The Mickey Mantle Letter

Friday, December 2nd, 2022

Today, let’s discuss a truly one-of-a-kind piece of sports memorabilia, which I call “The Mickey Mantle Letter”. Back in 1972, to prepare for a celebration of 50 years at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees asked many former players to share an outstanding experience:

A letter from the Yankees asking Mickey Mantle to share an outstanding experience from Yankee Stadium.

In response, retired superstar centerfielder Mickey Mantle sent back this incredibly obscene reply:

I got a blow job under the right field bleachers by the Yankee Bullpen…It was about the third or fourth inning. I had a pulled groin and couldn't fuck at the time. She was a very nice girl and asked me what to do with the cum after I came in her mouth. I said don't ask me, I'm no cock-sucker. It is signed “Mickey Mantle - The All-American Boy.”

I’ve actually heard this hilariously vulgar story before, but I had no idea there was a physical artifact written in Mantle’s own hand. Now, incredibly, it’s available for sale. The current bid, at time of publication, is $24,826. Despite the sum involved, I hope whoever wins this auction donates the letter to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, where it can be displayed publicly. That belongs in a museum!

As a result of this auction, additional details have come out. However, I’m undecided if I believe them. Give the following a read, and decide for yourself. From the auction listing:

Subsequent to the catalog publication, we were contacted by former New York Yankees executive Marty Appel, who has first-hand knowledge of this letter, which he kindly shared with us:

“I was the Yankees Assistant PR Director then, with Bob Fishel my boss. We wrote to many ex-Yankees for a 1973 50th anniversary Yearbook feature on ‘greatest memory.’ That is my handwriting on ‘Dear Mickey’ and ‘Bob Fishel.’ Mick’s response is indeed his, in his handwriting, but it was meant to shock the very straight-laced Bob Fishel on whom he was always playing practical jokes. The item is authentic, but the intent was bawdy humor, not depiction of a real event. I called Mick when I received it and said, ‘We’re going with the Barney Schultz home run in 1964’ and he laughed and said ‘Of course.’ I held the letter for decades (never showed Bob Fishel), finally gave it to Barry Halper, and from there it slipped off to others over time.” – Marty Appel.

Is Marty Appel covering for Mickey Mantle or was the Mick really pulling a hell of a dirty prank? Is this a valiant attempt at whitewashing a hero’s legacy, or just the truth about a good joke? Honestly, I’m not sure which I’d prefer. The “PERSONAL” Mantle scribbled on the return envelope does lend a bit of credence to the idea that this was a farce, rather than the act of a man who simply did not give a fuck.

Still, I find myself not entirely convinced. If this was indeed a bit of tomfoolery, than Appel’s claim that he never showed his boss the letter is an absolute crime. At least the rest of the world eventually got to see.

Previously in auctions for inappropriate Mickey Mantle Memorabilia: A Valuable Apology

Boston Uniforms, Gross and Fly

Thursday, December 1st, 2022

In the continued quest to put advertising in every conceivable place, Major League Baseball teams are now permitted to sell placement on their actual uniforms. Back in April, the Padres were the first team to announce a partnership, one which will feature hilariously large Motorola patches. Sadly, my hometown Red Sox have now joined this vulgar parade.

A Red Sox uniform with an unseemly ad patch on one sleeve.

In a word: Yuck. In an emoji: 🙊. Though MassMutual is a Massachusetts-based insurance company with 170+ years of history in the Bay State, they simply don’t belong on the team’s uniform. No one does. Alas, I have little doubt that this scourge is coming for the rest of the league as well.

In better uniform news, friend-of-the-site Casey L. and I were recently discussing mock-ups for alternate jersey for the Boston Celtics. He had found a fun jersey design created by a fan:

A Celtics jersey mockup, showing the colored lines of Boston’s subway system, as well as the system’s “T” logo.
[Image via @petemrogers]

This design plays off of Boston‘s public transit system (known as “The T”), including our four colored subway lines, two of which (Orange and Green) meet at North Station where the Celtics play. It’s a very nice idea. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an original one. I had actually seen and enjoyed this same image a day or two earlier, before learning that it was actually a fairly obvious knock-off of another artist’s better design:

A better Celtics jersey mockup, also showing the colored lines of Boston’s subway system, as well as the system’s “T” logo.
[Image via Reddit]

Happily, when “timbo_sport” came to defend their honor, it led me to check out more of their work. That brought me to my favorite design yet, their “Cutting Edge”:

A wonderful Celtics jersey mockup, showing the lines and towers of the Zakim Bridge.

This gorgeous design subtly references the cables and towers of the Zakim Bridge, which sits directly next to TD Garden, the Celtics’ home arena. Living just down the street, I’ve captured a number of decent pictures of this bridge. However, this (slightly cropped) 2013 shot from Eric Kilby does a superior job of showing both the bridge and the Garden:

[Photo credit: Eric Kilby]

Built as part of Boston’s infamous Big Dig, the Zakim was at one time the world’s widest cable-stayed bridge, and it remains an icon for the city. Paying homage to it on the Celtics uniform would be delightful. Maybe some day.

From an ad-marred shame, to a decent image that turned out to be a knock-off, to the original creator’s better execution, to the above masterpiece, it was quite a uniform roller coaster. Of course, I’ll be forced to see the livery I most disliked all season next year, while the looks I enjoyed most don’t actually exist. A man can dream, though. A man can dream.

Maybe They Offer a Lifetime Guarantee 

Wednesday, November 30th, 2022

When I first ran into QR codes in 2011, I had an amusingly miserable experience. In the decade-plus since, the technology has gotten a bit more usable, particularly after QR code scanning was built in to the camera app on smartphones. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants switched to online menus accessed via QR code, and many still haven’t switched back. I suppose people just weren’t poking at their phones in public enough already.

While QR codes are now pretty well established, they remain distinctly unappealing to me. They feel like a kludge, unwanted technology that’s been forced on us to solve a problem in a clunky way. As such, when I heard about a company placing QR codes on gravestones, my immediate thought was “Tacky!”.

A gravestone with a QR code on it.
Sorry, Danny Boy.

Beyond that, though, it just seems unlikely that this business will last very long in the grand scheme of things. The idea of preserving the stories of the deceased is a fine one, but using QR codes to link to a small company’s website just feels terribly fragile. In 20, or 50, or 100 years, when “The Story Of” ever stops paying for their servers, these gravestones are just going to be festooned with useless trash.

Still, it could be worse. From the picture above, it appears it won’t be to difficult to remove the codes in the future. At least they aren’t engraving QR codes directly onto the headstone.

Blood From a Stone 

Tuesday, November 29th, 2022

You’ve probably heard something about FTX recently. They were one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges right up until they collapsed into dust earlier this month. Financial funnyman Matt Levine has covered the saga in depth, but the short of it is that FTX lost a whole bunch of customer money and eventually faced a solvency crunch that brought them down. They’ve now filed for bankruptcy.

That’s a bad thing for those involved, a group which includes a lot of major businesses who took FTX’s money for advertising. For instance, there’s Miami-Dade County, which took sold the naming rights to their arena for $135 million. They’re now trying to get out of the deal.

FTX already has paid Miami-Dade almost $20 million, and has a $5.5 million payment due in January. Under the deal’s terms, a default on FTX’s part would require the company to pay the county for three years. That amounts to $17 million, which the county is seeking in damages, according to the county’s court filing.

It might have been ill-advised to construct a deal where a default by FTX incurs a monetary penalty which will likely never be recovered, yet doesn’t result in nullification of the arrangement.

COVID-19 Deaths Now Skew Political 

Monday, November 28th, 2022

COVID-19 is still with us, and it’s still killing people. In 2021, however, the people it killed were not evenly distributed when it came to their political affiliation.

The study, titled Excess Death Rates for Republicans and Democrats During the COVID-19 Pandemic, used voter registration and death records to answer a question: is there a link between political affiliation and rates of COVID related death in the U.S.?

The short answer is yes…in the summer of 2021—after vaccines were widely available—the Republican excess death rate rose to nearly double that of Democrats, and this gap widened further in the winter of 2021.”

We have tools to greatly diminish the lethality of COVID-19, but one group of people has been much more reluctant to take common-sense precautions like getting vaccinated (and boosted) and wearing masks. Instead, they’ve fixated on a noxious belief that their “freedoms” are more important than the health of others. That group has been led astray by their political leaders and news outlets, and now it’s literally killing them. This loss of lives is horrible, but it’s difficult to feel sorrow for people who refuse to even care about themselves, let alone others.

Orange Businesses

Friday, November 25th, 2022

The Bowls Cheez-It aren’t the only confusing orange things to discuss this week. America has two franchises which I perpetually conflate: “Orange Leaf” and “Orangetheory”. The former is chain of fitness studios started in Florida, while the latter is self-serve frozen yogurt by way of Oklahoma.

Orange Leaf Fitness

Orangetheory Frozen Yogurt

Hmm, or is it the reverse?

Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt

Orangetheory Fitness

Like the Gorton’s or Gordon’s fisherman, I can simply never be sure. It is my hope that this post will cause my confusion to spread to others. I also hope that I don’t get a cease and desist letter from Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt (or Fitness), nor one from Orangetheory Fitness (or Frozen Yogurt).

A Hotel Snafu for the Brians Cox 

Thursday, November 24th, 2022

Today in fun plurals, there is a fairly famous actor named Brian Cox as well as a reasonably famous physicist named Brian Cox. The two Brians Cox appeared on BBC together last week, and discussed a recent hotel problem.

Fun with Plurals

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022

Recently, Apple turned on a new “Emergency SOS” feature, which uses satellites in space to make it possible to call for help even when no cellular service is available. That’s both impressive and something I hope I never need, but I want to note Apple’s press release, whose headline states that the feature is available for “the iPhone 14 lineup”.

Me, I prefer to say it’s available “on all the iPhones 14”. Indeed, many moons ago, I tweeted the following:

  • New hobby: Creating & using odd plurals similar to ‘attorneys general’.

    Successful Examples:

    iPods Touch
    Millers High Life
    Minis Cooper

In the 13+ years since that tweet, I have kept up this silly little quirk. For me, it’s most frequently useful with Apple products. Though the company recently retired the last of the iPods Touch, they still sell MacBooks Air, iPhones Pro, and HomePods Mini by the millions. Heck, Apple has even followed my lead themselves, with the AirPods Pro. I encourage all those who write about Apple to adopt this style, for it is fun and at the very least, not incorrect.

There are plenty of other odd plurals already in use in the English language, and they always make me smile. I don’t often get a chance to say “culs-de-sac” or “Johnnies-come-lately”, but when I can work them into a conversation, it makes my day. As evidenced by the “Minis Cooper” example above, however, I also enjoy pluralizing things in ways that stodgy old language experts might claim are wrong. To them, I say “Fie!”. If a name has two parts where the second could conceivably be an adjective, well then, let’s go wild.

Car models of all sorts are a good starting point. While the rental car fleet in America is chock full of Toyotas Corolla, those seeking more adventure can find plenty of Jeeps Wrangler as well. When you’re out on a drive, you might dine at one of our many fine chain restaurants, choosing from among thousands of Burgers King or Pizzas Hut in the US. If an approximation of food from other lands is more your thing, we have Tacos Bell and Pandas Express galore. And for dessert, we have many scrumptious candies. This past Halloween, I spent an hour trick-or-treating with a mother-daughter pair of Rosies the Riveter. In that time, I sought out Kits Kat, while avoiding Bits-O-Honey and Babies Ruth.

Much like embracing the glorious imperfection of bad photographs, utilizing odd plurals is a wonderful way to add whimsy to your life. Give it a try, and you too can revel in the strange looks you get.

Jiande’s Average Air Quality Is “Unhealthy” Even for Non-Smokers 

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022

Recently, a 50-year-old man known as “Uncle Chen” ran the Xin’anjiang Marathon while chain-smoking cigarettes. That’s both impressive and awful.

Uncle Chen running and smoking. It’s awful.

My least favorite part about this story is that my own current best marathon time is a full 10 minutes slower than Chen’s 3 hours and 28 minutes. That’s a little disheartening!

But my favorite part of the story is this line from CBS Sports:

While some users on Weibo were frustrated that Uncle Chen was permitted to smoke while competing in the marathon, there are no rules that state runners can’t smoke while competing.

Of course there aren’t! No one knew we needed a rule about this!

Previously in smoking during marathons: Assorted Notes from the 2014 Boston Marathon

The Cheez-It Bowls 

Monday, November 21st, 2022

College football has long had bowl games to close out the season. For nearly a century, only the very best teams were given a chance to compete in prestigious games like the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, and the adorably-named Sugar Bowl. In recent years, however, the number of bowl games has swelled dramatically. As a result, the quality of these games has taken a nosedive. At this point, teams with outright losing records are eligible to compete in a bowl game, and that’s just sad. The Toilet Bowl was supposed to be a playful joke, not an annual occurrence.

Of course, it’s all about money. The more games there are, the more money there is to be made, in particular from advertisers and title sponsors. Indeed, we no longer have the Sugar Bowl, it’s now the “Allstate Sugar Bowl”. Even the original bowl game, the Rose Bowl, is not entirely immune. Though it doesn’t have a brand name attached directly to its name, it’s now billed as the “Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One”. Gross.

A look at Wikipedia’s list of college bowl games will show you both how many bowls there are, as well as how many horrible names they’ve had over the years. The “Cheez-It Bowl” is a pretty bad bowl name which got some news last week. On its own, it’s certainly not the worst, but it was recently announced that in early 2023 we’re also going to have the “Cheez-It Citrus Bowl”.

The Citrus Bowl announced on Tuesday morning that it will now be known as the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl. This game, however, should not be confused with the original Cheez-It Bowl, which has gone under that moniker since the 2020 season.

Having not one, but two, Cheez-It bowl games is beyond the pale. The two games will be played on December 29, 2022 and January 2, 2023, respectively, and they’ll both take place at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. I’m absolutely certain that they will be confused for one another, and a non-zero number of people are going to wind up at the wrong game at best, or missing their desired game entirely at worst. Frankly, I can’t wait to read about them.