Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Harmless Self-Deprecation Has Reached Critical Mass

Illustration: Benjamin Currie (G/O Media)
FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag.

Today, we’re talking about coal, laundry, price points, cups, and more.

Your letters:

Josh:

Is there a movie star alive who does their own laundry? If so, it’s gotta be Paul Giamatti, right?

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Oh sure. I think plenty of movie stars do their own laundry, and I’ll tell you why. First of all, many of them are insane and would prefer to wash their own clothes using organic powdered guano extract they bought for $5,000 on GOOP. Secondly, it’s important to a lot of actors to present themselves as regular folk who buy their own groceries, take their kids to the playground, and wearily vape in parked cars. It’s all grist for your average People magazine puff piece: just 2,000 words of Mariah Carey going “I am SO boring! I’m such a homebody!” with pictures of her cutting an apple while wearing a diamond bustier. It’s like anti-gossip. Were you looking for juicy shit? Well, Adam Levine is here to fold his Diesel jeans and talk to you about how much he’s so OVER any potentially exciting rumors about him. Celebrities! They’re just like you! What a goddamn letdown.

It’s all an exercise in blithe self-branding. I’m as bad as anybody else. I live in a nice house and I am gainfully employed twice over, but I’ll merrily tweet about picking my toes or whatever. This is because I pick my toes, but you can also read it as me straining to be like I’M ORDINARY! to the rest of the world.

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Celebs deploy this kind of self-awareness but at a far more calculated level (at least, that’s what I tell myself). They’re tweeting about the dog peeing on the couch because a publicist told them to look more fallible and therefore more relatable. And so it can be hard to tell when people are being genuine about shit and when they’re being self-deprecating only because they want to appear so. In other news, I ate a salad last night that was just lettuce and Ken’s Caesar dressing. THAT IS SO ME, Y’ALL. #DADLIFE

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JG:

Completely naked and in daylight, how far do you think you get from your house before you get caught?

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For journalistic purposes, I oughta attempt this for real and then check the Health app on my phone to see many steps I get before cops wrestle me down and smash my bare dick into the pavement. Could be good cardio. However, running out of my house naked is “illegal” and would get me put in “jail” and called a “monster perv.”

Also, everyone would see my ass hair. So I can’t conduct the experiment.

If I did attempt it though, I think I could make it at least a block, if not more. I live in a residential area and there’s a bike trail nearby. Essentially, I would be gambling that the only thing that would bring me down is a concerned neighbor calling the police. Given that I live in the suburbs, the odds of this happening with alacrity are astronomically high. I mean, really: Why live in the suburbs if you can’t freak out about the slightest of offenses occurring just beyond your yard? Old Man Withers would call the 5-0 and demand my nuts be tased for tromping over his flowerbed while nude.

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So I could get to the path, but I don’t think I’d make it a mile before getting apprehended. I don’t live in the city but I still live in a densely populated area. There would be witnesses to the Drewhog in motion. But that situation changes drastically depending upon your time, your place, your gender, and your race. If I lived in sparsely populated place like Montana and pulled that shit, I could probably run to Idaho without a worry. If I’m a black dude living smack in the middle of Houston? I make it three feet before Officer Trigger-Happy rolls up for his date with infamy. When you look like me and you’re running around naked, people think it’s a prank. It’s Will Ferrell in Old School being a drunken scamp. When you’re black and doing it, people think you’re high on bath salts and ready to eat human flesh. We need more consistent standards for nudity in public, I tell you.

By the way, I was walking down Sunset Boulevard in L.A. once and a woman walked past me who was completely topless. No bra. Just sauntering down the sidewalk with her tits swaying back and forth. I had to look everywhere BUT at this poor woman so that she wouldn’t think I was a sexual deviant. I was the one who was fully clothed, and yet I was the one who was nervous! Not really fair. Anyway, I never alerted the police. I’m not gonna narc you out for that shit. I’m a Frenchman about such things. HONH HONH HONH.

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Rich:

Who has the better gig: restaurant critic or sports columnist?

Restaurant critic! Not even close. One of the reasons this very site was founded was because your average shitty local columnist HATED the sports they were covering. They had to trudge to every game (Lupica excepted … the famous rumor we once published here was that someone asked Lupica to file a gamer and he sniffed, “I don’t do windows” in refusal), file minutes after the buzzer, rip up their copy if the game changed dramatically at the end, eat from sad media room buffets, beg surly coaches for decent copy those coaches are never willing to give, and on and on and on. For those columnists, all of magic and wonder of sports they felt as youths corrodes as going to games becomes a slog of a job. I have been credentialed to enough sporting events and seen enough press boxes to know why this happens, and how quickly it happens. Imagine not only having to sit through an entire baseball game, but also having to pay attention! Meanwhile, every fan in the joint thinks you suck at your job and that they can do it better (accurate in the case of Bill Plaschke). You understand how all these guys became lushes by age 34.

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I know food critics have talked about the downsides of the job: you get sick of eating out all the time, you have to plan a zillion nights out, you sometimes have to wear a disguise, you may or may not hold the fate of a small business in your hands with a bad review, etc. I’m not tone deaf to those complaints. Even the dreamiest job is still a job.

But at least, on a certain level, you get to set the terms of how you work as a food critic. You get to pick when you eat, and even perhaps where. And the meal doesn’t have to start at 9:30 p.m. and run past 2 a.m. if it goes to extra innings. You can leave, unless you’re at some tasting menu joint where the chef thinks his dinner is a fucking Broadway show. And you get to eat tasty food instead of reheated farfalle and a wad of dinner rolls while searching in vain for a storyline to a regular season Magic-Hornets tilt. There’s a reason your average sportswriter becomes a bitter, cynical asshole, and not in the fun, Ratto-esque way. Meanwhile your average high-end food critic scores a good book deal and lives out the rest of his or her existence living at a private Napa vineyard, eating fresh burrata while chilling in a buckskin hammock. That’s the better job.

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Jess:

Is it trashy to reuse Starbucks cold cups for other things throughout the day? I like cold drinks and I figure it’s better to not waste another cup, but whenever I’m at work filling up my cold cup with diet coke I feel like people are give me judge-y eyes. Should I just recycle it after using it and move on? Should I just stop worrying about whether people think I’m trashy or not? Help!

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Go ahead and keep using it. When I take my kids to Starbucks I’ll get them a water to go with whatever dry-ass muffin/slice of poundcake they order. And it’s amusing how Starbucks will ask Poet Laureates to write copy on their coffee cups and have their baristas ask you what they can do to help address racism in the world. Then you ask for a glass of water and they give you a fucking Solo cup that’ll end up in an ocean patch nine days later.

So reuse that cup if you can. When I leave the Starbucks with my kids, I have them TAKE the water cups. Those cups become roadies. I figure they may as well take advantage of all the free tap water and ice they can get. Beats lugging around sports bottles. The only thing I’d say is that you shouldn’t feel obligated to keep the cup FOREVER. No need to wash it, or to refill an un-rinsed Frappucino cup with water. Then you end up with milky water. That ain’t fun.

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Joe:

Who’ll be the next Bruce Springsteen? That is, which musician or band will be inexplicably loved by the NEXT generation of aging white sportswriters? My gut says Outkast, which would suck because I really like Outkast, but, as a 30-something white guy, that kinda confirms what my gut is saying.

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I think it’ll just keep being Bruce Springsteen. There are YOUNG sportswriters out there who are into that shit. They’re like college Republicans in that regard: just strange youngsters who yearn to walk and talk like they’re fucking 60. Music can hang around in the cultural atmosphere like that. I went to school in the ’90s and plenty of kids were into the Dead, even though The Dead were old and I hated them (and still do) with a passion I normally reserve for Boston sports fans. I dunno if you’ll find a younger artist similar to the Boss who’s both insanely popular and who also has a pathological addiction to singing bullshit underdog stories that perfectly tickle the sensibilities of an aspiring Peter King. I know a lot of current sportswriters are into Jason Isbell and maybe The Hold Steady still, but neither of those acts can sell out Giants Stadium for a week straight. Your next Bruce won’t be a rock star. It’ll either be a hip-hop artist, or it’ll be some country music shit-for-brains who makes me want to shoot holes in my head.

Kevin:

I am taking time off work after a recent death in the family and am on the phone in “hour wait time” purgatory while handling all of the usual benefit stuff with Big Government. I have trashy daytime TV playing in the background. What television show do you think is playing in the background most often while people call Big Government? It has to be Springer or Maury, right??

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What is this, 1996? You know the answer is whatever’s on Fox News. The average homemaker these days isn’t interested in soaps or whoever today’s Jenny Jones is. They wanna watch Fox News and be frightened about the invading hordes scheming to cross the border and steal all the fucking Hamburger Helper. That’s just the kind of soothing television you wanna watch when you’re on the phone with a health insurance provider explaining to you that that UNDERSTAND your frustration but that they simply cannot cover chemo treatments for your three-year-old.

Second place goes to The View.

By the way, Meghan McCain is one of TV’s preeminent nepotism cases, but Jenna Bush has a cushy gig over at NBC and no one bats a fucking eyelash at it. McCain invites and deserves scorn on a daily basis because she’s a defensive moron who dresses like a failed elementary school teacher and believes she’s the center of the solar system. But Jenna Bush slides by simply by blending in with the inanity of her fellow guests and co-hosts. It’s a quality scam. Meghan never shuts the fuck up about her old man. Jenna just gets to pretend she’s not scion to a warmongering dynasty. No one ever says to her, “Hey man, your old man was a shit President” while she’s helping them make a chocolate soufflé on camera. But they should! That would be great TV.

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HALFTIME!

Andrew:

How many astronauts do you think have looked down on the planet and thought, “I’ll bet someone down there is masturbating right now”?

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I’m sure they’ve made jokes about it to one another aboard the ISS. But in terms of seriously thinking about it to themselves, I think the answer is zero. That’s not the answer I wanna give you, but I’ve read enough about astronauts to know that they are terminally clinical people who are up there specifically because they are NOT the kind of people who get distracted at a porthole window wondering if Trump or whoever else is cranking his shaft down there. They’ve got space debris samples to run through the spectroscope. Very businesslike folk floating around up there.

Besides, the answer to that question is an obvious yes. There are no breaks in the global Masturbatorial-Industrial Complex. And if I were up in space and staring out at the Earth, I would be too busy having my skull blown to consider such matters. I would be at a loss for words and for thought—preoccupied by my own sense of wonder. I would be outside of myself, same as when I got married or watched my kids being born. I didn’t watch my son come out of the womb and think to myself, “Hey, I wonder if anyone is this ward is jackin’ it right now.” Adrenaline tends to bury those thoughts.

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This is why I should be sent to space, so I can wait for that rush to wear off and then look out from my Virgin Galactic seat and ask the space attendant, “Hey, we think there’s lots of fuckin’ goin’ on down there?” And then I would be shoved out of the plane and left to asphyxiate in orbit.

Tim:

Recently, the idea of significantly raising wealthy people’s taxes has come back in a big way. I’ve read lots of articles and posts arguing over what “fair” tax percentages for rich people might be, but I think percentages are kind of meaningless when we’re talking about BIG money. My question is really this: if someone like Jeff Bezos had 99% of his wealth taken away tomorrow, would his life actually change much? Sure, he probably stops being a household name and loses bragging rights amongst the other billionaires out there, but other than ego bruises does his life really change in a meaningful way?

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It doesn’t. But even though I am a filthy liberal who enjoys screaming EAT THE RICH alongside my fellow comrades, even I think taxing them at 99 percent is onerous. Tax the fuck out of them, but leave them enough dough to hold lavish fuck parties and go spearfishing on private islands and what not. I can decry the American Dream as a poorly disguised Powerball ticket all I like. Doesn’t mean I don’t still dream about being richer than fucking God. Should you base an entire country’s economic model on what is essentially a daydream? Probably not. The problem isn’t just that the rich don’t pay enough in taxes, but that things are set up in such a way that fuckheads like Bezos can even amass that much to begin with, largely by tying his employees’ urethras shut and bullying every other potential competitor out of existence. There shouldn’t be avenues for that type of horny penis to flourish in such a manner.

But, as it stands now, if I ever invent a side mirror dimmer switch and become a billionaire many times over, I’d almost certainly morph into a deluded asshole who thinks he’s earned every penny and that the masses are all BUTTHURT and ungrateful and incapable of my visionary achievements. I say we take, like, 60 percent of Bezos’ shit. Then he can’t go to space (and wonder about all the people getting themselves off below!) while everyone else starves to death.

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Jeffrey:

Why is every idiot saying ‘price point’ now? I blame this on HGTV home shows where everything is at a ‘price point’, but it adds nothing when you can just say ‘price.’ People use this talking about the price of everything now. It must be stopped.

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That’s just brandspeak leaking into the common vernacular, which happens more often than it ought to. This is what happens when you got idiot Marvel fanboys crowing over box office receipts they won’t see a dime of. If you can’t make the billion dollars, well then you stake your claim to something/someone else that can and spend your time living vicariously through its/their success. AND FUCK JENNA BUSH, AMIRITE?

God, I’m talking like a fucking Commie right now. Lemme get back to price points. The reason people say that shit is because, as with so much other brandspeak, it’s something that SOUNDS smarter to say instead of just calling a price a price, the way everyone else does and should. “Price point” connotes that the price of something is fluid, which is true, and that some master economics knower behind the scenes set that price point right in the exact right sweet spot to perfectly balance supply and demand, which is probably less true. That’s an important point (pun recognized but not intended) for Meredith Vieira to get across when she’s telling you about Miracle Night Cream that’s on sale for just $68 a jar on QVC. Act now! It won’t stay at this price point much longer!

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Ben:

In an alternate universe FDR is alive in 2020 and runs for President. He has polio and uses a wheelchair and leg braces. Trump is still the Republican nominee. How many times does Trump refer to/call FDR a “cripple” at his rallies? Would it backfire against Trump and swing the election to FDR?

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He would absolutely call him Crippled Frank on Twitter every morning, and then the New York Times would be like, “Trump courts base with possibly objectionable, physically charged language directed at his opponent.” I dunno if it would backfire because Trump already does horrible shit like this on a daily basis and his fanboys eat it up. They love the show.

As for FDR, you should remember that he’s the one who signed off on internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II. Also, he was quite the racist

(Thurgood) Marshall himself had felt the president’s chill when Attorney General Francis Biddle phoned FDR to discuss the NAACP’s involvement in a race case in Virginia. At Biddle’s instruction, Marshall picked up an extension phone to listen in, only to hear FDR exclaim, “I warned you not to call me again about any of Eleanor’s niggers. Call me one more time and you are fired.” Marshall later recalled, “The President only said ‘nigger’ once, but once was enough for me.”

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Wonderful. Please do not tell Trump this story, because then he’ll wonder out loud, “How come Crippled Frank can call them that but not me? TOTALLY UNFAIR!” Anyway, if alternate universe FDR beat Trump in a straight-up election, it wouldn’t be because Trump called him names, but because he was ALSO racist enough to possibly endear himself to all those fickle Never Trumpers who can supposedly swing every election. Very comforting! Let us now stick to sports as a palate cleanser…

Will:

What do professional golfers do when they retire? Do they just keep playing golf?

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Yup. Why do you think they drag out the corpse of Jack Nicklaus to do the ceremonial first tee shot at any given Sunoco Open? Those guys never stop playing. There’s a Senior PGA Tour for a reason, you know. Golfers are blessed in ways that football players and other athletes are not. If you play football, age eventually forces the issue. If you play golf, you can turn 88 and still dribble the ball down the fairway from the old man tees, drink a vodka-and-soda at the turn, and have yourself a pleasant afternoon. You can’t age out of that sport. If anything, it looks strange to watch YOUNG people play it. Retiring in golf just means you don’t need the prize money anymore. Nothing else changes.

Ryan:

What if each coach was given a blue flag? The blue flag is essentially a one-time do-over on any play. For the first year at least, it’s good for a do-over on any non-scoring play. If you throw a challenge flag, and lose the challenge, you can’t then use your blue flag. One use, and it’s as if the play never happened. They line up and do it again. No booth review, no minutes looking at dozens of angles of replays. Just some other game management thing for Andy Reid to screw up.

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I can’t even imagine how many times a coach would throw the wrong-colored flag by accident in that situation. You wanted a mulligan, you got a booth review of a three-yard gain on first and 10. Real Lovie Smith moment. Anyway, I’m on record as saying that the NFL needs fewer creative wrinkles in its byzantine rulebook, not more of them. Besides, why does any team deserve a do-over? Tough shit if you fuck up a play. You’re just gonna have to figure a way out of this jam, amigo. I don’t want mulligans in professional sports, and I don’t want the rich taxed at 99 percent. AND I DON’T LIKE KIDS TODAY PLAYING THAT HIPPITY HOP MUSIC. HURTS MY EARS.

Mickey:

My kids asked me last night, “Has anyone actually gotten coal for Christmas?” So, I ask you: has anyone actually given their kids nothing but a stocking full of coal for Christmas?

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Oh yeah. First of all, they probably do it in West Virginia as a matter of tradition. Those people LOVE coal. Coal is good. You can destroy the sky and light old convertibles on fire with it! Secondly, parents in the old days were ASSHOLES who would absolutely cancel Christmas on you if the schoolteacher caught you hoop trundling out in the yard when you weren’t supposed to. If you were good, you got an orange. If not, you got a lump of coal. Not even a big lump. Daddy couldn’t spare the big’uns.

One Christmas, my youngest son asked Santa for a potato for Christmas as a joke. So on Christmas Eve, I slipped a raw potato from the fridge into his stocking (along with actual gifts), and when he came down the next morning and found the potato, he was livid.

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HIM: Why did I get a potato?

ME: You asked Santa for one, boy.

HIM: NO I DIDN’T!!!!

ME: You sure as shit did.

To this day, he still denies ever having asked for it. The naughty boy. I cooked that potato and ate it. Perfectly good potato. He should be so lucky.

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Jack:

What trade off would you make to never have to wipe (your butt) again?

I would be willing to receive a potato for Christmas.

Email of the week!

Mike:

My oldest had a malignant tumor removed from her soft palate and subsequently had her entire palate removed. As you’d expect, she was on a soft food diet. Did they offer a special menu of soft food items at the hospital? Drew, they did not. They took whatever you ordered and blended it to a paste. Blended hamburger (sans bacon but with discernible extra pickle) is still a family joke.

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GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

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About the author

Drew Magary

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.