Illustration by Jim Cooke

Time for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Today, we’re covering LeBron, LeBron, LeBron, and more.

Your letters!

Mark:

I write on behalf of all Cleveland fans: how do we not become insufferable pricks?

Well look, you already have a built-in advantage in that you are not Boston. That helps. Boston remains the city with the ideal prototype for a fanbase gone wrong, and you have a LOT of work to do if you plan on equaling them in terms of being spoiled assholes.

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These days, it’s hard to avoid this fate, because every fan has access to the Internet and every team has a cadre of asshole fans who will inevitably destroy your town’s reputation (see: Seattle). Also, opposing fans (like me) are naturally resentful of any winning team, whether or not their success is well-deserved. Look at the Warriors! Five minutes ago, I enjoyed them. Now I want them to fall into a crevasse. Things turn just like that.

But if you look to Boston as a shining beacon of how NOT to handle a championship, you may come out relatively unscathed. Here now is the template celebrating a long-awaited title without engendering a violent backlash…

Don’t wallow in the pain you just absolved. You have roughly one week to remind the rest of us of how many years your city suffered in anguish. After that, I don’t wanna hear about it. It’s over. You won. Problem solved. The rest of us are still out in the sports wilderness, so my admiration is strictly temporary. Don’t assume I will always be happy for you while the Vikings are still out here botching chip shot field goals. After the euphoria wears off, we all go back to our corners as sports fans. Alliances dissolve.

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Don’t wear championship merch. All championship hats and shirts are tacky and annoying and make you look like a 45-year-old soccer mom who only caught up with the team midway through Game 7. As far as I’m concerned, we should send ALL championship merchandise to third world countries, not just the stuff that got printed by accident. Imagine seeing someone on the street wearing this. You would cold-cock them directly in the kidneys, right? I know I would. You only get to wear a title hat if you’re one of the people riding in the parade float.

Don’t bitch about HOW you won. DURRRR WE WOULDA WON IN SIX IF THE REFS HAD A BRAIN DURRRR.

Don’t pretend you had a hand in the victory. Oh, you stuck by your boys this whole time? Guess what? No one gives a shit, not even the team itself. Don’t tell me you always believed in them, because I know you’re lying. And don’t try to force your sad fan credentials on me, like you have a bunch of Purple Hearts pinned to your lapel. Other fans cheer hard too.

Don’t get cocky. I don’t care if athletes get cocky and start mouthing off and showboating. But when fans do it, I turn into Phil Mushnick. ACT LIKE YOU’VE BEEN THERE BEFORE, SON. There’s nothing worse than a bunch of sad sack fans who suddenly morph into an army of little Trumps at the first whiff of success. If you go this route, everyone will hate you and then something even worse will happen…

Don’t turn heel. You went overboard and now everyone is mad at you for being a loudmouthed frontrunner. It happens, but you will make it even worse if you decide to roll with it and tattoo “THEY HATE US ‘CAUSE THEY AIN’T US” across your bicep. You’ll never recover.

Don’t dredge up your past self-loathing when things go awry in future seasons. I guarantee you that if LeBron gets hurt next year and the Cavs revert to form, there will be a handful of fans calling into sports talk radio being like, “SAME OLD CAVS!” No. No, you don’t get to draw from that well again. It’s been sealed shut. You have been reborn as a competent franchise. Act accordingly.

Alistair:

So now that the Cavaliers have done the impossible and won an NBA Championship, I started wondering which major professional league will be the first to have all of its active franchises be title winners? Given a long enough timeline, it’s going to be the NBA, right?

No! No, it’s baseball. Thanks the MLB’s longevity and a postseason format that has all the meritocracy of a prize wheel, only eight MLB teams have never won a World Series (Rangers, Astros, Brewers, Rays, Padres, Nats, Mariners, Rockies). That gives baseball a decided advantage over the NFL (13 teams without a Super Bowl, including my own stupid asswipe team), the NHL (12 teams without a Stanley Cup, soon to be 13 with the expansion Las Vegas Backroom Hammers waiting to be born), and the NBA, which also has a dozen ringless teams.

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Now, some of the teams on that MLB list are perpetually hapless also-rans who aren’t even as accomplished as the Cubs. That’s especially true of the Padres, an under-the-radar puke team owned by a bloviating shitbag of a man. But five of them have already been to a World Series, and the Nationals are always good enough to make you think they’re GONNA go all the way before they decide to choke the life out of one another. By the end of this century, every MLB team will have won a World Series. I’d bet ten cents on it.

After that, we’re talking about additional decades, if not another century or two, for the other sports to finish handing out titles to every existing franchise. Here’s how I’d rank them by likelihood, after the MLB (which will serve as 1):

2. NHL. All some random Sun Belt expansion team needs to win the Cup is a decent training staff and a red-hot goalie. Also, the NHL is too stupid to rig their sport properly for big market teams and superstar collectives, which is how you end up with Nashville playing San Jose for something important.

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3. NBA. You think Adam Silver is letting Toronto win a title anytime soon? Fuck that. That’s never happening. Look at some of the franchises that have yet to win an NBA Finals: the Grizzlies, the Nets, the Nuggets, etc. These are filler teams. These are the teams that exist mainly so that LeBron can visit more than ten cities a year. There’s no urgent need to get Memphis a title, no matter how special and bluesy Memphis thinks it is.

4. NFL. NFL parity is the greatest lie ever told. Look at all those fucking teams without a Super Bowl: the Bills, the Browns, the Lions. The list reads like a gallery of the damned. I bet the NFL folds before the Lions win a title. Even if the league survives for another five hundred years, and all the players are replaced with cyborgs, and Detroit undergoes an economic renaissance thanks to football cyborg manufacturing, the Lions will STILL fuck everything up. The NFL shares revenue, but little else.

Adam:

Now that Cleveland has won a title, who takes over as the most pathetic sports city? Atlanta? Buffalo?

This question’s been batted around ever since Sunday night, and to me the clear answer is Buffalo. Other cities like DC and Minneapolis still have titles in their back catalog. Buffalo has nothing at all, unless you count AFL titles (and I don’t, because fuck pre-Super Bowl championships). They also lack an MLB or NBA franchise, which means they have to put all their hopes into the Bills and Sabres, which is something you never do. If your city has four teams (like DC), at least you have more chances for a title. But the people of Buffalo have to sit there every winter and watch their teams fail while they get buried in nine feet of gray snow. It’s brutal.

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By the way, one of the highlights of the OJ documentary that just ran on ESPN was the brief segment about how much OJ despised living in Buffalo. They made that place sound like an Alaskan military outpost, with nothing but wide shots of barren snowscape. It was so, so cruel, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was like, “Even this future double-murderer thinks your town blows.” This is why Buffalo has a decided edge over a place like San Diego, which has pleasant weather and viable diversions outside of watching a sports team getting its ass kicked in perpetuity. Even Houston has more going for it.

Marty:

Watching the U.S. Open, it is disgusting that they tell Dustin Johnson they ‘might’ give him a penalty after the round. He is left to play the rest of the round, without knowing what his lead is versus the other golfers. How would you rank professional sports in order that the officials have the biggest ability to manipulate the outcome of a game or event?

Figure skating will always be at the top of this list because the outcome is determined solely by a cabal of crooked officials with shady personal agendas. Boxing would be #1, except that the occasional knockout renders the judges moot.

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If anything, golf is way down on the list because the officials only factor in if something weird happens, like a ball blowing in the breeze, or a ball hitting a flagstick and then getting embedded in a woman’s eye socket. I think one of the reasons that the USGA was too dumb to rule on Johnson’s penalty right away was because they so rarely have to intervene. Usually, they’re busy fucking with tour pros by emptying boxes of tacks into the nearby gorse. When an actual call has to be made during the event, they turn into headless chickens. God, I wish that Johnson hadn’t won by so many strokes. Those officials deserved to have that tournament end in a complete fucking shitwreck. He never touched the ball!

Truthfully, any ref or official can destroy the integrity of a sporting event if they’re determined enough. A home plate ump can offer a generous strike zone. An NBA ref can manipulate the foul disparity between teams. An NFL ref can kill any drive by arbitrarily calling holding. As always, the outcome of your favorite sporting event is scarily dependent on the whims of officials, and it’s best not to think about it, or else your whole day will be ruined.

I have come to accept that there is a bit of shadow rigging to all these sports, all done for my viewing benefit. It’s fine with me. I’ll take an entertaining contest of dubious integrity over some squeaky clean blowout. That’s boring as shit. My fondest Olympic memories almost all involve bad officiating. The actual athletic achievements take a backseat to someone shooting a track star dead with the starter pistol.

Mark:

My apartment is pretty standard. The downstairs people have a button they can push to talk to me in my apartment, and then I have a button that opens the door. So far everyone I buzz in, after walking up the stairs, knocks on my actual door again. Once I buzz you in, doesn’t that mean you can just come in? Why would you buzz and then knock on the door? I already let you in. Once you get to my apartment door you can just come in. Right?

Wrong! What if a deranged murderer slips into the entrance behind your guest, shivs them in the elevator, and is coming to kill you? Don’t you want to make sure that you’re getting the guest you expected? Or what if I buzzed you in after a hot shower, and I need to make sure I’m decent before you make it to the door? I don’t want you accidentally seeing me and my exposed giblets.

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In general, it’s always better to knock as an extra courtesy, even if it’s a useless gesture. If you want people to come right in, you should just leave the door ajar. When I’m coming down the hallway and your door is cracked open and I can hear the party a-rockin’ inside, I know it’s safe to walk right in and make a grand entrance. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE MAN YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR HAS FINALLY ARRIVED. (Throws down four-pack of wine coolers.)

By the way, I have done that thing where I go to a party, I knock on the door, and no one answers because they’re busy partying. Then I go for the door and it’s locked, and then I wonder if I’m being deliberately ignored. “Oh God, what if they saw me at the Hudson News perusing issues of American Curves?” It’s an anxious moment.

HALFTIME!

Jim:

Can I save a few calories by chewing up a candy bar but not swallowing it?

In theory, yes. But you will be biologically unable to keep it up. According to Mary Roach’s Gulp (I recommend all Mary Roach books), you have to swallow in order for the process of eating to be satisfying. (The same goes for oral sex, too! ALL RIGHT HIGH FIVE THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ‘BOUT, BROTHER.)

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The whole point of eating is to take in the food to get energy, so your brain demands that you complete the ingestion before releasing all those sweet, sweet, chocolate-induced endorphins. If you spit your food out, you will only drive yourself mad by ratcheting up your cravings and making yourself hungrier. This is why bulimics vomit up food rather than spitting it out, even though the former is obviously far more traumatic on the body. You must complete the process of the Snickers bar to “eat” it.

I did one season of high school wrestling (I do NOT recommend it), and a couple of the kids used to cut weight by sitting in a hot shower, wearing a garbage bag, chewing up Starburst and spitting them out to drop water weight. Now, this is an extremely dangerous and potentially lethal thing to do. But more than that, imagine torturing yourself by going through a pack of Starburst and not eating a single one of them. You’d go crazy. Every potential shortcut around binge-eating out there is a lie, kiddos. You gotta exercise moderation, and you gotta swallow your food. There’s no other way.

Carson:

If you were to poll players on the average NFL team about their record from the previous year (only asking players that were on the team during the last season, of course), what percentage would actually know off the top of their head? I think it would be around 50% (not many more than most of the starters and some backups).

I think they’re more apt to remember the exact record if they won more than ten games OR lost more than twelve. If you go 7-9, no one gives a shit, not even the head coach. It fades into memory. But if you go 13-3? I’m putting that on a shirt and going to the club with it on. And if you go 2-14, the team captains are gonna remind you about it all next season. “YOU BOYS WANNA GO 2-14 AGAIN?!”

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So 50 percent sounds about right, and it’s perfectly understandable. Every goddamn week, these poor guys are drilled by their head coach to throw out their record. “Boys, we’re 0-0 as far as I’m concerned!” The next game is the only game. They aren’t SUPPOSED to be keeping track of wins, because god forbid they be distracted by big-picture issues for more than half a second.

I remember when I played high school and college ball, everyone on the team would be VERY cognizant of our win/loss record, especially if we were either undefeated or winless. First we would want to go undefeated. Then we would want to go 7-1. Then we would want to finish the season with a winning record. Then we would just be happy to settle for .500. Then we would want to at least win the LAST game of the season, just to end on some kind of high note. Then we would get down on our knees and cry and beg God not to let us go winless, because winless teams don’t get laid. That’s how the process works.

By the way, I sometimes referee elementary school soccer games (SO MUCH POWER), and we deliberately avoid keeping score, because everyone is supposed to have fun, etc. But the KIDS do. Holy shit, do they keep score. Eighty years from now, those kids will still be able to tell me who scored and what minute of play the goal occurred in. They aren’t interested in pleasantries. They want to KILL.

Peter:

If you’re trapped in a public restroom, how long is it before you start drinking toilet water? Also, what’s the first thing you eat?

Can’t I use the sink? Or is the sink broken? Is it clean toilet water? I’m softer than a newborn fawn, so if the sink is out of order, I’m chugging clear toilet water within the first few hours. I can probably hold out a couple more hours if it’s yellow, and then a couple more if there’s a turd in there, and then indefinitely if it’s diarrhea. You can drink around a turd. With diarrhea, the water is poison. I’d have to lick the water from around the base of the toilet instead. Then I would go to eat the paper towels, only to discover that the bathroom uses an air dryer instead. CURSE YOU, AIR DRYER!

Brandon:

At what point is it not OK to have a roommate? My friend is 35, has a respectable income and a fairly reasonable mortgage with no bills besides utilities and student loans, yet his brother and another friend live with him. I say it’s ridiculous (and his previous girlfriend agrees with me since she just broke up with him over still living like a goddamn 22-year-old). I would totally understand if he were saving money and taking trips to tropical islands and driving a Ferrari but he drives a minivan and doesn’t do shit.

I think it’s possible that your friend doesn’t live alone because he doesn’t realize how NICE it is to live alone. That happens, you know. You get used to living in a dorm or an apartment with a bunch of other filthy guys, then you finally get a place of your own and that’s when the bolt of lightning hits. “My God, I can watch whatever I want! No one is gonna steal my food out of the fridge! I CAN MASTURBATE IN THE LIVING ROOM!” Sometimes you have to make the move in order to understand its implications.

I will say that if having a roommate is having an adverse effect on your friend’s other relationships, especially with women, that’s probably not a good thing. Once you hit your thirties, you need to grow up a little bit and live more like an adult. That means keeping the joint clean, and maybe even buying a plant. I’m not saying this is some kind of stupid Man Law. I’m just saying it’s a nicer way to live when there aren’t roach eggs growing in your cereal box.

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Some people who just like having company around them all the time. People people. I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with that, so long as you don’t stay a fucking slob forever. I used to live alone, and it was lovely. But now I live with four other people (wife + three kids), and I genuinely miss their company when I’m away. I am big co-dependent baby now. It ain’t right.

Evan:

Do you think the amount of sodium listed on the nutrition facts for pretzels accounts for the amount of salt that gets lost off of the pretzels that will eventually get sifted down to the bottom of the bag and never get consumed (unless you’re a monster)?

Probably not. In general, you should assume that the nutrition label was rigged by BIG SODIUM in order to mask how truly awful your food is for you. If they can add more sugar and salt and carcinogenic red dye to your box of crackers, they will. I don’t think they even do it for flavor. I think their chemists just like to make friendly wagers about how much undetected arsenic they can add to your can of soup.

Kyle:

LeBron & Co. seemed to enjoy themselves after their NBA Championship. Which major league sport’s athletes party the hardest after winning a championship? MLB, MLS, NFL, NBA, NHL? Or is it some crazy cricket league in Turkey?

It’s gotta be some Brazilian soccer league. Brazilians party harder and better than the rest of us, so if you win anything of note there, I bet there’s a Carnivale staged around your penis for eight days and eight nights. Compared to other countries, our athletes are all honorary Mormons.

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But if we’re just talking about North American sports, the answer is the NHL. Everyone alive wants to party with the Stanley Cup: players, coaches, executives, fans, politicians, policemen, celebrities, circus mules… everyone. The second you lay hands on that trophy, your life is a parade. Also, you spend nine months murdering your body in order to win the Stanley Cup, and you only have three days to enjoy the title before hockey training vamp starts all over again. So you gotta get your partying into a short window. No time to fuck around and read a book or anything.

Also, the length of your title celebration varies by city. Cleveland is gonna celebrate that title forever. The Saints are STILL celebrating that Super Bowl. If you’ve been thirsting for a title, you’re gonna make the most of it. It’s not like when Alabama wins a title. When Alabama wins a title, Nick Saban celebrates by making you run suicides.

Jarrod:

After watching LeBron chase down poor Andre Iguodala for maybe the biggest block in league history (LeBlock?), the obvious question arose. Which sport’s athletes would most benefit from having eyes literally in the back of one’s head? Basketball? Soccer? Football with a downside of Leon Lett seeing Don Beebe and a silly looking rear face mask?

Pro wrestling! No more managers blindsiding you with foreign objects!

In all seriousness, if you had eyes in the back of your head and you were playing baseball, you could see the catcher’s signal, right? That seems useful. I would go with baseball first, and then football second, because it would be invaluable for a QB to see the pass rush coming from behind him, especially if that quarterback lacks any kind of pocket awareness (like RG3).

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I don’t know if it’s useful, but I bet having eyes in the back of your head would be most satisfying if you ran track. If I’m near the finish line and I see a bunch of losers who are all ten yards behind me, that has to feel great. Or what if someone is closing in fast? I could stick my leg out and trip them. I bet that would feel amazing.

Email of the week!

The summer I turned 16, I started my first real job. My uncle’s family owned a plumbing/heating co. and I was hired basically as a know-nothing kid. In late August I was sent with a plumber and a laborer to check out an elementary school’s systems before school started. Mid-morning we crawled under the building beneath a sewer line draining a row of boy’s room toilets. I was handed a pipe wrench and was told to remove the plug at the end of the long sewer run. I did.

As I sat on the ground in the three feet of space below the pipe I was covered in three months of summer festering shit, piss, and maggots. When we all crawled back out into the sunlight I’m pretty sure Tom, the 40 year old laborer, cried when he saw me. I threw up. They found a hose and sprayed me down. They put me in the back of a pickup and drove me home. They left fast before my mother saw me. Worked there six summers through high school and college. They never gave me a “shit” job again. For some reason I’m proud to tell this story.

You oughta be.

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