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True Confessions: I Am A “Count The Ringzz” Bro

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JUNE 15: In this handout image provided by the Kansas City Chiefs, Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs pose during the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl LVII Ring Ceremony at Union Station on June 15, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Handout/Kansas City Chiefs via Getty Images)
Kansas City Chiefs 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 karma, X, smelly old food, football, and more.

Your letters:


I ask as a currently-reaping Phillies fan: with playoff expansion being what it is and only moving in one direction, at what point for you does the significance of "best overall regular season record" surpass the significance of "World Series Champion"? Or will it never surpass the World Series in significance?

Never. I’ll never give a shit who finished with the best regular season record. I know we goof on "Count The Ringzz" bros plenty here at Defector, but it’s not like we hold the winner of the Presidents' Trophy in the highest esteem, either. In fact, I almost always root against the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, because A) I like upsets, and B) I like to taunt the Braves for choking. This is both natural and right. I’ll die before I give some asshole team credit for being regular-season champs.

Nor should I. There are too many factors for regular-season records to have greater meaning beyond playoff seeding. Guys get hurt. Teams start slow and then get hot. One team at the top of the standings may have had an easier schedule than a team five games below them. If this was the EPL and there weren't any postseason, I could live with that and accept the regular-season champion as the overall champion, mostly because soccer has 56 other championship tournaments for me to enjoy.

But here in North America, we have a system where a postseason bracket settles everything “on the field,” and virtually every fan, coach, and player likes it that way. Anyone who doesn’t is a nerd, a crybaby, a dipshit, or some combination of all three. Imagine if I tried to convince you that the 1998 Minnesota Vikings were the real champions of that season and not the Denver Broncos. You’d laugh right in my face, and I’d deserve it. “Was X team that won a title really the best team?” is the lowest form of sports discourse. We have Halls of Fame for the Charles Barkleys of the world anyway. Our greatest losers still get plenty of recognition. We don’t need to give them any more than that, or else we end up with shit like this:

Take it from someone who was alive for every “It’ll devalue the regular season!” argument against the advent of the College Football Playoff. Rings may be a flawed measuring stick, but they’re still better than everything else.


As a man who is semi-recently single and even more recently ready to mingle, I realize that I’ve never needed to strike up a conversation with a woman in public. My question is: is this still a move, and is it even suggested? How does an anxious guy say, “hey” in this era?

You’re asking the wrong person given that I haven’t talked up a woman since the 1990s. That’s before smartphones, before texting, and before the advent of solid food. Back then you went into another woman’s cave with your club and said, “Me like you. Me take you home.”

The good news for you is that, as a modern man, there’s nothing stopping you from using the internet to find new women to date. You’re also, I would presume, old enough to talk up women who ALSO remember what the pre-internet dating scene is like, and are happy to meet guys the way that they themselves used to do. It’s not illegal to throw game at these women, as far as I know. In fact, if I ever got divorced—and one day, my wife will finally read something of mine that’s the last straw—I would definitely just go back to using my old game on new women, because it worked.

What was my secret? Glad you asked, because many a PUA subreddit has stolen my technique and used it to great effect. What I did was drink some beer, go to a bar, find a cute girl, and then say to her, “Hi, I’m Drew. What’s your name?” and see how it went from there. This is literally how I met my wife. I did not ALWAYS meet my wife using this technique, but I never got arrested for it. The worst thing that happened was I got rejected, which would have been earth-shattering to me at 14 but became just a single uncomfortable minute to me when I was 22. The latter can be true for you as well.

I know it’s not easy to work up the courage to go up cold to someone you find attractive, especially if you’re fresh off of a divorce. But I don’t believe that the greater culture has changed to the extent that merely introducing yourself to someone is viewed as active harassment. You say hi, you see if the conversation takes off from there, and then you fuck off if it doesn’t. Plenty of fish in the sea.

But again, I haven’t been out there for a very, very long time. Every commenter down below might tell you that The Drew Method™ is “psycho shit.”


I'm an old. I have a flexible relationship with aging food. I believe cheese can be eaten after the mold has been cut off. I will eat pizza the next day, even if it's been sitting at room temperature. Despite being the closest thing to full on hermits possible in this society, my husband and I got COVID a few weeks ago. Was surprisingly mild, given my age and risk factors, but it's hanging on like a tick, and it took out my ability to smell/taste. As someone who's gone through a far more intense sensory loss, do you have any advice on how to avoid accidentally ingesting potentially dangerous food? Other than being a normal person and just throwing stuff out?

For those of you who don’t know, I lost my sense of smell, most of my hearing, and some of my taste in an accident five years ago. I got a lot of my hearing back thanks to a hearing aid in my left ear and a cochlear implant for my right ear, and I’ve gotten so used to my tasting disorder that all food tastes “natural” to me now (read the book if you want a full explanation).

But my ability to smell is still DOA, which robs me of certain indelible olfactory pleasures but, on a more practical level, means that one of my biological security systems is now defunct. Lucky for me, there are four other people living in this house, and one of them—my wife—can smell a fart coming from Russia. So when I’m unsure if the milk’s gone sour, or if a package of raw chicken has turned (if you’ve smelled that smell, you know), I ask to borrow someone else’s nose. It’s gotten to the point where the rest of my family actually enjoys smelling things for me. They want to help, and my youngest is more than happy to take in the scent of a ripe melon that’s ready to be cut.

If no one else is around the house though, I have to improvise. I go by sight, staring intensely at a piece of bread to make sure there are no penicillin spores hiding out in its nooks and crannies. If I remain uncertain, I’ll serve as my own royal food taster, because my tongue is still alive enough to recognize when that yogurt has turned into cottage cheese. If both of those backup options fail, I just remember how much I paid for the item in question. If I paid a lot for it, down the hatch it goes. Otherwise, the trash.

And our trash gets full quick, because my wife throws out food like she was appointed head of the FDA. When I buy any carton of berries, she picks out the mushy berries one by one. For this, I have dubbed her the Berry Sheriff, a title that has caught on with our kids. She is not happy with it.


I was reading a heavy/dense article and the author quoted a post from X, then had to clarify with a "[Iranian official] wrote Monday on X, formerly known as Twitter.” How much longer will that be necessary? It drives me crazy, but if it means that Elon gets reminded of how dumb he is I'm in favor of doing it forever. 

At a certain point, we’ll all have to just give in. Verizon used to be Bell Atlantic, you know. Everyone got used to it. I see the X icon on my phone now and it doesn’t weird me out. It’s just what the app is. Whether or not this has been a wise or successful rebranding (it has been neither) is beside the point. The name of Twitter has changed to X, and no microaggressive protest I stage by still calling it Twitter is gonna make a difference. Also, I’m not interested in all of the extra work involved in typing, “formerly known as Twitter,” so I’m happy to relent and just call it X from here on out.

Because chances are that I won’t be referring to that platform at all in the future. You might have noticed that we at Defector embed tweets (I’ll still call them “tweets” because the word “post” isn’t specific enough) far less on this site than we used to. That’s a new policy here because X is often broken from day to day and we don't trust tweets to stay up .We’ll hunt down a YouTube to embed instead, because Google is just probably as evil as Elon Musk but less annoying. Moreover, X has eroded to the point where its readership and influence have just about reached the point of diminishing returns. Kevin Kruse laid out the practical case for leaving the network a month ago:

I think my fellow (former) big accounts need to realize that we’re experiencing a bit of a phantom limb syndrome. We still have a big number of followers, but they’re not actually seeing what we post and we’re not remotely having the impact that we once did (or at least thought we did).

So if X isn’t already a ghost ship, it’ll be one sooner rather than later. Most sensible people have already fucked off to better platforms, or just learned to live without social media in general. This hasn’t been an instantaneous process: I still open X regularly for NFL news. But it’s clearly happening, to the point where “Find us on X (formerly known as Twitter)!” won’t be part of the cultural lexicon anymore. This is good, because I’m sick of everyone’s Twitter personality. I’m sick of brands trying to be funny. I’m sick of Weird Twitter. I’m sick of someone going, “This is the darkest timeline!” because something bad happened. I’m sick of media people being like “I can’t believe this is my life!” anytime they win an award or get invited onto a late-night talk show. I’m sick of everyone jockeying to be King of Argument Mountain. I’m sick of my friends. I’m sick of myself. I’m ready for something else.

Unless Elon sells X, in which case we’ll just do this all over again.


Recently I bought a new car and on my loan paperwork from my credit union, my credit score was listed over 800 points. Do you think I have a better credit score than Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos? I need something to make me sounder cooler than I am at parties.

Thanks to his failed acquisition of Twitter, you almost certainly have a better credit score than Elon. All billionaires are addicted to being overleveraged, but here’s a rare instance where a rich guy and the banks backing him are NOT going to be able to offload that debt onto some other poor bastard. They’re all gonna lose real money, which mean Elon is no longer qualified to buy one of his own cars. So lord that over him, Serena.

Bezos is another matter. He owns those rating agencies. His credit score is one million, and he has infinite hit points.



When an offensive team is backed up to the point where a non-end zone holding call equates to fuckall in yardage, why not move the sticks on the far end? Holding on second-and-10 from the three? It's now second-and-20 from the three. Same for false starts and any other "half the distance to the goal" infraction. Sure, the offense has their backs against the wall, but why treat their penalties like they didn't happen just because of where they are on the field? A false start or holding call that results in a two-foot penalty is scarcely a detriment.

It’s enough of a detriment. You don’t see teams false-starting repeatedly near their own goal line just for kicks, because a false start doesn’t just fuck you in terms of yardage. You give away elements of the play call, you take the offense out of rhythm, you reinforce shitty habits, and you look like an idiot. I committed my share of false starts in my high school career. It felt AWFUL whenever I did it, no matter the circumstance. So while your idea is fairer, in a quantitative sense, it wouldn’t reduce those penalties in any significant form.

Moreover, it would make for lousy television. A normal holding call is a drive-killer. I don’t want MORE drive-killing penalties in my football. No one does. If you’re in second-and-20, it better be because a free rusher took your quarterback’s head off, and not because of some shit in the rulebook. Football has too many rules as is, and the league tweaks and addends them every offseason. [yelling at cloud] I just wanna see some goddamn football. I’m not alone on that.

Now, OPI being ruled a turnover? THAT idea I’m still down with.


Is it ever appropriate to put something in your mouth while sitting in the toilet? If so, what?

I’ve eaten string cheese on the toilet. Even considered posting “eatin cheese on the toilet again” just for fun, until I thought better of it. The point is that if your hands are clean, you’re free to eat where and how you please. I won’t be eating a five-course Italian supper while taking a dump, but if I wanna finish off a granola bar while I’m on there, that’s my right. Fuck you gonna do about it, arrest me?


Now that Tom Brady is a divorced weirdo making terrible commercials and the Patriots suck again, does that mean that karmic balance is being restored to 20th-century levels? 

No, because karma is a lie. If it did exist, I would’ve been remanded to hell 15 years ago. Trump never would have been elected President. Dave Portnoy wouldn’t be rich. White people wouldn’t still own everything. The Sonics would still exist. Yada yada yada. Believing that what goes around comes around is a comfort, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. There’s no spiritual balance to the universe that has to be maintained. Only physical order exists, and everything else is chaos.

Because you and I are human, we strive to rationalize this chaos in ways that make sense. We impose order on things that cannot be ordered, and that order comes in the form of draconian governments, religion, superstition, daydreams, and empty prognostications. It’s only natural, and in some cases healthy. And THAT is why I’m right to believe that Josh Dobbs is winning my team its first Super Bowl four months from now. Lock it in.


Which celebrity would do the best impression of their own impression? I think De Niro would do a delightful De Niro.

You have to pick a celebrity who’s already good at impressions, and it’s almost cheating to pick a comedian like Dana Carvey or Bill Hader. So I’ll reach into the Canceled bucket and pick Kevin Spacey. Yes, he’s a serial sexual predator, but by God can the man do voices flawlessly, likely even his own.


What thing that currently exists would be the second biggest culture war lightning rod if someone tried to invent/implement it? Obviously libraries are first, and I think that yellow lights are a clear second.

Public schools. History has proven, time and time again, that it benefits people in power for the people they govern to be stupid. The smarter people are, the more likely they are to say, “Hey wait a second, this DeSantis guy seems like a real dumbfuck! And what if my tummy hurts because I’ve been drinking bleach this whole time?” You can see how our worst leaders would prefer you not have such epiphanies, which is why many of them are doing their best right now to starve public schools—both of money and vital curriculum—if they can’t do away with them outright.

Second biggest one would be plastic. Third would be seat belts. I was alive for the first culture war around seat belts. It would be 50 times more difficult to get them to be made standard in cars now. Truckers would block traffic and shit over it.


We have three children under five, and we all store our toothbrushes in a bin next to the sink. There are a number of child sized toothbrushes and three adult toothbrushes. I don't know which is mine, so I just grab whichever toothbrush is handy and use it. On rare occasions it's been a child's toothbrush (I'm curious how the bristles feel), but mostly I grab a random large toothbrush and sometimes grab my wife's toothbrush. She objects. Resolve this dispute and save my marriage! Help!

Get an extra bin for the adult toothbrushes, then grab a Sharpie and write each family member’s name on each toothbrush. Bingo bango, problem solved.

Of course, this plan involves you, Ed, respecting the toothbrushes of others. This is not all that difficult of a hump to get over. Do you like your wife being mad at you? No. Is there an easy way to prevent it? Yes: the one I just outlined up above. Follow this plan and you’ll actually be acting in your own best interest, anyway. It’s true. I had to be married for, oh, let’s say 21 years before I fully understood that cooperating with my wife was not an act of surrender. Before that, I was like FUCK YOU, MISSY! I’M A MAN, AND I’LL WEAR DIRTY UNDERWEAR EVERY DAY IF I FEEL LIKE IT! Once I relented on such finer points, my own life demonstrably improved. A revelation.

Same deal with toothbrushes. I once had no compunction about using my wife’s. When we were dating and I stayed over the night, I considered it a loving indication that we were serious if I used her toothbrush. Plus her mouth wasn’t infested with fly hatchlings, so I considered it hygienic. But not everyone is so laissez-faire about that sort of thing.


I would love to get some input on both your favorite spatula shape/material. I’ve found myself heavily leaning toward a thin, wide, wooden spatula (basically a wok spatula) for just about everything lately because it’s both excellent at scooping and sturdy enough for scraping, etc, and way better than the rest of the silicone bullshit in our kitchen. What say you?

My favorite spatula in our kitchen is a plastic one (because we use nonstick cookware; be chill about it) with a thin, flat blade. I can get under anything with this spatula, and then nothing falls off of it. This is important. We have a different spatula with a thicker blade and beveled edges. While those beveled edges make it easier to slip the blade under food, it also makes it easier for that same food to slip right back off of it. It’s like an unloading ramp for a fried egg. Horrible. My wife has caught me yelling at this spatula. I was well within my rights to do so.

Elsewhere, I use different kitchen implements for specific purposes. We have a flat wooden scraper that I use to get fond off the bottom of soup pots, etc. But I’d never use that as a spatula when I have an actual spatula at my disposal. We also have rubber spatulas, which I use almost exclusively for getting cake batter and such out of mixing bowls. Those things scrape a mixing bowl so clean, it’s like magic. I never cease to be amazed. But try to flip a pancake with one of these things and you’ll blow it.


How come the shoelaces that come with shoes are so much better than replacement ones? The original laces on sneakers are always just the right color and not too bright white and the right width and thickness and even if you buy the supposed “official” replacement laces from the same brand you get total bullshit laces. This is most apparent with athletic shoes but ALL replacement laces are shittier in my experience. 

I think you know the answer, Susanne. If they sold proper replacement laces, then you’d be happy with your current shoes forever. That’s why the ones they currently sell are just a tick worse. They do the job of your old shoelaces, but they’re not quite as good. That fact will gnaw at you every single day. You’ll tie your shoes and the new laces will feel like poison on your bare fingertips. You’ll try to ignore the poor craftsmanship but then you’ll walk down the street and hear those laces flapping around FLAP FLAP FLAP, torturing your mind like the fading heartbeat of a dying loved one. Soon, you won’t be able to take it anymore. You’ll do anything to free yourself of those hideous New Coke laces, even if it means putting down $80 for a new pair. And so that’s what you end up doing. You go and buy the exact same pair of shoes all over again.

And THAT is how they getcha.


As we set off into another gross NFL 'charity' month, in this case Salute to Service, I ask which player and team sells the most of this awful shit? I see someone in a StS jersey and they might as well be wearing an Under Armour shirt with the flag on it with a pair of NOBULL sneakers to match.

I can’t give you a specific team or player here because, thanks to Fanatics’ chokehold on NFL merchandise, every franchise sells the exact same shit: camo ballcaps, camo headbands, olive green jerseys for the ladies, and the doodoo brown hoodies that are now de rigeur on every team’s sideline. None of this shit is attractive, none of it will make our dead soldiers any less dead, and all of it screams I OWN A VANITY PICKUP TRUCK. It’s a fake warrior ethos that the NFL pushes out there every Troop Month, and no sane person would ever buy a scrap of it.


I want to ban "No Pun intended." All the puns will be intended, forthwith. I don't think this will change anything. Agree?

Sure. All puns ARE intended. I think that’s fair to point out.

Email of the week!


We bought a new car and sold my wife's car (sold a Subie, bought a Subie; Denver baby, c'mon!) She's had it since she lived in Portland, more than a decade ago. She cleans it out and pulls out a CD case. It's fucking Appetite for Destruction. I'm like, "Fucking ay, I had no idea! Let's rock!" I open the jewel case and inside is a burned CD with "Jack Johnson" written on it. Your thoughts?

Oh that’s always an unwelcome turn of events.

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