Illustration: Elena Scotti (GMG), Photo: Getty, AP
FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? [Email the Funbag](mailto:funbag.deadspin@gmail.com).   

Your letters:

Jeff:

Is it ever acceptable for someone to cry as a spectator when their team loses? I just watched Brazil—the World Cup’s only five-time champion—lose to Belgium and it honestly annoyed the hell out of me when the cameras cut to their fans weeping in the stands.

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Of course it’s acceptable. That’s the whole point of the World Cup, man. I want entire countries so emotionally invested in the outcome that they put their entire self-worth into a kickyball team, and then I want them to completely break down when that team fails. That is AWESOME. Watch any SEC football team lose and tell me that the crying fans don’t goose the viewing experience in manifold ways. YOU CANNOT. Gimme all the sad Tennessee bros in their boat shoes. I want those fans crying like they’re about to throw themselves onto a coffin being lowered into the ground.

Like, what do you want the Brazil fans to do after buying a plane ticket from Rio to goddamn Moscow and then watching their team get its shit ruined? Just shrug and then walk out? That would suck. That would deprive the World Cup of the energy that makes it so unique. Because really, what are sports if they don’t have PASSION? I don’t like it when sportswriters get all smarmy and remind you, “This is just sports, guys! None of this matters!” If it matters to someone, it matters. That emotional investment is what gives sports its heft. I got into an argument today with another staffer who shall remain nameless (it was Albert!), and he was arguing how the NBA Summer League is cool because the stakes are low and you can enjoy the game just for the game itself.

And to that I say … FUCK THAT. Get that pre-preseason nonsense out of my face. I want stakes. I want the game to mean everything. I’m not here to make friends, man. This is serious shit. I cry at sports. If you had seen me during the Minneapolis Miracle, you would have lost ALL respect for me. I really let it all go, man. So much snot. It was a like a snot party in my basement.

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If you’re anti-crying, you’re just being a macho dipshit. Usually when my favorite team loses, I just sit there and seethe for weeks on end. But I have absolutely cried from losing. I, like many fans, have an irrational desire to try to experience the game as viscerally as the actual players playing it, and that means watching the games with a kind of deranged physicality, whipping my arms around and shouting and screaming and crouching (why?) and jumping and creating my own awkward facsimile of what it might like to actually be out there. And when it’s all over, I want to feel as drained and broken as the team itself. It’s all self-delusion, of course, but it’s still a fun time. I think people who are too proud to get emotionally close to things—no matter how seemingly inconsequential such things are—are shitty, lifeless people. They’re usually lawyers.

Also, this World Cup is ending soon and I’m already bereft. There is no other sporting event on Earth that causes entire countries to set up watch parties and cheer en masse. Even the Olympics don’t match it because it’s a bunch of different sports all going on simultaneously. We need more World Cup–like things. I want to gather in a public square with tens of thousands of my fellow countrymen and get drunk and watch something cool together, and that just isn’t gonna happen for me until the day Trump goes to prison HEY-OOOOOOOOOOOO!

JD:

Penalty kicks in soccer are mostly guesswork for the goalie, so if you gave me (an average out-of-shape 35-year-old) a month to train and ten kicks from the spot, how many could I get past a World Cup-quality keeper? I think I could convert one or two, but feel free to dunk all over this opinion.

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I’ve thought about this during the entire tournament and I absolutely believe I could sneak at least one past the keeper. The goal is simply too big for even a world-class goalie to guess right every single time in that situation. I know that I would miss the net more than a handful of times, and in embarrassing fashion. I would airmail that shit directly into a Lucozade billboard. Or I would miskick and the ball would pathetically dribble right into Kasper Schmeighel’s waiting arms.

But god dammit, I’m still an able-bodied male man. I play soccer in the backyard with my son and I can definitely get a few screamers off. Feels good to launch that shit in front of your kid and have them marvel at it like you’re the strongest bastard in the world. I hit my kid in the face the other day and felt terrible, and then he nailed me in the balls with a direct kick, so we’re even.

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With 10 free kicks at my disposal, I would keep my head down on every single attempt. The goalie would never be able to read my eyes. STRATEGY. Then I would mix up kicking left and right, but at RANDOM, so that the goalie never knows which way I’m going. Then I would bang one hard to the upper right corner of the net, and then throw my back out, and then cry and roll around on the turf for eight minutes before people started to accuse me of diving.

Still, I think I could score two times at the MINIMUM. That’s right. Two out of 10 attempts. Some might call it insane to aspire to such a lofty goal. Others might consider it heroic. No matter. Are you a professional soccer goalie living near the D.C. area? I CHALLENGE YOU TO A KICKOFF. If I get two balls in, I get your shirt.

Ian:

What percentage of people who play Madden know who John Madden is?

I’ll say 75 percent, but it’s shrinking by the minute because John Madden no longer appears in the game itself. He isn’t even in the instruction manual or promotional materials, and that bums me out as someone who played Madden 97 as a drunken college kid and enjoyed robot Madden going “That’s just a bad throw!” Kids today will never know such pleasures. Instead, all of their Madden triumphs are now presided over by … Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis. How scintillating. Feel these nipples.

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John Madden retired from calling games back in 2009. That was the year my older son was born; he now plays Madden and DEFINITELY has no idea who the hell John Madden is. In the past decade, the Madden brand name has become a permanent part of the culture, and it’ll clearly endure long after John Madden himself has passed away. I remember when Jon Gruden was touted as the next Madden, and it’s kind of funny that Gruden was never anywhere good enough as an announcer to steal a videogame name away from an 82-year-old retired man. By the time I’m 80, kids will be playing Madden 2056 and controlling real football androids powered by harvested baby organs. None of them will know who John Madden is. Ungrateful louts.

Michael:

What are the best sports catchphrases of all time? We need a definitive list.

I’m the worst person to ask because the only truly catchphrasey catchphrases I cherish come from a two-year stretch of SportsCenter back in the mid-1990s:

  • En fuego
  • He put the biscuit in the basket
  • It’s deep and I don’t think it’s playable
  • Golf shots… nothing but golf shots
  • The jumper… soft as church music
  • Aloha means goodbye

And such and such. Yes, I am THAT guy… the guy who thinks the Dan-and-Keith SportsCenters were the peak of the form and, like a deranged Star Wars fanboy, judge every modern sports broadcast against something I overly revered as a youth. Every catchphrase now either feels done to death, or it feels strained. I get downright mad when a sportscaster tries to make a new catchphrase happen on the air now. Who the hell does THAT guy think he is? My opinions on this matter are irrelevant at best and downright toxic at worst.

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HOWEVER, that has never stopped me from dishing out takes in the past, and it’s not stopping me now. Here are the best sports catchphrases of all time, in no particular order. Please note these have to be recurring catchphrases, and not singular CALLS of things (i.e. “Do you believe in miracles?”):

  • Harry Caray’s “Holy Cow!”
  • Marv Albert’s “YES”
  • Jim Ross’ “BAH GAWD”
  • Phil Rizzuto’s “Holy Cow”
  • Andres Cantor’s GOOOOOOOOOALLLLLL
  • Keith Jackson’s “Whoa nelly”
  • Bill Raftery’s “The kiss!” and “Onions!”
  • Lee Corso going “Not so fast, my friend”
  • The Buck family using “We’ll see you tomorrow night”
  • Steve Buckhantz’s “Dagger”
  • Brent Musburger’s “You are looking LIVE”
  • Vin Scully’s “It’s time for Dodger baseball.”
  • (Sigh) Berman yelling “FUMBLE”

You will notice that none of these catchphrases are particularly clever, but that’s kind of the point. I don’t want a catchphrase that’s been workshopped. I don’t want you to reference Scarface. Unless it’s Dan and Keith, I want my catchphrase to come from a grizzled old announcer who didn’t even realize his catchphrase was a catchphrase the first time he uttered it. Because the moment is supposed to dictate the reaction. You can’t retrofit it into the moment, no matter how hard John Sterling tries. The game itself should be enough. It doesn’t need any additional garnishes.

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On a side note, Fox announcer Derek Rae thanked the audience for “The pleasure of your company” during one of the recent World Cup games, and I was oddly touched. Wow, that guy was so happy to have me! Made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. That is the first and last time I ever experience such a sensation from a Fox broadcast.

Kent:

I do community theatre and my boss and his wife (who I also work with) have mentioned that they want to come see the show I’m currently in. They came to my last show, so I know they’re serious. This is very nice of them, however in this particular show I play a role where I have sex on stage. This seems like a weird thing for my boss and his wife to have to witness. Do I issue a warning? Or should I just not say anything and hope they don’t mention it? Either way it feels like I lose here.

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As someone who once saw Stanley Tucci’s penis in person during a Broadway run of Frankie and Johnny (and attended said play with his own mother), I would warn them. Even if you don’t go full frontal on stage, I would tell them, “Listen, I should tell you in advance that there’s some sexy business in here.” Then they’ll laugh and promise it won’t be awkward. Then they’ll watch you dry humping on stage and it’ll TOTALLY be awkward the next day. But at least you’ll have done all you could to dissuade them.

I used to do standup a long time ago in New York, and one time I invited a bunch of co-workers to the club to see my act because it was one of those scams where you only get on stage if you bring 10 friends or more to pay a cover. I basically HAD to invite them, and I cheekily warned them that it might get a little BLUE. Then I did a set of jokes about Trent Lott and my wife pooping that was every bit as amateurish and corny as you would expect. All I remember is sweating a lot. After that, my co-workers politely told me they enjoyed it and I thanked them even though they definitely didn’t have a great time. Also, I was later tapped to give a “humorous” PowerPoint presentation because I had tagged myself as the in-house comedian. So don’t be surprised if your boss watches you do the nasty up on stage and then forces you to be the lead actor in the company’s next sexual harassment seminar.

HALFTIME!

Matthew:

Do you prefer to eat PEZ out of the dispenser with your mouth/teeth, or take it out of the dispenser with your fingers then pop it into your mouth?

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As a large fat child, I used to just open the little roll of Pez and stuff it all into my mouth, without bothering to put it in the dispenser at all. The dispenser was a needless middle step for Young Drew, one that limited my access to chalky grape candy and enforced unwanted portion control. Also, my fat fingers were not deft enough to slide the Pez into the little Tweety dispenser gracefully. I would break the Pez in half. Or the candies would end up laying vertically in the little plastic trench, which is always sheer death. No coming back from that. Instead, I ate the Pez directly and snapped the dispenser open and shut for fun.

I don’t eat Pez anymore because I have dedicated all of my sweet tooth’s energy toward sampling every variety of Chocolove bar (they make a salted almond butter one now that is just… [knees begin to quiver]). But if I did still eat Pez, I would pluck that shit out of the dispenser with my fingers. I’m sure it’s fun to play Dracula and go sucking the candy right out of Papa Smurf’s throat, but I’d rather just grab it. Also, I’ve come very close to sliding in the whole stack of Pez without fucking it up, but I’m not quite there yet. If you unwrap the stack halfway and then shove it in, you can get pretty good results before your kid takes the dispenser and dumps the candy back out all over the floor.

Robert:

I was watching the movie Children Of Men. If this scenario actually happened I don’t think people would be murdering each other and blowing shit up because no more kids. It would be nirvana, especially for the last generation. They will never be called old, be on the cutting edge of everything and their taxes would go way down because no schools and countless other positives I can’t even think of. Am I wrong on this?

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I hate to break it to you Robert, but you are. You see, the world you live in depends on lots of people doing lots of shit. You need them to make food and build houses and staff airports and serve as roadies for Britny Fox and drive beer trucks from the brewery to your local convenience store. When you have LESS people around to do all those things, they don’t get done. And that’s very bad, especially if you’re a big coddled manbaby, like I am. Imagine if Seamless couldn’t find anyone to deliver me a pizza. CHAOS.

So yes, if the world suddenly stopped producing more children, you would not be on easy street. You would be living in a disaster zone. You would still feel very old, particularly because you would be constantly reminded that humanity dies with you. You would still be deeply uncool, because you would be wearing tattered rags and you would smell like poop and kerosene at all times. Your taxes might go down, but that’s only because entire governments and economies would collapse and you would be left foraging for burrito scraps and sleeping inside abandoned nightclubs. It would not be nirvana. It would be sheer hell.

If you’d like a real-life preview of what kind of horrorshow a child-free world would look like, may I offer you, uh, America 2018? Our birth rates are below replacement level and have been for some time now. We’re not producing enough fuck trophies to make enough future teachers, doctors, scientists, and quarterbacks. Normally we would fill that void with people coming in from other countries, but because the country is now run by old men who have just discovered Reddit for the first time, those people are being painted as the cause of the problem instead of the very obvious solution to it. Eventually, everyone’s gonna get driven out of America until there are only like, a dozen rich guys left. They will die alone on estates that take up multiple states, and I will not be sad for them.

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All of this is to say that you should thank me for having three kids. Don’t blame me when the supply chain dries up and we’re all forced to eat cat meat. I did my part to restock the pond.

Jeff:

My roommate and I hang shirts on the hanger in opposite directions. I hang mine so that when you look at the front of the shirt on the hanger the hook forms a question mark shape, the correct way in other words. He hangs his so that it looks like a backwards question mark, the wrong way. The thing is I barely own any shirts that really need to be hung up and he on the other hand has a seemingly endless wardrobe of nice shirts so he should know better and be hanging them up correctly. We have another friend who we asked to solve the debate and it turns out he just throws shirts on the hanger in both directions so he is certifiably insane and unqualified to solve this.

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I had to check my closet for this, since I never gave it much thought before you asked. Everything was facing left, with the hook forming a question mark. Same with all my wife’s crap. We use a lot of fixed hangers, not the fancy Saks Fifth Avenue ones where you can spin the hook in any direction you please. I only have a couple of fancy wooden hangers that swivel like that, and I cherish them because they are definitely the classiest items I own. But if I want the hook to be a question mark on everything else (and clearly, on a deep subconscious level, I do), and I want my closet to look uniform (again, I clearly do), I have to hang everything facing left.

I think that’s standard. Pretty much every department store that uses fixed hangers hangs their goods to the left. If I ever went to, like, Brooks Brothers and found the hanger hook facing the other direction, I bet would it would fuck me up on such a profound level that I would feel nauseous without quite knowing why. The question mark is the correct orientation for the hook, for it conjures the requisite air of mystery inherent in any garment you purchase or own. Will this fit? Does it look good on me? Will anyone notice the cum stain? Will it be too tight and remind me of every last bad habit of mine? Will I get laid in this? Those are the tough questions I ask of my hanging wardrobe. Without the question mark hanger, those queries go unasked.

I wonder if your one friend hangs it the other way because he’s lefty, or because he a contrarian asshole. Your other friend is just lazy.

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David:

I have to monitor my youngest dog when she goes out to the backyard to do her business because we have two other dogs and she will occasionally eat their poop. Is it weird if I just decide to piss in the backyard one night while I’m out there? They’re already doing it.

Well, can anyone see you? I peed in my yard once but I live along a row of houses so I had to shield myself from view and piss in a shaded corner. That’s right: I was too lazy to go piss in my house, so I pissed ON it. I don’t think I’d do it again. It wasn’t the most carefree piss I’ve ever taken. I live in great fear of becoming one of those dudes who gets jailed for sex crimes all because he took out his dick to piss in the wrong area. Also, peeing on the grass turns it brown.

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But hey, if you in Wyoming or some other barren place, by all means. Take your liberties. Despite my anxieties, I still relish pissing outside and wish I could do it more often. There’s a reason college bros piss off of balconies. That is a true piss rager right there.

Zach:

Over the past several months I’ve been avoiding an old high school friend of mine whenever he makes overtures for us to catch up. The guy is nice enough and I’d like to see him, but the problem is that whenever we’ve gotten together recently the subject would inevitably be dominated by politics and Trump talk: specifically, how bad things are getting and how horrible of a person Trump is. Now don’t get me wrong, I hate Trump as much as the next guy, but I don’t want the guy dominating even more aspects of my life than he already does and would much rather have a standard “life check-in” type of catchup with my friend. Should I feel bad about cutting off a guy who I actually agree with, politically, just because he has no off switch about this?

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I’d talk to him about it. I don’t think he’d be offended if you told him, earnestly, “Listen man, I really can’t talk about politics right now. It’s wearing me out.” I think pretty much anyone can relate to that concept in 2018. I kind of identify with your friend because it’s nearly impossible NOT to at least think about this, let alone talk about it. It dominates everything. Bro, Donald Trump is living RENT FREE in his head, bro! I think people bring it up against their better judgment because they’re in desperate need of a sympathetic ear.

But I also identify with your need to have a break from all that shit, because it’s all so goddamn relentless. Every day is just, “Hey, you think things were shitty yesterday? Well here’s an even shittier thing that JUST happened!” It’s enervating. And it’s taken a genuine psychological toll on a lot of people who just want to be free of this bullshit and live their lives, only they can’t look away because it can feel irresponsible to ignore all the evildoing at hand. This stupid administration is omnipresent now.

So I would talk to the guy. I’ve had to do it with people before. Usually I just say, “Please, I can’t…” and that pretty much does the trick. Then I throw down an entire bottle of Overholt and start speaking with cockney accent. That’s when people know I’m not in the mood for Supreme Court takes.

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Email of the week!

Rich:

The year was 2000. I had just turned 10 and it was the end of a little league season that had gone well enough for my team to earn a berth in the playoffs. I wasn’t the best player on the team, but I wasn’t the worst (batted 6th, played left). For some reason, this game had been scheduled at a field that was entirely bereft of port-a-potties, or really anywhere to properly relieve yourself in privacy. No big deal, though, I’d never had to drop a log during a game before, and as far as I knew, I had nothing in the reserves that couldn’t wait until I got home later.

Fast forward to the top of the fifth inning. I trot out to my position and am focused on playing the best defense I can, as we were down two runs and the game only lasts six innings. Suddenly, I feel a stabbing pain in my midsection. I immediately recognize that I am in need of a toilet, but I keep cool and battle it until the third out and then make my way to the dugout at a faster pace than usual.

Now this is the part that’s really fucked up and has bothered me the most these past 17 years. My dad was the manager and I asked him if I could run behind some bushes and do my thing, and he was NOT having it. “What if you don’t make it back in time?! You think I’m gonna put one of these slugs on the bench in for the last inning?!” I continue to plead my case, to no avail, until it was time to go back in the field.

I get out there and begin pacing back and forth, squeezing my anal sphincter like my life depends on it. I tell myself that no matter what, I’m gonna go poop in those bushes once it was our turn to bat. Three batters later, my worst fear comes to fruition. I completely lose control of my asshole and Deepwater Horizon: Diarrhea Edition is in full effect. There was so much shit running down my pant legs that it made it out of the bottoms of my stirrups and formed an uneven brownish-orange layer on top of my cleats. After the third out, I walk to the bench and ask my dad if he’s happy. He grunts something and tells me I’m on deck.

I waddle to the batter’s box to avoid having any more of my molten turds drop out of my pants, and promptly strike out on three pitches. Our pitcher’s mom comes over to me and hugs me from a distance and tells my teammates how brave she thinks I am. Being a group of 10-year-old boys, they laugh hysterically and promptly nickname me “Hershey Squirts.”

I hope my dad got poop all over on his hands while he had to clean the shit out of the back seat of his car when we got home.

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Send that dad to prison! BAD DADDING!