Illustration: Chelsea Beck (GMG)
FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? [Email the Funbag](mailto:funbag.deadspin@gmail.com).   

Today, we’re talking about basketball, Joe Lunardi sucking, conductors, vengeance, and more.

I had to go to an ENT specialist the other day, because visiting the ENT is what you do if you’re either five years old or 500 years old. Anyway, I was feeling saucy and asked the ENT if there was a way he could clean the wax buildup in my ear canals, since I had heard stories of such doctors yanking rocks out of people that were so big, you could drop them on Wile E. Coyote.

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The doctor said yes and then went into both my ears with his little instruments. I felt a tickle inside my brain, then I looked over to his tray and saw what he had removed, and it was just… exquisite. Looked like it came from a pharaoh’s sarcophagus. I wanted to keep it in a jar. He said that he had found much larger debris in other people’s ears and I was simultaneously interested and horrified. The inside of the human body is just so repulsive.

Anyway, time for your letters!

Brett:

My experience over the last several years across multiple cube farms is that donuts, while hands down the tastiest of treats, are most often the least touched in the office. I’m guessing BIG HEALTH has a lot to do with it. I have of late seen a shift to bagels, as if a Frisbee-sized hunk of white bread slathered in flavored cream cheese is a healthier option. As an experienced office man, what do you think should be the go-to choice for ‘office food day’ these days?

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I wanna pick some healthy food that’s guilt-free, but what’s the point of office food if it doesn’t present you with an opportunity to gorge on some shit you never normally let yourself eat? THAT is why donut day is special. You’re not supposed to eat crullers, but the danger is what makes them SEXAY. To me, the best office food is a big fucking box of munchkins or one of those Panera cookies, where you can grab one and then immediately retreat back to your desk without having to make any small talk. I like bagels, but office bagels are usually stale, and then I have to stand there and chat with Eugene from HR while I’m trying to spread on some scallion and chive cream cheese. Ruins the whole affair.

I used to work at a small ad agency in Virginia and, as a perk, they would buy us takeout lunch every day. We’d order pizza, Vietnamese, Indian, Peruvian rotisserie, sushi, kebabs, you name it. The food would arrive and I would bring it to my desk and eat it all in blissful solitude while spilling nuoc cham all over my keyboard. It was the best office food set-up ever. I’ll never enjoy a work lunch scam like that ever again, which is probably for the best since I gained like 30 pounds at that job.

So my formal answer to you is boring shit like cookies, but secretly I’d like a free hotel pan filled with biryani again.

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Tim:

I feel like Joe Lunardi is a smug one-trick pony prick, and I wish he would just go away. It would be terrific if the NCAA committee just flipped his last four in with his first four out just to fucking ruin him. Would he ever be able to recover from that?

Of course he could. He’s Joe Lunardi. He’s paid to be wrong every year. Being wronger isn’t gonna hurt his cause. Lunardi would just puff his chest and be like, “So you see, I still got 56 of the 68 entrants correct,” as if it’s a tricky endeavor to plug the top teams in the RPI into a phony bracket. No one will give a shit either way, because once the field is real it renders the existence of Joe Lunardi superfluous.

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Every year, in early March, people bitch about the existence of Joe Lunardi. This is by design. Like a professional NFL blabbermouth issuing mock drafts, Lunardi’s job isn’t to be right. His real job isn’t even to predict brackets. His job is to serve as a dopey hype man. His mock bracket even includes momentum arrows so that you know whose tourney stock is “rising” and “falling,” because treating sports like politics means that ESPN can squeeze a little more something out of nothing.

Every time Lunardi updates his Bracketology thingie, he’s selling you on Selection Sunday. He’s getting you excited for it, the same way I get excited for the NFL draft by reading mock drafts, taking them as gospel because it’s more fun that way, and then recoiling in horror when my team is slotted to pick someone I don’t approve of. Lunardi’s brackets exist to be wrong. It’s a fake bracket meant to occupy you until the real deal finally arrives, and it works. I’m looking at his bracket right now and demanding that Michigan get a 1-seed. That’s the scam. If you’re pissed about Joe Lunardi and his nonwork, you’re playing directly into ESPN’s strategy. They want you mad about sports.

Justin:

Why do people like basketball so much? I swear I’m not trying to be one of those #PleaseLikeMySport assholes, and maybe it’s because I never followed the NBA as a kid, but every time I’ve made an attempt to get into it, I find it insufferably dull. I love the other 3 major sports and enjoy soccer, but for some reason I have this weird blind spot for a sport everyone tells me is better than all of them. Am I crazy?

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Everyone working at The Ringer just got the faints after hearing of your existence, but no. You are not crazy, Justin. Basketball isn’t your thing, and that’s fine. Lots of people don’t like basketball. Like Michael Malone, a British fartsniffer who once wrote a diatribe against the sport for the late Page 2 at ESPN:

“I just wanna fly,” croons Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath from time to time. While his range rivals that of Chris Dudley, he nonetheless voices a sentiment shared by NBA players everywhere, as the game’s endless stoppages keep the players anchored to the ground.

When you see lyrics from Sugar Ray cited, you know you’re in the hands of a linguistic master. Anyway, I won’t push basketball on you like I’m some kind of deranged mayonnaise lover. But you’re asking me to make a case for the sport, and I think I can do that without turning into one of those gooey basketbloggers who tweets MY PRESIDENT any time Steve Kerr gives a presser; a fanboy who acts, in general, as if a multibillion dollar enterprise like fucking NBA somehow represents the best of society.

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You don’t have to pen 50,000-word dissertations comparing basketball to Coltrane to enjoy it. You can enjoy it on a more basic level, like I do. You can enjoy the very large men dunking a ball through a little hoop. Or you can enjoy the rapid-fire bursts of scoring. Or you can enjoy basketball as an ideal showcase for insane athleticism—running, that also happens to take place in a relatively confined area, where you get to see all the players involved up close, without any padding or helmets getting in the way.

Or you can take vicarious contentment in watching a guy nail a shot from far away. Almost every sport on Earth includes some kind of repetitive action that is deeply satisfying on a primal level. There’s hitting a baseball. There’s that satisfying PING you hear when you hit a golf ball flush and watch as it miraculously flies where you actually intended it to. There’s squaring up and making a textbook football tackle (though scouts watching the tape of it say they don’t like your hip action). There’s kicking a soccer ball so well that you barely even feel it come off your foot. Those are all joyful sensations, and merely watching another person execute such feats can give you that feeling, too. So it is with watching Steph Curry pull up from a mile away, so deadly accurate that you can hear the ball WHOOSH through the net and sometimes feel as if YOU made the shot yourself, even though you never could. Why, it reminds me of something Smash Mouth crooned from time to time…

So that’s my case for basketball. It’s not fucking jazz. It’s not the tree of life. It’s just a good time. Like any other big-time sport, you’re drawn in by watching basketball players do things that are normally impossible for everyday puds to do. I’ve watched that sport for years and some of the shit I see on the court still leaves me in disbelief, because I am a sucker. I watched Golden State the other day and they passed the ball around so quickly, so innately, that the other team was powerless to do anything about it. There’s a masterful choreography to that shit that still hasn’t gotten old to me.

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But if it’s not your thing, that’s fine. You can go to a boat show or something.

Dan:

Which sport has best casual stance? Basketball is lame, it’s just hands on hips. Hockey is bent over with stick across your thighs, football has the hands in the chest pad. Best has to be golf, using a club like a leaning post, hand on hip with feet crossed. It’s very comfortable and very arrogant looking. What else is there?

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Do you mean which stance looks the coolest? I like golf, but golfers look like assholes no matter how they stand. They don’t look anywhere near as cool as baseball players. If you’re a ballplayer, you can rest on your bat like you’re Fred Astaire in a top hat and cane. You can knock the dirt off your cleats, which is also gritty-looking and sweet. Then you can grab your balls. THE LADIES LOVE IT. Baseball is a game of stances, and all of them are fun to practice in the mirror. I still like to pantomime being on a pitcher’s mound and holding my glove close to my face. This is because I need better things to do. Even football can’t compare, stance wise. Ever see an O-lineman stand there with his hands on his hips? He looks stupid.

Also, please consider skiing. If you go to Beaver Creek or some other ski resort, you will be surrounded by shitbags who positively RELISH the chance to stand there on the skis, resting on their poles, wearing cool goggles and pretending they’re blade runner of the Rockies. If I’m waiting at the top of a run, I do that thing where I slide your skis back and forth opposite one another, like I’m revving an engine. Looks totally BADASS. Everyone sees me do this and totally wants to be me. It’s true.

BEWARE: Aggro lax bros will barge into the comments below and insist that they look cooler than everyone else. Lacrosse is a sport that is designed for casual poses. Take it from me. I went to prep school. The number of guys there who loved twirling lacrosse sticks everywhere they went would make you visibly angry.

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Scott:

Has Donald Trump ever read his kids a bedtime story?

I’m gonna say yes and I’m gonna say he visibly pouted throughout the entire ordeal.

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“The kid wants a book? What are we paying the nanny for? I pay that nanny MILLIONS. I rescued her from Venezuela personally. You believe that? She should be grateful. You want a book, kid? You don’t want a book. Books are for losers. The kid is saying he wants a book. Okay, okay. I guess we can do that. In the great green room—boy, that’s an ugly room; you believe that room?—there was a telephone and a red balloon and a picture of… eh wait I gotta turn the page. They don’t make this easy. The cow jumping over the moon. There. There’s the cow jumping over the moon. Whoopty doo. My book outsold this book, you know. Why don’t we read that book instead? Where’s that nanny we’re paying?”

That’s how he would read it. He would hate every second of it. Not that far off from how I read to my own children, frankly. Ever read a chapter book to a child out loud? Your throat will die.

HALFTIME!

Mark:

So I went to a classical concert yesterday, and music aside, I have to think that the most BS job in the world has to be a conductor. I mean they just wave that little stick, but what do they DO? Do they really effect the music ... Does that second trombone player in the back look at the conductor and say “Shit, that’s a good idea I understand now” by seeing him wave that stick... No it is all bullshit. The conductor is the emcee, but they don’t do anything for the music.

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I used to think this too. You’re not gonna believe this, but I was mistaken. The conductor is like the head coach of the orchestra. They do lots of crap. They have a hand in choosing the players. They get to pick what music to play. They even arrange those pieces, which is no small task. Waving a stick around is the easiest part of the job, and even THAT job takes skill because the conductor has to have every single part of the music timed so perfectly that they can cue instrument groups (who depend on that cue) at the precise right time. Take a look at Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel conducting an orchestra for the Pope and tell me that man isn’t putting in some hard work:

That man is clearly passionate about the music, along with the chance to spend a couple hours not having to settle a dispute between French Horn players. I mostly know orchestra conducting through Bugs Bunny cartoons. Those cartoons did a disservice to the occupation. It’s clear that these people do a lot of shit. Looks like an exhausting job, frankly. I’m fine to stay home and pretend to conduct a symphony while using chopsticks. That’s more my speed.

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Dennis:

What percentage of the world’s population has something to avenge?

A hundred percent. No doubt in my mind. No matter how petty the grudge, everyone is out there stewing over it, scheming for vengeance. The unidentified saboteur who struck bacon from my bacon burger order at the hospital months ago? I’ll get that fucker. I’m not just gonna let that stand. I’ll carry that rage with me to the grave. YOU OWE ME BACON YOU PIECE OF SHIT.

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John:

In photos, great athletes often have calm expressions even when they’re exerting themselves. Their bodies are doing amazing things, but from the neck up they look like they’re deciding which tomato to buy. Whereas if I were running from an NFL linebacker or driving the lane in the NBA, I’d look like a goddamn maniac. Do you think they practice this?

Well, they don’t practice THAT. They just practice the actual sport for hours on end, to the point that catching a football with two fingers is a matter of routine to them. That’s why they practice. They have to view their work as unremarkable in order to do it well. If every running back was like, “Oh wow, I’m really making a cutback here! THIS IS WILD!” they’d get fucking creamed. You have to focus in on the job, otherwise Coach Wetsock will yell at you. He doesn’t have to drill you on poker faces to let you know that if you demonstrate ANY form of spontaneity, you’ll be running wind sprints until you vomit. You have to leave the awe to drooling fanboys like me.

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This is true in other walks of life as well. Other masters of craft act—feel, really—as if what they do is no big deal. That allows them to view their own work with a necessary critical eye. Everything can’t be fabulous all the time. When I make a chicken pot pie, I’m too worried about getting everything right to get all worked up over it. It’s an everyday task to me. It’s for others to be appropriately DAZZLED by my performance. To me, it’s just my everyday magic.

Evan:

I just turned 26 and I have to say, I still have no standard operating procedure for when I get a document that’s “for your records” - vehicle inspection reports, voter registration card, copies of parking tickets, etc. Do people have like a manila folder that says “Records” on it? Assuming the average home doesn’t have a file cabinet, how are these “records” to be managed?

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Evan, I have bad news for you. Files are coming to your life whether you want them or not. When I was single, files were nonexistent. They were work shit. I either threw vital papers away or I kept them stacked in a corner somewhere, usually with my weed supply resting on top. Then I got married and had kids and now my whole LIFE is filing shit. We had to get a real filing cabinet because we had so many goddamn papers to keep. The only joy I get from that cabinet is that the dog freaks out whenever I open it. He thinks there’s a live wolf inside there. Otherwise, it drawers are an archive of human drudgery: old credit cards bills, medical records, school records, owner’s manuals, tax returns, 401k docs that I should pay more attention to, car titles, insurance information, and God knows what else. This is your future, man. This is your 40s, and it blows.

There is no avoiding this. You can remain a bachelor forever and tell everyone that you’re too cool for filing, but the filing WILL come for you. Honestly, having all this crap in one convenient location makes tax time much easier, among other horrible tasks. My wife and I have all the docs tucked away in manila folders, which are marked correspondingly. It’s one of those inevitable facets of old age that you can try to put off forever, but are better off just succumbing to anyway. Get some manila folders, label them, put your shit in it, and then your loved ones will be able to easily locate your will when you die of botulism. See how rewarding that can be? I didn’t want files. I now have files. I didn’t want to do taxes. I now do taxes. I didn’t want to bitch about font sizes. I now bitch about font sizes. I didn’t want to get my earwax vacuumed out. I have gotten my earwax vacuumed out. YOU CAN’T STOP WHAT’S COMING.

Liam:

Who’s worse? Beer Dorks or Bourbon (or Rye or American Whiskey or whatever) Dorks? I mean, I’m sure everybody agrees that Scotch Dorks are the worst, but I’m having trouble figuring out who’s the runner up for last place.

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I have met beer snobs. I have met bourbon bastards who think that bourbon is the great American novel of liquors. I have even engaged in both these forms of snobbery myself.

My verdict: beer snobs are worse, if only because there are so MANY of them. Give any asshole a pricey IPA and suddenly they turn into Jim Koch, waxing on insufferably about hoppiness for hours on end. Meanwhile, I’m just trying to get drunk here. I like fancy beers and I’m glad that self-appointed brewmasters saw fit to churn out 50 billion different microbrews for American consumption. But enough is enough. Calm down with the beer snobbery. Don’t make me agree with a stupid Dilly Dilly ad.

It’s beer. Filing bank statements may be an unnecessary side effect of aging, but treating beer like jazz doesn’t have to be. Growing up, beer was cheap shit you drank so that you could vomit. That was the MAGIC of it. I refuse to let some beer snob analyze the fun out of such an inherently goofy and idiotic beverage. It’s fun to obsess over things, but don’t do it at the expense of me playing slap cup with a case of Miller Lite.

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Bourbon, particularly cheap bourbon, is also used by enterprising drunks primarily as a way of getting drunk quickly. The bouquet of said bourbon is beside the point. HOWEVER, nice bourbon tends to be pricier than nice beer, and it tends to be consumed by older people, people more inclined to snobbery. I expect whiskey people to be snooty about their liquor. Whereas beer snobs can suddenly materialize at picnics and behind the bar at brewpubs and anywhere else that would be diverting and harmless if Vince didn’t decide that HERE was the best place to lecture everyone about German beer purity laws. Over the past two decades, beer snobbery has become a national epidemic. I’m ready for Juul snobbery to take its place. My kids will be at college one day and some asshat will regale them with his review of a fiddlehead fern-flavored vaping oil. That guy will suck.

Roger:

Do you think Trump is physically capable of throwing out the first pitch at an MLB game?

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I do. I know Trump has the physique of a sugar bag, but he gets out and golfs all too regularly. Whatever musculature that man possesses, it’s all located in the wrists and shoulders. If he can hit a golf ball decently, he can probably lob a baseball 90 feet. Would he look IMPRESSIVE doing this? No. No, his throwing motion would look like he’s running away from a prostate exam, and the ball would probably hit a child in the face. But he could throw a ball. I’d like him to start the All-Star game in July, frankly.

Austin:

Why is the two-minute warning still a thing? Even college football doesn’t have one. Who can’t tell there’s two minutes left in 2018?

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I figured that the two-minute warning was invented as a cheap way of creating an extra TV timeout, but no! No, Wikipedia says that the two-minute warning was really invented as a warning to teams back when the stadium clock was unofficial and therefore unreliable. The warning is still in place today, obviously, because it now IS a cheap way of creating an extra TV timeout. And they’re never getting rid of it. Fans like me are hardwired to live with the two-minute warning, the two-minute drill, and all other facets of BIG TWO MINUTES. I’ll also never tire of watching head coaches fuck up by mismanaging their timeouts around it. It’s a branded stoppage of the clock, and it’s a convenient way for both fans and announcers to feel like shit is about to get real.

I’d like college football to have a two-minute warning as well. Even now, when I know that there’s no two-minute warning in that sport, I flinch when the clock flicks past 2:00 and no one makes a big deal of it. But that’s… that’s the time thing! I want it in every football game for consistency’s sake, and I want college football to make up for the added stoppage by cutting their halftime shows down from their present 78 minutes.

Email of the week!

Mike:

I adopted a 1 year old shepherd/shar pei mix about 6 months ago. When I brought her back home, she promptly ran to the bathroom, hopped in the tub, and pooped. Eventually I got her to pee and poo outside, but she still prefers to go in the human bathroom about half the time. I even moved to a new apartment this month with a fancy shower, and it was business as usual for her, she ran right into the shower and let loose!

I always run the shower after she pees, and wipe down where she poops. My girlfriend thinks this is gross an unacceptable. But to me it is very convenient (especially if there’s a polar vortex outside), and I think it’s so considerate and adorable on Athena’s part. Also, everyone pees in the shower already. Am I the weird one?

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Hey look, you love your dog so you’re willing to forgive that dog its, uh, eccentricities. But I would hire a trainer and teach it to shit outside. That’s far more adorable. Your girlfriend is probably already interviewing prospective trainers as we speak anyways.