It has been my experience that of all the tribes and herds of different people on earth, sports writers are among the funniest people of all. Oh, there isn’t anything real sexy about Villanova beating Georgetown or a baseball player hitting for the cycle. Now, if a player hits a single, double, triple and homer in that order, that’s “a natural cycle,” and that is kind of fun to watch on a sunny afternoon, but you gotta’ be some kind of nerd to know the Miami Marlins are the only team in the majors that has never had a batter “cycle.”
Because you have time between pitches or moving the chains on a first down, the wit and chatter in any press box is full of priceless quips and snide observations. There are always stories to share. They can be cold-hearted, heated, sacrilegious, off-the-wall, sarcastic, opinionated or include cuss words but almost always funny.
Some time ago a subscription-based website called “The Athletic” came on line and a handful of my old buddies who are still in the business make my daily visits a joy. As an extra treat, on Friday they have a “Dear Faux Pelini” advice column like Ann Landers once wrote. Readers can submit questions about “sports and life” and some of the cleverest writers anonymously dole out answers that absolutely crack me up.
Today I want to share two examples of sportswriter mirth. The questions are actually sent in by the readers and be it about Bama football or a girl learning she’s pregnant, the humor is divine.
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Dear Faux Pelini,
Can we somehow get rid of Alabama? A College Football Playoff of Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma and Ohio State would be a fun and competitive (and better for the sport than Bama dominating).
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I understand your pain. Each week the college football community must endure Nick Saban’s merry band of five-star mutants as they stomp their latest victim into submission while a euphoric Gary Danielson nearly passes out. It’s exhausting and irritating and we just want it to go away. At least we think we do.
The thing is, although we despise Alabama football, we need Alabama football. We need Saban’s boring, evil, dominant brand of football just like we need Darth Vader, the New York Yankees and black licorice. The bad parts of the universe reinforce that the good parts exist. Evil lurks in the shadows (and atop the AP poll). It keeps us focused and fighting for what is right.
To paraphrase Jack Nicholson, deep down in places we don’t talk about at tailgates, we need Alabama on that wall. We WANT them on that wall.
Alabama is college football’s Humpty Dumpty and we’re gathered around waiting for their great fall. The fall will come, because it always does, and it will be glorious. When it does arrive, we will install a new college football overlord to complain about, because that’s what makes college football work.
Alabama football unites us and excites us and gives us something to rail against. When they lose, we win. Without a Goliath, David is just a smartass with a slingshot.
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Dear Faux Pelini,
How do I tell my parents my boyfriend and I are having a baby when they don’t even know we’re dating?
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Oh My God Natalie,
Ideally you would go to a trusted friend with an issue like this instead of a fake football coach who lives on the internet, but here we are.
I’ll handle this for you. Please show your parents this letter:
Dear Mr. & Mrs. L.
Your daughter Natalie has asked me to help deliver some news. In fact, we have three fun surprises for you! Please sit in a comfortable chair and read the message below only when you have oxygen and/or alcohol nearby.
First, your little Natalie has found herself a boyfriend! Crazy, right? She’s all grown up now. (More on that later.) Anyway, you really should meet him. Soon! Like, really soon. Tomorrow if possible.
Are you ready for the second surprise? OK! I have reason to believe that Natalie and her boyfriend love each other very, very much. I know this because — let’s see, how do I put this? All right, I know this because, well, Natalie and her special guy have been … “intimate” with each other. (Meaning, they have had sexual intercourse.)
At this point you are probably thinking “Good lord, Natalie is not our little girl any longer! First the boyfriend, then the intimacy. We just hope she’s being careful.” Well hold on to your hats Mr. & Mrs. L., it’s time for surprise number three!
YOU ARE GOING TO BE GRANDPARENTS! That’s right, Natalie’s belly and your family are about to get bigger! Don’t be alarmed, you know this was inevitable with all the love and intimacy happening everywhere.
Please do me one favor — take it easy on Natalie. The poor girl was too nervous to tell you about her boyfriend much less this little plot twist.
And anyway, this is going to be great for both of you. You used to be babies yourselves, and you raised at least one of them, so you have some experience to pass along. You’ll be grandparents, so you won’t need to do any of the dirty work (diapers, homework, discipline) — you just get the good stuff. Birthdays, holidays, Sundays — all the fun days will be your days.
P.S. Seriously, go meet this boyfriend.
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THEATHLETIC.COM gets a five-star rating from me as a treasure trove for pro and college sports, and this is totally unsolicited. Subscriptions range from six months for $35.99, a year for $47.99, and $79.99 for two years. There are no ads. You can customize it to highlight your favorite pro and college teams in every sport but the greatness is in the writers – these guys are the best and they have a crew, including guys like Stewart Mandel (one of my favorites at college football,) Ken Rosenthal, Pierre LeBrun, Seth Davis and a “beat writer” in every SEC town. Let me be more specific … The Athletic writers are each a story teller. When you been in this game as long as I have, I want a story teller to spin the yarn, not some pimple-faced kid who doesn’t know how to tie a tie. Put another way, there are a bunch of guys who have been caught stealing a base four times in the same game but no one ever has gotten caught five times. Sooner or later even the dummies learn the lesson. You need a base stolen, go get Rickey Henderson in his prime in Oakland. He’s the only guy in baseball to steal over 100 bases in a season. But the difference is the boys at The Athletic know he did it three different times.