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Funbag

Every Sports Fan Should Live On The West Coast

POINT MUGU, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Beachgoers catch the last of the sunset light in the ocean alongside the Pacific Coast Highway ahead of July 4th weekend. Most Beaches and beach parking will be closed from the 3rd through to the 5th of July as California fights rising Covid-19 infections. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images)
Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s new novel while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about naming bands, horrible celebrity athletes, the miracle of cans, and more.

Your letters:

Ian:

You probably don’t want to hear about this (or maybe you do and this is your excuse to live), but should all sports bloggers be on the west coast? You’d be impervious to the dreaded “This game is going on way too late,” and would have plenty of time to crank out copy before any deadline on the east coast. And given that your job is presumably to watch and comment on sports, I’m sure you could find a way to consume the early games. 

Given that I blog, I’m not really on deadline. I’m not hunched over a Smith-Corona at the end of Sunday Night Football, praying the final two minutes don’t fuck up my copy. I can just write that shit the next morning, or even the morning after that if I feel like it. So my choice of time zone has no tangible impact on how I do my job.

But as a FAN, I should move west. Everyone should. Every week I do a casual triage of which primetime NFL games I really need to stay up for, and which ones I can skip in favor of bedtime. Since I’m middle-aged, I treasure my beauty rest more than anything. It’s the best part of my day. So sometimes I’ll be watching SNF and rooting for the score to be like 35-0 at the half so that I have an excuse to flee.

This is bad fanning. Truly awful shit. Even worse, I’ll bail on a game that’s lousy on paper but turns out to be extremely compelling right to the end (Jets-Pats on MNF the other week being a good example). All of these dilemmas would be rendered moot if I lived in California. I could watch every primetime game and still have hours left in the night to play Everybody’s Golf downstairs while zonked out of my skull. Also, football would start WAY earlier in the day, which suits my needs as a morning person. I was the guy who was overjoyed to watch all the London games that started at 9 a.m. ET. Gave me a handy excuse to treat myself to brunch.

So yeah, I should probably get the fuck off this coast. The established progression now is that every East Coast wiseass gets older, moves to L.A., works in TV, and becomes a complete dipshit. I’m ready to be assimilated into that collective. Gimme all the sunshine, early football, and offensive real estate prices. I don’t care if it turns me into an insufferable asshat. I’ll still be happy.

Matt:

How long would it take you to think of/write down 500 band names from memory (no help, just your brain)?

Lemme try right now! This is a 100 percent honest exercise. Not gonna cheat. I think I can pull it off.

  1. Husker Du
  2. Imagine Dragons
  3. Sugar
  4. Oasis
  5. Wham!
  6. U2
  7. Pearl Jam
  8. Alice In Chains
  9. Soundgarden
  10. Screaming Trees
  11. Mad Season
  12. Blind Melon
  13. Pulp
  14. Suede
  15. Blur
  16. Coldplay
  17. Radiohead
  18. GNR
  19. Metallica
  20. Megadeth
  21. Iron Maiden
  22. Slayer
  23. Cannibal Corpse
  24. Testament
  25. Velvet Underground
  26. Rolling Stones
  27. The Beatles
  28. Wings
  29. The Zombies
  30. The Platters
  31. The Animals
  32. Blink-182
  33. The Strokes
  34. The White Stripes
  35. The Struts
  36. Judas Priest
  37. Iron Maiden
  38. The Shins
  39. Beastie Boys (hip-hop groups absolutely count)
  40. The Pharcyde
  41. Tribe Called Quest
  42. Wu-Tang Clan
  43. Kix
  44. Danger Danger
  45. Ratt
  46. Dangerous Toys
  47. Poison
  48. Europe
  49. Britny Fox
  50. Cinderella
  51. The Human League
  52. Animotion
  53. The Eagles
  54. The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  55. The Fat Boys

OK I’m very tired now and choose to not continue. I just spent a few minutes on that list but the time involved would grow as I exhausted my mental reserves. Already, you’ve peered far too deep into my soul, given that Britny Fox was one of my first top-of-mind selections. There’s far less going on inside this brain than my resume would suggest. Anyway, I could name 500 bands in five hours. Maybe we can livestream it on Twitch; 0.5 people would watch.

Alexander:

Let’s say you made a bad bargain with a supernatural being that left you able to watch your team on either offense OR defense for the rest of your life. Which would you choose? And why is it offense?

Unless you’re a Jets fan, the answer is always offense. Yes, it’s fucking agony to watch a shitty offense spend 60 minutes with mud in its tires. And I enjoy watching sacks, picks, and fumble recoveries as much as the next idiot sitting in a recliner. But I want to watch my team score, and again, unless your team is the Jets, the best chance of seeing it happen is by watching just the offense and not the defense. Watching my team play defense is one long exercise in holding in diarrhea. Every good play my team makes on defense brings me joy exclusively via relief. I’m never like OH YEAH NOW THE DEFENSE GETS TO EAT. WE SHOULD PUNT ON EVERY FIRST DOWN SO THEY CAN EAT EVEN MORE! I’m just praying they don’t fuck up, and then I’m happy when they don’t.

Of course, many times my team DOES fuck up on defense. And when that happens, I want the Earth detonated. It’s not a strong way to live. If I could will myself to change the channel on every defensive series, I’d inarguably be a happier, healthier person. Will I ever do this? No, because I made an imaginary contract with myself in my head that outlines what a REAL FAN must do, and I abide by that contract right up until my team is mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Or until I’m sleepy. That makes me hardcore. Madden lets you skip playing defense if you want, but I refuse to do so on principle. This is dumb because I still don’t know how to cover anyone very well in it.

Hannah:

Every time my husband and I see the commercials with Baker Mayfield we wonder if he is the worst pro-athlete to have a national commercial. Aaron Rodgers, Michael Phelps, and James Harden have all earned their ads, but who hasn’t?

Given the year Baker has had so far, he’s not even close to being the worst athlete to have a national commercial. He’s also really good in those Progressive ads, so honestly he’d deserve the gig even if he wasn’t famous for a whole other reason. Then again, you’re talking to a guy who thought Ray Lewis could be a huge action movie star had he chosen to be, so maybe my casting instincts are a touch off.

But if you want legitimately bad athletes who ended up with their own national ad campaigns, I can probably reel all of them off faster than I can name 500 bands. I’m old enough to remember Brian Bosworth’s kickass Right Guard ads, and to remember that he fucking sucked. Freddy Adu never amounted to anything. Anna Kournikova never won a major. And I haven’t even gotten to the hilarious number of NBA prospects like Harold Miner who got Nike ads that doubled as personal hype videos. Just like your area team’s general manager, brands will spotlight/pay a young athlete based on sheer potential, which doesn’t always work out. Again, I’ll reach into the boomer toolkit and remind you of Dan & Dave, the triathletes Reebok hyped up prior to the Summer Olympics back in the ’90s. Dan failed to qualify for those Olympics. So you’ll see a lot more unearned ads going forward, especially when OANN unveils its new sneaker line.

Steve:

My wife drinks out of aluminum cans like a maniac. When she pops open the tab she opens approximately 1/2 an inch on one side of the cans mouth. I find this infinitely frustrating because she drinks 10% of the liquid inside and then proceeds to leave the almost entirely full cans all over the house. She also says with regularity that she “hates drinking from cans.” Now I tell her by only slightly cracking the can she is messing up the ratio and flow of the carbonation in the delicious liquid contained within and maybe if she opened the whole thing she might enjoy them a little more (And also maybe if you don’t like them so much you should stop buying canned drinks, but I digress). Does anyone else only slightly crack open a can rather than popping the whole fucker open? Am I a bad husband for thinking she is insane for attempting to drink out of a can like a goddamn infant who can’t crack the whole thing open?

I have the exact opposite problem of your wife. I’m addicted to canned seltzer, to the point where I don’t like drinking it any other way. When I hit the grocery store, the first thing I grab are two 12-packs of that shit. The seltzer is my priority. My wife says that this is “bad for the earth,” and that I “burp and pee a lot at night,” which… okay, those things are all true. But also, I don’t even drink beer anymore so I’m entitled. Seltzer is my beer now. I might shotgun a can of black cherry tomorrow just to live on the wild side. Seltzer, like every other carbonated liquid, tastes better out of a can. The bubbles are so fresh!

The idea that someone wouldn’t open a seltzer can—or any can—all the way depresses me as both an aesthete and as a binge seltzer drinker. You’re not getting all you… can… out of the can if you open it so timidly. My sons leave wounded soldier cans all over this house, which enrages me because that’s seltzer that I could have and would have drunk all of. In five minutes. And so I regret to inform you that you must leave your wife now. There is no other way. You take my sons. I take your wife.

Kevin:

Have I read more words in my life than my mom? My mom was born in ‘61. I was born in ‘90. My mom has a Master’s in English and is still an avid before-bed reader. I was a good student that read books, then transitioned to Sparknotes for high school, which was more than sufficient. I’ve probably read 4 or 5 full books since 2004. I went to a good college and I have a good job as a guy who sits at a desk and looks at spreadsheets. So, definitely an uphill battle. Here’s the thing though: I’ve never seen her phone battery under 90%. I, on the other hand, can’t remember the last time I went two hours without reading. If something is on TV, I’m at minimum, reading a text. Or a Deadsp….Defector article, or an Athletic article, or Wikipedia-ing an actor I think I recognize, or most likely, scrolling Twitter. Even when bars were a thing, I was whipping out the phone often. So, my poor social etiquette aside: have I read more than my mom? If not, when will I catch up, assuming she permanently loses her reading glasses right now?

Your mom still has you beat. I stare at a fucking screen all day long too, but disposable reading existed long before the Internet did. I used to read the back of cereal boxes as a kid to keep myself entertained. I read newspapers, magazines, letters, labels, instruction manuals, menus, fortune cookies, flyers, ads, junk mail, and all kinds of other forgettable shit. All that analog time-wasting adds up. And if your mom is plowing through real books, too? With a 39-year head start? Forget it man, she’s read more than you.

I do think that society has transitioned from verbal communication being the dominant form to written communication being the dominant form. It’ll take decades to survey the impact of that transition. As it stands right now, it’s been a DEEPLY shitty one. But maybe we’re just having growing pains. Maybe Twitter represents our infancy as a digital species. No wonder it’s got so many loaded diapers on it.

HALFTIME!

Mike:

What breed of dog would make the best president? I think we landed on a St. Bernard.

That’s the one that drags you out of the cold and revives you with brandy, yeah? That’s a good President. I wanna pick a Doberman, but we just had one in office. My gut also says to pick a lab. But labs are friendly and Mitch McConnell would just bowl that poor dog over so that he can appoint 17 more Hitler Youths to federal circuit courts. What I need is a dog breed that I can trust, but one that will also bare its fangs when it feels like good people are being threatened. Thus, my answer… is Carter.

Carter is a lazy sack of shit, but give him some cheese and he’ll get done what needs to get done. Plus he’s a rescue, so he’s got his ear to the working class dogpulation.

Brian:

Do you miss video stores?

Not enough to ever want them back. I belong to the last generation to grow up before the internet existed, so I have a lot of emotional ties to INCREDIBLY outdated shit. I miss browsing through cassette tapes at the Ben Franklin even though cassettes sucked. I miss making mixes for girls I wanted to have sex with, and then never sending them those mixtapes. I miss having a reliable landline. I miss looking at actual porn mags. I miss Dial MTV. I miss ordering takeout by flipping through the Yellow Pages. I miss waiting with hot anticipation for a full week—sometimes even more—for the next episode of a TV show I like. And of course I miss going to my local video store with my family, looking in dismay at all the new releases that are out of stock, side-eyeing the porn section, and reading the back of VHS boxes for weird movies like Future-Kill and Champagne for Breakfast (those are both real movies). All of those experiences helped color in the person I am now. So I think about them fondly.

But, with the possible exception of scheduled TV, I don’t miss any of those things so much that I resent their extinction. People who fetishize the past tend to concoct elaborate reasons for why, like, watching scrambled cable porn was actually superior to having an infinite archive of naked people at their fingertips. I am not one of those people. You can waste time resisting change but the world isn’t gonna change BACK for your sorry ass. I’ve got my issues with Netflix but I’m not raising funds to bring back Hollywood Video because of those issues. I’m already old enough in my present form. No need to speed up the process.

Brad:

With NFL stadiums being either totally empty or limited to a relative few fans, should any NFL lineman who false starts this season be ridiculed, laughed at, immediately cut from the team and then catapulted directly into the sun? I get when it’s loud and rowdy and they can’t really hear the snap count, but considering the decibel level out there on game day is probably actually LOWER than it is at practice these days, do they have any excuse for being overly twitchy?

As a former lineman who committed MANY false start penalties at sparsely attended games, I am well-equipped to answer this. There are many excuses to false start without crowd noise. Your own QB—presumably Aaron Rodgers—can trick you with a hard count. Sometimes you forget the snap count, or the QB changes the snap count at the line without you realizing it. And then, sometimes, the adrenaline short circuits your brain. I’m about to tussle a big-ass defender who hates my guts. If I fuck up, everyone is gonna yell at me. Whoa hey the center just called out a new protection. Do I have the guy in front of me, or am I supposed to go block another guy? Will Jessica be at the afterparty if we win?

You try basic counting with all that shit floating around in your brain. IT GETS TRICKY.

Jeff:

With the millions upon millions of people playing fantasy football, what are the chances that any two random people have exactly identical teams? My guess is a small but maybe statistically significant chance on Week 1, with a very steep drop in each week thereafter.

Maybe Week 1. Maybe. Basically, you’d need to have at least two psychotic office leagues that use autodraft exclusively, and NO ONE in those leagues touches their big boards prior. Those leagues would also have to have the same number of teams and roster spots, which would make their drafts and their rosters identical. You might be able to have to exact same teams occur even when you throw a couple of variables into the mix, only because so many people play fantasy. But then it gets dicier and dicier. My guess is that if it ever has happened, it’s because Yahoo set up a shitload of bot teams and had them compete against one another to help jack up their numbers for advertisers.

Now DFS? That’s a whole other thing. Nothing worse than expertly drafting a DFS team Sunday morning, counting your imaginary millions, and then seeing 80% DRAFTED under every single guy on your roster after kickoff. Annoying.

Johnny:

Yesterday afternoon, I had some cheese and crackers as a snack. Gouda squares, spicy mustard, rosemary-olive oil Triscuits. Just as I get to the last cracker/cheese combo on the plate, I look down and realize that a hair has evacuated my face (think it was from an eyebrow) and landed smack dab in the middle of that last cheese slice. Of course, I brushed that hair right off, because I’m not a savage. But then I got to thinking…it’s not some food service person’s hair on the food, it’s mine. So what should it have mattered? I get my own hairs in my mouth all the time. Should I have just left that hair there and gobbled down the last of my sad charcuterie without a second thought?

Well, no. Just because it’s your hair doesn’t mean it tastes good. Even though it’s an eyebrow hair, which is technically short (but not if you’re in your 40s), that’s not an enjoyable thing to get caught in the back of your throat. May as well dust it off before you finish your cheese feast.

I know that COVID-19 is hollowing out America as we speak, but even now I don’t care much if there’s a hair in my food, be it mine or someone else’s. I’ll take the hair OUT of my food, of course. I won’t eat Lunchlady Doris’s hair. But if you consider your food ruined by a single strand of hair in it, you’re both a prude and a moron. The FDA has never—not once!—gotten a report of someone getting ill from a rogue hair in their food. If someone takes a shit in your salad, you are well within your rights to do the whole EW GROSS! thing. But hair is nothing more than an obstacle. I’m not letting one get between me and my orange chicken.

Michael:

Recently I fell into a sad wormhole where I ended up reading Sum41 frontman Deryck Whibley’s claim that based off his (Canadian) high school basketball skills, he could have played in the NBA. I find this claim to be very, very interesting. Firstly, I now feel like my life’s purpose is to find and then eat tape of his HS school games. I’m hoping teen Deryck was a mix of The Professor from the AND 1 mixtapes ball handling and Isaiah Thomas’ general dickheadedness, but alas I think Deryck may be a tad (if not more) deluded. Which leads to my question. Which celebrity has the biggest disconnect between their personal claims to a sporting skill and their actual skill? I always thought Steven Seagal saying he taught the great Anderson Silva how to front kick while wearing tactical sunglasses was the height of conceited bullshit but Deryck’s claim is pretty impressive.

Oh, is it time for us to hop into the time machine? I do believe it is. Let’s go all the way back to the halcyon days of 2014, shall we? Obama was president. The Maleficent Cinematic Universe was birthed to rapturous applause. You had to live inside a pyramid if you wanted to avoid listening to “Happy.” And a pubescent Justin Bieber was pretending he was the second coming of Michael Jordan.

Bieber got both older and better, but those clips never do. Showbiz is crowded with bullshitters of the highest order, so I’m sure guys like Mickey Rourke—who actually had a boxing career in which he went undefeated against a string of tomato cans and still wound up with facial disfigurements for his trouble—have made even stupider boasts than Bieber did. But Bieber showing off his skills against paid staffers and then mean mugging remains my favorite example of the genre.

As for Sum 41 guy, fuck him and fuck his stupid band.

David:

How many televisions and/or remotes you do think Trump has busted? I’m willing to bet he has Kylo Ren-type temper tantrums and throws remotes at the television or aides. 

There’s no way Trump has ever broken a TV. It’s his best friend and the only thing in the world he cares about.

Anyone who touches Trump’s TV will feel his wrath.

Email of the week!

Thor:

I live on the Northside of Chicago. About a mile or less from former governor and current ex-convict Rod Blagojevich. Since Trump pardoned him months ago, my wife and I see him “jogging” in the neighborhood from time to time. He’s always in the middle of a residential street, horrible stride, gray LEGO man hair, and spray tanned face. The first time I encountered him he heard me say from the sidewalk “Holy shit that’s Rod Blagojevich!” to which he smiled, waved, and loudly said “Hey howya doing pal?” Now every time I see him I want to burn him down with a litany of personal insults, pretend I think he’s Rahm Emmanuel, or wreck him for being a Trump lap dog. But all I can ever do in reality is wave back and also say hi. So I ask, what would be a perfect and succinct chirp to yell at your neighbor, Rod “My attorney’s won’t let me testify because I’m innocent” Blagojevich, the eternally disgraced and universally loathed bag of clown shit?

Just spit on him.