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 bobbing for apples, stick shifts, hot dogs, and more.
Every year I write Why Your Team Sucks, I usually still have room on my plate to handle Funbag duties at the same time. Due to remarkably bad planning on my end, that is NOT the case this time around. As such, I must cede Funbag hosting duties next week. You will have a special guest host, and you can email them your questions the same way you email them to me. So don’t be shy. Take advantage of your guest host now before I come back and prattle on endlessly about how I don’t like reading the news anymore.
What is the worst entrance/walkup music a player has ever had? I would like to submit Wilmer Flores of the Giants using the Friends theme song. As a Giants fan, I basically have to hear it four times every night. It drives me crazy! I basically want to rip my ears off each time he comes to the plate.
That’s a hilarious choice though, isn’t? Always better to err on the side of comedy with something like walk-up music, which guys like me are always inclined to take WAY too seriously at the onset. But shout out to Jack for actually noticing Flores’s choice whenever he watches the Giants play. As far as I’m concerned, the dirty little secret of walk-up music in baseball is that barely anyone hears it. Everyone at the stadium is busy either taking a piss or figuring out the right time to take a piss. Everyone at home is listening to the play-by-play guy introducing the batter. And the batter only gets like a 10-second clip of their chosen song anyway. If I’ve ever noticed the walk-up music while watching a ballgame, I’ve never noticed it all that much. I got too much other shit going on, even if I’m not doing anything at all.
By the way, I like the Friends theme song. In fact, I remember glomming onto it when the show first aired because it was performed by The Rembrandts, and I REALLY liked that band’s first hit single. This was back when I would switch over to VH1 from MTV once in a while (usually because MTV was playing, for some reason, “Midnight Blue” by Lou Gramm for the 50,000th time), and find myself occasionally surprised to enjoy what I found. So when I found out The Rembrandts were the ones behind the Friends song, I was like, “OK, that’s cool.” Did it hurt that I liked the show itself, Peak Jennifer Aniston in particular? Not in the least. After the show exploded, VH1 would play the theme song in full, as a standard rotation video. I watched that video, in its entirety, more than once. So if I ever caught a ballplayer using it for their walk-up music, I wouldn’t hold it against them. You, however, are more than welcome to hold that fact against me.
As for the dumbest possible song selection an impending batter could make, well MLB has no shortage of country music fans already among its players. But I’ll ignore that and pick “White Christmas” instead. You’d have to be a real Flanders to get psyched up by “White Christmas” in August.
How many pillows are there on Manhattan?
Let’s figure it out for the whole city of New York. According to LendingTree, NYC has nearly 3.5 million homes in it. LendingTree also breaks that number down by the number of bedrooms each of those homes includes (for this exercise, I’ll count a studio apartment as having one bedroom). That comes out to, at a minimum, 7,117,355 bedrooms. Let’s say each of those bedrooms has a double bed in it, and assume four pillows per double bed. That, my friends, totals 28,469,420 pillows. That’s a whole lotta softness goin’ on.
But I have failed to account for pull-out beds, air beds, and doggy beds … not to mention the copious number of decorative throw pillows that constitute the basis of all ’90s standup jokes. I also haven’t accounted for the pillows in hospitals, hotels, and hookah lounges. Remember when hookah lounges were a whole thing? You probably don’t, but 1999 me would saunter into a shitty hookah lounge in Midtown, smoke some apple tobacco, and consider himself to be the swankiest asshole who ever lived. An incredible time to be alive, but I digress. Let’s abandon proper analytics and jack that estimate up to an even 50 million. That is my answer. And don’t you feel so learned now?
I’m in my mid-30s. No kids, one cat, one wife. Can you explain to me why so many new parents immediately buy a dog? I feel like the last thing I’d want with a newborn is another expensive, needy, poop-filled mammal in my home.
That’s the reason that I held off on getting a dog until our youngest kid was way outta diapers. I didn’t want another goddamn thing to clean up after. Parent long enough and you realize that 80 percent of your life is spent cleaning shit and/or picking shit up. Do you know how many times I find a gum wrapper in the dryer? EVERY TIME. It’s as reliable as the sun coming up every morning.
But when you have one kid (and just one), you quickly notice how isolated they are stuck at home with two naggy adults as their only company. They get tired of mom and dad’s horseshit real fast, and it’s not healthy for a kid to lack peers anyway. So the solution is to either have another kid, or to get a pet. That’s the only reason I can imagine welcoming a new dog into the fold while you’re still dealing with a child who hasn’t learned how to use a toilet yet. You get the dog, the baby claps in delight when the dog arrives, and then the dog eats the baby. Everyone wins.
At a recent party, a friend of a friend told me he thought I was in my 40s. I’m not. I’m only 35 with a baby face. I can’t even grow facial hair yet because of my indigenous background. Full head of luscious, brown (no gray) hair. Even my dad, who is in his 60s, still looks like he is in his 50s. I know I’ve put on a few pounds and hard miles since my 20s, but still: are we all older looking than we think we are?
Yes. I too had a baby face well into my 20s and early 30s, so I got to experience the thrill of being carded well after I had turned legal drinking age. It’s impossible to not bashfully gloat when that happens. “They asked me for my ID! LITTLE DID THEY KNOW MWAHAHAHAHA.”
But there comes a point—and it’s not easily defined—when that stops and everyone knows that you’re middle-aged. Nobody cards me anymore, and yet I remain deluded that I look like a 14-year-old cherub. I see other parents my age and I think myself, “Wow, they look old! Not like me, baby! I GOT ALL MY HAIR!” But I very much look as old as all of those people. My graying temples and my hearing aids and cracked leg skin are a dead giveaway. If I went to a frat party right now, there would be an audible record scratch and the room would fall dead silent. Every kid would search me for a wire.
I don’t know when this happened. I can theorize that it was right around 35 or so, but that’s just a guess. What I do know is that I went through some form of delayed puberty where my hair started sprouting out of my nostrils and my nipples dropped three inches downward. I also started carrying myself like someone my age, and that gave me away as surely as my appearance did. I did the dad stance. I looked lost even when I knew exactly where I was. I drove a minivan. I wore Asics. Anytime food arrived at a restaurant, I would say, “Yours looks terrific!” to someone else at the table. Young people don’t do any of that shit. There comes a point in life where you can’t hide who you are anymore. Unless you have Tom Brady’s plastic surgeon.
Which common on-field athlete gesture would you eliminate if you could? The worst one has to be the holding up four fingers after the third quarter in football, right? Yes, we know it’s the fourth quarter and you’re going to try extra hard now, even though you’re the Lions and are 3-9. Everyone has done this forever, and it’s stupid.
When I played football and the third quarter ended, oh you better believe I held those four fingers up. I’ve done it as a FAN, too. Yes it’s stupid, but who says that all stupid things are bad? The 4Q gesture is a cheap and easy way to get fired the fuck up for the end of the game, and that’s important when you’ve already played three quarters and are exhausted. By then, you’ll latch onto any way to boost your reserves, and if that means joining in with your teammates when they throw up the 4Q sign, then so be it. If it looks dumb to onlookers, that’s of no concern. All that matters is how that dumb gesture feels to YOU in the moment.
Think about how dumb you look watching games. You yell at the TV and pump your fist and jump up and down like an asshole. But you don’t do that because you’re worried you’ll look like a fool. You do it because it’s fun. Same deal with a wideout signaling first down after a catch, or a golfer awkwardly high-fiving his caddie after a made putt, or an NBA player tagging hands with all of his teammates after he bricks a free throw. Thanks to the advent of the internet, everyone is more aware of how they look to everyone else than they used to be, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. It makes you more inhibited. You catch yourself. You’re more afraid of embarrassment. Your actions become more rehearsed than spontaneous. You feel like the worst thing that could possibly happen is looking like an idiot. But sometimes it feels fucking GREAT to look like an idiot. Ask anyone dancing at a wedding reception. Self-awareness has its limits.
Do you think you could convincingly fake your own death and start over somewhere else?
No because I’d tweet about it. “LOL I died. No one will know my new name is Bill Schmettly.”
Over the course of your life, have you eaten more slices of pizza or more hot dogs? Yes, I am stoned right now, but I don’t see how that’s relevant.
It’s not relevant. This is THE place for stoners to ask questions they might otherwise be hesitant to ask while lucid. You’re in safe company, Dave.
Also my answer is pizza in a landslide. I eat four slices of pizza in a sitting, at a minimum. This is not true of hot dogs. Did you know I haven’t eaten a single hot dog this entire summer? Not one. Since my wife and kids don’t eat much red meat, that means that I don’t eat much red meat anymore either. I don’t resent them for it. It’s better for both my heart and my rectum to avoid any food with a casing. That said, I would fucking KILL for a hot dog right now. I don’t give a shit how it’s cooked. Steam it, grill it, make ceviche of it. I ain’t picky. For a prolonged stretch of my adolescence, my favorite food in the world was a chili dog. And you know what? It still might be my favorite food. Someone looked at a hot dog and was like, “You know what this sausage made of lips and assholes needs? A sauce made from MORE lips and assholes,” and they were RIGHT. A chili dog is mankind’s greatest achievement, and I don’t expect it to be topped anytime soon, except with maybe a squiggle of mustard.
I remember you admitting you didn’t know how to drive a car with a manual transmission. When I went to high school in the early 80s, almost everyone knew how to drive a manual because a ton of cars still used them back then. And even if your family didn’t have a car with a manual, some of your friends definitely did, and being curious teenagers you forced your friends to teach you how to drive them also. Was it really that much different when you were in high school in the 90s? Surely a lot of your friends were still driving manuals at the time. You never asked them to teach you?
Well, I went to prep school where no kid could drive for three-fourths of my high school career so my personal experience doesn’t count for much there. Even when I was a day student back in Minnesota, I went to the kind of affluent private school where every kid drove a Nissan Pathfinder that their parents gave them. No one was rolling up to The Blake School in an ’83 Datsun. I remember getting a ride home from swim practice once with some upperclassman I worshipped (NOTE: I worshipped all upperclassmen). He had a stick shift. I never had the balls to ask him if I could borrow his car to learn it. I just wanted him to buy me beer. He never did.
The irony here is that my old man drove a stick shift all through my teenage years. He still has that car. He even taught my old brother how to drive it. But my older brother was a more responsible person than I was. There’s a reason he became a lawyer and I didn’t. So when it was my turn to learn how to drive stick shift, my dad gave me a lesson for approximately five minutes before going OK that’s enough and re-taking the wheel. After that, I never bothered to learn. This is for the best, because I sucked at shifting in Out Run. I can’t even imagine how badly I’d suck driving a real car with a manual transmission. Will I ever learn stick so I can become a real man? Probably not.
The good news is that I never have to learn it if I don’t want to, because only one percent of new cars sold today are stick, and only 18 percent of Americans know how to drive them. You guys who can drive stick may think you’re practitioners of a lost and sacred art. I say I’d rather leap into a holly tree than drive stick in Beltway traffic. Besides, there’ll come a day when my grandkids don’t know how to drive whatsoever. They’ll hop into their Hondolets, push a button and FOOM! The car drives them to the store and back. And I’ll be on my front porch, waving my cane and saying to them, “In my day we had to have steering wheels! And sometimes the Bluetooth to the stereo wouldn’t work! YOU KIDS IS SPOILED ROTTEN YOU IS!” Can’t wait for that day to come. No one will suspect I’m 75 years old when I say all of that.
(I’d like to learn stick one day, if only so I can get a blog post out of it.)
Does a person need to know how to ride a bicycle in order to drive a motorcycle?
They have to, right? When you learn to ride a bike, you’re essentially learning how to use forward momentum to keep yourself balanced on a single line of wheels. The physical principle is the same for a motorcycle or a scooter, only you break 56 more bones if you fall. But since I have never ridden any motorized two-wheel vehicle, I can’t know the answer to that. If you can ride a motorcycle but don’t know how to ride a bike, please do email us. I’d like to know your secrets.
Every summer I go on vacation, I promise myself that’ll rent a little Vespa scooter so that I can toodle around nearby beach towns. I still haven’t done this, largely because my 10-year-old would immediately steal that Vespa and go joyriding with it. However, even though I’ve never ginned up the courage to do it, and even though I’m such a remedial driver that I can’t even drive stick, and even though I suffer from brain damage that would have any credible neurologist BEGGING me to stay away from motorcycles and scooters, I still wanna ride one someday. And I will. I’ve started riding regular bikes again and can’t get enough. I bet riding a Vespa like a little Italian man would be even more intoxicating. I’d ride my scooter to the local bakery and then stop at the next door over to have an afternoon cappuccino. It’d be the finest way to live.
And then I’d get sideswiped by a milk truck.
It’s mid-August and a woman in front of me at the grocery store bought a variety twelve-pack of pumpkin beers. Pumpkin beer is one of my favorites, but it’s way too early to get into the whole Halloween/Thanksgiving flavors. Is this creep crossing a line when we should be buying crisp summer brews, or do I need to start my fall beer collection now?
I actually changed my mind on this two days ago. I used to bemoan holiday creep, the same way Greggggggg Easterbrook did in every TMQ column back when media outlets were willing to publish it. But you know what? I don’t care anymore. If there are pumpkin spice cookies on display at the grocery store right now—and there are—I don’t HAVE to buy them. So what does it matter if they’re there? And how would I stop them from going on sale anyway? I’m not a goddamn lobbyist.
Also, I’m right at the point in August where I’m done with summer entirely. I don’t wanna go to the beach anymore. I don’t wanna go to the pool. I REALLY don’t wanna put on sunscreen every time I walk out the goddamn door. Even if the dew point refuses to cooperate, I’m plowing ahead and pretending that it’s fall anyway. And if the brands want to indirectly aid me in that effort by selling October products two months before the fact, they’re welcome to.
Twenty years from now, it’ll be 100 degrees every day, everywhere, all year long. When that time comes, the seasons will strictly be states of mind. So I might as well get a head start and begin fall whenever I goddamn feel like it. Did I mention that college football starts this Saturday? And that my kids have to go back to school on Monday? FUCK AND YES, BABY. If I don’t see a single leaf turn between now and then, I don’t give a shit. Summer is over. Fall, the best of all seasons, starts right now. Because I want it to.
No “White Christmas” when you’re in the on-deck circle, though. Lines must be drawn.
Have you ever bobbed for apples? Would you again? Would you let your children go to a party featuring apple-bobbing?
I have never bobbed for apples. Unlike having never ridden a motorcycle, I feel no remorse over this factoid. I can guarantee you that bobbing for apples is 0.0001% as fun as it looks, and it doesn’t even look that fun to begin with. Why am I waterboarding myself for something that isn’t even candy? Complete waste of time. Why not bob for my car insurance bill while I’m at it?
And yes I’d let my kids go to a party and bob for apples. That’s their shitty night to have, not mine. Don’t forget to wear a mask, kids!
After starting a blog a few months ago, I recently got a paying gig to write for a wrestling website. Before this, the only jobs I’ve ever had were ten years at an animal hospital and 15 as an auto mechanic. I find it incredibly difficult to stop doing things around the house and sit down to write. As a legitimate professional, got any advice on how to transition my brain into realizing that writing is real, legit work?
Set a schedule, amigo. Make sure you have a dedicated space in your home to write, and then remand yourself there during working hours. That way, you’re training your brain to recognize when it’s time to write and when it’s not. That training isn’t instantaneous. You’re still gonna procrastinate by rummaging around the fridge and what not. But over time, it should take root.
Besides, you wrote a blog before this, yeah? So you already know how to write well enough for others to notice, and you made time for it. Just approach writing for the new place like it’s your blog and you should ease into your new routine without much fuss. A lot of writers keep no schedule at all and write only when it’s like 3 a.m. But that’s how, at least in my experience, you end up resenting writing rather than enjoying it. And writing should always be fun, even if it’s a job. Beats gravedigging, or so I would imagine.
How much worse than Dan Snyder could Dee Snider be as the owner of an NFL team? Not much, right?
He’d be a better owner than Dan Snyder, because anyone would be. But that means nothing. The NFL already has many better owners than Dan Snyder, but many of those better owners are themselves fucking awful. So if Dee Snider bought the Commanders, their fans would be like, “Thank God!” And then a year later they’d be like, “Well this guy blows too what the fuck.”
If you’re a good-to-great punter, would you rather be on a shitty team where you ply your trade a ton, showing your value and increasing future pay and the length of your career, or be on a high-powered offense destined to make deep playoff runs and win championships, but you’re rarely in the game?
The latter. One of the most overused sports clichés is, “This guy don’t care about stats he only wants to WIN!” No shit, man. Most pro athletes prefer to win, especially role players like punters. More important, NFL coaches and execs don’t care how often you punt, but how well you do. Johnny Hekker is the best punter in the NFL, and perhaps the best punter in history. No one gives a shit that he punted 37 less times than Cameron Johnston did a season ago. The Panthers certainly didn’t give a shit when they signed Hekker for millions this offseason. The man has had a long and lucrative career without having to toil for shitty teams (unless you count, uh, his first five years with the Rams). Winning always pays.
Email of the week!
I took my family camping at a state park recently. This was the type of campsite where you pull the car right up to the campsite and there’s a gross bathroom about a half mile away from your campsite. We were all too lazy to walk there to unless we had to poop. There was a tree near our campsite that was the perfect size and in the perfect location to hide what you were doing. I found myself wondering how many people had peed on this particular tree. Clearly anyone camping at this site would be drawn to this tree to piss. I would guess the tree became a pee tree about 30 years ago. If I assume that the campsite is in use 30 weekends a year and that four people use the campsite on average, we’re up to 3,600 people peeing on that tree. Is my number about right, too high, too low? If even half of those people drink as much beer as I do when I camp, that tree has been peed on roughly 100,000 times.
It’s been peed on as many times as there are pillows in New York.