Can I Wear A Batting Helmet Casually Or Will Everyone Think I’m Cuckoo?
12:53 PM EDT on August 15, 2023
Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we're talking about meme addiction, bullies, mystery fruit snacks, and more.
I’m back! I’m back! But before I get into this week’s sumptuous offerings, let’s all give a big round of applesauce to Abigail Segel and to Alex Sujong Laughlin for taking the wheel while I was drowning in Why Your Team Sucks film study. There are times when I truly don’t appreciate how fortunate I am to work with everyone here at Defector. I almost can’t appreciate it because if I did, I’d spend all day skipping along sidewalks and offering strangers free hugs. But this is no bullshit: When my career is over, Defector will be the thing I’m proudest of. Not money, not books, not even winning Chopped. This. So thank you to Abigail, to Alex, to the rest of the crew, and to you readers. You guys are what keep the lights on here, and I’ll never forget that.
Now let’s fuck around and check out your letters:
I own so many baseball caps that I’ve lost count. I don’t play baseball, but they’re perfect for when I’m too lazy to comb my hair or when I need a bit of protection from the sun. But I just realized I don’t own a single batting helmet. I don’t even know if you can buy them anywhere with a team’s logo. They’re bulkier, but one would cover your head just as well as a cap and would probably give better protection from the sun. Plus, there’s added protection if a brick falls on you from high above. Will there ever be a universe where it is socially acceptable for me to wear a batter’s helmet to a grocery store?
You can buy batting helmets from the MLB Shop right now. But I doubt they ever become hot sellers, because all of those helmets are made by Fanatics and are therefore dogshit. More important, batting helmets are heavy and hot. You would not feel comfortable walking around in one all day. You’d sweat through the ear pads before 10 a.m. Thus, there’s no point in wearing a batting helmet when you can have a regular ballcap, which is stylistically the same thing but 1,000 percent more breathable.
And no, I don’t think batting helmets will ever become fashionable to wear casually, just as chest protectors won’t. Wearing a batting helmet to the store would make you look like you’d just had some sort of horrible brain injury (I can make fun because I’ve had a horrible brain injury). The people dumb enough to buy batting helmets as merch almost certainly never wear them. That’s the shit you buy when you have a corner office and need something fun to put on your desk to make you look like a normal guy instead of the fucker who just cut staff by 30 percent.
The "no notes" and "10/10; no notes" meme is played-out, right? Used earnestly and sarcastically, it's just annoying at this point.
Oh shit, I’ve used that meme myself. Not a good sign. The “no notes” gag appeals to me because whenever an editor tells me that in earnest, I get overly excited that I don’t have to rewrite anything. And then think to myself, “Well wait I can’t have done everything right in that post; I need a proper edit!” But that thought quickly passes, and I go back to luxuriating in my perfection.
But I should still avoid using that meme or any other. Because all of them are played out. And when you speak meme, you’re not speaking for yourself. You’re just borrowing lines and images from the ether and passing them off as your own sense of humor, your own self. It’s counterfeit you, and makes you sound just like every other asshole out there. When Nate Rogers of The Ringer profiled Paul Dochney, the man you know as @dril, Dochney put memes in their proper place:
As for memes, one of the primary forms of posting, Dochney doesn’t “respect” them: “I think memes are just jokes you stole, basically,” he said. “I like making shit.”
He’s right. And he would know, given how often people gotta hand it to @dril when they need a lazy reference. Everyone is copying everyone else, and memes are the permission slip that lets them get away with it. It’s tempting to use memes and gifs because they’re an easy way fit in online. You can use kombucha girl to convey your feelings about Donald Trump winning the GOP nomination at the expense of Ron DeSantis, and feel cool doing it. But that’s not you talking. That’s the borg talking, with you as its mouthpiece. That’s why nearly every joke on Twitter—no matter its source—now comes dripping in ironic, recycled poison. All of it is a waste of time, and not even a fun one.
So that’s why I double back on my copy if I see a “is this good” or “we love to see it” in there. You guys don’t pay me to be a fucking bot, and no one else out there should settle for being one.
Over the past couple of years, I've been substitute teaching at my old high school while I work on getting my teachers certificate. I noticed a few things had changed since I attended school, namely that the idea of bullying has kind of faded. Kids aren't pushing each other into lockers, no one is criticizing another kid’s outfit, and they're actually helping each other with assignments that I would give them. Have kids become kinder over the years, or is this just an anomaly?
You have to factor in the advent of the internet here. Phones make it easier for kids to take their bullying underground, where it’s harder for teachers and Principal Strickland to notice. Phones also make it easier for outcasts to find friends outside of the school they attend, potentially rendering local bullies less dominant in their psyches. Your school is not your whole world anymore. Everything is much more diffuse and obscured for teenagers now. But I’d be naïve if I blithely assumed that bullying was a thing of the past. It comes in many forms, and it varies widely on what school you go to, and where that school is. Also, many bullies have skipped right past shaking down nerds for lunch money and now elect to just shoot up the joint instead. Makes me pine for the halcyon days of atomic wedgies.
Speaking of which: When I was a kid, every suburban high school had a defined hierarchy. You know this hierarchy from watching any '80s movie: there were jocks, nerds, criminals, cheerleaders, goths, metalheads, Jesus freaks, rich kids, virgins (raises hand), overachievers, and Molly Ringwald. My mom bought me a gag book called How to Survive High School With Minimal Brain Damage and I read it cover to cover, dozens of times over, because all of it rang so true. The cliques were real, and they were set in stone.
That hierarchy, at least at my kid’s high school, is gone now. That’s likely a function of school size (her school is very, very big), but also a reflection of the internet, anti-bullying lessons that have been in place countywide since kindergarten, increased diversity in some places, and the advent of public shaming (the good kind). You don’t have to have kids to know that wearing a letter jacket and bag-tagging a special-needs kid when you pass by them in the hall kid isn’t gonna make you homecoming king anymore. Shit is different now, and possibly in more good ways than bad.
But I can’t know that for sure, because I’m just one asshole. All I know is that my daughter calls all the football players at her school “sports nerds,” and frankly I’m slightly offended by it.
Was listening to old-school radio and “Mean Mistreater” from Grand Funk Railroad came on. Thought to myself that Queens of the Stone Age could cover this song. Are there any songs you have heard and thought to yourself a particular artist should cover?
I’d like Carly Rae Jepsen to cover “Waiting For A Star To Fall,” “I Love Your Smile,” and “I Drove All Night.” Any pop song that makes me happy, I want her on it.
A sealed, unopened package of Sunkist Fruit Bites was inexplicably included in our tile sample package. This is not like when you get a random snack and/or coupon in a grocery order; these are tile samples. No food should be involved. How did it get here? Was this intentional? Did it fall out of the packer’s front pocket? Is this part of their lunch? Another question: do I eat the mystery snack or do I not eat the mystery snack? (Aside: I didn’t tell my wife I hated all of the samples)
It’s a gift with your sample. I know a brand being cute when I see it: the tasteful fonts, the mildly fawning copy on the underside, the word “bar,” and the box itself. Thanks to Apple, no box can be just a box anymore. Opening your package has to be a whole experience, the kind of shit you document for YouTube posterity. So those fruit snacks aren’t a mistake. They’re a cross-promotional throw-in designed to make you think that a tile company gives a fuck about you. So go ahead and eat them, but don’t get any wrong ideas about it.
Now with F1, tennis, golf, and now the NFL (kinda) what sport do you think is gonna get the Netflix treatment? (Also I know that Quarterback was not done by the same people that did the other three, but still.)
All of them. There’s a double strike going on right now, and I doubt that production for scripted content is gotta kick back up anytime soon. That means that Netflix is gonna crank out as many shitty documentaries as they can while the pipeline is dry. Read this deep dive by Reeves Wiedeman over at Vulture and you’ll understand how Netflix uses those documentaries as a form of prestige reality TV. Some of these docs—like Drive To Survive—are quite good. Most are padded dreck at best, and exercises in self-branding at worst. But they’re cheap to make, and they give streaming services new shit to splash across your main menu every week. So they’ve only begun to use the D2S formula over and over, and they won’t be choosy about quality when they do.
My wife and I have both worked from home since 2020 and will continue to do so. We have a small social circle, but mostly hang out together at night and on weekends. We also have a small child. Essentially we see each other almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week. How do I tell her I need some time to myself without coming off as a jackass or unhappy in my marriage (which I'm not)?
Just tell her! If you have a healthy marriage, you shouldn’t have to waste time dancing around one another to make a point. Do you know how many times my wife has told me, “I need you to give me some goddamn space”? You’ve heard my podcast; would you blame her for wanting that space? It’s both natural and healthy for spouses to want time for themselves. Even when I was in the newlywed/new dad phase of things and was like OH MY GOD I CAN’T DO BRO THINGS ANYMORE!, my wife was more than happy to let me go do a bros’ weekend if I ever needed it. The two of you can’t be latched at the hip for the entirety of your marriage, you’ll just end up killing each other.
So ask for time to yourself, tell your wife she should get have me time of her own, and then live happily ever after.
Whenever I’m at a stoplight, I like to look around at other drivers and passengers. I rarely ever end up making eye contact, because most people are staring at their phone and/or ready to take off. Am I weird for looking around? Are people not curious who their fellow citizens are? I swear I’m not trying to lock eyes and race you.
I don’t look at other drivers because I fear that eye contact. Too awkward. They might think I’m staring. They might think I’m some kind of pervert. To drive a car is to assume the worst about everyone else on the road, so I don’t want to give other drivers another reason to fear and loathe me.
This isn’t a healthy mindset. I should be friendlier out in the road, the same way I am when I’m biking or walking on the sidewalk. But something about being in a car makes me believe that the world is my enemy, and I’m not alone in that mindset. My job is to beat the rest of you to the drugstore, and I refuse to let you get into my head by actually looking at you and realizing that you’re a human being and not ideal roadkill.
I do have an exception to this, though: dogs. If I see a dog in another car, I am 100 percent staring at that dog. I’m telling the rest of the car OH MY GOD DOG! AND HE’S STICKING HIS HEAD OUT OF THE WINDOW! I’m waving, I’m smiling, and then I’m peeling the fuck out once the light turns green. Dogs are the cure for all latent road rage.
Hypothetically, how crazy would it be if an unreleased Nirvana album dropped out of the blue next week?
Not that crazy. Surprise album/single drops are the norm among living artists right now, and we’ve all grown accustomed to the estates of dead artists releasing every last scrap of posthumous material to keep the royalties pouring in. There’s no way I could count the number of posthumous Tupac releases off the top of my head. It might be in the thousands. So if Courtney Love was suddenly like oh hey I just found Nevermind 2 in the attic, it’s not like Biden would give a primetime address about it. A lot of people would get excited, and rightfully so. But Kurt Cobain is still dead, and nothing that comes out of his estate now—no matter how good it is—will feel definitive in ways that his original material was. He never got a chance to finish that lost album, he probably never wanted it released anyway, and it’s been nearly 30 years since he died. You can’t get the magic back, especially in a time when every major news story has a shelf life of 36 hours.
Ironically, one of my favorite Nirvana songs was a posthumous release. It’s “You Know You’re Right,” and it would have fit in seamlessly on any of Nirvana’s official studio albums. But that song itself was released 21 years ago, and I know that it’s a remarkable exception to the rule. There’s nothing more where that came from. Courtney would’ve found it already, I promise you. Anything “new” coming out of that estate now would probably be made by AI.
What’re some fatherhood books that don’t have any religious/conservative undertones? I’ve already read Someone Could Get Hurt.
The Road. Easily the best fatherhood book out there. You think I’m kidding, but take it from someone who’s written not one, but two fatherhood memoirs that didn’t make their advances back: At the end of a hard day, there’s nothing your average dad wants to read less than a book about being a dad. They’d rather read 400 pages of Jack Reacher fucking people up.
Recently I've heard several football broadcasters refer to the strength of a team's WR room. Do position groups all meet in separate rooms, and if so, does the o-line room smell as awful as I imagine it does?
Yes, position groups all meet in separate rooms. They meet with other units, too. But for a lot of day-to-day meetings, you’re gonna sit together as your own unit to break down film, tell jokes, and all of that other shit. We had an O-line room at Colby, but it didn’t have an “O-line room” placard on the door. It was just one of the conference rooms at the athletic complex, one that other people used as well. I don’t remember that room smelling much worse than any other conference room, because it’s not like we broke down tape while still wearing freshly used practice gear. We showered, like normal people. Also I played youth hockey, so I know what a properly horrific room smells like.
How long will it take until there's a Commanders game where there is zero R***kins apparel worn by anyone in the crowd? 100 years? Will there still be fans teleporting to the game in Sean Taylor jerseys in 2200?
Probably. People here tend to hold onto the past tightly. You’ll never get rid of the old name entirely around D.C. But if the Commanders stick around for a few more decades and win a shitload of titles in the interim, then yeah, you’ll eventually see most of the old Theismann jerseys disappear. And that’s good, because Joe Theismann is a real loser.
Would it be cooler if, when an MLB player hits a homerun, he is allowed to forego running the bases and instead can choose to walk right back to the dugout?
Fuck no, get the fuck outta here! I don’t even like the intentional walk signal, man. I’m here to watch the baseball players play baseball, not skip a bunch of shit like they’re playing the game on PlayStation.
And what’s better than a good home run trot? After a guy blasts one into the upper deck, I want to luxuriate in the moment with him. I wanna see my guy flip his bat and then take a leisurely jog around the bases while the pitcher seethes and the crowd goes apeshit. That’s the best part of the entire game. That’s the part that sticks with you. Only a tech bro asshole who watches movies on 3x speed would want to get next at-bat as fast as possible. Never suggest that to me again.
How much sports do the various Defector staffers watch, and would that amount change if they moved from Defector to say, Teen Vogue? How much of the watching is, "I need to do this for my job" vs. "I would do this regardless"?
One of the reasons that Will Leitch founded Deadspin was that he noticed that so many people covering sports had come to resent them. That happens when you’re a baseball beat writer and you have to cover 162 games a year. Baseball becomes your job instead of a fun diversion from it. This happens in a lot of industries, but it’s glaring in the sports world because fans want their media to love the games as much as they do.
I don’t think anyone at Defector has forgotten that. So there have been a few times where I’ve stayed up late for a game out of obligation to write about it, but those moments are few and far in between. I’d watch football regardless of my vocation, and I write about sports right now because I genuinely love them. No one here is any different. Except Imbler, because they don’t give a shit about sports and we don’t make them write about it anyway.
If you could choose only one item that you could call to your hand from across the room (a la Thor's hammer), what would it be? I think there are good arguments for the following:
- TV Remote
- Cell phone
- Car keys or wallet
- Knife (dangerous!)
- Coffee mug or favorite tumbler (assuming the drink would not spill)
The dog! Do you know how hard it is to get Carter to come snuggle with me? I had better luck getting a date in eighth grade. Motherfucker only gets down from his spot on the couch if I throw some cheese on the floor. It’s a whole thing. We probably should’ve paid the trainer for a few more sessions. And what about a bowl of chips? Or a beer? Or a bong? Because it would kick ass if I could be sitting in my recliner and summon those luxuries into my hand without having to get up.
Ultimately though, I have to account for my absent-mindedness with this answer. When I sit down in my recliner, I always have the following things on me: my notebook, my phone, the remote, and something to drink. I even have exact spots where I place each of these items while I’m watching TV. But if I forget any of those things, I get all cranky and complain about having to get up. So my real answer here is my notebook. I do NOT like forgetting where I left my notebook. It contains all of my most important thoughts, like “ravioli” written on a single line with no context.
I feel the need to preface this with a disclaimer: I always tip 20-30% when eating out, grabbing drinks, or ordering delivery. If I'm picking up food I'll tip 15-20%. However, went to an MLB game a few weeks ago and was prompted to tip at the concession stand. I assumed that a living wage was included in the 500% mark-up on a hotdog and Bud Heavy, but I was clearly wrong. I panic tipped 15%, but was not happy about it. A few days later I went to my local corner store to buy an energy drink and was once again confronted with a tipping screen when checking out. I selected NO TIP but have felt weird about it ever since. I'm not trying to sound like a boomer, but has BIG TIPPING gone too far?
This has been the subject of a million op-eds and cautious tweets this year, with people coming out of the closet to whine about having to auto-tip an iPad everywhere they go. If you’re hard-up for money and can’t afford to tip every last service worker out there, then you gotta make that call for yourself.
But if you have the means, just fucking tip everyone. Even if they didn’t do jack shit. Even if they sucked! Not everything has to be a quid pro quo in this world. You can give people an extra 15 percent because they’re still underpaid, and because you just want to. No need to overthink it.
Email of the week!
I ran into a hot girl at the bar who I had hung out with a few times. We were flirting and dancing at a bar where there usually wasn't any dancing. After a while, I really had to shit out that beer & bratwursts from the previous night, but kept waiting for the right time. After a while, the girl got a text from a friend, who was at a nearby bar. She said I should come with and, bumps her butt into my hip. I knew I was finally getting a chance to go home with her, but told her that I had to finish my beer, because to go use the restroom.
I went to go take a massive shit. But when I did, my hemorroid popped and blood started gushing out. I wiped and blotted, but it still kept bleeding. In my drunken state, I thought of stuffing some toilet paper up my asscrack, so I could go to the other bar to meet this girl. On my way out of the bar, I decided it was best to just go home.
After that, I never got the chance with her again. And she always held it against me that I didn't meet her that night. I never told her why.
I understand completely.