Time for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Today, we’re covering lawns, insufferable colleges, NFL stepdads, and more.
How pissed does Brent Musburger get when he sees Verne Lundquist’s senile ass doing the primetime CBS game? I mean, Musburger is a legend, but gets shafted by getting stuck doing late-night Kentucky vs. Vandy (oh boy!) games on the SEC Network with the likes of Jesse Palmer. Or do you think Brent is content just sippin’ on scotch in the booth while collecting his paycheck?
I think he’d still like to do the big Saturday-night games, and I can’t blame him. I love Chris Fowler, but Musberger and Verne are among the last of the really old, booze-guzzling announcers who sound like they spent all day at the dog track before staggering into the stadium. Jesse Palmer sounds like a 3-year-old by comparison. Palmer should be locked in a vault and forced to smoke three cartons of Marlboros a day for an entire year so that he can get the proper timbre to match Brent.
Because the truth is that, when it comes to announcing, I prize voice more than I do information. Ol’ Verne is getting up there. He doesn’t get every name right anymore. He probably doesn’t even know what state he’s in. But I could give a shit. That man SOUNDS like college sports. I hate pretty much every announcer, but I’m down with Verne. Verne knows how to make any game sound like some big shit, and that’s all I want. I would rather have him botching the down and distance than replace him with some eager beaver who gets everything right but sounds like a Gymboree instructor.
Like Mike Mayock! Mike Mayock is enthusiastic and well-informed and sounds like he wants to sell me a fucking short-term loan. No, thank you. You gotta have that gravelly old-man voice. The Grandpa voice. When I’m a grandpa, I fully expect my voice to drop six octaves so that I sound like a cave monster. That’s when you’re ready to call some FOOTBAW games. I don’t ever want Verne to retire. You can keep him and Marv and Brent around for all eternity and I’d be fine with it. These men are national treasures. They should moderate the presidential debates.
Will there ever be a time when people install field turf for their lawns? High schools and colleges do it for their football fields because, in the long run, it’s more cost-effective than maintaining and taking care of grass.
Yeah, but football fields get torn to shreds by gameplay and Taylor Swift concerts, and thus need meticulous love and care. Unless we’re talking about Heinz Field, every square inch of turf has to be watered and re-seeded and sodded, plus you’ve got to sing songs to it if you want a perfect, level playing surface from week to week.
Even with kids, your everyday lawn isn’t subjected to that kind of punishment. Unless you’re one of those crazy lawn guys (every neighborhood has one, eternally sitting on his riding mower), you don’t need to landscape it like it’s Amen Corner. Taking care of grass can be a complete pain in the ass, but grass seed is still cheap, and I doubt installing wall-to-wall doggie-piss carpet in your backyard is as easy as it sounds. Look around and you’ll find that the cost of having a regular lawn is actually far less than if you pony up to install FieldTurf. It’s not like FieldTurf is 100 percent indestructible. It gets roughed up over the years like anything else you buy for a home. It has a warranty.
And unless you spring for the primo turf, it’s gonna end up looking like shit. The whole reason that crazy lawn guys are crazy about their lawns is to dazzle their neighbors. “Behold my pristine fescue! Not a clipping in sight!” No neighbor is dazzled by fake turf*. You took the easy way out. You didn’t WANT IT enough. Architectural Digest ain’t coming to take pictures of any joint that has an Astroturf porch.
(*As opposed to fake turf outside a home, I’m completely hypnotized by fake turf at a sports venue, like at a high school or college. I walked onto a FieldTurf field at one school once, and I was like, Holy shit, this is professional fake turf! I felt like Odell Beckham.)
Say you had precognitive abilities when it came to fantasy football, but only as to one position; i.e., if you pick quarterback, you know how every quarterback will perform for every week of the year. Assume—with the exception of your abilities—everything else (like your draft/auction, waiver wire, etc.) is normal. Which position would you pick?
Oh, running back. There’s a reason they get snatched up first in every draft, you know. Running back is the most enraging position in fantasy football, because a) there are so few good ones, B) they are not durable, and C) they can get sucked into a timeshare with Ronnie Hillman at ANY moment. No other position is more likely to let you down. Quarterbacks score more than running backs on average, but the gulf between them (from a fantasy standpoint) isn’t that wide. The dropoff from Purple Jesus to, like, Shane Vereen is far more pronounced. So if you know all the RB scores in advance, you could clean up. Frankly, the NFL should just go fully scripted and announce these stats in advance for my benefit. It would make the viewing experience far more pleasurable. On a related note: I’ve lost my DFS pool three weeks running. I need help.
Which historically shitty college football team would have the most obnoxious fan base if they were great? For my money, it’s Harvard. I know they’re an FCS team, but have some imagination. Could you imagine the gloating coming out of Boston if they had the best football team in college and in the NFL? I would stop watching football altogether. Their only saving grace would be that their actual undergraduate and alumni population is probably too small and too ambivalent about sports to infuriate you like a public school could.
It’s probably either Harvard or Duke, given how obviously despicable both those student bodies can be. But if you’re looking for a dark horse in that race, I would strongly urge you to consider Vanderbilt. Imagine the most obnoxious school in the most obnoxious conference in college sports becoming the most obnoxious powerhouse in that conference. No, thank you. They would compete with Notre Dame annually for the chance to be the St. Louis Cardinals of college football. WE DON’T EVEN HAVE AN ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT, YOU GUYS!
Some other notable contenders:
* University of Chicago, which was actually a football powerhouse ages ago. U-Chicago grad students are just as snobby as Harvard kids, only they don’t get the press. Trust me, you don’t want to know more about them than the negligible amount you already know.
* Yale or Princeton. Same reasons as Harvard. You don’t want any Ivy school filled with future Morgan Stanley brokers acting like it’s some kind of perennial underdog made good.
* NYU, which currently does not have a formal football program, which is for the best. You don’t want to cultivate a college football version of the Yankees, do you? Of course not. It’s best that college football remain blissfully detached from ANY kind of New York fanaticism. That’s part of the sport’s appeal.
* MIT. “Look! I used a special argon compound and nitrogen propellant to DRAW our championship banners in the night sky for all time! I’M SO FUCKING CLEVAH.”
Which NFL head coach would make the best/worst stepdad? Dan Campbell and Jeff Fisher have to be on the shortlist for worst.
TOMSULA! The second Jim Tomsula became a head coach, the whole WORLD said he looked like a stepdad. I dunno if he’d be a good stepdad or a bad stepdad but he would be the MOST stepdad.
In all these hypotheticals, the best possible coach is usually Rex Ryan. HOWEVER, in this case, it’s little bit mucked up by the whole foot thing. You don’t wanna be in your bedroom listening to Rex lick your mom’s toes all night. Rex would take you fishing and let you borrow his van and give you directions to the strip joint and spoil you like one of his own, but it’s still hard to get over the foot thing. You’ll have to take Bruce Arians instead. You get a little less jolliness, but you avoid the foot issue. So that’s a fair trade.
By contrast, Dan Campbell would be awful. He’d show up to the house in workout clothes and pat your mom’s ass and make an offhand comment about your failure to hit the weights. IT’S LOOKING LIKE YOU DON’T HAVE THE HEART OF A LION, BOY. He’d be much worse than Fisher, who LOOKS like an angry, drunken NASCAR stepdad, but is actually a perfectly nice guy. I’d much rather have Fisher than Campbell or Pete Carroll or any other high-energy coach who DEMANDS to be in your life and is openly disappointed to discover that you are a lazy bag of shit. Just let me be, old man.
I also wouldn’t want a stoic for a coach stepdad. Like, Bill Belichick might leave you alone, but imagine having THAT guy at the dinner table once a week. He wouldn’t say a word to you. He’s probably just shake his head the second you started talking about getting into Wiccan fan fiction. Why did you even marry this asshole, mom? He’s not right for you! You guys have nothing in common!
Whenever our kids are sick, suddenly my wife thinks I’m a mental patient that needs a straitjacket and is incapable of administering them medicine. “What did you give him?” “Is that the right dose for her age?” “What’s his weight?” “How long has it been since the last dose?” Like she’s a six-year pharmacy student. It’s Tylenol. I’m not choosing the right grail at the end of an Indiana Jones movie.
I once gave my kid antibiotics three hours too early, and my wife reacted as if I had planted a live bomb inside the child. Before having children, you should just agree on one parent to be the medicine administrator. Otherwise lines get crossed and dosing schedules get all fucked up. I’ll gladly lie to my wife if I can detect the wrong answer from the tone of her voice…
WIFE: Did you forget to give him the Motrin?
ME: [Senses forgetting would be bad.] No, I gave it to him.
WIFE: No you didn’t.
ME: Why do you always think I’m lying?! I totally gave him the Motrin! [I didn’t.]
WIFE: [Leaves me, marries Jeff Fisher.]
Anyway, giving kids medicine can be dicey, because you’re either dealing with a) that CVS mouth syringe that gets encrusted with old pink medicine by the first week (using the plunger is crazy fun though … I pretend I’m administering the adrenaline shot in Pulp Fiction), or b) the little flimsy plastic cup on top of the liquid Tylenol bottle, which has measurements calibrated to 1/80th of a teaspoon and has extensive labels warning you that your kid will die if they weigh less than 35 pounds and get .00001 milligrams more of the serum than recommended. Meanwhile, you ask any pediatrician about dosing a sick kid, and they’re usually like, “Eh, you can give ’em half the bottle. WON’T KILL ‘EM.” Doctors are way more lax about this shit than moms are.
Meanwhile, my children like using both the cup and syringe for bath toys. It’s a problem.
Do you (assuming you’re of average health/physical condition) think that you could run a marathon if your life depended on it? I’m talking gun-to-the-head ready to pull the trigger if you don’t finish the 26.2.
Do you get a bullet to the head for collapsing, Long Walk-style? Because running a marathon is really hard without proper training. You have to build up to that distance or else you’ll experience cramping, blistering, dehydration, and dead nipples. It’s not a given that you’d be able to finish one without breaking down, although the threat of sudden death is enough to push a great many average people to do things they would normally never be capable of. My guess is that an average American who is in reasonable shape could finish one cold, and then would drop dead of a heart attack immediately thereafter.
I used to run five miles a day back in my twenties, and some days I would double up and go 10 miles because I liked to imagine I was starring in a Nike ad where I fucking PUSH THE LIMITS and I look super hardcore and shit. I also liked the idea of other people on the track watching me run for a long time and gazing upon me with AWE and DESIRE, even though I was just another pud running around. Anyway, 10 miles sucked. I always spent those last few miles thinking about pizza. I was so hungry I didn’t even think about sex. Just pizza, with sausage and mushrooms and gooey cheese. So put me on a marathon course with a bayonet at my back and I’d probably eat my own arm off by mile 14.
I think I first I noticed this in college, but most everyone who has been through normal American schooling seems to remember that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, which seems like an odd piece of trivia for everyone to retain. I did an informal office survey—mostly women in their mid- to late-twenties, none of them history buffs to my knowledge—and at least 75 percent knew that Eli Whitney had invented the cotton gin. Obviously most of them had never seen one. I realize why it’s important and why it’s taught: I just don’t know why it’s so memorable.
I remember he invented it, too! And I don’t even know what a “gin” is. Let’s learn more about ol’ Eli ... ah, well, it turns out that Whitney’s cotton gin (invented in 1794) “streamlined the process of extracting fiber from cotton seeds” and turned the cotton industry into an economic behemoth that eventually resulted in a third of the American population being enslaved. So that’s … not good. If it makes you feel better, shady Southerners ripped off his gin design, and he never made much money from it. SO EVERYONE WINS. Whitney also invented the concept of “interchangeable parts” for mass production. Presumably, he had a sign that said DO YOUR JOB hanging over all his assembly-line workers.
Anyway, if I had to pull a few answer out of my ass here, I would say that the Eli Whitney factoid is memorable because a) the name “cotton gin” is weird and memorable and reminds you of booze even though it is NOT booze, b) it is inexorably tied to the darkest chapter in American history, and c) it’s an invention. Inventions are memorable. I know who invented the light bulb (Edison!), the telephone (Bell!), and the iPad (a bunch of overworked designers and factory laborers cowering at the lash of Steve Jobs!). When I was a kid, all I ever remembered in history was wars and inventions. Everything else was boring and shitty, but inventions were cool, because they involved gadgetry and getting rich. I pictured all the inventors like Doc Brown or the dad from Gremlins. And then I would imagine what it would be like if I invented something that sweet and awesome.
What I’m saying is that history is often dictated by the coolness factor among 10-year-old boys. That’s how inventors tend to stick out in history, even when they don’t really deserve it.
Do any presidential offspring, if they are applying to colleges around the same time Daddy President (or Mommy President) are in the Oval Office, get denied due to grades? Let’s say Malia made Ds in high school, but graduated. (Ds ain’t failing!) Does she get into Harvard?
FUCK YEAH, she does. Not only does it make for great publicity (her grades aren’t supposed to ever be made public, so it’s not like Harvard would get shit for letting in a D student), but the Obamas can also afford it. Annual tuition at Harvard is now 60,000 dollars. You know who can afford that? No one. Fucking no one can afford that.
So if your dad or mom is some rich big swinging dick who can actually pay the full tab, you’re already miles ahead of every poor-ass valedictorian out there. These colleges all pretend to be ELITE and HIGHLY SELECTIVE, but they’re all ravenous for money (even when they have it!) and will gladly let in any rich kid to help keep the stadium lights on. That’s been the long con for ages, and it’ll keep going until the day we finally invade Harvard and steal all their crap.
By the way, local news reports here said Malia wanted to study film in college. I bet Obama gave her the standard dad reaction: “Oh, film, eh? You know that’s a very competitive field, right? But we support you no matter what your choice is … OKAY FOR REAL THOUGH YOU SHOULD STUDY SOMETHING USEFUL.”
If you had to make a fantasy football-style lineup of players for partying, who would make your team? It can be present or past players, and the lineup wouldn’t have anything to do with their playing ability—strictly their rage value. You get points for how much your players drink and do drugs over the weekend. I think my QB would probably be JaMarcus Russell; obviously, Gronk would be a good go-to for TE.
Okay, so this is strictly in the realm of competitive binge-drinking and-drugging? I’m not actually partying with these guys myself? Then forget about Gronk and Johnny Football. Those guys are fucking lightweights. They may take a lot of wacky Instagram photos while holding up a bottle of Andre, but half the league can drink those fuckers under the table. You have to go real deep and real dark…
QB: Todd Marinovich
QB2: Ryan Leaf
QB3: Joe Namath
WR: Michael Irvin
WR: Jimmy Smith
WR: Josh Gordon
RB: Ricky Williams
RB: Travis Henry
TE: Aaron Hernandez!
K: Jeff Reed
KR: Koren Robinson
D/ST: 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers
FLEX1: Nate Jackson
FLEX2: Matt Jones
Special shoutout to former Emmitt Smith backup Sherman Williams, who was high for pretty much the bulk of his playing career. He’d be good to stash on the bench. I like that team. I could clean up on DrugKings with that team.
Okay, so back when I was in high school, some friends and I were playing a pickup football game. It was late in winter, and it had snowed HARD the night before, so when we got to the field, the snow was about thigh deep. Rather than try to stomp it down to a reasonable height or anything, we just start playing on it right away. Early in the first drive, I go out for a deep pass into virgin snow territory, but the throw comes in low, and I end up digging my hands into the snow to make the catch. The ball lands on top of the snow and just stops dead over where my hands are. It’s essentially the ball, completely motionless, on top of six inches of snow, and directly underneath that, my hands. I reached up through the snow and grabbed the ball, but there was probably a good half second where the ball was just sitting there on top of the snow. Is it a completion? For what it’s worth, my friends said that the snow counts as the ground.
NAWT A CATCH. If a ball lands on the grass and I go over and dig INTO the grass and pick the ball up from underneath after half a second, is that a catch? Of course not. The snow counts as the ground, man. You gotta get under that shit before it lands and secure the ball, even if we’re talking about fresh powder. If you dig up some snow and then bring your hands UP to retrieve the ball before it hits the ground, that’s fine. In theory, so long as the ball stays in the air, you can dig a hole to China, jump in that hole, catch the ball at the bottom of the hole, and that’s also fine. Those are the rules I just made up, which now qualifies me to officiate any football game at any level of play.
Last Friday, I was on my way home from buying my wife surprise flowers for our anniversary (six years). Holding the flowers, walking, I spotted a young, reasonably attractive woman walking in the other direction. Not only did I switch the flowers to my non-ring hand (so as to conceal the ring hand in my pocket), but also I made extra-sure to make eye contact with the woman in the least creepy way I know how. I elicited a smile. A pity smile, perhaps, but a smile just the same. It was THRILLING. Is there something wrong with me?
For wanting to feel DESIRED? Of course not. You TOTALLY could have hooked it with that girl. You still got it! That’s a reassuring thing to know in case your wife gets hit by a milk truck. Half the joy of being faithfully married is walking around with that ring on, flowers in hand, proudly announcing to the rest of the female population that you’re ONE OF THE GOOD ONES. Oh yes, ladies. I cook and clean. I do it all! If only you ladies had known this back when I was single! YOU BLEW IT, JENNY!
Email of the week!
Two weeks ago, my 9-year-old daughter had a playdate with one of her friends, who happened to be into American Girl dolls. Since I heard that while they were having a snack, I decided to fire up the PS3 and show them the Conan clip where he visits the American Girl store in L.A. They both laughed and enjoyed it and I thought nothing of it.
When the friend’s mom heard about this, she was furious. Apparently it was inappropriate to show a Conan clip (honestly, it has to be PG at most, considering the content in Disney movies these days), and it perhaps made my daughter’s friend see trips to the AG store differently, which the mom perhaps didn’t like. So my daughter’s friend is no longer allowed to come to our house, and my daughter is no longer invited to theirs.
Thing is, the girls were actually good friends, and my daughter kept on asking about why she couldn’t visit her friend anymore, and I did tell her it was because of the clip (and my daughter didn’t think much of it). Also, the other girl doesn’t really talk to my daughter anymore at school. Now, a good friendship is ruined and I feel compelled to somewhat salvage it. Typically, I would deal with the dad and do a golf/football/basketball outing and salvage things that way. Unfortunately, there is no dad in the picture, so I offered to get the girls some tickets for a concert of their choice and go with their moms. This hasn’t worked.
At this point, I think I’m finished. I have talked on the phone with the mother, and nothing seems to work. My wife doesn’t want to deal with it. She only put up with the mother for so long because the girls were friends, and says I should have to deal with it and find a solution. She wants us to cut our losses and have our daughter start having playdates with other friends, and I’m nearly at that point.
What do you think? Are there any other methods to salvage my daughter’s friendship, or should we just cut our losses?
(God, I hate parenting in the 21st century.)
Fuck ’em! You got that kid off the American Girl racket! Those things cost hundreds of dollars. The mom should send you a fucking gift card.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He’s also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also order Drew’s book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.