempt to be safe. I’ve seen many injuries this way so my big brain thought, “Why don’t they make one part of first base normal height for when you gotta get to second and the other part like home plate for running through?” The only thing I can think is that the height of the bag may give the runner a minuscule advantage by the foot coming down .0001 centimeters sooner than if it’s flat. Tell me I’m smart, Drew. Tell me.
Ed, you’re very smart and I’m sure you’re a lovely person, but you’re laboring under the impression that I do NOT want to watch baseball players suffer, which is untrue.
I get your pitch for a curb cut into the bag, like it’s adjacent to a crosswalk, and I’m sure Rob Manfred has already considered it because Rob Manfred won’t rest until every possible gimmick has been studied with great vigor. But the bag is the bag. It has to be uniform all the way around for various reasons. It can’t be a ramp. It can’t be a wedge. It can’t be round like a donut. It has to be a nasty little mini-edifice. One that first baseman can peaceably rest their fankles against. One that trips up absent-minded runners who don’t watch their step. And one that is visible to all except for umpires and Will Craig. No need to fuck with it. Much more important is to bring back the old ball and to stop pitchers from coating it in rubber cement.
What sports ball (or puck/disc) would inject the most pain if it landed a direct shot on your nuts? Assume the ball is traveling in a normal professional setting (e.g., a 96 mph heater, a 100 mph slapshot, a 18-mph bowling ball roll, etc).
How about a dart?
I’m about to undergo triple hernia surgery and, as a 45-year-old man, this is my first time going under the knife. Being that you have some PhD level experience with post-surgery recovery, what tips should I consider and prepare for? I ask this with the acknowledgement that hernia surgery is not like the brain surgery you underwent and the recovery process between the two isn’t remotely comparable, but admittedly this is a new gig for me and I’m kinda nervous about it.
Don’t worry Sean because I have ALSO had hernia surgery. I didn’t have a triple hernia surgery. I don’t even know what a triple hernia is. It must be a hernia that ends up with your intestines leaking into your scrotum, which itself leaks into a garbage disposal, which itself leaks into the Erie Canal, but I digress. The point is that your surgery sounds highly invasive. You will be given pages of pre- and post-op instructions, and they’re always worth following to the letter. Don’t eat right before surgery. Don’t be drunk before arriving at the hospital. Don’t drive yourself home. Please don’t take out your testicle stitches with a pair of pliers. Etc.
Everything else you’ll endure is shit you will have foreseen and yet still won’t be able to grasp fully until you’re in the shit. You’ll feel groggy and terrible for a good long while afterward. They’ll tell you that everything you’re experiencing is normal but none of it will FEEL normal at all. You’ll never want to get up. Once you do get up, you’ll overestimate your recovery speed and eat an entire burrito, which you’ll quickly regret. Basic, trusted positions will be uncomfortable. You won’t want food anywhere near as much after surgery as you’ll want food before it. You’ll be hideously thirsty every second you’re in the hospital.
Finally, you’ll be prescribed opioids and be both enticed by and terrified of them. Opioids have never worked on me for pain, which makes me “lucky” only in the most ghoulish sense of the word. Stepping down to OTC pain meds is always a nice marker in the surgical recuperation process for me.
And let everyone baby you. It feels good.
I just realized that most of the logos/uniforms/branding of most NYC teams is boring as shit. Giants? Boring AF. Jets? Same. Yankees, Knicks, Nets, Rangers… absolutely none of these are cool looking on the field. And most of these teams are stodgy as hell to boot. The Yankees make you shave your face. The Giants do the whole ‘Mr. Mara’ thing. The Nets try to have fun, but as long as they have those two main “Brooklyn” uniforms, they’ve boring too. Not one of those teams really gets me hyped.
OK but the Nets have commemorative Basquiat alternate unis that SHOULD be cool but look like the opening credits of a Disney Jr. show. And they play on a gray court that makes everyone think their TV is broken. So who’s the stodgy one now, I ask you?
My whole life, teams have caromed between “Let’s look as boring as possible because that’s PURE CLASS” and “Let’s wear the most garish shit we possibly can to get some of the teens to like us.” At one end of the spectrum you have grown men jacking off to Penn State’s generic football unis, and at the other end you have this:
One of the iron laws of Twitter is that anything described, earnestly, as “fire” will be fucking terrible. Take that shit to the TikTok romper room. There are also people who pine for the Raptors original uniforms, which look like they were designed by a kindergartener who hasn’t had his Ritalin yet. It’s enough to make me yearn for the simplicity of the Red Sox uniforms … but not quite enough. The Sox uniforms are wearable depression.
There is a sweet spot where minimalism and modernism can live together on a team’s uniform. Franchises pay design firms millions to aid in the task of finding it, and then the owner goes ahead and picks the ugliest choice he’s presented. The best uniforms are ones that have been around a while but still dare to have some actual color in them. Most of those uniforms/logos can be found in college sports: UCLA, Florida, The U, Texas, etc. In pro sports, teams pick either no color at all, or they pick the color of a Teletubby. No in-between. Only the Chargers figured out how to make their shit eternally awesome.
While Deadspin was down and before Defector started, I started going to Roth’s Twitter to find his articles. I don’t have Twitter; I would go to Twitter.com/david_j_roth and just read his tweets. The habit has stuck. I still don’t have Twitter and I check his page every day. I don’t do this for anyone else, though I do enjoy using him as a curator or tweet sommelier, and sometimes click on his retweets and see where that takes me. I’m sorry, I don’t know what is wrong with me.
What’s wrong with you, Adam, is that you are “normal.” Terribly frightening.
I used to always turn my nose up at lurkers, who peruse the internet wasteland but never actually engage with it. I no longer look down on such practices. Adam is at the exact right amount of remove from all of our horseshit, and Roth is about as fine a tour guide as you can encounter. So long as you can tolerate all of the gross gas.
What’s the weirdest random sports celebrity encounter you’ve had? Once I was in O’Hare walking past the Chili’s, Too in the early 2000’s when I looked over and saw Anthony Mason holding court with about 10 other dudes.
I saw Mike Tice in Central Park and tapped him on the shoulder as he passed by to say HI COACH. He should have knocked me unconscious for that.
Email of the week!
I have a grandpa story for you. My grandfather grew up in a big family in Alabama, but became a self-made man in Southern California due to the wonders of self-storage and cheap property during the 70’s and 80s. He lived in a big house in the foot hills of San Diego, in a very rural neck of the woods. About an hour’s drive away from where I grew up. I’d spend a weekend at his place sometimes, or we’d celebrate Christmas there or have a family dinner. When I got older, his idea of spending quality time with me was taking me along with him on random errands in town.
One day, when I was 13, he took me with him to Costco to pick up a fancy couch he had ordered. He designated it a napping couch, and it was a 15-foot long, five-foot deep, golden leather monstrosity. While waiting for the Costco folks to load up the couch, we got the customary Costco hotdog and a soda, and waited outside in the Southern California heat.
This is when my grandfather decided it was time to teach me to ogle women. “You see that mom and daughter over there?” he asked, looking me in the eyes. I had noticed them, the mom was wearing a low cut black summer dress. The daughter was around my age, but the mom was a bit young for my grandfather.
“Watch my eyes.”
I watched as he looked right without moving his head, and moved his eyes up and down, scanning the mom.
“Now, you do the same.”
“I can’t do that, Grandpa.”
“Why not? Don’t you have the eye coordination? Here, let me demonstrate again.”
“I can’t look at the girls like that Grandpa.”
“What? Why? Don’t you want to go over and talk to them?”
“Nope. I know the mom, she’s my high school guidance counselor. I just met with her a week ago, so she’d remember me. And she’d be sure to notice me looking at her and her daughter.”
He went beet red, and thanked me from saving him from making a fool out of himself, and we collected his oversized couch. The leather proved too slippery for him to properly nap on, so he had to return it and get another couch he wouldn’t slide off, mid-nap.