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Playing In New York Doesn’t Matter To Athletes Anymore

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FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag.

Today, we’re talking about Woj, golf nets, bank cafes, Ichiro, pizza rolls, and more.

Over the weekend my kid made homemade dog biscuits for our dog using flour, butter, cheese, and other basic ingredients. These were dog biscuits that even a human could safely eat, and so my kids did. In fact, they liked the homemade doggie treats so much that I had to remind them that they were for the fucking DOG and not for people. Then my wife dipped one of the cheese biscuits in, like, fig jam. Like she was a Spaniard. It’s out of fucking control! I now have five dogs instead of just one. You open up Pandora’s Box, there are Milk-Bones inside.

Anyway, your letters:


Does the idea of playing in New York hold any real appeal for athletes anymore? Recently we’ve seen this with Kirk Cousins, but it goes at least as far back as LeBron’s original Decision. Every time an athlete theoretically could go play in New York and doesn’t, the Post acts like it’s some kind of betrayal, regardless of whether or not said athlete has actually shown any real interest in playing for one of NY’s various ass teams. Do today’s athletes in any way care about being a star in NYC? Should they?

Unless they’re Kevin Durant, then no. Only Durant would be like, “If I can make it in New York I can make it anywhere!” and then voluntarily join one of the worst-run organizations in sports, located in one of the most expensive cities in the country (though cheaper than the Bay Area at this point though, I guess): a city that features overcrowding, fickle weather, astronomical taxes, a busted transit system, dickhead fanboys, a trillion other celebs and notable types vying for public adoration, wildly inflated real estate prices, a “stairway to nowhere,” and shitty Mexican food options. You have to have the naiveté of a Democratic Senate leader to think to yourself, “Carmelo Anthony schemed his way to New York and it TOTALLY worked out for him! I could do that too!”

Most other athletes already know that joining a big-market team out of misplaced fealty to self-branding is an incredible waste of both time and money. This is especially true with the case of New York City, which features four football and baseball teams that don’t even play in Manhattan. All leagues are national now. The cameras and sponsors come to you. You’re gonna be famous as shit no matter where you play, even if it’s in Green Bay. When an athlete switches teams, it’s almost always out of financial considerations, and the financial considerations of taking your talents to New York don’t make sense if you can play somewhere with a lower cost of living (the Midwest) and zero state income taxes (Texas and Florida), and likely with better weather to boot (everywhere else except Boston).


I get wanting to live somewhere more exciting than, say, Oklahoma City. Somewhere closer to loved ones with more shit to do. But athletes can live anywhere they like during the offseason, and they can still jack up their Q rating by playing well in Fairbanks during the season. Kevin Durant already has two titles and a league MVP under his belt. Only he stupidly believes he has something left to prove, and only New York people—the media there particularly—believe that theirs is the only viable proving ground. Every other athlete, and more important, every other athlete’s agent, knows better by now. They’ve run the numbers. I know Rich Paul helped LeBron go to L.A., but I bet even he has a ready-made PowerPoint deck explaining how every client could live like a God if they relocate to Utah. Then every client asks for the SECOND most practical option. Also, a lot of athletes are fucking bumpkins who hate city folk. Did Kirk Cousins strike you as a New Yorker in training?

I love New York, but it still clings to the idea of being the center of the sports universe when that stopped being the case ages ago. Unless you’re an avid Colin Cowherd listener, you know that athletes make markets, not the other way around.



Do you think there will ever be another hitter like Ichiro? I feel like the game is changing to where players are trying to get on base by walking or swinging to hit massive dongers (which I love to see).


Just like Ichiro? No. Even with advances in biochemistry that allow pro athletes to inject untraceable brain dye from a frog directly into their balls, I don’t think you’re gonna see anyone quite like Ichiro ever again. That’s generational bias on my part, because there’s nothing fans love more than being like HE WAS ONE OF A KIND! so that they can lay claim to having been the only fans to have seen Special Player X back when he was in his prime. That said, Ichiro played 17 full major league seasons here in America starting at age 27. Holy fucking shit. And he only struck out roughly once every three games. Again, holy shit. How did he do all that?

Ichiro actually fit right into the sabermetric ideal of guys who can get on base by any means necessary and don’t produce many outs. HOWEVER, you’re even more valuable to that model when, as Ryan notes, you get more extra-base hits and you walk more (in his MLB career, Ichiro actually struck out more often than he drew walks). If you strike out more in the process of collecting more doubles and homers, that’s just the cost of doing business. Mike Trout, who didn’t need to join a New York team to get butt rich and happy, has a better career OBP than Ichiro. He also has nearly the same batting average and hits per season as Ichiro. But Trout hits more home runs, strikes out way more (roughly once a game) and walks more (roughly two BBs every three games) than Ichiro did. So he’s a different sort of player, more valuable than Ichiro but very much not Ichiro.


Only Ichiro gets to be Ichiro, because it’s obviously not just about wins and stats and all that shit. There’s also a personality and style to each player, an atmosphere that they create around them that feels utterly their own. Another player is a different experience. Ichiro beat Pete Rose’s hits record, but he’s not Pete Rose. Mostly because Ichiro is not an asshole. If some fans still wanna argue Rose is better, it’s because A) They’re old and annoying, and B) They’re overly loyal to their own memories. So let’s say a dude named Pap Hapsbong comes along and demonstrates the same knack for churning out singles that Ichiro had, and he plays for 37 years. He still wouldn’t be Ichiro. He’d be some other dipshit, only older fans would resent him because they couldn’t act like he belongs solely to them. That make sense? I hate this Hapsbong fella already.


I just caught a Capital One commercial for the first time in a while and they were advertising new Capital One “Cafes.” They are turning select locations in to coffee shops to, I assume, convince millennials that banking is cool. Is this the most expensive bad idea a corporation has had in the last twenty years? Exclude all bad ideas that are actually crimes.


I can’t believe there’s a Capital One ad I have yet to be subjected to. Let’s see what these cafes are all about…

“We proudly serve Peet’s Coffee®, tea, and locally baked treats. Capital One cardholders get 50% off Peet’s® handcrafted beverages.”


I call bullshit. That’s not a café. That’s a fucking snack bar. My hatred for Capital One has achieved an even higher summit. I already despised that brand thanks to watching 50 million ads featuring Jennifer Garner (a normally good actress who doesn’t even bother to act well in these things) cutesily telling me how I’m missing out on getting three dollars in cash back every six years.

Anyway, your question. No, this is not the most expensive bad idea a corporation has ever had. Corporations do even dumber, costlier shit on a daily basis. Like buying this site! HEY-OOOOOOOOOOOO. For real though, I was alive when the AOL/Time Warner merger happened. That was a lot more expensive than adding free coffee and barstools from West Elm to a local bank branch. What Capital One is doing is on the more whimsical end of corporate waste.


You’re right in assuming that the company says these cafes exist to attract younger customers. “We’re not your grandma’s bank, bitches. We sell éclairs!” On the surface, it’s just a cheap way to lure people into yet another bank branch and to keep them inside it, just as Google offers employees free food so that they never leave work. This is mildly effective. My local bank branch sometimes has free coffee and Oreos, and I grab them if they’re out after hitting the ATM. My bank also charged my kids $30 in monthly fees even though accounts held by minors aren’t supposed to be subjected to such horseshit. I had to make 30 calls to undo that shit, and I still haven’t switched to a new bank, mostly because all the other banks suck just as hard, but also probably because I was indirectly bribed with occasional cookies.

But I can pretty much guarantee the real reason the Capital One cafes exist is so that the bank can skirt local zoning and/or tax laws and have a branch classified as a “restaurant” instead of what it really is. That way, they can open one up next to your fucking house. It’s immensely disappointing when you go by some new retail space being developed and you’re like, “Oh wow that could be some really cool new hip restaurant for sweet guys like me!” And then it turns out to be a fucking bank. I’d rather have a new gun store in town. Fuck Capital One.



Do you think the PGA should put up nets to line courses so no one else gets their eye exploded?


Not really. I know this is an issue in baseball, which really does require protective netting so that your son doesn’t leave the ballpark with a fractured orbital socket.

But a baseball stadium is fixed in place, has a defined playing area, and every MLB game is attended by patrons from the greater public. A golf club hosts a PGA event once a year, if that. They’re not gonna put up a mile’s worth of netting for one four-day event. Buckley Haversforth IV and the rest of the club board would throw a FIT. They’d all lawyer up against one another because that’s what bored rich people do. The TV networks would bitch about the camera sightlines. Tourney officials would bitch about errant drives caroming off the nets. Jim Nantz would spit Earl Grey tea out all over his Vineyard Vines pullover in shock and dismay. Greenskeepers would complain that the nets threaten their precious hydrangeas. It would just be a whole goddamn thing, and for what? To protect a gallery of old fogies who’ll be dead within a week anyway? Fuck ‘em. If a fan gets plunked, that’d probably the most exciting thing to happen at the Capital One/Nabisco San Antonio Classic. The other night I watched an NHL playoff game and a dude lost his stick and I spent more time watching the abandoned stick, along with a dude on the Sharks trying to defend without it, than I did the puck. I am too easily distracted.


Speaking of which, I do marvel at the fact that PGA golfers can smash a drive from the tee and not have it veer off directly into someone’s face. The old ad campaign was right: these guys ARE good. If I had to always tee off in front of a waiting gallery when I golfed, a dozen people would be hospitalized on the first hole alone. I hit my own DAD with a fairway shot once. I’m a goddamn menace. I almost trust Brooks Koepka more to keep fans safe than I do a driving range net.



I recently made a salad at home and put the contents in Tupperware, closed the lid, and shook it around. I have always done this to mix salads because I don’t own typical salad tossers or a salad spinner. Purchasing either would be a waste because they clog space in a kitchen and I find them to be unnecessary kitchen gadgets. Am I cheap? Or just lazy?


Neither! I do that too! So this is what it feels like when doves cry. Yeah man, I prefer to mix up salad in a container with a lid. Tossing a salad (hehehehe) normally is fucking annoying. I used to run tables at restaurants, so I know the easiest way to toss a salad is by simply picking up some of it with a pair of tongs, putting it back down, and repeating a few times over. This is simple in theory, except that I always load too much shit into the salad bowl. Then, when I go to dress the thing, little sunflower seeds and feta cheese crumbles go flying out like exploded ordnance. It’s the worst. When I was a kid I hated salad for the vegetables. Now I hate it for the prep.

That’s why I like my salad [Bond voice] shaken, not tossed. I seal it up in the container and then shake that fucker like it’s a maraca. That way, every last bit of the salad gets coated in fatty dressing, and all the bits and lettuce leaves are arranged in perfect ratios. Have I ever unwittingly shaken a salad with a loose lid and had dressing spray out all over my hands? You know I have. What a fucking mess. This is not a problem you experience if you just eat ribeye steaks.



I was doing a little online shopping, and I saw a suit jacket described as “portly fit,” and it got me wondering. What is the ranking of worst ways to be called fat? Having leaned that direction for most of my life, I honestly think “tub o’lard” is the most hurtful. Thoughts?


I grew up fat, and being labeled straight-up “fat” was easily the worst one to hear. It’s short, direct, and vicious. “Obese” and “overweight” are clinical. “Husky” is a branded euphemism. “Tubby” and “lardass” and “chunk” and “Jabba the Butt” are all standard playground taunts. None of those hurt my feelings the way being called fat outright did, in large part because I knew it to be true. In my mind, hearing that word just cemented all the shitty feelings I had about myself.

And it didn’t matter how the word was couched. Sometimes people meant harm with it, other times they were trying to be nice. It didn’t matter. All of it made me feel terrible. The fat is the best part of anything except when it’s part of me. Someone could have called me a donut batter-funneling cake rapist and it wouldn’t have stung anywhere near as much as some distant relative being like, “My dear, you’ve grown so fat!” Even epithets that contain the word “fat” in them—fatty, fatass, fat fuck, fatboy, fatskate, fat-a-lat-a-ding-dong etc.—aren’t as effective. The word “fat” strips you down and bares your stretch marks for the whole world to see. Why no, being overweight as a child didn’t affect my psyche whatsoever! Not in the least.



What’s the best way to enjoy an appetizer snack like pizza rolls? Microwave or oven? Obviously, they are far superior baked in an oven, but if I’m making the decision to eat pizza rolls, I want them RIGHT EFFING NOW.


It’s better in the oven or a toaster oven. I know it takes longer than a microwave, but not that much longer. We’re talking what, 10 extra minutes? It’s worth the wait to have crispy golden pizza rolls rather than ones that have been nuked into chewing gum.

But you’re already ravenous, which is why I suggest that you have an appetizer FOR your appetizer. Buy a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and scarf those down while you wait for the more formal hors d’oeuvres to cook up. That way you get optimal snackage AND you don’t go hungry. Plus your left ventricle explodes! Everyone wins.



What is the etiquette on sending inane and/or frivolous text messages at odd hours? I feel like people should know how to set their phones to not bother them when they don’t want to be bothered, and I should be free to share my insights.


I feel the same way you do. I turn my phone off at night and leave it downstairs. I also don’t have any push alerts on my phone, not even for texts because someone will inevitably text when I’m on a call and suddenly there are 4,000 houseflies parked on my eardrum. If someone texts me at 3 a.m., I don’t give a crap because I won’t even know it’s happened. Conversely, if I have enlightening thoughts to dash off to a friend on the West Coast when it’s 4 a.m. there, those thoughts simply cannot wait. That would spoil the magic.

So I’m with you about how things should be, but I also know that’s not how shit works. You and I are in the minority. The average American sleeps with her phone tucked into the pillowcase and has enabled every fucking push alert possible, because you’d hate to sleep through the news that your daily Game of War loot box is now ready for you to collect. I hate it when people Facetime and watch videos without headphones in public. They do it anyway. I think it’s rude to bust out phones at the dinner table. People do that, too. And I think people are nuts to enable 50,000 push alerts, but they also do that. I am an old man on an island, and none of my cane-shaking is gonna stop the world from going the direction it’s going in. So, with that in mind, I try to not text or DM people when I know it might inconvenience them. It’s a courtesy that shouldn’t need to exist, and yet here we are. Only time I violate this directive is if vital news breaks, or something bad has happened, or if I’ve come up with a PERFECT Nice Guys reference that I have to use that very instant, or if it’s a Tuesday. I’m a considerate fellow.



I’m going to become a first-time father in late January. In addition to feeling the usual excitement, fear, and unpreparedness, I’ve also been struggling with a building amount of guilt over the world my kid is going to grow up in and inherit. Before (if?) he even gets to my current age, the planet will more than likely be incredibly worse in ways we can’t even fathom. Am I a dick for bringing him into a world that will disintegrate before his eyes before he dies an early, painful death by either flaming hurricane or being stabbed for a liter of fresh water? And is there some trick you’ve come up with to make yourself feel better about it?


I do have a trick to assuage the guilt. I just look at my children smile. DAWWWWWWWWW…

For real though, I don’t think you should feel like a dick for having a kid. Yes, this is a fucked-up world you’re dragging the baby into. But it’s not like people back in 1865 or whatever were ushering their children into a fucking utopia. You can’t control the world you bring your kids into but you can control how much you love them and care for them, and it’s okay to have faith that this love is worth the risk. Also, I’d rather be born into this disaster of timeline than not be born at all. I was in a coma for over a week back in December. I promise you that I am glad I woke up from it, even if that meant learning that Donald Trump was still the goddamn President.


Also, you never know if things will get better. Mine is hardly the only generation to believe that the world is going to hell. We have scientific proof it’ll happen these days, but still. I don’t think you want to spend the rest of your life making choices dictated by pure fatalism. Why even bother to get dressed in the morning? You have to hope things improve, even if the odds are longer than the distance between here and the sun. After that, you and whatever kids you have will have to appreciate the time you have together here, even if the world itself is falling apart. That’s the kind of love that gives you, and perhaps your child, the incentive to make things better. I feel shitty that my kids are growing up with things as presently constituted, but I don’t regret having them at all. Maybe they’ll be the ones who cure global warming! My son just finished a reading packet on Roald Dahl! HE CAN DO ANYTHING, I TELL YOU. MY BOY WILL MAKE THE FUCKING HYPERLOOP A REALITY. We’re saved!

[every volcano explodes simultaneously]




If Urban Meyer and Mike Leach were forced to swap first names which one would protest more?


Urban Meyer would. It’s no contest. Mike Leach is a raving lunatic but I’ve witnessed Urban Meyer’s sideline behavior. “Urban Leach” is a much worse moniker to have hung around your neck (sounds like a B-list DC universe villain) but the newly christened Mike Meyer could bitch about the sun rising. Also, “Urban” is a pope name and I bet Urban Meyer cherishes it as such. Probably has a replica Pope hat that he tries on in front of his office mirror when no one else is around. Take his first name away and he’d hold a five-hour press conference to address all the adversity he’s been through because of it.


Why does Woj have a podcast? Why is he still allowed to write articles at ESPN (though they’re not as frequent or as pointed as he did at Yahoo)? It’s been documented by none other than the loathsome Kevin Draper, disgusting Warriors fanboy, that Woj used to leverage his column at Yahoo (i.e. Joe Dumars) for sourcing in order to keep the information-tap flowing. It was a cynical horse trade predicated on the two-way sharing of information between source and reporter. Thus, in doing so writ large, Woj became the most powerful and resourceful information broker, access merchant and news breaker in any of the four major American sports leagues. However, in the process, he crossed ethical journalistic lines and continues with this shit STILL TODAY AT ESPN! He clearly favors teams, front offices, and agents that talk to him, thus keeping this info tap open and flowing. It’s not even a secret or open secret anymore that he shades his coverage in favor of CAA clients, and his poison pen/ire is wielded against anyone that shuts him out of that aforementioned info flow.


Woj can write (well, I mean, he can TRY to) and podcast all he likes because he still gets precious his Wojbomb scoops and that’s all ESPN cares about. They don’t give half a fuck about any of the other shit he pulls. They want the premiere access merchant in sports, and they’re willing to exhaust millions of dollars AND their integrity in the process to have him on their side.

I just don’t think that ESPN’s designated scoop machines like Woj and Adam Schefter are held to the same standard as guys from the actual journalism wing of Bristol, like Seth Wickersham, are. They’re in their own silo. They’re on the entertainment side of things, where the only important job is to dole out grist for the transaction mill. Anything else they do for ESPN is just vanity shit to keep them feeling valued and important. There’s a reason that Schefter wasn’t anywhere near the news of the Kraft arrest when it broke. That’s outside of the microscopic, half-PR confines of his job. So ESPN figures, rightly, that not enough fans will care about Woj’s potential ethical breaches to cause them much of a headache. They can just shrug it off and pretend that aspect of his work doesn’t exist, and then they can team up with other outlets and accuse places that note ethical breaches of any sort (that would be us) as being out-of-touch and overly sensitive. I bet they all openly Facetime at restaurants! The bastards.


Email of the week!


When I was eight and played Little League teeball, my dad was coach and got into a dispute with the opposing coach. Thankfully it didn’t escalate much but the other coach did call my dad “Weird Beard”, which is the only time I heard someone call my dad a name. Anyway, this story doesn’t have much of a point but it’s sports-related, so…


Well at least he didn’t call your dad fat.


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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.