September 11, 2006, 1:35 am
The Art of Trash Talking
By John Woods
Trash talk has a place in every competitive endeavor (except baseball; those stirrup-wearers are too busy chewing on their sunflower seeds and their “supplements” to worry about what their opponents are doing).
Fantasy sports is no exception. Any intelligent discussion of the subject
would probably start with a thesis statement or a definition of terms.
Thankfully, this won’t be an intelligent discussion.
Let me just say that I am happy to take a place in this space alongside my talented colleagues,
even our commissioner. (You should see how she bleats like a demented
paper boy about league fees on our fantasy site).
Trash talking, I would argue, is primarily about amusing your friends,
their sheeplike demeanors and sloping foreheads notwithstanding.
Beyond the entertainment factor, though, I would recognize that the
sophomoric ritual has one advantage, when properly applied. It magnifies
your fantasy triumphs and mitigates your fantasy failures by transforming
the eventual point total into an afterthought. Winning makes it seem like
your opponent really is a “truss-owning, lapel-pin-wearing nitwit.” And in
defeat, trash talk can be the air bag to break the fall from your
hyperbolic heights. “The plug-necked yahoos on your team,” you can say,
“will be sacking groceries by the end of the season.”
The best trash talk, in my view, is layered and nuanced. And it doesn’t
focus only on your opponent’s team. It picks apart your opponent. The idea
is to create a shock-and-awe-scale blizzard of nonsense, and the goal is to
make your opponent drop his hands from his keyboard in exasperation.
What team does your opponent root for? Accuse a Giants fan of having a Joe Namath pillowcase. Where’s your opponent from? Give a look of concern no matter his reply, then say, “I’ll try to type slower for you next time.” Is your opponent into politics? Label everyone a tax-and-spend corporate shill.
Cap all that with a liberal application of irrelevance. For instance, don’t just conclude by saying your opponent is a “twerp who drafts like my grandmother.” Say that your opponent is a “sweater-wearing, eyebrow-plucking twerp who drafts his team about as well as Zsa Zsa Gabor gave acceptance speeches at the Oscars.” By the time your foe makes sense of that, his starting running back will have had puppies.
But what about you? Hmm? Recall a memorable slam? Have a tried-and-true technique? Know someone who seems impervious to insult? Take a moment and tells us about it. Put together some (fit-for-publication) thoughts. You won’t be too busy returning phone messages from your friends, I’m sure, to reply.