Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled Writing Is Talking Nowem/em
Photo: Elena Scotti (GMG)
FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag.

Today, we’re talking about smartphones, Trump’s DMs, tweezers, and more.

Your letters:


I sometimes reply to emails that ask a question “Errmm...yes, it was...”. Is it weird to start with “Errm...” or “Umm..”? Or even to “Umm..” part way through like your taking the person through your thought process, “Good Question. Have you tried X? Ermm...actually that won’t work, why not try” I suppose as it’s an email you could argue that it’s better to keep thoughts to yourself and answer with more clarity but I want to convey that the question was pondered for a moment and the answer carefully considered.


I think you have to be careful because when people stick “um” or “ ermm” into an email, it can come across as dickish. Like if I send an email to a colleague and they write back, “Yeah, um, that’s not gonna work here,” that person is being a snooty asshole. The “um” there is saying, “Wow, your idea is so shitty I can’t even think of a polite way to reject it.” Fuck you, man! I don’t see YOU coming up with proposals to man orbiting satellites with highly trained monkeys! At least I took some goddamn initiative! I GUESS EVERYONE’S A CRITIC THESE DAYS! That’s an “um” that should be kept under wraps.

I also wouldn’t start an email with placeholder words like that. That comes across as pedantic—pretty much the opposite of what you intended. It suggests that you you’re being so casually dismissive of another person’s message that you can barely be bothered to reply… that they barely deserve your thoughts. Those “um”s and “uhhh”s only really work if they come from a place of self-deprecation, like in your second example. Or let’s say your house burns down and someone emails you about a work thing, and then you’re like, “I can definitely do it next week, but this week has been a bit, uhh, hectic.” That’s fine.


Everyone is learning to talk with their fingers now. You text instead of call. You do a group chat instead of holding a physical meeting. There’s been this MASSIVE global shift in how people talk and how they write, and how much they do both of those things, and a lot people don’t even realize they’re making this transition. A good amount of internet rage comes from the fact that people completely fail to be themselves online, either deliberately or because they just don’t quite know how, and then they get mad when people misinterpret where they’re coming from. Happens all the time. That’s how you end up with someone you thought you knew and loved posting a 5,000-word screed about why they wanna burn their Nikes. It’s also how irony poisoning occurs, where I cannot tell who is joking online and who is angry and who is pretend angry and who is pretend joking, and who is lying about being any of those four things. I have no fucking idea anymore, and I’m not alone. The internet has a nasty habit of shattering your identity if you aren’t careful.

I have to talk with my fingers every day for this job and it shows up in the copy. I start sentences with “And.” I overuse the words “like” and “really” and “just.” I stammer on the page. All of that is a crude attempt to approximate an actual, living conversation. It is almost certainly bound to be interpreted the wrong way sometimes, but I do my best to make the writing sound the way I sound, minus the brayingly loud voice. That way, I don’t lose myself. Does that make sense? It’s a process, and you gotta make a good faith effort to think about how your online writing is gonna sound in the head of the other human being reading it. So if you’re just firing off emails with ummm and ermm in every other sentence, someone out there is eventually gonna want to punch your head off.



Week 2 of college football saw one game with two kick returns for touchdowns by the same player and one game with two punt returns for touchdowns by the same player. Which type of return touchdown do you think is better/more exciting/more impressive?


Probably kickoff returns, because they tend to be longer, and because both the NFL and college football (and me, I guess) are desperately trying to phase out that part of the game. I get why they’re doing it, but I also still enjoy losing my shit when I watch a dude return a kickoff for 100-plus yards. The blockers all hit their assigned lanes and a pathway opens for the returner and he just flies down the field. It’s such a pure and wonderful sight. There’s something really gratifying to watch a football player running FREE all the way down a field. Here you have this insanely violent game where dudes are murdering each other just to move the ball an inch, and then suddenly there’s a quicksilver little returner running like there’s no one else there. You ever go to a park and come across an open field and just wanna RUN across it? That’s the sensation I get when I watch someone like Devin Hester work their magic. He could clean the field.

I don’t know that we’re gonna see anyone as good as Hester or Dante Hall returning kicks again. There used to be an art form to the job, but so many restrictions have been added to the play that’s really just kind of a mop-up job now. I still get wildly excited when I see a punt returner break out of jail and tightrope down the sideline, and I still like to experience the near-fatal heart attack of watching a kickoff returner stumble out of the end zone and then having that work to his advantage as the defense accidentally blows past him (more returners should fake-stumble and see if it works). Those are thrilling plays, and they’re gradually being phased out for justifiable reasons. But I’ll miss them regardless. Three years from now they’ll replace the kickoff with a ceremonial Easter egg roll and I’ll smack the TV with my walking stick.


Pick-sixes are better than both, btw.


When NFL coaches, GMs, and pundits talk about their roster in the preseason, they keep talking about the different rooms of positions. Like, “we’re really happy with our quarterback room,” or “our cornerback room is strong.” Do you think positions actually have their own rooms? If so, what are they like? Are there any rooms you’d prefer to be in over others?


They DO have their own rooms. Each position gets its own room with a greaseboard and a big video monitor and lots of organic snacking options. Your average NFL player is gonna spend 90 percent of his off-the-field time in one of those rooms with a position coach, and will only talk to the head coach once every three weeks. If you gotta meet with the head coach and you don’t play quarterback, it’s usually because you’re being cut or traded. Otherwise, your ass belongs to Coach Mackey all week long.

A football team is basically like a law firm, where everyone has a different practice and the entire group rarely gets together except for special meetings, and those meetings are usually boring as shit. If a team says it has a good room, that obviously means the position is deep, but it also means that everyone in the room has bonded, playing ZANY pranks on one another and goofing on the position coach for, like, having a bad car. If I had to spend all day in one of those rooms, here’s how I would rank them:

  1. Corners/Safeties
  2. Backs
  3. Wideouts
  4. Linebackers
  5. D-line
  6. Special teamers
  7. Quarterbacks
  8. Shoot me dead
  9. O-linemen

Trust me: You don’t want the O-line room. It sucks. O-line film breakdown is duller than C-Span. The coach is usually a dumbshit with a head twice the width of a normal human’s (by contrast, every running backs coach I ever knew was a nice dude with a cool girlfriend who would go, like, rock climbing on off days). And the linemen are all grouchy assholes who think their room is some kind of secret mafia club. DURRRR NO QBS ALLOWED IN THIS ROOM BECAUSE QBS ARE GIRLS DURRRR. Offensive linemen are, in general, humorless rage machines who have a massive inferiority complex because they don’t get to touch the ball. Imagine having to sit in a room with Mark Schlereth all day. Does that sound fun to you? I’d rather fucking die.



I am 36 years old and am a fairly competent one- or two-thumbed smart phone user. I obviously did not grow up using a smart phone but feel as though I’ve adapted the behavior quite well. I notice that my parents (and seemingly every other person over 50) hold their phones firmly in the palm of one hand while typing solely with the opposite index finger. What is the magic age I should expect my dexterity to deteriorate to the point that the efficiency of the smart phone is rendered useless?


It’s gonna happen sooner rather than later, because those fucking phones are gonna give the whole world rheumatoid arthritis. I’m definitely just a few short years away from being functionally blind and having all of my joints frozen solid, all because I can’t put my phone down. This is yet another example of humanity conducting a grand experiment upon itself, without really knowing what the long-term consequences will be. It can’t possibly be good for your hands to hold a phone all day long. Your hands are marvels of engineering, so much so that hand surgery is actually one of the trickier forms of medicine. Inside your hand is a dense and intricate network of nerves and muscles and arteries, and yet I jeopardize that network every day by holding a phone next to me while I’m taking a piss.

Two months ago, I was playing soccer with my son and jammed my pinky on the ball. That pinky still hurts, mostly because I’m in my 40s and when shit hurts, it usually just stays that way until death. I also noticed afterward that I managed to hurt my pinky in the EXACT spot where I rest my phone when I hold it up. The pinky does a shocking amount of work when you hold a phone because, if you’re like me, you slip the pinky under the phone and use the crook of that finger as a little makeshift phonerest for it. This is almost certainly not how God intended you to use that digit. He’s probably looking down at everyone right now being like, “The fuck are they doing? Well shit, it ain’t my problem anymore. I’m gonna go make another, cooler planet. SMELL YA LATER, PHONE DORKS.” That’s all verbatim what He’s saying. That’s what He sounds like. True story.



How incriminating do you think Trump’s DMs are? Why isn’t anyone actively catfishing him right now?


I’m not sure he uses his DMs, probably because he doesn’t know they exist. He probably doesn’t even know what DM stands for. For Trump, Twitter is just the screaming machine. Holding a private exchange with someone on it defeats the purpose (I actually agree with this and believe that lengthy Twitter DM exchanges are for psychopaths). I know his son gets horny in DMs, but if Trump himself ever sent a DM, it would probably be made public within, what, 30 seconds? You can try and catfish him all you like, but I think Trump saves all his moist cherished private racial slurs for abusing staffers and for late night phone chats.

Also, there’s no real “tricking” Trump into confessing crimes. He does incriminating shit every hour, and in public. This is the thing that infuriates me the most, because you don’t have to go searching for a magic bullet to bring his ass down. He hands everyone a fucking BOX of magic bullets every day. You know how certain Politics Knowers on Twitter count off how many days Trump spends taxpayer money going to his own club? That makes me want to start burning everything. HE’S DOING A CRIME! ARREST THAT FAT FUCK!




I just saw, in a pile on the street in my Midwestern hometown, a Whip it, a packet of mayonnaise, and an airplane bottle of Fireball. Assuming these were consumed in rapid succession, what’s the best order of consumption?


Okay, I think I have it. Obviously, I do not care for mayo and would strategize my order of consumption specifically to minimize the nausea of having to suck down an entire Hellmann’s packet. So first … I get high. There’s a chance that I’ll get so high that the mayo tastes different to me or doesn’t bother me. And on the off chance it DOES, I have the double-shot of Fireball ready to chase it.

That’s my strategy. I think it’s a good one. I would test this strategy out for you but my wife already got mad me once for trying to huff nitrous out of a Reddi-Whip can. It’s free drugs! I’d have been a fool NOT to try it!



Favorite song by Wang Chung? Everybody Have Fun Tonight or Dance Hall Days?

Oh that’s easy. “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” is the DEFINITIVE Wang Chung song. The other song was their first hit, but it was really just setting the world up for the true majesty of “Everybody Have Fun Tonight.” NO ONE DENIES THIS.


By the way, and this is true, Wang Chung are still on tour and are playing here in D.C. three days from now as part of some ‘80s reunion tour package.

Filled with back-to-back hits, this extra special nostalgic show features the retro synthscapes and bubble-gum melodies of the legendary Wang Chung, A Flock Of Seagulls, Men Without Hats, When In Rome, Farrington Man and Missing Persons.


I saw “Farrington Man” on that bill and I was like, “Who the fuck is that? I’ve never heard of any band named Farrington Man.” Then I did a bit of JOURNALISM and figured out that the bill has a typo in it, and they meant to say “Farrington & Mann,” which is the new name for the When In Rome guys, because they’re in a legal spat with other bandmates over who gets to tour as the original When In Rome. This amuses me because When In Rome had exactly one hit song, and it sucked. THEY’RE NO WANG CHUNG! If you played only hit songs from that collection of groups, the concert would run 20 minutes.


Do you think Mr. Rogers ever masturbated?

Sure, why not. He probably didn’t engage in any GROUP masturbation, but Fred Rogers had a private side just like any other person, and he was entitled to that private side. He didn’t have to stay on brand 24 hours a day, and no one should ever have to. Like, you can be a kind and generous soul … the kind of person who lives life determined to make the lives of others just a bit sunnier and brighter. And then you can go home and crank hog to some hot BBW action. That doesn’t sully your good deeds. We call contain multitudes, and sometimes those multitudes include getting all greased up and shooting ropes into the toilet.



At what point to tweezers get big enough to be tongs?

If you can grab a steak with it, it’s a pair of tongs. I doubt this will ever be a source of confusion for you. There are tweezers, and then there are pliers, and then there are tongs, and then there are the toy robot claws that are cool as shit. Those are the four sizes of grabber thingies.


If you’re like me, you enjoy using tongs to grab your children when you’re cooking. Like, I’ll just grab their arm with a pair and go, “OKAY INTO THE POT YOU GO.” Then they’re like NEVER DO THAT AGAIN. It’s really fun! Adding props to dad jokes makes them incredibly sophisticated.

By the way, not to make generalities here, but never use a woman’s tweezers without her permission. Maddest my wife ever got was when I used her tweezers to, like, unscrew a broken light bulb. She caught me doing it and was like, “Are those … MY tweezers?” And I didn’t know I had committed a gross violation, so I was like, “Yeah!” And then she murdered me. It’s true. She got a big knife and stabbed me right in the head, and I bled out on the bathroom floor. Then she carefully wiped down the tweezers with isopropyl alcohol but left my body as it was as a warning to others. I’m writing to this from beyond the grave as we speak. Don’t fuck with a girl’s tweezers.



When is the best time for a professional sports league to hold a draft? Each of the three major sports hold them at different points in their league schedules. I think we can all agree MLB is the worst but they don’t have much other choice so do you prefer NBA style pre-free agency, or NFL style post-free agency?


Oh, the NBA. It’s not even close. You get the draft right after the season ends, and then you get free agency and summer leagues and Instagram catfights all kinds of cool shit. The NFL has a three-month death march to the draft, all of it full of useless conjecture and humorless scouts trying to make a name for themselves by spinning criminal overlord narratives out of any draft prospect who tested positive for weed. Also, the draft and the combine mush together with free agency, so free agency doesn’t quite get its own, distinct period in the news cycle.

Frankly, I’m surprised the NFL doesn’t switch the order of free agency and the draft. They could easily drive down veteran FA prices by holding the draft first and giving teams a chance to fill glaring holes with cheap talent before they ever have to spend a penny on free agents. Tell me that’s not a great idea if you’re a heartless old miser presiding over a hideous bloodsport! They should make my ass a consultant! I KNOW FOOTBAW.


Anyway, I would pay a good amount of money (two dollars) to hold the NFL Draft a couple weeks after the Super Bowl, when I still have a lingering post-coital effect from the game. But they’ll never do that, because they have an entire TV network to fill with non-programming in the offseason, and they like hyping up the draft until I want to shit out my eyes.


Hot : Luke Warm :: Cold : ? Why don’t have a word for something that’s mildly cold? Don’t even try to say “cool” because no one describes their luke-cold drink as “cool”.


I think it goes like this:

Hot : Lukewarm :: ICE Cold : Cold

Got it? Something can be cold, but if it’s ICE cold, then it’s really fucking cold. If you tell me something is ice cold, it better spot-weld to my lips upon first contact. Otherwise it is merely cold.


Also, cold is relative term, especially when it comes to foods. Let’s say you leave a pizza out overnight and then take a bite the next morning. That pizza is “cold,” even though it’s room temperature. It’s not ice cold, but it’s definitely cold and nasty (SIDE NOTE: I don’t like cold pizza). I bet the Germans have a word to indicate this relative cold. Call it Coldenfraumeschäger.


Let’s say you find out the only way Trump doesn’t get re-elected is for you to run against him. Once you’re in office you aren’t allowed to resign/get impeached on purpose. Would you do it?


Shit. Fuck. Shit fuck. Listen man, I wanna say, “Of course I would” to this. The fate of the free world may depend on me going for it. And yet … it’s an awful lot of travel, you know? And not fun travel, either. You gotta spend 100 days in IOWA, for God’s sake. Even Iowans don’t spend that much time in Iowa. Then you gotta debate the guy, and put up with crazy people wanting to kill you and your family. And you got the press looking into all your old group circle jerks … I think I’d bail. I would chicken out and then flee to Australia like a traitor. YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN, AMERICA.

By the way, you’ve heard this before, but the price of entry to politics is far too steep in terms of expense, time, and privacy. The only people willing to endure that kind of gauntlet are ALL narcissistic sociopaths. That’s why I propose we torch the Constitution and just start from scratch. It couldn’t possibly hurt at this point.



What’s to stop a soccer goalie who wants to kill time from standing a foot from his defender, throwing the ball off the defender’s head, catching it, and repeating until the game ends?


I can think of 87 different flaws in your plan, but I’d still like to see a goalie try it. I’d like to see a goalie get all pissed off at a pesky striker and just punt the ball directly at his face. Even if the ball bounced back into the goal, I bet it would be deeply satisfying.

Email of the week!


I’m robot-skeptical so I’d never buy a Roomba for myself, but we were gifted one last Christmas. Not only did that robot put us hard-working Americans out of a job, he somehow only cleans my office during work hours and then our living room during sporting events. It is pretty good for animal fur though.

What we must remember about robots is that they will carry out their programming with malicious precision and compliance. You tell a robot to build a robot and you accidently deconstruct the universe into grey goo. You unleash a Roomba and it will find every nook and cranny of your floor.

That was fine, until today.

I was feeling good, having just hit the package store dollar sale and carrying a big box of discount booze into the house. I open the door with my free hand and am smacked by an odor so foul, so putrid, I have to toss down the box and go dry heave in the bushes.

We have a beautiful and demure rescue dog, Ladybird, who sometimes holds her bowels like a Cub Scout on his first camping trip. No matter how many times you send her outside, she just will not go. Then, once the waste backs up to her esophagus, she lets out a rope on the spot. Usually the hallway.

Ladybird’s been eating more than usual to get a head start on fall. We let her out last night and again this morning. No matter.

She had pinched a five loafer and the Roomba scooped it for Beast Mode. By the time I got home, our robot slave had finely dusted dog shit through half the house. Our wood floors have doo-doo mortar between the planks. Our rug has a new coat of poop paint.

We have move now. Fuck robots.



Here’s a BONUS email of the week to cleanse the palate…


When I was a senior on the Rice baseball team, Jeremy Bates was also on the team. He didn’t play much (I think he was a soph.), but was always slightly odd and definitely interesting. The two primary things I remember about him:

Our last series of the year was against Grand Canyon who I was convinced was a fake school until we got to their field. They were like 9-45 for the year and we were top 10 in the country, so did they immediately beat us one game? Of course they did! (at one point during one of the games there we actually WON, our coach Wayne Graham was yelling at anyone who got to third base. There was a pitching change when I was on second, and their third baseman ran over to me. “Dude is he always like that??” As I shrugged, he looked back over this shoulder at third base where Graham was tearing into whatever poor bastard was on third, and the third baseman goes “I’m pretty sure he’s going to yell at me next.” Anyway…Bates. So we’re in like 3 different vans coming back from one of the games. One of the mouthier guys on the team kept digging at Bates, and Bates just turned around and matter-of-factly goes “Dude, if you say one more thing I’m going to punch you in the face.” The guy of course says one more thing, and in one motion Bates whips around, punches the dude in the nose, and calmly sits back down. Guy was gushing blood from his nose.

For the last few weeks of the college baseball season, classes are already out. Guys on campus could stay for free at the graduate school housing, but Bates just moved into our locker room for like 2 weeks. This wasn’t a 2018 Texas Longhorn football locker room. This was a smallish, cramped locker room with a VERY dirty couch, the smell of 25 disgusting young humans, and a tv with no cable. Bates thought it was awesome. Doesn’t surprise me at all he did that hike…dude doesn’t need much to be happy.


I like him even more.


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

Share This Story

Get our newsletter