Skip to Content

Road Grays Are Dogshit

Baseball: World Series: Arizona Diamondbacks Corbin Carroll (7) in action, rusn to first base vs Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. Game 2. Arlington, TX 10/28/2023 CREDIT: Erick W. Rasco (Photo by Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (Set Number: X164447 TK1)
Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

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 Peter King, loving mediocre players, weed, Prince, toilets, and more.

Your letters:


I feel like all the major sports have the correct uniform system aside from the MLB: Bold, solid colors for home games + bright, handsome whites for road (the NBA home/away system is reversed, but still). So why on earth does the MLB have bright, handsome whites and slate gray eyesores? If you were purchasing an MLB uniform, is there ANY chance you’d buy the road version? Why do MLB teams dress like the sidewalk half the season?

I’m glad you asked this question Tadgh, because it regards something that’s been a problem in MLB since long before Fanatics came along to ruin their uniforms entirely. Road grays are the ugliest goddamn uniforms in sports and always have been.

On a practical level, I understand how grays came to be. You need contrast in order to differentiate between the home team and the road team, and black uniforms are too hot to wear in the summer daylight. Gray unis serve as a compromise that allowed road teams to look like road teams without melting into the outfield grass, and maybe they looked presentable back in the days of black-and-white television.

But no more. We have color TVs now. We can see that the Sox and Yankees look like clinical depression anytime they venture out of their respective home stadiums. I can’t stand looking at that shit, and I’m even more dumbstruck by NFL teams that have followed their lead and opted for all-gray Color Rush uniforms at home (that’s you, Detroit). Professional athletes want to look good out on the field, and I, the fan, want them to look good. I also wanna look good whenever I cosplay as one of them by wearing a jersey out on the town. The color gray makes that impossible.

This problem has been alleviated in recent years thanks to certain MLB teams opting to wear solids (at least on top) on the road. But those same teams will sometimes wear solids at home too, which ends up confusing me. So allow me to play the part of Rob Manfred (Competent Version) and lay down some basic sartorial law.

  • If you’re playing at home, you wear whites. Same as it ever was.
  • If you’re on the road, you wear white pants and solid jerseys.

That’s it. Problem solved. As my colleague Kelsey McKinney noted a week ago, baseball uniforms are inherently dorky, and often uncomfortable. If you’re wearing pants—and a belt!—when it’s 98 degrees in August, you’ve already got a problem. The color gray does nothing to help that. Ban the road grays. Make baseball vivid again.


What percentage of people hate the Eagles just because of The Big Lebowski

It’s not that the movie compelled certain people to hate the Eagles, it simply illuminated it for them. Many people who heard that line thought to themselves, “Oh wow, it’s OK to hate the Eagles? Come to think of it, I do too!” Meanwhile, guys like me—people who have always hated the Eagles—heard The Dude complain and felt validated. Finally, a piece of mainstream entertainment that acknowledged the obvious. I felt so proud at that moment. We have a lot of pop culture that references other pop culture, but it’s almost always with a cutesy wink (thank you Joss Whedon). We don’t have enough pop culture that directly SHITS on other pop culture. I demand more movies that are solely about how awful Rebel Moon was.


McQuade wrote up an elegy for Peter King that was fairly positive/kind and showed McQuade to for the most part be a fan. But I was curious about your feelings regarding his retirement and the scope of his career given your long-standing history with him? What did he represent in terms of football reporting in your eyes? And how did it go getting him to agree to that Deadspin skit?

We got Peter to agree to do the beer skit by simply asking him. Peter’s always been a mensch like that. That’s how he ended up with a career that lasted 40 years. He knew everyone and was nice to everyone, even when they weren’t nice to him.

And lemme tell you, I was NOT nice to Peter King. I built my career shitting all over him, along with the rest of the crew over at the now-defunct Kissing Suzy Kolber. We’d take apart his Monday Morning QB column every Monday, turning his banal observations about NFL players (Tony Romo leads the league in smiles!) and every complaint he had about Amtrak coffee into long-running in-jokes. I’m not gonna recap every awful thing we wrote about Peter on that site, because I don’t want a one-way ticket to Canceltown. Suffice it to say, I had written enough ugly shit that he had more than earned the right to punch me square in the jaw. But he didn’t. Instead, he played the good sport and agreed to pour cold beer all over me (which sucked, by the way). That’s how I came to be quite fond of the man.

This is true of pretty much everyone who ever dealt with Peter King, save for that one kid he stole a foul ball from. He was a schmoozer. Not a smarmy one like Michael Rubin, but an old-fashioned raconteur who got people to talk by being genuinely interested in what they had to say. This affable quality got King so much access across the NFL that he scored information no one else could possibly get. That access, as you might have guessed, compromised him on more than a few occasions.

When I started my blogging career, I resented this type of journalist. I set out on my sportswriting career eager to destroy my old sportswriter heroes and write all of the shit that they wouldn’t or couldn’t. They were too in bed with the league to see anything from the fan’s point of view, or at least to express that point of view if they felt similarly. Also, like every other sports fan, I felt like I could do King’s job better than he could (is it a coincidence that I have my own NFL column that contains random bullshit and beer recs? Likely not), same way I felt about color guys and studio drones.

But then I started doing actual reporting and realized that the dynamic between reporter and subject—especially subjects you return to over and over again—is far more nuanced than I once believed. Peter King was an access merchant, but he came from a time when reporters HAD to have relationships with players and teams in order to do the nuts-and-bolts work of beat reporting. There’s a line those reporters have always had to walk and King, along with the recently deceased Chris Mortensen, walked it better than most. He wasn’t the greatest writer on earth, but he was very good at being the exact same person he was on the page as he was in real life. That’s a talent that few other writers possess, and it’s why I read MMQB religiously all through the 2000s.

The access journalism economy exploded during King’s rise and gave birth to the Adam Schefters of the world: access journalists who lacked any trace of earnestness and were likely constructed from parts sold on TigerDirect. You can now find these sycophants all across sports, politics, showbiz, and tech coverage. They’ve become the dominant journalistic species, and you can blame Peter King for this development to an extent. King could be a kiss-ass, and he was rarely subtle about it. But he was a naturally friendly guy, and he had a profound influence on other insiders—our old colleague Kalyn Kahler, most notably—to do the job with that same good cheer.

So, on the occasion of King’s retirement—and he may very well be the last sportswriter to retire comfortably and on their own terms—I consider his legacy to be more good than bad. Capable reporter, nice man, delightfully clueless suburban liberal. I ain’t that different, and that’s not such a bad thing.

Except that Peter was WAY too nice to Brett Favre. Brett Favre can die in a car fire. You’ll never see me tossing that prick’s salad.


Do you differentiate between being high or being stoned? I realized the other day that I think of being high as silly (my sativa gummies) and being stoned as chill (my indica gummies). If came to my attention that this differentiation might not be universal, because when my wife came home and asked if I was high, and I said "No, I'm stoned," and a confused silence sprung between us.

They’re the same thing. I salute those of you who can apply stricter definitions to either term, and maybe that’ll be necessary as BIG CANNIBIS takes over the country and we all become stoners, if we haven’t already. Maybe the definition of “high” will change, just as the definition of sobriety is now more liquid than it once was. But I’m too old to start parsing all of that shit. I used to try. I used to pretend I had preferences between this strain or that, and this delivery vehicle and that. Turns out I don’t care about the means, just the end. So I’ll leave any formal expansion of the weed lexicography to the young people while I remain in a simplified, old-man weed universe. You’re either sober, high, or high as balls. That’s more than enough for me.


What is the best song to introduce my three- and four-year olds to Prince with?

I grew up just as Prince was ascending to dominance. The first song of his I heard was “1999,” which is about as broadly appealing a pop song as you’re ever gonna find. Then came “Little Red Corvette,” and then all of Purple Rain. This was when Prince was not only at his best, but also his most accessible: expertly crafted pop songs that had his own, distinct signature to them. I don’t see any other better way of introducing someone of any age, in any year, to Prince. What are you gonna do otherwise, bust out “Crystal Ball”? You start with the basics, and then you can get weirder.


If you could guarantee a championship for your favorite sports team, would you let a pro boxer hit you in the nuts without any protection for them (a cup/hands blocking/etc.)? Assume the boxer is wearing gloves and is considered a hard puncher but doesn't have to be a heavyweight (ex: GGG or prime Pacquiao/Duran).

I would. Zero doubt. First of all, I’ve been waiting 47 years for a title and can’t wait any longer. Secondly, what good are my balls anymore? I don’t want any more children; this is why I stand in front of running microwaves with zero hesitation. Also, age and a healthy regimen of anti-anxiety meds have reduced my libido to an afterthought. In my earlier age, I was the kind of guy who needed to fuck everything that moved, and who considered any injury to his dick/balls a fate worse than death. But I’ve suffered worse fates than that, and I survived my balls exploding. So bring out Canelo Alvarez and tell him to show no mercy. I’m ready. SKOL.



Rob Manfred wants to expand MLB before the end of his tenure in 2029. Nashville, Charlotte, Mexico City, and Austin have been mentioned as possible places. I say, put a team in the middle of Wyoming. Put a team in Cresco, Iowa. If you could pick any random, small town in America to have a major league baseball team, where would you pick and why? 

Well I ain’t picking a white small town. I have suffered through America’s fetish for lily-white, heartland small towns for DECADES. All apologies to John Mellencamp, but I can’t take that shit anymore. No fucking Green Bay Packers of MLB. No super special Field Of Dreams in Iowa for the Joe Posnanskis of the world to cream their jeans over. Put a baseball team in Tuskegee, or in Flint, or in motherfucking Ciudad Juarez. No more of these cracker-ass five-and-dime towns getting the spotlight.


How many times have you inexplicably loved a player that is clearly mediocre? I had an irrational devotion to Austin Jackson.

A lot! On the Vikings alone, I have fallen hard for minor players such as Cameron Dantzler, K.J. Osborn, Irv Smith Jr. (huge mistake), Leroy Hoard, you name it. There’s nothing inexplicable about it. If you have a favorite team, there’s every chance that it will be mediocre for the majority of your lifetime. You’ll have favorite players on that team every year, and some of those players will have to be mediocre, because the team is. So I’ll always fall hard for any player who I think might become a star, or who makes a game-saving play in Week 5, or who plays back-up quarterback.

I rarely regret any of these crushes, because those guys are why sports exist. If I treated my fandom as a zero-sum game where only the best players earned my affection, I’d be an asshole (and a frontrunner to boot). I don’t wanna get so riddled with GM brain that I forbid myself from liking a player because they’re funny, because they wear cool shoes, because they won me a fantasy game once, or because I find them aesthetically pleasing to watch on the field. I’d never be happy if I hated every mediocre player I saw.

Which brings me to the non-Viking average players I’ve liked over the years. They include John Brown, Kyle Orton, Bubby Brister, Jeff Hostetler, Sex Cannon Rex Grossman, and virtually every player from the Kosar-era Browns. They can’t all be greats, but you’re still allowed to be fans of them.


Can people in non-creative/entertainment fields have an agent? I work for my city's public library system. Hypothetically, could I hire an agent to negotiate my compensation? Would they even know what to do with me? How does this all work?

I believe the occupation you’re looking for is called a headhunter, Kevin. Headhunters seek out candidates for companies that are hiring, but they also work the other side of the equation and find landing spots for unemployed workers they think have potential. They will not charge you for this service. The company that hires you is the one they always stick with the tab. I doubt that any headhunter will represent someone who’s already employed and simply wants a raise, but they could at least find you a lateral job that gives you some leverage when you—yes you—march into the boss’ office yourself and demand you be paid what you’re worth.

My memory is fuzzy on this one, but I’m pretty sure that I got my first, and best, copywriting gig in the D.C. area thanks to a headhunter. I arrived here jobless and worried that I had moved to a city that had no good ad jobs. The headhunter proved me wrong, and I managed to get steady work at a boutique agency for the next five years as a result. Not every headhunter is that helpful. Some will turn you down. Some will guide you to a lousy job that’s already listed online and that no one else wants. And some are just straight up full of shit. But I remember that when my headhunter agreed to take me on, it lifted a big psychic weight off of me. I wasn’t alone in my job search. I had a champion. That helped a lot. It made me feel like I was progressing toward something, rather than just flailing around in the ocean like a shipwreck victim.


A dear person to you, in his/her death bed, asks an insane promise out of you. Like, something absurd but fairly harmless like, "Promise me you'll name your next son Mike McCarthy.” What you do? Make the promise and then just ignore it, or call bullshit on the poor bastard right there?

The former. Uncle Randy was on heavy sedatives when he was dying. He wasn’t making sense. He didn’t REALLY want me to name my next child Mike McCarthy. In fact, I think he’d be upset if I had honored his most delirious wishes. That’s not the Uncle Randy that we knew; that was the monster that rectal cancer had made him into.


I've been conditioned to put the toilet seat down. Unfortunately, many toilets, particularly public ones, lack the soft-close hinges, so if you are using your shoe to put the seat down, it slams against the bowl with a horrific *SMACK*. In a tile-filled bathroom, this noise makes my ears hurt something awful, so if my hands are free, I cover my ears before bringing the seat down. Do you think this is common practice?

No, because most guys who put the seat down will place it down if they know that smack is coming. I have a quiet-close toilet seat at home, which means that I can nudge the seat down and it’ll close on its own after that. But I’m spoiled by my home’s quiet bathrooms, which means I sometimes forget that not every seat is quiet-close, and then I get got by a foreign toilet from time to time. Never a fun moment, but it’s enough to keep me on my toes the next time I go shitting out in public. That’s when I guide the seat down, like a good little boy. No earmuffs required.

By the way, I have two sons that still leave the toilet seat up when they go to piss. I’ll walk into the head, see their handiwork, and then McBain: Let’s Get Silly plays on a loop in my brain for half an hour afterward. I tell them they gotta put the seat back down, but the light bulb isn’t gonna go on for them until they get reamed out by a girlfriend after she takes a surprise dip in the toilet at 2 a.m.


My father-in-law helps take care of my son, usually three days a week. My son loves going to Papa's, and Papa loves having him. He takes him to museums, parks, and indoor playgrounds. We are thankful.

The thing is, Papa is a slob. There's a weird smell as soon as I open the door to drop my son off, and there are always crumbs and junk everywhere. My son usually comes home with random stains all over his clothes, and we plan his bath schedule around Papa days. Papa has even had to stay at our house due to circumstances at his house, and he'll leave his shoes on the couch and not unclog the toilet after he clogs it. I'll come out of the office to find toys all over the place, Play-Doh smashed into the carpet, and dirty dishes in three different places. I mentioned it to my wife and she treated it like a gag. "Classic Papa, leaving cheese on the floor again" (actually happened). Is this why my son refuses to help clean anything? Do I just deal with it since he's so great with my son or tell him to stop?

You have to tell him, but you have to use your wife as a conduit. Papa shouldn’t be living in aesthetic squalor, not for your kid’s sake and not for his own. So you gotta sit your wife down and tell her that this is a serious problem. It’s not “cute” if a grown man leaves floaters in the toilet and treats every floor like a garbage can. Of course that’ll rub off on your kid. It’ll also lay out a red carpet for cockroaches to come in and make themselves at home. That shit ain’t right, and you have to tell your wife that. She probably knows it’s gross too, only she doesn’t want to make her dad upset, since he does so much for you. So you have to force the issue. If you got a solid marriage, she’ll take your concerns seriously and help you map out a plan to get your father-in-law to stop living like a goddamn hobo. Best of luck, amigo.

Email of the week!


By the end of the 19th century, the use of plumes—the elaborate display feathers of various bird species, mostly wading birds like herons and egrets—to decorate ladies' hats was such a fashion craze that several of these species were threatened with extinction. As the new century began, groups like the American Ornithologists Union and the newly-founded National Audubon Society worked to secure the passage of laws protecting these birds, some of our nation's first environmental regulations. The hotbed of plume hunting was South Florida, which in those days was even more of an untamed frontier than it is now, so to enforce these laws bird advocates commissioned the nation's first game warden, a former hunter sympathetic to their cause named Guy Bradley.

Bradley patrolled the southwest Florida coastline by boat from the Ten Thousand Islands to the Keys, working to thwart poachers, educate locals, and advocate for the endangered birds under his protection. The work was treacherous; he faced not only the forbidding conditions of swamp and sea but the animosity of a group of armed frontiersmen who'd recently lost a lucrative income stream. In 1905, only three years into his tenure, Bradley was confronting a father-and-sons crew of outlaw plume hunters caught in the act when the patriarch, Walter Smith, shot him. It is not clear if Bradley was still alive when they set his bleeding body adrift. He was 35.

After Bradley was found, Smith, a former Confederate soldier, turned himself in and claimed self-defense. He testified that Bradley shot first, despite evidence that the warden's weapon had not discharged. Those who knew Bradley asserted that he was a crack shot and, had he indeed fired first, Smith would not have lived to tell the tale. Sadly, the trial ended in acquittal; less sadly, Bradley's relatives burned Smith's house to the ground. The Audubon Society secured donations to support Bradley's widow, Sophronia, and their two young children.

Though no one was willing to take Bradley's place as game warden (understandably given the circumstances), outrage over the murder influenced public opinion on plume hunting and gave renewed fire to the early conservation movement. A visitor center and lovely nearby walking trail in Everglades National Park are now named for him, and on display is a marker reading: "Faithful unto death, as Game Warden of Monroe County, he gave his life for the cause to which he was pledged." The gravestone it once adorned was scattered by hurricane long ago, as were Bradley's remains, which lie now enshrined forever in a national park beneath teeming flocks of the birds whose ancestors he died to protect.

Poaching is no longer a pressing issue, but these birds and many others still need our protection from new (and often more extensive) threats. So it is my hope that in hearing his story, new hearts will be awakened to the cause of wildlife conservation—that when given the opportunity to take action for birds and the environment, we can think: "Hey... I remember that Guy."

And you thought Sabrina Imbler was the only nature writer on this site.

If you liked this blog, please share it! Your referrals help Defector reach new readers, and those new readers always get a few free blogs before encountering our paywall.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter