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Christmas Vacation

With the King of Commenting Competition heating up, and the stretch run looming (Thursday is the final day for comments), it only seems appropriate for me to play my small part by answering a few of your questions.

The Got Mail? blog is back… in a big way. And we are lucky it is. My piece of garbage laptop decided to run off with the Mrs. last week, meaning it caught about a thousand viruses, ironically around the same time my wife’s three-year-old Gateway decided to move onto greener pastures. Lucky for me, I have a friend like Britton, who has offered a much more reliable steed (his MacBook) as my vehicle of communication.

But enough with my whining. Somewhere between wishing the Yankees would fall apart faster than Tom Cable’s career in Oakland and wondering which Andre Agassi factoid was stranger: that he used meth, or wore a freaking wig, the holiday season began.

Let me be clear, the Bates household typically doesn’t kick off the Christmas season until Black Friday arrives. Yet today is November 1oth and on my kitchen table is a build your own gingerbread house box, and in the 8 oz. glass next to me, the remains of the egg nog I poured earlier. My wife and I very nearly rented Christmas Vacation tonight.

Don’t get me wrong, the Griswold’s are a dynamite family, one which every american family should aspire to be like. Still. It’s the middle of Turkey Month. I’m just not ready to take trips to Santa Land yet.

I guess that’s what happens when you get married. Christmas comes early. Or something like that.

But enough about me. Let’s hear from you.

Brett, TX

Be honest, you are just taking advantage of Jim Rome by ripping off the “Smack-Off” with your K.O.C.C. I dare you to tell us you aren’t. Let me preemptively call you a liar in case you are man enough to publish this e-mail, but claim that I am wrong.

Ben: When did I say that it wasn’t? If you find a method that works, you go with it. The Smack-Off is captivating, but we’ve never seen a commenting competition yet. So Not in HD clearly needed to step in and provide the medium for readers to strut their stuff.

Like this one from Stumangi:

“B-Man,
Great to see you back. I have to ask, did you mail this one in? Why is everyone down on the Lakers? The Spurs get rid of the only guy who can guard Kobe and add a washed up shooter and this makes them better? In fact the Spurs should rename themselves the Washed Ups and get it over with. The only chance they have is for Stern to bring back Tim Donaghy for the playoffs. This is still a big man league and the Lakers have bigs. Heck they can bring in Mbenga just to bite people.

Phil should pull Mbenga aside and say that he will double his salary (a double quater pounder with cheese) if he simply throws a wicked elbow toward random players. Seriously, how long will it take Ron Ron to help train Mbenga into be a force of pure intimidation? I say Lakers over Clevland in five.”

Gotta say, I didn’t see the Mbenga/ Tyson correlation coming. I laughed out loud. The thought of a Laker biting someone just seems to make sense. Maybe Mbenga and Artest will bite each other. And then Kobe will…

… win a scoring title.

DJ Mbenga

DJ Mbenga leaning in for a bite of Beckham? How quaint.

Craig, St. Petersburg

SNL is dead, yet you don’t seem to realize it as you constantly write references into your columns and blogs. Get over it. 30 Rock is all we have left.

Ben: Craig, I know. It twists and turns my stomach into more combos than a Taco Bell menu and an Olympic diver combined. Which is why I have to remind you that even Andy Samberg once had a pulse.

“Reeeach for the staaaars… yeeeeeaaaah!!! You stand on a distant planet… skylight of red plateaus!”

You’re absolutely right about 30 Rock. Alec Baldwin, plus Tracy Morgan, equals one bleeping heck of a show. It’s old school bananas.

Sean, MA

Press pause on your need to rip on the Sports Guy for a moment. His new book is great. He really brings it. You need to give it a read. Seriously, you won’t regret it.

Ben: I have read several chapters during two different sittings at Borders, while guzzling down green tea lattes. And you are right. The Book of Basketball represents all that we have grown to love about Bill Simmons over the years and at the same time, why we love to hate him as well.

Will Leitch wrote a pretty good piece on Bill Simmons (and the book) for Deadspin and he was fairly accurate with his depiction of why folks tend to berate Simmons. But he left out a key element: the mail-it-in factor.

Leitch explains how we all pushed Rick Reilly aside for the Sports Guy, but in actuality, our affection for S.I.’s back-page writer ended more because he stopped striving for excellence, than because Simmons was the new hot-hand. Once a writer gets in the habit of slacking on the leg-work, while still cashing the same paychecks, it’s awfully hard to break that habit. And on some level, it’s understandable. But it doesn’t mean readers won’t catch on, or be happy about it.

Unfortunately, the Sports Guy followed the lead of his favorite journalistic adversary. He just mailed in column after column, but expected his audience not to find the wool covering their eyes, backing his every word based on reputation alone. But it doesn’t work that way. His BS Report was called and he got defensive and abrasive. And you know what? It was the best thing that ever could have happened to him and his career.

He stopped feuding (sort of) with his employers and co-workers long enough, to focus on regaining his killer instinct and putting the passion back into his pen.

I can’t tell you if the whole book breathes excellence, but the little I have read is quality stuff. If you give Simmons nothing else, hand it to him for knowing professional basketball. He just does. If you care about the NBA at all, you want to read his book.

Then go back to protesting his podcasts. They are terrible.

Shooter, Indiana

Don’t forget to run the picket fence at them!

Ben: I’m not entirely sure what to make of this e-mail. But you’ve got it Shooter. The picket fence it will be.

David, L.A.

First Blake, now Gordon!?!? Who’s to blame here? I want blood!

Ben: It’s Dunleavy. Don’t let anyone sway you. But the Oklahoma kid will be back. Mark my words.

Eric Gordon on the other hand, who is about to miss at least ten games with a groin injury, well that’s just bizarre. One can only assume it’s sore from being dry-humped up and down the floor from opponents for 38 minutes a night, since he’s the Clips’ only legitimate threat on offense.

Yet Hulk-a-Kamania has quietly averaged 22 points a game, leading the team. With right about ten boards to boot.

Anyone need an enigmatic center?

Please?

Derrick, San Fransisco

Curse of Crabtree anyone?

Ben: Derrick, don’t take this the wrong way friend, but never e-mail me again sir. I cannot stand talk about curses. It’s just silly.

Michael Crabtree

Michael Crabtree and Alex Smith... it's scary to think that the 49ers' offense rests in the hands of these two. I think I just puked a little.

However the idea that Frisco caved – even if it was in the ever so slightest bit – to the demands of a single individual, thus disrupting the Mike Singletary, No one person is more important to the success of a team than another (excluding linebacker/ freak of nature, Patrick Willis, of course) mantra in the process, is probably cause for legitimate concern.

The Niners have lost four games in a row and whatever slim chance they had at the division crown in the process.

It has nothing to do with a curse, just bad football. And possibly overachieving players, who have stopped putting every ounce into every play for their coach.

On the other hand, Singletary’s bunch finds themselves but two games back in the West, catching a vulnerable Chicago team on short rest (it’s a Thursday night game), the very vulnerable Green Bay Packers the week after and still have the Jaguars, Seahawks, Lions and Rams left on the schedule. They also play the division leading Arizona Cardinals once more.

By George, they may not be out of this thing yet!

(Then again, they just lost by a touchdown to the Vince Young led 2-6 Titans, who had won only once coming in. Oh, and they played at the Stick too. Rats.)

John, Riverside

Best and worst of the weekend?

Ben: There’s no way you can entice me to step on Dan Patrick’s toes after borrowing a page from Jim Rome’s book.

It’s not happening. Sorry to disappoint you.

T.J., Austin

What will end up being the most important move made in the MLB offseason?

Ben: Well since I have a short list of moves which have already happened and a laundry list of those which have yet to come, (most of which probably won’t) to choose from, I’ll go with the Phillies re-upping Cliff Lee’s option. It was common sense to do so, but nonetheless critical to their potential success in ’10.

However if re-signing Matt Holliday really does cause a dent in Albert Pujols’ decision to re-up with the Cards, than I’ll take that one. I would be very surprised if Holliday doesn’t wear red next year. Although, if St. Louis doesn’t shell out for him, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if the Mets make a serious run at him.

Think about it, they are willing to spend money, they were an embarrassment in ’09 and to make matters even worse, the Mets were forced to watch as the Phillies unsuccessfully took whacks at the Yankees in the World Series.

Oh, and if I forgot to mention, the starting left fielder for New York’s other team? Only a 41-year-old Gary Sheffield.

Hmm…

Rick, San Diego

Looks like your boy Tim Lincecum likes the ganj. Will you still defend him as the most dependable starting pitcher in baseball?

Ben: Look, I will not even begin to defend Lince’s actions. It’s clouded judgement at best. But I will say, the young right-hander is a fiery guy.

Wait, that didn’t come out right.

His fastball is smoking.

Wait, still not right.

He routinely lights it up on the mound.

Yup. That was the one. That will do.

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  1. wstuchell
    November 11, 2009 at 3:50 PM

    Honestly, I couldn’t really care less if Lince smokes the ganj. No offense, but ganja is a depressant. Anyone who has ever seen someone after they have smoked out knows as well as I do that they tend to be useless. They either sit in the corner and giggle like little girls, fall asleep, or become ridiculously afraid of flying squirrels.

    To borrow from the greatest master of the snide comment, Jordan Cherry: They shouldn’t put an asterisk next to guys like Bonds. They should put an asterisk next to guys like Ruth and Gehrig. They created their numbers under the influence of performance decreasing drugs like Alcohol. Anyone ever tried to play baseball when drunk? It’s not a pretty sight.

  2. stewmanji
    November 11, 2009 at 8:47 PM

    Looks like Mbenga is going to be on the floor more with the news that Gasol might be out till Christmas. Lets be honest, the only thing more frightening then DJ Mbenga chasing you is Mbenga chasing you with a hockey mask.

    The news with Lincecum is not the Ganj but the fact that he was driving with the ganj and a pipe. The problem is not weed, but stupidity. Want to get high in the off season, then stay home. Fortunately he got caught on the Weed… um… West Coast so it was a slap on the wrist.

    Seriously, I did not know that you had e-mail. Sure I saw the addresses on the side there but I thought those were surely spam accounts. How many hits do you get on this site anyway? How many of those hits are your guys’ moms, dads, bums/stoners you pay to log on? How sad is Doug that he cannot be a writer on this site? Is he the reason why you are Not In HD?

  3. recoveringhumanity
    November 11, 2009 at 11:16 PM

    Point of most disagreement for me:
    No team in the NFC West ever has a slim chance of winning the division. Despite having a freakish super bowl competitor last year, that division is always up for grabs at or just past the halfway mark. Arizona could easily lose 3 or 4 games in the second half and so far SF is undefeated in the division so they have the tiebreaker. I still think the Cards will probably take it, but I definitely wouldn’t say SF chances are over or even slim.

    Point of most agreement for me:
    Paragraph 3, first sentence fragment. I agree with that wholeheartedly.

  4. dwdowning619
    November 12, 2009 at 3:53 PM

    Wow, Stewmanji. Thanks for the backhanded compliment. I could write for this site with my ears closed.

    Like a donkey eating a waffle, sweet sassy molassy … SNL is dead. Has been dead for years. Had its Glory Days in the 70’s and was Born to Run in the 80’s and then Streets of Philadelphia’d (?) through the 90’s .. but now, no one cares. It used to be that, if you wanted to see the big stars outside of their respective element (scripted TV show, sporting field, etc …) you HAD to watch SNL. Now, with Dancing with the Stars, Ryan Seacrest and Peyton “Laser, Rocket Arm” Manning, you can get a glimpse of these A-listers almost any time, not just on SNL

    Simmons’ new book is golden. Better than his last, which was so-so. All he did was take Reilly’s idea (Hey look! A pop culture reference!) and take it to the extreme. Worked for RR. Works for BS. Works for NotinHD.com.

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