Proposed Line Items for MLB’s Negotiations to Bring Baseball Back

Baseball’s owners have finally stooped to considering whether or not they’ll return to the negotiating table to discuss with the player’s union if America will have its national pastime back this year. Here are our proposed line items to add to the bargaining process to ensure that the return of baseball is a success:

  • Automatically declare Tim Anderson and Javy Baez the AL and NL MVPs of our hearts, respectively.
  • Finally put the Seattle Mariners out of their misery.
  • 200% more steroids.
  • Give me a firm commitment that I will be able to download an app version of Backyard Baseball to my phone by no later than mid-July.
  • No concrete policy idea here, but can we make this sport a little more fucking exciting?
  • All players must choose among The Outfield’s “Your Love,” Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage,” or Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” for their walk-up song. There are no other options. 
    • LoR would be willing to accept a proviso outlining that a player may choose either Megan Thee Stallion’s initial version of “Savage” or Megan Thee Stallion feat. Beyonce “Savage (remix).” 
  • Mandatory racial sensitivity training for all St. Louis Cardinals baseball fans before they’re allowed to tweet. Actually, better expand this to all baseball fans. 
  • Change the Hall of Fame induction rules to make Charlie Blackmon’s beard immediately eligible.
  • Two Pirates–Reds games per year replaced with a three-hour, no-holds-barred, dugout-on-dugout bench-clearing brawl. 
  • Atlanta Braves aren’t allowed to use the name “Atlanta” until they move back within the city limits. 
  • I get to hit Bud Selig.
  • Send all Cubs fans a $10.50 cup of warm Bud Light and an audio recording of Karen from Naperville loudly insisting that “all lives matter” to simulate the gameday experience at Wrigley Field.
  • Force Joe Buck to run blindfolded in front of the pitcher’s mound every half inning.
  • Any team with a baby-blue throwback uniform required to wear it until there’s a new CBA (yes that’s over half the league) (and yes that last one was a stretch). 
  • Defund Tom Ricketts. 

The NHL’s 24-Team Playoff and the Importance of Ostracizing Losers

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman announced this week that the league had decided upon an adjusted playoff format in light of the regular season being cut short by COVID-19. Instead of the usual format—a 16-team, 4-round tournament with Best-of-7 series—this year’s playoff will expand to 24 teams, so as not to exclude teams just outside the playoff bubble when the season was interrupted. This means that of the 31 teams in the NHL, only seven teams will fail to make the playoffs. And boy, do those seven teams really, really suck.

We hope that this move by the NHL is the first step in a new direction that professional sports league should have taken long ago. Perhaps, at long last, sports will stop focusing so much on glorifying the winners and begin devoting themselves a little more to ostracizing and embarrassing the losers.

I already know what you’re thinking: sports have always been about celebrating the victors, ever since the Roman chariot races, or the ancient Greek Olympics, or that game that Turkic tribes play that’s like polo but the ball is a goat carcass or something. Many people believe that this is the inherent purpose of sports—to celebrate excellence and achievement. 

However, that isn’t quite the truth. Sports leagues are increasingly moving the emphasis away from rewarding greatness and toward forcing enormous shame upon the last-place finishers. Take, for example, my fantasy football league (yes, I am adopting a slightly liberal definition of “sports” here). There’s a modest prize for winning, of course. Maybe $100 or so. But the real goal is not to lose. If you lose, you have to dedicate yourself to a punishment that will take up huge swaths of your time and energy, and a chunk of your dignity that you will never get back. And that’s where the incentive lies. You’re not going to spend a couple hours tinkering with your line-up every week so you can maybe win $100 at the end of the year; you’re going to spend a couple hours tinkering with your line-up every week so you aren’t forced to watch every existing episode of The Good Doctor and write a summary of each episode.

Hopefully, the NHL is headed in the same direction. Let’s celebrate the team that wins the Stanley Cup, but let’s also talk loudly and at great length about how shitty your team has to be to miss a 24-team playoff in a 31-team league. Better yet, let’s have them do a seven-team loser’s bracket, so we can assert with absolute certainty that the Red Wings are the worst team in the league. Hell, why not tack on some individual awards? Everyone who cares about hockey should know the name of the person with the lowest plus/minus in the league, or the goalie with the most goals allowed per game, or the coward who has the fewest penalty minutes. (On second thought, the Lady Byng already recognizes the last one.)

Sports aren’t about winning, and they aren’t about pushing the limits of human achievement. They’re about shitting on people. We hope that with the 24-team playoff in the NHL, more people will begin to realize this fundamental truth.

Who is the real Greatest Basketball Player of All Time?

The Last Dance might be over, but debates about who is the true Greatest Player of all Time will never end. So, do you want to find out who the real GOAT is, once and for all?

Check this out: we’ve assembled two mystery players—both NBA champions on teams that were among the best basketball squads in the league’s history—for comparison’s sake. Which one do you think is the true hardwood legend? 

Who you got? It’s got to be Player B, right? 

***

***

***

That’s right, Danny Ainge (a.k.a. Player B) is the greatest player of all time, while Michael Jordan (a.k.a. Player A) is a distant second.

The Mormon Mad Dog was a way bigger threat from behind the arc, he was a lockdown defensive guard, and he has the numbers to prove it. And that’s all before we get to his much more impressive baseball career, his considerably better odds for how he will fare in the afterlife, and his success as an executive. The man just knew how to win, whether he was going up against Jordan on the court, taking Jordan’s money on the links, or appearing in any of his six Finals—the same number of Finals that all-timers by the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, and Scottie Pippen have played in.

Give it up for the GOAT!

Point/Counterpoint: Should Jay Cutler be the next Bachelor?

Love is dead. You heard it here first, or maybe a few days ago when the boys’ group chat lit up with the news that Jay Cutler and Kristin Cavallari are divorcing after six years of marriage and three years of occasionally meme-worthy TV. 

So what should come next for the newly single Cutler? Should he return to the broadcast booth? Or endorse his favorite brand of smokes? The people have a different idea: Make Jay Cutler the next Bachelor. Our panel of experts weighs in on whether that’s such a good idea:

Pro: Make the Cut with Jay Cut

  • Years of living in Chicago should have primed Cutler for the institutional racism of The Bachelor
  • He’s already used to people talking shit about him behind his back
  • Excelled at the fence jumping portion of the NFL combine
  • Cutty’s charisma, unlike his QB play, is unbeatable
  • It should be easy for ABC’s producers to cut together Cutler’s career highlights for the episode 1 intro
  • He could easily be replaced by a different lead without the show missing a beat
  • We know all of his bad political views in advance 
  • He’s not afraid to get hurt  
  • Is mediocre white guy

Con: Un-Bearable

  • America’s not ready to see his butt again 
  • There’s just no telling what toll that much champagne would take on his diabetes
  • Nobody will be surprised when he makes a pick
  • That man cannot go that long without eating 
  • If we’ve developed a coronavirus vaccine by the time filming starts for season 25, we can’t guarantee that he’ll get it
  • Who knows if he’ll make it through the season
  • Gunslinger mentality ill-adapted to the modern RPO-style offense pioneered by Colton
  • Might force the nation into some weird conversations about goats
  • He’s pretty fat now

Marvel Superheroes, If ESPN Was Introducing Them

Spider-man

  • From Queens, NY
  • Does whatever a spider can
  • Raised by single aunt in a 625 sq ft apt
  • Sticky hands
  • Parents dead!!

Captain America

  • Benches 625 raw (550 power clean)
  • 102 years old, making him the oldest Avenger in this year’s draft
  • Blue collar, red-and-blue-shield type player
  • Player comparison: a white one

Black Panther

  • From island nation of “Africa”
  • Cat-like reflexes
  • Grew up poor, we assume
  • High school coach describes him as: “natural talent, a freak athletically, incredible specimen”

Thor

  • God of thunder
  • Dead mom!!!
  • Averaged 11.6 YPC in 2019
  • Coach’s son
  • Three-time consensus all-MVC
  • New England will make him play wide receiver
  • [Brent Musberger voice] Have you seen his girlfriend?

Thanos

  • Five-tooled, six-infinity-stoned player
  • Has all the measurables
  • Working to support his adopted daughters
  • Generational talent who plays well in space
  • Can take out half the opposing team

Hulk

  • Recorded 27 sacks in 1.5 games for Harvard
  • Abusive father 😦
  • Described as “gym rat” by gamma ray lab tech
  • He MAJORED! In SCIENCE!

Iron Man

  • Locker room guy
  • High IQ 
  • Cerebral
  • Overcame debilitating and, frankly, embarrassing addiction issues

Ant-Man

  • Tremendous upside
  • Saw a man do a drug once!
  • Lived in a van 
  • Tweener
  • Sneaky athletic

The 10 Best Quotes of The Last Dance, So Far

10. “There’s no I in team, but  there’s an I in win.” – Michael Jordan, when it was suggested that he could have had the ball slightly less often. 

9. “Straight up bitches.” – Horace Grant, describing the dauphin dynasty Detroit Pistons leaving the court without shaking hands after being disemboweled by the Bulls 4–0 in the 1991 ECF. 

8. “Are those the pills you take to keep you short or are those diet pills?” – MJ, a tall king, mocking body positivity icon Jerry Krause. 

7. “They had Craig Ehlo on me, which, in all honesty, was a mistake.” – MJ, 31 years after making a shot over Craig Ehlo. 

6. “Mom and dad, he’s an alcoholic.” – MJ, as Scott Burrell pleads with him to stop bringing up his infidelity and alcohol consumption on camera. 

5. “Michael was like the Pied Piper walking down the Champs-Élysées.” – The late David Stern, slandering MJ with allegations of paedocide. 

4. “Well, I think it’s been pretty easy.” – MJ, as a rookie, when asked about playing in the world’s foremost professional basketball league.

3. “Scottie, ya know, he’s got feelings.” – MJ, talking about the complex mental machinations of the greatest number two of all time. 

2. “I’m not gonna fuck my summer up.” – Scottie Pippen, unveiling those complex mental machinations to be primarily a desire to have a sick, surgery-free hot girl summer. 

1. “That was God disguised as Michael Jordan.” – Former Indiana State University letterman Larry Bird, falsely implying there is a distinction between God and Michael Jordan. 

Welcome to the Bet On Yourself Sportsbook

The sports books are open in Illinois and in Michigan, but there are no sports. So who better to bet on now than yourself? Welcome to the Bet on Yourself Sportsbook, where the only limit to your action is your actions. 

Will You Email Your Landlord About That Thing? 
Yes: +450
No: -450

How Long Will Your Duolingo Streak Last?
Over: 8 ½ days
Under: 8 ½ days

Will She Text You Back?
Hell Yes My Guy: +120
Nah Gtfo: -120

Over/Under Number of Times You Masturbate While on Self-Quarantine
Over: 12 ½ 
Under: 12 ½ 

Will You Get a Promotion Before December 31, 2020? 
Yes: +220
No: -200
Lol whoops you don’t have a job any more: +1350

Parlay Time! 
Hit Your Goodreads Challenge for Books Read in a Year: -150
Avoid Fighting With Your Uncle on Facebook: -115
Write a tweet that gets 20 likes: +150
Finally get a six-pack: +250
Overall Payout: $100 pays out $2,626.45

I’m Just A Boy, Standing In Front Of A Girl, Angrily Defending My Sports Gambling Addiction

Look, I get it. I get why you’re unhappy that I had to take you to a “seedy and gross” Irish pub for Valentine’s Day because I didn’t have the money to take you to the nice restaurant where I had made a reservation. And I know you’re especially unhappy knowing that I had the money, but lost it because I put $300 on a three-game NCAA basketball parlay.

But don’t forget: I’m just a boy. Standing in front of a girl. Angrily defending my sports gambling addiction.

First of all, don’t blame ME for Louisville absolutely shitting into its slippers against Georgia Tech. I assure you, anyone who knows fucking anything about college basketball would take that bet.

I’m also not sure you quite understand that if I had won this bet, I would have made $1,400. I’m sure that tapas restaurant I made a reservation at is just fantastic, but if Louisville had figured out how to score against the fucking anemic Georgia Tech defense, I could have taken you to SPAIN. I could have gotten you all the tapas you fucking want.

It isn’t MY fault that Louisville decided to choke on ass for no reason. The only thing that’s my fault here is that I promised you we would get goddamn tapas and had you craving a stupid glass of fucking sangría all week. Though you clearly didn’t crave it that much, because the guys at McDuffy’s said they could probably figure out how to whip together a sangría, but you suddenly weren’t interested anymore.

Whatever. It’s fine. I’m sorry you got food poisoning. I did tell you the fish and chips weren’t a safe bet, but that still sucks. I guess we’ve both learned a thing or two about safe bets this week.

QUIZ: XFL Team, or Unlicensed Fictional Football Team?

1. St. Louis Battlehawks
2. Los Angeles Thunderbirds
3. Seattle Dragons
4. Tampa Bay Vipers
5. Memphis Maniax
6. Rapid City Monuments 
7. New York/New Jersey Hitmen
8. Detroit Devils
9. Duluth Bulldogs
10. Dallas Renegades
11. Orlando Rage

12. Dallas Knights 
13. New York Emperors
14. Louisiana Tigers
15. Birmingham Thunderbolts
16. Toronto Roughriders
17. Los Angeles Wildcats
18. Miami Sharks 
19. Las Vegas Aces
20. Orlando Hammerheads
21. Chicago Enforcers
22. Team 9

XFL Team: 1. St. Louis Battlehawks (XFL II), 3. Seattle Dragons (XFL II), 4. Tampa Bay Vipers (XFL II), 5. Memphis Maniax (XFL I), 7. New York/New Jersey Hitmen (XFL I), 10. Dallas Renegades (XFL II), 11. Orlando Rage (XFL I), 15. Birmingham Thunderbolts (XFL I), 17. Los Angeles Wildcats (XFL II), 21. Chicago Enforcers (XFL I), 22. Team 9 (XFL II)

Unlicensed Fictional Football Teams: 2. Los Angeles Thunderbirds (Psych), 6. Rapid City Monuments (The Dark Knight Rises), 8. Detroit Devils (Blitz: The League), 9. Duluth Bulldogs (Leatherheads), 12. Dallas Knights (Any Given Sunday), 13. New York Emperors (Any Given Sunday), 14. Louisiana Tigers (Everybody’s All American), 16. Toronto Roughriders (South Park), 18. Miami Sharks (Any Given Sunday), 19. Las Vegas Aces (Blitz: The League), 20. Orlando Hammerheads (Blitz: The League)

The Cub Fan’s Lament

We swore we just wanted one before we died. We didn’t set preconditions or enter into negotiations. That’s not really how deals with the devil work. We just wanted a World Series title for our beloved North Siders before we passed on — and honestly, if it came a year or two after we croaked that was fine too. For that single trophy, no cost was too high.

And then we got it. Ohhhh boy did we get it. 10 innings of it. Five million people in the streets for it. The miracles and rain delays and David Ross of it. It was all we’d ever dreamed of.

But from the very get-go, we knew what we’d given up. I remember saying the night of Game 7 that in hindsight, I was actually glad that Aroldis Chapman had given up the lead in the eighth inning because it meant that he – fresh off a suspension for domestic violence and seemingly unrepentant – wasn’t on the mound the moment we clinched. He wasn’t in the photos and wouldn’t be remembered as our savior. He could be relegated to the role of a rent-an-arm who had sort of panned out and could now be shipped back to the Bronx.

Fast forward four seasons and things are… blurrier. When the Ricketts family delivered a World Series championship, the love they felt from the city was as overpowering as it was genuine. Perhaps no owners in American sports built up such a vast amount of goodwill in such a short amount of time. And they immediately started spending it.

Consider: 

Now, as the 2020 season approaches, the relationship between ownership and fans has deteriorated even further. Tom Ricketts was booed heartily at the Cubs Convention when he mentioned the yet-to-be-launched Marquee Sports Network, and he seemed genuinely confused by the reaction. Never mind that with less than a month until pitchers and catchers report, 60% of Cubs fans still have no way to watch games. Or that the lucky few who are permitted to watch games will be forced to tune in to a channel owned by the people who did this. What’s not to love? Why are all you booing the nice billionaire?? Where has all the goodwill gone???

The honest answer is that it was spent much faster than anyone could have anticipated. And while the on-field results have been disappointing (at least by the newly high standards of the fans), the reality is that it had little to do with baseball.

The Ricketts have, intentionally or not, carried out a real-time sociological experiment on the importance of local sports teams relative to other issues. Could a trophy paper over the racism and bigotry of those who delivered it? What was more likely to drive action: a desire to see the team in person, or a fear of indirectly funding the president’s reelection campaign? And just how far can you push a group of people, once you’ve given them everything they wanted?

The loser in all of this is, as it always is, the fan. Just three years removed from the highest of highs, Cubs fans are now grappling with questions as basic as whether their team’s professional baseball games will be televised to ones as profound as when to walk away from something you love.

It is, of course, not fair of ownership to do this to the fans. But then, there has rarely been anything fair about being a Cubs fan. So as we enter the twilight of this team’s championship window, Cubs fans are left to grapple with a question that seemed inconceivable just a few years ago: was it worth it?