Bust ’em All, Bud!

Dear Bud Selig,

Today I put my rod in the water. I was fishing with hot dogs, so I wasn’t bound to catch much. I didn’t even get so much as a sniff from the fish, who are very small. The bay is calm with a gentle mist rising above slim ripples, but the fish aren’t biting. They just aren’t interested, Bud.

I’m up at a cottage in the near north of Ontario. We call them “cottages” in these parts. Elsewhere, they call them “cabins” or “houses by the lake.” The cottage is small. There are bunnies running around. Unfortunately, I don’t hunt.

Speaking of hunting, I understand that you’re about to bust a whole bunch of baseball players in the Biogenesis scandal. What a shame that these players cheated. Why would they? It’s not that tough of a game to play; you go up to the plate and you swing at the ball. And sometimes you catch the ball. In their quest for greatness they found it important to take drugs to try to cheat the system. You’ve already busted Ryan Braun. Soon you’ll bust Alex Rodriguez, or “A-Rod,” as he’s known. Many others face your axe, it seems, Bud. I’ll be interested to see who you bust. Has Melky Cabrera done enough time? It doesn’t matter. He can still hit but he can’t run. He doesn’t look juiced anymore. You can tell from his picture:

I actually don’t care that much who you suspend. Jhonny Peralta? That’d be awesome. He plays for those pain in the ass Boston Red Sox, as you know, and he can’t spell “Johnny.” Thank you for giving them the chance to pick up Julio Iglesias at the trading deadline. Otherwise, they would have been without a player. Good thinking!

The one player you can’t suspend is the greatest baseball player of all time, Munenore Kawasaki. “Muni,” as he’s known by his teammates and fans, is toiling away in Buffallo, New York, playing for the Bisons. (That should really be “Bison,” but what can you do.) Muni’s not on steroids. Maybe an MLB team will give him a chance once you bust thirty or forty steroid hounds. He deserves another chance.

Anyhoo, if you’re in the neighbourhood, Bud, please do stop in. The fishing isn’t good, but it’s good weather for hunting.

Oh–and would you please send me an autographed picture of yourself? I would appreciate it, and would put it up on my wall. None of the baseball players I’ve written to (something like 35) have responded so far. You shouldn’t so much bust these guys for being hopped up on the junk as for just plain being rude. Can you hear me, Bud?!


Jim Gifford


His Bark Is Worse Than His Bite

Dear Barkevious Mingo,

I am off to see the Blue Jays play the Tampa Bay Rays today. R.A. Dickey is pitching for the Jays once again. I hope he’s having one of his better days, when his knuckeball flutters and doesn’t float. Last year he won the Cy Young Award. This year he has been quite average. I do enjoy watching him walk up to the mound to the “Imperial March” from Star Wars, but I’d rather watch him pitch a two-hitter against those pesky Rays.

Did you know that the Rays used to be the Tampa Bay Devil Rays? They changed their name for some reason a few years back. The owner wanted to change the team name to the “Nine.” The Tampa Bay Nine. How would that have made the other thirty-one players on the active roster feel? Imagine being the back-up shortstop, say Munenori Kawasaki, the tenth player. Would that mean he wouldn’t even have been on the team?

I don’t know what I’m going on about that for. I live in a city whose baseball team is named after a brand of beer. The Blue in Toronto Blue Jays, I’m pretty certain, stands for Labatt Blue, a beer that Canadians used to drink, and in stubbies no less. Blue Jays are hardly fearsome creatures, so I can’t imagine the name was chosen to strike fear into the hearts of the Tigers or even the Angels. “Ooooh…..the Blue Jays are coming to town. Better run!” But the name has stuck and I like it.

Speaking of names, your name is Barkevious Mingo. What happened in that birthing room god only knows. I imagine that you were born and your mom stepped out to get herself a cola and your dad said, “I know! We’ll call him Barkevious Mingo so he’ll be drafted by the Cleveland Browns some day!” It really is an unusual name, but I guess you know that.

There are other names in sports that seem odd to me. Take Plaxico Burress of the Steelers. He was given that name and then shot himself in the leg and went to jail. Or take Vontaze Burfict of the Cincinnati Bengals. That just looks like a random assortment of letters to me, or something someone tried to spell out on an abacus. Even R.A. in R.A. Dickey sounds odd to me. “Hey, R.A., would you please throw me a can of beer?” His name’s Robert, for crying out loud.

I wish you a good first season with the Browns, Mr. Mingo. You’re going to need the luck. I’ve been to a few of the Browns games. Boy, is that an ugly team. But maybe you can help. Mr. Richardson has helped out some on the offence and that defence sure needs some special players with special names, so I wish you the best of luck with that.

Would you please send me an autographed photo of yourself? I’d really appreciate it, and I would put it up on my wall. Make sure you spell “Barkevious” correctly!


Jim Gifford 

Snail Mail vs. Email

Snail Mail vs. Email

Let’s face it: getting a letter in the mail from someone famous is much more fun than getting an email from someone famous’s publicist. Not that I’d know for certain, as no one’s actually written me back so far. But when I was a kid, getting mail with a strange postmark was a special thing, especially if that mail was for me and not a package I lifted from my neighbour’s mailbox.

Here’s a site that links together people who want to be snail mail pen pals and enjoy the lost art of letter writing. Some day, when the robots or the zombies end our world, only the paper letters will remain for future species to decipher. Sure, they’ll find mainframes stocked with archived emails, but it’ll look only like faceless binary to them. What would be nicer for our new overlords to find than stamps with flowers and cultural heroes on envelopes featuring beautiful or indecipherable handwriting? Maybe give Maarten’s site a try, for the sake of future generations.

Besides, who wouldn’t want to write to Maarten? Check out his creds:

Who am I?
“My name: Maarten. I was born in The Netherlands, but now I live in the USA, in Wisconsin. I’m small (about 5’9″) and rather slender. I’ve a beard and a moustache–and my eyes are blue behind my glasses.”

Come on now–write to Maarten and those baby blues!

The Princess and the Pig

Dear Princess Kate Middleton,

This morning I pondered the meaning of breakfast. Well, not really the meaning so much as what it is that I was eating.

For instance. I’ve long wondered about eggs. I know where they come from, but I wonder for how many millennia people have been foraging for and eating them. And take, say, bacon. I don’t understand how our ancestors roaming the fields and forest of the world saw these really gross creatures–I’m talking about pigs–as delicious. Have you ever seen a pig? People say that other people are as ugly as pigs for a reason. Yet despite that, someone was the first person to be hungry enough to take down a pig and give it a try. Did they try it raw? Did they just fry up its flesh? How did they know to try out the various cuts? Pork chops, for example–they don’t seem naturally logical as food to me. Or sausages. How would ancient people have guessed that stuffing a pig back into its own intestines would be yummy?


Bacon, of course, is my favourite. I’m not sure which part of the pig bacon comes from, but it’s definitely the tastiest. There are different kinds of bacon as well. You’d think that as a Canadian, my favourite kind of bacon would be peameal bacon, the kind Americans, for some reason, call “Canadian bacon.” It’s peameal, you Yanks!

Now that we’re on that subject, why do Americans call cheese slices “American cheese”? They’re just plastic cheese. And why do they refer to the Rockies in Canada as the “Canadian Rockies”? They’re just the plain old Rockies.

Anyway, I know you’re busy having a baby, and you’re probably not eating a lot of pork right now, but I thought I’d write you about it as long as it was on my mind.

When you’re done having the baby, which you should call James, would you please send me an autographed photo of yourself? The girl (her name is Catherine, too) and I would appreciate it.


Jim Gifford

PS Munenori Kawasaki is still stuck down in Buffalo, in case you were curious. 

UN-Sportsmanlike Behaviour

Dear Mr. World Peace,

I am writing you, Metta World Peace, because I read today that you just got a brand new contract with the New York Knicks. Congratulations! It is only fitting that a man whose very name suggests kindness, peace, and harmony should join the team from such a quiet, peaceful city to help it renew its pursuit of safety and security. For two years, anyway.

I’m glad that you are nothing like that old muckracker Ron Artest. Have you heard of him? Back in the day, Artest was at the heart of a brawl with other players and even versus the fans in Detroit. Can you imagine such a thing? Players were throwing chairs and fans were throwing drinks and this Artest fellow climbed up into the stands and beat on paying customers. It was quite the thing. I’ve never seen such a disgusting display of poor sportsmanship and thuggery. That Artest should have been jailed and banned from the league forever. That must have happened because I haven’t seen his sorry face on the court since that awful, embarrassing brawl.



I know you had a tough year last year with the Los Angeles Lakers–it just wasn’t their time, I guess. I was disturbed to watch last year when James Harden of the Oklahoma Cith Thunder ran into your elbow. The announcers said that you reminded them of Ron Artest! You must have wanted to sue them for slander for even saying such a thing. You, Metta World Peace, the man who only wants to bring goodness and love to the people, accused of such unsportsmanlike conduct when clearly it was an accident. You could even say that Harden ran into you on purpose. You could sue him for assault! Instead, you were suspended. I read at one web site that you’ve been suspended on many such occasions for other bouts of violence. I choose not to believe such flagrant lies.

I wish you well as you head to New York and the Knicks. I can only assume that you will continue your work at the UN while you’re there, which is very good of you.


Be careful out there, Mr. World Peace. New York has its moments.

Could you please send me an autographed photo of yourself? I would treasure it and would put it up on my wall.


Jim Gifford

Animal Kingdom

Dear Kim Jong-un,

Have you ever noticed that in much children’s TV programming most of the animals can talk? What are we teaching our children when we demonstrate to them that animals–sometimes predators, sometimes animals we eat–can speak English or other languages and are all really good friends?

Take, for instance, Little Bear. Little Bear lives in a house (a house! bears don’t live in houses!) with Mother Bear and Father Bear (so formal!). His friends include the wise Owl and the mischievous Cat. These names are far from original. Why not “Bob” and “Sal”? Owl and Cat are both predators, which is okay, I guess, though in real life Owl would totally eat Cat in a pinch. But then we get to Duck (I’ll call her Hilda), Hen (what is it with Little Bird’s fetish for birds?), No Feet (the clever snake), the Buddhist amphibian Frog (I’ll call him Quinn), and Mitzi the monkey. First, in real life, let’s face it, Duck and Hen would make for an easy meal for Little Bear and Owl. Delicious! They would not be friends with Little Bear, only with each other. No Feet would make for a tasty snack but I think they’d leave him alone. But Mitzi? What’s a monkey doing in the forest? I could accept that he somehow escaped from a circus or zoo and now lives in the forest, but that doesn’t explain how he survives those cold Canadian winters (I’m assuming they all live in Canada, as they’re all so nice) or why Little Bear doesn’t eat him. Mitzi is agile and quick, but if he was close enough to Little Bear to have a friendly chat, Little Bear would have him for lunch.

And what about Franklin the Turtle? Franklin also lives in a house in the woods in Canada, a favourite place to live for cartoon animals. His friends include Bear (but not Little Bear), Fox, Beaver and Snail. Why is Franklin the only one of his friends to have a name? And, again, how could he be friends with Fox, a crafty predator? But what really bugs me about Franklin is that he has a pet! A pet! Why would an animal have a pet? Isn’t that like some kind of indentured servant thing going on?

Perhaps, Kim, you can explain this discrepancy to me. You’re a dictator–you can understand this, surely.

By the way, how’s it going in Pyongyang? Your country seems very strange to us. Consider your art. I don’t get it. It’s all centred around you! But you can be forgiven. You’re so huggable.


I hope you continue to work on your leadership skills. Let’s not forget that you’re responsible for a lot of people. They need food, and houses, and basic human rights. You’re capable of allowing your people to think for themselves and not starve to death and maybe even making a little cash for a down payment on a house with a white picket fence, aren’t you?

Could you send me an autographed photograph of yourself? I would put it up on my wall.


Jim Gifford

PS Munenori Kawasaki was sent down yesterday to make room for Brett Lawrie; this is very sad news. I don’t imagine you had anything to do with this . . .


Standing Room Only


Standing Room Only

So according to the Wall Street Journal, Major League Baseball players spend most of their time simply standing around checking their jockstraps, unless you’re Munenori Kawasaki, who spends much of his time circling home plate, bowing to the crowd or dancing in a disturbing fashion. Who knew?

On average, players actually move during a 3-hour game for only 17 minutes and 58 seconds. The rest of the time, the announcers ramble on about player hometowns, the weather, and whatever Bobblehead day is forthcoming. That’s a better percentage than in the NFL, where players move less than 12 minutes a game.

I think, considering the ticket prices (especially at Rogers Centre, where I routinely pay $65 a ticket), we should pay only by how much time all players are actually moving. If I’m paying the full $65, I want to see players moving constantly. They can walk, they can dance, they can do somersaults, I don’t care. I really just want my money’s worth.

I sense an upcoming letter to Bud Selig.

Got Junk

Dear Barry Weiss,

You star on the A&E TV show Storage Wars. I have watched you buy a lot of lockers over the years. Mostly, you are not very successful. I suggest that you try a different line of work. Perhaps you should try plumbing.

Today I had some guys in from 1-800-GOT-JUNK to remove some crap from my basement. I thought it would have been fun to have you come in and go through my old crap and tell the camera how crappy it is. You would not have found many gems in my basement, unless you consider my dog’s “accident” a “gem.”

The guys from the junk place worked very hard and removed my junk and took it away. It was expensive but it was worth it. I don’t think they saw Darrell Sheets or Dave Hester (who, of course, was fired from the show and is involved in a lawsuit because he alleges the show plants good stuff in the lockers). I don’t think he planted anything in my basement, especially in the moldy old freezer.

Barry, would you please mail me a photo of yourself? I would put it on my wall, alongside the photo I’m going to eventually ask Jack Nicholson for. Thank you for all of your hard work on behalf of storage.


Sincerely, Jim Gifford

This is the Dave I know

Dear Dave Bush,

Today is my buddy Dave’s birthday. He and I have been pals for a long time. His real name is David but he mostly goes by Dave. I’m writing to you in his honour. I know that you mostly go by David but I wanted to write you as Dave.

I was wondering what it’s like in Buffalo, playing for the Bisons. I’ve been hoping to get down to Buffalo to see you play but I haven’t yet. I want to take my friend Bill (sometimes I call him “Billy”) but he doesn’t have a passport yet. Hey, here’s a question for you, David . . . I mean, Dave . . . why is the nickname for the team the “Bisons” when “Bison” is a collective noun? Shouldn’t the nickname simply be the “Bison”? If the team was called the Buffalo Sheep, would they call the team the “Sheeps”?

Do you remember the video that the Kids in the Hall made called “These Are the Daves I Know”? It was funny. It was about the Daves that Bruce McCulloch knows.

I hope you make it back up to the big leagues soon. I enjoyed watching you the first time you came up. I listened to you pitch on my car radio on a hot summer day years ago. It was a lovely time.

Could you send me an autographed photograph of yourself? My son and I would like it. I would put it up on our wall.

Thank you, Dave!


Jim Gifford